Sunday, July 18, 2010

Damn kids......

Today was the Montauk Sprint Triathlon. It's a great race that I've done 5 of the last 6 years. The venue is great and the course is excellent. This year Wynn and Teresa came out to race as well. Wingman and I spent the night at Sinead's house so I could 'sleep in' until 5a instead of 3:45a. I managed to get a decent night's sleep the night before the race. When the alarm went off at 5a, we got up quietly, got ready and snuck out hopefully not making a peep for our gracious hosts.

We got to Montauk without a problem. There are two transition areas and usually we drop the stuff off for T1 and drive to T2, drop stuff off and catch the race bus back to T1. This year I out my faith in the Wingman and sent him up to T2 with my running gear and explained how I like it laid out (like it's difficult to put a pair of sneakers and a visor on the ground). With Wingman off to do his job, I setup T1 and then joined up with Wynn and Teresa for the 1/2 mile walk down the beach to the swim start. Once we got there I spotted Wingman coming down the beach. I went back to get him and then came back to Teresa. Soon after Jen and Dave stopped by to say hello. Soon it was time to enter the water.

I decided to only wear my wetsuit bib. I figured the water would warm up quickly and didn't feel like wearing my full suit. Turns out it was a good choice for me. When I first got in the water, it took my breath away. But it seemed to warm up quickly. It looked like it was going to be a good swim. There was no sweep and the current was with us instead of against us. When the horn went off I started swimming. I made my way through traffic pretty easily. I settled into my rhythm and just focused on sighting. I could tell the current was helping because I was passing buoy after buoy like I was channeling my 'inner Ian' (minus the metronome beeping). I felt really good and was passing swimmers in my wave and the wave before me. About halfway through the swim my rhythm had to change. There was a little swell to the water so depending where I was on the swell I would have to literally freeze mid-stroke to let myself 'fall' with the swell and then resume swimming. At the end of the race I was talking to Wynn and Teresa and they said they had to do the same exact thing.

The swim ended easily and I looked at my watch. Much faster than last year. Niiiiiiiiceeeee. I walked up the beach to T1 to get ready for the bike. Grabbed my stuff and I was off. I felt good early on. My new wheel was performing quite nicely. I have a new Zipp 1080 rear wheel and it's so smooth. I made my way to Montauk highway and was passing many people. I wasn't flying yet, but I had a nice cadence going. I noticed a guy pass me (#441) and he had an ipod hidden on his inner arm and headphones on. really?!?! You can't go 40 minutes without music? Jerk. I passed him to get away and turned onto Montauk highway. When I turned onto West Lake drive, it was all out riding. It must be an ever so slight downhill with a tailwind because I was flying. I looked at my speed and I was doing between 25-26mph on the flats. I made my way down to the turn around and there were quite a few kids on the side of the road. It's been 5 years, but I still sweat when I see small children on the side of the road during a race. At least this time they were with their parents. On the circle Wynn blew by me. We exchanged hello's and he was gone. I was now making my way back to Montauk highway to head to the park. I was dreading the hill coming up. I swear every year the hill gets bigger and bigger. Teresa said it's from erosion washing the road away so the hill gets higher. Jen thinks it's plate tectonics forcing the hill higher and higher. Honestly, I think it's a combination of the two.

I made my way up the hill and was on my way down. Once I settled into a straightaway, I heard three words that chilled my blood. "On your right". Huh?!?! I am riding near the guard rail and someone (#40) wants to pass on my right. Just an FYI, but passing on the right is illegal. All passes must be made from the left. I turn my head back and said "don't pass on my right. You have to pass on my left." Then the stupid girl still tried to pass. I heard her yelp something to me and I braced myself for what was coming next. I was up out of the aerobars hanging on, waiting for something stupid and she delivered. Her front wheel and my rear wheel clipped and I began to wobble. I did some weight shifting to stay upright and I could hear her come crashing down behind me. I know this sounds cruel, but I was glad she was the one that went down and not me. But now I had a new problem. I felt something rubbing. My wheel got knocked out of alignment. Crap. I also could not shift back onto my big ring. So not only did she take out my wheel, she took out something in my derailleur. Damn kids. As I kept riding, I reach down to release my rear brake. I knew there were no more downhills so I could sacrifice this brake. The rubbing did not stop. I look down again and see that the wheel is rubbing on the frame. Crap. I look at the mileage and calculate how much more I had to ride. It was about 1.5 miles. I gambled and kept pedaling instead of stopping to try and fix the wheel. Sinead was disappointed that I didn't use my elbows on the girl and Wingman was upset that I didn't headbutt her.

