Saturday, October 29, 2011

Race Report: Illinois Ozark 10K Trail Run

The last time I ran a race was April 2009.  It was the Go! St. Louis Half, my seventh half marathon and it rained and rained and rained.  I stopped at mile six, asked a spectator to use his phone and decided I was ready to go home.  See, I had started racing my bike, and I had finished six halves and had nothing left to prove.  When I was debating whether to do the Go! or to blow it off and do Tour of Hermann, Coach asked me, "Are you a runner or a bike racers?"  I didn't even have to think about it.  

Now, it'simportant to know that I was supposed to race Godzilla last December, but a last minute tripto Dallas caused me to skip it.  While I wasdown there, Coach took me on a trail run, AKA put the needle in my arm onceagain.  I was in heaven.  I loved running the trails so much morethan the road.  I was hooked.  Still, I'm a bike racer (at least awanna be bike racer).
Let's jump aheadto September.  One too many pitchers of margaritas and I'm again signed upfor Godzilla.  I've got a bit of a competitive streak in me, so if I'mreally going to do this race I need to get my happy butt out on the trails. I was looking at the St. Louis Track Club website and found the IllinoisOzark 10K Trail Run.  How effing cool!  So close, I ride my bike bythere weekly, I was in!  I even decided to skip a time trial today to runthis race.  Wowza!  You know I'm hooked!
Iwas so nervous about the race this morning.  Since it's been so long sinceI've run one, I felt like I forgot my pre-race routine. I did oatmeal andcoffee about two hours before and got to the park in plenty of time.  Iwas so cold when I got there, I was worried I had dressed wrong.  I got mynumber and went back to the car and pinned it on.  I sat in the car tostay warm until about 20 minutes before the race.  I watched other runnersget there and I remembered how I never felt like I belonged to the"runner" group.  I still feel like I'm a poser. I only startedrunning five years ago.  It's a past time I had to work very hard at whichto become mediocre.  
Imade a last minute restroom trip and took my GU and some water before headingout to warm up.  I did a little seven minute run and went back to thestart line.  I saw Tom Hootselle in the back, so I stood back there andchatted with him before we started.  He finished IMKY, his first, inAugust and is trying to get me to the tri side.
They gave a fewinstructions and blew the horn--off we went.  Because I started in thevery back, it was slow getting started.  Tom took off ahead of me and Ifigured I should start moving my way forward.  I worked my way through thecrowd, trying to find my pace and rhythm.  We were still on the pavementwhen I felt like I was able to open up and hit my stride.  I passed Tomand heard him tell me to go get 'em.  
We turned on tothe trail and it was all uphill.  I kept moving up, passing people andrunning.  The grade finally got too steep and I had to walk.  I waspacing against a girl right in front of me, and for a few minutes, I thought Icould pass her.  She found a little kick and put some ground in betweenus.  We kept going up and up and up.  It was about a mile and half inbefore the trail leveled out into some good rollers.  The girl was out ofmy sight by then.  I was running on my own.  The first major descentbegan and it was steep.  I took it a bit slower than I would have liked. I could hear someone behind me, but I focused on the trail ahead.  Ihit the base of the trail and was able to add a little speed again.  I sawthe three mile mark and knew my pacing was good, my legs felt good and mybreathing was fine.  I also knew it was about time to head back up.  
I finished thatsection of trail and was heading back to Salt Lick.  I walked the waterstop and the lady there told me I was the second woman overall.  In myhead I thought that couldn't be.  She must be lying to get me to pushharder.  The trail headed back up the bluff from there.  This sectionwas very steep and had logs laid in as steps.  I walked most of theuphill.  I could feel my heart rate was high and I was trying to keep itsomewhat in control.  When it would level out, I would run again. Somewhere in there I saw the four mile mark and a volunteer who told meit was only a tenth of mile more uphill.  He did lie.  It was morethan that and there were some short steep parts.  I finally crested andsaw the water stop that was at 4.5 miles.  I started running again and wasdetermined I wouldn't stop.  The next mile and a half was all descending. I could hear someone behind me again, making up ground.  I amdefinitely timid on the downhill!  
57:14 was my official time. Splits were: M1--8:10, M2--10:02, M3--8:41, M4--10:31, M5--10:53, M6--7:05 plus the 1:49 change for the .2.  You candefinitely tell where I was going uphill!  That effort got me1st in my agegroup, 2nd overall.  I'll take it! Bring on Godzilla!
My bling!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Race Report: Bubba at the Fort #3

