Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Racing and Social Media

Times have changed and technology has enhanced all aspects of our lives. Technology in relation to endurance sports is overwhelming, but I am not talking minimalist shoes (a smarter, reverse-technology), carbon fiber bikes or GPS data.

Social Media

How has Twitter, Blogspot and Facebook enhanced our fitnessing? For me, the biggest impact has been the new friendships gained through racing. Connecting with athletes before, during and after races is great. We have similar interests, similar ideals and at the finish line, you recognize similar speeds!

My first multi-sport race was a sprint triathlon in 1997. I was nineteen years old, dating the greatest girlfriend and finishing my freshman year of college. I loved these events and the camaraderie that the sport provided for all of the competitors. You raced together in a freezing lake, insanely hot temperatures and traded war stories for a fleeting moment, then we went our separate ways. A week later, the official results were sent to each person in the mail and if you were lucky you may run into a race-mate the next weekend or the next year. Even if you lived in the same town, meeting up was by chance.

Fast forward to the present. "Who was that guy I pass while he was tying his shoe?" "Who finished right in front of me?" "New training friend?"

Two hours after the race, hop online, check race results, he's from Denver, search the Google, (are they on Twitter, Facebook or one of the thousands of ultra-runner blogs?) and now we are friends and can plan a ride up Golden Gate or run at Wash Park. May be a little awkward at first, but who cares.

This obviously did not happen 15 years ago and the new form of friendship building is fantastic. We all love checking in on old schoolmates, but isn't it more important to utilize social media to foster new relationships. It is also really helpful to find new and different ways to stay motivated, get out and try new routes and have a new competitor to train with to keep you on your toes.

I am fine with 80% of my training being solo miles on the road or trails. But holy crap does the time fly when discussing race experiences, school for your kids, family, food and politics. All while climbing up a majestic road route for over an hour; best ride in Denver. High Grade

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hungry like a...

It has been three days since the Leadville Silver King Victory. My spirits are high, my energy is very high, my quads are slowly coming back around and my toenails might be saved (Thanks Dr. Daniel Kortsch for the red hot pin advice). I cannot believe the support and kind words of encouragement that I have received from so many people. It is surprising, yet very inspiring to know how many friends and family care about what you are doing. I am training for and competing in these events to test my limits and more importantly, to drive others to dig deep in search of the same animal inside of them. Once I was a lone Wolf, but now we are many.

Some of my favorite takeaways from the weekend of racing.
- Seeing Nicole's, Rocco's and Sawyer's faces at all the rest stops and especially the finish. Rocco met me ON the finish line and Sawyer was full body clapping with his mouth agape. I will NEVER forget that picture in my head and it will inspire to the end.
- My wife's hugs at each moment of the weekend. Showing her constant support in my training, my eating habits over the past 6 months (How much cereal can a person eat in one week? Ask Nicole) and my race weekend.
- The importance of a Crew Chief to alleviate so much anxiety and lend logistical and mental support throughout the weekend. Thanks again Jeff.
- Racer Camaraderie in the bike and run were unmatched. The people that I rode and ran with are now true friends. At no time did any of us care about finishing ahead or behind each other. The common goal of maximizing your personal best was apparent with everyone I met. A former Olympian, an ER Doctor who was also a husband and father of two, many other parents and a surprise pacing friend John that popped out of the woods at the time I needed it most.
- Nothing can substitute training at elevation other than being at elevation. My God. Your body just does not understand the lack of oxygen up there. It is relentless and does not allow for mistakes.
- GU Brew and Roctane Gels. I drank over 300 ounces of energy drink, +14 GU Gels, +5 GU and Honey Stinger chews, Honey Stinger Waffles and another 100 ounces of water. My stomach was a little bloated, but my brother Jared's advice and plan of consuming more food and liquids on the downhills really worked for me and my body continued to take in the fuel instead of rejecting nutrition and making me sick.

Endurance races can be lonely, but you are never alone. I have found this out by the number of people that cared that I did this event and how well I performed. I will carry this with me during all future adventures.

Running that distance, on 17 hours of recovery, after you mountain bike raced the same course may not be for everyone. That is not the point. You can make any distance and any event your goal. And let me tell you, going into your event and reaching your goal will have a profound affect on your mind, body and soul. People take notice, throw their support behind you. This sense of community affects your personal growth and enhances your purpose in a way you never thought possible.

I am hungry for more and cannot wait until the next challenge comes along. Laramie Enduro 111k Mtn Bike Race

Monday, July 18, 2011

Leadville Silver King Champion 2011

Fastest time of any competitor in both the Mtn Bike and Trail Run races. 14th Overall in the 50 mile Mtn Bike in 4:37 and 3rd Overall in the 50 mile Trail Run race in 7:42.

What an unbelievable weekend. Leaving Denver Friday late afternoon my anxiety levels were at an all time high. I have not tackled an adventure quite like this before. Saturday was the Silver Rush 50 mile Mountain Bike Race followed up by Sunday's Silver Rush 50 mile Trail Run Race. Both races on the same out and back course, starting at an elevation of 10,000 feet exactly, climbing 6 separate times to 12,000 feet. The trail was a mix of double track jeep roads, single track trails, super loose/steep ups and downs as well as a few "breather" sections of gravel roads. An intense course with no flat sections to be found.

