Failure

Yet strangely, I mark the week as an enormous success :)

I didn’t run today, so I’m capped at 15 or so for the week running miles.

Today dawned grey, and stayed that way through lunch. About 1, the baby was asleep, and I knew I had to bite the bullet and do something. Been following the Tour de Georgia all week, so I threw on the shorts and jersey and jumped on the bike. And as I dropped down the hill towards the New London turnpike, the clouds broke, and the sun came out.

Today was climbing. Took Pequot Trail up (way up) and out of Old Mystic, then looped down past Mystic reservoir and down to RT 1. Stayed on the coast to Groton Long Point, and took the long climb up to RT 1, quick downhill past the church, and a climb up Flanders Road to Yetter and back home. Quality ride – 1 hour, 17 miles.

The Forerunner let me down – between hills and trees, it was not keeping a good GPS signal, and listed 11 miles when I hit the driveway. Bleh.

In other news, today’s Liege-Bastigone-Liege was a schweet race. First, Liege is a great town – they’ve got these waffles that are freaking great – super sugary so you don’t need anything on them. They’re kind of doughy instead of battery, and they’re served straight off the iron. Yum.

The race had a great conclusion – Jens Voight (CSC) and Alexander Vinokourov (T-Mobile, hence known as Vinko) broke away about 50 km from the end and stayed away til the end, over some pretty decent climbs. Both long-time, hard-working riders, both worked hard to keep the break away. Vinko took the sprint. Wow. The other eye-opener was Caldel Evans, former MTB racer turned roadie, leading the attack off the last climb to try to catch Voight/Vinko. He ended up coming in fifth after dragging a couple other guys, but watching him make the last climb made me realize that I’ve got to have another level down to which I can dig the next time I feel tapped out.

Hope everyone else had a great weekend, too. Sounds like Jon’s luck has turned. And the news isn’t so bad – the local coverage ended with a skydiving accident in Halifax and a boat fire (like a 20′ power boat) in Florida. Not to make light of the misfortune of others, but if we’re heading hundreds of miles north and south to find something bleeding, life is good here.

By way of clarification

Five being the new three moves me back a couple months to setting and struggling with goals.

Which is good, because I’m making them.

Did 5 miles after work Friday along Burma Road. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t really easy. And it was probably a bit more than 5 miles – I didn’t do the Forerunner, and I didn’t measure it with the car after. But it was for sure past where I’ve turned around in the past with the Forerunner saying 2.5 miles, and time-wise, it was probably pretty close to 6 round trip.

Timing was by iPod – got to love a gadget that’s got my entire record library, all my contacts, a bunch of notes, and a clock synced with an internet time standard every time I plug it into my computer. 25 minutes out, 24 minutes back. The coolest part was that “back” was into the wind, instead of with the wind.

It was a tough run – my legs were really tight from 10 miles in the two days before, and from traveling, but I gutted it out.

Then I get home, and Melissa’s got brown rice, scallops, and bell peppers waiting for me; the boys have both been good since I last saw them on Tuesday, and much is good. Ended up getting the yard mowed this morning before it started raining, and have caved to today being a rest day. I’m hoping I have the gumption to get up tomorrow and run…

Posted in Run

Flat

Down in Norfolk for a conference. Traveling last night kept me all wired – I couldn’t quite get to sleep ’til after midnight. Plus, I wasn’t exactly sure where I was, or what the neighborhood was like, or whatever. So I blew off running this morning in favor of an extra couple of hours of sleep.

One of the nice things about the group I was working with today is that it’s somewhat established, and my role is somewhat limited, so I didn’t have to waste time networking or any crap like that at lunch. Found the base gym and WOW. I was over on the bigwig section of the base, with Commander Fleet Forces Command, NATO, COMNAVSUBFOR – more stars than you can see from most cities at night. The gym was no exception. There was a step aerobics course, the locker room was crowded, spacious, and well-lit. Plus, there were really, really plush towels at the desk. Washed with fabric softener, even, I think.

The run wasn’t much to speak of – 5 miles in right around 40 minutes, flat. There’s still something going on with my stride this week. It’s not the effortless gliding I had last week, but it’s not quite plodding or bashing heels. I’m not particularly worried – there’s no pain involved, even though I’m up in mileage/run and mileage/week. But one of the great things about the RBF is knowing that not every run needs to be spectacular – consistency is the key to improvement.

