Sunday, May 31, 2009

Race # 8 - done and fun Upgrade Lifestyle 5K, Birkdale/Huntersville, NC

As an 11th hour decision - this turned out to be a good one. The weather here has been less than ideal for racing or training outdoors - great for grass, flowers, trees, and ducks...lots of rain, but the weather promised to be spectacular and we (Sheila and I) decided to go and do it Friday night.

This race has softened my unease about inaugural races. As the first ever race the Upgrade Lifestyle has held here, this 5K was well organized, properly supported and accurately advertised. Rolling hills (on a 5K course that can sometimes mean challenging - or flat - or who knows what), easy start (downhill - but that meant an uphill finish) and a great crowd on hand. The run went through the Birkdale neighborhood, which surrounds a golf course just north of Charlotte. As an out and back course, meaning, you run to 1.55 miles and turn around and run back on the same course, it was easy to recognize where you'd have hills to climb and hills to RUN DOWN!!! More down on the way back - which was fun and appreciated.

Saw Sheila just after I turned around to head back - she was having a great race of her own. As we neared the finish - I passed one guy and began the short climb to the finish. Apparently my passing him was not in his plans - as he promptly kicked it up a notch and kicked it to the finish - ahead of me. All good - I had a good run, had fun - got to do the race with my wife - one of many I suspect as the year progresses.

Next post will be about me maintaining my bike, and why I am not nor should I be a bike mechanic.

8 down - 32 to go


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

here's what the tour de nostalgia looked like

and yes that downhill pretty much ruined my brakes....but wouldn't change it for the world

Sunday, May 24, 2009

70+ miles, tour de nostalgia in VT

So what was supposed to be a sunny wonderful day turned out to be a gray drizzly day, with some detours and ended with a flattened tire - but in the grand scheme of things - it was a wonderful ride.

Left my mom's house a little before 8 AM, and headed out winding my way from Rutland VT towards Castleton. Due to construction, went up and over the Hubbardton Battlefield Rd. Hubbardton Battlefiled marks the location where a Revolutionary war battle took place in 1777 - in fact, the only Revolutionary War battle that took place entirely in VT. As opposed to those that spanned the borders? Sorry - apparently not quite up on my VT history here? Although I suppose with Ticonderoga (VT/ NY border) and the historical forts there....there were some that did span the borders - that and the Grren Mountain Boys - I suspect there were some that di in fact cross borders.

Needless to say - this battle took place near the top of quite a hill....which I got to ride up and then back down again. The back down part was interesting, given the rain and less than ideal road conditions. Harsh winters, hell, moderate winters in VT take their toll on roads. I was dodging potholes, creases, frost heaves, etc....while I was torturing my rear brakes....which will now - without question - need to be replaced before Tahoe.

25 miles in - I stop and call Sheila - text her where I am and how it's going....bumpy and wet.

The on to Hubbardton Rd, for about 10 miles....past the house I lived in with my family from 6 until after college....past the roads I used to run on - cause limited amounts of trouble 22A - a state highway known for truck traffic(i.e tractor trailers). Stop at the "Beaver Store"...a general store at the intersection of Route 144 and 22A - Called the Beaver store, due to a giant wooden silouhette of a Beaver....out front. Clean the tires off a bit, reload with some fuel (clif bar and gel) and hit the 9 miles down 22A.

It wasn't all that bad...besides the mess all over me from the wet roads and the spray from the trucks blowing me all over the shoulder.

Get to FairHaven - the town I went to HS in - and swung by the HS, past my old football coach's house....and back out onto the road....

Swung by Andrea's house to see if they were there...but apparently the parade the kids were in - went off despite the rain....So I coninued on in hopes of finding them at the parade.

Went past Castleton State College, where Laurie and Andrea went to college, past the house they lived in...then turned around to try and catch up with them where the ceremony was supposed to finish....So I swing up to the cemetary where it was wrapping up....the FHUHS band played some indiscernible song....I was a bit confused...but it was not quite up to par...having been in band for years, I do have some knowledge about music...oh well...

I got to catch up with Andrea, Nicholas and Andrew and Mallory afterwards...50 miles in at this point.

