Me and Dzangel

Me and Dzangel
RMC 5K 2007

Monday, May 23, 2011

Crystal Lake Classic-WORS #2

I had a good race last weekend in Rhinelander. I was hoping for a good result, but you know how that goes.
Tammy and I drove up to Rhinelander on Saturday but didn't pre-ride because of the weather. It rained all the way from Waupaca to Rhinelander and I just didn't feel like dealing with the mud, rain and then cleaning bikes afterwards. Okay, call me wussy!
I woke up a couple times during the night to hear it hailing once and then raining a couple hours later. Looks like I was going to get muddy after all.
Tammy and I got to the race area early enough to ride part of the beginning and then we cut over to ride the last mile in to the finish. Tammy got ready for her race and I headed down the course to get some photos. After watching Tammy come through and start her second lap I went and got ready for my race.
I did a short warm up on the road and headed to the staging area at the start. Between the 2 cups of coffee and a Roctane gel with double caffeine I was ready to jump right out of my skin! This thing better start damn soon!
Don sent us off with his usual GOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! and away we went. The race started with a long section on the gravel road through camp area. I tried to hang at the front of the pack but the first bunch just slowly pulled away. Well, I guess I know now that I have to work on my start!
After the long gravel section the trail narrowed a bit. Not quite single track since there was room to pass. It wound through the trees, twisting and turning and lots of nice ups and downs. I was trying to keep some of the racers in front of me in sight. I had no idea how I was doing or who was where. I felt like I had an awful start so I just put my head down and kept plugging along. I was slowly catching the slower riders from previous waves but wasn't really seeing any racers from my wave-50+ and Clydesdales.
There were a few sections in the single track that were a little greasy from the rain but nothing too bad. A couple nice puddles on some of the gravel road sections that were unavoidable. Overall the course was in remarkable shape considering the rain that fell overnight.
For most of the last part of the first lap and the first half of the second lap I felt like I was in no mans land. I couldn't really see or hear anyone in front of or behind me. My back was getting a little tight and my calves felt a little tight too. Occasionally I would see a rider in front of me and push just a little harder to catch him. I picked off a few racers this way.
Entering the last section of single track before the finish I could see two racers a little bit in front of me. I pushed a little harder thinking I could pick off one or two more before the finish. I caught them towards the end of the single track. From this point it is a gravel/dirt road to the finish-maybe a half mile. I tucked in behind these two and noticed the racer in front of me had a 50-54 on his back tag. Okay, now I just needed to stay on his wheel and hope I had just a little more than him at the line. He looked back once or twice but I'm sure he didn't know I was in his age group. Just as the finish line came in to view I came off his wheel and gave it everything I had. As I came by he realized we were racing for a position and tried coming around me but I had just enough to pip him at the line. That made me feel pretty good. In the finish chute he remarked how he hated getting beat by so little. That's racing though. I would expect him to do the same if the spots were reversed.
I had some food at the finish and waited for the results to be posted. I wandered over to look once they were posted and saw I had taken 2nd, .3 seconds ahead of the racer I had nipped at the line. 1:22:55.8-2nd in 50-54 and 61st over all in Sport.
All in all a good day. Tammy took 2nd in her class and met one of her main goals. I had a good race and know where I need to do some work. Now, a few weeks off and then it is the Big Ring Classic at Nine Mile Forest in Wausau. Can't wait!

