Thursday, May 27, 2010

A few extra miles

Yesterday as I was riding home from work I remembered Wednesdays are Greenbelt Training series race days. I don't really think much about the GTS races much since I decided 3 seasons ago road racing maybe wasn't my thing after getting crashed out of one of the Greenbelt B races when a rider went down in the middle of the pack. But, I've been talking to a few people here and there lately and with it being 2 miles from my front door I figured I kind of had to get out and race it at least a few times this year, if nothing else then just for the hard efforts and the extra miles.

So, I stopped by, not expecting to get in last night since I was late and had no cash or license. They took an IOU though and with 5 minutes to spare I was standing on the line in the 6pm C race (no license, no B race and no I'm really not sandbagging here anyway).

I rode somewhat aggressively from the start hoping to keep the pace somewhat high and see what would happen. Didn't really do much though other then wear my already tired legs out. Felt like I was moving around easily in the pack but on the final ramp up to the finish I lost my nerve a couple times while trying to move up gave up a lot of spots well before the park exit road and seeing I was well out of contention soft pedaled in to the finish line. No sense in being the guy sprinting for 15th.

It was definitely fun to be out there and really aside from one especially squirrelly rider it was a pretty good group out there. One guy named Rob on a single speed was especially impressive I thought. Should be pretty strong when he gets his hands on a geared bike.

So, now that I've got the first one under the belt for the year I plan to try and get out as often as possible to my neighborhood crit. As usual a big thank you to Route 1 Velo for putting on such a cool and laid back series.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

North Face 50 - PHT section scouting trip

Around 23 miles yesterday on the Potomac Heritage Trail portion of the upcoming North Face 50k trail race. Needed a good long trail run as I've been slacking off a bit lately on long runs and getting out on the trails in general though I have been riding a bit more instead. Also wanted to see what the course will be like which from what I saw yesterday it should be pretty fast!

It looks like it begins with around a mile of paved path (which I skipped yesterday) followed by a mile of crushed gravel path before it hits the single track. That'll make it hard not to go out fast, though also means it'll be a good idea to hit this part fast so as not to get stuck too far back once we hit the single track.

The majority of the PHT section is basically flat with the very distinct possibility of being very muddy should it be wet and rainy leading up to race day. There were 3 or 4 very abrupt and steep sections where the trail was rerouted due to the Potomac river washing away old sections of trail or for other reasons. Should be mostly runable, especially early on but probably will be a good idea not to expend to much energy on these steeps.

Somewhere, likely along the way where I ran the course will leave the PHT though the runner's guide description wasn't clear enough for me to fingure it out so I just stuck to the trail down a bit past the dam near/in Great Falls park.

Slightly disturbingly, my garmin reported just over 650 feet of elevation gain for this 23 mile section of trail while the 50k runners guide states over 3000 feet for the course. Either one of these is way wrong (and the garmin has been known to be well off the mark, though Garmin Connect now has topographical map corrections included) or the 10 or so miles in Great Falls will produce 2500 + feet of elevation gain to really kill us mid-race. Hopefully next weekend I'll manage to get out and check out some of that section to see what that's like.

My 23 miles took around 4.5 hours, though I spent a good bit of time stopped, either taking pictures of/watching wildlife, trying to figure out if I was going the right way based on the course description or just generally putzing along. The goal Matthew and I have set for this race is a sub 5 hour time which based on the sections I ran yesterday and our times at the Seneca Greenway Trail 50k should be well within reach. We just need to average 9:40 for the course which should be doable on this course.

Yesterday my average was just under 12 overall but just over 10:30 "moving time" according to the garmin. That was self supported (aka with backpack filled with water and other stuff) and getting dehydrated after running completely out of water with 5 or 6 miles to go. So, there you have it, a publicly stated time goal. Now its time to live up to it.

Otherwise the run was pretty scenic with a good bit of unexpected wildlife. I caught a bunch in pictures after rigging up my cell phone to my pack strap. Unfortunately I didn't catch the huge red fox (probably 40 or 50 lbs, by far the largest fox I've ever seen), the giant red headed woodpecker, the deer, the lizards or the big turtle that scuttled into the creek as I ran over a bridge. Also should have a grabbed a picture of the guy that nearly punched me when he didn't hear me coming as he stood on the trail talking to his buddy (who saw me and I figured wwould warn his friend). He then proceeded to cuss me out. Nice. He looked like an unhealthy version of Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec so I suppose a heart attack was a real danger there.

Enjoy the rest below!

Baby frogs all over the trail near the golf course and swamp like (though likely man made) area.

A swarm of butterflies that found something tasty.

Great blue herron that was talking to me as I tried to get closer for a picture.

Great North American trailious runnerous in a typical confused pose.

The mighty Potomac River.

A very large black snake (non-poisonous I now know thanks to Matthew) plastered to the side of a big tree along the trail.

