Me and Dzangel

Me and Dzangel
RMC 5K 2007

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Training schedules and plans

Well, it's been a couple weeks and it's time for an entry.
I've been reading various books, websites and articles trying to plan a firm training plan for 2011. With my goofy shift work schedule this could be interesting. As always, flexibility is the key in any plan, especially for me.
This time I have actually put a plan on paper and am putting workouts on a calendar. It's still early and I'm essentially going through a transition period but it looks good so far! I am using information from Joel Friel's The Mountain Bikers Training Bible, Weight Training For Cyclist by Ken Doyle and Eric Schmitz and various other running and cycling books. I used the two cycling books as I've decided to focus on cycling, and specifically mountain biking, next year. I have some other goals planned but this will be my main focus.
I've always been a self coached athlete, and I use the term athlete very loosely! I have used online plans and schedules, some with very good success. I have a pile of books, magazines and favorite websites. I throw this all into a mix and apply it as best I can to what I think will work for me. Sometimes it works-I had a great first half marathon using this method. Sometimes it doesn't work well-last year at the Birkie! I guess I am just to cheap to hire a coach-online or other. Plus, with my crazy shift work schedule, I'm not sure they could do much better than I have. If anyone is reading this, do you think you can do better than I have? I'm open to suggestions or takers!!
So what is different this time? I am planning much earlier than I ever have. I have goals set and races picked that I want to peak for. I actually have a hard copy written down and starting next week-November 29th-I have a workouts planned on a calendar. Will it work? Who knows? But I am going to try my damnedest!! As I've stated before, I have big goals for 2011 and I want to do my best.
I will go over my lofty goals next time. I am in the process of scheduling my vacations for next year, which will somewhat impact my goals. I am looking forward to some comments about my goals. To lofty? Insane? Make up your mind-run, bike, ski?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Season recap

It's been a couple weeks since the last race and a few days since the 2010 WORS awards banquet. I've had some time to think about my bike racing season and all in all I'm pretty satisfied. The season started on May 2nd and wound all the way to October 10th. I did eight races in five months. This doesn't include a second day at Mt. Morris, Chequamegon and some running races just to mix things up. In those eight races I finished fourth three times, fifth twice, sixth once and eighth twice. Although the fields weren't always big they were competitive. There were some races where the top eight were less than two minutes apart.
I learned a lot racing singlespeed this year. I learned to be patient. I learned that momentum is my friend. It didn't pay to ride right up on someones rear tire just to have to lock up the brakes. It's better off to keep a steady pace going, especially in single track, when you only have one gear. I learned to spin a high cadence on some of the long roll outs and to push up the hills. I also came to the conclusion that sometimes, simple is better. Some of my times this year were faster than last year on a geared bike.
I was happy with my gear choices for the races. I tried to keep this simple also. I only had a couple of choices for rear cogs-a 16 or 17 tooth. At Mt. Morris I wish I had an 18 tooth but I made what I had work. It is just a matter of figuring out the course and then deciding whether to push a bigger gear or have a smaller gear for the climbs. There weren't too many courses that had me off the bike and pushing it up hills.
I think my training went well most of the year. I tried to build up my endurance so I wouldn't fade at the end of the races. They may not be long races but they are intense-and I'm getting older! Although I didn't get as much quality off road training as I would like I made what I did get count, usually in the form of the race pre-ride. I spent plenty of time on the road, a lot of it being bike commuting.
All in all I would have to call this a successful season. I had fun, usually kept the rubber side down and best of all, I got to enjoy watching Tammy, my wife, enjoy her first season of racing. I can't wait for next May and the first race of WORS 2011.
I'll post on my goals and plans for next year soon. Thanks for checking this out.......

