2017 Big Frog 65

Bentcrank's Blog

I had some time to write this after I returned home from the race, but I was trying to not get in too much of a hurry. I was really not sure what I wanted to write and I wanted to give myself some time to let everything sink in and what it really means to me. I’m still not clear on how or what I feel about this years race. I know, I know. I keep getting told this or that and that I’m too hard on myself. Who else can be my worst critic but me?

A fun group to ride with at any time. Spirits were still high for me at the pre-ride

We made it to the whitewater center fairly early Friday. Took care of getting checked in and dropping off our drop bags. Some of the group we were expecting showed up and next thing…

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DINO Eagle Creek 15K: Alex Potter

After almost two years of trying to heal my plantar fasciitis on and off again, I am finally starting to feel like I can run with little to no pain. Working with an amazing chiropractor Kyle True and massage therapist Leisa Parks, I have a solid daily routine of mobility drills and stretches that seem to be helping. It’s a slow process for sure, but I am up to running about 20 miles per week and feeling pretty strong. That being said, I felt it was time to jump in a race and see where my current fitness was at. I didn’t expect much after only a few months of 10-20 miles of running per week, but with all of the other drills and strengthening exercises and cycling I had been doing, it was time for a test. So with our 12-day old son Hugo, Giesla and I headed to Indianapolis to Eagle Creek for the DINO trail 15K.

Indianapolis had apparently received a lot more rain than we did as the course was extremely muddy.  When I registered for the race, the gentlemen that helped me said the start would be back in ‘the middle of the swamp.’  He pointed to a giant water hole in a field.  I knew my La Sportiva Helios weren’t the best choice of shoe for the day but oh well.  It was a test run nonetheless.

I warmed up a bit and stood at the start line.  There were some fast-looking people around, but I tried to focus on my race plan which was basically just run tempo-ish pace, don’t get caught up in running too fast, and see what happens.  I wanted to stick in the front or second group and challenge myself.  When the gun went off, I watched two guys take off through the mud and water at a pace much faster than I was ready for.  I stuck in the chase pack of about six guys and let my body settle into the difficult pace.  I had not done a single tempo run in a couple of years; so aside from a few fartlek runs, I didn’t really know how long my body would allow me to hang.  But with the past couple of years being strong cycling years, last year including a few hundred milers, I was hoping I had a decent aerobic base.

Less than two miles in, I was already getting uncomfortable with the chase group’s pace.  It felt just a tad too easy.  Not really knowing the 15K distance, I figured I would need to run pretty close to all out since it would take about an hour to finish – ‘all out’ for me is different than most athletes.  I don’t really train my high end much, if ever.  This is a bad thing.  So my aerobic pace and my ‘fast’ paces are pretty close together.  I want to change that this year, starting with this race.  So I increased my pace a bit, passed a few guys, and ran out front of the chase pack for a while.  After about a mile, I was alone in third.  I kept catching glances of the second place guy, a dude in a bandana and crop top, every once in a while.  I went through the finish area with a lap time of 19:27.  Oh sh*t, I thought.  My 5k PR is 19:30, so I either just cooked myself by running way too fast on that lap considering I have two more of them or the lap is short.  Again, I’m new to these shorter distances – my 5k PR is from a 10 mile run during a marathon buildup.  I really have no idea what I’m doing here.

Early on in the second lap, I slowly gained on the crop-top guy in second place.  I couldn’t see first place, so I focused on second.  He looked strong, but since he fell off pace with the first place guy and I caught him by running fairly even splits, I figured he went out a little hard.  I caught up to him and we spent the second lap weaving in and out of all of the 5k runners who started after us.  It was a slippery, muddy mess on the trails and getting worse with the hundreds of runners making laps now.  I noticed that, even as we weaved through the crowd, I would gain some distance on crop-top on the climbs (short and punchy) and he would gain on me on the downhills.  He was also skipping all of the downhill stair sections – so while I tip-toed down and through people on the stairs, he would blast down the side in the dirt and leaves which would put me a solid 50 feet behind him once I popped out of the stairs.  I didn’t know if that was legal or not, but I decided not to do it.  He did it at every one of those sections which was pretty annoying.  I would have to push fairly hard to catch up after each one.  Still, we went through lap 2 together in 19:46.  I was feeling strong and was confident I would be able to push hard through the final lap.

The final lap was the sloppiest.  After all of us 15K runners made a couple of laps and the 5k runners finished, the trail was in rough condition.  The lap area was all pockmarked and looked like a stampede of horses ran through.  I was slipping around all over the place, confirming my poor shoe choice, but crop-top and I kept a decent pace through miles 7 and 8.  On one of the last little climbs, he said “here’s where you got me last lap, go get it!”  But I didn’t want to cook myself on a hill with a mile to go.  I gained a few seconds on him and pushed my pace up just bit.  As we were coming in on the last half mile, my plan was to blast the last hill with everything I had left and then push it through the lap area to the finish.  I knew I would be slower going through all that mud and water, so I needed to gain a bit on him.  As we got to the last hill, I pushed it.  I gained on him just enough and held on through the finish chute in 59:28.  Crop-top came in at 59:32.

My body far exceeded my expectations.  I didn’t expect too much with such minimal running (and lingering ankle/foot issues).  But I was able to really push myself and come through the finish with a solid time.  I am continuing my daily strengthening exercises and being diligent about treating my foot and ankle with care.  I know a lot of my issues are due to poor mechanics and years of running with less-than-optimal form.  Kyle has helped me identify those issues and work on them.  I hope to be able to run more of these short distance races throughout the year.  After many years of long endurance events, these shorter, faster races feel new and challenging.

