Me and Dzangel

Me and Dzangel
RMC 5K 2007

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Can you get ready for a half-marathon in 2 weeks?

Well, I have survived/completed another Whistlestop run. This year I ran the half marathon. It was kind of an experiment for me. I had been focusing most of my training and energy to bicycling this summer. I did a run here and there but it was spotty and irregular with no plan. I did a bunch of WORS races earlier in the summer when my schedule permitted. My one goal for the season was to try to peak and have an awesome Short and Fat at the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival. I had a great race and had my best time in years. Now I had three weeks to get some running legs and get ready for Whistlestop.
I wasn't worried about finishing. Plus, I was treating it more as a run than a race. Of course I wanted to do well, I always do. But I knew there was no chance for a PR. I am always hopeful but also realistic. My race goal was to run 8:00 miles and finish around 1:45. My main goal for the next couple of weeks was to put in miles and get my legs used to a different motion. I knew I had a good fitness base, but cycling is different than running. I got back home after CFTF weekend and headed out for a run as soon as the car was unpacked. When I woke up on Sunday morning after the Short and Fat I had a sore right knee. Not sure why? I hadn't crashed. Hadn't changed equipment or adjusted my riding position. I didn't hurt bad, it was more of an ache. It was kind of odd because I have never had any issues with my knees, running or biking. I figured that I must have pushed a little bit too hard during the race. I was sure it would feel better the next day.
That just goes to show what I know! Over the next two weeks one knee or the other, sometimes both, hurt, ached, bothered me. Now, a smart man would have backed off. That's one thing I have never claimed to be, smart. I just kept pushing. If it doesn't kill you it will make you stronger, right? By the time I did my last good run before heading to Ashland it hurt to walk. Now I was worried that I might hurt something else by changing my stride. I was actually worried about finishing.
Race day dawned and I awoke and hobbled up the steps at my Dad's to check the weather. Aw, man!!! 28 degrees and SNOW. Not a lot but enough. The weather forecast had called for cold and a slight chance of snow, but I had crossed my fingers and hopped it might not happen. Fine time for the weather guy to get it right. I ate my oatmeal and got dressed. I slathered my knees with Biofreeze and hoped for the best. At least Tammy was going to drive me to the start and wait so I wouldn't be standing out in the cold for an hour. I waited as long as I could in the warm car before I headed to the start line. As I lined up the sun tried to poke out from behind the clouds.
The starting gun went off and I headed down the road. The first mile is a slight downhill on the road. Unfortunately that is when my knees hurt the most, downhill. Plus, the road was a little icy on the edges of the crowned road. And it was a headwind until we turned on to the rail trail that the majority of the race is run on. I had promised myself that I would go slow and easy until I hit the trail and I actually kept my own promise. My first mile split was around 8:30. I felt okay and my knees only ached a little, just when I moved!
I finally made the turn on to the rail trail and put the wind at my back. I picked up the pace but kept an eye on my watch and kept the mile splits just a bit under 8:00. I hit every aid station and walked through them while I took in some water or energy drink. I took a gel around the thirty minute mark and one at the hour mark. By the half way mark I knew I would finish but I wanted to finish strong and not hobble in. If I stayed on the balls of my feet and off the heels I felt good. At the 10 mile mark I still was feeling pretty good. My splits were staying pretty steady. I took a good walk break through an aid station while I took in my last gel. I headed into Ashland and hit the paved portion of the trail. I started to pick up the pace and headed to the finish line. My last mile was actually my fastest. My finish time was 1:43:19. I was right around my goal. I could still walk, albeit tenderly. Another successful (to me) finish.
Now that I have had over a week to look back would I call my experiment successful? Yeah, I think so. Would I do it again? Probably not. I still have sore knees. Still not sure why. It could be the sudden training shift and mileage. In the three weeks leading up to the race I ran over 120 miles. Not smart. I know. From zero to all out. But, in my own defense, I've done this before, and the increase has never bothered me. In fact my body usually works best when I really push it.
The sore knees could also be a shoe issue. I was alternating between three pairs of shoes. Two pairs of road shoes and one pair of trail shoes. All these were over a year old but the mileage on them wasn't overly high.
Another idea is the runs I did. I did several runs on the Ice Age Trail outside of Waupaca. Most of these were around 10 miles and of course, hilly. I took it easy on the hills. I stayed upright and didn't take any tumbles but the terrain could have been an issue.
I haven't come up with any clear solutions, just lots of ideas. I need to get some new shoes, spend some time on the bikes and recover. If it doesn't clear up I may even, wait for it......see a doctor. GASP!!!! If you know me, this doesn't happen often.
Next time I will hopefully have a plan and some goals for late fall/winter. Now it's time to finish my Fat Tire Ale and hobble off to bed.
Thanks for listening. Later.........

