Friday, June 26, 2009

Never Say Goodbye to California

IMAGE_017 I never imagined that I'd live in California - coming from NH, it really didn't seem like a place I'd end up EVER.  I did and it has been pretty much everything you see on TV or in the movies or hear in music.  It's that good, it's also about 3x a much  ($$$) to live here as anywhere else except for maybe London, Paris, Tokyo or Disneyland. 

I've been able to live on the water and watch the sunrise every morning over the Bay and have even been awakened by seals barking.  A lost whale swam by about a year ago or more and I had a pool that cost about $700 a month to heat (I got a solar cover for $100 that worked better instead).  I had a hot tub, pool and guest house where we have had more guests visit in 2.5 years than we did in 12 in Seattle.  We had 2 World Champions stay with us (Ben Collins and Katie Mactier) and I learned to swim a lot better at the Tiburon Penninsula Club where you can join the master's swim program for $65 a month or pay a $15,000 initiation fee and wait a year or two (the later is if you want to play tennis and use the weight room). 

I made some great friends and found a never ending supply of folks who love being outside swimming, biking and running.  I could also drive to Disneyland and visit a winery on the same day. 

I blogged a lot and somehow managed to get into the middle of a triathlon love square - one that everyone made it out alive and seems to all be in great places and I think they all still like me.  Everyone in the love square has actually spent a night at my house too.  Weird. 

I rode the ferry into the city every day and met about 4 people - all who became friends (Rich, JP, Chris and his wife Denise though I never met Chris on the ferry, just his wife).  My wife rode the ferry for 3 months and had 30 friends in less time.  I pays to not wear spandex and blog every day. 

I read every book by Ayn Rand.  Atlas Shrugged is pretty much the greatest book ever.

I did hill repeats and rode Mtn Tam as much as I possibly could.  Today on a pretty easy ride, I actually rode it faster than I ever had before.  I took about 8 mins off my time.

I ran over Ring Mtn a lot and the other day ran over it twice and broke my best time ever for the loop the 2nd time over (each loop is about 45 mins).  I took 6 mins off my best time ever this week. 

I got to drive to Sonoma and join a lot of wineries and even got to visit them so much, they knew us by name as well as our kids.  The girls usually got free stuff and got apple juice in wine glasses and they even knew where to watch out for rattle snakes at Gun Bun.  Sada knows how to pour wine without spilling. 

We ate at Waypoint Pizza more than just about anyone I know.  Everyone who has stayed with us has been there. 

We had a nanny for 2 years that we love dearly and still visit with her every week even though we laid her off in January or March.  I can't remember. 

Our kids met lots of really great kids from amazing families and most of them have blond hair. 

Our dog has a girlfriend next door (Sake) and his best friend Teddy lives across the street.  Jack is pretty popular but he really is focusing on peeing on every single inch of Tiburon before we move. 

I ran the same 11.5 mile loop a lot and never got tired of it. I never ran on the right side of the road, just the left - regardless of the direction I went.  You run along the ocean for 11 of the 11.5 miles. 

I live next to Robin Williams who isn't really that interesting.  He saw Sada beef on her bike for the first time ever. 

I got to spend the past 2.5 years training with Ian since almost the day I moved here.  Then he got cancer and then he beat cancer and got into the Ironman World Championships in an 18 month period.  He's the only person I know who probably killed cancer with training.  In between chemo he still raced two half ironman races and finished better than over half the field.  I'm going to be in Kona to watch him race and to rent a scooter. 

I rode my bike home over the Golden Gate bridge nearly every day for 18 months and it never got old.  I know just about every pothole and seam on the bridge as well as where it gets warmer and where the wind really sucks.  I don't miss riding through the Fisherman's Wharf area in the summer with the tourists. The Chinese really do struggle sometimes with traffic lights, cross walks, moving cars and stepping out with ancient Chinese nana in front of a cyclist going 20+. 

There are two guys who hide behind branches and get money from tourists.  Maybe more. 

I stopped at the top of the Headlands climb to look at the view every time.  That's the only place I would ever stop to look.  It's also a good place to grab a gel and find a trash can.

I got pretty good at going downhill.  I also crashed and knocked myself out twice.  I did that once about 3 days before Vineman and I had a hard time speaking and standing up 2 days before the race but still rode ok. One of those crashes was a result of an oil tanker hitting a bridge.  After the crash before Vineman, my bike didn't have a scratch on it and it was standing upright against a car. 

I think Santa Barbara is close to perfect.  Santa Monica seems pretty close too. 

When outside, my daughters are barefoot more often than not.  I'm trying it out now.

When I asked my wife if she was ready to say goodbye to California and she said you should never say goodbye to California.  Which is good, because I'm coming back again. 

