Saturday, September 29, 2012


199.6lbs this morning!

This was after a light breakfast (yogurt and coffee) but also after a workout. I figure between the two the weight drift cancels out.  Sure, a large meal or trip to the loo could swing this value even more, but the trend is good!

For the record, my goal weight is 185. Still a big guy, just a more efficiently packaged type of big.


Monday, September 17, 2012

I'm back, baby!

Of course, I was never really gone. I was off dealing with birth of my son (that's you, future-son, so please try not to slouch) and the ensuing writing-and-living time impact.

I didn't stop training, though I did set my sites on a lower commitment race: The Pocono Challenge. It looked like a race that played to my strengths: 15mi bike? Sure! 10mi paddle... on flat water? What the heck! 3mi run? The smaller the number the greater my joy!

I made contact with Mike B, with whom I'd talked before the Savage AR and made a plan to do it as partners.

All good!

Training was, shall we say, "underwhelming" over the last few months, but I figured that this event was not a points race for the USARA or ECARS series and that any event that has a "family" division is probably not going to foster a blood bath. No matter what, I managed to consistently cross train and ride - and to reluctantly run several times a week.

The published rally time was 7:30am on Sunday 16. September, which as it happens, was a lovely day. What made it somewhat less lovely was waking up at 3am to get from Wilmington, DE to the event (135mi) in time to stash gear at the bike-paddle transition, then get back to the start zone for the briefing and our start at 8:30am (Men's Doubles).

After some false starts and a bit of "first time partner" confusion, Mike and I met up, dropped our transition stash, used the toilet, and were ready for our start in time. The race organizer had done a good job preparing for sign in and timing chip distribution, and we got a few more safety notes and assorted waivers.

This is the first event I've done where people queued up at the start line rather than pressing up against the gate. Very civil, but also a sign of a casual attitude amongst the participants.

When the flag dropped, I managed to get into the lead of our pack for the first few hundred meters, but I had set a pace that Mike (who was riding a heavier, downhill oriented MTB) had trouble with while he was warming up. My fault for that: I got carried away. 

The bike leg was along the McDade Trail, which is a groomed gravel path in the Delaware Water Gap park. Smooth and (potentially) fast. Regrettably, the organizers had slipped up on signage in a few critical spots, which caused several of the solo teams (who'd started before us) to have to double back; fortunately, I saw what had happened and got us through the turn without incident. *Un*fortunately, gremlins got a firm grip on Mike's bike (and guts): during a climbing section he threw the chain several times and had stomach cramps so badly we actually pulled over so that he could vomit (he didn't, but was prepared to). It was during these delays that we got passed by a bunch of solos and teams, some of whom had lost 15-20min due to missing the (small) sign to make a turn.

Once we got over the climb and Mike got his legs warmed up we actually got to the T1 zone without incident. Curiously, the organizers had shortened the bike leg from 15mi to 7.5mi, probably to prevent bi-directional race traffic on the path. This was understandable but also a disappointment: I think if we'd had more riding time we'd have reeled in some of the teams who'd passed us during our travails.

We transitioned to a canoe without undue incident and headed south, toward the start area along the Delaware River. It took us a few minutes to establish boat control, but this section went well. We passed several other racers and at least two troops of scouts. By mile 6 the shine was off and we wanted to finish, but kept chugging on. The course map/passport said we should expect a checkpoint between the paddling start and finish: it never came, we just got our passport checked at the boat take out at T2.

This was supposed to start a 3mi run, however again the leg was shorter than expected since the park service had dropped the water stash only .75mi into the run. This was declared the turn around, resulting in a 1.5mi run. We actually started OK on this leg and were battling it out with another men's doubles team. Gremlins got to me: I had two shoe lace issues, which lost some time and gave the other team a lead. We eventually staggered over the line. In 6th, of 9 teams, in our division.

Here are some links to my Garmin tracking the event:

  • Bike:
  • Paddle:
  • Run:
Here is my summary of the event:

  • Good start line organization and and volunteer staff
  • Good communication from the organizer prior to the event
  • Good boat selection at T1 (no waiting to be given a boat: grab 'n' go)
  • Good venue, helped immeasurably by good weather

  • Bad bike-stage signage: a "real" adventure race would require navigation by map and compass, if this isn't a requirement the route should be well marked.
  • Unexpectedly short bike stage
  • If you have a checkpoint on the passport: HAVE A CHECKPOINT!
  • Many teams dropped their packs/camelbacks at the T2 zone so that they could run as fast as possible; however the rules made it clear that there was individual and team gear that was required AT ALL TIMES (including first aid and water). Was it mandatory or not? We ran with our packs, should we get a time bonus for this? Should non-conforming teams be DQ'd?
  • T1, the bike-paddle transition, was about 10 minutes away by car. Thus, after the race, teams had to get into a car to retrieve their bikes before coming back for the post race "barbeque" which was just some salad and pasta.
  • National Park... no finish line beer. Not the organizer's fault, but depressing.
So, in the end did I think that we got our $90 worth? Not really, since it was basically a long paddle bracketed by some foreshortened biking and running; the rules and route were unpredictable; and the finish line feed wasn't substantial. For comparison, the GOALS ARA races are of similar length, more technically challenging, and at least have burgers and dogs at the finish line.

Was it a fun day? You bet. Once Mike and I got into a rhythm we had a good time, worked well together, and felt nothing but good vibes from other competitors.

If this event gets more sponsors and gets a bit more serious about whether it's a fun run vs. a race, it could be an excellent addition to the local sporting scene.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Not the result I was hoping for

Story to follow. General grumpiness. Extreme poison ivy exposure (no rash - yet). Will try again some other time.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Girding my loins

(for my future son, "girding" means to "armor ones self", and by implication "to prepare", and "loins" isn't a dirty word. Stop giggling and get a haircut!)

