Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bike Details!

As I stood with my team mate Eric, in the starting corral for the Tour de Tuscon. I reflected back upon over one thousand miles of biking that I have petaled this summer. I was very confident that I could finish the race in good time, but I had no idea what to expect. My coach Bob gave me many pep talks on what to do and what it would look like during each phase of the race. His knowledge and coaching was priceless as every single thing was exactly as he explained. My success in this race is in LARGE part, due to him. Thanks Bob, you rock!
It is first come, first serve, in terms of starting place for the race so Eric and I went early at 5am to wait towards the front, to get off with the more seasoned riders. Race start was 7am and the temp was about 40-45 as we shivered in our shorts and jerseys. The temp was supposed to get up to 75 so being Minnesotan we didn't think waiting a couple of hours in 40 degrees was too tough. Bob had suggested that if we started towards the front with the "gold" racers, we might be able to keep up. He said to try to keep up with them for the first 5-10 miles and if we did that, we would "pace line" with them for the next 100 miles.
The sun came up, the U.S. Anthem was sang and the gun went off. The start, I am told, was a fast one. Within the first mile we were around 25-30 mph and in a big group of racers. As each mile went by the pack thinned every so slightly. At mile 9 there is a scheduled "river crossing." It is unique to the Tucson race. They have two places where y0u must get off your bike and carry it across a dried out river bed to the road on the other side. It sounded crazy to me, but it ended up being pretty fun. It was also the only times I stopped during the race. Along the way there are plenty of water and food stops. Most people take advantage of them but I had decided before the race that I wanted to try to do it without any stops. It takes a lot of pre-race prep to make sure you have proper hydration with you and the proper amounts of food to eat for your body to endure the duration of the race. Bob and my room mate Scott helped me to calculate that I would need to consume at around 400 calories an hour to fuel my body through the finish.
At the end of the first river crossing I reached in my "food bag" to grab a gel pack (calories in gel form) and noticed that during my two hour wait for the start, someone stole the two gels I had packed on my bike while we went to wish the rest of the team good luck. So right off the bat I was short 300 calories. But I did have more in the pockets of my jersey and didn't feel it was going to become a negative factor.
From the start I picked out riders around me that I though would push me. I pictured their jerseys in my head and attempted to keep up with them during the race. It was a fun mental game for me to see them come and go over the 109 miles.
After the first river crossing the pack got thinner and more refined. People were still trying to separate themselves from the large pack, so other small packs were forming but staying relatively close to each other. My legs were still feeling a bit heavy. I think the long chilly wait kept me tight for a long time. I was challenged many times to keep up with some of the jerseys I wanted to keep up with between miles 10-40. I had one helper during that stretch, she was a fellow TNT racer from Jersey. Her name was Jen and she really encouraged me to keep up when ever her group would pass me during my sluggish phases.
Then finally some hills came into play. I have a strange love for hills on a bike. I really don't like them all that much, but I really enjoy them for the fact that they pose such a challenge. I have always attempted to"attack" hills, everyone has to get up them you might as well get it over as soon as you can and have some fun along the way. Hills really "wake" my legs up. They did for me in the Disney Tri and here again they did in Tucson. Before I was playing cat and mouse with Jen from Jersey. Now I have hit some hills and my legs finally got loose and I felt power for the first time. I went from struggling to keep up, around the 20-30 mile point, to climbing my way into new groups one at a time. It was very exciting to see jerseys that I wanted to keep up with again.
Then at the second "river crossing" (mile 39) I took time to "empty my tank" by some bushes and refill an empty bottle with water just in case. I also re-applied my shorts with some butt-butter. Butt-butter is a bikers best friend. It keeps the seat area from getting any more sore that it needs to.
Right after the crossing you go strait into the worst hill on the course. I really liked it because it was steep but not that long. Right off the bat my legs are "juiced up" ready to cruise. The field of the pace line that I got into on this side was a bit more serious. I really liked it but I really had to pay attention. They were a bit faster and a lot tighter together, and they really jockied for position. I was not used to that speed (20-27 in flats) and had never trained in a pace line like that. You could say I was "white knuckled" the rest of the race.
Not too much talk from me, I was trying my best to look like I fit in, and doing my best to copy what everyone else was doing. The group I stuck with for most of the rest of the race was about 40 riders strong and was constantly changing shape and position. I did have a stretch of about 2 minuets where I "pulled" the group. "Pulling" is when you are in the front of the pack breaking the wind. Unless you experience the advantages of riding 6 inches off the tire in front of you, you would not believe me how much easier it is to "draft" in a pace line. It was a thrill to pull for that stretch. A cross wind had come up and our speed was dropping. People started to get sloppy, so I bolted ahead. Because no one was letting me back into the line I jumped up front. Basically it was, slow down or go up front. After my stint up front I got some encouragement and praise from other riders and that really boosted my confidence.
During this long stretch I reached back to grab a drink and realized one of my water bottles has jumped out of its cage. I had gotten caught in some rumble strips in the shoulder and couldn't get out right away because of riders on the sides. It must have jumped out then. I really didn't like not having that Gatorade, it was full!
It was smooth sailing coming into mile 90. Some people started to drop and some started to move to the front of the pack, pushing our over all speed higher. Around mile 105 one of the guys that I had tried to stick with from the beginning made a break to catch the group about 150 yards in front of us. I made a poor late attempt to go with him but was not able to get up on his tire to go with. He continued to forge ahead and I basically got stuck in between packs all alone. Not wanting to drop back I struggled mightily to remain positive. I felt the lack of liquid and the loss of those two gel packs now. I was out of gas to make the move I attempted. So close, just under five miles to go. I knew I could gut it out. I found it fitting that I was pushing the finish on my own. Adam's voice was very strong during this stretch. Not the kind fun one. It was the stern brotherly push, "well you got your self into this spot now get out of it" "this isn't hard." The memory of the pain he endured, and the strong amaizing way he "finished" was pushing me to the end. I will likely never experience the pain he went through, because of that I could never stop pushing at a time like this. At one point I was really getting burned out, I put my head down and challenged myself to only think positive thoughts. "You will keep going", "you can catch that group." Just after I put my head down, out from behind me comes some guy that had left the other pack with me. I didn't know it, but there he was. He pulls up beside me and says, "hey, let me pull for a while." What a blessing! I couldn't believe it! He gets in front of my wheel and suddenly i'm working 1/3rd less. I was beginning to recover, but we were not really gaining on the other group. I got up the energy to take one more stab at catching them and I pulled in front to give him a rest. We made up some ground but catching them was not going to happen. We came into the final mile trading places and at the finish line we were about one second apart. He was one of my angel's that day that helped me to a great finish.
I had no expectations coming into the race, but I am very pleased that I was able to finish where I did. I placed 612th out of 5300 because of my team and my coach. Because of my brother that will always bike with me, run with me and swim with me. I am so grateful that God has given me that ability and the opportunity to take part in these races for TNT. I am so grateful for all the people who have inspired me to push with their encouragement and generous donations. My healing is coming in the service of others, and I give thanks to my God for that.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another Finish

