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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It was a good break

After spending a week away from my bike... I rode in to work this morning.

I knew I wasn't going to be able to ride while we were in Illinois, so I did a monster stationary trainer session on Monday evening (started at 7:30, and finished just before midnight), and then another hour on Tuesday morning before picking up my daughter from her last day of school and heading to the airport. In that time I watched 3 movies...

But the weather in Illinois was beautiful. Sunny, temperatures in the mid- to high-80's. Of course far more humid than what we get around Seattle, and windy. I got two runs in, a couple swim sessions, and generally not good sleep. No idea how much weight I gained with the constant over-feedings -- I'm still afraid to check.

Yesterday, the first day back, I went for a lunchtime run of 5.3 miles, and felt good -- pace almost dead on what I would consider "relaxed" before the shin issue that plagued the first half of the year. Temperature was 64 at the end, and I felt it was just barely warm enough for taking the shirt off.

But I'm keeping the bike focus for at least another month. No need to push the runs yet.

My plan is for a triple today -- ride to work, ride at lunch, ride home after work. One out of three done.

Saturday will be my first triathlon since Labor Day weekend 2011, and I'll be doing it along side my wife. We signed up for the "Retro" division so that we could start in the same wave. Which also means no wetsuits, and no aero equipment on the bike. Speedo's are optional for those who want the true retro experience. My wife has already vetoed that idea. I wish I still had my original Oakley Factory Pilots...

Thursday, June 14, 2012


You can thank my wife for coining that term.

In the last 2 days, it's been all over the news and triathlon boards.

USADA sent a letter to Lance Armstrong, alleging that there is new evidence to re-open the doping charges against him. The WTC (World Triathlon Corporation, owners of the Ironman brand -- a "brand" that used to be a race, but that's another soap-box) reacted by sanctioning him from competing in any WTC event (which includes Ironman France in 9 days), which on the surface is according to their rules.

There's a lot of talking, speculation, and hoopla around this, and it's becoming a bit of a circus. But I see some problems...

(1) Lance has passed all the drug tests. Why is there any further discussion?

(2) The Department of Justice withdrew their case against Lance two years ago, stating that they didn't have the evidence to convict.

(3) Many statements have been made that the USADA and WTC are corporations, and thus don't abide by the rules of "innocent until proven guilty" and "prohibition of double jeopardy" (being tried twice for the same crimes).

Many have termed this entire case as a witch hunt. And I agree. Even if Lance DID dope in winning 7 Tours de France, what does that have to do with his participation in triathlon, the sport from which he is now being sanctioned? In addition, the WTC rules state that no professional may compete who is under an active investigation. But the USADA letter is NOT an open investigation.

I do find it troubling that two corporations, one of which receives a SIGNIFICANT amount of money from a US Government grant (our taxes at work), are deemed to be completely acceptable to work outside the US Constitution. Those phrases "innocent until proven guilty" and "no double jeopardy" aren't just nice platitudes -- they're part of the law upon which this country was built. How is it that we can allow this?

Lance is a physical freak of nature. The highest VO2max ever recorded. Beating the world's best triathletes at the age of 16. Becoming the youngest-ever World Cycling Champion at 21 years old. Overcoming cancer to become the best Tour cyclist ever (and it can be said that the cancer and treatment was key to his upper-body weight loss that allowed his rise to mountain-climbing prowess).

Oh, but yeah, those victories were because he doped. You think he was doping at the age of 16 as a high-school athlete in an obscure sport while he and his mom were scraping by? He proved his mettle at a young age, and it is my belief that he continued that physical climb to become the best.

But regardless of my belief, even if he did dope as a cyclist, he passed a random WTC blood test as recently as a few weeks ago. It has no bearing on his participation as a professional triathlete.

It's time for the witch hunt to end.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The journey of a thousand miles...

You know that old adage. Our parents told us when we were facing some big task. We generally just shut our ears and sulked away, sure we were fated to spend the rest of our lives slaving away at this one thing, never again to have any fun.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.


On the face, it's one of those "duh!" things -- of course it takes a first step to get to a thousand miles, oh Dr. Obvious.

But it's really saying that, often, that first step is the most difficult. Once in motion, the rest of the task or journey takes care of itself. Inertia takes over. You know, a body at rest tends to stay at rest. And a body in motion tends to stay in motion.

I've had the opportunity to hear a particular wealthy man speak several times, and he's fond of saying that the best thing a person who is wanting to start an exercise program is to do this: get dressed, go downstairs, stand on the treadmill, then go shower. EVENTUALLY, he says, you'll actually turn it on.

