Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Fun

This weekend was full of fall fun. We were treated to some incredible weather and the leaves are near their peak color. On Saturday we ventured out to the Promenade Shops for the Rave theatre's annual Halloween Party. We saw some great costumes and then walked around soaking up the day. On Sunday we headed out to a hay ride and brunch in the morning. The kids had a blast, Joshua is still talking about "the blue tractor". Then Sunday night we visited the park for the haunted hayride. There was a full moon which was slightly hidden by some passing clouds, the smell of hot cider and hay were in the air. The ride was tastefully "haunted" and the kids had a blast. All this fun and Halloween isn't even here yet!


Since I still have cross on the brain, I was reading Bicycling magazine and came across a great story by Elite 'crosser Adam Myerson about cyclocross. You can find it HERE. He does a great job explaining the unexplainable, here are a few of my favorites.....

It's nearly impossible to explain cyclocross to someone who has never seen it. "You do what with the bike? What if it rains? Do they ever cancel? You race in the SNOW?!" As a 'cross rider, you find yourself at a loss trying to give people a sense of the difficulty, the absurdity, the degree of seriousness participants bring to the sport.

.....the race ends. The feeling in your hands comes back, more painful than when they froze initially. Eventually you get home, take a warm shower, begin to put distance between you and the misery. Over the next few days, the memory of the pain fades and you're left with thoughts of how you could have taken a better line through that one turn...
You thought you were going to die at the time, but now all you can think of is how much fun you had, and how you'd do it again if you could, how you'd do it differently next time. You're left, finally, with the feeling of joy and satisfaction that comes with self-inflicted torment--the essence of endurance sports.


With cyclocross, you get that manic cycle every week if you want. Every Saturday or Sunday—or both—there's another race, with more joy, more pain, more passion, more satisfaction and another opportunity to create an amazing story to tell; a story about something you never want to experience while it's happening, but that leaves you with a feeling you long for once the anguish is passed. That is what cyclocross is all about. It's like real life, but better.

This weekend the MAC series continues. I've moved up to 8th in the series points so I'm hoping for some good races. Saturday is Beacon Cross which features an 80m long beach run and "The Ampitheater of Pain" where you run up (carrying your bike) a 2 story tall "natural" ampitheater which is build into the hillside. Should be interesting!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Picturesque (Granogue Cross Days 1 & 2 Race Reports)

What a great fall weekend. Lauren flew out to San Fran on Friday and had a great day pacing the marathon today (Sunday). Her goal was 3:45 and she finished 3:44:46, not too shabby!

The kids miss mommy, but with the help of mom mom, we kept them busy! Mom mom was nice enough to watch them Saturday and Sunday AM so I could race a double header cyclocross weekend at the DuPont farm in Delaware....talk about a picturesque setting!


Back to the weekend. Saturday was a little windy, but mild for mid October. We spent the day outside (me working in the yard, them playing) then packed up and headed back down to my mom's. Got the kids to bed, watched some Phils and hit the sack for day two. The kids were excited for the morning because they were headed to my brothers in their PJ's to have some gourmet PANCAKES! Then when I got back we headed home and hit the Coopersburg parade. They got lots of candy and fresh air. They both missed mommy tonight, but they're sleeping like a log now. That's my secret, when mommy's away keep them busy....they're so tired at night and it's much easier to get them to bed!

Onto my racing....Saturday we woke up to temps in the mid 50's and some strong 20+ mph winds. We made the 75 minute trip down to find an awesome course greeting us. Some tough run up sections, winding downhills and a few tecnical areas. I felt it was much more of a power course than I liked, but it still was a great course. My field was sold out at over 100 entries and I was lucky enough to get a second row call up on the LONG asphalt start. Gun went off and I just got smoked down the road...probably sitting in mid 20's. One of the first sections was a sand section and it was chaos! This guy tried to ride it, I decided to run...you can see me on the inside.



I decided to run it just about every lap.....and it worked pretty well. I should have been riding it later in the race when a line formed, I got passed once on the remount.


It seems as I've been making a habit lately of starting off slow then picking people off. Spotting people time in a race is not a smart thing to do. I made a charge up to 8th and I could see 5,6,& 7 ahead of me but I felt fried. I had a rough 3rd lap and let two or three people by me. I came by Jer and heard him say one lap to go....I had no idea the race had gone by that fast. Time to kick it into gear!


I had a great last lap, made some passes and got to the LONG asphalt finish stretch. I gave it all I had, shifted into the big ring and took off. Managed to finish 8th (there's a guy I passed right behind me). I also realized that I should be using the big ring more on that course.



