Indoor Training

"It's sad to see anyone inside on the trainer." That was the comment attached to an article about riding outside all winter lo...

Friday, June 30

Garden of the Gods 10 Miler

June 11th was another big day for Thelen Coaching athletes, with the first race in the Triple Crown of Running for both Merideth and Shana. The Triple Crown of Running is a Colorado Springs tradition -  highlighting two city parks and finishing with the Pikes Peak Ascent or Marathon. Because of the challenge of the PPA, it's also one of the few races that requires qualifying prior to entering. The usual method is to run a half marathon faster then 2:25 with the Super Half earlier in the year being one of the favorite qualifying races. Shana had gotten her time there and was set to go. Merideth on the other hand hadn't had the best day and missed the time. She ran under that mark at a later marathon, but it was already past the qualifying window. That left her one option when registering for the Ascent - register for the entire series and use the Garden of the Gods 10 miler as her qualifier. There were no second chances with that option - it was run under 2:10 or forfeit the entry into the Ascent. Talk about pressure!

All the workouts indicated that the 2:10 mark would be easily eclipsed. She was running long runs in the Garden, doing hill repeats and putting in the work. At the same time, Merideth was starting to develop mentally as well - gone was the "I'm a slow runner, I'll never qualify for anything mentality." It was now "I'll run that the time I need and my goal will be even faster!" Her goal was 1:50 - To anyone who hasn't run in the Garden, that's a challenging goal. The hills are big and never ending. You are either going up or doing down and the downhill isn't the rest for the legs most people think it is so you are constantly stressing the legs. We reviewed the course the week before, discussing pacing - where to push the pace, where to take a short break and walk and when to eat and drink. Merideth also made some changes to her hydration plan - leaving the vest at home and opting for an easy to refill handheld. All of the work and the planning paid off as she smashed the qualifying time of 2:10 - and was within minutes of her goal time, finishing in 1:50:35. Mark that off the list - she was officially entered into the Ascent!

Shana had a different set of obstacles in the way for the Garden of the Gods. She already met the qualifying time, so didn't have that pressure on her shoulders. But at the Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race at the end of April, in the blizzard conditions and muddy rocks the event was faced with, she'd stepped off a rock wrong and severely twisted her ankle. There hadn't been much running in the past month - more damage control. Stabilize the ankle, allow it to heal and still build fitness to be able to finish the Garden. It wasn't easy as even walking was painful to start and she'd been on crutches for almost two weeks to take weight off the joint. Thank goodness for pools and being able to water run and cycle! We had no goals other then have a good time and finish the race. The Garden was just one step along the journey - but one that needed to be finished. Luckily, all the damage control and management we'd done in the weeks right after the injury worked and she was able to run well for the entire event. Shana finished just behind Merideth in 1:50:59.

Coming up in July is the Summer Round Up - the second leg of the Triple Crown. This race is now a three lap affair in Bear Creek Regional park, with another fair share of hills to challenge. And after that? Bring on the Mountain!

Thursday, June 22

Dirty Kanza 2017

I'm a little late in getting this published, but it was another good year for Thelen Coaching athletes in the Dirty Kanza 200. While it was unfortunately not a 100% finishing rate, everyone rode hard and made the smartest choices they could during the race. I had four athletes in the event - two returning finishers and two rookies at the event. Three athletes finished, with one podium in the Tandem division.

Rhino, Judd, Jesse and Don before the start of the Dirty Kanza
Don Wood - captaining the Tandem with his stoker Jesse Ramsey finished one step higher on the podium this year, taking fourth in the tandem class. They rode smart and steady in the hot and dusty conditions this year, finishing in 16:45 and earning the Midnight Club patch for finishing before midnight. Over two hour faster then last year! Granted, it's hard to compare times in a race like DK as the the course changes slightly each year and weather has huge impact on the event. But two hours is a huge improvement and I'm very proud of both Don and Jesse. Even though I don't work with Jesse, his strength and fitness is necessary in the strange world of tandem riding. Without both riders being on top of their games, a podium would have been challenging to see.

The tandem machine at the finish line
Judd returned in the Fat Bike class this year - rolling his single speed titanium fat sheep for the 200+ miles of the race. He also had solid race, finished in 16:58. He placed 10th in the Fat bike class and I have a feeling he was the only single speed fat biker in the top 10! Judd was an hour and a half faster this year, also showing some huge improvements in his fitness and form.

Judd rolling into Madison Checkpoint 2
Rhino was one of the rookies into the race, and a last minute entry. He scored his number from a friend who was opting out to focus on another event. I wasn't sure how ready he'd be after finished the AZT 750 a month and a half before, but I know Rhino. He's steady and consistent and focuses on his goals, not the craziness around him. If he wasn't ready to ride, he wouldn't have taken the entry. As a first timer, he didn't have the history of the event, but was still able to finish in a solid 17:14 and earn a Midnight Club patch. Maybe next year we will head into DK focused on that race and see what we can do!

Rhino refilling his supplies - the BPR crew had a large presence at the race and lots of help
Kathryn was the other DK Rookie, taking on this huge challenge for the first time. It scared her at the start of the training, the enormity of it all. 200 miles, self supported though dusty, muddy and windy Kansas back roads and cattle trails. But she buckled down to the training, knocking out long rides on the trainer and intervals in the snow. There were several setbacks in build to the race, including two weeks lost to a nasty sinus infection 6 weeks out and work trip the week before the race. She put in a huge effort, but factors outside of her control ended the day a little early. I know the ultimate goal is always finishing, but sometimes taking a DNF is the smartest choice. It's said in ultra running that DNF also stands for "Did Nothing Fatal." Pulling out around mile 80 was perhaps one of the hardest decisions any athlete can face, but when balancing health and finishing, health always needs to be the priority. Kathryn will be back - stronger and more prepared then ever for what the Dirty Kanza can dish out!