And as humorous as that is, it's true. Taking that first step is often the hardest part of getting the task done.

I would guess that most of my audience here doesn't have so much difficulty getting out the door for a run or ride. In fact, it's likely one of the parts of the day that we most anticipate. That and meals. Unless you're like me and "mealtime" starts about 30 minutes after waking and is a continual ebb and flow of grazing until about 30 minutes before bed... But that's a subject for another time.

But even if you don't have any issues getting out the door for that run, I would bet there's something related that is daunting, that needs a kickstart, a first step to get the journey started. Running a particular distance. Maybe one of those bucket-list events that has been waiting until the time is right (kind of like waiting to have children until the time is right -- it's never "right").

Take that first step. Whatever it is that is going to get the journey started. Because that first step is going to be the hardest part, and then the rest of the journey will take care of itself.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The wildlife collective -- Instant karma or Bambi's revenge?

I haven't run since last Friday. Not because I'm injured (the small blisters from Friday are completely healed), and not because I don't want to run -- I'm just putting more emphasis on my bike riding now, and I didn't run on Monday because a work friend inviting me to go on a mountain bike ride.

So today the weather gods decided to smile on the Pacific Northwest (which is nice, because my daughter is at 5th grade school camp right now), and I felt good starting out the run.

Most of my lunchtime run routes take me quickly into forested service roads and wide trails, all within a large parcel of fenced-in company property. Several hundred acres worth. Sightings of deer, coyote and rabbits, are common, with an occasional raccoon to round it out. And I see ravens here as well -- one of only two areas in Western Washington that I've spotted them. Anyway...

Today was no different. About 1.5 miles into my run, there were two deer on the gravel road in front of me -- one facing away from me, one facing towards me. The one facing me looked up, saw me, and froze. The one facing away looked up (at the other deer), and just stood there. I kept my pace even, and got closer. They didn't move. Closer...

Finally, when I was about 20 feet away, I gave a low whistle, which startled the nearest deer (the one facing away from me), and it finally looked my direction, then sprinted off the road with the other close behind.

I didn't think I was being all that quiet. I was wearing my New Balance Minimus Roads, running at a relaxed 8:15 pace... Certainly other shoes I have are quieter, especially one of the test models I recently got from Skechers (one of the quietest shoes I've ever run in). I was quite surprised that I got that close to the deer, who are usually much more skittish.

I kind of laughed about it, and just kept on going.

Deer are the scourge of motorcyclists, many people being injured every year due to (or is that doe to?) Bambi making their way onto the road with that little vehicle approaching. And I remember a bike team ride where a team mate was taken down by a deer crossing the road in front of a fast-moving group. We joked about adding deer whistles to his bike...

About a mile and a half later, I'm chugging my way up a rocky hill, minding my footing and just being in the zone.


About 15 feet in front of me, a deer charges out onto the road from my right, then jumps past and continues on by, up the opposite bank. To say I got a good adrenaline rush out of that would be putting it mildly. There have been cougar sightings out here...

It definitely got me out of my zone. But I laughed about it, and got back to the business of running.

But it made me think -- do these deer have some kind of collective mind, where one could seek revenge on me for startling one of their brethren? Or was I just the victim of instant karma?

Definitely a good run today. And I'll whistle sooner next time.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A nice weekend

It was a nice weekend here in bridertown... 

Saturday started early, even earlier than I would normally get up for my "day job". At Lake Sammamish State Park by 5:30, paying the $10 (!!) Discovery Pass just to get in and park, then pulling out the tool box, pumps, and workstand for all the last-second emergencies that pop up on race day. 

Aside from one person who needed to shorten up a new chain (which I did after the race -- the course wasn't such that he'd need the gear combinations that were causing the chain noise), and one woman who brought in her son's bike for a safety check (a bike for maybe a 6 year old), it was just airing up tires. Some were absolutely flat. 

I did find it amazing that some one would bring a bike to an event that they had apparently not ridden in... quite a while... and not even check the tires. But I was also glad that we didn't have the normal (at the shop) issues of "it just isn't shifting right". 

One thing that absolutely AMAZED me was that the first person out of T1 in the elite wave was on a mountain bike. With knobbies. And he came back after 14 miles still in the top 7. Maybe top 5. Impressive. 

 It rained for a short time near the end of the race. Fortunately I was packing things up by then. 

