Wednesday, June 24, 2009

People, Places, Wings

The last week has been a whirlwind of activity, so I'm finally getting around to do a little update.

The three baseball games last week were awesome. I'm a Mets fan, but since a) I really don't care what happens in sports in which I am not participating and b) I was kindly hooked up by members of the Orioles staff, I was definitely rooting for the O's this week. Tuesday's highlights were Relish winning the Hot Dog race and the Mets winning the game. Wednesday's highlights were the Orioles winning the game, the Adam Jones bobblehead AND getting to sit in Tom Clancy's suite (thanks DH!).

By Thursday I was honestly tired. I had only run on Monday and Wednesday, and took Tuesday and Thursday completely off. I was trying to recover fully from the EMan effort. Thursday's game was completely awesome, O's win in the bottom of the 9th, got to go to the game with Ron $ Willoughby and afterwards a few of us went out for Barf's birthday.

Friday comes and my friends were set to arrive in the afternoon. Pereless hadn't been for a visit since 2005 (a visit to hang out with us, at least). Sgrizzi and Reese hadn't been back to Baltimore since summer of 2007 and Koot and Lauren haven't been up for a while from DC. It was going to be a pretty sweet weekend. But first I had to get in a 50 mile ride followed by 6 mile run with OJ. I was glad I got in at least one quality workout this week.

Friday night a large group of us headed to Red Star for dinner, one of my favorite places to eat and the smokeshow of ladies was absurd. After dinner, while some of the girls were going to bed in preparation of Saturday's 10 miler, the remainder of us headed out to the Square. It was relatively quiet, a sign of the summer when everyone disappears from Baltimore. I love it. We weren't out terribly late, but I had a restless sleep and as such only got about an hour and a half of it before waking up at 5:45 for the race.

I wasn't running IN the race, but rather planned on running about 13 with the guys from Kris' house. I dropped off Lauren, Emily and Sara and headed back over to Remington. The skies were dark and ominous, but for the first 30 minutes or so we were still dry. Then, right after the race started, there was a torrential downpour outfitted with thunder and some lightning. We got soaked and still had the Mt. Wash hills to tackle. Put in some decent efforts back in the Druid Hills, and then popped out on the course. Apparently we had missed the leaders, and we mistakenly took Maurice to be the leader.

We stopped for about 45 minutes to cheer on runners and wait for our friends (in the rain, mind you) before jogging back to Kris'. 15 on the day, I could accept that. It was still raining super hard when we went to lunch at DuClaw's, but then the sun finally popped out. Everyone was tired and I suggested some rest before the evening's activities.

The evening kicked off with a bbq of immense proportions and then we finally got motivated to go out. We headed to Walt's Inn, where I rocked the mic with my rendition of Total Eclipse of the Heart. Normally I perform this song while Jake's around, but in a pinch it works to get the crowd really pumped. We have video of it somewhere. I'll try and get it. After the song we split to go to Pickled Parrot, and kicked it there the rest of the night til close.

When we got home, our neighbor was just getting back and he said he had a hooker coming, so we were trying to wait to see if she would come or not (my guess, even if she did, she didn't, if you know what I'm saying). Meanwhile I headed up to Royal Farms where I waited 30 minutes for them to make me a simple turkey sandwich. When I got back into the house, the guys were in the kitchen, which was littered with strewn-about porn. I guess they found it in the streets. Normal for us in college, normal for us now at the ages of 28-32.

The next morning there was very little movement until nearly 11am. We hit Kisling's for lunch and then a few people departed. Sgrizzi, Reese, Emily and I went out to Harbor East/Inner Harbor later in the day, and then it was pizza for dinner before crashing out.

It was an awesomely exhausting weekend. Even on Monday, we still had Sgrizzi and Reese around for a little bit, and after they left, Brita, who lives in Oakland now, stopped by. The combination of late nights and terrible food choices made the evening's run tough, but I did knock out just under 15 miles in 1:37 which is a good run for me.

I am trying to get back on the horse now, catch back up on sleep, get in some good training before Providence.

Having my old friends around is always fun, and happens fewer and farther in between these days.

And a thought I had, which was prompted by one friend's email yesterday - he is out in Cali, at Berkeley: "Better ethnic food. More beautiful people. More progressive." Talking about how the weather is better and wondering why we live where we live when it's so much nicer elsewhere.

