Races three and four of the Leadman series are now over and in the books. I am back home in Aspen and sitting on the couch where I pretty much plan to reside until going back to Leadville next Thursday before the LT 100 Run.
Going into this weekend I had a lot of mixed feelings about the bike race. I just had no clue how it would go one way or the other and to be honest it wasn't until about five minutes before the race started that my head actually got 100% into the game.
Taking everything this year into consideration I knew that I was definitely strong enough to finish the damned thing. No doubts there, but what that would actually look like I didn't have the foggiest idea.
But something clicked right before the start and I decided to go for it. Go for sub nine and see how I feel. I had the splits in my head and knew what I needed to do. The question then came to execution. Did I have the balls to pass people on the hard road before getting to the first dirt road section? Could I sustain that agressive effort around the pasture for another 2.5 miles to the base of St. Kevins and not cook myself? How about the Powerline? If I got out front with faster and better riders could I manage that drop and not wreck?
As I said I decided to go for it. Standing there waiting for the start I realized that I was maybe only 10% as stressed about it all as I was last year at the start. My courage, optimism, confidence and all of that finally showed up. The gun went off and so did we.
The ride from the start to the top of St. Kevins was nothing like last year. I was calm, comfortable, and fast. Way faster than last year. We were at the top of that first big climb really before I realized it. I was shocked. As for the powerlines, I had my best ride down there ever from the top of Sugarloaf to the bottom road in 15 minutes. I've never ridden it as smoothly as yesterday, EVER.
I made pipeline right at 2:17 I think. Perfect. I kept the pressure on all the way to Twin Lakes and beyond and began my ascent up Columbine.
This was definitely one of those cases where it was definitely going great until it wasn't. Once we started up the Columbine climb my right quad started cramping. If I would stand on the pedal or if I was mashing the pedal with too much force it would scream. It was on the inside of my right quad right above the knee and I have never had that happen before.
But it was manageable. I could feel it coming on, hop off the bike, push the bike, let it relax, hop back on and keep going. This is where I started losing time.
But the down trip from Columbine! It was awesome! Smooth and fast. Sub 9 was out the window but I was definitely in the Sub 10 range.
Between Twin Lakes and the Pipeline Aid Station I was doing great and making great time. Still had to be aware of the right leg cramping but it wasn't acting up too bad. But once we made that left turn out of the trees and started heading straight towards the Pipeline Aid Station was where we got the first blast of wind.
This wasn't your typical Leadville afternoon out of the north headwind that is so common. No, this was a horrendous force coming from the north and west depending on the moment. The ride from there to Fish Hatchery where I was back in the trees was worse than dealing with any sort of cramping issue that I might have been having and probably cost me more time. I could not wait to get to Powerline, get off the bike, push some and be out of that damned wind. Sub 10 was definitely out the window now. Still had the cramping thing going up the Powerlines, but I just managed it the best I could.
The rest of the race went well. I passed and caught up with a ton of people the last 13 miles or so. I don't think I really backed off any. My finishing time was 10:13:25. A full 15 minutes faster than last year. I am good with that. But that damned race is hard. There just is not any other way to describe it.
But I am still learning. After all this was my fourth bike race ever. I learned some really important things yesterday. 1. I can ride fast. I do actually have that potential. Now I just have to learn how to sustain it! 2. My skills and comfort level on the bike are so way beyond where I was last year. 3. In a long race like yesterday, sometimes just getting out of it alive is a pretty damned good thing. That might be second only to the confidence and knowledge that you can actually do it as well.
Today was the 10K. I took it easy and just ran it with my heart rate capped in zone 2, MAF. It wasn't bad and I ran okay. There doesn't seem to be any real residual damage from yesterday, just a crap ton of fatigue. Actually when it was over I felt better. I think the 10K really isn't that hard, but the thought of having to do it is just worse than actually having to do it. Since I took it easy I was about five minutes slower than last year. No biggie.
So now on to the big show! The Leadman Finale! Only 100 miles now separate me from my second Leadman Trophy and my fifth LT100 run finisher buckle.
Bring it on!
After a lot of rest this week of course!