We worked in the yard over the weekend, and I could have kept myself busy out there for days….had it not been for the storm, which left another day of nothing.
Yesterday I reviewed the course map….. then had a minor stroke. The elevation gain was much more than my mind remembered. Then I checked on the steepest climb I’ve done in training – it was, of course, much less than I remembered.
That led me to last year’s age group results again and a series of calculations to re-establish a realistic race pace. If everyone in every age group seems to have slightly slower finish times than expected, there’s probably a very good reason (perhaps the fine print on the course map that says: +1438 ft / -1439 ft).
It was pre-race day #6 when I read a very good article about race day fueling, a comprehensive comparison of all the gels on the market, optional foods in case you don’t like gels, and a study on the use of caffeine during racing. All of this was capped off with a nice reminder NOT to try anything new on race day. How silly, we know not to do this.
Believe it or not, I have never used a gel in a race, but after reading said article I convinced myself, during a moment of weakness, to stop by the bicycle shop where I know they sell gels with caffeine. Yes, I know.
There are 3 days before race day, which means carbo-loading should begin today. But that was based on the study of 2011. There’s a new study, the Western Australia method, that says not to worry about 3 days of this torture – just carbo-load on the morning the day before the race. That was buried inside another article that ended by saying,
Having said all of this, I would like to note finally that carbo-loading in general has been shown to enhance race performance only when athletes consume little or no carbohydrate during the race itself. If you do use a sports drink or sports gels to fuel your race effort–as you should–prior carbo-loading probably will have no effect. But it doesn’t hurt to do it anyway, as insurance.
Is this science?
I am reminded that only part of this effort is scientifically based – the other parts include, training, race-day weather, race-day sanity and perhaps a few superstitious pre-race rituals performed without error (pinning the bib on the shirt before putting the shirt on, tying the right shoe before the left…. you get the idea).
THIS is what racing is all about. Finding a way to pull everything together in just the right combination to spell success.
Racing is much less scientific, and a lot more magic.