Sunday, April 29, 2012

Active Recovery

So tomorrow is one month since the surgery. I have been doing what I am supposed to do and maybe just maybe, pushing the envelope a bit. I am pain free on the bike, other than the self induced pain of course. No running yet and I'm OK with that for now although I could use a few miles to shed some of the chub that has crept on during the recovery process. Yesterday I rode the "Raymond Hill Loop" with a great group of OA Tri Teamates. It was 75 miles of up and down with a stiff wind in our face most of the day. We had some "newbies" with us and it was great to see them step out there on the edge and take it the next level. The RHL is no joke. It can turn you inside out if you let it. I like the ride as it is loaded with tough climbs and is a great way to build early season fitness. It's also a great training ride for those that are competing in Lake Placid in July. Anyway, everyone did well and nobody got hurt - always a good thing.

Today I headed over to Scarborough for another crack at "The Crit". I wasn't sure how it would go as my legs were fairly well trashed from the 75 mile ride yesterday. I decided to get there early and get a good hearty warm-up in. My first few warm-up laps were awful. I wasn't sure I was even going to be able to hang on to the group. BUT, after a few trips around my legs started to come into it and I started thinking I might be OK. I decided to try to conserve as much anergy throughout the first half of the race as possible and see what happened at the end. So much for that plan. Jared was there and so were Callan, Kramer and Anthony. We had a good group of guys and we figured we could work together and try to break away from the group. The guy leading the points series showed up and that meant that if we were going to go, he was going to be with us. The first few laps were pretty friendly and then somebody took off. We responded and the group pulled back together. Then the fast guy went and Kramer told me to catch him so I did. He and I rode together for a bit before he backed off and the group reeled us in. Bummer. I just burned a lot of gas with no result. This happened a few more times before the big boy said bye bye and left us in the dust. It was now a race for second place with about four laps to go. I found myself leading the pack with no one looking too interested in going ahead. I dropped my effort to about 220 watts and waited. Nothing. OK. So we rode along like that for a bit until there was one lap to go. I got to the right which seemed to work pretty well the last time and I stayed there. I was still leading, still around's about to get real ugly real fast......half way around the backside four guys come rolling by and head into the second to last turn. I grabbed on for the ride and caught them as they came up the slight incline into the last turn. I was catching a quick breath trying to be patient when Callan shot by me. Cool, we had a couple guys in the mix. I wasn't sure where everyone else was. I held my ground until the "200m to go" sign and then it was a full out sprint to the finish. I got by Callan and almost caught the other two guys as we crossed the line. I was fourth overall. I am pretty pleased with that given the tough ride I had yesterday. I should mention that MOST of these guys ride pretty hard on Saturdays too so it was likely relative.
So the crits are a good time. Nasty pain but a great way to jack your bike fitness going into the season. I stuck around again and watched the "A" race. Those guys are flying. I think I could probably hang in there for that one but I'm pretty sure I'd get tuned up in good shape. A good goal though. I always say "there's always somebody faster". Well, this is where they hang out on Sunday mornings. I commented to the Grover's (who came to watch and cheer us on) that some people go to church on Sundays, I get all the religion I need right here in these races!
So next weekend is the Polar Bear Tri/Du and I won't be racing. I have done well at the Du for the past few years but I'll pass on it this year and hope that I am recovered soon. Best of luck to all my competitors! I'll be back next year to make you miserable again. ;).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Post Op Post" & and a "Crit"

Anterior Decompression. That is code for "Grind that hunk of bone off my foot real quick so I can get back to training". Hey Doc, 'bout how long ya' think I'll be out? Oh.....'bout two weeks or so......Hmmmmm,,,,not too bad. I can deal with THAT. Go ahead...yeah, the left foot, uhuh...yeah do that one first.

So, I got the surgery on 4/2 after a tremendous trip to Tucson. The Tucson thing is another post altogether. In fact, I may not even share it as it was one of the BEST weeks I have ever enjoyed and I'm not sure a blog post could do it justice. Well, maybe....Hheehehe But first, the surgery. I won't bore you with the details other than to tell you that "fasting" after midnight is OK as long as you take care of business relatively early the following day. My 1:30pm surgery fell way beyond my ability to survive without food and by the time they came for me I was ready to gnaw my own arm off. The Doc came in and signed my leg and I was off. It was a successfull procedure and he was able to clean up a lot of scar tissue while he was "in there". I have two portals in my ankle that have healed up nicely and I start PT with Jared at OA on Tuesday.

