Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dogwood Canyon 25k Trail Run 10/31/2010

I ran my first 25k trail race at the Rockbridge Revenge 25k back at the beginning of October, had a blast, it was an awesome event. I figured I would like it; after all, my favorite place to run is an eight mile loop at Rockbridge. Rockbridge is familiar; I run it all the time, Dogwood Canyon not so familiar! I had heard about the race sometime at the beginning of the year, kind of forgotten about it. But following RB Revenge I remembered, signed up, and now here I am on race day morning, ready to head off into the unknown!

So, first thing different with Dogwood is that I am totally unfamiliar with the course, other than that I hear it is tough. But another big difference between the two, prize money! The Dogwood 25k has $250 for the winner,$125 for second, both male and female, double that for the 50k. Needless to say, the lure of prize money has brought in decidedly tougher competition.

Beautiful weather today, sun is out already, but it feels kind of cold, the radio said lower 40’s at start time. I’ve got a tank top and shorts on as I’ll warm up quickly, except for the hands so a lightweight pair of gloves is in order.

Lined up for the start and following a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner we are on our way. Dogwood canyon is a private nature area; I’ve heard it said that it is owned by the owner of Bass Pro Shops. People pay money to come and ride bikes or get hauled around on tours, past waterfalls, pools, caves, cliffs, and all kinds of cool scenery that we’re going to get to run through, only I’ll probably being paying less attention than most!

There are two races happening here, the 25k and the 50k. Both races cover the same course going out together until the very end at which point the 25k runners head toward the finish and the 50k runners do a loop and head back to do the route in reverse. The bib numbers are colored based on which race you’re in. Of course I’ve been checking things out all morning, so I have a pretty good idea who to watch now that the race is under way.

This first stretch isn’t so bad, we’re cruising along at an easy 7:30 pace and I joke to the guy next to me "This isn’t so bad; I thought this thing was supposed to be hilly!" I probably should have just kept my mouth shut...

After running a mile or so of mostly paved flat stuff, we soon found ourselves on an old rocky road. Then the creek crossings started! Over the next three or four miles I counted 12 different creek crossings! And the hills, did I mention it was hilly? The first one was gradual; at first I thought "this won’t be much different from Rockbridge" as I ran it. Then the next hill came, and it was steep! By this point I had already written off first or second place and the $125. Even if I was leading, I still think I would have walked the steep hills, everyone I saw did. I actually didn’t get passed on the uphills, but the downhills were just as steep and somehow people managed to run down them much faster than I was. The number of leaves on the trail camouflaged the rocks, so racing fast downhill was out of the question for me.

This continued for the next 8 miles or so. Occasional short flat stretches followed by steep uphills and downhills. The course was mostly old roads or "double track" as they're called in trail running. Leaf covered, so that made it difficult, that and the pitch, but definitely a scenic run. On several occasions we broke out of the trees to cross under power lines; you could look back and see across to a previous ridge with runners crossing it a 1/4 mile away.

After 9 miles or so, the course reached a paved section of the park. I was running by myself at this point. It is really hard to tell in a trail race if anyone is close by, but once on the pavement I could see three of four people ahead of me. At this point I figured I was at best 15th or so, but I was feeling decent and since I had a flat paved section I picked things up a little. After a quick mile, I was ready to get back on a softer trail and fortunately we did. Of course, it was another steep hill, but I could see 5 people ahead of me walking it. So I ran a little further than I normally would have and then walked taking long strides. By the top I had passed three of them and before too long I passed the other two.

When I had reached the paved section, my average pace was around a nine minutes per mile, but with the fast flat pavement, I had lowered it to around 8:45. Now that there was less than a third of the way to go and I was feeling good, my new goal was 8:30 average by the end.

Somewhere around 14 miles, I passed Andy Pele who was on heading back from the 50k out and back. He was looking great, but unfortunately since there was a funky loop the 50k’ers were doing, I had no way to tell what position he was in. After a quick yell of encouragement he was gone and I pushed onward.

The final half mile or so was downhill, not quite as steep as other downhills had been, so I was able to keep lowering my average pace. Just prior to the finish was a switch back and I happened to notice I was barely ahead of another runner! But I could hear the finish line noise and after one more turn I was there, I was done! 2:11:49, 6th overall and I had just edged out the guy right behind me for second in our age group! Average pace, 8:31...

