The race on Sunday was not so good. It was terribly, oppressively hot. I felt okay on my warm-up and could see that my HR was higher than it should have been for a given effort, but I tried not to worry about it too much. I had only done DRT time trials before, and it turned out that the XC races start much differently than DINO series races do. The waves went in the order of Cat 1 men, Cat 1 women, Cat 2 men, Cat 2 women, and then Cat 3 men (no Cat 3 women that day). This was bad for two reasons: I didn't get to start with the girls I normally start with, and I had the Cat 3 men going off one minute behind me. I thought I was going to have to start alone, but there was one other Cat 2 girl who I have never seen before (later research showed that she was SERC series regular from Alabama, which was a bit surprising).
Anyway, I made a bit of a false start and was not "loaded" for the real start and she got a jump on me. I tried to catch and pass her before the singletrack, but it wasn't happening. She also continued to gap me once we got to the singletrack and I tried to straighten up and repeat my new mantra of "focus on fast", which means quit thinking about how hard I'm going or what the other racers are doing and just try to get through each section of trail as quickly and smoothly as possible. Unfortunately, my HR was pinned at around 199-200 and wasn't letting up even as I tried to calm and focus. Then the Cat 3 men caught me which meant I had to ride in the rough stuff on the side of the trail a lot and worry about what they were doing instead my effort, which did not help me relax and focus at all. Then I started getting the chills and goosebumps that signal dehydration, even though it was only about 15 minutes into the race. So I went into to complete soft-pedal mode and tried to drink, but it didn't really help me much. Basically, for the first 30 minutes of the race my HR would not go under 195, no matter what I did and it didn't let up until I got to an extended downhill. By that point, my body was trashed and I couldn't even ride normal easy pace. I soft-pedaled, granny geared, and even walked some to finish the lap, which took me 1:30 for 9 miles, and then went back to my car to pour an entire gallon of water over my head.
Not good. Must get back on that "no longer sucking" track that I was on in April, because not sucking was a lot more fun than going back to my old "it all got screwed up and I went slow because of..." mode.
On Monday, Adam and I went back to French Lick, because he'd never ridden there and wanted to check it out, but eschewed Sunday's race for personal reasons. For Monday's ride, I opted to break out my Anthem for the first time in quite a while and went "minimum effort required" pace for the first 9 mile lap. The new section is pretty freakin' hard and sometimes the minimum effort required to keep rolling was still pretty high, especially on legs trashed from the previous day. Regardless, my "minimum effort required" lap with trashed legs today was still 10 minutes faster than my "race" lap on Sunday, so it became obvious that this trail will not forgive killing myself in the beginning. For the DINO race, I've picked out a spot on the course where I will put on the accelerator, but until then I'm going to make sure to leave something in the tank. I'm not sure how effective the strategy will be competition-wise, but it sure as heck has to be more effective than my strategy on Sunday. I'm also going to race on my Anthem, because the new singletrack is so rough and saving myself some physical beating will probably help, too.
Anyway, aside from riding, I had a really nice weekend. Saturday was Adam's birthday, but we turned it into a three-day celebration with sushi on Friday, steak dinner at home on Saturday, and dinner out with his parents on Sunday. We also got to spend a lot more time together than we have for a long time, since our work/training schedules are so different and neither of us have much free time on a given weekday. It was fun just hanging out, though, and even kinda sorta riding together for a bit. After our ride, we stopped at the Fairfax beach on Lake Monroe and checked out the crowd there. Here is a picture of me standing in the "pee water", as I liked to call it: