Monday, August 22, 2011

Midsummer Night's Run

Saturday August 22, 2011
30Km Run

I decided to do the Midsummer Night's run last year after cheering friends on last year.  I also figured this would be the perfect opportunity to get in a good 30km run before Chicago later this fall.

With having Steelhead in my legs from just last weekend I wasn't sure if I could even survive a 30km run.  I did a short run on the Thursday evening and realized my legs were still very tired from my half ironman effort.  They were not quite ready for another hard effort.  Saturday came around and I kept myself busy all morning.  The run was not until 5:30pm.  Got to the race site at about 4:30pm and just chilled until race time. 

Initially I wanted to run the same pace as I did in Montreal earlier this year, about a 5:25min/km.  Then I decided because I had a hard effort just last weekend that I would try to stay at a 5:30min/km pace.  Well, this was way easier said than done.  The race started and I immediately realized how humid it was out there.  By the 3km mark I was completely soaked and struggling.  The first couple of km were a little on the fast side and then I wanted to just settle into a 5:30 pace.  But I had to fight to keep the 5:30 pace.  I was successful for the first 10km or so holding about a 5:30-5:35 but this was not easy.  Then I decided to ignore the pace and fight through this and go as hard as I could go.  I played a little game and decided I would change my "gears" at specific km markers.  At 15km I would go into 2nd gear, 20km go into 3rd gear, 25km go into 4th gear, and then 5th gear for the final couple of km.  Around the 16km mark I then started passing lots of people.  These guys must of just went out too fast for their own good and were now slowing down.  I took in three gels throughout, some salt, and two cups of gatorade and water at every aid station.  I really was fighting the whole way and by about the 26km mark my wheels fell off!  I had no more gears and I was just hanging on.  I finished the race in 2:49:45 and I am happy with that.  I avg a 5:39min/km pace with an avg HR of 176bpm.  I had wanted to break 2:45 but I really wanted at least to be under 2:50 and I did!  It was tough though and I definitely want to hold a faster pace in Chicago but at least I have this 30km run under my belt.  I will be focusing more on running over the next few weeks to get ready for Chicago and put down a great time!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Steelhead 70.3...or more like 69.1

Steelhead 70.3 Race Report
Aug 14, 2011

First of all, I have to apoligize for my lack of blogging lately.  It is more laziness than anything else!  I have two races to report about so here goes the first one.

Before heading down to Benton Harbor, MI, I had a chance to do another time trial in Parry Sound.  This time I was outfitted with my aerohelmet and my race wheels, including the disc.  Don't know if the leg massacre weekend got me that much stronger or the wheels and the helmet made that much of a difference or the combination of the two, but I shattered my previous best time!!!  I went almost two minutes faster and did the 16.3km ride in 27:55 which comes to a speed of 35.2km/hr!!!!  My average cadence was 93rpm!  Too bad I do not have a powermeter on my race wheels as it would have been interesting to see the numbers.  I was pretty stoked about that!!!  The run was ok! Not a PB but still under a 5min/km pace.  So with this, I was looking forward to Steelhead!

We arrived on the Friday evening and took care of registration and groceries.  Saturday morning I did a quick bike and run before we went to bike check in and the pre race meeting.  All was good until the pre race meeting when all of a sudden a storm hit.  The clouds were covering the sky like a blanket and it was moving very quickly.  Here are some pics but they really do not do it justice:

As we took cover all I can think about was poor Limey on the bike rack.  I figured she had no chance at all at staying on the rack and there were reports that the bikes were blown off and were in a pile.  But by race morning she was racked in her spot and appeared unhurt! lol!!!!

