Sunday, June 29, 2008

Story time

So some may remember me claiming a while back that I was retiring from running (too lazy to go back and link the post). Since that assertion I have become a casual runner at best. There may have been a week that I ran 3 times, but I'm pretty certain it was no more than 2 in any week and some weeks it was zero. Knowing that I had the Marathon Cup Relay coming up I stepped it up a little and ran about 11 miles last week, but only in 2 runs. So I basically went into this event with my goal being not to blow a hamstring.

Last year I surprised myself by busting out a 5:16 at this thing. It was pretty shocking considering the horrible mangled-groin injury from Sturbridge and various other episodes of throwing my body into the pavement. This year I figured I'd put myself down for a 5:20 and this should be a reasonable goal. Did a couple miles of warmup and felt reasonably ok in that I at least didn't feel sloppy like I have been from not running regularly. Then I hit the track to do some 100m efforts just to remember what fast felt like and I remembered that fast hurt. Oh well... hold onto your hamstrings and see how it goes down.

My leg came up and there was lots of roadkill up the track so at least I had targets. I hit 200 and checked the watch... 33... aw shit... slow down idiot. 400m came in a slightly more reasonable 71 and I didn't want to puke yet. I tried to keep dialing back a little, but I think I dialed back too much because I believe I hit half in about 2:28 (can't quite remember). We had talked on the drive down about how much lap 3 sucks no matter how in shape you are so I just tried to hold it together and pick it up a little going into it. I can't for the life of me remember what my 1200m split was, but I remember thinking 2 things: 1) I don't quite feel death setting in yet, and 2) Holy shit, I could almost break 5. First 200 of the final lap was a tad too slow and I waited a little late to go all in on the finish sprint so I crossed the line in 5:02.

Now to put this in perspective, my PR (from way back in the day) is about 35 seconds faster than this, I was only 6th in my age group, and I don't even know if I hit top 20 overall at the event. On the other hand, my racing flats still had Hampton Beach sand on them from the final leg of Reach the Beach last September since that's the last time I ran against a clock and I think my long week since I declared myself retired has been maybe 12 miles. For a while I was almost embarrassed that I had somehow pulled this off on no training, but then of course the competitive side of me took over and I was pissed I didn't squeak out another 3 seconds :) Apparently this whole biking thing does make running a bit easier. Good thing since running every day is too painful anymore.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

File this under absurd

1600m in 5:02

Story later...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Spicing things up

And no not just the tasty bowl of turkey chili I've got here...

Usually my commute rides are very uninteresting. Same exact route, generally the same time of day +/- a few minutes, generally the same crowd of other uninteresting routinized folks seen along the way. Well this morning I got a nice treat... some change of scenery and some brief company. There's this one road which is key to the relaxing ride to work in that it avoids major chunks of route 117 and route 20. They've been doing construction to totally repave the road which is a good thing. Well this morning apparently they decided they wanted to be done early for the weekend because the road was closed for paving when I got there. So we got to do some wandering and sightseeing. Fortunately I avoided getting lost as I wandered past the multi-million dollar neighborhoods of Wayland and Weston (how can every house in a neighborhood have a private tennis court?). So then a bit later I was chugging along and I heard something behind me. I peeked back to find that it was the Crack-O-Dawn crew out for a little hammer-fest and they were bearing down on me. Couple quick down shifts before they caught up and I decided to try and sit in for a couple minutes just for the sheer comedy value. There's me, commuting to work on the cross check with panniers on it, in a paceline on a hammer ride. Good fun if only for a few minutes. Oh, and not to start pissing people off, but if anyone out there knows anyone from the crack-o-dawn crew... it may be early, but there are still cars on the road. "Car Back" typically means move the eff over...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I keep getting cross-eyed looks from my wife and non-biking friends when I make mention of another bike. Heck, I'm sure even a reader or two (i.e. one of them or the other one of them) has muttered under their breath that I must fall into the "deep-pocketed-mofo" category with several mentions of "new" bikes (don't I wish). I try to constantly refer back to the man with 43 wheels , but then again he does have a number of distinguished years on me so it doesn't seem to help. In any case, it got me thinking I could kill some quality case-analysis homework time by listing out the bike history (if for no other reason than to get that infamous head-shaking look from the dear wife).

