Sunday, April 27, 2008
The race went pretty well though considering and thank god for the fairly flat course. I noticed what few and small inclines and declines there were so anything more probably would have broken me. The scenery as noted by Albe is definitely beautiful despite the overcast day (good for my light sensitive eyes) and I've definitely never driven that part of the Parkway before so that was cool. I went with just one contact and a hat which after a little while worked out fine. Had to adjust a little to the one good eye bit but it should work fine for the tri on Sunday if the eye is not sufficiently recovered by then.
In other unrelated news, I called the police today to report a "missing person" (I guess that's what you'd classify it as). An older neighbor hasn't been seen for a few days and there is a package, newspapers, an overflowing mail box and a recycle bin against the door (recycling is collected on Tuesdays) so I figured it better safe then sorry. Another neighbor asked me about her and pointed it out though she doesn't have a phone so I called. Now the police are waiting for someone to come by with a key so they can go in and check on her. This is a new experience for sure.
Friday, April 25, 2008
In the mean while I'm hoping the endurance is there for the long run. I've done a couple of longer runs in the past few weeks but I certainly haven't been focusing on them. Maybe no record breakers are in order for me, though Aimee may be documented with her fastest 10 miler ever... :)
Well it turns out the eye issue is an actual infection and not just a corneal scratch. Shit. So, instead of rest and maybe some aspirin like drops I’ve got an every two hour anti-biotic eye drop regiment going on right now. Oh and some pretty serious aversion to staring at my computer screen and being in the brightly fluorescent lit office space that is my office, but a deadline is a deadline.
Anyway, yesterday upon approval of the eye doc I went to the pool to swim some laps as the last few days off of any and all workouts was beginning to drive me a bit batty. I jumped in the new wetsuit, the Quintana Roo Ultra Full incase you’re wondering and started with a nice little warm up. I felt pretty good and felt ridiculously fast in the suit. I definitely think that despite the fact hat it is an entry level suit it is a lot faster then the Nineteen rental suit, plus the neckline was higher and kept more water out and the suit itself was not as stretched in general as the nineteen.
Anyway, after my warm up I did a 20 lap set followed by a cool down, a hard five or so and then another 20 lap set followed by a final cool down. All in all I got in about 1 and ¾ of a mile or 3000 yards; twice my previous long swim which felt great. Not to mention my entire swim was just smooth and graceful even as I got a little tired. It has me wondering what the hell happened to me on Sunday for that swim, but I understand there were a lot of different factors affecting that swim like a lack of a warm up mixed with purple fingers and toes at the start, my first mass group swim, my first open water swim and then my general fatigue and high heart rate to begin with. Not so much excuses for last weekend as reasons why next weekend should be so much better.I’ve decided not to do Poolesville on the third to save myself, and more importantly my bike for Sunday’s triathlon. I’m really in no shape to be riding a 60 mile road race like that at the moment, plus my Michellin Race 2 Pro’s wouldn’t stand up to abuse I’m sure. I was hoping to pick up some nice armadillo’s for the race but I think I’m just going to pass on it entirely. Some how I think last weekend I had more fun crushing myself in the time trial format of the bike portion. There is something about picking people off in a line, sweat and snot running off my face and the triumphant feeling of just handing it to people out there on the course that I’m strangely drawn to.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Now, while I don't have an official diagnosis since my regular doctor could only give me a referral for an eye appointment this afternoon. So for the time being I'm hiding from the light and playing hooky from work due to ridiculous sensitivity to light and and a general discomfort. Yesterday I made the mistake of driving to Falls Church to return my wetsuit and then downtown to work for a bit before I had my doctor's appointment back in Greenbelt. At times on the road I couldn't keep my eyes open at all and it may have been one of the scariest drives of my life.
