Yesterday was our state hillclimb championship. It's not much as hillclimbs go--pretty short, not steep--but it still seems to intimidate most of the Washington peloton. Here are the factors that I would say affected my performance:
1. I had not raced on my road bike since July 1.
2. I have done only one training ride with long climbs all summer (at the beginning of July).
3. I never had much power, and I lost more last winter.
4. I tried to lose weight quickly and had some bad days on the bike with no energy for even short hills.
5. I increased my mid-week training miles, item 4 notwithstanding.
6. I started running a couple of mornings a week (no, not for cyclocross!), before my trainer workouts.
7. I took the bottle cages and computer off my bike on race day, left my wedding rings at home, and even went so far as to weigh my favorite pairs of sunglasses to see which were the lightest.
8. I had a super stressful week (including lack of sleep) before the race (can you say "omnium results"?).
9. I had no expectations because I haven't been racing in the WA peloton this summer (not by design, it just happened that way) and couldn't anticipate how "competitive" I'd be. My goals were vague (to beat two particular women).
10. I lost 7 pounds in the weeks leading up to the race.
Coaches, take note. In spite of the things above that you would laugh at, discourage as training habits, and argue were detriments to my performance, I think my time this year was a PR on this course. Here are the numbers I have:
28:37 was also good enough for third-fastest women's time overall. So which of those top 10 factors was most influential? Number 10, hands down. Of all the women who opted to "weigh in" at the finish, only one weighed (one pound) less than me. And in spite of my power shortage, I mustered enough to keep it in the big ring for the second half of the course (that's pay off from climbing on the tandem).
Our society doesn't let you talk about women and weight in the same sentence. Too much potential for sounding judgmental or damaging someone's self-esteem. But on the margin, on a climb, on a bike, less is better.