Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My Longest Weekend

My training plan called for a 24 mile trail run on Saturday, followed by the Maze 30K on Sunday to get some back-to-back long runs. Instead I substituted the 90 mile Shiner G.A.S.P bike ride on Saturday from Austin to Shiner, TX. Is a 90 mile bike ride sufficient to make up for a 24 mile trail run?

The Shiner G.A.S.P. Ride

On this ride I learned the same lesson that Lance learned at the NYC marathon. I did not respect the distance and it kicked my ass. I had not done a long bike ride (>30 miles) in a long time. The night before I had gone out to dinner with some friends starting at 8:00 for someones birthday celebration. The service was slow and so I did not get out until 11:30. Then I slept through my alarm and did not get up until 5:50 and had to rush to get up, dressed, and across town to the 7:00 am start. Got there with 10 minutes to spare. Some friends had dropped cars at the end in Shiner and I left a bag of fresh clothes with them, but I forgot regular shoes and so I had to the ride's bag drop for those.

The first 10 miles went well. THere were several hundred riders, and so the roads were coned off for the first few miles. I was quicky separated from those I knew. I tried to start off slow, but when I got stuck behind a light, after it turned green I joined a small peleton that broke off and tried to catch up to the group ahead. Wind was in our face but not too noticable yet. Then I kept ending up behind groups where I felt like it would be more comfortable going faster, and so I kept passing people, knowing full well I would regret this 50 miles down the road. There were a lot of people in green team in training jerseys, and so I started targeting them and picking them off one by one. On the downhills I was blowing by large groups. I guess my weight gives me an advantage to help speed up on the down hills. I skipped the first aid station. At mile 20 I fell in behind a couple of guys who were moving at a pace I was comfortable drafting off of and stayed with them for 5 miles until the 2nd stop. I was feeling great. But then I got off the bike to refil my water bottles, and realized how sore my but was. I was already limping around.

I ran into a bunch of people I knew from various marathon training at this stop. Belle was there and asked if we could ride together. But as we left the aid station, the energy I had before seemed gone and all of a sudden it was a strugle to maintain even 10 mph on slight uphills. I guess the realization how sore I was had set in. I told Belle not to wait for me and continued pushing it. I started to get into a groove after a few miles just in time for the next aid station around mile 35. I stopped only to refil, but I did not take any food and that was a mistake. As I rode on, I started feeling hungary and the slight tiredness and a little dizzy which I usually feel on long runs when I did not take in enough sugar. The next stop was not for another 15 miles and by the time I got there, I was feeling out of energy. At this stop, just passed the half-way point, I took a little extra time to eat and hydrate. I also grabbed one of the last 3 energy gells which I desparately needed. I opted not to wait in line for the Pb&J sandwiches, which looked to be a 5-10 minute wait, and got back on the road again feeling much better.

But then after 5 miles we turned south on Hwy 95, and now the wind was in my face and the road was really rough. After 10 miles of that, I was running out of energy and only making between 6 and 8 mph progress. Even on the downhills I had to struggle to get above 10mph. I felt like I could barely make it up the hill over the I-10 overpass. At the Flutonia aid station I thought I was done and I tried to board the Sag wagon. But they were full. I figured some of the guys in the carpool would be finished by now and I had more than 25 miles to go. With the speed I was going that would be severl hours. I waited around for a few minutes thinking I would catch the next SAG. Then one of the volunteers explained the next aid station was 8 miles away an the finsh only 18 miles and not 25. My odometer was off. I figured it would take as long to find a sag wagon as to keep riding so I took off again.

The rest was mostly up hill. I had to fall to my lowest gear a few times, and I stared having trouble getting out of my low gear. I would click the shifters but not notice it did not shift until I saw my speed was quite slow on the downhill. I stopped 3 times to fix a dropped chain from trying to shift out of the low gear, and so I then had to avoid the easiest big gear. That helped me maintain a little more speed. I got to the last aid station, filled up, sent a quick text msg to let my carpool know where I was, an then took off. It still took over an hour to do the last 10 miles, but I finaly made it to the finish in Shiner.

As I got to the finish line in after more eight and a half hours of riding, I lost my balance on the dismount because I failed to un-clip, and I fell on my back with my bike on top. I looked around, and initially felt releived no one I knew saw that. But then heard my carpool friends cheering me on and realized they definitely saw the fall. I hosed off, changed clothes, grabbed a beer, and then we hopped into the car and stopped for dinner in a local restraunt before heading back to Austin. I was very sore, and could barely get up on my own when I tried to stand up as we left dinner.

The Maze 30K

The next morning I got up to run the Maze 30K. It was supposed to be hot, and so I grabbed a sleveless T-shirt, and went to the race. I had forgotten to wear sunscreen on the bike ride, and so I had a strong tanline just above the elbows, which was very obvious in that shirt. Everyone had to comment on the tan line.

The course was a 10K trail loops repeated three times in Walnut Creek park. Much of the soreness from the night before was gone, so I could actually run some. I really felt yesterday's ride on the steep downhil sections. In the 2nd loop, calf muscles were starting to tighten up, but in time that feeling went away. I had to stop twice to let a snake finish crossing the trail. I was quite a bit slower than my time last year, coming in just under 5 hours. I was not DFL, but close to it. But I finished the distance. The post race tent was serving hamburgers, and it was the best tasting hamburger I had in a long time.

[EDIT] Conclusions

Sometime after the ride was done, I mapped the Shiner route on TopoMaps and the elevation profile had a lot more downhills than it felt like.

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  1. Congrats John!! You should be so proud of yourself.:)

  2. John, awesome blog and nice weekend! My longest bike is 1/3rd of my longest run... I have to fix that sometime. Maybe in August when I get back to the US. It was great to read through some of my favorite Texas races. I live in San Antonio for 2 years. Take care and keep at it. I'll see you at Sunmart/Bandera/or Rocky Raccon sometime.

  3. Way to go John!!!

    You failed to mention at the Maze you had seen snakes. Argh!


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