Can’t say enough good things about this race, definitely a must do for anyone slightly interested in trail running. I paid $52 for the race, ended up with a long sleeve Brooks Technical event tee, a finisher’s towel, finisher’s fleece jacket, a huge second place AG award, and an excellent post race meal.

I expect to see a lot more of my friends there in 2011!

Friday, November 5, 2010

New York Marathon and Serena Burla

For anyone that didn't know this, the New York Marathon is this Sunday. There are some pretty big name Americans running, Ritz, Meb, and it is the marathon debut for Shalane Flanagan who is expected to do well. Somebody a little less known, but who's story is very inspiring is Serena Burla. I first saw Serena (a Mizzou graduate) back in 2005 when I was running the Columbia Half Marathon. I was running with Stephen Taylor, we were only a mile or so in and probably running around 6:30 pace, when Serena ran passed us. I remember thinking how bad her running form looked (her own words: "I have this fling where I run more like a duck"). Steve and I decided she was probably running the relay or else we would soon be passing her back. We didn't see her again until the end after she had soundly beaten us both.

I think that was one of her first attempts at a distance longer than 10k, she went on to run a 1:10:08 in the 2008 USA Half Marathon, second only to Shalane Flanagan. Earlier this year, she found out she had cancer in her right leg. Now, nine months later she's racing the New York Marathon!

Here's a "brief" chat with her:

Not sure if she'll cross the line first on Sunday, but I'll be cheering her on and she's already won in my book!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lance Armstrong...

He just rode his last Tour... Granted, we all thought he was done back in 2005 after he won his 7th Tour De France and retired the first time. Heck, I though he was done back in 1996 when I first heard he had cancer. I've been a fan of Lance ever since 1993. You see, I was a huge fan of Greg Lemond and followed the Tour de France as a teenager through the late 80's and the early 90's. In 1993 Lance won a stage in the Tour and he also won the World Championships. Lance quickly became my new sports hero replacing the one I had lost when Greg Lemond retired.

I lost interest in cycling for myself and sold both my bikes around the same time Lance was first diagnosed with cancer. It wasn't until 3 years later with Lance doing well in the 1999 Tour that I considered taking up cycling again. I told myself that if Lance were to win the Tour, I would buy another bicycle. He did it; I bought a Trek Y-frame mountain bike. I don't have that bike any more, but I do own as many bikes as Lance Armstrong has won the Tour de France. I also have every Tour de France on video since 1985 and multiple books on the Tour and about Lance Armstrong. You could say I'm a Tour junkie and also a huge Lance fan.

Now, here come the...


I believe Lance Armstrong doped.

I still believe what he did was a great accomplishment. I still appreciate what he has done for the cancer patients and survivors out there. Heck, I appreciate what he has done for me. He was my inspiration to get back out on a bicycle. I've competed in well over 100 runs, multisport events, and bicycle races and I owe a good portion of the motivation to get back out there to Lance Armstrong.

Since Lance Armstrong started winning the Tour, I switched to Computer Science as my major and graduated with honors in 04'. I appreciated the logic in Computer Science as opposed to the subjective grading found in less objective classes. The subjective side of me wants to believe in Lance, but the objective side knows better.

I know there are thousands or even millions of people out there unwilling to take this objective approach. They'll repeat the line "He's been tested 100's of times and has never failed a drug test". Lots of people smarter than me honestly believe this means something, it doesn't. Lots of admitted dopers never failed drug tests.

Here is a list of objective reasons why I believe Lance doped to win 7 consecutive TDFs:
- The high number of Lance's closest competitors during his 7 wins that have since confessed, been caught, or suspected of doping
- The high number of Lance's teammates from his 7 wins that have been busted or admitted to doping
- The high number of Lance's teammates or ex friends/acquaintances willing to testify under oath Lance doped or admitted to doping
- The fact that twice Lance has actually failed a doping test, once for EPO and once for testosterone
- The inhuman increase in average speeds during the 7 year span that Lance won the TDF
- That Lance was able to out climb and time trial so many admitted dopers during his seven year reign. To dominate in both specialties is superb, during an era of doping, unbelievable

Each and every one of those reasons is worthy of 5 or more pages, but I've gone on long enough as it is. Bottom line for me, Lance Armstrong doped in an era of rampant doping and was the best cyclist of his time. I'm still a fan of his for all he does in the fight against cancer. I still can put any of his 7 TDF victories in the DVD player and enjoy every moment of it. Fortunately, I never have looked to Lance Armstrong for any type of moral guidance; rather, he's been an athletic motivation to me. As a moral guide, he's about as good as Bernie Madoff is for financial advice.

