Me and Dzangel

Me and Dzangel
RMC 5K 2007

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Getting back to normal-what ever that is!

If you have been following me, and I've been posting honestly, you know this hasn't been my best year. No endurance, lack of motivation, overall fatigue, no speed ( not that I ever had any of that to start). To put it in plain terms, just blah! 
I've never felt like this before. Yeah, maybe a few off days here and there. A sub-par race occasionally. An ache or pain here or there. But never, ever anything like this. It got me down at times. I would have the rare good day, but the crappy days and feelings were the norm. I was really starting to wonder if I age was starting to catch up with me. Not that I'm old. 
My better half, Tammy, kept getting on me to make an appointment for a physical. See what is going on in this once well oiled machine. I put the first appointment off. I just kept telling myself that I needed to train different. Train harder. Train easier. Cross train. Focus on one sport. Eat better. Lose a couple pounds. Add some muscle. The excuses were endless. 
The crappy workouts were endless too. I had no endurance. I'd plan for a long run - 15 miles or more - and end up running half that distance and feeling like I'd run twice the distance. A hard ride on the bike would have me beat for days. My plans for an ultra a month quickly went out the window. As did just about all racing. No WORS races. I did squeak in one 5K, mainly because it was just down the street. I did a 12 hour duo mountain bike race, but that was low key. Just for fun and to enjoy time with friends. 
Finally, I gave in and went to the doctor for a physical. Some well meaning prodding from Tammy (or were those threats) did the trick. It helps that my primary care physician is a runner. Not just any runner. An Olympic trials, sub 2:20 marathon runner. Sub 15:00 5K runner. He poked and prodded. Asked questions. Spent time really listening to what I was saying. Not what I'm used to in the exam room. He had some ideas, but nothing concrete without some tests. 
I gave more blood that day than if I'd laid the road bike down on a ride. Tubes of blood. For lots of tests. I think I was checked for everything! Then down for an x-ray of my back. I'd chalked the back pain up to age and work. And still to come, a stress test to see how the old ticker is functioning. No worries, just checking. 
And the results were interesting. Turns out I've got some moderate arthritis in my back. Now I know why it takes so long to get moving in the morning. Looks like I need to hit the core work again to strengthen my core. Maybe some yoga? 
Tammy wanted me to be checked for Lyme disease due to a tick bite a couple years ago. Good news. Negative. appears I have babesiosis, a different but similar tick borne illness.  Some of the same symptoms. I'm hoping, really crossing my fingers, that the medication will clear it up. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but after half a week of some icky tasting medication, I am feeling better. Just a little more spring in my step. We'll see.
The stress test is coming up. I'm more interested than concerned. It will be nice to see if the ticker works as well as I think it does. No matter what, that will answer a few questions. 
So, it looks like I need to listen to Tammy more often. And maybe take a little better care of myself. 
And, I feel like really pushing the training again. And I'm looking forward to racing. Let's see how things go for a couple weeks. Keep following along. This could get fun again!!
Thanks for checking this out! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014


I'm back! This could get to be a regular occurrence. I guess I have way too much rattling around upstairs. 
I had a pretty good week. Vacation will do that for a person. Relaxed, somewhat rested. No real plans this week. 
I had two excellent rides this weekend. 48.5 miles on Saturday and 31.1 on Sunday. Rides I probably wouldn't have done if I hadn't had somebody riding with me. Amazing what a little accountability will do to the training. 
I would have ridden, or run, these days. Just not that hard. 17.9 and 19.4 average speeds. Or that damn early. 7:00 a.m. on Saturday and 6:30 a.m. on Sunday. Wait, I thought I was on vacation!? 
Which takes me back to that word. Accountability.  According to Google-the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility. Most of my miles are solo. My odd work schedule contributes to that, but I think many riders and runners are solitary. It gives us time to unwind, relax, de-stress and think. It lets our minds wander and ponder and solve problems. It keeps our significant others from wanting to do us grievous bodily harm!
Without a little accountability though, I think our training can get stale. Even suffer if we're competitive. I can't push as hard or as far if I'm flying solo, roads or trails. Just think of your last, or best race. Could you regularly recreate that time or effort by yourself? If you're like me, and I hope you're not, the answer is probably no. 
Now add a training partner to the mix. Even if it's infrequently. Somebody to shag your lazy butt out of bed at dark thirty in the morning. When it's dripping fog and 100% humidity. And again the next day, when you just want to sleep an extra hour and let your legs rest. Are you going to do that without a little prodding? Again, if you're like me, probably not! But, the rides were good. They pushed me harder than I usually go and made me work for the miles. Even without any races on the schedule, it felt good to go hard, fast and long (for me). Get a little out of my comfort zone, which I normally don't like to do. 
I will still put in most of my miles flying solo. Like I said, that's a part of who I am and my goofy work schedule. But I appreciate the rides when I have someone along for some conversation and to push me harder than I can by myself. Thanks Todd, for the extra push this weekend!!
If you're a solitary rider or runner, find another crazy person like yourself and put in some miles together. You might enjoy it and it might take you places you haven't been, whether that be a new route or new levels of training. 
Enjoy the miles!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Don't trust Mother Nature! But she can't stop me!

