My Rides

Friday, September 5, 2014

Long Time, No Post

You'll notice that last year my events moved from Michigan to Illinois.  This followed a career move from Detroit area to Chicago area.  I never really clicked with Chicago, and the company I joined was going through a "right sizing" like my former company.

I ended up following the interesting & challenging audio/acoustic jobs to Silicon Valley.  Between temporary housing (including on the beach in Santa Cruz), and travel to China, my event calendar has been extremely sparse.

I have to say that training out here is amazing.  We live in the redwoods, about 10 miles from the ocean.  I can drive 20 minutes to Skyline drive (near Alice's restaurant), or to Los Gatos and have more arid setting.  It's hard to do a ride without climbing at least 1000'.  It's been harder to find "modest" events though.  When you see a flyer for a triathlon, it's usually at least a half-ironman (yeah, yeah, that was supposed to be the goal this year - I just haven't maintained the training workload).

August 2:  Santa Cruz Rough Water Swim

  • 1 mile open water (ocean) swim around Santa Cruz Wharf (29 min)
  • Done in preparation for the triathlon that swims in the same place
September 14:  Big Kahuna Triathlon (Swim, Bike - no run)
  • 1.2 mile open water (ocean) swim around Santa Cruz Wharf
  • 56 mile ride up to Pigeon Point Lighthouse & back
This one felt good.  There were only about 50 people in the start corral for my wave (which included people doing the swim/bike, swim/run, and swim only).  A smaller start group was nice - no crawling over, and being crawled over for the first 1/4 mile of the swim.  I felt my form was good, and passed a few people.  I was surprised to see the turn buoys about 100 yards past the end of the wharf - in the previous swim we turned close to the wharf (so I think that 29 minute time was not for 1.2 mile).  In the 2nd half of the swim I caught some people from the earlier 2 start groups (5min and 10min ahead).  

It was a lonely jog to the bike, and unfortunately I had to stop for a nature break.  That cost me a couple of minutes.  I was pretty casual in the transition, and not as organized as I could have been.  I spent almost 11 minutes in transition - almost 4 minutes behind the median (it was a 1/4 mile from the beach to the transition area).  I should have:
  • got my wetsuit more off on the way to transition,
  • had the gels and tools (for my jersey pocket) strapped to the bike somewhere, so I could step right into my shoes,

The bike felt great.  The forecast called for a slight headwind going North, and a slight tailwind going South...  I flew going North - about 18 mph (flying for me).  I spent 90% of the time on the aero-bars, focusing on efficiency.  Ate 3 gels, and drank a bottle and 1/2.  I started to worry about the headwind going back South - it's tough facing a headwind on a return leg of a ride.  For the first 10 miles, after the turn around, the headwind was frustrating.  It felt like 10-15 mph.  I tried to keep myself on the aero-bars, but at that point I needed 30 seconds sitting up every 10 minutes or so.  My speed dropped to 15 mph or so (middle ring).  

Thankfully, after climbing up from Big Basin the headwind seems to turn into a tailwind again.  Except for the couple of bigger climbs, I kept it in the big (44t) ring, and churned on.   My legs were burning by Davenport with a hint of cramping.  My bike time was more than 15 minutes faster than anticipated - 7% slower than median.  I thing about the best I could have done (until I lose more weight).  

My total time was over 19 minutes behind the median.  There's another race, exact same course, in November.  I think I can easily shave 2-3 minutes off of transition, and 2-3 minutes off the swim - just through training and practice.  That leaves about 15 minutes to close in on a median time.  With a practical limit to training volume (to increase the numerator in power to weight ratio), it comes down to the denominator.  30 lbs should be worth 1.5 mph on the bike, or more than enough to close in on the median.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

2014 Goals - 1/2 Ironman

There will be more on my calendar than a 1/2 Ironman, but that will be by far the toughest.  I think I've picked my target event - the Henderson, NV Ironman in Oct. 2014.  I sat down on the couch for 5 minutes to think out loud with my wife.  Here's how it went:
  • 1.2 mile swim - piece of cake
  • 50k on the bike - 35 miles - less than 2 hours
  • 1/2 triathlon, that's like 4 5ks - I'll be cramping by the end of the first 5k
So, this fat man needs to become an iron man.  It's clear, I will be spending a lot of time with my old nemesis - the run.  I focused on running this spring - it's the hardest for me, it's the form of exercise that makes the most rapid impact on my weight, and where I lose the most time in a triathlon (different rubber or aero accessories don't help at all).

