Jul 17, 2014
This race has always been my nemesis. There are two most notable years of issues that stand out though. One year I did the whole swim/bike portion of the race without water. Severe dehydration set in and I was a mess after the run. Last year I cut my finger on the bottom of the lake at the start with my dolphin dives. It gashed it pretty good and my hand was bloody all day. The heat is almost always an issue there. Despite all of that, I love it. It's a very challenging race that I can't get enough of.
I am feeling pretty good at the start. Before I know it, we are off and swimming. We have the biggest heat of races in my group and the traffic in the water is significant. I get stood up at the turns and am in a fairly constant battle for position to keep from getting beat up. All in all, I'm thinking that I'm not having the best of swims. I push on and make it to the big climb up to transition. It is no joke and I find myself passing a handful of racers as they suffer up it. T1 is fast and I'm off on the bike.
The bike is going out fast. I find myself looking a lot of riders on the out and back section that are ahead of me. It was very discouraging and reinforced my thoughts that I had a bad swim. I push on trying to move up as best as I can, but progress seems slow and gets even slower as the race progresses. I know the hills of Innsbrook are considerable, but my pace is much slower than I would have hoped. I don't give up and ride as hard as I can to try to pick things up. By the end of the ride, I'm really suffering. I pull into T2 and am quickly off on the run.
It doesn't take long for me to know I'm in trouble. I'm dealing with some muscle issues that I feel right off the first step. I get into stride with the downhill start, but it doesn't take long for the first hill on the run to kick me to the curb. I must have gone too hard on the bike and didn't leave enough for this run by a long shot. I fought through it as best as I could, but my pace was miserable. I'm forced to walk some of the steeper hills. I have given up hope for being high in the overall standings or even in my age group. I have dialed things back and am just trying to get to the finish as quickly as I can without un-needed suffering. I cross the finish and head straight to the lake to cool off and relax.
I end up 32nd overall and 5th in my age group. Wow! I hadn't done as bad as I thought... and if I hadn't given up on the run, who knows what I might have been able to do. Lesson learned. My swim wasn't fast, but according to my Garmin pace it was faster than I had been swimming. My bike pace was slow, but it was in line with everyone else. Granted I did push too hard on the bike and didn't have much left for the run, but I certainly had more than I gave. That is one of the most disappointing things I can say. Let it be known that I did a race pace 5K run the next four days in a row!
Strava data: Swim, Bike, Run
Jun 25, 2014
Plot, Pedal, Paddle adventure race - Team Dragon AZ 6/21/14
Toporadicals were ready for another challenge. With an 18hr race and a 6PM start time, this was going to be an interesting night time experience. I've had minimal night orienteering previous to this and the bulk of this race was definitely going to be done in the dark. Most of my race gear checks and prep were in the last few days before the race. It would have been good to do this much further in advance, but some time is better than no time. I had to make some climbing gear purchases as that was another element that I'd never dealt with in an adventure race and very little outside of that as well. I also found out that I had a broken headlamp and needed a replacement. Some other pre-race excitement was that there was a bear spotted within 10 miles of one of the orienteering areas we would be at! Cool!
Race day! Nathan and I got an early start as per usual on the morning of the race. We left at 7:30AM to make the 4+ hour drive up to Dixon, IL to be there early for check-in. We got there right on time and got checked in... but no maps or course information yet! Bummer! Our hopes were to get the maximum amount of time to plot and plan, but none of that information was going to be given out until 4:30PM. We spent the 3 hours getting our bikes and gear packed and ready as much as we could. Any changes needed after getting our final instructions would be done at the last minute. 4:30 rolled around and the usual pre-race meeting information was given out. A lot of warnings were given about the paddle leg. Apparently the river was up and current was strong. Finally we got our maps. We plotted the missing UTM check points and started planning our race. There was a decent amount of questions and some announced corrections, so it was good that we did all of that in the room with the other teams. I am in charge of the passport and it wasn't waterproof so I used something Nathan had that was the size of a standard photo. Shoot, it didn't work. The passport (even cut down) was just a touch too big and wouldn't seal all the way around. I had to use 2 more to seal over that to get both side. It was kind of a disaster, but would have to do and should serve the purpose of keeping it dry. Later it would prove to be thick and tough to get the punches through. The 90 minutes they gave us with the maps was barely enough time. We were scrambling and running around stressed trying to get everything done. Another 30 minutes would have been nice.
