Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Interclub Relay Race

So much has happened since my last entry, some of it good and some of it pretty heartbreaking, but somehow I came out the other side walking and yep, running again.

After the accident, I found I wanted to try running since my knee was only holding up to so much climbing on the bike, so I signed myself up for Run for Regis in January and hit the trails.  Somewhere, somehow and God willing I love them now, on the bike or on foot, muddy and full of bugs bring 'em on (I just keep baby wipes and clean clothes in the car now for after - HA!).

So our unofficial team leader, Daisy talked 6 of us from Team Bicycle Hub into signing up for the Northeast Running Clubs: Interclub Relay Race and still unable to say "No Daisy, that's a bad idea for me."  I replied "IN."  I was thankfully given the 3 mile leg.  My other teammates (MarSassy and Ghost) would run the 5 and 8 mile legs (no sense in leaving the slowpoke out there any longer than need be).  Team: Felonious Jogger Floggers was born.

It was low 30's and sunny.  I ended up changing into capris and road shoes after I pre-ran part of the bridle trail and started cooking during my warm-up and saw it was fairly dry.   It had been a few weeks since I had hungout with my teammates but we picked up right where we left off taking silly pics and joking around before sufferfest began. 

Ghost took off at 9am with the 8 mile group and then MarSassy left 3 minutes later for the 5 mile route and then I would leave 3 minutes after that with the 3 milers.  I started with B-Dizzle who was talking trash about the OSU vs. WI game and how he was gonna beat me, just like my Badgers had gotten beat.  I had nothing good to say to his truths so I just wrapped my arms around him and hugged him until the race started so I could stay warm. 

I detest 3 mile races.  It's always balls out from the start, blow-up around the 1.5-2 mile mark and then curse my way to the finish for the last mile or so.  I was in the second row and true to form the race started like there was a hole shot, ugh!  I ripped through the first half mile before I finally convinced myself to back off.  I was running comfortable not sure how much climbing I would have to do.  I even felt good enough to yell at B-Dizzle as I passed him to quit goofing around because he had stopped to tie his shoe.  He was up and past me before the first mile.  The course was rolling and mile 1 clipped off at 8:20.

E-Gad!!!  That was the slowest first mile in a race I had probably run in 4 years, not counting a marathon or half iron.  Well, my pride was damaged and I started picking it up.  I dropped a few people and passed a few more.  Mile 2 was pretty flat and maybe a little more downhill.  Downhills on a mountain bike or on foot --- SOLD!!!  Mile 2 - 7:49. 

The last mile was rolling (upish) and had 2 steep, albeit short climbs.  I walked both briskly since hills tend to make my knee swell and I was moving as fast as the guy in front of me was jogging, hahaha!  E-speed had once told me "walking uphill with a purpose is just as fast as running sometimes."  The walking also allowed me a little bit of recovery so I started closing on the downhills on the guy in front of me and eventually got him before the finish.  Mile 3 - 8:05. 

Time: 24:14. 

Thank goodness for the guys, they ran fast enough to put us in 5th place overall for the co-ed teams, with MarSassy running a 42:03 for 5 miles and Ghost ripping off 1:00:13 for 8 miles. 

Total Time: 2:06:13

Our other Team: Two Roses and a Thorn (very fitting if you know Cash) finished 3rd overall for the co-ed teams even with Crash taking a wrong turn and ending up with a 5 minute detour.  They still got him his wood after all.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Round Up Triathlon

Our team had been kicking around the idea of doing the "Round Up Tri" hosted by Champ Racing and we needed 5 girls to compete, so not wanting our team to be short and after 10 years of letting Daisy talk me into stuff, I submitted my entry (when am I ever gonna learn??).  I picked up the Joker from Daisy's husband earlier in the week and set it in the bike room.  I had no time to ride it and knew he was such a perfectionist that my bike was clean as a whistle and up to spec. 

I ran a few miles throughout the week to keep my legs loose and spent race day morning bass fishing with my dad to relax.  The 5:30am wake-up call and half the day in the sun may have been a little more than I could handle when I passed out at 3p at my parents.  My dad woke me up a little after 4:30p saying "don't you have a race tonight?"  I nodded still half asleep, slowly dragging myself out of the recliner. 

