Sunday, May 31, 2009
Thursday: Bike ~8 miles, 30 min. On the trainer. It was rainy outside, but humid in the garage. Had intended to put in a full hour, but my heart just wasn't in it.
Friday: Run 4.0 miles, 38 min. Lunchtime run - foot didn't react well. I'm going to do some more research and see if I can figure out what's wrong.
Saturday: Bike 53.0 miles, 3:14 Attempted Lamb's Gap, but it's just too steep! I did make further up than I ever had before, but it really gassed me for the rest of my ride. Would have liked to had my third consecutive 100K weekend, but my legs just weren't with me for the last bit of this ride.
Total: Run 4.0 miles, Bike 99 miles.
Now I remember why I though I should try to get in a ride today: so I could get 100 miles for the week!
My foot issues just seem not to want to go away. And I'm already committed to do the Harrisburg Mile in July, so I need to at least be able to run by then, even if I won't be at my fastest. That might require some extended time off - lucky for me it's June when cycling isn't garage-bound drudgery like it would be in January or February.
That being said, I may have to find other ways to make good use of my lunch hour at work until my foot heals up - probably will have to pack my bike daily and cut my workout down to 30 minutes (8 miles or so) doing laps around Rossmoyne. Since I didn't lose my mind during the 64.6 Miles of Nowhere doing laps for almost four hours, I guess 30 minutes of riding in circles would be too bad.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
So here's a quick run down of some things I've wanted to blog about but haven't in short:
1. I'm not ready to race my bike.
I've felt really fast lately and my endurance has been indominatable. But the last week I was on my way up a hill at a brisk 14.5 mph, and I heard a whirring sound behind me. Then a paceline of about six guys shot past me probably at 18-20 mph. The good news is that I passed them just after the descent on the other side. Sure, they were waiting for one of their number to finish peeing in the woods when I passed, but I passed them - and they never passed me again (read: they took a different route after their pit stop).
2. Or am I?
On my Monday morning (Memorial Day) ride I caught up to a group of three cyclists with matching kits, shaved legs and full-carbon fiber bikes. And it wasn't hard. I hung back a minute trying to figure out if I should pass them. If they were just warming up, maybe they'd have to pass me later and if I just hung behind them I could help them avoid that hassle. After a few minutes it was clear that they didn't intend to go any faster and I passed them. Must have been a recovery ride or something, because those guys had to be faster than me.
3. Bad Weather + Sore Foot = not much running
This week has been pretty miserable weather-wise. And my foots been sore, so rather than cause my foot further anguish by running on it and causing me further misery beyond a sore foot by running in the rain I haven't run since Friday. And that's all I have to say about that.
4. Zoo Tycoon is a fun computer game
It's stupid, I know. But I like it. It's part of the reason I haven't been posting much. I'm fixing to add an orca exhibit and have them perform. I am so lame.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Total time: 4:11
Total "on the bike time": 3:41
Mileage: 64.6 (34 laps)
The morning started like any other bike-riding Saturday. I got up around 7:30, had some yogurt and some coffee for breakfast. I kind of dawdled my way through the next hour or so, taking my sweet time getting ready. I packed up eight water bottles, a few Clif Bars, the Clif Shot Bloks Fatty included in the SWAG bag and three GU gels. Because GU is still the best energy food out there.
I got to Rossmoyne a little later than I had planned, but still early enough to avoid the evening thunderstorms that the Weather Channel was calling for. I put the front wheel on my bike, pumped up the tires and was ready to go. Except my bike computer had conked out on me.
This happens every so often, and it's always good to have my Garmin Forerunner 305 with me for when it does. So I simultaneously pushed off and hit the start button as I began the first lap.
The first several laps went fast. Really fast. I thought to myself, if I can keep this pace, I could be done in five hours! A half hour into the ride my bike computer finally blipped on, and I was happy that I would be able to report my "on the bike" time, since it will be exactly 30:40 more than whatever my bike computer indicated.
