Monday, December 13, 2010

Cross-tastic

The weekends for the last few months have been filled with cyclocross. Since my last post, A and I have done 12 more races (11 for Amber). The big one for each of us was the State Championships this past weekend. My goal was to win the 35+/4's on Saturday with a back-up plan of racing in the 4's on Sunday. But, before we jump to the end, let's recap the rest of the season.

Aspen Lodge Cross:
Easily the most technical course we encountered this year with very short speed sections, high speed turns, sand that skilled riders (i.e. not me) could ride and lots of cornering. The start was critical as there was very little opportunity to pass. I got off the line well but slid out in the first corner which dropped me way back. After that I took additional risks that caused me to hit the deck a few more times. Finished 38th. A almost didn't even start her race after crashing hard in her warm up and causing her leg to cramp bad. She ended up racing, but wasn't her day.

Blue Sky Cup:
The next weekend started at Xilinix for the second race there. The race actually started really well, but the proverbial excrement hit the air moving device on the 2nd lap when I slid out and dropped chain. Then I went off course twice. The final nail in the coffin was a crash going over the bunny-hop-able barriers (the ones that Amber is wisely running over in the picture below). That one really hurt. Limped home in 56th place.


Boulder Cup #3 at the Bowl of Doom (aka the Bowl of Death):
The next day, I was excited for this one as it was at the course that we ride every Wednesday morning for hot laps. Race went okay, but not feeling great (fatigue and lingering cold from trip to England) and ended up in 15th. Really like the picture below of Karen taunting Andy with Cowboy Bob and Amber screaming at Andy. I could write more about CB, but you need to show up at the BOD ride to find out more.


Colorado Cross:
Race at the Rez and not really notable for anything. I think more fatigue was setting in and I didn't race as well as I thought I could. Didn't help that some dude pushed me into a hay bail on the first lap. Anyways, 18th.


Boulder Cup:
New course at Flatirons Mall that looked like it would be just another grass crit, but turned out to be pretty tricky. Unfortunately there was a bad corner early in the race that was a total cluster for a lot of the races. Course that I should have done better at (esp since I stayed upright), but really fatigued and finished 20th.


Schoolyard Cross:
Tried the 35+ open to see how fast that group is. It was fast, but wasn't focused at the start and not a great effort.

Alpha Cross #2:
Took a bit of a break after Schoolyard and got a bit healthier. Really excited for Alpha Cross as it suited my strengths with long power sections and little rest. Second line call-up, but crappy start had me in the mid-twenties going onto the grass. Moved up quickly though as most of the course was wide. Navigated the few tight turns pretty well and was in the top ten. Almost got onto the main chase group, but the effort to move up wore me out a bit. Kept the gas on and took a digger on the 2nd loop that dropped me behind two guys I had just passed. Kept pressure on and re-passed them, but they hung close. Moved up a spot or two for the last couple laps and finished in 5th, my best result by far. I also knew by the announcer's call that I wasn't loosing any ground on the leaders as I heard him call out the lead of the race at the same point each time. No pictures of my race, but Amber is kicking butt in the picture below.



Cyclo X:
The next day was a new course at the Union Reservoir put on by our former CU triathlon teammate Lance No Pants. Short course with a fair amount of speed sections, but with a fun trip through the BMX course each lap. I got up to the first line and got a good start and was in tenth or so going onto the grass. Which was good except I had to coast a bit behind the others and proceeded to have my chain drop on the bumpy grass. Stop, lose a lot of spots and fix chain. Really my fault for having my chain keeper too far away from the chain. I was able to move up a bit, but taking some poor line to do so which cost me speed in the corners. Kept the gas on and moved up pretty well, but not expected much out of the day. Dropped chain on 3rd lap as well. Lovely. Anyways, fought the good fight but expected to be in the mid-teens to low twenties. Surprised as anything to get 7th on the day (with 6th coming back to me quickly). Lance had chip timing which showed that my lap splits were just as good as the podium guys except for the two dropped chain laps. Great race to give me the confidence to go for it. No pictures of my race, but here is one of Amber giving it.



GMSV #2
So same course as the first race of the year, but opposite direction. And instead of starting way back in the field, I had a front line call-up. Started really well (I like grass starts) and 5th going into tight section. Moved up to 4th on the first uphill section and latched onto the top three guys. Saw a chance to take the lead on the grass section with barriers and went for it. I took the lead in part since the next section had a lot of turns and I was worried I would loose ground there if I was following. Kept the lead through the finish line, but took the 1st turn too hot and went down. Dropped all the way to 7th or so, but the group was mostly together. Moved up due to crash in the lead group, but a couple of guys got away. Moved up to fourth, dropped to fifth, moved back up to fourth, got my brake stuck in my wheel like J Pow did this weekend (but i made a really slick move to kick it back into place), and finished in 4th. Really not a great course for me due to all of the turns, so I was stoked by the result. Again, no pictures of my race, but one of the lovely wife.


Boulder CX #4:
The next day was a new course at a big park in Westminster. I fell in love immediately as there was a ton of grass and hills. My goal was simple. Get out and hammer it. I was a bit disappointed that one of the guys that had been crushing it the last few weekends was upgraded before the race, but a big field again. Super start off the line and was third going onto the grass. The guy in second let a gap open up to the Ryan H (who had gotten a couple of podiums recently), so I moved up to close it up. Got on Ryan's wheel and stayed there a little bit until a long grass section where I took the lead. Kept the gas on until the downhill where I recovered a bit. Kept the lead through the technical section at the lower part of the course and hammered up the pavement back onto the grass and got a bit more a lead. The guys behind me kept getting fewer and fewer, but a few stayed within 10 to 20 meters. I could tell one guy (Dan M.) was moving up well and closing the gap. He finally caught me with just under two laps to go, but I was able to stay on his wheel pretty easily. I stayed there and watched him on the lower section to look for any weaknesses. I went around him before the finish line with a lap to go, but he stayed close. We swapped the lead back a forth again on the upper section and he took the lead when I almost missed a turn with my head down (oops). I stayed on his wheels through most of the downhill section, but let him gap me a bit since he hadn't taken a good line on one of the sections on the previous lap and I got back on his wheel in that section. Waited until nearly the end to make my move, but went hard, got around him and kept my lead to the end. Man, it fun to win. Jeeze, it nearly killed me. Again, no pictures of me, but the wife is better looking anyways.




State Championships:
Like I alluded to earlier, my goal by the end of the season was to win the 35+/4's at State's. Coming off a string of top five finishes and my win the previous weekend, I knew I had a chance, but depended on the course, conditions, and competition. Since State's was two days, I signed up for the 35+/4's on Saturday and the 4's on Sunday as a back-up plan in case something didn't go well on Saturday. A and I both "raced" the warm-up race on Saturday morning to get a look at the course as they really limited the times you could warm-up on the course. Learned a few things like it wasn't worth trying to ride the sand section and there were speed sections thrown around the course but often had tight corners immediately after them.

Front line call-up, but bad start as I missed clipping in and was probably in 2oth going onto the grass. Didn't panic and started picking off riders through the first section. Got through the sand section and surprise, the course changed from the practice race. Now, we had a section full of turns that I hadn't seen at all. Kept my position through there and luckily, no one was gassing it at the front. Moved up in the next few sections and got into 5th or so, but had some close call to get there. On the next straight section, I went full gas and went to the front. Got a small gap, but a couple of guys hung close. I took the high barriers section poorly (all day) and they got even closer. Stayed on the front for a little over a lap, but not able to drop Ryan H and Dan M. Let one of them take the lead after the high barriers and stayed with them. From there it was pretty much a three man race. We moved around a bit between ourselves, but I don't think anyone wanted to kill it on the front. I tried to go to the front a pick up a bit when another guy closed on us, but he was too strong and bridged on heading into the final lap. I thought my spot on the podium was gone when he went to the lead after the sand and only Dan got on his wheel with Ryan between myself and them. But, then the new leader had to stop and dry-heave in the twisty part. Go figure. So, it was back to Dan, Ryan and myself to duke it out and frankly, I was worried as I was toast. They slowly got a bit of a gap on me and were about 10 meters ahead with 300 m or so to go. That's when Ryan tried to get around Dan on the high side of the loose section and slid out. Like that, I moved up to 2nd. Quite happy with that. It's too bad that Ryan crashed out of the spot, but I played it safe all race to avoid that kind of issue.