Well here's what I've got to say about that. Who gives a shit? Like what am I going to do with better ethnic food? And more beautiful people? Who cares. Are you going to have sex with any of them? Definitely not if you're married. More progressive. I hate those liberal weirdos. I don't care if people are nice. I don't care if people say hi to me on the street. I grew up an east-coaster and that makes you hard. The weather here isn't bad. Could always be worse.

I am pretty tired of hearing about how there are all these better places. If you like them so much, go live there. I love where I'm at right now. All I need is the friends I have - that's what makes a place habitable. Or is it inhabitable?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

3 Days Later

It's been 3 days and I'm still pretty sore. I suppose that's about right. Last year I didn't really run the half marathon at Eagleman. Walking doesn't take it out of you like running does. Even though I was completely trashed following last year's event, took 3 days completely off and didn't run again til Friday, I managed to run a 5 mile race on that following Saturday.

My left hamstring and my right inner thigh are the worst, which I feel is probably more from the bike than the run. I did man up and run at Fed Hill Monday night, 7 miles - and was fortunate that the usually aggressive group was kind enough to keep it slow.

Yesterday, as a result, I was in even worse shape, so I took the day off. It was actually pretty nice - I skipped my first Tuesday Night Track workout since July of 2007. Considering I'm at just about everything all of the time, I cherished the night off. I went to watch the Mets play the Orioles and even kept the phone away from me. Tonight is another game, and tomorrow as well. Then some old friends come into town this weekend.

One thing I'd like to make note of is the influx of really positive messages from my friends following the race. I think most of them know how much I put into the sport, and have seen the wind knocked out of my sails on more than one occasion.

Will: "Congrats man...awesome race. Yesterday redemption was spelled, R-Y-A-N!"

Brian Shea: "Ryan, Great seeing you this glad you were able to pop a solid race!"

Hollywood: "Seeing your race made my weekend. Breakthrough at last. Really glad it happened for you, and hopefully it made all the tough races worth it."

It really means a lot to me that my friends are so vested in my races, and I'm always floored by the responses that I get. Lately it's been more of the "tough break" variety, so it's nice to get some positive ones.

And of course I was remiss to not mention my friend Kelzie, who finished 26th amongst all women (in the same time I completed Providence last year) and picked up a slot to Clearwater. Alyssa got her spot, Spider got his, my friend Kevin Kendro got his. It's like everyone got invited to a sweet party by the most popular kid in school, except for me, and then they throw flaming bags of dog shit on my door.

Who am I kidding - I was the most popular kid in school and never got "not-invited" to anything, so I don't really care. I don't think Clearwater is something I could do this year anyway, as it's just two weeks prior to Arizona and I don't need to fudge that up.

In other news, I feel like I'm copying and pasting from a page in Dr. J's life, as I've eaten at a number of places she has visited recently. Last week it was HarborQue, a new bbq restaurant on Lawrence down in Locust Point. Very good. Then it was Mr. Yogato, the popular yogurt place in Fells Point on Broadway. And finally yesterday I made it to Elevation Burger in Harbor East. Colin was quick to point out that it was similar to In-N-Out Burger, which I partially agreed with. In-N-Out is way better and has more character. Also it's in California, not Harbor East.

Finally, every so often I get back into my artsy/indie film kick. I don't go as far to see movies with subtitles or real dumb shit, but there are a few movies that I know will be in limited theaters that I do want to see. Fortunately we have two theaters in town that play these types of movies. Rudo y Corsi, Away We Go and Funny People are the three movies I want to see. I saw The Hangover the other day and it was great. Next big blockbuster is Transformers.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Eagleman 2009

The difference between last year and this year can be summed up as monumental.

Last year I had put so much of my time, energy and focus into this one race, and while I was fit and fast, I was clearly just not prepared for the distance. This year, for a variety of reasons, I've been much more relaxed about training and racing. I haven't really had a write-home race this whole year, which normally would have had my confidence down a little, but I went into this race knowing what my body was capable of and just had to get after it.

It also helped that we finally had a little luck on our side with the weather deities. It has rained at least every day for the past week, and Saturday featured some insane thunderstorms out on the eastern shore, which kept the temperature cool and offered some cloud cover for the first half of Sunday's race.