In the meantime, I've signed up for the Nanticoke Sprint Triathlon next Sunday over near Salisbury, MD (thought it was closer for some reason... oh well) and I ended up going ahead and buying a full Quintana Roo wetsuit instead of bothering to rent another. I'll get enough use out of it this summer to make it worth while. The rental for this past weekend alone ended up costing me $70 since I picked it up a bit early so I could get used to it beforehand plus the driving to Falls Church and everything on top of that? Totally worth it in my book and the entry level suit I got was $200. Even at the $35 minimum rental fee it would only take a handful of uses before I made it worth it, especially considering gas to get out there and time wasted in transit as well.
I'm hoping this afternoon to go do a blind swim over at the indoor pool since I haven't done anything since Sunday. I feel awful but the eye is not ready for such a beautiful sunny day I think. Hopefully it is just a scratch and by tomorrow it will be all better. The doc said they usually heal within 48 to 72 hours. Here's hoping I'm on my way to in the clear.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Let me back up here, I want to make sure you all understand just how hard I am and all that jazz (or what a complete idiot I am I'm not sure I've decided yet). I got home Saturday night/Sunday morning from the Leesburg Bakers Dozen around 1am, unpacked the loads of things I had in the truck bed, took a much needed shower and crashed somewhere around 2am. Though I had 4 separate alarms set for around 5:30/6 am not a single one actually worked, though the light sleep I was in allowed me to wake up on my own around 6:15.
Got on the road about 15 minutes late but traffic was a breeze aside from the constant moderate rainfall and I got down to the race site, aka mud pit with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately my hazy mind in the am didn't allow for any additional rain gear or gear in general as I just grabbed the bag I'd prepacked and headed out the door. So, my transition area was my small suitcase (yes I really mean suitcase) covered by my only jacket to keep the few remaining dry items I had from being soaked.
With help from some other more experienced tri-folks I managed to squeeze on the wetsuit and headed down to the swim area. I was really just in a haze, watching the people around me, picking out the guys in my age group that were going to kick my ass and the guys I'd hopefully beat. When we lined up in the starting area I stood mid-pack, silently watching and listening. The suddenly 30 seconds, 15 seconds, Go! We ran through the shallows and then waded/swam until we were away from the ground. Getting going here was pretty awful though it wasn't the rough, kicked in the face experience I was expecting. The hardest part of the group open water swim for me was the increasingly choppy water and my general inability to breath without taking in a full mouthful of water.
In practicing I'd been breathing every third stroke, alternating sides, but now I couldn't possibly make it more then every two to the same side. Even that for the first half of the swim wasn't working for me. For the first half I spent a majority of the time working a slight breast stroke trying to stay away from the flailing arms and legs surrounding me. My foggy head didn't help me here but it seemed like every time I swam free I'd run into people and then catch a mouthful of water and choke, so I just sat back and went. I even spent a small amount of time on my back just catching my breath. For the second half of the swim and especially the final third I felt much better and swam easily back to the beach. Not sure if it was because we were more spaced out or if I just loosened up finally but I certainly wish I'd managed that for the entire swim portion. On the other hand I distinctly remember not being able to close my fingers into a cup because they were so cold; the best I could get was a Spock live long and prosper thing.
Swim time: 16:55 for 187th place overall men. Ouch... I knew I was a bad swimmer but damn.
Anyway, out of the water and onto transition 1 was very smooth. The suit peeled off without a problem and I threw on the bike shoes and helmet and ran to the bike start. I meant to bring glasses, tire repair kit, tube and repair tool as well but I was just happy I remembered the helmet and a gu which I downed in the first minutes of the bike. I started gobbling guys up left and right that had swum faster then me and was suddenly feeling pretty good. I could feel snot and spit all over my face but that was inconsequential at that point.
The course was relatively flat and smooth and speed was easy to come by. Surprisingly my legs felt solid and produced a good deal more power then I was afraid of. For the bike portion I averaged just under 22 miles an hour which was right about where I expected to be. The position on the aero bars felt great and despite the rain pelting my body I loved my time on the bike. I was probably a bit delirious at times as I remember snot and drool hanging from my face as I stared down the riders ahead of me, laughing out loud to myself whenever I'd catch someone. The people riding towards me probably thought I was possessed or something watching my face, but hey I was moving.