Jump back on the messy, dirty, grubby bike - rider was a bit grubby at that point round out the ride.

Headed back towards my mom's house in Rutland - but of course, I forgot exactly where my route was suposed to take I made it up from that point on. Up the hill past the country club - until I got to the point where, you know - time to figure out where I need to go to get a quick right , another right and back towards Rutland.

Make it back with about a mile to go - and I notice my front tire seems a bit I lean forward and press down on the hooks....front tire goes almost flat....ooops - looks like I picked something up that has flattened my tire - it still has air in it - so I press on carefully.

I make it back - front tire just about done for...I'm soaked, dirty, tired, but psyched. 72 miles by myself....over a course that when growing up seemed like a long drive in a car...I survived, and just need to change and replace one tube and one tire.

Good day - got to travel from my mom's home, to the home we spent a dozen+ years in - and flew by my elementary school, high school ....saw my niece and nephews (Andrea's kids) post parade....and consumed a ton of calories...and felt great the entire way.

Sunday - got up and got a 5 mile run in, 1 with Maggie - because she was looking for a run and some exercise....

I got to spend some really good time with my family - we missed Sheila - but she was having an awesome time in South Africa. I look forward to wrapping up this tour tomorrow, driving 9 + hours from Scranton PA to HOME>>>>

Sunday, May 17, 2009

60 miles, no wait, 70 miles - nope...try 50 miles

What I thought was going to be a 60 miler - was a mistake - we were supposed to do 70 - but mother nature - once again had different plans for us - so we cut it short - to 50. From Heddonite to Wilkesboro - UUUUP and over Brushy Mountain - and back again. Good ride - Coach Mike was there but not riding due to his recent accident and healing collarbone, Stacy Irwin ran SAG - our support vehicle with tasty snacks and collected and re-distributed jackets as the weather changed.

So the first 11 were rolling hills with some climbs, but not bad. Then the turn onto Brushy MT road - and up we go - 6 miles of climbing....three hills with moderate plateaus or downhills in average speed up those hills was close to if not in the single digits....lots of shifting.

The hills of Brushy Mountain were alive with the sound of my cursing, every time we rounded a corner and saw more incline...but it was good practice. Short stop at the top at the Brushy Mt Volunteer Fire Department..yes - on top of the mountain...

Then a speedy descent down the backside - 8 miles or so to Wilkesboro - to the, as Coach Mike pointed out, "there are two gas stations, one of them looks much cleaner than the other - go to that one" Saw Scott and Missy flying back as we went down - Missy joined us as a tour guide b/c she knows the course. Caroline and another woman who joined us...didn't catch her name - met up with me at the BP...we hung out avoiding the inevitable climb back UUUUUP and over Brushy.

Up and over the top, then back down...funny thing - bad road surfaces and rain make riding really exciting...for some - for me - I almost needed to buy a new pair of cycling shorts a few times. Also - will probably need some new brake pads after today.

Got back to the 11 mile point - and met up with Scott and Missy - tagged along with them for the rest - until Scott jumped in his big ring, and I got the urge to as well...really flew back over these hills which at the beginning seemed pretty challenging - but it was fun.

A few points to note:

Bad road surfaces, rain and loose gravel are NOT a good combination on any ride, especially downhills...steep downhills - that may explain the dozen or so churches we saw on the route..seriously and graveyards.

Lawn gnomes are alive and well, and apparently prospering in the brushy mountain area...a little creepy - not as creepy as clowns, but still

Running over a dead opossum on ones bike is DEFINITELY much more noticeable than in a car - and more disgusting

34-38 miles an hour may seem slow-ish in a car, but going down hill on questionable roads (see first point above) that one doesn't know - makes it seem like warp speed...quick Chewbacca - light speed...not. ludicrous speed - no doubt

Road signs for winding roads ahead should come in different flavors...the gentle "wiggly" arrow really misses the point of 90 degree turns - at 34 miles an hour on a bike.

Helmets are very good things to have, as are good brakes and an appetite for bugs, or at least the ability to be OK if one happens to fly down your throat as you are cursing at Brushy Mt

Little Debbies PB&J oatmeal pies/cookies nom, nom, nom...damn good

Brushy Mt is in fact a mountain - not a hill as facetiously advertised by one of our coaches. But it was a great ride - and excellent training for Tahoe and Fletcher - where a bunch of folks are riding the same day we ride in Tahoe

50 miles later in just over 3 hours, we finished.