I got a little jumpstart on my PT today by going over to the Scarborough Crit Series in the Industrial Park and racing my first crit. It was really cool. I have always wondered what the "crits" (short for Criterium) were about. I have stayed away in the past because I didn't want to tangled up in a crash and screw up my triathlon season. PLUS, I have a relatively low tolerance for road cyclists with attitude. Now I am looking at them as a way to build bike fitness (and race)while I wait to get cleared to run. I want to see where I stack up among the best "cyclists" in Southern Maine. At the Crits they have the "A" group and the "B" group. In cycling you are Categorized as a 1-5. When you first start you are a 5. The best guys are a 1. So I'm a 5 but I'm likely more like a 4. However, that's like saying you are a .300 hitter before you step up to the plate. You gotta work your way up. I'm fine with that. In fact, I LOVE that. More stuff should be that way. Keeps the riff raff out. I like it. So I rode the "B" race with a goal to not make anyone else crash and not piss anyone off by not "holding my line". See, in crits, everyone rides very closely and if you are a tool you can really hurt someone. So, eyes up, pay attention, don't be a tool. Everybody has to be to work on Monday ya' know?
I was lucky enough to run into a couple of tri friends that have been trying to get me to race the crits for a while now. They were quick to give me tips and let me know when I should push and when I should stay with the group. In crits it is good to have a few people to work with as you move through the group.

So we lined up at the start and I found myself in the back. Again, not trying to be a tool. The race organizer goes through the pre race announcement, he reviews the standings after two weeks of racing and then he makes another announcement. He says "I know we have several newbies here but it has been brought to my attention that we have a few people here that are very good at OTHER SPORTS. Please be careful and keep in mind this is a training race" Then he looked right at ME. I gave him a little wave and just kind of fluttered my know, "Haaaaaaayyyyyyyy" that kind of wave. I probably shouldn't flatter myself by assuming he was talking to me but I got the point and decided to ease into the race and try to learn something rather than try to blow everyone up. See: "Don't be a tool"

I learned a LOT in the first few laps. There were some surges, some sprints and lots of jockeying for position. The "B's" is billed as a training ride - meant for first timers and folks like me that are ignorant about cycling etiquette(sp?), etc. HOWEVER, it's STILL a race and last I checked they charge you the same as the "A's" so I figure that I'll see how things go for a bit and then make a call. So, yeah, 13days off surgery to the ankle and here I am in a RACE. WTH? Bahahahhah!!!!! Say what you want but the foot is attached to my leg and only I know how it feels. Honestly, the last time I gave it a thought was when I clicked in. I simply had ZERO pain or discomfort during the race. It felt good to get the joint moving.
So we clicked off the laps, 1.3 miles at a time. I was in the mix and getting a feel for it. My friend Mike Kramer rolled up beside me and said to stay with him and Callan and Anthony. Cool. Looks like we got us a convoy! I did my best to keep the boys in sight, working in and out of the pack, picking a line, moving up, keeping the group together. Strategy, I like it. Kramer pulls up again with two to go and gives me a lesson about what happens at the finish. He says to get a good position, try to "jump a wheel" and then wait until there's 200m to go...then sprint for all you've got and hope for the best. Cool, I can do that...right up my alley, except for the "wait" part. One to go. Here it comes. I spent the first part of the lap getting good position on the right inside track. I had Kramer, Callan and Anthony right on my wheel. I figure I'll pull the boys and see what we can do when things get crazy. Second to last turn. Things got busted apart on a slight uphill. I got a good inside line at the top of the hill but got chopped off by a guy so I had to check up a bit. Then we were like 300m out after the last turn. Four guys in front of me. I couldn't wait any longer. I was afraid I'd get boxed in (inexperience) so I jumped on it. Up out of the saddle. Go, Go Go!!!! I was in third with 200m to go. Closing fast on 1 and 2. That's about the time things started to come apart. I just kept my head down and tried to hold on. I got clipped at the line by three smarter guys and I dropped to sixth overall. Kramer pulled alongside me on the cool down lap and I tried to talk. No dice. Perfect.
so that was my first "crit" race and I think it went OK. I didn't even have to play the "hey, I just had surgery 13 days ago" card. hehehhehe. Pretty pleased with the result. Ya' it's the "B" group but I gotta tell ya', these guys are quality cyclists for sure. It speaks to the level of talent here in Southern Maine that there is an "A" group that is a whole step above this group. I stuck around and watched the "A" race and decided that I will work my way up to that race. Got some work to do first.
So there you go. Crits. Fun stuff. I will go next week and have more fun, bring a few more friends. Hopefully the foot will continue to improve and I can splash some running in soon. Not going to rush it though. I'm fortunate I can ride without aggravating the ankle so I will focus on some biking for now. Looks like I'll ease into the tri season with an eye toward Rev3 in August. Good luck to all my friends doing The Boston Marathon tomorrow. Yes it will be hot. It will be hot for everyone. Run hard. Run smart.

-Giddy up.