I have successfully completed my fourth Breck Epic Stage Race. It was a difficult task as my cycling fitness is not where it should be to be competitive but good enough to finish. This year I did have two crashes but no injuries were inflicted on my body.
The journey begins to have a successful year riding bikes and staying fit.
Equipoise between contrasting, opposing, or interacting elements
I am about in balance.
Sufferre. Suffrir. Suffer.
Pain. Hurt. Hardship. Torment. Torture.
What does it mean to suffer in bicycle racing? I thought I knew. I’ve raced from the front, from the back, and from the middle. I’ve crashed. I’ve beat the sun. I’ve podiumed. All while suffering to differing extents. Sustained vs short-lived? I seem to choose…..longer.
Sometimes the taste of blood is not a culinary delight. That acrid taste of suffering that really only occurs during a cyclocross race. It dissipates at the point you cross the line. I love cyclocross! I also abhor it. Why? 40-50 minutes of intense suffering.
I’ve aged. Matured. I better understand the mental side. I struggle. I medicate. I move forward. Always move forward. Constant forward motion.
I need to run, ride, live, suffer for me.
Again, I never said I was fast. Just stupid enough to go furhur. Get on the bus to your grail.
Thanks for reading, Mike
Death. It makes us think of our own mortality.
Life. Something we should cherish everyday with family and friends.
I did not deal with a near death experience but others did. I found life and reflection.
I was methodical in my approach to this years Breck Epic. I found balance. Work, Run, and Bike along with Family. A synergistic harmony was created. This meant that my podium dreams are still dreams. Not being fast made for days of immense beauty. Hail can be considered beautiful. A dirty bike has artful soul.
I reconnected with the Breckenridge from days past. Post ride meals at: Fatty’s, Mi Casa, and the Breckenridge Brewery. Good memories with the Soul Crusher! Endless discussions about bikes and life. Trails ridden from way back in the 1990’s.
Unfortunately looming over my mood was the death of my Mother-in-law just a week before the race. I was using this as my mortality check. Then, unexpectedly during Stage 2 a friend was stung by a bee which caused anaphylaxis. Without the quick thinking of racers near him, he would have died. Thanks! The days following I looked around more. I took it all in. I didn’t complain. I found my grail (kind of).
Believe. That is what my Son constantly tells me. If I believe, I can accomplish anything.
Mike Mac stated it best “people are amazing.” Yes we are!
Thanks for reading, Mike
It has taken me awhile, but I figured it out. Sometimes I can be a tad slow and this time it took me half of cyclocross season to understand my lack of racing. I am scared. Afraid. Of what? Tripping over a barrier! That’s all it is. I thought it could have been 14+ seasons of racing ‘cross or my newly found inner peace. No, I tripped/stumbled over a barrier during warm-ups at Nationals in Austin giving myself a nasty injury.
This was prior to my MM 50-54 race. My head was ringing, pounding, and bleeding. I raced. I suffered. My head hurt. A few Lone Stars along with a quick reassurance from a doctor erased much of the pain. It left no visible scare. I went on to compete in many events since then. That inner fire for cyclocross burned dimly.
So, I signed up for a ‘cross race. My preparation is far from ideal. I will suffer. I will learn. I hope to overcome or at least embrace my fear of tripping. We all have fear, it is how we tackle it that defines us.
Thanks for reading, Mike
It has been a good long time since I have sat down to compose some sentences. After my 100 mile run in Bryce Canyon, I took a small break to revive myself. During that break, I had a dentigerous cyst removed from around an impacted wisdom tooth. Again with some time to heal and recuperate. Well, it got infected which brought me way down. Did I mention the cyst was 2x2x1 cm. That is a large chunk to be removed from the body. A solid round of high power antibiotics had me healthy but way behind the fitness curve.
This brings us to the now. The riding is becoming more natural and feeling like some the legs have some energy. In early October, the number of cycling miles surpassed the number of running miles. Not sure how I feel about that. I do believe that the Bryce 100 and cyst removal took a lot out of me. Slowly as the fitness improves so does the want to race cyclocross. Midway through the season and I have yet to pin a number. Pathetic, I know.
I realize change is good. The opportunity for change has arisen multiple time during this year. Some good, some not so good. Tough decisions were made. We move forward. One change that came with much deliberation was to switch up my racing team for 2016. I will be racing for Avout Racing along with assisting them with their Cyclocross Program. It is a great group of people working to promote bicycle racing while giving back to the community. Avout Racing works with Bicycles for Humanity, which provides bikes to rural Africa where transportation systems are poor.