I’ll likely do another 5 tomorrow in Newport, probably up Burma Road to avoid a couple of really tough hills on the Navy base. Saturday, I will try to sneak in 20 miles or so on the bike, and another running loop around River Road on Sunday.

So that’s about it – I’m writing this on MacJournal while I wait for a plane. I really can’t pimp this guy’s stuff enough – I only fear that he’s going to add features. While bad for business, he’s got a product that’s pretty much perfect as is for what I want it to do. Kind of like a spoon, or a fork. Combine the two to make a spork, and the whole thing becomes less useful than the two things were separately.

It’s going to take six hours to get from Norfolk to Providence, BTW. On a good day, you could probably drive it in 7 or so, taking the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (I like that name) and heading up the eastern shore through Jersey. They’re routing me through Pittsburgh, I kid you not. Bleh. Plus, there’s no WiFi in the Norfolk Airport. Hopefully there’ll be something in Pittsburgh.

Posted in Run

Wuss

Is what Houston Bill would be calling New England Bill. (New England Bill would counter “lardass”, but that’s neither here nor there)

Why all the harshing? ‘Cause today was hot. Seems like we jumped straight into summer. Lunchtime run was 5 miles in about 43 minutes in a temp of about 80 degrees. I wanted to do the 5.4 that I did last Tuesday, but the relative heat really did a number on me. Blah. Still it’s a 5 mile run at better than a 9 minute pace, so I’ll keep it. ‘Especially since I’ve only got 4 days left to run 15 miles to hit 20 for the week.

Tuesday was a rest day after Monday’s bike ride. As pumped as I was after the ride, I didn’t realize how much it’d taken out of me until I started waking up Tuesday morning. I wasn’t sore, just really, really tired. I grabbed a decent breakfast (coffee and granola bars), and headed out the door. By 10 I was starving. Like crazy hungry. I was hungry all day – must have really tapped into fat stores by pressing past my typical endurance threshold and going about 90 minutes instead of my regular 40. Again, I wasn’t sore, per se, but I was starved. I did avoid the monster, though.

Five is still the new three – today’s run, while tough, was not a huge stretch. Tough, but just right.

Responses: Jon – I do the shorts and jersey for much the same reason I do running shorts and shoes when I run. Good gear takes away at least one excuse. I do not, however, go whole hog for current team kit. Why? ‘Cause I’m cheap. I’ve got a couple of beer jerseys, a UTexas jersey (family connections, not that I went there), and a couple of jerseys from the team I rode with in Houston. I am, however, thinking of picking up a Kappa/Saeco 2004 jersey
1) It’s got trucker chicks on the sleeves
2) Saeco makes coffee makers. I like coffee
3) I was a Kappa (frat boy) in college
4) Cippolini rode for Saeco. Gilberto Simeoni rode for Saeco. Cunego rode for Saeco.
5) My shiny road bike is a Cannondale
6) Saeco’s not sponsoring the team any more, so it’s like a Houston .45’s or Brooklyn Dodgers jersey.
7) Did I mention they make coffee makers?

Susan rocks. Running to the gym is oh-so-much-cooler than driving. (But driving still beats the snot out of sitting on the couch)

Warren – I’m pretty aggressive about “On your left”-ing as appropriate. And as a rule, I avoid “multi-use” paths when cycling. Multi-use is f’n hazardous, especially when you’re talking orders of magnitude differences in speed such as between bikes and runners/walkers especially. My gripe was about peds randomly wandering off the sidewalk onto an actual street, like in a downtown kind of area. In the case of your running group, a stick to the spokes (of the rear wheel for safety’s sake) would likely be appropriate if there was no warning.

Chris – sucks to be you :). Lance? I’m really not disappointed that he’s retiring. He won the Tour six times. As I see it, he had two choices: retire, or go completely psycho this year and next and try to do a year in the mold of Eddy Merckx, trying to win everything from the spring Classics to the Giro, the Tour, and the Vuelta. While I am completely amazed at his drive and success, and could care two shakes if he’s really a jerk or not, and admire his contributions both to the cancer community and cycling in general, Armstrong’s continued presence in cycling brings the words of Kevin Costner in Bull Durham to mind: “Strikeouts are boring, and besides that they’re facist. Throw some ground balls. They’re more democratic.” What that means, I don’t know, but it seems appropriate.