What a Journey!

Here is a quick bit of info about the race. I'll give more details when I have more time.

The conditions in Tucson were perfect. It was the 25th Tour de Tucson and they set records for most racers ever 5200 in the 109mile race and 9200 racers total. The field of racers broke all the previous records because of the perfect conditions.

I was very well coached as to what I should expect. As the race went on I was able to draw off of everything Bob (coach) told me. I was able to get into a great pace line that carried me to the end.
I finished 612th overall with a time of 5hr 14min. I couldn't be happier with my experience.
More importantly we had 40 chapters from TNT participating with about 580 racers. All together we raised over 1.4 million dollars for cancer research and family support. It is such a privilege to be a part of these groups. I can't thank you all enough for supporting this cause. I wish you could all hear all the wonderful stories I have heard. This is truly life changing, and life saving stuff.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!THANK YOU!!!!!!!THANK YOU!!!!!!!THANK YOU!!!!!!!THANK YOU!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

All Abord!

Just a quick up date before I catch some sleep. I catch an early flight to AZ for the TNT race Tour de Tucson. Race day is Sat the 17 and I am very excited to experience my first bike race.

Jayna's team (crown college) took first at nationals for their division. I am so proud of her and her team. I wished I could have been there for that.

I will get a post after the race as soon as I can!

Think positively and masterfully, with confidence and faith, and life becomes more secure, more fraught with action, richer in achievement and experience. – Eddie Rickenbacker

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thank You

Wednesday night I woke up at 3am and could not get back to sleep. It seems that I had too many things unfinished and my brain could not relax. This isn't the first time this has happened but for the first time I got up and started doing things about it. One of the biggest things that I have not made time for, is my final Disney Tri letter, with thank yous to all who have sent donations since my last letter. Tonight I put some of the finishing touches on addressing envelopes and all that. What a job. What a blessing, what a big job.

