Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Barry — Roubaix: The Sound of Sunshine

From Bjet:
It is hard to write a brief synopsis of our trip to MI for the Barry-Roubaix because it was a lot of fun packed into just a few days. What I can tell you is that it was an amazing adventure somewhat haphazardly planned. We signed up last December during cyclocross season upon the suggestion of our friend/teammate Dan. Since I am a native Michigonian we jumped at the chance to race in my native state. Our plan was to stay with Dan and his bro Charlie. That plan was foiled by the realization that they had two cats in the household. So we went for plan B which was staying with Jeni in her super MTB Rogue Racing cruiser camper van. We were also able to bring our crazy dog, Kona since Jeni is a dog friendly person.

After a super busy week at work for James & myself were worried about getting our stuff together. I hate running around all crazy before a race since I like to use that energy ON the bike. We managed to get our stuff together (somehow)and headed out late Thursday night. We spent the night in a fancy Wal-Mart parking lot in Indiana. This was good because it allowed us to head into MI fairly early. Since it was still raining when we rolled into town the consensus was that it was an excellent opportunity to visit Bells Brewery. We got some pretty serious stares from the locals when we rolled in at 11:30 am to order some flights. This was the first stop on our unplanned brewery tour. Anyhow, the trip to Bells was cool and while we could have stopped there we ended up with a four brewery tour. Okay...so back to bike racing.

Our friday pre-ride was fun, it can't get much better than one long arse cyclocrossey race. Lots of gravel roads, deep sandpits, pavement, all riding along beautiful lake views and cow pastures. All friday evening it rained packing the sand down tight which with the unseasonably nice weather made for a great race.

Something like 1,500 racers showed up for the 62, 45, & 25 distances. The neutral roll-out was nothing of the sort since my computer maxed out at 30ish MPH! Ouch, after standing around for the race to start that HURT! James planned to pace me and keep me rolling in my poor early season fitness. Our plan worked well with only one hitch which was a bad wreck in the first few miles which layed a racer out in the ditch. I told James to ride back since he had a phone but thankfully the racer was okay. The rest of the race was a bit of a blur, I just pushed the pace as high as I could to avoid cramping. I made it through with only a few twinges of cramps at the end. We ended up finishing with a 16.6 mph average, 3:45 for time, I was 10th overall and for once I didn't care where I had finished; I was just simply happy to be there. We were also happy for our friend Jeni for shaving a hour off of her time from last year.

Our trip ended with an after-race tour of Founders (where we got to see teammate Dan and his brothers and share a Michigan beer) followed closely with a trip to Brewery Vivant and topping it all off with a visit to New Holland Brewing. Somewhere in that time we also rode our bikes along lake MI and soaked in the epic views and warm sunshine. It is a trip that warmed the soul and we will certainly remember this adventure for many years to come.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dreaming of hitting the Road

I've been listening to the British The Bike Show Podcast and they did a feature on touring. I kind of like the idea of disappearing for a bit, unplugging from everyday life and riding and experiencing fun food, beer and seeing some sights. I'm daydreaming of throwing a rack on the old steel Jamis, adding a tent and some goodies and seeing Ohio.

The new Ohio to Erie trail has opened up. And while it may be a bit tame for stretches, it would be a nice low-stress way to travel across the state.

I'm not sure how much time I will have this year once all the family vacations are scheduled, but this might make a nice late spring training ride. One could easily be gone for a week!

This would be most fun ridden as a group. Perhaps a bit of a gentlemanly competition too (sprints for town lines and races to the tops of hills, but regrouping and spinning together for 98% of the trip).

Monday, March 19, 2012

Race #120: Dress Rehearsal for the Big Show

I was inspired to sign up for the Flying Pig this year after watching the Boston, NYC and LA marathons on Universal Sports last year. I did last year's Heart Mini and kind of felt like running the Pig, but I was behind in preparation so I knew it wasn't the best idea.

This year I am trying to be more mindful of running form, breathing and heart rate. I know I can't maintain the pace I run the Heart Mini for an entire marathon. I wanted to collect data on the effort and use the race as an endurance speed workout. This year I have done even more speed work, and even running on a local High School track to get clean times (no interuptions from traffic and pedestrians), I pretend I'm a pro from Kenya!

