Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bike-o-rama - Hall Ranch, Buffalo Creek

I was supposed to be taking this weekend easy with a race next week but with Xterra Lory postponed until August and my first Xterra race 9 weeks away I decided to hit the trails.  First off was Hall Ranch.  It was a terrible day up there as you can see.

3 loops, 2 hours, 12.6 miles, 6.1 mph, about the same speed I was at this time last year.  Which is disappointing because it felt so much easier and I felt so much stronger.  Not sure if it's an illusion or I haven't figured out yet how to turn strength into speed.

The next day was Buffalo Creek to pre-ride part of the race course for my August Xterra there, just 2 weeks after Lory.  It's a long course, 22 miles (Nationals is 17.7 miles) with a lot of climbing, a great prep for Nationals.  I did 10 miles of the course 6 years ago when I did the sprint version of the full Xterra.  The company that owned the lake for the swim went under with the economy and it's taken all these years for someone to work out an agreement for the race to continue to use the lake.  Anyway, I was somewhat familiar with part of the course but wanted to check out the rest of it.

I didn't do the exact course, choosing to access the course from a different trailhead to avoid a long, boring, steep dirt road.  I will go back in August to ride the full course, the condition of that road is important to check out ahead of time.  It was heavily rutted when I did the race before and since I'd pre-ridden, I knew ahead of time which lines to take to avoid the ruts.  During the race a woman fell right near me because she didn't know and got stuck in a bad place and hit a rut.  But it's only May and ugh, that road is not fun so instead I opted to access the course via some other single track trails.  The trail was a steep, sandy, 3 mile climb through one of the burn areas.  Buffalo Creek has been impacted by several different wildfires.  This burn area is from the Buffalo Creek Fire started in 1996 by an unattended campfire in the campground that owned the lake where the swim portion of the race takes place.  These views are from the Strawberry Jack trail which is not part of the race at these locations.

It wasn't all dead trees though, there were plenty of nice foresty areas.  This is part of the race course.

The course does have a 2 mile climb through the same burn area and the soil is sandy and a bit deep in some places.  It also goes through a burn area caused by the Hi Meadows Fire in 2000 and the soil there is even worse, deep and sandy like riding through a sandbox.  That fire was caused by a cigarette and it burned 10,800 acres and destroyed 51 homes.  I didn't take any photos of that burn area but it looks much like the other photos above.  Jonny found some cool bones though.  Not sure what has a jaw that size, maybe a moose?

Overall this will be a long ride.  Nothing very technical but a couple of steep 3 mile climbs and another steep climb up a dirt road through the sandbox.  One of the 3 mile climbs is at the end of the course, up the dirt road with the ruts to get back to transition.  Some of the trails are awesome, fun downhills through the woods, but the dirt roads and steep, sandy climb through the burn area up Gashouse Gulch not so much.  I'll go one more time closer to the race to pre-ride the whole course but I can't see myself riding this all summer.  There are so many nicer trails in the Buffalo Creek area, if I'm going to drive an hour and twenty minutes I'd rather do those nicer trails.  But still, should be a fun course for a race.  Mostly.

I've had to completely re-think my training for the summer now that my races are clustered so close together and I don't have a 'real' race until end of July.  I still have a little road sprint at the end of June but that's designed to be a hard training day, not something I'm seriously tapering for.  So it looks like full speed ahead for the next 9 weeks then survival mode for a month of race-o-rama.  Should be an interesting experiment if nothing else.  Now if I can just figure out how to build up some speed.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Best Laid Plans . . . Xterra Lory Postponed

I had a feeling.  We were up at Lory last weekend and the bridges still weren't built.  Supposedly they were on schedule to be built but have been put on hold due to some 'unforseen budget issues'.   The bridges are scheduled to be completed by mid-June but the race has been postponed until August 10th.  Which means my carefully planned race schedule of 3 races 6 weeks apart from each other has now become 3 races 2 weeks apart from each other.  Or 3 races in 4 weeks.  I was struggling last year with my races being 3 weeks apart.  I could transfer my entry to Curt Gowdy which is the 3rd weekend in June but ugh, Curt Gowdy.  That was a long, hard, technical race.  And I have 2 days of overnight agility planned the 2 days before the race.  So no, that is not appealing.  I could take a refund but then I'd only have 2 races to qualify for Nationals and I'm already worried enough with having only 3.  A few weeks ago I was all, 'Oh whatever, if I qualify for Nationals it'll be great but if I don't, no big deal.'  But I've become more committed to the idea of going to Nationals now.  I really want to go.  So it looks like July/August will be spent racing and recovering.

On the plus side, I don't have to worry about swimming in freezing cold water next weekend.  And I'll have more time to prepare for the run.  I've been focusing on the bike this month but Lory is all about the run.  And while I was prepared in general for finishing the race no problem I was not prepared for doing well on the long climb on the run.  Also, I'm oh so tired.  I started tapering this week mostly because my legs were shot to the point of waking me up in the middle of the night with the 'twitchies'.  Now that I'm a bit rested up I can get in a lot of solid riding this holiday weekend.