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fat Tire Recap

Well, another Chequamegon Fat Tire Fest has come and gone. I would have to chalk this one up as a successful endeavor.
We headed up to Telemark on Thursday. If you haven't stayed at Telemark during the CFTF or the Birkie it is something you just have to experience. Being around so many like minded folks is just amazing. Not too many other places you can see bikes being wheeled down hallways and into hotel rooms. We stayed with my sister, brother-in-law and niece. A great bunch of people to spend an awesome weekend with. We were spoiled royally by my brother-in-laws cooking. If the weekend had lasted much longer I would have had to start a diet. Lasagna, pizzas, pancakes, venison....Just thinking about everything I ate that weekend is making me hungry all over again. Thanks Mike, you can cook anytime!
Friday Mike, Bethany (niece) Tammy and I went out to pre-ride part of the Short and Fat course. This was Beth's first race so we wanted to at least show her what the finish would be like. We rode in a little ways on the course and turned around and headed for the finish. Beth didn't look like she was having alot of fun. Although the Short and Fat is around 16 miles in length it isn't an easy course. The hills start early and never stop. Not an easy course for a first race. Beth must have been thinking "what in the hell am I in for"? I tried to reassure her and told her that her main goal should be just finishing. Dead last is always one step ahead of DNF. After we rode to the finish Tammy and I turned around to explore a section of single track that we had noticed.
Now, I probably haven't mentioned this in any previous posts but Tammy has just started mountain biking. She started on a Trek meant more for bike paths. After a few rides on some local single track and ski trails she bought a "real" mountain bike. More aggressive riding position, better components, meant for serious riding. She has really taken to this sport. After beginning running a few years ago and really enjoying that her enthusiasm for biking shouldn't have surprised me. She gets better by leaps and bounds every time we go out. Every time she jumps on that bike and says "let's go" she makes me very proud. Quite a different lady from the one I met just a few short years ago.
So, back to Chequamegon land. Race morning dawned with beautiful weather. Sunny, a little cool before the start but warming up to around 60 by race start. I hopped on my bike at Telemark and rode into Cable to the start. I had a great warm up. Nice and relaxed. Legs felt great. No aches or pains to complain about. I met the rest of Team OTB-Off the back-in Cable and we unloaded their bikes and headed towards the start. Beth didn't want much of a warm up so Mike and I headed down the road a short distance to stretch out his legs. Then we headed back to the start and the porta-potty lines. Then into the starting area.
I had a preferred start so I headed towards the front and Mike and Beth headed towards the back. Gotta love that preferred start. No worries about getting a spot and then standing around for an hour or more. With about 15 minutes to go they called us to our bikes. I was feeling a little more nervous than I usually do. I had been keying on this race all summer and really wanted a good result. I always have butterflies at the start of a race. I guess when that feeling goes away it will be time for me to stop racing.
10:00 a.m. and then starting gun goes off. I hate the start of this race. I always go out to hard and pay for it on the first hills on Randysek Road. The hills start right away and don't stop until the finish but I never learn. The first quarter mile was controlled this year so that helped a little. Still, when I hit the dirt I was sucking air right away. I pulled back a little bit knowing I wasn't exactly going to win and I wanted to have a good race. Plus I knew that I would do better once I hit the rolling hills on the Birkie trail. Patience, just wait for the parts of the race that suit my riding style better. Hard to listen to that inner voice as riders were streaming by!
I tried not to let too many riders pass me and settled into a good, hard pace. I have kept one thought in my head all summer. Tammy said, "some times you have to suck it up and suffer". Every time I thought of that I gritted my teeth and pushed just a bit harder.
I kept waiting for the right hand turn that signaled to me the parts of the course I knew suited me better than the start. Once I hit that I pushed a little harder and started to make up some lost ground. I don't know why I like the Birkie trail portion more than other parts of the trail. I just seem to flow, for lack of a better explanation. Once those hills arrived I pushed as hard as I could. The last half of the course was my best part of the race. I hit my granny ring once, on "Big Bertha", a short and steep hill. After that I stayed in my big ring for most of the race. I pushed on the downhills and kept the speed up on the ups.
When you are a couple of miles out you can already here the finish area. The announcer is cheering on racers and you can hear the crowd. That just fires me up even more. You know you're getting close but still have a few miles to go.
Towards the end you pop out of woods and onto a gravel road on the fringe of Telemark Resort. That means about a mile and a half to go. It is a nice up hill section on the road to another section of grassy trail. Down a nice hill and then up the back side of the ski hill. I bit my lip and pushed up the hill. Just a few hundred yards to go now. Down the other side of the hill and up a couple short hills to the finish line. I gave it everything I had left and crossed the finish line. 1:02:25 for a finish time. I had a few goals before the start and this fell right about in the middle. Sub one hour was my "gold" goal but this was damn close. I haven't ridden this course this fast for a LONG time, maybe 10 years or more. That time put me in the top 100 out of over 800 and top 10 in my age class. I was pretty happy with the result.
After talking with Tammy and Trish I headed back out to the gravel road and waited for Mike and Beth. After a short wait they came down the trail and headed down the road to the finish. They both looked good and I knew they would both finish. Pretty darn good for Beth's first race and for Mike too. This is the only race he does all year. They may not be way up in the results but they are out there, testing themselves, instead of just watching. I am as proud of them as I am of myself for doing well.
After everyone had finished we posed for some pictures and headed back to the room to clean up. Then we all headed back to the finish area to soak up more Fat Tire fun. What a great day. It had warmed nicely with a nice breeze and everyone was having a great day. After watching all the riders Tammy said she wants to do it next year. Wow! Like I said earlier, she sure has changed and she never cease to amaze and inspire me.
Later that evening Dad and Char came down from Ashland to visit. We talked and ate MORE food. It was the perfect end to an amazing day. I can't wait for next year. I am thinking of doing the 40. I haven't done that in a while and it would be a new challenge. Or, maybe, I'll do the Short and Fat again but on a singlespeed. We'll see.