The only thing my experience tells me postpones the cramping is more miles and more seasons.  With a fall event, I have 3 training "seasons" to run through.  I'll set out to set up 8 week blocks, starting in December, building up my running fitness through base miles, intervals, and jump rope.  I really like jumping rope - all the foot/calf/tendon stress of a 3 mile run in 20 minutes while the kids play.

I have found that I need a break from my minimalist shoes after tough workouts.  While I still don't feel as comfortable in something with a lot of stack height, my feet need something that spreads out the forces to aid in recovery after a high stress workout.  2000+ rope jumps in FiveFingers, or 5k in thin shoes demands the next 2 workouts in something thicker, or my feet start to feel "bruised".

What's most comfortable to wear for a run or hike are either my Vibran FiveFingers or my New Balance MT10s.  Both of those are very thin and flexible shoes.  The New Balance are 10mm thick in the forefoot.  My Altra Superiors are not cushy enough for the next day - they're 12mm in the forefoot, and significantly less flexible.  I tried a pair of Newton Gravity's but they're way too thick (23mm) and/or inflexible.

I've got both the Altra Torin (20mm), and Altra Provision (15mm) on order.  I'm hoping, as road shoes, that they'll be a bit more cushy than a trail shoe (meant for a softer surface beneath).  I think I'm learning, that flexibility may be more key than thickness (or thin-ness).  Maybe I should try Reebok or Nike, but I love the wide toe boxes on Altra and New Balance (wide width) shoes...

More on this as I flush out a training plan, and set up events-on-the-way...

Friday, September 27, 2013

I Love Open Water Swimming!

When I got back into swimming, I started in a pool, of course.  Leading up to triathlons, I made myself move my training to open water a few weeks before.  Last year it was a chore - a little scary, harder to find a rhythm.  

This year, I really focused on smooth breathing, and a good rhythm, and after one tough swim really fell in love with open water swimming.  Going a mile is like going for a long walk - a little tired at the end, but I feel like I could keep going if I stop for a drink.  

I decided to meet up with the Open Water Chicago group that meets most weekends, early in the morning.  I definitely like swimming with a group over plodding along alone.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

...and then there was mud (Muddy Monk Double Down 10k)

Here I come...

Aaagghhh - water!

...muddy water 

(illustrated by random dude)

...and then there was mud 

(scattered throughout, and a solid 1/2 mile a mile from the finish)





Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My first (1/2) Triathlon

I finished strong, and felt good.  Biking was definitely my strength - I kept a good pace, and passed folks on the short steep hills (where I was in the right gear, and they weren't).  Running was definitely my weakness, but I ran at the pace I targeted, and felt good during the run.  I surprised myself that I ran in my Vibran Five Fingers (TrekSport).  I also surprised myself that I swam a few minutes faster than I expected - even though my strategy was to swim as slow and smooth as I could.  Following is the story in more detail:

The day before the race, we went to Bishop Lake State Park to pick up packets, and attend the "newbie" session.  We walked down to the lake and saw the orange buoys marking out the 1/4 mile swim course, and the yellow buoys marking out the 1/2 mile swim course.  Wow!  The 1/2 mile swim looked like a long way to swim.

I decided to do a practice swim to the 1st buoy and back - most of 1/4 mile.  As I made the turn at the buoy, swimming out there all alone, thoughts like "gee:  it wouldn't be good if I gulped some water all alone out here", and struggled through a hundred yards or so of strokes.  I had a brief thought that maybe I should have signed up for a pool event for my first race...

Seeing the setup of the transition area, listening to the "newbie session" (even though they explain what is explained lots of places), really helped.  When the swim started I set out to swim as slow as I could.  Just taking 3-5 slow strokes, taking a breath (or up to 3 while gliding on my back).  As I rounded the first buoy, I started catching people.  Just a few, but it felt good.

