Saturday, April 16, 2011

Leland 150k bike race 2011

The race is 150K with about 50% on gravel roads. This helps me if I can stay in front because it strings out eh peleton and allows my TT skills to kick in a bit. What I have to do is survive the first few attacks and make sure I don’t get left behind by a good group that can win it. I also try to help out the better cyclists on my team like Patrick.

Last year I learned 2 lessons:
1. I missed the first massive attack and the 2 guys stayed away and won.
2. I showed my strength too early for TT’ng and ended up pulling the last like 90 min.

So this year I tried to follow the first couple attacks and keep Patrick in the front, but didn’t want to always be the guy to chase down each attack. So after like 3, I sat up for the 4th and let someone else do it. Problem was, nobody did, then Patrick did and I am supposed to be looking out for him. So half way through the first lap I saw a gap, I chased it so Patrick wouldn’t have to, when I looked back we had gapped the field, but Patrick didn’t come…. Damn, now what??

I decided to sit at the back of the 4 man group, and do as little work as possible. Problem was we just entered the first gravel road, which the rain turned into a mud pit. Ugh. Because there was only like 9 inches of semi packed dirt mud, and I was sitting 4th I was having to do 425 watts to BARELY hold on, and I couldn’t hold a wheel!!! Damn it! I was told first rule is to never get dropped from a break and I was about to break that rule…

I decided to drop back to the 2 CAT 1 riders chasing me about 15 seconds back, and did. I was taking turns for like 5 min, and the guy I was following let the lead guy go. Great, now I went around him, but it was too late, by the time I found a place in the mud to pass, the guy had like 20 seconds on us. The guy with me said sorry, and then dropped off. NOTHING was going as planned.
So this was supposed to be a 6 lap course, each lap about 15 miles. At the end of lap 1 I was isolated about 50 seconds behind the lead 4 and about 90 seconds ahead of the group. We were about to go into the wind for about 20 min, and last time it was all I could do to go 14mph with a pack! All I could think was there was NO WAY I can out TT a group of 4 (3 x Cat1, 1 x CAT3) solo into that kind of wind. Decision time, the idea of dropping back that far too maybe get dropped from some more sprints was not appealing so I decided to chase.

At about half way through the wind section I was encouraged to be catching one guy who dropped off, and not lose any time to main group, but I wasn’t gaining. When I picked up the guy, he worked with me for about 10 min, and then dropped off. The ref said I was 38 seconds back, then 33, then 28… After 53 min I finally caught!

As soon as I did, one guy said, “Pull through”. I told him no way, I need to rest a min, just chased for close to an hour. He then said, “OK, let’s drop the dead weight, and stood up and sprinted. We were going into the wind on lap 2, and he did the sprint during like a 90 second stretch where it was a cross wind. I told myself no matter how bad it hurt, fighting wind for 15 min solo again, would be worse. I made the group, another guy dropped, now we are 3.

What was surprising to me was it was a CAT 1 guy, and a CAT 3. I thought if I made the front, I would definitely with the 3 race… Not the case. At the end of 3rd lap CAT 3 guy dropped. Now it was me and the CAT 1.

We decided to work together, into the wind. 15 second pulls. My glasses were COVERED in mud. I couldn’t see a thing. I took them off but on the mud roads, his wheel spray went into my eyes, and I almost crashed. In the cross wind he told me to not pull so hard, and I didn’t think I was, so I felt like maybe in another lap I could dial it up, but I didn’t want to do 2.5 laps solo with the wind. 5 min later, he dropped off and waved me on! WHAT!? Holly crap, I was winning the race!? Problem was I had 2 complete laps left. I told myself to not panic, be steady and TT it.

Finishing up lap 4 O couldn’t see anyone behind me, and the lead vehicle told me they were going to take 1 lap off. (Between us, I was thanking God! ) So I told myself I basically had to survive a 20 min solo effort into the worst wind imaginable. Positive was I could take my glasses off as I wasn’t getting wheel spray in my face. 

After the wind section I looked back and didn’t see anyone. The motorcycle came up and told me I had 4.5 min lead! Wow, now, no flats!

I couldn’t believe it. I did 5 laps, just about 75 miles; I was freezing the entire time, and could not believe I won. I’m not sure what happened behind me, I guess most of the field was told to turn for home, and most only did 4 laps? I don’t know. But wow, I was so excited.

I want to thank Rich for the awesome new Focus bike and Bicycle Heaven Team for helping me get ready and telling me what to do.

Monday, April 4, 2011

California in the spring time.

Wow, what an awesome trip I just had to SoCal. I left about 10 days ago taking advantage of the opportunity of the extra spring break time. I wanted to put the effort in at SuperSeal the weekend before Oceanside 70.3. I have found what works best for me would not work for most of my athletes, but I usually need some type of significant effort a week out from a race. SuperSeal went very solid. The swim and the bike were just average for me, but the run was one of my best at 5:48 pace with a mile or so off the main path on sand trails.

