Monday, July 26, 2010

Dog Attack

I was running, like I usually do on one of the many trails around our home.  On these trails are often dogs and their owners.  99% of these dogs are not on a leash and despite the signs at every trail entrance that says ‘dogs must be on a leash’ this doesn’t apply to people who believe their dogs are well behaved (like kids, only a small few –dogs and/or kids -, including mine are well behaved but I still don’t let my kids off the leash). 

I ran into one of them (this was another dog vs lorpeedo crash a few weeks ago) – like really running into one – because he turned in front of me and the owner said I scared him but it had nothing to do with me running one way and the dog not being on a leash going the other way.  I should have learned that all dogs walk straight until someone is running the opposite way which means the dog will turn sideways and look back as if to say ‘you know I should be on a leash and this guy running is probably going to run right into me’.  But I didn’t learn. 

fallSo again – I was running, up a hill and not going that fast when I saw 2 dogs (brown labs) coming down the trail – not on leashes but their ‘owner’ was right behind them with 2 leashes in her hand (the leashes were connected to her hand but not the dogs, sort of like the motorcycle rider with the helmet on the back of the motorcycle). 

As we got closer and I went to jog by the dogs when the one dog suddenly turns and stops in front of me – followed by his partner.  I tried to sort of leap next to/over the dogs when they moved and took my legs out from under me (they were a solid 80lbs each). 

Then I landed on the dogs and then rolled off of them and down the trail and off into a nettles patch – which if you don’t know what nettles are, they are a sort of plant that stings you like a jr varsity bee except the stings are anywhere the leaves touch your skin, then it burns then your skin goes numb for hours.  There was some squealing and howling and I’m not sure how much of it was me.

I stood up, brushed off the dirt and immediately looked for the owner who says without hesitation ‘you know the dogs don’t HAVE to be on leashes’. 

Really. 

I asked her if it was ok if they knocked people down since she was clearly in-the-know-about-dog-rules.

She told me ‘the dogs aren’t mine, I’m just watching them for a neighbor’.  Not a sorry or a ‘oh my gosh’ or anything that a normal person would say, but in Seattle this is an entirely appropriate response.  They’re not mine and even though I’m watching them and they hurt you and I was careless, I am not responsible. 

At this point I look at my hand which has a thumbnail bent backwards and it’s bleeding and I’ve got cuts on the other hand and scrapes on my amazingly awesome calves. 

I knew I could make a good decision and keep my cool and run along (aka the ‘what would Jesus do’ approach) or I could stare at her for a full 10 seconds and respond with ‘you are a absolute idiot’ (aka the person who was mad, and bleeding and hurt and just got their new Under Armour Prohpet sneakers all dirty approach). 

So I went with the 2nd one. 

Then I yelled at her a 2nd time in case she didn’t hear me the first time.  But I was proud of myself for having stopped the timer on my heart rate monitor so I wouldn’t be recording all of this downtime. 

Then I ran off and twisted my ankle which I suspect was a result of my actions with the 2nd option and karma getting together.  Basically, God probably tripped me for not being nice and I got more nettle stings on my arms (which were still numb 2 days later).

And my hand hurt and it was bleeding but mostly hurt.  And my pride got her because I was injured by two brown labs.  While running uphill.

BY the time I got home, my thumb was all swollen and hurt and I couldn’t text with my thumb and that was it.  I wish I had gotten her information just so I could go to the doctors office and inconvenience her with bills but I didn’t.  So I iced my hand and watched the Tour day France.  I also taught Piper how to make a face like Andy Schleck does when he’s climbing. 

I tried this face when riding the next day with Rhae but it didn’t work and I just complained the entire ride and assumed that my sort thumb (which actually does NOT stick out at all so don’t use that expression again because it’s not very good) was the reason I couldn’t hold 400 watts all morning. 

I recreated this whole incident with my awesome drawing skills just so you’d feel like you were there.  You can see the vicious dogs and the blood everywhere. 

From now on I’ll walk past all dogs not on leashes and yell at their owners. 

And my hand was still bleeding this morning, 3 days later.  So there.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Swimming in the Cocoon and Other Stuff

See–it’s a movie with swimming.
Around 10,000 years ago, a group of peaceful alien lifeforms, from the planet Antarea, formed an outpost on the planet Earth on an island known to mankind as the mythical civilization Atlantis. According to legend, this outpost sank due to an earthquake, and in order for them to leave, twenty members remained behind so that the rest would have enough lifeforce to return to their home planet.

