Sunday, October 20, 2013

Three Bears++ and the Dirty Dare

It wasn't intended to be an all-out endurance pushing weekend, but sometimes it just happens.  

Intending to ride about 35 miles, as part of a slow progression to getting to a strong 55 miles, I had the knack to ride the three bears loop.  But I also wanted to ride down pinehurst again, because it's close to home, gorgeous, and fun.  And I wanted to try some things I'd been reading, about taking downhill curves at higher speed. So on a whim, my 35 mile ride became 42.  Not always he best idea.

The first 35 miles were great, starting down pinehurst, canyon, and moraga.  The three bears loop was a fun ride.  It crosses through a lot of different landscapes, past reservoirs, into hills in the middle of nowhere, past farms, and then up and down some long hills.  I stopped for a snack somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and there was just about nothing there.  Except an occasional other cyclist.  The hills were steep and late enough in the ride that I rode intervals up them instead of riding steady.  The last uphill was hard, as I was at about 30 miles, and my legs were getting tired.  But there was more to come.  

The ride back down through Orinda, Moraga, and Canyon was smooth sailing.  After passing canyon and heading north, at about 35 miles, it was not.  I was just spent, with legs giving out every few hundred yards. So I took a lot of slow intervals, finishing in just over four hours.  The last hour was about the last five miles.  

So I did this on a whim the day before running the Dirty Dare 25k put on my Inside Trail racing.  After the ride, I expected this to be a painful just-finish-it race, but it pleasantly wasn't.  It was a hard course; a number of other runners were feeling it hard after it was over, but it was the level of difficulty I wanted.  It started with a big uphill.  That just kept going.  It started out very cold, but that didn't last long.  I did a lot of slow running uphill intervals on this course, which was actually easier than slowly running all of each hill or walking the the hills.  After the first uphill, the downhill run was fast, fun, and great.  And then it was uphill to the first aid station.

I drank more cola at the aid stations on this course than any race so far, keeping the sugar going in to make up for the overall amount of weekend effort.  After the first aid station, it was more uphill, and then more uphill.  Somewhere in there the course went from difficult to hard.  The views were amazing, and in an area I never make it out to.  Cows and turkeys and backpackers.  Single track, some of it on very precarious slopes, and trails in open grass-covered hills.   

After the second aid station, I made it another mile or so uphill, and was running out of energy.  Stopped for a minute, had a gel, and kept going.  This part got really mediative, in that I passed through a lot of distinct scenery, but I don't remember in which order.  Feet were getting sore, but only really annoying-sore, and I slowed a bit to spread out my energy use.  At some point I was looking for the next huge uphill, when the third and final aid station, only two miles from the end, appeared.  I didn't realize how far I had gone.  Then I ran the last two miles, finishing the 16.4 miles in 3:48 or so.  28 out of 46 runners. Below my current medium-term goal (top half), but far better than the last comparable run, which was a finish-it-despite-a-lot-of-pain run (grizzly peak, 22 out of 26).  The ride had less effect than I thought it would, in that nothing was really sore after all was said and done, just the usual tiredness. 

Overall, a good weekend, and the first with an eye toward building milage for longer spring races.

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