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wigwam MTB Challenge

My race in Sheboygan at the Wigwam MTB Challenge on October 10th was so-so, if judged on overall or class finish. I've done better, I've done worse. Having had a bit over a week to play it back in my head I would have to say it was one of my best races of the year.
Going in to the race I was in 3rd place in the WORS Sport Singlespeed class. I was too far behind 2nd to catch him but I was only 4 points ahead of 4th. I knew Anthony, the rider in 4th, was going to be in Sheboygan to try to knock me off the final podium. I was determined to not let that happen.
Tammy and I arrived in Sheboygan late on Saturday afternoon. I had worked 11 pm-7am the night before and needed my beauty sleep. We checked in at our hotel, changed and headed over Jaycee's Quarryview and Evergreen Parks to pre-ride the course. I rode on easy lap with Tammy and then did a faster lap solo. I finished in good shape and felt confident about Sundays race. My gear choice-32x16-seemed good on all but the "Equalizer" and the bike felt flawless.
Sunday was a perfect day for the race. Mid 60's and sunny, with very little breeze. You couldn't ask for better weather for early October. I watched the start of Tammy's Citizen race and caught glimpses of her at a view spots on her first lap. Then I headed off to change and get warmed up. I pedaled down the road and did laps around a small industrial park. After 20 minutes of easy pedaling I tossed in a couple hard efforts and made my way back to the starting line.
I got to the starting area with a few minutes to spare and noticed all of the top singlespeeders were there. I knew it was going to be a great race. I felt strong and relaxed waiting for our call ups. While we were waiting at the line Anthony remarked that he needed to finish two spots ahead of me to pass me in the final standings. My goal for the race was to not let that occur. I wanted to do well and have a strong race but goal number was-stay in front of Anthony at all costs!
Don Edberg-aka "Mr. WORS" -gave us our usual pep talk and pre-race instructions. I waited nervously for the countdown and Don's trademark GOOOOOOOOO!!!! *Note-if you've never experienced Don's starting ritual, you're missing a great spectacle!*
I had a fair start, as usual. I just never seem to get off the line strong and quick. Looks like I need to work on that for next season. I spun out my gear quickly and tried to hang on to the pack and keep an eye on the other singlespeeders. Just as we sped down a short paved section I saw Anthony off to my right. I knew the singletrack was coming up and I wanted to be ahead of him when we entered it. Just before the hard right in to the singletrack I passed him and put the hammer down. The first half of the course featured some longer sections of singletrack. I figured if I could get in front and put some riders between us I might be able to open a gap. Out of sight, out of mind. The singletrack was twisty and rooted but I pushed about as hard as I could without blowing up. I caught a small group of singlespeeders and 18 and under racers and we flew through the singletrack.
On a small gravel climb just before we crossed over to Quarryview Park, the leader in the singlespeed class, Jesse, caught me and blew right by. I looked back to see who had hooked an anchor to my bike. It was obvious why Jesse was in first.
I had a strong first lap. I kept pushing and tried to keep picking off riders. I was cruising through lap two when another singlespeeder caught me on a short but steep climb in some singletrack. I put a foot down when I lost momentum and he muttered some remarks about my riding ability and holding him up. That's putting it politely. He passed me and at the same time he lit a fire under me and gave me some added incentive to keep pushing. I latched on to his wheel and let him pull me along. I figured if he was that strong I'd let him do all the work. I stayed with him the remainder of lap two and most of lap three. At almost the same spot where I had held up his progress he dismounted and had to walk up the short climb. I took the opportunity to pass him and the doubled my effort. I wasn't letting him by again. I crossed over to Quarryview, dropped down on the singletrack along the river and headed to the screaming crowd on the Equalizer. I didn't entertain any thoughts of trying to ride it but got off and ran up the climb. Down the trail and around the quarry on the "Sheboygan slickrock". Every time I heard a bike behind me I just knew it was going to be Anthony. If I heard the click of a shifter and derailleur I knew I was safe. Back down along the river and back up through some loose sand. Under the bridge and across in to Evergreen Park and one last little section through some trees. I sprinted for the line like the devil was after me. I was just catching my breath and talking with Jesse and a couple other riders when Anthony came through. I had beaten him, but only by about fifteen seconds. At that point that was as good as fifteen minutes! If I had done my math right, I knew I had sewn up third overall and would be on the podium at the awards banquet.
I ended up 5th in singlespeed that day. The top 8 of us were only 2 minutes apart. I call that a tough and competitive field. And I would call that a good race and mission accomplished.
I've been relaxing and just enjoying myself the last week and a half. No structured training and nothing planned. But, my mind is whirring. I'm already thinking and planning for next season. I'll talk about that more when I get it firmed up and have some concrete goals.
Until then.........gotta go and enjoy the great fall weather.
Thanks for checking this out.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Weekly recap

Good morning everyone....anyone.
Just a quick update to let you know how the last week went.
I worked day shift - 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.- so my training, if you can call it that, consisted of bike commuting from Plover to Biron. The week started out nice but by the end of the week it was in the low 30's on my ride in at 5 a.m. Not really cold, but colder than I am used to. We'll call it seasonal. Mid week I battled a blustery and rainy ride back to Plover. So much for trusting the weatherman. I pushed the pace a bit that day and on Sunday. Not ridiculously hard but considering I was wearing a heavy backpack it was a good workout. I tend to take it easy on my morning rides in so they were nothing spectacular.
No running or gym workouts last week. I am trying to key up for my last WORS race this Sunday, October 10th, in Sheboygan. I am currently in third place in Sport Singlespeed, but by only 4 points. I need one more good race to stay on the podium for the season overall. All I can do is race my best race, put forth my best effort and let the chips fall where they may.
Nothing else exciting last week. I've been thinking about my fall recovery plans and plans for 2011 already. As I firm these up I'll post about them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bear Paw Pics

Some great photos from Extreme Photography Unlimited.

