Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tour de Park City Utah 173 mile Gran Fondo

A few months back Jesse mentioned that he was thinking about doing an event in Park City. I think he told me it was a 70 mile or so ride at higher altitude and it sounded like a fun place to get away from the Arizona heat. I didn't think about it much after that and went about business. A few weeks ago in an email there was a description of the event and I thought about it more seriously. There were three distances, 50 miles, 100 and 170 as they advertised them. For some reason the 170 seemed to appeal to me and within a day or two I was seriously considering it and a week later registered for it.

I had not been training for anything like that distance but since I had done the 70.3 Ironman in Boise in June and was riding hard for short distances the previous 3 weeks or so I would go for it.

I talked Betty and the kids into going as well with a trip through Vegas and a day at Lagoon. We had a two day complimentary stay at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and $50 dining credit so we stopped there and watched the goofiness of the world, swam, relaxed and did the breakfast buffet for a meal. The kids and I went to the Stratosphere as well and rode the rides at the top. We left for and arrived in Vegas on Wednesday evening and lefty Friday morning and drove to Park City.

We booked a hotel for Park City on Priceline for 75 dollars a night at the Yarrow Hotel. It said it was a 3 star but definitely not any more than a 2.5. When I unpacked my bike from the trunk I noticed that my rear brake was broken, spring had been compromised. Fortunately right across the parking lot was a bike shop. They were able to take it in and fix it. However the mechanic adjusted the brake a little to tight which I did not notice until I started riding the next morning. For 50 plus miles I pedaled against some friction that I could feel but not tell exactly what was happening in the rush of the group start. In my relief to have it fixed I don't think I noticed it when I rode back to the hotel.

The hotel had two queen sized beds so that was good for the kids as they had slept on the couch at the hotel in Vegas. Being a cheaper hotel in Park City I think it had a tendency to attract some budget conscience drinkers as the guy in the room next to us decided to beat up his female partner at 2:00 AM. Between their pounding and the police coming that is when I woke up and never went back to sleep. At 4:30 I got up and started making my drink bottles and preparations and headed to the ride start at 5:15. The ride started at 6:00 AM.

As we took off I started having problems pedaling and keeping up. My heart rate shot up and I could not figure out if I had a mechanical problem or if the lack of sleep was the issue. Needless to say I fell off the group very quickly and at least was able to settle in with the more casual riders in the event. My main concern was to not have to ride alone. Some how I found the ability to hammer up the first few hills and stay with a group for the first 50 miles until we stopped for some food and drink. I borrowed a Leatherman tool from one of the volunteers and opened my brake as much as I could. It felt better and I was able keep up easier for the next 25 miles. After the 75 mile break I kept up for about another 20 miles or so and then started to hit a wall. I dropped by myself and was able to keep going on the level but still in my easier gears.

The one thing that I did which I learned the hard way was to get a more suitable gearing for a long ride with climbing. I had a gear cog with a 28 tooth sprocket put on the rear which was better suited to climbing than the 26 that I had been using since I started riding. That was probably the main reason I was able to keep going.

Somehow I made it to the 105 mile point and food station. The group that I had been chasing was taking a longer break and were there when I arrived. I said I was done and going to hitch hike back to Park City. These really were nice people and we had developed a quick and caring relationship. They encouraged me to just eat and rest and to not give up, even though the hardest 15 miles of the ride were coming up. The climb to Mirror Lake. They did it by telling me that I had to do the descent on the other side. It was 25 miles of smooth downhill sailing. It worked and I set off to climb the mountain even though I thought I was wasted physically. Two plus hours later I was at the top and smiling at my accomplishment at 10,756 feet. The overcast sky and the light cloud bursts were encouraging as was the amazing scenery of the route.

The downhill was worth it and soon I was only about 30 miles from finishing. I was still spent though and I don't think I would have finished if I had to keep going by myself. One other rider that had been trading me for last place reached the 140 mile point and got in the SAG vehicle to call it a ride. I felt for him and was about to do the same. I had however at the time been picked up by two other riders that were pulling me along with them. At least I had found the energy to keep up. They were two sisters that were strong riders training for the LOTOJA, a 210 mile ride from Logan, UT to Jackson Hole WY. They slowed down enough to get me to the last rest stop and then the last 18 miles back to Park City. There were two long and steep climbs out of Kamas that I dreaded but was able to make thanks to my gearing.

All told I think I had convinced myself to quit at least five times but knew deep inside that I really wanted to finish the ride. Between the encouragement of other riders and the help of the two sisters I reached the finish line and felt the satisfaction of having set out to do something harder than I had ever done before and accomplished it. This was a beautiful course along rivers, streams, lakes and mountains. I had always wanted to do such a ride and hope I can do it again.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Training for the Ironman 70.3 in Boise Idaho

When I was in Boise visiting my family 2 or 3 years ago an event was held in the Boise area for the first time. The Boise 70.3 Ironman. I thought that sounded like something I would like to try someday. I had just started riding a bicycle and was enjoying it but had not really done anything to substaniate a fitness level. I put it in the back of my mind and when I came home I kept riding the bicycle and competing with myself in various races and rides to keep motivated to get better.

I did longer and longer rides until I did the first century in Tucson in 2009. The Tour de Tucson 109 miles in about 5 hours and 23 minutes. I was actually slower by a few minutes in 2010 but I did not train as much and it was a very windy day. There have been other century rides as well but mostly just three to four mornings a week at 20 to 40 miles. As I seemed consistent with the bicycle I thought it might transfer to other areas of endurance athletics as well. It just isn't an easy transfer of activity or motivation.

I did incorporate pull ups into my exercise ideology. A funny thing happened on the way to the ball game. I was at a high school football game and the Marine recruiters were there with a pull up bar and giving out treats. I jumped up and grabbed the bar and could not do one pull up. In the process of doing it I felt the exertion in seemingly every muscle in my body including my feet. The strain was nauseating and the fact that I could not do a single one disconcerting.

I started stopping at the grade schools and Junior High schools and doing pull ups on the monkey bars. I got up to one then two and so on util I can now do 11 slow fully extended pull ups. I bought a door way pull up bar and have a full size one on my back porch. Every day I go out there and look at it and say I don't feel like doing pull ups today then I grab the bar and do them. It is such a short work out but its better than nothing. This has been good therapy for my back, neck and shoulders. I have had some issues over the years and various surgeries on my shoulders. At this time however I am as pain free as I have ever been. It feels great. I have separated my shoulder twice in the last two years as well and both times the healing has been fairly quick and without ongoing issues that I can tell.

About two months before the event I got a trial membership at a Gym with a pool and started swimming laps. I would swim for 30,40, 50 minutes and felt like I could do it. I only did about 8 work outs in the pool. About 10 days before the even I heard about a triathlon in Show Low, AZ. They had an Olympic distance and half Ironman distance. I thought the Olympic would be a good test so I went to the triathlon store on Wednesday and rented a wet suit. I went to Saguaro lake on Friday to do an open water swim with the club. I found out very quickly that I was not in shape for the swim.

I went to Show Low on Friday and did the event on Saturday the 4th of June. The swim was torture, with the wind blowing and waves and all the swimmers. I barely made it back. The swim was almost a mile. The bike went fine and then I did the 6.1 mile run without too much trouble. I had run 6 miles about two weeks before and that and about 5 other runs at the track of varying distances was my training for the 70.3 that I would do on the 11th of June 2011.