Southland Champs day 3: I survived!

IP startIts tough switching sports. Its tough knowing that you stepped out of another sport at the top of your game and are back at the bottom amongst lots of people who have been doing this a lot longer than you. Its even harder when the new sport was (in part) incorporated into the sport you have just retired from. Its easy to set yourself incredibly high expectations and be easily disappointed when your result is as you should have expected. 

I am finding it easier in rowing to be honest, because its something completely new and I have no expectations at all, apart from to NOT capsize!

There is a whole different technique to cycling as part of a triathlon. You have to ride at a certain cadence, to help optimise your run off the bike, you are doing it at endurance pace and triathlon is a multi faceted sport enabling a range of approaches and plenty of time to rectify mistakes, as the race progresses (to a point, of course).

Track cycling is not like that at all. The races are so short and so fast, you almost don’t have time to think sometimes. The only way to go faster is to make your legs rotate faster, and the only way to slow down is to back pedal. There is so much to learn.

  • What gear ratio means what?
  • What gear is best for what race?
  • How do you practice and get better at starting out of a gate on a track with a slope at maximum point of around 42 degrees when you don’t have access to that type of race simulation?
  • How do you structure training to make you legs rotate faster?
  • How do you warm up for a race that only lasts 1-3 minutes?
  • How do you know what position to put the back wheel in when you change a gear, to have the chain at the right stretch and not create a ‘pulled wheel’?

None of this is things that I have ever had to worry about, think about or know before.

Today was the day of the dreaded race that I knew would hurt me a lot. The 2000m Individual pursuit. In track racing terms its more of an endurance race. But, in triathlete’s cycling terms, its a final 100m sprint at the end of a triathlon x 20 none stop(on a bike instead)!

I was up first, because there were 5 in the WM1 category. That meant there would be a heat and a final. I knew that I wouldn’t be up in the final, I have only ‘simulated’ this once, at full race pace, and that was last Sunday in the masters training session. The time then was 3:08, I cant remember the tenths. After that ‘simulation’ I had to lie down on the ground for quite some time to recover, and coughed for hours. The other girls called it the ‘pursuiter’s cough’. I recognised it as exercise induced asthma, something I haven’t had for quite a while.

Sufficed to say I wasn’t really looking forward to it!

Mark was calling my lap times. This was the first time I had done this race, and the first time he had done this job, so this was new for all of us! I had sort of a race strategy. Although I wasn’t sure I would always be able to respond to the numbers Mark would call at me, I knew what times to expect per lap, and I knew that I had to try and keep lap 2 steady, and the rest as even in time as possible. Its hard to judge that when you have only ever tried it for real once before the big day.

The start was awful. I have only started out of the gate a few times, but this one was worse than I normally was! I worked hard to get back onto the racing line, and build my speed. The second lap, you are supposed to ‘float’ having got up to speed, which I forgot till half way round, and by then I had gone too fast. At least I slowed down 150m later, instead of not at all. It still made the second lap too fast. I would suffer in laps 6-8 I knew that.

Standing lap race finishMark didn’t realise the volume you had to shout at to make yourself heard to a rider peddling for all her might, round in a circle, wearing an aero helmet! By lap 3 he had it sorted and I could hear the calls. The laps after no 2 were quite even in pace. towards the end the times crept up a bit (see, told you I would pay later for messing up lap 2!) but I gave it absolutely everything I had, right to the end. Its mighty hard to then slow down fast on a fixed wheel, and get off the track, for the next one who is starting!

I stayed vertical to cheer Kerry on, who was in the heat that followed me, then needed to lie down for a bit till my legs and my lungs stopped screaming at me!

I am still waiting on the lap split times, but my result was 3;04;93. That is 4.5 seconds faster than last Sunday, when we did a race simulation as part of sunday training. The marshall asked was I ok, and when I said that was only the second time I had ever covered that distance on the track in race conditions (ish) he said ‘hey, look at it this way, you have doubled your experience in one day!

When I looked at the splits, the usual bad start (because I simply haven’t had the chance to do standing starts that much) plus my cr@p start today cost me 3 seconds on the next placed rider over the first 1000m. But, the second 1000m I was faster than her by almost a second.

the net result: I was only 1.5 seconds behind 4th place. I was the only person in the race without aero bars too.

A bit of start practice, and some aero bars and I can shave that 1.5 seconds off, no problem.

Guess what? I have a new target!! Small steps are the best ones…….


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