I finally made it to T2 and could feel how bad the wheel was rubbing. Plus my legs were telling me how hard of an effort that was. So help me if I could find that kid I would kick her ass right there. Seriously. I don't care that there is an age difference and she's a kid. She killed my race and I wanted her to suffer more.

I put on my sneakers (that Wingman so skillfully laid out for me) and went out to the run course. I had a lot of trouble getting going. My legs were dead. I also ran in fear that Jen was somewhere on the run course and I didn't want her to catch me walking. Near the 1 mile marker I saw her as she was finishing up her run. Phew, I am safe from this point on. I kept the feet moving, but it was a chore. I walked the aid stations so I could drink some water. Then I would run again. When I was approaching the 2 mile mark, I saw Teresa. We exchanged high 5's and continued on. The 2nd half of this run is somewhat downhill. I finally made my way out of the park and towards the lighthouse. I had one more hill to climb to get to the finish line. I saw the Wingman on the side of the road wildly ringing his cowbell. Halfway up the hill Wynn was on the side yelling, and I mean, yelling at me to run up the hill. Sad thing is I was running. I had nothing left at this point. I got to the finish line and grabbed two bottles to drink. I downed them so fast. I had a nice PR on the course, but I was still disappointed because of the bike leg. I believe I lost 2-3 minutes because of the rear wheel issue. It's one thing when you do your own stupid things to take you out of a race, but it's another when it's someone else that takes you out. I think next race I'm going to carry one of these and if someone gets in my way, they'll get it from me:

We waited for Teresa to finish and when she was heading up the hill I shouted "there's wine at the finish line." Soon after I went back to the car to change my clothes and then we hung around for the awards.

Wingman drove us home and I slept in the car. We went straight to the bike shop and they fixed my wheel and derailleur quickly. Of course I always see the bright side and said to Darren "I think this is a sign that I need a new bike" and he smiled and said "of course!!"

After the bike shop we finally headed home. By now my head was pounding. I always get a wicked headache racing in the heat. Not sure that it was dehydration as I was still going to the bathroom, but as soon as we got in the door I took two excedrin and grabbed my pillow. We were sitting on the couch eating and watching the Tour on TV. I stopped halfway through my meal and took a good nap. I felt so crappy at that point and just wanted to sleep it off. Not sure how long I was out for, but when I got up I finished my lunch and then took a shower. It's good to feel human again.

So here's to hoping that the next race will be child free. One can only hope.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ringo was right......

When he said "You know it don't come easy." Last weekend I punctured my road bike tire in 3 places. So I went to the bike shop and asked for something that would be better at resisting punctures. They sold me a tire that was good at that. The week went by and I finally got around to changing the tire on that bike. Wingman was working late so I thought "hey, I'll change the tire real quick and head out for my ride." Famous last words.

I grabbed the tri bike (that didn't need the tire changed) and noticed that the rear tire looked like it was developing a side wall "hernia" or possibly a hole. So I figured I'll use the new tire to put on the tri bike prior to the race Sunday and go get another tire for the road bike. Problem solved! Not so fast, stupid was what the tri bike was saying to me. First, couldn't get the wheel off. There is a lever on the wheel called a 'quick release' and today it was anything but. Whoever put my wheel on at the bike shop must have looked like this:

The lever would not budge. It was on so tight and I couldn't get it to move. So I looked around the house and found a wrench and that gave me enough leverage to get to open. Now I'm thinking I'm home free. I've changed dozens of tires and can do it blindfolded. Again, famous last words.