Bike time: 49:46 for 57th overall men. Not too bad.
After the bike my transition, while still seemingly respectable was pretty poor at 2 minutes flat. Putting on my shoes was no problem but tying the laces proved to be nearly impossible. My fingers were essentially frozen by this point so getting them to do what I wanted was a battle in and of itself. When I ran across the pad I could feel my legs were pretty exhausted but I managed to pick up the pace a little bit and enjoyed the cheering on lookers for the first 100 yards of the run. Then I turned up the short steep hill which turned into a steady false flat my somewhat quick pace out of the blocks quickly plummeted to slow plod.
The run was pretty awful and I got passed by a handful of guys. I'd look back and see someone and tell myself to pick up the pace, increase my cadence but nothing would happen. I just couldn't get my legs to move faster. So I plodded along and gave what I had. The finishing stretch was a bit downhill where I finally managed to pick up my cadence a bit. I heard some footsteps coming from behind so I tried extra hard to pick up the pace even more and then once we hit the flats before the finish I opened up my legs into a longer more hectic (and probably significantly less graceful) stride and held off the next guy through the finish. I didn't puke at line, though I almost fell over a few times and I did feel like I was going to during the run a couple of times. Eh, maybe next time.
Run time: 21:42 for 72nd overall men. Not terrible but I KNOW I can run much faster then that, even after all that other crap. I should at least have been putting in 7 minute miles.
And the grand whopping total time for the day: 1:32:36 for 76th place overall men. Not to bad out of 365 finishers though not quite what I'd dreamed about in my "new guy breaks into the tri scene with x place at the Kinetic Sprint!" day dreams. Notice only 1 x... just kidding, I didn't really have that bad of delusions. On the other hand after a bit of counting I found out I did manage a solid 7th place in my registered category men 25 - 29. SWEET! Looks like there is hope for me after all!
So now I'm gunning for my category, and outlining on my head where I'll be shaving time in my next rendition. The swim of course will be an easy place to shed some minutes. I should for one be more prepared for the start next time and hopefully with a full night's rest ahead of time and a slightly less battered and bruised and exhausted body I'll be able to keep a steady pace throughout the swim. Conservatively I'll say I should easily be able to cut 3 minutes off my swim time. Less conservatively I'd say 4 but I'm not going to hold my breath for now.
Next my bike to run transition. I saw a guy that came in after me across the rack from my area take off in seconds; I'm guessing he wasn't tying his shoes manually. So, quick tie shoelaces are a must. Conservatively I'd say there is a solid 30 seconds, better yet I'd think a full minute would be possible.
My running? I can at the very least run some 6:45 minute miles. Brick work outs are in my future for sure. Conservatively I'll give myself another minute here, though considering the run is the final section and it's only a 5k I'd less conservatively give myself 2 minutes here. There is no reason for me to be standing after I finish so I need to give every last bit I have during this final leg of the race.
As for the swim to bike transition and the biking, I could almost see myself loosing a little bit of time. The transition was almost flawless I felt and while maybe I could save some time with a couple of small adjustments I think I did pretty well there. I would like to remember some supplies in case the inevitable happens and I need to change a tire. As for the bike, my little zone I was in really helped a lot. Hopefully I'll be able to recreate that and with fresher legs I won't have the slight bonk I had on one of the hills after crossing over the lake the last time. It was minor but it probably could have shaved a few seconds. I'm hopeful I can shave some time off the bike leg but I'm very satisfied with the effort and outcome of my performance there.
So, conservatively I'm shaving 4:30 off my time just on body fatigue and general mental awareness for the next time out. That result over the weekend would have placed me just in the top 50 overall, 5th in my age category. Less conservatively I drop 7 full minutes which would have put me just into the top 30, 2nd in my category by just a few seconds by just over a minute. If I then manage to cut on the bike and second transition I could easily be looking at a 1st place age group finish here.