State's Day 2:
Really wasn't planning on racing since I had a great race on Saturday and felt like crap on Sunday morning, but wanted to see what the speed difference was between the two groups and had raced the 4's last year and had a crappy State's a year ago. So, I raced.

Four line or so (no call up points for me, so luckily I had signed up during the week as it was then based on registration number). Much better start than the day before and was again 15th or so going onto the grass. Moved up, but two guys went off the front early. Eventually, one guy passed me a few laps in, but passed everyone else but the two guys off the front. Ended up 4th.


With that, I hit 20 upgrade points, which is the cut-off for automatic upgrade.

Now to the 35+ open.


Monday, October 11, 2010

It's Cross Time

We've gotten back into the cyclocross groove. 3 races in the past 4 weekends.

New for this year is a Redline Conquest Team ('09 frame) that I built up in a 1x10 configuration since it is pretty rare to shift up front while racing. A's got the same frame but with the usual 2x10 set-up. Also, we switched to tubulars for racing.

Since A moved up to the women's open race (vs. the women's 4), I've aged myself up to race the men's 35+, cat 4's so that we don't have to wait hours between our races. The only issue with that is the size of the fields. Okay if you have a call-up, but asking for trouble if you can't get up to near the front.

First race was a bit blah after slidding out early and having some mechanical "discoveries" with the new bike (like I didn't tighten my shifter enough). Started well (20th or so going to the narrows), but lost a lot of spots when i wasn't on my bike. 47th or something. First race under the belt and moving on.

Second race (Boulder CX#1) was up in Longmont with my sister and brother-in-law as spectators. Call-up's based on last years points (none for me since raced a different cat), the bike clubs that set-up and the course, and then by random last digits of your number (no luck there either). So, I found myself near the back huge group, but I lined up on the side to try to get around as many people as possible on the climb up the paved road up to the narrow section through the woods. Man, it hurt to get up there but managed to get to the woods in 25th position or so. Spent most of the race moving up a bit, but did a nice cartwheel due to a little ditch. 19th

Third race (Boulder CX#2) was in Broomfield and a sold-out field of 120 riders. Thankfully, they did call-up's based on CX#1 and I got a second line spot (behind the first guy that lined up). I got a really good start and was in 10th or so getting to the narrow sidewalk when i got pushed into a schrub that caused me to slow down and loose some spots. Recovered pretty well for rest of the first lap. On the second lap I felt horrible and lost a number of spots. Felt better each lap after that and finished in 16th (outsprinted at very end). Best result that I've had at cross.

Up next, the Colorado Cup races start which means needing to do well early to get call-up's for those.

If you are thinking that I'm making too big a deal of the call-up's, check out this video of yesterday
http://vimeo.com/15719170

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Women's Ride

As Ironman training has wrapped up for me for the year, I am finding time to do some of the things I have been waiting all summer to do. Wednesday nights, that means joining the local Women's Ride leaving from North Boulder. Oh, what fun!

Last night was my second showing, and it was a good one. Nine of us rolled out from the Bus Stop just after 5:30. The ride was started this summer to let local women, from various teams and abilities, meet and try and ride fast with each other, further developing the local women's racing scene. The purpose of this weekly ride is to ride hard, practice your attacks, sprints, counter attacks, etc. all within the company of a bunch of fast women cyclists. Most of those who turn out are category 3 and 4 racers who have raced at least a year or two, but all women are welcome. That's a good thing for me and my developing cyclist-legs. Yes, they even welcome triathletes! In fact, last week there were two of us tri-sport types, and we both did fine.

This ride is run as a drop ride, meaning show up ready to ride hard and be ready to work your tail off to stay with the group if needed, or ride home on your own if you get chewed up and spit out the back of the group. They are not waiting for you at the next light if you fall off the back, you can chit-chat but at your own risk of missing the next attack, and there are no hard feelings if you're the one up front pushing the pace and blowing everyone else away. That's not to say that the ride is anti-social or unsafe. We keep it friendly, but push each other as we are able and ride as hard as we can (of course, in the pack has its advantages and allows you to adjust your personal intensity to some extent, if you can stick with them!), and you always have the option of trying to cover an attack or sit up and block, just like in a race situation.

This all boils down to just the kind of suffer fest I need to start sharpening me up for the 4-day stage race in Steamboat Springs over Labor Day. And, oh, did I suffer last night! I think it was definitely harder than the week before, the attacks just never seemed to stop!

We modified the route yesterday a tad as some of the county and state roads are currently being chip sealed and are at various stages of fresh oil, tar, and gravel. We rode up 36 to Neva, then 63rd, jogged to 65th, turned right on St. Vrain Road, and rolled into Hygene before tacking on a baby-Box loop up and around Highway 66. The attacks were frequent, and I did my share of initiating them, but my legs were loudly protesting too much effort. Twice I was off the back and dropped hard, but both times I willed my way back to the group. We stopped on the return through Hygene for fresh water (it started hot last night!), then headed south on 75th to Neva/Niwot road and retraced our path to the Bus Stop. I lead the pack up Neva and covered attacks up until Highway 36 was in sight, but my legs were toast by the time we reached the small climb up to the highway, and I soon found myself spit out the back again.

Ahead were 3 of my teammates and 2 other fast chicas, and behind me were two more who joked that they were not connected to anyone who had stolen my legs for the night (where did they go???). As we rolled back into town, I caught Tasha and Lorna, but the other 3 were out of sight off the front. Fast!

What a great night! It was beautiful out there, not just because of the lovely Front Range scenery, but because of the healthy dose of Fast and Hard that we kept throwing at each other. And we even threw in a little double pace line on Highway 66 just for kicks. Good stuff!

I rode all the way back to the start then turned for home, turning on my two headlights and rear blinky tail light as the daylight was fastly fading. I took the ~4 miles of downhill and flat to try and spin out the legs some, but still needed ~30 minutes in the NormaTech to flush them out well enough to sleep last night. There is hope that my legs are making a return from Ironman Lake Placid! Yeah!

Ride on (and join us next week, if you're a local chica)!
-Amber

P.S. One of the night's highlights was getting home and having dinner waiting. E spoils me! On the menu was home made fried rice with odds and ends from the fridge, including veggies from our CSA allotment, yum! Fried rice was the perfect accompaniment for fried bike-legs!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend Update

What a weekend!

Our planned ride to Estes Park through Glenhaven was aborted at ~2 h. E's legs were protesting the thought of 100 miles and lots of climbing on their first real bike ride back after IM Lake Placid (this one has been rough on us). Even the promise of cinnamon rolls was not strong enough for them to come around. So we turned for home when we saw the oil on the road(freshly applied for this week's chip-seal work up by Carter Lake) and enjoyed a tail wind (had been riding into a strong NNE head wind) for the return. We both figured a flatish 60 mile spin was a good start for our return to bike fitness. And the original trip was only postponed for a few weeks, not cancelled. I still need me some cinnamon rolls (and I love that Big Thompson climb)! Maybe we'll recruit a few other crazy folk to join us next time....

Then it was off to do some cooking, baking (zucchini bundt cakes are now filling the deep freeze), dinning (thanks for coming over Beth and Keagan!), and bike building. Sunday saw more of the same, with a side of yard work and laundry thrown in for good flavor. Now the cherries are all done for the year (our tree gave us close to 4 gallons this year!) and the last of the BIG zucchini are shredded and all baked up into breads and cakes.

In the end, I was tired and sore, which seems odd since training was so "light" this weekend. Must have been all that baking!

