Tuesday, December 21, 2010

XTERRA Nationals

Two weeks after the SOS triathlon, and I still hadn't had the time to get in a single workout. Even though I felt like crap, I was hoping that I'd be well rested and somewhat still acclimatized to the altitude to be able to perform somewhat decently at XTERRA Nationals (Ogden/Snow Basin, Utah). It was a quick weekend trip, and Kristin came with me to this one!!!!

The event was cool. XTERRA always puts on a good show. Nationals marks the end of the US racing season, and its by qualification only. I finished the season ranked 2nd in the Northeast Region (M 30-34) after Dave who was in first (I'll get you next year buddy). The two of us and Suzie made up our little East Coast Crew. This is us on the way to the pre race dinner/awards ceremony.
The swim started and I lasted about 2 mins before I had to float on my back. Don't know what it was, maybe a combination of altitude, tight wetsuit, cold water and over-excitement. I guess it could be summed up as a panic attack, which I cannot believe happened to me. But there you have it, I was gasping for air, floating on my back, and trying to meditate myself back to some type of normalcy. Seriously contemplated raising my hand to have the water patrol pluck me from the race. After what seemed like forever I started to get back under control and continued swimming, but was limited to about 75%t of normal effort. Anymore and I couldn't breathe enough to keep up.

Got on the bike, and same feeling... had nothing from the get go. Was limited to about 75% of what I was hoping for. Not good since the bike already plays to my biggest weakness - climbing. It was a 20 mile, almost entirely uphill ride. Felt like I was going backwards, got passed by over 100 people.
Then came the run. After my first few steps I already felt better. Trail running at altitude was a very familiar feeling thanks to the TRR experience the month before. I settled into a good pace an had a good run in the hilly/technical trails at Snowbasin.

I crossed the line in 3:29 something. Was 146th place overall, 21st in my age group. I guess that is not so bad considering that only the 350 fastest Americans were competing, and I live at sea level. But this will go down as my worst, and most disappointing performance of the year. Not planning on doing this race again anytime soon.
After the race we headed down into Ogden. There was a street fair going on with live music, all kinds of shops, food stands, bars, and a Crit race. Kristin and I hung out and had a great time all evening. Very cool place and vibe that you just don't get around here.
Here is a great recap video of the event...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Festive 500

I can't think of a better way to get my butt of the couch next week.

Survival of the Shawangunks

Referred to as "the champagne of adventure races" in the video at the bottom of this blog. This race was great. Click on the SOS triathlon banner above for more of a course description, but basically this was an 8 stage triathlon in the Shawangunk mountains: 30m bike, 4.5m run, 1.1m swim, 5.5m run, .5m swim, 8mile run, .5m swim, .7mile run/climb.

I got back from the TransRockies and was buried in work. Literally zero time to do any type of training or anything other than work. Really dissapointing as I wanted to see if I could turn an intense running block at altitude into some serious sea level speed. So anyhow after 15 days of nothing (I did manage to squeeze in one 20mile bike ride) I drove up to New Paltz with Brian (my crew) to do this race. I didn't have a chance prior to the race to figure out what I was going to do with my shoes during the swim portions. Note to others: have this one thing dialed in before the race, practice your technique until perfected, this is an important element of this race. More on this later.

Starting on the bike was interesting. I thought drafting was going to be an issue, but it spread out really quickly and wasn't at all. This photo is about 50yds into the race. Why do I look so much bigger than everyone else?
The bike leg was beautiful and pretty flat and fast for the first 25 miles... then straight up hill for the last 5 miles. I took it very easy for the whole climb, did not want to tire the legs at this point in the race..

Arrived at the transition, handed my bike of the Brian, grabbed my shoes, goggles and cap and started running. This first run was the hardest of the runs for me. For some reason I never really felt comfortable, and it was slightly up hill almost the whole way.

Got to the first lake, took my shoes of and stuffed them down the back of my tri-shorts and eased into the water to start the 1.1 mile swim. The drag of shoes in shorts was a little uncomfortable, and after about 2 mins, the shoes had floated right out. I stopped, turned around, grabbed them, and tried to tuck them in even further into the shorts. That lasted about 30 seconds before they wriggled out and went floating away again. I decided that this wasn't going to work anymore so I just put them back onto my feet and and started swimming again. Swimming with shoes on your feet is not fun, and it slows you down a lot. But thats how it was going to be for the rest of the race so I had to make the mental adjustment right there and then. Other than that, all the lakes where beautiful, crystal clear, and cold - 63 degrees, just how I like it!!!

