Monday, June 30, 2008

BSG Results

Ok the official results were just published. Ugh, a 7:33 finishing time. Thats 13.6 mph. Next year will be better. I still got in a great day of training that'll make me stronger for Beach 2 Battleship.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

That Shiggity Wasn't No Joke - BSG

Huggy: "What's the deal pickles? Is everything kosher?"
Tom: "Everything is kosher."

- Huggy Lowdown & Tom Joyner on the Tom Joyner Morning Show

Huggy aka The Celebrity Snitch likes to use the word "shiggity" on the TJMS. The TJMS is a nationally syndicated radio show, that I love listening to in the mornings. Huggy is one of the frequent guests to the program. Obviously he can't say "shit" on the show, so he uses shiggity. I thought about Huggy yesterday during the Blood, Sweat, and Gears century ride (actually its a 103 miles). I tell you the truth. That shiggity was no joke. That ride broke me down. This is the 3rd year in a row, I've done this ride, and I was an hour slower than last year. The official results haven't been published yet, but I think I came in about 7 1/2 hours. Last year I came in at 6:24 and felt strong. I even did a 30 minute brick run after the ride last year.

I think the biggest thing that got me on this year's ride was that I just wasn't as fit as prior years. I was looking back over my workout logs and last year I had some big bike weeks in the weeks before BSG, while this year I've only done one century and that was pretty slow. That's why I thought about that line ala Huggy. You can't play around w/ BSG, "cus that shiggity ain't no joke". That ride is to be fully respected. You can't treat it like, "well it'll just be a good training session". You can't be half-stepping, no sir, not with BSG.

All in all, even though it was brutal, I'm still glad I did it. I went up the day before and stayed w/ a buddy of mine and his family at their vacation home in the Virgina mountains. He did the half-century version of the ride. Their vacation home is high up in the VA mountains just off the VA Creeper Trail. The Creeper Trail is a former railroad line that has been converted to a multi-use trail. The setting was amazing, there's beautiful creek that runs right behind the property, then there's a bridge to cross the creek and the Creeper Trail is just on the other side. Also he told me there's an access point to the Applachian Trail fairly close too.

Well we got the race site, got organized, and were ready for the start. Wait, let me digress. One of the local NBC Today Show anchors here, Donald Jones, is an avid cyclist. He's got a pretty cool blog, and I posted a comment earlier this week and he replied. So I bumped into him at packet pick-up and we chatted for a minute. He did the race last year and we finished pretty close to one another, with him coming in a 6:26. So I got him by 2 minutes. Then at the start, we were a couple of bikes over from one another, so I gave him one of those Obama fist bumps. Dude is a strong rider and early on one of the climbs, he was going strong and I couldn't hang on. I'm sure he beat his time from last year.

The ride for me can be best describe as 2 gears. I was in the 34x25 for a whole lot and I was in the 50x12 for a short while. BSG has over 13K of climbing so, I spent a lot of time grinding up the mountain roads. The most strenuous section is called Snake Mountain. The grade hits like 20% and its later in the ride around mile 65, so you're somewhat toasted at this point. The last two years, I was able to ride up this section, but this year, I had to dismount my bike and walk part of it. That was humbling. There were other walkers, but I really wanted to ride up that thing. Next year I betcha I'll be ready.

Next year will be different. I want to do this ride again, and train properly for it. A couple of things. Definitely more training miles. I need to be hitting some 200+ mile weeks like last year. I was getting ready for IMMoo last year, so I was really focused and had some good miles in my legs by the time BSG rolled around. Also, I will not be so heavy. I'm tipping the scales at 182 lbs and last year I got down to 175 for during my prep for IMMoo. Its not a lot of weight, but those extra lbs are absolutely murder for climbing. Every time I came to a climb, the lactic acid jumped up along with my HR and I was feeling the pain. I even got some cramps a few times later in the race which is indicative of being under trained.

All in all, it was a great experience. The downhills were fun, and the views were amazing. Even though I didn't do nearly as well as I would've liked. I feel blessed that I can even get out and participate in something like this. I had a spectacular homestay, ran into some of my buddies I train with, and I keep the rubber side down (that's cycling-speak for no crashes).


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tri Latta - The MOP Report

Okay here's another acronym for you, MOP (middle of the pack). I did the Tri Latta Sprint triathlon (750m swim, 17 mile bike, 5K run) last Saturday and finished 23/50 for my age-group. That is definitely MOP.
Me and Lisa headed down the night before and since we were so close to the Concord Mills shopping center, we went to one of Lisa's favorite stores, Off-5th. Off-5th is the outlet center for Saks 5th Ave, and Lisa typically finds some good deals there. Sometimes I have a hard time going shopping, but I gotta admit, my girl looks great when she's all hooked up real nice in her office attire.

Well we finally got in and got a good night's rest and headed over to the race site at 5AM. I got in a bike warm-up w/ a few fast spin-ups and then a run warm-up w/ a few bursts to get the blood flowing in my legs. I got a good sweat by this point. I wanted to swim a little, but they didn't have a convenient area for a swim warm-up.

This race was one of those 2 out of 3 deals. I'm stoked w/ my bike split (20.3 mph average) and my run split (7:07 mins/mile), but my swim was, I gotta admit, pathetic. I swam just a hair under 19 minutes which was a 2:17/100 yard pace. I was definitely BOP (back of the pack) for the swim. I must admit, I've been slacking on making the Master's workouts and the results are showing. Also I had some trepidation in pushing it hard on the swim, almost like I was scared to go hard. I think mentally I was worried too much about the water temperature, 89 degrees. But hey, everybody else had to swim in that same lake.

