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

Monday, April 29, 2013

In the lead at the National Championships...

From time to time, I get to use my "other" 2-wheeled vehicle to help out the acoustic type.

For those who don't speak brider-ese: I got to ride my motorcycle to help out a cycling (or in this case, duathlon) event. I often refer to my bicycles as "acoustic" bikes when on a motorcycle forum.

Anyway... It was kind of interesting and a little daunting this time. Not that it was all that new of a task -- I've done this probably 10 times or so, and maybe 4 or 5 on this particular course. But THIS particular running of the Mt Rainier Duathlon was the USAT Long-Course Duathlon Championships for 2013.

Uh, yeah. I was leading out a national championship event. The only time I'll ever be at the very pointy end of that kind of deal.

It was cool and at times rainy, which is overall typical for this time of year in the Cascade foothills of Enumclaw. But in all the times I've run IN the event or helped out, it's never actually rained ON the race. Strange. So to see rain was an oddity. But I was well-dressed for the climate. Same can't be said for the racers. Ride harder to warm up, dude!

Two events are taking place at the same time -- a short-course of 1.8mi run, 14mi bike (one lap), 3.5mi run, and a long-course of 5.3mi run, 28mi bike (two laps), 3.5mi run. The long-course starts first, but the short course gets onto the bike leg first. I lead out the first rider for their lap, then hang out until the first long-course rider comes along and lead them for their second lap.

A little foible for the short-course leaders... I got on course as soon as I saw them enter the transition zone, and made it around the first corner before they got onto the road. And then I watch the first half-dozen riders miss that corner and head off toward the climb, cutting off a good 3 miles of the 14. I almost panicked, but made the decision to turn around and try to chase them down. Okay, with a 650cc V-twin, "chasing them down" wasn't a challenge, but communicating that they weren't on course was impossible. So I just jetted ahead and warned the course volunteers that we had people off course, and lead them out after they got to the climb. And I prayed that the entire race didn't follow these guys.

Fortunately that was the only issue. Watching for that first long-course rider, I waited about 10 minutes before the a rider passed the turn-off into T2 and went on for the second lap. He was FLYING! At every point on the course he was 1-2 mph faster than the short-course leaders.

About half-way up the big climb, it hit me: I'm leading a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP! Pretty freakin' cool.

Okay, I'm not in the lead. 'Cause, you know, there is no 650cc class here...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Let the security games begin

Under the category of "we've gotta do SOMEthing" -- The St. Anthony's Triathlon has instituted a "no backpacks in the transition zone" rule. Competitors will not be allowed to bring any transition bags, backpacks, or duffel bags into the transition zone, and will be issued two clear plastic bags in which to place all their gear.


I get that we're all in shock from the bombing at the Boston Marathon just a week ago. I get that we feel another sense of security is gone, another nail in the coffin of faith-in-our-fellow-man has been driven, but this kind of reaction is JUST what I feared would happen. Knee-jerk, we-gotta-get-busy stuff that, if one were to think about it, is much-ado-about-nothing-effective.

Do we really think that one of the participants is the potential threat in these situations? Or are we just eliminating the bag from transition zones so that if any are there, we KNOW they're hiding an explosive? What's to keep that bag just outside the transition zone from hiding a bomb?

Once again, the policies punish the people who are the least likely to be the culprits, all in the name of a false sense of security.

On a more up-beat note, I've gotten my new bike built enough to be semi-road-worthy, and took it out on its maiden voyage of about an eighth of a mile last night. Still need to dial in the brakes a little (first time riding disk brakes), tape the bars, and cut the fork steerer.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A mourning marathon

I feel compelled to say something about the events in Boston today.

Quite frankly, I don't know what to say. There are no words that will make it go away, nothing that will undo the damage wrought by whomever is responsible for this heinous act.

Reports of 2 dead, and the number of injured keep climbing (whether by actual numbers or media one-up-manship).

I'm sick.

Sick of sport being used as a platform for a political cause.

Sick of people thinking that harming others is even an avenue for attention.

Because that's all it is. A big "look at me" from some one (or some ones). That "me" may be a person, a cause, whatever. They're taking something -- a celebration of sport -- and making about something it is not, or at least something it shouldn't be. Making it about them.

