Once More

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”  Shakespeare

I started get back into running at the beginning of the year. I took a little time off after my last race and it ended up being 11 years. My goal was simply to have no goals. I just wanted to get in decent shape and have some fun. I failed to achieve that goal, because after a couple of months I started thinking about shit to do.

Not just any goal would do. I could sign up for a marathon, 100 mile run or an Ironman, but just finishing one of those did not seem like much of a goal. Do not take that the wrong way finishing your first 5K or sprint triathlon is a great accomplishment. My favorite part of being a race director is seeing people finish their first whatever it may be. My issue was that I had done all those things in the past, so none of them would be a first. I needed a goal that would challenge me both mentally and physically. I needed a goal that would require me to do something I sucked at. That left many, many options.

Distance has never been a problem, speed on the other hand is something I lack. My first thought was to work toward the World Championships in the Olympic distance triathlon (age group of course). It might be fun to see how well I could do. Back in the 80s I had done quite a few of the Olympic distance races. Well, they weren’t Olympic distance at that point because triathlon was not an Olympic sport.

My next thought did turn toward the marathon. Not just to run one, but to try to run one fast. In the past, I had run a few respectable marathons. I did very little specific training for the distance as I was running way too much mileage training for ultras. The goal would be to break 3 hours at 50 years old. That would give me either 11 years or a year and a half depending on how honest I was being. Seemed like a good goal that would require some serious training.

Around the middle of April, I ran across some information on a race in North Dakota. It was an off-road iron distance race. The more I read about it, the more intrigued I became. The winning time was normally around 17 hours, which is the cut off for a normal Ironman race, so it had to be tough. 6 miles of the run are in a creek and much of the rest of it is described as bushwhacking. The fastest run split is normally around 7 hours and the fastest bike around 9. I mentioned my lack of speed earlier, but that is nothing compared to my lack of coordination. Did I mention this is 112 miles on a mountain bike? The best part was that I had a whole 3 months to train for it.

I started swimming the next day and as soon as I could get a bike back in shape to ride I started cycling. I hit the roads on my old softride at first just to get the hang of riding again. Even though I was not in shape for either sport I felt surprisingly comfortable both in the water and saddle. Slow, but comfortable. I worked on these for about 3 weeks and then decided a test was in order. I swam 2.4 miles on Friday, rode 100 on Saturday, and then ran 20 something with Cynthia on the trails on Sunday. I lived through it so the only issues left were putting the 3 sports together and of course the mountain bike thing.

I went into this thinking I had a lack of skill on the mountain bike and just needed a lot of practice. Much to my surprise I found that not only did I have a lack of skill I was completely ignorant of anything mtb. In a way, it is embarrassing to admit that I have been around endurance sport for over 35 years and know nothing about an entire aspect of it. On the other hand, it is exciting to be learning something completely new. I was so ignorant and so bad that it will require its own post to describe it.

Three weeks ago, I heard about the short track mountain bike series in Louisville. 20 minutes of racing around a .6-mile loop. It requires speed and, of course, riding a mountain bike. I decided to give it a shot. It was a blast. There were a surprising number of people that I knew there as well as some new acquaintances. There were food trucks and a brewery. All I will say about my performance is that I had fun and lived through it. I came home and signed up for the race that night.

I have no expectations for my performance, but I do foresee a grand adventure. I will keep you updated.

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Weekend of Courses

Thinking about getting back into the swing of endurance I decided that I might as well go over the courses for a couple of upcoming races.  Check out headfirstperformance.com to get more details on these races or to register.

On Friday Steven Zehnder and I set out to complete the course for the 3rd race in the Shelbyville Triathlon Series that will take place on April 9th.

The swim of course is just the same as any indoor pool swim.  The water is 82 degrees and wet.  There are no major hills.  What else is there to say.  There were only 2 open lanes so we used them both to practice going under the lane lines at the end of every lap of the pool.  Although it was only my third time in a pool in over a year it seems kind of a waste of time to change your clothes just to swim 400yds.

After we left the pool we jumped on our bikes to check out the bike course.  For those that have done the first two races, it is important to note that the bike course is different for race 3.  On the good side you get to see more of Shelby County and there is more varied terrain.  The negative of the course is that there are a couple of intersections that require more caution than on the first 2 races.