This week was interesting. Dad went into the hospital with chest pains and they kept him over night. He had all the scans, tests, and what not done and they turned up nothing. I think that if they wanted to do and accurate stress test for him they should hook him up at the store and see how things read. I hope dad takes things seriously enough to change the way he sees and dose things from here out. Warning signs are good only if you pay attention to them. I was able to take the rest of the week off with Twin Peaks and work at the store Tues. - Fri. to try to take a little more stress of dad. I was able to accomplish a ton, but of course there is still a ton left to do.

This weekend Jayna flew down to Florida for nationals in her soccer conference. Last year they won it for the first time and this year they came in as the #1 seed. Mom and dad flew down to support Jayna and the team. Jayna has not played for some time because of a knee injury, but she worked hard to get back to play in the final tournament of the year. Fri they won 5-0 and Sat they won to get to the championship game Monday afternoon. I am excited to hear the results.

With all the fun things going on this week and the long hours at the store I did not train all week. It's had to go out to run when you get home from a long day and it's pitch black out. I think it was good to give my legs a rest after last weekends 16 mile run and the final bike training 50 mile ride.
So today I did a light 10 mile run with the TNT group from Harriet Island Park in St. Paul. I had a great run with Greg. We held a good pace and shared some good conversation along the way. Good times. With this past week of emotions and not training, I felt like opening it up for the final quarter-mile of the run, so I did. It felt fantastic to burn all the emotion at the end of that run. I ran with purpose. Please continue to pray for Mckenna, our honored teammate. things are to the point where they must solely trust and lean on God to give them peace and hope. I run with purpose, in memory of Adam and many others, and for little Mckenna and her family. May Gods grace be strong in their presence.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

One Foot in Front of the Other

Few things in life catch me off guard. I have always tried to quickly look at the big picture, figure out what is there and what is best to do. Regardless of how hard, or how difficult, I have always been confident in the end result. That is good most of the time, but not all. I must admit that this time of year has caught me off guard. I can pretend to see the big picture and it looks beautiful and promising, yet there is so much missing. I was not prepared to feel this weight, and there are so many needless things that make it heavier. For now I sit on the unfortunate realities of life. Unfortunately it feels lonely at times. I don't know how that is possible. My wife is the most perfect woman for me and my precious Bijou is so perfect and happy all the time. Yet life has dealt me some ugly cards here and there. Those people and those places are irreplaceable. Thus is the pit-falls of life.

I am so thankful for all the added support in my Team in Training races. I would have stopped at one race if not for all the amaizing generosity. Having two more race goals has become such a blessing to me right now. I do not have time to sit and feel down. That is a good thing. A great thing. I continue to make a difference with many of you in the fight against cancer. That makes me feel good.

This morning, after my morning team run, I looked back in my computer tracking log, to see the miles I have put in since all this began. I was pretty surprised! Since I started training at the end of last May I have biked all most 900 miles, and ran all most 100. I began training at about 225 pounds and now sit at a solid 185. I feel that I have more energy than ever. I am definitely healthier than I have ever been. I had to look back because I was starting to wonder if I was getting burned out. I have come this far and I do not want to get burn out. I am getting so close to finishing. I think a lot of it is this month. It is all ready proving to be a hard one. I just don't know what to do about it. I think I know that I can't do anything about it, and maybe that bothers me.

Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all. – Ernest Shackleton

I want so badly to pray with Dan Roelofs but he is gone. I want so badly to go back to Woodland Fellowship and be washed away by the worship and feel the genuine concern of my brothers and sisters, but that is gone. I want so badly to walk over to my brothers garage and hang out with him and the boys, but he is gone and the feeling is not the same. I want so badly for there to be honesty among adults and a desire to seek the truth, to lift one another up and grow as we have been commanded to do. To love one another as we have been loved.

I know my pain is not new, just new to me, and is nothing compared to what so many others have faced. I know that my Father hold my heart and I can feel comfort in my times of hurt. I see so many blessing in my life that He has orchestrated on my behalf, to be able to handle this chapter of my life.

I am blessed, I am able, and I am going to make it through this month.