Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Time Served.

I was sentenced to six years of hard labor. A couple of weeks ago I was informed that I would be freed. My last day was last Friday...and now I'm a bum. It's surprising that even with all of the current work they have, I still had no job security. I was layed off because some of the other employees don't have work. They will be trained to fill my position, even though they have no desire to do that type of work. At least they will still have their jobs... I guess...

The good part of this is that it pushes me into CHANGE. I admit, I've been lazy. I've talked about going back to school, getting another job, and getting more certifications...but I've done nothing. It's easy to get into the grind of daily life and just maintain the current position you fill. So, in the spirit of making benficial changes in my life, this is a VERY GOOD thing.

I've had a couple of interviews so far. There are some good opportunities out there and I hope to join the workforce again soon. Until then... Got some change?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Another 100 miles...SM100 Race Report

Stick a fork in my... I'm done. I knew going into this that I would pay for all of the fun I've been having over the past five months: 17 Races and over 800 miles raced so far this season... Yeah, I'm tired, but not too tired to enjoy the Shenandoah Mountain 100!

The plan was simple: Ride as much as possible, have as much fun as possible, and win. Two out of three? How bout three out of five? How about 12 and 1/2? Sold. Yes, another 12.5 hours of tormentous pain/elatedness and I began to drink from my man trophy once again (Hey sicko - I'm talking about the SM100 pint glass that I got after finishing the race!!). I'd like to say that I reached my goal of 11.5 hours, but considering the rate of madness setting in, the wet conditions, and the 145 miles I "hurt" out of me two weeks ago, I'm pretty damn happy with any finish. Even better, I spent most of my riding with good friends!

The morning of the race, I woke up early - thanks to the inbreds from W.V.U. These guys need to learn a lesson... They decided to wake up the whole group with air horns and fireworks. No worries, I'll send the monkey to get them. I could use this pic over and over... :)

I got started with my usual: french toast with something missing (this time it was cinnamon). The race started with a pileup. When the group stretched out, we made our way through town to the first fire road climb. It was during this climb that I realized how tired my legs were. I tried to keep pace with Todd Green and the Stahl bros and maintained through the first ten miles or so. Then we hit the hike a bike/climb to Wolf Ridge. Here is where I made my first mistake. I rode as much of the climb as possible before my legs decided to stop pushing. Then I proceeded to hike the rest. I should've walked it from the start. Todd was just ahead of me and pulled away from me WHILE WALKING HIS BIKE!!! When I reached the top, I would not see Todd again for the remainder of the race. Many of my other friends I missed riding with were also ahead...and then I hear, "Paul, is that you?". Good ol Russ the Guinness man rolled up from behind me on the ridge. So we descended with a fury and jumped onto the fire road toward Aid Station #2. Arriving at A.S.#2, I filled my Heed bottle and my Camelbak and took off for the BIG climb up Hankey Mountain. Russ and I kept the same pace, which was a huge bonus. The climb up Hankey showed me again that my legs were pissed at me for all of the recent abuse. Russ was pulling away from me and I was realizing that I was in worse shape than I had previously thought. Then to top things off, Mike Lang rolled up and gave me the, "what the hell are you doing back here?". Mike hadn't been riding much prior to the race and he knew that I'd been racing hard all season. It wasn't the fastest ascent, but I finally completed the climb, riding the entire thing. I started the awesome downhill of Dowell's Draft thinking, "isn't there another little hike-a-bike ahead?", and as usual, I was right :). I had to walk that one, but afterwards- a super fast decent to A.S.#3! The Dowell's Draft downhill has several off-camber sections with roots that want to shoot you off the trail and down the side of the mountain. Well, the rain made those sections more sketchy. Luckily, I squeezed through most of them with minor braking. Once, though, I did go flying through the air after sliding across a large root. Somehow I landed on my feet! Arriving at A.S.#3, I immediately saw Russ getting some grub ahead. I filled up the fluids, got a quick chain lube, and took off toward the next fun climb. Russ and I had reconnected and we made a plan to pace off each other for the five mile road section. My spirits grew once again and I felt my strength returning. We maintained a good pace for the US250 road section, passing a few other riders and even dropping a couple of riders who tried to pace onto our line. Then I saw my bud, Mike Lang, ahead as Russ and I closed the gap. A swift smack on the ass, and a "hang with us!" would be the last I'd see of Mike until the dinner after the race. The next climb starts with a hike across a dry riverbed and then a hike up some stairs to the "rideable" singletrack. This climb isn't as difficult as Hanky, but it is much more technical as it is a singletrack climb versus a doubletrack climb. There are several rock gardens here and plenty of fun sections to test the skills. During this climb, I somehow lost Russ and found myself riding with a group of other riders. I fell a couple of times on the rock gardens, showing my fatigue, but had a decent pace through most of it. When I arrived at the top, there were a bunch of riders taking a break. I pushed through the group and began the SUPER FAST decent to Braley's Pond and A.S.#4. I was told that the leaders last year hit this decent in excess of 40 MPH!!! I was riding at a more safe speed of around 30 MPH during the fastest sections... At the bottom of the decent, the course takes a left turn onto a fire road by Braley's Pond. About a minute onto the fire road, a racer with a Casey Auto Group jersey passed me and accidentally clipped my handlebar. I fell into him stepping into his rear wheel and then I slid across the gravel. He didn't fall, but he had a broken spoke as a result of the collision.

