Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dark was the night, cold was the ground

Well, I missed El Tour (couldn't afford it frankly) and I hadn't been on a good bike ride in a long time. Combine this with training for a marathon which was going to goof up my chances at a brevet season next spring and I was pretty desperate for a ride. So, at the recomendation of a friend (I think it was Bruce) I decided that the time had come to spend some time with my old lady (the roadbike that I started this whole Randonneuring thing on). So, not having ridden my roadbike any farther than 60 miles in the last 3 years I showed up to ride a double century. Maybe I was crazy (in all fairness I had been commuting on it daily for 6-7 months though over a 25 mile commute), or maybe I was just desperate for a ride, either way I decided to do it.
All in all it was a good ride. I even think I was warm once or twice on it. I actually was dressed head to toe warm compared to some of the other riders, with my helmet cover, balaclava, windstopper jacket, longsleeve dayglow jersey, bibs and tights (not to mention fleece gloves with a windproof mitten shell).
I knew there was trouble when I walked out of my house in the morning and discovered I had to scrape my windshield as it had a layer of ice on it. Hmmm, must mean it is cold outside. Alas, I didn't have a scraper, so being the lazy guy I am I turned on the windshield wipers, the defroster and trusted to the deserted streets of 4:30 am Mesa as I drove down the street looking through a 3 inch wide hole of defrosted windshield. By the time I got out of the neighborhood it was fine.
Down at the alley I determined that I was glad that I had listened to my wife and worn my tights (over my bibs of course but that little problem comes into our story a little later). Even with all the gear I brought I was still a bit chilly. I figured that was good though as you don't want to start warm or you will be hot after a warm up. After gettin my stuff ready I kept waiting for other people to show up but alas, it was only to be four men and a lady to sieze the day.
After the quick preride talk, and a little chatting among the people at the start we were off. We slowly made our way across Casa Grande. I was actually happy it was slow as I have not been training for long distance riding since the 600k in April. My goals for the day were to spin easy, and finish. I noticed a few riders up front had obstructed taillights (and Susan did too as they had to readjust their taillights further down the road). The group dropped me on Trekkel and I figured that was fine. With so few riders I figured I would be riding solo most of the day anyway. It was amusing after turning on Cox to be out front as the other 3 were stopped to adjust taillights. They soon passed me again though. It was amusing to hear those old roosters on woodruff crowing as we slid around the mountain before the community college. This time though, dawn was just starting to break so it made sense for them to be letting loose. Around this time my lights started to go flaky on the bumps. I figured it must be the jarring and found some cotton by the side of the road to cushion it when I needed them that evening as it was already light out at that point (Jarring wasn't the problem though but I will get into that later).
Heading across the farmland to Coolidge my thumbtips were freezing. I figured that was a lot better than having frozen hands though and figured my glove system was suitable. Besides with the sun coming up it should warm up soon.
Leaving Coolidge we would have our first introduction to the headwinds of the day. It would get pretty windy during the day, quite a bit more than the weatherman forecasted I think as a few times it was easily up to 20 mph. Besides, when you are just as cold climbing a hill as you are descending, you know there is some wind chill going on. Between Coolidge and the Tom Mix Control I slowly started shedding layers. When it was time for the jacket to come off I bemoaned the fact I had forgotten my ankle reflectors as I had planned to use those to strap my jacket to the back of my brooks using the little d rings it has on it. So, I stuffed it into my jersey pocket (making me look like a deformed camel) and carried on until I remembered my jacket stuffed into it's own little pocket, which as luck would have it, had two handy velcro straps on it (this was also the time I discovered my ankle straps in the pocket of the jacket DOH!)!
Dave Lehnen and Mark Goldentyer were still at the Tom Mix control when I got there. I figured I wasn't going to stop very long at any of the stops to save time since I was just spinning and taking it slow anyway. I did start my days diet of brownies though. One definite perk of riding continuosly all day is guilt free brownies.
My humorous moment of the day (hmmm, it really kind of gained it's humor later on I confess) happened down the road aways when I realized I had to go, and it wasn't the easy one (at least I had thought to pack toilet paper this time though). This is where the bib thing was a real pain. So here is the situation. I am on the side of the road, there are desert trees/bushes but they don't really hide everything. I am sure if some of those cars had been looking in the right direction they would have seen something unpleasant over in the bushes (rare desert sasquatch siting maybe?). Anyway, bibs mean that you have to almost completely undress to do your business. So, I dropped my jersey on the ground next to me right into a patch of Cholla cactus (I later realized after finishing, but before trying to put said jersey back on). So with the wind howling, and standing in my bib/tights in the desert I slowly picked every last bit of cactus spines out of my jersey. After finding my sunglasses again I was off.

Nearing the top of the climb (which had been a bit tedious thanks to the winds) I was again stopped but by a group of people needing directions (don't ya know if a guy is bicycling he must know everything about the area). They were Mexican and were looking for the Eloy correctional facility. This was kind of funny as they were from California and had a mapquest printout but it was amazing to see how far off they were. So trying to give good directions across a pretty strong language barrier(one of these days I am going to study spanish in ernest) I think I gave good directions to them. Although on second thought, perhaps I should have told them to follow me as I would be passing that very facility in about 12 hours.
Descending the otherside of the hill down to Oracle junction I was pleased to find out I didn't need to stop and put any extra layers on as it wasn't anymore cold going down as it was going up since the wind was about the same. Turning onto Oracle road was like turning on the afterburners and I was coasting at 25mph for a lot of the way down to Rancho Vistoso (which is good as my average speed was really low at the time).
Susan informed me that the other guys had left just a little before me when I arrived. I didn't spend long at this stop and just filled my bottles up and downed a brownie or two (oops and a banana, figured I'd be healthy). This was the time when the wind started to shift around. I liked this new section of the route though as it was pretty much the last section of the Tour De Tucson route which I had ridden several times. I discovered going down Tangerine that my neck was getting sore when I was in the aero bars. I did manage to stay in them down to the bottom of Tangerine though and so was able to watch my average speed climb a bit.
Heading by the cement plant I spoted a cyclist up ahead, he had some massive panniers on the back and a nice coat on so I figured he must be a tourer. Finding it oddly appropriate for a "fast tourer"(ala Randonneur) to meet a "normal tourer" out on the road I pulled up alongside of him and talked for a bit (besides, it is not like I had a lot of companionship through the day anyway). He was from Washington and was riding from Lake Pleasant down through Tucson. He was of the opinion that it was cold too so I didn't feel like such a wussy (I had been cold all day despite my tights and long sleeve jersey). We chatted a little bit and then I had to peel off to do the trip around rattlesnake pass onto silverbell. The roads through the pass were just as rough as I remembered them, but then again the scenery was just as beautiful so it worked out.
I am pretty sure I had a tailwind heading down silverbell as it went by quickly and I was actually, warm for once! I would stay warm heading up into Gates Pass.

Gates Pass. It was for this that I had been spinning easy all day. I knew it took a lot of energy and leg strength to get over it and I was pleased to see that when I got to gates pass, despite not having ridden this far on the roadbike in years, it was not too bad. In fact, it was a lot easier on the roadbike than the recumbent (I knew this though, as the first time I climbed this was on the very first 300k when Arizona had it's innaugural brevet season. In any hase I climbed it and had not completely destroyed my legs in the process (not that they were anywhere near fast during the day but at least I didn't feel bonked for the next hour or two as I had in years past). I had my top speed of the day here hitting 40 on my way down.

Around the corner on kinney road Susan was waiting with a truckfull of food and this was the lunch stop (well, maybe Linner as it was 4:30, hey I told you I wasn't riding fast. I figured this wasn't too bad considering I hadn't even trained for this). Being a little tight on funds as of late I had resolved to eat as much of Susan's food as possible this go round as opposed to stopping at stores. I must say that the wraps tasted mighty good and I took one for my jersey pocket to eat later as well. I didn't stop at lunch too long either as I knew it was going to be a late night, a little later than I expected even.

So, bidding Susan adieu until Casa Grande (Oh my, is it really 74 miles away?) I was off to finish the climbing for the day in the next few miles through Saguaro National Monument. Fair readers, I must tell you that the wolf did not appear to be on the haunt today. Perhaps the cold had kept him in. In any case I did not see him, I do know that I was cold and I was wearing a long sleeve jersey so knowing the wolfs tendency to not wear tops I figure he was haunting or roaming inside today.

Cruising through Picture Rocks I was happy to be in the 17 -20 mph hour range, unfortunately that would be the last I would be up there for the rest of the day. The winds were playing their havoc once again and were keeping my speed down. I was at this time well into a ride which I had not necessarily prepared adequately for and my speed reflected that. I had the endurance to keep pressing on, just not very fast. It was in here that I discovered my problems with my lights was a little worse than I thought.

My superbright homebrew LED light had a severed wire which I managed to finagle back together but it would flicker for the rest of the night. My faithful Catey el500 which was my backup light and had served me faithfull come hell and highwater was flickering on the point of uselessness as well. So, the evening was foreshadowed in a bit of an ominous way. I figured I had my cell phone though so if worst came to worst I could call Susan the "Wonder RBA" who is always ready to help poor Randonneurs in distress. I also took this opportunity to take off the sunglasses and put the jacket back on figuring it would be more than adequate for the temperate night time temperatures. Ha ha.

