Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New team in 2013

If we're friends on Facebook or you saw some pics from my last 'cross race, you probably noticed that I'm wearing a different race kit.  Since I started racing mountain bikes this year I've beenn racing with Team Sandbag.  The team has been great and I am going to continue to have some great friends there. However, for 2013 I will be switching race teams to race with KLM Fitness.  The group of guys at KLM are a great group and the shop is right around the corner from my office which makes access to parts and group rides more convinient.

Big thank you to Team Sandbag for all of your support this year and helping me kick start this new passsion of bike racing.  KLM, I'm looking forward to having some great times and great results in 2013!

Monday, November 5, 2012

What happened at Grampian and my first Iceman

There have been a couple of events since my last post.  The first being the Grampian Challenge.  I had been looking forward to this race all year.  Its a 1 loop course that mixes mountain biking and gravel roads.  It takes place on the same terrain that I do a large amount of my training on.  The race started out OK, I was in a good group of riders.  Everything was fine until we got to Bald Mountain.  I was doing an s turn by Harmon road that goes slightly downhill.  As I made the right turn I got kicked over the handlebars.  I ended up crashing directly on my face.  My sunglasses jammed into the bridge of my nose and a rock or something went through my upper lip.  The outcome was pretty nasty as you can see in the pic below.  I had originally thought it was a rider error that caused the crash but as I was picking myself up off the dirt I saw my rear wheel was out of my bike.  The skewer had loosened and the bike basically stopped dead causing the accident.  This has happened a few times in the past but never caused this sort of an outcome.  I've tried different skewers and tensions but apparently it didn't work.

I ended up in the emergency room for 3 hours getting stitches in the face.  The doctor couldn't use any numbing in my face because the needle was too big to fit in the small amount of skin in my lip.  She did 13 stitches (10 outside, 3 inside) without any pain killers.  I couldn't take anything either because I drove myself to the emergency room.  So it was au natural.  What a strange feeling having your face pulled around with string.
Huge thank you to Jarod and Shaun for stopping and wasting your race on me.  Also another person stopped but I never got his name.  And thank you Bob (utabintarbo) for the ride back to Addison.  That could have been a crappy ride back to the parking lot. 
The worst part of the accident was still yet to come.  I ended up getting a severe mouth infection and had canker sores all over inside my mouth from the Bald Mountain dirt.  I was on liquid foods but they also couldn't be too salty or my mouth would be on fire.  The pain was horrible.  I was put on very strong pain killers and antibiotics for over 2 weeks.  I had to use liquid lidocaine in my mouth to ease the pain.  Sleeping was pretty difficult from the pain. 
Needless to say, my training for a few weeks really sucked.  Intervals on Vicodin don't work so well.  It took me a good week to just have strength to ride more than 30 minutes and then another week to start doing intervals of any type.  This put me about a week and a half out from Iceman and well under trained.  My power output was down a good 10%.
Also during this time I bought a new frameset.  Having the skewer fall out 4 times with the last time costing my face, I decided I didn't want to risk it.  I know a lot of you are probably think I'm crazy and over reacting but I don't care.  That shit hurt and I'll have a scar on my face for the rest of my life because of it.  If I had gotten hurt worse, the hospital bills would probably be more expensive than the frame I bought.  I took all the components off my other bike and put them on the new Niner Air 9 RDO.  For the most part the bike fits pretty much the same.  I just need a different seatpost.  The one from the other bike isn't the same size diameter and the one from my CX bike doesn't have a setback which makes me feel close to the handlebars.   
Moving on to Iceman...
The goal for Iceman was to just get a decent seed time for next year.  Being that I haven't done Iceman before I didn't have one and I would have to race in later wave with mostly beginner riders.  So Todd Powers thought it would be best to race the pro class since I have a Cat1 license and I'd have a more open course.  I had my registration changed although I was pretty nervous.  I knew I wouldn't be at my best and I was already going to get my ass kicked.  Also I only got 1 or 2 rides on the new bike and wasn't 100% comfortable. 
The pro group had a stacked field.  The group included Olympian's, World Cup racers, and previous year winners, as well as Jorden Wakely and other fast local guys.  My goal was just to hang on as best I could and see what was possible.  The start of the race was pretty fast. We were spinning hard down the pavement.  When we got to the dirt the whole field was still pretty well together.  About 2 miles in there was a crash in the sand that separated the fastest pro guys from the rest of us.  We got tangled up for a little bit but no one got hurt and we picked up and went on.  I felt ok but not great.  I just didn't have the same top end power that I had about 5 weeks before.  I ended up with Wes Sovis and another rider for the most of the race.  We would go back and forth throughout the race.  The course is an awesome course.  It's fast and not overly technical so if you have alot of power you can do very well here.  The mix of double and singletrack make the course great for everyone.  At about 1:10 the top female pro's came through.  The 3 of us tried to hang on their wheel for a bit but those chicks are fast!  Just like in the men's field, there was some of the top female riders in the world Including Emily Batty and Georgia Gould. 

As the race went on we caught a couple of other riders but that was about it.  Some of the hills on that course are steep!  One in particular, Anita's hill, was very steep.  I felt like I was climbing a wall.  The crowd support when you get closer to the finish is great.  They are all drunk lining the course agging you on.  It really pumps you up for the finish.  No one recognized me having a beard, new bike, and new helmet, which was good or I would have been covered in beer.  I finished in 2:02:36 which is ok for a first year.  I was hearding that the course was about 10 minutes slower than previous because they added some new signletrack sections.  My finish time should put me in the 1,2, or 3rd wave next year which is fine.  Had I raced one of those waves this year I would have ended up 3rd with my finish time.  So next year I'll put more focus into the race and I should be in contention for my age category, which will be 35 next year.  The party afterward was great too.  The problem is that it's a point to point race so I needed a ride back to Kalkaska to get my car.  Thanks to Randy for the ride.  We just met that day and he drove me 30 miles back to my car. 
So next up are a couple more cross races then a couple weeks off before starting to build up for 2013.   Here's a couple more pics taken by Julie McGraw of me at Iceman. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Long time without posting

Well here it is, 10/3/2012.  I haven't posted anything since early July after the Stony Creek marathon.  I've been pretty busy since then.  We took at 2 week trip out west to Breckenridge and Jackson. If your friends with me or follow me on Twitter you've probably seen all the photos and heard all the stories.  Long story short, I had a wonderful time with my wife and dogs, trained and raced at altitude, met new people, and met people in person that I felt like I've known for a while even though they didn't really know me.  When I returned I had some amazing fitness from being at altitude and I was pretty excited to go race the Brighton MTB race.  Unfortunatly I crashed and hit my knee pretty hard and it forced me to DNF the race.  That was the last USAC mtb race I've done for the year.  The only one remaining is the Iceman.  I also raced the Ruby 50 and was in a good position in 2nd place but on the 2nd to last lap, I flatted and I wasn't able to get the tire to seal so I DNF'd again.  August for the most part, was not a good month for me.

September on the other hand has been great.  A few weeks back, I had a double race weekend where I raced the Ithaca Grand Prix cyclocross and the Addison Oaks Fall Classic.  Ithaca was my first cyclocross race.  Wow, is CX a blast!  I would have never thought I would like it this much.  The next day I raced the Addison Oaks race and was able to pull off a win!  I was pretty stoked about that.  That's win #2 of the year and my first win as an Expert MTB'er. A couple weeks ago was the Ronde Van Stony race.  This is a mostly gravel road race that starts and ends at Stony Creek.  This is a good race to put on the schedule.  It's basically road racing on the dirt.  I got in a good group with some Cat 3 roadies and we worked together till we got back to Stony.  Once we hit the 2 track I was able to get away from them.  I know that dirt well from riding there so much.  I also raced a crit on labor day and did ok there.  I was 9th.  I'll be doing a lot more road racing in the future. 

