Monday, March 31, 2008

Compulsion: 1, Self Control: 0

In a stunning display of covert assault, compulsiveness took a breathtaking victory over self-control this past weekend in the arena known as Proteus. On a routine part pick-up on Saturday, Kevin “Kmax” Stapleton was blindsided by the seductive flat black finish and big wheeled mobility of the Jamis Exile and is now the proud new owner of said black beauty.

Yeah, I did it. I should never have even looked at them, but I had too. And, sense I was there, I figured, might as well ride it. Big mistake. This bike is so versatile, sexy and sweet it was impossible for there to be any other outcome. So, anyone interested in an older (98/99) Trek 6000?

The Exile can be set up easily as a 9 speed or run as the single speed 29’er she was born to be. I’ve got the rear derailleur already so we’re half way there if it becomes necessary. I’ve been dreaming of a 29’er for a while now, gazing lustily every opportunity I get.

Anyone interested in a 98/99 Ovation Celebrity Deluxe acoustic electric guitar?

On Sunday I went back with the bro-in-law who is in the market for a new road bike to replace the 1980’s Schwinn Traveler he’s been training on. Turns out there’s a sweet 07 model year Jamis Ventura Elite 20% off coming out to about $850. Not too shabby; especially considering the 08 version (with full Ultegra, the 07 is Ultagra RD, 105 FD/Levers) runs near $1500, and the comp (full 105) is $1100. I spent a bit of time this morning working up a nice piece on why this is such a sweet deal including excellent reviews on and a discussion of our country’s financial stimulus plan. I think I might have done some convincing. I also tacked on a bit of the efficiency improvement measures that I pulled out of my ass, though considering the difference in rolling resistance in the wheels alone I guarantee there will be a big difference.

Anyone want to buy a Joe Rocket motorcycle jacket and/or a nice Arai helmet?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Commute cost analysis

For a while now I’ve been wanting to sit down and figure out my commuting costs based on the multiple different commuting options I have. I live only 2 ½ miles from the Greenbelt Metro station and there is a bus that stops almost directly outside my house so for the longest time I always just assumed that would be the cheapest way to go. Metro only transport it turns out I am correct, though of course biking to Greenbelt instead would be cheaper. Basically I’m looking at $8.80 roundtrip via bus versus $7.20 roundtrip via bike.

However, if I decide to drive to Greenbelt, which I have done on numerous occasions my RT costs jump to $11.45 (not including gas money for the 2.5 mile drive). On the other hand if I drive to Fort Totten to catch the Redline directly to Judiciary Square I only pay $8.25 RT plus gas for an approximately 10 mile drive. I’m guessing gas costs would run around 2 to 4 dollars putting this option at around the same cost as driving to Greenbelt, only faster and with the bonus perks of morning coffee as I drive AND the ability to listen to at least parts of the NPR broadcast.

So, basically from this I should be biking whenever possible to the metro, and taking the bus on the other days, like when it’s super hot or raining or something. (This of course excludes biking all the way to work which obviously would always be the ideal option).

Unfortunately though on the other hand, one additional option I have utilized in the past has been to essentially drive all the way to work. By hopping on 295 right outside my door any time before 6:30 or so I can get to Hains Point within a half an hour assuming no major issues, have a bike, not need to shower upon arrival at the office and be at least 15 minutes faster then through any other commuting option I have. On top of that, the only costs to me are gas money, which I’d estimate to be about $8 RT give or take a bit depending on the day, plus the ability to change post work plans without worrying about extra metro trips is always a nice plus.

I’m not saying I’m going to start driving to Hains Point everyday here, more just pointing out a fact. My most efficient option for getting to work is still to drive all the way into the city. Aside from an occasional traffic jam there are no real barriers to me doing so, especially major monetary ones so I can see how enticing driving can be to anyone commuting into the city. Now, if DC were to add the much talked about tolls to commuter routes coming into the city, things might be a bit different. I doubt I’d drive much at all unless I had somewhere to go right after work that I needed the car for.

