Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Reconnaissance

I am finally back from my WI recon trip. I probably added 10 pounds (literally) to my frame from all the food I ate and my liver is still working overtime from the drinks. As the expats will tell you, Madison is quite a town. I think I can find Riley's Wines of the World in my sleep now, but I'll need to check out the breakfast/porn place sometime. Oh by the way getting a suite at a graduation ceremony is the way to go.

I will not go into the course in depth here. I am a polka dot jersey kind of guy so my opinions are skewed from the norm. If you want my opinion, email me and I can be more specific with you. But in addition to a recap of my own training, I will add a few of my observations that anyone can use. If I get some time I'll post some pictures this week.

The Background:

The IM WI course starts in downtown Madison and heads towards Verona. Then you do two 40 mile loops. I started from Veteran's Park in "downtown" Verona just a few meters off the course and did the Loop twice.


The Goods:

The course itself - I really like it. It keeps you thinking ahead; I was never bored. The miles seemed to fly by.

80 miles? No problem. My legs felt so good I even got in a 20 minute run afterwards. Yes I said run.

My nutrition strategy was okay. It was a cool, overcast day with a few sprinkles. That really helped me today as I tend to not drink enough. I made it through with a few Clif bars, a few gels, my Accelerade, and some endurance Gatorade. I wasn't craving meat until after I finished. My post training meal included a 24 oz steak off the grill. Mmm...

I "negative split" my second lap. The first lap I took it easy since I was just trying to find my way. I went back and took a few sections over and took a few snapshots along the way. I ran into two folks riding the course around mile 20. The were UW students preparing to do IM WI again and in this small world they actually raced with my cousin. I tagged along, but they were going slower than I would have gone on my own. That was okay because I was getting tired of pullling out a map every 5 minutes. The second lap I started out cruising right around 20 mph. As my knee started bothering me and the hills got harded to climb, that pace just started to fall. I the finished the second loop somewhere just under 18 mph -ish.

I didn't have a flat tire!!!


The Bads:

I could not get out of downtown Verona without missing some turn. I missed something both times around and probably tacked on an extra 5 or 6 miles. I know the course will be less ambiguous in three months, so no worries.

For those who ride in urban jungles, I would spend some time at the zoo or a farm sometime before racing IM WI. Get to know the Eau de Cow since the IM WI course covers a lot of farmland.

The roads were a bit bumpy at times. No, we're not talking about NE Ohio sized potholes. It's just that the concrete used for the country roads were composed of more coarse aggregates.

Hills? No worries. I have a new enemy. I don't know where she comes from but damn does she suck. Well actually she blows. I you can't really prepare for her, but I expect her to show up in September. Believe it or not, beware the Winds of Wisconsin. Don't let me scare you since it is nothing that will blow you over, but just enough to piss the hell out of you for much of the day.


The Ugly:

I figured I would need to stop in to the bike shop when I got back. My 56 mile ride a few weeks ago left with my a sore knee the day after. So I actually already scheduled another look at my bike fit for this week. Well, by mile 42 today, my knee was killing me so much that I almost turned around. Between miles 40 and 70, I could not find a position that was not aggravating my knee. It probably felt best when I stood up out of the saddle, but I knew better than to ride that way for 40 miles. Between mile 50 and 70, I was praying for some relief somewhere somehow. It nearly broke me. I'm not sure what happened the last ten miles or so, but I was able crank it up a notch a cruise home. Was even going 24-25 mph for some stretches. I don't know maybe it was the thought of getting done. Maybe it was the fact that I was out of the hills or even riding downhill. All I know is I better get this bike fit/knee issue taken care of ASAP. By the way, my knee feels fine when I run. I got in a nice 90 minute run the day after and felt pretty darn good.


Miscellaneous:

I stopped at the Trek store because it was on my way to the course. There are better places to blow your money.

I could really use a new bike.


The Bottom line:

I needed to do this and I needed to do this on my own. In three months I will need to be able to work through any obstacle on my own. It's fun to train in a group and it's easy to do the physical training, but you don't get many chances to train your brain. I got a sniff of the mental games that must be played out on IM race day. Because of my struggles with my knee, I did not push the way I wanted to push. I was always holding back to prevent something more serious, but I was able to get through the day. I know that will serve me well in Septemeber.

The clock is still ticking down. Three months to go. Let's roll.

12 comments:

Cliff said...

Al,

Long rides aggrevate my knees too (especially hills). I think it is my quads. They give out first and all the pressure goes to my knee.

Rachel said...

That is SO awesome. I love Madison. Especially in the summer. I want to do IM WI some day. My knees always bug me on the bike when I push it too hard. Definitely get a bike fitting. They can play with the seat and cleat position. I did that and my knees haven't bugged me since. Also, watch your form. Pedaling with your toes down or mashing the pedals will aggravate the knees. Also, make sure you are spinning in a low gear. Knee pain sucks!

DaisyDuc said...

Sounds like a wonderful experience, despite the knee pain. Hopefully a bike fitting will help you out!

Jodi said...

Great post! Sounds like you had a good time when you weren't training, too.

I believe the breakfast porn place you are referring to is "Smut and Eggs". FYI, it's on Park Street.

I Hope that you can figure out your knee problem. That is so frustrating! I have that problem with running.

rob reddy said...

hey allen as someone mentioned - often times knee pain if caused by cleat position - actually you are fit to the bike correctly but either the cleet is off kilter or possily you have a very small difference in leg/foot length from one side of teh body to the other - you know the bio-physics of the body far better than I. A shim or orthotic is all that needs adjusted. Have someone ride behind you and see if something is slightly out of line when you peddle.

TriSaraTops said...

Great recon trip! :) Looking forward to rondevous-ing sometime to discuss the covert details! You are a rock star for going there by yourself. I'm so pumped to head out there it ain't even FUNNY.

Papa Louie said...

Way to go and "train the brain"! I'd do what rob said about riding behind you to figure if anything is off kilter but then I don't know what I'd be looking for.

trifrog said...

You may find that your willingness not to push it with that knee pain was a good choice. Could be the body saying 'Enough's enough, give me a break.' Research the problem, try the solution, and cut back for a short time to allow the body the resources to heal properly. Then hit the training again with renewed vigor.

Pixie said...

What an inspiring post! I can't wait until I say that I feel like running after riding 80 miles. WAY TO GO! You're going to ROCK that IM course.

RunBubbaRun said...

Great job riding the IMWI course..Great post on the details of the course..The wind will definetly be a factor besides the hills..So I've heard anyway..

Your getting some butt out there..

Chris said...

Hey! Sorry that I couldn't join you in Madison, but I'm glad that you had a good time (knee pain aside).

The course itself really isn't *that* bad. But I'm sure how you can now see how pushing too hard on those rollers can set you up for disaster on the run. Add in 90+ temps and some 20 MPH winds and the course is pretty brutal.

Here is to hoping for a high of 70 on race day!!! :)

BuckeyeRunner said...

Wow! What a recon mission! I'm happy that you were able to push through the knee pain to get such a great view of the course in. You're right - you're getting a good whiff of the mental games that will need to be played in september. Great job! Can't wait to see pics!