I thought about all the pictures I could be taking, of the stop sign that I would be running 53 times (there was another that I'd run about 49 times - my pit stop bypassed it on laps that I "pitted"), Fred Rahmer's truck and his crew working on the #51 sprint car (not Sprint Cup car, but a dirt-track sprint car), and pretty much anything else I'd be passing 53 times.
After lap 15 I pitted for the first time - grabbed two fresh water bottles, ate a Clif Bar, cleaned the sweat off my sunglasses and took off. I was feeling good. As I finished that first lap after the pit, I saw Beth waiting for me at the corner and I stopped by to chat. It was 30.5 miles in and I was feeling great. She was off to some scrapbooking garaging sale and to spend a good chunk of the day being "crafty" with her friend, Anita. She was happy to see I was doing well, commented on the increasing heat (which I had noticed the last couple laps before the pit), gave me a kiss, and I was off again.
One of the water bottles I picked up on the pit stop had the free sample of Carbo-Rocket that Fatty included in all the SWAG bags. I didn't really like it so much - it was starchy like Hammer HEED, instead of sweet like Gatorade. But it was fluids, so I finished off that bottle quickly.
A little too quickly, actually. I've found that on my bike usually a bottle an hour makes for good hydration. A little less on shorter rides and a little more on long rides. I had anticipated this to take six to six and a half hours to finish, so I packed eight water bottles. One for each hour plus a couple extra "just in case."
I counted on averaging 13 laps between pit stops, and since I did 15 laps before the first stop, I figured that would be enough of a cushion. But I noticed my water supply dwindling quickly. And I noticed the temperature on the bank sign climbing ever so slowly. It was under 80 when I started, but was now up to 84 degrees. I had to make it to 27 (total) laps before the next pit, so I would be over halfway when I switched to my third set of bottles.
I made it to 27 laps and had just a little water left in my second bottle that I chugged down as I sat on the tailgate of my Element. I grabbed the next pair of bottles and ate another Clif Bar. I passed the bank sign again shortly after that last departure from "the pits" and saw that it was up to 88 degrees.
I had slowed down considerably by this point, but still averaging over 16 mph, not bad having already ridden 51 miles. Part of what slowed me down was constantly grabbing for my water bottle. Each bottle had to last six and half laps. The first of this pair lasted four. As I started on my sixth water bottle of the day, I realized I couldn't keep this up. If my water bottles were only lasting four laps, I only had enough water left to complete 43 of the 54 laps needed to make 100 miles.
I could feel the pressure in my head starting to build on lap 33 and wondered when to say "when." I had to balance the pride of gutting it out for as long as I could with finishing strong and actually physically feeling well for the rest of the day. I pitted early after lap 34 to take some time to recoup, and see what I could work out.
I turned the car on and cranked the AC. I laid in the back with a towel as a pillow and contemplated my the fate of my 100 miles of nowhere. I couldn't finish - but when should I quit? I had enough water left to do eight or nine more laps. But how would I feel after that? Ultimately, it was worth more to me to have ridden 64.6 miles and feel good the rest of the day than to ride 79 miles and have a migraine and feel like puking the rest of the day.
So I packed up, gave Beth a call and enjoyed a Neato Burrito for dinner.
Ultimately, I don't think the issue was training so much as it was acclimatization. I wasn't ready for a long ride in that heat. A few weeks ago I felt even worse from a 47-mile ride in the heat, but felt great after last week's 62-miler in milder temps. Extra water might have helped, but I've also found that I can only take in so much water at once - and when my stomach gets too full of water - watch out!
All that being said, I still think I'm probably the winner of the 64.6 - mile division of the second annual 100 Miles of Nowhere.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Tuesday: Bike 36.4 miles, 2:05 Fastest ride this year so far. Foot felt fine on the bike - must be a running thing.
Wednesday: Bike 5.1 miles, 21 min. Rode to church on the Schwinn.
Friday: Run 4.0 miles, 38 min. Foot was feeling better, so decided to give it a try. Apparently it is a running issue because the pain flared up again. Fortunately this is a good time of year to take a break from running - because it's the best time of year for cycling!
