I Want Credit For Trying It

OMG, this is so my situation right now.

Over here, KBR runs the DFACs (Dining Facilities).  Nope, we can’t call them Chow Hall’s anymore.  But we do anyway.

Well, the DFACs have quite a spread.  So good, in fact, that a significant portion of the folks over here actually gain weight.  Nothing like having an all-you-can-eat buffet for every meal of the day.

Quite a departure from 10+ years ago, where we’d deploy folks that were in danger of getting drummed out for weight issues.  Deploy them for 120 days and they’d come back 10-15 (or more) pounds lighter.

So what does that have to do with Frazz’s dilemma?

I have a co-worker here who talks every day, every meal about how he needs to lose weight.  Every meal he pushes back from the table and says that he’s headed to the desert bar because he can’t help himself.

And he’ll talk to every new person we meet about how he needs to lose the weight and control his eating.

So he got a used bike.  Cheap.  Like ten dollars cheap.  But you don’t want (or need) anything more than that.  He got it from someone who was heading home.  Certainly not a bike that I’d race or train with, but certainly something that would do a good job of getting around and maybe cranking a few laps around the lakes.

You know, something that would help burn off some of that dessert.

First ride, he comes back and says that it’s unusable.  Why?  Because the back wheel wobbles.

I offered to go after it with a can of WD-40 and a wrench to true the wheel.  Nope, that’s too much trouble.  Easier to complain about it

So I do feel Frazz’s pain.

Ass Sweltering Pain

Yep, that’s what I’m calling my race report. Three simple words, combined, encapsulate the week leading up to, and including, the National Marathon To Fight Breast Cancer, aka “Running with Donna 26.2”. Warning: This is a long, long, long post.

First off, the ass. I won’t include a link here, since most of you know what one is. Matter of fact, I’ve been called one from time to time. It’s even likely I’ve been called one in the past 24 hours. But I digress.

For those of you that follow this blog, you’ll know of my inability to run for the past month due to a very painful “calf pull” that I experienced in mid-January. A couple of weeks off from running, as well as stretching and massage, did seem to help. At least until I ran on it again. With only two weeks until the marathon, I was desperate to find something to fix my pain. So last week, while driving to the rodeo, I did some exploratory poking and squeezing on my calf (while driving, which I DO NOT recommend). The exquisite pain that shot up my thigh, into my glute and the small of my back got me to thinking and a bit of research once we got home that night. With the help of my Trigger Point Therapy Workbook and TriggerPoints.net, I was able to narrow down the culprit, which certainly didn’t cross my mind in the previous weeks.

Who would’ve thought that a debilitating calf issue would be caused by your butt? Even with my experiences and successes with trigger points over the past year, I certainly didn’t. In the picture below, my particular issue is the one on the right.

As you can see, the X’s mark the trigger points and the red areas mark the associated pain. I didn’t typically feel any pain in my hamstring area and had only felt the pain in my cheek area during my long runs leading up to my “calf pull”. The majority of the pain associated with this trigger point was in the area on the outside of my calf.

But that still wasn’t the “calf pull” area. That area was more associated trigger point #2 on the Soleus, but frequent massage and pressure on that trigger point did not solve the problem, so it had to have something else contributing. That turned out to be the Gluteus Minimus.

After referring to the book and the web site, it was time for a bit of exploration. For such a sensitive area, I’d normally turn to the Goddess for help, but one thing usually leads to another, so I had to do this one myself. Plus, since the gluteus minimus lies beneath the gluteus maximus, the probes had to be deep and forceful; not something she enjoys doing (she tells me “that’s your job”). The probes confirmed a line of large knots right where the muscle attaches to my pelvis. Let me tell you, there was no pleasant in this probing.

