Wednesday, July 27, 2016

TK Lawless XC Recap

We were gone in Nashville for a week leading into this past weekend. I was scheduled to run a 5k down there, but I bailed. The main reasons were that I didn't want to get up at 5am to run...and it was crazy hot down there...even at 6am. Not sure what this has to do with anything......history I guess.

I was on the fence still about racing at TK on Sunday. I love the course. I was indecisive because it was raining Saturday. Heavy. And I told myself I wouldn't race if it was nasty. When I got up Sunday the rain had subsided and the forecast appeared to be clear of rain. I loaded up and headed down to Vandalia to test my luck.
Lucky #7....twice
 When I got to Lawless the lot was filling up. I saw a handful of team members and found a place to park. I wandered over to registration to get signed up. The parking lot was soft....mushy. I had the thought right then to just bail and not race. Then I thought to myself....you just drove down here....race. I asked about a Sport Clyde class to which I got the response that they just don't have that class in this series because nobody races in it. I was holding my money.....again wavering about my decision to race today...knowing that I would get waxed in the Sport 40-49 class where my speedy teammate Jay was already signed up. The people collecting the entries suggested that I give Sport Open a shot. "there are only 2 signed up, so your chances are better". Hmm.....almost afraid to ask I blurted out "what is sport open?". It is exactly what you would think it would be.....a class for Expert riders that are not fast enough to be Expert riders....but too fast to be considered Sport riders. 
Photo courtesy of Brandon Krutsch

With a smile I said "why not" and threw down the cash to join the Sport open category. Podium guaranteed. I lined up in the first wave of Sport...where I clearly didn't belong. I chatted with a guy and then it was time to go. 3, 2, 1..GO. One guy blasted off the front and I slid into second before hitting the first turn. I kept the leader in sight for a minute....watching as he blew a sharp corner before I was thru the corner too....straight into the woods. Whoops. We both got back onto the trail and he accelerated up a hill and I never saw him again. Making a right turn there was big mud pit. I blasted thru it and was hoping that the rest of the course wasn't going to be like this. This section wasn't part of the normal singletrack so I wasn't too concerned.....but I was also being realistic that it was going to be a slog thru the mud today. As I broke out into the picnic area my parents waved and yelled "good luck". It was good to see them while I was racing, even if just for a minute.

Dirty
I was pushing pretty hard knowing that I had one guy in my class behind me...but also knowing that the entire Sport race would be closing in on me before too long. I made it a few miles before riders started streaming past. I was maxed. The trail was fairly stable, but some of the corners were soft and slick. It was hard to judge them as some would be perfect while the bike would drift on others. Thankfully I stayed up right. After a barrage of people passing I was riding alone. Around mile 5 I started to settle into my pace. The first lap wasn't great, but I was still sitting in 2nd place. I crossed the finish line and stopped at the picnic area to swap bottles. Then back into the woods for lap 2. 

 I finally was feeling like I could ride faster. Conditions were drying out and I was settled into my comfort zone. I started to hear someone behind me with about 8 miles to go...so I pressed a bit. At Lawless it is hard to tell where people are in relation to where you are. The trail passes close to itself numerous times so you can pass someone that is close....or someone that is way behind.....or possibly way ahead. I kept catching glimpses of the guy behind me but I couldn't tell if he was closing. The miles ticked by and I got to the last 4 mile section...still holding him off. I saw that he wasn't in my class, but I still was pressing. He didn't catch me and I crossed the finish line confident I had taken 2nd place. When they called the podiums it was confirmed....2nd place! My highest Sport finish ever. Too bad this race doesn't count in the MMBA series.

Still, it was a fun day on the bike and I was happy that I actually beat someone this time. Next up is Big M on Sunday and at this moment there are only 3 in my class, but I know this will change. I will ride my race and see what happens. I will see if I can make it 3 podiums in a row.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

No point to deny it....

This week has been good. Not gonna lie. Here are some highlights

1. I have been eating less.
2. I ran 2 miles without stopping.
3. I am having a solid positive emotional week
4. I feel excited about training again

The first step to over-coming an addiction is to admit you have a problem. I do believe I have some type of food addiction. Laugh if you want, but the garbage that I tend to put into my body has an extremely adverse effect on my chemistry. ohhhh...he is gonna use science?!?! Yes, look at any nutrition plan and you will see the underlying effects for reasons people gain weight. Not the only reason, but a definitive example of how a McDonald's chicken nugget can tear up your system more than say.....a piece of lettuce. 

My point is this....I am finally willing to admit that I have problem with food. I could launch a barrage of excuses, but these excuses have landed me where I am now. Heavy. The actual number is not important. Just know, that for 3 months I put my body under more stress than I ever though imaginable....just with food. No exercise to speak of. The pounds were sticking to me like blacktop to the highway. Glued.

Mentally I was blown. I had numerous "what's the point" moments which I have thankfully surpassed. Don't get me wrong....mentally I am still touch and go.....I could very easily slide back into a deep depression and let the scale show me high numbers again. But right now....here...today...I am doing very good. I am not "on a diet" so to speak. I have just cut back what I am eating. Mentally making myself stop can be a difficult thing to do...especially because I love food so much. I will have setbacks....that is a normal occurrence. But I cannot let a setback completely derail the accomplishments. I have to accept the setback and put a stake in the ground...then continue.

I stepped on the scale at work last Friday. As of today I am down 6 pounds. Yes, it might seem like a lot in a week but I put over 20 pounds on in just a few months....so I will be able to drop a healthy 15 to 20 very quickly to get me back to where I was this winter. Today, I am 21 pounds heavier than when I did Lumberjack 100  in 2016. I was strong, albeit still heavy....even for a Clyde. But feeling better is going to be more important than a number on the scale. Yes, that number is important....but I am not going to be defined by it.