Saturday: Bike 64.6 miles, 3:41 DNF'd the 100 Miles of Nowhere. Or maybe I won the 64.6 mile division? I'll write up a full report tomorrow (or maybe Tuesday...)
Totals: Run 8 miles, Bike 106 miles.
This week we've had some computer issues which appear to be (mostly) solved. So that's my excuse for not posting for five days.
Anyhow, this foot thing has got me down - a soreness along the outside of my left foot that seems to be mostly associated with running, somewhat achy when walking and totally pain-free on the bike. Seems like a good reason to ride more. (That and the long daylight hours and great weather!)
Well, maybe the weather hasn't been so great since that played a part in my 100 Miles of Nowhere becoming the 64.6 Miles of Nowhere. While I didn't make the full century I did learn some pretty good lessons that I will reveal in my next post (along with a GPS of my route).
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Last weekend we had our semi-annual condo community garage sale and Beth and I always participate in the Spring sale. This year, to make room for baby we had an especially large amount of worthless junk to get rid of, so we borrowed two tables from the church.
Driving home from church with the tabes we had them sticking out the back window. Beth though that we should have done what we did with the Christmas tree and flattened the front seat and had her sit behind me. But since we only live a couple miles from the church on some residential streets, I said I'd remember that for next time, but for now let's just leave them.
And I did remember. Fast-forward to Saturday afternoon. The sale is over and I've packed up both tables and a few boxes that I took to the Salvation Army (I know, they don't like yard sale leftovers - please don't tell on me!). The two tables were on their sides in the passenger seat. I even put the armrest up because surely that would keep them from tipping over on me.
As it turns out, having the armrest up will not prevent them from tipping over on me because they did just that as soon as I pulled off our street. And when they did tip over they also managed to take out my rearview mirror:
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Tuesday: Run 4.0 miles, ~38 min. I forgot my watch, so that time is a guess. Felt pretty lousy on this run.
Thursday: Run 4.0 miles, 37 min. Lunchtime run, remembered my watch this time. Felt WAY better than Tuesday.
Thursday: Bike ~12.5 miles, 50 min. Rainy afternoon, so I spun for a while in the garage.
Friday: Bike 62.3 miles, 3:41 GREAT ride! Explored some new roads that were well-paved, low-traffic, and with very few stop signs.
Sunday: Run 7.1 miles, 1:08 MAF test #3. Mile 1: 8:46, Mile 2: 9:01, Mile 3: 9:17, Mile 4: 9:20, Mile 5: 9:31.
Totals: Run 15 miles, bike 90 miles
Next Saturday is the 100 miles of Nowhere, and I still haven't ridden 100 miles in a week, let alone a day. (Although if you add my running miles, I'm over 100 this week.) The good news is that if next weekend's century goes as well as Friday's metric century, then I'm in for a good (although probably boring) ride.
The MAF test has been a long time coming. Today was the first day I've been healthy enough to do it and not have it fit awkwardly in my usual training schedule. I am very happy that to have seen such a major improvement over my last test nearly three months ago. Especially since it was nearly three months since my last test.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
So I started off looking for cycling shoes available in "wide" sizes. Coincidentally, the Fat Cyclist received some shoes from Sidi last week to test. (If anyone from Sidi happens to be reading, I'd love some shoes to test!) I didn't think much of it, since my current shoes are Sidis and they make my toes go numb.
But then he mentioned the "mega" sizes. Many Sidi shoes are available in wide "mega" sizes. Cha-Ching!
My search began. I checked Nashbar, Performance Bike, Amazone, Google Shopping and eBay, and couldn't find a pair for less than $140. Even with the price subsidized by the money I'd get from selling my current road shoes on eBay, I didn't feel good about dumping another $140 in pair of cycling shoes.
So I bought this thing-a-ma-jigger:
It may look like a medievel torture device, but it is in fact a shoe stretcher. On my lunch break Monday I swung up to Irving's Shoe Fly, our local (really expensive, yet really comfortable) shoe store and picked it up for $20. (That's $120 less than a new pair of Sidis.)