Since then I've done a couple more CX races.  CX hasn't come along all that easy to me.  I'm still getting comfortable with the bike.  It's not like mountain biking and it's not like road biking.  It doesn't even feel like something you should be doing.  It's a total blast to do.  For 45 minutes, I don't think you can have more fun on a bike.  At the last race I blew my front tire and I didn't have a spare to swap to so I ended up DNF'ing but actually I feel like that was the most comfortable I've felt on a CX bike yet.  There are plenty more races to come and I feel pretty confident that in the next couple this is going to click for me. 

Here's a few pics from the last few months .




Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hydration, Hydration, Hydration The Stony Heat Miser Marathon

As most of you know the country has been in a heat wave.  Record temps everywhere.  Yesterday was the Stony Heat Miser Marathon race.  For Cat1's it's a 50 mile race.  With temps in the mid 90's and humidity to go with it, it was sure to be a scorcher.  I didn't want to take any chances so I actually wore tri shorts and the most breathable jersey I could find.  I felt bad not wearing the team kit but it was just too hot and the race was too long. At the start of the race I was already sweating just standing still.  Coming into this race I knew a few things.  I knew it would be hot, I knew I had good fitness, and I knew this was going to be an opportunity to get some points being it was a double points race.  The start of the race was a little unexpected.  They didn't break up the age groups like they usually do.  They sent my group (30-39) out with the 19-29 year olds.  We had lined up behind them expecting them to go a minute before us but that wasn't the case.  So that meant I would have to pace better in the beginning and not get trapped behind anyone I didn't want to.

The first lap everyone was very cautious.  It was already close to 90 degree's and in the sun it felt like a blow torch was on you.  I rode pretty conservative as I didn't want to spend it all during the first lap.  I went out with 2 bottles of electrolyte drink expecting to get through the first 2 laps.  The first 2 laps went well and I made my way through the pack easing up slightly.  At the end of the 2nd lap I pitted to swap bottles.  I grabbed a bottle of regular water and another Powerbar Perform bottle. On the third lap I continued the plan and watched my HR and fluid intake.  After the third lap I had to pit again.  I grabbed another bottle of plain water and Ironman perform and half a RedBull.  These laps are only about 45 minutes.  I was sucking down water like a sponge.  I asked my wife to go get a fill up from the aid station because I was going to need it for the fifth lap.
When I came in after the 4th lap I was out of Ironman Perform (3 bottles).  I had about a quarter of a bottle left.  So I went out on the fifth lap with a bottle of plain water, and a quarter of a bottle of Ironman Perform.  During the course of the race I also took in salt pills about 45 minutes to an hour.  I also tried to take in some gel but my stomach didn't like it.  By 3/4 through the 5th lap I was completely out of everything.  All the water and Perform was gone.  In total I went through 8 bottles of fluid.  Luckily I didn't have much to go.  I cruised in to the finish line in 3rd place with a time of 3:52 (I think maybe 3:53).  Being a double points day the finish that will help out with the overall for the season.  I only have 1 more USAC race this year so I needed it especially after my horrible time trial at Fort Custer.

Congratulations to all that finished yesterday.  It was a tough day out there.  Some had to make tough decisions about their own well being and finishing a race.  Next up is the 32 mile portion of the Breckenridge 100 and a nice little vacation out west.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Video from Pontiac Lake today

Just a quick video of some singletrack action with fellow Cat 1 MTB'er Brad Lako.  I had a lot of fun and I finally got some GoPro video of me riding. Enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lumberjack 100 - Hell is also very dusty

7am and the siren sounds.  The sound of 400+ mountain bikers clicking in and the hum of the knobby tires on pavement signaled that the Lumberjack 100 2012 had begun.  For some, like myself, they are new to endurance mountain biking and nervous about the journey ahead.  The weather was going to be hot and the trail sandy.  This has been called the easiest hundred but today would prove that wrong and the DNF rate was going to be high for this rate and many experienced racers would call this the toughest race of the year over Mohican and Cohutta. 

My day started off fast.  I lined up in the third row making sure I didn't get pushed too far back on the start.  I felt confident going into the race so I didn't want to get pushed too far back in the pack.  I felt like I had a 7:30-7:45 finish in me and I wanted to run my own race as much as possible.  I'd much rather be the person getting passed than having to do the passing.  On the road leading in the pace was high.  We were pushing 26mph which is flying on a mountain bike with tiny gears.  Within a couple quick miles we were filing into the woods like ant's.  Early on the pace of the race was closer to a cross country race with everyone, including me, trying to checkout.  The course starts basically uphill.  There's a few hundred feet of climbing.  This was just what I needed to help thin the pack out.  Over the course of the first lap I would get passed but many times find myself passing that person back.  I would bridge between groups and keep pushing forward.  I would get through one pack of riders and move on to the next.  You probably wouldn't think it, but you can draft in mountain bike racing.  I would go all out going between the groups and then ease off for a bit once I made my way up to the next group and have a nice convo before I would pass and move on.  The climbs on the course weren't terrible except for a couple.  There was one that I remember that felt like I was riding a vertical wall.  Here is a pic of me walking up that wall.  I would only do this climb on the first lap.  The next 2 I walked it.  There is also another climb at the fire tower that you have to walk.  There are wooden stairs in the dirt that you can use as steps.  Here is a pic of me walking up the first lap.

The first lap seemed to go well.  I had taken my Powerbar Peform in my Camelbak and 1 additional bottle.  I also brought along a gel flask.  I tried to stick to my usual plan of 1 bottle per hour.  I was expecting about a 2.5-2.75hr laps so that amount of fluid should have been perfect.  I caught up to Amanda Carey by the end of the first lap and followed her in to the pit area.  The first lap went in 2:28 which was right on pace where I wanted to be.  I felt very good coming in.  I refilled my Camelbak and grabbed another bottle for the next lap.  I also slammed some Coke and a Milkyway and took off for the second lap.  As soon I got into the opening set of climbs on the 2nd lap I started to cramp.  These cramps would continue for the remainder of the race.  I rarely have problems with cramps.  In the past I've done is just take in a little extra electrolytes and the cramps were gone.  I didn't think much of them at first but as I continued on they got much worse.  At mile 40 I had to pull off the course due to the cramps.  I stopped for a couple minutes and tried to stretch my legs out.  Meanwhile watching many of the riders I passed, pass me back.    I would start back riding only to cramp again.  Over the course of the race I probably got off my bike at least a dozen times.  When I got to the aid station I was able to get 4 salt tablets from a volunteer.  These really helped me a lot.  I also sucked down 5 cups of water.  That's when I realized that I wasn't drinking enough plain water to flush all the gel and drink through my system.  My stomach also starting cramp and I knew I wasn't absorbing all the stuff I was taking.  I was able to complete the 2nd lap in 2:52.  My fitness felt fine during the 2nd lap but the cramps were killing me and I was starting to worry about not absorbing enough calories for the third lap. 