I get the tire levers out, get the tire and tube off the rim, inspect the tire and realize it was a time bomb waiting to go off. Good decision to change it. At this point I'm feeling really proud of myself for catching a potential problem instead of it rearing it's ugly head on my ride. I take the new tire and start to mount it on the wheel. Next up is the tube (I remember to put on the valve extender). This too goes on pretty effortlessly. Now I have to put the tire completely on. I get about 7/8ths of the way around and notice that it's going to be a chore to get the rest of the tire on. Most tires are "soft" enough that you can finesse them on. This one was stiff and had no give in it. I see it was going to be a battle of wills here. You have to be careful to not puncture the tube when putting the tire on so they recommend you don't use tools. There was no way this tire was going on. At this point I was struggling to get it to budge. And when it would go one, another section came out. Motherf&*er. Seriously, I am now 30 minutes into a change that should take at most 5 minutes and the tire is still not on. The ears of the guys at the bike shop must have been ringing because I was cursing them out. First for tightening the quick release too much and then for this crappy stiff tire. I considered going down to the bike shop for help mounting the tire, but now I was so angry and fed up that there was no way I could get behind the wheel of a car. 

I can totally understand why Normann Stadler had his mental breakdown in Kona. I was seconds away from tossing my wheel out the door onto the lawn. I called Wingman to vent. I told him to not be surprised if he comes home and finds my bikes strewn across the front lawn in pieces. I was so fed up with it. He told me to leave it aside and he will look at it when he gets home. After I got off the phone I went back the wheel. I will not let it win. I did a big no no and grabbed the tire levers. Finally got the tire on. I grabbed the pump and started putting air in it. Guess what - dummy here punctured the tube with the levers while putting the tire on. They don't call me "Hero of the Stupid" for nothing. Now I have to start all over again.

I repeat the whole process of removal and putting the tire on. I am still stuck with not being able to get the tire on all the way. Now I just walk away. I sat down and watched some TV. I could hear the wheel taunting me from the kitchen. It's like Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart" where he can hear the heart beating from under the floor, but really it's just in his mind. My wheel was saying "Hey jackass, why don't you grab levers again." I started thinking "of course this tire is puncture resistant. You'll never ride it because you can never get it onto the wheel!!!!"

Finally Wingman got home and attempted to put the tire on. Even he struggled with it. I'm glad I wasn't the only one. He wound up using the tire levers as well but he didn't puncture the tube. I filled it up and we got the wheel back on the bike. Once I calmed down some more I sent an email to the bike shop telling them the tire sucks crap. Well, maybe not in those same exact words but you catch my drift. I have to take a ride down there this morning to pick up a new tube and I'm bringing the wheel with me so they can see the tire. I can't keep a tire on the bike that I can't change so I will have to get a new tire. 

Yep, Ringo was right "It don't come easy"........................

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mixing it up

So this weekend my long ride and run were switched around to get me an extra rest day from my long run prior to the Montauk race next weekend. Normally I ride long Saturday and run long Sunday. I've been doing this for years and am quite used to it. I went out yesterday and ran in the sweltering humidity. I spent the rest of the day recovering from that workout. In my last post I wrote about how Wingman beat me to the line in our sprint. He read the post and laughed and said that he doesn't plot during the ride. I politely disagreed. And to add proof to my argument, I found an issue of Triathlete magazine opened up to an article he was reading called "Spin to Win." I got all Perry Mason on him and he kept insisting he didn't read the article yet. I rest my case.