Eventually, a group of four Antareans returns to pick them up. They disguise themselves as humans, rent a house with a swimming pool, and charge this pool with lifeforce, so that the cocooned Antareans can sustain enough energy to survive the trip home.

Now, if you were born in let’s say 1971, you would know that this was the plot of a movie, I think this counts for 12 of you – for the rest of you it was a movie from the mid 80’s called Cocoon.  I think it was a good movie – I sort of remember it. But what I really remember is that it was a bunch of old old old people who swam in a pool and then they turned all youthful because the lifeforce noted above was in the pool. 

Now let’s say this lifeforce didn’t exist but you had a few dozen old people in a pool – well, that would be where I swim. 

If I don’t get up for the 5:30 am lap swim, I go to the 11:30am lap swim – which is also the end of the senior swim and the super awesome senior aqua exercise class.  So I never remember this but I should because it isn’t pretty or fun but sort of funny. 

#1: arriving at this time, I get to hear REALLY LOUD all the greatest oldies for the aquacisers.  Today I had to look under water to see if they were actually moving or just floating in the fast lane to the music.  They don’t get their hair wet and they talk the whole time that Nancy Sinatra is belting out ‘these boots are made for walking’.  Except it isn’t motivating except really to motivate me to keep my head in the water.

#2: because many of the seniors are still finishing up lap 4 from their hour long swim session, I usually have to ask one of them to split a lane.  more than once, this guy I have named Saul looks at me and says with a thick Israeli accent ‘I CAN’T HEAR YOU WITHOUT MY HEARING AID’.  I don’t blame him, they also play the Monkey’s Greatest Hits a LOT.  With some quick gesturing he figures out what I’m asking him to do and he says “OOOOO KAAAAAAAAAY'”.  Sometimes he says ‘NO’ – and there’s no arguing with his ‘NO’, it’s loud and had a foreign accent and he’s bigger than I am.  Then he turns and points to the ladder which I have now learned means ‘I’m getting out’.  So no sort of means yes. 

#3: The stroke stroke.  Having a stroke probably isn’t funny but I can’t explain why nearly half of the senior citizens swim on one side.  The entire lap and back again.  So I’m guessing they’ve all had a stroke and can’t use half of their body. It’s mean and funny but I totally smoke this group in the pool. 

#4: Mr Miyagi.  He swims with me a lot.  He’s this nice little Japanese man who was a ninja at some point.  One minute my pull bouy, kick board and water bottle are on deck and that’s it – then he’s there, smiling and then I have about 3 seconds to get out of the way during my turn because he’s jumping in whether I like it or not.  He does the breast stroke the entire time or for about 30 mins. 

The nice part about attacking this group is that in Seattle (technically Mercer Island) the seniors aren’t wicked fast, in fact more often than not I need to double check to see if they’re actually moving or bobbing in the water – letting the current take them where it wants.  So I’m basically the fastest and that’s awesome.  I take my wins where I can.  In California, I swam in the master’s group at the Tiburon Peninsula Club (where you can join for $40,000 down or pay $65 and just swim) and I got smoked by some seniors regularly who are fast on land, but after swimming for 40 years, they are sort of efficient and still very competitive.  When you’re neck and neck with an 82 year old woman who is looking at you under water and keeping up with you, you move away.  She was really slow on the bike though. 

Today I also checked the qualifying times to be on the local swim club and it turns out I’m not fast enough to swim with the kids 10 and under group just yet. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So That Was a Debacle

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I did a race – the Seafair triathlon.  It was a SWIM/bike/run.  Lots of swim.  Not enough bike and just the right amount of run, well maybe another mile would have been ok.

It started all lovely – like the nice 14 mile ride to the race start at 5am.  It was a treat riding my TT bike in the cool morning – down the middle of a 4 lane road without anyone around – complete with fancy wheels, helmet and of course my sexy compression socks. It was also below 60 and I had to wear most of my winter stuff – so the photo here isn’t from this race because the sun never came out and my # was 47.

The only risk that comes with riding to the race start is of course getting a flat or getting attacked by a pack of single women who love compression sock clad men. 

Because the single women were probably still plotting their attack I got a flat. 

So around 5:30am, I was trying to shove this foam stuff into my tubular wheel (there is no inner tube to change with these $80 a piece tires) – then a C02 cartridge.  Seems that I got enough foam and air into the wheel to get me to the race start – but with about 90psi of air vs 130.  Though I’m pretty sure the difference isn’t much and Lance could make the bike go 32mph with 90psi and 32.01mph with 130psi.  But in my head there was a difference and of course the possibility that I could have some sort of spectacular Tour Day France type of crash as a result.  And yea, I know it’s Tour de France. 

