Saturday, May 31, 2008


I read a quote online recently that went something like, "The wind is your friend, it either makes you fast or it makes you strong".

What a load of crap.

It was windy in Wisconsin today, dam windy, and I had 2-1/2 hours scheduled for the bike. Two and a half hours on a typical day on typical roads would put me at roughly 40-miles. I don't have any forty mile routes, so I decided a loop on the IM bike course was in order.

Holy shit.

With the wind and the hills, Verona to Mount Horeb was brutal. I pretty much stood to get up any hill, and often found myself in my lowest gear as I approached the bottom of a hill. At one point I was struggling to hold 6-mph going up a small hill into the wind. It was brutal.

Mt. Horeb to Cross Plains offered a little relief from the wind, but the hills were still killing me. The roller coaster on Garfoot Road was a blast, I could ride that all day, as long as I got a lift back to the top.

Then of course came the hills outside of Cross Plains on the way back to Verona. Ouch.

With the wind finally at my back, I managed at one point to maintain 20+mph going up a long gradual hill and then I topped out at 41+ coming down another. That's how windy it was.

I felt pretty good coming in to Verona, maybe relieved was more like it. Wound up at 43 miles in about 2:50. Strong? No. Fast? Definitely not. But I consider it a victory none the less.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

DFL afterall?

According to official results I was last, but unless I was so incredibly cold that my swim buddy was a figment of my imagination, his time didn't make the list. I'm not even considering the folks that didn't make it through the swim, and from what I've heard, there were at least a couple.

Swim 25:44 - Extrapolate this out to IM distance and I'm out of the water in roughly 1:50. As bad as this swim went, that calculation right there gives me a huge amount of hope.

Transition 3:09 - Surprisingly, not the slowest transition time in the field. Some of it was me waiting for my imaginary friend. Some of it was me taking my shorts off and putting them on the right way.

Run 29:35 - No complaints here given my complete lack of run training recently.


Not quite, but pretty dam close to, dead fucking last. Consider this a warning, the expletives are coming.

I watched the radar all day, literally. In the morning I thought there was no way it was going off. By noon I wasn't sure, about 2:00 or so I knew I'd end up swimming tonight. Dam the luck.

As I'm pulling up to the beach I see the buoys. My first thought, "Holy fuck those are a long way out there." 1000-m doesn't sound like much, but the first time you see it stretched out as a triangle in the water it kind of blows you away.

Fast forward to pre-race. Pull new wetsuit 1/2 way on, let's go see how the water feels. Holy crap that's cold. Get back out, mill around for awhile, time to try again. This time I pull the wetsuit on the whole way, don my pretty red swim cap, and try again.

Dam, still cold. Finally get fully in, float around for a bit, take a few strokes, it's not cold, it's frigid. Getting out again.

Conversation that ensued was kind of humorous:

Random dude in transition area: "How is it?"

Me: "It's like bathwater."

RDITA: "Really?"

Me: "No, it's fucking cold."

Got back in again and swam some more just prior to race start. I can do this.

Gun goes off and I let all the crazies run in from the beach. I wade in and start swimming only when pretty much every one else is. First 100-150 yards aren't bad, I'm following some feet, banged into a couple folks, nothing too drastic. Then it went to hell in a hand basket, and quick.

Turns out I don't swim straight, AT ALL. First I got off course, way off course. I'm not really sure what happened after that. Every time I looked up I was heading in a different direction and it messed with my head something fierce. Breathing and heart rate got all out of whack, and I wound up floating on my back.

By the time I made it to the first buoy it was just me, one other guy, and two kayaks. Despite it being just the two of us, we ran into each other at least 3-4 times. I swam the second leg primarily on my back trying to relax and get my breathing under control. Sometimes I'd do the backstroke, sometimes I'd just kick with my hands together on my stomach. Whatever it takes.

About 1/3 of the way in on the last leg I finally rolled over and swam again. Still couldn't hold a line to save my life, but the beach was getting closer. When I got to waist depth water I stood up and walked in. Enough of that.

