Archive for November, 2009

Reliving the Mental Barrier

It’s hard to tell someone less experienced that a future event is “challenging but very possible,” when you are nearing onto the decade mark in the arena of said events.  Specifically, I am referring to my experience in slightly stoopid endurance events, and in particular a 400ish mile bike trip.  No matter how many days that are on the agenda, 400 is big number.

The trick is to divide the miles into days.  I remember reading something like this when I was embarking on my first marathon.  “Yeah, it is ‘just one mile at a time,’ but it’s 26 of those!”  It didn’t sound quite right to me.

In marathons, the experience that I go through involves a few major stages: the initial start of finding a good pace, the majority miles where I’m in some kind of groove, the decision point to keep the pace or speed up, and the final push to the end.

So, a marathon isn’t quite one mile at a time, for me.  Yet, it’s no longer a daunting big mileage to me, either.  It’s now roughly four stages I pass through.

I enjoy life moments that let you relive personal learning experiences.

Even though I heard her perfectly, I asked dre what she said when she told me, “That was a fun [up-] hill [climb].”

She thought a climb was fun??

I was shocked.  Days before, the same person that gave me an earful of concerns and reasons of how our 400 mile bike ride was nearing impossible to hear that she just enjoyed climbing a hill!

The previous day was a tortuous 33 miles in a mix of rain and freezing rain.  We broke up the frigid day making hot chocolate in a state park handicap bathroom.

. . . and after a day like that, I could see why an 8% grade incline in a snow covered mountain range with a big tail-wind and a warm sunshine on your shoulders which also marked the halfway point for the day, really could be a fun uphill climb.

Kudos to dre, for turning another leaf and my ability to live vicariously.

On our 2009 Turkey Tour in Awesomerica.

It turns out there aren’t always food drops and water bottle hand-offs in real life; who knew?  If you’re some roadie thinking that 40+ miles per day isn’t that accomplished, put some gear, food, and water on your bike so that you can cook and camp along the way.

Or, just remain calmer than I am.


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Et tu, Bicycle?

As jiff explained to me this morning, I am cursed by the Ides of Yesvember.  On Yesvember 15 in 2008 and 2009, I crashed on my left elbow.


My crash was worse in 2008 as I endo’d a mountain bike at nearly top speed. (Haven’t had any interest mountain biking since; who knew?)

Mountain bike crash on Yesvember 2008.

The worst part of this experience was that I crashed between laps in a team relay.  During the laps, I saw a rider with a ghost white face bee line to the medic tent because he had 5 to 10 sticks the size of my pinkie finger lodged into his deltoid, like from a warrior scene in a movie.

As if the seeing this guy wasn’t enough to bring down my mental bruise from the crash, a crazy lady soon came into the same area with half the skin on her face missing from her road rash.  She was doped up on adrenaline and requesting that she get cleaned and patched up as soon as possible so she could still compete.  After the adrenaline wore off, she decided to drop from the race.

I eventually made my second lap, even though I rode much more cautiously.


This year I was in an intersection barely riding at a walking pace, when I decided to stand on my pedals [to accelerate faster].  My chain fell off the front chain ring which threw me into a tailspin where I landed on my same left elbow as the year before. In throwing my left hand off the bars, my handlebars impaled my gut. Furthermore, I created a “yard sale” with my bike pump and pannier coming off the bike.  When dre and a cop asked if I was ok, I did the wind-is-knocked-out-of-me-just-let-me-wallow “Yeah ok” and a wave.

The cool thing about this year is that I put another hole into a shirt I crashed in before, on an alpine slide.  The shirt has about 20 holes now.  So, I have that going for me, which is nice!

[And, I understand more why dre recently bought me a Road ID!]


I am forewarned about the Ides, Bicycle.

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Pancreatic Race Lives Up to Its Function

From my vague memory, the pancreas aids in the digestive process. It extracts nutrients and makes some conversions, then ultimately makes crap.