I was happy with 8th considering the size of the field, but I wasn't happy with how I rode. A rough patch in the middle, a couple of dumb lines. The day started off kind of crappy with a painful crash about half way through my first sight lap, so I was glad to turn that around somewhat. The wind wasn't as big of a factor as I though, but it was evident out there for sure.


Day 2 was predicted to be a beautiful weather day. I woke up to temps in the high 30's but no wind. After seeing how dry the course was yesterday I left my mud wheelset at home. Probably could have used it! They transformed the course into a totally different layout. MUCH more technical and a little sketchy because the dew / frost overnight had made the grass slippery and the dirt areas VERY greasy. The off cambers were tough. Overall though it was a slightly slower, more technical course that would reward those with good line choices and some power in their legs.


I had another good call up in another sold out field. One of the front row guys didn't show in time so I got sent to the front row which was nice. I decided to start in the big ring and it paid off big time. I was a little intimidated starting up there, but hoped I belonged! The gun went off and I had a great clip and and a great jump. I managed to come through the first few turns in 3rd! You really had to be on your toes because the slick mud could bite you at any time. I nailed my tire pressure and things were going good UNTIL I found myself on the ground...just like that. I was up quick but a couple of guys got by. I made another pass or two and found myself comfortably in 4th with 3 laps to go. The mud was tricky, on the run ups it would pack into your shoes and I had a hard time clipping in. I focused on my lines and rode a solid (and tiring) 3 laps to hold on for a podium in 4th! I was real pleased with that race.


After the race I realized that my 2nd lap crash had busted one side off of my egg beater pedal, I had done the entire race with a three sided pedal...no wonder I couldn't clip in!


So now I should have some pretty good points in the MAC series so I plan to hit two of the last 4 rounds, see if I can finish this series off close to the top 5 in points.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pacing

Well, not a ton of stuff going on right now...but with registration for Boston opening on Monday and Lauren out in Sunny San Fran pacing the Nike Woman's Marathon...pacing came to mind.


What does pacing have to do with Boston? Well, apparently before my running "career" even started there was a 100th running of Boston (14 years ago). In an effort to get more people to qualify for Boston, Amby Burfoot had an idea....he could "pace" people to qualifying times. Pace groups are such commonplace these days that we just kind of expect them to be there, but that wasn't always the case.

I've been involved with pacing since 2007 when I was asked to pace the St. Lukes Half Marathon in Allentown, PA. I didn't think much of it at the time, but it sounded like something that would be fun and hey, it meant free entry into the race...cool! Well it turned out to be so much more than just a free entry. At the race expo we had a seminar so would be pace group participants could meet their pacers, learn more about their pacers, ask any questions they may have and hopefully calm their race day nerves. It was a great idea! Race day came around and as we gathered I had the feeling there was something more to this. I wasn't just running a race, going for a PR or out there to look good...NO, there were nearly 50 people COUNTING ON ME to get them to their goal. GULP, now I was the nervous one! Well as you meet the people in your group, the miles click by and it turns out to be the most fun, rewarding running experience you can imagine. Pacing turns a largely individual sport into a team effort in which EVERYONE is helping EVERYONE succeed. There's nothing more rewarding than crossing that line with a pace group member that met or exceeded their goal...or that comes up and gives you a big sweaty hug because they BQ'd. If you've never been involved with a pace group (as a leader, supporter or particpant) I urge you to check one out.


I have officially paced and led pace groups in two marathons and five half marathons. I've paced my wife to a marathon PR and she's paced her sister through a great half marathon. Annually, I organize the pace group teams and pace the St. Lukes Half Marathon and I'm lined up to pace the Gasparilla (Tampa, FL) 15K and Half marathon. And every single one of those races weren't run for me, they were run for the team and it truly is a unique, rewarding and exciting experience.


So, wish Lauren luck on Sunday morning. She'll be out there with the rest of the http://www.marathonpacing.com/ crew pacing the 3:45 group which I'm sure will be large because it's a Boston Qualifying time. And when I sign up for Boston on Monday morning, I'll be thinking of all of the people that are registering alongside me that have qualified because of pace groups.


As for me and the kiddos, busy weekend planned. Staying over at Mom Mom's house tonight and Jer and I are racing the Granogue cyclocross. Then some wood stacking, lawn mowing and hopefully pumpkin picking. Another trip down to Mom Mom's (thanks Mom) so I can race day 2 of Granogue...then home for the Halloween Parade!! Have a great weekend everyone.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Successful weekend....

Well, the whirlwind weekend is over. It started off with the storm of storms, 7 to 8 inches of rain dumped in our area and it was just finishing up on Friday as we were starting to set up our course. The setup was for the inaugural Town Hall Cross. On a 8 mile drive Friday AM I had to turn around 3 times and re-route due to closed / flooded roads. Luckily our course was on a hillside and we were hoping to still be able to hold the race. The rain event was fitting for my luck. This was my second stint as a race director, last year directing the Superbowl 10K which sold out at 500 entrants and we endured a 16" snow storm the day before and now my first stint as a bicycle race director after a deluge of 7-8 inches of rain!