I used it on my left shoe Monday night and my right shoe Tuesday night. I tried them out today on the trainer (since it's pouring down rain) and my left foot feels great! My right foot still got a little tingly, but the shoe stretcher is in it again tonight and I'll give it a good test on my day off tomorrow.
Monday, May 11, 2009
My favorite game is "beat the car." It's not as dangerous as it sounds, but it is quite satisfying, because, well...you beat a car.
As you can see in the very well-drawn and detailed illustration below, beat the car involves me going one direction, the car another and trying to beat it to a given intersection. On my way home from a typical ride I go through this four-way stop. The trick is that if you go straight, you get two more stop signs, but if you turn right, then left you don't have any stop signs. That's why I have a slightly drunk smiley face and a green arrow, and the car has a big trail of exhaust and two red arrows. Because it has to stop and I don't.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Wednesday: Run 3.6 miles, 36 min. "Running legs" definitely still sore. Felt like I was taking a hammer to the thigh with each step downhill. Good day to cut the lunchtime run a little short.
Thursday: Bike 23.3 miles, 1:19 Started off a little sluggish, but my overall pace was fairly strong.
Friday: Run 4.0 miles, 37 min. Considerably better run than Wednesday. Still not 100%, but not nearly as sore.
Saturday: Bike 28.8 miles, 1:43 Felt really good. Hit a few hills and still finished strong - my cycling has definitely improved over the last month or so.
Sunday: Run 6.5 miles, 1:12 A really fast run on the Appalachian Trail - for being on a rugged dirt trail. Saw a snake waiting for prey on the side of the trail (just a garter snake) and almost stepped on a mole running across the trail.
Totals: Run 14 miles, Bike 68 miles.
I feel like I've really bounced back well this week. I need to remind myself not to push too hard - especially the running - or else I'm liable to find myself injured again. Besides, my plan all along has been to take it easy in May and focus on my cycling, then to start putting some serious miles in again in late June and July.
I also have to start thinking about long-term training and where I want to go after this fall. With our family getting one person larger this summer, it's unclear just how much time I'll have to train (or when that time would be). But I do hope to get back to the 50-mile level (after I've acheived a 4:00 marathon) and I definitely want to continue racing on trails, but I have no idea what sort of time frame to expect for any of that.
Friday, May 8, 2009
So I spent about $130 and got a nice pair of Sidi cycling shoes. But there was a problem. After about ten miles on the bike, my toes would go numb. So I dealt with it for a while, but when Spring came, I needed to do something.
I went to the bike shop and asked what could be done. I walked away with a $60 pair of custom insoles. That didn't fix the problem.
I dealt with it for another year. I didn't really ride that much last year (except in the spring) anyways. But this spring, since I'm planning to do the 100 Miles of Nowhere and a solo epic a few weeks later, I thought it would be nice to feel my toes while I rode.
So I went back to the bike shop for more ideas. They suggeted metatarsal pads. They didn't have any in stock, but I could get a pair at any drugstore. I picked up a pair (for $16) and put them in. They made it worse.
Then it felt like the road vibrations were the culprit, so I made one last ditch effort to avoid having to buy a new pair of shoes. I was transitioning out of an old pair of running shoes, so I took the insole from the running shoe, cut it down a little to fit in my cycling shoe and replaced my $60 custom insoles with that. Still didn't work. It's a little more comfortable but I still get numb toes!
So now I'm at an impass. Do I spend the money on new shoes or do I try to find a way to alter my old shoes? I had no problem paying $130 for cycling shoes, because they're supposed to last pretty much forever (unlike running shoes), but if I have to pay another $130 - I don't think I'm down with that. So if I don't want to spend another $130, how do I fix my tingly toes?
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
First it was definitely going to rain. Then they were calling for sporadic showers all day. Then they called for PM showers. Then they said there would be no rain, just cloudy. Then they called for showers all day again. They finally settled on "PM showers." It started raining around mile 13 - at 9:30 AM.
I can't imagine being a local resident trying to get into town for this race. Race officials recommended getting in by 6:00 AM to park. Not to mention all the road closures and additional traffic from the Pirates being in town this weekend. I'm very happy to have stayed at the Westin, just a block from the start line.