So, my final conclusion? I need to Harden the fuck up and start riding in more every week. All that costs me is an extra shower in the evenings and an extra bowl of cereal in the mornings along with a quadrupling of my current weekly training miles. That’s a cost I’m more then willing to pay.

A little inspiration

Just found a link to this video on Cycling Life from last years' Leesburg Bakers Dozen. I'm definitely getting excited about this one. Though at the same time, I sure wish the triathlon was a different weekend so I didn't have to go home early and could really enjoy the festivities.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Training Log

For as long as I can remember my father has been getting up at the crack of dawn to go out and run three or four days a week. Like me my father rowed in college which I'm sure helped build the early bird mentality for him as well. The running I think was just a way for him to extend that feeling of a solid workout before most others have rolled out of bed to face the day. As he aged it also became something to fight off the effects of aging and weight gain. I'm sure also his fear of an early death from a massive heart attack like his brother and father has never strayed too far from his mind, though I doubt he'd ever really admit that.

One thing I used to always enjoy was hearing him at the end of a year telling us how many miles he ran that year. I was always so amazed that my own old man had run 2000+ miles or whatever his latest log showed. Unfortunately I've never been very good at keeping up a running or training log. For the few months before my first season as a lightweight in crew while I was packing on the pounds in the gym before cutting down to weight I probably kept the best training log of my life, and the results from that period were definitely notable. I gained about 25 pounds of muscle mass, going from about 150 to 175 before cutting back down to 160 for racing season.

I never was able to recreate that result, or even dedication to my off season training regiment and I think I could partly blame that on my lack of an attempt at keeping a training log. Not that the one I kept was very technical or advanced or anything, but I knew before I went to the gym what I was going to do and I went and did exactly that. The training log kept me honest and when I wanted to allowed me to look back and see all the progress I'd made.

I recently came across the training logs available through and I've now got my own training log online there. It's pretty cool and hopefully will be a great tool to help keep me motivated and honest to myself about what I've been doing. I can enter my runs, bikes, swims and other activities and see on a weekly basis my totals. I can also display my training log on my blog though I need to check into that as it doesn't appear to be working at the moment. So far I've kept it up for 3 weeks, hopefully I'll manage to keep it up for longer.

Monday, March 24, 2008

And the list goes on dada dum ba da dum...

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later; I was starting to get in a grove with the current obsessions. I had most of the gear I was lusting after and my time was becoming more and more evenly broken out between them all. The next logical step then of course is to add another. My latest activity to add to the list of obsessions, rock climbing.

My first peak? summit? Who knows...

Went to Earth Treks in Rockville with the bro in law and sister to try out some climbing on the indoor rock walls. It is a totally amazing time and if it weren't for my damn upper body strength (or lack there of) and more precisely my forearms I'd have stayed all day! The first climb got a little unnerving as I got to the top, looked down 40 feet and thought about just letting go to repel down but after I did it I felt totally at home.

Second climb of the day. It's cool that someone half your weight can belay for you, though they should probably strap down to the floor just in case...

I did a few 5.6 climbs and a couple of 5.7 climbs as well which I think isn't too bad for my first time out. There was a 5.8 that I tried twice but couldn't get more then a few holds up due to my extremely tired forearms. The only upper body work I've done really over the past 6 years has revolved around rowing strength and propping myself up on the bike so when calling on the forearms and lat pull action from the back I don't get much of a return.

Repelling is fun.

That 5.8 will be mine next time though. I plan to start a bit faster and hit the higher levels right out of the gate while I can still feel my fingers and just see what I can do. I'm most definitely hooked.

I'm going to make this climb my bitch.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Can't pass this up...

From DCist's weekly "Overheard in DC" series:

Overheard of the Week:

Crystal City Metro stop a few weeks ago:

Three military guys were crowded around a Metro turnstile trying to exit, but their card wasn't working.

Miltary guy: "How do I get out of here?"

