Monday, March 31, 2008

Chickasaw 30k – DNF

Sunday brought a return to Columbia, TN for the Chickasaw 30k MTB race. This was the first bike race I have ever entered, and even with the conditions and my results, I’m sure it won’t be my last. I woke up Sunday feeling pretty spent from the 15k race the day before. I definitely pushed myself on Saturday, with good results, but it left me feeling sluggish from the get-go on Sunday. I debated whether to even make the trip and race because of the bad weather (lots of rain), soreness, and fear about trashing my bike. I finally decided to suck it up and make the trip.

Sunday morning (notice how clean the bike is)

As soon as I got to Chickasaw I began regretting my decision to run the two lap sport race. Because it was my first race, I definitely qualified as “beginner” and could have raced the one lap race. Instead, I had decided (probably on a sunny, warm, and dry day) that I would run in the sport category to get two laps in on the bike. It sounded reasonable enough until rain turned the trails into massive mudslides and the uphills and downhills were washed out disasters. Ugly. I started off running behind everyone in my age-group as the first downhill was gnarly and I had already seen more than a couple hard crashes at the bottom. I felt no need to rush to my impending doom.

Video doesn't do the mud pit at the bottom justice

I made it down by just letting it all hang out and trusting my big 29” wheels to do the work for me. They did. Once on the trail I was quickly mentally exhausted. Trying to focus on keeping the bike upright, avoiding down riders, and letting faster riders pass, in addition to working hard to keep any momentum was quickly trying. My lungs felt great and my HR was fine, but my legs felt like lead, and were quickly covered in mud, as was my bike. I kept wishing all these guys had to swim before hitting the trail; I think my chances would have been a lot better. Somewhere around mile 6, I tried to shift without looking down (my derailleur was covered in mud, rocks, sticks, leaves, anything else?) and it went nowhere.

Do I have a derailleur?

I jumped off, knocked off some mud, but my small cog was covered in mud and I couldn’t get the derailleur issues worked out with me and the bike so sloppy. I rode out the last 3 miles in a painful struggle to remain upright and focused. After crossing the finish line I made the decision to turn in my chip and call it a day. I could have finished, and I’m usually way too competitive to quit, but my bike was giving me all kinds of problems and the potential was there for me to hurt myself and endanger my XTERRA season which is the #1 priority. I did become a better rider and gain more experience with my new bike, but it came at a price.

After some initial cleaning

When I cleaned the bike up at home after the race, the mud and other gunk on the back tire had worn through the clear-coat and paint all the way to the bare frame in the upper and lower rear triangles on the bike. It will need some attention, and I hope I haven’t caused any serious damage. While my pride is shot to hell, my body, my bike, and my XTERRA season are better off being one-and-done. I really hate being passed by people (and I was passed by a lot of people). I can’t wait to redeem myself. 26 days until my first XTERRA.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Chickasaw 15k

The Race
It was cold, wet, and early. There was a mass start on a paved road, quickly leading to a gravel jeep road and then single track. I didn’t want to get sucked into starting too fast so I started off in the middle of the pack. It took me about 2 miles to get warmed up (feeling in my hands) and used to the conditions. Mile 3 – I’m running pretty conservatively still, but feeling good with 1/3 of the race done. At about mile 3.5, the pack I was running with thinned out and I found a group of 3 runners with a good pace (I left the GPS in the car because I was afraid of the forecasted downpour).
I ran with the same 3 until 4.5 where the Trail of Tears begins. I knew if I made it through the climbs here and was still feeling good I should push harder and make a move. Because I rode the trail in the days before the race I had a good feel for where to rest and when to push on the climb. Feeling good after the climbing, and keeping my heart rate in check, I let it loose on the DH portion of the trail and never looked back. It was about mile 6 when I made my move and found myself running solo. Pretty soon I would see a lone runner in the distance and push harder to catch him, pass him, and move on to the next one. I kept this up all the way until the finish line when I couldn’t catch the two guys ahead of me, both finished less than a minute in front. I can’t help but wish I had started the push earlier and finished 1st AG and 9th overall.I can’t believe how much fun it was to run the race and have the feeling of really pushing myself mentally and physically. Endurance racing and individual events are a different beast, but quickly becoming very addictive. Less than a minute….

2nd (20-29)! 11th Overall!

My first race of 2008 is in the books! Today I raced the Chickasaw 15k trail run in Columbia, TN with great results. Running is definitely my weakest area, but my training and hard work paid off in a BIG way.
  • 1:16:00 (~ 8 minute miles, lots of elevation)
  • 2nd in my age group (20-29)
  • 11th overall
Pre-race dinner:We had a great dinner to celebrate Chandler's birthday at Nashville's new City House in Germantown. The half chicken and Frico appetizer went a long way towards today’s success.

