Before I talk about the trip and races, I need to get something off my chest. Gas is crazy expensive and I'm not happy! Karel's races are very cheap ($30-$50) so I can justify traveling. Triathlons, however are expensive and I allow myself one or two big races a year to splurge and pay the race fee. However, I have only traveled once for a triathlon (KONA) because it is really expensive to go somewhere for a tri. It costed us almost $300 ($100 for my trip to and from jacksonville to get Karel) to go to NC and GA. We did 1300 miles of driving (about 500 for me for my drive) since thursday and I can't wait to get my rebate check to pay for all this gas. But, Karel planned this week of racing all year long so no worries here, I was just happy to accompany him for 2 of his 5 races :)
After our breakfast on saturday morning, Karel took a nap as I finished coaching plans on the computer. We had a 20 mile drive to Dilworth (just outside of Charlotte) from the house so we left around 2 for the 4:30 race. The town of Dilworth is beautiful and all of NC is filled with big trees and lovely grass. A big change from Florida to see rolling hills and brick houses. The race venue was around a big green park, with only 2 turns to the crit course. It was kinda like an oval with a sharp 90-degree turn (you could hear the cyclists breaking) at the bottom of the climb to the start/finish of the loop. Karel warmed up and I watched the kids race. Too cute! I can't wait til the day when we have little kiddos riding and running at races. The crowd was huge and most of the people congregated at the "hot corner" with the 90-degree turn. One side of the course went straight downhill and after the sharp turn, the riders had a steady climb to start the next loop. At 4:30 the riders were off and the race was a grueling 75-minutes. Karel looked good the whole race and I wanted so bad for him to finish. After 3 hard days of racing the USA crit series under his belt and only finishing 1 race he was so hungry to finish this race. But, no matter how hungry you are to be out in these races, it takes a lot of mental, physical and well, lots of hard work to finish. Only around 60 people finished the race out of 120 Pro 1 starters and as for karel....He finished! Not only did he finish, but he was 33rd!!!! Way to go Karel. So proud of him. His training stress (power meter) was once again around %102 and he fought really hard to not get dropped. I was worried a few times because as people dropped off the end of the pack, Karel had to work even harder to maintain his place around the end of the mid-pack.
After the race Karel warmed down and I kinda ran next to him to the car as he gave me the recap of the race. Just running up some of the inclines in dilworth left me out of breath. I could only imagine what Karel felt like for an hour and 15 minutes of racing at his max. Ouch! As usual, I did my job (team Karel nutritionist) of mixing together his typical post-race whey protein, aminos and water in a water bottle. It is the first thing he wants after his race.
"Can you make me my recovery drink Marni?"
The best part of this trip is having a nice place to go back to. Karel and I love cooking and of course, having your own food when you want it is a big comfort when traveling away for a race. I had a nice salad w/ eggs, beans, corn, cooked veggies and a piece of fresh french bread and Karel was craving meat. After a taxing race like a crit, I thought fish would be a better option than chicken or steak so Karel cooked a nice piece of fish w/ corn, rice and fresh bread. With all the omegas in fish to fight inflammation, I wanted to be sure Karel repaired as quickly as possible for Sunday.
Sunday morning we had to make the drive to Sandy Springs GA so we planned to leave around 10am for the 3:45pm race. Christi told me about a great trail by her house so I set out for a 8 mile run at 6:40am. It was so peaceful and although I had my music, I had it low so I could hear the leaves blow on the trees and hear the water from neighboring creeks. I wanted to run more but I needed to get back for breakfast and to help Karel pack up the car. As I was finishing getting ready I was suprised that I had breakfast waiting for me. Cooked oatmeal w/ raisins, sliced bananas, toast and jelly and scrambled eggs (all in Marni-size portions of course). And for presentation, a heart-shaped piece of cheese. I think I should be the one cooking for Karel but it was super thoughtful and it was a great part of my "vacation". So, on the way to Sandy Springs....
I made sandwiches for Karel and I for lunch, PB&J for me and ham and cheese for karel. He also had rice (which he made last night) about 2 hours prior to the race. In addition to some yogurts, nuts and string cheese, I hard-boiled some eggs for extra protein for both of us to snack on during the trip. It is nice not to have to stop to eat so we just traveled along and enjoyed our goodies.
Well, the race in GA was super hard. A steep climb to the start/finish and this was a power climb. Not a steady climb like the other day. Now I am not sure what is worse, the first 3 races that Karel did where it is flat but you have no time to stop pedaling, or a race like sunday (and sat) where you atleast get a bit of downhill. Unfortunantly, for these Pro guys, there is no time to relax. even if you are going downhill, you are focused, changing gears and pedaling hard to get ready for a turn. The course was windy and ended with the climb to start the next loop. This race was a little over an hour and was 50K. Karel had a hard time with this race because he was mentally done. On the last 20 laps, every lap was his last lap..so he said.
"Ok, one more time up this hill and then i am done." "OK, this time I will climb to the top but I will get dropped cause I can't do anymore"
Although there were many times when I was a bit worried cause out of the 130-150 starters, the field was getting smaller and smaller. Therefore, Karel was working super hard not to get dropped and I even saw him bridging some gaps from the back pack so that he didn't fall off someone's wheel. After almost 30 miles of racing a .5 mile loop...Karel finished! Oh the pain! You just knew how bad these cyclists were hurting in their legs. Karel said his back was hurting so bad from pushing so hard to get up the hill. He finished 48th and he is so happy (and amazed) he finished. After looking at his powertap on his computer we figured he did 60 repeater climbs. Although there is no recovery in the race, each loop was around 1 minute and 30 seconds. So, with a little less than 1 minute recovery, he said he barely had enough time to exhale. There was no time to even stop pedaling to shake out the legs.
I think Karel really worked hard for his 3 out of 5 finishes. More so, to even have the strength to race 5 times in 1 week at an all-out max effort. Well, next year he hopes to race all 7 races and hopefully he can focus just on the race of racing. Just watching Karel push to the limits, I get so pumped up to race. Although I wish everyone could have a Karel in their life, it is so amazing watching someone you love (even a friend) do something that they never thought was possible.
*thank you for reading about our trips! I love posting about our exciting races and travels and most of all...karel really appreciates the kind remarks about his races :)