There's not much to say about this one. I sucked. I went home disappointed. No surprise, really. I was an idiot.
The prior weekend's LAMB ride was a brute. I think because we were riding only four gaps instead of the full 6-gap route, we hit the climbs harder. Our moving pace was certainly indicative of this. Oppressive heat didn't help matters. With Ascutney coming up the following Saturday, I had to get any intensity training done earlier in the week rather than later if I wanted any chance of approaching my best finish. Recent power numbers and PRs on local climbs suggested I was in good enough form to contest my PR there.
So on Tuesday, I went out for an abbreviated intervals ride on the bike. My legs were still FUBAR from the LAMB ride. I rode with a couple other guys from work and just sat on their wheels up the first couple of interval climbs. I managed to work in a couple moderately hard efforts later in the ride, but it ultimately was a junk ride. All I did was abuse my body just enough to prolong recovery without getting any training benefit.
Wednesday comes. I hadn't run in almost a week. If I didn't run on Wednesday, I'd go 10 days or more without a run. With CIGNA coming up, I couldn't let that happen. Feeling let down by Tuesday's junky ride, I figured I would not just go out for a junky 5 miler, but go for some intensity. I'd do one mile repeats. In 90+F heat no less.
I've run many times the day before an interval workout on the bike. It takes me down a notch, but not enough to significantly diminish the value of intervals the next day. I figured I had two recovery days before Ascutney, so how badly could two or three one mile efforts harm me?
Even though I dug a deeper training hole on Tuesday, I found I could actually push a descent pace running. Maybe I was finally bouncing back from the LAMB ride. After a warm-up, I ran a 5:35 mile. I had never run mile intervals before, so I had no idea if this was good or bad. I ran a cool down mile, then another one mile interval in 5:36. By now I was completely overheated and there was no way to run a third one. I ran back to work with over 5 miles total. I felt quite satisfied with these two solid intervals.
It didn't take long for these efforts started to catch up with me. I hadn't run anything over a 7:30 pace in the last six weeks due to calf injury. I hurt in places running should never hurt you, like my upper body, even my biceps. Two days later, I had shins splints so bad that stairs were very uncomfortable to negotiate. My quads, hip flexors and glutes hurt more than anything else. I use those for cycling, so how could 11 minutes of fast running put the hurt on those muscles?
I also managed to ensure I wouldn't get enough sleep before heading to Ascutney, as I went to a concert the night before and the race start time was moved up to 9am. Late to bed, early to rise. Cathy and I went to see Dennis DeYoung at the Lowell summer music series. The show was phenomenal. Dennis' voice hasn't changed in 40 years. He had talented musicians with him and covered all of Styx's greatest hits. A class act all the way, and probably the best value concert I ever went to.
By Saturday morning, I didn't feel too bad. The weather was ideal for a hillclimb. I still remained hopeful for a descent recent. My wave goes off. It didn't take long at all to realize I had no sustainable top-end. I threw in the towel after the first mile when everybody and their sister dropped me. I finished in over 30 minutes, one of my worst finishes ever at Mt Ascutney. This was barely better than when I rode up Ascutney at a recreational pace a few weeks earlier. I was hoping for something closer to 28 minutes. What a big disconnect between expectation and result, probably biggest ever.
It was still a great day for a climb. I caught up with a few people I haven't seen in a long time. The event is always well organized. There is great healthy food at the summit, and awards are held right there just after the last finisher makes it up. The day was not all a lost cause.
I didn't go for the traditional ride after the climb. I was saving it for a full day on the Northeast Kingdom trails the next day (stories forthcoming). When I got home, I was feeling angry with myself. So what did I do? Went for a hilly five mile run, partially off-road. That would set me up nicely for NEK the next day. I will never learn...