When I rounded the second buoy, I thought "I bet it's weedy on this side", and sure enough it was.  I swam sloppy through the weeds - a few strokes with my face out of the water.  A few strokes breathing every other stroke, and then my feet touched.  Out I ran - I noted a few people behind me...

In the transition area, I saw a lot of people that I know got out of the water minutes before me.  I didn't practice transitions a lot - of course I've practiced putting on a shirt and shoes, and I gave some thought to making things efficient, like skipping socks - but otherwise, I just quickly threw on jersey, helmet and shoes, and hit the bike trail.

On the bike trail, I did well.  I rode at a good pace.  Passed a few people on hills, mainly by being in the right gear and being a reasonable bike handler.  The biking felt good.

The weather was supposed to be warmer, so my strategy was to dump a bottle of ice water on myself as I set out for the run.  It was cooler, but I did it anyway...  As I trudged along at my meager pace, several runners offered me salt tabs, or their bottles.  I finally realized, it was because I was soaked - they mistook my evaporative cooling strategy for obscene amounts of sweat, and assumed anyone this sweaty and slow must be just about to keel over...  I kept trudging along, and even had the energy to pick up the pace at the end.  Felt really good.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Races & events 2013

This year, starting earlier, and doing more events as training milestones...  I need the event on the horizon to maintain a good diet and regular training...  Plus the thrill of showing up at a race, with tons of people, getting the jitters, etc. is just addictive.

The first thing I signed up for this year was the Hustle Up The Hancock - it's a corporate sponsored event.  Actually, my son, age 6, and I are both doing this one.  This is making the training more fun, and I think doing the event with him will be a blast.  We've been running bleachers, hills, and some flat runs since December.  Since I'm running a few times a week, anyway, often carrying a 50 lb. backpack, I figured why not sprinkle in some trail races...  

A friend from Michigan is doing the Barry-Roubaix with me, and my brother-in-law is doing the Lowell 50 with me.  I really look forward to the company training and racing this year...  

So far I've been doing all of my winter running and training in either by New Balance Minimus MT10, or my Five Fingers Trek Sports.  That includes a run down a snowmobile trail in the Minimus.

I wear wool socks (DeFeet Woolie Boolie when pace counts) in the Minimus and Injinji toe socks in the Five Fingers.  I prefer the Minimus for most workouts (Five Fingers a little tight with the socks).  I plan to run the Hancock stairs in my Five Fingers KSOs.
I never expected to be running and training in mimimalist shoes, especially since I'm pretty heavy (still 250+).  I bought them initially for strength training, and for short training runs.  Anymore, a thick supportive shoe is uncomfortable, and hurts my foot - it has to be "strapped down" to my foot so tight to keep from squirming around, that the laces hurt.  The minimalist shoe feels almost loose, but my foot can feel/fit the ground more...    I may need a warmer shoe.  I've been considering the Altra Lone Peak, and the New Balance MT1010 (both thicker soled, the NB is uglier, IMHO).
My feet got pretty cold, even with thick wool socks, so I got a pair of Altra Superiors on ebay.  The little extra thickness got me through the winter, and the 1/2 of the Frozen Five that I completed.  

At first I thought I was in love, and wouldn't return to the MT10s and Five Fingers, but I do feel better and feel I run better in those...

Jan. 20: Frigid Fanny (5k trail race)

FAIL:  Getting dressed for this, I pulled my back - couldn't walk for a day.  Couldn't drive for 2.  A few weeks of stretching, and chiropractor visits, and I was ready for the next one...

Feb. 10:  Frozen Five (5 mile trail race)

It was a wet, icy, snowy, cold day.  There was several inches of wet, slushy, icy snow on the ground.  It was raining heavily during the race.  I ran 1 lap, or 2.5 miles, and called it a day.  So did many others.  I ran 3 miles the day before, so there!