When I came in after the 2nd lap I decided I was going to take on an extra bottle of Powerbar Perform and fill my Camelbak with just plain water.  I figured I was going to need all I could take as the heat was really starting to pick up and the humidity was very high in the woods.  My sunglasses were fogging up quite a bit.  There was also someone in the tent next to us that overheard my conversation with the guys in my tent and gave me a whole container with salt tablets.  Score!  Shortly after I started the 2nd lap I went to grab one of my Powerbar Perform bottles.  I then realized that I had dropped it at some point.  So much for that master plan of 2 bottles.  Luckily though I did bring 2 bottles or I would be without completely.  The cramps continued through the lap.  It got so bad that many of the climbs I would have to get off the bike because I would cramp too much trying to ride up the climbs.  Not only was I cramping, my stomach not absorbing, but now I was really starting to notice that I was reaching the end of my fitness.  Basically the whole third lap was one big bonk!  When I got to the aid station I was dry.  I had nothing left in my Camelbak and the 1 bottle of Perform was now empty.  I asked if they would refill me.  They were kind and filled my bottle up with their drink and my Camelbak full of water.  I dumped a cup of water over me and I went on my way.  I felt extremely well at this point.  No cramps and for whatever reason I felt strong.  Completing this race really came into focus.  Unfortunately this feeling wouldn't last the lap.  I really started to suffer and suffer bad during the third lap.  The last 10 miles were an absolute hell on earth.  I've never experienced anything like it.  I was riding and I had trouble telling if I was riding on an off camber or if I was off camber.  Many times it was probably both.  Finally the parking lot was insight from the trail and I knew I had finally made it to the finish.  I crossed the line in 8:19 and I almost felt like crying.  I had suffered worse than anything I had ever done before and I was very proud of myself for not crashing, not having any mechanicals, or most of all, not giving up.  For most of the 2nd and third laps I told myself I would never do this again.  It was the dumbest thing I could ever imagine doing on a mountain bike.  Well 2 days later and I feel differently.  I am definitely going to be back again for next year and have the finish I wanted. 

Big thanks to my new friends Shaun, Steve, and Keith for letting me pit under your tent.  I had the best possible access to my stuff I could have asked for and I look forward to riding with you guys in the future.  Thanks to Powerbar for your awesome support.  Even thought I am not currently doing triathlon you've chosen to continue to support me.  An enormous thank you to my coach Curt Wilhelm from mtbcoach.com.  You are a genius with your training plans and the amount of growth I've seen since I started working with you has been incredible.  Train safe and have fun and I'll see you all next year at Big M!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Addison Oaks Stage Race Race Report

This past weekend was the next installment of the Tailwind Racing USAC series.  The first race was Pontiac Lake TT which I didn't participate in because I was out of town.  The Addison race consisted of 2 days of racing.  Day one was a 1 lap time trial on a modified course and a short track cyclocross style track.  Day two was a cross country race.  Going into the race most of us thought that it was a combined race, as it turned out, Saturday was really the only "stage" race of the weekend.  Sunday was counted separately.  I think they did this so they could draw more racers on Sunday that didn't want to race the whole weekend. 

Going into this race I didn't have high expectations.  My first Cat 1 race was at Yankee Springs but due to DNF I didn't finish it.  Also that was a TT race and not a cross country race so Addison was going to be my first Cat 1 cross country race on Sunday.  Saturday started off with a 1 lap TT on a modified course.  They had cut out some of the usual mountain bike course and ran us on parts of the horse trail.  Wasn't really a fan of them doing this.  I was concerned about flinging horse shit the whole time.  The ground was rather soft.  At one point they had pink arrow's setup and I thought I was supposed to make a left so I came to a stop to turn only look farther down that section and realize I was suppose to keep going straight so I lost a few seconds.  That really didn't do much for my time though.  Other than that it was pretty uneventful race.  I went out with another rider but I managed to drop him within the first mile or so and rode solo the rest of the way in.  I finished the TT in 29:24.

The next race up was the short track race.  This was done on the grass (which was very lumpy) and was about a 1 mile course.  It was supposed to be 20 minutes plus 2 laps.  I rode my CX bike for this mostly because I wanted to get racing experience on it.  In hindsight it was probably a bad decision, I probably could have gone faster on the mountain bike but whatever.  The biggest difference is the brakes.  They suck on a CX bike compared to a mountain bike so coming into corners I couldn't go as fast.  Power output was good around 300 watts for the 24 minutes. Knowing I had another race the following day I didn't want to push too hard.  I had also pushed really hard in the TT and I was feeling that.  I ended up 6th in the short track which put me 5th overall for the day.  Like I said, looking back I should have ridden my mountain bike but I didn't have a lot of expectations for this whole weekend being it was going to be my first real Cat1 race.  I found out later that night from my team mate John Osgood that I had won a medal for 5th place.  That was cool and it gave me confidence going into Sunday.

Sunday morning I woke up with some tight calf muscles.  Mostly like from pushing so hard in the short track race.  I iced them early enough in the day that it wouldn't affect me or cause injury so by the time I got back to Addison they were feeling better.  I was a bit nervous for this race.  I hadn't done a cross country race yet so I didn't know about pacing, how much water to bring, where to line up for the start, the fact that it was going to be 85 degrees, everything was new.  Well they did a call up from Saturday's results to the start line starting with 5th place so I was called first to the start line so I went straight down the middle.  The race started the leader took off and a pack of 4 of us stayed together for the whole first lap and much of the 2nd.  As we caught other groups of riders we couldn't all get through so I got caught behind many times.  I would then have to work really hard to bridge back up to the last riders in my group.  I eventually did but the first 2 riders in my group were starting to make a gap and I was riding with the third rider in my group.  Half way through the third lap I made a pass on the rider in front of me.  I felt pretty good at this point too.  I had conserved some energy so I was able to push pretty good and put in some time.  The problem now though, was that I was alone.  This is the hardest type of racing to do.  I was tired at this point as well so most of the last lap was spent alone.  I passed a couple more guys in the groups that went out ahead of us but that was pretty much it.  There were 2 guys from the 40-49 group that left behind us that caught me right at the end of the race but I just pulled over and let them pass.  I knew I was ahead of the 5th place enough that I didn't need fight and I figured they were in their own race fighting for the win so I just let them go.  I finished in 4th out of 11 30 seconds behind 2nd and 3rd and 3 minutes ahead of 5th. Overall I'm very pleased with the result.  I wasn't sure how I would do but it turned out great.  I got another medal and I got to do the rollercoaster hands for the group picture.  Next up is Hanson Hills 100.  This is going to be crazy.  My first mountain bike century.  I'll keep everyone posted after that.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stony Creek 5.5 hour...uhhh Race? report

This past weekend was my first try at endurance mountain biking.  It was the Stony Creek 6/12 race held at Stony Creek by Fun Promotions.  I originally wanted to race the 6 hour but I had a concert to go to that night and the 6 hour started at 2pm so that wasn't going to work.  I still wanted the racing experience however so I signed up for the 12 hour.  With the 2 hundreds coming up, I wanted to make sure I had all of my questions answered before I did them.  At the beginning of the race during the riders meeting, the promoter said that the race was actually being cut to 5.5/11.5 because they need to be out of the park by 9pm so instead of finishing both races at 8 they were going to finish at 7:30.  Obviously that didn't matter to me.  I was going to finish when I had to. 

I set my pit up at my car which was parked along the start of the course.  That way all I had to do was pull 2 feet off the trail to pit.  I put my cooler with my bottles in it and loaded up my gear.  Earlier in the week I spoke to my coach Curt about tactics and nutrition.  We decided on 1 bottle of sports drink per hour and supplement with gel.  So I I took 2 bottles of Powerbar Ironman Perform and a flask of gel.  I also took a can of Big Air and air chuck, and a bag with a tube and tire lever in case I got a puncture.  I should have take a tool with me too but I didn't.  I paid a little for it later. 

The race began at 8am with the 12 hour teams going out first.  The solo's went 1 minute later.  At the beginning of the race I just wanted to sit back and get a feel for everyone's pace.  Now they're pace was going to be obviously slower than mine as they were doing the 12 and I was doing the 6 so I figured I could catch up with some of the guys in team race as they would probably be keeping a higher pace that the 12 hour solo's.  I sat in about 3rd going into the Rollercoaster section.  Within 10 minutes or so, the group I was with had caught up to the 12 hour team riders at the back of the pack.  This slowed us for a bit but I figured it's such a long race I'm not going to push or be agressive here.  Just wait for the doubletrack and make a move.  That was pretty much what I followed.  Once we exited the singletrack I just pushed past as many as I could on the doubletrack before we got to the Pines section of the course.  I probably pushed a little too hard and paid for it a bit around the 2.5hr mark.  I basically maxed my HR out until I got to the pines.  Once I got about 3/4 of the way into the Pines I caught up to one of the guys on a 12 hour team.  We rode together through some of the doubletrack and then I went on by myself. 