I'll write again when I'm in Washington.  Though I'm sure I'll be less tan.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Random

I’ve been having such a good block of training with great improvement so we’ve (me and my coach) have decided to cut out the San Jose Triathlon in a week and keep hammering before doing another blood lactate test.  I did set another power record yesterday which was good – it’s been a while and I haven’t been 100%, so it’s always positive to see improvement. 

Yesterday I rode the Alpine dam loop and was told to get in some climbing – so here’s the profile of the ride – I realized I hadn’t started the computer until I got to Fairfax, so I’m missing about 40 mins as I rode from my house to Camino Alto and up to Fairfax where I met the back end of the Fairfax Festival – which was literally 18 floats all saying they loved trees, a girl in yellow on stilts and 21 bands all playing Grateful Dead covers. Here’s the ride profile, I rode over 4,000 ft.:

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I did forget to post the race profile from my race last weekend.  I thought it was hilly until I did the ride yesterday – the race was a whole 306 ft in 16 miles.  Leaving my house I do over 300 feet in .25 mile I think.  The race:

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We’re just packing otherwise and getting ready for the move to Seattle.  Today I washed my bikes and wheel sets (I think I have 3 extra wheelsets other than race wheels) – there really isn’t too many things nicer than a clean bike! 

I also need to figure out where I should stay before Vineman 70.3  - any ideas?

In between everything else, I’ve managed to get Macca’s main website launched.  It’s been a ton of work and I didn’t even do the coding.  One fun idea I had that I stole from some of the time I spend working on Lance’s site years ago was to have a ‘wife’s blog’ – so on Macca’s site you’ll see that his wife Emma-Jane writes Emma’s Corner (Lance’s wife Kristin had Kristin’s corner – I’m sooooo creative).  The trouble is that her blog posts are the most popular thing on this site!  It’s pretty fitting that more popular than a 2xWorld Champion’s blog is his wife’s.  Another thing I found out today is that Aussies don’t (some don’t) race with goggles).  I was posting this video and noticed that Murph and Macca weren’t wearing any goggles.  Michael Muprhy is a really nice kid – he’s 19 and is a hell of a swimmer (and triathlete) from Aussie – you’ll see this kid a lot in the future.  He’s just hanging with Macca all spring and trains and races with him full time.  Anyways, here is the video where I saw them race without goggles and had to ask why: http://www.chrismccormack.com/video/ironman703stpolten – about a min in you’ll see Murphy and Macca. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

BBQ’s and Fog

I was out running today – doing a pretty challenging a 3x12 min effort at 6:40-6:50 pace –not terribly hard but a few months ago it would have been.  It was a bit harder since I did a hard ride yesterday with some Computrainer time (which I swear is what hell is like) and some high Z3 watts (280) at 50 rpm.  It’s like walking around the house with two kids holding onto my feet for about 45 mins.  So the run was tough and I finished that. Along the way I smelled lumber which reminded me that I should probably write about a bunch of stuff that I have done or like or love.  I’m sure some of it is probably pretty similar to stuff you have done or thought. 

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So here’s what I love:

  • the smell of fresh lumber - try walking in a house under construction
  • riding home after work on a summer day and smelling bbq – a highlight of the Burke Gillman trail in Seattle about 1 mile south of Ben’s house
  • a summer night’s crit at Seward Park – I’ll be doing those starting July 2!  The 6pm is a hoot. 
  • new bike shorts – particularly their first ride
  • nice clean bike tape – I always buy white cork and that is dumb if I like it clean.  I miss the 90’s when we had bright yellow, orange, pink and green too.
  • feeling strong on a nice hard climb
  • passing people on the run
  • passing people with all of the aero stuff on their bikes really fast – like it will break their spirit fast
  • New England roads, particularly those of the NH coast.  There are 40 different ways to get to the same place.  From my parents home there must be run loops of 3, 4, 6, 7 and 10 miles.  None flat, none too hilly.
  • running the same loop a lot.  I have run the loop around Tiburon probably 50 times.  It’s the same route but hardly ever the same.
  • putting on all of the fast stuff and riding fast- disc, front aero wheel, helmet, tri suit – the works
  • a bit of fog or clouds on a really warm day- like 80+.  It needs to clear out – but it’s nice every once and a while
  • new tires
  • a cold chelada after a long hot ride
  • a group ride with good people
  • riding or running or swimming and not missing out on time with my family – maybe they’re at school or shopping or something like that
  • Z3 and Z4
  • my Power Tap
  • sprint races that are run like the big ones
  • good race shirts
  • having finished the Timberman 70.3 with Sada running next to me – I would have never finished that race had I not told her I’d finish with her.  Maybe I would have. 
  • no bad patches in a race
  • not having to run fast or for any other reason than to go for a run
  • running just about anywhere in the fall
  • being out on the hottest day of the year having a great time
  • how a humid day can make you drenched in a short 20 min run
  • drivers who stop if you are on the side of the road – I’ve been given a lift when I had a flat tire, someone turned around when they saw me riding a climb with 1 leg thinking something was wrong
  • commuting by bike
  • riding just about anywhere in California
  • a 1pm master’s swim, outside on a sunny and warm day

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Perfect Race

On Sunday I raced the ‘Tri for Fun’ sprint race.  I’ve done the race 3 times on the same course before – so I had to do one more before I left California – the land where a local sprint race gets 400+ people.  In my AG I’ve finished 5th, 4th and 3rd before- all within 2 mins of each other- so after a year’s hiatus, I wanted to give it one more crack with some slightly different training under my belt. 

