In case you are not all up on your abbreviations, that title stands for Boston Triathlon Team Indoor Time Trial Race Report. I did this race last year so this was to be a good test on where I am now compared with last year. I have some wattages to report this year on my training rides since I have the Computrainer, but last year I just bought it about 3 days before I started riding outside, so I had no numbers there to compare to.
Last year, this test of my biking skills turned out to be a pretty huge disaster. I can't even begin to describe how badly it went, nor do I really know why that was the case. I just know it sucked bigtime. It was my first experience in an indoor time trial and I had been warned that it was going to be worse than running a 5K. No way, I thought. Nothing can possibly be more painful than running a 5K. Oh, how wrong I was. And I learned the hard way. I remember starting out ok, but then pretty much just plain dying towards the end as my average wattage dropped like a rock and my heart rate jumped to 194 while my eyes crossed and I think I started drooling. Once I finally finished last in my heat, I collapsed in a heap over my handlebars and it took several minutes for me to regain the strength to sit up again.
This year wasn't quite like that. Oh sure, it was painful, but it was also far more tolerable, and the result was so much better. The circumstances were slightly different, as last year this race came at the end of a build week and this week it was at the end of a rest week, but that only counts for so much, and in this case it was way too much of a difference for it to be the only reason for such a drastic improvement.
Sure, it helped that yesterday was a total rest day. I can't tell you how happy I was to know that there was a Saturday morning in which I could just get out of bed whenever I felt like it and I didn't have to get on my bike for hours on end. I'd also have loved to scarf down some chocolate chip pancakes or something, but this was not that kind of day. I just had to enjoy the couch time. I'd say I made it to about 11am before I started going crazy. Fortunately, TBS had a pretty good Saturday movie line-up on. Between that, reading and learning a couple of new songs on my guitar, I filled the time. I sure did get my rest.
Anyway, this morning was the second day in a row in which I did not have to get up early for anything in particular since my heat didn't go off until 12:20 and it takes me about an hour to get to Boston. Or at least, it's supposed to. After some more TV watching (mellowing out and prepping for the race) my applesauce and such (1.5 cups is a whole lot easier to get down than the 3 cups I have to do before an Ironman) I was in the car and headed downtown. This year was also better than last year because it wasn't snowing and scary to drive down. Just sunny and windy.
I should've learned from my mistake of last year following these directions that Google maps is unaware that there is no longer a Charlesgate exit off Storrow Drive. I lived less than a mile from Comm Ave for 4 years and know exactly where it is and should've trusted my instincts to get off at Fenway, but no, I decided to follow the directions and wind up backtracking my way through Brookline, hitting red lights every 30 feet and watching the clock tick closer and closer to my heat. And then when I finally made my way to Comm Ave, the home of Landry's, I couldn't turn the direction I needed to go. Can you say frustration? I wound up being probably 40 minutes later than I needed to be after finding myself a parking space on some side street and making my way inside. I had at least managed to get down some caffeine before, so I was ready to go in that regard.
Once inside, I went to register and I wasn't all that worried because I remembered that last year they were running really late and we started at least 30 minutes after we were supposed to. Well, just my luck, we were set to start exactly on time. Great. I had just enough time to strip off my warm clothes, throw on my bike shoes, down my gel and walk over to where the guy was setting up my bike. I was supposed to warm up before, but that wasn't going to happen. That didn't bother me though, I've never been much for warming up. So after holding up the whole group (I knew almost all of them anyway, they can give me a hard time later) it was finally just about time to get started. Callibrated, ready to go.
Off we went. Suddenly I realized I couldn't remember if I was supposed to shoot for 275 watts or 285 watts. But for the first few minutes it didn't really matter anyway because I was sort of lost and spaced out and not sure what to focus my attention on. I also realized early on that due to the fact that my bike has been attached to my computrainer and in the same gear for the past 3 months or so, it was suddenly nearly impossible to change gears. The course was "hilly" so changing gears would be helpful. After a few minutes of thinking maybe I could get through without changing gears, I decided I needed to be a bit more forceful with my shifters, and eventually they loosened up enough that I could at least use a few of the middle cogs, even if I couldn't get to all of them.
When I finally was able to turn my attention to my watts on the screen, I saw that I was well over 300. Now, granted, I couldn't remember the exact number I was supposed to hit, but I for sure knew that it was not over 300, so I tried to settle down a bit. I had been worried about this ride since I hadn't done any hard bike workouts since... um, September I think? Maybe you can count my bike ride in Kona, but mostly that ride just destroyed my will to live (ever face a head wind for the last 30 miles of 112 mile ride when it's 90+ degrees out and you know you're going to drop out of the stupid race anyway? I don't recommend it) So I really didn't think that it was going to go well.
Somewhere in the middle of the 10K effort I settled down a bit and stayed closer to where I was supposed to be, or at least where I thought I was supposed to be. Somewhere towards the middle I started feeling that painful burning in my legs that made me wonder how far away I might be from what I consdered to be the inevitable crash and burn. But there were a few "downhills" that I spun out and relaxed a bit on before upping the gears again and pushing it.
The last stretch is up, up, up. I wasn't looking forward to it. But I decided to just put my head down and try and maintain a steady but hard pace. It was all going to be over soon. Then at some point the guy started saying that I was on pace to take the lead for the women on the day, so I can't say that that didn't suddenly motivate me to push a little harder. The worst part I think is when other people in your heat start finishing and you're still going. All those guys who can push well over 300 watts. It's not fair. But I was getting closer. At some point I finally kicked it into a big gear, stood up and pushed my way to the end, finishing in some amount of time I can't at all remember, but definitely several minutes faster than last year. I averaged 282 watts which was a whopping 50 watts faster than last year. It's hard to compare last year with this year, since I was in such a bad place 365 days ago, but it's still nice to know that there was a lot of improvement.
It's such a good feeling to have a positive experience. And ok, just after I typed that sentence I was thinking about when the last positive triathlon-type experience I've had was, and it was at the beginning of September, when I won a tiny sprint race nearly 6 months ago. No WONDER I've felt so crappy about my training and racing lately! Hopefully I won't screw it all up immediately by having a horrible race next weekend in Hyannis. But for now, I'll just bask in my time trial effort and be glad that I was late and didn't waste all of that extra energy on a stupid warm-up. (I'm kidding about that last part, surely I would've averaged at least 325 watts if I had warmed up properly and not been so rushed... and yes, I'm kidding about that, too.)