Wednesday, August 25, 2010

If gazelles could talk

Tuesday evening, 4 intrepid soles and I joined Kirk and Eric of TriKirk Coaching ( for a running clinic at Skyline High School in Longmont. They started us out by describing the various stages we go through as we progress from walking to jogging to running and how those different activities ingrain bad mechanics in our running style that make us slow and injury prone. On the track infield they led us through a progression of 5 simple drills to help us learn various aspects of good form. After that, while we practiced as a group running around the track, they met with us one-on-one for personal coaching. We ran a little ways, received tips on things to focus on, and ran again until we got it dialed in. The drills were simple to do and easy to remember so we can incorporate them into our workouts as needed to focus on various aspects of our form.

During various points in the clinic, Kirk and Eric would demonstrate good style to give us concrete examples of what to shoot for. We often use the term ‘buttuh’ to describe something super smooth but that doesn’t even begin to describe how these two guys run. Absolutely fluid and effortless. What was most inspiring, was that they both got to this point after earlier points in their careers where they had the same running flaws we all go through like over striding, heel striking, and the injuries those create.

Later that night, after riding home from the clinic, my whole body from my hips down was absolutely screaming at me. I knew I had asked my muscles to operate in a mode it wasn’t used to but I wasn’t prepared for how sore and out of sorts I felt. But then the most amazing thing happened, next morning I woke up absolutely pain free. My body was initially traumatized by the new motions, but everything we did in the clinic emphasized good style such that I had none of the normal next day soreness. Sorry Advil, I won’t be needing you today.

So to our initial premise, yes gazelles can not only talk, they can be very gifted coaches and instructors as well. If you are not 100% happy with your running form, give these guys a call, they can get you on a path to the best running you’ve ever done.

Kevin Graboski
Blue Sky Velo

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Stellar Cross Clinic August 7th, 2010

It felt like summer to most folks this past Saturday in the 100 degree weather. But, to those crossers attending the 1st BSV cross clinic of 2010, we dreamed of fall breezes, cold rain, winter snow and knee deep mud. Let the cross training begin!

Luna's Amy Dombroski shared experience and tips for all kinds of cross riders whether a beginner or expert. Drs. Jen & Andy Harmon (yes they are married!) provided secret training stretching tips and Paul McCarthy brought the great barriers on behalf of CrossPropz for everyone to fly over during drills. If you missed it, definitely come to the next one! Here are a few pictures to wet your appeitite.

'Bumpin' was Michelle's favorite Drill

The entire crew (including our youngest cross racer - Derrick; excluding the photographer - Michelle)

Amy tellin' it like it is after stretching
Who doesn't love a single speed with pink handlebar tape?

More of the crew
Paul & Amy kicking off the clinic with an AD/CD bang
Capstick holding back his excitement before jumping on the bikes
Some of the cross ladies

- Posted by Michelle Vercellino

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Get off the couch, you're stronger than you think.

Its been a rough year for my fitness. A mountain bike crash last November left me facing surgery in February and a lengthy recovery. No biking makes me quite cranky, so I decided I'd find myself a carrot to put at the end of a stick. That carrot turned out to be the 111k Laramie Enduro endurance mountain bike race. This race has been discovered now, as evident by it selling out within 7 minutes this year.

Luckily, my website refreshing skills were still good and I secured a spot. This is a race I've eyed for 3 or 4 years, but have had some sort of conflict every single year, like the birth of my first child. Finally this year I had a spot with my name on it, now I just had to find some fitness. Finally cleared to ride a bike on June 1st, I was looking at zero (possibly negative) fitness. I had no base miles in my legs. I had no tempo rides under my belt. 8 weeks to get myself some sort of fitness....

I had it all planned out. Using, I developed a perfect schedule to develop some fitness and finish the Enduro. And then life happened....

Instead of being in beautiful Colorado every day, I found myself traveling for work to Houston, TX sans bike and with an expense account and a weakness for Mexican food and margaritas. No problem, I'll do big rides on the weekend. Well that didn't really work either for lots of reasons (family, weather, a day with 3 flats, etc). Sure I was getting in some rides, but not the 4 and 5 hour rides I wanted. It just seemed the cards were stacked against me.

I sat down with my wife at dinner one night and told her that I had zero chance at finishing the Laramie Enduro, and thought I'd just save time and resources by not even starting. I was resigned to the fact it was again going to get away from me. Talking with a buddy of mine about my failed attempts to train routinely and how I was pretty sure I just wouldn't start, he gave me wisdom for the ages...

"Did not start < Did not finish < Dead freaking last" 

That was just what I needed. Maybe I had no business doing a 70+ mile race, but I'd paid and made the arrangements so I might as well go ride and have some fun. If I was blown up after mile 30, then I'd pull the plug and go drink some beer (something I've gotten lots of training in lately).

I'm no racer. My team kit has obviously shrunk in the drier as its tighter than it used to be, and my bike will never be mistaken for some XC weight weenie's bike. Despite all these facts, I've drug myself up and over some big climbs around the area and had huge fun doing it.

Race day came and I found myself lined up on the start line at 7am. I knew I couldn't go out hard on a 70 mile race, so I lined up at the back and slowly made my way up the first climb. It didn't take long for the packs of riders to sort themselves out and I was riding out by myself before too long.

I was taking it 5 miles at a time. Before I knew it I was 30 miles in and feeling pretty good. Now I wasn't up with the leaders, I was pretty much running trail sweep but I was having a good time and riding some fantastic trails. Knowing I would be out for a LONG day, I kept eating and drinking as much as possible.

The weather gurus had called for low 80s and clouds, but what we were treated to was low 90s and a blazing sun. The course itself is pretty exposed, and I was starting to bake out there. Another problem with my training I found is that I had done all my big rides either starting at 6am  or up above 9,000 feet. I quickly realized I had not trained my body for the heat. The heat and direct sun was really melting me, many times I had to stop under a shady tree to cool down. I was suffering and my legs were cramping but I was grinding my way through the course.

As the hours ticked by, I found myself on the hardest portion of the course and I felt like I was in reverse. On the bike the off to let the cramps subside, then back on the bike. Rinse and repeat. As I slowly rolled into Aid Station 5 (the last one at mile 60), I was done. I starting openly talking to the volunteers, which were fantastic, about my options for getting a ride back to the start / finish. As I sat in the shade discussing these options, my legs were completely depleted and cramped but I just couldn't bear the thought of living with quitting for an entire year. With some encouragement and course beta from the volunteers, I got back on the bike and off I went.

I don't know if it was the knowledge of only a few finite miles left or if the temps had cooled, but my legs that were completely cramped for the last 20 miles had started to come back. I crested the last big climb, and finally my big pig of a 6" travel bike was in its element, a downhill to the finish. I'd left the start hour nearly 10 hours earlier, but as I made the left turn off the final piece of singletrack onto the dirt road to the finish I felt like I had won the race. I was high fiving everyone on the road, and despite being filthy and covered from head to toe in salt I had finished the race.

I had missed my completely irrational goal of 9 hours, but I had finished which was something that looked like a very distant possibility even 3 hours earlier in the day. Had my buddy not given me that advice, I'm pretty sure I'd have taken the easy way. You never know what is possible unless you try...