Please Pass the EPO

Morning shows up awful early sometimes especially when its 38 degrees with a light drizzle and you have an outdoor race to look forward to.  I told someone today, I don’t play soccer anymore, or basketball, or baseball…so I need some motivation to train.  The past two years that motivation has been a race of some sort almost every month (you’ll forgive me if I skipped January through March, but rest assured, I was out running and riding mountain bike in the snow).  Since I haven’t been in a pool, triathlons are out.  I seem to do okay in 5K races, but I’m not really much of a runner.  Okay, I’ve been working on my mile time so I really can’t use that excuse anymore.  My favorite races lately have been duathlons.  In most cases, at least in all the cases I do, this is a run and bike race.  Usually in the run, bike, run form.  They are not called biathlons because that term has been used to describe the Olympic event combining cross country skiing with target shooting.  There seem to be more triathlons available, even in the northeast than duathlons which means you don’t have to worry about burning out on an event. 

 

Today’s event was an off road event which meant a trail run (2 miles) with plenty of hills, roots, trees and fun things to dodge, and a trail bike (10 miles) with mountain bike recommended although I saw plenty of hybrids with decent tires and cyclocross.  In all honesty, most of the ride was old railroad beds that have been converted into smooth paths.  There was a total of 1.5 miles that were “off road” including a ¾ mile section of single track.  Why do I point this out?  Because my 10 year old mountain bike is the slowest of the three I own.  Could I have ridden my hybrid on this?  Most likely.  Certainly not my road bike, but at least the hybrid could have gained a few minutes I’m guessing.  Consider also that a week ago I checked my bike and found a flat front tire.  Since this was the original tube, I can’t complain, it gave me lots of life.  I had a spare thanks to a trip to Holliday Valley with a friend of mine 2 years ago.  Certainly beat changing it during the race (I passed two such unfortunate souls along with a guy with a broken chain).  I felt like I owed it to the mountain bike though that has been all but ignored since the 2 full days of riding I did in June down in Hollister, then in Bristol. 

 

38 degrees meant a few changes in clothing options.  My original plan was tri shorts, arm warmers, short sleeve jersey and a skull cap.  I put the old cage pedals on instead of the crank brothers clipless to keep my transition time short (lost too much time changing shoes for no real gain in speed last year).  I left the house in running tights with tri shorts over them (yeah, I’m just that cool), long sleeve tech top under the short sleeve jersey (number nicely pinned to lower drag), warm up pants and a jacket.  The skull cap was replaced with my winter riding hat which is a skull cap with longer sides to cover the ears.  Combine that with full gloves (a wise investment when I discovered the joy of winter riding last year) and you had quite the look.  Before you start to make fun of me, understand that this is what at least half the people were wearing when I got there.  (Check out the picture and see if you can find me)  The rest were shivering.  Parking for the event was ½ mile away.  Not bad for the participants, who doesn’t need a nice warm up ride, but rough for spectators.  Many got dropped off at the start/transition/finish area.  I parked, left a few things in the car I didn’t think I’d need, and rode down to the start area.  My front tire was rubbing the brake which would not help my time so I dropped the bike with the technicians who were giving everyone last minute fixes as needed.  So, with all that as the set up, here now are the thought patterns as I went through the course. 

 

Starting Line:  Crap, why am I standing in the front, I’d better look around to see who I recognize.  Not too many people I know, most people around me look serious, the rest look like they’re in good shape, I hope I don’t get trampled. 

Race start:  Okay, get a nice head of steam going.  There is a nice uphill here where we’ll weed people out and the faster ones will pass me.  On the road for ¼ mile then turning into a steep entrance to the wooded trail.  Why am I breathing so hard already?  I had half a bowl of oatmeal, one banana and two gel packs properly spaced.  If I was like Kohl or Shoemaker… Oh, it could be, WATCH THAT ROOT, the fact that it’s early, Saturday and 40 degrees!  Okay, I’ve done this three times now; I think there are four hills in here before the nice downhill to transition.  All I need to do is get a nice pace going, OW THAT WAS MY ANKLE, and then we can start the ride.  Man, I hope my front tire stays inflated through the entire race.

Mile 2:  They always have great people at this event, running and volunteering, the 1 mile water stop has 8 kids, or four and I’m seeing double already, cheering everyone on.  That will come in handy during the second run since I’ll know how close someone is behind me.  I’m guessing I have around 18 or 20 in front of me right now.  Ugh, here come the hills.  Okay counting the first, that’s two, only two more.  Downhill is always fun, especially since it’s a bit slippery.  Here’s hill three.  Four.  Wait, five?  Well, it has been a year.  What was my first leg time last year?  15 minutes?  Wonder if I can beat that.  Damn, the pants with these shorts makes this a pretty tight fit.  Wonder if I’ll be able to hit the high notes next time we sing take a walk on the wild side…

Transition:  Wow, 14:20ish for the first two miles?  No wonder I’m tired already.  What was I thinking?  I should have put coffee in my bike water bottle.  You know, it’s not easy to put this helmet on with gloves on.  And I’m out of transition.  That has to have been faster than last year’s 1:10 debacle. 