I think I'm starting to get my running mojo back. Not sure where it went, but I'm enjoying running again. Even looking forward to it. Planning routes. Slowly upping the miles. Today I was hoping for at least fifteen miles. I thought it would be a fitting start to 22, yep, count 'em, 22 days of vacation!
This run started out better than I thought it would. I only slept a couple hours. 11-7 shift last night and VACATION starting this morning. Hate to waste the day. Steady rain last night led to a bit of a muggy start, but the skies seemed mostly clear. I headed out of town with plans of doing around 15 miles. About 3 miles in I noticed that the sky was looking dark towards the west. I crossed my fingers and hoped it wouldn't amount to anything. At my only option to cut the run short I heard the ominous rumble of thunder. Well, maybe I'll take the turn and make it home before it rains. Whoa, that's not like me to make a smart decision while out running/biking/insert other endurance endeavor. Must have been the sleep deprivation. And maybe not!! I got less than a mile down the road and a light rain began to fall. Well, this isn't too bad. I guess I shouldn't have spoken out loud because I think I really pissed off Mother Nature. Another half mile up the road and the rain was almost a white out. At least there isn't a breeze, I thought. That lasted another couple miles, thankfully. The most nerve wracking part was the lightning. A couple cracks were close enough to make the hair on my arms stand up and to leave the lingering scent of ozone in the air. I tried to stay somewhat under some type of cover. At least I wasn't the highest point on the road like I had been about 10 minutes earlier! What had been planned as a nice and easy long run was changing by the mile. Amazing how nature can help you push the pace. By the time I got back in to town and hit the last downhills towards home, I was dodging small rivers flowing down the roads and running through ankle deep water. At least I didn't have to worry about the cars splashing me, because I couldn't have possibly gotten any wetter!! I don't think I've run in much worse. I was really thankful I decided on a run and not a bike ride!! But, in the end, I made it home. A little soggier and wrinklier, but home nonetheless. The street in front of the house looked like a small river. Water was pouring down the little bitty hill and up over the curb. Next time, I'll check the weather a little closer!! And maybe I'll check out plans for building an ark! Lesson learned!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wausau 24 - The 12 hour version!

