Wednesday, August 31, 2005

REI, we need to talk

When we first met, things were fantastic. My day would be brightened just by being around you, and I could spend hours silently admiring you. You’d let me come over when ever I wanted, but you never pressured me to do anything I wasn’t ready for. You never mentioned my inexperience, or showed any indication that it bothered you; in fact you seemed to enjoy teaching me the worldly things I needed to know.

As our relationship developed into something much more, you were always there for me, and always keeping an eye out for ways to add a little more excitement to our lives. When ever I’d come over, you’d have some new toy that you would be dieing for us to try out. You never gave no as an answer, and at the end of the year, you even showed me how much you loved me. Overall, life was good.

As we grew together and matured, our relationship changed and matured also, but the excitement never seemed to die. We were the same, yet different. We had grown more independent of each other, yet at the same time, grown closet together. Although I didn’t show up at your doorstep as often I used to, I felt there was no love lost between us when I did.

Despite all these great things, and really, I can’t stress how great it’s been with you; I need to talk to you about something. The problem is this; you’re taking too much of my money. It was cute at first, I understand all relationships need a little bit of investment to get them off the ground, but this is getting a little ridiculous. Seriously, STOP TAKING MY MONEY. Not only does this make me feel degraded and used, but our relationship is destined to fail if you keep it up. It’s like I can’t even be with you for more than five minutes with out you’re pilfering through my pockets like a crack whore looking for loose change to score her next hit. Even your yearly token of love and appreciation fails to compensate. I feel as if I’m still giving just as much, if not more, as I was in the past, but not receiving it in return.

In addition, I’m starting to feel like you don’t even care about me, and it’s just about the money. I’ve always noticed the other guys hanging around and had my suspicions, but I chose to ignore it. I thought what we had was special. Lately, I’m beginning to think that it doesn’t make any difference to you who it is rummaging around under your shirts, as long as they have the cash.

.. …Wait, where are you going?
No, don’t go.
I..I’m sorry; I didn’t mean it. I can change. Really, I can.
Please don’t go, I need you, I love you…….

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Triathon: Something went majorly wrong.

Did the Triathlon at Folsom Site Games (Event put on at work for all the employees) this weekend. I signed up for the competative division even though they said you should have already done at least one tri in the past. this was my first, but I thought I'd fit in with the competative division better.

The Swim
Water temp was great, even at 7:30 in the morning. The water was even clear, with out all the boats around stirring things up. It turned out that the length of the beach's bouyed off swim area was much longer than I expected, so the 500m consisted of only going partway across and back. My plan was to go slow and steady, hopefully free style the entire way, and see how it goes. The course consisted of following the bouys across a curve, though, so I kept drifing off. I decided to start throwing in some breast stroke just get a chance to look around and get my bearings. This is when things started to go wrong. As my head was bobing up and down, I noticed that there were many other heads bobbing up and down. I started to do more breast stroke to observe this phenomenon. I started to notice that not only were others doing breat stroke, but we were keeping pace with a lot of front crawlers. I decided, what the heck, and started to do front crawl, to actually start passing people. Equipoise and JoJo should realize that this isn't right. This is very wrong. No one in our family should be passing anyone when the word "swim" is involved. Regardless, I continued on, got to the bouy and turned around, alternating between breast stroke and front crawl. I passed one more guy, and passed at least one more running up the beach. I quickly threw on my jersey, put my shoes on, grabbed my helmet, and I was off. After the race, I found out that I hit the bike after 8 1/2 minutes, including my transition time. I was actually expecting worse. Later when I checked times, I saw that I was still in the lower half on the swim, but still, I had no right to be beating anyone out of the water. Also, I've found that spandex swim caps work great. I just threw my helmet on over it, essentially using it as a bandanna. I didn't take it off until 3/4 of the way through the run, when I needed to dissipate more heat to do my kick.

The Bike
The bike started out well. One strange thing that happened right away, was that I felt a strong poking in my stomach under my jersey. For the first 1/4 mile, I was riding down the hill with only one hand on the bars, as I was trying to find what I thought was a loose safety pin on my number. Eventually the poking feeling went away and I continued on. (After the race, I saw that I had two large red bumps under wear my number was pinned on, although all the safety pins were attached. The bumps hurt a bit also. It wasn't later that night that figured out that some sort of bug had apparently flown into my jersey when it was layed out on my bike, and stung me when I started riding. They don't look as bad as yellow jacket stings, but it was deffinitely something) I had switched the campus pedals on the Puge for the regular SPD pedals off Identity Crisis, so I felt much more confident taking the sharp corners at speed. (I had also lent Identity Crisis to a guy doing the "For fun" triathlon which was along the same course, but starting ten minutes after us. I'm sure he appreciated the campus pedals also, since he wasn't wearing bike shoes.)

