Saturday, December 15, 2012

50k PR

4:56:34. Took 16 attempts to go sub-5. Damn those last 5 miles past the marathon are hard. But not as hard as the 35 charts awaiting me tomorrow. This was the medal today.

Gerald Jr is Gerald the blue carbon Giant TCR C3 on loan to Erin. Hope to get in inaugural ride tomorrow!

Friday, December 14, 2012

DC VT, Happy Birthday (to me)

Welcome the latest addition to the BRS family (name TBD). 12/14/12. Joins his brothers, Gerald Jr, Davey, and Clifford.

Thanks to Ocean and Dyno for accompanying me to the Adoption Agency (aka Counterbalance Bicycles) for moral support. The midweek DC VT "training" sessions are the highlight of my week.
Can't wait to run over a bunch of shit with those bad ass fat tyres.
No prepare = happiness

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Theoretical Bicycle pt.2

I picked up my finished wheelset from the shop today. They are very pretty, very strong, and quite light (little over 1800gm/pr, if you really care).

Hope Pro2Evo hubs laced to
Mavic Open Pro rims with
DT Swiss double butted spokes and
black anodized nips

The Beef Wreath, a meatloaf ring with cranberry glaze went along with the wheel-shaped theme for the day. I didn't make it because of the round theme, it just tastes good and I haven't made it in awhile.

bread crumbs

That's not everything that went in there, if you really want the recipe I can get more detailed. Also, braised celery is delicious. We should all eat more celery.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

BRSCI XII: Mukilteo to Anacortes on 2 wheels (a.k.a. 4 state parks and a ferry)

November 3, 2012

6 AM: Met up with Ocean and Dyno for pre-ride breakfast at Speedway café . Not our usual waitress, had to wait a little longer for coffee and poached-not-over easy eggs, but would probably still catch the 7:30 ferry. But there was no 7:30 ferry. It was not merely workers boycotting ferry cutbacks, it is fall, no wait, it is winter in terms of ferry schedules. We had planned to hit Port Townsend and make this the 3 ferries- 91 mile BRSCI, but it’s November now, logistics change. Luckily there is an indoor place peppered with local newspaper clippings to wait in, even a bathroom nearby.

Love the ferry. Instant trip to far, far, away.

Landed in Clinton, South Whidbey at 8:22. Just glad to be back on the bike, and that the rain held off mostly. The island looks totally different going counter clockwise. The climbs were less steep and I didn’t mind.  Less than 5 miles in, mechanical #1 for Ocean, rear flat.

Then back on our way, lovely fall colors, kept wishing I had a helmet cam!

Very soon we hit South Whidbey state park, which is usually toward the end of our rides but today it’s state park #1. The water fountains have already been turned off but luckily bathrooms still working. Eat some snickers. Then back on the road. It sure was nice going DOWN Lancaster instead of up.

Then it was Fort Casey, state park #2. By then I was ready for lunch but Coupeville was still over an hour away, we could see the ferries going to Port Townsend. Windy and flat, coves and lagunes, different from our usual Whidbey experience, feels like I’m far far away from home but I’m not.

In Coupeville stopped for advil, caffeine, and snacks at the Red Apple market. Luckily lunch was not far away. Dyno has like 360 degree peripheral vision, able to spot species of birds and plantlife like snowberries while riding, and apparently, Thai restaurants masquerading as a random person’s house.

The décor was… unique. 6-7 birdhouses hung from the tree, dozens of clocks in one corner, several old radios in another. 

The hot broth tasted homemade, and hot tea was welcome. They had an interesting scale for the spiciness of the food. One chili = mild, 2 chilis = oops, 3 chilis = geez, 4 chilis = ya ba da ba doo. It was only Whidbey Island hot though. Then a trip into the most bizarre bathroom, lined with hundreds of cat figurines. What kind of weirdo would collect hundreds of animal figurines anyway?

Then it’s mechanical #2 (rear flat, Gerald). The blue tires that used to match my hair, that I got at STP are now looking pretty bald. Apparently the ratio of rear to front flats is 2:1.

Then a surprise at state park #3, Joseph Whidbey state park with not just any Scuttlebutt, Ten Below! My new fav brew due to cool label. Not to mention 7.4% EtOH content.

While I’ve pretty much mastered the art of peeing in under 15 seconds without hitting my shoes with the spray, there was a bit too much civilization to find many natural bathrooms en route to Deception Pass, state park #4. Passing rows of Madrona trees felt like walking through a sculpture gallery in fast-motion.

Ocean is way-layed by leg cramps so gets a ride with Skirtsteak while Dyno and I push the last leg to Anacortes so as to arrive by sundown. Somewhere along the way, I had what Ocean might consider a moment of clarity. I got it, what BRSCI is about, I just got it.

Finish line? Brown Lantern for beer, fish & chips with BRS. Dozed on the drive back to Muk, where I got the coveted BRSCI XII with moustache mug. Whidbey never gets old, and Whidbey does not mess around.

Opposite George

JJ100- attempt #2 (October 27-28, 2012)
Normally there is nothing I look forward to more after a demoralizing week at work than a good long run on the weekend. Usually 7-10 hours is enough to prevent withdrawal, but as soon as the toenails start growing back the thought of 100’s start creeping back. I have no great explanation for why I keep signing up for them. There’s not much to see at 2 AM. It’s not “peaceful” to be lost for hours alone in the dark in the desert/ forest/ mountain, freezing, starving, sore. I don’t get the huge sense of accomplishment that others speak of; I don’t even lose any weight.

