Friday, December 14, 2018

The season that it was

2018 became the season I needed.  The last couple years my drive to race, my competitive spirit, the focus to train hard had diminished.  The combination of slight boredom from 15 years of racing, which included a lot of the same events, an achy body from years of abuse and a transition to coaching made it pretty easy to go down this path.   After my wife suggested in the fall of 2017 that she wanted to ride a trail system in Ohio that happened to be part of the Mohican 100 miler,  I was pretty much volen-told that I was doing this for 2018.   It gave me a little focus to stay in shape over the course of the winter, more for survival than anything.  Lots of cross country skiing, a couple times on the trainer and one fat bike race which I still don’t like the thought of topped off with  recovery time  on the couch.  Spring comes fast.

 Storm the Trent adventure race has been a fun event I have done multiple times, as along as I am in generally good shape I can usually bullshit my way through the race.  This is a combo of paddling (kayak or canoe), trail running ( i did run one 5k before the race) and mountain biking (not technical more gravel) mixed in with orienteering (I CAN do this without a gps).  This year it wasn’t a race of the masses but a one on one battle with an old high school friend.  Mark and I have each won this event at different times in both solo and team categories, to say there had been a lot of smack talk over the winter months leading up to the race is understatement  Mark and I battled it out over the 60 km of running, paddling and biking, switching the lead multiple times.  At one point we both ran an extra 5km when we thought it would be a great idea to team up until the last stage then duke it out to the line.   I still think Mark intentionally lead us off course in that run/nav section to try and break me. Yes I cracked a bit when this happened. After 5 hours of racing we still came through less than a minute apart finishing 1-2 in the solo division.  Mark got the best of me on this day and I was reminded that running is still a self defence from big scary monsters and should only be done at that times.

The following weekend had us south of the border for the Mohican 100 miler in Loudenville  Ohio.   It had been a few years since I made my way to the states for a race and I was excited.   Huge mass start, the pace was high right off the start, I settled into a high tempo pace, waiting until we hit the single track  start moving forward in the pack.   I had pretty realistic goals for this race wanting to finishing in the top 1/4 overall.   I was at a race but wasn’t really racing, just there for the experience.   I loved riding single track that was fresh and new to me, the climbing was painful and there was a lot of it.   I believe they promote it at 12000 feet of climbing.   Hell the 15 km rail trail line has an elevation gain of just under a 1000 ft.  During the race is where I thought I was content to just be a mid pack rider,  someone would catch me and I didn’t put down an effort or attack, didn’t try and grab onto a group, just rode and enjoyed the scenery.  Again back to my “not really wanting to race but love the riding” headspace.   I managed to meet my goal, actually was better than hoping finishing 33rd in open men.  A really great event and well organized.   

The Hardwood summer 8 hour.   This was never really in the cards as a race but more as a support, one of the athletes I coach was doing his first 8 hour goal.  I made Phil a promise that I would help him through the race by riding with him,the deal was I would ride hard for the first 2-3 hours then spend the rest of the race with him.  2.5 hours in I pulled into our team pit, AWI Racing had 4 solo’s at this race, refueled and waited for Phil.  Phil had a goal of ten laps, a realistic goal for a first timer.  As we  hit the 6.5 hour mark we surpassed that, it was awesome to watch, I rode as a pace setter and pack mule, doing my best to distract him on the climbs.   I think we finished in the top 10 which again was awesome to watch him achieve on his first 8 hour.   

This lead into the highlight of my season, another destination event, the Quebec singletrack experience.   So this is where my head space towards racing began to change, the craving to race not just ride.   7 days, 7 different venues with each day ranging from between 2-4 hours of bike time.   I had a couple glitches mid week with not enough calories but I got that sorted pretty quick, I am an eating machine.   Every day I was usually in the top 10 overall and top 5 in division.  I learned pretty quick that there is Ontario gear ratios and then there are quebec gear ratios.   Running a 42 tooth wasn’t going to cut it for day after day of 2-3 thousand meters of climbing.  It was the last 2 days that was finding a little more of the old me, two of the more technical venues including the Shanahan sector of bras-du-nord.   I pushed, I turned myself inside out, I was in the top 5 overall, I flatted, I lost a few spots and a few more.  I had fun but it fired me up for the last day.   The last day brought out the old me, I attacked multiple times, I rode hard, I finished 2nd in division and 6th overall.   I rode the way I used to and it helped get me to my current head space.  I missed racing.    I finished 4th in my division and top 10 overall.

 2019 training has started, 5 major  endurance races including a return to Mohican 100 where I’m going to race not just ride.   I have a goal of top 15 overall, if the old me returns I think this is very attainable with a possibility of even higher up the overall.   I’m making an honest effort to fix all of the bad things I’ve done to my body over the many years, from diet (not always rehydrating with beer after rides) to fixing the muscle imbalance in my separated shoulder, to having core strength and flexibility again.  Having interval training that is hard and excited about it. 2019 is looking fun.

 A couple other highlights of 2018.   Helping bring this race team to a whole new level with the help of Andrew Watson.   Giving a couple of our athletes opportunities that might not have been there had we not done what we did.   Riding the Mont St. Anne world cup course with Brody, shitting my shorts a little at the top of the Beatrice and then only a few minutes later riding in a group with Nino Schuter and Anton Cooper.   I totally kept up, for a few moments.   Getting our kids development ride started, a non racing program that was based on having fun and learning basic fundamentals,  it was awesome seeing their confidence grow on every ride    It was a great high light every week.    Seeing a few of my athletes hit and destroy goals at their events.   I will say that 2018 was a great season as a coach, team manger and now a return to being a racer. 

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