June 28, 2006

Dude, at elevation zero.

It's called decompressing -- after several years with no real vacation, it was time to get the heck outta Dodge... and even though I don't live in Dodge City, I do live in Kansas, so I can say that. So there.

Getting in a few good sessions of sleep-deprivation training was on the menu for the first part of the vacation, resulting in a marathon 26-hour drive from dawn, to dusk, to midnight, and back again, through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and both Carolinas - until the mighty Atlantic Ocean was in view. It'll be a while before I'm ready to dive into those waters from the pier at Atlantic City, but the view was still marvelous!

Nine days later, I'm back -- fully rested, having NOT taken a bicycle with me. Again, gunshy of overtraining, I got some solid speed work in, some distance, and a good mix of recovery and 'other' rides in before the vacation commenced, and then I let the body rest completely. It worked..and now that I'm back, and back on the bike for commuting, I can feel that spring in my legs again, that snap. Freshness... able to push, and not feel like the tank is empty.

So, looking on the horizon is the reason for all this preparation -- The Larry Schwartz Memorial Tinbutt 12-Hour Meltdown Ultra Distance race in Stillwater, OK.

As I write this, it's a mere 17 days until the race clock starts at Lake McMurty, and for once the trepidation, nervousness, and jitters are gone. For once, I feel like I'm operating with a cooler hand and a steadier will. Could I really have been drinking THAT much coffee???

I think so.

On to race strateg-ery:

Number-one: Don't pre-mix anything. Bring an extra bottle, but not hte arsenal of 15 water bottles like in previous years. No fueling strategy plays out that long for me.

Number-two: mandatory stop at the end of each lap. Fresh liquids, fuel, and vitamins.
Multiple laps haven't helped in years past, and have ended up putting time against me as fatigue set in, and fluids ran out at the end of the second lap. In tangent to that, the heat will be a factor, and hot Sustained Energy is simply not drinkable for long. Seen it too many times, and experienced it a few, too. Not worth it. Stop - refuel - roll out -- if time off the bike can be minimized, it will be like not stopping at all.

Basically, it’s gonna be about speed, I think – between stops, and consistant speed - not the endurance popping speed of years past, trying to make up time lost only to blow even harder.

Five minutes off the bike to refill water bottles, grab food, etc. – 9 stops, 5 minutes off per lap for a 10-lap/220 mile attempt, taking back the 15 minutes of extra time at the end equals about 30 minutes total off the bike. That’s a tall order for 12 hours, and an on-bike rolling average of over 19 MPH. I’m not saying that 220 is my goal, but I’ve certainly done the math.

My official goal of 200 miles, via 9, 22-mile laps for 198 officially, and 2 extra miles for myself at the end, is a little easier -- but not by much. There’s only about a 1.8 MPH average difference between lap totals, so 198 miles is still in the 18’s, and so on. But, I also figure I got 177 miles with a solid 45 minute break off the bike between my last two laps in 2004. I didn’t keep track of off-bike time, and it came out fine – I had enough to get 198 if I hadn’t stopped, so it’ll be more about quelling fatigue and staying motivated and hydrated and fueled.

I'm certainly not going to run this race by the numbers entirely, though -- at least I'm in a position now that I won't let the numbers get inside my head anymore. I've done faster times without really even thinking about it that much, and that's the mode I plan to be in. The only thing I'll worry about are how fast I get the stops handled, and the rest will take care of itself.

With visions of the beach in my head, I won't have any problem finding a "happy place" to put myself if the fatigue and duldrums set in! I'll be able to bank on the sleep deprivation training later in the year, at Tejas --- but for now, my only goal is Tinbutt.

I'm not abandoning later goals -- but they aren't worth thinking about right now.

Focus is about the NOW, not the later. My task is Tinbutt - and I'm really ready this time!

A couple more weekends left for training and tapering, and then I'll be southbound to my homeland... Oklahoma, here I come!

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