Passing businessman: "What's wrong, no exit strategy?"

Damn Drake!


30:00WestKy3pt Field Goal - Made - Ty Rogers10199
30:05DrakeTime Out9899
30:05DrakeFree Throw - Made - Jonathan Cox9899
30:05WestKy20 Second Time Out9898
30:05DrakeFree Throw - Made - Jonathan Cox9898
30:05WestKyFoul - Orlando Mendez-Valdez9897

I'm not religious so I'll just call it Happy Friday

Damn, I wish I was watching to Drake vs Western Kentucky game right now. I've got high hopes for Drake being first timers and all that jazz. They've just stormed back to force OT after being down 9 at the half. Even with something like 3 minutes to go it looked like they had no shot... Go Drake!

Got a good swim in this morning; feeling pretty confident I'll be able to finish the swim portion of the tri without too much of an issue and might even not be last out of the water! At lunch I did a nice easy 5 mile run down the mall; fighting hard against my impulses to chase the many other runners out there today and chewing down my pride when passed up a couple of times by some others.

I did still have to beat an old guy I was running step for step with down near the Lincoln Memorial and then also had to pick up the pace for the last two sections of the mall before the Capital reflecting pool. The frickin' tourists on the other hand were unbearable. I liken them to swarms of mosquitoes in swamp land; only bigger, louder, more obnoxious and unlike the tiny blood sucking pests, they have no idea you're there.

On another note, does anyone know anything about the Wednesday evening ride leaving from somewhere around the Greenbelt Metro? I heard something about it last year but never got out for it. I really need to get in some group riding and training before I get out racing this season. The Pittsburgh trip is off after deciding the $100 + in gas money isn't really worth it for a short weekend and a short race. Plus, I can only imagine how much I'd spend at the bars the night before considering I'd be staying with college buddies...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Local kid runs fastest slow time of his (self) documented running career

Recently while reading headlines on CNN I suddenly realized I was reading headlines on CNN and not from The Onion. Either that says I'm completely out of touch with reality, or this is a truly messed up world we live in where real news headlines have started to sound like gag stories out a parody newspaper; or both.

Today I did a bit of a speed test during lunch. I've never really gone out and tested how fast I can handle a few miles aside from a handful of short races where timing was very unofficial and results were approximate at best. So, this test was just to sort of gauge where i stand as a runner and within my current fitness level in general. What I found out is good and bad.

First the good. I ran a faster pace then I'd previously posted and am happy that I'm relatively faster then maybe I've previously believed. I actually appear to have sped up during the second half of the run which is exactly the opposite of what I'd thought during the run. Though on the other hand I ran into a bit of a headwind during the majority of the first half of the run with an occasional tail in the second half.

And the bad. I'm slow. Guys like Terry are fast guys like him run 2:15 (and lower) marathons whereas my only marathon to date was a 3:50. So, expectations should be somewhat low for me. Also, I felt like shit when I finished; though I still know I had more I could have given (I know that could be a plus also but I'm choosing to highlight my inability to harness that extra ability as my harping point.)

Disclaimers* I felt like crap from the start of the run. Not physically like sick, but my stride wasn't clicking and felt choppy and erratic the whole way through. Not sure if that was the higher pace. It most certainly didn't help either that I didn't warm up whatsoever before beginning my timed piece, was in shorts and a t-shirt and it was overcast, slightly breezy and about 45 degrees out either.

Alright excuses over; a few other notables. Light stoppage time was right at a minute and a half. I'm not sure what to think about the four lights I had to stop for with regards to my overall time. On one hand I slowed coming to a light hoping it'd change and I'd keep some momentum going into it. On the other the rest gained during a longer stop of about 40 seconds seemed to allow me to pick back up into a faster pace. Though after that wore off I felt worse then before and felt like I slowed; whether from the sudden burst from a stand still or from tightening muscles I don't really know.

Anyway, here's to my new 5k unofficial "official" PR. And here's hoping to many more to come... preferably 4 1/2 weeks from now in my first triathlon run...


