Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Commuting - Live and Let Die

As part of my plan to increase my bike fitness and speed, I have been commuting every day for 3-4 weeks now. (rainy days excepted) I thought I would share my thoughts and observations. 

There is an optimum time window for minimum traffic and avoiding angry drivers. Biking at 3 am not necessary, but need to avoid the "rush to get to work at 8 and get home after 5 people". The "get to work early and the leave early people" are gentle and kind souls.

UPS drivers are great, and FedEx drivers are nuts.

Texting soccer moms/kids, drunks are not on the road in my time window, just coffee powered, going to work people.

Still, an occasional a jerk appears on the commute home. This week alone I was buzzed by a guy on a motorcycle with his 5 year old daughter on the back, a mini cooper with a bike rack, an old person in a Japanese luxury car. These are sleepers, the unstable people who can snap at any time.  

The game is to see how fast I can make the short 9 mile commute. 20 mph ave in and 18 mph home are currently fast trips for me. How in the world can competitive riders average 24+, and almost 30 mph for pros. 

Whoever designs a bike helmet that is not dorky, will make a fortune. The current lot does not even give me confidence it will save my life but rather shift off my head with the littlest of bumps. I think the skate board people have the best idea and I may just switch.
update: Did a training ride with a skate board helmet, Protec, and my head overheated and I got sick. Bad idea, especially on 90+F days.

I just received my custom tee shirt this week:

 Here lies a comedian with a dorky helmet.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

French Countryside on Sunday Morning

Another trail race in the Dirt Day Series last weekend at French Park. (my first one was Mount Airy - May 20 blog). I was at the park last year for an outdoor wedding and it's really pretty. So, I'm thinking a 3.4 mile run in the “French countryside” will be an easy training run on a pretty Sunday morning. The race site mentioned the interesting features of the course are a few creek crossings which with little rain should be easy as well. Typical for a trail race, the folks, about 150 people, were laid back, mostly young and fit. I'm a fairly shy person, however I find myself striking up conversations with almost anyone at these events because it feels easy and they can be pretty interesting people.

There's a fellow at work who started running again to spend quality time with his three sons. His twin boys are competitive high school track and cross country runners, and the younger boy is in middle school also starting to run on his school’s team. I suggested they should try out this race as it may be a little different than their typical cross country meets. No pressure, just run for fun, and if you smoke the older people, cool. They all showed up, and were especially excited to run through the creek. 

At the start, I lined up near the front and asked a guy about his tat of chainrings on his shoulder. He said he noticed my leg tat (Jan 2012 blog) and then asked the girl in front of us, who was a friend of his, to show me hers. She had a shoulder chainrings tat as well but with flowers, vines and such. She was also wearing bun huggers, unruly red hair, bb ring and various other tats. (clearly supports my comment on interesting people at trail races). She also had noticed my tat and told me she thought it may have been real. She then pointed out her real one, which was 70% healed.

The start was a long downhill in grass so we all took off at a fast pace. I stayed with the "tat group" at a 6 pace while the leaders were flying at something close to 5. At the "bottom" of the hill my heart rate was humming but I figured I could cruise on a flat section to reel it back in. After turning the corner at the bottom, the decent continued as far as I could see which shocked me. I reluctantly fell off the pace, which is a shame, as I did not want to waste a smooth downhill but I had no choice. I thought "this course has larger elevation changes than expected" and that would be an understatement. So back to the top, back to the bottom, back to the top, etc. Throw in some rocks, roots, creek running, and creek crossing, and the short 3.4 mile course was exhausting. I am proud I was able to run hard to the finish, a 200 meter + uphill through a field. I almost lost whatever I ate that morning, but managed to hold on to avoid embarrassment. 

Turns out "bun hugger" had the fastest women's time out of 56 women! When they called her name as the winner, I thought, hey, I know her, she showed me her tattoo! One of the twins ran with the top three for a while and then finished 14th overall. I asked the younger brother what he thought and he just said, “that was really hard”. Haha, he’s hooked.
Somebody's Pup at French Park


Monday, June 4, 2012

Family Day at Notre Dame

Our second annual trek to Goshen for the Sunburst Marathon in nearby South Bend. All races from 5K - Marathon finish on the 50 yardline in the stadium. Brian and I ran the half last year and Devon joined us this year to make it a family affair. Sue and Craig were on the sidelines today but cheering us on. Devon and I ran the 10K and Brian stayed with the half. 
note: I went to Ohio State, Devon IU, and Brian is a Spartan, shhhh.....

Perfect running weather, 58F at start. And the flat run along the river made for a fun morning run. The race is also a BQ so I expect people travel to do this one for good times. (no pun intended)

The only 10K's I have "raced" are the Thanksgiving race in Cincinnati which has 18,000 runners,. In 2010 (my first road race) was 56 min and last year was 53 min. I decided 50 min was a realistic target which is a 8:03 pace.

I lined up with the 7 min group, only 50 feet from the start line. At 1/4 mile, the Garmin showed I was running sub 6, jeez. It's amazing what adrenalin does, but the legs would not tolerate that for 6 miles. I steadily slowed until my pace was mid 7's but eventually that faded as well. 

girl is behind me?
Eventually I saw my average getting close to 8, so I pushed with what I had left. I found myself  "racing" a young girl entering the tunnel, a downhill into the stadium. I stumbled at the bottom and almost fell. It would have been embarrassing to fall flat on my face as I entered the stadium to hundreds of people cheering. Maybe a web redemption on Tosh.O?
I finished at 50:45 or a 8:10 pace.

A great day with the family was priceless.

Devon Brian and me (sue or craig took picture)