So this morning we head out on our long ride. There would be no racing on this ride as that would violate the weekend rules. I need to keep the ride below a sprint effort. I was exactly 7 min and 7 sec from the house when I heard the hissing sound coming from my back tire. Motherf*^%^@#@&!!! I really did it this time. I managed to puncture a kevlar reinforced tire in 3 places without actually running anything over. Insane. When I first got the tire off to change the tube, I saw the one puncture mark. Wingman gave me a dollar bill to put in there, but upon further inspection I noticed 2 more marks. I let out a few expletives and nearly threw the entire bike into the corn field ala Normann Stadler:

Instead of changing the tire and the tube, I sent Wingman home to get the car. When he left I did the walk of shame up to the corner to wait for him. When he got me home, I switched bikes and we were on our way again. But at this point I had no mojo to ride. I was so mentally dejected. But I continued onward. I channeled some of that anger into my pedaling. We had a big loop planned. I thought about quitting a few times during the ride, but I knew I would be better off completing it. My favorite part of this loop is the school speed zone that we ride through. It has one of those speed detectors that tells you how fast you're going. Best part is before you approach the area, the pavement is super smooth and you can really pick up some speed. There is a slight decline as well. By the time the radar picks up your speed you are at max speed. I like to see how fast I can hit this spot. But this time a car came by and ruined it. I looked up and saw 43mph and thought "WHOOOO HOOOOO, I'm kickin' ass today" and then I noticed the car. In reality, I only hit ~31mph, maxed out of gears once again. Dang nab it.

Once we were on our way back, I was feeling better. Once again I slightly violated my no racing on weekend rule. Some guy passed me on 25a and my first thought was "oh no you didn't" and I immediately set off to catch the rabbit. After ~2 minutes I knew I was killing the ride so I backed off. Until the next rabbit appeared. On a motorcycle. I was approaching a traffic light that just turned green and a guy on a motorcycle was getting ready to go. For some dumb reason I wanted to see how long I could stay with him. Hey, they don't call me Hero of the Stupid for nothing. I did manage to hang in there for ~10 seconds. The rest of the ride home was uneventful. I came to realize, as major fatigue set in, that I don't like riding long after running long. I don't like riding on super tired legs. Takes the fun out of cycling for me. There are times that workouts have to be flipped around, but for the most part I enjoy the Saturday ride. And I have to say I am soooo looking forward to a rest day tomorrow. My legs are quite tired from the week. Not only did I have all of my workouts, but I am on my feet at my clinical for 7 hours straight. Not much rest for the weary. So for my rest day I will be back at the bike shop for another tire and then over to the DMV to renew my vehicle registration (that I waited until the last minute to do).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Waiting for a break

Seriously, this heat is killing me. I can swim in it and I can bike in it. But there is no way I can run in it. No matter how much I run, it's not getting easier. Hopefully the fall races will show the results of the work I am putting in now.

Friday afternoon Wingman and I went for a ride. It's been a bit windy the last few rides so I try to plan the ride where we go out into the wind and back with the wind. I got home Friday around 2:30p and didn't change my clothes. I sat on the couch and starting reading stuff for my inservice. Next thing I knew the eyes were getting heavy so I turned on the TV and, true to form, I was out like a light in no time. Wingman came home from work and found me half passed out in my work clothes sprawled on the couch. Couldn't have been a pretty sight. I finally woke from my slumber and changed into my riding clothes. We agreed on the route and were on our way. Of course there was a head wind going out. I usually pull us along on the rides since it's me that needs the workout. Wingman comes along for the exercise. So I did my best to channel my inner "PoPo" and pulled Wingman up to the William Floyd Parkway. I would check behind occasionally and he was settled in on my wheel. I was the workhorse for the ride. I knew once we hit the WFP we'd have the tailwind and could hammer away.

The ride was pretty smooth but I had to make one quick stop to stretch my neck again. After a few minutes,  we were on our way. In the back of my mind, I knew our final sprint would be coming. I was trying to gauge how Wingman might be feeling. He said at the start of the ride that he was feeling tired, but I knew not to put any stock in that statement. We rode closer to the sprint zone and I could sense he was plotting as well. When we made the turn to the straightaway, I was in front. I did my best to shift as quietly as possible  and keep my cadence steady. I didn't want to give any hint of when I would make my move. I kept shifting and I could hear him behind me shifting. My heart was pounding at this point. We had ~1 mile to go. It was on now. I was spinning fast. I could feel the burning in my legs. I need to hang on but I could hear the Wingman coming up along side me. I try to shift again, but I look down and imagine my horror when I see that I AM OUT OF GEARS!!!! Crap, damn compact cranks!!! I have no where to go but to dig in and try to ride harder. But now I am no longer spinning circles. My legs are like lead and I am sputtering. Wingman sees that I have no response so he backs off a bit. It's his way of taunting me. I try to pick it up again but he puts the hammer down and beats me to the line.

