Monday, May 11, 2009

the curse is for real...

ok... by the title of this post it's probably pretty apparent that saturday's trail race didn't quite as planned... well not even close.

the lead up to the race was good. I had a good week of riding in really nice weather. All my rides were on the road and were pretty mellow. I was just out enjoying the warm mornings. I got in a good trail run on tuesday and then another wednesday that included some race pace efforts. Then thursday and friday were all about recovery. thursday i did and easy AM spin and on friday i did a mellow 30 min run with some strides. I was feeling good.

On friday i headed up to LA and on the way i picked up finland's finest, Jaakko, from LAX. he's in town for some training before heading to hawaii for the 70.3. it was a mellow day. i ate well, stayed hydrated, and a had really good pre-race meal at the California Chicken Cafe. i was in bed by 930pm and really looking forward to Saturday.

i was up at 4:15 for coffee and all my usual pre-race stuff. everything was going good. nothing out of the normal. got to malibu canyon park, checked in, and got in a solid 3 mile warm-up with some strides. it was already nice and warm and I had good sweat going on the starting line. i was relaxed and ready to race.

when the gun went off i was in the front pack and within the first 100m i felt a bizarre twinge in my quads. the only other time i had ever felt anything like that before was when they totally cramped up at the Xterra topanga trail race back in november (see my last post). i was kind of in disbelief. i felt good in my warm-up, I was loose, rested, and ready to go.

so i backed off my pace a bit and let a couple of guys go off the front in the first, flat mile. my quads weren't cramping but didn't feel "right". at mile 1 we hit the first climb and went to the front. running uphill felt fine because I wasn't loading up the quads. i was in the lead at the top of the short climb as descended down to some single track. during the descent and single track my legs felt ok but still on the verge of locking up so i slowed my pace and waited to have some one to come around me and take the lead. nobody did so i slowed my pace some more to give my quads a break and still nobody would take the lead.

i was stoked. i was hoping that i could make it to "Bulldog" (a gnarly 3 mile climb) with out the quads blowing because i knew the long climb would give them a break. at 2.5 miles we hit the climb and i was ready to go. we were in a pack of about 5 and within the first half mile it was down to 3. the climb was brutal. i lead the charge for a while and threw in some surges but Jon (one my sponosors, SaltStick owner/founder) and the other guy were covering every move. i wasn't going all out but definitely working hard.

we continued the climb and at 1.5 miles me and the "other guy" got away from Jon and we really started picking it up and the trail was getting steeper. at mile 2 we were working hard and still had a mile of climbing to go. we were taking turns leading. at the summit and at the mile 6 marker we were shoulder to shoulder and way off the front. my quads were fine.... then we started a pretty steep 3/4 mile descent. we stayed together for the first quarter and then it happened... and i could feel it coming as soon as we started downhill, my quads locked up AGAIN. all the from my hip flexors to the tops of my knees. both legs at the same time. I had to stop and walk the 1/4 mile of the descent to the aid station. bummed and in total disbelief that this was happeing again, and only for the second time in my life... and the other was also in a similar race.

i walked to the aid station and jon passed me. he left me a saltstick capsule with the volunteers at the aid station. i took it with some gatorade, hung out with the volunteers for a minute as i tried to stretch, and threw down a couple Aleeve's that one of the volunteers gave. i was willing to try anything. for a brief second i considered heading back to the start. I was about 6.75 miles into the race and heading would be faster than finishing the race. that thought was fleeting. no way i was going to DNF... even if I had to walk/hike the rest of the race... and that I did.

Mile 6-9 were brutal. i walked, shuffled, jogged the uphills, and stopped and stretched. around mile 9 there was a solid climb that i was able to jog and my legs came around a bit and i was able run (slowly) it into finish.

the course was rad and i really wish i could have raced the whole thing. it really suited my strengths. Lots of climbing!

i was pretty bummed after the race and only because i was, and am still now, confused as to why my quads cramped... pretty much right at the start. this was second time it's happened, both in races, and i doesn't make sense. I was rested, hydrated, electorlytes/nutrition in check. i am clueless. i know how to get ready for a race. i have never cramped in any Xterra triathlon races in really hot... or cold conditions. it doesn't make sense. beth thinks it's mental. i don't know. any ideas?

this highlight of the day was Jaakko getting into the 6k trail race at the last minute and taking the overall win! Congrats dude!

other than the bad race the week of training was pretty solid with good riding. my training is going to change a bit in the coming weeks and I am really looking forward to it. i need some direction. i have just been training to train and not really focusing much on my races. originally wanted to peak for the Idyllwild Spring Challenge and race on saturday, but I really didn't pull that off. the training time was there but the focus wasn't. toward the middle of april i really dug myself into a whole training wise. i was just trying run AND ride way too much.

when i stopped swimming and just started focusing on mountain bike racing and running i didn't drop the triathlete mindset. i always felt the need to get in at leaset 2 workouts a day. in the past one of those workout would most likely been swim which is much easier on the body than riding or running.... and now i have just been riding and running a lot... too much. it really caught up with me towards the end of april and I was tired and beatdown. i am on the way back though. i have really dropped the intensity while keeping the up the volume of my weekly training and am feeling good again.

i don't want this to happen again so I am going to start working with Trevor again. i need someone to keep my in check and we've talked a lot. he has a lot of good ideas on how to balance my riding and running while still getting stronger/faster at each sport. seeing how fast he is going right now is very motivating. i should be on his plan starting 5/18. I am really looking forward to handing over the reigns.

i just need to figure out the rest of my season race wise. my lack of ability to really nail these trail races is having me question weather spending most of my summer focus in the Pikes Peak Ascent is really a good idea.

that's it... kind of boring.. and way too long. I got carried away.


Justin Mock said...

Sorry it didn't go well. After one injury, I now am examining every little thing and also am wondering if it's just mental.

I can't speak to finding the balance because I have none and just run all the time, but if you want to do well at PPA, I think you need way more mileage. You'd be looking at a very tough 2:30 run and I don't think you could do that on 30-40 mile weeks.

GZ said...


How do you feel today?

Anonymous said...

Try this.... 1 mustard pack (yes, the kind you get at a ball game)before the start of the race and keep another one in your hand during the race. I can almost gaurantee NO MORE LEG CRAMPS. If you do get a cramp during your race, then drop a quick packet of mustard and you will be fixed in 30sec or less - no joke!

Toby Guillette said...

I don't have an answer for you but I do know that it's not because of a lack of training. If anything, I would venture to say you could be "over trained"? Either way, keep the faith, like you said, you're switching it up again soon so you'll figure it out. I had my first DNF this weekend at mile 25 of 50 in attempt to run a marathon and 50M ultra in the same week. Legs felt similar to what you described but I bailed before they got worse so I could bounce back sooner. We've gotta learn our limits somehow, right?

Zippy said...

Your cramps baffle me too. I expected you to pull off the win for sure. And, yeah, Trevor is KILLING it right now.

Ryan Denner said...

"no way i was going to DNF" - hell yeah!

"any ideas?"
- keep drinking beer on race week
- maybe just bring your bike as your warm up next time!

Luke said...

hey've probably read these...but check what the friel man has to say about cramp-age!

MJ said...

Baffling.... It's not like you don't run the trails very often....

Just reload and try again. Keep the faith.


Ryan Weeger said...

yeah simple solution...not enough beer. lets plan some races, some good stuff too, dont go all crazy running all the time!

Charisa said...

That totally sucks on the leg cramping thing. No ideas for you - let me know if you figure it out!