Friday, July 31, 2009
Another bad sign; the first slot would go to former professional athlete Curt Chesney at a time of 9:18. I guess coming from a pro cycling background doesn't hurt. The good news at the roll down: a record number of slots available announced (everybody cheered). The bad news: almost all got grabbed in my age group and I was a long shot at best to start with. Anyway the race report:
Night before the race, trouble sleeping. Too many chocolate chip cookies? Probably just too wired up and maybe taking this thing too serious. 3 hours sleep total = not good.
Not making the same mistake as in 2007 - lined up to the right, where less bodies were. Swim start was not too bad, but got real physical fast. The fight began about half way down the first stretch. I got kicked in the chin towards the end of the first stretch. My jaw was okay, but I could taste blood in mouth and knew I must have gotten the inside of my cheek. First loop exited side-by-side with Kimball, so I know things were going well. Second loop was uneventful. Swim right down the line for a while and things seemed rougher as I got away from the line, so tried to keep it close.
This is an LP PR and only seconds from my IMF PR, so I was very pleased.
Sleepy start. Not pushing too hard and don't want to make the fast first-loop mistake. Rain, wind, but light and the first loop felt easy. Back and forth with Steve, we were both being conservative. Grabbed a few GUs with caffeine and started to wake up. Finished loop one and was ready to go. I took off right from the start of loop 2. I was really feeling good and ready to make a race out of this thing. Lot's of speed leading into the downhills and a new PR; 54 mph on the downhill. I was absolutely flying and the only issue was I was going 20 mph faster than everyone else. I kept yelling "left" as they all drift out going down the hill. My fear was crashing into one of these guys floating out and not paying attention. As bizarre as it was going into the Hazleton turnaround - both legs cramped going up the last hill. I must have been dehydrated? I had been drinking lots of gatorade and had plenty of nutrition, but it must not have been enough. I think the day played tricks on everyone as we went from rain to humid to dry during the day. I began to drink tons of gatorade - maybe three bottles in the last 20 miles. They showed signs of cramping again, so I would go to a lighter gear, fighting the headwind coming back up the hills in the aero position.
Time: 5:38:00 19.9 mph
All systems go. Even though I had cramps, my cycling is stronger this year and I felt like I as going to have a good run. All went well first loop (split 1:41+). I was on my way to what I thought would be a 3:25, which would be great considering it was warming up. Loop 2: legs are good, tired, but running well. Temperature is warm (78 or 79?) and sunny. I'm beginning to pray for that thunderstorm or just rain to cool me off as I am now very hot and it is wearing on me. I make the turnaround, see none of my team-mates, promise myself I will continue to run hard to the ski jumps, but ... (no warm weather acclimation)+(don't run well in the heat well anyway) = (tough marathon). My pace is now slowed and I am hot and starting to labor. I feel like I am the only one running and I probably was for long stretches. The aid stations are packed with folks on loop one and the one place I need to walk - at the aid station all the cups get grabbed in front of me and I stop to walk and tell one of the guys I need a drink - can't run off with out drinking or it will be over. At every aid station I was taking gatorade, water and coke and ice, with a sponge over the head - that's how you survive. I make the ski jumps and the up hill begins. I am really blowing up and it is a struggle to run, but the legs are still moving. I know miles 24 and 25 must have been in the 10 min/mile range, but ... I am still running. I am also picking off maybe a dozen or more in my age group, most are walking. I make the turnaround at the lake and begin to push that last mile, as I just want this thing to be over. I cross the line in fashion and then lose equilibrium for a few moments as all of sudden ... I can't stand-up - like a drunken sailor. I guess I had exerted myself - probably the heat on the run more then anything.
Time: 3:38:33 8:21 min/mile
Overall Time: 10:29:44
Overall Place: 116th
AG Place: 28th
Final notes on the race:
My second fastest time only by seconds. I can't believe I was 116th overall, but 28th in my age group - with 50+ professionals in the race - ughh! The time is slow, but it was definitely a tough day and I think I still performed well, considering the elements. I am already signed-up for next year, as everyone knows this will again be my best shot as I age up. So ... refocus, improve and come back year grab the slot and I want a spot on that podium!!
Cheers! - Kyle
I will post next week on future race plans for the year. I haven't exactly thrown in the towel yet.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
About Fresh Air Fund:
Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences in the country to more than 1.7 million New York City children from disadvantaged communities. Each year, thousands of children visit volunteer host families in 13 states and Canada through the Friendly Town Program or attend the Air Fund Camps.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Monday June 29th Day 1:
Projected departure time 7:30, actual departure time 8:15. Weather currently raining heavy, but forecasted to end mid-morning and then scattered thunderstorms. Time 8:15, my wife pointed to the door and said "go" (the same wife that did not want me to do this at all). I don't know what I was waiting for. The rain to stop? I then grabbed the cross bike, which was weighed down like a TANK (which I will now refer to the bike as "the tank" for the rest of this column). The tank had a rack with bags containing everything I thought I would need to survive 3 days minus food - with extra tubes, pump, tools, on and on ... and a one man ditch tent, that resembles a sleeping bag with two poles, one at the feet and one at the head. I never did weigh the tank, but it was in the 65+ pound range and HEAVY. I had rode it around the block the evening before questioning what the hell I was doing.