I ended up biking the first half of the bike more or less with two other guys, one on a Trek and one on a Cervelo. The guy on the Cervelo was all decked out, the cloths the gear, the whole shebang. He passed me right away on the downhill, and I expected him to dissapear, but then as soon as we hit the first slight, small, uphill, he was already up in his saddle. This lead me to think that he probably wasn't that solid of a biker. Since the race consisted of going six miles down hill, and then returning 6 miles uphill, my plan was to go strong and steady out, and then hard back. I switched back and forth with the Trek and Cervelo, which was good, because I would have missed the turn around had they not been in front of me. After the turn around, there was about a half mile or so of completely flat biking before starting the accent. The other two guys were actually pulling away from me here; I didn't want to burn out to much. Then we hit the hill. I don't consider myself to be a great peddler, having just recently buying into high cadence biking, but I do know that my old running legs and my biking legs are pretty good at climbing. Still, it was kind of ridiculous. I took off and left the Trek and Cervelo out of sight behind me. I came across more competitors, and just kept passing them until I eventually ran out of people to pass, or so it seemed. I credit this to both the spin classes and commuting to work. I saw a bunch of the people in both the competitive and fun race coming down the hill. I waved tothe guy riding my mountain bike w/slicks, although he didn't look like he was enjoying himself much, and didn't see me. I'll proudly point out that I was the only one doing the competative race with a steel bike. There were couple of carbon fibers, and everything else was aluminum. Only a handful of the aluminum ones weren't riding with triathon drop profile bars either. I finished hard, and made a quick transition to the run. This transition consisted of running over to my tree while taking my helmet off, throwing my bike and helmet down, and starting the run, still just wearing my bike shoes with no socks.

The run
The run went was pretty non-eventful. It consisted going 1.5 miles out, turning around, and then coming back. A little less than a mile into it, I passed another runner coming back. This was actually good. I was getting worried that I might be in the lead. Then I passed two more, who were both doing relay teams. Finally, shortly before the turn around, I came across Elizabeth, the defending female champion from the year before. She organizes weekly hill running, and this is her second season doing serious triathlon training. I had actually thought I had passed her early in the bike, but that apparently not. She yelled a little bit of incouragement to me, saying that I should be beating her. After turning around, I was just able to see her ahead of me, which gave me a great target to shoot for. I probably didn't actualy get to her until there was about a 1/2 mile left. She was really booking it. Right about when I passed Liz, was the time that I needed to start my pre-kick. Generally my kick has three stages, pre-kick, kick, and sprint. I found I had a lot of energy left. I saw one of the the relay runners ahead of me, but I couldn't get to her in time, but still ended up having an awsesome finish. I felt great.

I finished second for individuals, and fourth over all, counting the the two relay teams that finished ahead of me. This is really cool, but I admit that I had expected it to be more competative. Plus, with so few people competing, second doesn't mean much. I'm guessing that there was probably somewhere around 8-10 minutes between me and the winner. In a real race there would be a lot of finishers in that time span. I found out that the first guy that I came across on the fun, who won overall, was Lee, who I've ran hills with a couple of times. He's simply phenonomal. Generally when I run hills, there only a couple of guys who can beat me on a regular basis, but with those guys I know that if I started training more regularly, I'll have no problem taking them. Lee, on the other hand is a different subject. He has competed in iron mans on numerous occasions. I don't mean participated in iron mans, I mean he competes. He totally blows me away on hills. If I was back in decent shape, I might be able to try to run with him, but not actually beat him.

I think there were numerous places where I could have shaved time off. I could have gone out harder on the swim, and swam more front crawl. Hell, I could have even practiced swimming maybe. I was way to conservative on the bike also. I easily could have shaved minutes off that time. Who knows what I could do with a race bike!! The run I could have done faster. I think the key to that is to do more brick running. I felt a little tight after the bike and I think my body missinterpretted it as being tired, and kept a slower pace. I have to practice running through that feeling and getting used to it. Overall, I think I might have to try a little bit more of this triathlon thing. Definitely considering Wildflower next spring. I'm hoping they'll send out pics from the race, but I'll have to see.

August Critical mass: Hijacked and cluster-fucked

There were a couple of issues with CM this month again, but I think it might turn out for the best.