A quick send off from the race director and we're off! As per usual, I take off and am out in the lead. I even thought I had dialed it back, but this is an 18hr race. We are the first through the slippery tunnel under the highway to CP1. We head back under the highway to head for CP2. Already running into some trouble, but so are the other teams around us. It ends up just being hard to spot from above and we get it right with the top teams and move on quickly. A clean route to CP3 and leave right with Alpine Shop. We split with them to head out of the unmarked trails towards the roads. It ends up being a wash as both teams get to CP4 hidden behind a fallen tree's roots at pretty much the same time. Nathan and I try to pick up the pace a touch for the long run to CP5 since it a decent distance away and mostly on the roads. CP5 is easy and Alpine is still on our heals. Both teams head up the nearby re-entrant for CP6 on slightly different paths. This was our first real encounters with the thorns. I take a thorn in the back of the head which causes me to lean forward and get another in my right eyelid. It was nice to hear Alpine Shop ask if I was OK... class acts. We find it in the middle of some fairly thick stuff and head out to the clearing for a faster run to the next CP. Again we split with Alpine and break towards the creek sooner. It wasn't there and I ended up sloshing through the creek following Nathan on the banks until we finally get to CP7. Alpine Shop has already come and gone. We do catch them on the way to CP8. I get a good spot of CP8 from a long way aways and get the jump to get there and back first. However, we go to the wrong spot for CP9. It takes us a bit to get our heads around it and climb up the steep, slippery incline to CP9. Alpine Shop was gone from sight again. We head to CP10 where our bikes had been dropped off before the race and race back near HQ to where the traverse was.
We don't have to ride all the way back to HQ since we were carrying our climbing gear with us and short cut it to CP11 and the traverse. We get out harness and climbing gear connected up and zip across the line to the other side. Fun! I wish we would have brought our packs with us so we could have just carried on to our bikes, but we have to use the bridge to get back to our packs and then back over the bridge. The Michigan Racing Addicts shows up as we are heading out. We get back to our bikes and start on our long ride picking up CP12 easily. Coming up to CP13 we are caught from behind by a team. We stay in front a bit getting CP13 and CP14, but get passed officially by them before picking up CP15. We don't force the pace to stay with them as there is so much race still left to go. It's still light out for that matter. We finish up the bike with CP16, CP17, and show up at CP18 to transition to the next O-leg. In that time, we have lost the light and are going out with headlamps.
We are in the area of the course that there bear was near and it was dark. I like to call this the Bear-O. I guess we'll have to keep our ears and eyes open. We're in 3rd and looking to make up some time. We get to our attack point and duck into the woods for CP19. WHOA! It is incredibly thick and packed with thorns. There's no use in even trying to protect yourself. We push through and do our best to ignore the constant pains from the thorns pokes and scratches. Even our trekking pants aren't enough, but I can't imagine not having them. It's very hard to keep going in the right direction or even know where you are since it's so thick and dark. I get a flash of the reflection off the CP. This section has us collecting items from buckets hanging off the CPs as a fun twist on the normal punches. I collect our item and make sure to zip it up in a pocket. On our way out of there and to CP20 Nathan and I get slightly separated by picking slightly different paths and I end up getting pushed father from him than I'd like due to some absolutely impassably thick (even if they weren't thorns). I get back to him right as we hear Alpine and Michigan Racing Addicts still looking for CP19! We're in the lead! We let them know they are heading in the right direction and bolt out of there to try to increase our lead. It ends up being very short lived. We end up having a TON of trouble with CP20. We attack it through some very thick stuff... over and over and over again. 4th time is a charm and are annoyed we were so close to it so many times, but kept stopping at a plowed path that wasn't on our map instead of continuing to follow the elevation. We didn't see the other teams, but knew they had to have pushed us back into third. This is confirmed as we head past our bikes and Michigan Racing Addicts is already done and heading out. We still have 3 CPs to go! I get a good spot of CP21 a long distance off by catching it's reflective tape. We see Alpine Shop's lights in the distance and hurry through CP22. We get to CP23 just after them and catch up with them on the way back to CP24 to transition back to the bike. Tied for 2nd.
We fill up on water and get ready for the next section of biking. Alpine Shop heads out before us. We jump on our bikes and head out a little disappointed that there wasn't a bear sighting. The bike ride at this time of the night is amazing. I find myself looking up and star gazing a bit. I mention it to Nathan only to find out that he had noticed as well. It really was amazing. Don't worry, I didn't stop pedaling or let up on the pace to do that. I somehow cause us some time not seeing the CP bag at the bridge for CP25. Thankfully, we knew we were at the right place and got it before moving on. I pass up CP26 as well and Nathan has to call me back to get the punch. We roll into CP27 to transition for the paddle. We're amazed that we are done with the bikes and won't get back to them at all for the rest of the race. Right about 30 miles total.
