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.