I'm curious to see what the future holds. Will Lance admit to any wrong doings? Will he plead the 5th when asked to testify? Either way, life will go on for me. I might sell a bike or two, but it no longer has anything to do with Lance Armstrong, I just need the money! Thanks Bernie Madoff...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Topeka Tinman Race Report

Wasn't really expecting much going into this race. Training has been suspect as of late, the tri bike hadn't even been touched since Triple T! I still haven't written race reports from those races yet, but in the races with biking following the long swims, I felt really uncomfortable to be in the aero position. I forgot that I needed some time in the aero position, it wouldn't take long on the bike to remember! But I'm getting ahead on myself...

Got home from work a little later than intended, hooked up the "Tri-pod", packed, and loaded the car in under 30 minutes, a new PR! After several segments of road construction, I got into Topeka and to packet pickup with 10 minutes to spare. Packet pickup was at HyVee wich worked out great, I was able to pickup a heaping portion of Chicken Fetuccini Alfredo for $2.99 as well as some breakfast snacks.

After driving to the race site, I headed out to drive the bike course. The race site was slightly different than in 2004 when I won the duathlon, but once out on the bike course it seemed about the same, rolling hills with lots of rough pavement! In general, I think Topeka had some of the worst pavement I've seen in the US! After driving the course, I arrived back at the race site and started thinking about where to camp. After a short trip to McDonald's for dessert, I decided to camp in the athlete parking area under some trees. Around 10:30pm as I was doing some work on my bike (after neglecting it since Triple T) when a park police officer stoped, I fully expected I was going to be told I couldn't stay. Indeed, he told me that camping wasn't allowed, but since the campground were full, he said I could stay! Awesome...

4:30am and the alarm goes off... 4:39, it goes off again and I'm up. After airing up my tires, I grab my stuff and head to transition. Only several other bikes are set up so I get a great spot. After setting things up, I head back to my trailer for a 50 minute nap. For the next hour or so I verify everything is set to go prior to the close of transition at 7:30. Transition closing an hour prior to the start of a race is a big pet peeve of mine! I sort of understand the logic behind it, but it isn't necessary in my opinion...

Anyway, at 8:30 my race starts. Wasn't really sure what to expect after the previous weekends 800 meter swim at Eureka Springs Xterra race where it had supposedly taken me 16 minutes! Supposedly the swim was wetsuit legal, but I chose not to wear one as everyone was saying the water was too warm. I focused on relaxing, but ran into problems when multiple times I couldn't see the bouys, I decided then and there I needed new googles!Overall, the swim felt good and I finished with a 26 minute swim. Once to my bike, I had to remind myself that I was racing as I found myself taking my time in transition!

As I mentioned earlier, it didn't take me long to realize how uncomfortable I felt in the aerobars! I actually found myself looking forward to the hills as it meant I could get out of the aerobars! After passing several people, I found myself getting passed by several of my fiends I really wasn't expecting to pass me on the bike! It kind of served as a wake up call and over the next several miles I concentrated on getting comfortable in the aero bars. Finally, around half way through the ride I felt decent and was able to concentrate on picking up the pace a bit. Ended up averaging 20.8 mph on the bike, nothing to get too excited about.

Had a decent T2 and was out on the run quickly. Felt good, but had to remind myself how hot it was. Ran a 6:55 opening mile and then a 6:35, but then things started to deteriorate. The next miles were 7:17, 7:43, 8:55, 8:18, and 5:47(.9 mile). It was hot, hilly, and humid!! Fortunately, there was plenty of cold water and ice on the course. Several cups of ice went down the front of my speedo in an attempt to regulate my core body temperature. Indeed, I actually felt like I was recovering during the last 2 miles and made an attemp to reel in two competitors ahead of me. Unfortunately I was unable to do that, but did end up getting first in my age group so catching them turned out not to be too important.