Feb. 24:  Hustle Up the Hancock (52 floor 1/2 climb)

This was a lot of fun.  My son, Isaac (6) climbed with me.  He was pretty frustrated by the crowds, and the team (company) picture, and all the hubub getting to the actual climb, but once they turned us loose on the stairs he was a machine.
We didn't really know what to expect in terms of time/pace.  When we practiced, it was on bleachers with 32 steps - so at most we've only climbed 32 steps in a row, before going down.  After about 10 flights Isaac said he was tired, and we stopped for 10-20 seconds, drank some water, and resumed.  We steadily passed people, and were only passed by 1 climber (climbers are released 18 seconds apart).  After that he just kept trucking.  In the last 4 flights we heard someone coming behind us, and he just took off.  Later I learned, that it was the son of a friend, who ultimately took 2nd (climbing 52 floors in 6 minutes, 37 seconds).  His dad told me he mentioned this little kid who was racing him, and he couldn't get around...  Isaac finished a few seconds under 10 minutes, I finished a few seconds over 10 minutes.  

Isaac was pumped.  They hung a medal on him.  It was all he talked about for a day.  We went shopping for Legos at Water Tower Place afterwards, and he showed his medal to everyone that would pay attention.  He called all the grandparents, told his teachers, etc.  We're planning to climb the Willis (Sears) Tower in November - all 104 floors!

Mar. 23:  Barry-Roubaix (24 21 mile gravel road bike race)

This was my best race/event to date - at least in terms of how good I felt in the latter half, and how I felt at the finish, and through recovery.  I rode with a friend the first 1/3 of the race, but his bike was giving him trouble on climbs, and ultimately I lost touch with him.  After debating stopping for a bit or pushing it, I decided to push it.  

About 1/2 way through was a climb called "The Killer" - I don't know that it was harder than the 3 sisters, if I was warmed up, or what, but I just decided to do an interval, and got over the to without hitting the lowest of my granny gears.  In the latter 1/2 the 35 milers re-join with the 21 milers, and about 3 times I jumped onto the back of a pace-line, and got a pull for a minute or so before they dropped me...  

As we hit pavement in Hastings, I turned to a guy I was near, and said "let's go catch some skinny tires", and sprinted off (assuming he might get on my wheel).  He didn't, but I fell into a group int he last mile, and crossed the finish line at 30 miles an hour.  

April 13:  Muddy Monk Double Down 10k Trail Race

This year's focus is more running than biking - putting a priority on losing weight.  I haven't run 10k, all at once, since 1993, so this will be a challenge.  

...another great event.  I was feeling pretty stressed about this one.  The weekend before I started a 4 mile run, and remember thinking is the first 1/4 mile: "What am I doing?"  I had doubts that I would finish without walking a mile or so.  A couple more 3 and 4 mile runs, with intervals and sprints mixed in, and I felt like I could do it.  I figured I would walk a little after 3, 4, and 5 miles.  

The race was wet and muddy.  There was a 30 yard stretch of ankle deep water in the first mile.  I was prepared for wet - I wore my Five Fingers Treksports without socks.  The cold, however, was a shocker - whew!
My plan was, if the water wouldn't drain, and my feet were hurting, I'd stop and put on a pair of Injinji toe socks to soak up the water, and then remove them if necessary.  I had 2 pairs, and a camp towel...  I never needed them.  The Five Fingers drain really well.

I really felt good.  I had no idea of my pace, but my form & cadence felt good.  I saw the "4 mile" (complete) sign facing the opposite direction on the trail.  I thought "I'm not going to walk until I pass that".  After the turn-around, and as I approached the sign, I was thinking "I'm going to step up the pace the last 2 miles".

That was until the beautiful open field.  The sun was peaking through, and we came out of the woods into this big grassy field.  I thought "all right".  But every step was into about an inch of cold water hidden in the grass.  Ooohh - cold!

"I'll crank it up, after the field, then" I thought to myself - but I was starting to admit that my form was deteriorating, my feet and calves were sore, and I probably didn't have even a 440 burst in me.  Then started what must have been a half-mile of ankle deep mud with no real way around.  

Just trudging along through mud - some sticky, some thin and wet.    For a while I tried to "run" through this, thinking I was floating above the worst.  Then I settled in to trudging...

Then we hit the trail we went out on.  Maybe a half-mile from the finish.  I cranked it up the best I could, threw my arms up for the camera guy, and pushed through the finish.  

Official time:
Race number and medal added to the box-o-such-stuff
The shoes out to dry.