I didn't really start to get cold until I was at the store in Marana. I bought a strawberry milk and Something else to eat I can't remember. I started to shiver as I gave my lights one last try to make them work a little more reliably. I figured I would stop at the picacho peak gas station and stuff some newspaper in my jacket if I got too cold (idea I read in Bruces first 600k ride report). I looked forward to that newspaper all the way down the frontage road because I was freezing. This was pretty much my lowpoint in the ride. I was going slow, I was cold, and the wind was blowing pretty hard. Time seemed to slow down. I could see the powerplant in the distance but it never got closer, as did the radio tower near picacho peak after I had passed the plant. Eventually, freezing and full of hope I pulled in to find the gas station closed. There were some credit card application on the pumps but I didn't think those would work so well, so, off into the night I went figuring there would be something at La Palma where I would need to stock up on food.

It was another cold long haul to La Palma with the exception of a few warm spots on the way north into La Palma. I regret not stopping at the gas station in the town of Picacho (Eloy jr.) where we turn north.

La Palma historically is my favorite stop. It is a nice place for a tired randonneur to sit down for a bit and pause before taking that last ride into Casa Grande. I knew of course that it would be too cold to sit outside and contemplate life the univers and everything, but I had rather hoped to buy a chocolate milk and warm up temporarily before heading out on the last leg. Fair readers, I must tell you it was quite a blow to not see the bright streetlight shining over the dirt parking lot of the La Palma market, and more distressing was to see the building lieing in shadows without a soul in sight and the wind blowing tumbleweeds across the desolate landscape (ok, so it was missing the tumbleweeds but you get the picture). It was at this time that I decided the ride report would have it's current name as this piece by the reverend Blind Willie Johnson had pretty much captured that feeling in the song of the same name (which, even more appropriately is flying out into the outer reaches of the solar system, in COLD dark space on a gold record on the Voyager spacecraft). So, feeling a bit glad I had snarfed that poptart I had stuffed in my pocket earlier in the day and hoping that my water would hold out, I steered my Old Lady towards Casa Grande.

I pedaled in the dark with a flickering light (it had been flickering for many hours now). Time was no longer a continuum but seemed to be slowing further and only the thought of being so near the end made things more bearable. Somewhere in here I saw a pretty impressive shooting star. My spirits started to perk up after passing 11 mile corner seeing a sign that said 6 miles to the I-10 interchange (which is really the end of the ride for me mentally as the cruising through town stuff is pretty much just a victory lap). Six miles, I can ride six miles. Even if I am completely blown out I can ride six miles. I can ride six miles really cold even. Time started to speed up again. I could see the new shopping center on this side of the freeway in the distance and it was a while before it started to appear bigger but who cared, That was the end! This ride would be in the bag. I was now happy that I pressed on and didn't call Susan from Picacho with some kind of stupid excuse about hypothermia and crappy lights. I had the ride in the bag. Despite all that I didn't have going for me I was done. All that was left was to go wake up Susan and turn my car heater on. Susan must have seen me come into the parking lot as she got up and signed my card (last time we came in this late we knocked on her window and startled her).

On the way home at the first sign of mental fatigue I pulled into a shopping center and nodded off for an hour and a half before getting home.

Post Mortem- good ride, would have been easier with more training but hey, it worked. I think I need to raise my handlebars up a bit if I am going to keep doing this on the road bike. I also think that it was good of me to have a little extra food and water on hand seeing as the Marana to Picacho without services leg turned into a Marana to Casa Grande without services leg. It was a cold but good day all in all.

Post Mortem Addendum 12-17-07

I am happy to report no soreness and I had energy to commute in today. There must be something to this spinning thing. There also might be something to eating something healthy like Susan's wraps as a recovery meal as opposed to Whatburger I think.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Something New, Something Old

Woohoo! I can run again! Last Saturday after a weeks rest I took out my good OLD running shoes for a good run. By the time 3 miles was up my right foot was screaming so I decided it was time for a new set of shoes. Now, typically running injuries do not affect the right side of the foot. Usually it is the arch, the little bones, or the heel. I suspected that perhaps my overpronation support shoes might just be rolling my foot to the outside. I had been diagnosed an overpronator several years ago before getting into all this running and biking stuff. Well, I went in to the RunAz (a running store near me) and ladies and gentlemen, I am not a pronator anymore! Hallelujah brother, can I hear an amen? Can I hear an a women (got to be equal)? This man who is the pool filter(don't even get me started with genetic goofiness) in his family's gene pool at least has normal feet as of this weekend! So, upon trying a pair of neutral shoes on (comparing them to some motion control shoes) I found the neutral (and more expensive unfortunately) shoes to be more comfortable. So comfortable that in fact I ran 9 miles last night without foot pain at all so I think I have a good solution here.

On another note, a fair reader of my blog (that would of course be you, unless you are unfair) might ask, "Paul, I thought you were riding the 300k this weekend? Shouldn't you be tapering?". Well the answer of course is yes, but with a but (how is that for frequent use of the word "but" in one sentence your grammarfiles). Since I lost so much training time to the stupid foot I am in danger of losing my running fitness I have built up so I ran last night and will do another 3 or 4 miles today, followed by a 5 mile ride back to my father inlaw's work for a ride home. Tomorrow I am taking off. Should I be tapering? Yes, but seeing as my main event (the marathon) that I am training for is my priority I can afford to lose a little performance on Saturday I think. Besides, I am planning on just going out to enjoy the day. I really have no time goals. If by some strange chance I best my last years time (14 hours) well huzah! If not, the primary goal was to have fun in the first place and to spend time with my old lady (my road bike who has not randoe'd in 2 years due to the recumbent).

Monday, December 3, 2007

Top six ways Ultra-Cycling helps you mosh.

Their royal superheroness- the Aquabats

Here are the top 6 ways ultra-cycling helps you in the mosh pits at concerts-

  • You are comfortable moving around in the dark.
  • you are used to hanging around people just as sweaty and stinky as you are.
  • quads are good for helping you jump up and down, or keeping your feet when a crowd surfer lands on you.
  • Years of bike handling and pacelines have helped you gain balance and stability.
  • Your awesome endurance allows you to keep on going longer than anyone else.
  • Years of pushing through pain have prepared you for getting bruised, smashed, or breaking your nose (I think it is only slightly broken if it is for the record, but still it hurts)
Also for the record, running 16 miles in the morning, having a sore foot, and then wearing sandals to a punk/ska concert in the evening are not wise ideas even if it is the Aquabats (I did not lose any toenails though).
Unfortunately, I don't think moshing will have helped me with the early start on the 300k I am riding this week with Bruce and Steve. One thing though, I am sure it will be just as fun.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Turkinator Meets The Heinous Hills

Umm, there like used to be a lake here. I guess we have to call it Canyon Canyon now.

Good people of townsville! At this very minute, the good citizens of our fair metropolis are held within the caloric clutches of the turkinator. He struck yesterday afternoon on what would otherwise be a pleasant day off of work. Mild mannered Paul, caught unawares, ate and ate, and so fell into the influence of the evil turkinator! All was not lost however, Mild Mannered Paul's alter ego, "must get out and train man", planned ahead. Knowing the devious mind of the turkinator and his creepy caloric sidekicks Pie and Ice Cream, he had devised a scheme which would send the turkinator packing. A workout so taxing, so brutal, so tough, that not even the turkinator with his evil force of cellulite enhancing side dishes could withstand the fury. Only one route could be so brutal, so tough, so taxing. Yes, ladies and gentlemen "must get out and train man" had deemed that the dire circumstances demanded a trip to the end of the pavement.

"The end of the pavement" you say (in a voice completely unimpressed)? Well, those of you who may have a lemon shaped mountain in your back yard, perhaps do not fear the turkinator, but a ride capable of killing the turkinator within cycling distance of east Mesa is the trip to the end of the pavement. Those of you who have ridden the legends, superstitions and ruins permanent will be familiar with part of this, with the exception of the 1200 foot hill behind Tortilla Flat. Yes, as you see on the chart below, "must get out and train man" determined that only the hill up to the end of pavement could stem the evil tide of the turkinator.

In the predawn hours, a chill was in the air and "must get out and train man" was shivering in the cold. He had his mighty k2 light on and the mighty cateye el500 blasting photons into the night. The special arm and leg warmers our hero had drawn from his secret stash of super hero clothing was barely adequate. Traffic was busier than usual at 5:30 as the unsuspecting victims of the turkinator languished behind the wheels of their automobiles.
The climbing started in earnest when our hero turned onto the Apache Trail and started up the first of the big hills, although compared to the two larger hills this one would soon be over, but not before Mr. Stuffing had met his Demise. No matter how hard our hero tried though his fingers were still numb though he climbed and burned off the evil turkinator's evil henchman. Descending into canyon lake our here started to shiver and shake as he sped to the canyon where once there was a lake. The lake has been drained for the dam to get some work done on it.
Upon reaching the lake our hero met up with another enemy of the evil calory cretins. He was a racer looking for his group he was riding with. Truth be known, he beat our hero to the end of the pavement, but I think our man in spandex may have a few pounds up on him and well, I don't think he succombed to the Turkinator's foul plan as seriously as mild mannered Paul had. After a medium sized hill, "must get out and train man" was sizing up his task. The final hill, the doozy, the one people raise an eyebrow at if you mention it. Yes, it was time to make the 1200 foot climb to the end of the pavement. 5 miles and 1 hour of pain later, would our here triumph? Would the evil Turkinator meet his demise? and what of the despicable pie and ice cream?