Monday, May 9, 2011

2011 Door County Half Marathon

The 2011 Door County Half Marathon is over! I've had a couple days to mull it over and reflect on what I did right and wrong.
First, let me give a big thanks everyone who helped make this event spectacular. From the folks who put it on, to the sponsors, volunteers, spectators and lots more that I'm forgetting to name. Without all of these people this race wouldn't happen. THANK YOU!!!
Tammy and I drove up to Door County on Friday. We left home under warm, sunny skies but slowly drove into rain and cooler temps. I don't mind running in rain, but wasn't really looking forward to the prospect of it. We hit the Ephraim Town Hall to pick up our race packets and then headed to our hotel to check in. We relaxed for a little and then drove in to Fish Creek for a filling supper of spaghetti and meatballs. Stuffed, we headed back to the hotel to relax and get ready for Saturday.
I tossed and turned a little more than usual that night. I'm not sure why. I was a little concerned about my quality of training, but I knew I'd at least finish. The alarm woke us at 6:00 a.m. and I ate some oatmeal and a Clif bar. I had a cup of coffee and some juice and got my clothes and drop bag ready. I stuck my head out the door and was pleasantly surprised to see sunshine and feel mild temps in the 50's. Perfect!! We packed up our car and waited for the shuttle bus to take us to Peninsula State Park and the start.
My goal going in to this race was a sub 1:45:00 race. 8:00/mile pace. My training really didn't point to this happening. I knew from previous races that my training paces never seem to indicate what I can do on race day. Not sure why, but I can never even come close to my race day speed in training.
Tammy and I got comfortable in the starting area. We wandered around a little and then did a short walk/run just before the start. Then we headed to the starting area and lined up. I stayed back from the front in the hopes I wouldn't get drawn in to the excitement of the start and go out too fast. That's my big downfall. I knew the course had a few sizeable hills and I wanted to have something left to get up them. I hoped to stay around 8:00 pace the first few miles and then pick it up once I got up the first hilly section.
The gun went off and I started out at what felt like a comfortable pace. I wasn't gasping for breath. I wasn't weaving through the crowd trying to pass people. I was feeling pretty good! I looked at my watch at the first mile split and saw 7:09. Holy crap!! Way too fast! I backed off a little and felt like I reined it in. Mile 2-7:16! What the hell?! I knew the first big climb would come around the 4 1/2 mile mark. I figured at this rate I'd be walking it. I slowed a little the next couple of miles but was still well under that 8 minute per mile pace. But, I was feeling good. Then I turned a corner and started the climb up Skyline Rd. I tried to keep my cadence light and quick up the hill. Okay, so it's not a mountain, but for Wisconsin, this was a nice and steady grind. A little over a half mile steady climb. Well, that certainly slowed me down and dropped my pace where I originally wanted it to be. I got to the top and felt strong. I popped a gel and took some water and pushed through the rolling middle part of the course. From about mile 5 through 9 the course rolled up and down. My splits were still staying under my goal and I was feeling good. I was walking through all the aid stations and taking water or energy. My legs felt good and other than a little side stitch nothing was bothering me. Around mile 9 I took another gel and got ready for the last 5K. I kept telling myself that I push it a little at that point if I was feeling good.
The last 3 miles had a lot of nice downhills in them. The climbing that had gotten us to the top rewarded us with a nice downhill around mile 10. I ran through the last few aid stations and pushed the pace. I wasn't watching the splits or my time. I just kept going at a nice hard pace. The music on my iPod seemed to be in sync with my running and helped push me along. Of course the last mile seemed like it would never end but I finally saw the last mile marker and the finish banner. I turned it up and gave it all I had. A nice finish kick ( I think) and I crossed in 1:41:22. 5/58 in my age group (50-54) and 106th overall.
I walked to get my drop bag, changed in to some dry and warm clothes and waited for Tammy to finish her race. She finished strong and smiling, arms raised and she entered the finishing chute. The best part of my day was watching her finish her first half marathon and seeing the big smile on her face!
So, what did I learn? I need to take this a little more seriously. I had somewhat of a training plan mapped out going in to this race. I printed out a couple training plans and kind of mashed them together to fit my schedule. But I tried to fit in some cycling and weight training as well. Trying to train for this and the beginning of the WORS season probably wasn't a good idea.I hit most (okay, some ) of the important workouts. I tried to hit the planned paces and distances as best I could. When I do this race next year, I'm going to train for this race! Plus I won't do a hard tempo run and a 46 mile bike ride in the days before the race. DUH!
I learned I need to work on the hills. I felt strong in the hills but know I can do better. I have enough hills near home that I can do this part easily.
Now that I know what the course is like, I think I can knock a couple minutes off, under the right conditions, of course.
I learned that race day brings out a different level in my performance. I kind of learned this after my first half marathon a few years back. My training runs never came close to the pace the plans called for. On race day though, I seemed to find another gear. Chalk it up to race day atmosphere and endorphins.
All in all, I am 99% happy with this race. My original goal was sub 1:45:00. I nailed that-on a hilly course. Of course, I always think I can do better. It's just the nature of the beast. If I apply myself, train specifically for one event and push a little and not be afraid to suffer a bit, I know I can get under a 1:40:00. I plan on being back for this next year!
Now it's time to get serious about biking. WORS season is in full swing and that is going to be my main focus. Plus I'm doing the 40 at the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival this year. That means I need to work on my endurance.
The Crystal Lake Classic in Rhinelander on May 22nd is up next. It's a course that suits me. We'll see how it goes.
Thanks for suffering through this long winded recap. I appreciate it! As always, feedback and comments are always appreciated.