We get our paddle gear out of the trailer and new instructions of where CP29 is located. We attach the glow sticks to the canoe and ourselves and turn on our headlamps. Whoa! In a split second we are both completely engulfed by a thick swarm of endless bugs. We head out up stream and it's slow going as promised trying to paddle against the current. I ask Nathan numerous times thinking we over shot the CP, but he is confident and we press on. Sure enough our progress was slow and it just took a long time to get up river enough. We punch C28 and get to head down river with the current. It seemed pretty harmless on the river and didn't get what the pre-race fuss was about. We are FLYING. CP29 is done in a flash. We pass under the bridge and apparently avoid the "whirlpool" just after that. It's hard to navigate on the river at night and it probably doesn't help that we're going so fast. We locate the creek to go up to get CP30 and Nathan does a great job of spotting it hidden in a fallen tree and head back to the river. Click here for a race director's video of a daylight approach to a sneaky CP30. The swarms of bugs come and go throughout the paddle and there's an occasional fog as well to hinder visibility. I make it no secret that I am not really fond of the paddle legs. We seem to be paddling forever and the repetitive motion of my paddle stroke is making it monotonous. The only bright spot for me was the star gazing. We pass a spot that we consider for CP31, but don't see anything when shining our lights up there and move on. Nathan starts having a bad feeling about it and for some reason we don't go back right then and there. We press on and decide to look out for CP32 so we know for sure if we passed it. We see a sign that says 2 miles to the dam and we know we aren't supposed to paddle all the way there. We kept going, not seeing CP31 or CP32 yet. We start seeing residential lights from the shore and know from the race directors warnings that this meant we went past the take out. Nothing left to do except paddle back up stream until we find something. We get back to that sign and sure enough the CP32 take was right there. We pull up and Nathan throws the maps to shore and gets out. I stay put. I'm waiting for the question "Do we go back?". I can tell he doesn't want to. Truthfully, it's about the last thing that I feel like doing as well. However, I insist that we go back. We are way ahead of the pace for the noon time cut off for the finish. If there's time, you ALWAYS go back not matter how far! The upstream paddle goes slow and our arms are wearing down with no chance for either of us to rest without the current stopping us in our tracks. We're amazed that we go so long before we pass another team. We get to CP31 (right where we thought it was going to be) when finally getting passed by 3 teams that were close together. CP31 was much father inland than we had expected and didn't really see the swim dock which was the clue since it had been pulled to shore. Nathan and I get a quick rush of cold when getting ready to leave and he changes into a dry shirt to warm up a bit. The night chill and extra sweat from the hard work paddling up river must have done it. We fly back down to CP32 and the take out. Not quite done with the canoes yet though... a portage! We flip the canoe over and above our heads to walk to CP33 and the next transition into another O-leg section. It's farther than I thought and am very ready to get this canoe far far away from me. It should have been a 11.1 mile paddle which would have been long in it's own right. However, we ended up doing 17.7 miles (6.6 extra miles), not to mention how much of that was UPSTREAM!
We get a new map with CPs for the next O-leg. A bit discouraged with our drop to 6th, but we know we need to move on... in the wrong direction. Totally my fault as I had gotten the map and thought it was a simple start to the first CP. It was the last thing we needed at that point. Another team was getting to the TA as we get back there and head out in the right direction. Half way to CP35 I see them on the horizon behind us and we pick it up to make sure we don't give any teams a free ride by following us. WE hit CP35 and off of the main path to be out of sight as soon as possible. Finding the right "thicket" for CP36 and attack it wrong 3 times before being in the correct spot. It seemed like a straight forward bearing to CP37. This is not the case. We are there forever and so were so many other teams. There are red lines on the map that we feel are the paths we are seeing, but it's also looking completely wrong at the same time. We end up looking for CP38 which was in the vicinity and find it first and use it to get us to the right spot for CP37, but still not easy. I think I counted 7 failed attempts. We get both punched and head in the direction of CP39 and CP40. The red lines continue to throw us off. We know to ignore them, but for some reason can't let go of them. Also, this is where the stinging nettles really came into play. WOW those made my legs itch like crazy! It really doesn't take long to get them both. I did forego any thoughts of staying dry and comfortable and ended up walking through the middle of the marsh. We know CP41 is going to be tough. No elevation lines on the map to help and the red line near it means NOTHING. We try to get back to CP38 to use it to get our bearings, but for some reason don't follow all the way though and start heading through the field and completely over shoot it. We did eventually come ALL THE WAY back to CP38 and go straight to it from there. Where was that resolve to follow through with our plan a mile ago? At least in over shooting it we had located the general vicinity of CP42 and where to go to get back to CP43. We were right on the vicinity, but finding the exact spot proved to be a bit more difficult. A few passes at it and we finally get it right with another team with yet another very close by. We fly out of there to CP43 which was the same as the canoe drop. We check in with them and keep on going.