All that said, the elite men category includes a number of heavy hitters from my age group, but at the awards ceremony no one really cares about that, right? (Ok so 10 of the elite men are in the 25 - 29 age range, but that's their fault for being good enough to possibly win the whole thing.)
So the post to end all posts is now finally about finished. I know you probably didn't make it all the way through this, no reason to really as most of it is speculative gibberish but if you did, just remember not to take me too seriously.
Posted results overall
Age group results
I ended up starting for my open squad of Yo, Zach and myself and began probably somewhere around the front of the back third of riders. I was in no way interested in vying for the hole shot and didn't really want to be the guy holding folks up. Instead though I considered myself content for the "parade" through the fields before hitting the woods. Big mistake as the parade then continued for essentially the entire first lap. Any opportunities for speed were quickly dispelled. First lap came in in the upper 30's.
The next lap, our teams' 4th was much faster. This time I made a conscious effort to try and pull my best time for the day which I did. I managed around a 33 minute lap though the second lap I was hoping to pull off afterwards was not going to happen since I wasted way too much energy and my body took too much of a beating from that lap to continue. After the second set of laps Yo, our female teammate who wasn't feeling well had to leave so Zach and I ended up completing the remainder of the race ourselves. Not sure if 2 men riding as a 3 person open team is cheating or not, though as we didn't win I doubt it's a big deal...
My next lap I went out a bit easier which for my level of technical ability was a big help. I started managing between 34 and 35 minute laps doing 2 laps at once which I pretty much held for the remainder of the race. Around 10pm I came in from my final lap and packed up the truck to leave so I could get home at a reasonable hour. Zach finished off another 3 laps after that, nice work Zach! I think if instead of me leaving we had switched off lap for lap we probably could have managed to pull off four more laps and placed third (in the open 3 person category) but instead we managed a solid 7th, tied for laps up through the third place team. Ah well.
All in all the race was a blast; I love the Jamis despite the fully rigid frame and the major drops (comparatively) on the course. Towards the end of the race aside from basic fatigue I was feeling great. My technical skills and comfort on the bike continued to increase the entire race and up until it got dark I only had one spill. I actually caught a pedal on some unseen object and yardsaled along the course. Not really sure what I hit, even looked ofr it each following lap and never figured it out. I was going pretty quickly though so I managed to slide for a good 10 or 15 feet before coming to a stop with my left foot lodged firmly between the spokes of my front wheel. This of course led to my one and only mechanical for the day, a busted spoke.
I HUGE shout out and thank you goes out to Plum Grove Cyclery and specifically to Mike (the owner I believe) for the loaner wheel. They had no reason to hook me up like this yet they swapped out the rotors and set me back on my way with a loaner wheel and a warm and fuzzy feeling for such a great community of people. Sadly not all people felt the same way following the weekend as some ass-hat decided to run away with one of the promoters' personal bikes that was being loaned out as a demo bike. I can only imagine how bad Jim the bike's owner must feel. Rumor has it though MORE may be putting together a bike fund to help fund the purchase of a new bike for Jim; please contribute to his if it is true and you can. It would be so sad if one ass hole ruins a great event and opportunity for the local mountain bike community.
I'm thinking maybe next year I'll maybe try solo; though don't quote me on that. I do however believe I'll be gunning for a top finish in whatever it is I decide to go for. Another year of regular mt bike riding a bit of understanding of what it takes for these races has me itching for some more.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Yesterday morning I drove to hains and did a few laps before heading into work, beating the tourists and crowds of lunch time. On Sunday while waiting for my bro-in-law to purchase his new Felt F85 (SWEET!) I happened across a set of FSA VisionTech clip-on aero bars on sale for half off. Of course I had to get them. I mounted them tentatively on the Cannondale and really tested them out for the first time yesterday morning. I figured I'd be too cramped but as it turns out my position feels amazing! It may not be as aggressive as it could be but it is very comfortable and I was able to produce plenty of power.