The pre-race went perfectly:

Breakfast: 1 bagel w/honey + 1/2 Clifbar + half-decaf coffee and then about 20 oz of Cytomax and 1st Endurance Pre-Race.

Once at the race site, I set up my super-minimal transition are: small towel, running shoes, race belt/number and visor.  The bike was loaded with shoes and helmet. 

I then followed my Marin 10k pre-race and did a 5k run – easy with 5-7x100 efforts.  Pre-running the course was a nice way to see it – plus find the food/drink tables full, but unmanned.  So I had a gel, some water and a decent course recon. 

Once back at the race site I got into my wetsuit and did about a 5-7 min warm-up.  Then we were off. 

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The swim went well and I jumped (if you can call it that) on a few feet but was never convinced they were fast – so I went around and kept pushing with every stroke.  In the end I took about 2 mins off my previous time –could be the course was a bit short, but they have run this course 26 times now, so I’m guessing it’s pretty close.

I got out of my wettie pretty quickly and onto the bike- still reluctant to jump onto the bike in one beautiful leap, it did a stop, hop and go.  I got settled, had a 200 mg caffeine gel and a sip of water and took off.  I passed a lot of folks –and got a bit inside of 6.5 miles before I saw anyone coming back on the 8 out and 8 mile back course.  Unfortunately, the 8 back was uphill.  So I was within a few mins of the front group that already had a 5 min head start. 

I passed one guy who decided he wasn’t going to let me by peacefully –so he re-passed me a few mins later and we went back and forth: everytime we hit a hill, my 100rpms got me up and over quickly and then on the downhills his 60 rpms seemed to work better.  The last 2 miles are a false flat and I just saw 10m behind him.  This was the first race where I was able to ride well over 90 rpm and still feel pretty good.  It definitely left a lot in the legs for the run, or at least enough.

I ended up averaging about 24.5 on the way out and 22.5 on the way back, I was back in before an hour which meant I was going to smash my previous time even if I sloughed it and ran 7 min miles.  I had a beautiful dismount and even heard some oooohs and ahhhhs (I go for crowd pleasing and see just how fast I can leap off the bike).  Nearly getting whacked in the head I ducked under some guy who decided to pick his bike up and run in T2.

I got out onto the run and shuffled only the first 200 meters before I felt my legs beneath me and started passing more folks. 

I ran everything at a 6:50-6:55 pace, not my best – but I didn’t have anyone behind me and wasn’t motivated to dig much deeper to get some guys who appeared to be duathletes on the road ahead (unless they’re really good at getting socks on after the swim or bike).  I ended the morning 4 mins faster than any of my previous 3 races and took home 5th again. 

Some things that really helped:

  • Macca helped me get my transition area to a pretty minimal setting.  He also got me putting on my helmet and glasses before getting my wetsuit off my ankles.  It’s pretty hard to think about getting the wetsuit off without much blood in the head, so take a few seconds to get the helmet on first and then finish off the wetsuit.
  • Ben helped me get my suit off by showing me the cross-leg rip and strip and said to use Vaseline on my ankles which helped a ton.  Fastest stripping I’ve done. I wouldn’t have made a cent in Vegas with my 10 second show.
  • Pre-race warm up.  The longer I train for 70.3-the harder it is to get my HR up for these short efforts.  A 5k warm up with some intensity was perfect.  I was soaked by the time the race was starting and the engine was ready.  Not a single hiccup in the swim –no hyperventilating or freak outs. 
  • In master’s swim I’ve stopped doing all of the non-freestyle stokes and have been just focusing on my form on the non-freestyle sets – my coach doesn’t care much and has noticed an improvement in 2 weeks of doing this.  So long as I’m getting better – he doesn’t care.
  • Not too much water- but just enough on race morning.  For 70.3 races I pre-load with Base Performance Base Water – but for the short ones, I just hydrate well the day before and take in about 30oz in the 3-4 hours before the race. 1 gel about 20-30 mins before race start worked perfectly.  ClifShot Apple Pie was remarkably good. 

All in all, it wasn’t the fastest race I’ve ever done – but it went perfectly start to finish.  Especially since I had felt terrible all week and have been fighting off a house full of sick people. 

Then I got home and my friend Tracy told me that someone broke into his storage unit in his apartment building and they stole his pretty new custom Hampsten tri-bike.