Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Not Yet for A's Race Report

This is E. Don't know about you, but I'm still interested in what A has to say about her experience at the Quad. Sure we talked a fair amount about it on the drive back, but there are somethings that you forget about until you start writing.

Unfortunately as soon as we got back, A started working long hours at work (>12 hours a day long). Currently, I'm waiting for her to get back from going back into work to turn off the cooling to something or maybe it was turn off the cooling to something. Once she gets back, we get to have fresh baked brownie. Hmm, brownie.

My legs have recovered pretty well from the race, but my mind might need a bit more break before the training picks up again. Not due to the race as much as the stress from trying to get everything ready for the race while working crazy hours. Well, this post isn't going anywhere interesting...

Good night,

Sunday, February 15, 2009

E's Quad Report

What a bittersweet race.

The prep for the race went very well, but didn't go into it feeling all that fresh. Stayed injury free and mostly healthy, but had to spend a serious chuck of time at work two weeks before the race (85 hours in 7 days). I also scrambled it assemble our Javelin Amarones in time for the race. I got them ready in time for one test ride for each of us before the race. Fortunately, I did a good job getting them ready and they were ready to race.

Travel to Grants went well. We turned in our stuff, went to the pasta dinner and got to bed early. Race morning went smoothly as we didn't have to make any emergency trips back to the motel (it's happened twice before).

As I've had extremely high heartrates at the start before, I wanted to get a good warm up in to avoid that. A and I headed out with Erin for a bit on the bike course to show her the way the route goes through town. Although they had swept the road, the bike lane still had some glass in it that we rode through. We wiped our tires and didn't think much of it. We headed back to town and A and I got a little bit of a run in. Once we got back to the bikes, I got ready and headed to the start line

Bike Up, well not quite
As I'm lined up for the start with a few minutes to go when I hear A yell out to me that her front wheel is flat. I get out of the pack in a hurry and go with her to the bike mechanic that is there to support the race. He freaks out a bit when we tell him we have tubulars, but he gets it together and starts to get the tire off. I give my front wheel to A and tell her to it. It wasn't completely altruistic since she has been in the money the last two years and it could be pretty costly for her to miss the start. The mechanic gets my spare (only spare) onto the wheel and pumps it up quick. A had gone back to the start and had them wait for me.

Bike Up, part 2
Even with that fun, the race start went pretty smooth. The front group started fast, but I just tucked in behind and was able to get a pretty good draft. Drafting is allowed on the bike up, but not the bike down. There was some movement back and forth and at one point A went by, but I still felt pretty good. The 13 mile bike climbs an overall 1800 ft with only one minor decent at mile 8. Coming into that I tucked in behind Erin, but got dropped by her going down the hill. I thought that was bit odd as I probably weigh 40 lbs more than her.

Well folks, sometimes you get lemons and sometimes you get lemonade. This time I got lemons. I realized that I was losing ground due to my rear tire going flat (the front was the issue at the start). I had two CO2 cartridges, but didn't have another spare tire. The options I had were 1) call it a day and head back to town 2) ) use a CO2 cartridge on the way up and risk having only one on the way down 3) ride the rest of the way up on the flat and hope that I could get A's spare or at least have only a slow leak and keep my tire somewhat filled with the two CO2 cartridges. My immediate choice was #1 and I sprinted up to Erin to have her tell A that I flatted out if/when she saw her.

Well folks, I decided to at least try to make lemonade from my lemons and decided to keep going. I rode the last 4 miles standing up to keep as much weight on the front end. I lost some serious ground over those miles, but I made it to the top. I actually ended up finishing the bike with a guy that was riding a 30 year old Schwinn. It will be a good dichotomy to see the one week old bike versus the 30 year old bike beside each other when the pictures come out.

The first transition went pretty quickly as I switched shoes and grabbed some drink for the run. Time for bike and T1 was 55:36. By the time I left transition, I was 2:20 behind Amber.

Run Up
The run up went pretty well. Its 5 miles with 1200 ft of elevation gain. The start isn't very steep and has some short downhills. Most of the elevation gain comes in the last 1.5 miles.

I tried to ease into the run as my legs were felt all of the standing up on the bike. After a bit, I was able pick up my tempo, start taking down some calories and catch some people.

My second transition went a bit slow as getting ski boots on is never that quick and I took a gel. My run time and T2 was 50:56, which was nearly 4 minutes faster than my previous best. Amber was a minute even better than that and was out of the transition before i even got there.