-A

Friday, August 13, 2010

IM Lake Placid Race Report: A's version

As E already relayed, we had a nice trip out from Denver to Burlington, VT (who knew that tons of other people would be trying to catch the parking shuttle at 4:30 in the morning?). The 6 am flight was a bit rough, but we were prepared with homemade meals, and a ~2pm arrival was a nice treat (flying East is always a chore from Denver, but this was better than our usual red-eye into NYC where you leave at ~midnight and arrive at 6am, the perks of traveling to race, not for vacation or business!).
A nice late lunch on Church Street got us fed a decent, bigger meal, then we pointed the rental car North and West and headed for the ferry crossing of Lake Champlain. Our plan was then to drive in and preview ~1/2 the bike course, from Ausable Forks all the way to Lake Placid as we made our way over to our lodging in Saranack Lake. Heavy rain challenged this plan, you couldn't see much, but we got a sense that the area was green, pretty, and somewhat hilly. Once we found NCCC (North Country Community College) we had some trouble finding check-in for the dorms. Eventually we backtracked and parked near a building with "Visitor" parking spots, only to read a sign with directions on where to go to check in (back out towards the entrance, then left, right, left over the RR tracks, right, and first building on the right. No we did not get it right on our first try, but by our 3rd or 4th try we found it!).
As we moved in, we learned that our accommodations were a bit more rustic than we anticipated. Luckily, we were able to just roll with it. We unpacked our clothes into the dresser and headed out for a quick run to loosen up and shake out the travel, then found dinner and a grocery store (bought bars of soap and contemplated a cheap shower curtain).

That was Wednesday. The next couple of days we settled in, laid low, and got ready to race. We had 2 GREAT swims in mirror lake, picked up our bikes from TriBike Transport, rode the only flat miles of the course to spin out the legs and make sure the bikes shipped fine (between Upper Jay and Jay), and read and rested. I was sleeping well (not the case before St. George), we were fueling well (cutting back on fiber, still no coffee for me until race morning), and all signs were good. The only small hiccup was my watch dying (I use the timer to remind me to eat and drink on the bike) during our second Mirror Lake Swim. I swung into the expo, though, and picked up a new one at the Timex booth (I may have paid too much for it, but it sure was convenient to just stop in there and get a new one right away).

This trend continued race morning. We woke early (4 am, I think) and tried not to make too much noise and wake our suite-mates, Tommy (from Long Island) and Rob (from 'Jersey). A breakfast of pop-tarts (no fiber), banana, juice with carbopro, and coffee (no coffee maker or french press, so some Starbucks via thingies from the grocery) and we were out the door. Rob had shared his secret parking spot with us the night before, so we headed there and got pretty close to transition. Then we got body marked, did a warm-up hike out to the special needs drop off spots, and headed back to transition to add nutrition to the bike, pump up tires, apply body glide, and turn in our dry clothes bags. Somewhere in there I lost my swim cap, but I easily picked up a new one on the beach.
Once we were fully in our wetsuits, we headed into the water, swam a tiny bit, then floated over to the shore opposite the beach to stand and wait a bit for the pro start before finding our spots. We ended up in the middle, ~3 people back from the banner (start line). It was a beautiful morning, a great day to race! Off in the west, a tunderstorm cloud was building, but it was also sunny where we were.

The cannon fired and we started to swim. This swim is 2 loops, a short beach run in the middle. The course is a long, skinny rectangle and the buoys are set on a cord that runs the length of the course, a meter or two below the surface. The whole way out to the turnaround on the first loop I spent passing people. I was to the right and just out of sight of the cord, but tracked well due to the total number of people also tracking off that line.

Part way down, my right hip flexor started to cramp. Uh-oh! I ignored it as best I could and swam on. The return of that first loop went smoothly, but I began to notice some rubbing under my right armpit. I was in my sleeveless wetsuit and the leash for the zipper was caught up in there. I fixed that during my beach "run" (more of a walk for me as I was fixing my clothing, and I still forgot to look for my split time on the clock!) and all was good for the second lap. Except now it seemed like everyone was passing me, not the other way around. I swam steady and strong, but added a left calf cramp to my right hip flexor stiffness/pain and got a small nick in my nose from another racer's watch (I think that was my only real contact during the swim, pretty good for a 2700+ person start in a tiny lake! At that point, though, we were almost done and I decided to just chill a bit, there was no reason to get hurt too early in the day). My 1:04 was an OK time. A tad slower than the 1:00-1:03 I was hoping for, but in the ballpark. My sleeveless wetsuit is easy to strip and I was soon carrying it and running down the road toward T1.
T1 was as quick as I could make it (on with the helmet, race number and belt, socks and shoes, sunglasses, and a swipe of chamios butt'r) but the long run on the road from the lake to the Oval makes this a slower T1 than some. I had a much smoother mount than at St. George, and was soon flying through town and out onto the course.

The first loop of the bike went well and I finished it right on target for pace and effort (both perceived exertion and heart rate, but I was only glancing at this every so often and getting "real time" readings). E passed me early in the first loop, after Keene I think. We ended up staying close to each other for ~10 miles before he moved on ahead. My nutrition was spot on for the whole bike: 4 powergels, 1 bottle of carbopro-nuun with ~200 kcal, 4-5 bottles of Powerbar Perform drink (really like that stuff, goes down easy and worked well for me), and 4-5 bottles of water in the front aero bottle with The Right Stuff electrolyte concentrate added (this was the key to good nutrition for me, I think, 4 doses of The Right Stuff). Oh, and 1 gasX. I meant to take 2 of the 3 gasX I was carrying, but lost my 2 spares somewhere out there on course. My second loop on the bike felt good, solid, and strong, and I hit a faster speed on The Big Downhill since it was less crowded this time (just over 55 mph, I think), but I lost a bit of focus on the climb up from Wilmington and gave up a fair bit of time (7+ minutes!) there unintentionally.

As I rode back into town that last time, I was focused on a fast T2. I had decided to ride with my road shoes, not my tri shoes, so I was not able to get my feet out and leave my shoes on my bike (I tried, wasn't going to happen), but I was still able to run in them, grab my bag off the rack thingy, get into the right change tent, swap shoes, socks, and headware, and get out in ~2:30. What I forgot to do was pee. And I had to GO. Luckily, I have skills, and before the first aid station (at 0.4 miles, I think they said) that problem was gone. All this might explain why I said nothing to Lisa as she cheered for me on the way out of T2 (thanks Lisa, I was just in the zone, and it wasn't even the run zone yet!).

I quickly settled into my pace on the run. I felt good. After my pee, and a gel and gasX, I was flying. Comfy, steady, on target. I was happy. I was making my dreams come true! This feeling survived until I was back in town and nearing mile marker 10. Kerrie had just passed me looking strong (on her way to running the fastest run of the day for the female age groupers) but I knew something was off with my tummy. I had been taking in a cup of drink at each aid station and using the icy sponges to stay clean and cool, but my lower GI was off having its own raucous party. And the party was OVER. A quick (1:33 or so) pit stop in a non-locking porta-potty and I was back, running very strong, and cruising uphill and into town. Justin Daerr passed me on his way to the finish and I used him to pull me up the hill, through the second turn around, and then to slingshot me off into my last run lap.

I started my 2nd lap and felt strong and solid. It was time to hold onto that feeling and start creeping up, faster if I could. I held steady until mile ~18, then noticed my hands and fingers start to get tingly. It was odd. Odder yet was my response: I just settled in, on auto pilot, and got it done. I started taking cola at each aid station, and upped it to 2 cups of drink, too, so that was at least 3 cups per aid station. My tummy felt great and stayed that way until the finish (this is a MAJOR victory for me, first time in 7 ironmans that the nutrition was spot on). I started having to walk the aid stations, though, so that I could grab all those cups before I got to the other end. I moved onward, but in kind of a blur. And I guess I was in full-on shuffle mode here, not really "running" anymore.

But I was not aware of any of this. I was getting it done and was just unaware of how much I had slowed. The final 8 miles were a blur. That is really all I remember. I came back into town, climbed the hills, got a big smile as I saw E heading for the Oval and the finish as I headed out for the final turn around, and then joined him there myself. Here are some screen shots of the first and second loops of the run. You can see my potty stop, and then how pace slowed with ~8 miles to go, and where I walked the aid stations.