I stopped to grab a coke on the way to the race in hopes it would pep me up.  It was muggy and hot and I was not feeling it, at all.  I arrived and dawdled, taking my time getting my packet and setting up, trying to decide if I wanted to drop to the super-sprint or just hang with Shooter and Animal and drink beer.  Daisy was not having any of it.  She told me to rack my gear and get ready.  Damn!!!  I had no urge to warm-up and my jogging included 2 trips to the bathroom before donning my wetsuit.  It was a 500Y/400m (something like that) clockwise swim.  I breathe on my right so I had that going for me, but I hadn't swam since January and knew I was going to blow-up in the water at some point. 

Only (2) of my teammates had made it out (Daisy and SG), but BAFF only had (3) girls competing too, so it looked like we'd still have a shot at the team competition.  I lined up in the 2nd row.  I didn't care to have a good start position, heck I didn't even want to start.  The swim always looks so much farther in open water than in a pool too and this one looked like a good 15 minutes for me.
Photo courtesy of Elisa Budoff

The horn sounded and off I went.  The ground was mushy and slimy and disgusting.  I dove in.  I couldn't take the nastiness between my toes and I made my way to the firs buoy.  I arrived at the first buoy a lot faster than what I would have thought and that seemed odd because I was not in any type of swim shape.  Just a few strokes after that it happened -- I blew up, ugh.  My arms and lungs were on fire.  I was hyperventilating trying to get air and it felt like someone was trying to drill a hole between my shoulder blades.  I could feel my hips sinking and my stroke length shortening.  Since learning to mountain bike, I have been focusing on not fighting the bike and relaxing, letting it all just flow.  I stopped fighting with water and taking long strokes again and focusing on keeping my core tight.  I could feel myself gliding through the water much better. I never completely relaxed because my back and my arms continued to ache and burn.  I was exhausted but I wasn't cramping and I knew I could swim like this long enough to get through the swim.  The sun was so bad on the way back I couldn't see the last buoy until I was almost on top of it (I was extremely happy to be swimming in a straight line).  I had some body contact on and off with 2 girls from that point in, nothing too bad and I just made sure to 1) hold my line 2) avoid getting kicked in the face at all costs.  To my surprise, I exited the water with Daisy!  I heard Animal yelling and cheering for us and I had to smile and laugh at his ridiculous screaming.  We made a mad dash to the kiddie pool and joked about pushing each other down all the way to transition.  Ahhh, just like old times, I thought.  We had swam together in a full once and it amazes me how we're like magnets in the water now. 

I immediately sat down in T1.  I was done.  Daisy's husband, Shooter started screaming at me to get up and this was a triathlon and what the hell was I doing (take note this is one of my teammates yelling and heckling me, hahahahaha!!!!).  I yelled back "I'm old!  Leave me alone!!!!"  to which he proceeded to heckle me even harder.  I ripped off my wetsuit threw on my bike gear and ran out of T1.  The worst part was over.  I had survived.  Now, I just had to make up ground on the people ahead of me.

The bike course was 12-13 miles (2 loops) that was mostly flat with a few small rollers.  There were no big climbs and all right turns.  I messed up my Garmin so I don't have the first 2ish miles, but the course was pretty fast, from the splits I did get.  I had a hard time recovering from the swim and didn't start to come around on the bike until 4 miles in.  I felt like I felt like I was going about 17 mph, my left quad was tight and my seat felt nose up and was smashing my crotch.  Arggghhhh, this was suppose to be the part of the race I enjoyed the most.  I started laughing in between sucking air and thinking about all the stuff not right with my race and then I did something I never do.  Instead of telling myself to "stop being a pansy and push harder."  I told myself to "relax, focus on your breathing, stop fighting the bike and let it flow."  I don't know if it helped my speed but I felt better on the bike and the miles started clipping off.  My Garmin takes 5 mile splits on the bike (split 1- 14:10, split 2- 13:40).  I caught 1 BAFF team member and knew my other 2 teammates were ahead of me so I was hoping that had moved us into the lead for the team competition.  I pulled into the park and pulled my feet out of my shoes too early having to soft pedal longer than I should have (Come on Heier, Get it together!!!" I thought).

I jumped off my bike and thought I sent a shoe flying but luckily it just scraped the ground and stayed attached to the pedals as I ran for my bike rack.  I was surprised to see people had racked in my spot so I threw my bike on the rack as close to my stuff as possible, pulled on my racing flats and headed out.  This transition was much better than T1, no sitting needed.

