A hallmark of endurance racing - consistancy over time. Consistancy was one of my goals at the Ascent Cycling Series CMSP 50 mile race. It was nine laps of a 5.2 mile course - one with a decent amount of climbing, some very technical rock gardens and a fun descent. So consistancy would mean staying steady on the climb, smooth thru the rock gardens and safe on the descent - over extend on any section and the next one would suffer. Especially in the last few laps. Another goal was to meet or hopefully beat my time from last year, even with another five laps to ride. We raced four laps on the same course last year and I'd finished in 2:24:51. So - there were a few things I was looking at during the entire race, besides the usually hydration and food.
One thing I did differently this year was a slower first lap. I hadn't had a chance to preride and I didn't know how the recent rainstorms would have affected the trails. With nine laps at least, there was plenty of time to learn the lines - so that first lap was more a preride then anything. Kept it steady, figured out where the ruts were, how to maneuver over the rocks and where to watch out for things. (If only I had been able to remember that darn tree on Boulder Run - almost every lap got smacked in the right thigh...) As a result, I came through the first lap in about 35:30 - two minutes slower then last year's first lap. Had I only been doing four laps, I would have been concerned at that point. But I'd made a concerted effort to stay well below threshold for those first few laps - hoping to either build into a faster pace at the end or just stay consistent. I'd also seen my lap times drop precipitously over the last three laps last year. I knew I would have a much better race riding smart.
And consistency was the name of the game. Laps 2-5 were all within one minute of each other. I came thru lap four at 2:24:47 - seconds away from my four lap time from the year before.Perfect. Kept the climb under control and smooth on the technical stuff. Even with the fatigue from the distance, I was still riding most of Cougar's Shadow. I did slow down more then I wanted on six and seven - was walking the entrance into Cougar's at that point. I also think the heat and humidity was starting to affect me - I was drinking nearly a full bottle on each lap. I'd also made a mistake starting my fourth lap - I'd opted to roll through and not grab the full bottle offered. I though I had more in the bottle on my bike then I really did. As a result, I'd ridden most of the lap without any fluids. Whoops. I don't know how that honesty affected me - outside of the mental aspect. But I was able to recover from that error and stay focused on the race.
So after looking at the results from last year and this year. I'm pretty happy. I didn't have any power data either year - my hub was being repaired at that time last year and I rode the camber this year. Opted for the heavier, but more fun bike since there's plenty of rocks at CMSP. But based on all the other variables, there's been good improvement in both fitness and technical ability over the past 12 months. I need to keep focused on the improvement and stay healthy - just over seven weeks to go!