An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Getting old-ER

As I close in on the last days of my 51st trip around the burning ball we call The Sun, I'm often reminded that "I'm getting old."

No, it's not just my 13-year-old daughter who constantly tells me (in so many ways, from my preferred music to my usage of certain phrases).

And it's not just how I reach for the reading glasses more often.

In fact, more mornings that not I feel creaky and slow when I get out of bed. Fortunately that feeling subsides fairly quickly and I'm back to "normal".

My younger daughter (just turned one early last month) keeps my energy up, mostly out of necessity.

I don't have any epic day-long endurance journeys planned for this birthday (like last year's half-Ironman-ish plus triathlon), but the day after I'll be hosting a ride going up Snoqualmie Pass and back to North Bend. There was a good crowd for this ride last year (in July), so I'm hoping at least a few people will show up. It should be a good time.

On the frame building front, I've got one bike complete and on the road, another about 85% of the way there (and I was almost thinking it was ready for paint, then remembered the braze-ons...), and I "finished" the fork for the 'cross bike. Of course, now that it's painted, I remember the cable guides... At least that was just a rattle-can paint job, easily replicated. Another sign I'm getting old? I'm going to just say that's a sign of being new at the game and not necessarily having the processes down 100%.

Yeah, that's it.

The weather is changing. I can feel it. We're likely done with days over 80 degrees until next July. Leaves are falling. Signs that another "riding season" * is coming to a close. And with it comes, for me and other Virgos, that tick-over of the age digit.

That's okay though. I'm glad to be around to see it. Plenty of adventures ahead.

I recently mentioned to my wife that I was "getting old." She replied with, "Honey, you ARE old." (With an 18 year difference between us, I guess I can see her point.)

"Then I guess I'm getting old-ER," I said.

Older than old...

* What is this "riding season" of which you speak? Yes, I ride year-round. I just don't do events in the winter.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Triathlon season closer

This was the 2014 edition of the Bonney Lake Labor of Love Triathlon, promoted by BuDu Racing, LLC. It wasn't the wettest triathlon I've ever done, but it was close. Animals were queuing up by 2's...

I've done this event 6 times now -- every year it's been put on -- and this was the first time I've done it in the rain. Add to that the fact that I haven't trained my swim at all, and barely more than that for the run, and it was looking to be another fine hour of suffering. I've done the long course (close to Olympic/International distance) once, but find the sprint distance (800m/12mi/5K) to be more to my liking. That was my (wise) choice this year as well.

The forecast said the chance of rain was increasing, but it didn't get into the "pretty much assured" range until late in the morning. Well, it started about the time I left my house at 5:30am, and kept on in fits and starts until my race was starting (held up a few minutes to allow the rescue boat to deliver one of the Oly swimmers who was having difficulty). After that point, we were already wet, do it didn't matter too much.

Did I mention I hadn't been doing any swim training? That came back to bite me about 200m into the swim. My arms loaded up in a big way, and I had to just ease up the pressure and glide through it. I emerged from the water with the 35th fastest swim time (out of 177 finishers), and feeling only a little dizzy.

Now I was in my element. I managed to not count the aisles after I got my gear on and bike in hand and started heading back towards the entrance. Okay, another 15 seconds added to my transition time... I found the exit, then got going, passing several people who were trying the flying mount or shoes-on-the-pedals, apparently for the first time. I spent the first mile threading through people before it finally thinned out enough to fly. It was funny seeing the bubbled wake on the road from riders in front of me...

I kept the pressure on throughout the bike, and avoided the dead zone that I've experienced the last couple years on that course. Maybe because I had given myself a little break by taking it really easy in the corners (didn't want to slide out).

I had decided to leave the glasses behind at transition, and there were times that the rain felt like hail on my face. I was flying "blind", not just because of not having glasses. I went with no cyclocomputer -- I had no idea how fast I was going, like Greg Lemond in the '89 Tour, "I just rode". One thing I did differently was to add toe covers to my shoes. It really made a big difference in foot warmth, especially with the constant spray not just from the sky but from my front wheel. Coming in at 22.5mph average, I was just slightly slower than last year.

And now the real suffering begins. This run course is brutal. The hills come steep and often, testing your ability to get your rhythm going time after time. My shoes were sloshing well before I hit the first mile. I managed to only walk one short stretch near the top of a hill just past the half-way mark. There was a water station at the point where the short and long course split, but I passed it by. If I wanted a drink, all I had to do was open my mouth...

Finishing the 5K in an average of 7:30/mile (last year was 6:41), my final time was 1:09:39, 13th overall (2nd in my age group), over seven minutes slower than last year (in beautiful weather), but only 2 places farther back.

And the best part? Two of the girls on the youth triathlon team that I help coach beat me! Kudos to them!

