Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Single Speed

Yes, single-speed bicycles are hip (but not as hipster as fixies), and they have their applications. They'll make you a stronger mountain biker. They're perfectly fine for cyclo-cross (less chance of dropping your chain, too!). When an athlete becomes single-speed, though, something may be up.

At the beginning of Boulder Peak last Sunday, I felt flat and unmotivated. Toss in the fact that I slept brilliantly the night before, and I knew that something was up with my brain. Sleep well two nights before a race, but if you sleep well the night before...I don't think you're excited enough.

What followed was pretty easy to predict: I swam below my potential (even on a slightly long course...probably around 1650M) and cruised into T1 about 3:30 behind the leaders, way too much of a gap for an Olympic distance race. I biked well, making it to the top of Old Stage road in Boulder in around 26 minutes, one minute slower than my goal for elapsed time from T1 to the top of the hill. The next 18 miles, for contrast, took only 39 minutes. I biked solidly, but not spectacularly. The run, well, let's just leave it at the fact that I was able to outrun IM distance guy Bryan Rhodes, who greeted me at the finish line with a resounding "Jest croosing, mayte." Croosing indeed. Looking at my times, I basically raced half-iron pace: swam 1:25/100M (that's slow, actually), biked 24.8 MPH (slow, again, but there was a bloody big hill right in the way), and ran 6:13/mile, or right on my current half-iron run-split speed.

I'm a single-speed.

That's not that surprising, actually. After the frustration and disappointment, I realized that I'd done no specific speed work for about four weeks leading up to the race, as I acclimated to Colorado's altitude. The last hard workout I did was Boise, exactly one month prior, so I was pretty much racing on that work.

The solution? Well, other than the obvious, I've decided to mix things up a bit. I'm racing an Xterra race this weekend, in Beaver Creek, Colorado. I don't own a mountain bike. The last trail run I did still haunts my nightmares (The horrific Spring Runoff 10k at the Teva Mountain Games: my 59 minute split was only ten minutes off the leaders, to give you an idea), so I'm looking for the swim? I know, sounds crazy, but my difficulties with the swim are largely mental, so maybe a slightly less intimidating swim race will bode well for me.

On the other side? Race pays 8 deep, and ony 3 men are signed up thus far. Natch.

(I'm sure the field will swell by Saturday. Think of me on that day, as I try to climb 3600 feet in just a few miles)

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