Thursday, September 24, 2009

GamJams Reviews: Arm and Leg Warmers - Hincapie

Almost 4 years ago I picked up a set of the heavy fleece Hincapie arm and leg warmers. Excellent pieces for sure. While building on my cycling gear collection they provided me with tons of options with my limited gear. These have good soft fleece on the inside, block wind well and are plenty soft on the outside as well. The grippers at the top are the rubberized strip you see on my shorts and worked well for a while. They've since gotten a bit less "grabby" though my arms may just be getting smaller... The leg warmers include a four or five inch zipper at the ankles for easier removal over shoes and what not.

After a small color screw up with Hincapie on the Racing Union team kit order, Hincapie proceeded to send us each a pair of their lighter weight arm warmers, which they printed up in the style of our team kit... SWEET! These are just like the heavier pair just with a lighter shell and fleece lining making them perfect for early fall and later spring riding. Better yet, Hincapie cared enough about the minor flap in the clothing order that they did this for us. A much better business model then Giordana which missed items in our order (including my wind vest) and then is unwilling to do anything about it. From what I can tell they are also very difficult to deal with in general. I have a vote for next year's team kit...

Knee warmers... don't have any. I'm a big fan of knickers which I tend to roll with when it's too warm for the heavy leg warmers but cold enough for knee coverage. Eventually I ought to get a pair, presumably they'll be Hincapie as well.

The custom arm warmers make an appearance at the inaugural DCCX in 2007.
My heart rate monitor apparently believes I'm super human... or dead.

I've had a Timex Iron Man w/ HR for a few years now, although it's been out of service with a dead chest strap battery for the last year or so. Recently I got a new battery for it and figured I'd start using it for some targeted training. You can set HR zones based on your estimated max HR and then let the watch remind you when you leave that zone. All seems fine and dandy, if it were only so easy.

Today I decided to get in an easy run, the first since my slight muscle strain from Nation's, and set myself up to keep my HR in zone 3 which is 137 to 156 bpm. Generally my normal running puts me in the low to 160's so I'd be going a bit easier then my normal pace. For the first mile it was going alright with me going over occasionally, generally a beat or two per minute. The next thing I know I'm rocking a 215 HR and the darn thing won't shut up. After about a minute of constant beating I gave up on it turned it off and proceeded to finish up my lunch run. Of course that means I ran the rest of my run significantly harder then I planned and my legs are now nice and tired for my ride tonight.

I'm curious as to whether this is just my HR monitor being a piece of junk, or if maybe I should be worried about a heart murmur or something. Maybe of course I really am just a super human with a max of 240 bpm like my monitor is fond of reporting to me but somehow I think that just isn't it. But seriously, is there anything to my fears here or is it really just a piece of &*^@! (horse poop).

The rate, even when seemingly working will jump around quite a bit. Say from 167 to 150 and back and even after telling me I was rolling at 215 for a few minutes, it next said something along the lines of 145. What is this all based on anyway? Beat to beat? The number of beats over the last minute? The last 5?

I guess maybe its time to start thinking a bit more seriously about one of them GPS/HR watches...

Monday, September 21, 2009

A weekend away

Aimee is already trying to get away from me it seems as much as possible, so just a handful of weeks after she moved in she was gone again, hopping a plane for Nashville (for a friend's wedding of course). A number of months ago Brian and I had decided to spend the weekend out at his uncle's cabin in WV scouting the miles of trails on his property via mountain bike. Unfortunately we decided a bit last minute to skip the trip since his legs/back/lower body are still in perfect working order and my calf cramp turned out to be more of a strained muscle that lasted the whole of last week.

In the interim I'd decided to try my hand at a trail race up in Gunpowder Falls State Park, though once again the calf issues kept me from trying to push it too hard too soon. So, naturally I decided a back country trip to Shenandoah National Park was (finally) in order! After some negotiations with Brian and Jenny, B agreed to join me selecting what we believed to be a beginner friendly overnighter with some nice features for our enjoyment.

Brian laughs in the background while I yell at Cassie to "CALM DOWN! DO NOT FREAK OUT!

Brian notices my not-so-subtle attempt at a sneaky shot.

Saturday morning we loaded the dogs and our packs up in the truck and headed down 211 for the Hazel area of SNP just past mile marker 33 on Skyline. The small lot was nearly full but we got the only spot available, laced up our boots and headed down the trail. Some friendly debate ensued (and if you've spent much time around the two of us together you know that means a long and drawn out serious of "debates"/arguments) and we made our way DOWN HILL (emphasis for Brian... :) for a few miles before some rolling terrain finally a long moderately steep downhill section (quad burner) took us to the low point (topographically speaking) of the hike.

One tunnel like section of trail.

Cassie looking for bears with a handful of leaves changing behind her.