My breathing was labored but my legs actually felt ok.  I'm still running less than 10/mpw and having pain in that left foot, but it's way better and I know in general I look more like a runner and less like Chunk doing the ole' truffle shuffle.  Animal and EB were all cheering for me as I ran by.  I waved and smiled.  It was almost over.  I could see SG just ahead about a 1/4 mile and she was coming back to me faster than I had hoped.  I felt like I was running 8:30-8:45/mile, but I can never tell.  I started passing people one by one on the run.  I caught SG about a 1/2 mile later.  She looked like she was hurting and I told her we were doing great in the team competition and we just had to survive this run.  She's a tough triathlete and I thought she might start pacing off me, but a cramp was really bugging her.  The run was entirely within the campsite and there were lots of little kids cheering and thankfully as I made a wrong turn they redirected me back onto course.  I was so stoked towards the end of the loop to see (2) little kids with a hose and these awesome water guns screaming "You want to get shot?"  I was elated and yelled "Fire away!!!"  They blasted me with water and it felt amazing.  I yelled "Thank you!!!" and just past them ST's wife was running a FREE beer stand.  I was so tempted to just stop and have a nice summer ale, but I continued on. 
Photo Courtesy of Chris Martino

As I came through to start my second loop Shooter and Animal were holding out beer for me and I stopped and grabbed Animal's.  It was soooooo delicious.  I handed it back to him, ready to give him a big hug, but then I remembered I was racing and all he got was a wave as I started running again. About half way through my last lap, I saw KZ and she was coming hard.  Oh crap!!  I knew she was a better runner than me and I still had about 0.8 miles left to the finish.  My Garmin had logged splits of 7:35 and 7:38 so I knew I was running steady.  I decided to lay some surges down.  If KZ got within striking distance of me she would be nearly impossible to outsprint.  I picked it up until I hit the water boys again and then slowed so I could get blasted for the second time - it was so glorious.  I started to pick it back up until I got to the trail portion of the race and before I entered the woods looked back one more time.  No one was there.  I took it easy through the woods and as I exited started to hammer for the finish, not realizing how close it was (I probably should have run hard through the woods on the trail it was so close to the end).  I crossed the line in 1:12:27.  My goal had been sub-1:10.  I came away with 3rd female overall, losing to DT (who is an extremely well rounded triathlete) and my insanely awesome teammate, none other than Daisy.  You would think after all these years, she would be tired of hurting me, but no apparently it never gets old for her.
Team Bicycle Hub photo courtesy of Elisa Budoff

Top 3 women photo courtesy of Elisa Budoff

Overall the race was rough for me. I just don't like suffering and pushing myself like I used to.  It doesn't help my case preparing so poorly as I did either, but I love being part of  Team Bicycle Hub and sharing this nonsense with them. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Twinsburg Duathlon 2014

I can't say enough about the races or the race director of Northcoast Multisports, but I love his events and always make the effort to participate and volunteer as much as possible for their events.  My family even gets a little endurance bug and will jump in a race or two with me.  This year would be no different.  My little brother (who has never ridden a road bike in his life) was going to "Man Up" and do the du!! 

I had done this race one time solo a few years back in nursing school and 2 years ago as a relay with my mom.  This year I would be going solo again with my only excuse for being slow that I'm old (haha).  I had put the Joker (Quintana Roo CD0.1) back together after using parts for EPIC bike ride from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. the weekend before.  I also changed out the pedals on Flo' Rida (LiteSpeed C1) for my brother to ride.  I would have rather ridden my road bike, but no way I was going to put my brother on that homicidal tri bike of mine.

I was so stoked to see my brother race.  He tried to act calm cool and collected but I could tell he was nervous.  I helped him get set-up in transition and walked him in and out of the entrance/exit and showed him the mount/dismount line.  All the little helpful details I gave him and his reply "You f^ck%ng triathletes are crazy!"  I had to laugh.  I was hanging on to my multisport background by a hair.  I was pretty much just a roadie now (and yep, I had to agree triathletes were crazy). 

Team Bicycle Hub was in full effect this weekend with some of us racing Mohican yesterday and some of us  (E-speed, DM and me) doing the Du today.  We snapped a few pics before the race.  I tried to talk my brother into a warm-up "jog."  He adamantly refused asking me to explain the route for the run and bike.  I foolishly agreed and bypassed my warm-up.

We lined up in the middle of the field and I tried to coax my brother closer to the front.  He said "no, but you can go."  The competitor in me knew I should get up closer to the front, but I love my brother like no other and he won.  I started back with him. 