So while I did end up winning my age group, I finished in 15th place, over 20 minutes down on the winner, Joe Company. After earlier success this year, it was hard not to be disappointed with this race. Fortunately I didn't have high expectations coming in and will make sure this race serves as inspiration to: train smarter, get better swim goggles, and loose some weight!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Time for a come back!

Yes, it's that time, time for a come back! Not for me, but for my beloved Cervelo P3 seen here following my infamous impact with a van back in 06'

I've picked up a "new" P3 frame from my friend Drew Greaves, just happened to be the identical size and color, so it really feels like my bike is making a come back! Not that there's anything wrong with the Felt S22 I've been riding for the past 4 years, I've just always felt the P3 is a faster bike. The problem was, I haven't wanted to spend the money for a new one! So when the opportunity came to pick up a used one for $500 I jumped at it... Just got to swap components out between the two and get things ready for the come back!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Training Pays Dividends - 25" Improvement in Nut Race...

With the increase in running I've been doing in the past month along with the weekly track workouts, today's "Nut Race" was a perfect opportunity to gauge my progress. My previous best time on this course was an 18:55 back in 2008. Today was a fairly small field, 42 runners braved the 32 degree weather and the stiff 5 - 10 mph wind out of the north. Being a small field and all from Columbia, I had a pretty good idea who I might be competitive with but wasn't real sure how fast I could run as the last 5k I had raced was back in July!

The course starts out with a fast downhill followed by about half a mile of flat and then around a 1/4 mile uphill into the wind. Ryan Hauser took an immediate lead and rather quickly began building a gap on the field. I tucked in behind Stephen Bourgeois and Joe Company as we quickly settled into a 5:30 mile pace. As we rounded the corner to head up the hill and into the wind, I stayed tucked behind Stephen being sheltered from the wind. Stephen cut the tangent around a corner that Joe didn't so we pulled slightly ahead up the hill, but once to the top of the hill and into the start of the second loop, Joe Company picked up the pace and passed us both. I hung back for a second and then decided to go with Joe, hoping to catch back up to him and draft him into the wind and up the hill. The plan worked and I finished the second loop tucked in behind Joe.

As we approached the hill for the third and final time, Joe pulled away from me so for the final climb I was on my own. This third and final mile was my slowest of the race, but eventually I was up the hill and only had some downhill and flat left to run. Mile splits were 5:53, 5:55, and 6:10 with a final time of 18:30 and a 5:58 average. 3rd overall with a nice jar of peanuts as my prize, this being the "Nut Race" after all!

Back in 2003 I ran this race 33" slower and then went on that year to run my PR in the 1/2 marathon at the Drake Relay's, a 1:24:45. I'm hoping to run a new PR in the 1/2 in a little over a month, today gave me confidence that I'm on the right track!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

First Multisport Race of the Season Approaches...

Just thought I should post a quick update on my blog... I signed up for my first multisport race of the season this past week, the Desert Classic Duathlon in Phoenix AZ. It just happens to be taking place the weekend before a conference I have to be at in Phoenix so I'll be taking the teardrop out for a road trip! A race followed by a conference mixed in with 7 quality workouts in the Arizona desert!!

Three weeks following my first multisport event of 2010, I'm tentatively planning on running the Suntrust National Marathon in Washington DC. I say tentatively because I'm considering switching to the 1/2 marathon instead. Running a 1/2 fits into my overall plans of the year during which I hope to put up some fast time in a few 1/2 Ironmans. Training my body to run longer and slower doesn't seem like a great idea. Also, 2 weeks following the marathon I'll have the MaxTrax Duathlon where I would like to do well, recovery from a marathon is longer than 2 weeks! Would love to get my readers opinions...

Finally, it looks like I've made USAT Honorable Mention for the first time in my triathlon "career"! What that means is that out of the 3,968 USA Triathlon members in my age group (35-39) that completed at least 2 USAT races, I'm in the top 10%. It's something I've been disappointed about not making in the past, but I really wasn't expecting to this past year what with everything else that went on. It's a definite encouragement and helps me realize with the proper training and focus there's no reason an All American ranking (top 5%) isn't possible! Now, time for some sleep so I'll get up and train in the morning!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Can I Shave Now?

