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Thursday, March 24, 2011

2011 Update on the Pros

I am way behind. The pro's have raced away in the 2011 spring season with me still sitting on the couch.

With my focus and energies trained on running this marathon, my off season cross training effectively upstaged my first love.

Paris - Nice and Tirreno - Adriatico are now history and the Tour of Flanders and Paris - Roubaix are just around the corner. Cadel Evans of BMC took top honors at Tirreno - Adriatico, sharing the glory on the final day with Fabian Cancellara of Leopard Trek who showed that his TT prowess hasn't waned over the last winter of another decade.

Who am I watching this year? Well, basically the same players from last year.

Lance Armstrong has said goodbye to the big races, so the USA is down 1 hero. I suspect he will not be altogether absent, though.

George Hincapie from BMC will always be a paragon to me, though any realistic hopes of fantastic wins are fading fast. Along with George on Team BMC is the colorful Cadel Evans, who I watch for the same reason that I watch a ship push through a strong current - they leave an impressive wake.

Of course like the rest of the world, we watch and wait to see what the newly formed Leopard - Trek boys have to offer the 2011 cycling season. This is Saxo Bank cleaned up, dusted off, and energized. The Schleck brothers have every reason to be optimistic about this year's Tour de France, and with team mates like Fabian Cancellara and Jens Voigt - anything is possible.

Speaking of Jens Voigt, he has come out strongly against this year's amplified controversy - the banning of team radios on some high profile races. See this article in Cycling News. I'll possibly have an opinion on this in the future, though for now I'm just weighing the arguments. (As if my opinion mattered at all)

I'm also watching a few new US riders that show potential.

Ben King is a fresh new pro who joined with Lance and the Radio Shack crew this year. I first learned of this rider as I followed him virtually, reading the race report as he won the Pro Championship in my home town of Greenville, SC. It was exciting just following the "as it happens" report.

Then there's Taylor Phinney of BMC, no stranger to cycling with both parents former pros, and also brand new to the professional peloton.

I hope both of these young men prove to be great, and give US professional cycling a much needed boost.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


View Larger Map

This is the first time I've attempted a couple of things.
1. Embedding a map of my route
2. Writing about my route before I run it

Google maps has a great feature that lets you embed a real Google map into your page. I've tried it above and it seems to work.
What you see is the loop portion of my run, starting and ending at the Martinez Waterfront Park. I have 1 out and back section that adds 2 additional miles putting me over 22 miles. So If you get to this within about 3 hours of publishing, say a prayer for my legs.

I've been awake and breakfasted for nearly an hour now. I'm attempting to duplicate as close as possible my actual marathon day routine. Get up at 6:00 am after sleeping 7 hours, eat a large breakfast, digest, stretch, start running around 9:00 am. That gives me 3 hours of down time which I'm attempting to fill.

I'm also attempting my first run with a new Amphipod running belt. I cashed in my REI points and came away with the belt for just over $2. I've been jogging all over the house with it, adjusting and re-adjusting the fit and bottle locations. This is a big change from the Camelback hydration system I have been using. It cuts a little weight and shifts the load from my shoulders to my hips. The only catch is that I'm accustomed to the bounce and sway of my backpack, but I've never worn anything like this. I'm really hoping it works. Conceptually it's brilliant, but then I have no hips so a fatal flaw may already be present. REI is great about returns.

22 miles is a long way to boast about running when I haven't done it yet, but then so is 26.22. So I don't boast. My longest run to date was 19 miles 2 months ago. Last Sunday morning I ran 18 miles, from 5:15 am until nearly 8:00 am. Last week I felt great and believed I had the balance of the marathon miles still in my legs. Today will tell I think. As stated, I don't boast. What happens out there is, I humbly recognize, a gift from my Creator. He saw fit to withhold that gift just a few short weeks ago as I sat for 3 straight weeks with ice on my colorfully swollen knee cap. I don't fear Him as capricious, but rather respect Him as benevolent. The gifts I'm given, I will use as long as I have them, and always say "To God Be The Glory."

