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Ouachita Challenge Weekend



Two weekends ago was a whirlwind of amazing experiences, challenging rides, pleasant surprises, and minor disappointments. So much happened, but I’ll stick to the highlights and try to tell as much of the story with pictures.

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It all took place just outside Hot Springs, Arkansas.

TheOuachita Challenge Course Map Ouachita Challenge. The 1st day was a 60 mile mountain bike tour. The 2nd day was a race on the same kick ass trails. The plan was to ride easy and have a chill day with the guys from SweatBloodDirt.com for the tour on Saturday. Then throw down at Sunday’s race.

 

 Saturday

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Adam, Craig, and I ready for a long fun day in the saddle.

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I wanted to make sure everyone knew who I was.

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The Blues Brothers showing us the way. I had that song “Soul Man” stuck in my head for the next 2 hours.

All smile at aid station #2

All smiles at aid station #2

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Water crossing number… 6?7?8? of 20?21?

Just over 7 hours later, the 2 wheeled fun had come to and end for day 1. Made a bunch of new friends, rode some sweet trails, and set a new personal record for number of pickles consumed in one ride. A great raffle and pasta dinner kept us busy before we laid down to rest for another night of sleep in the school gymnasium. Holy cow, mountain bikers can snore loud!

Sunday

Ouachita Challenge

The race began with a neutral start (we roll out together, but don’t actually start racing until a few miles in), which was nice for me because the body was a little sore from the day before. Just before we had our first water crossing, it was go time. The lead vehicle pulled out of the way and the pace picked up.

As I have said in previous blogs, I know I’m not the strongest rider on straight, flat dirt roads. So for 3 miles or so, I sat in the pack and hung on. But once we turned off the road and onto the single track, I was pleasantly surprised. I slightly eased off the pace that we had going on the road (when I say eased off the pace, I mean we went from REALLY F*#KING HARD, to slightly less F*#KING HARD), but becuase of the rocks, roots, twists, and turns, that pace was somehow to fast for the rest of the riders I was with. I quickly moved up to 3rd and was bearing down on the 2 in front of me.

 Leading the Ouachita ChallengeBy the half way point, I had nearly a 4 minute lead over the rest of the field. I felt fantastic and if you had asked me if I could hold that effort and win the race I would have shouted back a big “HELL YES!” with a big smile on my face. I had followed my nutrition plan (Powerbar Gel’s and Perform sports drink) to the T, but around mile 40 all of that changed in the blink of an eye. As if someone had flipped a switch, the wheels completely feel off. In just a matter of minutes I went from king of the world, to drooling dunce. I struggled to the final aid station, and proceeded to down a couple of cokes and an entire package of cookies in about 5 minutes. With a woozie head, I hopped back on the bike, pushed when I could, and came across the line in 10th place in a time of 5:01:44.

Holding on for 10thWhy did that fantastic bonk happen? How could I hit the wall so hard? (And mind you, I see the following reason as a lesson learned the hard way, not an excuse). Well, as tough as I think I am, there is a limit to what my body can handle. 7 hours in the saddle the day before really drained my body of it’s precious fat stores and by not replenishing those properly after the race, when I emptied the tank on Sunday, IT WAS EMPTY! Nothing left to fall back on.

At the end of the day, I would actually say that I was very, very happy with my race. Why? Becuase like my coach says all the time “You can’t fake good.” Had I not ridden the day before, or actually eaten like I should have, the pace that I had early in the race would have continued and I would have picked up the W. You can’t fake that type of fitness. That has me quite excited for my next few mountain bike races coming up.

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Helping out with a little post ride announcing.

 

Huge HUGE thanks to Craig Roberson for setting all of this up for me. Adam and Kurt for transportation to and from the race and giving me a bed before and after the race. It’s trips like this that remind me that I’m doing what I love and that there is so much fun to be had out there.

