Sunday, April 28, 2013

Texas State San Marcos Race Report

I don't have any good race pics, so here is me eating a banana on the trainer a few months ago.

So this was a fun weekend, but terrible racing for me. I haven’t been able to keep up my mid-week rides, which led to a decline in fitness. We left a bit later on Friday April 12th than I would have liked, but still early enough in the day for it to be a pleasant drive. We got to San Marcos and hung out at the coffee shop where registration was being held for a while. We had a few beers. One of my teammates got a bit more drunk than the rest of us, and he started talking about ideas of how to improve the team. Most were pretty good. I am able to provide perspective on these things since I have been with the team substantially longer even though I am a mediocre racer. Anyway, we went to our host’s house. I got a couch, which was great.

The next morning we headed out for the race delirious as usual. Leaving early in the morning for a race just isn’t fun. The race started off at a slower pace than the K-State race, but it wasn’t exactly relaxed. I dropped off the back pretty quickly, and then sat in with a couple of dropped riders. Then I started to feel a bit woozy, and I drifted into another rider’s wheel. I went down, but thankfully the other guy didn’t. I had a few scrapes and my bike was mostly fine. The hoods are scratched up and I had to replace the bar tape (the new tape is ripped now as well, but that’s another story.)

A teammate also crashed. She was taken to the hospital, and taken care of. I did the much cheaper option of pouring a bit of water on my wounds and hoping I wouldn’t get infected. I got sick later that week, but I am totally fine now. I didn’t do either the time trial or the crit that weekend. It was a really disappointing weekend even though my team did really well. I had fun, because even though I crashed I was still hanging out with some pretty fun people. Oh well.

Sorry about being so late on this in case anyone is a regular reader. I’ve just had a disappointing couple of weeks. I have another race report which I will write up soon for the conference championships that happened last weekend, and then it’s on to some general training stuff. I am going to be training for a triathlon and a 10k(The Bolder Boulder.) I was going to do a half marathon, and still might, but my little sister is worried that she won’t be able to go that distance yet. That’s cool I guess. More on that later. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Kansas State Wildcat Gran Prix

I headed North from my state for a race for the first time ever. The team went to my grandma’s house on Friday night, which was pretty fun. A whole bunch of us stayed in the basement there. It was kind of strange. I have spent a couple weeks total in that basement at different points, and this was the first time that we have had a lot of people. Everyone joked around for a while. It got a bit late, and I had to steer them in the direction of sleeping a bit. We got there soon enough. When I woke up my stomach felt terrible. I couldn’t eat a thing that morning, which was bad news. I hate when my body is uncooperative. I had a half a glass of milk, and I felt like throwing up.

I got to the race and the conditions were great. It was 75 and sunny, albeit rather windy. We went down the initial stretch going about 30 average. If that tells you anything about how windy it was, then you should know that once that section was over it was going to be tough going. We hit the first turn, and I was having a tough time staying with the pack. I slowly dropped off, and I got stuck out in the wind with only a couple of riders. I wasn’t concerned about catching the group, so I had a few pleasant conversations with people. It was nice talking to riders from different states. I talked with a guy from KU who lives in Colorado as well. He and I really got along, which was great. I talked with a guy from Iowa, and asked him if he knew anyone on his powerlifting team. He didn’t, but it was worth a shot.

The hills were tougher than I thought they would be. After Arkansas I was glad that there wasn’t any of that 22% madness, but it was still enough to make me hurt. The road race finish was uphill into the wind. I gave it the beans at the end, and hit the biggest vomit risk for the day in the following minutes. My parents and I talked for a bit(as the race was even closer to them this time) and then they left as we decided what we wanted to do for dinner. We chose Olive Garden, which is normally avoided by the team, and as we got there I saw they had a Smashburger and a Noodles & Company right behind the Olive Garden. I have never been so disappointed in our team’s decisions. If we go back to K-State next year for a race I am forcing everyone to go to Noodles. They don’t have them in OK or TX, so our guys never end up eating there. Most haven’t even heard of it. They still have no idea what they missed. Next time though….

We need the more obscure sports from each university to have a training center. I would appreciate a club sports only budget, so big schools like OU don’t have to scrounge for equipment. To be honest the funding for these sorts of sports shouldn’t be in the hands of individual students. If a student has equipment they would like to use, then great, but it would be cool if they didn’t have to rely on themselves. The problem is some sports have a huge budget that gets blown on either dumb stuff or produces mediocre results. I am grateful that our football program makes money and pays for our graduate students, but out of a 43 million dollar budget, you’d think they could spare a few thousand so we don’t have to have riders sleep on the floor.

I don’t want to get into a huge diatribe about that though. On to the crit!

