Tough Run

No idea why, but it’s been tough to run lately. The weather is perfect, completely stunning, but the legs just aren’t there.

Part of it is soccer injury – popped a hammy three weeks ago. Part is weight – all the summertime weight is back. But there’s something else there that I can’t figure out what…

Anyway, I made it out the door today. 5 miles from the ballfield home. Beautiful sunny fall day, little bit of a tailwind. Didn’t have to walk up any hills. Done.

Riding For Yellow

newport ride(1)

Last week, the bubble finally burst on the whole Lance Armstrong thing. I’d long since given up the idea that he’d raced clean, or that, in fact anyone had raced clean. Reading Tyler Hamilton’s “The Secret Race”, @Vaughters’ tweeting this summer, and the earlier USADA leaks had pretty much convinced me that cycling had been doped for most of the Postal/Disco run.

Reading some of the raw testimony, reading the statements of the confessed riders, and reading the continued denials from Armstrong himself were really kind of getting me down. On one hand, without a critical mass of cyclists confessing together, it’s really easy to keep the omerta going – reference Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, and Bassons getting the cold shoulder from the entire cycling industry when they tried to shine a light (yes, after years of lying in the cases of Floyd and Tyler) on doping. So, giving out light punishment to lots of riders who confess at the same time has the effect of encouraging confessions.

On the other hand, think of a rider like Chris Horner – currently not implicated in any of the scandals – who spent the late 90s and the early 2000’s riding at the top of the US pro circuit, bringing in literally hundreds of dollars at races in office parks and beer primes, all because he chose to race clean. No podium girl wife for him, no villas in Girona, just a second shot at a EuroPro career once the peloton cleaned up.

The darkness was threatening to consume me – Armstrong’s story played a huge role in my becoming a cyclist.

Then, I got on my bike, and realized I had new yellow to ride for in the golden light of fall.

Longer shadows

So, I may or may not have turned 40 within the last month. If you’re only as old as you feel, I’m still 16 and probably ought not be trusted with much beyond car keys. Buying beer or raising children ought to be clean out.. If you’re as old as people give you responsibilities for, I’m probably in my mid 50’s. Or, if chronology represents age; well, let’s just say I’ll still lie and tell people I’m 29. Old enough to be trusted; not old enough to be wise.You wish you were here

Anyway, weather’s turning up here in New England. Saw a golden tree, and the shadows are definately longer on my commute. Sun’s waiting until 6A to come up, and it’s down by the time the kids are in bed. The weather’s still tossing between summer and fall – some days, we’re gettting hot and wet blown up from the tropics; other days, there’s cool and dry blown down from Canada (Thanks!).

But the pedals keep turning, and the feet ought to start striking pavement again on a regular basis following the New Haven Road Race.

Friday afternoon, I was supposed to spend the day riding Jamestown, RI. But, work intervened, and I didn’t get started until about 2 hours after I was supposed to (Stupid me, working first instead of riding first). Finally got out, and headed north on the island – great tailwind headed north. Kept taking turns I hadn’t taken once I’d rounded the head of the island; passed lots of cyclists out enjoying the beautiful day.

Then, while coming down Carr Lane, I hit a bump, and – dreaded pinch flat.

No worries – fixing a flat’s a 2 minute evolution.

‘Cept – The tube was a short valve tube, and just barely stuck above my Easton EA50 rims, and I hadn’t put a new CO2 cartridge after my last flat. There was enough gas to get the new tube up to about 60 lbs, which could pretty safely get me back to the car at Ft. Weatherill. Coming back up to the car, I was tempted to continue down to Beavertail, ’cause the day was that nice.

IN the end, I opted out – the rear end was squishy enough that one hard hit would have pinched this tube clean through, and I would have been hiking back to the car. And, I’ve been making a concerted effort to be home on time much more often, so didn’t want to risk irking the wife.

Soaked in the cove for a while to make up for it.

Longer shadows are all right.

