After-Action Report: Horsey Hundred 2016

Going into the Horsey Hundred, I was aiming to do something I had never done before: complete two marathon-caliber (or higher) endurance events in consecutive weeks. On May 21, it was Toughman Indiana-Noblesville, a half-Iron (70.3) triathlon, followed by the 102-mile Horsey Hundred bike ride on May 28.

My goal for the HH: take my time, and finish it. The weather forecast was for hot and muggy conditions, with a slight chance of afternoon rain. Temperatures were projected to be in the mid-high 80s, with high humidity.

For this reason, I took three water bottles with me: (a) an aero-bar-mounted Speedfil hyrdration system that allows me to drink while riding in the aero position; (b) a large Camelbak bottle in my main bottle holder; and (c) a regular water bottle to serve as my emergency hydration. Because the rest stops were spaced well–the longest ride in between stops was 18 miles, with most being closer to 13 and one being 11–I expected that I should not have to go to the third bottle.

Still, I planned to drink lots, in order to prevent dehydration. I also planned to put down between 300-400 calories–mostly carbs–at each of the rest stops.

We departed at 0635.

The first stage, which lasted about 16 miles, was relatively easy. It was muggy, but not hot. There was some cloud cover, and that helped keep things somewhat pleasant. We arrived at the rest stop before it was even open, but I had packed plenty of gels. I stopped to pee, refill my Speedfil bottle, and get some calories down. Then we headed back out.

The second stage was also uneventful. All the riders were somewhat comfortable. I refilled both my Speedfil and my Camelbak bottle, got some more calories down, made sure I peed, and headed back out.

The third stage was tougher, largely due to the long climbs at and around Peaks Mill near Frankfort. Still, while the climbs were long, they were not steep. I pulled into Frankfort (mile 43) feeling very good. I methodically downed more calories, refilled my water bottles, peed, and headed back out.

The 4th stage was easier, as we received a small downpour that lasted all of two minutes. It actually felt good, and gave some respite from the heat and mugginess. Pulling into Millville (mile 53), I figured the worst was over. There would be a long climb coming out of Millville, but, to my recollections, it was not as tough as Peaks Mill. With freshly-filled water bottles, I began the back half of the ride.

At about mile 55, we started to get more rain. It was steady and light, and felt refreshing. When that rain moved out, the sun also appeared, bringing plenty of heat to go with the humidity. We knew that the rest of the ride was going to be hard.

From then on, the brutality began.

Pulling into mile 65, I had gone through two water bottles in less than 12 miles! I also felt myself starting to get fatigued, which was highly-unusual at that part of a century ride. I was thinking that the after-effects of Toughman Indiana were starting to take a toll on me. Still, I refilled the water bottles, put down some more calories, and headed back out.

The stretch from 65-77 was, in a word, nastiness. The Dry Ridge Rollers–with which I was well-acquainted, as this was my fourth Horsey Hundred–were downright awful. The heat and humidity were adding to the troubles. I pulled into mile 77, having gone through all three water bottles in barely 12 miles!

From there, I made sure I had plenty in the tank for the 16-mile ride to the final rest stop: Bethel Presbyterian Church, where they were serving root beer floats. I almost never get one, but this time I would be ready for a treat.

Shortly after pulling out of mmile 77, I bonked at about mile 80. My legs were totally shot: I had next to nothing on the uphills. My aero riding was marginal at best. I would finish, but it was going to be a hellish 22 miles.

I proceeded to go through almost all my water bottles on the way to Bethel Presbyterian Church.

Pulling into that last stop, I was never so happy to see a cooler or Gatorade. I quickly refilled my bottles, drank some Gatorade, and then treated myself to a root beer float.

The final 9 miles were relatively mild, even if the heat was brutal. There were some hills, but nothing like before. Other than some potholes that were well-marked, the final stretch was uneventful. There were cops everywhere, on the lookout for drunk drivers.

I was dead tired at the finish, but happy to be done.

Other than the bonk, I had a good ride. I had minimal chafing; my hydration strategy paid off big, and I was methodical with calories. I attribute the bonk to the triathlon I ran the week before.

Even with that last 22 miles of misery, it was instructive. As Winston Churchill once quipped: “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.”

Next stop: Bike Morehead on June 18, followed by Tri Louisville (a sprint triathlon) on June 19.

After-Action Report: Toughman Indiana 2016

It is kind of funny that a triathlon can be called “half-distance”–which is 70.3 miles, or half the Ironman distance–and still be an ultra-endurance event (i.e., a race that carries an endurance load exceeding that of a marathon).

Toughman Indiana-Noblesville, a half-distance triathlon (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run) just north of Indianapolis, was my second triathlon. (My first, Ironman Louisville 2015, ended in a DNF when I got pulled at mile 17 of the run, as I missed the final turnaround cutoff time.)

In my anger, I quickly signed up for Toughman Indiana.

I also bought a bike trainer and rode it all winter. Also swam, a lot. In my triathlon club, I was one of the mileage leaders during the winter. I’m not fast, but I AM very steady and I get it done.

I also ran the stairs often during my lunch breaks: my Ironman race was killed as my legs deteriorated, so I worked overtime to strengthen my quads.

Four weeks before Toughman Indiana, I had my first century ride of the year: Redbud Ride 2016. It was very smooth.

Two weeks before Toughman Indiana, I had a really nice brick workout: a 4-hour trainer ride and a 10-mile run.

I felt like I was ready for a half-distance race.

Going into Toughman Indiana, I had only one major concern: the water.