Props go out to Coach Mike and Stacey for the SAG and the snacks

Great job goes out to everyone, Scott, Missy, Mark (Coach) Cat, Cheryl, Cara, Caroline, girl from BSG I didn't meet.

Tahoe here we come!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Race 7 - in the books, Statesville Sprint Tri May 16, 2009

Great day and a good race. Setup Events and TrySports always do such a good job.

Early morning wake up - 5:45 - for a little breakfast, coffee, water - walk the dog - re-check the bag (did I mention I check that thing a million times?) and off we go.

Get to the venue, set up the bike and running gear in transition - the area you go from swim, to bike, then bike to run. Wayne's already there - so we start chatting a bit, more folks show up - they put us in the WAAAAY back of transition, but it's closer to the run start so that's good.

Have about an hour to kill before the my swim starts - so off to get body marked - where they write your number on both arms, both thighs right above the knee and your age on the back of your indelible marker. So in case your arms get separated from your legs, they can put you back together. :-)

Get in the pool area - they're lining folks up - we have about 35 minutes before we start swimming. Just like last year, there are some folks who over estimated their swimming capabilities and are walking in the shallow end, or doing the backstroke after two laps - so we have to pass them as we go if possible.

Good swim about 7 minutes (hard to read the clock with goggles on) - out to transition - put on the bike gear, sunglasses, helmet, watch/gps, gloves, socks and shoes. Jog to the bike start - which in cycling shoes on pavement can always be tricky. Hop on and off we go - route was as I remembered, couple of really good hills, lots of little ring cycling. Passed my fair share of folks - and only got passed once - had a good ride - just under 39 minutes.

Great transition - see transition - the time you go from one sport to the next can always be tricky. For example - my first tri - I had a 6+ minute transition (swim to bike) because my shoes were messed up, and a 2+ minute bike to run - because I was messed up. But today - I set up my gear properly for me, and had good transitions, both under 2 minutes each time. Defintely room for's like I'm fixing my hair or something out there...wait

Off to the run - which after biking is always entertaining. Your legs because you just got off the bike feel like they have bricks in them, because of the blood in the larger muscles of the legs and they're fully you have to kind of work on that during training...teach your legs "OK, your off the bike, get ready to run"

Got going on the run and started out at a good pace, and picked it up as I went along. Two loops through residential 'hoods and a finish downhill (YEAH!) into a park. The run was a bit slower than I wanted, 23:30, but still - by 9:35 this morning I had swam 300M, biked 12 miles and run 3.1 an hour and 12 minutes. - please note I checked actual results and it was 1 hour and 12 original post said an hour and 2 minutes....

Wayne had a great first tri and had fun doing it. Ran into some guys I met last year at the same Race, Shawn Powell and his friends Rod and Darren. They've gotten the tri bug too and have done a bunch.

Good day, good race - now 60 miles tomorrow on the bike - just pray for good weather.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tri Prep always freaks me out

For those of you who aren't familiar with preparing ones gear for a triathlon... here's a synopsis

Go to packet pickup to get your numbers for your helmet, bike and for the run. Return home, pull out your travel bag of choice - some folks have a tri bag, which is a big backpack with all sorts of nooks and crannies for shoes (cycling and running), sunscreen, spare tubes and Co2 cartridges, gloves, sunglasses, hats, fuel (power gels and clif bars - kind of like hi-tech granola bars), pockets for water bottles, a wet dry bag to keep clothes in for after the race, deodorant (necessity also afterwards) and a secret bottom compartment really designed for swims that allow wetsuits, so you can store your wetsuit afterwards without soaking everything.

There are multitudes of checklists - of which I have one - that I follow - but invariably - I check my packed bag three, four, ten times the night before.

With tomorrow being my first tri of the season and the 40 in 40 - tonight has been no different.

Getting to packet pickup was a bit of a stressor tonight - b/c the main interstate to get to the race (which is an hour north of home, and I was at work) was a parking lot...always is on Friday nights - but was worse because of a few accidents.

