Friday prior to race day, I took my bike and rollers to work and did a brief speed-skills workout during lunch to get my legs ready for the race. This is something I've done before each race and it's very effective for getting the legs ready for race day. After work, I decided to swim easy for an hour just to get it out of the way. I figured Saturday after the race, I'd be too tired to want to swim and be busy Mothers Day shopping and Sunday was Mothers Day and wouldn't want to push it trying to squeeze in a workout on that day.
Saturday morning I was out the door by 6:45 AM to Galesteo. Galesteo is east of the Sandia mountains and midway between Santa Fe and Moriarty. East of the Sandias is very much like the Front Range of Denver. It's comprised of rolling wind-swept plains. It's not as grassy as the Front Range; there are your random cacti, juniper, and tumble weed (Russian Thistle) thrown in the mix.
East of the Sanidas is known for its wind. It's windy! Trees and bushes grow sideways. Older telephone poles are bent from the constant winds. The terrain is akin to Amarillo; in fact, a lot of racers come from Amarillo--a 2-3 hour drive. The wind has always been a factor in this race, and this year was no exception. There was lots of winds.
The race course starts in Galesteo and travels south toward Moriarty. The first 20 miles climbs ~1,500 feet by way of rolling hills. A few miles past Stanley (a yet smaller town) and the racers turn around and race back to Galesteo. Historically, there's been a slight headwind on the way out that increases as the day progresses. Once you turn around, you have both a hefty tailwind and a descent, which sends the racers roaring back to the finish line in half the time it took to cover the first have of the course. However, this year the wind was a cross wind from the west, which provided a bit of a tailwind on the way out and a headwind on the way back.
I decided last minute that I wanted to race the Masters 35+ category, which is combined with the Masters 45+, and Masters 55+. The Cat. 3 group had maybe 10 people and the combined Masters group was upwards of 50 people. I didn't want to get in the middle of no where, get gaped, and face a headwind the whole way back by myself. The best way to avoid this was to go with the bigger group. So, I raced the Masters.
Before the race, my team mates talked strategy, but pre-race strategies are useless, as far as I'm concerned. There are so many variables (i.e. course, racers, accidents, fitness levels) that I find it best to go with the flow and be fluid. It's important to know who the potential players are before the race and keep tabs on them during the race. Also, I didn't really care how I did in the race; I just wanted to get in a good hard workout leading me up to Boise.
The race started out neutral and I was in the front with a team mate. Once we passed the neutral zone, I decided to bring the speed up to tempo to be in my one triathlon training speed. Afterwards I turned around and I had a 50 yard gap. Hmmm! I thought to myself. I gave a little more gas to see what happened. Again, I turned around and the gap grew to 100 yards. "What the heck!" I put my head down, got in my drops and started to motor. My heart rate started to climb and my breathing got louder. It was lonely out there, but the good thing was I could control my pace and relieve my team mates of any chasing duties for the time being.
Me On My One-Man Suicide Break
Midway up the rolling climb I looked back and saw a lonely rider trying to bridge to me. I knew it wasn't my team mate and was probably one of two riders we marked as a legitimate threat. So, I pushed harder to make his job that much harder. The miles kept ticking by and the lonely rider was getting closer and closer. Finally, just before the last hill he caught me. I could tell he burned a lot of matches to bridge to me. We crested the hill together and took turns pulling towards Stanley and the turn around. I made it 20 miles by myself. The rider that caught me was, indeed, one of the marked riders.
The Chase Group after being whittled down from original 50 riders. Notice My Team Mates Tucked In For A Nice Drafting Session...Thank You Very Much!
After a few miles of rotating together, the second rider we marked pulled a group of 7 people to us. The field was shattered behind them into small groups of 2s and 3s. I sat in as long and I could but was still suffering from the effort. I faded and slipped off the back. I thought my day was over and I'd have to ride alone in the headwind after all. But, a group of 3 riders caught me, and we began a rotation. We hit the turn-around after Stanley and turned into the headwind. Our rotation was picking up steam, and we ultimately caught the lead group.
When we were all together, the second guy we marked made a huge acceleration and got a good gap. The group was trying to pull him back, but no one wanted to be out in the wind too long, so there were lots of surges with no follow through. Being the single-speeded triathlete I am, I couldn't match the surges and got dropped. Again, I thought my day was over, powered on at my one speed, and caught back to the group. This happened 2-3 more times until we got to 5 miles from the finish. It got really dicey at this point because the wind picked up still. I let the pack go and took it easy for the rest of the race.
Me Crossing The Finish Line, "Mommy!"
Ultimately, I finished 14th of the overall group and 5th of the Masters 35+ group. Not a bad day for having no expectations. My team mate finished 2nd overall.
After the race I took the two youngest (Grace and Mia) shopping for a Mothers Day gift for Tanya.