Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Yesterday I started the Harpoon Brewery to Brewery ride, a 148 mile bicycle ride from the Harpoon Brewery in Boston to the Harpoon Brewery in Vermont. I did not have a good day and decided to end my riding at the first rest stop. Even though the day wasn't what I expected, I think I made the right, but hard, choice. First a little back story.
I wasn't all that comfortable going into this ride for a variety of reasons listed in the last post. Just as I was getting ready to leave for Boston, the bike shop called to let me know that the replacement power meter came in. I stopped by and they put on the replacement. Quarq used to be one of the best companies to work with (unfortunately I've had a few issues) but in this case they were slower and less responsive initially than in the past. Hope it isn't SRAM (who bought Quarq recently) taking over and ruining something good but we'll see.
It isn't hard to get to Boston from New York. On a trip like this we normally take my wife's minivan but the day we were leaving, it too started acting up so we dropped it off at the dealer. We took my car but my wife wasn't comfortable with the GPS. She was planning on riding along the bike ride route and meet me at the end. This way we would stay in Vermont a night and head back home from there. We put the address of the Boston hotel in the GPS and off we went.
Unfortunately we hit Boston right about 5PM on Friday night. Traffic was not cooperating. To complicate this even more, the GPS brought us to the wrong location. Apparently there are 2 Mt Vernon Streets in Boston, 10 miles apart, and we went to the one that was a house, not the one that was a hotel. This cost us an hour with the traffic.
Packet pickup was uneventful but we needed to get some food in fast as I wanted to get to sleep early. We couldn't find an easy place but finally found an Applebees. Back to the hotel, set up the bike, try on the jersey (it was too small), and under the covers to sleep.
I woke up at 3:43AM on my own. The clock was set for 3:45. Took a shower, packed up the room, got my food ready for the day, and headed over to the ride start. The start was organized with the cyclists queueing up. I got in line. The system was to take 25 rides off the front of the line into a corral and let them go every 5 minutes. The first group was off at 5:15. My group was off at 5:30.
When the riders registered for this ride, it was required to put an estimated pace. The slowest allowable pace was averaging 16mph an hour. That's what I put in and what everyone who was on line at 5:15 should have been. The 17mph crew was to start at 6:00. Faster riders were supposed to be even later. My random 25 people in my group apparently didn't get that memo as we started flying through downtown Boston.
I thought the pace a little hot but hung with the group. 4.5 miles into the ride we caught the group ahead of us. I felt a little better because this was evidence that we were flying. My breathing was off and I was coughing when I tried to breathe deeply. The two groups joined together and the pace kept hot. We caught the second group ahead at 8.75 miles. Now the group was very large and feeding off itself. I realized that this pace would crush me so I fell off the back and dialed the effort down. If I pushed my effort too hard, I would start coughing.
There was an unofficial port-o-potty stop at 16 miles or so in. I hooked up with some folks after that but the hills would make be cough more so I kept dialing it back. I realized I wasn't having fun and my wife was waiting at the 48 mile rest stop. I pulled into the stop, told her I was done, and put the bike in the back of the car. I knew I could have gone further but the whole 148 was probably a reach. Going further, though, would have shredded my body. Cutting at 48 miles let me get a good workout but not have to recover for an extended period. I thought it a wise choice.
She asked what I wanted to do and we decided to drive to the finish. The finish, though, was two states away and about 100 miles so it took a while. We stopped for lunch and beat all the riders to the brewery. I got a beer. The picture shows it only 1/3 full - I thought it symbolic given how much of the ride I did - but they gave me a full beer. We decided to heads towards home rather than stay in Vermont. We wound up driving the whole way home with a break for dinner. I was exhausted more from 7 hours driving than 3 hours riding.
I realized that this was the wrong ride for me given my fitness, my body composition and the lack of hill training that I've done. I did some long rides but need to actually follow my training plan closer. I liked the ride organization and might consider doing it again for revenge in the future. I used my performance in this ride as a reason to validate which races I'm doing and why. This will probably result in an "adjustment" to the race calendar but I think it will be for the better.
