Not enough April showers

Great run today at lunch. 5 miles on the long, hilly standby from the office. Waved at a former colleague running the other way, enjoyed the sun on my face when it was shining and the shade when it went behind the clouds. Legs felt good.

Lungs were working free from almost two weeks of mucus, so apologies to anyone following behind – boy did it feel like sheets were breaking free. The good news is that I think I’m done with the spring 2013 edition of the Vulcan Death Flu.

The bad news is that I missed about 8 days of running due to a head full of snot. Which is a shame, ’cause this was one of my best Aprils on record, following a decent February and great March.

So, not enough post-workout April showers, for sure.

Not enough rain, either. Spent some time yesterday working in the yard, and it’s dry like August. Wah.

All in all, good start to the week.

Perspective

Or Frame of Reference is Important

Went swimming at lunch today. Which is great, right? Trek 360 Bike

Or at least it would be, ‘cept I ran into my buddy T., who was heading into the locker room as I was heading out.

“Hey, how are you?” sez me.

He sez – “Can’t talk right now – gotta take a pee break – I’m at 4500 on my way to 3K for the day”

Well, crap. Right about then, my jammers seemed to get a whole lot roomier in the crotch. 4,500 yards and he’s not completely spent?

I’ve got to throw in a little perspective. T’s one of those great guys who everyone seems to know who actually do walk on water. He’s supremely competent in everything he’s approached, one of the nicest guys on the planet, great wife, cute kids, and an absolute animal in the pool, on the bike, or running. He’s awesome to ride with – knows every road in southeastern New England, does a great job regardless of skill level, and never, ever, ever hesitates to say “Sure” when you want to ride. And, he’s spent the last 10 months recovering from a pretty serious crash, but is back to being able to tear my legs off at will.

I’m a hack. I’ve been 20-30 pounds overweight for my entire adult life, and while I’ve developed endurance, I’ve never, ever been able to get my weight down to the point where I can develop speed. Anyone who has ever tried developing speed without dropping weight can tell you where that leads (straight to PF, ITB problems, or something that requires PT and ibuprofen).

So, I popped on the headphones, pulled down the goggles, and started cranking. And y’know what? About 300 yards into it, I realized that while I’ll probably never approach Tracy’s level, I’m doing all right. My resting heartrate is down in the 50’s, I’ve still got all my hair, I’ve got the time and disposable income to have pretty much any gear that I’d like and at least one or two chances to get out each week. All in all, I’m doing all right.

Perspective.

I’ve spent the last 15 years chasing (almost literally) the myth of Lance Armstrong. My enthusiasm for fitness really did start with a bike similar to the one pictured above. Was reading about Armstrong’s ’99 tour, and watching the OLN coverage on basic cable. I needed to get back into shape, had some time on my hands with a new job, so figured “Why not?” Started watching the want ads in the newspaper, found someone selling the Trek second hand for cheap, and picked it up.

And rode it, and rode it, and rode it, all the while hearing Phil and Paul in my ears.

My lovely wife and I didn’t have kids at the time, so Saturday mornings were mine. The Trek shifted Saturday Mornings from fishing to cycling, but I wasn’t riding for me – I was riding with racing in mind, despite being in my mid-20’s, 30 pounds overweight, and miles away from any organized racing scene.

Media didn’t help. I still look forward to each new issue of Bicycling, Triathlete, Runner’s World, whatever. Still love watching racing despite having my former heroes brought to earth over the last year. But I’m never going to run a 2:30 marathon, or do a 5 hour Half Iron, or drop the peloton heading up L’Alpe.

I reached down to the bottom of the pool, tucked my chin into my chest, pulled my legs into my chest, blew air out through my nose, planted my feet on the wall upside down, pushed off, stretched tall in good Pilates stance, and glided out to the first line of flags. While my head surfaced to take the first breath of that lap, I blew out jealousy, disappointment, and false expectations, and pulled in a lungful of wet, chlorinated air.