I was pretty much alone from this point on with the exception of when I catch up to someone else here and there.  I got through 3 laps of the course and then decided to pit.  It had been about 2:15 or so and I was all out of fluid and gel.  I stopped at my car and changed bottles and gel flasks.  It took me about a minute to complete. I felt good about this but, it was not the only pit I was going to take.  About 25 minutes into the 4th lap I needed to go to the bathroom.  I pulled off the course and that cost me a little time.  Then on the next lap, I started to feel like I needed more calories and fast or I was going to bonk hard.  This is when I realized that I pushed a bit too hard in the beginning.  I stopped for a second to take in some cola and half of a Powerbar Triple Threat.  Within a few minutes I was feeling good again.  This was good news but the bad news my right shifter was coming loose.  I needed to pit yet again.  I stopped at my car and grabbed a wrench and tightened my shifter and back out on the course.  Did a couple more laps that were only a couple minutes slower than my first few so I was very happy to be keeping a consistent pace. 

I finished my portion of riding with 7 laps in 5:28 minutes.  My Garmin showed 65 miles but I later found out that the course is actually a mile or so more than my Garmin showed.  I actually rode more like 73 miles in 5:28.  The problem is my Edge 500 does what's called GPS aliasing so when I am doing switchbacks, the device doesn't think I'm going anywhere.  Someone on the MMBA website pointed this out to me. 

Overall I am very pleased with how the race turned out.  I think I accomplished what I needed to going into the Hanson Hills 100 and the Lumberjack 100.  Endurance mountain biking is hard though.  Much more than I would have anticipated.  I really beats you up.  I had that 15 miles into the Ironman run feel going about 5 hours into the ride.  I was happy to fnish.  Unfortunatly leaving early like I did cost me a win.  Had I raced the 6 hour race, I woud have been sent out for another lap at 5:28 which would have been 8 total in probably 6:15-20 and would have given me the win.  The person that won the 6 hour event 7 laps in 6:16.  Like I said though, this was a good learning experience for me and adds a lot of confidence going into the next endurance event which is the Hanson Hills 100.  I am also doing the Addison Oaks stage race this coming weekend.  Here is a video of the race from this weekend.  I'm the guy slowly climbing up the hill. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yankee Springs Wake Up Call

This past weekend I raced the Yankee Springs TT. Well attempted to anyway. I had to borrow my wife's bike as my fork is currently in need of some repair. I was unsure that I was even going to race but I didn't want to use it as an excuse. My wife's bike is a Niner Air 9 with a Reba XX fork. It's a really good bike but as I found its not mine and I was totally not comfortable riding it. Not to mention I never road the race course before and it wast first Cat 1 race. So all new stuff at a race. How many triathletes would do that?

The race started out ok but as it continued I just didn't feel that great on that bike. I had some of my parts off of my Specialized but it still wasn't the same. The biggest issue I had was with the shifting. Since I was using my wheels with my cogset I needed to readjust the shifters but I didn't. It totally slipped my mind. I found myself missing shifts and not getting all my gears when I needed them. I made some passes on a few guys and got passed. Thats just how time trials go. I came though the first lap in 52:06. Not bad but not to my potential. I had just passed another rider and was heading up a climb when my shifting started slipping again and real bad. So bad that the chain sucked and I ended up snapping the rear deraileur hanger and the chain. That was pretty stupid of me. I should have not continued to push but I was in full freak out mode. In Ironman racing I never freaked out like this.

So not the best showing for my first Cat 1 race but I have a lot of racing ahead in my mountain bike career. The takeaways from this race are first, don't race just to race and second, stay calm in mechanical situations. Doing something stupid can be very costly both to the race and financially.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Off to the races...

So far 2012 is kicking off to be amazing.  1st race I did, I won.  It was a 2 lap sport class race at Bloomer Park in Rochester.  This was my first mountain bike race ever so I was a bit nervous.  My original plan was to just sit back and watch and see what happened on then on the last lap make a move if I felt confident.  Well the plan changed in the first turn.  I was sitting in 2nd and the guy in front of me crashed going from pavement to dirt.  I took the lead and didn't look back.  He got up pretty quick and was blocking the trail so we had to wait for him.  But as the race went on, my distance between him and I grew.  He stayed in 2nd and my lead kept increasing.  I ended up winning the race by a few minutes.  My lap times were good enough to get me 3rd in the Expert class.  After the race, I looked up the person that got 2nd in my race.  I found out he was actually a Cat 1 and was sort of cheating by riding that class.  So beating him made me feel pretty good about the race I had.There's a video a company of the race.  You can view it here.  I'm the guy in the Castelli gear.  The course was very technical.  A lot of up and down and winding all over the place.  Also much of it was new so the dirt was very soft in those sections.   

Here's a pic of me after the race with my winnings.  The one thing I really like about mountain bike races is the obsession with beer.  These guys are amazing.  They will kick your ass on the trail and then everyone parties and drinks beer.  These racers are great athlete's too, trust me.  After the race, I contacted USA Cycling and requested an Cat 1 Offroad license.  They approved it.

This weekend I competed in a race called Barry-Roubaix, The Killer Gravel Road Race.  Let me tell you, it lives up to it's name.  What a race.  It's a very challenging gravel road race with over 1000ft of climbing per hour and your doing this on gravel.  It's like doing Ironman Lake Placid on a gravel road.  Just not as long.  To make matters worse, they have a couple of sections of about .5 miles that are just all sand.  The point is to get you off your bike.  Technically, this is a Cyclocross race, but I don't have a cross bike so I did the best I could on my mountain bike with cross tires.  The biggest problem I had was running out of gear.  I would draft off of someone but I would spin out and they would ride away because they are on a cross bike with 48t and I'm riding my mountain bike with a 40.  It makes a large difference.  Plus I have suspension fork and they are all rigid.  So while I have the best fork on the market with a lockout, it's still not the same.  I ended up like 22nd in my age group.  Not too bad but I could have done better.  In the 2nd sand section coming back, I also collided with another rider.  After picking my bike up I realized the rear wheel had fallen out of the bike.  I panicked trying to get the wheel back in but had to flip the bike over and get it back in.  I probably lost about 3-4 minutes in that whole fiasco. I also have a bunch of scratches and cuts all over my legs.  

This was also the first race I did with some members of my new team, Team Sandbag.   I met them when I riding one day.  They were out for a group ride at the park I was riding.  They noticed my Ironman stickers and we talked a bit.  As it turns out, the team manager Todd Powers, is looking to do some triathlons this year so we are sort of swapping mountain bike and triathlon stories.  So a group of us were in attendance at the Barry Roubaix this weekend.  From right to left, Me, Todd Powers, John Osgood, Kevin Nolly, and Brad Dunkin.
After the race the party begins.  Not only was my teammates from Sandbag there, but so was Kevin Neumann or as he is better known as @ironmanbythirty.   It was great to meet  him and hang out in person as we've chatted so much online.  I also got to meet Jason Mahonky, the main and pretty much only, guy at XXC Mag. Jason is a great guy.  He writes awesome stories about endurance mountain bike racing, and just general offroad awesomeness.  Give his magazine a look.  There's more to this than just racing and he really captures that in his magazine.  Also in attendance the badass physical therapist who can also run and ride a bike pretty darn good, Clint Verran.  This guy is a genius in so many ways.  I don't trust very many people but Clint I trust.  So far everything he has ever told me has come true.  All throughout my knee surgery recovery, he's told me the truth and what to expect and he's been dead on.  He also gave me some tips going into the Barry Roubaix that helped out a lot.  And of course, we both enjoyed the post race festivities!
 So cheers!  The 2012 season is officially underway.  I am restarting my training plan from Curt Wilhelm the Mountain bike coach, in prep for my A race the Lumberjack 100.  I have a couple weeks off to pack in some miles before my next race which is the Yankee Springs time trial.  It will be my first race as a Cat 1.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Confessions of a two wheel addict

Hello, my name is Alex Gonzalez and I am addict.  No, not a drug addict, well maybe, but I am addicted to bikes.  Doesn't matter what type of bike, but if it has 2 wheels, a seat and handlebars, I probably want to ride it.  Yesterday I took my time trial bike out for the first time since last fall. I only rode the bike 20 minutes because I have a race today so I didn't want to over do it.  I had a blast.  I had to force myself to stop.  All my life the one thing that I have always done is ride a bike. 

