At least I finished. That is about the the only good thing I can say about the race yesterday. I went into the race with high expectations. Being a longer race than the normal XC race I thought I should be in good shape, having done a number of longer races already this year and having been somewhat successful.
I felt pretty good on Friday's ride and the HR was up where it should be for the short sprints I did. I had been hydrating all week in preparation for the expected high temperatures. I also was going to manage my HR better than I did at the Lumberjack race.
Only four of us lined up for the Expert 50+ start and I knew the competition would be tough. I think only the hard core (or crazy) come out for this race. We started at an easy pace and I felt comfortable. My HR started to climb as we also went a little harder. I saw the HR start to exceed where I wanted to be so I backed off the pace some to preserve my energy.
I began to realize that even with my HR down into a somewhat reasonable zone I did not seem to have any power. I was having some problems up the hills and feeling a little off sorts. I was walking some hills that I should have been able to ride up with no problem. During the third of four laps I seriously considered abandoning the race when I got back to the start/finish area. I stopped briefly at our tent and talked with Robin and Shari but then decided to head out for the final lap to at least get some points for the CPS series.
I was feeling somewhat dizzy on the more strenuous climbs but got through them to finally get to the highest point of the course and started the last downhill singletrack leading back to the finish. To cap off my day, or add injury to insult, the front wheel slipped off the trail during the descent and managed to send me sliding on my left side again, tearing open the scab on my left knee for the third time in the last four weeks.
I am not sure exactly what went wrong at this race but I noticed I did not take in enough calories which might explain my light headed feeling. I think the power loss can best be attributed to the lack of intensity in my training over the last three weeks, including the week in Germany. It does not take long to lose some fitness when trying to race at a higher level. Combined with the high temperatures I was not able to perform despite the high heart rates.
I plan to add sprints and more intense workouts over the next few weeks as the next race is a time trial. This race will be shorter, around an hour and of much higher speed and intensity. The following week will be the Wilderness 101 in Pennsylvania.