Contributed by o2fit-athlete Laurie Marlowe. I spoke with Laurie one Saturday and she was feeling mentally and physically off-her-game, She had been training consistently but was feeling flat. I encouraged her to find something on the horizon to better focus and inspire her training. I know personally if I am simply training with no goal in sight, training becomes open-ended, ineffective and stale. There is a balance of racing too much and finding yourself going through the motions. And not enough racing to provide opportunities to realize the rewards of your invested training, as well as continue to inspire training and improvement. Also racing too much starts to be detrimental to fitness, we actually need to maintain consistent blocks of training through the season. A balanced number of races or events through the season, helps provide feedback to continue to fine tune the training plan to continue to improve the weak links in fitness and performance.
So for Laurie, we found the Lost and Found gravel grinder to put her fitness to the test, below she shares her experience...
I haven't ridden a 60 mile bike race since I was in my 20s so when Julie Young suggested "Lost and Found" I thought of a million excuses not to do it. And this was 60 miles on gravel, not pavement! Still, it lingered in the back of my mind. True, I'd been training hard and consistently but was feeling a little burnt out and without focus. The venue sounded like fun. And I did have a cross bike and adequate off road experience to do this with a few tweaks to my bike, mainly trading out my 33 mm tires for 40s and lowering the tire pressure.
Race day dawned and I was feeling pretty good. No expectations of myself, but a definite plan which initially involved doing my best to hang with the pack on the way out. Flats and downhills aren't my best strength, so when I got passed by a lot of people early in the race, especially on the flat single track and downhills, I didn't panic. Thought to myself, this is a long race with a lot of climbing and I know I can make up time when I hit the climbs. Sure enough, I hit those climbs and slowly picked off many of the people who had passed me. At about mile 45 I was really feeling good, just wanting to play this out with no cramping, no crashes and no flats. As the race went on I gained confidence on the downhills and was feeling strong on the open flats and even the last steep climb, where many were walking their bikes and even off the course nursing cramped legs. Those SFRs paid off on that stretch. And even though I would have embraced a lower gear, I was able to grind it out and crest the hill with a solid downhill and a strong finish; 3 seconds off the podium. Best Strava segment, 2nd on "10 miles to beer."
Lessons learned: #1. Don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone once in a while. #2. Events help us keep our training focus. #3. Go into your race with a plan and a strategy.
Now I'm looking forward to next year, and having learned a lot from this race, next year will be a whole new experience with new goals and strategies.