What hill can repel "must get out and train man"? Surely he was not to be beaten back and defeated? No, our hero had a trick up his sleave, it was the secret triple chainring of Shimano. Sent from far across the see from our friend Professor Suzuki who had been so helpfull in ridding the world of Mothra, and helping Godzilla and Gamera. Yes, "must get out and train man" had his full arsenal of tools and boldy shifted to his secret weapon, the 30 tooth chainring. Slowly but surely he gnawed away at the hill piece by piece. Destroying the evil pie and ice cream, slice by slice, and scoop by scoop. On he climbed as if up to the very sky. The turkinator could not withstand the onslaught and by the top of the hill an hour later, had been crippled. A brief rest was enjoyed by our hero as he shot down the mountain at 40 miles an hour despite sitting upright and trying to be un-aerodynamic. Then, at the bottom of the hill, a scent sent a shiver up our heros spine and he looked on in horror.

The restaurant at Tortilla flat had a smoke cloud hovering over it and out into the road. Someone was grilling something. Something tasty, something that smelled good. Something that would sit well on an empty stomache that had just been to the end of the pavement. Yes, it smelled like the evil steak and eggsinator. Our hero sped up, not only was he strapped for cash but his duel with the turkinator had left him weak and an encounter with the steak and eggsinator would leave him weak and helpless. So on he sped, desperately trying to free himself of the deadly aroma of the steak and eggs. Steak and eggs....... mmmmmm.

Leaving Canyon lake, the turkinator met his last dieing blows. Our hero had climbed 5700 feet and burned thousands of calories and smashed the evil turkinator in his anaerobic fury. Mild mannered Paul was once again safe to journey into the kitchen, no more to fear the evil turkinator until next year.

Coming next week, "Must get out and train man" meets the evil and mysterious Hon e. Bakedham and the second helpings.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Beautiful Butt Hugging Brooks Bliss

Old fat lazy sun holds no claim upon me. I speed off into the night, free of care following the gleam of the mighty k2. I enjoy the dark hours of the morning as the world is a quieter place and the breeze is like an overture to the great opera that will unfold as the day progresses with its villains, heros, and fat ladies singing. This particular morning I was out early as I intended to do a 50 mile feeler ride on the way to work. I am riding a 300k with Bruce and Steve in a few weeks and I wanted to see if I was up to riding it recumbentless. First thing I noticed was the pearl izumi gloves that I had worn while building the the 100' long 4 foot high block wall in the back now had numerous holes and the breeze blew right through (not to mention the leather was much less supple and was not comfortable on the hands). The other thing I noticed was that my light setup, although very ghetto, was extremely bright. I had a few refinements to make as far as wire routing but it was quite acceptable at 20 mph.
I basically headed down Guadalupe to head west to the 202 frontage road which I would take south to Price until it hooked up with Dobson which I would take east and then jog over to Alma School to Riggs, Riggs out to beltline road (Bruce and Steve will be familiar with this one as it is part of the around South Mountain route), I headed down Beltline to the first curve, turned around and then headed north up past Firebird raceway, over I-10 and then a few nameless back streets, under the freeway and I am at work. It was a good route and I found with periodic back stretches my back didn't have too many problems so I think this may be a go for the 300k next month as long as Bruce and Steve' idea of a moderate pace is between 15-18 mph or less. It was very nice to be out and riding again on a fairly longish ride after all this silly triathlon and marathon training (although the marathon training continues).

Below are some changes to my setup I have made lately that I think bear mentioning.

I recently modified the might K2 for use on my roadbike (with batteries instead of the generator) which I have been riding lately. A dual pack of 4 AA cells (I picked these as a power source as they are readily available at any convenience store and that means not having to tote batteries everywhere or put up with the drag of a generator) pumping 12v into it provides ample light. I found 20mph quite comfortable with the light being thrown out and so far it looks like the light goes for at least 4 hours on a set of batteries, will keep you posted as I continue to drain them on the next ride (I am thinking of selling this setup as it costs a third as much as the equivalent high end lighting system, just need to find a pretty way of packaging it without increasing cost). Another mod I was trying out was my foam I had stuffed into my shifter hoods to create a wider and better supporting platform for my hands. I am happy to report not even a tingle from ye old hands. I think those shifters are designed to fit a japanese hand which is a little smaller (either that or one of those little roadie types that make up the peleton). Being a clydesdale, my hands tend to be bigger so I find that the hood contacts the front of my hand and the back where the ulnar nerve is but the middle of my hand supports no weight at all. So, yesterday I think that it is a real pity you can't distribute more weight onto the middle of the hand. 10 minutes later and a few pieces of bar wrap I have a nice formed to my hand fitting hood to put my hands on. Night and Day fair readers, Night and Day.
Then of course, last but not lest I have reattached that beautiful behind hammock that is known as the Brooks. Yes it is not as pretty as the racing saddles of the peleton, but I am here to tell you Brothers and Sisters, it is not your eyes which press into that seat. Do I hear an hallelujah? Can I hear a Praise the Brooks? I have seen the light, I have sat on the leather of heaven. I have cast off my evil butt biting saddle of the tormenting triathlon. I have thrown off the bonds of barely broad butt wedges! Amazing grace, how sweet it is my Brothers and Sisters! Hallelujah.
Hmm, maybe I got a little carried away, but I do like my brooks.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Just Another Mad Dog, and a sore and tired Paul

A report on the "Just Another Mad Dog" 25k/50k running race put on by Arizona Road Racers

Well, tonight I am sore, and my knees are not happy. I suppose that is what ibuprofen is for. In any case, I suppose I should share the events that led up to the sore muscles. Coming from a brevet/ultra cycling background I know a little something about feeding over a multi hour event. Energy was not a problem until the last mile or so but I figured that would be the case. Waking up Saturday morning before 5 AM I thought that I really had not prepared enough for this but it was too late now. It seems before brevets and so forth I go through a big routine to get everything ready. It felt kind of strange to get the shoes on, a shirt and shorts and head out the door. I had been sick most of the week so I wasn't too sure on how good I was going to run. Not that I am any speed demon anyway. I determined to take it easy at the start and enjoy the first few laps.
At the registration table I was pleased to find that not only was the t-shirt a synthetic sports type shirt, we got a running cap too (the kind that keeps your head cool). So, I took my shirt and cap back to the car where I tossed my cheapy hat with the first marathon symbol on it (I always felt like such a poseur wearing since I haven't actually ran a marathon yet but hey, a $3 cap is a good deal) and put on my knew supercool Mad Dog cap.
After walking around a bit to warm up we got started and I watched pretty much everyone head off into the predawn hours of the morning ahead. I determined to take it slow as 1- this was a training run for me (yeah right, I am a little sorer than I usually am after a training run) and 2 if brevets had taught me anything was it is better to start to slow than blow it in the first part of the race. So, doing a nice little jog down the sidewalk I went. Most of the people around me were older types but there were a few that were younger than me. I figured since I am not fast enough to slow down to anyones pace (I'd be walking if I did) I would take my mp3 player and have my own electronic running companion with me. The first lap I really enjoyed as I had determined to smell the roses so to speak and of course, I completed the first lap having been passed by a group of people with a guy wearing an Iron man shirt in it (I really respect those guys the more I run and swim). I would stay a minute or two back from them the rest of the race. I ended up running the first 5k in 38 minutes, which is slow even for me but it was my warm up lap I figured. It turned out to be my slowest lap interestingly enough. We basically went down by the lake heading south alongside a golf course toward Tempe Town Lake (all the parks were in indian bend wash) to a turnaround 1.1 miles out and then came back and ran around a few lakes before heading back to the start/finish line to start the next lap. The lakes and ducks were a nice distraction and made the morning downright pleasant for running (the fact the temperatures were colder was nice too).
On the second lap I started to notice that light colored shorts were a bad idea even in running circles as they led to goofy sweat patterns on the backside which black shorts would not show. For some reason it just seemed to be ladies that wore those light colored shorts. I guess they never get a chance to look at their backsides. It is funny I mention seeing the backends of people as a lot of people passed me when we got far enough into the race that they lapped me (some of those guys are fast but then again some of those guys are a lot lighter than me and have only developed muscles for running and not cycling and swimming as well). Anyway, I kept laps 2-5 at 35 minutes with lap 3 coming in at 34 and change.

This is the just started, my what a beautiful morning me.