This is a photo of me coming to the end of the second swim: Lake Minnewaska
This is about half way through the third run, deep into the race. I put a lot of what I learnt at the TransRockies to work in this race, and it was paying off as chased down may of the people that passed me earlier in the race.
After the last swim, the trail goes very steeply up to the finish at Sky Top Tower, I had my shoes on already and I felt great, so I went for it and managed the 9th fastest climb split of the race! Finishing 22nd overall, and 4th in my age group... All things considered, I was very happy. Next year I'll be back to go sub 5 hours :)
Complete Results/Splits HERE

Here is a great little TV segment on the race... See you next year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

TransRockies Run Stage 6

Stage 6: Vail to Beaver Creek - 23.4 miles, 5,100 ft elevation gain
This was the hardest stage with 3 major climbs. The third of which came very late into the race, on a very hot day.

This is Brian and I pre start. I just noticed that Amber Monforte is behind us to the right. She broke her arm an cut open her knee on stage 2, and still continued the race!!! Unbelievable! Two month after this photo she went on win the Ultraman World Championship by setting a new women's course record (Ultraman = Double Ironman or 281.2 miles). Tough Chick.
Climbing up and out of Vail thru the Aspen trees
I think this was just after the 2nd summit, the beginning of a long downhill through waist high grass and so tight you couldn't see your feet or where you were stepping.
Mission accomplished! 6 Days, 6 Stages 120Miles. Two happy dudes.
Stage Place: 10th (Men's Open Category)
Stage Time: 4:16:51
Overall Place: 10th (Men's Open Category)
Overall Time: 23:39:07

Transrockies Run Stage 5

Stage 5: Red Cliff to Vail: 23.6 miles, 4,200 feet elevation gain.
I think this video pretty much sums up the awesome that was this day...

Check out this dude's blisters!!! Thankfully for my Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra Shoes, not a single foot problem for me the whole race.
Stage Place: 10th (Men's Open category)
Stage Time: 4:36:18
Overall Place: 10th
Overall Time: 19:22

Transrockies Run Stage 4

Stage 4: Camp Hale to Nova Guides 14.2 miles...

This about sums up how we were feeling before the start. We're only half way through the event, but looking forward to a slightly easier stage today.

I love this photo.
Fun stage, especially the whole running through ice cold water thing, feet went numb for a while, and that was a good thing!!!
Tired campers...
Stage Place: 10th
Stage Time: 2:52:10
Overall Place 10th
Overall Time 14:45:57

TransRockies Run Stage 3

Stage 3: 24.2 miles
A nice little warm up coming out of the town of Leadville, then steep climbing. Then a long downhill singletrack section from about the midpoint on.

This is Brian and I about half way up the first of two climbs.About half way up the second climb we caught up to Dean Karnazes, whom was running the event with a different partner each day.
His partner was similar pace to us, so we ran together for a little while, took pictures, had some laughs. Then for the last several miles a group of about 5 of us followed his lead through the single track. We were flying, its amazing what running with someone like that will do for you. A definite highlight of the trip.
Camp Hale: tent village
Stage Results: 10th Place (Men's Open Division)
Stage Time: 4:42:51
Overall Results: 10th Place
Overall Time: 11:53

TransRockies Run Stage 2

Stage 2: Only 13.5 miles this day, but it started out with a 3 mile, 3000ft climb. That was steep!!!! and pretty much kept us at a power-walking pace. When we got close to the top, we really felt the lack of oxygen, but when we remembered to look around the views where well worth it. I didn't recover well from the first days run, and I don't think I ate enough either, so I had a nice bonk with a few miles to go in this stage. I did learn that running downhill is an artform that I had never been exposed to before. I was putting way too much effort into braking and staying undercontrol, and we were getting passed left an right by people who had it figured out. It's just basically a controlled fall, that looks like your completely out of control. I got better at it as the event went on, but my ankle, only 3 weeks of a bad sprain would only let me get a way with so much before yelling at me.