Tyler – Frankly, this breaks my heart. First, it took the USADA way to long to rule on the case. Second, there’s a decent amount of dissent to his 2 year suspension. BUT on the whole issue of doping, I’m completely in favor of failing really conservative. IMO, it’s better to ban some innocents with freaky blood from sport than to risk letting some cheats through. Yeah. Register all the mutants. In any case, it’s not like sport is something that requires equal access – by definition, almost everyone in the world is excluded from being a professional athlete by some genetic reason. I’d still like to think that Tyler is innocent – I cannot fathom someone making as big a deal out of charitable foundations as he or Lance do, hold himself out as a poster child for youth racing, etc, and risk staining all the people he touches by cheating. Call me naive, but people that evil just do not exist in my America.

Lee – Sorry for leaving you out. Warren’s really got me thinking about the whole ped thing and wondering if I’ve been one of those riders who turn people off from cycling. And I really hope not.

He’s completely right, though, that the responsibility for looking out and avoiding conflict really does fall on the cyclist. I don’t know that you need baseball cards in your spokes, or a bell or horn, but do be vocal early. And I’d even recommend taking some time to learn how to jump curbs, ride on grass/gravel/dirt, and even practice taking a dive off the bike at a decent speed to avoid hitting pedestrians.

TTFN!

23 is the new 25

(Yeah – this one takes some explaining. First, though: Dianna – five is the new three, not the new six, because I did feel that the last mile on Thursday was a little bit of a stretch. Five would have been a completely effortless effort. Six required a little bit of endurance pushing)

Ok. All Right. Now that we’ve got that out of the way – Two workouts to sum up. Saturday was yard day. Broke up some of the potholes in the driveway, slung around 60 lb bags of asphalt patch, blah, blah blah. Got a good nap in the hammock. Scratch that – got a decent nap in the hammock while Jacob played pirate in same.

Sunday morning, the boys were up, the wife was well rested, and there were two hours before we had to be out of the house for church. My soulmate and partner says “Hey, why don’t you go run?” Why not indeed?

Saturday – nice, but still a little chilly. Sunday was quite literally perfect. High 40’s/Low 50’s, sunny, little to no wind. So I decide to do the 5 mile loop from the house around to River Road. Headed uphill first – as I headed up the trail to the old school, Louis Armstrong and Ella were crooning, the sun was shining, and it hit me exactly how good life was. Cleared the top of the hill, made a little bit of a wrong turn and about a quarter mile detour, and headed down the hill towards the river. The sun was clear of the hills on the other side, and, no lie, there were robins singing.

No other real implications – more than 5 miles, about 40 minutes, give or take.

Other than the iPod, I’m taking a decidedly low-tech approach to running for a little while. Or at least until I recharge the batteries for the Forerunner. Seriously, though – I’ve been enjoying running without the continual feedback from my little GPS guided nursemaid. Maybe it’s spring, maybe it’s a complete rejection of the treadmill mentality, maybe it’s just yet another random flight.. whatever, it’s working. Last week was 21.4 miles total, which is the biggest in a while.

OK, on to the 23 being the new 25 – I’d picked up a new cassette (a SRAM PG 970 12-23) for the Cannondale (part of upgrading the old Trek to nine-speed).

It’s beautiful.

(which reminds me that I need to take and post more pictures)

Quite literally beautiful – all chrome and shiny plastic, all kind of bits cut away – even the teeth that attach to the spline are only square on the edge that transmits force to the axle – the backside is nicked off to save grams. Will grams help me out? Heck no – I’m still dealing in pounds off of my backside. In any case, I’ve been avoiding switching to the new cassette out of caution – my old cassette is a 12-25, meaning that the “granny gear”, i.e. the biggest cog in the back, has 25 teeth, and the new cassette only goes to 23 teeth – I’m losing two inches of chain leverage to make the rear wheel spin one revolution.