I don't know how this kind of thinking survives past any one's fifth birthday. I've seen it in toddlers, but most people grow out of it, or at least learn that the world doesn't have to stop every time they have something to say.

And I'm sick just thinking of the people who ran this marathon. Families who were there to cheer on their loved one as they completed what may have been a bucket-list event. For many, Boston is THE marathon, the pinnacle of what the common man could accomplish in running.

And what is going to happen going forward to events in the future? You can't undo the psychic damage. People will always think of this day when they line up for any major city sport event. The same way people think of September 11, 2001, when they board an airplane.

I mourn for those who died.

And I refuse to live my life in fear.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

With all the trimmings

I'd like to talk about food. Good food. The kind that you're not supposed to eat.

You know what I'm talking about -- high fat, high cholesterol, high sodium... but OH SO GOOD!

Last Friday my wife went with me to take my new bike frame (yes, there WILL be a build post coming soon) to the powder coater. On the way back we decided to make a stop at one of the places she found on the "cheap eats" list.

Van's Burgers is a tiny place. It's a drive-up-only trailer with a loop of pavement around it, out in the middle of NOwhere along the Yelm Highway, next to a golf course. No indoor seating. In fact, no seating at all. You bring it with you -- it's called your car. 

As we were driving there, I was doubting that the navigation app on my phone was taking us to the right place. Suddenly, there it was...

The sign said "worth the wait", and though we had to wait a good 20-25 minutes to make it to the head of the line, it was, indeed, worth the wait.

We perused the menu on their web page... Oh yes! I decided to go a little off-menu and ordered the breakfast sandwich -- fried egg, FOUR strips of bacon (BACON!), lettuce, tomato, and mayo -- and add a hamburger patty. Kind of a whole-farm meal.

That whole thing came to $6, and rivaled anything from the big burger houses like Red Robin or Billy McHale's.

We also got an order of "Frings", which is half onion rings and half french fries. These onion rings were the second best I've had in the last several years (first place still goes to a little bar in Linton, OR, called The Lighthouse Inn).

So if you're in the neighborhood of "just a little past nowhere" Yelm, Washington, or even if you're within five miles or so (or more), it's worth the effort to find this little gem along the side of the highway.

Van's Burger
7725 Yelm Hwy SE 
Olympia, WA 98513

(360) 412-8267

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A good time was had by...

Well, I can't say all.

This past Monday was my first workout with the Rock Steady kids. I spent Sunday evening trying to put together a spin session playlist from my 80's rock (and obscure rock, at that) available to me in my laptop. All you spin class leaders out there, my hat is off to you -- that's not an easy task, coming up with appropriate music that is neither offensive (this was at a YMCA, after all, and with all minors), too slow, nor too fast. After spending an hour on my couch with headphones firmly plugged into my ear canals, a stopwatch in my hand, and trying to count out beats for 30 seconds, I finally gave up... and took my laptop downstairs. I set it up next to my trainer, and pedaled along with the music to get the cadence. I found that my earlier efforts had yielded less than a 50% success rate in finding music within the desired cadence range.


But introductions went well, at the very least.

Five kids showed up for this inaugural workout. Hopefully they return. It'll get better, I promise!

We did a nice group run workout, not really difficult, but with some form drills (which we may not repeat), and talked a lot. I asked several questions of the kids, trying to find out what they liked about triathlon, what they like to do, etc.

The indoor cycling session, though, may have been my downfall. I've always thought that most spin classes have NO resemblance whatsoever to real-world cycling. But I also found out that full-song-long intervals equals boredom, especially for the 12-15 set. Though I do weep for the future of humanity -- NONE of them even knew who Billy Joel is...

I did lay down the gauntlet for their season-ending race on Labor Day weekend -- any of them that beats me in that race will get something pretty cool as a prize. Immediately one of them asked me what it will be. Obviously externally motivated. I told him I didn't know yet, but that it would be nice. His reply: Just don't make it a gift card.

So next time will be different: My wife will be home from Illinois, and she has a MUCH better music selection; the cycling portion will not be a 45 minute high-cadence spin; the run won't be mostly form drills.

Hopefully some of them show up again.