I made a vow, I said I wouldn't shave my face or cut my hair until I win my next race. I posted this sometime in the beginning of December. I thought I would run the "Ring In New Year" one mile race in Jefferson City on January 1st, figured it might be an easy first win of the year clearing the way for a shave and haircut... if I so desired... Turns out, the weather was cold and I stayed up a little too late New Year's Eve, I skipped the race. When the results were posted, the winning time was 6:13, I'm pretty sure I could have won!

Somewhere in the whole mix of things, I got busy working on my house. Took two weeks completely off from exercise! I can't remember the last time I did that. No working out with no change in diet = weight gain. Fortunately, Columbia Multisport Club has put on a "Biggest Loser" weight loss competition the last few years and they decided to do it again this year.

Now if you ask most people, they would probably say I have no business participating in a weight loss competition. What people don't realize is as someone who works out one to two hours a day during the season, when winter sets in and training levels decrease, extra weight can creep on regardless how "fit" or "thin" I might look. My weight after holidays and two weeks off from working out had climbed to 17 lbs over my low weight from this past season! That's 17 lbs that I know I can loose.

Around this same time, I also signed up for the Suntrust National Marathon in March, a week following our final weigh in for the Biggest Looser. So combine training for a marathon or lots of running, with loosing weight. Those two things go together like two peas in a pod!

We're one week into our Biggest Looser competition. For this first week, I just went back to training like I should be for a marathon and cut down on the food a bit. I knew the first few pounds would come off easily. I weighed in Sunday evening following a 2 hour run in the snow. I was shocked to see I had lost around 9 pounds and was even more shocked to see the email to the club the following day with me in the lead amongst the guys! Does that count as a race? Can I shave now? Hmm, I suppose that was just a mile marker... I'm that guy who takes off on a mad dash for the first mile, gets his moment in the spotlight, only to fade when the Kenyans blow by him...

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009, the Year in Review...

2009, The Year in Review...

Another year has come and gone. It's been an interesting year. Hard to decide athletically if it was a successful year or not! Overall, I had a great year, lots of great experiences, but many of the highlights from 2009 aren't from races...

The year began living in an unfinished house and ended the same. However, at this time last year I did not have a functional kitchen but rather was in the process of hanging the cabinets. While I failed to finish the interior of the house, I made great progress and for the most part have enjoyed the process. Well, enjoyed might be stretching the truth... It has been a rewarding experience and I have learned a lot in the process. I've documented the whole process through pictures here:

Two months into the year, I was able to get my house re-appraised at $40,000 which was double the purchase price from 9 months earlier. This allowed me to get a fixed home equity loan and pay off the credit cards I had purchased the house with. This also freed me up financially to take a trip to Indonesia to visit my sister and her family where they were living as missionaries. The trip to Indonesia was definitely the highlight of the year and included two 100+ mile bike rides with my brother-in-law while there. Bike riding in a foreign country has to be one of the best ways to see the country!

Taking Shelter from the Rain in Indonesia

Despite the bike riding while in Indonesia, I returned in relative poor physical fitness and was sick for a week on top of that. So once the multisport season started up with Max Trax Duathlon, I wasn't nearly ready for it and decided all I could do was hope to race myself into shape. This included a spur of the moment decision to sign up for and race the Duathlon National Championships in Richmond VA. In late April I headed out there with my friend Delbert Marriott. It was a fun trip; however neither of us did well as we ended up racing in 100+ degree weather which was a heat wave, especially in April! Nevertheless, it helped jumpstart my fitness and I had some decent race performances in the following months.

What I would consider my highlight race of the year was the Republic Tiger Triathlon in mid August. I ended up placing 5th overall but what makes me consider it my best race was that I came within 32 seconds of beating Jay Orr, my Ultramax Series Championships rival! I started the swim directly behind Jay, caught him in the pool, and came out of T1 ahead of him. He caught and dropped me shortly into the bike, but I dug deep, caught back up, and ended up coming into T2 within seconds of him. I managed to beat him out of T2, but within less than half a mile he had caught me back and ended up pulling away from me a mile or so into the run. Jay would end up winning the Ultramax Series while I ended up second, for the third year in a row!

The lowlight race of the year would have to be Rockbridge Revenge. A nice little headfirst dive into a log resulting in a tooth through my lower lip and 10 stitches!

BoldRockbridge Revenge 2009

2009 was a great year, here are some random pictures of my year (note, I like to have a little fun at times...)