Lap 1 of the run... see my potty stop at mile ~10?


Lap 2 of the run.... what happened with 8 miles to go, and can you see where I was walking the aid stations?

In the end, I PRed the race by 49 seconds and PRed the run (for an Ironman) by ~2 minutes but missed my goal times (total and for the run) each by ~16 minutes. That's a lot. Could I have made that up all on the run? Not sure. Am I frustrated? Yes. Am I still oddly pleased at that race I have, the effort I gave, and the outcome? Yes. Do I have any clue what happened and why? No.

I was really ready to run a 3:40. Trained and ready. It was not a reaching goal, not a pipe dream, it was doable, oh so very doable. In the end, though my nutrition finally seemed spot on, I was likely under fueled on the run. I had planned to use race drink as my sole source of fuel, but had neglected to think about dosing using their cups. I probably was not getting enough of anything. And the gel I grabbed, off the table after some hunting and gathering, with 2 miles to go was too little, a lot too late.

After finishing, I was exhausted. And Sore. All over, everywhere. I saw E, bust still used my Volunteer Catcher to walk over to the athletes food area and sit. 1 bottle of water, 1 slice of pizza, 1 ham sandwich, pretzels, grapes, 3 cookies were consumed while we sat and chatted with Kerrie and Kau. Then I changed into better clothes, and we went to the car to drop off gear and grab the wheel bag. Next was a trip to tribike transport to drop off the bikes, then we headed onto the run course to cheer for people. We swung into the Lake Placid Brewery, but the wait for a table was over an hour, so we went to their tent out front and bought a hamburger and chips to share, and 1 beer each. Then we headed back to the dorms and chatted with our room mates (Rob had a good day cheering, but Tommy missed the bike cut-off and was trying to cope with his first DNF). As usual, I slept very little that night due to being sore everywhere.

The next day, I was still sore all over! Deep breathing was impossible (so was deep sighing, like when the 3rd and final Kona slot rolled to 4th place and she took it, I was 5th). And laughing? Not an option.

We had a good morning in Lake Placid before rolling out and heading to Plattsburgh where we had a room booked in an awesome B&B (it was Eric's birthday, AND this was halfway back to the airport). It was so relaxing there! We ventured into town for dinner, then picked up a pint of banana fudge ice cream for dessert, which we shared in their mosquito-proof gazebo.

The next day we took the ferry over to VT, drove down to Burlington, and spent a few hours roaming Church Street and the lake front. It was a nice day, but HOT, so we didn't walk too much or too fast. Our flight wasn't until after 7 pm, so we had time to kill. We wandered, then lunched at the Vermont Brewery, then went to the used book store, then wandered some more. In the end, we went to this "museum" called the Outdoor Gear Exchange and looked at a lot of things made in Colorado. I enjoyed Burlington, the state of VT, and the Adirondacks very much, and would love to go back there again. It was a great trip!

One final thought: I am not sure why I am so troubled by missing my goal times, and the Kona slot. I had a great race. I was fairly steady loop to loop. I nailed my nutrition, before (can anyone say breakfast for dinner???) and during the race. The weather was PERFECT for me, definitely not too hot like it can be at Canada. I am plagued by some of what Kerrie says, here, yet for me some of it IS about the journey, and for me, I get to share the training hours and miles with my family (and my best friend, E). Yet I missed my goals, and that is very hard (for my ego) to swallow and move on.

I guess the conclusion I am reaching is that Ironman is just not for me. I did well, learned lots, and had fun preparing and racing 7 of these things over the last 5 years, but I am just not as good at this as I want to think I am. I can run a good open marathon, I can rock an Olympic distance tri, I'm a good skier, and I can hike with the best of them, but this Ironman thing, not so much. That's OK, next year's race still sold out before lunch the next day, so there are enough others out there to keep this thing going! And I am trying to tell myself that this is not giving up, it is moving on to something else. Work with me here.... and come along for the ride if you wish.

-A


Thursday, August 5, 2010

A free Forerunner 310xt?!

So, my Ironman Lake Placid race report is coming, but I'll give you a little preview: my Garmin (the Forerunner 301) worked great during the race, but did not want to download to the computer for analysis until yesterday.

I was pretty frustrated about this. So frustrated that I started pricing out a new wrist-based training device. I've been ooogling the Timex GPS Global Trainer and the Garmin Forerunner 310XT. While trying to decide which would best meet my needs, I have been trying to compare how the two "watches" are similar to and different from each other.

A great resource in this regard has been the reviews done on Ray Maker's blog. His review secion is here. He does great, indepth reviews on all sorts of tri-geek gadgets, and today he posted a new product giveaway: a Forerunner 310XT. I was so excited, I just wanted to share the news with anyone who happens to read our blog (and by so doing, also earn an extra "golden ticket" for the giveaway). So get over there, check out his blog (updated near-daily and always a good read), and get yourself entered into the giveaway if you want.

In other news, we are enjoying our Colorado summer, post-Ironman. We have been doing a little swimming back in the pool, but except for last Sunday's hike, have avoided applying excessive amounts of sun screen and have yet to create an overabundance of water bottles.

Happy Summer!
-A

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

E's Lake Placid Race Report Part 1

Pre-race:
We headed to the northlands of New York on Wednesday before the race. The 6 am flight out of Denver was a bit rough, but got us into Burlington, VT (the Boulder, Austin, or Madison of Vermont) by mid-day. Losing 2 hrs of time zones and having a connection meant any route would take the good part of the day. We were on the same flights as some of the WTC folks which should us got into the VIP stuff, but somehow didn't pan out.

Anyways, from Burlington, we took a ferry over to the state of New York (the short one as the weather wasn't conducive to sightseeing), which meant our day included planes, boat, and automobiles (not quite the same as planes, trains, and automobiles). We drove half of the bike course (Ausable Forks to Lake Placid) in the rain. The village of Lake Placid itself is a bit of a tourist mecca (reminded me of Estes Park), but we kept going to our accommodations in Saranc Lake. Our accommodations were the dorm rooms at North Country Community College. NCCC, I've lived in dorms. I've stayed in dorms. Dorms were a home of mine. NCCC dorms, you're no dorms. More like nice prison rooms. But, they were the cheapest option by a New York mile (Same as a regular mile, its really just the minutes that are different).

Looking back, if we had know that there was a kitchen in the main building before the last day, we wouldn't have been so disappointed with the kitchenette (microwave and mini fridge). If there was soap anywhere, we wouldn't have been so disappointed. If there was a shower door or curtain, we wouldn't have been so disappointed. If we hadn't gotten the smallest room in the suite, while the two other individuals who stayed there each got a bigger room, we wouldn't have been so disappointed. If our room wasn't right next to the bathroom with its jet engine toilet, we wouldn't have been so disappointed. If the sheets weren't so thin that the plastic mattress felt clammy as hell, we wouldn't have been so disappointed.

But, it was away from the chaos that was the village of Lake Placid and the other guys in our suite (Bob and Tom) were nice.

On to Thursday... Picked up bikes. Got the wristband. Swam a loop. Biked the flat section. Ate dinner at nice BBQ place with live music. Went back to prison, I mean the dorm rooms.

Friday was a bit of swimming, time at the expo, and going to the athlete's meeting.

Saturday was the normal day of freaking out, dropping bike and bags off, and early dinner. For dinner we tried the Beth method and went for a breakfast at HoJo's (one of two restaurant only Howard Johnson's). Worked pretty well, but wouldn't recommend anything but the breakfast there :).

Sunday (aka Race Day)
We headed to Placid, parked and headed to transition. Body marking had no wait when we showed up (we'll be body marking at the Boulder 70.3 to return the karma). The special need bags drop off was a workout in itself as it was like a thousand million miles down the road. Okay, maybe not that bad, but still a bit of a trek. The rest of getting the bike ready when pretty well. Sunscreen application was next and then it was time to head over to the swim start. A lost her swim cap (actually in her bag), but got one at the swim start. I think we got in the water before the pro's started but memory ain't so good no more. After the pro's went we moved into position (near the middle, a few rows back).

