Tuesday, September 28, 2010
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.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
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
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.