Thursday, September 24, 2009

One Week Out.

The Furnace Creek 508 is "only" 509.5 miles. Just 2.5 times the length of a double. But it's much more than that. This is obviously true at the physical exertion level. But the addition of a crew brings in all kinds of logistical issues. There's the in depth planning. There's the endless need for more stuff. No longer are you limited to one bike, and whatever minimal added things you want to bring with. In a way, this makes the adventure that much more epic - because you are forced to put much more into it, and this in itself gives the race more importance. I've never prepared so much or cared so much about the outcome of an athletic event than I have for this race. But as much as I love buying new bike gear - part of me wishes there was a way to do it without so much stuff. Alright, I guess I could do it with less stuff. But the need for support, and all the extra complications that come with it, is still there. I can't wait to be out there on the road - all of the prep completed - only having to worry about the next pedal rotation.

Many people don't understand how bike racing is a team sport. But what may be even more surprising is that solo ultra endurance racing is also very much a team sport, but in a different sense. Our crews are absolutely essential - and I do look forward to sharing this experience with mine.

Pics below of my climbing bike (decked out w/ TT wheels) and my support car rack setup. Yep, I'm not using a van!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I am... Rock Rabbit

Every 508 racer chooses a totem. Mine is Rock Rabbit. Also known as the pika - a little high-altitude, hay-collecting rodent with a funny shrill squeak. I saw a lot of these guys on the John Muir Trail last summer. I have a tendency to be a bit of a rabbit - going out too hard and paying for it later - and this is something that I'll definitely have to watch during my race. It's difficult to transition from pacing for crits, road races and time trials to pacing for ultras. I've found that I can be totally comfortable with a pace that in reality is way too hard for a long event. Keeping constant tabs on power levels and heart rate is key for this.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tapering? Not yet...

My plan was to begin tapering for the 508 after my intense week of training. But I'm still 26 days out, I was feeling great, and I needed to take my newly built up Scott Addict on a long ride (pictures to come). End result? A very enjoyable ~8 hour, 143 mile ride out in East County, 8800 feet of climbing, in warm temperatures (probably around 90).

I didn't have my power today (don't have my Quarq installed on my new bike yet) , but I was able to approximate my endurance pace by keeping my HR around 160 on climbs (around 80% of my max). After years of training almost exclusively with power, I'm learning that, at least for ultra training and racing, heart rate may be a more important pacing tool. Today, despite the heat and a relatively fast pace, keeping my heart rate low kept my fluids and calories processing, and I felt great all the way through the ride. It's looking good for the 508!

At this point, I know that there isn't really enough time to make significant fitness gains - and I just need to be concerned with maintaining fitness and coming into the race well rested. But I do think I can still make gains with heat acclimation, and with fine tuning my hydration and nutrition plan. Really, I'm just enjoying being out on the bike, and I don't think that's harmful at this point.