Another close to great day!

Training continues to improve. The head cold is kind of hanging around and making me feel generally sluggish, but not so bad that it kills me.

Today I used the base pool for the first time – Man, was it cadillac! Kind of soft, squishy walls, crystal clear water, a degree or two warmer than the Y, beautiful building with lots and lots of natural light through opaque glass bricks, and possibly the best showers I’ve ever run into in a gym. Nice, clean, warm locker room, too, though it had wet/dry carpet, which always kind of creeps me out disease-wise.

The actual swim was good, too – 2000 yards (goal was 2200, but I’ve come to realize that the projected workload is a bit more than I can tote; since I’m not training for an event, I’m shooting for 80-90% of the scheduled workouts). Breakdown as follows:

250 yds Breast – Warmup
500 yds – Moderately hard
100 yds Breast – recovery
1,000 yds – easy, but the goal was the distance – all but one turn was a good flip; the other was a hand on wall turn
100 yds – hard, practicing breathing on both sides – kind of screwed me up setting up for turns, but I felt like I was really cutting through the water; nice strong strokes
50 yds Breast – cooldown

And I was shot at the end.

No major insights today, though I have finally learned how to swim at a moderate pace instead of having to thrash to keep my head above water. I was much quicker to start breathing every stroke on the left instead of every other stroke, and I think that helped me avoid oxygen debt. But I’m sure I looked like a wuss.

Tomorrow – An hour on the bike! I am so completely pumped I cannot express it in words. I may even actually go to bed early tonight!

So Close

Today was supposed to be a swim day. But, the base pool was closed, and I missed the morning session at the Y. Flexibility being the name of the game, I went and ran Bluff Point on my way home from work. And it was almost, but not quite, a good run. Which has me completely pumped for my next running day (Thursday – it’s a dual sport day, so I fully expect to die.). I have so missed the fabled runner’s high during the last couple weeks of difficulty.

There were moments during the run when I felt as if I could potentially nudge over the edge and into endorphin fueled-bliss, but I just couldn’t quite get there. My guess is that it’s the pseudo cold I’ve had since Sunday (probably because I didn’t wear a hat on Saturday’s ride) holding me back. The run in and of itself was pretty decent. The paths were all solid but not frozen hard, the temperature was tolerable without a jacket, and it wasn’t raining, though it was threatening.

While I haven’t investigated any of the funky running methods other than the bit I heard on NPR about Chi Running, I have been working a bunch more on smoothing out my form. Dianna talked about sucking in one’s butt today, and Mark’s going crazy with the stuff, but I’ve got the old trial and error (mostly error) working for me.

On Saturday while riding, I noticed that my pedaling style had completely and totally gone to crap over the winter. I was stomping each pedal stroke down into the bottom of the crank arc and jerking each one up into the top rather than pushing down, scraping the mud off at the bottom, pulling up, and kicking forward like I do when I’ve been riding for a while. While running today, I realized that I’d been doing much the same thing running lately – kicking out the front foot, striking with my heel and knee locked, then lurching up as my extended leg scribed an arc under my hips lifting a (decreasing but) sizeable mass up about 4 inches, then pushing off a little bit so I could get the next leg extended in front of me.

After one of my walk breaks today, I concentrated on smoothing out my stride. Rather than waiting for my foot to strike earth, I kept each stride consistent, pulling my foot back at the same point in each step regardless of the ground condition. I would then count on the earth reaching up to catch my foot and allow me to extend behind me and push off, at the same time I was beginning my stride, sure that the earth would catch my stride.

The other observation I had today came from watching a rabbit I’d scared (tell me you wouldn’t run, too, if you had a red-faced, puffing, semi-overweight white boy bearing down on you) take off into the bushes. Once she’d come up to speed, her “cruising” pace looked completely relaxed. Sure, there was extreme effort and power when her furry feet contacted the ground, but while she was airborne mid-stride, she was relaxed. Confident, I’m sure, that the ground would rise up to meet her feet.

By the last mile, I’d gotten closer to that spot at which running approximates flying. Like I said, I didn’t quite get there, but I was close.

There’s always next time.