Another lap finished!
My team mate, Wanda

Finally! Time to sit down, relax and spew out my thoughts on my last event. They've been few and far between this year. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. On August 2nd, I participated in the 12 hour mountain bike race at Wausau24. I competed in the mixed duo class with a great friend and awesome rider-Wanda. It turned out better than I planned, but harder than anticipated. That seems like a contradiction, but it's true. I haven't spent much, if any time on my mountain bike this year. It just seems like I've gravitated to the road bike this summer. No real specific reason. Just how things have been going. So, of course, due to this, I went in feeling pretty cocky and confident. I think I may have even entertained some smack talk about 24 hours solo next year!! Dumb ass!!  I didn't get a chance to pre-ride, which is probably a good thing in some ways and not so smart in others. I hadn't ridden at Nine Mile Forest in a few years. I had forgotten how tough and technical the single track can be. An 11 mile lap doesn't sound too tough. Again, dumb ass! Perfect weather greeted all the racers on Saturday morning. Sunshine, clear skies, a little breeze. A bit of rain on Friday helped knock the dust down. A classic Le Mans start got us off and running a short loop to our bikes. I lined up with another friend, Amanda, who was doing the 24 mixed duo with her husband, Darrin. We jogged/walked to our bikes and off we went. My first not so smart move of the day! After a nice roll out on some two track we hit the first single track-eventually. Due to being way at the back to the aforementioned stroll, I came to a complete halt waiting to enter the single track. And then it was stop and start for a few more minutes. It really wasn't a big deal, since my main goal was to have fun, but it would have been nice to be up a bit further in the pack. Lesson #1.  Pre-ride at least the start of the race! I finally got in to a good groove and started to flow through the single track. It felt good to be on the bike and weaving in and out of the trees. I felt comfortable and confident. Dumb ass! A few rock gardens further in the single track had us bunching up again. Still, no big deal. I relaxed and took my time. 12 hours is a long time, even as a duo. Plenty of time to make up time. Right?
About half way through my lap, I wasn't feeling as confident and cocky as I had been earlier. I was getting the bejeezus beat out of me. My hands were getting tired just trying to hang on to the bike! Oh, did I forget to mention I was riding a rigid 29er single speed? What was I thinking? I should have spent a lot more time on that bike. Getting used to the lack of any suspension or cushion. Lesson #2!
Finally out on to some more two track.Oh sure, toss in a nice gradual climb to let the legs relax! And then on to Ho Chi Minh!! I hadn't ridden this since ???? Man, I forgot how much fun it was! ( insert sarcasm here ). Actually, it was fun, in a challenging and sick way. I saw the sign about half way through that read "Daddy, make it stop, make it stop". Somebody has a twisted sense of humor!
Finally through that section and back on to some two track. And finally a chance to relax and get some feeling in to numb and aching body parts. And barely half way through the lap!
More single track followed, interspersed with enough two track to give me a chance to catch my breath and relax. I sped (crawled) across the line and out for another lap. Wanda and I had planned on riding two laps each to start. We did the first two exchanges this way before we went to singles.  Maybe not real smart. A look at the teams that finished ahead of us shows that they all rode singles. Lesson #3. Next year, one in-one out!
The laps and the day flew by. It was nice to have the extra rest time. On the other hand, it took me a little longer to get going with the long rest intervals. I enjoyed the down time watching the other racers come through. I caught up with friends I hadn't seen in a while. Planned for next year. Tried to relax and refuel. Oh yeah, refuel. I didn't do very well at the whole rest, rehydrate and refuel thing. Lesson #4. I had a great plan. Next year, put it in to practice!!
I rode consistent laps, once you toss the buffet line waiting from lap #1. 1:14:29 - 1:04:13 - 1:04:05 - 1:08:06 - 1:06:24 - 1:13:25. The last lap was my night lap. I went out for lap number 5 at a little after 7:00 pm and finished around 8:15 pm. I didn't really need my light for that lap. And I really wanted a night lap. Lap 6 started at around 9:40pm and ended just before 11:00 pm. Full on dark! I had a new NiteRider Pro 1200 light and I wanted to see how it worked. In a word-outstanding. Combined with an older NiteRider MiNewt on my helmet I had no problem navigating the trail. I'm pretty happy with how I rode in the dark. I new I wouldn't be as fast as during the day, but I didn't slow as much as I thought I would. A little practice and I could probably (hopefully) knock off a few minutes.
All in all, I had a great time. Wanda and I had a great race. We had fun, rode hard, had a few bump and bruises-nothing serious, and finished tired but happy and pleased. 6th out of 12 teams and about 40 minutes out of a podium spot.
I learned quite a bit. More than some one of my advanced experience and age should be able learn. Hmmm....maybe I don't have it all figured out quite yet?
What went right? I picked a pretty good gear for the trails. I ran a 32x17 and was able to ride all of the course. Even as I got tired I still could get up the hills and through the rocks. Most important, Wanda and I had fun. No pressure, no expectations. Just smiles and miles of off road fun.
What did I learn? I'm still a bit over confident before race day. 12 hours solo would have been painful. 24 hours? Insanity!! I still need to work on my fueling strategy. I always have a plan in place. I just never carry it out. I need to spend more time on the trails. Road miles gave me the endurance. More trail miles would give me more strength.
Now I can't wait for next year. Not sure what I'll be racing, but I'll be back either as part of a team or solo! i forgot how much I missed the trails and the racing. Maybe a few WEM Series races?
Thanks again for letting me ramble. I know it's infrequent and long winded, but it helps me think and process things. I appreciate the time you spend here and all the comments!