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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Spent the weekend in St. George, attempting to slay the dragon.

Dragon: 1
Jim:        0

 

stgeorgebikemapThe bike, which is supposed to be 56 miles with 4000+ feet of vertical, came out to 54 miles and 3000 feet of vertical per my GPS – I missed some turns in town, but I did what I thought was appropriate backtracking. Oh, well. ‘Tis what it is. I’ve heard that it’s less, and I’ve heard that it’s more, but whatever it is on May 3rd is whatever it will be.

During the last mile or so of the ride, my left leg started cramping, badly enough to cause me to yank the shoe out of the pedal and extend it out to one side, trying to keep it from cramping. This…did not work. Also, my triceps had started cramping a bit, from being bent over the hoods so much; while being over the aero bars is faster, it’s also less stable for steering at speed, and the last 11 miles or so of this ride is downhill, so I was over the hoods with my arms bent – thus the cramping triceps.

I finished up the ride not at the appointed T2 transition (read: at the place where you are supposed to stop riding the bike and start running) but, instead, at our motel, since I wasn’t running that day and saw no need to walk a mile in my click-clack shoes. As I turned into the motel parking lot, I realized that there was a 2 inch lip that I was about to hit, and I was going to hit it at an angle, instead of straight on – so I hit it at the angle, and then (of course) I hit the ground. Pow. Ow. Oh, well, just one more reason not to be a triathlete.

After the ride, I got into a tub of cold water, but the cramps started hitting me again and I was seizing up and splashing the room (and Ethel) and Ethel did not say “Oh, you poor baby – that must hurt!” Instead, she said “Stop splashing water out of the tub!” This kept up for a while, as I transitioned from a cold plunge to a hot bath – the cramps didn’t care. They were agnostic as to water temperature.

When the cramping subsided, Ethel and I did some sightseeing before going to dinner with friends, then I went home and prepped for my Sunday morning run:

stgeorgerunmapThis went much better, as I started out slower (running with a friend, who was kind enough to keep the conversation going on the uphills) and stayed more hydrated. She peeled off at 8 miles, and then I started hammering the downhills (well, “hammering” as much as an out-of-shape 55 year old can “hammer”) all the way back home. It was still slower by 45 minutes than any half marathon that I’d ever done until I left Utah the first time, but “lo how the mighty have fallen”.

I reckon, given the experience of the weekend, I’m still going to try this thing. We reserved a room for the IM/2 Friday and Saturday nights (the race is on a Saturday, but I have no interest in attempting to return that evening – I can just imagine me in the passenger seat of Ethel’s new car, kicking and punching everything as my legs and arms go into seizures. Yeah, that’d make for a fun trip) and I’m getting new electrolyte drink and will be doing some faster runs. We’ll see.

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Last night, we finished up Buffy again – me for the fourth time, and the second time for Ethel.

 

Chosen-BuffyI just love that enigmatic smile as the shot fades away. Mona Lisa has nothing on the Chosen One!

Now we can get our lives back. We’ve been watching this since January 7th and it can become all consuming. It seems crazy, but I can get caught up in the story, still, and find myself hoping that, THIS time, Xander doesn’t do what he does at the wedding; that THIS time, they don’t get so torn up and twisted during Season Six, etc.

(I ran Boston in 1994, and my friend videotaped the television coverage of the race for me; that day, Keith Brantley went out fast, and stayed in the lead until Mile 15, when the pack caught him and left him behind; for quite a few years, I would run on the dreadmill watching that tape, and cheering for Keith, always hoping that, THIS time, the Kenyans don’t catch him. Obviously, my grasp of reality is not as strong as it should be – to quote Elwood P Dowd, “well, Doctor, for years I struggled with reality, and I’m glad to say that I finally won out”).

I have no idea what is next for our viewing pleasure; I’m in no hurry to watch anything. 90 minutes of Buffy a day for almost three months is plenty of video, thank you. And it ain’t “easy watching” type entertainment – Buffy engages my mind and heart. Sometimes I can get so upset during an episode that I have to pause it briefly (or maybe that is just my dramatic side coming out. I think I have one.)

This afternoon, Ethel and I will be driving to St George. I hope to actually ride and run the bike and run course for the IM/2 this weekend; that seems ambitious, and we are just past the Ides of March, and  you know what happens to ambitious folk right about then – et tu, Ian? I’ll report back as to how it went. But the main reason I’m mentioning that is because I think that that is why we went ahead and finished Buffy last night.

 

Now I have two of them : )

Here’s my new (used) Synergy hybrid –

synergy…at least, I think that that is the model that I got. I got it from my friend Scott at Team Fast Lane – he’s a triathadudeasaurus rex.