That put us on the same path I had mis-led us on at the beginning of the last section. I double check with Nathan and we are doing it right this time. The rest of the CPs seem to be on the roads, so there's no much chance to catch any teams based on mistakes on route. All we have is speed, but there's not really a lot of that going on either. The sun is finally coming up enough to put away our headlamps as we start on our way. It's a pretty long run to CP44 and CP45. Finding them is easy as we had expected. We run right into the last CP, CP46, and fittingly I get one last trip on a bit of barb wire fence getting it punched. We go on our way for the home stretch and finish strong. I find a cool looking low tree branch on a nearby tree to do a diving forward roll over. Finishing in style. We really had no idea where we were at, but had hopes that not many teams would have gotten all the points that got in ahead of us. Our hearts broke when we heard 5 other teams had come in with all the CPs already. 6th place... *sigh*. I guess that's what we should have expected after the added 2+ hours on the paddle section alone. Just over 15 hours with all the CPs and covering 67.4 miles. Congrats to Alpine Shop for another victory! Thanks to Team Dragon AZ (pronounced as, "team draggin' a$$") for a great race.
I figured that I should start keeping track and list what gear, clothing choices, and nutrition was carried during the race and also note what all was actually used. There's a lot of little things, so forgive me as this list is a work in progress. In future race reports it will be easier since I use a lot of the same stuff and can use this one to go off of instead of starting from scratch.
Paddle Gear(not carried on other sections unless otherwise specified)
Bike Gear(not carried on other sections unless otherwise specified)
Race Day Nutrition(note that I ate WAY WAY under the recommended amounts for a race this long) I can somehow get away with this without feeling horrible, but that would not be the case for most. It's better to go off of what I brought instead.
Items in itallics were recommended gear
Team gear that was not carried by me is specified by Name in parenthesis.
Some team gear was carried by each of us as a backup.
Here's some of the links for more information about the race:
Plot, Pedal, Paddle race page
Team Dragon AZ page
Strava race data
Jun 18, 2014
Tuesday Night Worlds Crit race - 6/17/14
This week was a real sufferfest for me. The pace started off fast and stayed that way the whole time through. I think my busy race schedule finally caught up with me. I was in good position for most of the race in about the 6th spot. I just struggled to hold on and stay there though. It was all I could do just to keep to the wheel in front of me. Every lap I was hoping that the race official would finally switch to the final three laps, but he let us keep going now that the sun stays out long enough. It figures that this was the longest they had ever let us go (by 1 lap). Finally, we get to the 3 laps to go mark and it continues to be a fight but there is an end in sight. At the end of the 2 laps to go mark, there's a decent break off the front and it looked to me like it would stick. So, I went for it. I actually did a pretty good turn of speed up the climb and on my way to the 2 groups of 2 that had gone off the front. However, on the flat at the top with a good headwind, my progress to the group stalled. I was in big trouble. Now I'm in no man's land fighting the wind by myself unable to catch the guys in front of me with the guys behind me likely charging fast. I gave it everything I had, but a few riders were able to come around me with ease up the climb of the last lap. I finished in 8th. It was a good, hard 30 minute effort and great training. It was good that it told me I was tired and probably will need some extra R&R before this weekend's big 18hr adventure race Plot, Pedal, and Paddle.
Thanks to Aaron Bean for the pictures of the race and for cheering me on!
Big Shark Tuesday Night Worlds
USA Cycling Results - Vann Knight Tuesday Night Criterium Series
Strava Tuesday Night Crit
Jun 16, 2014
St. Peter's Rec-Plex Triathlon (Spring) - 6/15/14
One of my favorite races of the year! I just love so much about the St. Peter's Rec-Plex races. I normally do both the spring and the fall so I get to play there twice each year. I'm just coming off of Xterra Eureks Springs triathlon last weekend. However, I didn't have my normal Tuesday night Crit race and also got rained out on Thursday night's dirt crit race that I was going to do. So, relatively speaking, I'm pretty rested. I hadn't even done much of any training through the week either. Maybe I even did too LITTLE. Say it ain't so!
It was great to see so many familiar faces. With my parents and my dog, Penny, there as well it was a very social event. I had a pretty laid back morning and made my way into the line waiting for the start. Before I knew it, I was off and swimming. I felt pretty good on the swim compared to my last few races. With the competitor order being in the order you signed up and not by projected swim time, there can be a bit of traffic in the pool. The first and last lanes are split in half to get the added couple of lengths to get the distance. Despite passing countless people and even a 3 person pass in a "half lane", I actually didn't have much trouble and didn't feel like I was held up. Unfortunately the Strava data only shows about half of the swim distance, but it was a faster pace than I was swimming previously. I've had a little trouble with my Garmin properly tracking my pool swims. It doesn't like the way I do my turns and occassionally misses them, but this time, I think I forgot to set the proper length of the pool beforehand. I had a good measure of my competition ahead of me and knew my swim time was right there with Brian Shoenholz.
A quick transition and I was off on the bike. Cycling is easily my favorite of the three disciplines and this is one of my favorite courses. Most of it is pancake flat and you can just hammer! There is know to be some wind that goes along with that and today was no exception. I also had a blast on the big hill descent and got up to 48.5mph. It was enough speed to get me airborn over the railroad tracks at the bottom without even trying. I really pushed the bike hard knowing I was possibly right in the mix with some of the best athletes there. I actually don't really look at my garmin much while I'm going, but I did catch one of the 5 mile auto-lap times and knew I was doing good. I could feel it though. I had to hope that it wouldn't hurt my run to be putting in this type of effort on the bike.
