I raced in the Church Creek time trial, a flat 40k near Cambridge, MD. I came in hoping for an average speed of over 24 mph, which was a reasonable goal considering I achieved a speed of 24.1 mph on a hilly 20k time trial a few weeks ago and a 23.9 mph at tempo pace on a half hilly/flat course last weekend. What could an all flat course mean for me? I felt decent enough going into the race except for a tight pair of hamstrings brought about by wearing decrepit shoes on a 60 minute run (followed by 2 miles @ 5:40 pace). They didn't hurt much, but they were a bit sensitive to intense activity. I didn't feel anything during Tuesday's 6-minute all-out TT except for a little pull at the end. I thought I was clear for Church Creek.
About 18k into the TT, almost halfway, I was doing well... averaging a little over 24 mph with a headwind... when suddenly (and fortunately not LITERALLY) the wheels fell off. I felt an instant pull in my right hammy and a dull pain followed. Almost immediately I started losing power from that leg as a natural reaction to feeling pain. My speedometer sank from around 24 mph to 22-23. I knew this was bad... on a flat road there are no chances to recover... you have to keep pedaling. My average speed over the next several miles dropped. Once I hit the "turnaround", where the loop course changes direction and goes with the wind, my speed increased... but not as much as it should have under the conditions (flat road + tailwind = 25-26 mph!)... I got up to 24 on the speedometer, but that didn't last long as dehydration set in... goshdang!!
I started struggling again and the hammy pain didn't go away. I started pedaling with one leg... just like I do in my training for dominant-leg workouts. BAAAD sign. I got passed by someone and normally I would LOVE the challenge and fight back, but I didn't have the power to do so. I just wanted to get to the finish at this point. I used the last of my HEED 6 miles from the finish and I started panting from the lack of hydration. I struggled some more and FINALLY reached the finish line in 1:04:18, an average speed of 23.2 mph.
Well, it sucked. I hated the ride from 18km to 40km. Still, somehow, I PR'ed for 40k. Not sure how, but I guess it's an indication of my improvement over last year. So I'm happy that even on my worst ride, I still can average over 23 mph. That's a good way to look at it, huh? On another positive note, my hamstring doesn't hurt anymore. But I'm going to be careful over the next few days.
The performance of maybe the year goes to Michelle, whose blog is linked here (and in my blog list), she utterly crushed souls (and nearly mine) there, rocketing to a 1:04:35 and a 23.1 mph average placing second in her category and beating plenty of guys and gals at higher levels. She was healthy and went ALL OUT to get an epic time. This coming from a part-time duathlete and a cyclist with only duathlon/triathlon bike training experience. Looking forward to seeing her beat down on some roadies and make a strong return to duathlons.