I'm still coughing today, perhaps even more than yesterday. I'd rather not have to see the doctor but may have to if this doesn't clear. Wasn't the day or ride was I was hoping for but overall a decent day.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
This weekend I have on the schedule The Harpoon Brewery to Brewery ride, a 146 mile (or so) bike ride from the Harpoon Brewery in Boston to the Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, VT. I am nervous on a variety of levels:
- 146 miles is a long way, longer than I've ever ridden before in one day.
- I feel very under trained for this.
- There are 3 official rest stops: at 46 miles,97 miles, and 125 miles. This is expected to be a rider self sufficient ride. I'm told it is difficult mentally to get back on the bike after 125.
- I am fat, very fat. I'm afraid that I won't fit into the official jersey.
- Fat guys hate hills.
- I live in a flat area and most of my training, the little that I've don, has been on flat terrain.
- There is a rumor of a 5 mile long hill starting at mile 90. This isn't the only hill on the route.
- It is an early start and my taper is to drive about 5 hours to Boston.
- My bike's power meter is still broken so I'm going to do this ride almost naked. Almost.
- I am slow and may not make the cutoffs.
- I haven't ridden in a paceline recently. The send out 25 people at a time ever 5 minutes starting at 5:15AM. If I can hang with the big dogs, maybe they'll drag me along.
I've decided to go into this with the mindset of I'm just going for a ride. This will be a time during this ride when there will be some visible body carnage. I'll ride as long as I can or until I get picked off the course by a marshal or which ever kind soul may take pity on me. I wonder what the Vegas odds are on the under/over for the mileage.
This ride ends at the Harpoon brewery in Vermont so I expect to drink some beer when I'm done. Probably a lot of beer. Good thing I'm not nervous about drinking the beer. Maybe that should be what I visualize all day?
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Saturday, June 9, 2012
2012 Ironman Eagleman 70.3 is scheduled for tomorrow, Sunday June 10. 2009 Eagleman was my first HIM and realizing that this is Eagleman race weekend made me start trying to figure out when I can go back.
There was so much good that happened to me as part of the prep for that race. My weight was under control. I started working with a coach. I was seeing genuine improvement and the sense of accomplishment was high.
I did race the 2010 version but that was a fiasco. First I was dinged up so a raced the AquaVelo instead. Second, I spent the week before the race in Hong Kong and commuted halfway around the world to just get to the race. I drove directly from the airport to Maryland without stopping home (I stashed my stuff in a relative's house in New Jersey). Thirdly, the water temperature in 2010 was a record 79.4 which made this a non wetsuit swim. Of course, it didn't help that there was a significant current and my body clock was still in Asia time. I missed the swim cutoff, did the bike anyway, suffered through it, got the medal, but a few days later my time was taken down since I missed the swim cutoff. The blog post can be found here
Since then I've improved my swim to the point where my 2011IMFL swim time was only a few minutes slower than my 2010Eagleman time despite being twice the distance. I've raced a few more HIMs since but they will never replace Eagleman in my heart.
I started wondering when I can go back. I'm thinking that 2013 will be the year of the Olympic for me. Might go back to StA, want to do the Aquaphor NYC triathlon, and perhaps a few other local olys. I would want a PR somewhere in there but I haven't raced Olympic since I was, in fact, a rookie. That means 2014 could be the return to Eagleman to take care of some business.
Good luck to all the athletes racing tomorrow. Hope those stepping up in distance have a day worth remembering.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Sunday, June 3, 2012
The Bike/Boat/Bike is an annual event sponsored but the Suffolk Bike Riders Association. It is staple ride of the Long Island cycling season but I never have done it before since it never worked into my schedule. This year, though, it did fit as a good training ride for me so I signed up.
By the time I decided to do this ride, VIP sign up was closed out. I thought that VIP status solely got you your swag and race bracelet snail mailed to you before race day for the extra $5. What I found is that the main benefit was an alternate start that could save about 10 miles before and 10 miles after in the car. Parking at the nonVIP start was challenging even though I was OK with it. Oh well, next time.
