Race Report: STMTB #8 (7/31/2012) and series recap

Published 2012-07-31

I started the last STMTB race of 2012 exhausted, underslept, and with legs completely tapped. I was sure I’d have one of those “in it to finish” races. But I surprised myself: I finished this race 7th of 85 and 18th in the series. I passed Thom finally which has never happened this series. This was my best race of the series and probably of my entire racing “career.”

I staged front 10 and had the easiest first lap ever. (Apparently: no pitched battles for position at the first merge = perfect pace for the entire race, go figure). I clung to/blocked for Thom for the first two laps then overtook him at the fence from the infield like a jerk. We even got a chewing out by the official, something like “play nice, guys!” (FWIW I would never attempt a move like this on a stranger.)

Given my (relatively) leisurely first lap, I would’ve thought my HR would be lower but it was 193 avg/201 max — slightly faster than my usual 191/199. My family and a few friends were on hand, they cheered me heartily through the trees on the east end of the course, which was like pure Go Juice straight to my tired legs.

Season recap

I feel pretty good about my 18th place series standing despite missing two races. If I’d have raced the two weeks I missed I might be near Thom, who finished seventh in the series. So, Lesson #1: you can’t win if you don’t race.

I raced three times on my ’cross bike and three times on my MTB.

Race # Date Bike Place (of) (top%)
#1 6/4 Cross 30 92 33%
#3 6/18 MTB 12 63 19%
#5 7/9 Cross 12 65 18%
#6 7/16 Cross 20 70 28%
#7 7/23 MTB 17 70 24%
#8 7/30 MTB 7 85 8%
(avg: MTB) 12 73 16%
(avg: Cross) 21 76 28%

This is admittedly unscientific but the MTB is a pretty clear winner here, to the tune of about 10 places or 12% better finishing.

I can’t say which bike felt faster, exactly, although The ’cross bike is snappier and I can outsprint dang near anyone on the straights. There’s also something to be said for riding a bike I know better (I have 2300 miles on my ’cross bike this year already, vs. about 50 on the MTB). But if there aren’t any straights (like last week), I strike pedals and dab on the corners, and jar the heck out of myself in the whoop-de-whoops. And if the conditions are soft, the 2.5" tires are faster/more stable than the 1.25" wide ones.

Also, I began training/racing with a heart rate monitor during this series, and that has been a huge motivator. In particular: I have learned I can run about 190 bpm for 20+ minutes, which has reset my notion of “hard effort.” My biggest race failing of the last two seasons is finishing with gas in the tank. This is a huge problem in any event under 90 minutes. But if I glance at my wrist and see my HR below 190bpm I know I have more gas left than I thought; even without the watch I now know that what I think is my max effort, is really about 10% below my actual max effort.