Getting Sunburned instead of "Frostbite": Frostbite TT Race Recap
And we're off! March has arrived, and so has spring, apparently, in good old Colorado (at least in FoCo). The snow on the ground is gone and it was super sunny and unusually warm for early March weather this past Saturday.
Initially, I had planned to do 2 TTs (TT short for Time Trial): one collegiate ITT (or TTT) with the CSU cycling team and an ITT in the women's cat 4. Lucky me, I wasn't able to do both the collegiate and regular ITTs due to start times. Despite trying to figure out a way to do 2, registration and more start time fumbles led me to just focus on the collegiate ITT.
In hindsight, this was probably a blessing in disguise as I started to deal with another wave of illness, this time in a form of a cough (yay, bad cold/flu season!) My goal for the race was to get my race vibes going for the season. At the start of the year, I was super excited to race as I started to solidify my spring season plans. But with grad school, getting sick almost every month, life stress, yada yada ya...I kind of lost my desire to race. As soon as I actually hit the "register" button on BikeReg for Frostbite, I could feel the excitement reemerge.
I didn't do a lot of planning for the TT as I usually do for races. I scoped out the course on Strava and caught a glimpse of it on a YouTube video, and made a super quick packing list. I charged my Di2 on my bike, but I didn't bother to change out my Gatorskins for my Michelin Power Comps (getting flats because of Colorado roads vs marginal gains, take your pick). It was my first race of the season, and while going fast is always high on my list of racing priorities, that wasn't the ultimate takeaway I wanted.
I got to the race site with my teammates at about 08:15, got my number (#211, the same cycling race number as my last actual cycling race of 2019), and got back to the car. My start time wasn't until 10:16:30, so I had lots of time to chill. One of my teammates, whose start time was 30 seconds before mine, wanted to start warming up almost an hour before the start time, but I waited a bit longer before warming up.
There wasn't much of a warm up area, and I didn't feel like climbing a big hill as part of my warm up. So my teammate and I just went back and forth on a stretch of the road, which actually worked out pretty well. There was a small gradient and headwind going out, which I used for my progressive efforts, and then used the tailwind and downhill as part of my recovery.
My warm up was about 20-25 minutes, kind of long for me personally, but not too much of an issue as I was doing one race that would last about 30 minutes. I still had 20 minutes to kill before my start time. I downed a pack of Honey Stinger Chews, finished another bottle of Nuun, and prepped another, smaller bottle for the TT.
With all of the caffeine in my system and drinking at least 1.5 bottles of Nuun, I needed to utilize the lovely porta potties one more time prior to starting. I was getting a bit antsy waiting in line as my time to start-time dwindled. Part of me kept saying, "You should've lined up earlier. This is why you do things earlier." But then another part of me said, "It's just another race for God's sake. Chill out. You have plenty of time." Gotta love those race nerves. 😂🤦♀️
I got to the start/finish area with about 5 minutes to spare. Plenty of time to spare. Despite my race nerves from earlier, I actually felt quite calm and relaxed. The collegiate gals were all lined up and ready to go one by one, 30 seconds apart (with my teammate slotting in with a minute to go). There were only 6 total ladies racing collegiate for A's and B's, which is quite surprising to me. I always thought the ECCC women's fields were small, where we had as low as 3 or 4 ladies racing in a category. I honestly expected larger fields here in Colorado, but for Frostbite, we only had 6 in total, out of the entire conference for 2 categories. 🤔
Social commentary about women's bike racing aside, it was my turn to start. I looked down at the digital clock that the official was using to start everyone.
20 seconds to go. I took a couple of deep breaths, put my brakes on and put pressure through my left pedal, ready to take off.
10 seconds to go. I heard one of my other teammates wish me the best of luck, to which I responded that I was just hoping to clip in right away and not pull a Matt Stephens by falling over.
I let go of my brakes and the wheels started to roll. Yay! I clipped in on the first try. I stood out of the saddle to get going, sat back down and started the grind.
