My Rides

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.