Back at the shop, things calmed down. A couple minor things left over from the week, and a new bike in for a quick lube which was done in short order. 

Then it was off to picking up our new-to-us car (a Jetta TDI wagon), and then to the training session for my daughter's first pageant. A long day, for sure. 

And yesterday was my long ride day. A large loop, hitting several small towns. At one point on a climb I shifted and must have hit a link in the chain wrong, because I was going pedal-pedal-kaCHUNK! pedal-pedal-keCHUNK! all the way up the rest of the hill. Stiff link time. It's only happened to me once before in the middle of a ride (though I've had it happen when installing a new chain, I can catch it right away). Not wanting to deal with that for another 50 miles, and not wanting to get my hands all greased up if I didn't have to, I stopped in at Enumclaw Ski and Mountain (don't let the name fool you -- they're well stocked and knowledgeable on bikes, both road and mountain) for a quick spin with a chain tool. I knew WHAT to do and HOW to do it, I just didn't have the tool with me. Nor did I want to do the trail-side repair by bending the chain by hand... Well, I walked in, and within 5 minutes was out the door with a quiet bike again. Props to Enumclaw Ski and Mountain

The rest of the ride was uneventful, and I was feeling better at the end than any of my other long rides so far this year. I was even a gear higher on the last hill than normal, with no cramping. Not to say I wasn't tired, but no saddle discomfort, not wishing the ride were over, thinking I could have gone farther (which is good, because in a couple months I WILL be going farther, with still a couple good long climbs to go).

Friday, June 1, 2012

What was I thinking? :^)

I've been known a time or two to do some rather stupid things. I've always said that common sense is more and more not so common. And sometimes I even prove it myself. 

Occasionally, in spite of my best effort as self-sabotage, my blunderings work out just fine, like the time I took my new Altra Instincts for an initial run of 10 miles. Sometimes I have to push through it with dogged, and often ill-advised, determination. 

 Last night, I went for a swim with my wife. No big deal, you say... Well, have I mentioned that I don't swim all that often? Yeah, as a triathlete, I'm more of a two-sport person. I swim enough to make it through the race distance without drowning or being too embarassed with my placing coming out of the water, and no more. I've done a 5K open water swim event, with training going beyond that distance in a local lake. But the last time I got into a pool to swim laps was in preparation for my last triathlon. Which was the Saturday before last Labor Day. 

For those of you pulling out your calendars, I'll save you the math -- that's almost 9 months. Can you say "de-training"? 

Within the first 5 minutes I knew I wasn't going to be evoking any images of Michael Phelps. In fact, if any one were to compare me to an Olympian, it would have to be Eddie the Eagle. Anyway, I pushed through it, doing 100's and 150's for a little over an hour, along with some kickboard drills (I've forgotten just how literally gut-wrenching the dolphin kick is with a kickboard). Surprisingly, I'm not all that sore today. DOMS says that I'll really feel it tomorrow. I can't wait. 

And today, I had to find a whole new way to prove that I'm not as smart as I look. Okay, really, I'm just fortunate that I'm not as DUMB as I look... 

 I'd gotten a new pair of test shoes from Skechers just yesterday. They're testing an all-weather fabric for their shoes. Not a bad thing at all. But when I was getting ready to run at lunchtime, I realized I hadn't brought extra socks. Conventional wisdom would say to use the socks I have for the run and go without for the afternoon sitting at my desk. Yeah, that would have been the smart thing... But I figured, hey, these shoes are built on a platform that I already like, the insides are pretty smooth, and feel good against my skin, how bad could it be? 

So I went without socks. For the first time in many months. Are you seeing a theme here? 

Those of you keeping score probably know where this is headed. 

The weather today is warm and humid, with a light rain to top it all off. It's like being in a greenhouse with the overhead misters going constantly. In order to give this new all-weather fabric a thorough test, I wasn't shy about running through ankle- to mid-shin-tall grass, and through some standing water. The good news is that NOTHING got through the shoe uppers. The bad news is that I started to feel a couple friction spots about 3 miles in. 

Before any one jumps on the shoes as being bad -- I don't blame the shoes AT ALL for the couple small blisters I now have. It's been months since I've run sockless. My feet just aren't adapted to it. It was my own stupidity that caused it. Other than that, the shoes felt great, and I'll definitely be putting more miles on them. 

 But that's just another example of lessons learned. What was I thinking? 

I'm sure it'll be a long time before I leave my common sense at the door again. 

Tomorrow's a new day, though, so who knows what it will bring.