This year, we were able to return to our normal starting location which has limited parking so findinga place to park and warm up is generally always an issue. You have teams setting up tents taking up several parking spots and lots of independents (or those that didn't bring a warm up tent looking for open spots. With this in mind I usually try and make it out a little early to find a parking spot, which thankfully one section of the park still had enough places left to park and warm up in.
Overall, I felt pretty good heading into the race and it's usually a good indication of my overall fitness level heading into the begining of the season. I haven't been doing any 20 minute intervals and up to this point hadn't done any interval longer than 2 minutes for the past two months....aside from last week where I have begun to lengthen my intervals to 7 minutes. This is still more of a VO2 max interval, but helps with my overall threshold since I'm doing 10 of them over the course of 2 hours.
The race started well enough. I had a shorter warm up than I wanted due to a number of factors, all of which were avoidable. But I was able to arrive to the starting gate with my 1 minute man just taking off, so I didn't have to stand around long before taking off.
Once on the course I felt pretty good, but could feel a weeks worth of hard efforts in my legs. From this point it was just a matter of going as hard as possible. I only had 4 racers in my catagory in front of me, but two other classes that I thought I might catch a few racers from and use as carrots during the race.
The first half of the race I felt pretty good, catching my 30 second man a few miles down the road, then my 1 minute man, 1:30 and 2:00 man by the turn around point. I had also started running into other catagory racers at the turn around point and had a fair amout of them to pass during the race.
On the return trip I could feel the lack of 20 minute intervals and had good minutes and bad minutes on the course. I would feel good for a little while, then slow down, realize I was going slow and pick the pace back up. I would love to be able to use a power meter to pace me instead of heart rate...but until I win the lottery, I don't see that happening.
However for a few TT's this year I'll be able to use a set of deep carbon wheels that I'm having built up with a powertap, so I'll get some numbers from those races, but they are short with lots of climbing so using those wheels makes some sense.
I have also made some small position changes to my TT bike by adding a 2cm shorter stem that brings my elbows back a little and keeps me on the meat of the saddle a little more. This puts me closer to my road bike position which is what I ride the most, so in the end it should be benificial. I'm still plenty low enough on the bike, but need some new aero bars to be able to get narrower in the front than I am now (which is as narrow as my current bars will allow).
In the end I had a time of 28:10 which was good enough for 5th in the Masters 40+ field (out of 53 racers that showed up to race) and 25th overall out of 280+ racers. Not bad considering my lack of intervals to this point of the season and only 18 seconds slower than my PR on this course. The racers that took 3rd and 4th were both teammates of mine beating my by only a few seconds (13 second difference between me and 3rd place).
I can't complain much about that since I've really been concentrating on losing weight. I'm approximately 15 pounds lighter than I was at this time last year, currently sitting at 198-199 pounds. I would like to lose another 20 pounds and get down to 180, which would be a great racing weight for me (about 10 pounds under what I have raced at the last few seasons). With that in mind I working on continuing to drop the weight, but I've also got to put power back on. I'm about 30 watts under what I would normally be able to hold for 20 minutes during the race season...so work to do there.
The next planned race for me is the "Piece of Cake" in late March, but depending on the weather I might race a Banana Belt race or two, just to get back in the peloton and have some "Mass Start" racing under my belt before the Piece of Cake.