Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Anyone coming to Wildflower should bring plenty of warm clothes. The weather has turned. Its cold and windy.
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The Dark Place

Arriving here early has afforded me a lot of time to think. My normal life allows for little of it.
I spent an hour on my bike today - just me and my I pod. I got to thinking about the upcoming race and it occurred to me that I was looking forward to racing in a way I hadn't in a great many years. I'm not sure why that is but, as I said, I've had time to think and this is what I've come up with: at first I was thinking that maybe I was keen because my fitness is higher than it has been in a good long time. Still, in relative terms I'm not near as fit as I was twenty years ago when I took racing much more seriously. I know that in the grand scheme of things I will be in the top 50 % of my age group. But in a way it is about fitness. The thing is, I've got this feeling that because of my increaseed fitness this Saturday I just might be able to go to the Dark Place. You need a certain level of fitness to go there. Three presidents have sat in the oval office since I've been there.
Now I'm not talking about the "Peter Reid" dark place - that time in an IM when you are beseeched by dark thoughts and a feeling that things are lost. I'm talking about that place you can go in racing and training where everything around you dims except the effort and the pain - and you embrace the pain. You toy with it and you test its limits.
I think might be able to go there this Saturday. Its been a long time since my last visit and I'm both nervous and excited. It feels like I've made a date with an old lover I remember only with fondness - yet in the back of my mind I know there's a reason why she is an ex.
I am probably thinking too much.
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Monday, April 28, 2008

If you're coming to Wildflower being Deep Woods Off!
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Testing the blackberry.
Running trail in Wolf Creek Park. More later.
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Testing the blackberry.
Running trail in Wolf Creek Park. More later.
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Hope this works. I'm trying to submit this report with my Blackberry. Heather and Trevor Wurtele have made the journey to wildflower. We are amongst the first to arrive here. Its at least 30 degrees. We set up our camp and went for a swim. The water is merky but a nice temp. Yesterday we stopped to do a little run and had stunning good luck when we found some beautiful trails in Wolf Creek Park.
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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Back to the Treadmill

So yesterday I was to repeat the treadmill death march from the previous week - only this session was to run a mere 30'. Now that might seem easier but all it means is that you hit the dark place a lot sooner. Just to recap - the drill is to start flat and slow and increase the incline and speed every five mintues - timing it so that the last 5' of increased put you in danger of failing.
This time I didn't screw up. I started the machine out faster and jumped the inclines by 2% each 5'.
I was a still a bit sore from the downhill run on Sunday but not bad at all.
Here's how it went:

0-5 0% 11:00 AvHR 115
5-10 2% 10:30 AvHR 129
10-15 4% 10:00 AvHR 145
15-20 6% 9:30 AvHR 157
20-25 8% 9:10 AvHR 171
Warm down - AvHR 133

Probably one of the best 30' I've ever spent running. I felt strong. Could not have run another 5 seconds at the final pace and incline.

My weight is holding at 170. In some ways this is a bit discouraging but in others it's not.
I got back from Tucson and was 169. In the past 172 has been a barrier I've been unable to come under. I have the feeling if I can hold this weight for just a little longer I'll start to see another drop. Any day now!!!

On the coaching side of things I'm busy and loving it.
Heather is ready for Wildflower and I'm really enjoying a few new athletes I just begun working with - Kim Hager and Teresa Copeland.
Rachel Keirs is going to brave the chill waters at the Cultus Lake Oly in two weeks and I think she's going to surprise herself.
I now have an "all welcome" swim Tuesday mornings at Crystal Pool, 7:30-9 (with thanks to Steve Chater and Team X!!) I've been working to establish something like this for some time but pool space in Victoria is a rare commodity.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Slow Traffic Keep Right

The Snow to Surf took place on Mt Washington this past weekend. I’d never taken part before but I’d heard tales of agony and ecstasy over the past twenty years. Last year I had to miss the show because I was in India and this year it looked like I was going to have to miss it again. Wildflower is in two weeks and if I was to take part it would be in one of two downhill run legs. Pete really had trepidations about me doing the race so to play it safe I gave my regrets to the boys. I was disappointed but I’ve been working hard toward WF and I didn’t want to cripple myself on what was a legendary leg breaker of a section.
Then last week I got a short note from Pete – “Do Snow to Surf. Wear the flats you plan to wear in WF.”
I was in.
The night before the race we stayed at the Pacific Shores resort in Parksville. Pure luxury but the capper was the PPV of the UFC fight between Matt Serra and GSP. 12 adults, 2 babies, lots of beer and a stack of pizzas. Now that is a good night!!
The morning of the race was clear and cool – really cool. It was -9 on the top of the mountain.