I started my warm up a little early on Sunday . . . I accompanied the lead vehicle for the Rock N Roll marathon on my cx bike.  I got to ride the course, work on dismounts/remounts while moving cones and barriers,and sprinting to catch up to the lead vehicle.  It was a fun way to be involved in the race.

I went straight from the marathon to the cx race at Fort Bellefountaine.  It was a beautiful day, sunny in the 70s.  The course was physically, but not technically, challenging.  It was about 1.3 miles in length. This is Mike Bobelak's video of the race course.  Bumpy, tall grass, and hilly sum it up well.

I warmed up about 20 minutes before our race, just getting my legs loose again.  We got the whistle and I got the hole shot.  That didn't last long though.  Britta, Cat, and Teresa all passed me before the officials' table and the grass.  This time I didn't let them go though. I stayed right up on Teresa's wheel until we got to the long climb.  I was able to move around her at the point.  She stayed with me until the barriers, but the three of us gapped her on the run up afterwards.  Lap 2 and 3 I stayed with Britta and Cat.  I had to really talk myself through it because I was working hard.  It was the long climb on Lap 3 where I passed Cat.  Again I focused on staying with Britta instead of looking back at Cat.  I was right on Britta's wheel until the long climb in the 4th lap.  My right quad started screaming at me and I eased up a little and lost her wheel.  She was able to put daylight in between us there.  I pushed through the rest of that lap and the final one, holding on to 2nd place.

I had a few handling mishaps, mostly trying to take some corners too hot or choosing a poor line.  I held the bike up though and didn't make the same mistakes twice.  It's also feeling easier to make myself suffer, if that makes sense. 

I still get nervous when I'm in front of people.  I refuse to look and see how close they are.  *Photo credit:  Dennis Fickinger

So happy our cx order came in . . . Mich Dark skin suit! *Photo credit: Dennis Fickinger

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Race Report: Joules CX

It was really interesting to race cx out of town, against a field of women I knew little to nothing about.  The course was much different from what we typically see locally.  It was basically a large field with wild grass.  The course was mowed into it, the only stakes/tape was at the "spiral of death."  They also had a warm up track, with practice barriers, prepared.  It was a warm, windy day, about 70 degrees at race time.  I decided to race masters 30+ since I would not be able to make the whole CXstitch 3/4 series--so points in the series didn't matter to me.  I got a good warm up in and put a few efforts into it.  I wasn't riding my normal race wheels so I want to make sure I knew how these would handle.  I also did a practice lap of the course immediately prior to our race. 

The course started on a straight into the wind.  It curved left to a gentle downhill switch back.  After a hard left, hard right there was a short steep downhill with a wide 180 and a short steep uphill.  From there it curved around with a gentle uphill to the barriers.  After the barriers it curved a few times, climbing gently to the "spiral of death."  Basically  you went round and round to the apex of the spiral and back out.  From the spiral there was a long downhill section with a turn at the end that took you right back up.  From there we went back to the front section of the course where it wound a bit to the start/finish.