I spend the rest of the ride home recovering from the ride. I just rode easy to try and flush the legs. Someday I will take back the green jersey, but for now, it proudly rests on the shoulders of the Wingman. One day when he least expects it, I will break away and hold on for the victory.

Next weekend I have another race coming up - the Montauk Sprint Tri. I love this race and it will be interesting to see where I am this year compared to last year. Barring a catastrophe, I think I can do a little better than last year. Not sure where it will come from but on race day I plan on going full throttle. No training day for me!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Holiday Weekend

Yesterday the Wingman and I set out for a long bike ride. We sort of improvised the route. Basically the idea was to head out east and after a time limit, we'd turn around and come back. We caught a nice break with the weather and made good time out to Greenport. From there we went south to 25 to come back home. It was at this point I realized we'd been riding with a tailwind heading east. Now we had some wind to contend with. Overall we made some decent time coming back and Wingman even got in front to help pull me home. I was suffering a bit when we got to Mattituck. I've been dealing with a stiff neck/stuck vertebrae the last few days and can't turn my head to the left. I've tried a few things and nothing completely relieves it. So looking over my shoulder was tough. I had to completely turn my body on the bike to look back. Then around the 40 mile mark, it seemed like every muscle in my neck seized up. I called to Wingman in front of me to stop but he didn't hear me. I had to stop to stretch. Hopefully at some point he would notice I wasn't behind him.

Once I stretched out a little, I was on my way. He wasn't too far ahead and used the break to stretch out as well. When I caught up I hopped in front and continued homeward. The hardest part was when we got to the intersection with Brieremere Farms. The traffic was tough, but the call of the pies and cookies was tougher. I thought about the money in my pocket, the time in the saddle, the glycogen replenishing I had to do at the end of the ride. Very overwhelming. Back in Greenport I almost had a moment of weakness. There was a carnival being setup and I saw all of the food trucks. Two words caught my eye:

Oh yes, fried doughy goodness. It reminded me of my grandmother and when I was younger she used to make funnel cakes. Oh man, I can still taste the powdered sugar............

Sorry, got caught in a moment......

Anyway, I opted to ride past Brieremere and come straight home. Wingman had a haircut appt that he was going to be late for. I had an appt with the shower and the couch. Once he left I took a shower and then was out like a light on the couch.

Wingman made it home and we watched the prologue for the Tour de France. It was a short ride (5.5 miles) but we like watching how fast these guys can move. One of my favorite time trial riders is Fabian Cancellara aka Spartacus. We also like Thor Hushold aka The God of Thunder. I love the nicknames in cycling. I would love a cool one, but the only one that seems to stick is "Hero of the Stupid." I just can't seem to shake that one.

Today we went out to take some pictures. Holy cow, it was hot out there. After a while Wingman stayed in the car while I ran out for some shots. We stumbled upon the infamous "shrine" near Eastport/Manorville. Now I'm not a religious person, but I'm not sure I've ever seen more jesus statues in my life and I did 4 years hard time in catholic school. I think shrine is an understatement. I did my best to be respectful of the people that were there. I was taking pictures of some flowers and then turned around and saw a woman sitting with her rosary praying. Whoops. I quietly walked away. 

We went over to Best Buy so I can pre-order my new cell phone. I've been in the market for a while and holding out hope that the iPhone would be coming to Verizon Wireless but I've given up hope. Plus, I like the new Android phones out there. Of course now that I am getting an Android phone, the announcement should be coming any day that iPhone will be out for Verizon customers.