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Overall the course is in great shape.  There were no major potholes.  The mild winter weather helped in that regard.  There was also no areas with lots of gravel or other debris.  Unless we have a major rain this week that washes out driveways we should be golden for next weekend.  I will have a broom handy when marking the course just in case.

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The run is the same 5K as the last race.  There are a few rolling hills in the first half mile of the run followed by a half mile of flat to very slightly downhill.  Around .8 or .9 you will take a right into a gravel parking lot to get onto the paved bike trail.  As soon as you hit this bike trail there is a nice downhill followed by a narrow bridge across the creek.  Be carefull and respectfull of those heading the other way on this bridge.  The final half mile to the turn around isflat and fast.  he course is out and back, so I won’t give any details on the return trip other than to say that nice downhill I mentioned on the way out is not so nice of an uphill on the way back..

5KMap

5KElevation

On Sunday Cynthia and I ventured to Otter Creek to run the course for the Otter Night Run on May 27th.  This is a great race where you can run distances ranging from 8.5 miles to almost 35 miles.  There is also great camping, storytelling, cooking out, and some adult beverages.

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For the first loop we stayed on course so I could post some data for all of you that care about that stuff.  After that we ran, took photos, explored, and had a great day.  In the end we covered 20 miles.

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If you have never ran at Otter Creek.  It is a great trail.  For the average runner there are only one or two hills you may consider walking.  The rest of the course is very runnable.  I don’t consider myself in the best of shape yet, but could more than likely run the entire loop once.  If I knew there were a second loop coming I would need to walk a couple of hills, each lap.  For those that may have done any races at Jefferson Memorial this trail is mush easier.

CourseMap

Elevation

You could not ask for a better day to be out running these trails.  The weather was perfect.  Flowers were blooming all along the course and it is early enough in the year where weeds were not hanging over the trail.  Much of the trail runs along Otter Creek and the Ohio River.  There were many folks out fishing and families just enjoying the day.  This was the best day of running I have had in years.  Following it up with Mexican food, a trip to the hydro massage bed at the gym, and then some ice cream just made it that much better.

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LLTH Training Run

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After a year of not running at all I started back less than a month ago.  Running about 5 miles a day comfortably with a long run of 6.  Doing a little on the trails, but mostly on the roads.

Cynthia had planned a training runs for Lovin The Hills this weekend.  She then had to go to South Carolina on Saturday.  She encouraged me to do the training run on Sunday.  I was informed it was only 16 miles so it should be no problem.  Did I mention 6 miles on the road was my longest run?

To make things better the weather was forecast was calling for rain on Sunday as well as the previous several days.  It was going to be muddy and I had no trail shoes.  The situation looked better all the time.

I decided that I better get prepared.  Even if I couldn’t finish the run I wasn’t going to have any excuses.  I went out and bought a pair of trail shoes and dug a vest out at the barn.  I had not worn it in several years.  For your information If you store your stuff in a dairy barn do not leave anything in a pocket or a mouse will eat a hole in the pocket to get to it.

After I got everything together on Saturday it was raining so I decided to give everything a try.  I did 5 miles on the trails in Shelbyville.  New shoes seemed to have good traction and feel well on the feet.  The vest still held water.  I was as ready as I was going to get.

Sunday morning I got up, put water out for everyone and then went to the start.  The  parking lot was full when I got there.  If you are going to fail there is nothing better than having a large group of people there to see.  At least it wasn’t raining and the temperature was nice.

I said a few words to the group and then we headed out.  Everyone was still packed up for the first few miles so the pace was fairly easy.  Good for me lots of uphill in those first few miles.  Then the pack started thinning out and the pace picked up a little.  I was running mid pack and feeling pretty good at this point.

We arrived at the end of Siltstone Trail and I had to make a decision to either turn around or do Scott’s Gap.  I was not feeling especially intelligent so I decided on the Scott’s Gap Loop.  At the end of the loop we stopped to refuel.  I had a Payday, one of my favorite running foods.  I was excited that that I was still feeling good and ready for the last 6 and a half miles.

With a little over 3 miles to go Jonathon  Amlung picked up the pace and I went with him. That was great for about 1.5 and then I started feeling it.  The last 1.5 got a little tough, but I got through it.

In the end it was a great day with great people running a beautiful trail.  It was also a lesson learned.  Never underestimate your abilities.  You never know what you are capable of until you try