I pulled into A.S.#4 and quickly got my bike to the tech guys from Conte's. I had them clean and grease the chain and fill my tires to 45PSI for the LONG gravel road climb ahead. Then I headed over to get my liquids filled. They had coke, gatorade, snacks, and PBJs. I partook of them all. Russ caught up and got his bike/food taken care of and we headed out together for the grueling climb ahead. After a couple of miles, we grouped with a couple of other riders - one of them was the guy I collided with just before A.S.#4 (David). Our group B.S.ed through much of the climb and then we hit the right turn onto a much steeper fire road. This section I remembered was about 4 miles to A.S.#5. I felt pretty good during the climb, riding in the middle ring for the entire climb and talking to David about life in Newport News (where I grew up and where he used to work) and the usual stuff. When we pulled into A.S.#5, I realized the Russ and the rest of the group had dropped back. I was spent at this point, just like last year... At this point in the race, I decided to check the time. I did some quick math and realized I was on a 12 hour pace. :( I was not feeling strong anymore and the pains that I'd been ignoring were not letting up. I proceeded to take some advil to try and aleviate some of the knee and foot pain that had been haunting me. Then I ate some pizza and drank some coke. I now think that pizza is a bad idea even though it tastes SO FRIGGIN GOOD!!! I had my liquids topped and took off again with David to hit Bald Knob.

The pace I'd been holding was much slower than I'd wanted, and I knew that I hadn't recovered yet from the 18 hour race two weeks prior. But I could still finish in sub-12 hours. Right? Well, about half-way up to Bald Knob from A.S.#5, my ass showed itself. My energy level dropped and I told David to keep chuggin as I crept along. The advil did nothing, and I was wondering if the pizza had the negative side effect of draining all of my energy... or was it just an overworked body... Nevertheless, I didn't feel like I could ride anymore. I ended up pushing my bike for a bit, then I climbed on and rode the granny on seemingly flat terrain. Sad huh? Somebody give me a stuffed animal to cry into!!! waaahh! :)

Well, shit happens and then you get back on and keep chuggin. When I arrived at Bald Knob, I needed to rest and release some air from my tires for the steep decent. I sat and stretched for a few minutes, ate a Clif bar, and let some of the 45PSI out of my tires. It was here, where I saw a couple of familiar faces rolling up- female faces. Christy Tankersley and Reeney Greene both rolled up at the moment I was about to decend the most fierce decent of the race. Christy knew as soon as she saw me... "Wow, you must really be hurting for me to be catching up to you!", she said. I would have replied, but my pacifier was stuck. Doesn't matter anyway, at this point you should know my reply... The ladies graciously let me start the decent ahead of them and I accepted. After seeing the two of them, I had a bit of an adrenaline rush and felt a strong desire to "not get beat" by them. Reeney has a bad habit of passing me about 60 miles in and leaving me behind for the rest of the race. This kind of motivation is always refreshing, and I knew it would help me carry my ass like lightning down that hardcore decent. About 100 yards in, I noticed my front quick-release was loose. I had to stop (to save my skin) and tighten it, then I continued on. After another 100 yards or so, I AGAIN noticed my quick-release was loose. I fixed it and while I was fixing it, I noticed my rear tire was flat. DAMMIT MAN!!! Way to take the wind from my sails... Reeney passed me as I was inflating the tire and then came Russ! RUSS!! Good to see you bro! I jumped back on and caught Russ about half-way down the mountain. I could see Reeney ahead, but she was friggin flying! Russ and I rode together to A.S.#6, got a quick snack, and carried on to finish the race. The next twelve miles were golden. I knew I'd already failed to finish in my desired time, so at this point, it was time to just enjoy the rest of the ride. The climbs in this section seemed longer last year. I felt energized as I descended the last two miles into the campground and across the finish. It wasn't the finish time I wanted, but I definitely had a GREAT time riding with Russ, Todd, David, Mike, and the rest of the people I chatted with during the climbs and road sections. After finishing, I banged the gong, filled my SM100 glass with some dark beer, and took a cold shower. Francine showed up about an hour later finishing over an hour faster than last year! (By the way, I ended up finishing about a half-hour after David.)

Congratulations to all of everyone who finished the SM100 and thanks for another great year in Stokesville!!! Well done Francine, Scottie D., Kev-man, Todd (the machine) Green, Jared, Russ, Metro, Browntown, Big-Mac, Ken, Christy, Dave and Shawn T, Danelle (hell of a job!), Roger, J. Fish, Jason H., Woody, Paul Sullivan, Bill Swann, and the rest of you crazy fools!!