Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Apple Cider Century Flood Report

Wednesday, September 28, 2011  at 12:51 PM
This passed Sunday, September 25, was the day of the Apple Cider Century.  It was supposed to be the day that Jennifer did her first 100 mile bike ride.  Instead, it was a major fail!  All of last week, we had been watching the weather, and it continued to get worse as the week progressed.  On Saturday night, Jenn and I had a little discussion about what we would do with the rain.  Since the weather forecast called for rain pretty much all day Sunday, we decided that we probably would not complete a full 100 miles, but we wanted to do something since we'd already paid the $40 each to enter this ride.

On Sunday morning, we woke up to wet roads but little rain.  We loaded our bikes up and drove the 20 minutes to the start location.  It wasn't raining at all, but everything was wet, and it was quite cold (50 degrees or so).  We both were wearing tights, long sleeves and jackets.  After going through the registration process and picking up our wrist bands, we got our bikes unloaded and were ready to begin.

I've only ridden one century ride before, and it wasn't a sponsored event.  This event was quite interesting.    Jenn and I both started analyzing people and their bikes as we walked around the starting area.  So many people were OLD.  So many people had signed up for the 15mile, or 25 mile, or 37 mile rides.  So many people were rocking cruisers and mountain bikes.  It wasn't at all what we expected.

We "drained the radiators" at the porta potties, took a quick picture of the starting banner, and we were off.

Within the first five minutes, it was raining.  The rain wasn't too bad and was almost just a sprinkle/mist, but we were certainly getting wet.  The course really was quite a nice route through country roads that were in pretty good condition.  Every turn was marked with a large apple painted on the road with an arrow (as the stem) pointing which direction we needed to go.  They had several different colors to distinguish which route to take.

After 28 miles, we made it to the first SAG stop.  We were pretty wet and very cold!  They had PB&J sandwiches, check mix, cookies, bananas, grapes, hot potato soup and water.  We chilled there for a little bit and ate up.  I started to get really cold, and we knew we needed to get back on the road.  After a quick look at the map, we decided to make our own course that would take us back to the 4runner/start area.  We made it back with no problems and rode a total of 43 miles.  Neither one of us was disappointed since we knew we wouldn't do all 100 that day anyway.  We grabbed our plates of hot spaghetti, salad and apple pie to finish off our Apple Cider Century experience.

On our way home, we had to pass over the 100 mile route many times.  It was pouring rain, and we saw a bunch of people still getting sick riding away.  It turns out that the route goes less than a mile and a half from our house.  So here's the plan!  This Sunday, which is supposed to be really nice weather, will be the day we do the century.  We'll just ride from our house to the route and make the giant loop back.  Hopefully it'll work out better this time.

In other news,
Jenn and I went to South Bend last Thursday night to see one of our favorite celebrities, Dave Ramsey!  He was doing a book signing at Barnes and Nobles, and we wanted to buy his book, get it signed and meet him.  It was really cool!  Here are a couple pics. (Sorry for the quality)

EntreLeadership is his new book with principles of business

I think he only has one outfit!

He signs so fast, you can barely see him!  :)

This was a "replica" of Dave's car that he started his business from

Tomorrow is going to be a blogger meetup as Jenn and I will meetup with Kevin and Jennie Neumann in Grand Rapids to go see Switchfoot.  I'll take a bunch of pics!

Also, I'll post a blog on the whole Marathon debate going on in my head.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

To Run or Not to Run. That is the question.

Sunday, September 18, 2011  at 6:36 PM

I had several goals this year.  One was to complete a Half Ironman...CHECK.  

Another was to ride a century...CHECK (and I'm doing it again one week from today with Jennifer!) 