There are a bunch of distances for this ride: 25 flat, 25 not so flat, 50, 68, 106, and 137 miles. All but the 25 mile flat require the rider to hop on a ferry to get to Shelter Island (for those not familiar the geography, Shelter Island is an island located between the north and south forks of Long Island, NY). The 68, 106, and 137 routes require the rider to take another ferry to the south fork of Long Island and then ride around to get back to the north fork. I originally planned on doing the 137 mile route but my coach, Bike Mike, recommended the 68. I also wanted to try riding with a Camelback for hydration since some of my upcoming rides don't have enough water stops. So that was the plan.
One of the downsides of this ride start is that it is about a 90 minute drive from Casa Rockstar to the start. I got up a little before 5AM to get there by the recommended start of 7AM. It was a little cold but there are very few cars on the road at that time. It seems that many had bikes on the back.
I got there, checked in, set my bike up, and couldn't get the power/cadence meter to be recognized by the Garmin. I figured it was a dead battery so decided just to take it easy. Got on the road and went to the ferry. There was supposed to be a $4 ferry fee but the ferry guy didn't collect it. Instead he wished all to have a good ride. Note that the ferry ride is only a few minutes long. We rode to the "south" ferry and they said all had to pay the $3. I paid the freight and then rode off the ferry to the south fork.
Here is where the routes diverged. A lot of people were complaining that the cue sheet didn't match the Garmin file they provided and neither matched the road markings. I kept close to the route (even though I hit a few dead ends) but others weren't so fortunate. With the new VIP route some of the routes got adjusted apparently but that wasn't reflected across the board. I then noticed that the 68 mile cue sheet actually showed 72 miles.
Then the second thing went wrong (after no power meter). My rear end started hurting. I had forgotten to lube up the "Netherlands." I was starting to feel the friction and it wasn't feeling good. I didn't think I needed to since the ride was relatively short (in my mind). My shoulder started hurting from the Camelback. I thanked the gods I was only going 68m.
I gently rode back to the start and thought of some options. If I passed a CVS I could get a new battery for the power meter. I could also get some Aquaphor for the lube issue and now what felt like a painful diaper rash. I actually passed one at the 53 mile mark but the damage was done. I replaced the battery and that didn't work either. Rather than zig zag the route to get the miles I thought I would head straight back and it would probably be about the mileage desired. It wound up being 67.2.
I then headed to the bike shop to see if it was me or if there was something really wrong with the power meter. They couldn't get it to work either so they kept the bike to call Quarq in the morning. We'll see what happens this week.
Overall, it was a good event and I liked riding some roads I hadn't ridden before. I consider it a good, not perfect day. If I do it again, I'll VIP. I won't forget to lube up no matter what the distance. Hope the power meter is a quick, easy fix.
Friday, June 1, 2012
Last year I entered a lot of races to act as supported training sessions leading up to my Ironman. I didn't race them but tried to dial in pacing methodologies (how many walk breaks, how long, etc.) with the expectation of a 6 hour marathon after a little swim and bike.
This year I am not doing IMFL but I am doing NYC26.2 which just happens to fall on the same calendar weekend. I hoping for a faster time as this will be my first official marathon. I figured I could replicate some of the running races that I did last year but run them a little harder while using them as long training sessions for the marathon. Somehow, though, the calendar isn't cooperating.
Last year the Hampton's Half Marathon was held on 9/24 and the NYRR Grete's Great Gallop Half Marathon was held on 10/1. I did both. This year both are scheduled for 9/29 so I can't do both. I got an email from the Hampton's folks saying they expect their race to close out this week so I need to decide soon.
The races are about the same distance away from my house. One is an hour driving east and the other in Central Park is about an hour west. I've run a lot of Central Park races before so am very familiar with which hills to curse vs. being surprised. The Hampton's race is smaller. Grete's race is a 2 lap circuit around the park and many people run extra after they finish to get in the marathon training miles. Grete's probably won't close out but if it does it won't for months.
I need to decide but it may come down to the fact that the Hampton's race is more expensive ($75 vs. $35). You can't blame the Hampton's folks for charging more since they are selling out months in advance. Is choosing which race to run based on a $40 price delta a valid reason?
I'm leaning towards yes.