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A Mental Battle



Dirty Dozen 12hr Mountain Bike RaceThis past weekend, I raced the Dirty Dozen 12hr Mountain Bike Race just outside of Austin, TX. Being my first 12 hour solo race, I tried to plan as much as possible, but one thing I didn’t count on was battling food poisoning for 5 days prior. With only 3 full meals in my belly before Saturday morning, I wasn’t exactly toeing the line at 100%. It didn’t matter though because I had worked my ass off for months leading up to this and I wasn’t going to let a little sickness keep me from giving it everything I had.

What I didn’t realize was that not only would this race be immensely physically challenging, but by the end, it would be a massive mental battle as well.  I can’t count how many times I wanted to quit throughout the day. Sometimes because of the physical pain I was in, other times because I knew what was still to come. But time and time again, I found a way to push through. Some times it wasn’t me who gave the push, it was my amazing girlfriend (and support crew) Jennifer. She’d tell me to suck it up and just keep pushing.

Dirty Dozen 12hr MTB RaceThat reminds me of one of the biggest surprised I discovered on that day. You’re support crew is INSANELY important! Had I not had Jennifer there with a fresh bottle of PowerBar Perform every lap, handing me food and words of encouragement along the way, I couldn’t have gone half as far as I did. A huge thank you to her!

Throughout the race, I had many ups and downs both physically and mentally. Some easier to push through than others. The toughest downer started about 7 laps in (I completed 18 laps total = 134miles). Due to my depleted levels of energy stores going into the race (I had lost 5lbs in 5 days), I started having severe cramping. I had to back off my pace greatly and even get off the bike a few times to stretch out my twitching muscles. It took Jennifer’s encouragement and a lot of internal cursing at myself to push through the pain. I drank like a fish the next few laps and started to rebound a bit by around 3pm.

Dirty Dozen 12hr Mountain Bike RaceDuring those difficult laps, I lost the 20 minute lead that I had built up over the first 7 laps, and was never able to make a charge back up to the lead. By the end of the day, it was pretty obvious talking with the timing crew that I was set in 3rd place. That made the last few laps in the dark a bit more enjoyable because I was no longer having to worry about racing, just having fun cruising.

Dirty Dozen 12hr Mountain Bike RaceA few things I was incredibly thankful for were that the bike worked perfect, all of my Rudy Project gear (helmet, sunglasses, and kit) worked perfectly throughout the day, I never had to dab (other than to get off for cramps), I never had a flat, and my lights were amazing! Not having to worry about your gear was a big stress reliever. It was the bio-mechanical issues that left me hurting.

So would I do it again? I’m not sure. I feel if I hadn’t been sick for 5 days, I would have been able to hold the pace I set early on in the race and victory would have been mine. But at the same time, 12 hours is a LONG FREAKIN TIME and I’m not sure I want to punish myself for that long again. So for the time being, I think I’ll stick with 5-6 hour races max and see if the bug comes back for a 12hour.

Big thanks to the guys at BobCat13 Photo for being out there all day getting some great shots!

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New House & A 5k



It’s been an busy month. The biggest news is that Jennifer and I bought a house! Holy cow! I am a home owner. Wow.

With move number 20 (yes that’s right, 20x I’ve moved in Boulder), I’m very excited to not be moving for a long time. So with a solid place to be for a while, I decided to sell all of my old mismatched stuff on Craigslist. It’s been keeping me busy and I do feel a bit like an episode of Hoarders at the moment.

It hasn’t been the most exciting month for blogging with lots of moving, lots of base training, and lots of cleaning around the house (I know you’re jealous). I did do a local 5k just for fun last weekend and the results were as expected for the off season. There was a little prize money on the line, but if there is $$$ in a race around Boulder, you can bet that there will be some fast guys to scoop it up. I toed the line hoping to get at least third (and pick up $50), but when I looked at the calves of other runners next to me and saw the Olympic rings tattooed on, my anticipated result seemed a bit ambitious.

Gotta run. Need to keep posting stuff to Craigslist and try to clear out this basement so I can start remodeling.

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XTERRA East Champs



In the words of Dave “Kahuna” Nicholas – “It only took you 10 years to become an over night sensation.”