(When I look at that wetsuit, I can’t help but say…….”HONEY! WHERE’S MY SUPERSUIT??”  Reference? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? : )

This wetsuit has a 5mm front, 3mm shoulder bellows, and 2 mm arms; that lets one move one’s arms easier, which is why it’s a triathlon wetsuit. It lets one swim easier. My other wetsuit is a straight SCUBA wetsuit, and it is designed to keep one from moving anything more than is necessary (this is why Ethel says that one can’t really consider SCUBA an athletic sport, as the whole intent is never to get out of breath 🙂

So now I’ve got a spendy bike, triathabritches (that I swim in) and a traithawetsuit. I’ve got everything but talent and ability.

On the way home tonight, I’ll pick up the bike rack for the Audi, and Ethel and I are currently planning/discussing/considering/I’m-not-sure-what heading down to St George for the weekend, to allow me to run and bike the courses for the IM/2. There is also a roundup down there this weekend – the Dixie Winterfest – so I can make some meetings while I’m not doing stupid stuff (riding 56 miles with 4000 feet of vertical, running 13 miles with 2000 feet of vertical ((n.b. – Karl and his Wah-Wah says that the run course only has about a thousand feet of vertical but why would the IM St George folks post a run elevation profile with 2000 feet of vertical? To scare folks away? That would be very bad race management)) assuming that, having done the stupid stuff already, I am still able to sit up for a meeting.

This morning was 90 minutes on the bike, doing Big Gears intervals, then an hour in the pool, drowning and gagging.

Karl and his Wah-Wah are predicting 7 hours for me in the IM/2. I’m predicting defib and an ambulance ride.

Well, did an hour on the bike this morning, and an hour in the pool. Both were sorta disappointing – I’m not getting in any better bike or swim shape. I’m only playing this out because I said that I would do it – it’s fairly obvious by now that I’ll never be a triathadude.

Put off my hour run until lunchtime, but it wound up being closer to an hour and a half. And I was going to run at Planet Fitness one block over from the office, because it is cold and overcast and windy out there – just plain ugly today.
But instead, I ran up City Creek Canyon.
CityCreek“Lemme ‘splain – no, is too much. Lemme sum up”.
I walked over to Planet Fitness with a friend, who was telling me that he had gone over there before work, and that all of the toilets were out of order – johns and urinals alike. All out of order. Broken. Can’t use ’em.
Of course, that had been many hours before, so they certainly were fixed by now, right? I mean, you can’t have a facility where people are in there for hours working out with no place to go potty, right?
Right?
WRONG. Everything was still out of order.
So I hopped on the dreadmill and got going for my hour run – but three minutes into it, I said “What am I doing? There’s no way I’ll make an hour in here without having to go to the bathroom”. And it occurred to me that I know plenty of potty stops on Canyon Road or up in City Creek, so…sure, it’s frigid out there, and windy as all get out, but would I rather be cold and miserable, or miserable with a full bladder?
That’s a no-brainer. So I threw a regular t-shirt over my running singlet, and put on my hat, and headed up the hill.
And the strangest thing happened – while I’m running up the hill, I’m in the wind, and I’m aware that I’m not comfortable – but I’m also aware that as long as I’m running uphill, I’m generating plenty of heat. And I felt okay running uphill anyway, so it seems that I just kept running uphill, because I figured that when I turned around to go downhill, I’d be colder and more miserable.
OF COURSE it doesn’t take an Einstein to realize that, the longer I am running uphill (and thus keeping reasonably warm) the longer I would have to run downhill, which would mean that I’d be colder longer. I was even aware of this consequence, but that didn’t keep me from continuing to run uphill.
Maybe I was placing my faith in Global Warming, hoping that by the time I finally turned around, the planet would have warmed up enough to keep me toasty on the way down. Or maybe I’m simply so short-sighted that I didn’t care – as long as it wasn’t now that I was going to be cold, I was okay with it.
But what goes up must come down.
I turned around after 44 minutes of uphill (in addition to my three minutes on the treadmill before heading outside) and headed back down; since I was so cold, I ran harder to try to warm up, and managed to get back down the hill in less than 36 minutes. Which means that I came up short on my planned 1:30, and only got 1:23:17 instead. And that time was at a greater intensity than I had intended, as well.
All of this was because I didn’t want to go an hour without going to the john – but wound up going almost that long anyway, as once I was running uphill, I wasn’t thinking about going to the bathroom. Maybe the discomfort of running uphill in the cold and wind trumped the discomfort of running with a full bladder.

