Me and Dzangel

Me and Dzangel
RMC 5K 2007

Monday, August 22, 2011

WORS Border Battle

I wanted to get this post out while thoughts are still fresh in my head!
The race this past Sunday, August 21st in River Falls was the best race I've had in quite some time. I wish I could really nail down why. It was one of those races where all the pieces fell in place. Maybe it was a combination of things? I was on vacation all week, so that didn't intrude on my training or just generally mess my days up. I laid off the weights all week, but I'm not convinced that made a big difference. I got in a couple good runs, which for some odd reason seem to help my biking. What ever it was, I hope it continues for at least a couple more races.
Tammy and I went up to River Falls on Saturday afternoon. We spent the morning watching the local triathlon and all the triathletes run and bike by our house. It is always hard for me to spectate at a race. I want to be out there doing! Maybe that helped my race to-all that pent up energy! Anyway..... we checked in at the hotel less than a mile from the race, changed quick and unloaded the bikes and headed out for a preride. Nice and easy, nothing too hard. I rode quite a bit of it with Tammy. Ended up with a little over 11 miles and most of two laps. We had a couple of subs for supper and spent the night relaxing and soothing our muscles in the hot tub!
I didn't sleep very well that night. My back was bothering me a little and I just couldn't get comfortable. When the sun started peaking through the shades we got up and had a good breakfast. I tried to fill up as best I could since I wouldn't be racing until 11:30 a.m.
Once we got to the race site we got the bikes ready and then met up with our cheering section-Lara, Jeremy and Kaelyn-daughter, son-in-law and grand daughter. I watched Tammy start her race, waited for her to come around and start the next lap and then headed off to get ready for my race.
Waiting in line for the start, I was talking to some of the other racers and they were all talking about the second hill in the middle of the course. Hmmm.......this didn't sound good. I didn't ride that yesterday! I must have missed a section of course. This didn't look too promising!
I had a good spot for the start. Towards the middle on the line. I had my usual good start and was right up front when we hit the hill. It wasn't much of a lead out to the hill, maybe a couple hundred yards. I kept a hard but steady pace up the hill. I didn't want to kill myself right at the start. Once at the top the course opened into a field before the first section of single track. I tried to limit my losses and get in to the single track in a good position. I rode the single track pretty well but didn't push it too much on the first lap. I wanted to have something left for the unknown hill and the second lap.
Sure enough, I came out of some single track and there was "the hill". Man! Nice and steep with lots of loose rock. One line that crossed the hill part way up. Down in to the granny ring and grind to the top. Off through more single track and a couple more open field sections for passing.
At the start of the second lap one of the Minnesota racers passed me up the opening climb. Man, he was scooting up the climb like a mountain goat. "Don't worry" he said, "you'll pass me in a couple minutes". Me, I wasn't so sure! I kept him in sight, especially when I saw the 50-54 on his back tag. It was tough in this race knowing where I was in relation to the others in my age group. Lots of Minnesota racers made it hard to know who was where. Most of the race I thought I was doing well, but never really knew.
I passed the Minnesotan in the single track and put the hammer down to catch a few others that I could see. We were starting to get behind the slower riders from previous waves and I was trying to pass when ever I could.
Coming out of the single track and on to that second climb my rival went by me again! Man, could he climb!! I put my head down, gritted my teeth and probably had my tongue out trying to limit my loss up that damn hill. I caught him and stayed on his wheel through the single track and field sections of that second lap.
As we came out of the single track and headed in to the last long open field section I shifted up and passed him just before we entered the last single track. Then I let 'er rip. I felt like I was flying through the single track. As fast as I felt like I was going, it just amazes me that the elites are going even faster! I was pushing harder than I have all year. As goofy as it sounds, the bike and I were one! In and out of the trees, around the corners. I was in the zone. I felt like I had tunnel vision and all I could see was the trail. I hoped my bike could keep up with how hard I wanted to push it. I passed a couple more riders in that last section and then came out of the woods for the short push to the line. It was a dicey finish, with a straight field section and then an almost 180 degree turn about 50 yards from the line. I popped it up to the big ring and sprinted with all I had. I didn't know where anyone was behind me but they were going to have to be flying to get by me!
I made it to the line 3.5 seconds ahead of my new rival and friend from Minnesota. As we were talking in the finish chute, one of my chief competitors in our age group came up behind me. What the ???????? He had been so far ahead on the opening climb I figured I'd never see him again. Apparently I had passed him in the last section too. I had been concentrating so hard I never even saw him!
Waiting for the results, I felt I had done well. I really didn't care too much-okay, a little-how I finished. I just felt good. I had been in the "zone". No matter the results, I had a friggin' awesome race!!
The results showed me in 2nd out of 17 in my age group. I never saw the leader after the start. I was 62 out of 172 Sport class riders-less than six minutes from the winner. I'm usually 10-12 minutes back overall.
I still don't know why it went so well, I'm just glad it did! I'm going to give most of the credit to having family there cheering me on and trying to make my littlest fan, Kaelyn, proud of her Grandpa.
Now, a short week before the Reforestation Ramble on August 28th. A little farther distance that normal, but not as hilly or technical. It's gonna be like a road race through the pines. Man, I hope that mojo stays with me.
Thanks for suffering through this long winded post.
Gotta go........