All in all its always a good day to be able to follow this crazy triathlon thing and race. I didn't get injured, Lisa found a couple of nice things at Off-5th, so life is good.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Today's Forecast 103!

Ugh, this morning I went for my long run at 6AM on the way back I was listening to the radio and the forecast for today is 103. That's nuts. Its early June. Here in NC its never this hot, anytime of the year. Obviously this breaks all kinds of historical records. Maybe Al Gore was right.

Yesterday I headed up to Wilkesboro and did this bike ride called RAW that was put on by the Brushy Mountain Cycling Club. RAW is an acronym for Ride Around Wilkesboro. I did the 75 mile option and is mostly in the mountains above Wilkesboro. The ride was really hard mainly due to the 4300 feet of climbing and the crazy high temperatures. The high in North Wilkesboro yesterday was 97 degrees.

The highlight of the ride was the 6 mile climb up Brushy Mountain. I was in my 34T chainring and 25T cog for most of the climb. There were a couple of rollers, but it was mostly up, up, and up. My computer was reading 6 mph. I was having some issues on the ride. I would get these stinging cramps in my hamstrings from time to time. I was taking 2 endurolytes per hour, but maybe I needed more. One thing, that climbing has reinforced the need for me to lose weight. Those extra pounds make climbing tough. I survived the climbs and got back in 4:26. Even though the conditions were bananas, the views were spectacular at the top of Brushy Mountain.

Well that's all for now. I plan to get some good use out of the new Nalgene (BPA-free) water bottle today, especially since me and Lisa have to run some errands today.


Friday, June 06, 2008

Splashing Around

I did this really cool swim-only race last Saturday called the "Low Country Splash" in Charleston, SC. The swim was the Ironman distance of 2.4 miles. The course was amazing to say the least. We started in the city of Mount Pleasant which is separated from Charleston by this huge suspension bridge called the Arthur Ravenel bridge. The finish is in Charleston Harbor at a marina that is adjacent to the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier that is permanently docked there as a floating museum.

The race is advertised as a fast swim due to the 1-2 mph current that is pushing you the entire way. The race is a deep water start about 200 yards from shore so you have to tread water for a little bit until the gun goes off. The current kept pushing everyone into the front. I had to use my arms to keep pushing myself back so that I didn't end up near the "fishes" at the start. I'm a so-so swimmer so I didn't want to be up there and clog things up w/ the strong swimmers.

The gun finally went off and were swimming. At first I had some trepidation about swimming in the open water like that, especially w/o a wetsuit. The water temperature was ~78 so a wetsuit would have been too warm. But quickly I got over the fears and was into my stroke. During the race it was incredible to swim under the AR bridge and then alongside the USS Yorktown. There was even a freighter going in the opposite direction about a half mile to our right. Swimming alongside these large objects got my heartrate for sure.

I ended up w/ a 53:04 swim which is crazy for an IM distance. This placed me 302/390 overall and 22/26 in my age-group. To put things in perspective my swim at IMWI last year was 1:18. I finished near the back of the pack, but I was happy w/ the results and would do this race again. That current was right on time. In fact for the B2B race its supposed to be a point-to-point swim w/ a pushing current. I'm looking forward to that one.

After the race, Lisa and I took a the Black History & Sea Islands Tour of Charleston from my man Al Miller If you're in Charleston, you've got to sign up for that one. It seemed like Al knew everything about Charleston. We learned so much from that tour. Lately I've been reading a couple of books on black history and this brought a lot of that to life.

Well that all for now. I'm headed up to Wilkesboro tomorrow for the RAW ride (Ride Around Wilkesboro). Its billed as 4300 feet of climbing over 75 miles. The most scenic section is supposed to be the climb up Brushy Mountain. Should be interesting since we're in the middle of a heatwave. Today is 99.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Another Book Review - Major

My sister sent me a book that I definitely recommend titled, "Major" by Todd Balf. The subtitle is "A Black Athlete, A White Era, And The Fight To Be The World's Fastest Human Being". She was browsing around a bookstore and I think the cover of Major Taylor on his bike caught her eye, so she picked it up for me. That was a one very good read.

I had heard of Major Taylor, but didn't know many details about his life. I felt like the author, Todd Balf, did a really good job of telling the reader how Major Taylor became literally the fastest human being at a point in history. I won't spoil the outcome, but his story is epic.

Something else that struck me, was that Mr. Balf did an excellent job of, I think, of understanding the black experience. I just felt like he got it down pretty good without being condescending or making the reader feel like black folks at that time were helpless. Even though racism was extreme to say the least, Taylor's story is inspirational on how he overcame incredible odds. My dad has a saying that he'll drop on me from time to time, "Be A Man Among Men". Taylor was definitely a man that didn't let anything hold him back despite the madness he had to endure.

Another thing I dug about the book is Mr. Balf is a cyclist who has written for a number of publications including "Bicycling" magazine. He seemed to really get the details of what being a top bicycle racer was all about. For example, he was able to describe Taylor's training and racing tactics that show he knew what he was talking about. I don't think you'll be disappointed when you read this book.