Something is definitely wrong with me; all I want to do is eat, everyday all day. Sitting at my desk at work my mind constantly wanders back to what I could possibly eat, even immediately after lunch yesterday where I ate enough to feel entirely full; I still wanted to eat as soon as I got back to my desk...

In all reality I'm doing a decent job of suppressing my food urges and with the running, biking and now swimming I'm feeling pretty decent. The hints of love handles I'd started to show are once again fading away and my body is beginning to feel pretty healthy again. Not that I ever got way out of shape, though I can always really tell when I go a couple of weeks low in exercise and high in crappy food. Now, I found individually packaged and frozen salmon fillets and chicken breasts so I've been essentially alternating my dinners between the two. Finally a great way to get and keep fish in my diet; single serving Costco salmon fillets. Loving Costco (despite the crowds) right now.

Saturday I got out for a great 8 + mile easy run around the ag land north of Greenbelt and felt great. I wasn't setting any land speed records, but at this point I know I could easily go out and run a half marathon at a solid pace. The sprint tri's 5k should be cake, so long as I make it out of the water before cut off time. Sunday I finally headed to the aquatic center and did somewhere in the ball park of 20 laps, right around the sprint tri distance I'll need to complete. While my swimming fitness is pretty bad, I was happy to note that I could swim without the shoulder being too much of an issue and that I could swim, probably better then I expected.

My freestyle stroke is still pretty inefficient, but it will get me there, even if I have to switch to breast stroke to rest a few times. I know I can make it; and maybe even beat a few people along the way in the swim, though I'm definitely not holding my breath on that one. Later in the afternoon I met up with my bro in law Brian and we did a relatively easy ride through Rock Creek Park.

I really felt like I could put some good solid efforts in on the bike which is great right after the longer run on Sunday and swim earlier in the day. One of these days I'll need to get out and really just drill it for at least the full 18 miles of the race; probably after a swim. I've never done a time trial before so I'm not sure how well I'll do with the sustained high solo effort. Unfortunately for me, the training rides with Brian are a bit easier then my training rides should be since he is just getting started on the bike.

Monday morning back to the pool for an even more solid 20 laps before work; hopefully that'll become the norm for at least 3 or 4 days a week followed up by a hard commute to work to simulate the swim then bike portions of the race. Could be a pretty good way to train considering my ride is about 16 miles each way.

In other news, I've got my first race of the season coming up on Sunday in Pittsburgh. The Steel City Showdown is destined to be a good time; though hopefully I don't drink too much the night before with my buddies from college... Unfortunately Chris will no longer be able to make it to keep an eye on me and my never ending thirst the night before the race. At least now there are 9 people registered for the 35 minute 4/5 race...

Damn, I write a lot... Babble, babble, babble...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Steam Release

I cannot for the life of me get my brain wrapped around the flow of the application I'm trying to build right now, so I'm doing this instead. I think if I continue the pressure in my head will only continue to build until it explodes. In all reality I want bash my head against my desk right now, but I'm going to blog a little instead.

Got some decent miles in this week during lunches though I also had plans during lunch two days and forgot my shoes (despite having my bike) another so no real riding for me. I did finally join the greenbelt swim center so I'll hopefully be putting in my first laps this weekend with just over a month to the sprint-tri. I think I'm going to drown.

The pup is rocking her class and is growing like a champ, though she has slowed down from the torrid pace of a 1/2 lb every day or two. I'm thinking she's going to manage about 50 lb when all is said and done, though I wouldn't be terribly surprised if she got bigger still. She's beginning to feel completely at home with our trail system across the street though the deer ticks are as well it appears. I found at least 7 in the past 2 days on top of her fur after and during hikes. Not cool with that.

Off to run a bit to try and blow off the rest of the steam in my brain. Hopefully I'll comeback and be able to work through this shit; either that or its going to be a long afternoon.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Testing testing 1 2 3

Just signed up for mobile blogging for this thing after unsuccessfully trying to do it through the browser.

