The short story is I had a great race at the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race. I took 48 minutes off of last year's time.
What changed from 2006 to 2007?
I believe training for an event like Leadville really begins around November or December of the previous year. My success at this year's race, like any athlete's success from year to year, is complicated by multiple factors. I'll give you breakdown of the major items that were different this year, compared to last year. For items I thought had a positive effect, a "+" symbol is used, "-" for items I thought had a negative effect, "=" for items that were basically equal and "?" for I'm not sure.
Training Volume and Mix
= Gross training hours were similar between the two years.
"-" We had a terrible winter in Colorado with tons of snow, which put me off the bike more, compared to last year.
? Instead of long bike rides, I ended up snowshoeing four days last winter.
? Because of the snow, my mid-week rides were eliminated, I was in the weight room twice and sometimes three times per week.
= Swimming and running volume stayed roughly the same.
= I have a routine that has been relatively constant for years. Travel, personal and illness are the items that have the most effect from year to year.
+ I traded more road days for mountain bike days, helping my skills.
= Without digging into the gory details of individual workouts, I suspect the training intensity was similar between the two years.
Travel and Personal
"-" I told people that I thought I had less travel in 2007 vs. 2006, but that isn't the case. I had more big weeks of travel this year, putting me off the bike more than last year. Between January and race day, I was traveling 23 days in 2007 and only 17 days in 2006.
+ I had no business travel in the six weeks prior to race day, I had one three-day trip last year.
+ This year I got to do a week-long spring cycling trip to Moab.
= Both years, a week-long summer road bike tour.
+ There was less personal stuff going on this year, compared to last year - less stress.
+ I was about two pounds lighter this year.
+ This year I went to Leadville on Wednesday morning instead of Friday morning, pre-race. I believe this had a positive effect in a couple of ways. First, I didn't feel so rushed and stressed going into the race. Second, I think I enjoyed some short-term acclimatization. I will give more detail on that when I do the second part of my acclimatization column.
= I managed race day nutrition and hydration well. This was really the case for both years.
+ I was less conservative at the race start, riding faster. I gained 16 minutes to the first aid station, which was about 2:30 into the race this year.
+ The ride to the second aid station was a bit slower on the descents due to crowding, but a bit faster on the flats and rollers. I gained about 2 minutes in this short segment.
"-" The turn around point at the top of Columbine mine was farther out this year. We turned around at the actual mine rather than the crest of the hill prior to the mine. This meant a descent and climb that did not exist last year. This cost me roughly 4.5 to 5 minutes. (I pulled the comparative altitudes and times from my Polar heart rate data files.)
+ Even with the extra distance, I managed to gain 2 minutes on the Columbine Mine segment of the event, compared to 2006 splits.
+ No broken shoe this year, going from Twin Lakes II to Pipeline II.
+ No pouring rain beginning at the first hike-a-bike hill (where I broke the shoe in 2006) and continuing to the end of the race, making it tough to descend the technical sections. I don't like descending when I can't see. Between no rain and no broken shoe, the time between Twin Lakes II to Pipeline II was 9 minutes faster.
+ Between the last aid station and the finish line I gained 19 minutes. This year it was hot, with little cloud cover and I happen to race well in heat. Last year the rain affected this section with areas of running water on the course. Last year I forgot to take my asthma meds at the last aid station, not the case this year.
+ No equipment failures this year.
+ Rode near people of similar ability all day. The people changed along the way, but it seems I crossed paths with people doing near my pace. Last year I was often in no-woman's land riding solo. I consider myself pretty self-motivated, but who doesn't ride a little faster with other people close or a rabbit to chase?
I'm sure there are details and items I missed. As those items pop into my head, I'll post them in another blog.
A BIG THANKS to:
+ Del for the constant support and crewing for me.
+ All of my cycling buddies that show up to my Sunday ride, all year long, in all kinds of weather. You have a big impact on my success.
+ My mountain bike buddies, that have helped me improve my skills.
+ Peloton Cycles, the best local bike shop for equipment and service.
+ All the really nice and encouraging people I met along the way on race day.
+ A well-run race, thanks to Ken, Merilee and all of the volunteers.
+ If I missed anyone I apologize, my brain is still not quite recovered from race day.
On the top end, Dave Wiens won a record five races, with a new course record, beating Floyd Landis by about two minutes.
Two photos are attached. The first one is race owner Ken Chlouber delivering the first place award to Dave Wiens. The second photo, you can see the shock on my face when I'm told my hair looks just fantastic.
Now I need to go mow the lawn before it gets too hot. Catch ya later in the week.