Monday, April 27, 2009

Interview w/ Self

Rob: What's up with you man, its been a minute since you updated your blog.
Self: I don't know, its like I've been in some kinda 'net isoloation lately.

Rob: So what have you been up to?
Self: Bro, its been a lot of cycling lately. I did something really cool weekend before last. I did the Cycle North Carolina Spring Ride down at Washington, NC. I camped out and rode 3 days covering 255 miles.

Rob: That's some good mileage.
Self: It was a real nice experience, doing the tent camping, waking up riding, and just hanging out w/ some of the nicest folks around. Also I saw a lot of recumbents.

Rob: What were some of the highlignts?
Self: The campsite was right on the river which was inspiring. Then on day 2 we did 108 miles which included a ferry ride across the Pamlico River.

Rob: So what's up next for you?
Self: I've got the White Lake Sprint coming up this weekend, then the White Lake half Ironman distance race the weekend after that. I attempted to treat the CNC weekend like a training camp, so I got in a couple of brick runs and swam once. I feel like White Lake should go good if I stay disciplined and taper correctly.

Rob: I know you're a gear geek, any new goodies lately?
Self: I guess the one really cool thing I'm waiting for is a new TT helmet. I know I'll be posing, since I'm just an age-grouper, but I always wanted one of those serious TT helmets.

Rob: Thanks for your time.
Self: No problemas bro.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Some Quick Takes on Biking

1. My bike ride tonight after work felt really good. I didn't push it, just logged about 1.5 hours and it felt like all stress, all worries, just went away. It felt so good.

2. I screwed up another carbon fork. The stem clamp left a gouge in the steerer. I torqued it to the correct amount. It was a Reynolds Pro Ouzo too. I already damaged my Profile Designs fork. I know I'm through w/ Deda Newton stems.

3. I got the hook up on a Thomson X2 stem for $50 off Craigslist. One good thing, I don't feel a sharp edge where the stem clamps to the steerer.

3. I raced the Azalea Festival Tri Saturday before last. The bike leg went good for me as I was 3rd out of 37 in my age-group.

4. I feel a lot faster when I run my disc wheel for tris.

5. Assos bibshorts are incredible. I really shouldn't have spent that much on cycling clothing but those FI.13 shorts are the real deal. I got in my first ride w/ them tonight.

6. I pimped my bike a little bit by replacing my bottom bracket to one w/ ceramic bearings.

7. I don't know how much it would help in training, but I think it'd be real cool to have a powermeter. I've been looking at the Quarq.

8. That's a bummer about LA crashing and winding up w/ a broken collarbone. That had to hurt like hell. I've had a few falls cycling and believe me it sucks.

9. I hope LA gets better in time for the TdF.

10. Speaking of pro riders, I've got a homeboy out of Compton, Rashaan Bahati that's doing big things on the Rock & Republic team. Well I'm not from Compton, I grew up in LA. What the heck, its close enough so Rashaan is my homie.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Uncle Arthur - Enduranceman

For some reason, I've been thinking about my uncle on my mom's side. Maybe its because today is my mother's birthday. Happy birthday Ma!

His name is Arthur Winston and lived to be 100 years old (3/26/1906-4/13/2006). Uncle Arthur worked for the bus company for 76 years. Now that's what I call endurance. My mother told me he only took one day off of work and that was to go to his wife's funeral.

Uncle Arthur has the MTA bus terminal on Van Ness named after him back in Los Angeles, "The Arthur Winston Terminal". Even President Clinton gave him an award for Employee of the Century.

Here's some verbal footage of him on NPR's, Storybook Griot. I chuckled at his derision mobile phones. He lived a good life and must of enjoyed his work to work that long.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Last Saturday I ran the Holiday Lake 50K++ race. You might be asking, why is there a '++' in the title of the post. The race director is Dr. David Horton and after talking to some friends and reading other blog reports for the Holiday Lake race, it seems that Dr. Horton is of some renown in ultramarathon circles, especially in the southeast. One of the unique features of a Dr. Horton race is that they are measured in "Horton Miles", which means that this race was a tad bit longer than a 50K, being it was 33.26 miles. He is an absolute blast in person. He's one highly energetic cat that seems to be in perpetual motion all the time. You can tell he is seriously passionate about his race directing.

The few days leading up to the race I was getting worried since the forecast was calling for a chance of freezing race/light snow. Then to add some more worry, I was planning to tent camp at the race site. But usually these things work themselves out and the weather turned out to be as good as you could get for a trail run. I think the starting temps were in the low 30's and at the finish, it was probably in the low 50's and clear skies. So it was great weather for running. The only thing though, it was right chilly in that tent overnight.