2nd place runner, 1st place sleeper

Let the Adventures begin.

The first race of the season.  It’s what I’d been waiting for all winter. However, as it sometimes happens, long awaited anticipation can build up too lofty of expectations.

The winter months saw a few new changes. I’ve joined Team Adventures (obvious if you are reading this), and I bought a new-to-me 29er hardtail. So getting out to race I was eager to put on the black and yellow kit (which looks awesome this year Nick) and excited to race the new bike. I had done a few races last year, and used it as a learning curve for mountain bike racing. Coming into this year I figured the few races I did last year, and especially coming off a nice race at Dino sww, I would hit the ground running this year.  Not so much.

I packed up all my things in the morning (Hitchhikers guide has it right; towel is a must) and hit the road. I arrived about 45 minutes till the start, which was plenty of time to register and get warmed up and try out the trail. After getting to the starting line and listening to the pre-race briefing I did a once over on my bike and noticed my seat pack was still on. Rookie mistake. I shook it off and got ready for the start. A mass start. Not a mass start of all ages of cat 2; a mass start of cat 1, cat 2 open, cat 2, women, etc. All the people racing at 10am started together.  It was civil chaos as we zipper merged into the singletrack after about a 150 yard sprint. Within the first half mile or so came the big seven dwarves climb. The climb was very technical with tight switchbacks. Being so close to the start led to a very cluttered jam. I struggled, partly due to one guy in front of me, and partly my own fault of lack of technical experience. I lost several positions from the climb, probably in the range of 8 guys moved around me. I hadn’t ridden the bike enough, and it having both bigger tires and being a size bigger than my other bike, I admittedly sucked.

The course plateaued and was similar to Ben hawes in how much twisting and turning you were constantly doing. It was hard to keep speed up because the trail was rough and had many log hops. I wrestled back a few positions, then got to another tough, switchback filled climb. Again I struggled. I’d like to say I can climb OK, but during this race any climbing was my Achilles heel.  I didn’t have to deal with traffic, but I was still dismounting regularly on the tight switchback turns.  After the climb it was time to point the bike downhill. No problems there and I felt pretty fast.

The second lap came around and it was the same story with the climbs, but the trail chatter had really started to take its toll on my body. My back was getting tight and I was getting some major arm pump (shout-out to ESI grips, they soaked up way more than the stock grips, I’m sure wrists would have been added to the pain list had I not had them on). I finished the race and kinda shrugged it off as the first race of the season.

I realized I’ve still got some learning to do. Looking back, had I pre-ridden the trail, I probably would have brought my spark 720 instead. The tight climbs and rough, winding trail would have been better suited for that bike I believe.  I’m going to try and ride Fort Duffield before the next race, as it has similar reviews to youngers creek. I also didn’t think about getting a picture taken. What a boring blog post without pictures! All in all,  a little humbling, but it made me even more hungry.

Youngers creek,  Kentucky point series. 9/23 cat 2. 2nd in age group

Dirty South Roubaix 100k

Bentcrank's Blog

The Dirty South Roubaix was on my radar since I first saw it posted. It was a little farther away than I wanted to drive by myself to and from on the same day. I also have a full enough calendar that I really didn’t want to spend for another hotel room. When I found out that one of my teammates was making the trip, it was a no brainer. It would be a fairly early morning, but the race is in a different time zone to help with that. The drive over went well and we found ourselves behind the Bushong van as we got close to the start.

Photo Credit: Tammy Bushong

We checked in and started getting ready. I was not as prepared as I needed to be on a couple bike things and I also took a long time trying to figure out what to wear…

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2017 Snake Creek Gap TT #2

Bentcrank's Blog

This was the second year that I made the trip down to Dalton to race The Snake. This year was the first time that I was going to race the same distance both times. If you read my last post, then you know that the first race was shortened because of the weather. But, anyone who finished would get credit for finishing the race in their class. Last weekend I headed back for the second race in the series. The good news was that the weather was supposed to be a lot nicer than the first race. Not just less ice and snow that we could actually race the full distance, it was going to be pretty nice.

One problem with the weather being nicer is that I had been riding in colder weather and not used to knowing what to put on. I am not very good about…

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Snake Creek Gap #1

Bentcrank's Blog

Last weekend was the first of two Snake Creek Gap TT races. Being that it is the second weekend of the month, it did not leave much down time for the new year. I didn’t go too crazy at the end of the year, but I tried to keep as active as I could. I knew this race was just around the corner. The first week of the year didn’t work out too good for riding and I didn’t get any miles in before this race. I did have some activity, but no riding out doors.

As the weekend drew closer, the extended forecast kept getting worse. The high temp if the day kept going down and the chance of snow kept increasing. There was even some thoughts about not heading down as it didn’t seem like it would be worth it. Since part of the group already left Thursday…

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Times fun when your having flies

Bentcrank's Blog

It is hard to believe that I am actually working on the year in review post already. It does not seem possible that 2016 has come and gone already. Overall it has been a pretty good year. Not everything worked out the way I thought they would, but I am still here and riding better than I had in previous years. With that in mind I really can’t complain. I took the momentum from the end of 2015 and tried to build on that this year. Just like other winters I had a good plan of doing better about staying in shape and before I know it spring is here and I have some catching up to do.

I didn’t get a bunch of riding done in January or most of February. Typically only getting one ride if any each week and several of them I didn’t ride at all…

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