Race morning: woke up, showered, had a bagel with peanut butter, a banana, and a cup of coffee.  Arrived at the race site only to see huge waves out in Lake Michigan.  I was hoping the swim would still be on but as I got closer to the water it was pretty evident that this was likely not going to happen.  The winds were really strong and the water looked really rough.  Shortly after we got body marked and entered transition the announcement was made that the swim was cancelled due to 7ft waves and riptides and the race was now going to be a duathlon.  Guess it was my time for this to happen.  In all the races I have done (and I have done LOTS!) this is the first cancelled swim for me.  So now this was going to be a bike-run only in a time trial start going by our race numbers.

With the wind I was getting pretty cold waiting around for the start.  Thankfully, Lynsey lent me her vest so I can race with it on the bike and provide some extra warmth for my core.  I also started to worry a bit about racing with the disc.  This would be my third time riding with the disc and I was not sure how the wind would affect the handling.  However, since I had no other wheel to switch with I just removed that thought from my mind and would deal with whatever I was faced with!  As it turned out, the disc was no issue.  We had quite a bit of wind out there but I had no problems handling the bike.

Finally it was my turn to go!  I took this start just like the time trials in Parry Sound so I was very comfortable with this format.  I took a Redbull shot right before my start and then I was off.  Since only women at this point started in front of me I was doing A LOT of passing!  I pretty much stayed in the passing lane for a good chunk of the 90km ride.  I was pushing the pace but felt very comfortable for most of the ride.  It wasn't until near the end that I wanted the ride to be over.  I did manage to PB this distance for me! Yay!  I rode a 2:45:46 for an average of, avg HR 150bpm, and avg cadence 87rpm.  There was also quite a bit of drafting as draft packs were passing me.  I am proud to say I rode an extremely clean race as I slowed down to allow those packs to pass.  Frustrating though!!!  Not much else to report for the bike.

Started the run and just tried to settle in a decent pace.  My goal was to try to run as close to a 2hr half as I could.  So I aimed to stay under a 6min pace when I started.  I was feeling pretty good and made sure I took in nutrition at every aid station.  As the km ticked away I tried to run faster.  Well, at least I tried to run stronger.  I just tried to push myself throughout and slowly I was picking people off on the second loop.  I did not run under 2hrs but I did run my fastest half IM run ever! yay!  Another PB!  I ran 2:03:31 for a 5:48min/km!  Avg HR was 167bpm.  I was very happy with that!

I completed this race in 4:52:13.  I figured if I had a bad swim I could have still come in under 5:30 including transition time!!!!  This could have been an awesome PB for me!!!  I biked about 9min faster than last year and I ran 5min faster!  If I swam exactly the same that would have been about 14min faster and well under 5:30 (I completed this race in 5:41 last year).  Ah well!  I was still pretty happy with my performance!!!!  I placed 32/104 in my age group.

Afterwards, we decided to play in the waves in the water we were not allowed to swim in that morning!  It was pretty rough out there and I was glad we did not have to contend with the water.  And this means a lot from me!  Swimming is my strongest event and I am pretty comfortable in rough waters.  But this was more than rough and I cannot imagine trying to send out more than 2000 people out there.  It was a good call.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Leg Massacre Weekend - Success!

Last weekend I travelled with the boys to do some major hill climbing in Massachusetts and Vermont.  We rented a house just outside of Williamstown in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.  I really had no idea what I signed myself up for.  I knew we were going to do some real climbing but nothing quite like what I expected.  In the last couple of weeks leading up to this I actually started to worry as the guys were passing emails around with possible climbs to do.  Then they were talking about gearing and then I knew I was going to be in a world of hurt.

We left TO Friday morning and arrived in Lanesborough, MA (which is where I believe our house was) in the early evening.  After unloading the car we went out for a short ride to circulate some blood in our legs.  We rode for about one hour and it was a pretty intense ride for me.  I hung on to the guys but I had to work a bit to stay on their wheel.  When we arrived back to the house I was relieved to hear that a couple of the guys thought that it was an intense ride as well! Pheww!  That night I, well the guys, changed my standard crank to a compact crank that I got specifically for this trip for my road bike.  Oh ya, I brought my road bike down for this trip.  I changed the cassette and the seat as well as the seat position in hopes that I would be more comfortable riding this bike and it worked!  I had a blast riding my road bike!  I call Friday's ride the prologue!