 

Here’s a sign up on Parkview Drive, just up the hill from our condo (and just down the hill from our old house):

MooseCrossingIt’s actually fairly accurate – for some reason, moosen really like to go uphill right in this area of Summit Park. Since we’ve moved back, we’ve seen moosen leave the Aspenbrook Condo area and head up towards this sign, and we’ve seen ’em cross the road just past this and head further up the hill.

I don’t know where they come DOWNhill, but they have to eventually, else the top of the hill would be covered in moosen.

Moosen are one of the wonderful things about living in Utah. We saw some few in Vermont, and we’ve heard that they have been reintroduced into the San Juan Mountains around Silverton, but we didn’t see any while living there. But they are definitely all over the Wasatch. You don’t go too long without seeing one somewhere around Summit Park.

Ethel likes to moosewatch as she’s driving up and down Parley’s Canyon – she spots ’em on the hills. Somehow, she can tell the difference between a moose and a moose-sized live oak from miles away.

I understand that we have bears in Summit Park, as well, but I’ve never seen one. And there was supposedly bear around the condo in Purgatory, but I never saw one there, either. In fact, I now realize that the only time I’ve ever seen bear in the wild was up in Alaska and British Columbia.

We are looking forward to spring and summer in the Wasatch Mountains, and also to getting back out into the Uintahs. I love skiing and snow, but this has been a disappointing ski season. We’re hoping to get some golf and some rock climbing in this year.

I just happened to notice that slip rental at the Great Salt Lake Marina is a small fraction of what they wanted at Lake Pleasant in Phoenix; in fact, we could rent a slip with full utilities for not much more than what we paid to park our Mac 26 at Lake Pleasant in the dry storage lot. But Ethel is not interested. I reckon she got tired of sailing, and nothing I can do can rekindle any interest for her.

 

This is a picture that I took of the brook in my yard, from the second story balcony, on the 8th of February.

brookI was going to post it here and say something about how strange it was that this stream was running on the 8th of February. A stream two feet wide and six inches deep should be frozen solid on the 8th of February in Summit Park.

That is what I was going to say. last month.

But I could have said, two days ago, that there was no snow at all around the brook; now we have some snow again, but the brook is still babbling.

Just another strange note about a strange winter; this last Saturday afternoon, I was running at 6000 feet in the Wasatch Mountains in shorts and t-shirt, and thinking about taking the t-shirt off during the uphills.

I suppose it’s a blessing that this winter has been so bad, because my IM/2 (that’s “IronMan/2, i.e. “Half Ironman” – I’ve gotten tired of typing the long name) training would be even further behind had this been a powder year. That doesn’t keep me from wondering – what the heck has happened to Utah?…there’s no real answer to that question, I suppose. This isn’t “anthropogenic global warming” – that’s a degree or two Celcius, while this is “spring in the middle of winter”.

I’ve tried coming up with an equivalent phrase for this –

sideoftheroadBike with a flat – how ’bout that?
Bike what won’t go – oh, no!
Bike with no tire – oh, my-er!
Tire with no air – beware!

But at the end of the day, the only honest bit of verse that comes to mind is –

Take this bike and cram it, d*mmit!

Yesterday I had a plan, and it was a good plan, but it didn’t have any details* (*courtesy of “Man with a Plan”) – basically, it was “work, ski, ride for two and a half hours, swim for an hour”).

The “work” and “ski” parts got done. But the bike ride did not go as planned, and the swim did not go, at all.

The main part of the bike plan was “take the bike to the valley and ride outside”, as it was supposed to be in the 60s Fahrenheit, and sunny. So I took the bike to the valley, to Liberty Park, where I’ve seen many, many cyclists riding their bikes while I’ve run laps.

N.B. – when I’ve watched those cyclists riding, while I was running, was usually early AM. I had never considered what the park might be like mid-afternoon – and by “mid-afternoon” I mean “mid-afternoon on the first sunny warm Sunday of the spring”.

By the way – the answer to the question “What is Liberty Park like at mid-afternoon on the first sunny warm Sunday of the spring?” is CROWDED. VERY, VERY CROWDED. So crowded that I found myself getting irritated (one jogger, who liked to take the middle of the running/jogging area, had his headphones on so loud that he simply could not hear the phrase “On your left!” no matter how loudly I yelled it. I know – I finally yelled it into his ear as I was riding by, on the edge, and he just looked at me strangely) and decided to get the heck out of there.

I put the bike back into the car, and drove up to the Capital, and got out and rode up around City Creek onto 11th Avenue to the Shriners’  Hospital.