The horn sounded and we took off balls out!!  I was sucking wind after 1/4 mile.  Ugghh, old age, no warm-up, this was gonna hurt the whole we go.  I saw a lot more women than I would have liked (maybe 10 or so) up in front of me.  I knew my run was weak only averaging 5 miles per week, but even on tired legs I was gonna try and rip the bike. 
About 3/4 of a mile into the run people started coming back to me.  I started to settle in and make my way to mile 1 -- 6:52.  Oh boy, no wonder I felt bad.  I hadn't see the south side of 7 minutes for a few years.  I made my way up the hill and into T1.  The run is a tad over 2 miles apparently.  Time 14:54 (7:06/mile)

Transition is easy in a du, no fighting with the wetsuit, just grab and go.  I was in and out in less than :45 seconds.

I always coming screaming out of T1 on the bike and this was no different.  I started passing people one after another.  I knew I had taken off fast because no one was moving even remotely as fast as me.  Not having any water or gels I focused on trying to settle myself down on the bike and ride this like a time trial.  I stayed on my aero bars unless I was making a turn.  A few times I caught myself not pedaling through the corners and backing off on my pedal stroke like I do when crit racing or pace lining.  I had to remind myself this was steady state and to keep up the intensity.  My legs were tight.  They would not loosen up.  There was a tiny headwind going south and I felt like I was going 14 mph at some points.  I started thinking about why I do this to myself.  I love riding.  I don't even follow any training plans anymore.  I just ride and have fun.  This was not fun, this was hurting, and then my Garmin beeped for the first 5 miles -- 14:21.  Damn, I thought this is why I do this to put it down and see what I am made of.  I knew my second run was going to be rough no matter what time I put up for the bike, so right then and there I made the decision to at least try and put up the fastest female bike split on the date.  I could see more people up ahead and I reeled them in one at a time.  The only mistake I made was not passing a friend sooner on Glenwood, up the hill.  I didn't draft but I let him pace me up for a minute or so, matching his pedal stroke before telling myself to stop being a sissy and get up the climb.  I went around him finally and yelled at him to pick it up.  I could see one more person in the distance and I was set on trying to get them before T2.  The course was all downhill from that point and I just kept pushing.  I closed on the cyclist before T2 and lo' and behold it was my teammate, e-speed.  I yelled some words of encouragement at her and pulled my feet out of my shoes, before successfully completing a flying dismount.  Time 28:48 (avg. 20.8mph). 

Ran into T2, dropped my stuff and out I went in :40 seconds.  As I passed transition on the run I saw my parents cheering and yelling.  I threw up my fist and yelled "I ripped that sh%t!!!"  I could tell my parents were excited.  My dad ALWAYS teases me about how slow I am, but I know he's super pumped and proud of me.  My mom was smiling and cheering, she's watched me race so many times, if I didn't do this she'd be worried, haha. 

I checked my watch.  I was ahead of my projected time.  I was at 45 minutes out.  I knew I couldn't break an hour, but definitely the 1:05 I had put in.  My body was pooped and running was so foreign now.  Two miles might as well be a marathon!  I did my best to run and hold my form. I knew if it got bad or I had any pain, I would have to walk per physical therapy recommendations.  My foot has been so much better, but it's still not completely healed.  My teammate passed me back in less than a 1/4 of a mile from T2 and would go on to crush me on the run.  I thought about my little brother and hoped he was having a good race and I pushed a little harder.  I wanted to finish and go back for him.  A few guys passed me on the 2nd run, but there wasn't a female in sight.  I was shocked.  I knew I was sitting in the top 10, maybe even top 5.  I rounded the corner and saw the finish line about 200 meters up.  "Less than 1 minute, if you move your ass" I told myself.  I picked it up and finished in 1:01:28.  Second run 16:20 (7:47/mile).  And you know what -- I pulled off the fastest female bike split on the day, just like I swore I would!!  Whoooo Hooooo!!!!

I took a minute to congratulate my teammate on being 2nd Female Overall (Way to Go E-speed, her ubby, DM pulled off a 4th in an insanely fast AG!!), made sure I wasn't going to vomit, grabbed my water bottle and headed back out to look for my brother.  I found him with less than a mile to go.  I ran along side him encouraging him and cheering for him.  I think I annoyed him more than helped him --haha. 
My sister-in-law, niece and nephew had also made it out and when he picked it up to finish they were all cheering for him with my parents.  I couldn't have been prouder.  He completed his first Du!! 

My family congratulated us and I could tell everyone was so proud of my brother, even my niece agreed "daddy is fast."  I was amped and excited, our makeshift family morning had gone so well.  I proceeded to torture my 4 year old niece post race by tickling and shaking her to which we both were laughing hyserically.  I love it when she sees me for the first time.  She always gets this huge grin and yells "Aunt Beth!!!"  like she just knows there is going to be some ridiculousness and lots of laughing to come.  LOVE.THAT.LITTLE.GIRL. 
My nephew he smiles at me when he sees me, but as always he is looking for food and trying to get into trouble, haha (of course, he is only 2). 

