I have a ride I do by my house that I have used as a metric on how I am riding. It’s not flat and its not hilly. What it has are punchy little hills that you can sprint up. It also has 1 or 2 little climbs that you cannot sprint up but have to work up. And its almost exactly 20 miles long.
This is the elevation profile for the ride:
Ah, 20 miles. That’s kind of a magic number. If you can do this ride in about an hour, you had a good ride. If you can do it in under an hour, you had an awesome ride. I have done this ride in under an hour exactly twice. I have not tested myself against this course in a real way this year. It didn’t fit into my training and it wasn’t a real good metric for Leadville anyway. To do this fast you have to go very hard for a relatively short time. “Pacing yourself” here is completely different than on something like Leadville.
My training plan yesterday called for a 2:40 moderate ride (zone 2-3). But I just didn’t have time to do 3 hours of biking. And so I got onto my bike to do what I could. I knew I was going to go hard for a shorter time. I just wasn’t sure how hard.
I don’t know exactly when I decided to make a run at my personal best on The Course. But at some point in the first couple of miles I looked down at my GPS and the speed was pretty high. I noticed the wind was light. While my legs had been hurting from hockey (hamstrings in particular were extremely sore and tight), they felt fine on the bike. And so I decided to go for it.
I went hard on the uphills and sprinted up the little punchy things. It was nice having a heart rate monitor. I was able to “pace” myself so that on the little bit of down I “rested” and on the flats I set an “appropriate pace”. I have done The Course so many times I know split times and speeds you need to be at on it. I knew I had a good run going 15 minutes in. If I didn’t blow up I had a shot at my fastest time.
The crux of The Course is a 150 ft climb that comes about 40 minutes into the ride. When I got to that point I knew I had a sub hour ride in the bag. It was going to be a good ride. But I also knew good wasn’t going to be good enough today. Good would be disappointing. This climb would determine if I had a record ride. I stood and cranked up those. After a little down hill you make a turn and have a little false flat with a short 6% kicker at the end. I continued to feel good and just flew up the false flat then sprinted up the kicker.
Into the home stretch and across the virtual finish line. I felt good but had I done it? Bike back into the garage. Limped to the house (Hamstrings still totally sore. Apparently you don’t need those muscles for biking.) When I uploaded the ride to STRAVA I saw a gold crown. The time was 56:47 with a 21.0 mph average. My previous best time was 59:14. I got it. And I got it by a solid two and a half minutes.
Here is the ride profile:
My heart rate was pretty solidly in the zone 3-4 area. High zone 4 going up the hills, high zone 3 to low zone 4 on the flats. Quick drops into zone 2 on the descents. The perfect ride. And you know what? I know I have more. I know I could have gone faster.
We are off to CT for the weekend. My wife, Coreen, is running in the Hartford Ing Half Marathon on Saturday. She’s been training hard and methodically for this race. It’s her first (and reportedly last) half marathon. She’s got the butterflies going, and she is feeling some physical pains that have her worried. I feel like telling her that she will be OK (since she reads this I guess I am). So….I don’t want to tell you what to do or how to feel. You have to find that within yourself. But I do want to remind you what you told me the night before Leadville when I was sore and had a headache and just felt pretty miserable and was thinking about how long and hard the next day would be.
“You know how you get before a race. You know you will be OK when you start and get warmed up. You worked hard and trained hard.”
You can do this Coreen! I Love you. (Oh, and if you need me to go all “Dusty” on you, well I can do that. Let’s just keep the kids away if it comes to that 🙂 )