Bear Paw Rock & Roll

Well, I've had a few days to let this race rattle around my skull. Some thoughts...

It was a gorgeous day for a race. The torrential rains from early in the week didn't affect the course much at all. The single track was a little greasy and there were a few puddles in the double track but they were avoidable. All in all it was a great course. Bear Paw Outdoor Adventure Resort put on a great race.

This race started with a short roll out and then one helluva hill. I had a pretty good start for a change. At least I think I did. Starting with the 18 and under age group it can be difficult to keep an eye on everyone. I was with the first couple singlespeeds at the top of the hill and we blasted down the other side on some fast double track. This led into the first section of single track. Through out the three laps the sections of the single track gave me fits! It was fun, but greasy, rooted and rocky. It seemed like I would get some speed and momentum going-a singlespeeders best friend-and then I'd end up putting a foot down and losing everything. Still, I didn't seem to be losing too much ground and wasn't holding any one up.

The field was a little smaller than usual so I spent a fair amount of the three laps alone. I never really knew how I was doing but kept trying to push. I knew I had passed a couple singlespeeders early in the first lap and from early races I knew they would probably be right behind me. Sure enough, about half way through the last lap I had one pass me. I tried to stay on his wheel in the single track but just didn't seem to have it. On the last climb I had another singlespeed pass me. I knew I didn't have far to go so I pushed and jumped on his wheel and we flew down the hill and on to the double track to the finish. On the last turn in to the finish chute I had my front wheel along side his back wheel. He had the inside line and I couldn't get around him. If I had pushed it harder I think I would have gone in to his back wheel and taken us both out. I backed off just a little and, yeah, I guess I let him have the spot. Just not worth taking us both down and losing spots.

Just after we finished another singlespeed came in right behind us. In the final results, second through fifth were about one minutes apart. Good hard racing. Just the kind I like.

I ended up 4th singlespeed and 48th overall. Not too bad. Of course I would like to have done better, but with my training, or lack of training lately, I'll take it.

Now I've got a little less than two weeks until the last race in Sheboygan. I need to put in some solid training and try to get the best result I can. If I have a good race and result it should give me a good finish in the overall standings.

We'll see.....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Short and Fat race recap

If I had to title this post it would probably be "A Tale of Two Races" or maybe "Swinging Emotions". It was one of those days.

Tammy and I drove up north on Friday and stayed at a cabin with my sister, brother-in-law and their granddaughter. We had a nice and relaxing drive and enjoyed the fall colors that were just beginning to show. A little rain but that was no big deal. The bikes were in the car and it would hopefully be just enough to firm up the race course. After we arrived we relaxed a bit and then all headed down to Cable for bib pick up. It seemed odd seeing Telemark closed up and everything set up under the big tent. Back to the cabin and a tasty supper and then I trundled off to bed.

I woke up about 6:30 a.m. Saturday and started my pre-race routine. I hadn't slept well but I didn't feel tired. I ate my normal oatmeal, bagel with Nutella and a protein drink and started getting dressed. It was a sunny but cool morning. I put on an Under Armor shirt, my Dznuts jersey, arm warmers and shorts. I felt ready and a little anxious, or nervous but that's normal. If I stop feeling those butterflies then it's time to stop racing.

We pulled in to Cable, found a parking spot and started to unload the bikes. I told Tammy that I was having a bad feeling about the bike. I had tried putting on a new chain earlier in the week, only to realize it wasn't the right size. Good thing I had saved the old chain. I cleaned that and put it on. Then I changed the 17 tooth cog to a 16 and adjusted the bottom bracket. I'm kind of anal about some things ( or everything, Tammy would say) and I kept adjusting and readjusting until I got the chain tension right where I wanted. All this was done last minute and that's never a good thing.

Tammy and I did a short warm up and loosened up the legs. I wasn't too worried about getting in to the start area since I had a preferred start. After the warm up I gave Tammy a good luck kiss, told her she would do great and we both lined up. I was still feeling the butterflies but I felt strong. I hadn't done a lot of riding the last few weeks but I felt my endurance was good and my earlier races had me feeling confident.