I had been doing some tempo runs in the last couple of weeks leading up to the race. My Tuesday night running group probably thought I was acting a fool or something, but I put in some good hard efforts for those last Tuesday night group runs. So at the start of the race I made the classic mistake and took off too hard. The course started out on roads for a little over a 1/2 mile and then you were funneled into a single-track section. Reading reports from previous races, I heard that this early section can leave you walking if you get stuck in the back, so I figured I had to be in the front half of the field so I won't get stuck in a single-track conga line.

So I'm going way too fast and I know this isn't sustainable, but I kept up the pace and rolled on. We ran into the first aid station and it was a blast, folks were cheering us on and I was feeling good. Remember I told you about Dr. Horton and his exuberance, well I'm coming through the aid station and since I was feeling alright I picked it up a little, feeling that energy from the aid station folks when all of a sudden, Dr. Horton comes up to me and yells, "you're the 2nd black man, 2nd black man". I got a laugh out of it and high-fived him as I ran past him.

The course is a circuitous out and back that was listed on the race flyer at 16.63 miles for the loop. I came into the turn-around at around 2:30 and I knew this was way too hard for me and shortly thereafter starting having a bit of a meltdown and lost some of the snap in my legs.

One thing I overheard another racer describing these things say was that you've got to manage the lows and highs of these races. That was true, because I was starting to fade fairly soon after the turnaround. I was getting pretty tired about 4 hours in and then to top it off, I guess I took on too much nutrition and I was getting the dreaded rock in my gut. I think around this time I started getting the chorus to Donnie McClurkin's, "We Fall Down" stuck in my head. Bro. Donnie helped me out; it helped me stop focusing so much on what was going wrong and instead got me to thinking about staying steady. Also one of my buddies told me sometimes in races he'll say "Lord, if you pick 'em up, I'll put'em down. That mantra along w/ Donnie's song helped me big time.

The last 10k of the race was me just trying to bring it in without walking too much. Early in the race, I was either running or doing a fast hike on the hills, however in those last miles, I was walking just about every incline. The good thing about this finish though is that the last third of a mile or so is downhill and I just let gravity bring me on in.

All in all I enjoyed myself in a weird endurance-high kind of way and felt real good about finishing. I ended up w/ a time of 5:31 which was almost an hour faster than the Carrboro 50K last month. I ended up at 101st place out of 248 finishers and 21st out of 50 in my age-group (M40-49).

I'm already thinking about another ultra. The main dude that got me thinking an ultra was even possible, Lloyd, did a race in Virginia called Bull Run Run that's in April. Come to think about it, trying to follow after Lloyd, I ended up signing up for my first Ironman too. He and Adrienne just had a new beautiful baby girl, and I'm sure they'll have their two daughters trail running in no time.

Then I know fellow bloggers Dr. Marc & Tanya will appreciate this, but one of the things that definitely helped me get through all of the long training runs was making regular visits to my chiro doc, Dr. Josh. I peaked at around 60 miles/week with a couple of weekends of doing long runs on Saturday and then following up another semi-long run on Sunday. All of those adjustments and gettting that treatment on the Traction Table helped me to hold up.

I'm really lucky that Lisa let's me indulge myself with some probably needless athletic purchases. Now some of y'all know I'm a gear geek. This race was no exception to that rule. I picked up a pair of these specialized trail racing shoes by La Sportiva, called Raceblades. I guess the unique thing about these shoes are that they have a low profile ride without having such a cushioned sole that is more common in trail shoes. Then I used these camo pattern gaiters. Those things worked out good and kept the trail debris out of my shoes. Then I used Inijini wool socks, coupled with Blistershield and liberal application of Bodyglide to my feet let me finish without any blisters, despite the fact we had 4 water crossings.

Well that's about all. I don't know what's next, but I kinda dig this ultra thing. One thing I'd like to do, maybe next year is Rim2Rim2Rim. That's where you start at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, run down in the canyon and up to the North Rim, turnaround and come back. I understand its around 42 miles and seems epic. Who knows maybe next year?


Friday, January 23, 2009

Inauguration, Snow, and Tapering

I made the trip up to DC to be a part of President Barack Obama's inauguration. It felt really good to be a part of the throngs of folks celebrating our new president. Even though it was cold and we were on our feet a long time, it felt like everybody was happy to be on the National Mall. I felt like I was a tiny part of history being there.

I left Durham at 2AM to attend the ceremonies and drove into a decent amount of falling snow. It got a bit scary, but I lowered my speed and drove conservatively. Fortunately I only had to spend about an hour in the snow, but believe me that was enough.

Speaking of snow, I'm always looking for good deals, so I was shopping at one of the local thrift stores - Rescued Treasures from the Durham Rescue Mission. A couple of years ago, I picked up a brand new pair of Yaktrax Pros, for something like 2 bucks. We hadn't had any decent snow since then so I was anxious to go for a run. Those things worked pretty good. They are fairly light and I felt sure-footed on the trail.