Another kind of faded into  the background, and that was to run a marathon.  I thought about doing Chicago, but I was too indecisive, and it sold out before I made up my mind.  If I had started the training as soon as the 70.3 was over, I would be able to run one this fall, but I slacked off instead.  I had sort of written off running a full marathon this year until I read up on the Jacksonville Marathon today.
It is listed as one of the easiest marathons, and that's right up my ally for my first.  The word on the street is that "You can iron your dress shirt on the course."  Now that's flat!  Although flat can be easier, I wonder if I would rather a little more rolling hills to keep it interesting.  Now, you may be thinking, "Jacksonville, Florida?  That's nowhere near Michigan!"  Well, that's one of the reasons I'm actually considering this.  The Marathon is on December 18, 2011. Jenn and I are planning on going down there the weekend after that anyway for a little family Christmas vacation at her parent's condo in Jax. Beach.  So, since I'd be out of school anyway on break, I would just fly down the week before, run the marathon, and spend a week at the beach to recover.  Now that sounds like a good plan!
Actually, it even gets better because the registration fee is only $65.  Not only that, but if I fly down early, it costs EXACTLY $65 less to go early.
So what do you think?  I've never run a marathon before.  I only have 13 weeks from today to train.  The only reason I think that I can handle starting 5 weeks late is because I feel as though I have a really good fitness base from training all summer for Steelhead.  My boy Hal Higdon gave me a shortened plan that would have me running my long runs starting this week at 7 miles which should be a piece of cake.  Jenn and I have been running quite a bit the last few weeks, so I really feel like I could step up into training and be fine.  Anyway, let me know if you think this is a good call for me to sign up, or if you think I'd be signing up for too much too soon.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Once more to go, and it's the big one.

Monday, September 12, 2011  at 8:18 AM

Sunday was an epic day for many different people.  Some became Ironmen for the first time.  Some got revenge on races that didn't turn out the way they had hoped.  Some, like Jennifer and I, enjoyed the beautiful fallish weather on our bikes.  But before I get into that, I have to just say that it was a lot of fun tracking many of you as you did your crazy races.  I even got to watch some of you cross the finish line with huge smiles and amazing times.  Way to go!  You are an inspiration to me!  But back to our ride...

Since Jennifer and I have our eyes fixed on September 25 to ride a century ride (Jenn's first), we have spent lots of time in the saddle.  Our last ride was a bust, so today was revenge!  We woke up at 7:30am, ate breakfast, loaded everything up in the 4Runner, and headed to St. Joseph.  My favorite area to ride is on the Steelhead 70.3 bike course/Blue Star Highway because of the terrific shoulder and smooth roads.  We arrived at my usual parking spot and got on the road.  Today was the day to ride 75 miles!  That's a long way, although it's pretty measly compared to 112 miles of Ironman riding.  We were rocking arm warmers and undershirts because it was a little cold and ended up stashing them after about the first 25 miles.

We decided to simulate the Apple Cider Century and plan for some stops and different intervals.  At 25, we stopped at a convenience store, stretched, used the restroom, ate some food, and then got back on the road.  We decided to change up the route a little bit and headed north towards South Haven.  I rode this route when I did my first century back in May.    At the turnaround, we rode out to the edge of Lake Michigan through a really nice neighborhood and snapped a pic of the two cyclists.  It really was a beautiful day for a ride!

We had brought quite a bit of food with us and had a plan as far as nutrition goes, but at around mile 50, we decided that we needed some "REAL" food.  So, we stopped at one of my favorite places to load up on gas fuel, TACO BELL!
A couple burritos later, and with some nachos in our tummys, we were back on the bike with 25 miles to go.  These were the hardest miles, and I don't know what we would have done without a little "Toxic Hell."  Our bodies were feeling good, EXCEPT for our butts.  Holy cow!  75 miles takes its toll on your booty!  Finally, after being on the bike forever, we got back to the 4runner, loaded up, and headed home in time to watch Ironman finishers grin ear-to-ear as they finished strong.

I've got to say that I'm one of the most blessed guys alive to have such an amazing wife that can get out there and ride 75 miles!  That's huge, but now there's one more ride to go, and that's the Apple Cider Century!  Jennifer is about to join the club!

