It’s the Monday after LOTOJA and I am somewhat conflicted about writing this up. I am not really the happiest about the outcome of this race. I really want to be honest about everything related to this race. On the one hand, I believe in public accountability because it helps motivate me. I also believe in being honest about my performance, both physical and mental. On the other hand, I have a ton of work to get done right now so I don’t know exactly how long this is going to take me to complete. I think I am going to release this in stages, not because I want to increase my page views, but because I think I can get the entire thing done if I take it in stages. We call this Agile Project Management. People at work will appreciate what I am saying.
For those of you who do not know, LOTOJA is the longest single day USAC sanctioned race. It is a 203 mile race. It is really long. It has about 9,000 feet of climbing that really isn’t all that tough. The climbing sounds harder than it is. I have done the race four times now and my goal is to always improve. My time in 2011 was a 12:17, in 2012 it was a 10:25, and in 2013 it was a 9:46. As I have gotten more experience my times have steadily improved. I expected nothing less out of 2014.
My life changed this year too. I got a job. A real job. With a real company. That translates into less time to train and set my own schedule. That meant that I would have to train smarter and make my sessions more meaningful.
My buddy Brandon searched out a great program called CycloCore by Graeme Street. This program is not easy; I think it is actually harder than most people would like, but it is super effective. The focus of the program is making your hard sessions harder and your easier sessions easier and improving core strength. The schedule works on three-week cycles with a week of recovery in between. I invite you to go check out his website and some of the workouts here. This program is legit.
For the last four years, LOTOJA has been my A race – everything during the season has pointed to performance in this race. In 2012 I rode 5,889 miles in preparation for this race, in 2013 I rode 4,305 miles, and in 2014 I rode 5,326 miles. I climbed about 200K ft. each of the three years. My weight has also improved — in 2012 on race day I weighed 175 lbs., in 2013 it was 168 lbs., and in 2014 I was at 161 lbs.
But going into LOTOJA 2014 I felt really solid. I was climbing better than ever and breaking two year old long climb PR’s on Strava, even cracking the first page on some of the harder climbs. One week before the race I went on a group ride with my pals from Infinite Racing and we really went super hard for the entire ride. On a simulated race pace ride, I felt like I was really killing it. I was extremely confident going into the race.
I did get a small head cold on the Monday before the race, but that did not impact my race in a meaningful way. I don’t use this as an excuse (Curt that was for you), but more of an FYI.
My time goal for the race was a 9:30. That was my goal in 2013 and I missed it by 16 minutes. As soon as I finished in 2013 I knew that would be my 2014 goal. In this race, the real ballers all finish under 9:30. Finishing under that milestone is a real accomplishment and something to be proud of. To accomplish new heights, you need to put in new efforts. Every time I would get tired on a training ride I would tell myself how much I wanted that 9:30. My training this year was outstanding and if I had a perfect race, I would hit my goal.
Complicating everything, I decided to take this year and upgrade from a Cat 5 to a Cat 4. I have to admit I was really nervous about this. I never really dominated Cat 5 or Master’s B races in the last three years. Going up to the 4’s would mean that I would be in the back of the pack at most of the races I compete in. At the UVU Stage Race early in the season I finished in the middle of the pack. In the B4K Stage Race I literally got caught out in a crash in both the Crit and Road Race and got shelled off the back. At the Antelope Island Road Race I had a flat at the start. After I busted butt and caught the group at mile 20, I ended up getting shelled off the back on the first climb. At the Porcupine Hill Climb I got dropped by the lead group after about a mile. Upgrading was a rude awakening about my need to improve my speed.
Then for LOTOJA I ended up in the Master’s A Group. This was the group for men over 35 and included Cats 1-4 — it was going to be a very fast group. Looking through the list of participants in the group before the race, there were 10+ guys out of 50 capable of a sub 9:00. I knew I wouldn’t get on the podium, but I did want to finish in the top 50% of my group and the top 20% of the finishers.
The cool thing about the group was that there were 6 racers from Infinite Racing registered, including three of my favorite riders. I met Matt Hansen at the team spring training camp and immediately hit it off with him. He is one of those fast guys that is just so nice that you can’t help but like him. Then there was Brandon Storrs, my weekly training partner. I love riding with Brandon — he can climb like a goat and is willing to wait for you at the top of a climb. He made me ride harder throughout the year. Then, there was Brent Williams. What can you say about Brent but that the guy is an absolute stud. He is the cousin to one of my roommates in college and one of my best pals. The three of them would be riding in the same group with me. While I knew the three of them are faster than I am, it would be good for me to try and ride their wheels to hit my time goals. Having the opportunity to ride with them ended up being one of the highlights of LOTOJA 2014 for me.
So I could give you the detailed version of what happened the week and night before, but I will skip that. Everything went well before the start. The morning of the race, I ate three scrambled eggs, had a bottle of Infinit, and a bottle of water about an hour before the start. I have tested this mix all season on rides over 50 miles with success.
The weather was about 50 degrees at our start time of 6:15. I rode to Brent’s hotel and we rode the short distance to the start line. There we met up with Matt and Brandon. The other riders from Infinite Racing were there too. I saw some of my other friends who were in the category and the announcer called out our division and we rolled up to the start line. It was time to go.