Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Turtle Challenge and Ride to Save a Suicide

Ironman Training = a lot of time on the bike. Any break from the ordinary training ride is welcome, especially if it can help a great cause. Sunday's event was the Turtle Challenge and Ride to Save a Suicide, a fundraiser for the Suicide Prevention Partnership of the Pikes Peak Region. 155 people died from suicide in El Paso County, CO in the past year. 155 too many.

Since I need miles, miles, miles, I opted for the Challenge, a timed 40 mile race (although my Garmin only showed 35 miles?) I got up, had my usual Generation UCAN smoothie with banana and peanut butter. I got my bottles around, got dressed (bundling up with temps in the 30s!), put the Red Machine in the car and headed down south to the El Pomar Youth Sports Park. The skies were clear up north with the sun rising, but a cloud loomed over Cheyenne Mountain. Sure enough it was a bit cloudy there but thankfully no wind! I had about 20 minutes to get my bike ready with my race number, get the warm ride gear on. Rocked the pink Punk Rock Racing jersey (under a jacket for the start). The race went off at 8:00, with different age groups every couple minutes. The women was combined to a 19+ category and we started with the juniors. The Juniors,whom I'd seen before racing at the velodrome, took off pretty quickly and Brin, another female kept up with them. I was a little slower to start and my legs were feeling it! Pretty soon Stacey, the third female in our group, caught up to me. She was big ringing it on the dirt trail. Me, I just had to go my pace, spinning as we rode up the trail. I tried to keep her in sight, but I'm sure any chance of catching her fell by the wayside when I stopped to use the bathroom at a gas station. Let's just say, although I wasn't just cruisin' along, I wasn't going very fast on that first lap. It just felt hard.

The race route started on the Santa Fe trail (about 2/3rd dirt). The course was well-marked with bright green arrows spray painted along the way. One section that was weather destroyed asphalt had "Springs-Roubaix" painted in front of it. And they weren't kidding. Holy bumpiness! And with the chill in the air and body still a little stiff, that was one heck of a jarring ride - maybe 0.2mile but it felt like forever. Pedaled up through downtown and then we hit the Sinton Trail that took us west. I had flashbacks of marathon training in 2009, as that was the last time I'd been on that section of trail. One "creepy" section where we had to go through a narrow tunnel (focus on the light - focus on the light at the end of the tunnel !). Then the course followed the trail up through the outskirts of Garden of the Gods park. This is where we started going downhill and I picked up some speed. Then we were back on dirt by Rockledge Ranch for a half a mile or so. Picked up 30th and made a left onto Pikes Peak, then onto the Midland trail that hooks back up to the Santa Fe near America the Beautiful Park. This point was where we either went north or south - north for a second loop or south to go back to the start/finish. I headed north and started on my second lap.

Legs were MUCH happier on this lap so I pushed the pace where I could. I made a quick stop at an aid station to try a double espresso clif shot (not bad!) and top off my water bottle. I made it up the last hill and was on the home stretch. I caught up to the Team Lawrence, a family of 5 on a tandem. I passed them but then they caught back up to me when I missed the turn to the trail and ended up on a dirt road. oops. I got on the right path and then tried to drop them. :) Stoplights weren't necessarily in my favor and they were trying to catch me. We were almost side by side on the downhill stretch of Springs-Roubaix (still just as rough, maybe more going faster downhill) but then I broke free (I think one of them dropped a water bottle). Made it back in about 2:21.

We waited for both ride and racers to finish up, enjoyed an awesome barbecue, chatted with fellow cyclists and then we remembered those who have given up their lives to suicide by reading names and a balloon release. A simple, yet very touching ceremony.
Photo Gallery
Photo from Tim Bergsten of Pikes Peak Sports
...Then I went home and rode my trainer for another 90 minutes. Yeah - ironman training!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

LB Sprint Tri Race Report - Part II

not a bad setting for a race!
Last Sunday was another long training day, but this time I start it off with a local sprint triathlon. Nothing like some top-end work before a big endurance ride. This race, the Lindsay Brown Sprint Tri, is held on the Air Force Academy and put on by their triathlon team. Lindsay was a cadet who lost her life in 2007. This race has been held for several years and raises money for a fund that helps cadets in times of emergency. Even though the cadets might be new to triathlon, and some having no experience whatsoever, if you want great volunteers, get some cadets! More on that later.

As the AFA is only a few miles from my home and I need to be logging in lots of miles on my bike, it made sense to just ride there. So I got up at 6am (yes! finally a race that isn't a 4am wake-up call!) and finished up my race morning preparations. A breakfast smoothie of plain Generation UCAN, 16oz water, 1/2 scoop whey protein, cocoa, a banana, and some peanut butter - all that blended up gave me plenty of energy for the race. I double checked my bags, put on my jacket, strapped on my transition backpack and headed out. I left the house around 7:00 and was at the race site by 7:30. Riding there also allowed me to preview some of the hills that I would experience on the course.

I got my packet, set up my bike, and headed inside the natatorium. It was a pool swim in their newly remodeled facility. The first wave was to go off at 8:30 and it was going to be the women and relays. They had 16 25yd lanes with two per lane. Before the start I was just chilling by the pool side, feeling a bit tired from my last week of training and the 12ish miles I ran Friday night. But they called us up and I hopped in the pool. My lane-mate was Colleen, and I would see her later.