(this is the part where everyone but Warren, Christian, and Fixedgear say “Uh… yeah…” and start reaching for the button back to Bloglines)

Anyhoo, the last time I rode Newport, I ended up bailing out into the 25 tooth cog on a couple of the hills. This time – not so much. Not at all, in fact, and I managed to avoid the 23 tooth cog most of the ride.

All the way into the office today WGBH, the NPR station out of Boston, was pimping the Marathon and Patriot’s Day. Yep, folks in the Bay State get an extra holiday, and miss no opportunity to rub it in. I’d feel bad about it, but I spent eight years as a Federal Employee, and got more than my share of cheesy holidays. Plus, the folks up in MA do it right – a Marathon, an 11 AM Red Sox game that gets out just in time to cheer on the runners, and commemorations of revolution, democracy, and all of that stuff that the rest of us take for granted.

Me, I was into the office early to make sure I finished up some stuff for a client and to make an 8 AM meeting. Round lunchtime, I really thought about heading out for a short ride (wanted to get a day’s rest – my shins were twinging a little bit Sunday evening, likely from swinging an 8 lb sledge on Saturday), and thought “It’s just going to get windier…”

It did. Finished up in time to easily finish the 14 mile loop I’d done on the east side of the island a couple weeks back, so I headed out. And I felt good. When I got to the turn at the Middletown line, right before you get to First Beach, I checked the clock on my cell phone (no Forerunner, no computer – just legs, lungs, and 18 or so pounds of aluminum, steel, rubber, and leather) – Wow. I’d only been out for 30 minutes, and had only about 10 minutes back to the office. Hmmm. What to do?

Hey, I thought – why not loop the other side of the island and finish the day with about 26.2? It’s appropriate, right?

A brief gripe – The biggest threat to cyclists is not, as many would propose, automobiles. Nor is it, as others would counter, crappy road conditions. Automobiles are, for the most part, easily seen, observable, and even more closely tied to good pavement than cyclists. Crappy road conditions – Well, bikes were invented in the 1800s when roads were by definition, crappy, and were (on average) faster than cars until the 19-teens and ’20s. Crappy road conditions are a figment of riders’ imaginations. Or an indication that you’re riding in Northern France/Southern Belgium.

No, dear hearts, the biggest threat to riders is pedestrians. Not joggers/runners/other folks exercising. Like cars, folks out for their health are predictable, and usually worried about playing in traffic. Random pedestrians, however, are interested in shopping, snacking, talking on their cells, chatting with their companions, and only marginally aware of anything outside of a 3′ sphere. If it’s making engine noises, maybe they’ll pay attention; definitely if it’s making honking noises.

Bikes, as any dog will tell you, are completely unholy – they move silently, without any discernible means of locomotion. So pedestrians ignore them, much like people ignore anything that does not fit into their world view, such as UFOs, etc. And pedestrians are quite happy to stroll out into the middle of a street as soon as the last car in a cycle has passed, and remain there until the next batch of cars patches.

Downtown was near suicide – it’s school spring break for most schools in New England, and Newport is spectacular as the annual flowers begin to come out and temperatures moderate. It’s all right, though – commuting in Houston lead me to perfect the bike bail-out; the key is to lunge at the pole or ped you’re about to hit, grab on, and try to get your body beneath theirs to cushion their fall… Didn’t hit anyone this time, but it wasn’t for lack of opportunity. I did nicely use that stretch of road to recover from really pushing on the first part of the loop.

So I did the western side of the island. There was a pretty stiff breeze out of the southwest, but I used a little topography to my advantage. I cut through downtown and headed west on the north side of the island, past the old fort, using the island itself to create a lee. As I made the turn at the State Park at the western tip of the island to head east on Ocean Avenue, I battled the breeze up the hill, then swung left.

The Atlantic was brilliant blue on my right, and the sun and the wind caressed my back. Honest to god, I have never been so right with the cycling gods. My legs were turning circles, not mashing and pulling, breathing was regular, not panicked and painful, and there was only the slightest sound of chain clicking on teeth over rubber crunching sand. Over the rough patches of road somehow I was able to unweight not only my butt from the saddle, but also my wrists from the tape and my feet from the pedals – I swear, I was flying.