Back it up to Friday night; a bunch of us went to the Orioles vs Braves at the Yard, and our special guest was American Record holder in the mile, Alan Webb. We're friends with his girlfriend, and they came to watch the game. Saturday morning I did a short (like, 10 miles maybe) ride within the confines of Patt Park, just to get on the bike, and then met Arjun, Ben, Cheese, NCOTB and Alan again for a run at Robert E Lee. Now obviously I had a race the next day, so I wouldn't have done anything to jeopardize that, but the pace on the 2nd half of this little run was just a tad quicker than I needed to be running, so I fell off the pace.

Following the run it was time to pull my stuff together and head out to Cambridge with Alyssa. The temperature at 5 o'clock felt super hot, but allegedly was only in the 80s. I was mildly concerned. We did all our pre-race stuff and ran into a few friends. Then OJ, me and Alyssa went out for a shakeout swim while Claire watched from the beach. We headed out only a few hundred yards, but on the return I touched something that felt like seaweed, and then my hand started singing and went numb. A second later I went through a few more and my face went numb, as did my shoulder. Shiiiit. I had obviously just been violated by some jellyfish.

Departed Cambridge and headed to Salisbury, our home for the evening. The hotel we stayed at was basically right across the street from the Greene Turtle, which is where Bryan, Emily and I ate last year before the race, so I felt like I should go back. Decent enough meal, then Alyssa and I headed to the mall to kill a little time, hit up the DQ next to the hotel and then began to wind down.

The just before 5am wakeup was not too bad, and we were on the road right at 5:30. The brutal thunderstorms from Saturday turned the transition area into mud. Deep, thick mud. The water also looked a little choppier than it had the day before. The good news was that it was super cloudy and in fact looked like it might rain on us during the race. I put all my stuff out in transition, pumped up the tires and then had to get out to await my wave. 7:54 was the 2nd to last real wave, as the pros began at 6:40.

The water was a good temperature, not as warm as last year it felt but definitely not cold. My wave seemed to be huge, as I think there were 3 age groups in there. I lined up at the front and as the horn sounded, made sure I got a good start and beelined to the first buoy. For not being the best swimmer I am not timid, and it actually turned out to be a peaceful start. Didn't get punched or kicked, and I swam the straightest lines between the buoys I could - definitely the best sighting I've ever done. I was swimming comfortably within myself, and began to pass a number of slower swimmers that had started 9 and 18 minutes ahead. I also noticed an absence of neon green caps, which made me think I had a pretty good swim. Out of the water and the clock confirmed a swim just over 30 minutes. It wound up being 30:27/210 overall.

I tore into transition and went to work. I stomped through the mud and quickly stripped my wetsuit before heading out onto the bike. I was glad I had my shoes clipped in because there was no way you could have run through the mud in Speedplay cleats and then clipped in. If I had to isolate the most dramatic difference in this race it would be T1. 1:40 was the 63rd best T1 in the race, and was significantly faster than most people. Last year I was really moving slow, but I went 3:35. I saved almost 2 minutes from last year just on the first transition.

Onto the bike. I tried to quickly establish my rhythm, which can be tough in a race this long because what feels good at mile 5, 15, 25 will probably not feel good at mile 50. I don't use a computer or HRM while racing so I generally have no concept of speed, I just race on feel. And this time I wore my watch. From riding the course in practice, I have a ballpark figure in my head of where I need to be at certain parts of the course. I find this is easier to deal with than seeing a computer and having it tell me I'm riding too slow. Because of my late wave start, I spent the entire ride passing people. It's kind of awesome because you're never by yourself. It's not awesome because 99% of triathletes do not know how to properly operate a bicycle, let alone a goofy time trial bike. There were so many obstacles on the road, like spare tubes, spare tires, water bottles and the little yellow sponges that you put in your aero bottle.

I noticed a dude riding behind me for the first 20 miles, and he wasn't technically drafting but he was definitely just sitting 5-ish bike lengths behind me, and this become frustrating. Drafting is illegal in races, and is defined as being within 7 or something bike lengths. Pacing, however, is not illegal, and is a practice used by many people, usually those who know what they're doing. The idea is that every so often the person behind makes a pass and then sits an allowable length ahead, then switch. You see the pros do it in these races. Helps keep the pace honest. When I see someone just sitting behind me for miles and miles, it gets annoying. I forced him to the front around mile 21 where there was a water bottle exchange - I slowed down, he went by and then I tried to sit behind him. Unfortunately he was then riding slower and forced me to go back around. I then rode in front the remainder of the way.