Swim:
The plan I had was to swim wide of the line on the way out for the first lap, work to the line around the turn around and follow the line for the second half of the first lap and the whole second lap. For those not in the know, the line is a cable that runs the length of the swim course about 3 to 8 feet underwater (visible the whole way) and the buoys are connected to it. Since nearly everyone wants to swim on the line, I thought it would be suicidal to try to swim the line at the beginning, so we started in the middle. But, the peep's that started on the outside thought they should get to the line right away and I felt herded to the inside right away. Anyways, a few moments of near panic on the first section as it was crowded as anything. Got to the line at the turn around and followed it in. I probably hit about 20 of the little buoys, 7 of the big ones, and the line a few times (when it was shallow) throughout the swim, but at least I swam straight. I came out for the 1st lap of the swim in 33 or so and knew I was on a good pace (for me). The 2nd lap was still entertaining as I got my cheek kicked hard once and pummeled a bit trying to stay on the line. Second lap must have been about the same time as the total time was 1:06:16. Best IM swim time by a couple of minutes. Not surprising as my pace in the pool has been improving (right in time to stop doing triathlons...)

Oh, time to make some dinner. To be continued.....








Friday, July 30, 2010

A's NY reflections

Hi All! E and I had a great trip to NY and VT for Ironman Lake Placid. We were well prepped for the race and had a great trip. The end, with a B&B stay and then wanderings around Burlington, VT, before our flight home even felt like vacation! The vacation extended a few days here in Boulder as I finished my reading from the plane and am trying to get back to "normal," whatever that is. So nice!

So...... After 7 tries at the iron-distance, I set a small PR (49 seconds!), had my highest placing in my age group (5th), and had a well-executed race where I really have no excuses or interesting happenings to report from the swim, bike, or run. I was excited to have a race where I felt like I gave it everything I had to give.

Unfortunately, I did not earn a Kona slot, and I also missed my goal time, by a lot, so my emotions are a strange mix of elation for a race where I felt I went hard, took risks, and used up all my resources, frustration at the missed Kona slot and final time/place, and confusion at what I could have done differently since my prep was awesome and I thought my execution went pretty well. Maybe I'm just not as fast as I want to think I am? Anyways....

We are moving on now after 5 years of ironman racing. No WTC or ironman in our future for now. I am a bit lost on how to cope without a race of this magnitude to prepare and train for. I know I will need a focus soon, but don't feel rushed to find "what's next" just yet.

This was not meant to be a race report, that is still coming, just a quick update to say we had a great vacation, and I had a good race but one that has me searching for something new to chase. Hopefully that something is a good challenge, but also something I can achieve and find some satisfaction in. The road has been fun to travel on so far, let's see what's around the next bend!

-A

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lake Placid Reports Coming Soon...

Sunday was the race.

Monday was packing up, going to the award banquet, and heading out of Lake Placid (to a wonderful bed and breakfast at Point Au Roche).

Yesterday was spent visiting Burlington, VT and flying back to CO.

We finally got back to the Peoples Republic of Boulder this morning at 1:30 am. Sammy the cat was quite happy to see us and kept head butting and licking us as we tried to fall asleep.

It is a strange feeling not being signed up for an Ironman (at this point last year, we were signed up for Canada in August '09, St George in May '10, and Lake Placid). Strange but freeing as well.

Anyways, we'll have our race reports up soon. I hope.

Peace Out,
Eric

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Canyons

This topic has been stewing in my brain for a few months. In that time, it may have lost some "spicy flavor" but likely also gained a few extra "ingredients." It all started back in March/April as we were preparing for Ironman St. George. One of our scheduled long bike/runs was a ~6 h ride, with climbing, followed by a 60 min run. We decided to drive the 7 miles to Lagerman's Reservoir so we could run right after on the glorious dirt roads that cut through the farm and ranch country up in Boulder County. A quick detour to recover our forgotten helmets (we rarely drive to bike and, well, just forgot to load them into the car) we mounted our tri-bikes and were rolling north to Masonville and the Rist Canyon Loop just beyond.

The trip to Masonville was fairly routine (honestly, I do not remember much of that part after 2.5 months, so I'm just assuming it was routine, E may need to correct me). We rolled up to the 1 stop sign in town, turned right, and began the loop. The first part was familiar as it is part of the Loveland Lake to Lake course, but then we took another left turn onto the first dam for Horsetooth Reservoir and headed into uncharted territories. This started me thinking about all the canyons around us and how many of them we have ridden.

The area around Boulder has many riding opportunities, but we are situated in a place where the plains meet the mountains. That means that, when riding, you can choose flat/rolling, or you can climb a canyon. We have ridden many canyons in the Boulder area. For the first few years, we mostly only rode Lefthand Canyon. I have ridden Lefthand Canyon in all weather, and at all times (I still remember my first solo ride there, it was the day before the Bolder Boulder 10 km run). It has some peacefullness to it, possibly due to the familiarity bred from repetition. The grade changes some here and there, but it is all mild until the last mile before Ward. There you turn right and start to CLIMB! Lately, we have continued on, climbing past the Peak-to-Peak Highway to the fee station for Brainard Lake. And we have been doing time trials from Highway 36 to Ward for the past few years, too (not yet this year, but we'll see what July brings). My first year here, I also roller skied this canyon at least once a week (sometimes twice) all fall. We have even run on this road now, too (though we turned at Olde Stage to get steeper climbing).

Sometimes we'd take the spur off Lefthand Canyon up to Jamestown, but only a few times have we been past the general store in town, and only twice have we ridden Super Jamestown in its entirety. Lately, the Jamestown route has been our after-work-during-the-week time trial (though again, not yet this year). From 36 it is 8 miles and a good gauge of fitness. This last Saturday was our second trip up past town all the way onto the dirt and beyond and it was much easier than I remembered, likely a combination of better fitness and better bikes (and bigger rear chain rings with 27 teeth).

We also tend to ride up St. Vrain Canyon, Golden Gate Canyon, and Big Thompson Canyon (sometimes with the turn at Drake to include Glenhaven, sometimes without.... mmmmm, cinnimon rolls in Glenhaven, mmmmmm....). Golden Gate is often only once a year (pain to ride to the start from Boulder), but the others are common additions to our riding menu. We only descend Boulder Canyon, and only ~once a year (too much traffic, limited shoulder, traffic is FAST), though we do use a few miles of it to get to the start of Sugarloaf and Magnolia roads.

We have never ridden Coal Creek Canyon (hmmm...).

And until this year, we had never ridden Rist Canyon. The closest we got included use riding up Stove Prairie Road, not knowing where we were, and turning around right at the Junction to Rist Canyon Road.

I like new things. Very much. Especially new experiences. Needless to say, I was EXCITED to ride up Rist Canyon. When the day arrived, however, it was less than ideal. I was up before 2 am to go in to work and assist in a critical process step on the production floor. I thought I might be home by 3 or 4 am and get some more sleep, but it was after 5 am before I did get home, so we decided to eat and get rolling (this low sleep may have contributed to the forgotten helmets....). Then the wind started howling. By the time we dropped off the last Horsetooth dam and hit Bellvue it was whipping out of the West. Which meant a headwind as we climbed up the canyon. The canyon starts pretty narrow and twisty. And you climb up. After a while you think you might be nearing the top as you pass a side road on the left with ~50,000 mailboxes at its mouth. And you keep climbing up. Up a bit further the road shifts left and the surface changes and it rougher (chip seal?). Still not the top. Still climbing up. Then you pass the Christmas tree farm, a U-cut place. And keep climbing. Then it seems to open up a tad, you start to go down hill (what the heck?), and if you are lucky, the gale-force winds are now drifting snow across the road in drifts that extend past the centerline. Then it actually starts snowing! Still you climb up, past fancy ranches, past hand-hewn log fences, up through steep swichback. Onward you climb. I gave up multiple times (there were too many false tops for my wind-frazzled, sleep deprived psyche) and was a pile of mush when we did crest the top. A quick pee in the bushes and well-earned Snickers bar (Almond, yum!) righted my spirits and we remounted our bikes for the fun descent down Stove Prairie Road to finish the loop back to Masonville. Then we retraced our path from the morning, battling the wind the whole way back. Once at the car we skipped the planned run in favor of sleep. The run was only an hour and the wind had extended our bike more than that amount of time past what we intended, anyways (all for a mere 102 miles!).