Another VERY fast transition. I almost stopped before heading out second guessing myself about forgetting something. That was probably stuck in my mind from last week's missing shoe insole thing. Out of transition and onto the run course. I continued to pick people off in front of me. With a later start than normal, there was plenty of slower people in front of me to catch. I was giving it everything I had, but I just felt like it wasn't as fast as I'd wanted. Sometimes it feels that way after coming off of a 20+mph average on the bike. Brian Shoenholz passed me on his way to the finish looking fast and strong. I started to try to do the math in my head to figure out if I was "virtually" ahead of him or not. What I came up with was that it was close and I needed to push the whole way through. It didn't help that I wasn't 100% sure of his starting number, the run distance, or how far into the run I was when we passed. I like to do calculations in my head while racing though. It keeps my mind off the hurt and can make the miles go by a little faster. I felt like I was slowing. Passing Mike Barro on his way onto the run is enough to make anyone feel slow. He just flys. My post race data showed that I actually started out pretty close to the pace I wanted, but I faded as the miles went by. Happily greeted at the finish with cheers from the crowd and my parents. I heard awes from the crowd at the finish when Penny found me on the ground and enjoyed licking the salty sweat off of my face, so excited as if she hadn't seen me in weeks.
When I finished I was in 3rd overall, but I knew that wouldn't last. I had seen Mike Barro absolutely flying on the run and knew he would certainly push me down the standings. He did and so did some others. I ended up in 7th overall and just 3rd in my age-group. After you take out the top 3 on the day, two of the three remaining athletes that beat me were in my age group. Brian Shoenholz ended up ahead of me by about 2.5 minutes (all of which was made up on the run) and took first in our age group. Congrats to Mike, Brian, and the other athletes for a great race!
St. Peter's Rec-Plex Triathlon
St. Peter's Rec-Plex results
Strave Swim race data (incorrect distance)
Strave Bike race data
Strave Run race data
Jun 10, 2014
Xterra Eureka Springs - 6/8/14
My parents, my kiddos (Max and Phoebe, my nephew (Jacob), and dog (Penny) were all with me camping at the race site for the weekend. We had a great time there last year and only lost Emily from the crew. She was missed, but had other commitments. I think the loud bull frogs that kept her up last year might have had something to do with that too. We did some walking around the hilly town shopping, a little hiking, and a TON of swimming. The kids loved playing in the lake and so did Penny! I couldn't help but to join in their fun despite knowing I'd be better served to be resting.
I felt pretty good on race morning. I got checked in and ready pretty quickly. I've got things down when it comes to getting my transition zone setup. Plus, it's bare minimal for me. Bike, helmet, water bottle, bike shoes, run shoes, and race belt (normally sunglasses as well). With a lot of time left before the race start, I went back to the campsite and started packing up the tent and everything else. I even handled a little work stuff with just 10 minutes before the gun.
Despite being very comfortable with my pre-race setup, I still had plenty of excitement and a little nervous energy. The water had been cooled by the on again off again rain we had gotten earlier in the weekend, but still not wetsuit legal. The air temps were cool and that made the water feel plenty warm. The tough part was when it was a beach start and we all had to get out of the water and wait for the start. It could come sooner. The mad dash through the water with high steps and dolphin dives. Everyone was making their bid to be close to the front and avoid the mayhem at the early first turn. I had done well enough to avoid trouble and settle in for the long out and back stretch. I had a racer to my inside that I felt was pushing me wide. Unfortunately we were keeping the same pace. I had to make a decent effort to finally get by and be on a more direct route. All in all it was a fine swim, but not nearly what I'd like. That's what I get for a lack of swim training. Considering that, it really could have been worse.
I knew there wasn't any time to waste. I made quick work of T1. Helmet, bike shoes, and pulled the bike off to be on my way. I was happy to have a rider in front of me to chase. I always go my hardest (that I feel I can sustain), but it was good to know what that meant compared to others. It is a very fun bike course. There's a deep creek crossing, tough climbs, fast descents, technical sections, and fast flats. The rocks and roots were slick causing riders to have to be careful and precise when picking their lines through the course. I handled the conditions much better than last year, but there's still room for improvement. That will just come with time. I knocked 10 minutes off of last year's ride in similar conditions and crashed or was forced to dismount much less as well.