New Haven Road Race 2012

Another 20K in the legs.
Post race

Long-time followers of this blog (hi, both of you) know that the New Haven Road Race is my absolute favorite race of the year. It’s the perfect combination of:

  • Distance – 20K isn’t a half-marathon, so there’s not a lot of folks skittish about running their first “long” race. 20K’s also long enough to be tough, but not so long as to require extensive taper or training. Go run for an hour or so every weekend, long runs of between 10 or 15, and you’re good to race the 20K
  • Venue – Starts and ends on the shady and grassy New Haven town green. Church steps to sit on at the start, grass to recover in at the end. There’s a Red Hook Beer truck (30 kegs this year), Chabaso bread, and a decent band at the end.
  • Weather – Labor Day in New England is spectacular. Some years it’s a little warm at the finish, but most years it’s 60’s at the start and mid-70’s at the finish. Nice day for a run
  • Course – 20K, pretty flat. They changed the course this year, taking out the 2 miles of no shade and fish stink along the waterfront, and the trip past the refinery at the end of the water front. I kind of missed the stretch they took out, but can’t say that the change wasn’t for the better. Most of the folks I talked to really liked the re-route.
  • The race is also one of my favorites, ’cause I know I’ll run into Dianna (hit up her Livestrong Page, ’cause cancer still sucks, and I’ve got two survivors who were helped) and Jon. Seriously, I can’t say enough about how great it is to run into the folks who supported me while I was making running a big part of my life.

    The race itself? OK, I suppose. I’m in better cardiovascular shape than I’ve been in a while, still overweight, and trying to break myself by playing soccer at work. I’ve also been trying just to run within myself – not too hard, not too soft.

    Which was the race I ran. Started off conservatively. With the exception of the last mile, all of the splits were between 8’31” and 9’12”. Had enough for a kick on Mile 12 down to 8’19”. Finished with a 1h52′. Not my fastest, but I’ll take it for where I was this summer.

    End of the race was over to Frank Pepe’s for pizza, Frank Pepe's pizza oven

    and to Columbus park for picnic.Pizza in Columbus Park

    And, a little rest in the shade.
    10 minutes for a nap in the shade

    Workers of the world, thanks for the day off.

    Harpoon Point-to-point Ride

    “Each year, the Feeding America network provides food assistance to more than 25 million low-income people facing hunger in the United States, including more than 9 million children and nearly 3 million seniors.” Up to 89,000 folks in Vermont, 500,000 folks in Connecticut, and over 4,000,000 in the Great State of Texas will face food insecurity this year.

    Melissa/Missy and I are going to be riding the Harpoon Point To Point ride next weekend. It’s a benefit ride to support the Vermont Food Banks. Mostly, we’re riding to celebrate turning 40 at the end of the month.

    However, the ride does have a fundraising component, so I’ll guilt y’all a little. Missy and I hit up our family for the ride in lieu of birthday stuff, and, frankly, ought to take it out of hide for the ride as well as being more pro-active about dropping off donations each Sunday morning at St. Andrew.

    So, figure out where you can go in your community and drop off cash or good quality food. (Or watch for the Cub Scouts/Boy Scouts to drop off food drive bags at the end of October).

    If you’ve pitched in in your community, and want to sponsor us and the good people of the Green Mountain State, links to our donation pages are below.

    Missy’s fundraising page

    Billy’s fundraising page

    Keep Kickin’

    Back from a week’s vacation up to Stowe, Vermont. We do this pretty much every year, and it’s one of the highlights of the year. I usually try to climb Smuggler’s Notch (VT State highway 108), and it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been successful.

    Made it this yearOn top

    Can’t say I set any speed records, but I made it. Up in the better part of an hour, down in about 10 minutes. Rest of vacation was focused mainly on relaxation, which was fully accomplished.

    Now that I’m back, my next big goal is the New Haven Road Race (Today’s the last day to register for cheap). That also means I’ve got my annual meeting with this guy (which isn’t often enough, but the internet world and the real world work at completely different speeds, and, despite being early bloggers, I know I’ve chosen to stay rooted in reality, family, and stuff I can touch).

