Monday, September 26, 2011

Sedalia Duathlon - Pushing New Limits.

"What a great day for our race". I could not agree with you more I said as I picked up my packet for the 2011 edition of the Sedalia Duathlon. Morning temps were in the 40's which is perfect for racing. I have come to really enjoy the duathlons over in Sedalia. Jeff and Maria Mittelhouser do a great job of hosting these very fun events. For a small entry fee of $25 you get a t-shirt, bike racks for the transition area, food (this time pizza), a safe well marked course, fast results, awards and loads of hospitality.

My goals going in were to basically do the best I could at both the bike and run. I wanted quick transitions and lastly I wanted to really put out an 100% effort and get out of my "comfort zone". I think I have become really "soft" as of late and have not pushed myself. Today was mainly about reaching a new pain threshold mentally. Like Roger Bannister said "The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win."
A record turnout was on hand for this years event. A good crowd with a mix if athletes from Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia, Springfield and of course Sedalia. We had a choice of long course and short course today. I would say the field was evenly split. Short course started off with a 2 mile run. Long course had a 5 K run to allow a little longer to warm-up before the bike leg.

The lead runners were long gone before I even reached the turn around on the run. My plan was to pace myself and save something for the bike and final run. It is all about averages in multi-sport events I kept telling myself, but with the lead I gave everyone on the first run I had my doubts that I would ever bridge up.
After a quick transition it was "hammer time"..... Some crazy chick came out along side of me (she is actually head of me to the right out of view) in the transition and actually proceeded gap me during the first 1/2 mile before we turned right and started to climb. I was like damn, I am in poor shape. Turns out she did not know the cardinal rule of pacing in a duathlon and soon blew up big time on that first climb out of town.....I had a solid bike and passed a few dozen running specialist to make my way up to 3rd overall. The field was really starting to spread out, but I could see Kirk Decker who was in 2nd not far ahead. The leader, Tony Rigdon, had checked out on the run (6:10 mile splits) and was about 2 minutes ahead. Time to test that new pain threshold.

I put in a very solid 2nd half of the bike leg setting the fastest bike split w/22:26 and came into T2 with a 30 second lead on Kirk. On the first run leg he was about 1 min faster per mile so I knew I was in trouble. I kept telling myself that Kirk also had tired legs and that it would come down to who was able to suffer the most. The question was can I still suffer? At the turn around he had bridged up to me and I wanted to quit. But I remembered what George Sheehan once said "It's very hard to understand in the beginning that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants to quit."

The final 1/2 mile was an all out effort for me. I made the decision to run until I dropped. Hopefully I would reach the finish line before I did, but at that point I did not care about that nor about the runner who was gaining on me. It was all about pushing myself and finding the ability to push past my current pain threshold. I reached the finish with nothing left and a great burning in my lungs and legs. Finish time was 46:35. I was able to stay ahead taking 2nd overall and earning the 1st Overall Male Maser award. Most importantly I did not give up and pushed myself to a new limit or I should say returning a little bit to my old limit.

Some pictures from the event: Sedalia Duathlon Pictures.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday Night Cross

Fall is a great time for all things on wheels - mountain biking, tours, cyclo-cross, duathlons and motocross. This week 3 events were on the schedule. Friday night was the Buffalo Bill Cross race, Saturday would be my 11th Annual Rapture in Misery and Sunday the Sedalia Duathlon.

Big news hit the mountain bike community by surprise last week. The 6h/12hr mountain bike event Rapture in Misery was being canceled. Why I raced RIM. Still unsure why. I believe they would have had a great turn out despite other events being held on the same weekend. Event had been permitted with USA Cycling, trails were trim as a Brazilian Wax, volunteers were in place and most importantly the MTB community was ready for the 11th Annual R.I.M. I know I was just like I had been the preceding 10 years. I do know that it is very hard to stop promoting an event that has been going on for many years, especially if you put your heart and sole into it. It was hard for me to stop promoting cyclocross, but I did finally. I am sure Doug had his reasons just like I did and I support him on his decision.