We rounded out the morning by hitting up Bob Evans and taking some selfies.
I'm so lucky to have the family I have and some days like these it all comes together perfectly and I thank God this is my life, even when it hurts a little, haha. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Race At The Lake 1 (RATL - 1)

Well, I finally did it.  I (wo)-manned up and got in my first and certainly not last crit race!  And it was glorious....for 10 laps.

I had plenty of experience riding in groups and understood it was not about who was the fastest, but who was the smartest.  I felt confident in my bike handling skills and knew even after riding for 18 days straight for #30DaysOfBiking, I could hold my own.  Plus I wanted to see what Flo Rida' could do, so off to RATL hosted by the Summit FreeWheelers it would be.  They would run all the CAT women together (1,2,3 and the 4s).  Since, I am a rookie I start at 4 (not that I have any urge to CAT up, EVER, but eventually I will have to).  Of course, this is what when I watched my first crit race...
Needless to say RK is back up and racing stronger than ever!

I had plenty of rest and headed down about 8am.  My race was to go off at 10:15am, so I had lots of time so even stopped to make a deposit at the ATM.  I was less than 5 miles away from the race site when I realized I didn't have enough cash to register.  A 10 minute detour back to an ATM (that wasn't my bank) and about $6 in fees later I rolled into the park.  I got my gear all ready and watched the men's CAT 5 race and cheered for (2) of my teammates.  The field was huge, 55 guys!!  They only raced 8 miles, but the pace was brutal and they hammered over 24 mph average.  DaisyDuc's hubby is a monster on the bike and came away with 4th for Team Bicycle Hub! 

Daisy and I rolled out for a warm-up.  My legs felt heavy and stiff riding over some small rollers.  I checked my heart rate and it said 169bpm.  Ooohhhh, this was going to be ugly.  I was bummed I would probably get dropped and not be able to hang with the field very long.  We rolled back into the parking lot and too my surprise my mom was there!  I gave her a hug and chatted with her before deciding to pin my # on.

I soft pedaled back to my car and grabbed it out of my car.  I then locked the door and yep, you guessed it I realized my motherF-ing keys were inside.  I was so annoyed with myself at this point.  Maybe it was fatigue or nerves, but there they sat on my gym bag on my passengers seat.  I debated riding home and back (about 60 miles round trip) or getting a ride with my mom immediately to go get them and just skip the race, but my mom said that was dumb and she would just go get them and bring them back for me.  I felt horrible, but then Daisy, my knight in green argyle spandex swooped in and offered to call AAA.  I was so grateful and relieved my mom wouldn't have to go back to my house and I didn't have to ride there either.  I was still annoyed but needed to get my head together.  I road a few more easy laps around the parking lot as the CAT 4 men finished before taking off my warm-ups and staging.

I only wore my kit with arm warmers.  Kevlar and JE had warned me that after 2 laps I'd be plenty warm.  We rolled around 1/2 the course to the start. I was pretty cold when we got to the start.  It was a great start spot, right on a hill.  It would be 12 laps, about 15 miles, lap 4 was our preme lap (dont' quote me on that).  I lined up in the middle with SG.  EP and Daisy took the inside left, front. 

Cycling is a gentleman's sport, so you don't brake check your opponents or try to run them into potholes and barricades, however small tricks and tactics that do not involve endangering other rider's safety is common.  I was on red alert and although the course is 2 lanes and closed off to cars as soon as the bell went off the experienced CAT's jumped...and so did I.  This was not a no-drop group ride.  The main field hammered a little up the hill at the start and immediately dropped a few who had not clipped in quick enough and stayed on a wheel.  I got low and settled myself in about 5-6 riders back.  I wanted to stay near the front, in case of any breaks.  I figured there would be 1 or 2 on the preme laps and the last 2-3, but it was the start of the season and I was betting everyone would air on the side of caution and feel out the field. 
RATL 1 courtesy of WAS Labs Cycling

The course dropped down and wound around some corners and through the parking lot where we had staged and most of the other people were.  It was a rush railing left and right, my heart was beating at what I guessed was 150-165 and coming back down (I was already recovering from the start), and I knew I could ride at that rate all day.  We came around and back up the hill.  My legs felt heavy on the climb and I could feel my heart rate go up. I hung onto the wheel in front of me and let the girl pull me up to the start/finish.  Whooo hoooo!!!! 1  down 11 to go.