The race went like this:

1st leg – 4’ uphill run in ski boots then a quick down hill ski (Ed Wellwood).
2nd leg – 20’ X country ski (Jim Pearson).
3rd leg – 25’ downhill run (me).
4th leg – 25’ downhill run (Sean Cruickshank)
5th leg – 40’ Mt bike (Johnny “Strawfire” Fokkema)
6th leg – 25’ Kayak (Kenny)
7th leg – 40’ Road Ride (Troy “Woodie” Woodburn
8th leg – 34’ Canoe (Phil Montgomery and Rob)

The race was to start at 9:15. We drove up the Mt where Jim and Ed dropped me off at my leg start and headed up to theirs. The problem was it was 8:00 in the morning and as I said before, -9! I calculated it was going to be an hour and forty minutes before I started running.

Me at Base Camp?
Nope. Waiting for the start of my downhill run.

There were two volunteers there setting up the transition and me. I had my bags with me so I pulled out all my clothes and layered up. Still I could tell I was going to get cold – real cold, so I started walking. I walked for an hour, which took me up to the lodge and back again. By then other runners were arriving. The sun had come out stronger and it was starting to warm up. At 9:30 they announced the race start had been delayed 15’. Kinda screws up your warm up but that was okay. I just kept jogging back and forth and doing drills. I really felt like ass. I couldn’t believe how sluggish and weak I felt. I’ve raced hundreds of times in my life and I’ve found more often then not, the warm-up is no indication of how the race will go.

The first skier showed up almost two hours after I’d been dropped off. What a relieve. This cat looked super human. I’d never seen a guy ski so fast. It didn’t look natural. At least three minutes later the rest of the crowd started to filter in. Jim rolled in around 11th or 12th. Pretty good I thought. I think there were around 200 teams.

I grabbed the wrist band and headed down the mountain. Legs were moving well, heart and lungs were cooperating. I felt good. I knew I was certainly one of the weak links on this team. All of these guys were good at what they did. My goal was to minimize the loss during my leg. Being so close to the top 10 I knew the other runners around me were going to be skilled. There’d be no holding back. I didn’t.
Right away some 97 pound dude just rolled by me. Getting passed with such authority is almost better. You don’t even consider trying to go with them.
So that was one lost position. Up ahead I saw a woman moving along and figured I could likely catch her and make up the loss. I did fairly quickly.
After that I ran a long time without seeing anyone or getting caught. My legs were really starting to scream. The knees were good but the rest of the majors were complaining – calves, left hamstring and quads were all bitter about what was going on. My right hamstring felt okay.
I came across a sign on the road – one kilometre to transition and up ahead were two women pretty close together who were coming back to me. Behind me I could hear some loud approaching feet. It’s hard to run downhill quietly.
I tried to pick it up a bit but I just couldn’t find another gear.
Then we came to a section of road where there was a long strip of soft new gravel on the side. I thought I could likely turn the legs over faster with the soft landing. It worked like a charm. I was able to really turn it up for those few hundred meters and the girl came back to me like she’d stopped running. But action always has a reaction and in this case it was my left hamstring. Already tight, it cinched up to piano string tension. I had to back off and focus on staying lose. I’ve had that hamstring go before and I knew if it went again, I’d be on the side of the road screaming. I passed the girl with about five hundred meters to go. We were up a position.
The loud feet caught us both. Turned out they were so loud because there were two runners. We were down a position.
Up ahead was the transition area and one more woman coming back to me. I had to weigh a possible serious injury and Wildflower over my pride and the team. It was an easy choice – I put some smack down and caught the call with less than 200 meters to go.
I’d held my teams position.
I handed the wrist band off to Sean and away he went.
For the next twenty minutes, my legs sang like a gang of drunks in a karaoke bar.
Eventually they calmed down and this morning I’m left with a little soreness in the calves. Hardly worth mentioning.

