Morning workout sets the tone for the day; XC personal record broken again!
A week ago yesterday I attempted to break my XC (cross-country) mountain biking timed run personal record, and missed it by a very disappointing two seconds. I realized after the failed attempt that going for a personal record the day after leg day was, perhaps, not the smartest thing to do. So leave it to me to attempt the personal record again yesterday (the day after leg day).
Because I only missed my personal record by two seconds last week, in the back of my mind I knew I was going to have to attempt it again under the same conditions. It’s been eating at me all week, actually. If I’d missed my record by a minute or something I’d probably been able to let it go… but two seconds? No way am I going to walk away from that challenge!
Quick overview of the challenge: The distance from the trailhead at the Springs to the fishbowl (the end of my timed run) is 4.5 miles. The trail has a wide-variety of terrain: everything from large roots, muddy water crossings, occasional downed trees, branches, very sandy sections, tough climbs and sharp corners.
The trail was very wet yesterday, and while rain always helps with the sugar sand, it makes the roots and a wooden bridge crossing very slippery. In fact, I literally can not bunny hop onto the bridge when it’s wet: the wet wood is so slick that my tires instantly slide out when they land (I found this out the hard way). Even walking across this bridge when it’s wet requires care. There is also one place that has standing water and mud (it’s considerably worse now than it was when I took this picture), and yesterday my bike got sucked down into this mud about halfway through it; I had to unclip and run my bike through the last 10 feet of mud and water.
The large wet roots are everywhere, and they require very precise riding: hitting a wet root at a weird angle is a guaranteed fall. There are sections with so many roots that finding a way through can be tricky. This is where my familiarity with the trail really helps; over the past year I’ve been able to refine my lines so they are as smooth and safe as possible, but still very fast. I can rip through these wet rooty sections with no trouble at all, and this alone has improved my time quite a bit.
I felt exceptionally good yesterday, and even after getting sucked down into the mud I saw that I was a little ahead of record pace. When I arrived at the fishbowl and hit the split button on my Timex Ironman, I was grinning from ear to ear: 25m40s–a new personal record by 7 seconds! Not only that, my average heart rate was only 183 BPM (it was 184 BPM when I set the 25m47s record).
Last week when I missed my record by two seconds my average heart rate was 186 BPM. Also, after last week’s attempt I was exhausted to the point of collapse. Yesterday I was recovered and back on the trail after just 4 or 5 minutes of rest. I did another 18 miles after the timed run, and I rode pretty hard for most of that distance.
An interesting thing happened later in the ride. I stopped at Prevatt Lake for a break, and I had to leave my bike on the main trail about 20 feet from the lake. When I returned to my bike and picked it up, I was startled to see a deer calmly grazing not more than 4 feet from me. I thought, “Does she not see me?” Almost as soon as I thought that, she looked up at me, and went right back to eating. A few seconds later her fawn appeared from the woods and began to graze next to her mom. I couldn’t believe it, but the doe started walking towards me! She was just a couple of feet away when a noise in the distance spooked her, and she ran off. That was a really cool moment.
Setting that personal record on tired legs was a great feeling. I knew I could do it! I was in a fantastic mood all day long because of yesterday’s ride. When you do something positive like get a good workout in first thing in the morning, it really does set the tone for the whole day.
On that note, I’m going to go lift weights right now.