Friday, January 27, 2012

The wrath of mother nature

I've been bitten by good old mother nature many a times in my days.  Come to think of it, my dad has been struck by lighting twice, wonder if it runs in the family? 

Well, as my birthday weekend rolled around (and the previously discussed trip to Louisville, KY for some big race) it appeared that mother nature had planned to draw blood again!  My teammate Marten made it down a day before Greg and I did.  He got to pre-ride the course on Thursday and it was POURING.  A full day of racing / riding coupled with over an inch of rain left the course quite a mess. Enter Greg and I (who almost missed our connected flight due to, you guessed it, weather delays) on Thursday night.  It's now snowing and 20 degrees.  Fantastic! 

We got back to our rooms after getting our numbers, built up our bikes and prepared for our seeding qualifier the next day.  You see, I was concerned for the last three days as I was watching the weather.  "This is the WORST POSSIBLE SCENARIO you could imagine for a cross race.  FROZEN SOLID MUD RUTS".  We arrived at the course (freezing our asses off) to find a frozen tundra.

As we sat in the rental car getting our gear on, we witnessed something odd.  There was a "flyover" structure that you had to climb up stairs, hop on you bike on top and ride down while the course passed under you.  Well it was so cold that it was frozen to the point where people could not ride down it.  They were sliding their bikes and then sliding down on their asses!  Then we heard that the officials were going to delay the start because of that.  So we headed out for our site lap.  Basically all you could do was run, just about the whole course.  And it was painful running, rolling ankles in ruts from the day before, etc.

At this point I was freezing, and quite frankly scared.  Scared that I'd spend the rest of January like I did last year.....injured and on the DL.  I wasn't scared about a big fall, but scared about twisting a knee or an ankle that would mess up my next two big races, the HAT50K and the Boston Marathon.
Back on track here.  Our race was scheduled to start at 9:45.  We were pretty sure we heard the officials say it was starting at 10:00.  Well, we were in the car pinning up our numbers when all the sudden we see our race take off!  This is only a seeding race for start position so I wasn't too worried, but we did get out there, and had spotted the field 3 minutes.  I was running just about the whole course, it was a windy 21 degress and I was cold.  I was however still smiling, and I somehow managed to catch and pass someone!  Long story short, I finished 2nd from last.

Our main event was scheduled for 3pm the next day.  Temps were not supposed to get above freezing.  The sun did come out and turned the top layer of the course to a greasy, sticky mud with some fun icy ruts throughout the course.  My heart just wasn't in this one.  It was a bummer for me.  I had taken a good shot to the groin in a site lap crash which took the breath out of me, so when we lined up, all I hoped for was a safe finish.

We took off, I made a couple of passes from the back row and Greg and I were marking each other until I got caught up with someone who had gone down in front of me.  About halfway through the first lap I could tell my bike was pretty heavy from the mud, then I started to experience shifting issues.  As I was about to complete the first lap, I was carrying my now 3 times the weight bike up the runup and I felt a pull in my knee.  This worried me.  I got to the top, put my bike down hoping to hop on and ride out the pain, but now not only was my chain skipping, my tires were so clogged they wouldn't move.  That was it, game over.  Save myself and save my equipment.  There will be more days.  Not what I had planned / dreamed in my head, and yet another blow from mother nature, but I was safe and still smiling.

I was glad that I pulled out in the long run.  Of the three other people that I knew in my race, two of them broke their rear derailleurs.  The other guy had two bikes, so he would ride a lap, grab a clean bike, ride a lap, grab clean bike, etc.  That was the only way you could have finished.  It was brutal.  My hats off and congratulations to not only the winners and the new world champions, but to those who simply finished!

So now on to bigger and better.  I had a great week this week training.  Nearly 65 miles last week as well.  My speed and tempo workouts are spot on.  Now I'm getting anxious to test the legs out in a race.

Friday, January 6, 2012

UCI Masters Cyclocross World Championships by Exergy Preview, Louisville

Cross season finished up nearly a month ago in these parts.  I haven't ridden in the grass since then, but that will change this weekend.  My race bike is en route to Louisville, as will myself and three Lamprey teammates, to race the Masters World Cyclocross Championships.  I hadn't planned on racing this initially, but when we got to bench racing and talking about it, it sounded like a great opportunity to check it out.  Now, I'm glad we're going and I'm pretty damn excited about it too! 