Each lap, I invested my time trying to stay toward the front, tucking into the pack and conserving as much energy as possible.  I was starting to fatigue from all the days of riding and thought, maybe I can't hold onto this.  I checked the lap counter as we came around -- 8 to go!!!  Oh man, I was hoping, I had already done 8!

I checked around, we had started with 16 and were down to 10.  I knew (3) of the riders were at least Cat 3s, and I was still there with them.  My teammate and beast on the bicycle, DaisyDuc was also still in the main field.  She looked like she was soft pedaling on the outside at times, fresh as a you guessed it, Daisy!  I on the other hand, was wheel sucking like it was my job.  She broke from the field on our preme lap.  I immediately sat up and reminded myself  "do not chase your teammate."  I started yelling in my head "Go Daisy!! Go!!"  The field picked up the pace a little but she took it uncontested.  I'm betting had she just kept pushing and going she could have gotten away and stayed away from the main field.  The girl can push some watts!!!

Daisy grabbing her preme - photo courtesy of WAS Labs Cycling

Lap after lap just kept going by and there I was still in it. There was only one breakaway attempt before the hill in the middle of the race that failed.  My legs weren't ready to give up.  Every lap I came around I felt better and better. 

The only mishap was a girl on my right was forcing me off my line left.  Daisy was on my left and we rubbed shoulders and handlebars a little bit.  I yelled "My bad!!" and we kept riding.  No one was moving us out of the race.

Oh and the other mishap,  I don't know what I was thinking but I thought we were on lap 11 and I wanted to be at the front coming off the climb, so I powered up to the front and pushed on the hill a little.  My legs were heavy but I knew I could suffer for 3 minutes.  I rolled up to the top and heard the official yell "Two laps to go!!!"  Wait what?!?!?!  What?!?! Say again?!?!  I couldn't ride like that for 2 more laps.  Immediately, defeated and sucking air the main field went around me.  I was caught up in my lap mistake for too long that when I decided I would still try to hang on, it was too late they were gone.  I should have just said "F$*K!!" and jumped right back on, but it was like a slap to the face.  It had shocked me and I had spent a lot of gas. 

What I thought was lap 11, photo courtesy of Joey & Janet Edwards

I rode my last 2 laps of shame alone, waving and smiling to my teammates yelling "I can't count!!"  I even lapped 2 girls right before the finish and encouraged them to get on my wheel, but they had one more to go and they waved me on. 

I finished 9th overall, 5th in the CAT 4s.  I was super annoyed with myself and all the absent minded mistakes I had made that morning (it continued on into the afternoon too, post-RATL). 

Daisy took 2nd in the CAT 4s.  I am guessing our average speed was 18-20 mph -- completely doable.  Overall, I thought I did a great job, suffering on and off, staying with the main field and paying attention, at least until the end of lap 10. 

TBH representing at RATL photo courtesy of The Bicycle Hub

The race was well run, the course was fun, and the weather was perfect.  It was very beginner friendly and I can not encourage enough women to give it a try if they ever were interested in crit racing.  Summit Freewheelers did a wonderful job hosting.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Malachi 2 Miler

Just when my running had progressed to almost an hour of intervals on the treadmill, it was side lined by my nose surgery on February 5th.  Fast forward to March 3rd and my plastic surgeon says "You can start running again."  Elated I left the office and immediately ran 2 miles that day and signed up for the St. Malachi 2 miler on March 15th.  I had no running fitness, but it was a team race and my physical therapist and ortho doc has said I could give it a go. 

I arrived almost an hour before the start and it was pretty dead and then I remembered the 5 mile (which was the big draw) started 45 minutes after my race.  I scored a parking spot right by the start and headed over to get my packet.

The local running company that puts on this race had been where I first started dabbling in road racing years ago, but as of late they were not gaining many points with me, seeming to be more about entertainment and the experience than the actual race part.  Their courses had become notorious for being short, seemed to keep downtown Cleveland (and Marginal Road) at it's epicenter and become a little disorganized (last time I had run a race I had not had an official time and had to email the RD).  I walked up to the pre-registration table to get my packet and they couldn't find my bib.  I was sent to the timing table where I explained the problem and pulled up my confirmation email.  They gave me a new bib and a large shirt.  I told them I was a small and they said they had me marked down for a large.  I informed them I would never order a large.  They then said if I wanted a small I had to head upstairs for assistance.  As I headed upstairs, I debated saying to hell with it -- did I really need another shirt?  Needless to say I got the shirt after a few minutes of trying to clarify the issue and was back at my car.

