February 24, 2009

Six Hours of the Dirty Duathlon

As it turns out . . .my foot problem was not just from my blisters (wishful thinking?) and after seeing Seans podiatrist today it looks like a common overuse injury. Knowing "exactly" what caused it now to get it all fixed up gave me some peace of mind but what about the 6 hours of off-road running and riding this weekend?? This is the third time I have been signed up for one of Roberts races and I was determined to make it out this time and to the finish but it was just not going to happen. Rest and a new perspective was on the agenda...

While most "riders" I know were going nowhere but to watch the Tour of California, Monique, Mandy, Tiffany, Marius, Wes and I all headed for Vegas for a tour of our own. I was stoked to be supporting everyone and after looking back I needed more of a rest than I thought. Rest is a good thing!

Minutes before the start Robert explained the course outline and how "this is the first race I have ever put on that has the course marked". A true adventure racer and he would be racing the entire day along everyone else. Awesome! The course was basically four loops (run, bike, run, bike) that competitors would complete in order or teams would switch off between running and biking until the six hours ran out. More laps better placing. Monique, Wes and Marius were all going solo and Mandy and Tiffany were teaming it up on the bike and run.

I was so stoked be watching the race and have to admit it was hard holding back and not getting in on the action but after the first lap I was having a ton of fun watching this interesting group! Wes and the top four guys got lost on the first lap and almost rode to starbucks...Monique went over the handle bars and landed in some rocks...Mandy and Tiffany were already setting the record pace for the day. I was snapping pics!

The bike course stretched out over Mother, Girl Scout, POW and the Lake View trails (I think I got the names right?) and the run started on trails and in true "adventure" fashion headed down a dried up riverbed on one of the loops. Not having to focus on the race, I was able to take it all in...I remember stopping at one point and watching Monique and a few others running down a trail to my left. To my right a group of downhillers floating over jumps in a pace line of dust down the trail and just above me two seconds later a group of people descending on one of the zip lines. Was I watching a commercial for Bootleg Canyon?

Six long brutal hours later Mandy and Tiffany completed more laps than anyone else...hands down these girls Rocked it! Mandy is probably the fastest girl I know on the bike and Tiffany is the fastest running girl I know so it was not that big of a surprise. Wes and Monique battled it out in the solo and both finished up with a 3rd place spot and Marius got his training in for Vision Quest. Stoked.

The next day we decided to stick around and ride Blue Diamond and I am so glad that we did. Super fun trails and although a little less technical than Bootleg the speed you can carry through them keep the fun and fear factor up there. We got out just in time before the rain and it was back to icing the foot on the ride home. Now we are all resting for a bit.

February 17, 2009

the little things

Its the little things . . . decisions we make and things we do that make us all so unique. In life and racing . . .it all adds up. I have been trying to focus on the little things this year like, not only what I am eating but when I am eating it. Sleep, rest and the little things that go on between training sessions. The little things can be working for you or against you!

Moments before we started the snowshoe race I was out of a pair of snowshoes... Monique and I were letting some friends use ours and then we found out our demo pairs were not available. No worries. Paul let me use his personal pair and I was stoked! I knew I would have some speed on my side with them. His size 13 something foot was a big shoe to fill so I managed it by cranking the heal strap SUPER tight. It worked. I didn't even feel the skin ripping off of my ankles until I got in the shower later that day... Oh, I felt it then!

Flash forward almost two weeks and my muscles, aerobic system and mind have fully recovered. I got in another solid week on the bike with some intensity climbs, running volume is up and I have been swimming more than I have been since high school. I feel great. However, the little blisters on my heels just kept getting worse. I kept ripping the skin off of the blisters and just never let them heal. The little things that have now infected my left foot making it hard to walk. Yep. I let a little thing slip and now I'm jacked. I am just glad that it is not a muscle/tendon issue...At least I hope it is not. I am planning some rest and now that I am treating my wounds (and resting my heels) I am hoping they heal quickly...

This weekend there is a few groups heading out to watch the Tour of California final and hang out somewhere on Palomar. It has been awesome watching these top level guys in action! The clip above is from our ride today on the way home from Clovis. I don't know how the pro's are pushing 20+ miles per hour in the cold rain. Tough day at the office!

Another big weekend for us also because we are starting early with the 6 hour Duathon in Vegas on Saturday. I was going to race it as a duo with my buddy David Fowler and just stay on the bike but now it looks like I am running solo...if my foot heals.

