Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Season Wrap and The Denver 1/2 Marathon

Wow, I just noticed that it's been quite a while since I posted anything - and lots has happened since then! If it's worth anything (and it's not), I've thought about writing a number of times in the past few months, but best intentions and all that... Generally my biggest excuse for not posting was work / travel, family, training, racing or sleep. In fact I can think of 5 distinct occasions where I was going to write something, but was just too frickin' tired to keep my eyes open.

Ok, excuses out of the way....

This season went pretty well from a goals perspective - although I had near misses for both 70.3 world championships and Olympic world championships. At Boulder 70.3, I was one slot out of the money (podium) so I didn't stick around to hear the roll-down. It rolled down to at least 5th (I was 6th) - so I probably should have stuck around just to find out if I was going to Mt. Tremblant. I know a number of folks that went and it sounded (and looked like from the TV coverage) like an amazing venue.

At USAT Nationals I was out of the guaranteed slots for worlds, but I can't complain. I raced my tail off, missing my stand-alone 10K PR by one second. And even if I corrected the tactical mistakes on the swim and bike, I'd only move up a few slots. That was a fast crew and it was a real pleasure to race against such a talented field (made deeper by the fact that worlds are in Chicago, and everyone wants to race those domestically). Still waiting to hear if it will roll down to me - so there's still a chance. Not that far off.

Harvest 'Doom'

Then there was Harvest Moon. Why on why do I sign up for that race. It's known for being hot and windy.... oh wait... it's fun too! But yikes that was not my best race of the season; nor was it planned to be. Here's the short recap:

I stood there in the water, not feeling the love; wanting to be back in bed and just doing a long ride or something later in the day. But mentally I've been there before, both at the start and during a race and have developed a pretty good ability to just get on with it. Often I've been genuinely surprised at past races where I felt like crap all the way up to the finish line and actually put up great numbers. Not so with this year's Harvest 70.3.

The swim actually went pretty well. I wasn't feeling great mentally, but kept in the game and made some decent tactical moves that had me out of the water in decent position. But from the moment I turned my first pedal stroke, it just wasn't there. Where normally my RPE should feel like a 7/10, I felt like I was 8/10 - which doesn't seem like a lot, but it is over a bumpy, hilly and windy 56 miles.

I rebooted my brain getting off the bike, thinking; ok - here's where the race will come together. Nope. The run in a 70.3 is never pleasant, but I felt downright crappy in the first few miles. Generally that feeling doesn't start hitting until mile 8 (of 13) and by that time the 'smell of the barn' allows you to mentally crank it up a notch. It's hard to feel that way though at mile 2.

So - overall my swim and bike numbers were good. Not outstanding, but respectable. My run was horrific. Like a slow moving train wreck. Yeah - I PR'd my last year time, and yeah - I still eked out a podium spot (3rd) - but just left that race thinking 'wha happened?'. I've poured over my numbers, nutrition and training log after the race. Nothing really jumps out. Just probably one of those days. Maybe a bit too much fatigue. Maybe too quick a jump from Olympic distance training to long course with a slide in volume. Who knows, who cares. It's behind me and it happens. And the rest of the season went awesome - so there.

And no race is a total disaster if it finishes with an ice cold ride on the slip and slide :-)

USAT National Championships

USAT Nationals (which had come about a month before Harvest 'Doom' were especially fun. Got to spend the week with my wife (who was also racing) as well as great friends (Sharon, Jean, Terry and Carrie). Weather the whole week, including race day was perfect. Great course, solid field, decent performances all around. We just had a blast - from the moment we got there until the day we had to leave.