I must say for a crew of newbie course designers and builders, we kicked some butt. Our Lamprey Systems crew had the course up, lunch gobbled down and riding the course within 5 hours! Thats a nearly 1.5 mile course, barriers, haybales, banners, starting grid, etc all set up and ready to go. Luckily, the sun started to come out at about 4pm and a wind started to kick up. We knew we'd be able to get a day of racing in, but how much turf damage would we do in our first time using Town Hall Park as our venue? We had 126 preregistrants and some incredible weather predicted for Saturday.


Here are some shots of the course....

The dreaded "St. Lukes Staircase"..feared by many, conquered by few....


I rushed out of there and headed home for Autumn's birthday party. It was of course her birthday and she was super excited! We had a great time with family and she got a sweet present...

Race day turned out to be a beautiful day. Started out a little chilly in the 40's, but we started a little fire and had the smell of burning wood to wake us up. The sun was brilliant as it burned the dew off the grass before the first race at 9am. Our crew knew exactly what to do and made my morning much easier. Everyone was very complimentary and loved the course and the venue. Kids were playing and people were just enjoying hanging out. There were a few mud
spots, but hey...it's cross!
I was supposed to race at 10am, but the day caught up to me and I realized that I hadn't eaten anything or even ridden my bike to warm up so I decided to try and jump into the elite masters race at 11am. I started on the back row of a field of about 40 riders and decided I was just going to "have fun". Ended up working my way up to 6th and missing a money spot by 1 place!
Up the painful finishing stretch..
Over the barriers...

And the kids had fun in our equipment...

All total we ended up with 152 registrants which is great for a first time event which was competing with some other local events. Next year will be bigger and better as the word spreads. We even got some TV time on the local news! We also raised at least $750 for local charities which is pretty big for a small town bike race.
The course broke down well, not a lot of damage and it should "heal" itself up very well. The Township seems very happy and I've gotten a ton of great emails from racers.
I then packed up and headed out to Hershey to meet Lauren, her sister and the kids. They ran the Inaugural Hershey Half Marathon. It was Lauren's sister's first half and Lauren paced her to a sub 1:48 finish which was just awesome! It was a great first time race. Afterward we took the kids to Chocolate World to get them sugared up for the ride home.
All in all it was an incredible weekend!

Wrapping up September...moving into October

So September is finally over. Started out pretty rough but ended up being a nice transition into fall. Autumn seems to be getting the handle of this "Spanish Immersion" thing, we celebrated Lauren's birthday and ushered in October with Autumn's birthday.

My mom had us over for a nice family gathering to celebrate Lauren's birthday on Friday, then we had a great party at Putt U mini golf with about 12 of Autumn's friends on Saturday. Weather cooperated nicely. On Lauren's birthday I raced my second cyclocross race of the season in the morning and we visited her brother and had a great dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in the afternoon.

The Whirlybird cross race was in held at Bryn Athyn College outside of Philadelphia. It the first time I had been there and it was a great venue for a cross race. This year was the first time it was part of the MAC series and there were several sold out fields. I raced the (B) Masters 35+ class which was sold out at 125 people! I was lucky enough to get a 2nd row call up on the starting line due to a decent finish at the first race...Nittany Cross. The start was tight, but opened up into a LONG straight section before hitting the first few turns. I knew my skinny legs wouldn't have much for the strong power riders on the long straights, but just hoped to settle into a decent spot then work my way up. The gun went off and there was immediate chaos...two pedal strokes in a guy in front goes down all by himself? Riders everywhere. As you can see in this video, I made it around him but proceeded to get dusted on the long start straight (I'm in the yellow / white / gray kit, red bike) . I didn't realize how far back I had fallen until I saw that video, probably outside of the top 20. There were some long straights but also some technical sections which I seem to do much better on. I made some great passes when I settled in and could see only a small number of riders up in front of me. Had hoped to really work the last lap and make up some ground, but ended up coming in 5th. For the size and caliber of the field, I'm very happy with that finish, especially considering I came from behind.

Through the woods section at Whirlybird (photo courtesy of Rob Muller)


There's a lot going on with Rev 3 and Team Trakkers as well. Registration has opened for Rev3 Cedar Point next September. The team is now recruiting for next year as well. Here's a link to the application. If you want to be a part of one of the best teams in multisport racing, if you're passionate about your sport, your actively involved in social media and you want to represent a great company and some great sponsors fill out this application.

Next post.....Autumn's sweet birthday present.....and Town Hall Cross has come and gone and it was a success!