I realized our team picture was at 9:10, but my race was at 9:00 and there was just no way I would make it.  Bummed I would miss the pic, I texted DaisyDuc the bad news before heading out for a 15 minute warm-up.

I was there in TBH spirit! Photo credit:
It was windy and felt about mid to high 30s.  I opted for shorts, my TBH tank and arm warmers.  I was getting cold and tight hopping around at the start line trying to stay loose waiting for the eternal 7 minutes to start to hurry up and pass.  We started right on Detroit this year so you immediately run up and over the bridge. 

I started only a few rows back from the front and still had to go around walkers and slower runners.  I focused on trying to hold back and push my hips forward, while trying to keep my core tight.  I was working from the start and when we turned off the bridge to run down W. 3rd my legs felt heavy.  I was probably only a 1/2 mile in and getting tired, by 3/4 mile I could feel I was starting to blow-up.  My goal was to run with good form (If it went bad I would make myself walk.  I was not going to undo all the work I had done to fix my foot) and hopefully break 8:00/miles.  As we approached the first mile marker I heard 7 minutes!!!  Holy hell, no wonder I felt so bad.  I wasn't ready for that pace.  I had only seen that pace for 3 minutes at a time in January on the treadmill with recovery breaks in between.  My saving grace thought "well at least you don't feel this bad running 8:00/mile."

In a brief moment of weakness while I was tired, but still maintaining proper form I debated doing my old turtle shuffling to recover, just for a short bit.  The voice of pride in my head quickly lost to the voice of reason "what are you an idiot? do you want to hurt your foot some more?"  My mind made up I began suffering back up and over the bridge.  The race was half over and it was literally all downhill after I crested this last incline.  I was suffering, but passing people as I pushed up the bridge.  Although, the bridge was slowing me down, I forced myself to slow down more.  I was tired, my form was about to drop.  This race was not worth me getting hurt.  My lungs were burning and so was my nose (Since my surgery, if I run hard my nose will start burning and then throbbing like someone hit me in the tip of it.  It usually subsides after about 5 minutes of walking around.  I think it's all the blood flowing and putting pressure on those tender areas that aren't quite healed yet) I tried to open up my legs on the down hill, but they were like lead.  This is so fun right?  As I neared the church, lots of people were cheering and when I rounded the corner I saw all my teammates screaming and cheering just for me.  I smiled and let my legs carry me down the hills to the finish.  I couldn't get into another gear and with about a quarter mile to go I decided to hold pace and stop fighting, just to take it all in and enjoy running pain free again. 

Probably couldn't have taken a worse running pic, if I tried :) Photo credit: hermescleveland

I made the final turn and instinctively started trying to push when I saw I could run under 14:30.  I figured I had 5 seconds on the clock from the chip timed start.  I hustled in at 14:30 on the dot.  My Garmin had 14:25.  Yikes, almost :20 seconds slower for the second mile and my Garmin had beeped almost a 100 meters after the first mile marker.  Total distance 1.96 miles.  I am pretty conscientious about running the tangents, so if I had to guess the course was probably a hair short (I guess we each have to decided for ourselves how important that is when racing). 
Photo Credit: Cleveland Triathlon Club
I stopped at the food table to say "hi" and thank all the Cleveland Triathlon Club volunteers for coming out before hustling back up the hill to my car before I froze my ass off.  I ran into some of my friends at the top and managed a picture before I started to shiver. 
Photo credit:
Warm and cow-belled up, I cheered for my teammates as they came by in the 5 miler.  Team Bicycle Hub didn't do too bad overall.  We had 2 age group wins and I just missed 3rd in my age group by a "smidgen" as my teammate reported on our team page.  

It was a good day to be in green and running pain free.  I am so thankful for the amazing doctors at CCF who got me up and running after all this time.  That said, I.AM.SO.STOKED to race for The Bicycle Hub's team again this year. 

Total time was 14:21, which is a PR (as I have only run one other 2 mile race). 

Welcome to the 2014 season!!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pump and Jump

I have found a new hobby to supplement my road riding (because swimming and running weren't enough already).  It's dangerous, scary and at times painful.  Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Park has become my new haunt. 

I had been wanting to try it for nearly a year, but since I had not particularly cared for mountain biking at Royalview in the fall, I had been told I probably wouldn't like Ray's.  I have never been one to make a judgment without at least trying something two times (except running 100 miles), so I resolved to one day hit Ray's and try mountain biking at least one more time before throwing in the towel.