It's been a busy few hours getting ready for the race. Because the event is in Lake Nockamixon, PA, which is about 2 hours north, and I want to be in place by 8 for registration and to get a primo parking place (which is used as a transition area, so the closer the better!), I am staying in a hotel tonight so that I don't have to be awake at 430 in the morning. That means I have been gathering all of my crap together, getting things to the car, knowing that it's all likely to get rearranged tonight and tomorrow morning, and generally doing what I (in more meditative moments) call: The Ritual of Immaculate Gear.

Basically this involves spreading everything out on the floor, making sure that it works, oiling here and washing there, ensuring correct and logical operation, then casually dropping items into bags from which I will never be able to find them when I need them. Perfectly logical, no?

When I had it all laid out, I decided to take a few cell phone pics to share with you, my (few and rare) visitors; and possibly with you too, my unborn child (who needs to learn to aim better in the bathroom - ask your mother!).

In any case, the race is three main events and a few "team challenges" mixed in to keep the field spread out. Since I'm racing solo, I don't know what the challenges will mean to me. Teams are randomly assigned the order of their events after a scramble at the start so these can come in any order:

5 miles of trail running: competitors get a map with mandatory check points and optional check points. They have to get their race passport stamped at all of the mandatory spots, optional spots are time and/or points bonuses. There's no fixed route, the team decides where to go and how to get there within the boundaries of the competition area.

My chosen tools:

10 miles of mountain biking: similar to the running stage but with bikes.
My noble, but not yet race blooded, steed. It's also still unnamed, and that can't be good luck, so tonight I'll work that out.
Sundry riding gear:

5 miles of paddling: soloists get to use a sit-on-top kayak while teams use 3 person canoes. Same basic plan of collecting checkpoints, but with the added challenge of finding them on shore (or islands, or whatever) and paddling to them. This is the event that worries me since I haven't ever competitively paddled, and the last time I did anything other than a short noodle in the Potomac was in the boy scouts during the Reagan Administration.
Rented for the occasion:
Other stuff, used to make the day more comfortable, sooth aches and pains, and generally keep over-the-counter pharma in business:
Here's an inventory of what's in this pic (sponsors, please apply via email... no, really, please speak up this stuff adds up!)
  • Tecnu: a soap specially formulated to clean off poison ivy oils
  • Edurolytes and SportLegs: Salts and such to help fend off cramps and "the burn"
  • AccelGel: My preferred gel. These have a touch of protein and a bit of caffeine mixed into the "raspberry snot" making them marginally more tolerable than others for me.
  • Hydropel: foot treatment to help prevent blisters.
  • Two pairs of sunglasses: eye protection is mandatory gear during the race, having a spare pair in the car can't hurt.
  • A Casio MudMan watch: my preferred non-GPS sports watch. Cheap, functional, white (so it's visible if dropped among dark things... like leave, or mud, or the souls of Republicans). Did I mention cheap?
  • Some pens: a pen or pencil is also mandatory gear on the course. Why? I dunno, a compass isn't required on this race, so I have no idea how this is useful. Perhaps for signing autographs after my triumphant finish?
  • A cooler: no potable water is available in or near the transition area, so we have to supply our own water refills, I'll also stock a some snacks and such.
Additionally I'll have my civi clothes and set of post-event clean clothes, and some basecamp gear in case of technical issues. It's a lot of stuff!
This is a "sprint" event (basically anything less than 12 hours) and is expected to be complete-able within 6 hours.  Elite teams will probably finish in 4. Me? I hope to split the difference.
That's all the news that's fit to blog, I'll letcha know what happened at the race soon!

The hay is already in the barn

I had been thinking of writing a post about workout scheduling, intensity cycling, and so forth but, I didn't. Instead, I've been working out, flopping on the couch, and occasionally working for my employer. Consider this a warning shot about silences to follow.

My first race of the season, the Savage Adventure Race, is coming up on Sunday and I've been trying to max then taper. It's been a mixed bag -  weather and technical issues fiddled with my riding plans on Sunday and strength training was a bust due to overall exhaustion, however I'm treating the week as an overall success. I suspect that I pushed my self too hard over the last couple of weeks leaving me a bit over-trained. Note to self: write that intensity cycling post, then follow the plan! This week is all about prep and maintenance: doing my normal workout routine but at a low intensity, stretching, and basically keeping my head in the game.

A common goof is to train all the way up to the competition, however that's burning energy that could be better used in the race. I heard a coach once say that "the hay is in the barn", meaning don't try to pack more in at the last minute. Therefore, it's better to cruise this week and show up at the starting line fresh (or fresh-ish, it does require a very early wake up on Sunday).

My foot is still bugging me, I think I may have bruised the ball pretty deeply, but I've been able to walk, run, and ride on it so as long as I'm not running on really pointy rocks, I should be OK.

It's too late to put it off, it's nearly time to do this thing!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Light workouts this week, keeping the joints moving

With the race this weekend I am focusing on keeping my energy level up and my joints from getting stiff.

Ride to the bike shop... and home again

I had planned on a longer ride this past Sunday, but instead rode my new MTB back to the shop since I was having some trouble with the tires. I'd had a flat and the bead was fighting me when I tried to replace the tube. So I rode up to the shop (5mi on the road), hung out, then got a master class in working on 29er tires. Did I mention that it was about 45F and raining? No? Well I have now.

Essentially this ride stunk, but mostly because of the weather not the shop, and 10mi is 10mi, right?