Over the past 20 or so years, Leadville, CO has transformed from an old mining village to the epicenter of high elevation mountain trail racing. People flock from all over the world to abuse themselves in the form of mountain biking and trail running. Both events were sold out; start line at the Bike race was 750 and the run was 310. Per start list, there were 72 people registered for the Silver King/Queen combo platter. My plan going into the weekend was to race each race for myself, not to worry about finishing place in either event, but rather race smart, efficient and save a little energy for the last few miles of Sunday's run. The weather was perfect, the course was perfect and the aid stations supplied by The Leadville Trail Series were outstanding.

The start line was strategically placed 3 feet from the bottom of an incredible sledding hill. A ridiculous way to begin each race. Check out the video footage.

After that uphill start, racers are able to gain some space and form the pecking order. I was able to run up the hill and slide myself into about 10th place. I got into a groove, passed a few and was passed by a few. Not at all worrying about another racer. This is difficult for me, but I knew I had to be smart and take my time. Each climb was intense and long, the downhills were fast and a little loose. But I was able to keep my cool and have fun. I met several other riders out on the course and had some great conversation to pass the time. Yet, I couldn't help thinking how hard tomorrow was going to be. At the turn around point I was so surprised to see Nicole and the boys cheering me on. They made the trek up to the aid station and worked out an adorable little chant. It was so inspiring to see my family and the boys faces as they saw the I was one of the racers too. On the way back, I had one bike mechanical issue that set me back a few minutes, but was not race threatening. I was so happy to finish in 14th place at 4:37 and be safe from the high speed racing action. Our team had 5 racers who all had successful bike races themselves and really seemed to enjoy the time out on the course. I was pretty spent, but the legs did not feel too beat up heading into the run.

The trail run started a few hours earlier at 6 am, so we had to hit the road before sunrise. Crew Chief Jeff had me all lined out for each aid station. We ran through the nutrition needs and got to the start line. Running up that same hill, I could not believe how heavy my legs were. A few people went out a little faster but stayed within eye site. Not feeling good at all coming through mile 6 and the first aid station I did not think it was my day. The self doubt crept in as to my abilities on this particular day, but I could still see Patrick leading the race only a few hundred meters up the trail. I kept saying to myself, if this fit animal can lead out at this good pace and I can see him, just hang in there.

On our first decent I was passed by three guys running at an unbelievable clip, but I just let them go, knowing that any made up time here would destroy my quads and ultimately not be worth it. So I held even. On the second large climb I was able to bring in the lead female and 2 other guys, running along side my new friend Chase, we made it up to the last climb pretty evenly, catching Patrick, who was now in 4th. But he took off on the decent like an antelope and I decided to let it loose at this time too. I put some time into the people behind me, heading into the halfway aid station in 5th place. The climb out of the aid station was hard, but then the steep section to the top was a brutal hike at best. I had a quick chat with Patrick as it seemed his hiking legs were a little tuckered out, told him to keep his head up and eyes on the 100. At this time I was now in 4th place and couldn't believe it.

The best part of the out and back course was being able to see all the other competitors coming at you. Everyone is always lending an encouraging word and telling me my standings. That helped a lot and made the race much less lonely. Coming down another long decent, I turned a corner, got an update from volunteer that I was 3rd, that blew me away, the guy in front of me must have dropped out. A few minutes later I saw Nicole and the boys with Jeff. We couldn't believe I was in 3rd place and rallied to get through the next aid station and prep me for the last climb. I was feeling so good and didn't seem to be as worn out as I should have been, even after that bike race! The last climb was on the gravel road and was so difficult. I was struggling mightily to run at this point, climbing about 2000 feet in about 4 miles, just brutal. But no one was in sight and I turned downhill fast. This is where I felt the toenails coming loose, but I just didn't care. I got to the last aid station, 7 miles out, took some pictures with the family and made my way for the finish.

The last section was awesome and brutal. I was running great until 3 miles from the finish. The heat kicked up and I dug as deep as I could to get across the line. I took 3rd place OVERALL in a time of 7:42, blew away all expectations that I had of my racing weekend. I was so happy and couldn't believe my result, winning the Silver King Competition by a substantial margin is so exciting.

I want to thank Nicole and my boys, Rocco and Sawyer for their unbelievable patience and continued support in my training and racing. My Crew Chief, Jeff Koski, for knowing what nutrition that I needed before I did at each and every aid station. His positive force and ridiculous race support skills are unmatched. And my additional Cheerleaders of Heath, Amanda, Ella and Georgia Kirschner for their screams of encouragement. It meant so much to me to have my closest friends and family by my side. And lastly, Will Johnson, my friend and race mate for his support (congratulations on your awesome race as well!).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Leadville Time - Big Weekend

It is time to test my metal in Leadville, CO; elevation 10,152 feet. The Silver Rush 50 Mtn Bike Race and the Silver Rush 50 Trail run = Silver King Epic Challenge. I am nervous, anxious, excited and a little scared for my weekend of fun in Leadville. My training for the last several months has been good, but not great. The visions of long runs and long bike sessions are hampered by the reality of what is more important in life, family, and how well my body can hold up with 20+ hours of fitness for months on end. I had unbelievable support from my wife Nicole and my boys Rocco and Sawyer.

I had great training sessions with my neighbor Heath. Who despite my best attempts is still alive after all the huge trail runs and uphill bike riding. Great work Heath, you should be racing this weekend too.

My body feels like it is ready to go. Thanks to 2 days off of running to heal the Extensor Digitorum Longus (tendon on the top of my right foot) and New Skin antiseptic liquid bandage for sealing the side of foot back up. All to be expected...and the timing is right on for race time. Thanks to everyone else for the help and I look forward to writing my race report to let everyone know how it goes. Bigger things to come!