I apologize for my recent silence, but right now I am trying to get caught up on some things and have vowed to let my blog rest for a little while. I’ve also cut back drastically on my workouts, and have not been spending a whole lot of time focusing on my racing goals for the year. Soon enough I’ll be back at it, training more specifically, but in the mean time I just get a little in here and there.

I hadn’t raced for a few months, following Kona, but now that it is January I wanted to start dabbling in some races to prep for my spring time races. I purchased a new bike. It’ ridiculous, but the opportunity for a great deal on a new machine came up and I went for it. It also came at a time when I was having problems with a couple of my other bikes, so as they were getting repaired a new bike seemed like a great idea.

George Vargas sold me the 2011 Felt B2. Yes, I already had a B2, but this one has the Bayonet 2 (instead of the Bayonet), and Advanced Ultra High Modular Carbon (instead of the Ultra High Modular Carbon). That’s not it! It also has Di2, which is awesome, and perfect for time trial bikes. With two sets of shifters (buttons in this case) I can shift while in the aero bars or while sitting up/standing without moving my hands. Also, the color scheme is sweet! Don’t underestimate the power of liking how your bike looks!

I got the bike the first week in January, and promptly named it “Nautilus”. Molly’s one stipulation for me to buy a bike from George was that I would have to name it. I hadn’t named any bikes before, but I’m not sure they were worth naming. Going with a nautical theme, Nautilus seemed to fit. I intended to debut Nautilus at the TCSD Duathlon at Otay Lakes. I arrived there, but the showing was dismal. One week prior I ran for the first time in Vibram Five Fingers (an unexpected Christmas gift from Molly, and something I had wanted for a long time). Nick Brown told me that when he got his Five Fingers, he ran 6 miles in them and he hurt so bad afterwards that he only wore them for walking. (That was a while ago, so he may be running in them now.) I wore mine just for walking for a week, and then decided to just run 4 miles in them. They felt great when I was running, but afterwards I hurt. The next day was worse, and then I went for an 11 mile tempo run (in my Newtons that I usually wear). Monday I took off from running because I hurt so bad, then Tuesday I set out for a 14 mile run and only ran 1 mile because I was in so much pain. The next 3 days I didn’t run, and then I showed up to the race feeling fairly recovered. I was a little worried because my experience is that recovery doesn’t really happen much when you don’t do anything, and I feared that I should have been running easy all week instead of not running. It was cold at the race, and I hadn’t done any fast running for months, but my racing attitude kicked in at the start and I ran 5:44 for the first mile. Then it started…. My quads started tightening up, and cramping so bad, but I pushed through it. The next 0.9 miles took me around 7 minutes. I wanted to stop, but kept pushing thinking that my legs would loosen up as soon as I got on the bike. My transition was horrible! I had the hardest time swinging my leg over the saddle, and then I could barely lift my other leg up high enough to move the pedals. I went about a mile and realized I couldn’t even get my power up to half of where I wanted it, so I turned around and DNF’d. Nautilus did not get a fair shot at showing her stuff.

When I had picked up Nautilus at Bike Religion in Newport Beach, I jumped on the trainer and George helped me make some adjustments to the fit. George commented that it was messed up that he was helping me with my fit but that we were racing in a week. Hmmmm…. I like to race, even if it is against myself sometimes, but George just threw that out there. He was referring to the Rainbow 200K Brevet. Randonneuring is “non-competitive cycling”. There are rules and a route, and official timing, but the results are listed in alphabetical order and not in order of finish. I wanted to do a fast 200K anyway, since I think doing a fast one every now and then is good training. I told George I would be riding the new Felt because my road bike was presently at the Trek factory. I also told him I would be using my HED Jet Disc because it has a powertap in it, and my other powertap wheel is amongst one the things that has broken on me recently. At the start of the brevet, George didn’t miss a beat to comment on my “randonneuring” bike. Of course George had his Cervello with Di2 and Dura Ace wheels, which he probably figured would be a better match for the hills.