It was a particularly windy day, and we had a headwind on the second half. Very tough. My taint had gone numb, and every few minutes I'd have to stand just to get the blood moving. That's the caveat about a flat bike course: you are always pedaling. I had hoped to make it to the high school around 1:50, because I think it's about 47 miles in and with 9 miles to go it would take another say 25ish minutes. The road just seemed to drag on forever and I finally made it there at something like 1:54? Maybe even slower, like 1:57. I was concerned because I thought I was riding pretty slow. It was just past the school that my race fell apart last year, but wasn't going to happen this year.

I had done well with the nutrition, taking 3 Gu's on the bike, 3 Endurolytes (little electrolyte caps) and drank 3 of my aero bottles full of Gatorade (no water on the bike - I wanted the calories). With a few miles to go I went past OJ, and could tell something was obviously wrong. With a mile to go I shut it down, let this person who had been following me all day pass, and sat up to stretch heading into T2. Final bike time was 2:18:44, for an average speed of 24.3mph and 33rd fastest on the day.

I am getting much better at my little barefoot dismount, and hopped right into transition. My legs felt good and ready to run, and my T2 time was :40 faster than last year at 1:48 (61st). I blasted out of transition and saw Arjun and Alex, who provided me with a time gap to the age group leader. My deficit was 5:30, and in my head I know I'm a faster runner but clearly this is not just a running race. The guy behind me on the bike was a little slower in transition and caught me a quarter mile into the run. We hit the first mile in 6:03 (for me) and while aerobically it was not taxing, my legs began to have that familiar cramping feel and I had to slow down. Slow down by not stop and no walking - always move forward - was my goal. The next few miles were 6:23, 6:29 and 6:39, and at this point I won't say I mentally checked out, but I knew there was no way I was going to advance any higher in the standings. I was only taking water at the aid stations, throwing it on my head and whatever landed in my mouth was what I drank. No Gatorade, no food on the run.

The sun was now in full effect and it was warm, but there was at least a little breeze. I spotted a few familiar faces out on the course and just tried to make it to the turnaround and then go a mile at a time. The nice thing was that, even at 7+ min miles, the run was going by pretty quick. I hit 5k to go and was just psyched to know that I had pretty much done it. I saw Alex and Arjun again, flashed a smile and some words, and continued on. I crossed the line in 4:24:28, a 2:23:xx improvement from last year's time, and my run was 1:31:52. Much better than the 3:39 half that I "ran" at last year's race. My run was 94th best, so a little disappointing but the takeaway is that, following a hard 56 miles I was able to run a 6 minute first mile. The more of these I do, the more I'll be able to keep that pace going. Once I get to the 1:20 range I'll be a little more dangerous and maybe finally qualify for something.

I finished 45th overall and 4th in my age group. A huge improvement from last year where I was 984th/1382. 45/1600 is a pretty good day I'd say. After I was done I was totally cool, except for a couple minute period where I dry-heaved while Alex stood beside, no doubt smirking.

I got back up and went out to watch the rest of my friends finish. Claire came through in 5:57 and this was a great result for her. Alyssa recorded a 70.3 PR at 5:19 and qualified for Clearwater, so that was pretty awes. Spider, who beat me by 1 second on chip time, also qualified for Clearwater, and apparently didn't learn his lesson from last year. At Providence last year he qualified, didn't have his wallet on him, and I had to pay for his slot (at the race site, he paid me back) at the race. So this year he apparently did read the BRIGHT YELLOW boldfaced sentence about cash or check only, no credit cards, and did not bring his checkbook. Instead he goes to his car and takes his laptop out and tries to find someone who will give him a check, and in return he will give them his laptop. Someone finally says keep your laptop, here's a check, it's my good karmic activity. Unbelievable. Only at a triathlon.

Because of my 4th place finish I managed to pick up an award, the first piece of hardware I've taken back from a TriColumbia event since the first time I did Columbia. It's a pretty sweet eagle's head statue. Due to staying in Cambridge til late for awards, we got on the road late, hit crazy traffic over the Bay Bridge and got home late for our own party at Bay Cafe. Met up with some of the crew, had a few drinks and some food, and then rolled out. I continued on with Brennan to Looney's in the Square, and then from there I stopped at Walt's Inn for some karaoke to end the night.

