As promised, here is my brief report from last night's time trial, which will have to suffice as a race report until I do an actual race.
This was a flat, 18.4-mile course, out and back on the same course used for our short time trial. I've done the short one, and I think my best time on that is 25:26. That may be my only time on it, actually. Last night I did the 18.4 in 51:43, and as someone else pointed out, we never really saw the matching tailwind to go with the brutal headwind. You can always count on some bike geek to quantify these things, and sure enough, someone reported an increased in average speed of only 0.5 mph on the way back.
I rode to the course from work, warmed up a little bit and tried to get my HR up to where my coach said it should be. I failed. In the actual TT my HR drifted steadily up to about where it was supposed to be for the first half, but I'm still in that place where my legs feel totally maxed out while my HR looks like I'm sitting on the couch, eating potato chips.
For this race you start yourself 30 seconds after the rider in front of you, and we're supposed to go in rough order of slowest to fastest. I argued unsuccessfully with my friend Alicia to let me go ahead of her, but she went first, and then proceeded to beat me by about 30 seconds. I was trying to catch up to her most of the way, but often I couldn't even see her. And then sometimes I thought I saw her, only it was a road sign. I got passed about halfway through the out portion by the guy who started behind me, who is very friendly and cheered me on as he left me in his dust. Next came my coach, beautifully aero, speeding along, and whopping and hollering at me. And that was it until a bit after the turnaround, at which point some of the super-fast guys went by me like I was standing still.
I felt like I got into a good rhythm, but at times I definitely felt like I wanted that missing gear between the one where I was spinning over 95 rpm and the one where I couldn't make it above 80 rpm and wanted to cry. We'll call that nonexistent gear my "Goldilocks" gear. I wish it existed. But obviously the solution is for me to get stronger and be able to use the next highest one. Right, and also not to cry while doing so.
The worst part of all was that, by 3/4 of the way through, it was apparent I'd chosen the wrong bike shorts. My crotch felt like it was on fire. Not in a Lindsay Lohan sense. But seriously, every time I hit a bump (and that was a lot of times--thanks, New England winter for our crappy roads!), I winced. A couple times I may have even dropped an f bomb. Loudly. Apparently I wasn't the only one feeling this way, because afterwards we had a group discussion about the merits of chamois cream for women. If any readers have advice on this, let it rip.
Speaking of advice, I do have a race coming up, and I have a very serious dilemma. I have not had a haircut in several months, and my hair is currently at one of those super-annoying in-between lengths. Never mind that it looks like crap in real life--my issue is that I don't know what to do with it during a duathlon. When I run I make a ponytail on top, then grab up the rest in a back ponytail that catches the tail end of the top thing. Ugly, but effective. I ride with my hair down, because it's under a helmet, so who cares. But what do I do when I need to do both? Normally, I keep my hair short enough that I can stick a couple barrettes in the front, and I'm good to go for biking or running. But the back is too long--it's going to be a nasty, sweaty mess if I try to run like that. It's not long enough for low ponytail. And I can't have a ponytail on the top, or my helmet won't fit on. And there's no way I can fit in a haircut before that race. So what do I do? Would french braids work? Two little ponytails out the back? Help me out here--someone must have a solution for this. Understand that I don't mind looking like a total dork (OK, obvious--I have a bike with cow spots on it). I just need my hair off my neck and out of my face.