About one month ago my sponsors, The Bicycle Hub and some friends were going to Ray's.  I knew they loved down hilling and were probably amazing, but they offered to give me some pointers and I agreed.  I brought my own helmet and gloves and bought the 1st timer deal (admission, bike rental and pads for $28ish).  I asked for a jump bike per my friends recommendation and began to adjust the seat like I would for a road bike.  The guys behind the counter came over and explained that a jump bike wasn't normally set to one's seat height.  It stayed flush with the down tube so it was out of the way when "jumping."  The guy recommended I start with a XC bike if I wanted more comfort and to have the seat a little higher, so I immediately switched. 

I had to laugh at the name of this Gary Fisher

All padded up, I went over to the yellow novice section.

Note the "yellow novice section" I refer to is green on this map

I had a BMX as a kid (until I was 12), and I now ride a crotch rocket, so I was hoping some bike handling skills would be similar.  I practiced pumping over the whoop-de-doos and cornering on the berms.  I also worked on the table top jumps and riding the tracks.  It felt really tight and awkward -- this should have been so easy, but it wasn't.  The adult in me constantly thought of all the "what could go wrongs" with each task instead of the Cru Jones (from the movien "Rad") attitude I had as a kid that "I can't do that with my bike."  I quickly learned I would only be sitting when I would be going from room to room, controlling the bike standing up was way easier.  It wasn't long before I caught on and we moved from the novice area to the beginner section where everything was the same just bigger, longer and steeper. 

Here is where I took my first of 2 spills that night, both were off the tracks.  I started to get bold and on one loop took a path back that I hadn't planned on and had to ride over a track about 2-3 feet off the ground that included a log as part of the bridge.  My back tire slipped off and down I went.  My left hip stung like a mother, but I was okay.  My pride was more damaged, I think.  I jumped right back up and told the guys I was okay, but from that point on I was a little hesitant for the night and thought "maybe this isn't for me." 

It's still sensitive over 1 month later in that spot

We went to the rhythm room next (It's really called transferland, but if you ever see or ride the room, you would understand our alias).  This is my favorite room.  The guys can pretty much "fly" in here.  I was in awe, wishing I could drop in and try, but I was terrified, so I just watched.  Re-inspired to not give up and channel my inner BMX Bandit, we left and went into the pump track, sport /beginner section.  I was still hesitant, there was a steep drop-in on the pump track and that went into a steep berm, but I was determined.  I failed to take the berm the first 2 times not trusting the bike to hold on the wall as I went around.  Both times I jumped off the bike and dropped it.  The guys asked if I was okay and kept telling me I could do it and to "stop being such a pussy!" (I love the guys for never going easy on me and always pushing me).  On the third try, I told myself, "Stop being a pansy, you know the bike will hold the corner.  Either do it or quit, but stop being a pansy."  I dropped-in determined to come through the berm on the bike or my face.  I flew (for me) over the pump track and ripped through the berm!  I had done it.

My confidence had been restored.  I rode around the rest of the night in that section, working on my skills and trying to get faster.  I was definitely coming back. 
All smiles, after a successful first time at Ray's MTB

Fast forward over a month later and one nose surgery.  I had just received clearance to run and swim on a Monday and thought that must mean I can hit up Ray's too.  It was the "unofficial women's Monday night ride" so me and a few of my girlfriends hit up the park (a few of the guys I knew came too, which was great because they gave us some free and sound instruction).  RP, the owner of The Bicycle Hub couldn't come, so when I told him I was definitely getting a jump bike this time (they are lighter and more nimble - sketchier handling, but way more fun) he offered up his super awesome Deity!  I was so excited. 

I picked up everything really quick this time and when we went in the rhythm room, where I (wo)manned up and made one run.  I almost peed my pants and when I dropped in the speed picked up so fast when I pulled up to hit the first table top I manual-ed across it (unknowingly until SD asked me if it felt weird the first jump and when I said yes, he proceeded to fill me in), I made it out to the half way point, stopped and then dropped back in for the return trip.  E-speed video taped it and it looks really slow, but nevertheless -- I did it!!

After that, I worked on jumping the table tops a lot more, trying to get my back wheel off the ground.  Time flew by and before I knew, it was 10pm and closing time.  I put the bike away and returned my pads, already excited for next Monday. 

Here I sit now 2 days later and muscles I didn't even know I had ache from all the great fun of Ray's, but sore muscles never stopped me before and they sure wont now.