So all last week I massaged them by sitting on a tennis ball on the living room and slowly rolling over the muscle, working from one knot to the next. Quite a few times the pain took my breath away. Following each rolling session I’d stretch. I found the most effective stretch for me is the Prone Glute Stretch, which feels absolutely wonderful. By following this sequence on both legs last week, I was comfortable that I could start the marathon on Sunday.

In the final days before the marathon, I revamped my original goal (break 4:00) and came up with three separate goals, two of which I could fall back on if the previous goal was unattainable. They were:

  1. Break 4:00. Even with one month off, there’s always the possibility that the forced rest from the injury would deliver me to the line so fresh that I would comfortably crank out the required 9:09 miles (which I was doing with ease on my long runs leading up to my injury last month).
  2. Complete the race. With the most likely possibility that I would still be feeling the effects of my calf through the race, I would have to adjust my finish time goal on the fly and hold out for the finish.
  3. Stop the insanity, wait for Goddess and my sister to catch up, then walk the remainder of the half-marathon with them. The intent of this goal was to continue to heal and hopefully set myself up for April’s Country Music Marathon in Nashville.

The overarching goal was to not injure myself any more. But doesn’t that go without saying?

Goal number three was the only goal as recent as 7 days out from the race. I had resigned myself to not running the marathon and would enjoy the morning with Goddess and my sister. That certainly isn’t a bad thing, not by any means, but my goal signing up was to race the 26.2. But with the “discovery” of my gluteus minimus, goals 1 and 2 quickly became more attainable.

After a gaggle at the start area (see “BAD” and “UGLY” below), we were off. I was very comfortable at a 9:30 pace for the first few miles, figuring that if I was to achieve goal 1, I would warm up during the first few miles and then be able to slowly ramp up the pace. That’s my typical race strategy anyway, since I don’t typically warm up for 4-6 miles.

By mile 4, I could feel my calf. No pain, but a steady discomfort; enough discomfort to back off the pace and toss goal #1 out the window. At no point during the 26.2 miles did my calf hurt like it had during the previous month, so that was a huge success.

By mile 6 I had passed the turn-around for the half-marathon, so I was committed to the full.

At mile 10, my quadricep heads started to cramp slightly. Not a good sign, but a reality of the day.

By mile 13.1, I was a full 20 minutes slower than my half-marathon split at the Flying Monkey Marathon, which had over 2,000′ of climbing. This course was flat, with only 215′ of total climbing! It was a run-walk strategy for the last 13.1 miles.

Why so slow? Other than the leg issues, for me it was the weather. Over the past several months, I’ve been running in a Kentucky winter. Runs in the snow, runs in some pretty cold wind chills, runs in dreary overcast days with temperatures hovering in the 20’s. The morning we left to drive to Florida, it was 19 degrees. And that was after a couple of days of ice and snow. In Florida, by the time the race started on Sunday morning, it was 69F with 75% humidity and continued to get worse, settling at 75F and 65% by the time I finished. In other words, relatively oppressive heat.

Although I knew it was going to be warmer, I failed to properly build my hydration and electrolytes in the days leading up to the race. It caught up to me.

I inhaled my Clif Shot Bloks, wishing I had more than just one pack of the Margarita with Salt. I started gulping the Accelerade that they provided and even talked a First Aid tent volunteer out of his bag of Lays Potato Chips at about mile 20. I was able to keep the cramping at bay for the most part, but it would rear its head enough to keep me focused on sucking down as much electrolytes as I could.

Goddess called and told me that she and my sister had finished. I was (and still am) so proud of them; neither had done anything like that before, not even so much as run a 10K. They committed to walking the 13.1 with each other.

Between miles 20 and 21, I had the most amazing walk with a lady. I first approached her because she was wobbling like crazy and I was worried about her. The heat was definitely taking its toll on everyone. Turns out she was a 68 year old who was using the marathon as a training run for an upcoming 50-mile race. She was quite upset with her performance thus far because she knew she was fitter than that, just coming off a 70-mile training week and had run under 4:00 in the past year. She was from out west, so the humidity was definitely getting to her. I waved down medical support, who had a talk with her and let her continue. I was quite pleased last night to see that she had finished the race.

