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-