On to the Buffalo Bill Cross race report. Damian Almanza and I had planned to team-up at RIM again like we have before with great success, but now "Mr. Leavenworth" could focus on Friday's cross race and not save anything. My new name for Damian is Mr Leavenworth. Why? He always seems to win in the downtown. At the final Doing Time in Leavenworth Criterium several years ago Damian won his first criterium race and last night he again won taking 1st place in the Master's 35+ division.

I headed out from work early yesterday and picked up David Wathen. We discussed our progress with our training and were ready for a good training event. Neither of us are in any kind of cross specific shape, but we wanted to support Brendan and Damian if we could. Damian did not need any help from us as he used some great late season form to take a convincing win running away from the field.

For me I got in a good workout and had fun. I rode around mid-pack and event put in a little charge after a very slow start and had my eyes on a podium if I could have kept the effort going. The back part of the course had a down hill that was off camber and had some gofer holes hidden away. I kept thinking about last years crash at Manions on that hilly course and just could not ride with any pace. I took it way to easy which allowed everyone to get a big gap on me on the first lap. My shoulder is feeling really good right now and I am just not going to take any chances.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Race Myself into Form?

I find myself in a difficult place right now. That being totally out of race shape form. I can not recall being this slow before in all my life. This year so far has been very bad for me from an athletic standpoint. The question is why? Injuries from this year? Diet? One year older? Lack of training? Lack of racing? To much yoga?

While I have not been racing as much as I used to, I have been training. One thing I have noticed is all my "bench mark" workouts have resulted in much slower times. The effort is the same, but output is much less. Again why?

One event in particular that I actually trained well for was the Wakarusa Off-Road Challenge. My goal going into the event was a top 3 overall. My normal run/cycle times were well within range to run/cycle with the leaders. I knew I would be slower on the kayak leg, but figured I would be far enough ahead after the bike to still be able to step up on the box. Well I was wrong. Wrong about my form and terribly wrong about my kayaking ability - who knew there were sand bars and current on the Kansas River???

Here is a short summary of how my day at the Lawrence River Trails trusty Ford Ranger (w/298,267 miles on her) did not make it to the event. Darn front tire just about came off and we had to hitch a ride with Sean.....I line up at the front of the 150+ racer field and proceed to just have my ego crushed as nearly 1/2 the field passes me on the first 2.2 mile run. I am running my butt off, but I am not going very fast....Bile leg one was actually good and I passed dozens of people to work my way up to top 10 with a 31 min lap. Second lap on bike was a different story. Still o.k., but I could not hold my pace and ended up being 4 minutes slower on the second lap. Just no energy.....I hit the 4.2 mile kayak leg in about 5 overall. I did know that my kayak would not be one of the fastest boats on the KAW that day, but I did not know it would be one of the slowest. I was a dog in the water and got passed by dozens of boats. The saddest part was running up on a sand bar and having to get out of my boat. One guy in one of those speedy racing kayaks comes by and informs me that "you might want to stay off the sand bars and get in the current with the rest of us" No shit......The final 4.4 mile run was one of my slowest ever. I tried to run, but could not get my legs to turn over. I questioned myself for a long time trying to figure out why my energy level is so low.

What to do next? I am kind of a simple man and the only thing I can think of doing is try to race myself into form. So I head over to Hermann, MO for the start of the 2011 cyclocross season and the Dog Fish Cross.

I was fortunate enough to hitch a ride over with JP Brocket. During the trip over, we talked a lot about diet and the type of foods that I eat. I try to eat well and have even lost about 15 pounds over the last 3 months by watching the foods I consume. Could it just be what I eat?

Day 1 of the Dog Fish Cross can best be summarized by the picture on the right. JP beat me one handed. One of my worst outings in a cross race ever. Enough said about that event.

Day 2 brought in some rain and a much better course for me. Still did not have much power in the legs, but at least I could keep pace better and actually raced earning a podium spot.

I still have to try and find a way to improve. Can I race myself into form or is it time to quit?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wakarusa on Film

Pictures from the 2nd Annual Wakarusa Off-Road Challenge are below. Carolynn Locke took about 400 photos yesterday. If you want find a photo you like and want a higher res image let us know.