How I spent my 2011

What did I do this year? Good grief, what what a wild ride.

Kristin graduated.

Kristin went off to college.

Braxton turned a year old. Man, I love that kid.

Jake had a nasty accident, but fortunately he wasn’t hurt. Totaled the car though. Not his fault.

Kristin had an accident. No one hurt, totaled the car though. Not her fault.

Looked for cars, a lot.

Worked a month of nights to help cover a personnel shortage.

Raced my MTB bike a lot. Did ok.

Raced my CX bike some, had results all over the board. That needs work.

Went to the Dakota 5-o again, did ok.

Had some interesting cases at work, some made the news.

Kandy and I had some really fun times.

Had my 10th wedding anniversary with my favorite person who happens to be my wife.

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Man vs the Dakota Five-O, part deux

I did my first Dakota Five-O in 2008. It was a disaster. I was beaten before I started so I finished, but barely. The trip was a bad one all around that ended with our vehicle breaking down in somewhere in the area of Leftovershoe, South Dakota leaving us $2000 poorer.

My “race” time: 9:05. I was so disgusted I swore I’d never go back.

Moving ahead to spring 2011 I’m 40 pounds lighter, in much better shape, and with a stellar bike to ride. I found myself wondering if I could redeem myself in South Dakota. I thought about it, was pressured by “friends”, and resisted the temptation until the very last minute. In a moment of weakness, I registered.

After planning, training, and generally fretting all summer, Labor Day rolled around and I found myself in Spearfish again. This time, I was determined to not let it beat me, again. I played it safe, too safe, the first 30 miles still unsure how things would turn out. After the last aid station I realized that I actually had a shot at hitting my dream goal of under seven hours.

I pushed it as hard as I could in the nasty trails after the “Bacon Station” and turned on the afterburners on the last climb out. Into the last section of uphill singletrack I pushed harder and once I saw the “Its all downhill from here” sign, I turned it loose.

I was one big cramp and hanging on by a thread. I had to slow down to pass a few people and heard someone behind me. Giving them a shout to go around I heard “No, you go – any faster and I’ll just crash.” He added that we had an outside chance to finish at the seven hour mark. I told him we were going to finish in under seven, one way or another.

With people chasing me and a fire in my belly I went. I was riding singletrack at a pace that I previously thought was over my head, and found myself wishing I had gone this hard early on.

Once down the gravel road I powered up the climb that almost killed me in 2008 – the final climb up to the Passion Play. As I went past I checked my watch – I was going to make it! Right before the last corner Ryan Feagan jumped up and started screaming at me to go harder – so I did. I passed several people in that last stretch and ended up with a time of 6:51, almost 10 minutes inside my ultimate goal.

What did I learn? That I need to stop worrying so much and just go. I CAN do it, I just need to actually do it. I also learned a lot about what works as far as nutrition and prep go.

Next time? I need to train harder. Not more just harder.

Will there be a next time? I don’t know. Right now I’m tired, and ready to ease into fall and maybe a few cyclocross races. I would like to see if I can break 6 hours though…

Maskenthine 2011

We finished up the Psycowpath series today which ends my MTB season except for the season capper – the Dakota 5-o. Looking at my results I am at the same time happy and sad but satisfied with my results.

  • I maintained a higher average speed with a lower heart rate over a longer period of time than in 2010. Happy.
  • Finished sixth in my class. Happy and sad.
  • Had a really bad second lap. Sad.
  • Figured out on the the third lap that I need more calories and fluids. Third lap after some forced fluids and gels was much better than the second. Happy.
  • Seeing that my finish times are fast enough to have won the Cat 3 45+ class and knowing that catting up was the right move. Happy.

Finishing up my first year as a Cat 2 leaves me encouraged for next year. I see that I can be competitive, but that I have work to do.

Applying this all to the Dakota 5-o gives me a good feeling going in, I hope to slash my time from 2008 by a large margin. I will know in 10 days if I did.

Tranquility – I met my goal.

To paraphrase Ryan Feagan, if its a Psycowpath race at Tranquility Park (in Omaha) its going to be hot. With searing sun and a heat index of 107 degrees, it was warm.

After the Ponca race on the 18th, I strung together three solid weeks of good training, and I came into this race feeling really good about my chances. My class, Category 2 45+, was one of the larger ones of the day with some very tough competition. I had no aspirations of coming out on top but was hoping for a good solid finish.

I got a good warm-up in and forced myself to follow a new pre-race regimen that I came up with after some experimenting. it was tough doing things considerably different than in the past but it worked out very well. The huge dump of adrenaline I usually experience was gone, and my energy (with an exception I’ll explain later) was consistent throughout. For a change, I felt good all the way through and was relatively consistent.