Now if you take into consideration each discipline of cycling that I've taken up as it's own entity (I know it doesn't work that way... shush), it's really not that bad:

- First real road bike - Bianchi Eros. Purchased used off some CRW guy with a laundry room converted into a bike workshop. Once I realized how too small this was for me and I had a few bucks I stripped it for parts and sold the frame.
- First new real road bike - Lemond Buenos Aires. Later doubled as an intro to cross bike and a commuting bike. Ultimately run over by some guy who shouldn't have a license.
- Second "new" real road bike - Leader LD735R. Used the parts from the Bianchi and a few new bits to build my first racing bike when I decided I wanted to race. Later doubled as a commuting bike. Ultimately sold to some dude in Michigan when I accepted this was also too small.
- Current road bike - Old Skool lugged Guerciotti (model unknown). Frame purchased on ebay and the insurance money from the Lemond incident paid for parts. Later had custom fork added. Still in action

- First "mountain bike" - 24" Trek 820, fully rigid. Purchased for about $300 while in college. Later sold to a guy for his dad to ride bike paths.
- First real mountain bike - Nashbar 853 steel frame, hand-picked build kit. Just recently stripped and a few bits being sold (anyone need some wheels or a frame?)
- New (as in not yet ridden) mountain bike - Kona Kula 29er, everything usable from first bike reused, new wheels and fork.

(Let's not count the Lemond)
- First cross bike - Bianchi San Jose SS. Purchased off ebay when the Lemond got wrecked and I wanted to race cross. Later sold to some college kid who was bringing it to Chicago
- Current cross bike - THE ANT (need I say more). And for the record, you can pry this one from my cold dead hands.

(Again skipping the Lemond and Leader)
- Surly Cross Check. Purchased this year to save abuse to the ANT and because wearing a backpack for 3 hours a day while commuting was getting old. Bonus double-duty as a pit bike if needed.

So there we are. One could say I need to make up my damn mind and ride the effin things instead of swapping them in and out constantly. Ok, maybe now that I read this she has a point shaking her head at me...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mini rut

The worst thing that could have happened was Wells not sucking yesterday. Friday I had hoped to pick up my MTB and come home and ride it but it wasn't ready. In the mean time I got a call from a college friend to go drink beer. So I did. Saturday I was supposed to get up at 5, eat some breakfast, and then go get tortured by GD for 3 hours. But I rolled back over, realized at 5:35 that I was still in bed and I had about 5 minutes to be on my bike or in my car with the bike on it. So I went back to bed. I then did house work all day and finished off the day by playing golf. Sunday I met Danny boy for a great ride down to Wells and capped it off by not sucking. I even initiated a break that sort of lasted for maybe 4 laps. And I had someone tell me I did a good job starting the break. And I got to chat with CTodd. And it was a fun morning. Today I meant to run. Then I rolled the dice and guessed it would rain during the time I had to run. So I ate free lunch instead. And it didn't rain. Then I came home and didn't run. I didn't bike either. 1 out of 4 days not being a slug drinking beer is not a good training plan. Very soon I could be spinning the granny gear down the complacency highway to sucksville. I'm going to try again tomorrow to not do that.

P.S. That was the most linktastic post evah...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I needed that

I've been feeling lately like I had hit a comfortable point in my training where I was clearly doing a good amount and getting some racing in, but I wasn't doing any specific workouts where I was really pushing myself. Despite a lack of time tonight, I still managed to get a short version of one of my favorite workouts in. This loop is a bit over 7.5 miles and has 6 distinct climbs including the water tower climb and "the wall" which is the final one. The breaks in between climbs are pretty short. I'm pretty sure I've done 4 loops of this in a workout before. Tonight I only got in two. First loop felt like I was cold and not warmed up which was true. Second loop rocked. Climbed the whole water tower standing in the 39x19 which I don't think I've ever done before. I need to start doing this ride on a regular basis again. Who's in? :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Where'd a week go?

Huh, it's been a week already? I think my excuse is somewhere between being outrageously busy and not having much interesting going on. I had to do 2 presentations last week on corporate strategy (contain your excitement, I had to) so that sort of screwed everything up through Wednesday. After that I spent 2 days unscrewing myself. Weekend was normal chaos although the wonderful family did allow me to sleep until the unheard of hour of 9 a.m. and then served me coffee and donuts in bed. As far as training, it was definitely a weekend of less is more. Thursday on my ride home I just felt cooked and then I upped it to well done by running too hard on Friday. Saturday was nada, yesterday was a 1 hour cross ride (aw yeah, it's gettin here folks). Ran again today so just hoping the rain goes away to ride in tomorrow. Oh, and someone needs to decide where they're racing next. Fortunately I got word tonight that the mountain bike will be back soon...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Recipe for success

1. Have a non-descript marginally ok spring of training and racing
2. Do 6800 feet of climbing in 5.5 hours of riding 8 days before race
2. Take endo over a not very big log on a not very big downhill day before race
3. Sit out in sun after endo and get sunburned
4. Sleep poorly for maybe 5 hours
5. Wake up at 5 for race feeling queasy
6. Make multiple pit stops on way to race due to queasiness
7. Win race convincingly.