Somewhere around lap 4 I started to notice mr. black nipples. I thought to myself about how he must have forgotten to put on anti-chaffing creme (a staple for us randonneurs) as he obviously was suffering from bleeding nipples (I hurt even thinking about it). When I saw him beginning lap 5 I still thought how he must have forgotten something when I started noticing that mine were starting to hurt a bit too. Fortunately I did not become a mr. bleeding nipples though, I just chaffed a bit.from laps 3-4 I started passing people and held onto it for lap 5. At the finish line I found out the lady I had last passed was 64 and was still running marathons each year (yes, that is plural). She had only thought this was going to be a 20k race and not 25 so that is pretty much why I passed her. I hope I am still that active at that age.

I'm smiling, but am I really smiling?

Getting a drink at the fountain just before the aid station a bunch of dogs in the dog play area started barking at me and of course being a cyclist my first thought was something about dumb dogs. My second thought (probably brought on by some sort of figment of exhaustion) was that they were saying Woof woof "Good Job! Only one lap left! get out there" which was encouraging so I thought better of the dogs and ran through the start line to start my last lap (then again, perhaps one of these was the "Mad Dog" for whom the race had been named?). I had started to get tired during the last section before the dogs and had told myself I would not walk until the last lap and then only the hills. I kept pretty close to that actually. I walked 2 and half hills and ran the rest of the way. I have to say I was hurting the last mile or so but I suppose that is to be expected. Ever since seeing the clock at the start reading 2:22 I had resolved to finish before 3 hours so I probably pushed the last lap a little harder than I had originally intended so I suppose that is why I am sore but I did finish at 2:58 minutes though so I suppose it was worth it.
After the finish I chugged gatorade and water and went over to get a hamburger and goodies over at the ramada (gotta love events with a full barbeque at the end, Arizona Road Racers is an A Class racing organization that keeps the entry fees absurdly low somehow without skimping on the benefits). It was here that I picked up my finishers medal, a jar of Mad Dog barbeque sauce. A pretty tasty reward for running almost 16 miles. I finished 48th out of 54 people, not counting those 9 hardy(psychotic) souls who selected the 50k option.

The Road Racermobile. We need to get one of these for Susan to run Brevets :) (although I can't really picture her driving one of these things around :) .

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bike Snobbin it.

Well, today I was the bike snob I am afraid. I got caught at a light with what many in the cycling world call the "has to bike" cyclist. I usually wave at these guys from across the road but was kind of shamed into realizing I didn't say good morning to him at the light. Hmmm, next time I am caught at the light with a day worker, guy on a mountain bike, guy who lives in a ditch, or the guy who looks a little metro on his beach cruiser, I am going to give a wassup or something like that.
Speaking of metro types... you know the type, I mean everyone used to ride a beach cruiser at one time or another and many still do (particularly on campuses where kids are still cool) but there is always the guy that rides it as a fashion statement. I saw the very embodiement of this today. His hair, tight green turtleneck, and tight black pants screamed I am METRO man (whens Ozzy going to update his Ironman song anyway?). Then there was his beach cruiser. But this was not your typical beach cruiser. It had an impeccable paint job, but that is not what drew your eyes, no, in front of those pedalling legs he had what appeard to be large foot rests. The kind you see on Harleys for guys to sit back and kick their legs up on while their gettin their motor runnin and heading down the highway being born to be wild and all. Here is this guy that looks like he should be on a vespa (hows that for a stereotype) and he is riding a cool beach cruiser with flippin Harley pegs on the front. Anyway, I had to admit he was just cool.

So, since the above encounter dictated that I might blog today I decided to try my hand at doing the Bruce cam thing (Go to Bruce's blog if you want to see it, he has mastered this technique of taking pictures of himself and others while riding, I am afraid I have not yet mastered it, either that or my camera stinks). As you can see from the above picture the camera stretched my head as I didn't hold the camera still enough.
At the end of the commute, I snapped a picture of our building which has not had it's logo updated since the merger so I did it. Very professional. Hmm, I wonder since we merged and all if Mitel is now branded as "Mitel, a company who has Inter-Tel as a Mitel Company". Maybe not.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mix'n it up a bit.

Well, I have been on the road bike all week (thank you, thank you very much! First full week of bike commuting in awhile) and today I thought I woul d mix it up a bit. So, with a desire to do something funky and different I decided I would ride the recumbent today. I haven't been on the old beast since the 600k back in April and found I had a lot of things that needed to be put back together but I managed to find the back wheel and the cargo seat bag. Eventually I had everything ready (amazing how simple it is to commute with your everyday commuter and then when you switch to another bike how it is like preparing to go on an expedition when you start collecting the patch kits, pumps and various "just in case" items).
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the legs felt really good considering I hadn't ridden this thing for 6 or 7 months. Average speed was about what I had been doing lately on the roadbike. As I proceeded into the commute my mind wandered into brevets past and I started to think of ways I might be able to sneak one in after my Marathon in February. Perhaps a 400k would be possible? Hmmm, I would prefer the 300k if I had to do one with little or no training but 2 weeks after a marathon might be a bit of a tall order. Thanks to the recumbent, training my posterior to handle 14-16 hours in the saddle was not that big a deal. If I could keep the cadence high and the pedalling easy it just might be possible considering I have been doing the series the last few years and endurance tends to linger for awhile, plus it wasn't as if I wasn't doing anything aerobic between now and then (riding the bike 5 days a week, swimming and running) Hmmm. I guess I could always dnf if it got too bad. Then the brevet demons started to circle around me head (c'mon Paul.... you know you want to do it..... do it Paul......ride the brevet Paul......your are a randonneur..... you must ride...... it is your destiny).
So, by the time I had arrived at work I figured that what I had thought would be a no brevet season had turned into a maybe just 1 brevet season. The cool side too is that if I go into the ride with a mindset of taking it easy it will be a just for fun ride and I will be able to socialize a lot more with all my Randonneuring friends (who I kind of feel like I ditzed by not planning on doing the full season this year and branching out into triathlons).
Then heading south a guy on a nice looking trek passes me and does not acknowledge my good morning. Well, buddy, if you pass me and don't acknowledge a good morning that gauntlet is thrown! Although this was a rest day I figured I was going to play a limited game of taunt the roadie. The rules of the game are, if you are passed by someone who looks like they might be taking themselves a little too seriously and might be trying to show the recumbent who is boss, then it is your duty to catch up to them slowly and pretend you want to pass to make them ride faster and eventually blow up. So, I followed him about 50 feet back for 3 miles or so and after the 3rd light I knew I would be turning right soon so I figured I would find out if he really was being snobbish or not so I thought I would give him one more chance and I caught him and pulled alongside. "Nice morning for riding huh?" I said. After a few seconds he replied in a breathy voice, "Yeah, (gasp).. just perfect". So I don't think he was snobby, but perhaps he was playing a bit of the dog and rabbit game. Truth be told, he did have me on the upper end of my rest pace and perhaps, just perhaps, on a rise or two I strayed above it a bit (oh, and I should mention that there was a stiff headwind which he had to fight more than me, but that has nothing to do with my catching him, no not a bit :) ).
I took it easy the rest of the way down Chandler into work and got there just after nine. Yup, it had been a slightly chilly but perfect morning for riding.
Brevet, hmmmm, 300k? It is my favorite distance and doesn't require too much night riding (discovered on the 400k last year the medications I am on and extreme late night riding don't mix. At least solo late night riding anyway). Maybe I'll do it.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Stranger in a Land of Seasons.

A rainy day in a land far from home, in fact it is so far that they even have something called seasons up here. Eagerly I left the house (of my sister) to get in the car, at this point I realized it was raining and not just a beautiful cloudy day. The fat and lazy runner devil on my left shoulder tried to convince me it wasn't worth it and the pumped energetic angel on my right was telling me to just get out there and run, it was the first day of marathon training and I needed to get out there and run my seven miles. So I went back inside.
Of course you know I went back out as what would be the point of blogging a pleasant but boring sit in the house. I went back in to rearrange my route to keep me off of muddy trails on So, I decide upon a run up the Hobble Creek Parkway near my sisters house in Springville Utah.
The place I started was next to the reservoir which was nearly empty. The rain was falling in a steady drizzle but the fall colors on the trees showed through the rain. The first half of the run was all uphill so this would be a good workout (which was good as all I had was a short sleeve shirt and shorts and a quick warmup was a good thing). It was actually a few miles before I would start to get warm. I was surprised at how many runners I saw out with their dogs. Every one of them had rain gear on. So I was the dumb guy in the canyon today. I was really sorry I had forgot my hat this time. I had to keep cleaning my glasses.
Running through all the trees with changing colors near the creek was just too beautiful and somewhere in here I even started enjoying the rain too. A nice cold rain and fall colors, how could any run be any more different that Mesa Az? I guess it could be snowing but I'll take the rain and colors.
I had decided that the run today would be 7 miles to start off my 4 month to 4 hour marathon in style. Anyway, this was probably a bit more hilly than what I had originally thought but after the run I did last week this one would turn out to be considerably easier with only 400 feet of climbing. Wandering in and out of the groves heading up the canyon my mind was taken from running and into the beautiful collage before me
Not far later the Hobble Creek Golf course started to become visible throught he breaks in the trees on the right. The Golf Course was a brief break in the foliage as I reached the end of the parkway and would make the transition into running on the side of the road from the path.
East Hobble Creek Road is almost as beautiful as the path was but with cars so I would occasionally have to move over to the shoulder (which was pretty narrow). I had figured from the satellite pictures on MapMyTri that once I reached the end of the second meadow that I would turn around and have 7 miles at the end.
From the turnaround it was downhill all the way back. Sometimes it was a bit steep and a little hard on the knees but mostly it was just nice running down the path in the rain. I passed a family out for a walk with umbrellas who were nice enough to let me through. Another couple of joggers and I was back at the car. I felt I could have done some more which was nice. A beautiful way to start training for a new event I haven't done before.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Finish or Die Trying....Toughest Triathlon in Az.