Off the line I was conservative, maybe a little too much so. Regardless, I was exactly where I wanted to be in with a group that I wanted to pace. Through the first twisty section and out into the new north area I was exactly where I wanted to be. I made a line mistake in some rutted double track that cost me a bit of time but I was still inside the group, and comfortable. I know I lost some time trying to pass some slower riders, and got stuck behind a couple of folks in some tight sections that slowed me up, but I am not complaining.

Going up to the big south hill, teammate Duane Blair caught up to me. There were three of us going into a set of camel humps together, I was in the middle going in and in the lead coming out. After a long swoopy downhill (where I dropped my Gatorade bottle) and a meandering up hill it was into a section referred to as “The Spine” but the racers. It was a narrow ridge of dirt rising around 8 feet up from the general terrain that was a a series of sharp rises and drops. I had cleaned this section in practice but I wasn’t so lucky this time. Abut halfway through, I went over the bars, rolled and finally came to rest to see Duane go by.

Back up, a little disoriented, but ok. My seat was twisted so I pounded it back to something that looked sort of right and took off. It took me a bit to get my rhythm back but I rolled though for the end of my first nine mile lap feeling ok. I decided to skip stopping for a new bottle, which was a giant mistake.

After the start/finish I took a gel pack which was what I had planned. I waited to get through the first twisty section again and reached down to get some water and – what the heck – no water bottles. My only remaining bottle mush have abandoned ship when I piled it up on the spine. Damn. I was too far to go back to fetch a water bottle so I dialed it back and soldiered on. I cold tell that I needed water but I kept moving but getting slower all the time. I was determined to not cramp or blow up so I just kept moving.

As I got back into the big tree section I started to feel better and picked up some speed in the tight areas until a tree jumped out and hooked by right shoulder. Boom, I was on the ground again. Crap. Onward and upward.

The water station near the top of the big south hill was getting closer all the time so I just kept moving as fast as I could without over reaching and cramping. At the water station I stopped, poured a couple bottles in and on me, and got moving again. After the hump section I spied my Gatorade bottle and hopped off to get it. That turned out to be a good move because shortly after that I started to cramp. I squeezed the whole thing down and never felt a cramp again.

This time I just ran the spiny section to avoid a second endo and finished feeling strong.

Seventh place, between Duane and Jerry Hoff. I’ll take it.

Mistakes? Well, crashing for one. Not checking for my missing bottle was another and not stopping when I had a chance to grab fresh bottles was just plain stupid. Live and learn I guess.

Good things? My preparation was spot on. My training and my fitness level was a good as I can expect.

All in all I am very happy with my race.

Building

Intervals hurt. But hopefully they make me stronger.

After reflecting for a bit on my performance at the Ponca MTB race I see that I am sorely lacking in power output. Maybe not wattage, but in wattage repeated time after time. The cumulative effect of doing repeated redline efforts was more than I could handle. I felt like my endurance was adequate, as I rolled across the finish line wanting more but the strength in my legs was shot.

Two and half weeks from now is the Tranquility XC race. I figure if I can build on the stress I put on my body at Ponca for the next 10 days or so, then taper a bit I should line up at Tranquility a bit stronger.

I took Sunday off, Monday I concentrated on 30-60 second hill sprints, with minimal rest and finished out my workout with moderate endurance training. Tuesday I rested. Tonight I wimped out and hit the trainer rather than fighting the wind focusing on a few one leg drills and then repeated 30 sec max intensity drills with matching rest. Tomorrow is Thursday Night Ride, Friday will be off (working a double shift), and Saturday I hope to get a couple of solid hours of endurance level training in, preferably off-road.

Last year at Tranquility I broke my chain halfway through the first lap. With that in mind, finishing will be an improvement, but I’d like something a little more rewarding than that.

Saved 33 minutes, and saw lots of water.

Ponca MTB 2011 is done for me. On the results page it doesn’t look so hot: 8th. Not last but not a podium.

But, I took a whopping 33 minutes off of my 2008 time at the same race/distance (that was a failed attempt at moving up to Cat 2)

I was also faster this year than in my 2010 race (back in Cat 3, one lap)

I learned some things – I need a lot of salt to keep from cramping, too much caffeine leads to a blow up, I still need more to work to be much of a climber.

Things are coming along, slowly.

After the race, Kandy and I drove to Yankton to check out the release from Gavins Point Dam. It was truly impressive. Its hard to put the flooding in perspective from either the look out point at Ponca or going over the bridge at Yankton, but seeing the massive flow of water from the dam gates is awe inspiring.

On the drive home we stopped at Jerry’s Hilltop, sat with lots of people with blue hair and seed corn caps, and ate some darn yummy (and cheap!) prime rib.

Such a nice day.