I was able to get 2nd Overall behind Michael Wies. He beat me pretty soundly, I think 7 min, that guy can really ride a bike…

I spent the following week training with Trevor Glavin, and updating all my SkinFit apparel ( I never really write about all the products I use, but will tell you the clothes are amazing. He could probably use a better “model” then me, but I am glad I get to race and train in the stuff.

California 70.3 came and I was just feeling really ready for it. I was questioning as I get older if my “Strong” taper would work and I would recover the same, but mentally I really wanted to get the race going. For the first time I think I walked around feeling like 4-6 guys could really win the overall and even my AG but I considered myself one. I have so much respect for the guys I race. 30-45 years old is really no joke. These guys are sub 9 hour IM guys and really can go.

Race morning came and I knew I was in the last wave… again… I hate starting last because it is simply so dangerous. To describe what it is like to ride a bike through that crowd would be like telling someone to go flat out on their local bike path on a weekend. So often you just have to have faith that people are not going to cut you off, or do anything too crazy, not to mention the swim is… well, you can imagine.

The swim started and I saw one of the guys mark me from the start. I got one of the better foot massages I think I have ever gotten and we actually moved through the field quite efficiently I felt. I wanted to get in and out of T1 and feel I did a good job doing so. On the bike I felt like Lance Armstrong as I was passing people in the 50+ AG, and eventually the younger ones, but had to keep telling myself it was just an illusion. I had my first indication at the 40k I was doing OK, when I was under 55 min. We had a good tail wind though for a lot of it and I told myself to just keep going. 28 miles in 1:02…Wow, but here comes the hills and wind.

Lucky for me I had two sources, well, three of motivation. 1- I knew the guys in my AG could really run well, and they did. 2- I went to Infantry school on the bike course. So riding through seeing the Marines was awesome. I tried to remember everything I did there, and “Suck it up”. 3- On one of the last hills I was starting to really feel some cramps in the legs, and chest from breathing too hard. I came up on this guy with “Scottsdale Tri Club” or something with pink compression socks... I asked him “for Sally?” He yelled, SALLY SOCKS! Game back on – get focused I told myself.

Came in off the bike and could not find my garmin run watch anywhere!?? WTF?? I went rifling through my Transition bag telling myself to forget it, but not wanting to let it go. I couldn’t find it anywhere – damn. So I went into the bag and decided to run old school with the Timex wrist watch. I guess my T1 was too good. I knocked my Garmin over a spot or 2. Thank goodness I found it later after the race.

The run went like 6:02 pace for the first mile, then 6:20 (1:22 was my goal) but I knew by mile 3 it wasn’t going to happen. I was cramping in the ribs, and both quads like Charlie horses. I told myself to just keep going and work on cadence and turnover. Problem was when I shortened up the stride a touch it shortened the muscles causing more crams. I really thought I was about to go down in a blaze of glory, I had biked way too hard. Lucky for me I had so many friends and clients racing, and had Jim on the course with some other friends I just ran from person to person.

I ended up walking like 4 aid stations. I usually drink too much and have to pee, so I think I slightly under did the liquids this go around. So I though if I can get some fluid in I can keep going. It worked OK. I ran 1:27, close to 1:26 missed by a few seconds.

I ended up having one of the best bike splits, but the slowest run I think in the top 50. Oh well, I know it is early and that by far the hardest, longest sustained effort I had done on the bike this season. I won the AG, but was super surprised I won the overall Amateur! I was so happy!

I took the Kona and Vegas spots. I know for sure I will do Kona, and to be honest am not sure about the rest of the season. I am supposed to do St. George, and will stay on track to do it but not sure how hard I will go. I used that as a back up for qualifying this year. I also am in Eagleman and Lubbock. I have to decide which I am going to do.

I think right now the plan is to really go to St. George and swim and bike well, and just see how I feel on the run. I want Trevor to qualify and I would love to help him and race some of the race with him. I am not sure though how much of a hole I want to dig for the rest of the season though… TBD.

Thank you to my entire support structure. Lindsay has been pretty patient with letting me do some camps this winter and figure things out. My friend who works at Trek was there to help me tune up the Speed Concept and make sure I had the bike dialed in. Rich at the Bike shop helped tweak my position a few times this winter and fall. Jim, you and I are the best coaching team I could have. To have someone like you help me and talk through things with me is awesome. I know I question and want to change things up sometimes, but we always seem to work the best plan out together. My training partners like Scott Iott, and Trevor Glavin are some of the best friends and athletes anyone could ask for.

Damn… Now I have to get fit for Kona again. GULP!!! :)