Along the way, I was getting passed by sprites on bikes – I have no way to describe these folks other than to say that they didn’t look like people – they looked more like bicycle engines. Large-lunged anorexic bike engines that somebody had wound up or recharged, placed onto bicycles, and released into the wild; they were zooming up the hill at downhill speeds, and I couldn’t even tell that they were breathing.

Anyway, my plan was to rid up to the Shriners’ Hospital and back, and then plan my next loop. Well, I made it to the hospital, and almost back. Suddenly I heard, and felt, a roughness that I’d not heard or felt before – looked down and, golly gee, I had a flat tire.

I wasn’t too worried – I had that little sack under my bike seat with all of the fix-a-flat goodies.
However, I found out that none of the fix-a-flat goodies had any fix-a-flat instructions – at all. I suspect that printed directions probably weighed too much, so the manufacturers decided to forego any instructions, since their target demographic is obviously sprites on bikes who don’t actually place any weight at all on the tires, and so why worry about flats ever happening? Besides, these alien bike-creatures probably can’t even read English (based on body type, I suspect that they communicate through musical notes – “play the pipe tones, please’).

So there I was, standing by the side of the road, with a sack full of useless goodies with no instructions, and a flat rear tire, feeling exhausted from my week of training, and listening to the whistle of hyperspeed anorexic cyclists going up and down 11th Avenue while I stood there, tired and tire-less.

So I gave it my best shot. I took the rear wheel off of the bike (not knowing, at the time, just how much difficulty I had gotten myself into when I would have to put the rear wheel back on) and then trying to get the tire off of the wheel. Eventually (after much sweating and golf language) I figured out what the little plastic pry-tool was for, but never did figure out why I needed two of them.

At that point, I had the tire off of the wheel, and then I pulled the inner tube out. I looked at the inner tube, and looked at my patch kit, and thought “How in the world would one patch an inner tube standing on the side of the road?” The best way that I know of to patch an inner tube is to fill it with air and then put it in a tub of water – but I had no tub of water, and my “air” supply was the contents of two CO2 canisters. So I wasn’t about to use one of the CO2 canisters to find the leak.

However, “luckily” (I said, in quotes, sarcastically, with my lips pursed) I had a spare inner tube. So I put that inner tube around the wheel, and – again, with much sweating and golf language – finally managed to get the tire back around the inner tube.

N.B. – while this was going on, dehydration was setting in, and my hands were beginning to cramp while I was working.

If you ever decide that you are too happy, I can recommend an antidote; train for many months for a triathlon, then, at the end of a long, hard training week, ride a bike through a crowd, then ride that same bike straight up a hill while being passed by space aliens, then have a flat tire, then suddenly realize that you have no idea how to fix the flat tire, then – while you are trying to fix the flat tire that you don’t know how to fix – have both hands (which are covered with axle grease) cramp up on you such that your thumbs spasm themselves to a point were they are shut tightly against the sides of your hands.

Then have the phone ring.

So there I was, with the tire back around the inner tube back on the wheel, and I look at the little CO2 cartridge, and I realize that I have no idea how to get the CO2 out of the cartridge and into the inner tube in the tire on the wheel. I am helpless, a stranger and afraid in a world I never made, standing by the side of the road on a hill with whizzing space-aliens – as alone as I’ve felt in many a decade.

But look – here comes somebody who seems to be human! I call out to the cyclist, and he – no, she – turns out to be a nice person from Ar-kin-saw. I ask her if she has a bike pump, and she allows as to how she doesn’t, but how can she help?

Turns out that in my little sack, I have a gadget – and adapter, that is designed to screw onto the CO2 cartridge and onto the valve stem. Sakes alive!

But about five minutes later, we’ve determined that the valve stem that I have on my spare inner tube is the wrong size for the adapter – the adapter fits the valve stem that I have on the flat inner tube. So I have precisely the WRONG solution to my current problem.

But fortunately, a nice lady has stepped out of the house behind me and offered the use of a bike pump. Yay! So I borrow her bike pump and pump up the inner tube of my spare…
…and it pops and goes flat.

And I’m standing on the side of the road, with TWO flat tires.

So I call Ethel (my cell phone is now covered in axle grease) and I sit on the wall beside the bike beside the road, and give up forever. I just open up and let the water into my lungs and say goodbye.

I’m done. Cycling is a component of triathlonning, and I can’t cycle, so I can’t triathlon. Come to think of it,
I’m still no good at swimming, which is another component of triathlonning, so I can’t triathlon.

Come to think of it, while I’ve been doing this triathlon training, I’ve managed to lose what little bit of running capability I had regained, and since running is the last component of triathlonning, I can’t triathlon.

And I’m so tired that I don’t care.

And it’s 24 hours later, and my hands are still cramping.