Monday, June 02, 2008

Hanson Hills

Got up early Sunday morning and headed south to Grayling for the Hanson Hills Cross Country Race. The weather and my enthusiasm for training were downright horrible in the week leading up to the race. Saturday afternoon was 47 degrees and raining. It was so crappy out that I did my tune-up ride on the trainer in front of the TV. I just couldn't wrap my head around putting on tights, booties, and a rain jacket just to do an an easy hour spin with a few sprints thrown in. The last fu**ing day in May, and riding indoors on the trainer actually makes sense. The forecast for race day was actually quite favorable. And the weather forecasters were right on the money this time. Blue skies and temps. in the low fifties greeted us at the venue around 8:30 yesterday morning. That left me plenty of time to get registered and do a nice long warm up on the road. We had pulled in next to Will Baker so the two of us headed out on the road for our warm up around 8:50. Did a nice hour on the road with a few hard efforts thrown in to open up the legs. Those hard efforts in the warm up always come in handy when the gun goes off and your heart rate goes from resting to redline in about 30 seconds. I got a pretty good start (see video below) and hit the first big climb in the middle of the pack.

Lap 1: 10.5 miles in 49:53. Avg. h.r. 171
Felt as good as can be expected in the first lap. I was able to maintain my place in the group and just basically followed the same wheel. There was a really big climb right at the end of the lap. I got passed by a couple of riders right at the top of said climb, and I don't believe I ever saw them again. I rolled through the start/finish area and got a fresh bottle and gu hand up from Sarah. Thanks wife.

Lap 2: 10.5 miles in 52:37. Avg. h.r. 167
Definitely felt myself slow down a tad on this lap. I think part of it was the fact that I rode alone for most of the lap. It's hard to maintain that super fast race pace when there aren't any other racers around. Still, I was only a few minutes off the first lap pace when Sarah handed me a fresh bottle for the final lap.

Lap 3: 10.5 miles in 51:45. Avg. h.r. 168
I was definitely able to step it up a little bit in the last lap. That was due in large part to hooking up with a good group of two riders about halfway through the lap. They went around me, and I was feeling good (well, at least I didn't feel like I was going to throw up) so I decided to stick with them. We rode together for a little while, and then the dude right in front of me made a move to pass the other rider. I decided to join him, and we immediately dropped the other guy. The guy made another pass right before the final climb, and I almost let him go. That was until I heard the voice of a female racer behind me asking to get around somebody. Normally, the first 2 or 3 pro/elite women pass me about halfway through the third lap. I made up my mind then and there that it wasn't going to happen this year. I knew I didn't have far to go, so I dug as deep as I could and got to the bottom of the last climb with nobody in sight behind me. The guy that I'd been riding with earlier was about halfway up the climb. I decided I'd try to reel him in, and by the time I got to the top he was only 10 or 15 seconds ahead of me. The finish was a long off camber downhill along the front of the ski. He thought he was alone, and I was able to surprise him with a last minute sprint to the line. I ran into him later in the parking lot, and we got to chatting. It turns out he (Dave) and his brother (Greg) are the Hintz brothers that are friends with Hugh. I've seen that at different races throughout the years and it was nice to finally meet them.

So that's a rap. I think I finished 11th out of 15. Considering how crappy I felt all week I think things went pretty well. I maintained a good consistent redline pace without blowing up or cramping. And I didn't get chicked. Sarah drove me over to Bellaire after for a beer at Short's and couple of growlers to go. All in all, a very good Sunday.

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