Sean passes off to Stawfire. As you can see, Sean is rolling so
fast he ran past Johnny before he even realized what the hell
was going on!

The rest of the race went off as expected. Each of our guys performed outstandingly!
Sean caught a few guys. Fokkema caught a few and our kayaker Kenny caught one more. By the time Woodie was able to head out on the time trial bike we were rolling in 5th place but 3rd and 4th were at least 8’ ahead of us. Woodie was fit and really keen to catch those guys but making up 8’ on a ride that would likely take him 40’ would be a tall order.
The riders went for about 30’, then had to do a little out and back before riding the highway to the canoe transition.
A bunch of us were on the side of road waiting to see how things were sitting after the out and back. 3rd and 4th went by and we started are watches. We waited and waited and waited. Woodie was not going to catch these fellows. In fact it looked like he might have been getting caught himself. We were all thinking ‘flat’ because everyone knew he was really fit. Finally he rounded the corner and rolled past us. He was absolutely rocketing! WAY faster than the two previous guys. It had to be a flat.
We jumped in the vehicles and drove the final 3k to the transition area. Woodie got there before we did. I found him sitting on a log just shaking his head. He’d missed the turn around at the out and back. He saw a volunteer there but the guy just watched him roll by. Woodie thought he was just an intersection guard. After a few kilometres he started to hit lights and intersections with no one there. He realized something was wrong and made the tough decision to turn around. He went back to the volunteer and asked him if this was the turn around point. The volunteer informed it was indeed that place and good luck with the rest of the race. Woodie said he’d seen the other guys coming back only moments before reaching that point. He was sure he would have caught them. Oh well, we’ll never know. Still no one passed him and he’d held our 5th place. Our canoe paddlers also held it and we finished 5th – 4th when the results came out. I guess one of the teams in front of us got DQ’d for something.
From there it was beer and burgers and a pleasant drive home, listening to the CBC.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Norman Bates

So Pete likes to come up with these catchy little names for the "challenging" weeks. This week he's labeled "Psycho" week.
Looking ahead at the schedule, I felt at the beginning of the week that it was very doable but would certainly put me in the penalty box a bit. And I guess I still believe that but I can't say I'm overly impressed with myself so far.
Monday was a quality swim. I didn't feel good in the water and haven't since before going to Tucson but I worked hard and put a check on the list.
I also had an hour run that day with 8 x 1' accelerations going on a false flat down. This is a leg speed workout that Pete likes to do regularly but I've had troubles doing in the past because of injury. I'm feeling pretty good these days and the workout went quite well.
Yesterday was the Tuesday Night Bloodletting and I really pooched that one.
The ride was insane from the gate. Within 5' we were cresting 45 kph. I was riding near the front and I knew I would not be able to hold this pace for long at all. The lactate in my legs was pooling! I got it in my head that there was no way everyone was going to hold the pace so I thought I'd be better off moving to the back a bit and make sure I stayed with the chase pack as soon as it formed, rather than nut myself at the front and then have nothing to chase with. Adrienne told me later that we were doing over 50k an hour when I pulled out. I moved in to grab the last wheel but the train pulled out of the station without me on it. I couldn't believe it. I have never felt so fit going to a Tuesday Night Ride and have never been dropped so quickly.
I brought a camera with me with the intention of having a picture to post. What a laugh. There wasn't thirty seconds of relaxed riding where I could have snapped off a shot.
To my credit I did not go negative. I worked my tail off to complete the ride in the spirit of the plan. I just turned it into TT. I put my head down and raced. It was a long time before I caught anyone else. Simoni and Ed were at the side of the road working on some mechanical Simoni was experiencing but like I said, I was TTing so to hell with them. I was nice enough to give a wave as I worked on.
At Mt Doug park I caught Adrienne and Jamie. They'd just pulled into the park in front of me and the three of us just sat there laughing for a spell.
Later, at the traditional Fernwood Pub post ride gathering I gathered from the recap that riders starting popping within minutes of me going off and everyone did the same thing - worked like hell to regroup, but it just didn't happen.
After Mt Doug I spun the last 30' home for what ended up a good quality ride. Still I sure wish I hadn't been dropped so quickly. I did not care for that.
Today I buggered up again.
The plan called for a quality swim and then on to the treadmill for a near "run to failure" session.
The idea was to start the run at a VERY easy pace and increase both pace and incline every 5' for 40' and then jog easy for 5'. I got on the treadmill and quickly assessed that starting at 0% and increasing every 5' until the 35' mark would put the treadmill at 7%. I knew that I would fail long before the 40' if I started out too fast. The smallest increase in speed the machine could make seemed to be about 12" per mile and the slowest I could start without actually walking was an 11:30 pace. I didn't bother calculating what kind of pace I would end up at because it didn't matter. I couldn't go any slower. So off I went.
The workout was going awesome. The first two 5' section were dead easy but with each increase in incline it got a lot harder. I really was questioning my ability to make it through to the end of this one but Pete had written - "In the last five minutes you should barely be able to stay on the treadmill." I was predicting it would go exactly like that by the time I hit the third increase.
On it went. In a sick kind of way you look forward to the end of each 5'.
The next thing I knew I realized that I had been running 37'! I was in the last hard section. My HR was 15 beats at least from my max and while my legs were screaming, I knew I was going to make it. So to make it tougher I moved up the speed a few clicks so I was running sub 10' miles and moved the ramp up to 8%. Things got sketchy then. I clipped the retard safety pin onto my shorts and heaved my way on for the final 2'. I was done and drenched - and really looking forward to trying that again. Next time I'd start a fair bit faster!!
So get home to log in the workout and to my horror realized that being the genius that I am, I'd misread the workout!! I was suppose to go for 50' so I had one more incline to go!! I don't think I would have made it through the last one but that was clearly the point of the workout. Disappointing. So now I'm REALLY looking forward to doing it again.