Day 1 of leg massacre weekend involved riding Mt. Greylock from the north.  In total we rode about 95km.  This climb is given a 4 out of 5 in climbing difficulty with an average grade of about 6%,  it is 9 miles long, and has a vertical rise of 2760ft.  The guys decided to time trial this so I went first and the next guy left 6min after me.  I wanted to just survive the climb so I just went steady but watching the guys chase each other was fun.  It took me about 80min to complete the climb, not exactly fast or anything but I got up without too much difficulty.  Don't get me wrong, I worked hard and sweated quite a bit!  If you have been following my blog you will know that I am not exactly a good descender.  Going down was not too bad for me here though.  I did have the death grip on my brakes for sections and I pretty much rode my brakes for most of the descent but it was better than my descending performance at IM France! lol!

Monument on top of Mt. Greylock

view from Mt. Greylock

one of my fav pics- Yui overlooking from the summit of Greylock

Now for Day 2!  In hindsight I am glad that I did not know exactly what I was going to face.  There is documentation on the web with a description of the climbs and I am glad I did not read this as it probably would have freaked me out a bit.  As we drove to Vermont and to the start area I saw the beginning of one of the climbs and I had a sick feeling to my stomach.  This was not made any better after AJ turned to the group and told us to be very careful descending!  And he was quite serious!  Oh great!  Now I am scared, ok, more petrified of this descent.  I overheard the guys discussing what they read on the web about rim cooling and taking breaks while descending!  Great! Just great!!!!

Our plan of attack was to ride up Mt. Okemo after a short warm up, then ride over to Mt. Ascutney, climb the second mountain and then ride back to the car. here goes nothing!!!  I rode for about 10min before I started attacking Mt. Okemo.  This climb is given a 4/5 in difficulty, is 4miles long with an average grade of 11%, and a vertical rise of 2200 ft.  I start climbing and quickly started feeling the lactic acid building in my legs.  This was no easy climb.  There were some steep pitches and even a bit of a headwind at the start.  And I was sweating buckets!!!  When I looked up I quickly looked back down as I did not want to see what I still had to climb.  I did get some cheers and fist pumping from drivers heading their way down and it did give me a bit of a boost.  I saw my bike computer reading a speed of about 4-5km/hr at times and my HR was well in the 170s.  But I kept going and did not doubt myself whether I was going to make it up.  I tried to do the mailman move but my wheels are a bit big for my frame and I get quite the toe overlap at low speeds.  My bike shoe hits my wheel and kills any momentum I have going.  I also had my rear wheel feel like it slipped from underneath me a couple of times.  Well I made it up!  Yay!  And later I learned that the guys did not think I could make it up!  Woohoo for me!!!!  But now - the descent.  I tried to descend but had the death grip once again on my brakes.  This time because of the steepness of the hill my brakes were not happy and screeched badly.  So much so that I stopped and felt the rims and they were scorching hot.  So began the ride til my brakes screeched, then walk til the rims cooled.  I did this all the way down and it took forever.  Luckily it was already decided that the guys were going to continue on with their ride and not wait for me so the pressure was off to get down as fast as I could.  Happy to say I made it down safely but never in my life have I heard brakes screech as much as they did! Ha!

On top of Mt. Okemo

  At the bottom I followed my Garmin and the cue sheets we printed to get me to Mt. Ascutney.  Unfortunately the directions took me to a dirt/gravel road twice which I decided against and stayed on the main road.  I made it to the base when I saw the guys who were heading back as they just descended from Mt. Ascutney.  I asked them whether it was worth it for me to even go up hoping they would tell me not to bother but they did not.  So I gave it a go with the plan that the guys were going to head back my way to pick me up with the car. 

