Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Slow Spokes

Now that I have completed a decent half marathon, switching gears back to cycling. I am ready to get my cycling times back to something respectable.

On Thursday night, I went on a group ride with my "home" team, Slow Spokes. It was fun to get back out with the group again. Originally this year my goal was to have Linda with me for the Slow Spokes rides. I want to get her as excited about cycling as I am but this week she was not able to ride so I was solo. I decided to go with the fast group and try not be left too far behind.

We departed 6 pm from MacGregor Village in Cary. Spoke with a couple of old friends while starting the ride. Just causual conversation since the ride was just beginning. Rode through the Autopark out to Apex. Had a couple of people asking about Ride for Cure and also Ture De Cure. These are two rides for Diabetes research. So that was great. I am still hoping to recruit riders for Death Valley.

Once we reach Apex Peakway, the real ride begins. We break into three groups. A fast group, medium group and causal group. I go with the first group. My plan was to just hang on and be pulled along. As this part of the ride commenced, I was right on track. We turned left on Tingen and then Brian (the best rider in the group) takes off. He pulls for the first 5 miles out. At this point we are moving. Fortunately/Unfortunately, I am third in line and just staying in the slipstream of the guy in front of me. Then Brian moves out and allows the next guy to pull. The pace slows a bit and I am still just enjoying the ride. No worries yet.

Once we get to the hills, all pace lines are breakdown. The more adventurious of the group just allows gravity to take hold and fly down hill. The more cautious of us are holding our brakes and hoping not to roll over. Then going back up hill we catch back up and form back up again.  It is awesome. 

We get to the turn around point and everyone take a moment catches their breath and get ready for the return trip.  We wait for a couple of minutes for the one who dropped of the back to catch up, get a drink and also prepare themselves for the return trip. 

Going back is always so much fun.  It fun because you know the pain is almost over and also you want to ensure that you are not left now.  The same basic rules apply going back.  We take the hills aggressively and reform after it levels off and prepare for the next assault.  Once past the major hills we try to stay in line.  We take turns pulling and try to stay fresh. 

This can be a double edged sword as I found out this week.  I was pulling away and was almost to the point of slowing progress and decide to drop back and let some one else pull a little while.  Well when you fall out of line you "should" go to the back and allow everything to recycle.  Unfortunately some of the guys we barely hanging on and didn't tell me until I was behind them that they were not trying to stay with the group any longer.  Augh.  Now I have to past them and try to catch up with the next person.  I do this and he is also dropping back.  OMG this is killing me.  Now I am falling further behind the lead group and a group moves much faster than an individual. So I am pumping hard to try to catch up and I can only watch as they pull away from me.  I am working as hard as I can and not gaining at all.  But I do not know the word quit so I continue.   Finally once we get back in town, I catch them at a light.  The bad part is I know I would not have caught them without the help of the light.  Which for me sucks to admit.  But I was able to cruise back to the start finish point. Overall it was a great ride. 

Looking forward to riding again this week.  Need to get back into riding shape.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tobacco Road Half

Where do I begin? This was an awesome race, venue and day.

Tobacco Road Half Marathon began at the USA Baseball training facility in Cary and ran through the American Tobacco Trail retunring back to the training facility. The training facility was awesome and but trail was more impressive. I feel awful that I live so close to the trail and this was my first time running it.

This event had about 4,000 people participating and even more spectating so the training facility didn't have the parking to accommodate the crowd. A local business allowed us the use of their parking lot. Unfortunately we had to take a bus from the parking lot to the training facility. It was about 5 miles away but there was not a direct route from one to the other and the drivers didn't know where they were going. Ok, I am not a rocket scientist or the brightest bulb in the lot, but if I ran a charter coach bus service, I think I would have reconned the route. This little tidbit was overlooked and with the blocked roads and the indirect route, it made for busing HELL. Several buses got lost, many had to make U-turn after U-turn in order to make it to the facility. It was so bad in fact that the race was delayed 20 minutes to allow buses to unload. Not good.

Then leaving we had to walk about a mile from one end of the park to the other for the bus to leave. The buses back to the parking lot had some of the same difficulties as the earlier ones. Some people ended up waiting for over an hour after a long run waiting on a shuttle back to their cars. They were not very happy. Also the pick stop for the return trip was not very well marked so there was confusion about where to go.