The team had their end-of-the-season party after the race at the home of one of the athletes who lives on the same lake. It was a little sad to think of the season being over, that these kids are all headed off to school, and that fall really is just around the corner.

Anyway, the race is in the books for another year. I hobbled around for a couple days after, soreness being the theme of the day. My ankles recovered from the run fairly quickly, though. 

It's a fun race that I would recommend to anyone. Just be ready for those hills on the run.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug.

Dire Straits sang that back in 1991 (from the song The Bug, on the On Every Street CD).

Yep, some days you wear the cape, some days it wraps around you and becomes a burden. Some days You're the hero, some days the damsel in distress.

Some days you've got it, some days it's got you.

Most of my training lately has been my "daily" lunchtime rides from work. An hour plus, varying in the 19-24 mile neighborhood (depending on whether there are meetings scheduled around lunch -- WHY do they do that?). They've been going well, average speed slowly climbing. I've had a few that have hit north of 20mph, including all the slow-downs and speed ups from intersections that maddeningly drop the average speed. And that's on the road bike. I've had the tri bike out a few times, and since I don't have a computer on that one, I fly blind until I'm done and can take a look at Strava. No number in front of my eyes egging me on to push harder.

Those days I come back to my desk tired but feeling good. That cape is flapping in the wind behind me.

Today, not so much. Tired, mentally dull, cloudy weather and cool temperatures (that I would have seemed so warm just a few months ago), and I'm just not into it this go-around. It happens. On those days it's often better to just chill, take the day off. Rule #5 doesn't apply here.

There are times when I tell myself that I'll just start the workout, and re-evaluate in 15 minutes. Usually by then I'm into it and feeling better, and can roll through with no problem. But there are the rare times when I know it won't go well, so it's just better to hang it up for the day, recharge the batteries, and take after it again the following day.

If I were going by some real training plan, I'd likely have rest days scheduled in...

This one is hopefully timed just right for the event I'll be doing in 9 days.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Where has the summer gone?

It's hard to believe that we're staring at the middle of August already. Where has the summer gone? Where has the YEAR gone?

There's talk of school, of cyclocross season (a fall/winter cycling psychosis), an end-of-the-season race and party for the youth triathlon team I help coach, all the signals that point toward cooler (and wetter) months coming all too soon. But we've still got another month (I hope!) of good weather coming.

This has been a roller-coaster week, though. Good and bad happening all around. On the good side:

* Last Thursday I dropped off my wife's bike frame and fork at the powder coater. It should be finished today. Pics will be posted.

* Monday was my younger daughter's first birthday. She's just taking her first steps, soon to be walking.

On the bad side:

* Tuesday was my father's birthday, the first since he passed away earlier this year.

* The suicide of Robin Williams has weighed on me, for several reasons.

I scheduled a ride on September 20th, the day after I hit 51. It's a repeat of a ride that Steve Hampsten (Hampsten Cycles) put on last summer, and I wanted to do the course again this year. With Steve being very busy, I decided to just throw it together myself. Should be fun, 60 miles, mostly on gravel, with a two-mile tunnel just past the half-way point.

I'm also realizing that I may not be able to get the frame for the tri team completed by the end-of-season party. I was hoping to have it there to display/show off. I may be able to get it assembled (the frame), but I wouldn't want to hang parts on it before it's been prepped (bottom bracket faced/threads chased, head tube reamed and faced) and painted. Some busy build time ahead.

So hopefully things are going well in your camp. Be sure to hit the back-to-school sales and check your supplies lists...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Looking at the mountain -- RAMROD thoughts.

I took a nice ride yesterday at about mid-day, just under 30 miles, nothing too strenuous or long, no big hills. A sunny early-afternoon jaunt.

Several points afforded me great, clear views of Mt Rainier. It was one of those days with very little haze, and you could see from the 14,400 ft summit all the way down to the lower foothills.

It made me think of the route that the riders of RAMROD will be taking in just three short days. 150+ miles, and a good 10K ft of climbing in one day of glorious (and grueling, on some stretches) riding.

I'm doing a favor for an online acquaintance -- his wife was drawn in the RAMROD lottery, and they had to ship her bike out from Massachusetts. I volunteered to put her bike together for her (and also disassemble it for return shipping). It arrived on Friday, and it's ready for her arrival in town today. As I took it out of the shipping box, I was impressed -- custom titanium Spectrum with SRAM Red. Tasty. And very light. It should be a steed for making the circumnavigation of Washington's tallest peak.

I'm not sorry that I'm not doing the ride this year. Quite frankly I think I'm done with it. It's a great ride, and who knows I may change my mind at some point, but I've done it three times, and I know my fastest time is well behind me.

Good luck to all the RAMRODers. It looks to be a nice, sunny, warm day. Drink lots -- you'll want that on board come the Cayuse Pass climb.