Wednesday Greg and I glued up my first set up tubulars, Easton EA70x wheelset with Challenge Fango (ft) / Grifo (rr) tires.  We packed our bikes into the cases, shipped down a car rack and bike stand and we're on our way!  Cross Nationals are happening RIGHT NOW and seeing the coverage of that is peaking my excitement more!

So as I begin my official Boston training, I'll be squeazing in some grass workouts on the bike and a couple on the trainer, lowering my run miles for the week and (on Thursday) heading down to Louisville.  My seeding qualifier is Friday morning which will set our call ups for the main event on Saturday January 14.  I'll be racing for my place in the world rankings in the 35-39 age group.  As of now there are nearly 60 people registered for my age group, if we hit 80 our seeding qualifier will be our chance to make it to the main event. 

The course looks awesome.  Even includes a "flyover" which is my personal favorite (well, I think it is cool, but I've never officially done one)!  As for my goals, well GOAL #1 is to have fun.  On top of that, a top 50% finish, maybe even a top 20 would just be icing on the cake.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011 by the numbers

Being the engineering type, I like to look at I've collected endless data.  So as I wrapped up 2011 I compared the basic numbers to previous years...

YEAR Run Mi Run Time Bike Mi (road) Bike Time (total) TOTAL HRS DELTA
2008         2,643 310:00         1,650 88:00 398:00
2009         1,961 233:09         3,548 233:19 466:28 68:28
2010         1,878 230:16         4,337 257:02 487:18 20:50
2011         1,889 225:53         4,503 289:40 515:33 28:15

Some good data in there.  2008 was the year of many PR's in running, but it was also when I more seriously considered multisport.  Frankly, I do miss the running (not that I don't run now).  The thing with running is that it's easy.  All you need is a pair of shoe's and you're off.  You can travel to neat destinations, I can run with my wife, etc.  Last fall I started to realize that I miss running, so I suspect I may see more running mileage in 2012.  The interesting thing to note about 2011 is that due to injury I could only run 11 months of the year, so considering that it was a decent year.

Anyone notice something?  Yeah, no swimming in there!  Well, there's a reason for that, I don't swim all that much!  I probably swam more distance in races this year that I actually trained.  Sad, but true.  Swimming is tough at this season of life.  Kids in daycare and school, a spouse that works part time and is also a runner, etc.  I fit in what I can, and I don't worry too much about it.  Expect to see me race more duathlons this year, it ain't getting easier to find swim time!  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy triathlons immensely, I just have to do what works for me.

So, some of my personal successes in 2011...
  • Finished my first road race (Tour of the Battenkill), a TOUGH Spring Classic in New York.  64 miles, >4000' climbing, 20mi of dirt roads. It was fun, I will be back.
  • ONE WEEK later I ran the Boston Marathon and despite coming off of a foot injury and racing Battenkill the week before, I ran a decent time at 2:51.
  • I pulled off the Quassy Challenge, the OLY and HALF back to back.  And I won my AG in the OLY to boot!
  • I managed to win both Duathlons that I did overall. (Wilkes Barre, Sunset)
  • I won my age group at the Steelman Triathlon
  • I had a great race at the ING Philly Half Marathon, my second sub 1:15 half
  • I paced Gasparilla Distance Classic, St. Lukes Half Marathon and Wineglass Marathon
  • I had a great fall of running and cyclocross
  • The Superbowl 10k (sold out at 550) and Town Hall Cross (240 registrants) both went off without a hitch.
  • Remained safe and injury free!

Some rough goals for 2012:
  • Have fun at Cross Worlds in Louisville
  • A marathon PR at Boston (gulp) sub 2:47
  • My first 50K (HAT 50K)
  • Podium in my age group at Long Course Duathlon Nationals
  • Expand on my coaching (obtain USATF certificate)
So, Boston training has begun.  I put my plan together below.  Two key components this year are having one rest day per week (at least) and having a down week every fourth week.  I'll expand on this training plan as I progress through it, but I'm excited to get rolling!

I wish everyone a successful, fun and injury free 2012!!