I got back from work a little later than expected, and when I got to the park, no one was there. I checked out another park, only to find bike cops. (They get stationed at all parks, just in case we switch the meeting place) I decided to just ride around town and see if I run into them. After about 15 minutes, I finally came across them, bikes on the side walk, police everywhere. Apparently they only made it a couple of blocks before an incident occured. Only seven people had showed for the ride, and the guys that had started organizing it, who try to maintain a sane atmosphere weren't there. There were, however, a couple of the "militants" as I will refer to them from now on, who I hadn't seen before. I did know one of them as a messenger that hangs out with my neighbors. When I say "militants", we all know the ones that I'm referring to. They hate the police, and try to antagonize them. They see supporting bicyle rights as supporting their belief that they should be able to do anything they want. It has nothing to do with equal rights, it has to do with selfish rights. I tried to get the story from them as to what happened, but of course all they say, and continued yelling to any spectating pedestrians, is how they were just trying to bike around, the police are arresting ticketing them for just riding. The couple of responsible "good" riders didn't see what happended. I finally got the story from the Lieutenant who is trying to generate good relations, and is in charge of staffing the officers from the ride. I'm much more prone to beleive her story than the militants.

pics: Citations being issues; From a distance; Puge (my road bike) with the cops cars in the back blocking traffic, always funny.

From what I able to gather, this is what happened. Unlike prior months, the police did not get a chance to talk to the riders before taking off. They usually try to explain what they are and are not going to allow. The mass was taking up one lane on a one way street, which the police "allow". At a stop light, it became obvious that the lane ahead was going to be blocked, so people started switching over to the next lane. Some used hand signals, and some didn't. The lack of hand signals caused the police to ask everyone to pull over, so they could explain the rules of the road. The militants in the middle lane, obviously did not like being told anything by the police and refused to move. At this point, I'm not sure as to when they were asked to stop blocking traffic. According to the police, the light turned green, and the bikers stayed standing where they were. I don't really have any reason to not beleive that that is what happened. This resulted in the police forcing them out of the road, literally having having to have two officers drag one girl off by force. They were all issued citations, during which time the officers noticed a strong smell of alcohol on one of them. The lead to a full field sobriety test, which lead to a breathalizer tester, which lead to the guy being lead away in hand cuffs and charged with a DUI. At this point, "green shirt girl," one of the militants, started yelling to the assembelled people. "Look at this. He was just trying to go for ride, and now he's getting arrested even though he passed the breathalizer test." The lieutenant informed green shirt that the guy had actually failed the test. Green shirt then went into a hissifit about being told dissinformation, and how the other cop had told her he passed the test, blah, blah. She went over and talked to the arresting officer, returning in 30 seconds to say, "I'm sorry, it was my friend who told me he passed, not the officer." Then after a short pause, and she went off again yelling, "How can he do that,just stand there while my friend tells me the wrong information with out correcting him? He should have made sure I got my facts straight. It's your job to make sure I don't spread dissinformation!" She was really yelling at this point. The good news is that shes moving out of town next week, so we probably have to worry about her again.

The lieutenant asked if any of us would mind talking her about the situations, and how to improve relations. Four of us hung around to talk. The remaining militants, Jill (The messenger that hangs around with my neighbors), and green shirt, were very hostile towards the lieutenatns request, and noticable perturbed at us for taking her up on the offer. They rode off in a hissy fit. One of the officers joking said "Now don't ride on the sidewalk, or else we might have to ticket you," as they started off. I agree that this wasn't a classy comment, and very unnecessary under the circumstances, but I don't think it warranted Jill to completely fly off the handle again, which of course she did. Then the two girls left.

The three riders and I talked to the lieutenant for about a half hour. She actually admitted that the reason the the police didn't get to do their speal before the ride, was because she had gone to grab a donut, and riders took advantage of her absense to quick leave. Super funny. After finishing up talking with the police, the four of us went to grab some food and drinks, and discuss what we were going to do.

This was the good result of the ride- better organization. Essentially, we're going to try to take a proactive stance in straightening the mass out. We're going to make sure flyers are put out again, hopefully get it listed in the News and Review again (this time listing the proper park), and try to get the main website to cut the links to old web Sacramento pages which have a super poor attitude and the wrong information. More importantly, there's enough of us that we should be able to try to stear the attitude in the correct direction.

Triathlon training - How to train for a triathlon in 7 days

I started tri training the week before the race.