On the other plus side, Lory is greening up nicely.

Aside from the singed trees you'd never know there was a fire.

Small fires are good for the grasses in general but decades of fire suppression have led to big destructive fires when they happen.

Eltuck Bay looking very inviting though probably still very cold

Without Limits, the race company that puts on Xterra Lory, has been really good about it, giving us several options including a full refund.  They're a great company, always put on a great quality race at a good price and they know how to mitigate things when they go wrong.

Unlike All Pets who still hadn't called me back with blood work results by 1:30 today despite another call to them this a.m.  I called again this afternoon and finally they put me through to a vet.  Who gave me some ridiculous excuse of the doctors didn't know they were supposed to call me.  Even though I'd called them twice and was told by the first vet during our initial appointment that someone would call me.  So yeah, Boulder All Pets is not going to be my new vet.  Plus they charged a ridiculous amount of money for the exam and blood draw.  High prices, low service, not a good mix.

Oh, and a bonus picture from the Blue Sky Trail where we rode before hitting up Lory.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bull Genitalia Wednesday w/ Bonus Watering Can

Look - it's Wednesday and you can see my grass!  Spring is here.  Though not with enough vengeance that I was tempted to swim in the Rez yesterday at the inaugural workout for the summer.  60.3 degree water temp. in combo with a 45 degree air temp. did not sound like a happy way to wake up.  I'm iffy about tomorrow as well and with a big warm-up over the next few days it may be best to wait until next week.  I have Xterra Lory in a week and a half though and I really want to get in the open water before race day so we'll see if I gut it out.  Race day could be similar conditions so I should probably HTFU and get some practice in.

I'm convinced that it's impossible to have a sick dog get into a vet in Boulder.  Cody started having weird head twitching incidents - focal tremors or partial seizures, depending which vet you talk to.  I called last Friday and my regular vet refused to see him until the end of the month.  Someone I know through agility who's also a vet agreed to see him at her home on Sunday night but she wasn't set up to do a blood draw.  Nonetheless I was very grateful.  She did some acupuncture on him and prescribed a drug for neuropathic pain that is pretty benign in terms of side effects, harshness, etc.  She said he had a lot of pain and had very little muscle mass.  I felt bad but we've not been able to do much to build muscle.  He only makes it about 3-4 blocks on leash walks then it's a huge struggle to get him home.  He paces a lot though, in the house and out in the yard, sometimes for an hour or 2 at a time so I thought he was getting a reasonable amount of exercise but apparently not.  Or perhaps he has some kind of wasting disease.  None of the vets suggested that, I'm just guessing.

Anyway, he had another bout of tremors Monday morning so I got him in to Allpets for a blood draw to at least rule out that the tremors are a symptom of some underlying treatable disease.  They got me in for an appointment no problem and were quite happy to take my $288 but now it's almost Wednesday evening and no one has called me back.  They said they'd call yesterday and when I checked with them today they said the vet had a big back-up of patients.  Sigh.  Thankfully he's had no more tremors that I've noticed and he seems fine.  The All Pets vet was leaning towards brain tumor but of course she can't tell without an MRI.  And I'm not spending zillions on an MRI because there's no way I'm putting a nearly 15 year old dog through brain surgery.  His birthday is in July but maybe we should cheat a little and celebrate early.

Mr. Awesome

Monday, May 13, 2013

Picked Over

After 3 weekends of agility in a row and a heavy training schedule this is about how I feel.

I know, ewwww.  Buzzards gross me out.  Yet I couldn't help stopping when I saw them at the side of the road.  At first I thought they were some ugly ass breed of chicken.  Then I realized they were awfully big and had entrails on their heads.

I was hoping for zillions of pictures of cute babies - buffaloes, goats, horses, I don't know, anything but gross vultures.

Still.  Kind of cool even if they do barf me out.

USDAA trial this past weekend was very very fun, perfect weather for an outdoor trial.  Only 1 Q in Advanced Snooker which I do need to move up but still very fun, very challenging courses.  It was our debut in Masters Standard and it felt so good to be able to sink our teeth into them.  I missed Sunday's Standard walk-through but still managed to figure it out by watching some other handlers and except for Strummer popping out of his weaves it was a beautiful run.  The course was so difficult that he still ended up in 3rd place even with the 5 faults and lost time for re-doing the weaves.  So I guess it means a maximum of 2 dogs Q'ed in the 22" Championship class.  This was the theme for the weekend, very low Q rates in almost everything.  I'll write a bigger report when I'm not feeling so dragged out. 

Dragged my butt to masters today for the 1st outdoor workout of the season.  It was fabulous to be outside but I was dragging ass.  No one else in my lane and it was 'real' masters with Jane rather than the skills/technique session I go to all winter.  Jane's workouts are notorious and I haven't been to one since last summer so it was a bit of a shock to my already worn out system.  Seems wrong to take a rest day after taking it easy before the trial last week then not training during the weekend but it was an outdoor trial with lots of walking and I had lots of runs and my quads are toast so I think I need to take tomorrow off if I'm to have any hope of a semblance of a training week ahead of me.