Then my sunburn felt worse and I didn't feel so good, so I had to sleep on the couch under the fan. Aaannndd today I have that oh-so-familiar shoulder sun blisters. Not as bad as last year, but I think following my race I shouldn't have stood around without a shirt on for an hour. Dammit.

Eagleman 2008 stats:

Swim: 33:14/274
T1: 3:35/502
Bike: 2:28:38/123
T2: 2:29/222
Run: 3:39:20/1220
Total: 6:47:14/984

Eagleman 2009 stats:

Swim: 30:27/220
T1: 1:40/63
Bike: 2:18:44/33
T2: 1:48/61
Run: 1:31:52/94
Total: 4:24:28/45

And I beat Desiree, moving to 2-0 all time vs her at triathlons. I used to beat her at 10k's but the 3M Half Marathon she served me in 2008.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Late Night Musings

Admittedly I am not a huge "late night tv" person. When I was in high school/college I would occasionally watch Letterman. Definitely more of a Letterman fan than Leno. People sweat Conan's nuts but it was always just on too late and I didn't really care to watch.

But with the recent changes in the late night lineup, I figured it was a good opportunity to give it a clean slate. I've been watching Late Night with Jimmy Fallon for a few months, and while his very first show was a little...sweaty...he's become more comfortable. Not to mention, The ROOTS are his house band. Some of the sketches I've come to love are "Slow Jamming the News," "Freestylin' with The Roots" and of course the MTV reality show parody, "7th Floor West."

Jimmy is also leading the charge for a Saved by the Bell 20th Reunion. Now, with all the absolute horseshit that NBC has on TV, you'd think this would be a no-brainer, but it is entirely possible that this is all a ploy anyway. So far Jimmy has had Mr. B, Slater and Lisa on, and last night he had Zack Morris on to endorse the 20th reunion. I'm going to attempt to embed the video:

I couldn't believe MPG did the whole interview "as" Zack Morris, and that he still had the outfit. Classic. I had texted my little sister to remind her he was on last night and she goes "oh man mom will definitely not tape it for me." I ask why, and she said cause mom apparently hates Jimmy Fallon, again, why? "I don't know I think she thinks he's too nervous to be a talk show host." Ha. I actually think that's why I like watching him, cause he's just a regular-ish guy with a talk show.

Enough about that...

Part of what my life has turned into is receiving random emails. Lots of them. From friends, from randoms, whatever. People move to Baltimore, want to get into the running scene, I help facilitate that.

So here's a little background regarding the email I received today. My friend is/was a good runner. She placed 6th at NJ XC Meet of Champs her senior year, and placed 9th at Foot Locker Cross Country Championships (at the time only top 8 went, so she missed by 1 place). She went on to Boston College, where she ran all 4 years. Then she didn't really run much anymore. It's not like she got fat or really out of shape, she just didn't run. She was going to run the NYC Marathon but had to defer a few times for various reasons, but finally did it and ran a 4:20. I felt like she had every capability to run 3:10 or better.

The same time I moved to Baltimore, her boyfriend moved here too. He lived a few blocks away. Eventually she moved down here, kind of got back into running a little and turned him into a somewhat recreational runner. They got married and returned to NJ. She emailed me the other day and said that she and her husband were planning on doing NYC this year, but she got in through the lottery and he did not. Are there any ways, she asked, of getting in after the fact? The only way to get in at this point is charities, I said. He apparently didn't want to do that, and I don't blame him.

Here is the email I get from him:

Subject: Yo

Hey Ryan, what's up? _______ told me you might be able to pull some strings and get me a number for the marathon.

Ha! First, I said nothing of the sort. Second, what would make anyone think that I have any sort of "pull" with the organizers of the biggest marathon in the world? Maybe if he wanted to do Baltimore, Marine Corps, National - something around here. But New York? You've got to be kidding.

Ahh some people just don't get it I suppose.

In other news, I've been thinking a lot lately about if I could have done things differently what would I have done, and one thing I definitely wish I had done was to have become an NBC Page. I remember taking a trip to 30 Rock once and seriously - that was the only thing I wanted to become. I met Soledad, Ann Curry, yada yada. I figured I would become a page, then get hired for some sweet gig at NBC and who knows, maybe I could have been the host of a late night talk show. Probably not, because I'm not that sweet, but whatever.

Monday, June 08, 2009

7 Days

Today felt like a long day. I had intended on running about 10 miles up in hilly Mt. Washington while watching the Race For Our Kids 10k, followed by a 3 hour ride. The day eventually turned into a reverse half Ironman.