The rest of the race was uneventful. I was going to wait for my swim buddy and run the 5k with him but he was taking way to long in transition and I was a little antsy and imagine this, cold. Oh, and it's raining now. I don't know when it started, but I first realized it about 1/2 way in on the last leg of the swim.

I didn't wear my watch again, so I have no idea where I'm at time wise in the race. As I cross the finish line there is a big clock at roughly 58:30.

Me: "that race time?"

Race Volunteer Chick: "yup"

Me: "no shit"

And at this point I'm totally astonished, I wouldn't say thrilled, but completely shocked that I broke an hour.

RVC: "Well at least you finished"

I don't think she understood my position.

Deep breath, almost done.

Other than not finishing or ending up as fish food on the bottom of the lake, the swim went about as bad as I could have imagined, but at least I know where I'm at, and that's something. I'm actually in pretty good spirits. I had no expectations going in, so it's hard to really be disappointed.

When race times get posted I'll post them here, if I had to guess, I'd say 25 in the water, 3 in transition, and 30 on the run. I felt like I was in the water a lot longer than that, but I doubt I ran a 5k in less than 30 with all the running I've done lately.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I'm not shooting for it. It is by no means my goal, but it is a very real possibility for my next event. The Fleet Feet Aquathon series starts tomorrow night. Thousand yard swim followed by a 5k run. The very best I can hope for is probably around 50-minutes. 20 by water, 30 by land.

Now take into account I've never swam in open water, I've never swam in a wetsuit (or a swim cap for that matter), I need to get through transition, and oh, by the way, water temperatures are around 50 F. Add it up and an hour is looking pretty miraculous. Looking at 2007 results, an hour either puts me DFL or in serious competition for it, even 50 minutes gets me pretty dam close.

And to be honest I'm ok with it. Doesn't bother me one bit. I need the experience of swimming in open water and this seems to be a decent way to get some.

Out of curiosity, I did a bit of reading on hypothermia. According to wikipedia, a water temperature of 10 degrees Celsius (50 F) can be expected to lead to death in approximately 1 hour. That's reassuring.

But there is hope on the horizon, forecast includes a chance of rain and/or storms for tomorrow afternoon. I usually don't pray for rain, but if the race was cancelled or postponed I wouldn't exactly be heart broken.

So if you're so inclined, do a little rain dance for me. But if this thing goes off I'll be there, I just hope to come out of the water with all my toes and fingers still functioning.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Feels Like the First Time

Running that is. I've run a grand total of almost 16-miles in the last 5-weeks. My first run in May occurred this week, a week in which I attempted to run three times.

The first was a two miler that included a walk break at the turn around. The second I managed two miles straight through. This morning I tried running after riding my lake route. Made it just past the end of the block before deciding to walk the rest of it.

Problem this morning was water, drank way to much of it as I was changing into my running shoes. Learned my lesson. The others were about what I expected. I never planned on going more than a couple of miles, but it was hard. It was also the first time I've dealt with heat. Much prefer running in cold weather.

Time to get back on the horse, or off it. Been way to focused on riding the bike this month. Hopefully this will serve as a wake up call.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

By the Numbers

I try not to focus too much on numbers when it comes to training. But I'm an engineer, numbers are in my blood, it's what I do. So I track everything and analyze every ride, run, or swim.

Which brings us to this afternoon and my ride home from work, where I set a personal record on the mountain bike. Crushed my old best, by almost 2 miles per hour over 20 miles.

I have a couple of theories as to why or how. First, I haven't done a damn thing since thursday. I took Wilson out for a 2-mile shakedown ride on Sunday night, but other than that, zero, nodda, zip, zilch. Legs were about as fresh as they get. More on Wilson later.

Second, I rode with an old friend tonight who pushed me pretty much the whole way. We've had a difficult relationship, and I feel I've lost more than I've won, but not tonight. Tonight you were my friend at my side or behind me, encouraging me exactly when I needed it.