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

CamRock recap

Welcome back! Or if this is your first time, just welcome! Since I have a race coming up this weekend I thought I had better recap my last effort.
The weekend of August 6 & 7 was the Battle of CamRock, in Rockdale, WI. Tammy and I went down on Saturday and did our pre-ride in the afternoon. We weren't too sure about the venue when we parked and unloaded the bikes, but after a lap around the course we both really liked the layout.
We woke up at 6 a.m. Sunday morning to a heavy down pour! We haven't had a really muddy race yet this year so I was crossing my fingers that it would let up before the racing began. By the time we were ready to walk to the diner and have breakfast the rain had stopped. Hopefully it was just enough to dampen the course and knock the dust down.
My race started at it's usual time of 11:30 a.m. After my last race I was hoping for a little better race. My main goal was to race hard and not mail in the last lap, which is kind of what I did at Eau Claire. No matter what, I wanted to give it all I had and finish strong.
The race started with a short but fairly steep climb. I had a good start and was 3rd or 4th in my wave at the top. I saw one racer in my age group (50-54) pass me part of the way up, but I let him go. I didn't want to blow up in the first couple hundred yards.
The course featured a lot of single track. Some was wide enough to pass, otherwise it was a waiting game until the course emptied in to the open field areas. I felt good in the single track and tried to push hard when the course opened up. Going up the climb at the start of the second lap one of the racers in my age group caught, and passed me. I pretty much knew this was going to happen because it was his home course and he knew where to push, where to catch his breath and where to take it easy. Home course advantage does help!
I finally caught the age grouper who had flown up the opening climb in one of the field sections on lap two. I could see him ahead of me for quite a while and just bided my time. I didn't keep lap splits but I felt I was riding steady and consistent.
Halfway through lap three another age grouper caught and passed me. I figured this put me in third, but it's hard to tell with the mad, land rush starts. I felt good and tried to stay on his wheel but we got some slower racers in between us and I just never found a passing opportunity. I can't see running somebody off the course for the sake of moving up a spot. Maybe it's a lack of killer instinct or just trying to be polite. I guess I hope for the same consideration when I'm the slower rider.
As I came out of the last section of single track at the end of the final lap, I heard some fans yelling at a rider behind me. I was sure it was someone in my age class so I picked up the pace and headed for that damn climb, one more time! I pushed as hard as I could, not daring to look over my shoulder. I was sure he was right on my wheel. The course leveled out a little for the last hundred yards to the line. I pushed, sure he was there. When I dared to look back there wasn't anyone there. And when I finished I found out it wasn't who I thought it was. But it did give me added incentive to finish strong.
I am mostly satisfied with my race. I had a little bit of an issue with breakfast, mainly keeping it in, but once that was resolved I felt great. My only other concern while I was racing was riding a new bike. I had put maybe 5 miles on a new Trek X-Caliber and was a little nervous about the little fine tuning a bike usually needs after a ride or two. No worries though, as it worked great.
I ended up 68/156 finishers in Sport overall and 3/13 in my age group, just a little under 2 minutes from first and 26 seconds from third. I still feel like I need to work on my fueling and hydration but it's coming around. Fitness wise I felt good. Definitely much stronger and more endurance than Eau Claire.
This weekend, August 20 & 21 is the Border Battle in River Falls. My goal here is of course, to finish and do well, but more important, to represent Wisconsin well, as this is also a competition between Minnesota and Wisconsin. All of us Cheeseheads want to keep the trophy in Wisconsin. Hopefully being on vacation will have me rested and ready for a strong race. I'll post that race a little quicker.
Thanks for checking this out.
Gotta go...........

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Commuting and training

I've been thinking and musing again. I know, some minds shouldn't be left alone or they get in trouble.
One of my goals this year is to commute more on the bike. Trying to be a little more green. My commute involves driving part of the way to work, parking the car in a church parking lot and then biking the rest of the way to work. It ends up being a little over 13 miles by bike. The entire commute of 40+ miles just isn't feasible for me. Even doing it this way means getting up around 3:45 a.m. when I work day shift.
While I was riding in one day a couple weeks ago I started wondering if my commuting is hurting my regular training. I don't really have a training plan set in stone but I do try and get in some planned rides-and runs-every week. But, when I ride to work, it takes up such a chunk of time, and energy some days that I don't have, or make time for other workouts.
I've been doing okay in the WORS series this year, but after my last race I started really wondering if the commuting is hurting. That week I had worked the 3pm-11pm shift and commuted by bike four times, including Friday night before heading to Eau Claire for the race weekend. Just mostly easy commuting miles. Did it have anything to do with my off day?
Since then, I've been trying to add some structure to my commutes. Depending on the shift and the weather I've tried doing tempo efforts, short and hard intervals and other rides. It makes it a little more challenging carrying a full backpack. And I do need to save a little energy for work, if I do these rides on the way in versus back.
I've been trying this plan for a couple weeks and have another race coming up this weekend. We'll see if these changes helped.
Any ideas? Suggestions? Let me know.
Thanks for checking this out.
Gotta go.........