Well Enough Alone

Pool’s closed today, so it looks like I’m running on the way home. But that’s not why I’m here. THis is:

The folks who sponsor Milan – San Remo are a bit disturbed that it ended, again, with a group sprint. So they’re looking to change the route, to add a couple more mountains so the sprinters, most of whom are notoriously bad climbers, can’t drive the race at the end.

They’ve done this before, apparently. The Poggio and the Cipressa are two pretty decent hills near the end that were added in the 60’s to shuffle up the results a bit. And it’s not unheard of to re-route races just to keep them interesting.

But in this case, I’m a bit upset. Petacci yesterday had to make a heck of a ride for a sprinter to be in position to make his final push. Yes, there’s positioning and strategy involved to box out some more pure climbers, but there are classics that they can dominate. Granted, most of them are up in the rain in Belgium, but whaddya want?

Milan – San Remo

I’ve mentioned it before, but I completely dig pro cycling. It’s the combination of history, guts, beauty and bright colors really sucks me in. Today’s Milan-San Remo race had absolutely everything necessary to make one for the history books – a potentially successful breakaway, epic climbs with cool names, breathtaking scenery, and a passing of the guard (kind of).

I’ll leave the real wrap up to folks who know a bunch more than I do, but if you want to see pure, unadulterated expression of determination and power, take a look at the face of Alessandro Petacci, the race winner, as he’s approaching the finish line. He’s leading a group of about 20 of the fastest non-motorized men in the world (and I think that’s not hyperbole – the cyclists are nothing but human powered) and he’s opening a gap as he approaches the end.

The passing of the guard really happened a year or two ago, but today rocked. Mario Cippolini, the coolest man on earth, was in the bunch for the finishing sprint, but didn’t really figure at the end. But the dude’s 38 and still figuring in a race after over 6 hours in the saddle.

Sound of Silence

Thanks for all the great wishes for the boy’s birthday, and good words on training. Bouncing back seems to be kind of a trend; all well and good, but it’d be nicer to to just keep meeting goals.

Deciding to take a mulligan for this week was good for the psyche. Probably should have scheduled last week as a recovery week in any case; kind of funny how things work out that way. Next week is going to be busy, but I think I’ve got most things worked out.

My Cannondale, my 19 lbs of aluminum and carbon sweetness, got put back together on Friday. All degreased, all re-greased (very, very thin), new tubes and a new tire on my backup wheels, and the primary set of wheels at the bike shop for a little bit of truing. I’m comfortable working on pretty much anything on the bike (the secret is good grease, and not much of it) except for the spokes. I ran into my pastor while dropping them off – he’s in great shape, though, and his riding brings him closer to God in pretty much opposite the way that mine does. Though at the end of this season, hopefully I’ll be feeling God’s presence on the bike in the good way. Shaping the temple and all that.

Saturday was, quite possibly, the best day I’ve had in a long while. Woke up, just plain woke up not tired, not due to an alarm, not due to a screaming kid, not due to my wife kicking me since I was snoring, but just plain woke up at 6 AM. Kind of pinched myself. Luckily, I’d stashed my cycling gear in the kitchen the night before. Tiptoed out, dressed, carried the bike down the back stairs, and clipped in.

Darn it was cold.

And I’d forgotten my hat.

Screw it, I’m out for a while anyway.

Headed down the hill towards River Road. Darn, it’s cold. And now I can’t feel my ears. Hmm. Scratch the easy/fast ride along Route 1.

So, I climbed. Turned around and headed up the hill down which I’d came. Climbed up to the top, realized I could feel my cheeks and ears again, then gritted my teeth heading downhill. Turned around as soon as the ground leveled out and started up a different hill. Kept it up for an hour (computer magnet’s on the spokes of the wheels in the shop).

Man, I love the bike.

The sound of silence came in about halfway up the second hill – I clicked into a bigger cog, and suddenly realized that it was the first sound I’d heard from the bike in about a mile. Was a moment of serenity, as all the time and skinned knuckles of the last week or so paid off in a finely tuned machine.

New place to trail run

Since I’m working on salvaging the week, much like David insisted, I got my butt out of bed this morning and went to check out the Copp Family Property, a new-ish Town of Groton park. And I liked it.