SWIM: 18:20
When the horn went off, I had resigned to not push too hard, but rather to keep my form as solid as possible. Colleen got a bit ahead of me, and ended up about a lap and a half ahead. But I felt good with my swim (no real warm-up) and after the first 500 yards (haha) I was settled into a comfortable pace. It was 825yd (750m) swim, so 16.5 laps of the pool. The race had lap counters (but I counted myself as well) and when I did expect it, the kickboard was in the pool, indicating I just had 25yds to go. So I pushed to the other end of the poll and climbed out as best I could. I had left my flip-flops, a small towel and my jacket on the side of the pool, grabbed them and dried off a little with the towel.

T1: 1:24 I walked quickly to transition and got ready to hop on my bike. It was a windy, windy day, but warm enough to not need a jacket. So all I really did was put on my helmet, shoes, and head out.
glad I used this bike!
BIKE: 47:22
Winds coming out of the west, and it seemed all the uphills were west. Here's my bike GPS data. Yeah, about 1300ft of gain in 12 miles. It started with a nice little climb before we screamed downhill. Then some more climbs. As I passed a couple people heading out onto the course, I noticed a girl in her big chain ring. This race does get a few cadets doing their first race, and I felt bad if she was going to grind the whole way, so I suggested she shift into a smaller one. She thanked me as I passed her by (I do hope she knew how to shift!) I am certainly glad I used my road bike with compact gearing, as the TT bike would have been a bit useless going 7mph up a hill. Half-way through the first lap I eyed a guy ahead of me in an Army kit and I wasn't too far behind. My plan was to catch him, and I did just as we started the second lap. I screamed down the hill a second time and started the climb back up. A couple guys passed me at this point, but I think those were the only people to pass me on the bike. On the second lap I passed a lot more people out there, but they were most likely on their first lap. A couple folks were walking up the steep hills, and I offered them words of encouragement, and always as I passed folks.  The cadet volunteers were at every turn clearly indicating which way to go and giving positive words. When I came to the turn to head back to transition, I was glad to be done with the bike, but I knew the run wouldn't be easy, either. I misjudged the distance back to transition and slowed down to take my feet out of my pedals way too soon. So the Army Guy caught back up to me. Phooey! :)

T2: 1:20
The grass was still soggy as I ran barefoot back to my transition spot. I had to wipe my feet off before putting on my socks and shoes. I grabbed my garmin wrist strap, pulled the unit off my bike (thank goodness for quick release), hat, race belt, gels...it was a bit of a juggling act making my way out and I almost went the wrong way (but the volunteers were there to get me in the right direction!)

RUN: 26:33
GPS data. Another hilly course. As I started on the run, I saw a woman a bit in front of me. She looked familiar and it turned out to be Colleen, the woman I shared a lane with for the swim. She was in my sights and my plan was to just slowly reel her in. I made ground and by the 2nd aid station around mile 2, she was closer. But she realized I was chasing her down so she pushed the pace a bit. My strategy here was a little off...I should have tried to catch her sooner and not at the end. When we hit the track, the last time I did this race we had a lap of the track and then the straight-away to finish. This time the finish was just the straight-away...so I didn't turn it on until it was too late. 17s was all that she was ahead. I should have tried to catch her by mile 2 and then pushed to stay ahead and gain a lead. Oh well -next time!
Finish line on the blue track
Total: 1:34:57 and 3rd place overall female.
Full Race Results
My Photo Gallery

The competitors and volunteers were awesome for this race. It was well executed (although you'd expect that from the Air Force Academy!) and the cadet volunteers were extremely supportive and  friendly. The competitors offered words of encouragement to others. The one that stood out the most was a young competitor who was about 15. As I was running down one of the hills, he was riding up it, and he smiled and  cheered for me. These moments are awesome - everyone is out doing their own race, but supporting everyone else. After the race I chatted with other competitors, hung out for the awards and then rode home.
I was pretty exhausted, but still had an endurance ride to do. So I changed, ate a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, and headed out on the TT bike for 3 hours...

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

LB Sprint Tri Race Report & 24Hrs of COS - Part I

Before I jump into the race, I'll write briefly about the weekend. Saturday was a recovery day for me (a 45 minute recovery ride) and since Sunday was going to be another big training day. But a really cool thing going on in Colorado Springs this weekend was the 24 Hours of Colorado Springs, which also happened to be the US National Championships for 24 hour mountain bike racing. I'd be a fool not to check it out. And for all you mountain bikers, I hear it'll be back next year! The weekend weather was phenomenal for October - highs in the 70s-low 80s and lows near 50. Anyway, I headed down to Palmer Park (an oasis of trails smack in the middle of the city), walked around, took a few pictures (see the gallery) and watched the start, which was a Le Mans-style start to help spread out the field. Here are some photos and a couple videos of the actual start:

racers lined up (and I'm pretty sure the gal in the trucker hat is Rebecca Rusch - an endurance mtn bike superstar!
Rebecca Rusch, aka @thequeenofpain had a kick a$$ 4-person women's team. They won.

even a duck showed up to race!
Very, very cool race. Plus I ran into Tim Bergsten of PikesPeakSports.us, who was trying to cover as many of the events in town as possible (busy weekend here in the Springs!) And I met up with Senor David Pico, editor of The Peak Region Cyclist (for which I write a monthly column) and got to pick up a box of vanilla honey stinger waffles that I had won from a give-away they had. Sweeeet!

After I left I finished up some errands, got in my recovery ride, and then chilled on the couch watching college football for the rest of the evening. Oh, and I also packed up my transition bag and finished up my race plan for Sunday's sprint triathlon.... see part II for that report!