I slowly woke up at 6am and got a donut, bagel and Gatorade at Dunkin Donuts before heading up to meet OJ and Kris. Kris forgot his shoes so we told him to run the course backwards and meet us. OJ and I headed up towards the race start, starting our run up the nastiest hill possible. It set the tone for the day. We caught up with Kris and just went up and down one hill after another, before finally hitting 1:10 and making it back to watch the start of the super competitive 10k. We walked over to mile 6 and cheered on our friends who all did pretty awesome. The highlight of the morning was some girl coming up the finishing hill (actually it's a mile long climb) and she was in BAD shape. The cops were clearly not going to go to her aid so OJ and I ran over. She was falling down with or without us, we just helped soften the fall by leading her to the grass. Her HR was sky high and she was cold, which is never a good sign. She wanted to finish the race and I was like yo bitch, it's a 10k, not a race that really matters if you finish or not. Besides, she couldn't even stand up.

Then she doesn't want an ambulance to take her because she says she doesn't have health insurance. I can empathize, but it's like if you're in trouble, you gotta get help. Her weiner boyfriend comes over (he had finished 4th I think) and hands her a bottle of water with the cap on like "here you go" - what a boner.

So we left her and continued on our way, somehow managing to get lost and tacking on some unnecessary time to our already pretty long run. 13 for the day, and after a quick wardrobe change OJ and I were off on our bikes.

It felt good to sit down after a while on our feet, but my legs were not feeling fresh. We rode out to Owings Mills, which I haven't done in a while so that was cool. Picked up my Thursday Night Ride route and threw in the usual efforts. It was hard. We actually put in quite a few intervals. Nothing longer than 8 or so minutes, but a lot of them. We made it back to Falls Road and headed up the hill - but the road was grooved. It was really annoying. Then we came upon a fresh car crash. Actually multiple cars, all over the hill, it was one of the worst looking accidents I've seen in a while. We were getting sick of the grooved road so we diverted and put in 3x5min intervals. I was cooked at this point but just tried to put in an honest effort. Made it all the way back to Old Court, which was sweet because the ride was basically over. 50 miles.

Now I haven't eaten anything since 6:30's breakfast and it's now 1:30 and I've put in 4.5 hours of training. I had spotted a hot dog cart chilling on Falls Road by Robert E Lee so I grabbed two dogs from there and dispatched them quickly. I got home, killed some ants (another story) and then headed down to the pool. Weekends at the pool are pretty gay. Tons of douchebags strutting around drinking beers and stuff because my gym doesn't value athletes. I hopped in the pool for a quick 2000m and felt much looser after it.

I then walked over to Pasta Mista and ordered a pizza, of which I consumed 6 slices.

Now I'm a week out from Eagleman, the first really big event of the year for me. In the past two weeks I've finally started to feel really good - strong, quick off the bike. This time last year I was in a completely different frame of mind. I was excited and nervous, and had no idea how the day was going to turn out. And we all know how it turned out. The important thing to me was that I was in really good shape, and I knew it. I had come off a nearly 9 minute PR at Columbia, and Eagleman was actually this weekend last year so there were just 3 weeks in between races. I felt good on every ride I was doing back then and my runs were going well.

This year has been a lot different, as I've mentioned before. I put about 16 eggs of my 18 that I usually buy at the food store into one basket for Boston, and that didn't really pan out. I neglected the bike and the swim until after April 20. The weekend after Boston I did a little too much on the bike and struggled through some pretty severe knee pain for a few weeks - then it just disappeared. I had been struggling on my runs, and not swimming much.

But then Columbia came, and I showed that my fitness wasn't much off last year, and I had an extra week leading up to Eagleman. I put in a huge Memorial Day Weekend, and since that time I've started to bring the volume down a little but have thrown in a few precise efforts. My excitement for triathlon has been renewed; a big part of it is OJ being back in serious shape, physically and mentally, as well as the freshness of having Zero, Stanford and Alyssa really ramping up for triathlons.

I feel a little tired after this week, which was admittedly hard. I ran 43 miles in just 4 runs, and 3 of them took place in the hills of Mt. Wash, while the other was a quicker-than-usual Monday night run. I rode 150 miles in 3 rides, with good efforts thrown into each one. I swam (not that much) and seem to be in respectable form. But now the work has been done and my efforts this week will be limited.