The gun went off and the pack was off like a shot. The lead quad controlled the roll out until we hit the gravel but I was still spun out right away. I was wishing for more gears, a bigger gear, anything. But, I knew I would make up for all the riders passing me when we hit the hills.

I settled in to a steady pace on Randysek Road and pushed on the downhills and used my momentum to push the uphills. I started to move up slowly and was feeling great.

I made the left hand turn and hit the rocks and ruts on the snowmobile trail. I pushed as hard as I could over the rocks and ruts. A couple minutes in I heard a buzz and turned to see who was that close to me that we were rubbing wheels. Nobody was there. I tried to figure out what the sound was when my bike suddenly skidded to a stop. What the hell!! I jumped off and saw my rear wheel had popped out of my dropouts. Aw man! Was it a chain problem? Axle broken? I opened the quick release and tried to maneuver the wheel back in. It went in a little hard and I pushed the bike a little and the rear wheel wouldn't roll! Now what? Bent rotor? I tried wiggling and adjusting the rear wheel and finally got it to roll a little. Or so it seemed.It still was dragging somewhere, probably the rear brake rotor. All this time I was bent over my bike I could hear and see racer passing by the hundreds, or so it seemed. After what seemed like an eternity I got the wheel adjusted enough to get going again and off I went.

At this point I was ready to just ride it in and be satisfied with just finishing. I wasn't sure just how hard I wanted to push. The bike seemed to roll well enough down the hills but I could feel the drag on the flats and the uphills felt like I was pulling an anchor. But, I was making up ground and still passing riders. Maybe I could salvage a respectable race. My goal had been a finish time of sub one hour. That was out the door now. But I could still have a good race. I wasn't going to let a mechanical beat me. I put my head down and started to push.

I spun as hard as I could down Telemark Road. I even dodged an errant dog on the course. What next?! When I turned on to the Birkie trail I fell in behind another racer and we traded off pushing each other towards the finish. He would occasionally pull away but I would pick it and stayed with him. I had to get off and walk up Big Bertha but that was the only time I pushed the bike. I turned on to the power lines and knew there wasn't far to go. About this time I lost the wheel of the racer who had been pulling/pushing me the last five or six miles.

When I popped out on to the road behind the condos at Telemark I knew I had a mile to go. Up the road and back on the trail to the climb on the back of the ski hill. This was going to be a tough climb. Right at the bottom of the climb another single speed rider pulled up beside me and said we had just this last climb. "Yeah, if I survive", I remarked back. He started to pull away easily and I tried to stay with him. Not a chance! He put a 10 yard gap on me and suddenly got off and started pushing. That was all I needed. No way was I walking this last hill. I barely kept the pedals turning but made it to the top. Down the hill and around the final turns and the last little climb before the finish line. I crossed with a little sprint and was done.

Finally! When I had my mechanical my first thought was it's too early to DNF! How would I get out? Then I resigned myself to a long and slow race. When I finally got my head on straight and my attitude adjusted I decided to try my hardest. That's what I tell Tammy, and anyone else that will listen. Goal one should always be to finish.

I found my sister and waited for Tammy and Mike to finish. Tammy had an awesome race. She surprised herself with how well she did and how much fun she had. She beat her estimated finish time by a ton. She was figuring 2 hours and finished in 1:38 and change. Mike was just behind in a little over 2 hours. Everyone finished and in one piece so it was a good day.

I was still feeling bummed and disappointed by my race as we made our way to the timing trailer to get our times. I gave the girl my bib number and she printed out my timing slip. I looked at it as I walked over to the gang and saw my time and ranking. 1:10:06 - 136th overall and 3rd in single speed. What?? That can't be right. I figured it was just a preliminary result and would change. We walked our bikes back to the car and came back to the finish area. I checked the results posted near the finish and saw the same result.

If I learned anything from this race it is that after 25 years of racing I can still learn something. I learned don't give up. Keep pushing as hard as you can for as long as you can. One bad stretch doesn't doom the day. I also learned time has a strange way of passing while a person is racing. I would have sworn I had been off the bike 10 minutes with my mechanical. I had a helmet cam to tape the race and watched it after the race. I checked the time when I got off the bike and again when I got rolling-about 2:15. Not ten minutes! The biggest thing I learned? Check the bike quick before I start. Check the quick releases, tires, chain. Anything loose? Rattling? Got the pump? Spare tube? 30 seconds of checking can make or break the day.

All in all I would have to say it was a good day. We all finished in one piece. We had fun. The weather was great.