IM Lake Tahoe - or lack there-of

Right after Harvest Moon, we headed off to Lake Tahoe for some R&R and to cheer on a bucket load of friends and team mates that were racing Ironman Lake Tahoe. As many of you probably know by now, the race was cancelled do to smoke from the King fire making the air nearly un-breathable just standing around. We were there at race start when they cancelled - literally at the  last second. It was the right call. People would have gone to the hospital. But that didn't make up for how devastating I know it was for all the folks that had spent the better part of the last year preparing for that race. It was heartbreaking - but I'm glad we were there to support everyone. And honestly, Paige and I had a great time despite the smoke (which we managed to miss by moving around for various activities). Got to swim in Lake Tahoe a couple times, trail running, great food and wine.

And for our friends that got their race pulled out from under them - there was a happy ending. Many of them raced IM Chattanooga the following weekend (I know - crazy right?) - and all that raced in that did awesome! The remaining folks already have their redemption races scheduled as well and I know they'll do great too. 
Happier times in the days preceding the cancellation of the race.

How do you know an Ironman is in town? All the razors are sold out :-)

The right call on race morning. That's not good for anyone.

The days events after the race cancellation were unplanned, sad, but also some happy moments - including a surprisingly amazing lunch in Truckee, hanging at Eva's brother in law's place for the afternoon and  a great dinner with Ocky and his family & friends in Northstar

We wanted to get out of Tahoe on the last night since all our friends were packing up and the smoke was very bad. Over lunch in Trukee we booked a night at the Atlantis Casino hotel in Reno and finally rolled in there about 9:30pm after a very haphazard but fun day. Still - it was surreal to end up there. We're not casino people. Blondie muzak playing and hover-rounds everywhere. Strange day.

The next morning was great though running into a big part of the crew for an impromptu group breakfast!
The Denver Half Marathon

Finally to wrap off the season I had signed up a while back for the Denver 1/2. I thought (at the time) that it would be great to have a just for fun race and figured I would pair up with one or two friends and run as a group. No PR, no agenda, no pain...

Well, as race day neared, the friends that had talked about running with me couldn't make it - most for legit reasons like injuries. Luckily I had been training to run it hard just in case, but as race day was approaching, I was again not feeling the love to go out there and suffer for 90 minutes - especially since I knew I wasn't in running shape to PR the distance (I had focused pretty heavily on the bike / swim over the summer by design - and that let my run slip a bit).

But on race morning, as I was warming up; I got my head back on straight and was pretty darn excited toeing the line in the corral. Chatting with a bunch of folks, just excited to be racing.

It was a fun course and I had a decent race (1:32 in whole numbers :-) which wasn't bad for me and good enough for 8th place (out of about 200 in my division). I ran hard, but not crazy hard. If there was money on it I probably could have run a 1:31 - but not much faster. I was happy how fast my running had come back and figure with 3 additional weeks I could have gone under 90 minutes.

What I realized on course and after was how much I still love racing stand-alone running events. I like that blinders on feeling at tempo+ pace and the way I can now keep my head in the race for the duration. Looking for those little edges that matter like drafting and setting up for turns properly. Good times.

As a bonus, got to see some friends - including one who was running her first 1/2 marathon; Congrats Amy! And got a mic'd shout-out at the finish line from Richard from Kompetitive Edge - who was up there doing some commentating for the race.

As a bonus - when I got home; we still had about an hour left on the baby-sitter clock. So I jumped on my mountain bike and went out for a recovery ride on the trails in Bear Creek.

That's me and #nakedkyle - yes it was cold.. you can tell by...errrr..... the fleece I'm wearing... yeah, that's it.
Seriously though, search that hashtag - whole Instagram album of photos of him with tons of people at various races.
It's people like that who make racing interesting and fun. Good for you dude. Braver (and colder) than me ;-)

Amy rocking her first 1/2 marathon - way to go!!

Amy had a monster cheering section!!
People don't often realize how much cheering crowds are appreciated!

Mountain biking will always have a special place in my soul.

Turned around at the top of a climb and thought three words that often come to my mind:
"So damn lucky"
Tequila - the natural IB profen
and the base for an adult beverage sufficiently earned for the day.

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