Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Lighter but not slimmer?

The last few days have been pretty hectic. Last weekend, (Saturday morning) the Trail Nerds had the first in the series of trail races. I didn't do this one, but instead decided to help out with timing, pictures and course clean up afterwards since Shane and I were doing another adventure race on Sunday. After the race I went home, showered, packed up, picked up Shane and headed up to Lincoln, NE for our race on Sunday. We stayed with fellow trail and ultra runner Rick Hoopes. He and his wife generously hosted us at their place so we didn't have such a long drive to make the day of the race.
The adventure race was fun and we were happy with our third place finish until we realized that we only came in behind the second place team by a minute and a half. We could EASILY have done better if we didn't have to stop and change two flat tires and air them up another two times during the race. THAT was frustrating.
Even WITH the third place finish, we still retained the series lead in the points standings. I'd normally have a race report done for this by now, but I have way too much going on to do one of those at the moment.
Today after work, Allison and I are headed to Leadville, CO. We're meeting Shane and his wife Brandi there. We'll stop in Highlands Ranch so I can work on Thursday before continuing on to Leadville for our marathon on Saturday. While out there, we're going to try to get in some biking and maybe even attempt a fourteener if we have time.

In all of the preparations, training, helping, racing, and working, I haven't weighed myself in a while. I know this may not seem significant to most of you, but I had put on 25+ lbs a while back and have been working on getting it off the healthy way for the past year. When I first came to KC from Orlando, I was just over 165 lbs and am happy to say that I'm FINALLY back down to 133 as of this morning! It's been hovering between 137 and 140 for a while but I guess the race last weekend helped me get that last 4-5 lbs off! Now I just need to get in the gym and get the body composition back to a more respectable level and maybe I'll be racing stronger! Peoples' reactions to hearing about my weight is funny because first, they can't believe that I'm that light now (I look 140-150) and they can't imagine that I was ever 165+. Maybe it's because of my frame I hold weight proportionately or maybe I just wore baggier clothes, but either way, nobody but me ever really noticed.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Adventure Racing: What it is and why I do it

Even amongst mountain bikers, trail runners, and multi-sport athletes, I often get asked "What is an adventure race?" It seems everyone knows what a triathlon is, (although most NON-triathletes automatically think of Ironman) but relatively few people know what an adventure race is. My usual response is that an adventure race is like an off-road triathlon, but instead of the traditional swim, bike, run, the events are trail running, mountain biking, and kayaking (in no particular order) with special tests or mystery events throughout the race. As with triathlons, there are varying distances, but this is pretty much where the similarities end.

Triathlons usually consist of a sprint, olympic distance, half-ironman, or ironman distance, but the disciplines and order of events are always (borishly in my opinion) consistent. Swim - transition - Bike - transition - Run. Triathlons are a great way to motivate some people to stay healthy and they're a decent measure of fitness, but they are also a decent way to get people to push themselves physically and mentally more than they otherwise might in their daily routines or hobbies.

Adventure Racing not only incorporates these physical disciplines, it also adds several other dimensions like scenery, interacting with the varying terrains, mental/intellectual challenges, team building skills, and an unpretentious comraderie amongst competitors that is hard to find in triathletes. I know this from first-hand experience. Many adventure racers were once triathletes that (like myself) made the cross over and stuck with it after discovering how much there is to love about it.

There are no prerequisites to be an adventure racer other than having a love of life and wanting to have fun. There are a few solo ARs, but most are team events consisting of 2, 3, or 4 person teams. The rules for adventure racing are simple. During the race, teammates must stay together and complete each event as a team. This is for safety as well as a necessity for completing the race successfully. Racers must respect the land they're racing on and practice the "Leave no trace" philosophy. During ARs, competitors cannot receive assistance from spectators or anyone outside the race, but MAY get help from other racers. This happens frequently and is sometimes necessary to complete a race. The "special tests/mystery events" can be anything from orienteering/navigation, an obstacle course, completing a run while zip-tied to your teammate at the wrist, crawling through a mud pit, solving a rubix cube, guessing a movie from clues, solving a sudoku puzzle, hitting paintball targets, or various other mental and physical challenges.