Then a few weeks ago (June 19th, to be exact), we met our friend Karl to ride this route again. This time we climbed up Stove Prairie Road and descended Rist Canyon. My whole mood towards this place changed (Stove Prairie has been my favorite road to ride from home ever since the first time on it, but Rist Canyon was too brutal for me to do much more than shudder each time I thought of it). It was so green up there! We intended a 6 h ride, but had a beautiful, tail-wind assisted ride up Stove Prairie that got us up to our turnaround point much faster than anticipated, and it was cool and green and we did not want to leave, so we continued on to Rist Canyon to make a loop out of it. Going down was FUN and very fast (20 minutes, not the 2+ hours we climbed in April). The whole ride was grand, simply grand. I will conceed that that may be partly due to the Karl-supertrain that pulled us back to Longmont from the Conoco station on Highway 34 in ~1 h. I just tucked in behind in my aerobars (I never draft in the aerobars, but...) and Karl was so smooth, steady, and straight that I felt safe and fast. I like going 23-25 mph with ~ 120 watts of effort!

The canyons here are beautiful and challenging, and make for some great biking.

-A

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

E's Quick Update


Where to start? Well, A gave a brief update a week ago. Since then, we had a nice evening out on the town for our anniversary, had a soggy weekend of training, and nicer weather for the work week.

Over the weekend, our plans changed as biking the Flagstaff, S
ugarloaf, and Magnola route again didn't seem like the best idea in the rain. Instead, we got a run, shorter bike, and a swim in. A and I sharing the wall lane while swimming wasn't the best idea as we clobbered each other, but only once. The run and the bike weren't too bad in the light rain.

On Sunday, we met up Jennica and Luis from our bike team and headed out to do some shorter (but still steep) climbs around Boulder. Lee Hill/Deer Trail, Jamestown, Olde Stage (backside), Wagon Wheel, and the start of Sunshine. We had off and on rain
until Sunshine when it finally stopped for good (still no sunshine though). At one point, I commented on how I felt like I belonged on a poster like one of those soaked kittens with a cute saying...
After the ride, A and I went for a little run and then the infamous all you can eat pasta at Gondo. It had been years since we had gone there for it (first time at latest location) and although it is good pasta, we won't be back until we forget again the pain afterwards. Actually, I wasn't too bad as I couldn't put down as many rounds as A.
The weather turned for the better after all of our workouts were done and by the work week it was pretty nice. We got in a nice little ride last night that was a bit rough on the lungs and legs. It was a new one to us and I'm guessing Jared had fun dreaming it up.
Looking forward, we've got a bit of a long run this evening on tap and nice looking weather for the weekend. After that, a weekend in Wyoming for a bike race. And then more Ironman training. And more Ironman training. And more... sorry, you get the idea.
Peace Out,
E

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

We are alive ..... just very busy

It has been awhile, sorry! Here is a quick recap:

Hugo (bicycle) Road Race: Hot, windy, and not such a great day for either Rydholm. We both got dropped from our race packs before the first water stop at mile 40 and got to solo the rest of the race (78 mi total). I rarely use the word, but this race, this year, was Epic. Definitely a character builder and fitness enhancer, though.

Superior Morgul Classic (bicycle omnium): this was 3 days of racing over Memorial Day Weekend. It was interesting. The first day was the street sprints. I advanced to the seeding heats, then pulled a rookie mistake and started that heat in my small chain ring and was under powered. In the consolation round (final heat) I finished last for 10th place (2 no-shows, point went 12 deep). E had even worse luck and broke his chain in the first few pedal strokes. He never even got to cross the finish line, which was a huge bummer. Saturday was the crit. I had an OK race and got to play around with riding around in circles in the pack. I did some things well, some things less well, and learned a lot, ending 9th at the tail of the pack sprint finish. There were some strong, fast women racing! E had a bigger field to contend with, and ended up getting lapped by the leaders about half way through, which ended his race. Sunday was the return of the Morgul-Bismark road race after a long hiatus. I raced 2 loops of the 13 mi course, E raced 3 loops. I made a move the first of 3 times up The Wall and got away with 2 other racers, but could not hold their pace on the backside of the loop and was soon riding solo in 3rd. Then the chase pack caught me with ~1/2 lap to go, and I ended up at the back of the sprint pack up The Wall the final time for the finish, ending in 8th. Each race earned us points in the omnium, where I placed 7th. E laid down a solid effort, but lost the pack in there somewhere and ended up tired and cold. Our planned 1:20 hill run was delayed waiting over 2 h for results (and protest period) and was eventually postponed until early on Monday (Memorial Day) morning.

Memorial Day: Awesome run up and down Left Hand Canyon, Olde Stage, and Red Hills Drive. Awesome breakfast of homemade yeasted waffles, awesome massage with Katie, and fun BBQ at Tate and Paola's.

Last weekend: A Boulder cycling tradition on Saturday: Flagstaff, Sugarloaf, and Magnolia. Mountains-1, A-0 (E beat the mountains, I did not. Ouch.) Then yard work, and a yummy home made dinner of hand made (homemade) pasta and shrimp. Sunday was a run, bike, swim and another yummy home made dinner.

Garden: Holy lettuce! I was a bit ambitious this spring during planting, I guess. We are eating well now.... lots of yummy salad. EVERY NIGHT. We have spinach, chard, a spicy blend, and black sampson (like a green leaf, this one is very prolific). I thought we could not get lettuce to grow in our beds, boy was I wrong.

Cottonwoods: it is time. They (seeds/fluff) are everywhere. It looks like it snowed in our yard. And the car gets dripped on with a watery sap, then the fluff sticks to that, making for a furry car. Classy. I may give up on vacuuming for a while, but I'm not sure I can stomach the results.

Roof: needs new shingles. Let the bidding begin! We are currently getting quotes, and then we'll get to see what happens when we pick a contractor.

Anniversary: Yeah! 9 years as Rydholms, ~13.5 as the A & E show. Wow! and yipee!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Return of the Hugo

Bike Wars and The Hub Strikes Back were other considerations for the title. Tomorrow will be the second time that A and I head out east and do the Hugo Road Race.

The first time was back in 2005 and it our first road bike race. Back then, we had these silly notions that a long road race (~65 miles (The course is longer this time at 78 miles. )) would be easy, since we were triathletes. This was even before we started doing Ironmans, so our longest time spent on a bike while racing was 56 miles. We didn't really know that a strong sustained output means very little when you are in the middle of a pack. Fortunately, we were used to riding with packs, but not packs that go very slow for a while and very fast the next moment. Anyways, getting ahead of myself.

So, we drove to Hugo, get our numbers, warmed up a bit and headed our separate ways (don't remember who started first). Since we weren't on a bike team, I felt a bit surrounded by all the team kits.

The race started and everyone settled in for the first bit at a pretty mellow pace. I at least knew to ride in the first part of the pack in case it split. What I didn't know is how easy it is to move from the front of the pack to the back of the pack, if you're not paying attention. I swear I went from 20th place (good) to 85th place (not good) in about 5 minutes. 85th wouldn't be all that bad if the pace was steady, but we had a nice accordion effect going on over every little rise. At one point we went by a crash that had occurred in the one of the groups in front of us.

I think I was able to move up a bit before the first turn, but it didn't matter much as I was not ready for the sudden acceleration up the first decent sized hill that occurred there. Instantly, I was losing ground. By the top, I was able to get up to better speed and started gaining on the main group. A few riders were able to get on my wheel and after a bit we started working together towards the group.