I don’t like to be negative, unless I feel it is entirely warranted.  And now that I’m a roadie snob, it goes along with the territory that I nag and whine. . .

I can’t pin point what part of the race I hated most, so I’ll give you my chronological experience.

I showed up at a reasonable time, 30 minutes after registration opened and one hour before the race started to find that the registration line was 50 people long.  Even though there were three registration tables, everyone lined up in the H-P Last Name line (n00bs).  This is the second time I blame my father this year; the first was for the Eastern European inclination to being sun burnt.  There are a few ways to prevent this, but I won’t waste my time with that right now (roadies don’t make improvements).

I finally get my race SWAG (Stuff We All Get). “Excuse me, where do I pick up my bib [race number]?” “Oh, we aren’t timing the race this first year.” Ah man, the whole reason I wanted to do a small 10k was to get in a hard run. I figured that without timing, people wouldn’t be as likely to go as hard. But, whatever, there are probably still going to be a few people who will run hard.  It’ll be ok.

The next problem I had was that all the n00bs were putting on their race day shirt, for the race!  I have never felt like such an outsider AT MY OWN activity!  Whatever though, if people like to run to raise money and awareness, or possibly honoring a loved one, for the 4th most common type of cancer then let them eat cake, too.  (Just don’t call it a race; call it a fundraiser.) Now 30 minutes before the race, I am surrounded by the COTTON purple shirt wearing freaks, 95% of the racers.

I like minimal warm up before races.  This distance, 10k, for me means running a mile or so with a couple of goal race pace strides.  I do my thing.

It is now race time.  Homeboy MC calls the crowd to the grass area. I don’t see a starting line, but whatever those aren’t really necessary, just more of a nice ascetic. Oh hey, we’re here AT THE RACE START TIME to stretch together.

White flag. You win, pancreas.

I walked over to the coffee pot. Sitting on the park bench with my coffee, I watch the sheep go from the grass to the canopy area due to the limits of the wireless microphone.

They stretch.

Alright sweet, time to start the 10k.

“Before you start [realizes the microphone doesn’t work at the starting line]. . . ok, I am just going to shout this: the course isn’t marked well, so please listen to these directions of the course.”


Note that there wasn’t one map of this course available before this time. This should have been a red flag for me, or at least it is now.

After messing up and corrected by the audience a couple of times, the emcee finally starts us about 20 minutes late on our two loop 10k.  Perhaps you already see the next roadblock. . .

The race was a 5k and 10k.  After running a relatively fast pace on the first lap, the second lap was an obstacle course to get past the walkers of the 5k.

The one good thing I have to say about this course is my PR.  I ran a 31 minute 10k, which is a little bit better than my projected goal time of 45 minutes (sarcasm). The race was a touch short, only 4.2 – 4.4 miles depending on the Create Your Adventure Finish Chute.

Thankfully, dre calmed me down from my unnecessary negatives, and also realized we might be better off just leaving. Now, the Create Your Adventure Finish Chute adapted into the parking lot. A beautiful encore. Effin bravo, pancreas!

In case you are wondering, I have more rants from this race.  I figure this is good enough, though.  In all actuality, I was happy with my tempo run race pace that averaged about 7:12/mile.  This is a VO2 max improvement for me, since my last race, the Chicago Marathon. (This is projected extrapolation from a McMillan Calculation.)

I attribute this to two different reasons.  The first is a mid-week workout over the last month alternating weeks in the form of track/tempo/track/easy.  The second is that in every other long run I have been doing at a normal easy pace for two thirds of the run then transitioning into a tempo run to the last third of the run.  The latter is new to me, and really takes the long run from a 10 and turns it up to an 11.

My next planned race is in the Winter Trail Series #1, the 12k on January 9th. Between then, I’m going to try out my pacing debut for the Chimera 100 Miler, in miles 62 – 87 ish.


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