May 5:  Cinco de Miler 5 mile run

This turned out to be a lot bigger event than other runs I've done.  They expected 8000 people, spectators and volunteers included.  There was a little stress since Boston, so I told my wife to avoid groups of people, garbage cans (in my mind, a place to drop something suspicious that wouldn't be noticed), and clowns (for the usual reasons).  

Coming up to 3 miles, I was feeling pretty drained, so I walked 100 feet or so, and then I saw the 5k split timer ahead.  Doh!  I walked again after grabbing a cup of Gatorade just after the 5k timer.  In the last mile I was really feeling tired, and was only able to turn it up a little for the last 1/8 mile.  

Looking at my times, my 5k split beats my personal record by 3 minutes (though I never really go out to set a personal record).  This explained my drained feeling after 3 miles.  For 5 miles, I was hoping for 11 minute miles, and I was just over.  

I ended up running this one in my Altra Superiors (pictured above).  In my last few training runs, on Chicago's Prairie Path, my feet were feeling a little sore (a couple small blisters, and sore bruised like feeling on the balls of my feet).  I wasn't sure if some socks in the FiveFingers or shoes would be better.  I was hesitant to race in something I hadn't trained in for a while.  I went with the Altras, and I feel pretty good.  I think the lesson learned, is that for off-road the FiveFingers are great, because the trail under them gives a little.  On pavement and gravel paths, something with a little shock absorption is probably right.  

May 11:  Muddy Monk I Heart Momma 5k Trail Race

We were going to be out of town for this one.  The Muddy Monk people really put on a nice race, and the medal for this one is so cool, so I had to sign up.  A few days before the race, my son, Isaac, said he wanted to do the race with me.  We went out for a 5k run, a few days before to confirm feasibility, then signed him up.
Getting ready.

Isaac took off and passed a group (that's my leg at the back) around the 2 mile mark.

At the finish

June 16:  Warrior Dash (5k obstacle race)

Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!  What a great event.  A variety of challenging obstacles, but more to coordination and experience "playing" than pure physical challenge. I was a little surprised at my speed up over and through obstacles relative to more apparently "fit" people.  Apparently, running up a muddy hill is just not something people have much experience with...

 My wife ran with me, and she was a machine - at no time slowing me down, or having any problems with obstacles, manure tasting/smelling mud. At then end she was aggressively passing people on the course.  She pushed past 2 "buff guys" in the mud pit, and was totally pumped at the finish.  My brother-in-law and his wife ran with us as well.  We don't really bring it up yet, but I think they secretly had more fun than they let on...

June 22:  Bike MS Tour de Farms (100-125 mile)

Stats (before I forget)
  • Rode 101.7 miles
  • Rode only 10 or so in a larger group (intended/hoped at least 30 miles sheltered in a large group)
  • Rode 40 miles in a group of 4, with 2 short pulls at the front
  • Rode 50 miles on my own, with a few brief drafts behind solo riders
  • Elapsed time (including stops):  6 hours, 47 minutes, 13 seconds (14.985 mph)
  • Moving time (according to Strava):  6 hours, 2 minutes, 31 seconds (16.8 mph)
  • Stops at mile(s) 27 (water), 50 (water, food, bathroom, stretch), 65 (following Danny's crash, water), 78 (water, stretch), 94 (water, bathroom, stretch)

July 21:  Palos Meltdown (Mountain bike, 14 mi)

Aug. 25 Chicago Triathlon 

(Sprint: 750m swim, 22k bike, 5k run)

Nov. 3  SkyRise Chicago (Willis Tower Climb)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Races & Events 2012

March 24:  Barry-Roubaix (23 mile)
  • Done
  • Didn't do as well as I could have (2:01:53)
  • Under-ate the day/morning before & bonked after the first hour.  Ate raisins, and a gel and felt good for the last 30 minutes, but lost time through the middle...