Mt. Ascutney is a 5/5 in climbing difficulty due to its steepness.  It is apparently the steepest climb in North America and I had no clue about this.  In the first 1.5 miles, Ascutney gains significantly more vertical than any other climb with sustained 19% grade sections.  It is 3.7miles long, with an average grade of 11.7% and a vertical climb of 2266ft.  I started the climb and quickly felt how steep this hill was and on tired legs to boot.  I had to really concentrate to keep my line as I started doing the mailman and my shoe hit my front wheel and almost jammed and I thought I was going down.  I was pretty much doing a track stand.  I was only going about 3km/hr at times and I was wondering how slow can I go before I fall or even start rolling backwards! Lol!  My heart rate went into the 180s and I was breathing like there was no tomorrow.  I was in a world of pain.  I made it to just passed the 2 mile mark and I bailed.  I got to the point that I really thought I was going to fall or all my muscles were going to seize.  But I was determined to make it up.  So I waited until my HR came back down, jumped back on the bike, and started climbing again.  But when I started I just pedalled like mad to get going again and prayed that I clipped in.  It was probably hilarious to watch.  I ended up doing this 2 more times.  I had my front wheel lift up a couple of times as well as I probably was gripping the bars so hard as I tried to muscle up this beast.  Well, I made it!  Not sure how long it took but I did it!

The view from on top of Mt. Ascutney

My trusty steed that got me up the beast of a climb!
Got to the top and was debating whether I was even going to try to descend since I was given the option that the guys would be willing to drive up to get me.  I started chatting with a guy and his son at the top and was talking for a while giving me a good break at the same time.  I finally decided that I was going to go down, it is less than 4 miles anyway!  Ya...that took forever.  This was even steeper than the previous climb and I did a lot more walking down this hill.  Made it down in one piece though at the expense of some mosquito bites and my poor cleats!  I then continued riding back towards the car hoping to see the guys soon for my pick up.  My legs were quite trashed and any little uphill felt like a big climb.  I rode for a bit before I got honked at by the guys and I was rescued from any further riding! Lol!  Total ride was about 100km for me.

Day 3 of leg massacre weekend was another double climb but much more humane than day 2.  We all slept in and finally made our way out the door after noon and headed towards Petersburg Pass.  This climb I believe was about 8 miles with an average grade of about 7% according to the road signs.  This felt like a piece of cake compared to the previous days' monster climbs.  I still had to work though, it was a significant and steady climb.  Descending was much better!!!  Then we headed to Mt. Greylock and attacked it from the south for a longer and a bit easier version than from the north.  This was a 9 mile climb at an average grade of 5% with 2290 ft of vertical climbing.  The start of the climb actually started pretty steep and felt really rough on the legs.  I was actually a bit worried whether my tired and wrecked legs could handle another climb.  I was hurting!  But I continued on and it actually got better as I continued to climb.  Made it to the top in about 70min with a smile on my face!  Total riding for the day was about 85km.

Leg Massacre weekend epilogue involved one last climb up Mt. Greylock.  We woke up at 5:30am (yup! AM!!!) and rode towards the south side of the mountain (the north side was too far for us to fit in the morning).  Even on tired legs I actually was feeling stronger and made it up even faster in about 68min.  The view was spectacular with the sun rising above the mountain peaks.  No pics here as I did not bring my camera with me on this climb. 

The weekend was a huge success!!!  I got comfortable on my road bike which is awesome and I surprised myself as to what I did out there!  I even impressed the guys! Woohoo!  My legs actually felt like I just did an Ironman after that leg mashing weekend!  And proof to some of the numbers I quoted above is the website describing these climbs:

Oh...and we made it in their local newspaper! Awesome!  I wasn't there when the photographer took a pic of the guys (I was riding on Mt. Ascutney), but the guys did not forget about me! Thanks!!!  Here is a link of the pic and litte blurb!  I thought it was hilarious!

The first annual Leg Massacre weekend is now in the books and I am looking forward to next year!!!