Monday, May 2, 2011

WORS #1-Iola Bump & Jump

Well, if nothing else, the first mountain bike race of the season showed me where I need to focus my attention. Having not spent much time on the bike I wasn't looking to do anything spectacular. I wanted a solid finish and a chance to get used to my bike. I think I got what I expected.
Race day was cold and blustery. Or, normal for central Wisconsin this year. Low 40's and gusty winds around 30 mph. Being in the woods knocked the wind down a bit but it was still a little noticeable. Cold enough that my hands and ears stayed cold the entire race. My solace was that everyone else had to endure the same conditions, so I couldn't whine to much.
I watched my wife, Tammy, start her Citizens race and then ran around trying to get some pictures. I watched her complete her first lap and then headed to the car to get ready for my race. By the time I got dressed-(oh yeah, in brand new shorts bought that morning, since I forgot mine!) got the bike out and hit the porta-potties I didn't have much time for a warm up. I headed up the road a bit and then headed back to stage for the race.
I managed to weasel my way towards the front for the start. Just enough time for a few butterflies, which I always have and we were off. I had a fair start. Starts aren't exactly my strong point. This race has a short straight and flat section and then a right turn and s short but fairly steep climb. I held my own up the climb and then got caught behind a couple guys who decided to tangle tires. After that first climb the race shoots downhill and through a bowl by the lodge at Iola Winter Sports Club. Through the bowl and then the only real climbing in the lap. Three climbs with some roots thrown in to make things interesting. Once at the top it's back down the edge of the bowl and into some ski trail and zoomy and twisting single track. The back two thirds of the course really don't have much climbing as it is all ski trail and single track. This is where I tried to make up some ground, or at least not get caught by too many riders.
The first lap wasn't too bad. Still lots or riders to help push/pull me along. By the middle of the second lap I felt like I was in no mans land. I managed to hook up with one rider who could just fly through the single track. I tried to stay on his wheel and then tried to help pull him up the small climbs on the back of the course. It was nice while it lasted but I lost him on one of the climbs leading in to some single track. Lap three I just tried to keep the hammer down and catch riders from previous waves and keep the guys behind me off my wheel. I could hear riders behind me and that helped me push just a bit harder. I finished strong and still felt pretty good.
What did I learn? I learned I need to figure out how to shift a bike again. This was my first race aboard my Specialized Epic. I've had it since last year but raced a singlespeed last year. I had a few moments where I shifted the wrong way and a few unplanned shifts when my hands accidentally hit the shifters. Other than that the bike worked great. Having full suspension helped with the beating my old body takes!
I also learned I need to work on my starts. I need to be willing to suffer a little and keep the hammer down. My climbing was okay and I don't think I held to many riders up in the single track. I need a bit more endurance but that will come. I'm used to racing myself into shape. It also might help if I wasn't trying to train for cycling and a half marathon at the same time. One more week and I can focus solely on the bike, with a run here and there for cross training.
I finished okay. 82/196 overall and 5/16 in the 50-54 age group. A little slower than last year but I am chalking that up to still fighting a cold/sinus infection and the cold. I don't do well in the cold. Bring on the heat and humidity.
Next up-taper week for the Door County Half Marathon on May 7th. I'm on vacation so the taper part might be hard. It will be tempting to try and get in some nice rides, but I'm going to do my best to take it easy.
Link to the WORS site-
Thanks for reading. Any training hints, tips and general suggestions appreciated.