May 26, 2009

Bears and Bikes

I was in Northeast Pennsylvania for the Memorial Day weekend. But of course training could not stop. In fact, I love to ride up there because it closely resembles Lake Placid in terms of terrain. In other words: Hills! Let's face it, the hills in LP are longer and steeper but the Poconos are a pretty good stand-in.

On Saturday, I had a 2 1/2 hour ride followed by a 30 minute run planned. The last of the easy weeks! The morning was actually quite nice. The sun was in and out but overall it was good riding weather. As always, I started early while everyone else was still sleeping. I stalled as long as I could until I could stall no longer. I was dreaming of sitting around, drinking coffee and reading the paper instead of riding alone when I awoke. But no could do. Training called and I had to answer.

After gearing up, pumping the tires and re-setting my HRM, I set off. As I rode down the driveway, only 20 feet from the house, I heard rustling in the bushes to my left. Probably a deer or turkey I thought. But as soon as I did think those thoughts, a black bear shot out and ran towards the house next door. Thankfully away from me! Of course I ran back in to tell everyone but everyone, except my father-in-law, was sleeping. At least I was excited! I remounted and shot down the driveway. The bear by now was gone.

Nothing like a little excitement to get the ride going.

At about 12 miles into the ride, I was riding up a hill on a local road as I came to the crest. To my right the hill shot down a steep slope beyond the guardrail. As I looked right and down the hill, there to my amazement, was another bear. I was again startled and put a little extra power in my cadence. But the bear really didn't give me the time of day. In fact it didn't even look in my direction. I just sped away and down the hill with the adrenaline pumping.

On my way back, I put a little extra speed in my climb past that very spot where I saw the second bear but this time there were none. At least none that I could see. All in all it was a good ride totalling 36 miles. It was about 4 miles short of what I expected to do but the hills had something to do with that. Plus, I got the bear sightings. What more could I ask for?

May 19, 2009

Musings on a Tuesday

25 weeks of training down and 10 to go. Here's where it gets interesting.

Eagleman Half Ironman is 25 days away. But it's coming at a great time. It will occur at the end of the 29th week of training with 6 to go to IM. It's great timing because it represents a change in the monotony. It's an opportunity and test to see how fit you are and if you need to work extra hard the 3 weeks following before tapering to lake Placid.

Saturday was the start of the "long rides". Saturday is always the long ride for the bike but now it gets serious. This past Saturday: 77 miles followed by a 15 minute run.

This week, Memorial Day weekend, we get a break. A 3 hour ride. Time to enjoy the day off because it gets doubled on May 3o to 6 hours. Joy!

Time to stock up on Gatorade, Cliff Bars, Z Bars and Snickers!

Yesterday was an official day off. Today was not. But I took it anyway because I was flat out exhausted. Plus, I normally ride before work and it was 45 degrees out. Sorry, done with that this year. Gotta be warmer.

However, I will make up the 90 minute ride tomorrow or Thursday. I will need to double up workouts. Can't miss anything from here on in.

Last night around 10, I was so looped I couldn't stand up. Tonight is better.

The knee's have been holding up. Someone knock some wood for me. Thanks.

Masters Swim tomorrow morning at 6 AM sharp. Can't wait! Really....I can't.

We were all complaining Saturday about getting up early constantly to get the workouts in. Can't wait for it to be over. The problem is that when it's over, you don't know what to do with yourself. You go through withdrawal. But I'll figure it out.

Well, time to start heading toward bed.

Somewhere "there's "kite blowing out of control on a breeze."

And so am I.

May 12, 2009

Boo Ironman!

The World Triathlon Corporation or Ironman itself, I really don't know who governs this race anymore, has slipped us a fast one. They have taken away one of the greatest benefits of completing this race.

Ironman recently announced the following:

"Friends and/or family members will no longer be permitted to cross the finish line or enter the finish chute with participating athletes. However, friends and/or families are encouraged to reunite with their athlete in the photo/post-race area just beyond the finish line"

I will not win my age group. I will not qualify for Kona. I will finish somewhere in the 13 to 14 hour range. When I make that last turnaround in Lake Placid and head for the Olympic skating oval and the IM finish, I am flooded with adrenaline. I almost feel I could go another 5 miles. The joy of seeing my family is overwhelming. At both my IM races and finishes in Lake Placid, my three daughters waited patiently for me. They were excited to see me finish the race. They are getting older now but they still smile and join me in my dash across the finish line and through the tape. I think they look forward to it.

But now the Big Corporation says: No More!

It's a sad day for the common athlete.

Somewhere, there are athletes like me who may indeed win their Age Group. And somewhere deep inside, and I realize this is dangerous to be accusatory, I believe it is probably because of them that we cannot finish with our family anymore. They were tired of fighting Bob and his three kids as they strolled across the finish line. Maybe it cost Johnny Age Grouper a few precious seconds off his time. He still qualified but it could have been 2 seconds faster. And in his opinion, that was an outrage. Two sides to every story.

Or maybe it's the I-word getting in the way again. The I-word being Insurance. Whatever the reason, it won't be the same for me this year at Lake Placid. It's just a sad day.

May 03, 2009

Guy's Weekend

I am just back from a "guy's weekend" with my father-in-law and my 6 brothers in law. (There is a 7th but he couldn't join us as he is in Germany with the US Army). This is our traditional Christmas gift from my wife's Dad. A weekend of golf and hanging out. I met up with the rest of the group for dinner as I couldn't get off work Friday but the rest of them could. They all played golf during the day while I worked. I also brought all my workout clothes and training gear as I am at the end of Week 23 in IM Training and couldn't take off the weekend from training. So, I did what I have always done the last three years this traditional trip has occurred: I ride after golf.

Friday night was good food, laughs and a lot of beers. And I mean a lot of beers. Somehow they are hard to count when your glass is rarely empty. Pitchers are filled and glasses are re-filled.

Bedtime was midnight.

The alarm sounded at 6:15 Saturday morning. The head was foggy and the mouth was dry. I needed water and coffee in that order. And then I needed more coffee. We played 18 holes of golf and it was a glorious day. Cloudy and windy for the first nine but by the back we were basking in sunshine. After lunch we finally got back home at 1:30 and as everyone started to sack out on couches, floors and beds (Yes-there were a few nappers), I changed into my bike shorts and headed out for a 1 hour 45 minute ride followed by a 15 minute run. We were in the Poconos so I had a nice rolling hills course to simulate Lake Placid. I was tired but the sun was really out now and I was looking forward to it. I was also thankful that the training schedule didn't call for a 3 to 4 hour ride. That would have been depressing.

After I completed my workout, it was time to shower and then it was back to watching sports, eating and drinking more beer. I didn't go too crazy because Sunday was a 1 hour 20 minute run. But we were all gassed anyway from the day and people were leaving early so it was an early night. I do admit that Yuengling's taste better after 30 miles on the bike and a great day of golf. Plus, there is no guilt. I can't wait until next year!