April 29:  Road Ends 5-mile (Trail Run)
I used to run in college, and shortly thereafter, but not much in the last 10 years.  Running will be my weakest portion of the 1/2 triathlon, so something forcing me to prioritize running should better prepare me for June.
  • Done
  • Finished last in my age group, and 309 out of 341 (1:09:15.9)
  • Ate & prepared well.  
I can't complain about the result.  It was an early test in preparation for xterra, and not an "event" in and of itself.  I ran the whole way, except a couple of hills, near the end, where it was actually faster (for me), and a brief rest for the running muscles.  My form was OK - I've been working on a more efficient cadence, and form to avoid injuries.
June 17:  XTERRA Torn Shirt (1/2 Triathlon)


I started, back in March, running VERY short distances.  I haven't run in years.  I started with 3 minutes, and    whoa was it a strain (don't laugh, well only a little please, and to yourself).  Two days later 2 sets 3 minutes.  Two days after that, 12 minutes, with a few walking-rests.  Then, after a week in Missouri cycling on some hilly roads, and trails, I ran 24 minutes.  Then 3 days before my race (above), I ran for an hour.  

After that "warm-up" and before my race, I read up on efficient and injury-free running form(s).  Apparently there are a few that share some aspects, and differ in a few.  I bought the book and DVD for "Evolution Running."  Generally, what I've taken from it, and am practicing, so far is:
  • Keep a high cadence - 180 steps per minute, to get optimal energy from your springy tissues
  • Land, softly, on the fore-foot, with your foot under your hips
  • Lean slightly forward - feel more like falling forward, than jumping/landing
  • Limit vertical motion
  • Proper motion is more like sweeping the leg fore-aft, pulling the foot into the ground with your glutes
I got a running metronome, so combined with my interval timer I sound like one of those obnoxious car alarms going down the trail, but the bugs and squirrels don't seem to mind.  So far, all training less than 2 miles is done in Vibram Five Fingers (I got another pair: the TrekSport for a little more trail traction).  I think I'm over-the-hump with running, so now I'm trying to do more intervals - a 3-minute warm up, then reverse splits, or hill sprints (usually following some form of bike workout).  I'm also jumping rope, which seems to be following a similar progression (3 minutes, day 1, was a killer; 3 sets of 3min a few days later went better).


This is where I think I've progressed the most.  Day 1, swam 400 yards in 20 minutes (but each 50 yards was a killer, with 20 seconds, or so, of rest on the wall).  Two days later, 500 yards in 20 minutes - progress, but felt slow, flailing.  I decided to read-up on swimming form, and found the "Total Immersion" series of books & DVDs by Terry Laughlin.  

The focus is on practicing efficient forms and motions, slowly and patiently, and never practicing "struggle" until you develop competence in the drills.  I only drilled for about 3 weeks (2-3 20-30 minute sessions per week).  Tonight, I decided to drill for 4 lengths, then complete 10 laps (20 lengths) without stopping at the wall (though I would kick along in "sweet spot" taking several breaths - practicing my open-water rest).  It took maybe 8 laps for it all to come together (I won't say I'm a master), but when it did, I felt like I could go on for an hour.  I completed 15 laps, only stopping to allow other swimmers in the lane to move along.  I "lapped" one guy 3 times.  


These days, biking is done before running or after swimming.  Due to time constraints, I'm doing mostly hill repeats in the neighborhood (followed by running or jump-rope).  I'm riding to and from the pool - about 3 miles away.  I'll add on some more distance on the ride home, as I get into it.  On weekends, I plan to do a 1-2 hour road ride, or 1 hour trail ride.

August 11:  Ore to Shore (48 Mile Hardrock)
  • Following the xterra, will have to return to a "Time Crunched Cyclist" plan (likely combined with a strength program, like this spring)
The Race:
It's August 12, 1 day after the race, and it's all a bit of a blur - well a blur with some clear bits.  First of all - I did pretty well.  Well, not really in a competitive sense.  I finished in 4 hours, 18 minutes, 21.4 seconds.  628th out of 707 total entrants, 543 out of 595 men, and 105 out of 114 men aged 35-39.  