Hopefully, this gives at least a basic understanding of what adventure racing is. That being said, hopefully you'll want to get involved in one some day.

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I don't lern too good

You'd think I'd learn more as I get older. Not necessarily the case. I keep finding new mistakes or new ways of making the same old mistakes. What would really help is if I could be consistent enough (in training, diet, and pretty much everything) to learn how to recover correctly and/or completely. That's such a necessary part of training, but still not a part that I'm embracing very well. After taking off thursday and Friday last week after Wednesday's fiasco, I went for a bike ride on Saturday with a couple of guys. One was the current mountain biking champion of Missouri and the other is a phenomenal rider who used to work for and ride for Manitou. He also wins many of the area bike races so I knew I'd be in for a workout. Riding with these guys is fun and makes me better. I was really hoping others would show up for this ride to help keep the pace down, but it ended up just being the three of us. I held my own and dont' think I held them up too much, but I also had to hold back a bit as I knew I was going to TRY to do 2 loops at Wyco on Sunday. Didn't matter. I let my pride get the best of me and used my quads harder than I should've on the ride and felt it on Sunday's run. My knee is also bothering me a little worse now. It was feeling a bit better most of last week so this has me concerned.
The next three weekends are all race weekends with the first (this Saturday & Sunday) being the first in the Trail Nerds Trail run series. As soon as that's over, Shane and I head up to Lincoln, NE for our next Adventure Race on Sunday. THEN, we leave next Thursday morning for Leadville, CO where we'll be doing the Leadville Marathon and the weekend after that is another adventure race. Hope my knee holds out because my confidence in my training isn't.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Wednesday night runs are usually pretty easy ones for me. Those are the pot-luck dinner runs that are hosted at a different person's home each week and the host provides the route and the main dish. Every one else brings their appetite and a side dish and it's usually a laid back pace allowing us to see different parts of Kansas City and the surrounding areas.
This past one, I was coming off two (relatively) fast runs on Monday night and Tuesday night back to back after running 11 on Sunday. I had planned on doing about 7-8 on Wed nite and since I knew the route, I felt comfortable with it. Starting out, my legs immediately felt like I had done a HARD bike ride that day (which I had not) and took them a while to get warmed up. Even once they did warm up, they still didn't get much energy to them. I was struggling to keep up a medium pace with the lead guys and eventually fell off. I told myself that it was alright and I'd just run my own pace to finish. Didn't happen. After the turn around point, I did one more mile and had to walk it back. Did about 4.5 or 5 miles running and did the final 2 or 2.5 walking! My legs HURT the rest of the evening. So I had to take Thursday off even though I REALLY wanted to hit the newly remodeled Psycho Wyco trails on our thursday night runs. Shane and I want to do 2 laps this weekend at Wyco to get in at least 20 miles of hills, and I think I'll be ok for that, but I'm also thinking about riding Clinton lake on Saturday with the guys from Cowtown cycling. If I do that, I may not have enough left for Wyco on Sunday. I guess all this rambling leads me to conclude that eight years of racing STILL has not taught me how to balance pushing it to get stronger without hurting myself by overtraining. I HATE this because it makes me feel like such a friggin weakling!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Fun but short weekend

Allison and I headed out to Eden, UT for a wedding reception of some friends of ours. While there, I got to go for a great bike ride and an awesome mountain run in the Wasatch mountains as well as getting to party with our friends. The weather was gorgeous. 70s and low 80s during the day and 40s at night. They still have a LOT of snow on the ground and Brighton (the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon) even got a foot of fresh snow on Memorial Day weekend before climbing back up into the 80s again. Strange weather, but it sure is beautiful!
One of the friends we stayed with is a Doctor and after talking with him about some of my knee troubles, we've pretty much concluded that I have a bruised Meniscus in my right knee. Not too threatening, but it is a bit uncomfortable and if not allowed to heal, it could lead to worse. Somehow, I have to find a way to get in some longer runs this month in preparation for the Leadville Marathon on July 1st while still somehow taking it easy on my right knee. Looks like lots of ice and anti-inflamatory stuff is in order.