Day One, multi sport training and transitions
The first thing I felt I had to do, was get in some lake swimming, having never really done an actual distance swim in a lake before. Also, I thought I'd practice the transistions, and see what the different parts of the course feels like.

The lake swim went much better than I expected. The race was being held in Folsom Lake, which like just about all lakes in this area, are actually reservoirs. This means the water is nice and warm. Perfect for swimming in. In all honesty, I liked open water swimming better; if feels more relaxed, which I think is a mental thing. I paced out the distance of the buoyed off area, and thought that is maybe, at most 200 yards. I swam back and forth a few times, felt to see what it would feel like to sprint up the beach, and then did a little biking.

The important thing I learned from this was that I somehow dehydrate a lot on the swim. Usually I wouldn't need any water for a 12 mile bike, but as soon as I started pedalling coming out of the water, I felt parched. The was very usefull knowledge, since I hadn't originally planned on having a hydration plan for the race at all. The bike course was set to be on a narrow bike trail, heading down river from the reservoir. This means that the first three miles are a very quick and curvey drop, then three miles of mainly flat trail with some hills, and then you turn around and go back. This also means that the last three miles consist of a steep climb. The climb didn't worry me, the downhill is what I was concerned about. I was worried that with the long cranks on my bike, and the campus pedals, I might touch down, which could be very dangerous on a busy narrow path. For the day of training, I just went down the hill and back up, to see what sprinting up the hill would feel like. The sprint nature of the race is what really concerned me, not having done a race of anykind this short in many years. The shortest thing I've done in the last two years was a 1/2 marathon in Janurary 2004. The sprint up the hill felt tiring, but I thought I wouldn't be in to rough of shape.

Next I did a quick transition to the run, to see what it would feel like. This is point where I thought I'll have a slight ace in the whole against others. Anyone racing in the competative division, I assume will be wearing bike shoes. Most road bikers are going to have road bike shoes, which will require wasting time to switch to running shoes. Since I run SPD across both my bikes to keep it simple, I figure I could just run the race in my bike shoes. Ehh, its only 3 miles, that's nothing! So, I practiced to see what it would feel like going from the bike sprint up the hill, to the run wearing bike shoes and no socks. The conclusion: Lots of sand. I'll have to make sure to wipe my feet off good before putting the shoes on. Plus, I only made it about 1/2 a mile before my shins started hurting. I figured this would be something I could easily race through, but since I had the frisbee tournament later that evening, I decided just to walk back. I think the stiff shins were caused from the swim, anyway, and not from the shoes.

Day 2, Sunday
Sleep. I hadn't gone to bed unti 4am because the coffe from the frisbee tournament kept me up. Super sore from frisbee.

Day 3, Monday
Go to spin class.
Ok, that didn't happen because I got back from work to late. Instead I went for a hard, 5 mile run. My legs were still super sore. I spent time stretching before and after, which really helped.

Day 4, Tuesday
Bike to work and back. Still somewhat sore. Took it slow. Lots of spandex passing me on the way home. Nice ride though.

Day 5, Pool swim
Yeah, about that swimming thing.
I went to the pool this night. First time swimming in a pool in about
1 1/2 years. The life guard actually came over to see if I was alright. No,
serioiusly, he did, I'll get to that later.

I wanted to take a swim at the pool so I could actually know how far I swam, and get one more swim in before the race. I also wanted to try out my newfound idea of calm relaxed swimming. My goal, swim five hundread yards with out stopping. This is something I haven't done since high school, and even then, I did it very, very few times.

I didn't give in and do any open turns, surpisingly nailing every flip turn. (By "nailing," I mean I flipped, pointed a different direction, and some part of my feet, whether it be solid, or just a toenail, touched the wall before continuing on." I felt surpisingly ok aftwards; my relaxed swimming worked. When I finally pulled myself out of the pool, though, I had a huge headrush. Head rush doesn't really describe it. My brain hurt. Alot. That's the best description. Intense brain pain. I sat there for a while holding my head, trying to figure what was going on, which lead the life guard to come over and question my well being. Eventually I just jumped back in, did a short cool down, some breast stroke sprint, and headed home. Oh, well, if that happens in the race, I'll be to busy concentrating on biking to worry about little things like supplying oxygen to the brain.

Day 6
Yoga, to stretch out descently, and a little bouldering at the gym. Ok that's not really training, although the yoga definitely helped.

Day 7
Critical mass, drinking afterwards. Its best to get you body used to the dehydrated feeling at least 24hrs in advanced, that way, there's no shock to the system.

Day 8
Race, post coming shortly.