Some days you’ve got it. Some days you don't. And some days, well you’re not even home. Today's prologue went the way of not even being home. It started out right, with a good night’s sleep, a good breakfast, and a good preview of the course. I think somewhere after the ride though, I started falling off the pace.
When I got back to the hotel after seeing the course, I normally would have showered and then gone straight to lunch. Today however, we got back around 11:30 am and my start time wasn't until 6:28 pm - which meant that lunch wasn't going to be until 2:30 pm. This seemed like a small thing at the time, but it would end up being one of many. Each small change was going to add up and end up having a big impact on my race.
To pass the time between my ride and lunch I watched a DVD in my room. This also seemed like a small change to my day, because I normally only watch DVD’s when my day is over and its time to wind for the day down and relax – a totally different mental state than trying to prepare for a short, violent prologue effort. Then, I decided to have lunch about 1:30 pm instead of 2:30 because I was of course starving by that point and couldn’t wait any longer. The only problem with that change was that I was finished eating almost 5 hours before my start time, which is too long. I would have to eat something again before the race or start the race on empty – and neither one would be ideal – again, another small change making a big impact on my typical routine.
After lunch I went to my room and took an hour and half nap before it was time to leave for the course. When I woke up, I grabbed my things, jumped into the team car and headed to the race. We got to the race 2:15 hours before my start, so I took another 45 min nap in the bus before it was finally time to get ready. By that point though I was completely out of race mode and was just going through the motions. This feeling might sound a little strange to some to be a little out of it just before a big event starts, but it is quite normal for me to feel this way before a TT since there is so much down time before you actually get to race. What wasn't normal though was when I started to warm up I didn’t realize that nothing had changed during the warm up, and my head seemed to still be missing.
After riding the home trainer for a half hour it was time to go to the starting ramp. When I got up to the ramp and clipped into my pedals the official said it was 30 seconds to go. Right then I started to realize something was completely off, because for some reason I thought each rider departed at 2 minute intervals. “Oh no, don't panic it's only a minute sooner,” I thought. But I knew I desperately needed at least that minute to try to get into my race mode mentally.
When the official said go I left the ramp in body only, as my mind was still trying to catch up. As they say, the light was on, but no one was home... The whole race I felt like I was just going through the motions, waiting for my mind to click over to race mode and start really racing hard. After each turn I would tell myself I needed to turn it on only to find myself holding something back. Before I knew it the 6.8 kilometers (around four miles) was almost over, and I was at the 500 meters to go sign. Suddenly, my mind got into the game but with only 500 meters left to the finish there wasn’t much I could do to salvage the day. First thing I thought when I crossed the line was, “Now I'm ready!” Definitely a little too late... But on the up side, Jani had a great ride, finishing third on the day!
I’m now hoping things are lined up and ready to go, since there’s still seven more days ahead of me which will hopefully go much better than today!