I think I ate too big of a breakfast only 2 hours before the race. Perhaps morning of the Pig I will eat something like Garden of Life's Raw Meal (it's a gluten-free, vegan raw meal substitute packed with calories and protein, think oatmeal in a cup). I didn't feel like downing a gel in the first hour. I'm also thinking about using Infinit during the Flying Pig.

I didn't leave myself enough time to get ready before the race. I bike commuted down to warm up my legs and didn't want to get there too early. I found myself nervously trying to adjust iPhone, gels, etc on the starting line. I didn't get to do a pre-stretch before the run because I ran out of time!

I lined up with the same Bob Ronker's pace group as I did last year. What a great service! I've used them 3 years now, unwisely I typically run with a pace group beyond my abilities! It would have been smarter to run with a 3:10 pace group and to gauge my pace for the Pig at a 13.1 distance...

The pace group was great. It's like a road cycling race where I just try to hide in the group as much as possible. This year I was feeling pretty good. I just kept hanging in there, where last year I was popped out the back and trying to chase before the 10k mark! The weather was hot, and my heart rate was really high. Often too high. I think my zone 5 starts around 164 bpm, my marathon pace would ideally keep me under this, but during the Heart Mini I was typically around 168 and hitting 171 going up hills. I was getting overheated a bit, so I took a page out of the 2006 Floyd Landis ride of "superhuman" redemption and started dumping water over the top of my head.

At the 15k mark I started losing heels a bit. I found myself off-the-back too often and having to really work downhills to keep up. The fastest 2 miles that Strava recorded, was actually in the end of the race! The route took us over into Newport and by the time we hit the Taylor Southgate bridge I was really hurting. But the Ronkers pacers were super cool, two came back to help me bridge back up into the group! Then they slapped me on the ass and sent me heading for the finish line! Thanks to them I got a sub 1:30!

But I'm really hurting today. Despite a recovery drink, lot of hydration, an ice-bath, compression socks and anti-oxidents I am really hurting! I once again bit off too much!

For the Pig I need to run some race pace recon runs of the first 10 miles of the race, and really keep up my core and arm workouts.

5k split 21:10
Pace at 5k: 6:50
Rank: 54

10k split 42:16 (New PR, old: 42:53/6:55 Pace)
Pace at 10k: 6:50
Rank: 52

15k split 1:03:29 (New PR old: 1:04:34/6:57)
Pace at 15k: 6:50
Rank: 48

13.1 final: 1:29:38 (New PR, old: 1:31:47/7:01)
Pace: 6:50
Overall Rank: 53
Division: M35-39
Division Place: 9th!
(I beat last year's 71st place and 10th in Division!)

1 6:37 6'37"/mi
2 13:32 6'55"/mi
3 20:21 6'49"/mi
4 27:05 6'44"/mi
5 33:49 6'44"/mi
6 40:41 6'52"/mi
7 47:25 6'45"/mi
8 54:05 6'40"/mi
9 1:00:57 6'52"/mi
10 1:07:43 6'47"/mi
11 1:14:35 6'52"/mi
12 1:21:29 6'54"/mi
13 1:28:15 6'46"/mi

Best Efforts recorded by Strava:
400m: 00:01:19 (new PR, better than 400m run on track!)
1/2 mile: 00:03:02
1k: 00:03:47
1 mile: 00:06:22
2 miles: 00:13:20
5k: 00:20:51
10k: 00:41:57
15k: 01:03:02
10 miles: 01:07:37
20k: 01:24:10
Half-Marathon: 01:28:57 (different than finishing time?)

Last year's Heart Mini write up:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Base Miles!

Wow! Sorry I've been a bit behind in some of my tales. When I haven't been working I've been training a lot getting ready for another year of racing and my first marathon.

I love the new phone, I can capture some of the crazy and beautiful things I see while cycling and running. My only wish is that I had a camera installed behind my retinas that could instantly snap what I was seeing without having to stop and get out of the saddle!

January I ended up training 601 miles (compared to 404mi in 2011), and 825mi in February (634mi in 2011). I wanted to bring up more base into the early part of the season with long runs (and a lot of recovery needed) for the Flying Pig Marathon in early May.