By mile 22, I did some quick calculations and realized that I needed to pick up the pace if I was to finish in under 6:00. With the heat and cramping, it was going to be a challenge. At this point, everyone was walking. Occasionally someone would shuffle for a minute or so, but it really was the walk of the dead.

I revamped my walk-run strategy and threw time out the window. No matter if I picked a 2:1 or 1:1 time strategy, I just couldn’t get the legs moving very well after walking. So I decided on a 30:30 strategy, not of time, but of foot strikes; 30 left foot strikes while running, 30 left foot strikes while walking. It kept me focused and moving relatively quickly at a 9:45 pace during the run segments. In the next two miles I figure I passed between 75-100 people. That was a huge confidence boost.

At a mile-and-a-half out from the finish, the worst climb of the day arrived as we had to climb a bridge that crosses the Intracoastal Waterway. Past the last water stop and starting to cramp again, it was back to walking. Turning the last turn, greeted by the sign “The last .2 mile will kick you in the ass” and seeing the finish line got me moving again. The cramping got me walking again. Even coming up to the timing mat that they had set up with 100 yards to go, my leg locked. Luckily that didn’t come through in the pictures. I was passed by quite a few folks at this stage, but I couldn’t have cared less.

Finish time – 5:57:14 by my Garmin, chip time 5:57:18.

The Good

  • I finished. Thanks to the lack of running over the past month, this entered back into my race goals.
  • I broke a rule of racing and was better for it. I wore my new pair of Injinji Toe Socks and they rocked! I had been wearing Thorlo‘s for the past year+ and had always had problems with blisters on the balls of my feet, no matter how much or how long I ran. The Thorlo’s are thick and have good padding while the Injinji’s are very thin with no padding. So I discovered that with the Injinji’s I’ll likely have to come down half a shoe size to make up for the difference in sock padding. With the thinner socks, my forefoot was sliding around a bit in the shoe box, but absolutely no blisters!
  • I had several mental breakthroughs during the race. Details are unimportant, but they happened.
  • The communities of Jacksonville Beach and Neptune Beach absolutely rocked! A significant portion of the race ran through neighborhoods, which effectively cut them off to all auto traffic. So the residents made the best of the situation and stood out in their driveways, sprayed the runners, provided oranges and cheered. One group of guys even provided shots of beer at the 21 mile mark (it was GOOD).
  • For a first-time event, the course was completely stocked with supplies on the course. There was never a shortage of water, Accelerade or Gu (I didn’t use it, but they had plenty). This was in sharp contrast to several of the more well-established events that I’ve participated in.
  • The support from the community and runners (I know I mentioned the community before, but this is different). Since this event was to raise funds for Breast Cancer Research, each of us could wear a sign on our back that said who we were running for. Mine said simply “Mom”, who is a survivor. I had many folks run past saying “I’m running for Mom too”. That was always a great boost. More humbling were the folks who ran by with 7, 8 or 10 names on their sign. More amazing was running and talking with survivors who were out there pushing themselves. The couple of times that I thought about folding I thought about what my Mom and all of these others had gone through; my discomfort paled in comparison.
  • The support and advice from those of you out in blogland. Thank you so much for the public and private advice and concern. That really means a lot to me.

The Bad

  • There weren’t corrals for the runners, just pacers with planned finish times, so you would look for your planned finish time and stand near that person. The gun went off and it took a couple of minutes to get to the start line (normal). But once we got moving, it was evident that several walkers had seeded themselves at the front, causing several traffic jams and collisions as the thousands of runners had to work around them. I applaud those ladies for getting out there and moving, but at the front of 8,000+ was not the place to be.
  • This also goes for the folks following the Jeff Galloway plan. Overall, I believe that this group did great things for thousands of runners at the marathon, but sticking to the plan in the first mile was a recipe for disaster as the pacer yelled “Walk” and groups of 60+ runners stopped to walk just 3 minutes out from the start line; again, they caused huge traffic jams and many collisions in a very crowded situation. Tempers were flaring already and I’m surprised no one got hurt.