The weather is predicted to be stormy with temperatures in the 40's. We got a show of lightning last night, and more is predicted for today. But then that prediction holds true for the next 3 days, so I might as well get it over with. You can only get so wet - right?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Josh - 5000 Miles

My long time friend Josh

Age: 36

Occupation: High School Chemistry teacher

Married, 6 kids (11yrs to 2 yrs old)

Josh lives in humid Greenville SC.
Josh is a daddy.
Josh doesn't like to spend $4.00 for a gallon of gas when he doesn't have to.
Josh recently sent me an email stating: PS- If I can share a personal milestone- I recently passed 5,000 miles of commuting to school on my bike.


I call myself a cyclist and I haven't logged that many miles on my road bike in the last 3 years. I suspect Josh wouldn't consider himself a "cyclist" in the snobbish sense, and I suspect his outfit doesn't include brightly colored spandex quite as often some of ours does. But he's a man among men when it comes to riding a bike.

To get a better understanding of his adventures I quizzed him about his commute etc...


How far is your commute?

"6.6 miles one way. Averages around an hour for the round trip. Best time one way 22:37 (the wind was going the right direction)"

Do you ride year round?

"During the school year. (I try to ride a Mt. bike some when I am in AK so it won't be such a shock when I start again in Aug. It is always a shock. It may have something to do with the temperature/humidity change.)"

Any weather? Snow?

"If it is pouring rain when I go to leave in the morning I will sometimes take the van- assuming Kim doesn't need it for errands. I have ridden in snow a couple of times, but never when it was sticking to the road. I had to take about a week off from riding at the start of this semester because of snow and ice still on the road from our amazing 8 inch snow fall we got this year. The coldest I have ridden in was about 11 (Farenheit, not Kelvin)[Remember he is a chemistry teacher] There was ice in my water bottle and icicles starting to form in my beard by the time I got to school. My toes were cold too."

Do you ever take the kids?

"I take them around the neighborhood. Sattler (11) did the route one way with me once. Kim and I took all 6 of them on a 6 mile ride on the Swamp Rabbit trail last Thanksgiving. Two in a trailer I pulled and the rest moved under their own power."

Josh, it's riders like you that do the rest of the cycling community proud.

Ride on.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Getting the Miles Back Up

This represents the start of my run, up the hill, to meet up with Vince.

This represents basically an out and back juant with Vince plus a solo loop at the end.

Because I'm still learning my new GPS tracking software, I accidentally stopped it when I met up with Vince, who ran the middle 5 miles with me. Hence, the top route and graph are the first 2.5 miles, and the bottom, the final miles.

11.7 miles
2000' elevation gain.
Briones Regional Park - Trails.
2 hours: 10 minutes

After running 20 miles a few weeks back, this seemed like a short and frustratingly difficult run.

But my knee is not swelling, nor am I in any sort of pain at this particular moment.
I preceded the run with 4 cups of coffee, 2 slices of toast and a banana at 6:30am. I started running the hills in Briones at 8:30. All of that in an attempt to mimic the approximate conditions of my upcoming marathon.

Obviously I didn't run a marathon today, nor am I ready to run one. The 3 weeks off my feet took more of a toll than I had thought. The 2 previous short runs, 5 miles and 4.7 miles, were a great success with little pain and no subsequent swelling. The most recent 4.7 mile run, this past Wednesday, was accomplished at a rate of just under a 7 minute mile. I was thrilled - in between gasps - sucking wind.

But I have obviously lost some endurance. I was plagued by the recurring "home stretch lethargy" which is a poor indicator of how much I really have left in the tank, but even in the absence of that phenomenon, I suspect I was within a few miles of a crash.

So what's next? More training. As long as my knee and The Almighty allow, I will continue to press toward my goal: The Golden Gate Headlands Marathon - less than a month away.

And then? Get a professional bike fit, and start training seriously on the bikes.

Wow, I miss the bikes, but I dare not risk the swelling that those rides had initiated previously.

Words that mean more to me now: Patience, Endurance, Contentment.