In other news the three dog 5 person weekend was a success with only a coupls of old dog outbursts towards overly energetic pups. Got back last night and took Cass out for a hike at Great Falls this morning. She's a champ ad handled the three hour trip like a true trekker. Pictures will follow.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Cyclist may be suspect in NY bombing

This is a sad, sad description that is akin to saying it was a tall guy wearing a hat and carrying an umbrella. Almost every person I know who rides a bike would fall suspect to that description since almost all ride to and from places, typically caring things... in a backpack.

The headline from CNN is just really nice to see. Hopefully no jack hole from the other side of the crazy house decides to take matters into is own hands and start trying to run over all cyclists.

It's a Small World After All

See my training music really is the bomb, but I just didn’t think I should share my secrets with the peloton at the time…

Seriously it really is a small world; like when I flew through London Heathrow airport in high school with my family and saw a classmate and coworker from a job as a short order cook at a restaurant. Anna Kelso of DCMtb grew up something like 20 miles from my childhood home in good old Cobb County Georgia. Would have gone to rival high schools type thing if my family hadn’t moved up this way. I always get a kick out of these kinds of things.

Shit, now that song will be stuck in my head at least through the lunchtime ride. Maybe I can use to it distract the others around me before they drop my sorry ass.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Called out by Le Unholy Rouleur last night; rightfully so too, though mine should have been a bit harsher. I haven’t commuted by bicycle in months. Ouch, I know. Now I do like to blame this on the new puppy, which is partially true, though partially I’m just a big pansy. In that end the hope is tomorrow to commute, though due to the pup I’ll need to leave work a little early to be sure I can get to our training class that night with her a bit worn out to boot. This morning I made a last second decision to drive to Hains Point and ride over from there. Unfortunately 295 sucked this am and managed about a 15 mph average speed from Greenbelt to Pennsylvania Ave. Ouch, cycling in would have been faster.

Getting out for an early and longerish ride at hains today for lunch though so that should make up for things. First race of the season coming up in two and a half weeks in Pittsburgh. The race is only 35 minutes long and is really just a nice excuse to get up to Pittsburgh for a visit with a ride thrown in for fun. So far there are only 6 of us; 50/50 odds at a podium? I like it. Wanna join? Sign up and come on up and spread some Mabra love.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Tired paws

This weather has been great this weekend; I know Cassie is enjoying it. We went for a hike yesterday and today to enjoy it (and wear her out a bit). Right now she is passed out on her bed downstairs.

While we were walking back home along Research Rd between Ridge and Beaver Dam which is closed to traffic on the weekends a car cam e flying down the hill from the direction of Ridge. On side of the road has been open lately on weekends for guys working at the Ag Center facility and so occasionally there will be traffic along the road. I grabbed the pup and threw a hand up at the guy. So he slows down and then comes to a stop rolling down his window to talk. He started telling me how it's a good idea to keep my dog on a leash (she stays off leash when we're hiking). I let into him about the fact that the road is closed to vehicles on the weekends and that he was traveling 50 + miles an hour down a 25 mile an hour road. He then went on to repeat that it's a good idea to keep my dog on a leash so I said thanks and walked away. For whatever reason this just pissed me off.

Not sure if it was because the ass-hat was trying to tell me how to handle my dog or what, though I always get a bit fired up when people are speeding like that on back roads and the residential streets around my place. But anyway, I just had to share that story.

Yesterday after Cass and I went hiking I get out for about a 20 mile ride out Beaver Dam out around to 197 and back in on Powder Mill, looping down into the Wildlife Preserve for a couple of additional miles as well. The ride was great and the weather was decent except for the wind gusts of up to 42 mph according to the news. I could feel it as I headed into at least 30 + mph winds, going downhill from 28 mph down to 13 in a matter of seconds from the wind. Luckily today's ride with Brian (bro-in-law) won't be like that. I believe it's almost short sleeve weather today...