There’s a lot of folks not in the pool today, I thought, and pushed out another 500 with a smug sense of superiority over the couch potatoes who were just then sitting with a plate of fries. (MMmmm, fries) Even if I won’t ever be in the same league as the pros, at least I’m a step above the slackers, right?

But while I caught my breath waiting for my last set, I realized that standing on a pedestal above the lazy was going to be as healthy as trying to reach an elite level while juggling work, family, and some semblance of making a difference in my community.

Perspective. It’s about focusing on what’s actually changeable (controlling cravings for french fries for one). Focusing on actual flaws (Blowing off workouts for sitting on the couch) instead of perceived flaws (Bike weighing in at 19.5 lbs as opposed to under the UCI minimum). Focusing on awesomeness, like skiing a loop with my awesome sons, running River Road with my longsuffering wife, or the connections I’ve made in the larger running community.

Perspective. Another thing that T. has to teach me. And has been trying to in his own quiet way every awesome loop we’ve done of Newport Island.

B@$+dR@. (Still not there yet with the whole perspective thing)

Lame Excuses and Lazy Long Runs

Hi. I’m Jank, and I’m lazy.

One of the biggest challenges that faces most of us is just getting our butts out the door. I know that I’ve got a terrible habit, especially on Saturdays and Sundays of saying “Well, I get up for work every other day of the week, don’t I deserve to sleep in one day?” And I probably do, and there’s always an opportunity to run later in the day, so I roll over and wait for #2 son to fly in the door and do the flying leap onto the bed when he’s ready for me to make him breakfast.

Then we have breakfast, and I can’t run right after I eat. So we go to the hardware store, and by the time we get home, it’s time for lunch, and I can’t run right after I eat. So we have lunch, and I start into a project in the house or in the yard, and have a couple beers, and then I can’t run on a full stomach, so what the heck, I’ll just run tomorrow morning. 12 hours later, the cycle repeats, except Sunday School and church replace the trip to the hardware store. (Melissa, my long-suffering wife, usually avoids my fate, since she was born with a double ambition gene).

Today was on track to be another typical Saturday on which I’ve blown off my Saturday run, until the lovely and talented Annalisa tweeted:

I replied:

And thought about trying to sit on the same lame couch.

But, I’ve had some awful hangove.. uh, headaches, Mom. And I know folks who have migraines, and know that a headache is to a migraine like a Tonka truck is to an open pit mine dump truck – orders of magnitude different. So then the guilt kicks in at trying for a cheap laugh at someone else’s pain, and of sitting on a couch when there’s beautiful (if slightly damp) roads waiting for me out my door, and then my beautiful (and long-suffering) wife, who’s already banged out five miles while the boys and I were at pancake breakfast for the church mission trip, and …

Enough already – I had to get out the door.

So, I suited up, walked out, and the cool day had turned damp. Light sleet coming out of the sky. Enough to where I might be able to justify going back to the couch. ‘Cept – no.

An hour later, I stroll back in the door. The run wasn’t a particularly special one – 6 miles at slug pace, and about a quarter mile cooldown walk with a gratifying cloud of steam coming off of me like in a superhero comic after a battle. And a lightness in my step for turning an ordinary weekend into good base miles.

Cold Steel

I. Love. Winter.

There, I said it. I love winter.

I love the contrast between inside and outside in the winter. Inside – warm, muted light, fuzzy, close to ones you love. Outside – The winter sun lights up everything without heat, and the snow removes contrast and context from the landscape, emphasizing . The imperative is to keep moving, to balance energy in the tank with work that must be done. Focus. Anything above the snow snaps into sharp contrast.

Today’s ride was everything good about that – teens when I left the house, bright blue, high clouds, and shadows that can slice bread. The bike complained. Last week I’d ridden her hard and put her away wet, so there was some rust flaking off the chain, and some creaking as the bike asked why I’d neglected her. But, she moved.

I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ve been getting slower lately. Just barely managed to get 12 MPH on the ride in. Not sure why so slow. I didn’t particularly try to hammer, but remember being really let down that it took so long, since i’d felt good on the bike, and the day was so beautiful.

Good chance to make it up this evening.