Well, I picked the Fountain Mountain triathlon for my 1st international distance tri for two reasons really, one it was on Saturday (not doing Sunday races is really tough in this sport!) and two, the scenery and swim tempted me like Jason and the sirens and I forgot to plug my ears. In any case I decided to order the supersized meal of triathlons for a first go round on this distance.

To prepare for this I decided I had to get at least one tri under my belt first so did a sprint down in Sierra Vista about a month and a half ago. Shortly after I got sick and the broncitis from it took me out for 2 weeks so in effect I lost a month of training since it took 2 weeks to regain what I had lost. I new I was in for a real grinder of an event when I ran an abbreviated version of it in reverse a few weeks ago. So, that is the preamble of my report. I was not quite as prepared as I would have liked to have been but that is life I suppose.

Having checked the weather all week I knew that conditions would be ideal so I was looking forward to that. The morning temps were in the upper 60's so it was a bit chilly waiting on the side of the lake where the shuttle bus had dropped us off. It was funny to see everyone doing the wetsuit waltz which looks like some sort of modern dance as they pull and stretch and wiggle their way into the suit. I of course don't have a suit and determined a few weeks ago that Saguaro should be warm enough to make do without (I know rental is an option but funds were a little tight over the last few weeks). At 5 minutes before the race we were told to go down and get in the lake so I put all my dry stuff in a bag to be left at the finish line, pulled on my goggles and cap, and gingerly made my way down a little rocky trail into the water.

Out in the water we treaded water for a few minutes and then we were off. I found in the pool last week that bilateral breathing speeds you up so I determined I would do it. So- breathe right, ah oxygen, breathe left, gack! (as I swallow a large helping of the lake). I tried again with limited success, and upon flailing about for the next 50 m or so I resolved to revert to the form I had practiced countless times in training. From here I stopped to get bearings a few times in the first 100 meters and then I realized that I was being stupid and I knew this lake well, and I swim slow but well, and that I should have confidence so I should just swim dang it! Sighting every 10 or 11 strokes worked well for me for the first buoy and I noticed a couple of guys stopped there to look for the next buoy which I already roughly knew the location of so I turned that direction. Around here I noticed the water clarity as I was seeing rocks go by six feet below me. Around here the chop started getting pretty noticeable and the buoy was hidden by the waves so I picked a spot on the hill behind it and swam to that until I was close enough that the waves didn't hide it. I almost didn't need to sight on this stretch as all you had to do was swim parallel to the waves. Rounding this buoy was a different story. we swam diagonal to the waves and staying on course was difficult and a bit of a struggle, but once I rounded the buoy I knew I was home free as I have swum into and out of Butcher jones dozens of times now.

I hopped up on the beach at 42 minutes and jogged up on the pebbles and rocks and sand up to the road and on up to the transition (which was a ways up, I figure it took a few minutes out of my time just getting to the transition without injuring my feet). Transition 1 went good considering I had to dig all my stuff out of a bag I had left there last night with my bike, in the dark. All told I exited transition 5 minutes after leaving the water with a heartrate out of the zone I had wanted to keep.

Since I wasn't breathing hard and felt good I decided to just go with percieved exertion and moved on up the hill out of Butcher Jones at a scorching 7 miles and hour (this wouldn't be the last time either). I was able to speed it up before reaching the top. After getting onto the Bush highway and getting through the first set of hills before passing water users, I started to real people in. Climbing 4 mile hill out of Usery I passed 2 people from the short course and was passed by the leaders for the long course as they took thier second lap (man those guys are fast!). My HRM kept beeping at me but I knew if I could get over this hill I would get a bit of a rest dropping down the other side and into Las Sendas. I passed a few more people in this section as I was able to take the corners at speed thanks to the officers that were stopping traffic. It wasn't too long before I was barreling down Kong and heading back to Saguaro. About a half mile before the junction with Ellsworth Andy from the Az Tri Club passed me with a big "Hey Paul!" and he was on his way. I passed another guy before Ellsworth and was passed after Blue point bridge by a guy that said he had been trying to catch me for a long time (which made me feel good). Getting into the next transition I was feeling a bit tired and spun at a high cadence trying to get the legs ready for the trial that would be the run.

Pulling in they grabbed my bike and bike stuff and handed me my running bag I had left with them before getting on the bus. I quickly slipped on the shoes and my running cap, grabbed a water and a couple of gels and was out walking up the trail. Yes walking, I saw a couple of people doing a real slow jog but I was keeping up with them walking and my plan was not to kill myself on this first part. Pretty soon there was a group of us playing tag and walking as we would pass each other and get passed. in the first stretch there were a few places to run and I did where I could. The highway drink stop was welcomed as I began to realize in here I had not quite overhydrated enough on the bike to prepare for the run. I ate a gel, downed some water and continued on feeling the increasing objections of my legs to work right. After the real nasty climb on the second part of the run I was relieved to see that the trail went straight and not up the ridge like the trail I had taken a few weeks before and thought was the trail. The trail that goes straight is a lot easier but you wouldn't know it to look at me. I was not even 2 miles into the run and I was hurting. This was going to be a long run. I had to walk into the next drink stop as the legs needed some serious recovery, this is where the group that had been playing tag left me, and it is also where I earned my place as the last guy in the clydesdale category (but I wouldn't be last, just 8 up from last in the overall standings (if they listed Clydesdales there which they didn't which was kind of annoying)). Anyway, from here it was downhill for awhile but I was determined to run it as I just couldn't bear the thought of walking downhill on a run. I was amazed that on the sides of the wash there was still firm sand and so I ran on it catching a bush every now and then. After making the turn at the bottom I walked up the hill to the Bush highway as did most people around me. From Water Users on I was doing the walk run thing and I was just looking for that finish line, and looking, and looking. It seemed like they made the course zig zag all over that little bit of land next to the river and the ranch. I paused a minute at a direction sign that said kids on it and I wasn't sure if it meant me. Judging by the footprints I figured it must so I soldiered on and could here the PA system seeming to taunt me from far off over the bushes, although I knew the finish line was near I had nothing left and had to walk until I knew I was just out of sight of everyone and then started to run and finished at 4 hours and 2 minutes. If I could have just run better and pulled 10 minutes off my time I would have been 3rd place Clydesdale instead of 6th but at this point all I can say is that it shouldn't be hard to pull 10 minutes off between now and next year, of course I probably will not be a clydesdale then but oh well.

I don't think I have been happier to see a cooler jug full of watered down gatorade and I began to chug cups of it down for about 10 minutes until someone mentioned the pizza, which was cold but I didn't care and I downed 3 pieces and went back to chugging gatorade. I sat in the shade for awhile too (about half an hour actually, funny how time flies when you are exhausted and just kind of spacing after having completely drained the tanks). Just when I had stood up and was heading for the bike rack I ran into Andy and said hi. After retrieving my bike and stuff I ran into him again and we talked for a bit. He offered some words of encouragement and mentioned he was heading out to silverman in a few weeks. At that time Ironman distance seemed like the distance to the moon to me. I have come to the realization that the International distance is a LOT harder than the sprint distance. On the other hand, perhaps it is just that the Fountain Mountain International distance is a LOT harder than a sprint, I guess further experience will tell.