So tonight, my hat is off to the wind. Couldn't have done it without the 12-15 mph assistance. Tomorrow morning I expect we'll be back to the hate portion of our relationship when I ride back up to work.

St. Louis style?

I have pizza on the mind right now and the quickest way to rid mind of such thoughts are to write about them. 

The family went out for pizza last night.  Without naming names, we tried a newer place in town. If you haven't caught on by now they serve "St. Louis" style pizza, and if there's the least little hint of Encyclopedia Brown in you, you should be able to figure out where we were. 

Honestly, I didn't know St. Louis had a style, and frankly, they shouldn't. It's no wonder the great pizza debates never mention St. Louis.  New York, Chicago, maybe California, never St. Louis.

So we sit down and order our pizzas.  At this point I'm still not aware of any "St. Louis" style.  Pizza comes and isn't bad, but there's something strange about it.  G and I quickly narrow it down to the cheese, it's creamy and weird.  I don't know how else to put it.

On the way out I grab a menu to try and figure out the mystery, and there it is, Provel cheese.  Never heard of it.  Quick search and here is a summary of what wikipedia had to say:

Provel is a white processed cheese that is popular in St. Louis, Missouri. Provel is produced with cheddar, Swiss, and provolone. It is soft at room temperature, with a gooey and almost buttery texture, and thus has a low melting point. It is the traditional topping for St. Louis-style pizza .............. Although popular in the St. Louis area, Provel is rarely used elsewhere.

Well there is a good reason for that last statement, it sucks.  I thought St. Louis was weird because of fried ravioli.  But I like fried ravioli, processed cheese product, not so much.  Perhaps those of you who live or have lived in St. Louis can help me out.

I ate the leftovers for lunch today, not any different on day two. 

I gripe, but I'm still happy to have independent businesses rather than chain restaurants in the community.  I wish this place the best, the dining room was nice, the service was good, just lose the cheese, product.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thank You Sir,...

...may I have another.

Being the gluten I am, I headed out to Whalen from work to face the hill. This time the wind was definitely quartering into me, I still ended up in my lowest gear, and I still ended up standing the last part of it, but it didn't kill me or my spirits like the first time. It is just another hill. Regardless, the new cassette is on the way, a shiny new 12-27.

I turn around again just outside of Verona, crest a hill, and for the first time in a long time, need to shift into the big ring when I of course promptly drop my chain. So I'm coasting down this hill going maybe 25 mph, I look at my chain and get a brilliant idea. I bet I can get it back on without stopping.

Reach down, quick glance, eyes on road, glance down again. Shit, looks to be pinched in there. Coast to stop. Realize while putting it on that if I would have just spun the pedals while coasting I might have pulled it off. Next time.

From here in the ride is pretty mundane. Patrick has a soccer game so I need to get into Stoughton by 6:30. No problem. At 6:25 I pull up to Fox Prairie, it's empty, nobody there at all. I decide to do a lap around the neighborhood while trying to think it through. G emailed the location earlier, I was just there on Saturday for his last game, it looks right, but where the hell is everyone?

At 6:30 I pull back past the school, still no one. Shit, must be at Kegonsa, clear across town. Wonder how fast I can get there after nearly two hours in the saddle. Turns out to be 7 minutes and change. Game started just as I walked up to the field. How good am I?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I Have a Headache


Now that spring is finally here, and I've finally been able to get out on the road I've had a slight issue with the new bike, Wilson.  It's not hills and gears, whole separate issues, and not without headaches of their own, it's the aerobars and my wrists.

The aerobars that came with Wilson are "S" bends, they are essentially straight bars.  To hold on, ones wrists need to flex into a position, that for me isn't comfortable. (Make a fist around a pencil and then flex your wrist so the pencil is basically parallel to your forearm).  I was hoping to get used to the position, but the pain has only gotten worse the more I ride.  It's a very strange, almost arthritic type pain in the wrist, creeping up into the forearm.  I'm not a big fan.

