Monday, September 26, 2011

Rip Roarin' Ride / Austin Marathon Relay

Like last year, my company sponsored entry into the Liberty Hill Lions' Rip Roarin' Ride on Saturday, and/or the Silicon Labs Austin Marathon Relay on Sunday. I may have taken the "play hard" concept too far by planning to do the maximum distance in both events- 103 miles and 12 kilometers, respectively. I figured it would be good training for the upcoming half Ironman I will be attempting. Despite "only" riding 87 miles, my legs were cooked, quite unfortunately, before I was finished running. However, other than major soreness, I don't seem to have injured myself, and I have gained additional training and experience.

I left at the front of the pack at 8am. For a while, there was only one bike in front of me, as far as I could tell. A little past mile 4, I was absorbed by a peloton of about 10 riders. The group stayed pretty tight, and I had no trouble staying with them, until we got to what was, by far, the worst road I've ever ridden a road bicycle on. Sometime very recently (too recently for the organizers to reroute around, apparently) a 3.5 mile stretch of had been resurfaced with tar and gravel. Since there hadn't been enough traffic to work the stone in and clear the loose material, it was more like a gravel road in many spots. Even the sections with a solid groove had quite a few loose stones. It was lucky nobody was seriously injured, as far as I could tell, by flying rock or losing control in the loose spots. I was still around a number of riders, until we came to an intersection where only those attempting the full 103 miles went right in order to take a longer way around and add miles. Shortly before the routes merged again, it passed what seemed to be a barbecue cook-off. If it had been any later than 9, I would have thought even more seriously about stopping for a bite. Things were going well, I was making good time, until I came to an T junction that wasn't marked. There were a few other bikes also lost. Between the blackberries, printed maps, and GPS devices, it was determined we missed a turn, and our best course would probably be to go to rest stop #3 and take a road only meant for the return. Since I had gone 35 miles without a break at that point, I stopped to refill my water bottles and shove some cookies in my face. It was a short distance to stop 4, which I bypassed and started on the ~15-mile loop that went through the town of Burnet. From the start, I had equivocated on doing the full 103-mile distance. On that furthest loop, which was to be repeated to make the mileage, I decided I had had enough - or, more likely, had too much already - if I was going to run the next day. I took a long break when I got back to rest stop 4, drinking lots of fluids and eating a bunch of cookies and half a PBJ. The pace going back was much lower than it had been for the first two hours or so. I even coasted down a number of hills. I was pretty tired and ready to be done by the time I got back to the gravel section, so it was a miserable 3.5 miles. I pedaled as little as possible. I had my hands out to the sides and had too much weight on them, so they started hurting. It was not pleasant. I just got a new bike computer with GPS and mapping, but I haven't had a chance to figure it out yet, so I didn't know how far it actually was back. I mistook stop #2 for stop #1, and so I was very disappointed when, having ridden 80 miles, I came to stop 1 instead of the high school. At least at that point I knew I had 7 miles to go, and could count them down. The last miles were not pleasant. Not only were my legs tired, my right foot was hurting, much like it was at a similar point of the Ring of Fire ride. Piling on to everything else, while the day had started in the 50-degree range, it was now in the high 90s (the computer even recorded 102 at one point). Mainly because I wanted to try them out before the race the next day, I strapped on my new running shoes, and after rehydrating a little, ran a mile. My legs were still limber enough that it actually wasn't that bad. In order to get some dense replenishing calories, I had ice cream as the main part of lunch and dinner (okay, maybe I just wanted ice cream) later.

Sunday morning I got up early once again, and met up with my coworkers downtown. On a few short warm-up jogs, my legs felt tired, but like they might come around and be fine. At least I was hoping they would. It was kind of exciting being lined up with the 300+ other lead-off 12K-ers, and when the gun went off at 7:15, I jumped out there. At first when I looked at my watch and it showed a 7:00 pace, I figured it was just reading wrong, as it often does at the start of a run. When I was a little further along and it was still well under 8', I knew I was going way too fast. I tried to rein myself in, but the damage was done. After that first 7:45 mile, the next three were in the 8:30-8:40 range, which is what I should have been running from the start. I had to force myself to keep running to the end of mile 4, because I was starting to feel nauseous and wanted to walk. Shortly after that mile marker beep of my watch, I slowed to a walk. One coworker ran past me, and another walked with me a bit, then jogged for a little until I felt the need to walk again. I alternated walking and jogging for miles 5-7, and averaged a 11-11:40 minute pace. I gathered what I had left to try to have a decent final 0.6 miles. I didn't have enough for a real sprint to the hand-off, averaging a 9:30 pace for the last bit. I wasn't very pleased with my 1:14 time, especially since it seemed like I was one of the last to finish the 12K, and I was lapped by the winning team's second leg runner. I don't know what went into organizing the teams considering that while I had the slowest 12K of my company, the guy I handed off to had the quickest 10K. The whole team's full marathon time came out to 4:07, which is a time I'd be pretty pleased with when I run the full marathon.

Not that it helps anything, but I do have some excuses for my poor performance. Foremost being the ride the day before: After the initial slowdown, my legs didn't have enough left to pick the pace back up. The weather: Even starting bright and early, it was hot and humid enough that I was dripping sweat from mile one. Illness: I was feeling under the weather enough to skip training Wednesday and Thursday, plus I wasn't feeling entirely well after the ride. I popped two ibuprofen and took a nap in the afternoon. I did feel fine that morning, however.

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