Here is the profile
This was our home for the night.
Start of the stage in Vicksburg, CO
Brian going up and up and up... shortly after this photo I gave him my pack to carry. He was doing better than I this day
after the stage ice bath. This felt fantastic, really help clear the toxins from my lower half
Then straight to the massage tent
Video from out way up, and then the top.

Stage 2 Results.
Stage Place: 11th (Men's Open Category)
Stage Time: 3:21
Overall Place: 10th (Men's OPen Category)
Overall Time 7:10

TransRockies Run Stage 1

Been a little busy lately, but that has changed, and its time get get this blog back on track!!!

The TransRockies run was an adventure of a life time. Brian talked me into being his teammate for this crazyness, and I'm glad I agreed to do it. The event held in the Colorado Rockies is 6 Days, 120 miles, with 20,000 feet of elevation gain. Never having competed or completed any run longer than a marathon prior to this, I had no idea how this was going to go...

Here is the overall stage map and elevation profile.
Here is the profile for Day 1: 20.6 miles This was the flattest and lowest altitude stage, and it got very hot out there for the last half
A few minutes prior to the 9am start...
About 15 miles in, Brian took this one of me. We where trying to pace of the Salomon women's team there ahead of me... the left us in the dust at about mile 17
This is a video with just a few miles left. I was pretty cooked at this point, the heat really got to me. I was thinking that there was no way I could do this for 2 days in a row, let alone 6!!!
Stage Place: 9th (Men's Open Category)
Stage Time: 3:49:33

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Little Cross-Training Today...

Run in Buena Vista, bike in Salida, 4X4 from St. Elmo over Tin Cup Pass to Taylor Park, then back over Cottonwood Pass. Need a rest day from this rest day! Tomorrow is race check-in!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More Altitude Preparation...

2nd Day out here in the Rockies. Morning trail run in Buena Vista, then spent the day up at Leadville, had lunch just down the street from the start/finish of the Leadville 100 (which was here last week). Did some 4 wheeling to checked out the old mines in the mountains above Leadville, got up to about 12,000 ft for a while. Then drove around Turquoise Lake and started heading back to Buena Vista. Passed a sign that said North America's Highest Golf Course. We couldn't resist. A 2 hour (9 hole) walk at 10,000ft was exactly what we needed... Mt. Massive Golf Club. I was hitting my 8 iron like 200+ yards, crazy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Little video from our first day in the Rockies. The air is thin up here!!! Hope we start getting used to it by Sunday.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wildcat Epic 100

Busy week! Can't believe its taken me all week just to find a little time for a blog post.
This race was awesome! 2 days, 50 miles each day starting and finishing both days in New Paltz, NY. Day 1 was hilly and super scenic in the Shawgunks. Day 2 was farms, orchards, rail trails, fun singletrack, and a cave.

Day 1 - Drove up with Kristin, arrived an hour before the start, registered, made sure I had all my gear, went to the starting line for the pre-race instructions, and then we were off. First 1.6 miles were neutral as we rolled out of town, and the group all stayed together behind a lead car.
We got to a dirt road, the pace car pulled aside, and the racing was on. Some dudes were jockeying to get to the front, but most were like me, and had been a little scared by the elevation profile map of the course. [Map with Profile HERE] Basically it looked like the first 20 miles were all up hill. So I just eased into a nice pace, and fell into a group of 5 doing the same. The climbing ended up not being nearly as steep or aggressive as I was expecting; the paths were smooth and the speeds were actually kept pretty high for the most part. Fun way to climb! The first aid station came at 14 miles. Kristin was there, gave me a fresh bottle of Perpetuem and some salt pills. I was the only one of my group of 4 now to stop. I was only stopped for like 30 seconds, and immediately after the aid station it started to get steeper and they all slowed down a bit so I was back with them in no time. Up and up we went until we got to a ridge with AMAZING views. Rode across the ridge and were still climbing slightly. I was feeling great, and very happy with myself for staying under control so far, and getting mentally ready to attack the downhills. First came some downhill switchbacks, then a loop around a lake, and then a blazing fast section back to the 2nd aid station. I stopped, Kristin filled up my camelbak while I got something to eat, and was off. More miles of fast downhill, and drifting gingerly through the higher speed turns. The crew I was climbing with was long behind me now, and I was picking off riders ahead. Then more climbs, some singletrack, until a bunch of women on horses came onto the trails. I came around a corner and the horses were already spooked, jumping around all crazy, and the women were all panicked. So I just stopped, waited for them to get things under control, then carefully squeezed by. At mile 47-ish the course markings got a little confusing, I think some hikers messed with the signs at an intersection. I wasn't the only one that picked the wrong direction; seems like most people made some kind of mistake there. I then caught 2 other riders, so we thought we were on the right track, and we kept going down the mountain, and popped out of the trails onto a farm road, didn't see any trail markers, so we kept going out to the main road, still no markers, we decided to go left because it felt right. Rode for awhile, nothing looked familiar. Came to an intersection and asked a driver where New Paltz was... He pointed us in a direction, we set off and eventually found ourselves back on the course about a 1/4 mile before the finish. Crossing the finish line I had 55.3 miles on my computer (5 extra miles!). I'm usually disappointed when something like course markings affect the outcome of the race, but in this case I didn't care, the day was awesome, and I rode my face off. I was like 10th across the line (came in with 8th and 9th place). Then I don't know what they did after that to adjust for the course markings, but they gave my official results for that day as 5th place. Which sounds about right; there were a few guys already at the finish line that I had passed earlier in the race. Official time 3:53:00 (actual time on my watch was about 3:58:45) Avg speed 13.9mph