The departure, weather: heavy rain. It absolutely poured the first two hours and I was wet. It was causing stress with the trucks, traffic and I couldn't see where I was going. Also, I opted to put the bike computer on the tank - a constant reminder of how slow I was going. Oh and the climbing by Mt. Wachusett, a grind up the hills and I refused to stop, but the weather began to improve and I kept rolling. First construction surprise, workers downing trees, 20 minute delay, but one of the workers started to tell his buddies that I was riding to Rochester, which they all got a chuckle out of. First bike incident, lot's of climbing past Wachusett and long downhill in Hubbardston, fast and led to a minefield of pot holes at the bottom which was not good, but I didn't crash and managed to slow the bike. I then thought I had broken spoke in the rear wheel and was freaked out as I locked the brakes. What had happened was the tent and a bunch of stuff shook loose going through the holes and was being hit by the spokes. Not again, I tied everything down, better, tighter and to the seat post. This was a certain crash if it had happened at high speed. The road (route 62) is not good in that section and very bad leading to Barre. I don't recommend riding an expensive bike and had justified to myself that I had chosen the right bike (not much of a choice from the carbon tri-bike - no way the rack was going on that one!). The ride around the Quabbin Res. is very scenic, but HILLY. You'all know - the Quabbin century do'ers how hilly that area is. Now raining again, but light. My stop in New Ipswich attracted this hard core - a little intimidating - tattoo'd - pierced - roadie chick (I liked her chain ring tattoo though) that I chatted with for a few minutes. When I told her what I was doing, she said "right on!" and maybe we were on equal wavelength of craziness at that point. Then off again, I refused to look at the map and ended up in Amherst (not North Amherst as intended) for lunch at a nice deli, but added another 10 miles. Off up route 116, flat until Conway, then climbing - Ashfield, more climbing. Man! the tank was really slowing me down, Every hill is a grind and I can't seem to make time. I had concluded that this would be four days; an option I had reserved for bad weather, bike problems or whatever. I was second guessing my choice of carrying all this stuff and maybe I should just dump it somewhere and get this thing going. Up and up, I can't remember too many long down hills ... but then, just as I was starting to think of a plan B, the Berkshires ... The clouds are now gone and the sun is behind greylock and the view is fantastic. The long fast downhill into Adams, constantly over the speed limit. Time 7:pm. I realize that I will reach my destination before dark; Clarksburg State Park, 3 miles of north of N. Adams about 13 miles away. I really started to enjoy this part; beautiful scenery, evening riding, not a cloud in the sky. I was relaxed and peddled on to the state park where the ranger was having a field day when I rode in and asked for a grassy site on a safari field or something, as I have nothing but the ditch tent and a Boston marathon space blanket. He gave me a blank stare and replied "no" but he had a site which had a 3 foot strip of moss mixed in with some rocks, which I set the tent on. I also asked him for directions to a general store, as I had absolutely no food. He told me there was a store down the street in Vermont (park sits on the corner of MA on the VT border) and had food and beer, wine and was a liquor store (I am looking down at the piece of paper he has just handed me that says no alcohol in the park - wink, wink!). I sprint off to Vermont and arrive at the store minutes later - the one critical mistake! - 8:pm in nowhereville VT - they are closed!! and I have no food. I knock on the door and beg the woman to let me in or I will have nothing to eat. She does, I quickly grab food and a couple of beers and we chat for a few minutes about ride. I went back to see the ranger to get fire wood that I would gladly pay $5 for at that point, but he has gone home. As it gets dark, I am quickly getting any of the half-burned, wet remnants out of the surrounding site's fire pits and some kindling (the campground is virtually empty), but everything is wet. The paper that says no alcohol in the park burns first, but is then dead, but I am next to the bathroom which has ... drum roll please ... an endless(?) supply of toilet paper, which burns great and I have a great fire, eating my dinner, with all that road dirt showered off and drinking a few beers. I am beginning to really like this trip and conclude my next trip will be across the entire US! Satisfied and warm from the fire, the ground isn't really that uncomfortable and I manage to find a spot where a rock isn't drilling into me. And then the problem; it's not that I am uncomfortable laying there on my back, it's that the ground is cold and cooling my core. I am actually less cold to sleep on my side, although it is less comfortable. Back to sleep and then the next surprise ... 4:am ... I hear one and then another, there is a whole pack of coyotes and they are all around. I fall back asleep just to dream that they are trying to get into the tent and awake to the large "crack" of the space blanket, as I jolt awake.
Day 1: 140 miles exactly, just under ten hours of riding time.
