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All My Personal Bests Broken, But One

So far this year, I’ve knocked off all my personal bests except one: Old La Honda Road.

My 2011 personal best of 18:05 on Old La Honda came 2 weeks after the 2011 Everest Challenge, and while I’ve come very close to beating it, nothing succeeds like actually beating it!

I did not start the climb as a time trial, and so I carried ~3 pounds of gear up the hill which fairly stated should lop ~18 seconds off the time of 18:41 for a “fair and equivalent” time of 18:23 — which is still 17 seconds off my personal best of 18:05.

Beating a personal best

Probably I could have beaten my best time by dropping the extra weight and being willing to suffer a bit more and starting out with the intent to beat it. Of course, with each new personal best, beating it gets harder and harder, and I’m not getting any younger (late 40's).

What does a PB come down to?

Grit and determination, appropriate physical reset and adequate sleep, plus mysterious physiological factors— all have to come together to make it happen. I’ll do sub-18 minutes this year, I’m sure of it! Just not really focused on it prior to the upcoming 2012 Everest Challenge.

The graph

Starting around the half-way mark, the feel of lactate began to come into play, and by 2/3 of the way up, whatever lactate-absorbing and oxidizing capacity my training has developed has now reached its steady state, at which point power began to falter by ~10 watts or so; surging has no empty physiological “sponge” to soak up the lactate from the surge. More specific training could address this, perhaps not a great deal, but perhaps enough to maintain 10-20 more watts for a few more minutes.

On the “grit and suffering” front, the final power spurt suggests that I should have been able to suck it up and average higher power for the last several minutes, whereas the graph shows power beginning to falter towards the end. Heart rate did reach 174, which is my nominal max heart rate. Chest heaving, I could function only just well enough to not topple over at the summit. A final surge is good, but higher power throughout is better methinks.

Power (watts) and heart rate for ascent of Old La Honda Road, 1280'
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