The last few weeks I've been added the intensity back in. I hope to keep my nose to the grindstone so I have my strongest year ever as I get set to face the Pros.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Race #119: Soul Ride!

Another year, another attempt at a dominating cx-style team time trial! The Sub9 (productions) Death March is the most brilliant idea for an early season event. The Hoosier countryside is dotted with the final resting place for many farming families, some of which haven't been used for decades. The Death March challenges teams of two to connect these cemeteries (that act as checkpoints — some mandatory, some act as time bonuses) via the quickest/shortest route they can plot using gravel roads, trails and road.

This year the wheels came off the TT early. Nate and I were on the front. The team had just come together after a hectic start. I heard muffled yelling but I thought the team was excited we were together. A moment later Nate informed me of a gap so we soft-pedaled. But no one came across and no one closed the gap. After the first cemetery and some of the out-and-back, without a sign of our team, we decided to press on.

For the second straight year the weather has been absolutely wonderful. A little cold at the start, but it warmed up and it was completely sunny. The weather combined with the great company, a relaxed sportive atmosphere, and a beautiful countryside makes this race a must.

It was an absolutely wonderful ride. Nate and I did our best, sometimes hammering it and sometimes just enjoying the scenery on the hike-a-bikes. So carefree! I was so happy to be alive, I was thankful to be alive and wondered about those people buried in the cemeteries. What were some happy moments they experienced in that beautiful part of the country?

My only wish is that I could have spent more time with my teammates — I really loved riding with you guys last year!

Popped off the paceline!

I rode my vintage Huffy Sportsman 3-speed to work today. I was also wearing these crazy polyester pants and a big ass backpack. The 6am Hyde Park Square bike ride caught me just before the Erie Bike Path hill. I couldn't resist jumping in and trying to freak them out. I held on for about 2 minutes, but near the top when it flattens out I got popped off! It was fun while it lasted.

First race of 2012, starting on a good footing

About a month ago I headed up to Caesar Creek for a race on the trails. But this time it was trail running -- my first running race off-road. I was super excited, it fit in nicely with my training schedule. I've been putting in some slow miles off-road training for the Flying Pig marathon, doing lame 12-14 minute miles in Ault Park. I kind of wanted to take it easy and run 10mm.

The race was put on by TOPO Adventure Sports, Brian and Mike are some badass organizers who put on some sweet adventure races.

So my race was surprisingly similar to a bike race. I got off to a slow start. After a couple minutes the racing bug bit me in the butt and I started passing people. After about the first mile I found myself in a group of guys who could run a similar pace — and this is where it got super awesome! I forgot to mention that we were running in super cold temperatures on snow — kind of felt like the last couple of cross races where you are sweating like a maniac despite the icicles forming in your nostrils.

This other guy and I were really equally matched. I was faster on uphills but slow on downhills (just like when I MTB, weird?!) and the other guy was vice-versa. I used my new technique of high cadence and forward lean anytime the trail flattened out and I feel it made me super efficient. I also used a slight lean on the uphills too.

I had what turned out to be 6th place in my sights just before the mid point turn around. I was burning matches left and right, trying to manage my heat by zipping and unzipping my jacket. 6th pulled away and I think I blew up a bit. I didn't realized that perhaps I was unzipping my jacket a bit too much and it caused my lungs to get too cold to take in air.

So I was 7th and 8th wasn't far behind. For the last 6 miles we battled! He would close the gap and I would fight to open it back up. Downhill he would nip at my heals and uphill I would attack. In the last miles mile quads started to fall apart and I lost my uphill kick. At one point I was dashing along a ridge next to the lake and the sun and turned the snow to ice. I hit a loose corner and wiped out! I thought I lost my place, but I got back up and battled.

It almost came down to a sprint. He was closing from behind but I was able to hold off a 15 second gap! We both thanked each other after the race, it was nice to have a friendly battle to push ourselves.

The competition really helped, I was just going to go out and run 10 minute miles, but I ended up being fairly consistent despite the terrain:

1 9:05 9'05"/mi
2 18:37 9'32"/mi
3 27:24 8'46"/mi
4 36:43 9'20"/mi
5 45:04 8'21"/mi
6 54:12 9'08"/mi
7 1:03:11 8'59"/mi
8 1:12:38 9'27"/mi
9 1:21:24 8'46"/mi
10 1:31:21 9'57"/mi
11 1:40:51 9'30"/mi

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Epic. Failure.

I have this issue where I try to set up some epic rides and I don't get to do them. Sometimes on the weekend I'm recoving from a tough work week and I don't pack my gear the night before, then I sleep in, next thing I know I'm getting out to ride an hour later than I wanted and a lame mechanical will cost me more time and training.

A couple weeks ago Bjet and I headed east for an epic training ride for Mohican. I set up a 54 mile route through Shawnee Forest last weekend. But we got off to a late start and once we got there Bjet's tire was flat (How flat was it?! Flatter than a Kansas pancake...).

We got to riding and the hills out there are pretty nice. Tons of gravel roads and their hills are a bit longer — kind of like little foothills of the Appalachian mountains. In fact, this area is nicknamed the little Smokies.

We got about 18 miles into the ride and realized we were running out of daylight. So we had to head back to the car. It was actually good though, we found some nice deserted roads. There is a lot of poverty out there, and a lot of loose dogs that chase you. That combined with the gloomy weather made it a smidge more depressing than a "soul ride." We've ridden there twice, once out of Blue Creek and once out of Rome/Stout on the river — both times it is has been hard to find a place where you can feel it's okay to park a vehicle, plus you end up riding through a lot of residential land. The good thing is most drivers are actually pretty nice.

Here is a post of our last ride there in 2010:

We hope to head back again in the next couple of months for some Mohican training. It might be fun to get a Rogue/BioWheels/Columbus possé group ride together. Perhaps ride once in Shawnee Forest and another time in Scioto Trail.

I would suggest to park at the State Park Visitor's Center and to use as many of the Forest Service roads that you can link together. There are also bridal trails but I haven't ridden them — we use these gravel roads as an alternative training ground when mountain bike trails are too wet.

Let me know if you want me to post some maps or if you want to join a future group ride.

Roadrash's 2012 Racing Schedule leaked to VeloNews

Okay, no one at VeloNews cares what I am planning... But I can't wait to see you peeps out there!

In 2012 I plan to focus a bit more on quality, not quantity. There were so many weekends where I feel I didn't get to ride because my Saturday ride was short so I wouldn't kill my legs for the Sunday race. So I've decided not to focus on racing and placing in the CORA series this year.

Running Races:
TOPO Caesar Creek Trail Run
Heart Mini Half Marathon
Flying Pig Full Marathon

Cycling Epics:
Sub 9 Death March
Mohican 100 miler
12 Hours of Capitol View
6 Hours of John Bryan
(No DINO this year, helping out with CX)
Frankenbike 50

1-2 Ault Worlds
Madiera Centennial Crit
The Blast?
1-2 Mainstraße Crits
(killer CX prep)

East Fork
(Good power courses, great CX prep)

I am going to cut back on these this year, spending an evening in gridlock traffic just to race for 30-60 minutes sucks when you do it every week.

I got my big boy's license this year. Hopefully I stay healthy and get stronger.
USGP Wisconsin
USGP Boulder? (We have fam out there, that would be awesome)
USGP Derby City
Focusing on the local Cincy OVCX races, upgrading to Cat 1/2 Open again.

I want to get Bjet ready for Nationals next year!

I am hoping this schedule is a bit more chill, I did 46 races last year including the week night TTs. Like I said, a lot of time in cars and "saving my legs" kind of took some of the fun out of cycling.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What's a Girl like you doing in a place like this?

Here and there I find a bit of gravel and woods for my commute — a nice long scenic recovery commute to heal the legs, mind and soul.

Unfortunately some construction on the gravel path through the park was under construction, so I was "forced" to take the hiking trails. Luckily it hasn't rained since last week. But uphill roots on high-psi slicks is a bit tough, I had to walk it.

I love having an old steel frame, I love my bike but I don't have to baby it. Jenny the Jamis and I can have some crazy adventures together.

Her and I might open a new chapter together. I am considering getting some permanent fenders and a cargo rack for her (the 10-20 lb. backpack is tough somedays!). Let me know if you have any recommendations. We might do some touring together in the future.