Tomorrow I have a quality 90' on the trainer and 25' t-run with some tempo - but before I start I'm going to really read that plan carefully!

Safe training.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

7 minutes

That's how long I stayed with the Tuesday Night Bloodletting ride tonight.
I need to lick my wounds and reconsider my place in this world before I write any further.
More later.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Clint's rule of time.

And that is, no matter how much extra time you think you have, you'll find a way to fill it and then some. Sort of like your level of spending has a way of rising to your level of income.
Pete had me on a down week and believe me, when he says down he means it. No more than 8 hours this week. Holy Christ was I going to get some shit done.
Yeah right. Instead I decide to join the Crackberry generation and I spent the better part of ten hours this week either on hold at Telus or pulling my hair out trying to figure this thing out. I can now place a call, send and receive texts and switch the phone to vibrate. I've got a long ways to go.
But the week was okay. Had its share of ups and downs. My weight wasn't one of them.
Holding steady at 169/170.
Simon won another ITU. Always good.
Jonathan Caron was 6th at IMAZ. He ran himself back into the thing. That boy has worked so hard and has such a winning attitude. I can't wait to see him really uncork one out there.
The Island Triathlon Club held a 1500 swim TT today. I went to that to help with the timing. I think that was the highlight of my week.
But now it's 12:11 Monday morning and I need to get some sleep. This coming week is going to be a monster.
Snow to Surf Sunday and Wild Flower in three weeks.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Gut Buster