I'm blessed to actually remember being in diapers so it goes without saying that I remember when i started riding a bike as a kid.  I had a blue bike that had tassels hanging out of the handlebars.  It had a coaster brake, white grips, and some sort of writing on the chainguard.  Unfortunately I couldn't read so I don't know what it said but I do remember what it looked like.  I would ride that bike for hours around the driveway.  Then eventually I was allowed to ride to the next door neighbors driveway.  Then 2 doors down driveway etc.  Then one day, my uncle came over with a Suzuki 2 stroke dirt bike.  I was hooked.  I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen in my life.  He took me for a ride in the backyard and I was amazed at how cool it was to not have to pedal and fast it was.  I told my grandma I want a motorcycle.  She told me that I needed to learn how to ride the bike without training wheels first and we'd see about.  Well didn't me long and before you know it, I was showing off on my bike with no training wheels.  And guess what I got?
Yep, I got a motorcycle.  As you can probably tell we had a big yard so I could ride it all over back there. I would build jumps and go bashing through the grapevines in the back.  I had a blast.  I was allowed to burn 1 tank of gas a day so I had to limit my riding.  So I still spent quite a bit of time on my pedal bike. 

As I got older I got different bikes.  I was really into flatland BMX freestyle as a kid.  We would go across the street to the high school parking lot where they had a pretty steep slope up to another buildings lot.  We would ride up the slope and then try to jump the top of it and do 180's.  Or the front of the school had a lot of stair cases and we would go ride them and try to jump off them.  All in all, I might spend 8 or 9 hours a day on a bike in the summer.  I didn't have any money so I always had to go home for food or something to drink.  No fancy carbon fiber water bottle holders back then.  But I wouldn't be home for long before I was back out on the bike. 

Around 18 years old, I got into mountain biking.  I had a Specialized Rockhopper FS.  I was constantly going to Pontiac Lake riding it.  I was sort of chubby at this point but I was amazed at how much weight I could lose by mountain bike riding.  I loved how I could go into the woods and hit all the obstacles and how much fun it was going down the hills.  It was like mixing freestyle BMX and motocross together. 

The next couple years of my life, well, we won't go there.  But let's jump ahead to 22 years old.  I'm now married and I wanted to get back into motocross.  I started with a old Suzuki that fell apart pretty quick so I bought a YZ400F.  This thing was a beast.  A 4-stroke motocross bike that had torque and power in everything.  I started riding again at my cousins track Baja MX in Birch Run, MI. 

Unfortunately, I wasn't the greatest of riders.  I did ok and raced my age group and the B class but I wasn't a standout rider.  I think mostly because I let my physical fitness go to shit.  I started mountain biking again as a way to get into better shape. On July 4th, 2005, I collided with a little dumbshit rider on an 80 going over the jump I'm going over in the picture above.  He was spooked by a rider coming up on his right side and decided to go left just as I was passing him and we collided in the air.  This is where all my knee problems start.  I tore my ACL that day.  I didn't do much about it because it didn't really hurt that bad.  A few weeks later I was at a race there and I was heading over to the starting line.  I stepped out of my friends trailer and as I was stepping down my knee popped out.  Now, a normal person would have stopped and not raced that day.  Not me, I popped it back into place and went to the line anyway like an idiot.  See, all I wanted to do was race my 2nd moto, I didn't care about my knee.  Well 3 laps in, I landed a bit flat after a 60 foot double jump and my knee just literally went sideways.  I landed fine and didn't crash, but I looked down and my knee was popped out.  It was pretty nasty.  I popped it back and then rolled off the track and laid the bike down and waited for medical to get me.  This picture was taken on the last lap.
After that, things never seemed the same.  I took the rest of the summer off and got the knee repaired and I started riding in the spring but now I was scared.  I didn't want to crash and tear something again.  So now my performance went to shit.  I was horrible at races and I was too afraid to hit the bigger jumps.  I ended up quitting because once you get like that and lose confidence, your asking for trouble if you stay in it.  Your better off finding another hobby.

Enter triathlon.  In 2007 I started road cycling.  It was something different that I had never tried so I bought a Specialized Roubaix and headed out on the roads.  All the riding I did before this was on the sidewalk so riding on the roads freaked me out at first.  It took a while for me to get used to the cars.  Where I live we don't have a lot of shoulders or the shoulders are dirt and you can't exactly ride on them on a road bike.  In May of 2007, someone I worked with mentioned that they were doing a Team in Training event that was a triathlon.  She told me that I should do a triathlon because I was a cyclist.  I told her I didn't know how to swim and and I hated running.  Well I figured I'd give it a try.  She the swim was real short and if I had to, I could walk the run.   I went out and I learned how swim by watching YouTube videos and swimming in the lake. I also started running and found that I sort of liked it.  I kept going farther and farther with my runs.  Then I found stories on the internet like the story of Jon Blais who died of ALS and I saw that he did an Ironman with ALS. I was very impressed by the story and I wanted to do more than just train for myself.  I signed up for a sprint race in August that year.  I did that race and I was hooked.  All downhill from there.  I ended up doing 4 races in 5 weeks time.  The off week I actually did a crit race.  I got 8th in that bike race but I didn't like it as much as the triathlon.  The riders were all over the place. 

That winter I signed up for the Florida 70.3.  I also signed up to raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  After that race, I wanted to go farther. I had some good success at half distance that year. I did 2 more including taking the overall victory at the Tawas Half Ironman.  I also set my Half Ironman bike PR of 2:11 that year at Steelhead.  I started to have some really good success in triathlon.  Mostly because of my bike performances.  I am usually the first off the bike unless I had a really bad swim.  This pic is me coming into transition at the Rev3 Cedar Point race.  This was the half distance race.  There was 850 athletes in that race and you can see there is no one else in transition but me.  I was the first on the run course.  They even announced it as I was running out how I was the first person ever on that run course.  I later faded to 7th OA unfortunately.  
 The last couple of years I've had some subpar results at triathlon. I tried a coach, not to blame him, in 2010 and ever since then I started changing things a lot and sort of lost my groove.  So last fall I decided to just put triathlon out of my head for a while and try something that I haven't done in a while.  I took my 2003 Gary Fisher off the wall and headed out to Pontiac Lake.  I had a great time riding and started to ride more.  In October I bought my Specialized Stumpjumper HT.  It's a thing of beauty.  I've spent a lot to get it to where I want it but I love it so it's ok.  I also started having knee problems again last summer so I decided to back off of running and spend more time on the bike.  We were fortunate to have a mild winter so I was able to ride my bike outdoors most of it.  There were some snow days but the mountain bike handles that pretty good. 
 So here I am, 34 years old and all I want to do is ride my bike.  Not much has changed since I was a little kid.  The bikes have changed for sure, but not my love for riding anything with 2 wheels.  This year I plan on racing in long distance endurance mountain bike events as well as some shorter road triathlons.  I don't know if I can do Ironman anymore with my knee.  I've had 4 knee surgeries already, I really don't need anymore but I love triathlon and I am not going to give it up. In fact, I am doing some Xterra races this summer as well.  I want to qualify for Ogden, UT and race the nationals.  I'm a bit torn with where to put my focus now.  I love road triathlon and riding my TT bike 120 miles but I also really enjoy my mountain bike and riding the singletrack or just some endless dirt roads.  Either way, I will still be on a bike and enjoying it until I'm dead. 