I finished well in terms of:
  • Feeling I trained as well as I could have, and sufficient to complete the race feeling good
  • Feeling I was riding well among who I perceived as my peers in the race
  • Feeling my bike was well tuned, oiled, inflated, etc.
    • Front tire 28 psi, rear tire 35 psi (kind of low for a big guy)
    • Chain cleaned in warm mineral spirits, and then soaked in warm White Lightning Wet Ride chain lube (a thick, synthetic chain oil)
    • Shock at 103 PSI (I like plush)
  • Feeling I had the right amount & type of food & drink with me
    • About 2000 calories the previous day (and for breakfast) in the form of a sweet potato, raisin & honey race mush in addition to that day's meals.
    • 8 Honey Stinger Ginsting Gels
    • 3 Bottles Gatorade with protein (4:1 carb/protein, 2 carried at a time, family swapped me 1) + 3 bottles filled at aid stations + 3 little aid station cups
  • Feeling I rode at about the right pace.  There were times I felt I could have pushed harder, but there were times I cramped up and was thankful I rode the last hill at the pace I did...
So, here's my race recap:
Got to the starting line a little more than an hour early.  For 700+ racers, and not much explanation about the starting process, things were very calm, there was plenty of room to park (within blocks of the start), and the seeding/line-up process was very self explanatory.  Made a trip to the port-a-johns, and the playground (for the kids), back to the starting line to set my mind at ease, then back to the port-a-johns, and back to the start just in time for an announcement, downing a gel, the star-spangled-banner (I sang), and the roll-out.

Now, when I got to the starting line, I was the only bike behind the 3:50+ (finishing time) sign.  By the race start there were hundreds of bikes behind me...  So when the gun went off, I spent the first few miles of the race being constantly and rapidly passed.  I focused on cadence (95-100 RPM) more than speed.  I didn't want to be panting early in the race.  I can't even really saw what I saw, until the sign that said "48 miles to go" ugghh.

A guy at the start warned me that in the first climb a lot of people walk because they're not expecting it.  I was doing pretty good, until the girl in front of me grabbed her brake for no apparent reason, so off the bike I went.  

At the beginning the signs every mile calling out the distance remaining were a drag...  Every 5 miles might have generated an "all right", but every mile:  "uggh".  I know why (so you can report a downed rider's position).  

Generally, I do very well on climbs.  I'm fast to hit the granny gear switch on the left, and I just spin up, so on the "reasonable" climbs I rode past people.  Many passed me back, but I wore a few down.

I'd say I do very well on descents.  At the beginning I didn't think much of it - pass a few people here and there.  Toward the end of the race, I yearned for the "Warning Fast Descent" sign - I really craved gravity's aid in making it through each next mile.  I bombed down some rocky, sandy downhills. be continued

November 3:  Iceman Cometh (29 mile)
Not much to say between Ore to Shore and Iceman.  I quit my job, took a new one, and moved from Detroit to Chicago.  A priority was maintaining my training and racing schedule.  There were some hiccups and frustrating weeks, but I felt pretty well trained, fueled, and rested for the Iceman.  Here's a photo near the finish.  Still in good spirits.  Some hints of cramping in the last 10 miles (lost a bottle of EFS - had to drink Heed, which I think has less electrolytes).  Yes that's snow.  
Overall, my first full season was great.  I learned the importance of eating enough the day before and morning of a race in Barry-Roubaix.  I rode a 4+ hour race.  I lost some weight, and generally had a lot of fun.  My wife and kids were at all of my races.  Either my parents or in-laws were at each race.  Pretty nice, at "middle age" to have "grown-ups" in your cheering section.  

Early in the season, I had grand plans to "upgrade" the race machine to some new/light carbon full suspension race bike for next year.  After contemplation, I just decided to get a new frame for the 2007 Cannondale Caffeine 29er that's served me so well.  I got a large, 2009 frame for just over $300.  I needed BB30 cranks (another $150), and a new rear wheel ($200).  I think this bike will serve me well another 5 years.  It's light, strong, stiff, and just plain comfortable.  

Next year I may do as many triathlons as bike races.  Conditioning for swimming and running will better address my fitness weaknesses...  As an old guy, weight bearing exercise is good.  As a fat guy, what it takes to become more competitive as a runner (not being fat) will serve me well all-around.  Next year, I think I'll do the Barry-Roubaix in March, the Ore to Shore in August, and the Iceman in the fall, but I think I'll find a 1/2 Triathlon to do in the spring, a full triathlon to do in the summer.  I think the Chicago triathlon is in the fall - so that would be a season to look forward to.