    Anyhow, we’re both working on getting svelte, and by coincidence, we’d both landed on I’d used it last year to drop about 5 pounds and get consistiently under 181 (though it looks like age-related shrinking is setting in, and 175 is probably safer). But it’s got a great iPhone and android app – track calories where you are. Scans barcodes, has most chain resturants, and lots of user-generated data. Always in my pocket, so I remember to use it.

    What’s interesting to me is that it doesn’t look like the site has a business model… Just works, and works well. (Can’t figure out how DailyMile makes money, either, but still love them, too)

    Enough. Time to sneak in a lunch run and earn a sandwich.

    Juneathon – Fireflies

    The road is smooth, it’s warm and wet, the moon is hidden behind a blanket of cloud, and punctuating the translucent summer night are thousands of fluttering points of light.

    Juneathon is still in full effect – been having a great month.

    Stopped by the church on the way home this evening for a work night. We’re a small (~200 parishioners) church, and there’s a group of four of us who’ll get together on a Friday evening about once a quarter to fix stuff that’s broke at the church. We’re mostly engineers or management technicians, but it’s nice to use some tools, sling some paint, and do some actual work once in a while.

    After we’re done working, we’ll swing by someone’s house close to the church, have supper, and sit on the porch for a while watching the world wind down.

    Biked to work today, and over to the church this afternoon for work night. Stayed for supper, and had a preview of heaven climbing up Flanders road on the way home – still air, smooth pavement, turning circles, and fireflies dancing in the night. Full belly made the ride slow. Barley, hops, and yeast made the night smooth.

    New England Summer at its best.

    Juneathon 3/30

    Earlier this year, I talked Melissa into letting me buy her a bike. She acquiesced with the caveat that I had to ride with her until she felt comfortable on her own.

    Spend time with my wife? Twist my arm…

    River road home from school

    Sunday Morning, we’re up at 6, on the bikes, and miles squeaking by under our tires. It’s a truism around here that, if you want to climb, pick a road with ‘Hill’ in its name, and we did.

    20 miles and a bit over an hour later, we’re rolling back into the driveway to get ready for church. The big son learned how to make crepes this week for French class, so this was waiting for us:


    Juneathon 1/30

    Half day at the office. Didn’t bike in, ’cause my hope was to get a bike ride in with my lovely wife after work. But the meeting went long, and we were up against the kids getting out of school.

    So, mowed the lawn and saddled up to pick up the big kid from middle school. Awesome late spring day, great spin down to the school. Picked up the boy, and we headed home via downtown and River Road. And, again, I’m struck by the surreality of my kids’ lives – this is ‘normal’ for them. And I want it to seem normal, but not entitled. But it was an hour of good talk, an hour of spin, and an hour that I’ll treasure for a long time.

    River road home from school

    But wait! There’s more!

    It’s still recovery week after the Vermont City Marathon, but the young son looked up at me with his big doey brown eyes and asked if I’d run the short Bluff Point Twilight Trail Race with him. Duh, of course I can.

    This is one of my favorite races – great cause in the New London County Women’s Center, awesome course at Bluff Point State Park, and early in the nice weather when being outside is a huge treat after winter breaks. The short course is about 3.8 miles – out to the bluff and back via the hill in the peninsula. Nice two-track the whole way; packed dirt or crushed granite.

    Bluff Point Twilight Trail Run 2012

    The run was awesome. Small son has a great sense of pace, and we started passing folks about halfway. He gutted it up the hills, flew down the downhills, and about blew my doors off when he sprinted for the finish. Nice.

    Wife ran with the big son – they flew, both setting PRs for the course. Funny how happy I am being the slowest in the family.

    BPTTR rocks for post-race. There’s always corn chowder from the US Coast Guard Academy goat locker. AND there’s massage students from a local massage school hitting their requirements for sports massage. I got the hook-up this year; Stacey completely worked out the residual stiff from Vermont, and I was happy.

    Only down side was forgetting to check the tide tables and parking in the lower lot – the tide was still coming in, and I had to wade out to the car.

    Spring tide after the Twilight Trail Run

    Even I need reminders I’m not entitled sometimes.