I also got my new White Brothers fork in the mail today...Perfect timing! With the trails in Bootleg Canyon I am going to need all of the suspension that I can get! Its the little things like 80mm of travel that add up after six hours on the trail! ;-0 The opportunity will also be a perfect chance for me to feel it out and make some adjustments between laps. A good weekend of training if I am healed up and ready to go but a good weekend of hanging out with friends for sure.

February 09, 2009

Snowshoe The Bear

It has begun! The first race for the Open Air Big Bear multi-event challenge! The Showshoe the Bear race went down in near perfect conditions this weekend and I am so stoked that I got to participate in the race and hang out at the venue. Monique, Tiffany, Wes, Wendi, Ryan and I were signed up for the 10K and a few other friends were racing the 5K. There were about 150 registered and I believe about 200 competitors on hand. I knew the venue and swag would be off the hook with Paul and Karen behind the event but the timing for the weather, family vibe of the crowd and challenge that the course held took this event to a whole new level.

Just before the race start the people participating in the Open Air Big Bear series were handed special jerseys that would mark us for "series competitors". Monique and I were pulled in and I am now looking forward to the remaining four races! That makes some decisions for future weekends a bit easier ; -)

The race started with a climb...then we climbed some more and climbed some more. It was an easy pace in the beginning with local returning champion Ted Devito leading the charge. The first few hundred yards or so was pretty crowded with people marching up the road but as soon as we hit the switchbacks it got quiet and lonely. Ted was chatting it up and I was just trying to get oxygen in the lungs and increase a gap on the pack behind us. We marched up the twisting road in the pow pow into the sound of our own breath ...

Ted started pulling away at a consistent pace....or I was slowing down? As we moved further into the switchbacks I was just trying to balance the pace of keeping him in sight and not blowing up early in the race. An impossible task it would prove to be. . .I had to "race my race" and with that I settled into my pace. Besides, Ted was slipping away but I could see nobody behind me for a few switchbacks at this point and I was putting in an effort that I could maintain... even picked it up a few notches later in the race.

We marched on. The conditions were PERFECT! A solid base with a good foot or more of fresh powder and the skies had cleared just in time for amazing views of the lake. I had one eye on my GPS watch and was counting every tenth of a mile progress. Maybe I was a bit overtrained or maybe this race was more of a challenge than I had expected. Last weekend I ran a half marathon in 1:35 with an average heart rate of 156bpm. This 10K would take me less than 1o minutes longer to complete and at an average heart rate of 166bpm. Hard.

Reaching the turnaround lollipop loop I also realized that this was going to be a bit longer than a 1oK...more like 7.75 miles. Harder! The lollipop turn around also let us get a glance at everyone else on the course. Ted was heading out of the loop just as I was heading into it. He had put a 3 minute gap on me. As I ran out of the lollipop loop, a volunteer on a snowmobile told me the 3rd place racer was the guy I saw running into the loop. . .another 3 minute gap. BUT what the guy on snowmobile didnt tell me or didnt see was that Darren Clark was actually in the loop behind me and we were looking at the 4th place runner heading into the loop. Critical time of the race...

I maintained a steady run back down the mountain. I was stoked to see people marching their way up and everyone was super encouraging. Awesome group of people out there! I was feeling good and started picking up the pace while I had people shouting the gap times between Ted and me. It was pretty awesome to see everyone's face light up.

Somewhere on the way down I started taking walking breaks. I still do not know exactly why and I have been pondering my decision to do so... Was I tired, bonking, did the overtraining make me mentally weak... was I giving up on chasing down the leader? I saw nothing behind me and I thought I must have had a 3-5 minute gap on that guy I saw heading into the lollipop loop. Maybe I was content with my second place position? Maybe I was saving something for a late race attack by a third position racer?

As we reached the end of the switchbacks we dropped into the road we started up for about a quarter of a mile and I was ready to easy it into the finish. I was already pushing a good pace but was looking over my shoulder "just in case". . . its a good thing I was! About 20 yards down the road I saw Darren with ski poles in rage chasing me down! Ahhggg..... The quarter mile road made a final left turn before heading into the 150 yard finishing shoot. I did not want to have to go head to head into the last 15o yards so I gave it everything I had to put a gap on Darren before we reached that turn. I didn't look back...I didn't feel my feet, my legs or even hear a sound. I resolved to a rare "numb focus" on my form and pushed as hard as I could. I turned left and looked over my shoulder to see there was a unrealistic possibility to close the gap left between us but somehow my body was going to keep that pace through the finish line and I was not going to try to slow it down. I crossed the line in second and it made for an exciting finish!