Also, I qualified to submit my name into the lottery of the Western States 100. Small chance for another big run.
The journey continues. The Grail still elusive. I am a bicycle racer (and ultra-runner).
I have had a lot of time to reflect about running the Bryce 100. It has been 3 weeks and I really haven’t done much of anything besides planning the next event and reflecting on the journey that started last November. Here are some lessons/things I learned.
- Nutrition – This is where I made some huge strides. A neighbor, who is an ultra-runner, told me about running in a fat burning zone instead of a glycogen zone. That basically meant for me running with a heart rate of 130 bpm which is 70% of my VO2 max. I found I needed less fuel per hour than when I did the Dirty Kanza 200 gravel bike race. My CHO intake was about 30 grams versus 55 grams I consumed during all my previous bicycling endeavors.
- Training plan – I cobbled together many different training plans that I found on the inter webs. Luckily for me, I could plan all my long runs during the week while the kids were at school. I did mini blocks that consisted of 5 days of running with my weekends off for my family. My biggest 5 day mileage was 80 miles. Also, I tried to do a 3 week on, 1 week off pattern. This did not work for me as I could not recover properly after week 2. So, I went to 1 week of hard long runs and 1 week of moderate running with lots of rest. This worked the best for me.
- Strength – Being primarily a cyclist, I found the lack of strength in my hamstrings the cause of my knee pain. More specific muscle training will be added to my training plan.
- Recovery associated – My body could handle the stress of training along with everyday stress. But when we added in the stress of a potential move to another city, I struggled. It required a bit more downtime than I would normally like. Again, overloading the body like I would normally do for bicycling did not work as well for me. A mid-training plan changed to do longer runs with more recovery really helped.
- Clothing – My legs got cold which didn’t help my IT Band issues. I will be looking at ways to keep my legs warmer during runs. Embrocation (warming balm) was applied to my legs but something more is need.
- Equipment – Test everything before the event. I forgot to get in a night run with my new headlamp. It made it through the darkness just barely. It had reactive technology which was great early on but I used too much battery looking far into the distance.
- Mental – I do not like to quit. Plain and simple. I did struggle with the last 16 miles of the Bryce 100 mentally due to the fact I felt like running but my knees/IT bands did not allow me to. That was really frustrating and brought my morale way down.
- Importance of my Crew – I couldn’t have done this without the support of my family which was also my crew. They were there to usher me quickly through the aid stations while providing me the motivation to go on.
- Pacer – It is much easier to make it through the night with a pacer. I could have done it alone, but it was nicer running with somebody else.
When in doubt, go futhur, stay on the bus, and find your grail. Thanks for reading, Mike
Recovery. It is just another journey. The first few days after the Bryce 100 I hobbled around with some serious knee pain. Mostly caused by the IT Band. Stairs were hard. Rest is harder.
After a week of basically eating and doing absolutely nothing, I attempted a bike ride. 5 miles at a snail’s pace. I could feel the lasting fatigue. I followed the next day with a 2 mile run. That hurt. All the pain that subsided reared back up. I shuffled, walked, and otherwise moved forward. It was a long 2 miles.
Stairs were once again the enemy. And of course we went to Red Rocks for a show. Stairs along with long ramps brought me to tears. It was too early. I need more rest. More time off from running.
I am guessing that the body will need at least 3 weeks to recover enough to allow for moderate exercise. During which time, I plan on getting more house projects done. And planning the next race.
Here are a few stories/randomness from the trail:
- On my first thirty miler, a random women was cheering me on as if I was finishing a race. It was uplifting.
- I saw many snakes. Most of them non-lethal. I almost stepped on the head of a rattlesnake as it slithered onto the trail. We both were surprised.
- The best advice was received standing in the middle of the street from a 4 time Hardrock finisher.
- At an aid station during the run I just wanted to drink some plain water. A was handed a styrofoam cup full which I slugged along with a couple more. I went to throw the cup away and was told “we are running low on cups, please set it on the table so we can rinse it out for other runners.”
- I actually ate 6 times before noon the day after the event. 5 of those were breakfast.
- We stopped at the Glenwood Hot Springs after the run. I was the slowest person in the whole pool area. I almost stole a walker for assistance.
- I do not look good in trucker hats.
Thanks for reading, Mike