Arriving at the race venue, I handed the bike to Brian who happens to own a bike shop and who is a neighbor of ours and I also knew him.  He was there with his shop helping people with bigger worries than mine.  In the few mins I was there explaining my issue to him (I needed another wheel or hoped the foam would seal up in time to start on it) – I witnessed: a woman who had broken cables on her borrowed mtn bike (this rig was a good 15 years old and it was clearly a victim of domestic abuse) and a lady who had a flat tire because the tube had to have been 11 years old – continue this same string of sad preparation for the next 40 people in line. 

I set up my stuff, got my bike and had 2 people (thanks Betty and Brian) continue to watch the tire pressure while I was warming up for the swim.  In the end, Phil Spencer had found me one of his spares JUST IN CASE.  He finished 10th OA or about 8 mins ahead of me.  

Then the horn went off. 

I swam. And if you’re not a strong swimmer, don’t hang your beans on not getting dropped even before the horn sounds.  I got dropped by everyone except for this one guy next to me for the first 400 yards.  Please note that I raced in the elite wave because I have this belief that I can ride a bike and really didn’t want to be on the course with 500 people ahead of me and I’m always reminded that your AG place doesn’t really matter, it’s overall – so blame Ben.  The guy next to me was good for helping me stay on pace up until he threw me a real haymaker in the face which left me choking on about 11 liters of lake water.  I also swam wickedly straight.  Like I sighted 3 times and hit 2 out of 2 bouys with my hands! 

Despite giving up 5 mins to these people, it was still the best swim I’ve ever done.  But a good .25 mile too long for me given the short bike – I would have preferred a half mile swim and a 40 mile bike and 2 transitions and no run followed by a bacon festival and a Miss Sweden Swimsuit/Beer Pong Competition.

I swam the last 200 yards watching the leaders already out on the bike .  My T1 was slightly better than my swim and then I hopped on the bike after checking the front tire for a sign of going soft.  The bike went fine- tried to hold 24-25mph on the flats.  Not spectacular, but it went fine.  I felt the legs come in around mile 11 where holding 24+ was pretty effortless and I caught 3 people.  Too bad I only had .8 of a mile to enjoy this level of awesome.

Then of course, you have to get your shoes on and run which is generally not a challenge for me, but I had my laces a tick too tight (it could have been the barely 60 degree air too) or something and I struggled getting them on.  I felt a bit clown-like but got going on the flat 5k run.

Except I think I had too much juice before the race and my stomach felt like I had an entire punchbowl of drink in it.  I still ran but my HR was pretty flat – about 10 beats lower than what I’d normally do – which I don’t understand.  My RPE (rate of perceived exertion) was up there like an 8, maybe 9 but my HR was saying it was more like a 6.  The old lady serving the punch clearly didn’t like running either that or the Kool-Aid dude was about to blow out my mouth. 

Then the flat run suddenly wasn’t flat. 

And there was a hill. 

And I couldn’t see the top and I think the people coming down it had snow on them.  I got depressed and jogged up it and got passed by some girl who was having an asthma attack or was just running harder than I was.

And then I had like 500 meters to go and it was over and bleh.  dumb. 

I still beat like over 1,000 people but that doesn’t help me feel any better.  I then rode home and ate bacon and waffles and listened to smooth jazz.

I bought a juicer too and found that I’m not really big on broccoli/spinach/carrot juice. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How I Met Mark Cavendish

So I have been VERY EXCITED for the Tour. 

Like this excited.

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It’s almost like a religious pilgrimage, except it just involves me watching the Tour de France every day – mostly the LIVE coverage and then of course, the fully re-commentated coverage later in the day.  This is a 2-5 hour commitment for 23 days – rest days are just light watchings, but like the riders, you can’t just sit around doing nothing all day. 

So as a prelude I bought about 11 books about some kind of bike racing.  I got yet another book about Lance which was ok – they’re all professionally written by someone else and offer something but you are left with not much more of an understanding of the guy – like the juicy stuff.  Like when they finally figure out in 2026 how he doped or whatever he did and by then who cares and he’ll be sued 300x and he’ll be putting his 4 kids from a handful of women through school and he won’t care – but it will make for a good book. 

Then I got some books by Joe Parkin, an ex-pro who was jr varsity in the Euro peleton, but he was THERE and did it himself and had an interesting take on bike racing, drugs and of course the kermis.  Well done and fun reads but I sort of got annoyed by how many races he pulled out of – and I never got the sense he loved racing his bike as much as I would have expected him to. 