I'm excited again for the race, mostly so I can prove to myself that I'm not a completely boner at this distance. I've thought for a long time that the half is my distance, with its mix of a long ride (over half the time of the race) and a long but potentially fast run. I'm also excited because as I'm still largely building up for Eagleman, I think Providence is going to be a great race this year. It's on a course that suits my skills a little better than Eagleman, and with another 4 weeks until race day (from Eagleman) I've got a lot of time to put finishing touches on the sharpness.

It's still very tough to gauge your fitness when you're just training. I have been more specific about my racing this year and don't really know what I can expect from myself. I try and put reasonable goals out there, so a 30 minute swim is my bar. If I'm faster, awesome. Slower, eh, hopefully not by much. On the bike, I physically got off my bike last year and still rode 2:28. I'm pretty sure 2:20 is the worst I would ride, with 2:18 the goal and 2:15 as my reach. Those 3 minutes, however, could cause a 10 minute slower run, so I won't push to hit 2:15 if I feel like it will compromise the run. And the run, well, this is tough because this is where I lose it. Assuming proper hydration/nutrition, I'd like to think 1:25 is the slowest I'd go, with 1:22 as a more likely and 1:20 as a reach.

You prepare for everything, but you never really know what can happen on race day. I'm sure I'll make a post (or two) again this week, but it's good for me to communicate, even if just to myself, my goals.

The times I've been at my worst allow me to appreciate the times I am at my best.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Swag Surfing

One of my favorite comedies is Top Secret! which features Val Kilmer as an American entertainer who plays spy in Nazi Germany. It's akin to the Elvis Presley features where he'd be a GI and also sing. Anyway the songs Val Kilmer sings are pretty ridiculous, and my favorite is Skeet Surfing. Of course, they're talking about shooting clay pigeons while surfing, not the other meaning of skeet. That would be awesome.

Following Sunday's impressive effort, I kept the intensity up. Stanford measured our ride at just a shade over 88 miles, so 88/9 is a pretty good day. Monday I was definitely feeling a little worked, and went to Fed Hill expecting an easier run, but there would be no rest for the weary. The pace was more than honest from the gun, and by the time we emerged from the Fort, it was full tilt.

Tuesday was definitely not going to be easy, as the scheduled workout was hills at Robert E Lee. Vomit-inducing hills. Not that anyone threw up, but I think everyone was feeling like they could have. Chipotle never tastes as good as after a hill workout. You feel like you've earned it.

Wednesday, the last day of the saga. OJ gave my bike the old "whatfor" and the thing now runs super smooth. Then we headed up to the wickedly fast Wednesday Night Ride from Oregon Ridge. Up there we met the likes of Tank and Alex and took off for a 30 mile ride. The ride starts out civil, but within a few miles ramps up to a very quick pace, full of accelerations and decelerations. My legs were far from good on this day and I didn't expect to hang on long, but I popped within 30 minutes. Just couldn't keep the wheel and was relegated. Me and this other dude rode the ride together. Unfortunately we were given somewhat incorrect directions and added on a few miles, but it was all good.

My hope is that within a few weeks, after Eagleman and more likely after Providence as well, that I can come out to this ride and hang on a little better. That and some of the practice races down in Greenbelt on Wednesdays.

All told it was 4 really intense days. Shorter efforts, but intense. Thursday's plan had been to ride easy in the morning and then swim at night. Both efforts were thwarted by weather. We were going to swim at Gunpowder Falls Park in the "river" (more like a tributary to the Bay) but upon Stanford's arrival he noticed a sign indicating there had been a sewage spill = no swimming. We head back to the pool. It's cold and raining, some of the negatives to swimming in an outdoor pool. After 1000m warmup we are kicked out due to alleged thunder. I didn't hear anything, nor did I hear any thunder the rest of the night. I bet it was a truck. Whatever, I didn't want to swim anyway.

I was okay with taking yesterday pretty easy, it was welcome, in fact. But today I'm a little more disappointed. OJ and I had planned on riding this morning and then I was going to run at the Park. Heavy rains washed out plans for the ride, and I don't want to go to the pool now. The run may not take place at the Park, but it'll go on.

The weekend's plans are for some focused efforts each day, but that'll be it for the week. Might do a little something on Tuesday at track, and perhaps one last little TT effort on the bike for a short duration, but it's time to bring it down. Work's been done, Eagleman is just over a week away.