Tuesday Day 2:
Departure time: 8:am
Second mistake; I leave the camp site with only a few ounces of gatorade in each bottle. I avoid Route 2 as long as I can and detour around into Williams, but I am through before I know it and I am headed into the mountains. I figured I would hit a gas station or something, but was wrong. Now the taconic pass; 5.5 miles straight-up. Anyone know the elevation? We think it is around 2700 feet or more. The climb would take just under an hour, but the weather is beautiful, blue sky again and I am loving the scenic vistas. The downhill; 40 mph the whole way and was fun, but risky with the tank. I am glad to be past what I thought was the end of the tough climbing, yeah right. I then make another long climb (1200 feet?), lousy roads and I finally find a country diner where I need fluid and could use something to eat. Seconds later I see another cyclist pull-up with the same rig and we start to chat. He is doing a coast to coast ride one week of vacation at a time and is headed to Boston to finish. I tell him my deal and when I tell him that I slept on the ground, he says "you wouldn't want to do that when you reach my age". I cut him off and ask how old - "43" - I say yeah me too. He stares at me like I am nuts for a minute and tells me I don't need to be sleeping on the ground at "our age."
Off to Troy and I am hoping to ride some of this Mohwak-Hudson-Erie bike trail, losing trucks and cars for as long as I can stand riding a bike path. I am way behind schedule and when I get to Troy there are signs for the bike route that lead me into dead-end streets. I conclude there is no bike trail or path and cycle off to find myself on the opposite side of the Mohawk river riding the scenic riverway (road) route. It's not too bad and not busy at all and I ride on for many miles through some nice sections. It is hot, sunny and humid. I exhaust bottles, stop at the store and I ask about the bike path. I hit the path after the next bridge and its okay, but it doesn't last and eventually throws me into the middle of Schenectady (thumbs down) and I am completely screwed-up and end up down a highway-access road. I had to cut off the thing off-road as I am now pretty good at handling the tank, which is made for off-road when not weighed down, heading west on Route 5. I would follow Rt. 5 and enter the next section of bike path outside of Schenectady. The trail gets worse, detours and I am now riding in dirt and it is starting to pour. I put on my rain jacket and I am soaked anyway, can't see where I am going and can hear thunder behind me. The good decision; I ride on, but it is treacherous. The trail is now mud, I am going 11 mph and I can feel the rear wheel slipping. I am done with the bike path, but ride for 5 miles more of this - I can't even see the canal and haven't yet. It is not scenic and is unmaintained, unused, in disrepair and not even paved or hard packed. I am off for good and continue on Route 5(S). I survive and escape the thunderstorm - dirty, soaked - I have been peddling in soaked shoes now for two days straight and my feet aren't doing good, but I pedal on. I am way behind schedule and desperately want to ride as far as possible, so I don't have to go through this a fourth day. Into the evening; I hit a 1.5 mile climb, straight-up, out of the saddle and in my easiest gear, the whole way. I finally reach the top, but I crack. No campground for 35 miles, soaking wet, filthy, all of my stuff is wet. I had ridden by a farm where they walk the cows across the road, which they had defecated all over and with all of the pouring rain - I had manure juice coming off my front wheel onto my bottles, the bike and me. I am exhausted. I begin heading for Utica, which is still 27 miles away and it is the same routine; no food and running out of daylight - I had left my bike light at home, but had a headlight, but that may be risky going into a city. Arrival time: 8:15, Super 8, downtown Utica.
Day 2: 150+ miles, 10.5 hours, 8:am to 8:10pm with stops.
Wednesday, Day 3, Utica to Rochester est. distance 130 miles, departure 8:40am:
Wife estimated distance at 120 miles on mapquest, so I figured 130. I took advantage of the continental breakfast and left full with extra food and two cocktails of Orange Juice, ice and water to go - plus plenty of caffeine - late, but there would be no stops. Utica went quick and I was back out into the rolling hills again. Then the bad part; Syracuse. Stop lights, traffic, like cycling through Boston. Light every 75 yards. I eventually started to blow through them, just to end up screwed up again and had to divert the route because of highway. I rolled by an Italian pizza place and felt hungry. For the last two days the stomach had been off, no appetite at all, so I figured this might be a good sign and stopped. I got redirected back out on the bike - a little bit of rain 2 or 3 times, but the feet are still dry. I was going to make it today or bust, and felt strong. Stayed with Route 5 because I thought there wasn't going to be many hills, but it turned out to be very hilly in the finger lakes area. Seneca Falls: stopped at a cafe for more caffeine and it is now raining again and not looking good. I cycle off, later to be cut off by a massive thunderstorm. I'm out in the corn fields of upper state NY and can see this thing from a long way. It is big and angry; puffy white clouds with a flattened top, massive bolts of lightning 3 or 4 at a time in the middle and what looked to be a black curtain on the bottom. It was impressive. There is no way I am riding into this thing. I checked the map and opted to ride directly north. I actually ride away from this thing and continue down Route 31 due west. I have added distance, but once again get lucky and would sail the rest of the way arriving around 7:15 pm to cheering family, immediately bathe and start drinking - and celebrate!
Day 3: 142 miles
Anyway, there were some lessons learned, if it is possible for me to learn any. I'm not sure about the solo thing. I was definitely starting to talk to myself on day 3. A pretty good sign I was going crazy. Anyway, the type A needs to one-up and I am up for suggestions? Across the US? The RAMM? 24 hour mtn. bike race?
Please leave a comment and let me know if I need therapy.