How that worked I have no idea, but it did. The race story is actually kinda short in terms of back and forth action. I headed up the start hill second wheel, a group of 3 of us got to the first bridge together with everyone else gone, I moved to second a couple minutes later, passed up to first on next climb, juiced it going up the fire-road hill, hey wait, where'd everybody go?

I will openly admit that I mangled the course pretty badly at many times during the race. I was off and on though... rode some sections surprisingly clean and other sections I looked very much a beginner rider. Fortunately I can still run pretty well so that was put to good use on a couple sections. Hopefully I can start collecting some legitimate skills so I don't get destroyed in Sport. Now I have to pick a venue for the first test...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

And the cries of Sandbagger rang out from near and far

Short version for now until pictures and results are posted and then I can create the in-depth linktastic report. For now let's just jump to the end of the event (for me):

Guy behind me: ... like this guy in the 30's... I mean c'mon, he should be in Sport.
Me (in my head): Whatever buddy... you'll get your wish soon enough.

Stunning 7 minute victory today proving yet again that in lower category mountain biking, fitness CAN beat skill. Now where's that upgrade process so I can start getting my arse handed to me?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wednesdays suck

Yes it's Thursday, but I'm still "hungover" from another Wednesday. Wednesdays I have class therefore I end up having about a 19 to 20 hour day. Here was yesterday:

Up at 4:45
Leave for work on bike at 5:45
Arrive work 7:15
Work until 4:30
Grab a sandwich which gets inhaled
Class 6 to 9:30
Drive to 24 hour grocery store to buy laundry detergent, cookies, and wheat thins (hey, what else would you buy at 10 p.m.
Arrive home 10:40
Get my head on straight for a few minutes
Bed at 11:15

And then I started it over again at 5:30 today. This MBA thing better make me the strongest mofo ever because I'm too close to let it kill me.

Oh, and I finished 10th out of 30 Saturday. I'd imagine most/all ahead of me were sport or higher. Maybe time to jump ship on Beginner. Let's see how Sunday goes first.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

He's got legs...

... he barely knows how to use them.

That's right folks, that's the end result when an adequate-at-best mountain biker rides a 6 hour race on a challenging course. I had said going into this race that I may suck, but I know I can suck at a consistent level for a pretty long time... that turned out to be true. Getting to the punch line, I finished 8 laps of the 5 mile course in 5hours, 37 minutes. I just didn't have it in me to head out for #9, plus 8 was my stretch goal so I was honestly thrilled to do 8 in well under 6 hours. Claimed climbing per lap was 847 feet so that new math thing tells me 6776 feet. And it's a damn good thing I can climb well because I still descend like a pansy. Having already written the race report on the club site, I'll cover the lighter side of the event here:

- They had a lemans start... it never fails to amuse me how much bikers, especially mountain bikers, despise running

- Lap 1, first downhill turn, Bad Brad washes out his front wheel and biffs in front of me. I was not feeling optimistic about my own fate

- As you can see from the pic, I followed Brad's lead... repeatedly. I think the count was 4. You might be able to tell that my right knee is swollen from when I cranked it off the stem. All the rest is superficial and the result of me sucking.

- I don't care in the least about all the skin needing to be regrown. This is in stark contrast to past experiences on pavement. I'm fine with taking myself out because I suck, but I have no patience left for sketchy guys aiming for me.

- At one point I rode by a guy in the camping area and that nice one on the outside of my left knee was bleeding down my leg a little and he commented "Hey, you're leaking". Definitely made me laugh.

- The crowd rocked. Family members and loved ones sitting around all day reading a book just to fill a bottle or get whatever a rider needed every 30 to 45 minutes and cheering the hell out of everyone else who rode by.

- The biggest reason I could never have finished the 12 yesterday: My hands had absolutely no strength left by the end of the 6. Like we're talking my thumb was too weak to shift from the little ring to the middle one. I know it's mostly a result of me sucking on the gnarly downhill, but it was an unexpected problem.

- I came in at the end of lap 7 and Wild Bill Doonan was sitting there relaxing and taking pics. I yelled to him to do me a favor and grab me a Coke. He said "OK, where do you have them." and I had to reply "I don't, I need you to find me one." He very kindly showed up at the tent 2 minutes later with a Coke... now there's teamwork :)

- My distinct level of suck went down progressively as the event went on. I switched from making mistakes because I sucked to making mistakes because I was tired.

- It was lap 3 or 4 that I was telling Art and another guy that I'd pony up some serious money for a giant iced latte. Sadly neither had one on them.

- I downed 160 oz of grape gatorade (plus some good old fashioned H2O) during the event. I don't think I'll be drinking grape again for a little while until I forget the taste.

I'd definitely do a 6 hour again. I could probably even be talked in a 12, but only after I suck less so that my body gets less tired from the crappy riding skills. Right now I just need to replace those 5200 calories with some barley and hops.