From the street, it doesn’t look like much, just a 20 car gravel parking lot and a pretty nice wooden and gilt sign. But as a place to run, it is pretty good. I didn’t map it with the forerunner, but I was out for about 40 minutes and didn’t overlap much, and don’t think I took all the branches. The trails weren’t smooth or well graded, but they weren’t completely full of ruts either. I was happy.

Tomorrow’s the boy’s fifth birthday – my lovely wife is kind of worked up about having the party at our house. But I think it’ll be all right. We’re also going to my company’s annual party that evening, so sneaking out for a run or bike will be tough. But I will do it.

Speaking of the bike – I dropped my Ultegra wheels and my lovely wife’s hybrid wheels off at the shop to get trued. On the way back, I saw the sweeper trucks out beginning to pull the sand off of the road for the summer. I cannot wait to get back on the bike…


It’s official – this week is a lost cause. Haven’t really met any goals since Monday. Here’s the reason why:

1. I forgot to keep training as a top priority.

There’s a bunch of reasons for why – Change in work routine (I’m on annual training); getting ready for my folks to come to town; stayed up late working on bikes and fixing the iBook. But the root cause is prioritization.

The up side is that there’s still half a week left, and that I can move the tri- training back a week. And maybe it’ll be warmer next week…

Woo Hoo!

My iBook is back! All my data is still intact. Life is good.

Now, to tempt fate, I will repartition the drive, reinstall OS X, and try to get Mandrake PPC running!

Beautiful day, the new plan is kicking my butt, but life is good. I tried climbing the random rope I found in a tree today – didn’t get very far. Tomorrow I will get farther.

March Madness

or “Stop me before I fix again”.

The good news is that the new training program started off gangbusters – 2200 meters in the pool. The first 1700 were great, and I banged out the last 500 without too much whining. It did help that there were chicks swimming this afternoon, so god forbid that the slowly slimming white guy (I’m avoiding the whole “middle aged” which is the surest sign that I’m there) show any signs of weaknenss. No, instead I slowed way down and did the distance swimmer thing of nice big arm circles on the strokes.

Felt really good for not having swum in a couple of weeks. The first three sets of 10 laps were probably the finest 1500 meters I’ve ever swum – every one was big circles with the arms, full extensions through my fingers and toes, and a hard kick off the wall upside down at the end of each 25. The last set of 500, though – can they add Knox Blox mix to the water and change the viscosity? Swear on my sainted mother’s grave (she’s not dead, but bear with), the water just felt thicker.

The other good news is that my beloved iBook is on its way home. I like my Linux machine (Dell Inspiron 3700 PIII 500 MHZ, running Fedora Core 3), but I cannot get the WiFi working on either my D-Link DWL 650+ or Dell 1350 wireless PCMCIA cards, so I’m tethered.

Tonight – did some more work on the T. Rex cutout for the beanbag toss at the Boy’s birthday. Looks good. The big event, though, was the bike clean-a-thon. I degreased the crap out of everythingn that wasn’t welded on to both my Cannnondale and my old Trek. Good stuff. Took the cranks off the Cannondale for the first time since I got it, and remembered the old materials lesson about metals in long-term contact with Aluminium. Oh well – a coat of grease and it’ll be fine for another 4 years.

The Trek is a different story. I’d bought paint at the model shop to patch a couple of scratches. Then I caught Fixedgear referencing a site on home-made headset presses (which work fine, BTW, and don’t cost $100+). Dan Goldenberg (The other site) has got a bit on painting frames. Now that I’ve got the bike apart, the scratching is a little bit more widespread than I though, and I’m seriously thinking about doing it. Be a lot easier to do it now than when it’s back together…

Unless, of course, someone wants to send me a ‘cross frame… (30″ inseam, usually run about a 52-53 cm frame)


Changes of season, changes of program.

Had a bit of a relapse Friday and Saturday, and decided not to push myself through sickness. Wuss, yes, I know.

But I’m starting my program tomorrow – 2200 meters in the pool. Yippie.

Life is good, though. We’re having a birthday party over here next weekend, so I spent much of today cleaning the basement. Yeah, the exciting life of a blogger.

All the best to y’all.