Myself and two other cycling friends drove down to Muskegon on Friday night and still had to get up way too early on Saturday. My send off time was at 8:58am. After a proper warm up and all that "race prep" stuff I was ready to rock and feeling decent. The course is a two lap rectangle that is essentially flat. I race without any “info” (power, HR, or speedometer) and it took me a few miles to get settled into my effort. One big thing with TTs is learning what effort you can hold. Last year I felt like I was too conservative on the first lap and tried to make it all up in the last 5 miles, thus leaving some time on the course. This year I pushed it harder and earlier on. Half way I was around 28:30, so I was pleased with that and knew I just had to man up for a little bit longer.
Side Note: The whole strategy of TT pacing reminds me of my favorite Will Ferrell Movie, Talladaga Nights. There’s the scene where Susan is doing her motivational speech/seducing Ricky Bobby in the bar and she so eloquently puts it.
“…You need speed. You need to go out there, and you need to rev your engine. You need to fire it up. You need to grab a hold of that line between speed and chaos, and you need to wrestle it to the ground like a demon cobra! And then, when the fear rises up in your belly, you use it. And you know that fear is powerful, because it has been there for billions of years. And it is good. And you use it. And you ride it; you ride it like a skeleton horse through the gates of hell…”
Okay so that’s obviously not quite how it happens, but really that’s what I love about the individual effort. It’s how close you can toe that line, knowing you’re going to get punched in the face eventually and how long can you take it.
Back to the race. So I did my thing and tried to ride fast, stay as aero as possible and push myself as hard as I possibly could. I rounded the last turn and there’s about a quarter mile straight to the finish. I crossed the line and managed to glance at my watch and saw it was around 57 flat. Behind how terrible I felt physically, I was amazed that I was a minute faster than last year! I’ve pushed myself to the edge before, but it’s interesting how the feeling of being on that edge is different depending on the sport/situation, be it Ironman vs Olympic triathlon, 800m vs 10K running or a regular cycling race. I guess it takes some degree of sickness to enjoy experiencing those different situations.
I attribute my improvement over last year solely to the fact of being more experienced racing on that edge and figuring out the pain tolerance. I don’t think I’m in any better physical shape than last year, only mentally. So I’m super pumped to see what I can do once I get some solid base back, and I’m ecstatic to be back racing. This race was a huge confidence booster.
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