I came flying into T2 knowing their was a rider that had passed me late in the bike loop. I remembered him from the day before when he easily had won the trail run race, so he was going to be a perfect rabbit to chase. My transition was super fast, but there was just one thing... when putting on my running shoes I knew something felt off right away. I knew it immediately. I didn't have the insoles in. I had taken them out to dry after my last race and forgot to put them back. I had a quick idea to swap the insoles from my cycling shoes, but decided against it. I didn't think it would be a big problem and didn't want to lose the time. I also couldn't be sure they'd fit well and not cause other issues with rubbing and blisters. It didn't take long in running on the rocky and rooted trails to realize that my feet were going to suffer greatly for that mistake. I was feeling every rock through the thin (non-trail running shoes) soles. I was keeping pace with the guy in front of me through the first huge climb. It was very promising. I pushed hard to keep up and was able to keep him in my sights for a bit after that as well. However, he gradually pulled away and was no longer in sight. I did pass an aid station that informed me he was only 30 seconds or so ahead, but I was already going my limit. I was trying not to let the pain from my bruised feet slow me down as I carefully picked my way through the terrain. With a couple long straights and no one in sight ahead or behind me, I knew I wasn't likely to change my standings. I still pushed on as hard as I could to the finishing stretch. This is also a race against the clock for me to try to improve on last year's times. My family was waiting near the finish and welcomed me with cheers and cowbells. My kids started off ahead of me in a race to the finish and they weren't taking it easy on me. I had to sprint toward the finish to keep up. I barely caught them both by the line and had done a dramatic diving roll over the finish line with a great cheer from the crowd to cap things off.
I had done well and felt great about my race. I ended up in 11th overall and 2nd in my age group. I cooled and soaked my feet in the lake, but those pains are sure to last for some time. My legs were cramping on the long drive home to ensure me that I'd put forth a good effort and hadn't held back at all. It is a really great race and they do it up right. I wish they could grow it bigger. Maybe better luck with the weather one of these years will help. I also wish I had more room for other Xterra events. Unfortunately there aren't many close enough to be just a weekend driving trip.
Xterra Eureka Springs Facebook Page
Xterra Eureka Springs Site
Xterra Photos Page
Strava Swim Data
Strava Bike Data
Strava Run Data
Jun 9, 2014
Tuesday Night Worlds Crit race - 6/3/14
I had done a hard days work on the trainer on Sunday and Monday before this race. It had actually taken a lot out of me. As per usual with my lack of rest for these races, I never know how much I will have for a good result. With great results the last few weeks, I still had high hopes. The pace started out quick as per usual. However, with riders going off the front and the peloton chasing, the pace never let up. We were all working the whole time. On top of that, they finally let us ride the entire posted time limit before the final three laps. I actually welcomed that and think that it plays better into my hands. I did take my turn at the front, but not as much as previous weeks. I also let myself be a little more sheltered in the group by staying back a little farther in the pack. However, that can be dangerous with more chances of a crash happening in front of me and possibly taking me out with them. There was a crash and thankfully I was in front of it. It was a touch of wheels during the uphill when a rider had crossed wheels with another rider. It happened late enough in the race that I had made it a point to stay closer to the front in case someone tried to go on a break. No way I was going to let anyone go without a fight. I held tight until the last lap and watched for someone to go. It was Mark, last week's winner, that made the final big move and I was quick on his wheel. I let him take me up over the top of the hill and through most of the straight before coming around. I probably should have gone sooner. Two other riders had followed as well and were able to sling past both of us to take 1st and 2nd. I snuck around for a solid 3rd place finish. I was very happy with that after such a hard effort.
Big Shark Tuesday Night Worlds
USA Cycling Results - Vann Knight Tuesday Night Criterium Series
Strava Tuesday Night Crit
May 28, 2014
Tuesday Night Worlds Crit race - 5/27/14
I was a man with a plan this week. I had it in my mind that I was going to try a break this week. Breaks have never been given any freedom in the C race. Sounds like a challenge to me! This is really just training for me, so why not try. It was a little windier than I would have liked which gives the chase pack a little more of an advantage. This just made me decide to make sure to wait a little longer before making my move. There were some early opportunities, but I managed to stay patient.
There was a "new" official for the race and he didn't wait long before switching to 3 laps to go. Time to make a move. Up the hill on the back side of the loop, I put in my surge to try to catch the riders in front of me off guard. Coming over the top of the hill, I took a quick glance to see what the progress was. I had made a decent gap, but one rider had stayed with me. I wasn't going to put out my full effort just to bring someone along for the rider so he can swipe the victory from me at the line. I motioned for him to take his turn in front, but he refused. No sense in pushing on and wasting more effort if he isn't willing to work with me. I sat up and let the group catch back up. With under two laps to go, there wasn't much time to recover for a final sprint. I tucked in the back of the group and tried to conserve as much as I could. A surge early in the last lap caught me a little out of position. I was still near the back trying to recover. I had to spend a decent amount of effort to make my way up the pack catching a draft here and there to slingshot around the riders ahead of me. One by one, I picked them off until I readed the wheel of the guy in 2nd. I looked ahead to the leader and he was too far ahead for the distance we had left. I did the smart thing of staying on 2nd place's wheel for a moment before making my move. If I'd have just gone ahead, he possibly could have drafted enough to get back by me at the line. It worked out well and I easily went by moments before getting to the line.