Ride mile 1:  Okay, get in the right gear here, get a nice rhythm going and then we’ll grab some beverage.  Check all systems…gears shifting?  Check.  Pedals working?  Check.  Shorts feel okay on this seat?  Check, for now anyway.  Wind?  Tail wind so I’ll have that to look forward to on the way back. 

Ride mile 3:  Hey, I’m actually going to pass a few people here.  This never happens on the bike.  “Passing on your left” I almost forgot what to say.  Good thing someone already passed me as a reminder.  Coming up on two 90 degree turns.  Better slow down.  Hah, look at that, some dude just went flying by on the corner, then did the same to someone else.  Wonder if he thinks there is money for 18th place.  Okay, off road stuff coming up here including a grassy area (is there a knoll?) that somehow just slows me down every time.

Ride mile 5:  I feel bad for those three guys I passed in the woods.  One looked like he broke his chain and the other two were changing flat tires.  Better to feel bad than gloat because biking karma can be vindictive.  Okay, half way through the ride, I think anyway, I have three bikes and two computers, and which one doesn’t have a computer?  Time for another system check, legs good? Seem so.  Seat still comfortable?  Sure.  Wow, the leaves look really nice.  The weather people were right, this is the peak of the fall foliage…hey, pay attention.  It gets rather lonely out here on these rides.  For some reason I tend to be in this no mans land where I can’t draft anyone, but in another sense, no one is passing me either.

Ride mile 8:  Hill coming up, short up hill, then a funky down hill with a dirt road.   I think they use that just to wake us up on this ride.  I’ll grab my last drink on the flat before the transition area.  Need all hands on handlebars for this next section. 

Ride mile 9:  Why did I grab this water bottle?  This has got to be the stiffest plastic ever.  I can barely squeeze it to get any kind of drink.  Hey, look, spectators, I’ll wave to them.  Nice of them to come out and watch this in the cold.  Oooh, they have hot coffee.

Transition:  Helmet off, rack bike.  Okay, ready to run?  Head is, legs aren’t even close.

Second run start:  Lug, lug, lug, how did I somehow gain 50 pounds during that ride.  This is not even close to the same body I was carrying around this course during the first run.  I should have checked the time when I left.  All I know is there were not many bikes in transition which means lots of people are still out on the bike course.  The winner has yet to cross the finish line and I don’t have anyone really in view in front of me.  Okay, breathe, step, step, breathe, step, step trudge up this hill.

Mile 2:  Water stop crew is still going strong.  I met a few runners coming the other way in that first mile which tells me I won’t be winning today (no chance of that anyway).  Four hills left then down hill to the end.  Think I’ll walk up the next one.  I seem to walk up faster than I run up.  Weird.  Okay, hill three, hill four; now I can look back, there is a guy about 25 yards back.  Now I have motivation to finish without someone passing. 

Finish:  Made the turn coming out of the woods and down hill on the road.  No steps behind me so at least I don’t have someone trying to pass at the end.  Good strong finish, they even announce your name as you cross the line.  Stop so they can take the tag off and we’re done.  Hey, 3 minutes faster than last year.  Must have been the transition. 

 

Now that I’ve had two days to recover, and since I somehow could not manage to set this post up properly in those, I can now say my times were fairly accurate.  Transitions were much better than last year, the bike was actually faster thanks most likely to my frequent weekly riding partners.  Yet somehow, I still manage to fit in the Clydesdale category.  If I had raced in that group, I would have been second.  As it is, I’ll have to be happy with 3rd in my age group.  Yep, I’m pretty happy about that.  Another fun race and no one failed a doping test.  Hooray!

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3 Responses to “Please Pass the EPO”

  1. trotting with turkeys « Building a better drumset Says:

    […] with turkeys By afhcu95 A while ago I posted about a duathlon I ran in October.  That seemed to go over well so guess what was on my mind somewhere around mile 2 of the Webster […]

  2. vicp Says:

    Warning!!!
    Clipless pedals are very dangerous.
    I’ve been riding bicycles continuously since I was 5. Have even commuted to work year-round in suburb north of NYC, Had been using Shimno clipless pedals for about 10 years and had several occasions when I couldn’t release from the pedal and dumped over. The last time, at age 58, caused my right hip to fracture. I needed 2 surgeries and 6 months of rehab. After the accident I found out about two other cyclists who suffered hip fractures because they couldn’t release from their pedals.
    Needless to say I took them off my Trek and will never use them again.
    The Pain was not worth the gain.

    • afhcu95 Says:

      The first pair I got went on my mountain bike. These were Crank Brothers smarty pedals. I stayed in the garage leaning against the wall to get the in out clipping feel then went for a ride. I did just fine even stopping to adjust the cleats in the bottom. When I was almost home I had to stop at a street crossing and that’s when I could not clip out. Down I went onto my right side. My left foot came out just fine, but that was useless. It’s a toss up I think. I have the same pedals on my mountain bike and hybrid and some Shimano’s on my road bike. I’m used to all of them now. In fact, the cage pedals seem more dangerous on the mountain bike since I used to get stuck in them when I needed to bail out going over logs or rocks. Of course, maybe I should just try to be a better biker.
      I understand what you are saying though. I was sore after that fall. Most people I know fell at least once with the clips. Some stick with them, some don’t.

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