I mean, does he make his kids watch the tour with him for 21 days (they actually get the rest days off) today? 

Does his wife get up early to watch live coverage on the weekends? 

Probably not. 

And yes, I’m equating me watching TV with Greta and the girls for 23 days each year with him riding a bike for 6 years. 

Definitely a good story teller and both his books are worth reading and owning.  Some passages are magical – as if he wrote them as he rode at times – not missing a second of detail, sometimes you can feel the cobbles as you read (it helps if you do this on a turbulent plane ride across the United States). 

But I wanted more….

So I got Bradley Wiggins book which was solid.  He’s obviously British and it comes through on nearly every page when you see phases that you have to guess at their meaning but still sometimes I’m still left guessing.  Since his whole world and most of British cycling has been about the track since Tom Simpson wanted back on bike, it’s a lot about the Olympics and his perspective.  There’s some stuff about his road career, but not a ton – still, a really good read and you can’t help but want to watch some track racing with a renewed interest….  I still don’t understand his haircut but I’m a fan of the guy.  I also think the Team Sky kits are horrible ugly, I liked the Carrera Jeans team fake denim spandex better. 

THEN I got Mark Cavendish’s book, ‘Boy Racer’.  Wow.

I think I read it as fast he finishes the final 200m of every flat stage.  My wife will tell you that to make good movies and books last, I’m always stopping a lot.  Making a good movie take 3-4 days to watch and a good book like this – I have to try and dish out my efforts over a week or so.  She also gets super annoyed by this because to ensure I get a solid stop, I put the book down or the movie down and talk or distract her from whatever I’m doing so I’m not sad about having to put it down.  This more often than not involves a major karate chop to her mid-section or leg or arm along with the always necessary full scream ‘HIIIIIIII-YAAAAAAAAAAH’.  Good times for her. 

Sorry, I got lost there and all excited. 

So the book is awesome.  Like Ayn Rand ‘The Fountainhead’ awesome. 

I would normally go ‘yay, Mark Cavendish won again’ when I watch him win – mostly ho hum who cares, it’s not Tyler Farrar who would ride past me at every race in Seattle like I was on a stationary bike, and he was like 13.  This book takes you through his short but exciting career from his jr racing to the end of the 2009 season – with detail of every meter of a Tour de France sprint finale to enduring a long day with the laughing group.  It’s not written with a professional writer who carefully crafts every interview into well structured thought out book – it’s written by the rider himself – complete with his language (and if you chose to read this to your children, prepare for them to learn plenty of ways to use the f-word).  It’s quite raw with a lot of emotion and care. 

If you don’t like this book, you’re simply retarded. 

He’s nothing quite like you see on TV much and how he seems to be portrayed on cycling sites – some of it’s true but honestly I’d rather spend a day riding with him over anyone else in the peleton after reading this. 

I can’t think of a better time to read his book than right now.  I only wish I could get a refund for my Floyd Landis book and spend it on another copy of Boy Racer to give away.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nutrition 53 Works. I’m Not Kidding

I have tried everything I think.  At least I think I’ve tried everything that you see advertised in the tri-geek magazines that say will do something positive and awesome for you.  Everything from vitamins to of course the 32x caffeine gels to the recovery drinks.  I think I was dropping at LEAST $200 a month last year on triathlon food or supplements or vitamins and such.  As you probably know, some of it sort of works a tiny bit, but eating good food and training smart and having a power meter are pretty much all you really need.  It’s not THAT hard.  So this year I don’t use any products except for a few really basic ones that I won’t go without – my favorite being my Nutrition 53 Neuro 1. 

(BTW: the only other ones are Cytomax, Hammer Nutrition Sustained Energy, Base Amino/Base Water and 1st Endurance Pre-Race).

Since I work full time – I have to be up around 4:30-4:40am to get myself ‘mentally’ ready to hop on a bike and ride 90 mins and put in some efforts over 400 watts, either that or I need to brave a swarm of senior citizens at the pool at 5:30.  The biggest hurdle most of these days is preparing myself to actually make these good workouts and get the most of them at that ridiculous hour.  Sometimes I can do the AM workouts but find myself a bit tired to do the afternoon run hill workout where I really need to go hard but just am not motivated.  This is where I rely on Neuro 1.  I buy this stuff in the tub so I can use as much or as little as I want, but they did give me a bunch of samplers – to find the best flavor (there are a few). 