Slush / Splash / Chase

Today’s awesomeness began this morning. The overnight light snows left a little bit of a dusting on the shoulder. Not enough to make it slick, but enough to leave tracks. Pretty cool to roll the front tire through it, see it get shiny on the edges, and then watch a steady stream of dirty snow the texture of an Icee keep growing out of the front of the fender. Got to work with the bottom bracket a sloppy mess. Commuter Details

Swam at lunch, and tried out a new Jlab Go waterproof MP3 player. Dug swimming with tunes; wish I’d known how to make the player shuffle.

Ride home was awesome. The days are getting longer, and it was still twilight leaving the office. Warm (For February) during the day, so the snow was pretty much gone. I had an extra half hour before supper, so I took the long way home, cutting down to Bluff Point and across to Haley Farm as the light faded.

There’s a mile-long stretch between Haley Farm and Bluff Point that’s on the ballast for the Acela track. I’m kind of surprised there’s not a Strava segment on it, but also kind of don’t want to make one. It’s flat, flat, and a great stretch for group rides and runs – 5-10 minutes of plenty of room to stretch and talk. By the time I got there, it was actual no-lie dark, and I was enjoying the cold and silence and the tunnel of lights coming off of my handlebars and helmet.

The first part of the trail is an abandoned rail bed. Flew around the corner, and almost biffed – caught the front tire in a frozen rut from the ranger’s pickup – three oscillations, and saved it. The cross bike is awesome, but the drop bars aren’t the greatest for manhandling the front wheel around ruts. Plenty of light, but no contrast on the frozen mud. I was happier than a pig in poop.

The mud trail comes out onto the ballasted shoulder of the track. Cut the corner and managed not to clip the gate, and briefly sat up to enjoy the spin. About a quarter mile ahead, there was a group of three mountain bikers, so I dropped the hammer and chased until they went up the grade to the pedestrian bridge. Almost caught ’em, ‘cept they could make the sharp turn and rough cutoff. I had to continue on about another 100 feet, slow uturn, and crank up the grade.

One little patch of mud on a south facing grade, and I found myself wishing for knobbies instead of the reflective slicks. Kept it upright, cranked over the bridge, and chased the flickering lights through Haley Farm. In hindsight, I think I caught the tail end of the Mystic Cycle Wednesday Ride – bunch of folks with nice bikes putting them up on the cars in the parking lot.

Rest of the ride was uneventful – Thought I was going to die going up Fort Hill, but that’s pretty standard. Flanders headed north is the most awesome false flat for about 30 miles around. Flew down the Gold Star Highway, and kind of freaked out when a driver actually slowed up behind me for about 100 yards ’cause they were turning right behind me. Thanks Driver!

Longsuffering wife had green beans and fish ready when I got home, and it was still warm…

Somedays, I just love my life.

AweSnoweness

Sure, whatever. Man, that’s a bad title.

Anyway, after an anti-climactic last week, we’re well into February. Think that I’m stuck in an entire February loop, not just Groundhog Day. January wasn’t nearly so bad a month as I’d anticipated – 11.8 K swimming (almost 8 miles? Not bad..), over 58 miles on the bike (In January, in Connecticut, all outside), and 40 miles running. Nothing groundbreaking, but a really solid month. The longest layoff I had was 4 days, and I doubled-up on 3 days.

Weight is coming down – about 184 now, compared to 186 at the beginning of the month. Need to focus on the eating – snacks kill me.

Today? Great freaking day. I dig me some running in the snow. And today was perfect – lots of snowflakes in the air but no accumulation to speak of. Kind of a snow drizzle.

Hardest core ever.

Hardest core ever.

Ran the perimeter road. Only saw two other folks out during lunch, and not a whole lot of other footsteps. Mid 20’s, no wind. Only big gripe is that my Nike+ SportsWatch couldn’t find the GPS satellites through the snow clouds. Strava and the Nexus 4 worked like a champ, though:

Ran Saturday (3.6 miles). Swam Monday (1.2K). So February is 8.4 miles and 1.2K in 5 days. On track for 50+ miles running and 6K in the pool – need to crank it up everywhere.