Another 2nd place finish. Not too bad considering I'd burned some matches early in the race. I'd led a lap or two, tried my luck at a break, and still managed to have enough left to make the push on the final lap sprint. The guy I beat out for 2nd was the one that decided not to work with me on the break, so it was a little payback to get him on the line. I talked to him a bit after the race and, in looking back, he wished that he would have worked with me to try to stay away. Maybe next time...
Big Shark Tuesday Night Worlds
USA Cycling Results - Vann Knight Tuesday Night Criterium Series
Strava Tuesday Night Crit
May 20, 2014
Tuesday Night Worlds Crit race - 5/20/14
I was seriously sore and still feeling the effects of Sunday's olympic distance triathlon (Gateway Triathlon). I did take one day of rest, so that's something, right? There was about 20 riders in the race which is a slightly smaller field than normal, but the regulars that place high were all there. It felt like the group was doing more surges and slowing down than normal. It's a lot harder on the riders than keeping a steady pace. I found myself staying close to the front and in the top 3 for most of the race. During a couple lulls in action I was even ended up out in front to do some pace making. I didn't want to put in too much effort, but I also didn't want to make it easy for anyone in the back either. I actually felt like it was tough to keep up with front and was worried that I wasn't going to be able to hang on the entire time.
With 3 laps to go I actually found myself in the worst position of the night. I was back in about 7th place or so. I'm guessing the group got a little boost of energy from the excitement. I stayed calm and didn't panic. A lot can happen in those three laps. I just held tight and went with any surges from the guys ahead of me. I waited and waited to make my move. This is not my strong suit. I would love to be the guys to go off the front early and try to hang on for the win, but tonight especially, that wouldn't have worked. I was too tired to do an extended break away and the C race jumps on every move there is, so I've never actually seen a move of one or two riders ever make that stick. The group has always responded and possibly just dropped a couple riders off the back instead. Coming off the downhill and sharp left turn I carried a good amount of speed and quickly was coming up on the riders in front of me. It was earlier than I wanted to go, but I had to go with the flow. So, I put my head down and hammered up the hill. It paid off. Not only did I get my Strava PR for that hill, I also had distanced myself from the main group. I didn't actually look, but the sound behind me was telling enough. With any bit of a gap, I just had to keep the pressure on as I rounded the turn at the top of the hill. I caught the inside gutter a bit and it pushed me a little wide in the turn. That's when I felt a rider just off my right shoulder. It would be hard to impossible to hold him off if he was in my slip stream. Sure enough, with a call of "inside" he used my draft to sling shot around and nip me on the line. I got 2nd! I lost by half a bike length.
It was still a great result and better than expected considering how I felt at the start and concerns in the middle. I also got my PR for the loop in that last lap as well even though I didn't feel like I started to push it until getting to the hill. I'm feeling like a much more confident rider and I think my riding is getting better because of it. It's a wonderful self feeding cycle of improvement. I've felt it in all of my riding whether it is the solo triathlon efforts or in adventure races on my mountain bike. It's a great workout and wonderful training tool. I'm very curious to see what the B race is all about and hope to get into one soon.
Big Shark Tuesday Night Worlds
USA Cycling Results - Vann Knight Tuesday Night Criterium Series
Strava Tuesday Night Crit
Gateway Triathlon - 5/18/2014
Temps in the mid 40s in the morning was concerning to say the least. Water temps were 68 degrees, so with a wetsuit that was going to be fine. However, it's the start of the bike that is the worst. Wet, getting up to 20+mph, and clod temps are not a pleasant combination of factors. I've done it several times before and it's a very unusual feeling as you warm up. I can even free the warm blood get pumped out with every heart beat. I decided against any extra clothes, but I did put some gloves on my bike in case I needed them. Hands and feet are the only things that have a chance to stay cold, and possibly go numb, later in the ride.
With the cold water temps they had us get it to get aclimated before sending us off. The water was cold on my arms with the sleeveless wetsuit that I have. We weren't left treading water too long. We're off! My arms felt a bit sluggish and a little numb. I continue to have issues sighting in the water. I don't practice open water swimming enough. I don't practice swimming straight enough either. OK. I'll be honest, I don't do anything swimming "enough". I had only swam one other time, at the Trizou race two weeks ago, since the end of last season. you can see in my Strava swim data the distance I had to cut over during the first stretch out to get to the inside track. I did it because I wasn't sure if it was the last buoy or not.. it wasn't. It wasn't until about 1/3 on the way back that I felt comfortable at all in the water. It had been a horrible swim. I was WAY back. There was no time to wallow in self pity. There was still a lot of race left. In looking at the results, I was 64th out of the water.