Pre-race breakfast
Kept it simple and pretty small.

At the race
More rain last night and cooler weather meant a damp 45 degrees at the starting line. I tried to stay bundled up as much as possible waiting for the start.

Back at the car with my 2nd place Chickasaw mug and new confidence from finishing my first 15k.

Post-race ice bath
Back from Columbia, I filled up the tub with ice and jumped in for 15 minutes. Nice and numb, I ate a great lunch and put on some recovery tights to get ready for tomorrow’s 30k MTB race.

I’ll post an in-depth race write-up next, but I am incredibly excited for the XTERRA season to get underway. If today’s race was any indication of my new level of fitness and running ability it should be a great year of racing.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Day Before

Today is the day before my first race of the season. First “race” may be a little strong as I am using Saturday’s 15k trail run more as a training tool than an actual race. I haven’t tapered my training at all, and since next week is a recovery week, the volume and intensity of my training has been peaking the past two weeks. I’m pretty anxious about tomorrow’s event for a couple reasons. The first is that I’m not a huge fan of running. Coming from a background in swimming and competitive sports that involve running + other skills/objects, the concept of just running does not totally appeal to me. If triathlons started with a run I don’t think I ever would have tried one. The second reason I’m anxious is that I’ve never run a 15k in my life. I’ve done a handful of 5ks and 10ks, but considering the longest run in the XTERRA triathlon circuit is a 10k, this is more than a little overtraining at this point in my career. I am excited to push myself at the end of 10 hard weeks of training and see where I am in my fitness. It is also a great opportunity to try out gear and a nutrition plan. I know I’ll have great support from A (who is the natural runner) and there should be plenty of good pictures. More to come….

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The bike’s ready…am I?

Monday I dropped off my Cobia at Biker’s Choice to have Travis look at the damage I had done to the wheel and rotor (ran over it with the car). I made the mistake of asking him about upgrades I could do to the bike, and found myself wanting far more than I could ever afford. I’m thinking a new fork (Reba Race) is in my future. All said and done I came away with a perfect wheel and a new saddle. On Travis’s recommendation I bought the Specialized Phenom. After feeling how incredibly light it was and looking at how small it was, I thought it was going to hurt or be unpleasant to ride. I was completely wrong! Two hour ride on Montgomery Bell yesterday and the new saddle felt great! No soreness today and I’m looking forward to cranking out 30k on it in this weekend’s Chickasaw race. As for how I’ll be feeling after the 9k trail run on Saturday, that’s a different story….

Training Update:
Monday – Rest
Tuesday – 2 mile warm up followed by the last 600m superset track workout
Wednesday – 2,350 in the pool and 2 hour trail ride
Thursday – weights
Friday – Swim, or I may just do a light jog to get ready for the big race weekend

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

I'm enjoying a well deserved rest day this Easter after my biggest week of training yet.  I got out on the bike again on Saturday at Montgomery Bell for another ride in this perfect spring weather. I was riding with a buddy who's wicked fast on the DH, and  I was able to at least keep him in my sights before I bit it on a bridge, so I'm getting faster.  
On holidays like today I'm reminded how I'm lucky to have so much family living so close.  Having my sister up here this weekend was an even bigger treat - I even managed to get a calf massage before brunch this morning.  Enjoying great company, good food, and my new 2XU calf guards.  Sweet!

Biggest Training Day Yet!

Friday was a perfect day!  
I slept in, had breakfast and coffee with my sister, who is in town for the weekend, and then I packed up the car for a big day.  The breakdown:
Pool: swam 3,100 feeling strong and fast
Lunch: ate a burrito and watched a couple minutes of basketball in the rec. center lobby
Bike: Couldn't ask for better weather so I made the drive down to Columbia, TN to ride Chickasaw Trace where my 15k run and 30k MTB races will be next week.  I met some new folks at the trail head and then hit the trail for another great ride on the SS.
Run:  I threw the bike in the car and headed off on the trail for an easy 2 miles on the trail.
After finishing a big day of training and time in the sunshine I came home to more time with my sister and the cold Abita beer she brought up from the swamp land.  Abita is the greatest beer ever made and the limited edition strawberry is surprisingly good after a hard day of training.