Sunday morning we were all really tired. The breakfast at the hotel was mediocre. It paled in comparison to the breakfast my grandma had made the day before. We rushed to get all of our stuff outside of the hotel, and headed down to campus. There was a big hill in the middle of the crit. I have found a big weakness of mine, and I know what I am going to do over the summer. Lots of hills at a paced effort twice a week should be enough for me to avoid getting dropped on scenarios like this. I hate this sort of course because I end up catching the people on the downhill and corners. We had a neutral lap, and everything was cool. Then we were off. Two KU riders attacked at the very beginning, and I made the mistake of thinking the peloton wouldn’t immediately gobble them back up with or without my help. So I went off the front into the wind to chase them down. Then we turned onto the hill, and I fell back. I stayed with everyone for the first half of the next lap, then I spent much of the race latching on to various wheels of other dropped off riders. I eventually found myself toward the end of the race just surviving. I saw that I was on the last lap with a couple of riders in my vicinity. I put all of the rest of my efforts into that lap. The great thing about crit courses is you know just how much effort a lap is going to take because you have done it so many times. This was a 30 minute + 3 lap crit, so it took about 39 minutes. This is 10 minutes longer than the crits I am used to, but to be honest I didn’t feel any kind of difference. I was still dropped because of a hill. I am beating myself up about it a lot, but I want to change it. If I don’t talk about it I won’t do anything about it, and that is a problem. As I hit the hill I put myself into a steady gear and pedaled at a pretty intense pace. After I hit the crest I shifted into my big chainring, put it into a tough gear, stood up, and put my weight into the pedals. I gained speed, and I set myself up for a sprint. Even though I was well off the back I like being “that guy” that sprints for the line. Even though I was exhausted I still pulled out a 32 mph sprint. Not my greatest, but that hill took most of what I had out of me. At least I didn’t get last in either race.

There was a crash each day that had one of my teammates in it. The first day he screwed up his wheels, and the second day he fractured his wrist. He’s out for the rest of the race season. Only two weeks left in collegiate for us, so that means he is definitely out for them. He will possibly do a couple other races in the summer. I’m gonna go crazy on the bike these next two weeks. I’ll give myself a little siesta leading up to finals, and then it’s on to some triathlon and half marathon training. It has been a really long time since I have been in the pool, and I am looking forward to eliminating my mediocrity at swimming. 

On a more team related note, we had a first place finish in the Men's D road race, the Men's C road race, and the Men's C crit. We will probably have multiple riders podium for the season, and our team is on track to handily get third in the conference. We may even chase down some of the points that the second place school has on us. Only two more weekends to go, and I am really impressed with how the team has done. I look forward to the next race and conference championships with a great fervor now. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Race Report 3: My Legs Are Killing Me

The infamous route.
So last weekend I went to Arkansas. I have waited a bit typing this up because I had a pretty bad weekend there. Climbing is certainly not my specialty, and a combination of factors led to me being rather unsuccessful in the race. The course was the same as the Hell's Kitchen Road Race, and that means that we had to do a climb that was pretty unforgiving. It topped out at 22% for a short stretch, and I was in agony there.

Back to the beginning...

We drove up to Fayetteville on Friday night staying at a teammate's grandmother's house. The next morning it was a bit wet out. We got to the race course, and quickly put everything on. I hate running late for things. Within the first second or so an LSU rider crashed at the start line. It was good for a quick laugh. We had a fairly boring first few miles. Some conversations with people, etc. Then it started to rain. It rained a bunch. I was pretty miserable not just because of the rain, but also because we started to hit harder hills. I was getting dropped off of the back, and settling into my own pace. As we went up the toughest parts of Hell's Kitchen I was losing it. It just hurt. There is an intense sense of relief when you get up to the top of those sorts of climbs. You don't worry about what it's going to be like when you hit the next hill, you're just thankful this one is over with. Well, each subsequent hill I was hurting on.

The descent was pretty fun. I was apparently the only rider that had good visibility. I was wearing my PowerBar hat that I received in the seventh grade from my geography teacher, who just happened to be a retired pro. I also had my Oakley sunglasses, which didn't fog up unlike everyone else's glasses. I topped out at 42, which based on how wet it was and how much the rain hurt at those speeds wasn't too shabby. I struggled through the last 8 miles of the race having exhausted myself on the climb. I did better than 20 percent of the riders, which is low, but it was on a course that I am certainly not built for.
I have had this hat since I was 13.

On to the Time Trial. I didn't want to do it. I told my team I was hurting, and they did the typical thing of "unless it's serious..." So I went with them. We had to ride 8 miles to the TT along the course. All of the teams were out there riding at the same time. During this ride there were a few "What happens on race weekend stays on race weekend" moments. I won't get into details, but it was pretty funny.

I took the first pull for my team. I basically said I was going to burn myself out on one pull, then they could go. I knew that I wasn't going to make it very far, but I pushed myself. The start was at the bottom of a short but difficult hill. I powered up it, and stayed at the front of the group letting everyone else recover. I was already pushing myself pretty hard at this point, but I stuck with it for the rest of the first mile. I was broken at that point, and waved them on. I pedaled the rest of the way counting down each tenth of a mile. When it was over I was really tired.

We ate at a place called Mellow Mushroom. They had some pretty good pizza and beer. I was glad to be in a state that had decent laws regarding beer for once. They could actually keep a decent number of craft beers on tap. No offense to the major beers, but I need something stronger after a race.

The next morning we had the crit, and I did poorly. I'm actually pretty mad at myself for this one. I didn't DNF, but most people would have in my situation. I got lapped, and finished so far behind everyone it hurt. Half of the course was downhill, and through several turns. These were not a problem for me, and in fact I would gain ground on this section. Half of the riders were from Arkansas, and as physically fit as they are, they still don't know how to go around corners. I got accordion-ed in the corners and tired on the hill of the course. I just hope things aren't so bad this weekend at Kansas State.
Here is me feeling dejected after being ejected from the group.