Monday, March 12, 2012

2012 Race Schedule...again

So things are changing and fast. I've gone from doom and gloom and not racing to mountain bike only to Xterra for sure starting in May. I'm very pleased with the recovery and thankful for a body that can bounce back so well.

As for the training, the bike going awesome. I rode 50 miles yesterday on gravel and some horse trails, that hadn't been pooped on yet. I had a blast doing that and took a few pictures since I had my phone.

So the 2012 schedule is changing again. I'm doing more long distance mountain bike races the edition of the Mohican 100 and Ruby 50. Although my wife is a little upset with all the racing. But here's the thing, when you have the fitness, you should use it. You can't keep it forever so you should capitalize on it. This approached worked very well for Ironman races. My first race went ok but the 2nd one went even better. I'm expecting these to be the same.

Race Schedule 2012
March 24th - Barry Roubaix Gravel Road Race
April 22nd - Yankee Springs Mountain bike TT
May 20th - Last Stand Xterra
May 26th – Hanson Hills 100
June 2nd - Mohican 100k
June 16th – Lumberjack100
July 7th – Stony Creek MTB marathon
July 21 - Xterra Versailles Indiana
August 5th - Ruby Campground XC
August 19th – Ruby 50
September 9th – Addison oaks Mtb
September 22nd - Xterra National Championships Ogden, UT
October 6th - 6 hours of Addison Oaks
November 3rd - Iceman Cometh

So there it is. One of the 2 Ruby races might not happen but at this point, they're on the schedule.

These are the pics I took on my ride yesterday.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

6 week update

It's been a few weeks since I've updated my progress. For the most part, things are going well. As a matter of fact I am in NYC right now celebrating my birthday and I am thinking about going for a run, except it's freezing and I don't have pants. I'm up to 85% comfortably on the AlterG treadmill in PT. I actually ran at 100% for a couple minutes the other day just to see. The knee felt pretty good but oddly, I feel like I am heavier than 100% when I run on the AlterG at 100%. Maybe its the device and where it sits on me that I am holding up the device. I have to run with it pretty low on my hips as it kills my internal organs pushing against my stomach. So when I try to run to my mailbox or something like that, I actually feel lighter than running on the AlterG. So I'm running at about 7mph on the treadmill. Not really concerned about the speed. I can run comfortable at 8.5 if I want to but I noticed that I was pounding down harder on the treadmill and speed is not important right now, getting the weight back is. I am turning out to be a very lucky MFX patient I think. Given the odd location and the small size of the lesion, I am recovering about 100x's faster than most that have had this surgery. My injury was 1.2cm and it's on the back (posterior) of my outside (lateral) femoral condyle. So it doesn't really make contact during weight bearing exercises. The only time I make contact is when I try to squat. Still doesn't hurt then though because there is no gravitational pressure on the injury.

From a bike standpoint, things are coming back. I'm still a bit down from where I was but my power profile is moving back up. I'm into the Cat4 range now for 20 minute power and getting close to Cat3 for 5 minute power. I should get back to Cat2 for 5 minute power and mid to upper Cat3 for 20 minute and 60 minute power.

The other point, is that these are numbers off the trainer. On the road I'm about 10-15% higher on the road than I am on the trainer. It's not a cooling issue for me. I think I'm paranoid about breaking my bike so I don't move around as much on the trainer as I do on the road. I stand up and crank going up hills and push harder when I'm on the road and I don't do as much on the trainer. The weather should be breaking soon so I should be able to get out to Indian Springs and do a real FTP test. Indian Springs has an 8 mile paved loop that is basically flat and it's the perfect place for an FTP test. Last year I was at 4.38w/kg FTP, this year should be higher. I am putting a much larger focus in cycling with all the mountain bike racing I am doing this year. I am following a plan from Curt Wilhelm for 100 mile mtb racing. The plan goes up to about 15 hours a week in just cycling. I am going to integrate swimming and running into the plan too but I will be mostly bike focused. I'm not planning on even breaking double digits on the run for a while and I swim in the mornings before work so it won't impact the bike training. At this point I'm signed up for 2 100 mile mtb races. They are 3 weeks apart so the timing should work well.

I'm extremely happy about the fact that I will be racing Xterra for sure now and that I will racing in May. My wife and I are planning a road trip to the nationals in Ogden, UT. We're going to drive and take our 2 Siberian Huskies. So I've updated my race schedule to reflect some of the changes of for the season. My first race is going to be a gravel road race on March 24th. I'm looking forward to this race. It's sponsored by my favorite beer company Founders so I am looking forward to the post race festivities. Luckily for me I live in the country so I have access to a lot of gravel roads to train on. I really like riding the gravel roads. You can still ride fast and who doesn't like getting dirty!

Swimming is the sore point for me. Not that I am not swimming ok, but I'm just not motivated to do it. I'm swimming maybe twice a week if I'm lucky. My pace and endurance is fine though so I'm not sure if I'm going to put much more focus on it. The longest swim I will do is in September and it's only a 1500. The other Xterra races I'm doing are only 800m swims. I did a 1000y warm up the other day and it took 14:05 so 800 is probably around 11 minutes so that should be fine for the short Xterra races. I may race an Olympic on an off weekend but I'm not really worried about 1500m swim. If I was doing IM, then I'd have to put more focus on the swim. Big difference between 800 and 3800m.

Well off to the city to enjoy the last day here in NYC. Talk to you later.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Non Scientific Newtons test

As you may or may not know, I've been running in Newton's for about 5 years now. I've tried almost every yer to get out of them but can never find a shoe that made my legs feel as well as after long runs over 14 miles as the Newtons did. Since I've been running on the AlterG treadmill in PT I've had to monitor my pain threshold. If I reach a certain point of body weight, the pain breaks that threshold and I have to decrease my body weight. Currently I am running at 67% of my body weight. Ironically, that's not in Newtons, it's in Brooks Pureflow.

My PT and his assistant both run for the Hanson Brooks team. They are old school and very talented runners. Well they made fun of me and called me a trigeek for the Newtons. While I defended my shoes, I also wanted to test something out since now I have this pain threshold from the MFX surgery. So Monday after to PT I went to the local Hanson's Running shop and picked up a pair of the Brooks Pureflow. I had been wanton to try the Pure line for sometime. I a forefoot runner, not to be confused with a snob minimalist runner. I believe in shoes and in technology. I tried on the Cadence and the Flow. The Cadence had a little posting that ran on thee dial side of the show and more towards the back and the forefoot was very flat feeling. The Pureflow had no posting in the back but the lateral side of the Forefoot seems a little beefed up. This is good for me because if you look at the wear pattern of my shoes that's where I wear them down the most. Almost like I am running on my pinky toe. So I went with the Flows.

Last night was the first night I got a chance to try them out. They felt great on the treadmill. I was even able to go 2% higher than the last time I ran in Newtons. Now some of that might just be me getting stronger but it still was only 2 days apart so it can be that much. Overall I am very pleased with the shoes and glad to not be made fun of. Keep in mind this is only 4 miles on a treadmill do there are a lot of factors that differ outside but I still found it interesting.