Next year will be better. I know it will.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Training Schedules

Well, here I am again. Been mulling some ideas and it's time to put some of them to words. Today's subject-training schedules. Or in my case, the lack thereof.
How many of you use a training plan/schedule? Do you really stick to it, as best you can?
I have used training plans in the past, and to pretty good success. I used one to train for a 5K a few years back. It incorporated speed work, tempo and long runs. It wasn't a case of not being able to run the distance. I wanted to see how fast I could run a 5K. I had never broken the 20 minute barrier and that was my goal. It wasn't anything fancy and it got the desired results. I ran my one and only sub 20 minute 5K. Never said I was speedy!
I also used a plan to do my first half marathon. I was a little hesitant about being able to run a strong race. Again, the distance wasn't a concerning factor. I wanted to run a good race and finish strong. I followed the plan as well as I could with my goofy work schedule. I was a little concerned when I wasn't meeting my pace goals for the long and tempo runs. I hadn't set a lofty time goal and I just couldn't seem to ever hit my paces. Come race day I toed the line knowing I had trained hard and was going to do the best I could. In my first half marathon I set a PR I haven't come close to again. Why? Could it be the structured training?
This summer I have been focusing my efforts on the bike, mainly the WORS mountain bike series. I haven't subscribed to any set program but I have done considerably more riding than running. I started to do some strength training which concentrated on cycling muscles. I added longer rides than I have done in years to build some endurance. Is it working? I would like to think so. I am racing the Sport singlespeed class, which has no age classes. I have been doing quite well and even have a couple podium finishes. It remains to be seen how the year will end up.
So, what got me to thinking about this. I did a 25K trail run yesterday that kicked my butt! I am sore and moving like an old man today. I should normally be able to do this without quite so much difficulty. I hadn't run this far since July 31. I only had one other run this far since the end of March. Hmmm....wonder why I suffered out there? DUH!!
So, my plan for the fall is to set up a plan for next year. I have some big goals-more later- and need to figure out how to make everything fit without killing myself or driving my better half insane. Any ideas? Opinions? Help?? Let me know.
Thanks for listening.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Vacation! What to do???

Finally! After working hard all summer, really, I have been working hard, it's vacation time. Three, yes, three weeks off. And no big plans. Which is leaving me kind of itchy. Does anybody else get like this? It's not that I need to compete or have some type of event scheduled. I just enjoy working toward a goal. I have some possible events on the near horizon but nothing really firm. Maybe that's the part that leaves me squirming. I am not one who normally needs things scheduled months in advance. My job doesn't allow that kind of advantage. I did have some events scheduled for earlier this year and something always came up at the last minute. So I am learning to be more flexible. I am used to doing things on the spur of the moment. But I do like having things kind of floating out there. Things I might be able to fit in to my weird schedule.
I would at least like to get in one more epic ( for me ) road ride. Nothing fancy or crazy. Just like my last two long rides. Hop on the bike, point it down the driveway with some general idea of where to go and go. Stash a couple extra dollars in the saddle bag for emergency energy food and pedal. We'll see if I can fit that in. I'll let ya know.
Got run.....or maybe pedal....later

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mid season

Wow, it's been a while. I know I say this every time but I will be updating this on a regular basis. At least once and hopefully twice per week. Also after every race, which seems to be quite frequently this summer.

I have to say that I am more than pleased with how my racing and training is going this year. I have been concentrating on the bike and trying to get in a run or two per week. So far, so good. I am racing a singlespeed in the WORS races this year. As of race number 7 I am situated in 2nd place. Not too bad considering there is no age differentiation for this class. One gear, one age group. I have had some good races -Kewaskum, Rhinelander-and some not so good-River Falls and Mt. Morris. But I am having fun and trying something new.

I have also been working on my endurance this summer. I have managed to get in two 100 mile rides so far. I have felt good after each ride and am planning at least one more. I basically get on the bike and ride. I have a route in mind but just let the roads take me where they will.

As far as running goes it has been sporadic, just like my posts. Although I need to work on it a little since I have a 25K trail race scheduled for the middle of September. It is right in my back yard on trails I run regularly. I don't plan on burning up the course but I would like to represent my home area proudly.

I have also been trying to watch my diet a little better than I normally would. I used to take the approach that I worked hard and therefore could eat what I want. Now I keep track and try to put less junk food down my gullet. Some days this works better than others. I'm eating some Ben and Jerry's Chubby Hubby as I write this so you can truly see that my diet is a work in progress!

It's late and it was a busy day at work so I'll sign off and add more at the end of the week.