Why do people always slow down to look at accidents - especially if it is APPARENT it was barely a fender bender? Come on now....but I digress.

Got there and got my stuff - then came home to set up. Picked out my race gear - will be proudly sporting the TnT tri suit - GO TEAM!!! tomorrow and packed the bag.

Now tri suits are a combination of cycling shorts and shirt, but slightly different than regular cycling gear - the shirts have no sleeves, and are slightly tighter fitting than a cycling jersey, the shorts have the much needed chamois for dryness and the essential padding. On the right athlete - they can be very flattering...note - the right athlete. Thank goodness tomorrow isn't a fashion show.

After bag check # 3 so far - I can proudly say that I am packed and ready to go tomorrow. After several more checks...

Wayne Bourg - a fellow TnT'er and also - who is doing Tri Latta in a month as his SECOND tri - tomorrow's his first - will be there - ironically - he is # 201, I am # 202 - so we'll be in the same bike rack (they organize bikes by number so you can find it after the swim a bit more easily) and he jumps in the pool immediately before me - this is a pool swim tri vs open water - where they send you off one right after another. Open water tris send you off in waves based on your age group..this is based on estimated time for the swim. Tomorrow is his first tri...he's gonna rock it.

So - off to eat, hydrate and get to bed. Will let you know how this turns out - and We get to ride 60 miles on Sunday.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Race 6 - Capital City Classic - 10K, Raleigh, NC May 9

Sheila and I went to Raleigh to visit the outlaws, nieces and nephew from her side of the family and to celebrate B-days (mine and Al's), 1st Communions (Caroline and Owen) and Mothers Day (Mary and Denise). Snuck in a race and Sheila joined me for it - we signed up officially - but it was a mid week decision due to work. Sheila did awesome.

Good course and had some fun with it - until mysteriously mile 4 - 5...went down a minute per mile...the wrong way. Not sure besides the heat what happened - besides I slowed down. I managed to make up the time though - even though it was not my fastest 10K so far. As mentioned previously with "inaugural" races, challenges do tend to arise in relatively "young" races. This was the 2nd annual Capital City Classic - and they ran out of water and had challenges at the water stops period. Hope that doesn't deter any newbie runners from future races, as it can be pretty demoralizing to run a race and have them have no water for anyone from Mile 2 to the end, especially as it was heating up as the race progressed.

There were quite a few elite runners there - which is always fascinating to see - to me at least. They're all decked out in their sponsored gear, warning up before and cooling down after - sizing each other up...They crushed the course - but that's why they're elite.

Good news is - I'm not an elite (nor do I play one on TV) so I get to just go and enjoy the course and pass whomever - or get passed by whomever and have fun - check out the scenery (the elites run too fast for that). One sponsor - Hardees - had quite possibly the most non-race friendly post race food...sausage biscuits. I had one of course - but in the usual suspects of post race food (oranges, bananas, bagels, water, gatorade, etc) sausage biscuits never really crossed my mind. It was good mind you...but still

Seeing as my father in law is shy, he told a local Raleigh Anchor Barbara Gibbs from News channel 11 (ABC) in Raleigh about the 40 in 40 - and I had an opportunity to speak to her before the race. She seemed genuinely interested in the challenge and what I am doing - so I hope to spread the word through her a bit more - will let you know.

All in all a good weekend...happy to be home


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Great Harvest Bread COmpany 5K - Saturday May 2

After a challenging week at work - and an early wake up call to get to the race - it was a great run. Got to see Mike, Juan-Pablo and Santiago from work - all of us work on the same floor even...both before and after the run. Went to the race planning for a "finish" versus a time. Good thing too - hilly course even if only for a 5K....first mile a little too fast, second a lot too slow - third balanced it all out. Mike, Juan-Pablo and Santigo rocked the was fun - glad I did it. Met a guy Matt from Boston afterwards at Dunkin' Donuts...expecting his first baby in October...good luck Matt.

5K or so in Raleigh next week, sprint tri the week after, race in VT the wek after that and Tahoe Century two weeks later (June 8)


5 down 35 to go

60 miles at Crowders Mountain tomorrow...