The Ugly

  • The race started a full 30 minutes later than the 8am start time. They knew it was going to be warm and were announcing over the loudspeakers that folks need to adjust their pacing and not plan on a PR, yet still started it late. It looks like they’ve fixed this and have adjusted the start time for next year’s race to 7:30am. Hopefully they’ll start it on time.

Lessons learned

  • Electrolyte loading – I can’t believe I still haven’t figured this one out. I’ve known for many years that I’m a very heavy sweater and that I lose a lot of electrolytes during a race. Yet I never remember to load up on them until I’m in the race.
  • A stride-focused walk-run strategy is the key when I get to that stage. I was amazed at how easy it was to get moving once my left foot hit 30. And it was easy to hold an unflagging pace for “only” 30 strides.
  • The Base layer is crucial. What’s that? A base layer in 70 degree weather? Yep. After running the Monkey and chafing my nipples down a full 1/32″, I learned that I needed to wear a skin tight layer under my shirt. Let’s just say it was a good thing that I wore a red shirt for that race. Since then I’ve always worn a skin tight technical shirt and haven’t had any problems. I did the same for this race and it was a godsend. Once the heat got unbearable, I peeled my outer shirt and let the slight sea breeze cool me. The wicking effect really kept me cool, even though the shirt was black. I’d even dump a cup of water over me and get chilled, which was great! So if you look at my race pics, you’ll see that I’m wearing two different shirts.
  • Stretching, massage and cross-training. I need to do more of each to help with these injuries, all of which have been flexibility related over the past year. I’ve had much success with identifying the appropriate trigger point and relieving the pressure, but some have taken longer to solve and have kept me away from training longer than I’d like. So I now need to schedule more sessions each week.

Will I do this race again? Absolutely. The location was great, the community was great and it had the added bonus of allowing me to spend several days with my parents as well as my sister and her family.

From here it’s the Tom King Half Marathon next month and the Country Music Marathon in April, both in Nashville.

MS Blues Half Marathon: Race Report

In the words of S. Baboo Friday night as we ate dinner with him and GeekGirl – “Life is funny. You just can’t make up stuff this good”. But that doesn’t really have anything to do with this blog. We were already laughing and that line made me laugh even more.

It all started with checking in at our hotel in Jackson, MS. The guy in front of us, wearing his Boston Marathon Finisher’s Jacket, mentioned to one of the hotel staff that this race was going to be tougher than Boston, thanks to the hills. No one mentioned hills. Not in this race. The course profile showed some bumps, but certainly nothing to get concerned about, right?

So we check in to the hotel, grab a quick nap, then head over to the expo to sign in. I call S. Baboo and GeekGirl, who are out driving the course. The first thing he mentions are the hills. And it doesn’t sound good. Further discussion squashes any plans for a PR on this course.

Race morning turned out beautiful for a run, although a bit warmer than I like. But standing around before the start was pretty cool at 45F with a nice breeze. So I stood with Goddess, wrapped up in my sweats until just moments before the horn went off. Then I slipped into the pack, not 30 feet from the front, and started the run.

As expected the first 1/2 mile was pretty slow as everyone is packed together and shuffling along. It took a while, but then things started thinning and and I could move. The plan was to start out slow and throttle back for the first half, then pick up the pace. I planned this for two reasons: 1) with the hills, I didn’t want to go out to hard and blow up, and 2) this was always planned to be just a training run for me (definitely a priority B race, where I didn’t peak and taper like I would for a priority A race).