It wasn’t that I was intimidated by the 1.2-mile swim distance–I was plenty comfortable with that–or even with open-water swims in general. But this time, the water temperature was a major concern. Even with a wetsuit, 62 degree water can suck for someone like myself who is not very cold-water tolerant. Especially when you throw in longstanding asthma issues.

But I took advantage of he 15-minute practice swim beforehand. I slowly waded out into the water, wearing both the wetsuit and my neoprene sleeves. The shock was awful. My feet went numb, my hands went numb. I attempted to swim short distances, and lost all breathing control. It took me most of that 15 minutes to get acclimated.

Then they pulled everyone out of the water for the pre-race briefing.

After the pre-race briefing, it took quite some time to get everyone into the water to start the race. By the time it was my turn, I was already dry and had to re-acclimate.

As I started the swim, I went out of my way to be deliberate. I swam slow, allowing the wetsuit to do the work. But I had two problems: (a) the cold water was still causing my face and neck muscles to tighten, and (b) wake from the boat traffic was causing some unsteady chop, making it hard to establish a breathing rhythm. (During the Ironman swim, the waters were choppy, but it was rhythmic: you could time your stroke, go with the waves, and it was actually kind of fun. Not so much at Toughman.)

I started having asthma issues about 200 yards into the swim. I began hyperventilating, and I ended up spending considerable time on my back.

My first concern: “Dear, Lord, don’t let me get pulled out of the water.”

My second concern: “Dear Lord, let me recover, and let me make the cutoff time. Let us celebrate a good finish today.”

About 0.4 miles in, as I approached the island for turnaround, I recovered. I found my rhythm. As I rounded the island, I had it back. Now I was racing the clock. Toughman had only one really hard cutoff: everyone had to be out of the water by 9AM.

I put on my best application of HTHU (An acronym for Harden The Heck Up, although many triathletes often substitute F for H) and went all-out to the finish. I knew it was going to be close.

I beat the cutoff by about a minute.

As I went into T1 (swim-bike transition), MrsLarijani had already laid out my necessities, making my transition easier. I was methodical in T1, making sure I got down my necessary calories, got dried off, got my socks and cycling shoes on, and made sure my helmet was strapped on.

And then I hit the bike course for what I thought would be a nice, flat, fast ride.

Within the first couple miles, I noticed that the winds were quite significant. I hadn’t seen THAT in the forecast.

Still, I focused on what i could control: I stayed aero, kept it steady, and focused on getting adjusted to the ride. I knew the winds were slowing me down, but I wasn’t too concerned about it.

Then, I began the first of two 24-mile loops, and that’s when the headwinds from Hell began. They were unrelenting.

Normally, if I’m on a flat course, and I’m in my high gear and in the aero position, and I’m going at my comfortable pace, I’m between 16 and 17mph.

This time, I wasn’t even pulling 14mph. Newton and Bernoulli were kicking my arse.

The funny part: I still felt pretty good.

On the back part of the loop, I began to capitalize with the wind at my back. But I made one wrong turn and that killed my momentum and added about 2 miles to my ride. But I laughed that off and kept fighting.

The second loop was ugly, but I caught up with a ride named Dale, who was a retired Army vet. We began to chat it up. While this event was a race and not a ride, I figured it would be tacky to try to race this guy. Besides, when I told him about the 1:00 cutoff time, he said, “Oh no…you don’t understand: that’s not a cutoff for us; that’s the cutoff for the police. The only hard cutoff time was the swim.”

At that point, I figured what the hell…I’m going to enjoy the ride, The headwinds have already killed my time goals anyway.

Still, I surprised myself: my swim-bike split, even with the headwinds, would have been within Ironman cutoff times.

In T2 (bike-run transition), once again, my wife hit it out of the park. That was the smoothest transition I’ve had in a triathlon.

As I began the run, I felt very good. My legs weren’t sore at all, and I was jogging steadily. I felt like I could run faster, but I wanted to play conservatively because I had no idea what I had left.

For 11.5 of the 13.1 miles, I felt very good, albeit a little dehydrated. I was losing water faster than I could get it down. At this point, it was hotter than Bill Clinton in a cathouse. I had been battling some GI issues all day–they had started before the race, and were probably travel-related–but they started to come to a head at mile 11.5. I became concerned that I might have a problem. So I slowed to a walk. But as I felt I was ready to get back to running again, Dale–the Army guy–caught up with me. So we started chatting it up and I figured we would finish at the same time.

As we neared the finish line, both of our wives were waiting for us to give us our medals. For him, it was his second half-distance (70.3) finish.

For me, it was my second triathlon, and my first finish.

The course was seemingly easy, but conditions were brutal. That added the “Tough” to Toughman.

I’ve had a combined 13 century rides in the last 4 years, and I’ve never had headwinds that bad. And the run conditions were no picnic, as the temperature made dehydration a problem. I still felt otherwise very good at the end.

But coming back from an asthma attack to beat the cutoff on the swim, that made my day. Everything else was details.

Next stop: Horsey Hundred this Saturday.

For the Bible Scholars …

I have two questions for the Bible Scholars out here:

1. God obviously condoned polygyny in the Old Testament. Did He ever reverse that? Did God ever condemn polygyny?

2.If marriage begins at consummation:

  1. Is a ceremony necessary?
  2. What role does the church have?
  3. Are vows necessary?

Setting the Standard

Deep Strength wrote a post titled The Headship Conversation. I love everything about this whole post.

“This conversation is not so much as a ‘discussion’ as it will be you telling her your vision for the relationship (in terms of Biblical standards) and finding out if she is on board. The leader of the relationship is the one who defines the vision, sets the tone, and leads by example. That is the calling of the husband.”

I would guess this would weed out a lot of women rather quickly.