Here are the numbers if you are interested-

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Well, let me first start out with last Saturdays workout. I decided that since it was two weeks out from my big triathlon I would do a test run as best I could, but I would do it in reverse so I could swim last. Well, I got to Water Users parking lot after dawn and the temperature was nice and cool. I headed out to warm up and run over to where the run would start in two weeks. The legs didn't want to wake up at first but they soon would when I hit the hills. Speaking of hills, Holy Heartrate batman! I was in the 90% zone quite a few times and I was WALKING much of the way! I kept thinking "what have I gotten myself into?". The first hill was rough climbing up to the road. The scenery was beautiful but the climbing was painful.
Ok, now across the road and the wicked climbing resumes. Not only does it resume, but now there is cholla cactus pom poms on the trail and climbing up the back of my leg, and in the side of my shoe. Note to self, bring a comb or a plastic fork on the triathlon to flick cholla out of skin and shoes. Fortunately I am not the fastest triathlete out there so hopefully all the fast people will sweep the trail clean :) ! Anyway, after going anaerobic a few more times I managed to finally reach the top of the climbing and finally get back into a good running rythm. Descending wasn't any picnic either but that was mostly due to keeping the knees happy (being a clydesale and all, happy knees are important!). Pretty soon I was down into the soft sand of the creek bed and making my way back to the car. I ran into a horseback riding group coming up from the ranch just before hitting the road. I am sure these tourists on a horseback ride they paid good money for to see the natural Arizona landscape were happy to see a Neon Orange clad runner coming down the creek in front of them! Anyway, after a brutal hour and 20 minutes I was once again back at the car. I was totally out of energy but drank some sports drink and got on the bike and pedalled out even if I was going to only go to the bridge and back. Well, I found the energy to do the whole bike route including a climb up Kong (really nasty 1 mile hill that barbeques the quads evenly and nicely until you can smell the juices cooking.
By the time I got to the swim I had to refill a water bottle at Saguaro Lake Marina and I figured I would swim for half an hour but wouldn't try for any records, It was hot, I was physically wasted, and not drowning would be an accomplishment at this point.
All in all it was a killer workout. It let me know exactly what to expect next week, and left me stronger (after all it didn't kill me).
Now for yesterday's workout. At Butcher Jones yesterday morning with the later sunrise I was able to finish my mile swim (30 seconds off my pr) before the sun peeked over the hills so I decided I would do a run up the Butcher Jones trail. Well, the first part of the trail I knew and quickly ran through it, after Peregrine cove though, I stumbled into new territory. I say stumbled because this section of the trail was not unlike Saturday's adventure.d That section was quickly over though and this trail turned into one of the coolest trails I have run on.
After you climb over the first point you have a nice rolling desert run on smooth trail. Ahead of you is four peaks and numerous other foothills in the foreground contrasted in various shades of blue gray due to the sun behind them. As you run further on you are in a saddle between a large hill on the side of the lake and a mountain on the left. Past the saddle you arrive at Burro cove and look across a thousand points of sunlight in the lake with four peaks in the backround and endless foothills in front of that. It was a very nice place to turn around on a run. By the time I got back to the car I had run 5 miles and felt energized and ready to face the day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Yaaaoagh! Broncitis and overtrained?

Well, it all started with a bit of a sore throat on a Friday night over a week ago. Determined to ride with the local tri club the next day I got up and did it sore throat and all and then kept my promise to my son and took him to sunsplash. Well, by Sunday morning I was in pain and had developed a nasty cough that felt like it was tearing my lungs out every time I coughed. Anyway, the unbearable pain only lasted a few days but the cough lingered and the sinus congestion continued, and after 7 days I said enough and went into the doctor who gave me some stuff and told me I had broncitis. Well today I am 11 days into this and going stir crazy as the legs want to do something but the lungs say no. I guess I understand how Bruce has been feeling the last month. Anyway, it seems to have improved a little today so perhaps I will be back into training soon which would be good as I have a rather intense event coming up on the 6th of October and I would like at least a week left of training before starting to taper!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Woo hoo! Look at me, I'm a triathlete!

Well, I got to Sierra Vista late at night and my plans to bivuac just outside of town seemed to be dashed as it was raining and lightening all over. When I found out the cheapest hotel was full and the expensive ones were, well, expensive. I decided to go back to plan a, which unbeknownst to me included getting eaten alive by mosquitos. Anyway, I didn't have a problem waking up in time to go to the race.
I got checked in just fine, I got my bike racked and my stuff in the transition area and then I remembered I needed my waterbottles. Soon I would realize I would also need my keys to get the water bottles as they were sitting in the back of my locked Jeep (Doh!). So, I found a guy that thought he could help and he said we should try the keys on his ring in the off chance that it somehow worked. Incredibly it did work! So I had my keys and water bottles and was back in business.
I saw on the window that I was in heat 2. I thought someone must have made a mistake as there was no way I was a fast enough swimmer to be in the second heat out of 6. Well, it turns out the slower people go first! So, back in my humble old mind again I prepared for heat 2. I missed the warm up as I watched the heat 1 swimmers struggle through their swim (800m by the way). Having been coached by my niece for the last few months and working on my stroke I found myself analyzing the strokes of the swimmers in the pool. It was amazing how many of the bad habits that I had recently trained out of my habits I saw people using and thought if they just worked on form they would likely be swimming in my heat.
My heat, hmmm, well I sat down on the bulkead waiting for them to start us and I find out the lady I will be sharing a lane with is shooting for 24 minutes and she is surprised to find out I am shooting for 18 and am still in this heat. Then we started and I did flip turns for the first few laps before I decided I was not getting enough Oxygen that way and stopped with the flip turns. Somewhere in here I noticed I was getting a lot of resistance from the other swimmer in my lane being slower and creating chop in the water. I ended up lapping her twice before finishing in the first few in my heat (at least there was only one other guy at the rack when I got out there and I didn't see anyone coming back from our heat on the bike leg). I managed to soak up a couple of minutes in Transition (I don't know my swim time since my lap timer reset but it was around 17-18 minutes). I had a bit of trouble getting my tri top on but didn't lose too much time on it.
So, on to the bike leg. I passed a Lady like she was standing still not too far out (I think she was the first one out of the water in our heat). I managed to keep the speed up in the 23-25 mph area most of the way to the turn around. I had been worried about sun in the eyes but it was a nice overcast morning and I just thoroughly enjoyed the cooler temperatures of Sierra Vista. One guy passed me nearing the turn around but I think he just wanted to pass me as I kept on his tail most of the race from here on out. After the turnaround we kept 15-17 mph most of the way back (uphill and into a bit of a headwind). During this stretch we passed most of the previous heat including a 10 year old boy (someday he will be way out of my league, I was no where near doing on of these at that age). The fields were all green and the morning was just gorgeous. I kept checking my Heart Rate monitor and I was keeping it between 82-85% which was sustainable for this length of race. The guy in front of me got into the transistion about the same time as me and we were out together after a quick change into running shoes and putting the helmet and bike shoes by the bike.
We started running and I felt like I had someone pushing me but it was only imagination and muscles transitioning from cycling to running. The guy in front of me would get a little ahead and then he would have to stop and stretch. He was having a hard time transitioning to running. I was amazed that I didn't have so much trouble. After a mile or so my shins started to hurt (muscles), I knew they were just being cranky and wouldn't stop until the end though so I just kept on going. During the run I was passed by 3 people (I expected that as my run is the weakest of the 3 disciplines). I was happy it was only 3 though as I was expecting a lot more to pass me. Anyway, after halfway most of the course was downhill and I found myself nearing the end of the course when one guy passed me and got in behind the guy I had been following. With a 1/4 mile left I looked behind me as I determined I was not going to get passed in the last 1/4 mile and there was a guy 100 yds back so I picked up the pace and threw heartrate to the wind finishing strong and not getting passed.
Grabbing a Bananna and an orange I walked around waiting for them to post my tag on the board. I was happy to see that I was not the last guy in my group, in fact there were several behind me. With the last heats still on the course though I knew my name would move down the board. Around this time I realized that the last heat was still swimming! They were cruising! Some of those guys did the swim in around 10 minutes! I can't even imagine swimming that fast! Anyway, it was a good day for a race and I learned a lot. My time was 1:38:54. Around 33 minutes for the run and 41 for the bike with an average speed of 19.2. I wasn't quite as fast as I had hoped but I was in the ballpark so I am happy with it.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Big swim BIG hill

Well, finally a Saturday rolled around where the Arizona Tri Club had a open water swim workout that I could attend so I was eager to get up there and show them all my new swim moves that my niece had been coaching me on. Of course I was the slowest one there but hey, you can't become a competitive swimmer in 2 months. Well, I guess competing with myself I am a pretty fierce competitor. Anyway, we swam under the bridge pictured above. Between the "no wake" buoy and the rock buoy down the canyon it made for a 900m lap. I was a little intimidated at first wondering if I could do it but 52 minutes later I got out of the water having swim 1900m averaging 2.5 minutes every 100m. Not to bad for a greenhorn I figure. Anyway, it was the first time I had swim that far and interestingly enough I enjoyed it. The swim was just the first part of the day though. The second part of this "little" workout included a ride to the end of the pavement and back via tortilla flat. Well, some of you I know have ridden back to Tortilla Flat with me on permanents. Well, lets just say there is a dirty little secret hill behind Tortilla flat that makes the hill on the way in seem like childsplay. I had a hard enough time getting my legs to pedal after the swim climbing the hill to Tortilla flat but I thought they were on the verge of rebellion upon starting the killer climb of the day. Just a few facts. The ride is a little over 18 miles, the first half of which features nearly 3,ooo feet of climbing. Yes, the ride features 3,121 feet of climbing of which almost all of it is in the first 9 miles. So, lets start in Tortilla flat with the start of the "REAL" workout, never mind the fact that my legs were not happy with the climb to Tortilla in the first place. I had climbed the first part of this before so I knew what was in store. There is a rather scenic little climb around an outcrop.

