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.
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.
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.