The first few miles were warming up, talking to Elvis (who invited me back to Graceland after the race), and working my way around the other runners. Not that I was flying, but it was pretty easy to pick out who had started out too hard. The first long uphill was between 3-3.5 miles and folks started drifting back. This hill even slowed my overall average pace a few seconds, but that was fine with me, especially this early in the race.

Through the mid-section of the race, I planned on keeping the pace nice and steady so I’d have something left for the last 4-5 miles. I actually ended up picking up the pace in the mid-section, shaving time off my average pace from miles 3.5-8. So far so good, but the hills just kept coming as we worked our way through the downtown business/capitol district of Jackson.

The last 5 miles started out quite hilly as we worked our way past the fairgrounds and climbed up into a residential area. This is where quite a few folks started walking, but that wasn’t in my plan. I started reeling in more runners as I picked up the pace, but now that I look at the data, I didn’t actually pick up speed. Matter of fact, over my last 5 miles, every 1/2 mile split was within 1 second of each other, either 8:45 or 8:46. How’s that for consistent? Here’s the pace chart and route (click on the picture to see the full image, which includes the full route):

MS Blues Half Marathon Pace n Route

I think the killer was the last 1/2 mile, where we made a left turn and went straight up. It sure felt like a wall at that point. I crossed the finish line at 1:55:46 , not a PR, but just 8 minutes off. Not too bad for a hilly course and a training run. If I remember correctly (the web site’s not updated), that made me 132nd out of 600. Also, I think they had me at 1:56:02, which would account for passing under a railroad track (more on that later).

After Goddess and I drove back to the hotel for a quick ice-bath and shower (Goddess refused to join me for either one), we grabbed the boy and headed back to the race. We sat at the finish “wall” and cheered the marathon finishers on, telling them it was the last hill. There were a few comments of “It sure as hell better be”.

We almost missed S. Baboo as he came sprinting up the top of the hill on his way to a PR! We cheered GeekGirl on as she went up the hill, but it was a few minutes later when we realized that it was her. She finished quite strong herself and I know she’s pleased with the race, especially considering the hills.

So we sat in the finish area, ate some food, listened to some blues and enjoyed the free beer. It was quite an energetic post-race. 😉

After a few relaxing hours in the hotel that afternoon, we met up at a local bar, which sponsored the race. They definitely threw in a great deal, with free entry to all race competitors, plus two free drink coupons. Very nice schwag there! The bands were great, as was the beverage and company. But it all had to come to an end, especially since we had a 7-hour drive home the next day.

I did learn a few things during this race:

1). Pay closer attention to the race profile. Goddess even asked me afterwards when I was going to pick a flat course. My Garmin gave me 1,300 feet of climbing during the 1/2 marathon; BIM Active calculates 839 feet (I believe that more).  Either way, I don’t want to think of what it was for the full.

2). Turn off the “auto pause” feature on my Garmin. We went under a train overpass at one point and it turned off for about 15 seconds. All-in-all, nothing horrible, but just an odd event that took my mind off of my run.

3). Fuel. Making the transition from getting ready for a triathlon and getting ready for a run was difficult. My first half-marathon last year, I ate my normal 600+ calories like I would before a triathlon; too much to run on right away. I scaled that back for my marathon and felt a bit better, although I did suffer from some gastro-issues during the last few miles. This time I drank one Ensure (250 cals) and everything worked fine. Also, a few weeks back I found the culprit of my stomach pains during the latter parts of my runs- my long-beloved Hammer Gel. I was on a 10-miler and popped a gel at mile 7. By mile 8-9 I had the familiar stomach pain that I had throughout all of my races last year; the rest of my run wasn’t good. So I switched to Clif Shot Bloks and they worked fine during my long run last weekend. They worked great during this race, too. No issues at all, either during or after. So I ran with my Fuel Belt, water and a package of Shot Bloks. I drank the water at the aid stations and took the occasional swig from my belt. Absolutely no issues.