This is what they say it does:

Turbo-charges memory, focus, and recall

Improves concentration in school and work

Boosts Mental Energy and Intensity

Increases Stamina and Energy for Sports

Improves Mood and Well Being

Protects Long Term Brain Health

Now I’m not big on the marketing copy here – like ‘turbo-charging memory’ because after having it, I still can’t remember stuff – but you sort of get the point – points 2,3,4, and 5 are all honestly true and you’d notice it in your first try. It really helps improve the mood and focus like nothing out there.  It doesn’t make you shaky or wigged out like a Red Bull or 3 shots of espresso might – but it does wake you up and gets you prepared to do the work – whether on the bike, on the run or in the pool.  You’ll also note from the link above that Courtenay also uses this stuff!  It’s a great pre-race drink – it mixes without chunks, the Orange Cream is pretty tasty and I’ve never had a stomach issue with it in any race – sprint distance or 70.3. 

I even use this at work – where I basically do math and statistics and look for correlations that you probably wouldn’t normally find unless you were just a hair away from being Rainman.  That’s sort of what I do but when I’m dragging – I’ll even bust out a Neuro 1 at work where I can squeeze out a little more mental effort dealing with over a million numbers at a time.

So there.

If you become a friend on Facebook, they usually have discounts on their stuff. 

And if you got this far, you’ll be delighted to know I’ve dropped 10lbs in 4 weeks using a new program that Chris Tremonte has been working on where I’ve become sort of a guinea pig.  I dropped about 4% body fat and not once have I been hungry, in fact I eat bacon.  Sometimes.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

So I’m on Vacation

IMG_3277But before I left, I threw a bunch of bike rides in because I wasn’t bringing a bike and we all know that in like 6 days you can lose all of your muscle and fitness and you age 2 years.  So I thought it would be awesome to go ride my mtn bike for 2-3 hours and do lots of climbing and 400w efforts up Tiger Mtn.  But then there’s that whole downhill part that I haven’t done in years.  So I hit the singletrack with the timidity of a small little tiny baby girl.  I did ok, despite the fact that the trail that I had ridden a good 100 times has been so eroded by water that the rocks that were 6 in drop offs have turned into bigger rocks with 18 in drop offs and more roots and steeper and wetter.  I made it almost to the end where I got braver and though I could negotiate this switchback that was a tight S with a few roots/rocks and a drop of about 2 feet.  Well, I flipped over the bars and laid there on the ground a bit making sure I was all in one piece – probably my first flip ever where I didn’t worry about my bike. 

I wrecked my hip good – a nice massive set of cuts that looked like a bear got me, framed by bruised skin and I swear it’s swollen a good bit out.  This made for a comfortable red-eye flight. 

Then as we boarded we (Sada and me) had our own row, but it turns out we had seats right in front of a kid who wouldn’t stop talking.  And he was loud and annoying. I think he was about 8 and had just met the woman next to him who was cursing her seat choice.  His dad was an ex military pilot.  He knew the rules of moose hunting for both residents and non residents in Alaska.  He went on and on about how he visited 11 countries in Europe and asked the lady ‘have you spent anytime in Europe’ and she still engaged this kid but just barely.  He sounded exactly like the character George Bailey from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – but when he was a kid, not an adult.  He just about finished his monologue with his exposition on Sarah Palin and around 11:30pm (one hour after we took off) ended the night with his latest concern ‘I think I’ll either play hockey professionally or be a pilot like my dad’ and with this, I wanted to re-enact that scene in ‘It’s a wonderful life’ where George’s boss (the pharmacist) gets all liquored up and smacks george in the head and bloodies his ear.  I probably would have gone for 2 ears if I could have.  Honestly kid, it’s 11:30pm at night and the lights are OFF in the plane and you’re STILL TALKING like you’re in a disco. 

Then I got to NH and it was 95 degrees.  And I thought with 3 hours of sleep and being perfectly dehydrated that it would be awesome to go run and get in some intervals so I did.  At the 3.5 mile mark, I had tossed my toast and suffered the next two miles, walking the final mile or so.  Then I napped.

Then I noticed I had bruises on my shoulder, neck and hip.  Ouch. 

So now I’m writing this instead of running because yesterday I ran more but it was still mid 90’s and I am still sore.  But I’ll run later. 

And Sada hasn’t gotten out of the pool for more than sleep and a few meals. 

The picture above is from my great July 4th super-idea.  Let’s go hiking on Mt Rainier! Except there was 6-8 feet of snow and it was 41 degrees and we drove like 4 hours total and all we did was get cold and spend $30 on a chilli dog and a hamburger. 

My camera broke yesterday too.