The start was at 7 am, 15 January, so it was nice and cool out. I opted to dress light and be thankful for the cool morning instead of bothered by it. We started off in La Jolla and headed down Regents and Genesee as a group, hitting nearly every light. It was only about 2 miles into the ride that I decided to make my first move. I had already planned it because I knew that I would fly down the I-5 on ramp much faster than anyone else and would actually have to work the brakes if I was going to stay with the group. My concern was the hilly route (about 8000 feet of climbing total) and at 200 lbs I needed to take advantage of every descent I had. George told me later that he figured he’d let me go and “blow up”. Chris Kotsman’s article on riding a fast double century and how people start too quickly did cross my mind (Chris happened to be doing the brevet too), but I thought “at least this isn’t a double century”. I pushed pretty hard for a while, much harder than I really wanted to, but I figured it would be much better if I could get out of the other rider’s sight. The first control was at around mile 30. I knew the next riders were going to be asking how much of a lead I had, but I tried to act like I was in no hurry and didn’t care about such things at the control, hoping my time would be remembered. George told me later that I had a 4 minute lead. The next control was only about 12 miles later, but I wasn’t looking for the control to be manned. I thought we had to go into the AM/PM market and make a purchase for proof of passage. Of course there was a line, and that seemed to take forever, so as I was rolling out of the store I saw four riders: George, Bal, Marty, and Collin. I stopped at the right control this time, and George said “Jerry! Fancy meeting you here!” He said he figured he needed to keep the gap no more than 6 minutes at this control. Now that there was no gap, I could tell George figured it was over for me. We were about to hit some big hills. I also figured it was over, but as we rolled out and started down the Old 395, a descent that is about 4 miles long with a 3% grade, I decided to put George and the other to the test. I was still chewing on my M&Ms, but shoved them in my pocket as the descent began and went for it. I didn’t really jump on it like I should have, and George was right on my wheel. I’ve seen people give up my wheel on descents because they don’t want to ride that hard downhill. I wasn’t sure what George was going to do, so I just pushed on. I figured either I would gas him out, he’ll let me go to conserve for the next climb, or he’ll make the best of my draft and leave me in the dust on the climb. I couldn’t see if any of the other guys were with me, but I could clearly see George’s shadow. Later I found out that Marty and Colin couldn’t hang onto George, so Bal’s racer instinct kicked in and he had to close the gap to get back on George’s wheel. As we turned onto Old Castle the road was fairly flat with small rollers, so I kept pushing. Then we hit the climb and I was surprised that only Bal was there. I couldn’t even see the other guys. Bal pulled me up the hill while he asked me about Randonneuring etiquette. This was Bal’s first brevet, but he was wise enough to realize that different types of events have different etiquette. I explained how randonneuring is “non-competitive”, but occasionally there are some people that are trying to beat each other. I went on to explain how if you end up riding with someone for the majority of the ride, you finish together without any sprint finishes, and everyone in that group has the same finish time.

Bal and I rode the rest of the way together, only getting separated a couple times for a short period. He was pretty gassed, but I figured if he could hang onto my wheel I certainly didn’t mind pulling. He provided a few pulls for me which allowed me to eat and drink while still maintaining a strong pace. We knew the other guys wouldn’t catch us. We were doing 25-26 mph down the bike path in Oceanside. They hadn’t caught us in the hills, and on the flats my weight doesn’t slow me down as much, so the “race” was over.

One week later, after getting in some repeats up Palomar on Saturday, I went out to run the Carlsbad Marathon. The race started at 6 AM on January 3. My running hasn’t felt good since March last year. Even though I’ve put in more miles the past couple months, it still hurts. I started off just trying to relax, hoping to loosen up, but it just wasn’t happening. I questioned whether I would finish (I certainly didn’t want to), but at around mile 5 I decided I was going to finish no matter how much it sucked. There is something good about suffering, and I realized it was time to suffer some more. At mile 6 my pace was dropping and I felt like crap. The 3:30 pace group was passing me, and then I saw my buddy John Laird running in the front of the pace group. I ran up there and we started talking and somehow the run became more enjoyable. I guess my mind just wasn’t on the pain as much. As we were talking, I was telling John about the 200K and Rock Rabbit (who did the 200K on a tandem) overheard us talking about it because he was right behind us. Small world! Anyway, the conversations were great, until I found myself running alone again after around 17 miles. I had to focus again, and as the race was coming to a close I pushed to keep my pace up. My finish was 3:28, much faster than I had expected, but the real success was the splits. I ran every single mile very close to 8 minutes. The first ½ of the race I ran 1:44:10 (Normalized Graded Pace 7:51). The second ½ was 1:44:48 (Normalized Graded Pace 7:50). This is quite remarkable. I don’t think I’ve run any race so evenly paced throughout (including 5K, 10K, ½ Marathon or Marathon). The first 6 miles hurt almost as bad as the last 6 miles, I just had to work a lot harder the last 6 miles to keep the pace.

I cannot forget about Molly of course! Molly did the 200K solo, getting back into riding again. She rode a 100K two days later, and has been back to commuting to work. The accident she had in October had been a bit to shake off, but she’s feeling good again. She also did the marathon! She’s only run a handful of times in the past few months, but figured she’d give it a shot anyway. She set a PR at 4:34! And the only thing she ate during the marathon was an Otter Pop that a kid was handing out on the sidelines!

I apologize for the looonggggg post, but just trying to get caught up on a few things I couldn’t let go. Now it’s back to work! See you out there!

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