Fortunately that is my only compliant about the entire day. Packed my bag and snacks for the race on Saturday night. Noticed that my shoes were pretty shot and that I would not be able to go another couple of days without getting new ones. Still couldn't find my number belt so I had to pin my number to my shirt. I really really hate that, but oh well what can you do?

Woke up around 4:45 for the trip to the parking lots. Linda and I left home around 5:05 and was at the park at about 5:35. This ended up being perfect. We were on the second shuttle to the park. Our driver who had never been in this area was trying to read a map as she was driving while a chatty passenger nervously talked her ear off and drove me insane. We arrived at the training facility at @ 6 and took a quick walk to acquaint ourselves with the lay of the land. After a quick survey, we were able to find a decent place to sit and just relax and watch some of the others arrive. I was freezing so I was not about to undress or start peeling off layers until I absolutely had to. Since it was still dark it was about 45 degrees out. At about 6:40 we were invited to start lining up. I still had a goal of 1:37 so I wanted to line up with the 1:40 pacer. Unfortunately the starting shoot was too crowded for me to get over there. I was stuck by the fence and not able to move over. But it was ok. I just decided that I would catch up to the pacer once we started moving.

Due to the delay in the buses we ended up spending about 30 minutes just standing around waiting for the start. This really helped with the nerves. I was thinking about how frustrating it was to wait and not thinking about the 13.1 miles to the finish. The race was scheduled to start at 7:00 and ended up actually taking off at 7:20.

Then we were off. The beginning was very crowded. I was lines up with the 7-8 min milers about mid pack and ended up having to weave through the crowd to caught up with my pacer and then once I cathc up with him, I felt it was a little slower that I wanted to run so I kept going. And ended up seeing the balloons of the 1:30 pacer. Not that I had any desire to run that pace.

Leaving the park and getting onto the road I was able to get in a rhythm. I felt my heart rate settling in and I found a clear path. I was easily staying in rhythm and my breathing was not very labored. At mile 4 we entered the Tobacco Trail which was like running on a dirt road. It was sweet. No problem with my heels, my knees were not crying. So i just maintained my pace. By mile 6 I was still maintaining pace and still didn't feel my heart racing so I just keep going. There was another runner who ran about the same pace with me for most of the race. We were in lock step for most of the run. He was right on my shoulder. That helped as well. It was a constant reminder that I was maintaining pace and not wearing myself out.

At mile 7 the leaders passed me going back in the opposite direction. This was very encouraging, because that meant the turn around could not be that far ahead. And then there it was at mile 8ish. The turnaround for me was very smooth. I do not like to drink while I am running and since it wasn't too hot I didn't feel like I was dehydrating so I skipped the water stops. I lost my friend at this point. Not sure what happened to him so I just kept going. Pace still felt pretty good.

As I was running back I was able to see some of the other runners. I figured out that I was about well ahead of the 1:40 pacer. I was excited. Then I started looking ahead as far as I could see for the 130 pacer. I was hoping that I would catch him. That would mean that I was increasing my pace.

At mile 10 we hit the road again. And unfortunately it was uphill. this is where I hit the wall. It was at this point I started hearing myself breathing and I felt my legs start to tighten up. So I took my last GU and pressed on. In my head I was thinking I just need to stay ahead of the 1:40 pacer. And the best way for me to do that would be to not allow anyone to pass me. So I pressed on. At mile 12 we finally leveled off so I was feeling really comfortable that I would beat my goal and I began thinking that I might be able to beat 1:35 as well.

Finally somewhere between miles 12 and 13 I was passed. She (yeah that's right, she) ran by me like I was standing still. There was nothing I could do. There was another female just in front of me who I had been seeing for about a mile and was closing. So I just told myself to pass her to make up for it. Finally I was able to see the entrance to the park and I felt great. I knew that I was ahead of my goal and I could feel that it was down hill so I just cruised the rest of the way. I did past the female that was just in front of me.

Overall the race was awesome. I felt great after it was over. I didn't feel like I was totally spent and I wasn't cramping. My tank was pretty empty but not completely. I wasn't in a hurry to just get out of there. I walked around and watched some of the others finishing and cheered for them.

I want to thank Linda for hanging out this cold morning waiting for me. I know it was extremely difficult to just sit around for 2 hours freezing but you are a trooper and I appreciate it. The race volunteers for their cheerleading along the course and shouting words of encouragement. FS Series for the excellent job of organizing and setting up the events. The course was very well marked and every turn was manned. Awesome job.

