^^ I wish I knew what that meant.
It's become obvious that, like the men, the women who race into their 50's and 60's are the strong, exceptional, successful racers. Each time I've either ridden with or gone head to head with one of these gals I've found out how average I really am. They're the Real Deal, I'm Whatever. Is there room for improvement? In some ways yes, in others, I doubt it. I am told often "yes, but you're out there!" Okay, but I go out there hoping to see improvement, be able to mix it up, and maybe have some success. I see a little improvement, I get to mix it up only rarely, and success is gaged in what I'm looking for. It's been a tough year so far.
Actually, you're well above average in the sprints. And, to be fair to yourself, you are pretty new at this and not far along on the learning training curve. It took me quite a few years before things came together, and I could race my age, gender, and experience peers as I climbed up the experience ladder.
Your competition yesterday was a former state crit champ. Early on I could enter 35+ 4/5 races and not have to race people that level...not surprisingly I did OK and could see progress. Then I would race 45+ open races against folks on her level and get killed. If that had been my steady diet, I would have been hard pressed to not feel like I wasn't getting anywhere.
I see progress on a lot of fronts. Ask folks that know you and ride with you if they see that as well and my guess is you'll get a lot of positive nods.
I know what you mean about results. Results are an addictive drug. Once you get some you want to keep on getting them. The chase for results can blur your focus, though. It can be hard to step back sometimes but it's very important to keep things in perspective. Like Ex says you are still very new to this.
I also feel that women get a short shrift in this game. No Cat5 to learn from. Mostly lumped right into Cat3/4 races from the get go. Masters are mainly open so no relief there. Racing with men can be unforgiving. So while you are understandably putting a lot of weight on your age group races, don't lose focus on why you are doing this. Something I do is to enjoy your recovery day rides as much as you can. Forget about the racing and just Ride. Your. Bike. When the weather here gets nice as it is now I start doing short <25 TSS rides on my days off. It's fine with Who That Matters and it is a great stress reliever for me.
Shovel, you make great points. Well, you ALL do. I really do need to be reminded how new I am. It does help me keep perspective. It's easy to loose that focus when you read race reports from folks like you on here - where you talk about the chess game that goes on in the race, and everything that goes with that - and then find out just how hard it is to be able to play that game. It's complex, deep, and the requirements to be good at it are more than just physical ability. I so want to be able to get to that level, but it's a moving target. Sure, it's hard in the women's ranks, but it's what and all there is for me, and I'm willing (more than) to keep going.
Ride. The. Bike. Yes. I totally get that. :)
Sara's 2014 Road Season. A Season of Change.
Road racing is now over for me for the 2014 season. I toyed with the idea of putting into writing, on the internet for all to see, what this past season was for me. "Season of Change" is metaphorical, but it sums up in a very succinct way what I have experienced since I pinned on a number for the first time back in January.
Change meant "change your riding style". Ex determined that my efforts were too explosive and my self-selected cadence was too low. Adjusting my cadence upwards came fairly quickly, but my explosive, surging nature has been harder to get under control. I still do it to some extent, but I am worlds better than I once was.
Change meant becoming more disciplined. My coach goes through a lot of effort to design my training schedule to benefit me. I had to learn that what he wanted me to do was indeed going to help me, and the adage that "you have to slow down to go fast" was absolutely true. Oh, I have such a hard head sometimes!
Change meant "make your expectations realistic". I have to hit myself in the face with a hammer before I wake up sometimes. It took most of the season, but I finally came to accept that I AM OLD, and that even though I can go as fast as the young women under some circumstances, I cannot race with them for long. That was a hard one to grasp.
Change meant learning that I have physical limitations, and learning to work within them. My LTHR is unusually low. That was a bitter pill to swallow, and it affected me mentally in a very negative way. It took me the better part of the season to get past the notion that I wasn't "less than", I was indeed competitive, I just had to learn how and where.
Change meant learning to cope with the mental aspects of racing. Not being able to hang in and race early on was severely disappointing, and after being crushed physically and especially mentally at the Bariani Road Race, I was ready to hang up my cleats. What I thought I could and should do and what actually happened were two entirely different things. Never mind that I had raced a two day stage race one week earlier, I wasn't in season form, and that the large field was made up of a very deep pool of young talent. It wasn't my fault I did poorly. It was my fault that I believed I should have well. The mental game was the biggest struggle I faced this past season. It affected me until August, when I finally accepted my place and my limitations, and started listening to Ex. Once I got my mental priorities straight, I was able to get my racing on track, and then I started enjoying the ride.
Change meant being accepted by my age group racers. And they do. And that is huge!
Change meant looking forward to having fun. And that's what cyclocross and the upcoming Fred Rides are all about!
Change means that I will target favorable events next year, will be more realistic in my goals, and that I will pay strict attention to my coach and the training schedule. That will lead to success, and fun, and enjoyment.
My FTP has been bumped from 148 watts to 155 watts. The intensity of cyclocross has apparently been very good for building my strength! Now to loose some weight without loosing any power. And get the endurance up. I want to enter the 2015 road season, as I told Ex, "strong and consistent". I'm going to need all of that as a cat 3!
Nice! Welcome to harder intervals. :)
I liked your season summary, Sara. You've had a nice progression this year, and you have had success. Keep it up.
Nice season review Sarals. Onward and upwards! :thumb: