Monday, September 10, 2012

The Labor of Love (10k)

Iris found this race late last week, and asked if i wanted to do it...well its hard for me to turn down the opportunity for competition, and on the event website the winners won huge trophies last year, so I figured I would give it my best shot.  I had done some smashing workouts Andy gave me on Friday and Sunday, so I wasn't going in looking for a fact the opposite was the case I had some dead Legs!

Back to the race, so i warmed up 1.5 miles, stretched, did some strides, and then the race was on.  My plan was to go by feel of who was in the lead, and pull away in the back half of the race if possible.  After the first mile I had about a 10-15 second lead and i went through in 6:03! I was feeling good and controlled...although the legs were still heavy and not warmed up.  I thought i had it in the bag no effort for sure though from that point.  Shortly after the mile it just started to hurt more and more.  By mile 2 the guys were still the same distance behind me, but i was hurting bad, and really wished i had done the 5k!  The heat and humidity were really clamping down on me and every stride hurt more and more.  Mile 3 felt like they were really making some ground on me, a pack of 3 guys, but i kept pressing on and said between mile 4 and 5 i was going to give that stretch nearly everything i had to try to keep the separation because i knew if i had 20 seconds in the last mile i had it locked up.  Hit mile 4, and there was a guy well inside 10 seconds of me, and that didn't ease up the pain i was feeling at all!  I went through the aid station got water, and poured some on myself and set my eyes on the road ahead of me.  Trying to keep a good turnover and the form together.  Trying to keep all my momentum rolling forward.  Hit mile 5 and was absolutely blown to shreds, i didn't know if i was going to make it to the finish line.  I could still hear the footsteps behind me but man o man was I in the hurtbox!  It was miserable! 

I looked down at my Garmin and saw all i had was a half mile left.  I knew that i didn't have the fastest kick in the field, so i pseudo kicked at that point trying to break the spirits of the now single guy behind me.  It had felt like i was "kicking" the last 2 miles, but come on!!  I couldn't get rid of this guy.  At mile 6 you run through an underground tunnel for 50 yards then climb a short steep hill, and from the top of that hill you have just under .2 miles left all downhill.  I hit that point still in the lead and could no longer hear the footsteps of the guy behind me.  I finally cracked him and I knew i had it won, but i kept pressing all the way to the line for good measure.  Finished in 39:33, good for an 8 second margin of victory...the effort that i dug deep for in that race surely didn't feel like a 39:33.  Thats 2 weeks in a row now where I have just gutted myself for a sub par time in the heat and humidity...I cant seem to crack the code!  I need a miracle if im going to survive racing down here in Texas

Thursday, September 6, 2012

HotterN' Hell 100: Summoning your inner Bradley Wiggins (Part 2)

Surprisingly our monster tailwind lasted for a good 10 miles and we were very excited to be well over half way done with the race.  At this point we had seriously put a gap between us and the big "peloton"  we broke away from nearly 30 miles back now. 

After turning off the massive tailwind road, we hit that same windspeed, just as a crosswind.  I was expecting to have to heavily lean into it, much like a motorcycle racer who leans 60 degs and touches his knee to the ground on sharp turns.  Much to my chagrin I didnt have to!  That QR CD.01 cuts through the wind like a knife through butter.  It was unbelievable!  Not only did I not have to majorly overcompensate my lean to stay upright, but I was also still putting out consistent power at the same speed!  This bike is the bomb, I LOVE IT!

So within 5 miles of rotating in and out with the p5 man on the crosswind section, i go by him to take my turn at the front (all while the leach is still latched on to the back of us) and he tells me he isnt feeling too good...the cross winds were taking it out of his legs, and his stomach was not treating him well.  Shortly after i took the reins, I looked up and slightly in the distance was the USA cycling cat 5 race that started 8 mins ahead of our race.  I couldnt believe this, the true peloton was sitting right in front of me and we had put some serious time into them through 70 miles of this ride.  I was really hoping to plow through the peloton and break off the front without effort, but unfortunately we turned and started to head straight back into the head wind, and they had a different route...UGH!  This was not what I needed with the p5 hurting at the back of the group, and the leach just lassoing a rope to my seat and watching me do all the work, I was going to have to do this all by myself.  The p5 still tried his best to give me some time at the front, but within 5 minutes on the headwind road i look back and I had put a decent gap between me (the leach was still right on my wheel) and the him.  I felt bad for him, but knew that I couldn't sit around and wait for him all day, so i pressed on. 

We finally got off the major head wind, and back onto a crosswind which was much appreciated, and i was able to get back to a respectable pace.  Right at that point, we started to meet back up with the riders who were doing the 50 miler and 100k ride, and we were flying by them all like they were standing still.  It was nice to finally get back together with the other riders and not be riding solo.  It really helped the morale.  The temps were starting to rise and the last thing i needed was low morale.  At this point we were 75 miles into the ride, 25 to go!

We continued to fly through the field who was riding the shorter distance, and I was feeling great.  I wasnt fresh by any means, but felt like 25 miles was absolutely reasonable and I couldnt wait to get to that finish line to see how well I was doing overall.

The race was set up very well and there were tons of aid stations which was greatly appreciated, and at mile 80 the leach and i decided to stop at an aid station and fill up one last time in prep for the last 20 miles.  Again we were in and out very quickly and back on the bikes.  We were still riding with the crosswind making great time but we knew we still had some serious headwinds to battle if we were going to make it home.

Mile 83 was the turning point from feeling great to death.  At that point was where we turned onto a road that runs parallel to the highway straight into the wind.  The winds had picked up since we had the tail wind back at mile 50 and my oh my could we feel the difference!  The leach was still on my wheel, and at this point now we were 87 miles into the race, just crawling along at 12 mph.  I was as aero as i could be, trying every tactic for free speed, free power, anything to get me through this rough stretch.  Finally I yelled at the leach, and said "you know what dude i am absolutely gutted up here, i dont care how slow you are going, just give me a minute or two so i can recover!"  I could tell he was deep in the red zone as well, but i didnt care...the p5 and i pulled him for 30 miles before he fell off, then i pulled him another near 20...and i think with the tone of voice i had given him, he got the message quick and pulled me shortly.  The pace dropped below 10 mph, but i didnt care, it was the best feeling to get in his slipstream and just relax momentarily.

Within a minute i was back on the front and pulling again, and I realized that I was starting to gap him!  I was stoked, finally he had what was coming to him!  But this was short lived...not sure if he was eating a gel, or what, but he was back on my wheel.  I asked him for another short break one more time at about mile 92, and again he conceded and came to the front.  Shortly after that we were off that highway access road and back onto farm lands that (thankfully) were not into a head wind.  There were 6 miles to go and I needed to find a way to get rid of this guy!

At mile 95 we passed an aid station and I was out of liquids...amazing how putting in a massive effort for 12 miles depletes your nutrition resources.  I asked the leach for a bottle because he had 4 and he said they were all basically empty...right, like i believe that!  The aid station, however, was way out of the way, and i didnt feel like burning the time with 5 miles to go was the right idea, so i pressed on and tried to finish the race on E, like a nascar avoiding a pit stop with 10 laps to go, hoping the fumes will carry it to victory lane!

at mile 97 we made a sharp right turn and my hammy locked up momentarily...$hit!  This is exactly what i was fearing when i passed that aid station.  Hang on!  and i did, that was a short little scare but was over before I knew it thankfully. 

But it was a precursor...I was in for a real painful treat.  mile 98.5 it hit me!  my other hamstring locked up and i couldnt even turn the pedals.  I was screaming in pain it hurt so bad!  I was asking the leach for water because i knew he had some left in there and he said he was empty...meanwhile this cramp was still flexing its muscles and i had to get off my bike to stretch it out...coasting wasnt the cure.  The leach, however, pressed on and right then and there I knew i had lost the race :(

I found a guard rail on the side of the road and stretched my leg out, still screaming in pain.  This nice little lady on a hybrid road/mtn bike rolled up, stopped and asked if everything was ok, naturally it wasnt.  but she was so nice, she gave me a full bottle of gatorade and said its yours, you need it more than i do!  and so after a quick stretch of the hammy, and nearly chugging 2/3 of the bottle i felt able to get back on the bike and finish the ride out. 

I didnt have any issues the rest of the ride, luckily, but i didnt know how many more people in the 100 mile ride went by me when i was sidelined.  I was only off my bike for about 45 - 60 seconds, but it felt like an eternity.  I finished the race and threw myself in the shade, looking for any and all cold beverages i could guzzle down.

After i felt like i could stand up and walk again, i went back over to the finish line and found the lady who gave me her water bottle finishing.  I thanked her so much, gave her watter bottle back and gave her a huge hug, telling her she was the reason i was able to finish the race!  She was happy she could help.

I never did see the leach when i finished, and he couldnt have been that far ahead of me because of how short i was stopped for, but oh well...some people just dont get it!  I looked and asked around for the results and nothing was posted or nobody knew anything.  with so many people at the race it was a circus, and super hectic.  So I went home and showered, figuring i couldnt have won the race because i didnt beat the leach man!

Well i was wrong!!  Monday morning i checked the results and sure enough, the first name atop the leaderboard:
1) Matt Inch,         24,      4:23:16
2) Leach Man        39,      4:23:24

I had won!!!  I was so pumped, and that folks is karma right there.  The race played out as it should and I feel I absolutely deserved this result!  I worked my A$$ off out there all day.  The results have since been updated and there is another rider who they put ahead of me who they say went 3:49:00, but after some "athlinks" research, it was a 36 year old lady who averaged 16.6 mph in a 40 mile ride.  So i think its still safe to say that I can claim the top spot as mine :)

Overall a huge race for me, the bike legs are really taking a turn for the better and I am very excited about these half IM's at the end of the season :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

HotterN' Hell 100: Summoning your inner Bradley Wiggins (Part 1)

So one of my co-workers told me about this 100 mile bike race in the middle of summer here in Texas called the HotterN' Hell 100.  She said it was a pretty famous ride that attracts riders from all over the nation, and that usually 10,000+ riders come out and participate.  I figured what the heck, I am going to be training for IM and half IMs this summer and fall, why not try it out!  I needed to get some good practice riding in the heat because at Kona I paid the price for that lack of experience.

As race day approached i was worried because of the lack of long rides that I had hit.  I did a 75, and even a 90 miler, but those had been awhile back now, and idk, when you get into those big volume events you worry about your preparation a lot.

When I got to the packet pickup the night before I asked how many people there were racing this year, and I found out that there were 14,000 people riding across all the different distances they offered (25M, 50M, 100K, 100M).  14,000 people, wow im in over my head!

Race morning was a nightmare.  It was like a freakshow cycling circus!  All these teams from all around texas packing up together in the starting chute with their matching kits, bikes, and whatever other paraphernalia they had with them...And then there was me, a solo, lonely rider by himself out of 14k, with his tribike and non matching kit.  I felt out of place, but that didn't stop me from forcing my way in between these cliques, squeezing as close to the front as i could.  I was still behind well over 1000 people, which made me uneasy.  I am a triathlete, i dont like to ride in super compact packs constantly rotating in at the front.  I like to get over the pedals and grind it out, stroke for stroke.

Very unexpectedly they had a fly-over during the national anthem, and right at the end to start the race off they shot a 4000 year old cannon that made everyones ears bleed, but i guess if thats how they want people to know the race has begun, so be it!

The first 30 miles were uneventful, I tried to latch onto small groups of guys who looked like they knew what they were doing, but each time we got stuck behind slow sunday strollers who camped the night before the race on the start line so they could be first!  Come on...really!  Use some common sense here people.

Finally at mile 30 i saw an opening and went.  I got down in aero, and just started to tempo off the front of the 75 man pack of avid cyclists that had formed.  Surprisingly to me, only 2 guys came had a p5 and the other was a scraggly looking cyclist holding on for dear life.  I pulled for the next 10-15 minutes comfortably, and still both of the guys were with me.  I gestured for one to take the lead, and the p5, without hesitation helped me out.  He and I traded off for the next 10-15 miles, with the leach cyclist gripping tightly to our back wheels.  We were not too thrilled with this!

At an aid station close to 50 miles in we quickly hopped off our bikes, and filled up our bottles, within 1 minute we were back on the road.  The lame thing about this bike race was that there was no bottle exchange, it was a get off and fill up your bottles yourself.  So that threw another piece into the puzzle.

We all were very quick, neither guy holding the others up, and like i said within a minute we were back on our bikes.  We hit a very friendly stretch with major tail winds and we were flying 40+ mph on the flats because of this 20+mph perfect tail winds.  We were very excited to be ticking the miles off so quickly but knew that with this great fortune currently comes much misfortune later on in the race!  And that absolutely held true!