On June 10th, I had my best finish ever at an XTERRA regional race. These are the big races in the states where all the fastest guys come together and I couldn’t have been happier to be in the mix of it and finish on the podium.

One of the most exciting things for me, was showing that what happened at the ITU Cross Triathlon World Champs wasn’t a fluke.  I was able to ride and run my way up to the front of the race again, and if I can ever learn how to swim faster (maybe this could help http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS589zKAlnY) I could be in contention for the win.

The race started out with the usual “few minutes back” swim for me. But just like Cross Worlds, I didn’t let that deter me. I grabbed my GPS tracking chip that Luck Stone had set up for all the pros, and took off like a rocket out of T1. These GPS chips allowed anyone with computer access or at the venue to watch the pro race unfold live! Pretty cool stuff and I really see this as a key way to grow the sport.

On the bike, I put my mountain bike skillz (yes skillz with a “z”) to use and worked my way up. At one point, I passed Branden Rakita and moved into 3rd. 3rd place! I’ve never been in 3rd at a big race like this. It wasn’t long lasting though as Josiah Middaugh blasted by us throwing down some insane power. I was able to hold onto him (after he backed off a little) and we cruised into T2 together in 3rd and 4th.

My legs weren’t quite as sharp as the last race, but they still had some get up and go. Josiah took off and eventually ran down Criag Evans for 2nd place. I plugged along for the first half of the run, with Branden gaining on me. Once we hit the wooded singletrack and river crossing though, I got my second wind. I picked up the pace to open up a bit of a gap on Branden and cross the finish line in 4th. That’s right, 4th!

After the race, my face hurt more than my legs. I couldn’t wipe the ear-to-ear grin from my sweaty mug. The IV helped me bounce back so that I could rally and celebrate with a few beers with everyone later that evening.

I was stoked to be able to tell my sponsors – Timex, Rudy Project, PowerBar, Holy Crap, LifeSport Chiro – that I did them proud again and they could expect a lot more of the same.

This now moves me up to 7th in the XTERRA USA Pro Points Series. So come July 14th, I’ll be toeing the line in Beaver Creek, CO for the XTERRA Mountain Championship. I can’t wait!



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Gearing Up For A 50k Run in China



Curious about EXACTLY what gear I use for a 50k running race? Well here it is! This is the EXACT list of things I will be wearing/using during the North Face Endurance Challenge 50k in Beijing, China.


Watch – Timex GPS Global Trainer. After the craziness is said and done,  I want to share with you the course profile, my pace, my heart rate, and other fun data from the race. Out on course I’ll be able to see how far until the next aid station (they tell us the distance between) as well as how long the next climb is.


Clothing – Sugoi Turbo Singlet – Timex branded of course. And to hold in my thunder thighs – Sugoi Piston 200 shorts. The compression of the shorts will help lessen the fatigue on my legs over the 31 mile race. And for the footsies, I have a pair of Timex branded Wigwam socks.



Glasses – Rudy Project Ability. These things are light weight, don’t slip around on your face, and give amazing coverage without any blind spots.



Anti Chafe – SBR TriSlide to keep my thighs from rubbing together and starting a forest fire.





Hydration – The Nathan Quickdraw Plus for water and the Nathan Sprint for PowerBar Perform sports drink. I like to have a bit more water, so that I can pour it on my head as I run. I can easily refill both at each aid station. The Quickdraw also has a little pocket where I can bring an emergency PowerBar Gel. Eating is key during a race that is as long as this one!




Shoes – Saucony Peregrine. With only a 4mm heal to toe drop, these trails shoes feel very “minimalistic.” There are no rock plates, torsion control, air/gel cushioning, just a few millimeters of higher density foam. They are thick enough to protect from those sharp, pointy, bone bruising rocks, yet still pliable enough to allow for me to feel the ground below me. The upper is durable, yet unrestrictive.





Camera – Go Pro camera with chest strap to capture the excitement along the way.



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