Over lunch I took a Mall run with a coworker I happened to bump into on the way out. The legs and body felt really good and I think I could have put in some serious miles and or speed work but we kept it pretty easy and stuck to the 4/4.5 mile mall loop.
Then finally after work I headed out to Falls Church to pick up the rented wetsuit from Bonzai Sports then headed home to my pool to try it out. After initially putting it on backwards and then swimming a lap (God that was weird and uncomfortable) I got it on correctly and got a good swim in. I timed myself for the 17 lap approximate 750 m swim and came in right around 14 minutes, though that included some brief breaks in between on my turns and was a bit long for the actual race distance. My hope is to be able to come in under 13 minutes for the race. I just have to remain focused on efficiency and not get caught up in the high stroke rates that tend to kill me. I also seem to glide so much easier and quicker really with limited leg kick which is good since I want to use my legs as little as possible during the swim anyway.
So, that's where I stand; the second half of next week I'll hopefully scale things way down and try to save some energy for the crazy weekend ahead. The Monday following I'm taking the day off to recover. My goal for now with the triathlon is to be puking as I cross the finish line, or at least as close as possible to that. I've never been able to physically push hard enough to get there so it will be a tough thing to accomplish.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Decided to try out a new park since I was a bit nervous about the hills of Patapsco on my first single speed adventure. Ended up heading down to Rosaryville which may be my new home park. Loved the trails there; very fast and fun. The ride was going great for about the first 25 minutes and I felt like I was flying and maneuvering very well until pop, there goes my chain. (PS fu shimano hyperglide). The chain had actually fallen off early in the ride but unfortunately this type of thing never occurred to me so I had no tools to tighten it. Plus being 30 minutes from home and not wanting to have to run all the way to get something I just kept going.
When the chain busted I felt like I was probably about half way around the loop so I just kept going. Looking back I can see that was a mistake as I ended up getting lost multiple times and after over an hour of wandering I finally while heading the wrong way again managed to flag down some park workers in a pickup that were kind enough to give me a lift back to my truck. Something like this has never happened to me before so the complete and utter frustration of being completely unable to pedal was a new torture for me. I really hope that never happens again.
Anyway, Proteus hooked me up with a new SRAM chain and shortly there after I loaded up the old Trek along with the new Jamis and headed for Wakefield. This time, the bike worked like a dream, though I was forced to take it easy due to a total lack of head protection. Apparently in my haste to pack up and get back to Proteus with my broken bike I lost/left my helmet. Not sure if it blew out of the back of my truck, if I left it in the truck I got my ride in or if I just tossed it on the ground somewhere but whatever it was I now officially need a new helmet.
I got some funny looks from people on the trails at Wakefield, and rightfully so as they eyed up my battered backwards baseball cap. But, after sitting through over an hour of traffic to get there I wasn't about to turn around and skip my opportunity to ride. This time everything went smoothly and the bike flowed like a dream. The fully rigid frame was a bit tough over some of the cobbled sections of Wakefield though I also was running a somewhat high air pressure in the tires. I am however officially in love with this bike. The single speed appears so far to be more of a blessing then a curse and I never once felt limited by the gearing (aside from the time I spent with zero gearing).
After this ride I spent another hour sitting in traffic over to Falls Church to sadly sell the old Trek. It was fun for the 10 years it was around; I was sad to see the skater ride off on the bike I had the longest relationship of my life with. I'm hopeful he will provide a good second life for her, though how much single track she'll see for the remainder of her life I would guess will be pretty limited. We'll call her retired but working; it's a part time commuter gig.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Good or Bad? Who knows, though I suspect it depends on how you look at it:
a. Auto dealers selling mid to high end bicycles could help change the image of the bicycle in our car culture and assist in promoting them as transportation alternatives.
b. Specialized brand goes down the tubes...
I personally am throwing up a little in my mouth reading the article; though that has to do with my love of Specialized bikes mixed with my hatred of GM.
I understand this could bring good too.
"While Specialized remains committed to independent bicycle dealers, our products will also now be available across the nation in GM dealerships."