And then, the back of my bike started making bad sounds with lots of friction. I stopped and tried to figure out if I had broken a spoke. Nope, the spokes were fine, but three of them had come out of the cracked hub. I looked at my computer and realize I was half way into the race course, lovely. I also hadn't seen the follow car (which had stopped for the earlier crash). So, I started walking. About 10 to 15 minutes later, the follow car came up and I was able to get another wheel. With the new wheel, I headed back by myself, getting passed occasionally by other groups. Felt pretty lonely. I ended up 90th out of 92nd, so much for being a studly triathlete.

A ended up 10th out of 20 or so. She dropped chain at the first corner and lost the main group on the climb.

Now (five years later), we're headed back to Hugo. A little bit faster and a little bit wiser. Still expect to suffer, but hopefully no broken hubs this time.

Peace Out,
E

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Deer Trail Road Race report

This last Sunday, I did something a little crazy: I did a bike race only 2 weeks after an ironman. In my defense, the plan was to get in about a 2 hour ride of moderate intensity anyways, I figured I could sign up for the race, ride in the pack, and work for my team mates as needed, either pulling, attacking, or blocking.

There were 6 of us SW4 (senior women, category 4, beginners) racing for GS Boulder Trek. Four of us live in Boulder. I have a station wagon that fits 4 people and a rack on top that can take 4 bikes, so I volunteered to drive. The plan was for the other 3 to all meet at Tasha's house, I would pick them up there, and we would roll out at 6 am since we had ~1.5 h to drive and an early start time. I have been avoiding coffee to try and fix any potential problems with not sleeping after my IM St. George race week was so out of whack, but decided to have a travel-mug's worth today since it was a race. Good call! E makes the BEST coffee, it was perfect. It made the early timing of our plan seem very manageable.

The plan got a little interesting when I was ~5 min late (still the first to Tasha's house), then discovered that the 4th bike tray on the roof rack was stuck and didn't want to secure latch onto the last bike we were loading. We had just gotten a new tool kit for the car, but it was still so new it was zip-tied shut. Then as Tasha was getting me the kitchen sheers to work on the zip-tie removal, Ninety, the cat, escaped from the house and hid under the neighbor's car. The three of them coaxed Ninety out with some string and a few cat toys while I "persuaded" the skewer lever to turn and tighten with a crescent wrench. Then we loaded up and rolled out, only ~10 min later than planned.

As we left Boulder, Tasha called Jacqui, who we were meeting at the next exit. She was driving solo to the race and we figured we could send one of us over to ride with her to enliven the ride. Soon were were pulling into the Conoco station, our meeting place. Jacqui was not there yet, so I topped off the gas (I had this weird sensation that we were driving way out into the boonies and should have a full tank of gas to start the trip). Still no Jacqui. Virg ran in to use the restroom. Still no Jacqui. I went to use the restroom. Still no Jacqui. Shortly after that, though, she rolled up, we redistributed passengers, and we were off. The rest of the drive was uneventful.

Once we got into Deer Trail, we followed the signs to race parking, then snagged two spots on the street, right up-road from the start line. A foot race for the two porta-potties ensued between Tasha and Virg, but neither won as both potties were occupied. I was the last of our group over to the toilets and by the time I got there, there was quite a line. It was moving slowly, so I ended up standing there for about 20 minutes. A query of the other racers informed us that there were more toilets a few blocks away at registration, but only another 2, so I hung out in line. I was getting ancy though, I still had to register, pin my jersey, dress, spin out the legs some and try to warm-up, and get to the start line early.

I eventually made it to the toilet, was quite productive thanks to the long wait, threw on my kit, quickly got through registration, pinned both my numbers on with ease, and discovered I had no race socks, just pre- and post-race socks (long, wool). Our parking neighbor lent me a pair (what a sweety, thanks Jen, you are a great stranger-turned-new friend). Then I threw on some sunscreen and headed to the start area, there had not been time to warm up! Ugg.

At the start, we rolled through town (about 3 bocks, including one 90 degree turn), bopped under the interstate, then headed out to the course. The course is a big L-shape and we were riding the bottom line of the L first heading East, then turn back and do the back of the L heading North, then turn back and repeat the bottom of the L, ending about 4 miles from the corner of the L after a third 180 degree turn around. All of it is pretty good road surface, but filled with rolling hills. And it is open prairie, so there can be great wind out there too.

E raced here last year and told me that his group still was in a big pack at the first 180 degree turn, causing him to have to slow enough for the turn that he had to unclip from a pedal. He warned us to try and be at the front for that first turn to avoid the same thing from happening. Jacqui and Lorna took that to heart and made a small break from the pack once we got out on the main roads. The pack let them go for a bit. I was sitting dead center from front to back and tucked away on the right. Soon I was ancy to get closer to the front so I could cover any attacks and see how everyone was riding. I had no thought of getting to the front of the pack with my girls up there off the front, but I also wanted to be up closer to the front and where it was more open and safer. Soon a small gap appeared on my left and I merged into the middle line, then again out to the left when a slot opened. With a bit more work, I was sitting 3rd row back on the left - perfect. We had a slight tailwind and were rolling along nicely.

There was a solo attack that we let go. She was soon absorbed back into the pack, and Jacqui and Lorna remained in front. Then a girl from Pro Design moved and the leaders moved to cover. Before long, we caught the two GS Boulder girls out front, but they seamlessly swung into our group. We rolled along. Somewhere before the first turn the pack split and I was in a group of 10-15 (we had a field of 53 starters) at the front. Our group would change leaders, some of the taller and bigger girls were naturally coming forward on the down hills and the better climbers would lead the uphills. I took a few pulls at the front to do my share, but was not in the mood to do too much work yet. Then when the first turn came in sight, I put in a bit more effort and made it to the turn first for a nice, clean swing around the orange traffic cone.

I looked over my shoulder and realized I had intentionally dropped the pack coming out of the turn. We were now going down hill so I soft pedaled and let them catch me. I did not want to do too much work yet, and we had a bit of a headwind in front of us. As we rolled onward, I tried to pull, then back off. I found myself working on the front more than I wanted, but the legs felt pretty good, so I went with it. After one of the harder uphills, Jacqui rolled up on my left and asked how I was doing. I felt pretty toasted at that exact moment from the small climb we had just summitted, but I panted out "I'm doing OK" and we rolled on.

The bit right before the corner of the L is a false flat that is actually downhill. I was pulling here and very aware of the fact that we were going pretty slow. I felt good, and no one wanted to come around as the wind was shifting to the north and I was providing a great block to anyone wanting to echelon off my rear wheel. To minimize this, I was riding right in the very middle of the road, but there was chatter of feeling great and not having to work going on behind me. I figured I'd pull to the corner, get through that cleanly, then let the others take their turns (I had just been in front for my "turn").

We made the turn and I tried to fall back. This sort of worked, but I was always near the front somehow. I was good at finding excellent draft pockets, though, even off of the tiny girls, and I used them fully. Then, as we rolled along with no-one really committed to working and trying to keep the pace up, I glanced over my shoulder and saw that the follow car was right behind us, and behind them was a chase pack of another 10-15 girls. We were about to get caught. Virg was in this group and it sounds like she had then echeloning and working together as champs. She soon rolled to the front of our group and tried to get the same system working, but either no one got it, or no one cared enough to take their turn and the front and use the power of the group to battle the leftish headwind (NNW) that was slowing us down. It was a bit unorganized.

I took a self evaluation and realized I felt good, I was riding strong, and I might have a shot at placing well by the finish. So much for helping out a team mate for this race! Sorry guys. I began to plot where/when I should make my move to try and drop the field. I knew my advantage would be in a longer lead out rather than a field sprint, so I figured I should go somewhere before the last 90 degree turn and last out-n-back, so with about 13-15 miles to go or so.

As I mused on this more, we rolled up to the second (of 3) 180 degree turns and I executed it the same way as before, only this time I put my head down, stood up, and made a small surge before the turn to get some clean space on the road to do the turn.