Anybody need some Hammer Gel?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slamming Hammer Gel. I’ve been a big fan of Hammer products for the past 12 years and will continue to use them. But I’ll just have to limit the gel use to long training rides and races. No runs.

Pardon the pun.

Would I recommend next year’s Mississippi Blues Half-/Full Marathon? Hells Yes! An excellent course, with bands along the way, plenty of aid stations, enthusiastic volunteers, a welcoming community, great schwag and entertainment make this a race that needs to be on your “must-do” list. Plus, if you live in someplace cold (it was 9-degrees here the morning before we left), a place like southern MS in January is pretty darn warm (and humid). A nice change of pace for a few days.

Food Guidance

Reading Athena‘s blog this morning got me to looking around at links.

I found the greatest news concerning dark chocolate. Seven ounces a week!

That on the heels of my doc telling me that two drinks a night is a good thing.

All this great news makes it a bitch to stay near race weight, though.

BTW, I asked the doc if I could bank my drinks during the week and make a withdrawal on the weekend. For some reason, the look was disapproving.

To a halt

Well, if I was rushing on Sunday, Monday brought me to a screeching halt.

Feeling increasingly under the weather through the weekend, waking up early Monday morning was an experience. Flowing from the nose like a hose (hey, that rhymes) and sharp pain in the chest when I coughed or drank anything.

Walking out of the doc’s office, I felt like I needed a picnic basket to carry the bottles. Now there’s an image for you, Fe-Lady.- all 192 lbs of me, skipping with a picnic basket. Outfit is your choice. 😉

Anyway, there went the rest of Monday, which I had off anyway. Goddess and I tried to think back to the last time I was sick. The best we can recollect was about five years ago. So I guess I was due.

Halfway through the day, Goddess walks out of the pantry with my new favorite snack – Special K Chocolatey Delight. Relatively healthy, with chunks of chocolate. What else can you ask for? One of these days I’ll try it with milk. But what’s the rush, right?

I’m telling you, yummy chocolate goodness.

So today I still wasn’t feeling right. So I went into work, grabbed the stack of folders off my desk and worked from home. No sense in getting everyone else sick. I’m just glad I have that sort of flexibility.

And I got to enjoy more of that yummy chocolate goodness.

And from the sounds coming from the kitchen, Goddess is digging in the box. Time to grab some for myself before its all gone.

Clarksville’s Sunrise Century

Holy cow, what a century! Not an impressive time (5:14:47), thanks to the gusty NE winds, which turned out to be in our face or quartering cross for the majority of the ride. But it was a killer, straight from the start.

Standing at the line, about 5th row back, I looked back to see another 150 yards or so of riders filling the road from shoulder to shoulder. And 100ft after the start line it narrowed down to one lane. So I knew we had to move fast to avoid a mess. The pack didn’t disappoint. Average speed for the first 10 minutes was 23mph, with surges to 30mph. Into the headwind.

Two hours into it and we’re still averaging 21mph, most of it into the wind. Then we got to turn southwest for a 8-ish mile run with a nice tailwind. That’s when it got interesting. We had a few folks out ahead and about 50 in our pack. For some reason, the fourth guy in line decided to sit up and lose touch, so I moved around him and bridged the gap. Tired of sitting up in my cowhorns, I moved for a pull at the front. Got down into my aeros (which felt great), shifted gears and got into my groove. Next thing I know I’m dragging the whole pack across the country at 30mph for the next 6 miles. Damn it felt good. I hadn’t done that in a while. I’m not quick, but I can push a gear steady.

Later on, I heard a guy comment (who didn’t know I was right behind), talking about a stretch where we had a great paceline going. He said “that tri guy was trying to kill us, but we were flying and it was fun”. I assured him I wasn’t trying to kill them, but wanted to just take my turn at the front. Over the next 40 miles he didn’t mind sitting in behind me, that’s for sure.