The alternative is to replace them with bars that have a significant bend.  I don't know what they're called technically, but you grip them in a much more natural position.  Lay your forearm on your desk, pinky side down, and make a fist, it's basically like that.

So I start looking into options, find some I like, check ebay, and one particular store is happening to sell complete setups (bars and aerobars) for less than I can purchase just the aerobars.  This is where it all goes downhill, or maybe uphill is the more appropriate term.

New bars are a different diameter than the old ones.  So I need a new stem, well besides the fact that stems come in an infinite number of lengths, angles, materials, and other seemingly significant designs, the steering tube where the stem attaches to the bike can also vary in diameter.  Some quick research and I of course discover that my bike has the more obscure diameter.

Somewhere along the line I decide I need to read an article on tri-bike fitting.  I went through a bike fit, or thought I did when I bought the bike, but in reading through the article, I realize one aspect of the fit was not done,  lowering the bars.  Some quick measurements and calculations and I realize I should be able to lower the front by a good 3.5".  Deep breath.

This can in part be accomplished with a new stem.  But now I can't just buy the same length and angle, I need one with some drop, and I think it could be shorter, but I could also take out some or all of the spacers, and then maybe it could be shorter still.

Of course, most of this could be avoided if I bought just the aerobars, but now I feel the need to lower the front end to where it should be, and then I'd need a new stem anyway.  And of course, even if I do get it all back together, I should maybe be refit just to make sure.  One more quick calculation on the cost and my head is ready to explode.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Offer and Advice Rescinded

This post is basically a comment on a comment I made to a recent IronMin post. But the comment got too long to really be a comment so now it's a post of it's own. Got it?

First, I think you're foolish to actually ride the IM bike course again. Personally, I'm going back to my old mantra, "There's nothing wrong with fat, dumb, and happy". Why torture yourself, make yourself completely miserable, let self doubt creep in, all that? Not worth it, not worth it at all. Do everything possible to rid the memory of that ride from your mind. If nothing else works, try alcohol, copious amounts of alcohol.

Second, I rescind any offers made to ride the IM bike course. See reason above referencing fat, dumb, and happy. I have no desire to ride the course, I will not be your Huckleberry. I'm finding a nice flat bike trail, something lined with wildflowers and butterflies, going to trade in wilson for a beach cruiser type bike with a cushy seat, a horn, and a basket.

Why the change of heart one might ask? A hill, one single solitary stupid hill.

The above is exactly what my thought process was as I was attempting to climb said hill and shortly thereafter. Those thoughts are diminishing, but they have not completely left me.

Let's backtrack. Inspired by Min's recent ride on the IM bike loop, I decided to extend my ride home from work by taking the IM leg out towards Verona before turning around and heading home. So I headed out Rimrock, left on whatever, right on whatever, right on whatever, left on whatever, and finally right onto Whalen. I'm not real good with names, or caring right about now.

For whatever reason the first hill on Whalen west of Fish Hatchery (going west) absolutely kicked my ass. I think there may have been a slight wind in my face, but I also felt like it was in my face when I turned around and headed east. I just don't know. And I just don't know what it was about that hill, but it left me with no desire to see the rest of the course.

I made it another couple of miles down Whalen before turning south to M and heading back towards Stoughton. The rest of the ride was uneventful. My detour stretched out what is normally a 15-mile commute to a 32-mile trek. Closer to Stoughton I got blown by like I was standing still by a guy on a tri-bike with tree trunks for legs. For about a 1/2 second I thought I would try to stick with him, twas not to be. He was out of site in a relatively flat area within minutes.

Give me a couple days and I may be back to being willing, but for now, fat, dumb, and happy is looking pretty attractive.


That's right, it's International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW). There, I've done my part. Go forth and compost.

In all seriousness, composting is a good thing. Done correctly, composting does not produce offensive odors, doesn't need to take up a lot of space, can divert a ton of material from our landfills, and ultimately, produces a final product that plants love.

Back to your regularly scheduled triathlon related nonsense.