As endurance athletes training for our A race we often question where we are with our fitness. This is a natural occurrence for all of us and we usually use certain workouts to gauge our fitness level. I for one, usually break it down with hitting interval times on the swim, holding a certain pace on the weekend long run, and on the bike fitness is determined based on how I feel/perform on the weekend long rides.
With the Galveston 70.3 in 26 Days and Ironman Texas in a mere 67 Days I have been critiquing the fitness in all three sports quite a bit lately. The swim and run are both in a really good place and I would say it is fair to declare them ready to tackle the upcoming long distance courses. The bike, however, has been a different story. In early January I felt like the bike fitness was ahead of schedule. Then I got hit with bronchitis, the flu, a sinus infection, and then a bike crash. With these aliments came a noticeable decrease in cycling performance. The swim and run came back quickly, the bike did not.
After a bunch of long rides over the last two months (and 1100mi in the saddle) my confidence in my ability to lay down a decent bike split had been waning. That is until yesterday ...
Annie and I drove down to Manvel, TX to do the pre-MS150 ride - The Great Escape. Over 2500 cyclist were doing this ride and Annie and I ended up starting towards the middle of the pack. The bad news was the first 5 miles was done at a 15mph pace as it was tight, the good news was that I had a lot of rabbits to chase in front of me. Annie and I separated around mile 5 as I found an opening and hammered past literally hundreds of cyclists. The legs were responding well, extremely well actually as I was holding 23mph in a head wind?
After about mile 20 we started to head due South into an awful head wind blowing off the Gulf along open farmlands. I was hammering just to hold a 17mph average in this wind and the next 15+ miles were in this direction until the turnaround! I saw a pace line of seven cyclist ahead of me. They were working very efficiently and each taking a turn pulling about every mile or so. After a few miles and a lot of work I caught up to them and grabbed hold of the last tire and some much needed recovery! They all seemed happy to have another in the group as they all gave me a head nod and exhausted smile one-by-one as they rotated.
It had now been about 7 or 8 miles and it was my turn to pull the pack. The guy on the Cervelo in front of me tapped out and I jumped up, dropped down on the bars, and just hammered. Right at this point we begin a gradual but long climb. Great. At the top of the climb there is an arrow sign letting us know the road turned to the right. My goal was to get us to the arrow sign and hopefully into a crosswind. I just pounded up that hill and got to the arrow sign and just kept going to yet another arrow sign which turned us left and back into the headwind! It had now been a few miles and I had that feeling of puking in my stomach that was telling me to back-off some. I tapped my back leg, moved left, and waited for the next rider to take the lead. No one jumped up? I looked over my right shoulder and the reason no one stepped up was that no one was there? I dropped the peloton.
Just like turning on a light switch my confidence had returned and the bike fitness is right where it needs to be!
Thanks for Reading,