And then... Could this be the top of the hill? No, it is merely toying with your mind and is but a small dip into a wash and then, the horror of the hill is upon you. Each new corner brings a view of unrelenting 10 degree climbing torture, although torture is not really a word you are thinking about until you are on mile 2 of the hill and your legs are not happy with you and even the triple chainring guys are suffering. Then, you can see it! Is that a flat spot up ahead in a saddle? Is that the top? Can it be? So you climb harder knowing that after three harsh miles of climbing you are at last having the hill letup, but no, the flat spot is but a breath extracted from the unwilling landscape. Expletives are heard as cyclists are informed that there are still 3 more miles of this. Eventually breath is once again used for powering the legs as the backbreaking hill returns with no mercy. About a mile from the turn around another breath of easier grade is enjoyed and not too far later a short flat stretch and then, there it is, the edge of the pavement! After an hour of struggle you are there! Now it is time for the 10-15 minute ride back down hair raising hills and pray your breaks don't fail flight! 3 28 ounce water bottles later my thirst is almost satiated.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Run Bike Swim, rest......

The above image of my finishing the last Splash and Dash. I tink I look like I am doing some sort of Chicken victory dance. Anyway, that was a very tough race for me as I was sick during most of the run (combination of dehydration and yucky powerbar floating around in stomache). Anyway, I had zero energy but I did finish and I did manage to avoid doing my duty of finishing last this time (happens to everyone sometime I figure).

Anyway, this morning seeing as I had done nothing last week due to being up in nthe forest at a scoutcamp last week, I figured I would get a run in before biking to work as there was another race this Saturday and a tri coming up a month from Saturday. Long story short the run was nice but the bicycle ride was very muggy and hot. I did make it in though. At lunch I figured I would go do a few laps in the pool just to get rid of the out of the pool for a week feeling before I do a long workout tomorrow morning.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Look at me! I'm a swimmer!

Couldn't ride in today so I went to the pool over lunch with the car and decided to do my long workout in the pool today so I could taper for Saturday's Splash and Dash. Well, now this may not seem like a lot to you cool and fast swimmers out there, but I did 8 sets of 100m's and averaged 2:02 per 100m! my fastest 100m time was 1:53 which is a personal best for me. Anyway, one has to celebrate these little victories while training.
I also managed to hit the big 200 lbs on weight over the weekend. a weight I have not been at for nearly a year. If I can get it down to 190 again I should notice a big increase in speed and climbing on the bike.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Goodbye my Brooks, for now.

Well, I put a triathlon saddle on my bike today and put the brooks upon my shelf. Feeling guilty I wrote my poor saddle an ode, to cheer it until Randonneuring season starts up again.

Ode to my Saddle.

Oh leather Brooks, betwixt my cheeks,
That would not soften for weeks and weeks,
And hast endured many gaseous emissions,
Hind sweat, assorted balms and other reeks.
Hast always been true though various conditions.

Oh oiled saddle beneath my rear,
My hind quarters in pain did not sear,
Though heavy weight made the racers snear and snigger,
And many a rider thought me quite queer,
I stifle a laugh, their bottom sores are bigger.

Oh cowhide hammock, who holds my jewels,
And as I ride and shift them, he deftly duels,
with one last adjustment, I’m glad to find the spot,
riding in comfort, past poor grimacing fools,
Who bought countless saddles, and great comfort have sought.

Oh Leather brooks, carry me on,
Through darkest night, and bright summer dawn,
And keep not, concentration on things which are down,
Just keep me in comfort, and looking anon,
going forth, smiling away with nary a frown.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Good time, and a Good race.

Well, my primary fear going into this was coming in dead last. I had never done a multi-sport race before and this was completely new to me. So, with a little trepidation I warmed up and approached the finish line. Because it was also a swim event I not only wore my number but had it written on my hands in sharpy marker. Kind of funny later as my number was "21" and everyone was wondering what I had been doing last night. Anyway back to the race. I was a little concerned over the run as I hadn't been running for too long and just barely had had a workout at a 10 minute mile pace last Tues. I started in the back of the line since I figured that is where I would finish. I had a lady behind me and a guy and a lady in front of me. I passed the lady after about a quarter mile and I passed the guy at the halfway point as the climb over the pedestrian bridge at university had taken it out of him apparently. Anyway, I almost caught another guy before the pool but not quite. About 5 minutes before getting to the pool I popped a gel and started to think about the swim. I managed to swing through transition in a few seconds and was in the pool swimming in no time at all. I wanted to stay ahead of that guy I had passed. After the first lap I noticed he was just getting ready to get in the pool. A lap or two later I noticed a guy not too far behind me but not gaining. I thought wow that guy really caught up quick but it turns out unbenowndst to me I had passed several people in the transition area who took more time.
The swim was nice as it was a good cool down. That being said the legs didn't want to kick as they had just ran a 30 minute 5k which was faster than anything I had done in training so I concentrated on the upper body and kicked lightly. The first 400m were a bit of a drage but not to bad. the last 400m my legs came back to life and I started passing people on the turns. None of them were doing flip turns so I would flip turn underneath them and move on. I actually managed to gain a lot of ground on some of them (not that it matters, I just had a really good last leg of the race). Anyway, climbing out of the pool it was nice to know I wasn't dead last (but it would have been OK if I was, I mean someone has to be last once in awhile). I had a good race and my time was almost bang on the dot what I expected it to be. Not bad for a first Aquathlon.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bike and swim.

Good day of workouts today. I biked into work in good time, not great time, but I was kind of saving something for the afternoon swim. I have a Swim/Run race on Saturday (not racing to win really, just for experience and fitness, might even come in last). Anyway, mornings are still a little cool which is nice. Usually this far into summer it is hot in the mornings.
Lunchtime swim was nice. I did 800m of swimming with only one stop to make sure my lap timer was working good (ok and a bit of a breath recovery but I didn't stop for more than 30 seconds). I averaged 2:20 for each 100m and finished the 8 in 18 minutes or so. Not a great time but since I have only been training seriously in swimming for 3 weeks I think that is not bad for me. Anyway, it was a nice swim over lunch and put me in a nice position for weightloss for the day.
I just hope I don't look too stupid Saturday. If I do though I guess it doesn't matter anyway. At least I will know where I need improvement the most.

Monday, June 18, 2007

This is your brain, this is your brain on Heat Exhaustion...

Well, I kind of new I would be riding home on the old steed, and I knew it would be hot. What I see in hindsight is that I shouldn't have swam a mile over lunch. The legs were jello this afternoon and the temps were in the 105+ range which is usually a pretty hot ride. Anyway I had a pretty good tradewind heading east through Chandler. I had ice water, and a tailwind it was nice, if only the legs had more juice! I made it to the freeway in good time but that is where I started to slowly lose steam. Around here things got pretty nasty as I was getting hot and having wierd skin sensations so I knew I had to do something soon. I spotted a bikeway on the side of a canal around gilbert and took it thinking it might cut some distance off. It didn't cut any distance off but it did spit me out at an intersection and where the trail ended there was a water fountain with hot water. Now I know that hot water may not sound too appealing but when the humidity is low, even hot water will quickly chill when a wind is applied to it so I doused my helmet and my jersey and started pedaling into a few miles of evaporative cooling bliss. It wasn't too long before I dried out though but the cooling had boosted my energy so I was able to keep better time for awhile. When I finally got out into the farms the temperature dropped near the fields. I still had to douse myself a few times with the waterbottle I filled at the fountain. The last 3 miles were a real struggle. I found myself struggling to pedal up the street to my house. I did arrive just after 6:30 so I could watch the kids but man what an effort to make it! One hour and forty minutes in the blazing sun. Knowing I wasn't exactly in the best shape at the moment I went in and filled the tub with cold water and sat in it. One the cold water helps get the lactic acid out of the muscles, two, there is no better way to help the body shed extra heat than to submerge it in cold water. After the bath I drank another quart of water, ate a bowl of Ice Cream, two bowls of frosted flakes, and another quart of water. Looking at my Diet diary program on my palm pilot it says after all I have ate today and all my excersize, I can still eat 2000 calories before I go over today's calorie goal! Bring on the cheesecake!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

My first brick.

Well, today was the day to do the first brick workout! What is a brick workout you might ask? Well, it is a workout where you bicyle for a bit and then switch to running for the second half. Why would you want to run you may ask? Well, I have got this crazy idea to do a triathlon in my head. I figure I will be a bit like a fish out of water, or a fish in water, Or a fish in water and then out of water on a bike and then running, whatever. I am training for a triathlon. I figured it was probably the best way to take off this extra weight I have and make me a lean mean randonneuring machine (who also swims and runs on the side). Anyway, to do this I am getting back into running and am spending a few lunch hours a week at the pool working on my freestyle technique (amazing how much faster better technique can make you go).
Anyway! Today I drove over to the corner of Crismon and Signal Butte to do my Brick. I drove because I figured I would need some place to stash my bike while I ran. Of course when I was pumping up my tires just after 5 am I noticed a wobble in the back wheel. So off came the wheel, out came the chainwhip and I adjusted the bearings in the hub. Putting the wheel back on my smallest sprocket was rubbing the frame! So, more than an hour later I finally had the thing working (dang that sram cassette!) and I was off!
On the bike I was off at a good pace and down in the aero bars again. In no time I was at the turn up to Usery Pass. I was very pleased to see that I was able to hold 11 to 12 mph all the way up even if I was on the edge of being out of breath. Usery pass is a long climb and has many fake tops so it is a good one to train on. As I do more of these workouts I will probably build up into repeats when I get better at managing energy while running. Turning around at the top I cruised back down the way I had come up. I really like descending this hill as you can maintain 25-30 mph for a long time descending it. At the bottom I had to stop briefly to wait for a car to clear the intersection before turning and heading down to my car.
Having heard that the transition from bike to running does a real number on the calfs I started spinning and doing on bike calf stretches on approach to the car. It seemed to work as I had no cramping or pain in the legs when I started running. I just had tired legs to deal with but I get that feeling whenever I start running. The trail I had chosen was uphill so ocassionaly I had to walk a bit to get the heartrate down. All told I did 8 hilly miles on the bike and 2.5 hilly miles running on a pretty hot morning. Next time I want to get out earlier (assuming no mechanicals).