The night before the game Beth, myself, her parents, her aunt Wendy and cousin Chris, her best friend Jamie and her husband Brad and Jamie's parents all went to the Pirates game. I'm not too picky about pre-race nutrition, I figure as long as I eat well the rest of the time, the night before the race isn't so important (as long as I don't eat anything that gives me "problems" - if you know what I mean).
So at the game I started off with a hot dog topped with sauerkraut and mustard. That wasn't especially filling, so after the fourth inning I went got a Primanti Brother's capicola and cheese sandwich (topped with cole slaw and french fries of course) and an Iron City Beer. Beth rolled her eyes, believing that I was certainly sabotaging my race.
The next morning the alarm on my phone went off at 6:05 AM and I took my time getting ready. I was, after all, just a block from the starting line. I dumped some blistershield in my injinji socks, attached the timing chip to my shoes, ate a bagel, drank some coffee and pinned on my race number. I was ready to go.
Beth and I got in the elevator to the lobby a little after 7:00. The lobby was packed with runners. We worked our way through, and Beth asked how I was feeling. I said my stomach was a little off, but otherwise fine. Then we parted ways just outside the front door. She was going to avoid the throng of runners as she headed to the Hampton to meet up with her parents and aunt. (Her cousin was also running the marathon.)
I made my way to the "9:00 pace" sign so I could start in the appropriate wave of runners. I loitered there for a little while, and then it hit. I got in line for the port-a-potty at 7:14...yadda, yadda, yadda, I got out of the port-a-potty at 7:29. The race started at 7:30.
Every time I do a large race I'm always surprised by the number of runners jogging little tiny steps to the start line. I feel like I've only got so many running steps in my that day, and I'm not going to waste them before I even cross the start. I walked briskly to the start and then started my jog.
The first mile was chaos. The start wasn't well organized and the 11:00 pace runners were mingled in with 9:00 pace runers and it made it a little difficult to figure just who you should be following. I finished the first mile in 9:49. I couldn't believe it, I was starting too slow!
The second mile was similar, but a downhill third mile got me back on track. You could call miles 4-12 appetizers because I was eating them up. Every mile ticked off at about a nine minute pace. Some a little faster, some a little slower but all keeping me right on pace for a sub-4 hour race.
We crossed the last of the three bridges in the thirteenth mile and then we reached the hill. I shuffled upwards for a while then we turned a corner, and the hill got steeper. I said, "this is stupid" and started walking. No sense wasting energy when I've still got over 13 miles to go. Then it started raining.
Shortly after the crest of that hill, I reached the halfway point in 2:00:07, just barely behind 4-hour pace. I'd need a negative split to finish in under four hours, but no worries, the rest of the race is basically down hill right? Wrong. For the next 8.6 miles it was basically a whole lot of up and down.
Around mile 17 the 4-hour pace group caught up with me. I hung with them a while, and then passed them again. Then we started up a hill and they passed for the last time. I did my best to keep them in sight, but they were gone.
Running through the neighborhoods of Oakland and Highland Park, you could see that people were really excited to have the marathon back. One woman yelled at the top of her lungs "WELCOME BACK, Y'ALL!" over and over again. Little kids held their hands out for high fives and people set up their own water stations, handing out cups of water to runners as they went by.
I figured to finish under 4-hours, I would have to reach the 20-mile point at around the three hour mark. I got there at 3:05. I had 55 minutes to run the last 10-k. My pace would have to be under 9 minutes per mile. Doable, but not likely. If I kept a 10-minute per mile pace, I'd finish in about 4:07. I reached mile 21 at 3:15 and hit the last of the big hills. It was another 3/4 mile to the top of that hill, then it was a downhill race for the next 4 1/2 miles.
No matter how hard I pushed, or what the terrain was like, the last six mile markers seemed to keep coming at 10-minute intervals. It was okay, though. This was a tough marathon course and a PR was nearly inevitable. I watched the four-hour mark come and go halfway through the 26th mile. When that last mile marker was in sight, my legs felt heavy, so I walked for a minute. I had to finish running, and I did. It's amazing how fast your legs will go when that finish line is in sight!