Now the Newtons have also always been faster than normal shoes too. That test will have to wait a few months to complete but for now I am running happy in the Flows.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

4 week Surgery Update

So here we are, 4 weeks from my Microfracture knee surgery.  Things are moving along quite well.   Much better than anyone anticipated.  I was trying to not get my hopes up, but having had 3 knee surgeries prior, I knew my body would heel faster than most.  This will take longer than usual but I think I'll beat expectations.  When I had my ACL done in 2005, I shocked my PT at how fast the swelling was gone and how strong my leg was the first week after surgery.  I can remember people walking in to PT after me that had surgery 6-8 weeks prior for the same thing and still could barely walk and their knee was swelled up like a balloon.  I follow a pretty rigorous protocol even though you may not expect that. I've learned a lot about how to reduce swelling and get my ROM back.  After the MFX I started scouring the internet for as much information as I could.  I already had a great doctor and knew who I was hiring to be my PT.  The big bonus with my PT, was that he had just gone through the same surgery 2 years ago and came back to run the Olympic Marathon trials in Houston.  I also talked with other athletes, like Marc Rubin and discussed the recovery process.  Anytime I am about to attempt something knew, I scour for information and try to assemble the best team of support I can find.  This is no different.

At this point I am finally off crutches!  On Friday my PT said just use them through the weekend.  I seem to be walking just fine and my knee is always feeling better.  If you follow me on Twitter or we're friends on Facebook then you probably saw this video.  That's me RUNNING on an Alter-G treadmill.  This was the first time I actually ran.  It felt amazing.  Friday I ran again.  This time at 6mph and 55% of my body weight.  Just need to lose that other 45% and I can run now!  I am very pleased with my progress and so is my OS and PT.  My PT gave me a very doom and gloom speech at our first visit.  He says now he is slowly retracting that statement and that I am making a great recovery.  The doc on the other hand felt more confident and told me I'd be running by June. That's looking pretty possible at this point. My focus is still endurance mountain biking this summer.  I need a break from Triathlon and Ironman especially.  The long boring training hours were really starting to get to me and for a while I was sort of seeing this an out.  But honestly, at this point, I do miss it.  I've been watching people gear up for their IM's this year and I am really wishing I could do one.  I still don't like the training, especially the long slow runs, but there is nothing like racing an Ironman.  I don't think I'll make the starting line for Louisville but who knows, I am also signed up for Rev3 Cedar Point because I transferred it from last year (are you listening Ironman?) due to my knee bothering me.  That probably won't happen either but things have been going well so who knows.  If I do get to do triathlons this year, I am looking at the Xterra race series.  There's an Xterra in Indian that I put on my schedule for July 21st.  That is looking very possible and I am pretty much planning on that one.  That will get me qualified to race in Ogden, UT which would be great.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Powerbar Team Elite

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you might have already heard. I am going to be on the Powerbar Team Elite for 2012 and 2013. I am very excited about this opportunity. 2012 is turning out to be a great year despite the injury. The future is looking up and keeping a positive focus is going to make this year even better! Stay tuned.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Revised 2012 Race Schedule and other stuff

My original plan for 2012 was to seriously go after the Xterra series and get to Maui for the World Championships.  Due to the surgery, I won't be ready to compete on June 5th at the East regional championships for a qualifying spot.  I also won't be able to compete at the 2 local races at the end of May or middle of June either.  That said, I may be ready to compete at a race in Indian at the end of July.  The run portion is only 4 miles.  If I do well there I can get to Ogden, UT for the US Championships.  If do well there, I can qualify for Maui, but I don't think I would take the slot simply because I would be spending close to 700 dollars to fly my bike to 2 places and that is just ridiculous.  So I'm hoping to get to Ogden at least, and target Maui for 2013.

For 2012 I am really focusing on mountain bike racing.  I may throw in some road time trials or crits but my focus is turning to more offroad racing.  Don't get me wrong, I love endurance racing so many of my races are going to be long distance mountain bike races.  I have 2 6 hour races and 2 100 mile races scheduled, as well as a marathon which is about 60 miles.  In an Ironman I can get through the bike split in under 5 hours (as long as I don't have mechanical and it's Lake Placid :) ).  On a mountain bike it's going to be a bit different.  I'll be shooting for closer to 7.5-8 hours for the 100 mile race.  That's going to be grueling and I am looking forward to it.  I like the idea of the long distance biking but honestly, long distance running doesn't excite me.  I don't have the drive to do it anymore.  It was cool to do before because it was such a wow factor, but now I don't feel like I have anything to prove and I risk additional injuries and maybe even a 5th knee surgery which I am getting pretty sick of doing.  My last was just at the end of 2007.  Is this really worth it?  So I think Ironman and I are pretty much through.  I still love triathlon and despite what's said on Slowtwitch, you can be a triathlete without doing Ironman and that's my intention.   But this year is focused on recovery and long endurance mountain bike races.  I would love to race the Leadville 100 some day.  I've watched the video Race Across the Sky and think the whole experience looks really cool.

Here is my 2012 race schedule.  Some of the races could change based on where I am in my recovery.  The Xterra in July may very well end up being the first time I get to run again but we'll see.

Race Schedule 2012
March 24th - Barry Roubaix Gravel Road Race
April 22nd - Yankee Springs Mountain bike TT
May 6th – Fort Custer Augusta Michigan – Mountain bike race
May 12th - 6 hours of Stoney Creek
May 26th – Hanson Hills 100
June 16th – Lumberjack100
July 7th – Stony Creek MTB marathon
July 21 - Xterra Versailles Indiana (Hopefully I can run by then)
August 5th - Ruby Campground XC
August 19th – Island Lake Olympic
September 9th – Addison oaks Mtb
September 22nd - Xterra National Championships Ogden, UT
October 6th - 6 hours of Addison Oaks
November - Iceman ???

Thursday, January 26, 2012

First Follow Up After Surgery (Jellybeans?)

Today I had my first follow up with my doctor, Dr Prince. My progress is coming along quite well. We spoke more about what he had found in the knee since last time we spoke I was coming out of anesthesia. The loose bodies he found floating in my knee were roughly the size of a jellybean and I had multiples of them floating around. These pieces were particles from destroyed ACL and articular cartilage. No wonder my knee was hurting in multiple places, I had about 5 or 6 of these jellybeans floating around. Crazy to think I did a full Ironman with that crap floating in there. The worst part is that's not even what kept me from doing most of the run.

As for the progress, he said that is being more cautious on the front side thinking the back end of the recovery process will be shorter. His recovery process is not usually to have patients non weight bearing for a full 4 weeks but he is treating me different due to my athletic endeavors. He feels I recover very quickly and that my muscles have barely atrophied and by having me NWB for another couple weeks will help ensure a quicker recovery. So I'm not ruling out those Xterra's this year. No Louisville though, that's for sure. So now if I am getting dressed or putting shoes on I don't have to sit down to do it. I can stand on the leg fine and walk short distances with just leaning on one crutch but if I'm going longer distances walking I need both for at least another week.

As for training, I'm green lighted to go hard in the pool just nothing but freestyle. On the bike I can ride all I want just keep the power in recovery zone for now and next weekend I can start to bump it up. Then in 2 weeks or so I free to do anything I want. For running, he's leaving that up to my PT Clint. Clint is already planning on me running in the AlterG in a few weeks and we'll just go from there and see how it goes.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Physical Therapy day one - Setting Expectations

Today was my first day with my physical therapist Clint.  He like my doctor was very impressed with the amount of strength in my quad.  He feels that its about 80% although he never saw it before the surgery so it's hard to tell.  He hooked me up to an electro stimulator and had me fire my quads when I felt the electro.  I was able to do it so hard that I pushed fluid to a suture and almost popped my leg open and sprayed blood and puss all over his wall.  It was actually sort of comical.  He told me about a friend that actually had that happen to him at his house.  Sprayed all over his living room.  Also, I have been riding on the trainer and he said for now this is good, just keep it really easy but in 2 weeks or so I should be back pushing pretty good.  This is good because the news as far as running is not good. 