Lots of folks with cramping issues today, which was odd, because it was relatively cool – 64F at the start (7am)/85F at noon. This was the cool weather that I had hoped would come in for IMLOU, although those folks could’ve done without the gusty NE wind. I ended up handing out quite a few of my Endurolytes (lucky I always have extra).

The ride was executed extremely well. Held on the farm roads of northern TN/southern KY, on most of my old riding routes that I used extensively before we moved this past month. Little traffic, smooth roads. We did hear that two riders were hit by a car behind us, although no one knew any details. But given the way some of the folks were riding, it didn’t surprise me. Today was the first time I’d ridden in a large group in about eight years and it still amazes me how little riding etiquette folks have. I know folks were looking at me sideways since I was not a “roadie”, but the roadies were the ones that were having the issues.

Anyway, back to the event. Besides good road surfaces, they placed aid stations every 10 miles along the entire route (both a 100mi and 100K). Well stocked aid stations, with everything that you’d want at an aid station. Me, I carried all my food, so I just needed water. Although I did sneak half a banana and a couple of orange slices at the 80 mile point. My plan today was to make sure my race nutrition was dialed in, which it was. I had been futzing with carrying water to help dilute the HEED, Perpeteum and Gel, but found that by replacing the fuel with water bottles, I end up bonking. Bad call. So this week I bought a Profile Aero Bottle, which held my water while my three bottles held my fuel. It worked perfectly, allowing me to sip my water between slugs of HEED and Perpeteum.

Since they were serving Gatorade on the course (yuck), I carried extra powder in little zip-loc bags. So that got me to thinking that I’ll be forgoing my tri suit during my race and taking the extra few moments to change into bike shorts and jersey. Over my long bricks (100+ miles), I’ve found that the padding on my Pearl Izumi Tri Shorts just don’t keep me chafe free, even allowing one nasty saddle sore to develop. I’ve never had one of those in my two decades of riding. I thought it was a fluke, but another long ride showed some other issues, so I don’t think I’ll wear them on race day. And my tri top has only one pocket, which is great for short rides, but since I’m now going to carry all of my fuel, I’ll need more than one. There were some other advantages today, so I think I’ll go that route. I’m not out to set a record during my race, just to finish. So I’m not worried about a few extra minutes in transition.

Anyway, there were a couple of interesting moments during the ride today. At about mile 25, one of those slow motion moments happened. A guy about 10 feet in front of me was putting his bottle back in the cage. It slipped and fell to the road. I watched it slide across my path, so I knew I was safe. Then it bounced off a wheel straight into my path. It was going to get ugly, real quick. No time to even hop over it, I just went loose and rode over it with both wheels. All I could think of was the pack of guys right on my tail riding over me. But no dramas. The guy was very apologetic, but no harm done, so I set his mind at ease.

The second interesting moment was but 100 yards from the finish. A hard right turn into the school entrance, I stood up to sprint it in. Right at that moment, both legs completely cramped, from toe to hip. I immediately sat down, which relieved the problem. So I tucked aero and pushed it hard through the line. Immediately after I sat up, they did it again. I’ve never seen my quads in the shape that they were in – almost triangular! I was afraid to stop, because I knew I’d fall over. I couldn’t get them to loosen. So there I was, completely locked up, coasting through the parking lot. Nothing was relieving them. Finally I got the idea to pedal backwards, which hurt like hell but worked. To a point. I was able to coast up to the car and get one leg down without making a spectacle of myself. Slowly the other leg released and I was able to stand, but now I was afraid to throw my leg over. I must’ve looked quite funny standing there for a few minutes, trying to figure out what to do. Eventually it all worked out.

I guess that means I left it all on the course, eh?

Anyway, this is starting to rival War and Peace, so I’ll stop.

But not before I share something I overheard as I was leaving. One guy was explaining what he put on the event feedback form. He said that “everything was excellent, although the pigs didn’t smell like bacon. They smelled like pigs. Fix it.”