Thanks for checking this out. Let me know what you think.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Birkie recap

Good morning! Sven here again. Time for another infrequent update. About that. It's my long weekend. That means I have off from 3:00 p.m yesterday (Friday) until 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday. Like a mini vacation for me. I plan to make a few more entries and then update this at least twice per week. Probably just ramblings about my training or what ever else enters my tiny and confused mind. I promise. Just hold me to it!
Okay, back to my Birkie musings. I have had a month to think about this and have come up with some thoughts. Nothing concrete here. Just guy feelings and intuition about what went wrong on a day with perfect conditions.
Why did I ski my slowest race in years? One of my slowest ever?
First and foremost, I over estimated my training. Wow! I thought I was in much better condition than I truly was. I got out on my skis 8 times last season prior to the Birkie. Some skiers do that in 2 weeks. That took me almost 3 months. Part of it was my fault. I broke a ski at last years event and along with it the boot and binding. I waited until early January to replace them. I missed the great early snow we had. I was running but that doesn't replace the ski specific training. I did get in a couple of long ski workouts but they just can't compare to skiing on the Birkie course.
Second, I under estimated the toughness of the course. I'm not sure how I can forget how tough that course is, but I seem to wipe it out of my mind from year to year. The hills! Man, I just totally forget how many, how steep and how long they last. The first couple miles and the run across the lake into Hayward are flat. That is it. Maybe 5 out of the 31 miles are flat. And that might be a generous estimate. The hills just killed me this year. I actually stopped to catch my breath at the top of a couple of them. I have never done that before.
Third, my skis. I'm not making excuses. I just think my skis weren't suited to me. I used my replacement skis. The sticker on them lists them as being flexed for a 161-181 lb. person. I am right at the top of that scale. Now add my clothes, a Camelbak full of water and I'm over that. They seemed slow all season, no matter the weather and/or wax. Was it a factor? I'm not quite good enough to say yes or no but my older skis never seemed to have given me this problem.
Going back to the training aspect, I can see I need to work on my endurance. At least ski specific endurance. I looked at my finishers certificate which has splits from a couple spots on the course. Between the 9K split and about halfway I dropped almost 1 minute per kilometer. It wasn't a case of going out too fast either. I felt good at the start and actually took it easy. I just had no endurance. Not enough time on the snow. If I had maintained my pace I would have finished in under 3:20:00. That was close to my goal time. A difference of 40:00 to my 3:57:51 finish!
So, here are my solutions. First, get out on the snow as early and as much as possible. I know Mother Nature has a lot to do with that. But no excuses. I have a couple of pairs of skis and I'm pretty careful when the conditions are marginal so I need to get out as soon as the trails are groomed.
I am also thinking about doing some roller skiing beginning in late summer/early autumn. I don't have any, yet! I do have some inline skates and these would work. Just now as ski specific. We have some good places to use either one. Low traffic back roads and some paved paths. If I got roller skis with the inflatable tires I could use them on the nearby rail trail. If I want to do well and try to better my time and possibly PR I need to seriously consider this option.
I need to work harder on my endurance all year long. Longer runs. Longer bike rides. Race more often and more consistently. I usually get in a ski race or two before the Birkie. This year I did a 5K trail run. Poor substitution. I am considering some epic bike races and maybe an ultra trail run this summer. If I can carry this through the year it would be a great help.
Last on my list is some new skis truly fit to me. The last time I bought skis and had them fit to me was 2000? Maybe. I think they would help. Plus, the psychological benefit is undeniable, at least to me. Look and feel fast? It helps to make you skis fast.
So, those are my thoughts. I have almost a year to carry through on these thoughts and plans. First I need to find the time off to do the race. No open vacation that week for 2011 where I work. We'll see how that works out. Working weekends makes it hard to get the time off.
One year. I better get to work.
More....soon......I promise.

Friday, March 12, 2010

2010 Badger State Games Trail Run

Whoa.! Two posts in less than a week! New territory for me. This is the first of a few race recaps from this past winter. I thought I better get them out while they are still somewhat fresh in my memory.

On February 6 I ran the Badger State Winter Games Train Run. Now, usually I would have done the marathon xc ski event at nearby Nine Mile Forest. Unfortunately I had to work the 3pm-11pm shift this day. Trying to fit a 2 1/2-3 hour xc ski event in before work just wasn't in the cards. Another case of not enough hours in the day for my playtime. The 5K trail run was a better time fit. The race started at 9:00 a.m. and with awards and time to get back for a shower and lunch before work I had a little wiggle time.

The race was held at Wausau School Forest just outside of Mosinee, WI. It was held on groomed snowmobile/ski trails. I wasn't sure what to expect for trail conditions since I had never run on anything remotely like this. Would it be hard? Powdery? Slippery? No idea.