A large millipede stuck to the side of a bridge. Took this one for Aimee and I even managed not to step on any of these guys along the trail.

Friday, May 21, 2010

BTWD 2010

Great day for riding and lots of people on the roads. Met a few cool folks and forced myself to actually go to work in the end. Should have grabbed a pic before I left when the freedom plaza crowds had grown but this one is from about 7:30 when I first got there.

Friday, May 07, 2010

2010 12 Hours of Lodi Farms

I've been putting off this race report, though really I have no good reason why. I wasn't entirely stoked with the outcome I suppose, though it was essentially what was expected. I also, and probably more importantly wasn't all that stoked about my own performance. Enough of that already though, on to the words you've all been waiting for! Dry race reporting from an amateur sport racer!

Jonathon Wheaton, Darren Biggs and I were teamed up on a three man single-speed team, with our main competition being against another DCMTB team comprised of "Cargo" Mike Pearce, Joel Gwadz(illa) and Kent "Solar" Baake (ok I made that last one up but it seemed wrong not to include a nickname for Kent and of course, solar fits!). On paper, they had us beat, just a bit on a head to head basis. Pearce is blazingly fast, and has a history of setting the fastest laps at races like this, Kent is just wily and fit and can just always ride a bike fast, and Joel is usually found standing atop the podium in the Clydesdale class.

We took hope in the poor condition of Joel's spare bike being used by Kent riding SS off road for the first time in his life and Pearce coming in late, feeling sick and nearly pulling out of the race. But, then Kent got the bike issues sorted out and Pearce showed up so, the cards were on the table.

Jon gave us a good solid starting lap, coming in as one of the first riders, behind Mike K riding first for the DCMTB 3 person expert team also consisting of Leland and Ilana and a few minutes ahead of Kent and I was up second with Joel hard on my heels. That first lap I rode my ass off and really stuck to it the whole way through. It was hot and I was drinking a lot of water but still I could feel my head over heating in the mid-nineties temperatures. A few miles in I managed to catch Leland when he misjudged a sharp downhill left and he dropped back a bit later after hitting a root he never saw as he followed close behind me.

The one place I really felt bad about on my first lap was down in a really twisty and tight but flat and smooth section where I was able to get up a lot speed but then entered the turns too hot. This was the one place and one time during the entire race that was actually passed by anyone, so it hurt that much worse, but I was so choppy here on the first lap I was probably wasting a lot of energy while still losing time on other rider.

I freaked a bit when I got back to the start finish and Darren wasn't there to take the baton, but really in the grand scheme of things it meant nothing; just a few seconds really before he showed up. Darren, unfortunately had the unenviable task of trying to hold off a hard charging Pearce and when Pearce caught him, it was going to be tough for us to mount a comeback.

Recovery was tough after that first lap and I (along with everyone else) was showing the signs of dehydration. Getting out on my second lap I worked to ride more smoothly then my first lap. I was also noticeably riding a bit slower and struggling just a bit more on some of the climbs. I still only walked one and that was due to a poor line over rooty terrain but still I could feel the fatigue from the first lap.

I rode the tight and twisty flat section much smoother this time and really came in feeling decent about my lap time though in the end I dropped a few minutes on my first lap time here. The third lap though was where the sh*t really hit the fan.

I was struggling everywhere now and turning the cranks was way harder then it should have been. Joel had started his lap ahead of me after Cargo Mike put in another blazing lap and combined with my own physical struggles I basically imploded. The lap was still in daylight and the temperature had even dropped off a bit but the way I was struggling simply compounded my dying drive. I think here I started to get into my head a bit too much which worked against my energy as well. I lost another 5 minutes from my second lap time.

My fourth lap I had started to feel better and thought I was riding pretty well, but I suppose the damage was already done. I wasn't blazing along in the night, but I was riding much more smoothly then my 3rd lap and thought I should be coming in around the same time as my third, though the darkness seemed to take more out of my lap then I realized.

There is a lesson for me in this race, though sorting out exactly what it is isn't something I've done yet. It may simply be to not go out quite as hard on my first lap of a 12+ hour relay so I save some energy for later though I think its more then that. I do think this course provided ample opportunities for me to waste energy trying to go hard in the wrong places due to the super tight and twisty nature of it.

I also swapped cogs after my first lap going from my 32x18 to 32x20. Maybe I would have actually been better off starting with the 32x20 and not killing my legs on my first lap with the harder gearing... Who knows.

It was fun riding with Jonathon and Darren no-less and as usual a pleasure listening to the antics of the various DCMTB regulars. MK's kids are a hoot and at least Emma has taken to calling me Paperclip permanently so this one seems to be here to stay.

12 Hours of Lodi Farms Results

Hint: go to the creek crossing gallery and check out pictures 266 and 267. Awesome!
See Darren's report here.