Day 2 - Totally different experience. Same neutral start, but then we got to a rail trail and the racing was on big time... The pace was high, the front of the pack being driven by two Pro's from the Jamis Factory Team. I couldn't hang on for too long or I'd cook myself too early. So I let them go, about 12 of them. I was completely alone then, nobody behind me. Did some really cool riding in apple orchards and farms, not very hilly but lots of tall grass to add some resistance to the pedals, and hide all the sneaky little bumps and holes. Then back onto a rail trail for what I'm guessing was like a 12 mile stretch. I just put my head down and went, it was dead straight, no one ahead, nobody behind. I was keeping a consistent 19-20mph. Then we climbed up a road and into some awesome single track, it was slow going, but really fun. Highlighted by a ride through a pitch black cave where the course was marked by a line of what seemed like glowing chalk that we followed all the way through. Back out to a road where we found the 2nd rest stop at mile 37. I refilled my camelbak, got down some fuel, mixed some perpetuem into my bottle and was off. Long road climb into some hilly single track, I was starting to get pretty zapped from the heat, but kept pluggin away. After a few miles the trails led back to the rail trail for a 3-4 mile straight shot back to the finish line. I felt much better, and hammered it home. Crossing the line in 3:34:42, 11th place for the stage. Avg speed : 14mph
Ended up finishing 9th place in the GC (overall) with a combined time of 7:27:42. Official Results HERE

This race will definitely be on my calendar next year! Who's coming with me!!!

Now if you want to read an awesome blog entry about this race. Check out David Alden's Blog posts for Day 1 and Day 2. He finished very close behind me on both days. Great recap.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Darkhorse 40

Rick and I raced this as Team Powershot on Sunday. And not only did we survive I think we did pretty well. Finishing 3rd place in the Team category. It was two 20 mile loops of the track in the map below. I did the first lap, Rick did the second.
The start was about 3/4 of a mile on a slightly downhill paved road. So as you can imagine, I was having a hard time containing myself. I knew that if I really wanted to I could be the first into the singletrack, but this race has bitten me before, plus I did a marathon 32 hours earlier. So I was very unsure about how the body would react.
Right from the gun a saw 4 riders go off the front, I gave chase and sat in behind them until the singletrack. Then backed off to a more comfortable pace, and let two more people pass me. After about 6 miles there was a straight long climb up a fire road, and I could see 5 of the 6 people ahead of me right there, riding in a pack and climbing together at what seemed like a slow pace... I hammered and caught the group as they were heading back into singletrack. I started to feel better and better, and starting passing them one by one. By mile 14 (where the course went through an abandonded factory, so cool!) I was all alone in 2nd and rode as hard as I could back to Rick. Was probably grinning the whole way, as the both the trail conditions and the weather where perfect!
Rick took it from there and had a great 2nd loop, hamering with his head down he missed a corner and had to backtrack, probably cost him about 2 minutes. Not sure if he tackled a tree before or after that, but it left a nice souvenir on his forearm. One person passed him, which is strange, and must have happened when he was off course, because he doesn't let that happen very often. Rick, any comments on that :) ?
All in all, a fun time at a great race. And a nice little confidence boost for the Wildcat Epic 100 this coming weekend! Ankle is getting better everyday.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Long Training Run

