Saturday I raced at a course I had never done before, one that a few of my friends had raced and they said it was fun. The Pine Haven trail is near Midland and the race is aptly titled "30 Miles of Pain Haven". It is a local affair that doesn't draw a big crowd but I've been to a few other races by the same promoter and the atmosphere is always good. Besides, when the after race nourishment is free pizza, chili and beer how can you not go?
A lot of the trail is very tight and twisty singletrack, not something that suits my ability. I have fun in it but I am not very fast in it. That causes me to work harder on the flats and hills to make up time. I've been working at improving but still have a ways to go.
The interesting thing about this race is that they have a mini one mile time trial before the XC portion of the race starts to determine your start order and how many seconds or minutes the guy(s) in front of you get. Part of the reason for this is to limit the amount of traffic entering the singletrack at one time since it is not very far from the start.
My TT time put me in a group with a racer from the Cycletherapy team comes into the shop alot. He and I are in different age groups but when we compare times at races we can literally be within a second or two of each other. I figured we could work together or push each other. I didn't know most of the other racers or even who was in my category. My age group was also expanded so that I was in a 42+ age instead of my normal 50+.
We started out fast, quickly catching the group that started 5 seconds before us. Once we got to a section of two track I accelerated to pass a few of the guys only to get passed back a little while later by one or two. We got into a long section of bumpy singletrack and I started to slow. I let my starting partner go ahead and he was able to pull away a little. But I caught him again on the open sections.
We spent most of the race in the same fashion, I would catch up only to lose time again in the tight sections. On the last lap he had more strength left than I did and ended up with a big enough lead that I couldn't catch him. I ended up 3rd in my class and actually won some money.
Although I didn't have as high a placing as I would like I was still satisfied with my overall performance. Having raced last weekend and also doing two hard training rides in the middle of the week I knew my legs would not be fresh. But the intent of this race was for the training aspect, plus to have some fun and not have any pressure to do well. Mission accomplished on all points.
Continuing the training philosophy, today I rode 50 miles at a moderate pace. Hard enough that I got the aerobic benefit but not too hard to over fatigue my legs. During the whole ride I kept telling myself that at the end I would stop and get doughnuts from the cider mill. It's amazing how that can motivate you to keep riding.
I've changed my training schedule over the last few weeks to better fit my work schedule. I have started to do more training in blocks, or back to back hard days. Then you have one or two days off or easy. Funny thing is that one of the newsgroups I subscribe to just had a coach's tip about the benefits of doing this type of scheduling. I think it seems to be working. I didn't feel as tired today as I thought I would after racing yesterday.