As I came back into Newport proper and rounded the corner onto Bellair/are? amongst the mansions of the Gilded Age, there was a car of Mass. tourists down for Spring Break (middleschoolers and their parents, not college) poking along, seeing the sites. I rode up behind, and was considering doing the jerk thing and whipping around them. The driver caught me in his rear-view, and started to accelerate away. I jumped, and drafted him most of the way up the road, loving every minute of maintaining what must have been better than 20 MPH, uphill.

Pulled back into the office parking lot after about 90 minutes in the saddle. Haven’t figured out mileage, but I’m pretty confident that 26 ish is a good number. There was a detour all the way out to Third Beach along roads that give the cobbles of Flanders a run for their money. The biggest difference this time was no fooling around with maps.

But WOW. What a ride. I finished strong – the last four corners featured voices screaming in my head “The American’s approaching the finish line after a long day in the saddle. The Sprinter’s teams have really put on the pressure, but Jankowski ought to be able to hold them off…” Yep, I rode it like I stole it. So nice.

The silly thing is that I’m really looking forward to getting another 20 running miles in this week, though.

Five is the new Three

One last tax rant – at least I’m not going to prison for failure to file. Plus, I’m done a whole 25 hours early.

What was surprising to me, though, was hearing at least two other folks who had waited until the absolute last minute to look at their taxes. Both with masters’ degrees or better. Makes me feel like that much more of an over-achiever

As far as five being the new three. Miles, that is. A couple of months ago, I passed the point where a run wasn’t worth doing if I wasn’t going to get in at least three miles. A three-miler was a nice, comfortable distance. I think I’m at the point where the 5 miler is my favorite run. Long enough to work out the kinks, break out in a good, deep-down sweat, and clear out the windpipe. Not too long, not to short.

I needed to run this afternoon. Work had been challenging but rewarding, finishing taxes loomed, and it was another crazy beautiful (if still slightly chilly) day. Not that I’m complaining. I overslept this morning and had to sprint to the office to get started at a reasonable hour. Worked all day, huffed down some leftover pizza for lunch (Pizza Hut’s Buffalo Chicken pie – next best thing if you can’t find a rock of crack), and was looking forward to working all night. So I threw on shorts and sneaks on my way out of the office, with thoughts of reacquainting myself with Jamestown after the winter.

Parked at the Soccer Field on the Island and headed north along East Shore Road. My goal was to run for about 50 minutes – 25 minutes out, turn around, and huff it back. I wasn’t going to push particularly hard, and the iPod helped – played a bunch of Sarah McLaughlin, kd lang, and Art Blakey to keep the heart rate down, and the pace what I thought was gentle. At 25 minutes, I had just rounded the turn onto North Main Road, and turned around at the corner of N. Main and Park. Decided to kick it a bit, and made it back to the car as the elapsed time hit 48:18, cutting 2 minutes off my out time (I was at 25:20 after waiting for the UPS guy to go by). Not so bad, I figured.

I still haven’t recharged the battery in the forerunner, but probably wouldn’t have used it this afternoon – I really get a kick out of seeing how low I can get each mile split. But I was kind of curious to see what 50 minutes would get me mileage-wise, so I drove the loop up to the north end of the island using old-school distance finding. And I was pleasantly surprised when my odometer ticked off 3 miles from the parking lot to my turn around. I knew I’d done a heavy five miler, but I didn’t realize quite how heavy. Let’s see – nine minute miles would be 54 minutes, 8 minute miles would be 48 minutes – so my “easy” run (and I really was trying to keep my breathing slow and steady) ended up being about an 8:20 pace… Crazy, huh?

And WHAT A DAY! I didn’t ride since it was pretty windy, but this section of Jamestown is great on windy days ’cause it’s all sorts of tree-lined. There must have been a dozen different types of daffodil along the road (My faves are the ones that are light yellow along the outside with a deep yellow or even orange cup in the center), and the forsythia (the yellow shrubbery) was starting to bloom – which means there should be early season caddis on a couple of the trout streams around here… (deep breath – only time to master one passtime and still see the family and stay employed… pshew… I could at least oil my reels and condition my line … deep breath…).

Then I get home, the baby is beaming, and Missy’s made a huge steaming pan of paella, with shrimps (no little octopi, though). Mmmmm, saffron…

I tell you, if I didn’t screw up my taxes, life is extremely good. Now to look into WordPress (the guy apologized, after all) and see if I can dork things up again…

Posted in Run

D’oh

Summary of my personal life today: D’oh.

