This was it, race week. My first ‘genuine’ race in a criterium bike event at Preston Park Velodrome…
Threshold: 3 x 10 + 4 x 2 – Pretty big session the day after a longer ride but probably the only chance we will get for this before the weekend and I was to get your legs back in touch with some ‘race pace’. You know the deal here, its not a complicated session but is good honest hard work.
That was tough! After going the extra 40 minutes yesterday I knew the legs would not be happy, but I went for this as best as possible.
The set up was on Zwift and a new section had been added today so I headed for the new ‘Volcano’ extension to see what it was like. The good news is that this could be very handy for crit training. There is a flat 4km loop, about 6-7 minute duration, which could be really good for some race simulation.
Anyway, I was set up with the laps tracking on Zwift, but the focus was on heart rate and I would let the power be what ever it was. Having said that I use the power output as a guide for the first couple of minutes, keeping at around FTP, while the heart rate rises up.
So the first block was not too bad, surprisingly, and I got an average heart rate of 144 and power of 239 (bang on FTP and about 80% MHR). The next lap was a bit tougher and I was working harder with a slightly lower power and higher average hr at 146. The final one was more of a struggle and the power was down at 229, but the hr was 145 so in the right area.
I could have quite happily have finished the ride at that point, but I stayed focused for the hard blocks. I was going to give all I could, but I knew this would not be as good as normal.
The first one was a struggle as I went too hard to start and the legs were not happy! I had to ease off at a minute but then picked up again. The same happened in the second but the third and fourth were better as I was more focused on starting easier and trying to sustain.
The power was down but I was edging the heart rate up to 160 and over in the last one. Normally I would be disappointed with the outputs, about 30 or more under what I can do, but after yesterday I am happy to have even done them! I will do the easy ride in the morning and then that really is it until the race, which is why I pushed through this ride
Easy road bike: 45-60 minutes – Keep the HR nice and low throughout.
A very early start and sitting on the turbo for a short recovery ride. I was just taking it nice and steady on the new flat route on Zwift. Just turning the legs over and keeping the effort nice and easy. I was pretty good with this despite the previous 2 days of long/hard efforts. The recovery was not bad at all
45 minutes with 4 x 6 (2) – More threshold work today. Provided the tendon/abkle has settle after last week… 45 minutes to include 4 x 6 minutes at 85% MHR from a 2 minute jogged recovery.
Tired body from travelling and a cold morning did not make for a good run. For some reason the heart rate was very high for the amount of effort, especially on the warm up section. It was far higher than the effort I was putting in and the pace was slow.
As for the threshold blocks I was running pretty hard in these, but nice to be doing a few of them down hill so I could really stretch the legs out.
Not really sure what to make of the run overall, it did not feel great at any stage but I did get my best pace splits for the year from 800m to 5km, so despite the feeling the result was better than expected
40 minutes easy – Lets keep this one very relaxed and easy aiming for HR below 75% max throughout
Sadly a late night at work and having to socialise it was not and ideal time to get up early and head out for a run, especially when it was -5! Cold!
Anyway, I was up, went out and ran. I had to cut the time short a little bit as I was running out of time and energy, but getting out was better than not doing anything. The legs were also carrying the run from the day before.
The pace was amazingly slow! Some of which caused by the roads in Paris and trying to get across them.
Not a great run, but pleased to have had the motivation to get up and do it and not turn the alarm off
30 minute easy run + strides – Please add 4-5 sets of 80 metre strides after.
After the last few days the legs were stiff and the body very tired (not from the running but travel and very long days!). I was also back on the custom insoles to try and break them in finally. They did seem to be good, but at 25 minutes they started to cause blisters again, not good.
Anyway, I started out nice and easy and when looking at the watch I was pleasantly pleased with the pace considering how it has been in the last couple of runs. The effort v pace was much better.
I just continued to plod round at a comfy pace, slightly outside the required zone, but it was a comfy pace at 5:26. The heart rate average was 134, so 9 over where it should have been.
The strides at the end were fine, other than the blisters under the arch of the foot, it was nice to stretch the legs out
20-30 mins road bike – Fully easy, check bike etc.