Complete results are not posted yet but Monique was in the top 10 for the women and I am sure she made the top 5 women for the series competitors. Tiffany shocked everyone with a causal showshoe run to a 1st place womens finish! Did she even know she was leading the entire race?

We all got loaded up with giveaways, food and some good times...Awesome event! Some pictures posted over here. I am stoked that Tiffany and Wes will also be joining us for the Conquer the Bear series now! It is going to another great year of racing with friends new and old!

February 08, 2009

Rest and Recovery

We got back from Big Bear today and completed the first of a five event race series in the Open Air Big Bear Challenge. On tap today was the 10K snowshoe race and a full report to follow but the first order is some much needed rest and recovery.

Going into the race I have had some lag and knew I would....it was all part of the "plan". Last weekend was a big one for volume and intensity and I kept it going through this week adding another 100+ miles on the bike and slowly bringing up my time in the pool. By the time I finished up my bike ride in the rain on Friday I felt spent! I may not have been 100% recovered but it no worries. I am stoked at the results from the race today and resting up probably would not have changed my final position anyways. Hopefully, it will all yield a bigger return when the rest and growth happens this week.

(training volume starting Jan 1 2009)

After looking back at my training starting January 1st I have only had four complete days of no activity. Today makes twelve days straight of some higher intensity sessions. I think my miles are still lower for a typical endurance athlete but still much more and than I have ever been able to keep up in the past and I am still feeling super motivated and injury free!

I cannot mention recovery without giving props to Fluid! This has been the biggest build I have ever put together and I have been able to bounce back into training with the right recovery and maintain a consistency that I have never had before. I know it would not have been possible without the right recovery and a recovery drink that works better than anything out there.

I have been using the products from my other sponsors for years but I had never used the Fluid Recovery drink before (new company) so I wanted to put it to the test before I gave it a thumbs up . I was not sure if I was going to post about it or how it would work.... As much as it would be nice to have another sponsor, I wanted to put it to the test for myself. If I don't believe in it or would not pay top dollar for it myself why would I want to be endorsing something?

They say, "the proof is in the pudding" and now I can say the same for Fluid...I was blown away with how awesome it works. I already liked the fact that it is all natural (no artificial flavors, colors or ingredients) and adds Glutamine for recovery but now after 38 days of hard training, four races (at "Race Pace" intensity) and more volume than I have ever had before I can say that I am a believer!

Work + Rest = Success. Now it is on to some longer recovery in the body and mind this week!

February 04, 2009

Results, a new look and a new sponsor

Well, the old black and dark had to go at some point so my blog got a new theme and color splash today... Much easier to add logos and read ya think? Luke found the title pic up there of me (from the Temecula race)on SoCal Trail riders and it fits just right. Thanks Luke!

I also got an email from Gu Energy Labs today about sponsorship. STOKED!! There are a lot of choices out there for gels but the GU line and Roctane are on a new level. The best!! Did you know what makes a GU a Roctane GU? For endurance athletes it provides an edge by giving you BCCAs, OKG and essentials like potassium and sodium (not to mention CAFFEINE) to keep you going when your body is on the edge. I am so stoked that I will be able to suck down pomegranate roctanes on my training and racing days knowing that I can represent them doing it.

The results are posted up from our run this weekend and I was pretty pleased with the results after the week I had and the miles I put in on my feet recently. The last time I ran 13 miles was back in October so my plan was to start sloooow and drop some seconds every mile. I was also trying to keep my heart rate down and it was running around 155bpm until the last two miles. It worked out something like this (watch lap times per mile)

7:38, 7:24, 7:24, 7:25, 7:35, 7:14, 7:17, 7:22, 7:12, 7:16, 7:15, 7:19, 7:06, 6:43
Avg HR 156, Max 168

Official time shows as Finish: 1:35:33 Pace: 7:18

I have been tracking my running miles from the time I was going to run the Santa Barbara 9 Trails and I am hoping to keep my average miles at about 30 for the next few weeks. It maybe a challenge with the VQ race coming up but hopefully I can make it happen.

Temecula Results are also posted over on Geoladders. Wes and I got squeezed out of 2nd place by 1 minute in the last mile. Exciting finish and end to a long day. Our official lap times rolled out like this (my laps in bold)

15 Laps (11:42)
0:50, 0:47, 0:40, 0:43, 0:46, 0:40, 0:47, 0:44 0:47, 0:43, 0:49, 0:47, 0:53, 0:46, 0:55

Awesome race and I would be stoked to team up with Wes again in the future. For now...it is all about resting up and hopefully getting stronger for the races later in the year.