I had some old shoes with sheet metal screws in the sole for traction but I didn't really think these would help. I thought even if the trail was firm I would still be sinking in a little with each step. I decided to run in my new Brooks Cascadia 5 trail shoes and see just how well they would do. Looking back it was a good decision.

I got to the event site fairly early and picked up my packet and went back to the car to get ready and stay warm. The weather was nice for early February. Sunny, mid 20's and moderate winds. I'll take that any winter day in central Wisconsin.

A little before the start I headed out for a short warmup to check out just what I would be running on. I hit the trail and was pleasantly surprised. The trail was very firm and gave more traction than I was expecting. This looked like it would be lots of fun!

I lined up just before the 9:00 a.m. start and tried to stay warm. It was a small field and looked pretty diverse. A few serious runners, middle of the packers, Moms and Dads with kids in tow and a few folks just out for some fun and fresh air.

The gun went off and away we went. I held back a little at the start to see how the field would work out. I usually go out way too fast and didn't want to do that today. I let the leaders string out and settled into a comfortable and steady pace. By the first turn the leaders were out of sight. I couldn't believe they could run that fast on the snow!

I kept my steady pace and tried to pick off a couple runners ahead of me. The trail remained firm and footing wasn't really much of an issue. It was mostly flat with some small ups and downs. Nothing too tough. After passing a few runners I got stuck out there in no mans land. I had a couple runners behind me and could see one or two ahead of me. I didn't have a GPS and there weren't any mile markers so I had no idea where I was on the course. I tried looking at my watch and gauging the distance by elapsed time. Not too scientific!

I finally caught up with a runner near what I assumed was the end. I could stay with him but just didn't seem to have enough to pass. I could pull even and then we would hit a small hill and he would pull just a step or two ahead. I was just grateful to have someone to pace with and pull me along. We came out of the woods and I could see the buildings near the start/finish line. I knew I didn't have enough to pass the fellow I was running with so I just put my head down and pushed the final yards to the finish line.

I headed to the car to change and then to the finish area for some water and fruit. Results came up fairly quick and I was surprised to see I had taken second in my age group with a 24:14. Not fast and there were only 5 in my age class but I felt happy with my results. Considering the level and quality of my running it was a bit of a surprise. My original goal was to stay under 8:00 miles so I beat that too!

I stuck around for the awards and headed out so I could get a shower and some lunch before work.

It was a great day for a winter run. Beautiful weather, a nice crowd, well organized, awesome trail and Tammy was there for some much needed support.

Next time I'll recap my 2010 American Birkebeiner and try to figure out what went wrong and what went right.

Gotta run.....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Winter Wrap Up

Time for another infrequent post. Still working on updating this on a more regular and frequent basis but something always pops up. I guess that's why we have goals, right?
So, it's time for me to reflect back on the end of winter -I hope!- and how my training went. Or in the case of this year, my lack of training.
I just looked at my Buckeye Outdoors training log from the beginning of the year to today, March 9. Then I went back and compared the same time span from last year. The differences weren't as surprising as I thought they would be.
I ran 35 times this year versus 18 last year. Pace wasn't much different but my average run was over 2 miles farther.
I biked on the trainer 5 times versus 12 times. Average speed was down almost 3 mph from last year but distance was up about 1 mile.
My main focus for this time of year is always cross country skiing and the Birkie. If I go back to the first outing of each season there is a HUGE difference, at least to me. I got out for the first time this season on January 6, 2010. Pretty late and there was snow earlier. Why so late? I just never got around to getting new boots and my skis replaced from last years crash at the Birkie. I had skis I could use but no boots. Plus I just didn't have the extra cash for new boots and skis.
Last season I got out for the first time on December 8, 2008. Almost a month earlier. We had great early snow and I took advantage of it. I had skied 7 times last season by the time I first hit the trails this season. HUGE difference again.
I skied 15 times before the Birkie last season versus 9 this season. Plus, I raced once at the Badger State Winter Games. This season I didn't race on skis until the Birkie. I think that makes a difference in that it forces me to suffer a little at Badger State. The course isn't as tough but it is a marathon distance and it is time spent on the skis.
I think the main difference between this season and last is that I way over estimated my fitness level going into the Birkie. I thought I was ready for a sub 3 1/2 hour race. Wow, was I wrong. Last year I went in with no expectations or goals. Just have fun and finish. It looks like if I want to get a PR and race serious at the Birkie next year I need to train harder and more specifically. It remains to be seen just how serious I want to be.
I did do a few races early this year and I'll talk about those in my next post. Hopefully in a few days. I'll talk about my Badger State Winter Games trail run, the Birkie (of course!) and Point Bock.