After a nice 5 day break to let the ankle recover a little it was time to start moving again. The 24 Hours Around the Lake in Wakefield, Mass was our venue to get in at least 5 hours on our feet. Way more fun doing a long workout at an event like this than just doing loops around the neighborhood. Brian's goal was to stick to a sub 10 minute mile pace, and mine was just to walk, and maybe sprinkle in some running if the ankle felt up to it. The race started at 7pm and the race was to see how many 3.18 mile (5K) laps around a lake one could complete in either 12hrs or 24 hours. There was also a marathon option (8 laps).
Here is a photo at the pre race announcement. Lots of interesting characters at these ultra events.
Team GingerBalls pre start. Game faces on.
Sun setting, I think I took this on the first lap. Beautiful lake.
Coming across the finish line. 12:30 at night. Brian did 34 miles, I did 26.2. We completed the last lap together.
Avg Heart Rate was 101bpm. When walking it would be around 85-90bpm, when running I never let it get over 120, was usually in the 113 range. Ankle felt OK until the last lap when it started to get tired. Only issues were some blistering and swelling in my feet. But I guess that was to be expected; I was wearing technical trail shoes with low profile, stiff soles (i.e. little cushioning) Vasque Transistors for first 4 laps, Salomon 3D Ultra for last 4 laps. Nothing too serious though. I used compression socks for the first 5 laps, and then removed just the one on the right foot so I could use my Injinji sock instead to help with blistering on that foot. Learned that I actually preferred not having the compression sock on. No perceptible difference in fatigue, and was noticeably cooler without sock.

Here is some video...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Escarpment Trail 30K

I can tell you right now that this post will not do the experience justice. It was a big experience, and as many things that I learned, I'd also like to forget about this race. So I'm keeping this post super brief.

Elevation Profile. Trail starts at the right of the map, and ends on the left.

Yep, that's me and Brian feeling pretty good at the start... Weather was nice, and Kristin had just dubbed us Team Ginger Balls (a name we will take with us to the Trans Rockies). But after that things did not go as smoothly as planned. This trail was no joke. Incredibly technical, challenging terrain, just something I don't think either of us was ready for. We saw some nasty spills out there. It was a very new and enjoyable experience for both of us for a while. Seeing how much faster other people were covering ground versus us was a little eye-opening. I thought our fitness level was pretty good, but for this type of event, experience running on tough trails plays a major role. I found out the hard way. As we were entering the third rest stop, I took my eyes off the trail for a second, and boom, sprained ankle. I could tell by the reaction of the volunteers that it wasn't pretty. Learning that it was like a three mile hike down to civilization from there, I decided that we should press on... If I had only known that the most challenging part of the course was coming up. The climb up Blackhead (seen briefly in the video below), and then the descent down the other side, I would have definitely pulled the plug and stopped racing. That mountain was brutal. Brian was nice enough to hang with me for the race, and then patient enough with my super slow pace after the sprain, and then smart enough to decide that we were done when we got to the the 12 mile mark aid station. So after 3:32 minutes, we decided to 'DNF' and walked off the trail to get picked up. It took us 45 mins to get to a road, but fortunately, thanks to a volunteer remembering the name of the road (Stork's Nest) and Kristin having navigation in the car, we were saved. And I was really happy that was over with.

Now I'm nursing a sprained ankle. The good news is that it is healing quickly, probably due to the fact that I had no ligaments left in my ankle to really sprain. Because of so many injuries my ankle is pretty much just supported by muscle, and maybe muscle heals faster than ligaments? Who knows, just a crazy theory. I'm just psyched that the pain and swelling are coming down nicely. Haven't done anything but intense ice and compression since Sunday, but may give walking a few miles at the 24 Hours Around the Lake race this weekend a try. See how it goes. If all goes well I'll hop on the MTB on Sunday for the Darkhorse 40 which I'm signed up for as a relay with Rick.