My second week following Peter Reid's Wildflower Plan. It was a build week. Last week was 13.5 hours and this week was 17.5. The increase in time was largely on the bike. There were three solid ride days listed (I already wrote about the Tuesday Night Bloodletting) then there were two more days of 3 hour plus rides in some hilly terrain. At any rate, the week was progressing as planned - I was getting tired.
Yesterday was big day. 3.5 on the bike (lots of hills) followed by a 45' run (lots of hills)
I was to finish the ride climbing Mt Doug as I did last week and then do my 45' on Mt Tolmie as I did last week.
Only yesterday it didn't go as I planned but I have a feeling it went as Peter planned. He wrote in the log "attack to the top of Mt Doug from the fire hydrant - if you can!" I couldn't. I just didn't have anything in the legs. I slugged my way to the top. It was all I could do.
Then came the 45' run - loops on Mt Tolmie. Last week I was to keep it in Zone 2 for the first 30' - which was a chore. I was feeling good and wanted to unleash. This week he wrote "Don't worry about the HR - just run." When I read that, my thoughts were - Alright, I'm gonna rip that bitch apart!!!" I realized when I got started that he didn't want me to worry about my HR because my legs were so damn shattered that I couldn't get my numbers out of zone 2 for nothing. I shuffled through the 45'. The bitch did not get ripped.
And let me tell you what I was thinking about during this final run - I was thinking about The Gut Buster. The Gut Buster is an 11K single track trail run out in Collwood. I'd heard it was a tough run - going up or going down. I thought it would be great training for Wildflower and the timing was good - at the end of a two week build. I suggested it to Pete and he agreed. I suspect he agreed with a smile on his face.
So I'm STRUGGLING through this little brick run, wondering how the hell I was going to get through the Gut Buster the next day!
I did the best I could to stay off my feet the rest of the afternoon - which wasn't so easy because my father showed up with a half a yard of gravel for my back yard. Two hours of shoveling would have to be my warm down for the day.
Thankfully I slept well (not always the case when I'm getting in solid hours) and, as is par for the course, arrived at the race with barely enough time for a warm down.
I surprised myself by racing the whole race. Didn't set any records out there but it sure was fun and to top it off I won a very cool Nathan fuel belt.
The plan today was to get in 2:05 of total running time - so after the WU, race and CD I was at 1:35. Headed out this evening to get my last 20'. Getting out the door for that second run after a tough one in the AM is always difficult but it always feels good once you get out there. Tonight was no exception - however to my utter dismay at 15' the wheel fell off in a big way. I could hardly move my legs for the last 5'. But I managed to get home and now I've got one relaxed week looking me in the face.
I can honestly say, I've not felt this fit in almost 20 years. I can't wait to see how far I can take it. Pete has a way of pushing you the extra mile - taking you to the very edge but just shy of going over.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tuesday Night Bloodletting Part II

To further reinforce how serious Pete was, one only had to look at the rest of my training surrounding the ride. Monday - a 45' EZ swim. That's all. Also there was no transition run off the bike. He clearly didn't want anything to distract me from the effort. Anyone who has been lucky enough to have Peter Reid coach them will understand how rare this is. It is his philosophy to run off the bike after almost every ride, even if only 10-15 minutes. Tuesday's schedule had one entry - the Bloodletting, nothing else.
I showed up on time. There were a dozen riders already there and riders were converging from every direction. I saw mostly familiar faces and a few new one. They all looked fast. I also saw more than a few sets of 404s!! I was filled with fear.
At 5:05 we rolled out, 23 strong - very strong.
The group rides in double pace line formation, wheel to wheel. One of the great things about these guys is that fact that they don't display the brutal hostility that so many roadies take pride in possessing. If your pack riding skills are wanting they'll patiently work with you and explain that tapping your breaks while ensconced in a pelaton cruising along at 43 kph is a habit that is frowned upon.
The pace to start with wasn't so bad. I was having no real problems hanging in.
There are a few key points along the ride where you can expect trouble.
King George Terrace is the first little bump on the ride and comes about 15' into the ride. In times past, I've been dropped here and been unable to catch up - even though the climb takes about 20" to climb!!
Today I held my position but it took a pretty high HR to do it. Still, I felt okay. I knew that this would be a key-point to key-point ride for me.
The next KP was the golf course - a gentle slope that takes about a minute to crest. After that was the Caddy Bay hill and then the big one - Ten Mile Point. In the last two years I'd never made it past Ten Mile point with the group. I held no illusion. It was going to be a challenge. We were keeping it steady, just south of 45 kph and my heart rate was on the north side of zone 3.
We pulled into the Ten Mile point suburb, a windy affair that takes about five minutes to negotiate before you hit the hill - maybe a two minute climb and a steep one. I stayed with the group through the twists and turns and even managed to put myself up at the front of the pack as we hit the hill. Slowly the pack enveloped me and moved past. I started to panic. I was going to lose them. My friend Jamie Duncan wasn't far in front of me and a few other guys were struggling in front of him. My momentary desperation disappeared. Jamie wasn't as fit as he could be but he'd be a freight train on the flats. The pack wasn't too far in front of us so I knew we could work together and regroup in no time.
I pulled a Sean Kelly on the descent, caught Jamie and rocketed to the base. For the last 4 years the group has turned right off the 10 mile hill and done a little loop through Queenswood. I didn't even look up. The group was only seconds in front of me so laid the bike over and launched into Queenswood. A few seconds later I heard Jamie shout my name. I looked up and saw no one. The pelaton had skipped the woods and gone straight. I was done.
I turned around and hammered for all I was worth. It took me about five minutes to catch up to Jamie who was also working to catch the group. We took turns pulling and after about ten minutes we managed to regroup but only because the gang had pulled up at Mt Doug park for a breather. We were told they only "just" got there.
From Mt Doug headed out to the farm land. This was uncharted territory for me. I'd never been this far before. The pace stayed high as the sun began to set.
Along Lochside drive ride originator (and current sponsor of club - Avia West) Jim Pearson decided to engage in some shenanigans. He attacked and I went with him. When he pulled off I took a little pull. After a half a minute or so I glanced back and saw there were a few people inches behind me, Pearson had stayed on and Johnny "Strawfire" Fokkema was there as well. I ran out of juice and we all sat up.
Johnny rolled up beside and me and said the magic words - "You split the group." I split the group. Not really but it was fun to hear him say it. The "split" group was back with us in about 1.8 seconds and away we went. I stayed on until my clock read 1:45 and the sun was starting to set. I was at least 20 minutes from home and without lights so I peeled off and soloed home.
I can honestly say, it was one of the finest rides I've ever had.
This morning I woke up feeling like I'd raced the day before.
I left it all out there.
I can't wait to do it again.