Maybe a different approach is what I have needed. Maybe hitting rock bottom is what I needed. Maybe I will go right back into my addictive habits....like so many addicts do. But maybe this time will be the time that I do it right...that I open up about things...that I am more honest....that I learn...that I succeed.

Crank Casey from the movie Robots had a good line "never try never fail". I have used that many times over the year. I believe Yoda had better wisdom with his "Do or do not....there is no try". I am here now.....doing. I need to continue to DO...and stop "trying". 

Success is earned...not given.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Treetops XC Recap

I was up and out of bed at 6:15 to head to Gaylord. Why so early? Well, it is a 3-1/2 drive from my town south of Grand Rapids all the way up to Gaylord. Why was I going? Well, as of Friday when registration closed...there were zero people signed up in my class. So why not? Originally a few teammates were planning on going but other responsibilities arose and I headed up solo.

That hill doesn't look "that bad"
The drive was fairly uneventful. The skies kept changing from a full blanket of clouds to a light blanket of clouds to some light rain. When I arrived the clouds opened and the temperature rose to the mid 70's. I waltzed to the registration table and signed up. At that time...I was the second person in my class. Off to a good start....all I have to do is finish for a 2nd place. Sweet. Worth the drive.

Watching the Experts and Elites I was starting to wonder what I had gotten myself into. When the fast guys are riding slower....that is never good for a rider like me. But....oh well....still have 2nd right?

Then it was time to line up. The Sport class was pretty thin. They were combining and riders were sliding by to the start line. When it was time to go there were three Sport Clydes on the line. Sweet. All I have to do is finish. 
Half way up the first climb
Ready. Set. GO!

Done. The first climb was awful. Best part....only 3 more times. I was around a small group of riders as I got to the top. I caught a guy from the class in front of me and never saw him again. The first climb just kept going and going. Then it kicked. I don't know if I could have ridden that hill last year when I was the strongest I have ever been. It was so steep. At the top you get a short bit of respite. A quick downhill to a small paved uphill. Then to the singletrack. The trail shoots off a cart path for the golf course and dives into the woods between the driving range and one of the tee boxes. The trail is rough. Barely ridden. Tight. Loose dirt. Tough.

I meander my way though the woods and shoot out onto the back side of the ski hill. Then the second nasty climb. It is short...but crazy steep. I have to walk. Doesn't matter. I push up the hill and cruise back down the front of the ski hill....actually crossing the uphill from the first climb. There are already people coming through on their second lap. I am crushed already. HA. I press on.

The next climb is ugly. Long. Steep. Never ending. Awful. I barely even put a dent into it before I have to walk again. Have I mentioned I am heavy...and a strict non-climber? Yeah...that is rearing it's ugly head at this point. After an eternity I reach the top. Grab a drink of water and dive into the next singletrack section. Decent little stretch then BOOM. Huge steep climb. Legs are already cooked. I walk. So what. I am here. Trying my best. Doing what I love. After some very dodgy and technical downhill switchbacks the trail gives way to the pavement and I bomb down to the start finish line. That was only 1 lap....ugh.

View back down the first climb

Second lap was worse. 8 minutes slower than the first. But I was in what little groove I had. This course is hard to find any rhythm on. Just when you do there is a nasty switchback or a kicker or just something else. Mentally I checked out on the first lap. I was just riding at this point....there was no "race" left in me. Just finish.

The trees finally give way again and I head down to the start finish area. Halfway done. Sweet. I swing to the right of the hill where I stashed my cooler and swapped bottles. Just as I get back on my bike I hear "keep pushing dude"....from the guy that is in 2nd place in my class. Lapped....half way through the race. But....I had 3rd locked up. So....again...whatever.

Another view from the top of the ski hill

Slowly I churned away. I was tired. I was still trying to ride what I could...which wasn't much. Still, the people I did see where offering encouragement. Keep going. Just keep those wheels rolling Sean. you got this.  Lap 3....finally finished. I crossed the line and I hear Ted R on the microphone. "Passing thru is Sean Evans! He is in 3rd place. Keep going buddy! Still a smile on his face". Yes, for some damn reason I was still smiling. Maybe I was still having fun as miserable as it was. No, I really was still having fun. Like it or not....I was in 3rd place rolling on the hardest course I have ever ridden. Ever. Worse than LJ100. Worse than Ore 2 Shore. Worse than anything. Brent said "this is the toughest course in Michigan".....I agree. 

Dirt tan

Last lap....walking. More walking. Then as I pass across the course on the front of the ski hill I hear Ted calling the awards. Ugh. I didn't even make it back for awards. lol. Oh well. Top of the last steep climb I grab a banana and fuel up. Then I hit the last singletrack. I get that excitement that I am almost done...but it left as soon as I hit the nasty climb in that section. I just smile and say "what the hell am I doing out here".....to which I remember "taking 3rd". So I trek down the switchbacks and the woods open up one last time to the pavement. I get a spark and bomb down the hill and crush the finish. Surely this was the fastest I had ridden all day. Hey, people are watching after all. 

Earned.

I get cleaned up and catch the last part of Beginner awards. Ted calls me up and I collect my plaque. Earned. The single hardest race I have ever done. So yes.....I was slow. Doesn't matter. I showed up...and I raced to my current level. Crushed? Sure, but that doesn't matter either. I took a chance that I would land a podium and I was successful. My second sport podium. 

Will I ever do this race again? Well, depends on how many people sign up.....