The legions on my cartilage were about 3-4x the size of the one's he had.  We compared pictured and there is a noticeable difference.  His was about the size of a dime, mine the size of a matchbox.  At this point I will be able to run again.  Probably not really big mileage but I will be able to run again.  The big question is when.  His words to me were "I would just write off running for all of 2012".  Not exactly what I wanted to hear.  The problem is not that I will have pain but more like I will do damage and the benefits I would get from this procedure would be minimized.  He said that I could prove him wrong and that maybe doing some Xterra races or races with shorter runs would be fine but not to expect to train well or much at all for them.  So at this point I am not going to worry about much until June and see where I'm at.  He has an Alter-G treadmill at his office and he said he'll have me running on that in 6 weeks but probably at about 60% of my body weight.  Also, losing some pounds would help too.  But I only weigh 168 now and most of that is in my quads.  I don't want to lose the strength in my quads so I'm caught in a catch 22. 

Cycling and swimming will be large factors to my recovery and how well I recover from this.  So pretty much any mountain bike race that has 100 miles, 6 or 12 hours in the title I am going to be signing up for it.  I may even get out the road bike and do some crit races who knows.  Maybe this is God's way of telling me I really need to work on my bike split.  I guess a 4:42 IM bike split isn't good enough.

Don't worry, I'm not gonig to be doing a blog post after every PT session, but we covered so much today and set expections so I wanted to get them out there.  I'll keep everyone up to date on the key things.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Surgery Update

As most of you know I was having work done on my right knee after injuring it last June. Today was the surgery and what I was hoping to be just a normal cleanup, has turned into much more. Basically the ACL that I had done in 2005 is torn. It's completely gone. Thank you to the donor of the Achilles tendon that served as an ACL for all this time unfortunately I ruined it. I also had some loose bodies floating around and some bone rubbing issues.

So in addition to the clean up, I also underwent micro fracture surgery of the lateral femoral condyle.  Basically my cartilage was very damaged and the lesions had to be removed.   Once removed, the doctor then drills smalls holes in the thigh bone.  The blood and bone then harden to become a cartilage like substance.  Luckily, mine was lateral (outside) and my recovery chances are higher that if I had medial.  Medial is weight bearing and is much more delicate.  Lateral is delicate to a point but the chances are greater for success. 

As for the ACL loss, the doc told me that my legs are incredibly strong. Usually they do manipulation movements in the office to check for your ACL and verify how strong it is. In my case I didn't show any issues with my ACL being there when he was doing these manipulation movements in the office. Generally once they have you under anesthetic they can manipulate your leg more. In my case even under anesthetic my leg still seemed very solid. This is good and may delay an ACL recon for a few years. At this point I am being starte on PT and were going to take it from there. He's not ruling out being able to do Ironman but likes the idea of off road and less running miles.

So I guess it's a good thing I bought that mountain bike and want to do Xterra races this year.

I'll keep everyone updates on the progress and see everyone out there soon!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2012 and Beyond (The verdict and the future) And my knee...

First of all let me apologize for the delay in getting this blog post out. I've honestly been thinking about this and where I want to go for 2012.  As much as I like Ironman, I don't think I'm going to make it the focus of my training any longer.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to race and I am planning on doing Louisville this year, but as for living just to train and race Ironman, I can't do it.  I don't want to say I've wasted the last 2 years with the focus on Lake Placid, but I feel like I missed out on some stuff because of it.  I like to race, alot, part of why I love triathlon so much is because of the competitiveness of the sport.  But focusing on training for an IM, especially at the time of the summer Lake Placid was, is just too difficult.  Right when all the racing starts is when I need to start building up for Lake Placid.  Racing during that time isn't all that great to me.  I have subpar results and I get more depressed and doubtful.  I need to focus on each race and take it one race at a time to be and feel successful.  Do I want to race Ironman?  Yes absolutly, but not at the cost missing out on the rest of the summer.  This is why Louisville works well for me.  It gives me an opportunity to do the spring races in May and June without jeopardizing my build.  I can perform well at the local races for the confidence booster and then do well at Louisville.  I did this in 2009 and felt I had a good race.  I went 9:59 at Louisville and that was my first race.  I later went 9:35 at IM Florida in November.  But not only that I did well at the local races and scored my USAT All American certificate.  Not that everyone thinks those are so great but I do, and I'm proud of that.  I want that again, and I want the feeling of knowing I am doing well at what I do.  Like I mentioned in part 1, it wasn't the time I did at Lake Placid that pissed me off so bad, it was the fact that I didn't feel like I got to race my race.

So what does all this mean for 2012?  Well I am breaking new grounds for 2012.  As you've probably already seen by all my annoying GoPro video's, I've spent alot of time mountain biking.  In October I bought a new Specialized Stumpy 29er Carbon.  The sucker is sweet!!! I've had more fun on this thing than I can remember for the last 2 years. 
You may or may not know but I started cycling as a mountain biker.  I didn't start off as a roady.  Back when I race motocross I used mountain biking as training during the week.  So in August I picked up my old Gary Fisher and started riding again.  Got so hooked on it I picked this sucker up.  Even though it's freezing cold and snowing outside, I've been riding it all winter.  It's just a blast and a great way to avoid the trainer.

For 2012 I am going to do more offroad racing.  Currently I'm signed up for 3 Xterra races and I am also planning on either doing the US Championships in Ogden, UT or the Worlds in Maui.  This is going to be based on qualifying at Richmond for Xterra Maui, or qualifying for Kona at Louisville.  I can't do both Maui and Kona.  I'm almost positive I won't qualify for both so that might work itself out.  In addition to Xterra racing, I'm also planning on doing some 6 hour and 100 mile mountain bike races.  I figure these will be good to get my racing fix as well as get the long bike rides in for Ironman.  In fact, at this point, I only have Ironman Louisville, a local sprint, and maybe a local Olympic on my schedule for road races.  The rest of my races are offroad based races.  Honestly, after doing 300+ mile weeks on the same roads, I could use a change and this will get me that.  Here is my schedule for 2012.

March 24th - Barry Roubaix Gravel Road race
April 22nd - Yankee Springs Mountain bike TT
May 6th – Fort Custer Augusta Michigan – Mountain bike race
May 12th - 6 hours of Stoney Creek
May 20th – Fort Custer Xterra
May 26th – Hanson Hills 100 mountain bike race
June 10 - Xterra East Championships
June 17th – Xterra Torn Shirt Brighton
July 7th – Stony Creek MTB marathon
August 19th – Island Lake Sprint
August 26th – Ironman Louisville (Depending on Knee status)
September 9th – Addison oaks Mtb
September 22nd – Xterra National Champs Ogden, UT
October ?????

One of the biggest possible impacts on my Ironman racing this year may come from my knee.  Back in June I was testing out using some shorter cranks on my bike.  I had adjusted my seat up the difference in the length of the crank but for some reason I went cranking up a hill and I hyperextended my knee that I've had a few surgeries on.  It was an immediate shocking pain.  I knew exactly what I had done. The pain had subsided that day but from that point on, during long runs, I could feel it.  It didn't bother me that bad, but I knew it wasn't 100%.  You can see in my running I have a little limp.  I haven't ran smooth in 7 months. Going into Placid I was hoping that it was tight muscles, but after Lake Placid and during my rest time, it actually got worse.  Since then I've had to put it off due to poor insurance that my doc didn't take.  So now with the new job (at the old place) I have better insurance.  I'm having surgery done on Tuesday to repair some meniscus and clean up scar tissue.  I don't forsee this as a show stopper for Ironman training but it will put some time into my training plan.  The last thing I want to do when I can run again to go out too strong and do too much at one time.  So that might impact my run training for Louisville but not for Xterra racing since those are only 6 miles at the most. 

So all that said, thanks for reading and I look forward to a new year in 2012.  Keep an out for more YouTube video's coming in 2012.  Might even be doing them in 3D (unless I sell my old GoPro).