Despite the legs feeling stiff from the running, this was a nice comfy ride. I was just taking it easy, although there were a few steep sections.
It was breezy and a good test for the new wheels to see how they react, which is good.
I am very surprised that I smashed some PB’s segments. Yes, the wind was favourable, but I was not pushing hard. Beating some of the ones I have done a lot of times by 30 plus seconds. I think the new wheels helped a lot, they roll really well. Even to the point where there is a long drag slope averaging 2% that I just took easily in the big ring and sailed past another cyclist without even breathing hard.
Hopefully not just the influence of the wind but it has given me confidence in how things are going
Preston Park Race
So this was it, my first genuine race. Although I have done sportives and lots of runs this is the first time it was going to be a genuine race.
Due to the travels I have been on the fridge and cupboards were a bit bare so the pre race nutrition was not what I would normally have and the stomach was feeling over full, plus I was shattered, but non the less I was there and ready to race.
After a good long warm up getting used to the track the last minute preparations were carried out and I made my way to the start line.
Let me get something out of the way now, I was really not sure how this would go. This was my first ever race and with it being cat 4 it could have been full of people that were really good, just not raced before, or those, like me that were finding their way.
The main thing I was not to disgrace myself and ideally a top 10 finish. On the start line there were probably about 30 of us and I was nearish the back. This was a deliberate move as I did not want to be right at the front, despite the advice in the training.
I was happy with my race tactics in my head which was to see how things went, do not get to front but be attentive. I had clocked a couple of riders in the warm up that I thought would be good to follow/watch and I was proved right.
Years of watching cycling since I was a kid have definitely paid off with knowing how tactics work and I was ready for 45 minutes of racing plus 5 laps of the track
After 2 laps getting up to speed we were given the green light to go.
It was not a massive surprise that the pace was high at the start and I was staying in the middle of the pack keeping out of trouble. Then the first serious attack went which split the field down. I was slightly caught out but I made an effort to bridge across, which I did OK. This did not make a massive split but it was signs of things to come, but that was only 4 minutes of racing complete!
Things settled again but before 10 minutes was up the next big attack went and this time it was serious. The perils of not being right at the front mean you have to be watching for the right attack and I spotted it and put in a big effort to bridge the gap again. This one was tough as this was the real selection in the race, but I made it.
Now it was really time to settle in to the pack and although I did not hit the front I was closer to it when I could and moving around the pack, which was now down to about 16 riders.
The challenge now was that this was about 20 minutes in and I had already been pushed in to the red zone, but I was taking every chance to recover so that I could react to the next move. Then it happened, one man went away on his own and made it stick. He was obviously an excellent TT rider and managed to get away from the pack, despite numerus counter efforts, which I was marking.
Remarkably he stayed away for 25 minutes or so and eventually lapped the field. As I said there were some really good riders. Mind you I was still with the main pack and I was growing in confidence. I had not disgraced myself and was able to run with the quick guys.
Then it was time to get to the end. I had been covering a few moves, getting close to but not at the front and we were at the 5 lap to go time. The pace really was picking up at this point and it was about being in the right position. With about 4 laps to go I got swamped and out of position, but eventually freed myself and headed to the outside. This meant less protection, but a clearer run.
It then happened, one of the guys I had been keeping an eye on attacked 2 with 2 laps to go and this really stretched the field but he ran out of steam and the pack came back together with about 2/3 rd’s of a lap to go. It was then full bore and had to the line. Just before the last corner there was nearly a crash as one rider moved out, but I was behind it and managed to avoid any trouble and then coming off the last bend a gap opened and I managed to accelerate through. Given the nature of the track I was not out of the saddle but was pushing hard and going past a few people on the dash for the line and even managed to push the bike forward in a proper sprint finish way.
At the time of writing I am not sure where I came but I think it was a top 10. I am really pleased with how it went. My tactics were good and I just need a bit more confidence to be at the front on the last lap and I could have got a podium.
For a first outing that was pretty damn good!
So good stats to go with it recording my highest ever recorded normalised power
The Current Week
4 Week Roling Durations