The trails were fantastic with most of the summer's greenery still remaining. There was an early splash of reds and yellows, more notable of course in higher elevation areas that left us with just the smallest taste of the fall foliage to come, wishing we could get back out over the coming weeks to see the leaves in all their glory.

An interesting tree trunk along the way. An obvious favorite of many a woodpecker.

At the base of the quad burner descent we saw a black bear crossing the trail about 30 yards down from us, quickly grabbed the dogs and watched with a little bit of awe as the bear made its way across the stream and up the other bank and out of view. I always hope to see a bear and other wildlife but usually just manage to catch a few deer grazing in the woods. It was cool to see this guy out there, though I'm sure we scared him as he seemed to pick his pace up when he noticed us.

About 5 minutes after that we found a great little campsite (sweet maybe his den in nearby!) by the stream where we set up camp and had a relaxing evening including some excellent pesto I'd found in Aimee's Lip Smackin' Vegetarian Backpackin' cook book. The night was a bit rough for me since after passing out hard while I read for a bit Cassie woke up and continuously moved around and paced for the majority of the remainder of the night.

Brian entertained me with his whistling rendition of Miley Cyrus' latest hit.

The stream and a neighborhood mushroom by our campsite.

Cassie showed the local sticks she means business while B's and my matching tents sit in the background shaking their inanimate heads.

The next day after a calm and leisurely morning and some grounds filled coffee we packed up and got back on the trail. The start of day two was basically a 3/4 mile straight up climb followed by a rolling ridge trail with plenty of up hill to regain all the lost elevation from the day before. There were a number of unexpected vistas along the ridge trail and eventually we came to the popular waterfall and cave trail which was reached by a steep tall stair step trail. The area was pretty and Cassie enjoyed a dip in the falls pool before we made our way back up to the trail.

Cass enjoys a dip in the cool water below the falls.

One of the days unexpected vista's, looking North back towards where we started.

We made our way back (UP HILL) to the parking lot and my truck, with the highlight of our return trip being Kona finding a particularly appealing pile of Bear poo to rub herself in. Our reward for a pleasant and beautiful hike was, of course a stop at the Qdoba near 29 and 66 on the way back.

All in all an awesome trip, though I'm pretty certain the two routes we'd chosen first would have been significantly less effort and climbing despite their longer distances. It's all relative!

I was vary happy to have Brian along for the company and banter and I hope I didn't bug him too much to do it again. The seclusion of backpacking alone, while great just can't beat a (successful) trip with a friend.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

DCCX - Get on it! - Updated Pre-Reg Link!

DCCX, Presented by Family Bike Shop registration goes live TOMORROW 9/21/09 at 7pm! Race date: October 25th


Family Bike Shop

Bike Reg

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Post race blues

I'm going a little stir crazy this week. That cramp from the swim during the Nation's Tri on Sunday seems to have developed more into a strain, leaving me with a sore calf muscle still 4 days later. Not a real big deal but with visions of my torn hamstring and the resulting bruise after I kept going on it for the first couple of weeks of football training camp keep me from tempting fate too much on this one.

My hopes of running my first trail "race" on Saturday are fast disappearing. Here's hoping this clears up and I can start getting back out there on it.

This is the first injury I've had in a few years and boy is it frustrating!

I've also found I've been abnormally hungry all week. Monday evening I got in an easy ride at Rosie with Alex before the team meeting at Family Bike Shop (title sponsor for the upcoming DCCX by the way! Awesome!). I think Monday in general I didn't get in enough calories in general and come Tuesday I was feeling it. I splurged on crap food a bit on Tuesday which just made me feel crummy and still hungry. I'm trying to get myself back into the groove, but not being able to get out and workout I find myself wanting just eat instead (and junk food no less).

Gam Jams Review - Winter Socks - DeFeat Woolie Boolies

This one is easy... Defeat, Woolies Boolies (preferably with GamJams on the ankle) any way you slice it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nation's Triathlon 2009

When I signed up for this year's Nation's Triathlon, both Aimee and Brian were planning on racing as well, the first Olympic distance race for each of them. Unfortunately Brian's legs, lower back and possibly sciatic nerve issues sidelined him for most of the year and put any training and racing on indefinite hold. Aimee, dealing with her big move (into my place and further from her job), tonsil removal, work and wedding travel, swine flu and the general stresses of a complicated (to say the least) relationship to a superior in the workplace was left with little time or motivation to train and prepare for the race as well.

While I continued to plan on racing, my motivation for the race was almost nonexistent. Between the Pittsburgh Triathlon and race I didn't manage to get to the pool to swim even once, barely touched my road bike (or my mountain bike for that matter) and only completed two "bricks" in the form of a mountain bike then trail run at Rosaryville last weekend and a few weeks earlier. That said, my expectations were not very high going into race day. My main thoughts were to be sure to take in enough fluid during the bike portion to avoid a repeat of last year on the run, and to beat Mayor Fenty again (last year I beat him by about 5 minutes).