Congratulations to everyone that competed yesterday.  You guys are amazing!  Jennifer kept saying to me, "Which Ironman will you be doing?"  I think we both know that I'll be doing one pretty soon...

Thursday, September 08, 2011

What now?

Thursday, September 08, 2011  at 3:20 PM

It's now been just about a month since Steelhead and also about a month since my last post.  Womp, womp on the blogging front!  I guess when there isn't a massive goal looming overhead that requires the support of friends and family, it's easy to not update on training or anything that's going on.  Maybe the lack of a goal has been an issue.  Although I haven't just been lazing around, I haven't been training like I have been for the last six or eight months.  There's something about finishing your "A" race that makes you feel like you're DONE!  In fact, the Upcoming Event Countdown in the sidebar reads -25 days (I'll have to change that before I post this). But I don't want to be done, and so here's what is on the calendar.

Apple Cider Century-September 25
Jennifer and I signed up for this century ride that takes place in our back yard of Berrien County just in the last couple weeks, but we've "had it on the calendar" for quite a while now.  I rode my first century on May 22 with my buddy Josh.  You can read the post about how it went HERE.  Jennifer, however, has not ridden a century, so we're going to do it together.  It's happening in just a couple weeks on September 25, and we're both excited.  Jenn was cranking out the miles by herself while I was finishing up the training for Steelhead, but now that I'm done with that, we've been doing the riding together.  We actually went back to the Steelhead bike course and rode it just the next week after the race.  It was so much different just cruising through without trying to hit a certain goal.  More recently, we rode a route down into Indiana and back.  It didn't go too well for some reason.  Maybe it was hotter than usual, or maybe we were tired because it was in the afternoon.  Whatever it was, we bailed on the full 65 miles and only did 45.  This Sunday, we'll head out for a 75 mile ride with the hopes that it will give us the confidence that we can ride 100.  I'm secretly hoping that Kevin Neumann @ and his wife Jennie @ Neumannnews will come and ride with us.

Atlanta Half Marathon-November 24
Two years ago, on Thanksgiving day in 2009, Jennifer and I ran our first half marathon together in Atlanta.  We were slow, but it was a blast!  After the blowup this year at the Holy Half (read about that terrible day here), we want some revenge.  Although I was a bit faster during the half marathon in my 70.3, it's time to go sub-2 hours!

Other Events
Over the winter and into next year, I want to become a better runner.  I feel like I can hold my own on the bike, but I get hammered on the run every time.  Considering this, I might just have to sign up for some miscellaneous races (5k's or 10k's) to see if I can work on speed.

With all these bloggers doing their first Ironmans this weekend, I've really been thinking about it.  Steelhead 70.3 was a blast.  I loved every minute of it, but I'm left with a feeling that there is more to accomplish.  Could it be that I will go for Iron in the next couple years?  I've been choking up on every race report like Luke Powells @ The Journey to T3, and I feel like 140.6 may be in the future.

Shout Out
I must give a quick shout out to Kevin Neumann, Matt and Heather Oravec. They all are doing their first Ironman this weekend.  Kevin's doing IM Wisconsin just a few hours west in Madison, WI, and Matt and Heather are doing Rev3 Cedar Point.  They've all been training so hard, and I can't wait to hear about their big days!  Jeff Irvin @ Dangle the Carrot will be racing the 70.3 at Cedar Point along with Mary @ Tri Like Mary who will be seeking revenge for the shortened Steelhead Race.  Mary, hopefully after this weekend, you'll be a REAL Half-Ironman!  Erika @ This Spartan Will is racing a sprint TODAY, so check out her race report here in a couple days.  I'm sure I forgot some people, so good luck to you as you race.  You all will do AWESOME!

Edit:  I forgot to include Kurt @ Becoming an Ironman who is racing the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas on Sunday.  Go get 'em, Kurt!