Final time 1:33:48. Race pace 7:09 per mile. Finished 88 overall.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sampson County Super Sprint

Well the tri season officially kicked off for me this weekend with the Sampson County Super Sprint in Clinton, NC.

This event was a super sprint meaning the distances were shorter that a normal sprint. the bike was only 7 miles and the run was only 2 miles. Not that it's any easier, you still have the transitions. You still have the competition. It is only shorter.

For this event I was not able to pick up my packet until the morning of the event so I in my head I was behind and rushing. I arrived at the site at @ 6:45. Went to sign in and register and it was totally freezing. We were all shivering in line. It was a very funny sight watching everyone getting marked. No one wanted to take off their sweats and absolutely no one wanted to drop their pants. It was a crisp 34 degrees.

My number for this race was 79. The race started at 8 so my wait this time was only 15 minutes. I was very excited about that. It truly meant that I would be able to see the people I wanted to catch. But with the distance being so short actually catching them was something totally different.

The "swim" went pretty much according to plan. I am not a good swimmer so I swam a little walked a little swam a little walked a little. But I finished strong.

The run to the transition area between the swim and bike was so cold. It was about 100 yards between the two. With the cold and the wet bare feet it was even more of a challenge. My only thought was the swim was over and I am so happy.

I made it to my bike and was out of the transition area really quick. I chose to go without socks for this race. My thought was that the distance wasn't long and going sockless wouldn't be bad. I also decided to go with a bigger shirt not a cycling shirt, for the ease of just pulling over my head and with it not tight it wouldn't stick.

As I was leaving the transition area on the bike, and just getting onto the road, some one ran the police stop point and almost creamed me. As I was falling all I could think was not again. Fortunately I was able to hop off my bike without destroying my bike or my body. My only damage was scrapped knuckles. I was able to hop right back on the bike and continue. It was totally encouraging to have all the spectators yell at the idiot that almost ran me over, it was frustrating that he didn't get a ticket or anything.

The bike course was a pretty good course. I was able to ride pretty quickly. I passed several people and was cruising into the run. The run being only 2 miles was a breeze. I was able to get going quickly. Having speed laces was a very good thing. The run began with a little climb and ended going downhill, which helped with the finishing time.

Overall the race was very good. FS puts on great event. The volunteers were great and the course itself was challenging. I look forward to going back next year.

I finished 3rd in my age group and 31 overall. My first podium finish.

I did miss having my cheerleader and biggest supporter (Linda) there. Unfortunately she had to work. But I know she was there in spirit. Love you and thanks for the positive thoughts.

Swim: 5:11
Bike: 22:57
Run: 12:30
Overall: 43:48.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Unfinished Business - Death Valley 2011

My unofficial title for the Death Valley JDRF Ride is Unfinished business. Last year was my first full year riding and to end my year, I planned to finish my first century (100 mile ride) at Death Valley. This was a grueling trek across Death Valley in 106 degree heat. It was 53 mile out and back. Well I made it out just didn't make it back. I had a bad fall that forced the Ride officials to remove me from the ride (against my will).

Well today is the big day for this year's Death Valley ride. Today was the first day of registration. I am so very excited about going back out there this year, I know what to expect. I will be much better prepared this year. Triangle Chapter of JDRF hopes to have more riders out there this year. Last year we had 6 riders. We also had a rider to go to Tuscon, AZ. At this ride there were riders from across the country representing the different JDRF chapters and raising money for a great cause. The Death Valley ride is cap at 350 riders but there are 4 other rides from July through Nov. We will have riders from Triangle JDRF at LaCrosse, Wi, Burlington, Vt, Lake Tahoe, NV and Tuscon, Az.

My biggest challenge for this ride (right now) is going to be raising the money, $4,000. I am sure that we will get it done, but right now it seems daunting.

We will make it. :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I am really getting old. My body aches like I am 80 years old. My back is totally killing me and each time I run my knees beg for mercy. I have not been able to truly stretch my achilles in so long and now it also hurt when I start running. I have nagging pain in my right shoulder and it has been hurting for 4 months. Crazy. I think it is because I have not really competed in anything since November.

Ok enough whinning.

I am looking forward to the next 2 weeks. I have the super sprint next week and then Tobacco Road my birthday weekend. I am really setting the bar high for both. I want to place in my age group at the Super Sprint and I want to break 1:37 at Tobacco Road. I know publishing goals is a good thing and hopefully I will be able to look back and say I told you so to myself. We are also kicking off JDRF Training rides. I am so excited about that as well. I am looking forward to Death valley this year.