My prize & medal!  
There were four women's races being held concurrently (3/4, 30+, 40+, 50+).  We started in 30 second increments.  The three master's fields went first.  We got the whistle and I jumped hard.  I wanted the whole shot.  One lady got ahead of me but I went after her wheel.  She pulled away from me at the steep little uphill, and I got passed by another lady at the barriers.  I could see Cory staying pretty close to me.  She's racing really well this year, so I knew that I needed to push myself to stay away from her.  My chest was on fire when I went through the start/finish and saw three on the lap card.  The second lap went well and I was expanding my gap on the master's field.  During the third lap, I got passed by the 3/4 leader.  I made it to the spiral of death and was great until I hit the center of it.  I wasn't looking where I wanted to go and ended up running smack in the pole at the center.  I jumped up and got back on, but got passed by three girls in the meantime.  I went hard to increase my gap on the master's ladies behind me.  I got the bell and headed back out on course.  I was a little more careful in the spiral this time and made it through without a problem and finished strong.  I ended up first in the 30+ and 7th overall I believe.

Sunday's course was longer than Saturday' had some of the same features, but had some rocky, mountain-bikish downhill sections.  We headed out for a warm up lap and I was climbing a little steep hill.  I took off gear and just began spinning wildly--I originally thought I'd dropped my chain.  I hopped off the the bike and my chain was dragging the ground.  I shouldered the bike and went up the pit, but my field was already on the line getting instructions . . . and no one had a chain tool . . . and they kept telling me I needed a special chain tool for a Campy chain.  I was disappointed because it was basically the same field.  I would have loved to try to take them on again.  And it really annoys me the results show DNF instead of DNS.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Race Report: PICX#3

The race this week was in the same park as last Saturday.  The weather was perfect, mid 60s, sunny, light wind.  The first half of the course was new, with a lot of long straight aways and wide turns.  The second half was the same as last week, just going backwards.  There were seven of us in the women’s open race.  I will say that I really had to talk to myself not to “lose the race” before it even began.  The whistle blew and we went off.  We were down and back for the first set of long straights and over the barriers when I realized I was still with the group.  I went back and forth with Sally for the sixth spot.  We made a right turn to a little roller coaster hill and made a 180 and I saw Gina R. in the rope on the side.  We continued past her and I traded spots with Sally another time or two.  In the first half of the course there was a tight right, downhill under a tree.  I struggled to find a line there.  Too tight and you had branches in your face, too wide and you lost ground.  In the first lap, Sally overtook me at that point.  I caught her again as we moved into the second half of the course.  There was enough of a hill and straight section that I could put a gap on her.  The other two challenging places in the course for me where on the second half.  There was a sweeping off camber right that I was tentative on, thinking I would slide out.  You could gain some speed from there before another right by the lake (I hate that lake).  There was a tree root and dirt right there and I never found a line I was comfortable with.  Right after, you continued to the right to a steep little hill before turning left, hitting the path and the s/f straight. 
After I passed Sally, Gina C. was pretty close.  I made my move on her in the long straights in lap two.  I went after Cat next.  She and I traded positions throughout the second and part of the third lap.  She was able to pass me once going around the tree, but I again made my move on the climb.  After that I tried to get to Chris and Teresa, closing the gap to as little as nine seconds at one point.  I’d gain ground where I could use power, but they’d make it up in some of the tighter areas.  By lap six I was toast, struggling mentally and physically.  The barrier was a chore, and near the end I knew the leaders of the men’s race were closing in on me. That had already gotten the bell and were finishing.  It I let up, they’d pass me and I could still get third and not have to do the last lap.  It sounded really good for about 10 seconds.  Then I got my head on straight and decided that if I want to continue to race up near the front I need to continue to work hard, all the way through.  My last lap was much better than the previous one as a result. My other highlight for the race, besides getting 3rd was passing Louis.  He smokes me every week at the time trials, I can only aspire to getting that quick.  Small victory!
I had to rock my Illini knee socks 'cause it was homecoming weekend!  Illini 5-0 and I nab a podium.  Beautiful start to October.  Photo credit: Mike Dawson.

Up the steep little hill by my nemesis, the lake. Photo credit: Mike Dawson