I managed to keep myself well hydrated this year but unfortunately beating the (faster then last year) Mayor just was not in the cards.

The swim went better then expected and at about the half way point I felt like I really settled in to a solid pace. Aside from a kick in the right eye that suctioned my goggle to my eye harder then I ever knew was possible things were going well. At the very last buoy, turning back up river to the exit ramp my calf suddenly cramped up hard and fast and as I spun in the water to try to work it out my hamstrings began to cramp as well. After somewhat successfully working out the worst of the cramping I swam, legs dragging to the ramp and made my way out and over to transition.

T1 and the bike leg were uneventful overall though both very crowded with the race having doubled in size over 2008. Overall I felt strong and was moving well though while I was passing people on the uphill sections, others seemed to be hitting it harder on the downhill sections then I was. Possibly a result of the 10 lbs I've lost over the last month or so, leading to slightly better "climbing" but no real improvement in overall power?

Getting back to transition I heard my family (all of them with Aimee) cheering for me. The transition entrance was jammed with people and I might have been telling people to move and get going the whole way in; praising one rider I'd been back and forth with throughout the ride along the way.

The run started out a little bit rough as the calf muscles were still a bit tight and sore from the cramping. After a slow first mile though I began to feel a bit better and settled into a (probably overly) comfortable pace. With about a mile and a half remaining I picked it up after the 180 degree turn around and just kept trying to motivate myself with the I can run any pace for a mile and half. Coming into the last 2 tenths of a mile I hopped onto the coat tails of a 40+ running a brisk pace. I held there up to the last 100 yards or so where I coasted in to the finish, my family once again calling out their cheers of support from the sides.

In the end I lost about 1 1/2 minutes from last year in both the swim and the bike, but I made up those 3 minutes on the run. My transitions however were each about 1 minute slower then last year, in part probably due to the huge transition area and in part just due to me taking it a bit easier. Final time 2:27:53 compared to last year's 2:25:50 (which it should be said was a fairly different course).

bib number: 1834
age: 26
gender: M
location: Greenbelt, MD
overall place: 347 out of 3933
division place: 46 out of 392
gender place: 318 out of 2480
time: 2:27:53
pace: 0:
swim: 29:44
t1: 2:10
bike: 1:08:10
t2: 1:58
run: 45:54
penalty: 0:

Have to say I won't be doing this race next year since it was simply too big for me to really enjoy. Also I was a pretty big fan of the bike and run courses from last year that went around the mall and finished up Penn Ave with the Capital in the background. Apparently the overall displeasure of people with the finish being so far from transition overtook the novelty of the race being really in the Nation's Capital. Otherwise it was once again a well organized and run event with a wonderful atmosphere.

Big thanks to my family and Aimee for getting up early and coming down to see me after a late night watching the nail biter of a game that was USC vs Ohio State, a far cry from last year's romp at the Coliseum.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

GamJams Review: Coffee

I've said before I like the 53x11 coffees I've had. They're a bit pricey for me to use as my daily grinds, but for the special occassion brew they really do the trick!

Generally I stick to my cheap 8 O'Clock variety. I've got a (gasp!) blade grinder and a coffee press (and I don't mind the little bit of sludge or occassional bits of ground coffee that seep through) and that pretty much does the trick. Lately I've been using the Dark Italian Roast to make a super strong cup of coffee; for the really tough days...

I will never be a coffee snob.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What you're missing

Despite what it looks like, I'm not entirely ignoring my blog (aside from the occasional GJ review). I just haven't had a lot to say myself.

In a new feature on the blog, I've been sharing all kinds of interesting, inspiring and informative articles from a variety of sources. Some things are simply book marks to remind myself of an article I want to read while others are things I found found interesting and thought you might to.

If one of you 5 faithful readers (hi Mom) happen to be lazy like me and use an RSS reader like google reader you can add my shared items feed to your reader. Otherwise go to my blog site and check out "Kevin's Shared Items" on the left hand side near the top. Chances are you'll find something there that interests or inspires you too.

GamJams Review: New Favorite - Montrail Highlander trail shoes

If you've been reading my occasional posts or tuning in to my training log lately you probably have already noticed this. My new favorite gear is the Montrail Highlanders I picked up off S&C a few months back. Not exactly the cycling specific gear that GamJams would typically feature. However, I'd argue the merits of cross training for cycling by using running (and more specifically trail running) to strengthen a different set of muscles, prepare for cross season and just to get out of the saddle at a time when many cyclists could easily risk burn out after a long season.

So, as I've said before, my new favorite are my new(ish) kicks. Oh and the Woolie Boolie socks to go with them; which I have a feeling may be the best thing to hit my winter cycling since lobster mitts.