Bad Day

It has taken me this long to get over the bad day I on 3/12.  It should have been a great day of training, but despite a feeling good through out the workout I came away feeling horrible.  You see, I forgot to put the front wheel of my new race bike in the car before leaving the trail after I was done riding.  I heard a crunch I thought was loud gravel, but no, it was my wheel.  I'm taking it in to the shop this week to see if it can be salvaged before the race this weekend.  Part of me hopes it can, part of me may be secretly wishing for a reason to buy a new wheelset.  I'll let you know what happens.

what's left of my new Salsa flip-off

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

100% Mental

Training for endurance sports is very different than training for a team sport. I’m coming off of almost 10 years of nationals level competition in Ultimate, and those years were filled with practices and training done mostly as a team – with other people. I’ve got a great training partner in Chris, but there are still plenty of workouts where I’m out there on my own. It takes a different kind of motivation to train by yourself. On a team, you just have to get yourself to practice and your teammates/coach pretty much take care of the rest. Out there on the trail….. it is as much a mental battle to keep on going as it is physical. In the woods no one knows if you duck out early, slack off, or just plain don’t go. The flip side is that you are 100% responsible, no teammates to blame, no one but yourself to let down. It is a sick kind of mental anguish, but I am learning to enjoy it. I’m not sure I will every really get used to it. I do think that it has the potential to make race days more gratifying. I’ve got Friday off and am looking forward to a big brick training day, maybe followed by a massage from the greatest little sister in the whole world. She also happens to be an excellent personal trainer and massage therapist. What more could an older brother ask for? The Stats: Monday – Rest (much needed after the weekend) Tuesday – Great 1.5 hr ride on the trails (singlespeed, I love that bike) Wednesday – 1,850 morning swim

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Training Update

Thursday: Track workout - 2 mile warm up, 4x200, 4x400.  The 200's are L5 followed immediately by a L4 400, and then complete recovery.  This one sucked.
Friday: Rest
Saturday:  Swam a ladder workout.  I felt really fast and pushed hard through all 2,400 M, then I jumped on the bike and hammered out 10.
Sunday: Up early, and biked to Percy Warner, ran two laps (both directions) and then biked home.

I've been busy coaching the Vanderbilt Men this weekend in the Music City Tune-up.  More crazy weather here this weekend.  The trails are soaked =( 

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration is something that comes in different forms for everyone. For me, I am just a competitive person who strives to be the best at everything I do. That makes some parts of training easier, like pushing yourself during workouts, but being an athlete takes more than just being competitive. As an athlete you have to have an appreciation for exercise, fitness, and the human body. I find this inspiration from my family.

My sister is a massage therapist and a wellness director for the YMCA, that's a lot of appreciation for exercise and the human body. My parents are also an inspiration to me. This morning they suited up in orange safety vests and headed off to work via bicycle. Nashville is not Portland, not even close, so packing everything into a messenger bag and committing to riding a bike to work is a courageous endeavor. My father has biked or run to work for my entire life. The thought of him regularly commuting by car is something completely foreign to me. After 30 years or riding/running solo, he finally has my mom along for company, which is pretty inspirational.

This is a picture of the free public bicycles available in Paris. The first 30 minutes are free and there is a minimal hourly charge after that. Imagine that, free bikes for everyone to use, maintained by the city, and redistributed every night. It just makes too much sense.

Cold Water

Monday's 6:00 AM swim was a tough one for several reasons.
  1. There is a 7 hr time difference between Paris and Nashville
  2. The Vanderbilt pool underwent maintenance the week I was gone and I returned to 74 degree water - a very unpleasant early morning surprise.
  3. 2,100 meters doesn't sound like a lot, but descending 200's, on little sleep add up quick

As my wife pointed out, the fact that I stuck it out for the whole workout, actually enjoyed it, and was excited to be training under these conditions must mean that I really love swimming. It's true. I do.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Rest Week- in Paris

Saturday 3/1 - At the gym before it opened, bike for an hour and then hit the pool for 2,000 M.  I rushed home, changed clothes, and then left for the airport. This week is a rest week, and I'll be spending it "resting" in Paris with Amanda. Check the travel blog to see and read about our travels.
Wednesday 3/5 - Woke up early, especially for Parisians, and met my friend Cooper at the local public pool in the Latin Quarter of Paris.  They do the whole gym/pool thing far different than here in the states.  Mandatory swim caps, naked swimming, coed locker rooms, and having to step in a puddle of cold water before entering the pool area.  It was a totally different experience, that made the 2,000 meters that Cooper and I cranked out feel like nothing.  Of course it could also be training with a friend I haven't seen in far too long.
The week in Paris was one of the best I've had in a long time.  I don't know how well I fared in the rest department, as Amanda and I walked over most of the city (14 miles on our first day), but it felt very restful.  I came home to find a new Triathlete Magazine waiting for me, and flipping through that while overcoming jetlag has me all fired up to  get back to training.  That training starts tomorrow morning, early and in the pool.