I knew there was a lot of ground to make up, but I have been feeling pretty good about my cycling. I heard them announce that the leader was at the bike 5K marker as I left transition. WOW. That's a huge lead. I made the mistake of trying to have my bike shoes attached to my bike. I'd never done it with these new shoes and it was too hard to get into them. It wasn't the best way to start the bike. Once in my shoes though, IT WAS FULL ON! I didn't even bother with the gloves. I started catching and passing people right away. They were making me work for each pass, but that was great to have reason after reason to keep my face high. With an out and back bike course, I was able to count everyone ahead of me and was in 37th at the turn around. There was still a lot of work to do. Each pass was a motivation boost to the system. However, each pass was seemingly getting harder and harder as I caught better and better athletes. I was just hoping that I wasn't burying myself to the point where I wasn't going to be able to run well. By the time I got to the end of the bike, I was up to 25th place! That was a significant jump op the ranks.
I had a quick transition to the run and headed out. The last time I did this race it was a scorcher. This was perfect running weather though. Its been hard for me to tell what my run pace is lately. I just kept my pace rich, tried to continue to pass each person in front of me one at a time, and hoped that I'd be able to keep it up the whole time. I really haven't done much fast run training and certainly not for 10K. I've got tons of long slow miles as a great base though. I was catching people, but it was a very slow process. With the course being littered with both sprint and Olympic racers out there, it was hard to know who was in my race. I could eventually see the "T" or "S" on the legs of my competitors as I came up to each of them. My watch was giving me 1/4 mile splits and indicated a good 7:00min/mi pace. That was good for me if I could keep it up the whole way. Another out and back run course allowed me to do some counting again. I was in 21st place. No passes were easy. I kept picking them off the whole way to the finish and was able to stay strong the whole way through. I was ecstatic to have kept that pace for the whole run. I ended up in 17th overall and 3rd in my age group. There was a 3 minute gap to the next person in my age group in front of me and behind me, so my division result was solidified before the run even started. To top it off, I was the first name called for the raffle give-aways. I won a Rudy Project gift certificate. I needed a new helmet for adventure races, road, and cyclocross racing so that was perfect timing. Congrats to Chris Beuer (2nd overall), Doug Havlin (4th overall), and Holly Ball (3rd AG).
Gateway Triathlon Website
3 Disciplines Racing Gateway Triathlon Olympic Distance Overall results Gateway Triathlon Olympic Distance Age Group results Strava Swim Data, Strava Bike Data, Strava Run Data
May 13, 2014
I have heard lots of triathletes talk about having to split time training between swimming, biking, and running. It is so true. How much faster or better could they be if they were allowed to focus on just one. I know I have asked myself that same question over and over again. Do I want to fine tune my training to one event in order to maximize my results there? What is my real strength anyways? Even if I could pick a sport, what distances should I choose? To do that, first I need to list all of the racing I do:
- Triathlon - Sprint distance
- Triathlon - Olympic Distance
- Triathlon - Long Course (half/full Ironman)
- Triathlon - off-road (Xterra)
- Duathon - road/off-road
- Adventure Racing
- Running - trail running
- Running - 5K/10K
- Running - Half Marathon/Marathon/Ultra
- Cycling - Mountain biking
- Cycling - Cyclocross
- Cycling - Road/Criterium/Time Trial
- Stair Climb
- Obsticle Courses (such as Warrior dash)
- ... and probably more. I forgot two on this list and had to come back to add them in already
WOW! That's a lot of racing! I easily participate in 24 races per year. An average of 2 per month and it's not uncommon to have 3 or 4 weekends in a row of races. I'm in the middle of a 4 consecutive race weekend stretch right now. That doesn't include the occassional mid-week race. I look at that list and wonder which ones I am best at. The answer is, none of them. I wouldn't say that I'm bad at any of them either. The balance of my triathlon race has always been my biggest strength. That is the same here when you look at my fitness over all of these different events. I don't win or make it into the top 3 overall ranking hardly at all, but you'll find me in the top % of total racers in all of them. If I'm going to choose it's going to have to be by some other measure.
The next factor is actually the more important one in the way I live my life. Which one do I enjoy the most? I have always lived by the mantra to do what makes you happy and do those things as often as you can. The problem is, all of those events make me happy. Each of them has their own individual aspects that I love. It's easy for me to pick any of them and say "I definitely want to do _____". However, I can't even start to think about the other side of that which is "I'm going to give up everything else on the list". No way!
I'm am stuck being a multi-sport multi-sporter and I love it! I hope to be racing and staying fit all year around for as many years as I can make it last! It's not that I don't care about results. I most certainly do. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I'm competitive. I've been known to claim victories in everything despite there being a winner or not. I've won a couples massage and even yoga. Yeah, that's right. Yoga. I did my yoga with a heart rate monitor on with a goal of getting my heart rate as low as I possibly could (not the whole time obviously as I like the challenging poses the most). So, I will continue to chase the top performers in each of my races and never giving up trying to be the best at all of them.