When I crossed the line, I was unsure of my exact time. I was consious of the cameras at the finish and was careful not to be looking at my watch when they caught me crossing the line. Then there was chaos through tables of bagels, water, gatorade and smiley cookies. I got my foil blanket, a cup of water and a bagel, then started looking for for my finishing medal. But then I saw them handing out Eat 'N Park smiley cookies. I didn't really want one, but I knew Beth liked them so I picked one up for her.
I almost missed out on the marathon medal. I know it's stupid, especially for someone who likes running tough ultras that have little in the way of souvenirs, but I'm a natural collector and I'd like to add a fourth medal to my collection. (There was a medal at the JFK 50 as well as the Harrisburg and Erie marathons.) The last person handing out medals walked right past me and I said, "uh...I need one of those" (my language skills were a bit impaired from exhaustion). She turned, apologized and handed one to me.
As I worked my way to the back of the finishing area, I immediately realized that there was no way I'd find Beth without going back to the hotel. I sat on a curb, finished off my bagel and water and rested for a while. Finally, I got up and started heading back toward the hotel. I noticed an alley that went back towards the finish line, so in hopes that I might stumble across Beth, I headed that way. Sure enough there she was! She had the same thought about the finish and headed down that same alley from the other direction.
I had signed up to get text messages as I passed each checkpoint, so Beth could see how I was doing even when she couldn't be there to actually see me. A few minutes after finishing, I learned that my finish time was 4:07:56 - later revised to 4:07:55. A PR by nearly 12 minutes!
Monday, May 4, 2009
Tuesday: Bike 15.7 miles, 57 min. Still trying to get my hands around these numb toes of mine. I'll have a more in-depth post on this at some point. For now let's just say that my toes don't like my road cycling shoes and I'm trying to find a solution.
Wednesday: Run 4.0 miles, 36 min. A lot cooler today. Happy to get a run in before the rains came.
Thursday: Run 4.0 miles, 36 min. Wow, getting faster even at an aerobic pace.
Sunday: Run 26.2 miles, 4:07:56 Pittsburgh Marathon. Race report to follow...
Totals: Run 38 miles, bike 15 miles.
I'll post a full report on Pittsburgh tomorrow, but for now, let's just say I felt like I had a really good race on a pretty tough course. It definitely helped me get my head around what I'd like to be doing this fall, and possibly next spring.
Friday, May 1, 2009
Despite feeling like I haven't trained enough - I do feel pretty good headed into this weekend. I ran four miles at lunch yesterday, keeping my heart rate under MAF (151 bpm) in 35 minutes. That's an 8:45 pace!
According to most running calculators, that should translate to about a 3:40 marathon. But for me, the running calculators are usually wrong, so hopefully it means I have a good shot at breaking four hours.
Weather this weekend is supposed to be damp. Which is fine, as long as I don't end up soaked during the race. Sunday morning's low is supposed to be about 51 and the high 58. So even if there is some precipitation, the temperature will be hovering right around "perfect."
The course is fairly flat, with a 2-mile, 200-ft. climb starting in the 12th mile. After that point, it will be flat until a gradual 4.5 mile downhill back to the finishline near the river(s). So after a winter of hard trail running and a hilly near-seven hour ultra behind me, the course should be a piece of cake.
Optimum: 3:59:59 (9:09 pace) - actually, I've had numbers like 3:57 and 3:58 go through my head this week, but 3:59 will be a 20-minute PR and I would be elated with a sub-4:00 finish.
Satisfaction: 4:19:41(9:54 pace) - This is my PR set at my first marathon about 18 months ago. I think sub-4:10 should be very doable, even if I'm not feeling my best on Sunday morning, but my focus will be on a new PR.
Disappointment: 4:35 (10:29 pace)- I had considered putting 4:59:00 here, since that was time from the Erie Marathon, but if I can't beat my Erie time when it's nearly 30 degrees cooler at the start, then maybe it's time to just do 5K's for a while.