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Map of my Commute

Well, I thought that since nothing is particularly special about the commutes this week I would post the map of my commute below. I haven't been commuting as much this week as I have been working running and Swimming as well as cycling to try and shake up my metabolism a bit and shake off some pounds. Today I was back on the bent though and have to go both ways thanks to my Father inlaw taking a vacation in Alaska. Fortunately temps are low this week. Anyway, without further ado here is the map of my commute:

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Cyclist Noir

Somewhere in the sweltering sandy city streets rides a bike commuter head to the wind and legs like giant sweaty pistons rising and falling in ceaseless rythym. It's not easy but then again, what is easy? Thats me, Crank Noir East Valley Commuter.
It was a warm morning in the tired old city in the east valley we call the big cheesy, that's right, Mesa Arizona. It's kind of a dry desert town where a neighbor would sooner call the HOA about your mailbox color than wave hello. Changes have been happening in the Big Cheesy as of late. With the longer days and harsh sun, the fairweather residents have packed up and left leaving behind the kind of scum like me that can stand this heat.
Leaving my driveway I was hailed by a big sweaty walrus type of fellow building a mailbox for the local neighborhood watch. I waved back, wondering if he approved of the color of my mailbox as I turned down a nondescript road that looked like every other nondescript road in this nondescript town. I wondered why he was spending his days building mailbox's? Why didn't he have a job? Why did he care about our mailbox's so much? So many questions, but I am a cycle commuter not a detective dang it!
Then, rounding the corner onto a slightly less nondescript street (it had a park) I saw her. She had a physique like Marianne on Gilligans island if only Marianne had been built like a ken doll and was 80 years old. She waved hi to me and I waved back. Apparently she too was one of the unfortunate scum unable to make the migration out of this sweaty sweltering city we called home.
Heading south I ran into a headwind that felt just like a speeding freight train would if it was moving at 10 mph and was made out of air. Doggedly I tried to get more out of my legs like a sleazy detective beating a source. Unfortunately the guy I call Mr. Exhaustion had got to them first. I figured he must be working for the crime boss we call, Mr. Headwind. Yes, it had his feel.
Knowing the ways Mr. Headwind works his victims and minions alike I made a quick right down a less nondescript but dirty road with scores of mediocre people streaming to the dusty city to sit all day at nondescript desk slowly eaking their life away one day at a time. Their cars frustrated the efforts of Mr. Headwind for now. Many questions flooded my mind. Why was Mr. Headwind getting involved in this from his southern dominions? What did he have against my poor legs? and why was my butt hurting? So many questions, so far left to go.
I was lost in these thoughts when suddenly I was caught by a hooker! She was a dizzy dame with the attention of a 4 year old who has just sat in a car for 8 hours and is suddenly let loose in Disneyland. Headwind must have let on that I was headed this way. Pretending to talk on a cell phone she made an illegal right turn just in front of me. I slammed on the brakes which engaged exactly like a properly adjusted brake wouldn't! Dang! I had forgotten to close my back brake after the last flat! Fortunately for me Ms. Hooker (first name "Right") had misjudged her distance and left me enough room to avoid her.
Turning south again I was again accosted by Mr. Headwind who had obviously been briefed on my direction by the deplorable Ms. Hooker. I could feel Mr. Exhaustion beating the life from my legs as Mr. Headwind asked for more and more. I passed another poor soul whose legs had been beaten into submission by the deplorable Mr. Headwind and his grungy henchman Mr. Exhaustion. Then I pulled my ace card! I made my last turn and an old friend I knew lived around here moved me out of the way of the despicable duo. Yes, that beautiful dame with the figure of a Barby Doll if they made Barbies like a supermodel, a voice like a whisper and a refreshing presence on a hot day. Yes, I had been saved by Foxy Tailwind. Together we sped along the dusty byway called Chandler Boulevard, free of the assaults of Mr. Headwind and his mercenary force. Yes, gentle readers, it was another Commute in the dusty town of the Valley of the Sun, a sweltering city in a dirty desert where excersize is hot, the handlebars are wet, and the sweat drips in your eyes. It's not easy, it's not even always pleasant, but it is what it is and I take it. After all, I'm Crank Noir, bike commuter.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ok this week features something a little different. I have been on vacation in the hive of Politics, Law, and Death this week (Washington D.C., The first two are obvious, the last because there is a rather large amount of monuments to dead people in this down). The purpose of the trip was to see my brother graduate from Law School but since we were spending a whole week there a few perks were in order. I did a lot of running out on the old Mount Vernon Trail until one day it occurred to me that my running shorts were really triathlon shorts, and my Brother’s bike was just sitting alone and forlorn in the front room of his condo. So with my brother’s blessing and a hybrid bike betwixt my legs I set off into the early morning light to ride to Mount Vernon and back on the Mount Vernon Bike path.

The trail features quite a few wooden bridges that are very picturesque as they cross swampy inlets and bogs. I could not believe how green it was here. I had to keep reminding myself I wasn’t in Arizona anymore. Due to having a hybrid as opposed to a road bike I got passed a few times by some roadies but kept pretty good time. It felt kind of funny to ride around in a near vertical position without clip in pedals, but as the trail was beautiful I didn’t think about it too much.

The trail crosses several parks along it’s path. I saw numerous runners and if you can believe it dozens upon dozens of commuters. Of course, I think if we had a trail like that in Arizona more people might consider commuting.
The morning I had decided to ride (the last one possible) was just a stellar morning. The temps were perfect, the sky was clear, and the trail was not too crowded owing to the fact it was Monday and everyone else was either going to work (the other direction from me) or were already there. I decided not to push things as this was my last day in DC and it was time to breath in the last deep breaths of the experience and I was bound and determined to enjoy the ride fully.
I paused to get drinks everywhere I could as I had no waterbottle, fortunately there were water fountains all along the trail. Riding this trail was a vacation in itself as it was quite different from my usual rides. Most of the trail was forested and within earshot of the nearby road but a few sections went by houses. I had ridden the whole trail expecting the last mile to climb up some sort of mountain seeing as it was called MOUNT Vernon after all. I also had read that the last mile had a bit of climbing and had to laugh when the climb turned out to be about comparable to well, hmmm, it was comparable to, …. Well, that is to say, aah, hmmm, well It was such a small climb that there really isn’t anything to compare it to except a medium size roller perhaps. Anyway, imaging my surprise when I passed a sign that said there was a hill behind me that was steep enough to require dismounting! Well, I thought that funny enough to take a picture so there you go. The ride back was even slower due to a desire to drink everything in fully and to make the moment last. In a few short hours I would be back in the desert and riding my bike down hot dusty stinky roads with faded buildings and cracked parking lots filled with faded (but rust free) cars.

It amazes me the amount of effort Washingtonians have gone to to make decent bike paths to ride on. There were multiple spots along this trail that just took your breath away for beauty.

Much of the trail went right along the shore of the Potomac river. At this point I can kind of see where the easterners get their mirth when we point out the San Pedro River or the Agua Fria river as rivers.

Here is the house next to President Washington’s swanky digs

Here is the sign in front of Washington’s swanky digs. The digs didn’t open until 8 and I didn’t have $13 so I had to be content with seeing the wall around Georges Mount Vernon Estate. Incidentally, there is nothing Mountainous about Mount Vernon. In fact, it is not even the height of a decent roller back in Arizona so perhaps we could say that westerners know their mountains and easterners know their rivers.

Here is the mighty trek hybrid! Not a pinarello but surely not a roadmaster either! It offered a very pleasant and comfortable ride!

OH NO Mr. Bill! We’d better watch out for that STEEP hill! We want to make sure we dismount in time like the sign says.

OK we are going to hit the steep hill anytime! Better be ready!

We must be getting close now! Keep the hands near the brakes folks! Prepare to dismount!

Hmmm, Now where did that STEEP hill go to? I know it has to be around here somewhere. Otherwise why would we have a sign warning about a steep hill?

This was kind of a cool little section of windy trail several miles down the trail from the “STEEP” trail sign.

Here is a swanky neighborhood on the way back. Politicians and judges and lawyers OH MY! Politicians and judges and lawyers OH MY!

Um, be sure to be careful of sliding sideways on your bike in a wiggly pattern

The Jones point lighthouse (kind of small don’t you think? You think think the federal government is compensating for something?)

I think this guy is a bicycle tourist stealth camping due to the bicycle on the other side of the stairs but he might have been a bum. I wasn’t feeling adventurous enough to wake him up and ask him though.