Monday, March 23, 2009

Fitness vs. Race Fitness

I had a mediocre weekend of racing. I felt strong. But, I raced weak. I felt fit. But, not race fit.

The course for the Uhwarrie Wheelmen Road Race on Saturday had 2 hills – one was short and of medium difficulty, the other short and of high difficulty. On the second lap, I had a mechanical problem and couldn’t shift out of my big ring on the first hill. That sent the field up the road without me, which really ticked me off cuz I was feeling good on the climbs considering it’s not my forte. Once I got my gears figured out, I began my solo chase back up to the group. And this is why I know I have the strength. The group never really got more that about 200 yards at most ahead of me. Riders kept falling off the back; I’d try to get a chase group started, but they couldn’t pull through to help me or hold my wheel. I had to leave them and keep chasing. I actually caught back up a couple times, but the problem with chasing that hard is that once you hit the hills – there’s not much left in the ole tank for climbing. Still, I think I won over the guys in the SAG vehicle, who gave me the “Most Heart” award for the day.

The course for the City Park Criterium on Sunday was a fun one. There’s a fast left turn, a flat straight-away and a hill up to the finish. Again, I was feeling strong – but here’s where I found out I’m not race fit. The race got lit up on the second lap when a former National Champion attacked on the straight away sending the field into a single file line of frenzy. She attacked again on the hill and the field was destroyed. Following that attack sent my heart rate into a realm impossible to reach in training rides. And that, my friends, is “race fitness”. No matter how many mountains you climb; not matter how steep they are, if you don’t get your body used to one violent effort after another, you’ll never be able to hang on. I spent the better part of the Crit in a chase group where I made huge efforts to help keep the field from lapping us. I’m strong enough for that sort of thing. I just need my respiratory system to catch up. There's only one way to do that - race. And that’s where I’m at right now, I think. I hope.

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