Ski Up
The ski up is always brutal. It may be only 2 miles long, but you get to climb 1200 ft with a really steep section know as Heartbreak Hill. As an added bonus, my quads always cramp up during it and almost always at the same spot on the course. This year was no exception and on cue they locked up. Fortunately, I'm sort of used to the pain by now and kept going. On Heartbreak Hill, a guy going up to the snowshoe start from a team (teams start an hour later than soloists) told me that if I caught a few more people that I could get into the top ten. He enjoyed my response that I was just trying to catch my wife.

The ski section gets timed by itself and it took me 37:33, which left me another 15 seconds behind Amber. That was a little slower than last year, but the snow was much softer this year, so I'm happy with it. Now I just need new quads.

Snowshoe Up
One mile and 600 ft of elevation to the top. During the Superbowl, I finally got our shoes mounted directly to our snowshoes. It might not be a huge difference, but they at least felt a lot lighter on the way up. The first half is pretty mild, but the second half is very steep and very exposed. My guess is that the winds on that section were at 30 mph, but that might be conservative. Fortunately I brought a windbreaker along and that helped a lot. I had just passed one guy without a jacket or hat who looked half frozen, but was at least still moving up the hill. After the race, he said he had been considering hiding behind a tree, but realized he would have frozen. I did see Amber up in the distance at one point but she was minutes ahead. The uphill snowshoe and T3 (ski to snowshoe) took me 22:26, which was my best by 3 minutes. A had an even faster 21:35. The whole uphill took me 2:46:15, which was exactly 4 minutes behind A. My time was 18 minutes better than my previous best, while A dropped 5 minutes from her previous best.

Snowshoe Down
The snowshoe down went a different route this year for the steep section, which I didn't push too hard as I didn't know what to expect. The downhill snowshoe took me 8:41 which was a whole 8 seconds faster than A, but she had already left for the ski. T4 seemed to take forever as I had to take off my skins and pack up those and the snowshoes.

Ski Down
The conditions for the ski down this year were really good. There were some tricky sections but for the most part I was able to just point my skis down the hill and hope for the best. T4 and the ski down took me 16:58. A did it even faster in 15:46, but some of that time was due to the fact that she had taken her skins off a the end of the ski up. Which of course means that her snowshoe up was even faster than mine.

Run Down
T5 was slow as I took another gel, drank some water from the tiny Dixie cups, and got my shoes on. The run felt pretty good for most of it. I really pushed first half hoping to get within shouting distance of A, so I could get her spare tire, but never saw her as she was 5 minutes or so up on me. The last part of the run is pretty brutal as it is part uphill and your legs are used to running down. T5 and the run took me 40:52, another leg PR by a minute. A just kept getting farther ahead and ran a 39:39.

Bike Down
As I got to my bike, I confirmed that A's bike was already gone as it had been racked opposite of mine. I got out my first CO2 cartridge and filled up my tire to see if it would hold. Fortunately it did and I got my shoes changed and helmet on. I took the first part of the bike really slow as it is steep and twisty. I was worried about both the back wheel holding air and whether the front tire's glue was set. A few minutes down, I stopped and checked the back tire and it was still holding up pretty well. On the straighter sections I was able to get my speed up a bit with more confidence. At the top of the one uphill, I stopped and used my second CO2 cartridge to refill the back as it had gotten really low again. That lasted me until I got back into town when it was getting low again. As I couldn't see anyone behind me (two guys had passed me already), I took it easy through town to the finish line. A had started back on the course to find me and I slowed down to find out how she did. My T6 and bike down took 48:51, but I was more relieved than anything else to have gotten down the hill.

Overall, the 2009 Mt Taylor Quadrathlon took me 4:41:36, an 11 minute PR. I want to guess what kind of PR I would have had without the bike issue, but that won't do me any good. 6 of the 8 legs were also PR's. Ironically the bike up was one of them, but we had a nice tailwind for that and our new Javelins are awesome light and stiff. I ended up in second place in my age group and picked up a nice chuck of nambe. This year's lesson is to be prepared for flats (multiple ones).

Amber was a rock star with a 13 minute PR, a sub 4:30 finish (4:29:26), PR's on 6 legs, 2nd place for the women, and 10th overall. She was actually worried before the race that her fitness was suffering from her work schedule and since she wasn't keeping up with me during runs and bikes. I'll let her fill in her race details, but I'm so proud of her effort.

I'm off to find some new quads.