The course was an out and back, about 11.5 miles total, with a slight downhill going South and uphill on the way back, with a few bumps along the way. Plus, the weird crosswind from the SW direction in combination with the highway about 50 meters to our left made bike positioning interesting.
Now I don't have a TT bike or aerobar clip ons for my road bike, so I just stayed tucked in aero, switching between my hands in the drops and my hands on the hoods.
I saw my teammate's neon pink helmet in the distance, so I used that as my anchor point as I maintained my effort on this downhill section of the course. I didn't want to push too hard, too soon, as I knew I'd blow up on the way back. I wasn't actually focusing on much else. To be fair, there wasn't much to focus on when you've got a prairie on one side and a highway on the other. Apart from one or two glances, I didn't look at my watch that much. My legs guided my effort as I progressed through this first half.
As my watch said 5 miles, I couldn't see the turn around point. The road is pretty straight, and you'd think you'd see the turnaround from a decent distance, but I didn't see it. I could only spot the bright pink helmet on my teammate's head about to overtake another girl up ahead.
After cresting another bump in the road, I finally saw several people and a bright orange cone up ahead. [Insert a BU cone meme here.] My teammate rounded the cone, and I glanced at my watch's time. Almost 30 seconds passed as I started my u-turn around the cone. I punched the pedals as I came out the turn and upped the intensity.
Lucky me, there was a slight tail-crosswind aiding my effort up this very slight incline. I could tell my heart rate was up a little bit more, but I stayed calm and focused on the bright pink helmet in front of me. Bit by bit, the helmet appeared closer. As we approached a 2nd photographer, I gave words of encouragement to my teammate, as I scanned the horizon for another helmet to chase down. I couldn't really see anything that I could anchor my focus on, so I set a goal: sub-30 minutes.
Now, was it really realistic for me to set this goal this late in the race? No. I didn't exactly pace the first half well-enough to set myself up for this goal. But, having this goal in mind helped me push the pedals a bit harder and ignore the slowly accumulating fatigue. I ended up averaging about 2 mph more, despite going up the gradient. (Yeah, yeah, I know, the wind may have helped a bit, too.)
The final 2 miles were tough. There's a slight curve in this part, plus a couple of uphill bumps that prevent you from seeing the finish line. My muscles were feeling the fatigue and my lungs weren't happy with the amount of dry air I was wheezing in. But I knew I had less than 6 minutes to pain to endure and I was done. The small downhills provided a little boost to my mental state.
With one more bump and a curve in the road, I finally saw the finish line. My feet smashed the pedals in this last bit of effort. I could hear more people providing words of encouragement from the side of the road as the line drew nearer. My legs were fading fast as the finish line approached, but I gave it one more go and stayed low on the bike. I saw the blur of the line speed underneath me, and I let my legs give out. I went all the way down to the easiest ring to spin away the fatigue. I slowly turned around and made my way back to the start/finish area to wait for my teammate to come across.
This was the first race of the season (a season that may get delayed to the summertime). And I came off of a dissatisfying week of training, too. While I know this isn't necessarily my best performance, I still surprised myself a bit. I did much better than I thought, and I realized that I have more in the gas tank that I usually think.
With my spring races getting cancelled left and right, I'm giving myself a bit more time to recover. Why do you ask? Apart from this odd cough that I developed, my back decided to act all weird and funky on me in the past two weeks. With the new PT exercises, I'm hoping that this funkiness will settle down around the same time that my cough goes away, and I'll be able to get back into training. So far, I have seen progress on both fronts, which is music to my ears.
And no, the cough is not associated with the novel virus floating around. I already had it checked out by the doctor before the race, who said I've just been incredibly unlucky this season (I've gotten sick 4 times in 4 months). 🤷♀️
Plus with everything going online, I'll have a tiny bit (emphasis on tiny) more time to train, look for jobs, and look for next year's housing. Hey! Maybe publish a vlog! 😂
Now that I've been sunburnt and raced once thus far, thanks for reading my race recap! I hope everyone stays healthy and calm.
As always, happy training!