Sunday, February 18, 2007

As Good as it Gets

Like Old Milwaukee, it may not get any better than this! I was reminded in Saturday's Tundra TT of the law of diminishing returns -- I'm probably about as good as I'm going to get.

First, the good news: I improved last year's time by 45 seconds and last year's power by about 25 watts. I felt strong and steady and caught my 30-, 60-, and 90- second men, while only being passed by a tandem. My finishing time was 25:34, which isn't all that fast (22.3 mph), but put me about in the middle of the field for Cat 4, which is what I'll be racing this year. I didn't embarass myself, I had a good time, and I got to see lots of folks I haven't seen since the Atlanta race in October.

The rest of the story is not necessarily bad, just a reality check: In the 12 months leading up to the February 2006 Tundra TT, I logged about 2292 cycling miles mixed in with lots of running and some swimming. I concentrated on triathlon from 2002 through 2005 and saw consistent progress in my cycling ability without much increase in mileage or training structure. Training miles: 2002-1451 mi, 2003-2222 mi; 2004-2707; 2005-2292.
In April 2006, after last year's Tundra, I decided to focus on road racing and give tri a break. In the 12 months leading up to this year's (2007) Tundra, I logged about 4400 miles on the bike and made significant improvements in my training structure, including interval training and a periodization training plan.

In short, I doubled my mileage and greatly improved the quality of my training. That got me 45 seconds in the TT -- actually it probably got me about 35 seconds, because surely my fancy new TT helmet 'bought' me at least 10 seconds or so over last year!

All this info doesn't mean that I don't still have room for improvement, it just means I need to be realistic about how much more speed and power I can squeeze out of my legs at my age (39) and talent level. I think I'll enjoy this year more by focusing on racing tactics and on helping teammates to try and reach a few podiums. Realistically, the combination of Cat 5 and Cat 4 in the Georgia Cup series greatly diminishes my chances of high finishing places, but probably gives me an opportunity to be a part of more interesting races, which should be fun.
All in all, it just means my goals need to shift a little bit away from race performance and little more toward enjoying the races and helping teammates.