Friday, January 29, 2010

2010 goals and plans

A very belated Happy New Year. Some day I'll get my stuff together and manage to say that at a more apt time.
So, as the post title states, these are my goals and plans for the coming year. Disclaimer: these are tentative and subject to change at a moments notice.
First let me say that it is hard for me to make Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals* (credit to Dirtdawg). If you have followed this or know me, you know I work shift work. As a refresher, this means a different 8 hour (hopefully) shift each week. Along with this is a rotating day off. My schedule looks like this-11 pm - 7am - Monday off. Next week 3pm-11pm Tuesday off. Next week 7am-3pm Wednesday off ....and so on. Twice in a three week period that means a quick change of work 8, sleep a few hours and back for the next weeks shift. When my day off rotates to Saturday, which this years is on 7am-3pm shift I also have Sunday off and as it notes above I would have Monday off on 11pm-7am. That is my precious Long Weekend. Once every six weeks. If you've followed this you can see why it is hard to make big plans or travel for races and events. Now throw in some overtime-voluntary and forced and working without a day off and it gets even more complicated. Most days I am pretty proud of what I accomplish in training and my race results. Okay, enough with the griping about work and the quick pat on the back. On to my goals.
I have many short term or smaller goals for the year and I'll mention these first. My first goal is to do an event when the opportunity presents itself. Many times I'll have a day off or my schedule will allow me to do an event that doesn't involve hours of travel. Usually I'll blow these off and make some excuse. Then when the day dawns bright and sunny I'll kick myself for not going. Not this year. I've already signed up for one event, the Badger State Winter Games trail run. I have to work 3pm-11pm that day but it is close enough that I can get there, do a 5K and get to work. These events won't be big or main goals but I can treat them as hard workouts or tempos. I don't expect amazing results, just a good time and a chance for some friendly competition.
My next smaller goal is to do as many WORS races as I can. This is the Wisconsin Off Road Series. These are mountain bike races held across the state of Wisconsin. Great races and great competition. I did enough the minimum last year to get an overall score but want to do more this year. I raced the Sport Class but am leaning to doing the SingleSpeed class this year. A little smaller class than the age group classes but the singlespeed class is just one class-no age groups. I bought a singlespeed last summer and really enjoyed it. Just point it down the trail and go. No worries about shifting and gears. On the other hand there is more emphasis on keeping forward momentum going and reading the trail. To give me a little added impetus to do more of these my better half, Tammy has taken a huge interest in mountain biking and is planning on trying a couple races. Plus, some of the venues throw in a trail run before the biking so I can get in some extra racing. And I really love trail running. This leads me to my first BHAG*(see above).
I want, no, lets make that need, to do a trail ultra this year. I've been shooting my mouth off for a couple of years and Tammy keeps telling me to shut up and do it. So, it's on my calendar, tentatively. There is a 50K in early May on my long weekend. It would be a long drive and I honestly believe I can do a 50K. Fast? No. Finish? Yes. I just need to put in a few long runs before then and hit the trails as soon as possible after the snow melts. I have done a couple long cross country ski workouts already in preparation for the Birkie so I am getting in some time on my feet. I just need to commit to registering and making it a firm plan.
My other BHAG is to do a fall marathon and run a Boston qualifying time. I need to run a 3:30, unless they change the standards, plus I should be able to move up an age class since I would be 50 by the time I could possibly run Boston. Is this an achievable goal? Yeah, I think so. I have only run one marathon, the Whistlestop, in 2008. I ran a 3:43 using very hit and miss training and only one long run, a 20 miler about 3 weeks before the marathon. I think if I take it seriously and plan better that I can squeak under 3:30. Plus, I would like to find a little bigger race with pace groups. That takes away the stress of always glancing at the watch and figuring splits. Plus, I am notorious for going out WAY too fast.
My first real goal of the season is to have a good Birkie and finish in sub 3:30. I skied a 3:49 last year while skiing the last 5K on a broken ski/binding which didn't hold my boot to the ski. I pretty much double poled the last 5K. I haven't been out on the skis as much as I would like but I still have a month and I feel I can nail this first goal of the season. Hopefully that will get me off to a successful and competitive year.
Again, I have to mention my disclaimer-my schedule. Yeah, I know, pretty lame. Lots of people have busy lives and fit in more. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
My last goal is to update this blog more, at least once per week. I'll let you know how that goes. Or I guess you'll find out along with me. So, follow along and see if this shift working silent sports junkie can live up to his goals. As my Dad is fond of saying " Don't let your alligator mouth overload your hummingbird ass".
More soon......