Posted in Run

Short Socks and Spray

Two days into the week, and there have been three zeros busted for the first time in I don’t know when. (Four, when I think that this is the first week in a long while with two posts on the old blog…)

Anyway, this morning was another awesome ride into the office (Haven’t had a day I’ve regretted riding in yet).
January Bike Commute

Post script: After the great start to last week, I choked until running on Saturday. Awesome. Lesson learned is not to brag.

Broke the Zero

Literally? Maybe. It was, in the technical sense “Freaking Cold”, or about 19F, -something C, so we were below the zero in Canadia.

What is it with drivers in the wintertime? We live in a great town. In the summer I’ll usually see drivers head over to the opposite side to make room for runners and cyclists. But, on the same roads, same lighting conditions, etc, in the winter time it seems like the drivers are much less apt to make room. I think part of it is wanting to stay in the lane to avoid potential black ice. At least that’s what I want to think.

Anyhow, J. and I made it out for another run this morning. By “made it out”, I mean that I went in at least three times to shake the snoozing lad, and was about to leave myself when he showed up next to the door and grunted something that sounded like “Let’s Go.”

SO, about 10 minutes after we ought to be out the door, we were. I let him turn around for about a 2 mile round trip, and I kept on going out to Welles Road, which is becoming my go-to run. About 3.6 miles round trip, decent amount of elevation, but nothing earth shaking, and mostly on residential streets or sidewalks – about .25 miles each way is on the shoulder of a state highway, but it’s a wide shoulder, great sightlines – I think we’re OK.

Weight’s not good. I’m choosing to not believe the scale this morning, since I really don’t think I ate that much over the weekend, and I know I didn’t drink as much beer as it insists.

Posted in Run

Slog through the cold

I won’t lie to you. It’s been a bad week running. Which is surprising, since last week was a great week running. But, I’ve got to face facts – I’m not a cold weather runner.

Last week ended well – huge mileage biking and running for a January week. 20 miles on the bike on my way home from work Friday afternoon despite it not being above freezing. Then a Boy Scout campout that I convinced myself I needed to go on ’cause I was making my kid go on it. Cold kids around a fire But even at the scout campout, I ended up squeezing in an almost 6 miler. Life was good.

Then, MLK day came and went, and I didn’t take advantage of the beautiful weather. Then the cold came, work got busy, and I sat on my butt for the week.

This morning, I ran a bunch of errands while my wife re-organized her office. Got the stuff to refinish a coffee table and a couple of other projects, banged them out. Then, looked at the clock, saw it was 3 and the stain was on the coffee table, and headed out the door.

I’m not lying when I say that the first two miles were uphill into the wind, ’cause they were. Absolutely have to love that. Turned around, and it was much, much better. Almost survivable.

But, broke the zero, didn’t have a week with nothing.

Diet’s going better – tipped the scales pretty consistently under 185 this week despite not running.

Posted in Run

2013

So, Fat Cyclist is getting back to his roots. Turns out, I’m in the same boat.

I’ve had probably the best mileage running fall that I’ve had in freaking forever – consistently made the Saturday run with the guys from church, averaged at least once bike to work a week, whatever. But, food raised its sweet, sweet head, I started homebrewing again, and beer’s pretty darn tasty. I’ve got a great new office where we’ve got way too many great folks who bring in tasty food. Sigh.

Bleh. Over 185 at New Year. Ouch.

So, I’m back on the wagon. Just finished a trip down south for work – only one night of Chic-Fil-A, no AM biscuits, not so many beers. AND! Hit the 50 meter pool.

Love the 50 meter pool. Love swimming in general – I’ve managed to get in at least 1000 yards three days this week – Monday in the pool up here, and Tuesday and Wednesday down south.

I’d forgotten how much i love to swim. Actually, I’m not completely sure I love to swim, but it felt good to be back in the pool, working a different set of muscles than I’ve been working for most of last year. No phones, no gadgets, no nothing. Made me happy.

Anyway – running with J. in the morning. Still got better legs than the 12 year old.