And on another thought - Heather Wurtele is fine - nasty bruise (and I mean nasty) but she's already back out there. Tough chick!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Tuesday Night Bloodletting

In San Diego they have the Wednesday Night Ride. In the Tucson there's the Saturday Shootout. In cities around the cycling world there's a notorious ride. In my home town of Victoria, British Columbia we have the Tuesday Night Bloodletting.
Some four or five years ago one of my best friends, Jim Pearson sent an email out on a Tuesday morning, calling for a ride starting at 5 PM. The meeting place was a Starbucks in the Quadra McKenzie area. Six of us showed up - and we kept showing up every Tuesday at five there after. We were a pretty relaxed bunch then. The only shit disturber then was Xterra stud, Michael Vine. The rides were fun and we changed the routes each ride. Soon the numbers grew and the venue changed to the Paridisio Cafe, downtown Victoria. The quality of the riders seemed to increase with each ride and so too did the pace. Now there are 20-25 riders who show up like clock work. Most of them are Cat 1-3 riders and even a few pros from time to time. The ride outgrew me and many of the other regulars who had previously enjoyed the routine.
With the pace and numbers the route, by necessity was forced to become ridged. It's the waterfront and then out to the farmlands each week.
The ride is put on hold over the winter months and generally starts up in early March each year. My last ride with the group was early last season. In the past, the first few weeks of the new season was witness to civilized paces and pleasant conversation. Last year they were hitting out of the gate. A few Tuesdays of jettisoning after about 15 to 10 minutes and I didn't bother going any more. Going into this season I was a little fitter than in previous years and I figured with a few big races coming up, I should take another kick at the can. I told Pete (who is well familiar with the ride) that maybe I should think about testing my metal before the ride gets too crazy. He agreed it was a good idea - like that's a shock. A part of me was sure hoping he'd say no! The first two rides took place while I was in Tucson and Pete didn't want me to go on the third one as it was an unload week for me.
The fourth ride of the year took place tonight and I was scheduled to be there when they rolled out at 5:05 sharp.
And just so there was no confusion on how I was to ride it, this was Peter's instructions to me:

"Tuesday night bloodletting - don't get dropped!!!!!
Consider this a race effort - you must stay with group - so dig deep!!!!"

Now I knew that he didn't really expect me to stay with the group for the whole ride but I also knew he expected my absolute best attempt to stay with them for as long as possible.
It was an exciting night.