A glance over the shoulder after the turn told me I had a gap, and in a split second I decided to go for it and see if I could hold this all the way to the finish. A few things told me this might just work: 1) I felt really, really, good and had been able to cover any moves made already by the girls in the race, 2) we now had a tailwind, so riding in the pack became a smaller advantage to me being out front solo, 3) they were NOT organized, 4) I had Jacqui and Virg in the pack and knew they would not work to catch me, 5) I had 20-22 miles to go, that is about an hour of hard riding, I can do that! I was also testing them to see if they would try and work together and chase or let me go. If they caught me, then the game would change, but if they didn't, I was free to ride hard, stomp the hills, use my weight on the downhills, corner cleanly, and hope to high heaven that I did not blow up.

One girl did bridge up to me, but the pack seemed to let us go. I pulled her for a while, then she took a pull, then I went to pull again and dropped her. She was breathing very, very hard, so I let her go. The draft had been nice, but waiting for her would only get me caught. I used the hills and tailwind fully and tried to find a line with less bumps (this was the only bumpy section of the course). I also knew that the finish would be into a cross-head wind, so I tried to save something back for that section, where the pack would have an advantage on a solo rider.

All was well until about 2 miles before the last 180 degree turn when I saw another solo rider approaching. She caught me quickly and then just kept going. I was fading slightly , missed her wheel, and she was gone. She did re-light my fire, though, and I stepped on the gas and tore it up to the finish. In then end, I was ~1.5 minutes back from the winner and another ~1 minute in front of third. Two more small packs (4th through 7th, then 8th through 11th) rolled in about 1.5 minutes later. Virg ended 8th, Jacqui was 13th, and Tasha, Lorna, and Janey were back a bit further. All in all, it was a great day for GS Boulder SW4s and GS Boulder overall (another 2nd and 8th in the SW1-2 and a win in the SM4).

We rolled back into town, changed into dry clothes, checked results, picked up awards (3 random bottles of beer and a single Lara Bar), and tried to get milkshakes at the Dairy Hut, but they were closed. We wanted to support the town for hosting the race, but weren't up for waiting for Brick Oven Pizza, so we hit the grocery section at the gas station then headed back to Boulder.

Once I dropped everyone off, it was time to start thinking about our second, easy ride for the day. E and I spun up to Niwot and then out onto 95th. It was a great evening ride, the mountains were gorgeous and from up there you get a great view, and the legs needed an easy spin.

We had been planning an easy spin into town to check out a new pizza restaurant, Basta, but decided to BBQ some chicken at home instead and then go out on Monday night. This was a good call since Basta is currently closed on Sunday's, according to their website. In the end it was a great idea, though, very, very yummy! We'll be back, and next time it will likely be by bike.

-A

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Race Report Follow Up

Hi. I forgot a few things yesterday. Here goes.....

Thanks!

Thank you to those who read this blog! Your interest and support is priceless. Thank you to my parents and to Sunny, the first two phone calls I got after finishing. It was great to talk to you 3 and share some thoughts and feelings while they were still fresh. Thanks for your love, your support, your belief in me (and E), and your understanding at how silly I must have sounded after nearly 12 hours of movement. Thanks to my two sisters, too, who were interested all along the way and kept me grounded in reality with your phone calls, emails, and facebook updates. Thank you to E, my love, my biggest fan, my supporter, and my training partner. It was neat to share another IM (training and the race) with you.

Thanks to coach J for keeping us focused and getting us to a May 1 IM after a snowier-than-normal winter, while keeping us challenged, and full of joy at the lifestyle this sport has given to us. Thanks to Kerrie for the neoprene caps: no ice cream headache for us during the swim. Thanks to Wolfgang and Curt (and my awesome lanemates) for good challenging swims every week. Thanks to Izzy-dog, a great run partner.

Things that went well:

Clothing/shoes/gear: I wore my new 2XU tri shorts and Oomph top (lots of compliments on the green stripes during the run) and they worked great all day. Full sleeve wetsuit (duh!) and neoprene cap (little bit of neck chafage from one of these, but not noticeable until the day after), speedo vanquisher goggles: all worked flawlessly. Regular bike shoes with toe covers and smartwool socks (slower than tri shoes, but my bike shoes are more comfy and that mattered for a 112 mi ride), aerohelmet, big Rudy Project sunglasses (the mono-lens, but good optics and wind protection), cheap socks as arm warmers, knee warmers, and gloves: I was bundled up and less aero, but never overheated nor got too cold, I was just ready to get down to work and ride my bike. I shed the gloves, arm and knee warmers, and changed socks for the run. I also wore my Nike Lunar Glides (training shoe, not racing flat, but a good call with the pounding downhills on that course). Visor, fresh sunglasses, and fuel belt and I was ready to rock the run. I really liked having my hands free as I often carry a hand-strapped water bottle for water and ice if it is hot.

Bike: my bike (Javelin Lugano) rocks right now! It fits well, rides solid and fast, and is comfortable. I was geared well for the climbing and was able to descend in the crosswinds with no issues. All thanks to the great fit from Ryan Ignatz and Colorado Multisport! Wheels were 50 mm rims, no disc and rode well on that course.

Peeing: It is an ironman, it happens. I peed once in the water before the start, once during the swim, 4 times on the bike, and once while running. Now you know.... And now you know why all volunteers wear disposable gloves at an ironman.

The finish line: crossing it is amazing (a bit of a blur this year, but very satisfying), but coming back to it after a shower and some food and watching the people who finish near midnight is awesome. I always get very excited for them and a bit emotional at the whole experience. This time was no exception.

Nutrition: Carbopro-nuun (concentrate) for calories, water on the bike and run courses, and some addition of nuun (regular concentration) to my front aerobottle during the bike. 2-3 salt capsules on the run and one cup of Gatorade with less than 3 miles to run. Worked the best yet of anything I have tried, but there is some room for improvement here....

Things that still need work:

Nutrition: Despite following practiced timing for water and calories, I still had a bit of a sloshy/gasy tummy at the end of the bike and start of the run. This held me up a bit every now and then as my run pace slowed to allow me to maintain control of my innards without using a porta-potty for a pit stop. It all ended well on that count, but I want to run without the water-belly someday. It is just weird to hear yourself sloshing. Weird. I also want to not gain multiple pounds during an ironman. Yup, MULTIPLE pounds. This time it was only 5.5, not the 8 I saw at the last two IM Canadas and IM AZ (April 2008), but that is extra weight to lug around AND calories/water that is not getting to my muscles. I was getting into a bonk the last 2+ miles of the run, yet I had gained a little weight during the day. My stomach was acting as gate keeper and had decided to close down that boarder crossing for the day. I have tried everything osmotically possible to keep it processing fuel and fluids, and was regularly peeing throughout the race (a good sign of progress), yet I still was fighting this frustrating problem. After I finish an ironman, things start to work again and I will have to pee every 30 minutes until my system is back to normal (a few hours, normally). This year I was back to normal sooner, but still, I need to figure this out and fix it. Any thoughts? Anyone? I'm doing about 200-250 kcal per hour with ~24-30 oz of fluids (normal strength nuun mostly or straight water) on the bike, same calories with 1-2 cups water at each run aid station. This is not excessive.

Race anxiety: I'll be honest, I think I'm fixing this, but I'm not so sure that is true. I never, ever had a problem with this until I was doing my second IM in 2007 at age 29. I have been racing since middle school and at a high level since high school and college with no problems. In 2002 I raced age group worlds in Cancun, no problem. Since 2007, all "big and important" races will cause me a moment (or longer) of panic. I am sure that is why my sleep was disrupted for so many nights before the race this year. I even slept poorly our last night at home before our trip even started. This time the whole thing was subtler than some of my full-blown panic attacks of the past, but it was VERY annoying, seemed to streach on FOREVER, and was not conducive to good race prep. Self-talk of "it is just a race" and "getting nervous only makes it worse" and "RELAX!" did not change anything, not for a moment. Any help on this one from blog-land? How do I get my confidence in check (and not get cocky) so I can keep from being my own worst enemy?

OK, I knew I forgot a few things yesterday as soon as I hit "publish post" but I think that's all for now. Let me know if you have any suggestions for my "needs improvement" items...

-A