Summary of my running life today: Woo Hoo!

Personal: f’n taxes. Looks to be a wash between federal and a couple of states. Jon suggested H&R Block, but I’m stubborn. Besides, then it’d be some person bearing my wrath upon asking dumb questions instead of me yelling (silently; the boys are sleeping) at the monitor. It’s going somewhat better than normal – only one blue screen of death this year. BTW, remind me that I need to call Accounting tomorrow and get my withholding fiddled with.

Running: Great run. Did the same route as Monday, ‘cept by myself. Finished strong, but the forerunner lost power (haven’t charged it in a long while) about 2/3 of the way through. The iPod kept going strong, though. Day was chilly, but not so breezy. Oh, and it wasn’t quite the same route – I added the .4 miles out to the point and back. My splits were in the 8:15 range. So at least I’m getting noticeably faster. Legs felt good, etc.

At lunch, I swung by the Barnes and Noble. Thumbed through the Chi Running book – looks completely worthwhile. Maybe after I finish the book I’m reading and this.

Yep. Life is good. And I think I’ll avoid prison, at least for tax evasion. And I’ll spend Friday night on the porch catching up with everyone else’s runs. Or maybe Saturday.

Posted in Run

Death, Taxes, and

me blowing off another run… Sore from yesterday’s sprint, and busy as a beaver. Whatever. There are good things to discuss – namely:

1) Am I the only one who’s completely frustrated with the US Income Tax Code? A BS in Engineering, an MBA, no real wacky finances, and I’m still trying to figure out exactly what a “high deductible insurance plan” is and if it covers me, the entire family, or is just a typo on a W-2. Sheesh.

2) Paris-Roubaix. I’m a day late and a dollar short on this one, but I just got around to watching my OLN tape tonight. And WOW. I guess I’d never really appreciated how fierce, narrow, and nasty the cobblestone sections up there in northern France were. Absolutely amazing. I have no excuses the next time I let weather and conditions keep me indoors.

American George Hincapie finished second to Belgian Tom Boonen (former USPS teammate of Hincapie) in a sprint in the Roubaix velodrome, largely due to Boonen being the latest young Belgian to channel Eddie Merckx better than Axel, and to Boonen growing up in a country where a majority of the population doesn’t look askance when you say “Velodrome”. (heh – OS X’s spell-check function just flagged velodrome. Stupid Americans). Big wrecks, pain, suffering, wailing, gnashing of teeth all taking place at upwards of 25 MPH.

Hincapie’s post-race interview in Velonews is good stuff: I had tunnel vision the whole way to Roubaix, and I thought I rode a perfect race, and in my mind I was going to win. I had a vision of the race in my head the whole winter and it went pretty much the way I had envisioned it… except for the final 150 meters.

3) Tour de Connecticut route is announced: Friday, 20 May – Crit on the New Haven Green, 6 PM. Good chance I’ll drag the boy(s?) down provided I can ditch work kind of early. Saturday – Waterbury Climber’s cup – Sounds fascinating, might be worth a trip, provided I can figure out where the heck Waterbury is. Sunday is 135 miles through Litchfield county, with Torrington hosting the finish. An old jeep I used to drive had issues with the Litchfield hills – I cannot imagine what they’d be like on a bike.

So that’s that – minor setback, but the weight’s staying off, fitness is at least static, and I’ve diverted my mental river to washing out some personal stables. Epic runs should recommence here soon; focus is still on a marathon this fall, so I’m in limbo until the end of June. As long as I don’t relapse, I should be fine.

One more thing…

I forgot to pimp Friday’s Foaming Rant over at VeloNews.

The wind was really gusting now, driving the light drizzle like birdshot, but I was protected from the worst of it, even on the southbound leg of my impromptu ‘cross course. I got one, two, three laps in – “This is gonna work out just right,” I smirked to myself – and then the real deal hit, blasts of sand, water and wind like something out of the Old Testament. Chastened, I beat it for home, a rooster tail of murky water from the rear wheel striping my backside like a lash.

Which is why he gets paid for this crap and I don’t.