I got in a 4 hour run last Sat with some friends from our running club. My car read 11 degrees when I parked so it was really cold. Unbelievable, but there were, I think 6 of us that started and 3 did the whole 4 hours. I think this will be my longest run and now I think I'll start tapering for the Holiday Lake race. Normally I do a 3 week taper, but I feel kinda beat up, so I think I'll try out a 4 week taper. Hopefully I don't get too stale before the race.

That's about it for now. I think I'll get King and walk off some of my dinner.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A New Pair of Shoes

So you remember during our hike in the the Pisgah National Forest Lisa took a little spill on a slippery rock and got a nice stinger. Being that I'm kind of a bargain-priced gear geek I relished the opportunity to research and order her some hiking boots. We ended up choosing a pair of Asolo Attivas. These Asolos were on the 2008 Backpacker Magazine's Gear Guide as best fit for women or something like that.

Last Sunday we went hiking at Little River Park. I think I was more anxious to see how the boots worked than Lisa was and of course King is always pumped to head out for a ride in the car and go for a jaunt. The Asolos worked great for traction and have a cool light green color they call "foilage", even a fellow hiker gave Lisa some props about her cool looking boots. The only downside is that they rubbed the skin on her ankles. Hopefully they'll break-in and become comfortable. She going to try a different pair of socks for our next hike.

It was a nice hike, we got in about 4.5 miles and had a good time. I wanted watch the Eagles-Giants game, but I'm glad we got out of the house and went for hike. The park was beautiful w/ part of the trail following the Little River. It was just a good opportunity to appreciate nature and enjoy each others company. When we got back to the start there was a family with a lab puppy so King was happy too since he got a chance to play w/ another dog.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Those Ultras are Hard

I ran the Carrboro 50K yesterday and I've got a whole new level of respect and awe for ultra runners. That was one tough run. The Carrboro 50K is held in the spirit of Fat Ass events so there wasn't a registration, no bib number, and the aid station stuff was donations. Also the folks were super friendly.

So I pulled up to the start, thinking I'd get in a 4 hour training run and if things felt good keep going as long as I felt. The course was setup perfect for that strategy since it was a figure 8 w/ 2 big loops and the aid station at the intersection of the 8. This was also the location for the drop bags. It looked like there were about 30-40 runners milling around, there was food, coffee, and even a fire pit to keep us warm. I was nervous, but saw a couple of fellow Carolina Godiva running club members and that settle me a bit.

So off we went. I think it was about 35 degrees at the start, so it was a bit chilly but warmed up to the 50's later in the day. The course winds through Carolina Forest. The trails are basically small hills on single track with lots of roots, a bit mud and small rocks to trip you up. I saw a couple of folks around me go down, but they jumped back up quickly. I stumbled more times then I could count, but I think I was going so slow I was able to prevent falling.

I got through the first 2 loops and had around 20 miles in at 4 hours. I was taking it slow and steady, but man it was difficult to maintain even 12 min miles. I've got to lose some weight for sure, I felt it on those hills. But I digress. So after the 20 miles were up, I figure what the heck do another half of the "8" and see how I feel. The hosts at the aid stations were so cool, one lady even filled my water bottle for me. So I was topped off and decided to head back out. At this point it boiled down to just keep running, no matter how slow. We started at 9AM and it was getting close to 4PM when I was finishing. That was playing mind tricks on me, thinking I've been out running for most of the day.

I finally finished. There were 7 runners that did the whole enchilada and I came in next to last. Since I didn't see anybody else out on the trail, I was getting worried that the aid station was being left open just for me. I mean they'd been out there all day cheering for us and taking care of us, so I was feeling kinda guilty for being so slow.

According to my Garmin Forerunner 305 (thanks for the cool Christmas gift Lisa), it took me 6:21 to finish, that's 12:29 pacing. Its weird cause I actually ran the whole way, but it was slow going. I know this sounds like a little whining, but that single track, the roots and at least according to my Garmin, the total ascent of 12K feet, added up to some slow running.

All in all, it was a very cool experience. Running past 4 hours became almost trance-like. I felt like my breathing wasn't taxed much at all, and to some degree the pain in my legs and feet went to a semi-numbness. Then for maybe the last 2-3 miles a strange euphoria kicked in and I felt really good. After I finished, a nice lady served me up some Recoverite, a serving of some awesome vegetarian black bean chili at the finish, I was given a nice Nathan hand-held water bottle holder, and then to top it all off, Frankie Beverly and Maze was on the radio when I was leaving the parking lot.

My legs hurt, my feet hurt, I've got a blister on one of my toes, but I've gotta admit it feels real good that now I've completed an ultra.