Is it purely to suffer more to achieve a greater sense of relief afterward? Or the sense of hope at getting a 2nd chance at redemption? Sure, it made me feel better to sign up for another try after DNFing at VT100 (mile 62) and JJ100 (mile 70) last year. It sounded good in theory, but when it came down to pay up race week, I dreaded it.

That said, I can say I’ve not made the same mistakes repeatedly. But “learning” from my mistakes has somehow not increased my success rate. This is because I’m Opposite George.

“if every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right” (George Costanza, May 1994)

I’ve gone out too fast and trashed my quads. I then went out slower and proceeded to miss cut-offs. I wore too tight socks and got heat rash. I wore loose socks and got blisters. I hurried through rest stops to save time and starved/ froze. I dilly dallied and overate, gotten stiff, missed cutoffs.

Arrived at the race headquarters an hour outside Phoenix by 6 pm. Picked up my packet and settled to my routine of eating alone in a hotel bar, explaining to the waitress that I did indeed want both the burger and the turkey avocado sandwich with onion rings, and yes on the 2rd glass of wine.

Next morning got up at 3 AM to dress, pack my drop bags, and drive to the race. The start was crazy crowded, nearly 400 runners in Halloween costumes and headlamps. 

I started to be aware of my toes rubbing the box of my shoes less than 10 miles in. That’s weird, I had carefully taped each toe with KT tape before putting on 5-toe socks filled with anti-Monkey Butt powder. I knew that to ignore feet was death, so I resolved to check my feet at the next rest stop at mile 15.5.

No chairs so sat on the sand, eased my sock off.  I could feel blisters forming already on the medial aspects of my great toes. Re-doing the tape would be a project, but I took a look and tried to pop it with my bib pin. Under all that callous, no liquid would come out. Powdered the feet and and put the socks back on, not too damp yet. Looked inside my shoes for the rocks I had felt. Where were the insoles? Must’ve been pulled out when I took the shoes off, but…. There were no insoles, only a stiff plastic bottom with holes. Sinking feeling with dread as I realized that I had packed only one pair of shoes, which I was committed to running the next 86 miles in. Crap crap crap. I had taken out the soaking insoles to dry after LeGrizz and forgotten to put them back in. 

Started 2nd lap shaken but kept moving. It was already hot at 10 AM, getting close to 90 by early afternoon. I lamented to another runner who was very sympathetic about my insole gaffe, though she was herself a barefoot runner wearing just sandals.

Got back to the main station at 50k anxious to change my socks and care for blisters. Bigger blisters, now something to pop, and the tape was falling off, had to cut new tape. Did I listen to Francine and let the medics fix it? No. Killed another 20 minutes retaping, looked for a clean pair of socks…. Where were those 3 pairs of socks I packed? I realized I had put them in the remote drop back with my flashlight batteries. Put my damp, stinky socks back on, popped more advil, and kept going.

Still made 100k in better time than last year (sub 16h), stopped to change into warm clothes so as not to freeze like last year and took a ½ a Provigil so I wouldn’t fall asleep, but overheated and slowed exponentially in the dark. Was passed by nearly everyone, including the 70 year olds and walkers. Made the mile 77 cut-off with over an hour to spare, still had 7:45 to run just 24 more miles. 

Then suddenly there was no one around. The same place I got lost last year, incredibly on the 6th loop I got lost again, wandering around for 90 minutes looking for trail markers, backtracking, despite 3 lamps. When they say, “it’s darkest before the dawn” they weren’t kidding. After the moon sets and before the sun rises, it was darker than dark for nearly 2 hours. Time ticking, every wrong turn I made, panic. Asked the mile 80 aid station people for new batteries. Was I still under the cutoff? I had made the last hard cutoff, they said.

The sun came up. Started seeing runners on their last lap coming the other way, and I knew I was in last place, but that I could finish. A jeep drove by me filled with DNFd runners, probably the same one I rode last year. I sped up, feeling good. Reached the mile 93 stop with 2:20 left to do the last 8 miles, but was told I missed the last cutoff by 10 minutes and would not be allowed to continue.

Went to the shower, and as soon as I sat felt dizzy, opened my mouth and the last liter of water I had chugged came up silently, mixed with with what I suspected was a little banana. My pee was brownish, not a good sign. Tried to smile feebly as I got my consolation buckle and looked for food that I wouldn’t upchuck so I could drive the hour back to the airport without bonking. 

Ocean checked back with me to see if my mood had crashed as it usually does after a race, but oddly, it hadn't. I don't think it had anything to do with the fact that I didn't technically quit; to go on in the face of certain failure is a trait I still lack. Maybe repeatedly failing makes it easier. Maybe my definition of failure is changing. I may be 2 for 6 now, but I'm still moving.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

2012 New Music November

2012 NMN's theme is simply pick your favorite sixteen tunes along with a seven-letter animal.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Theoretical Bicycle pt.1

My dropbar-converted Stumpjumper rig is a Helluvatrooper.

I really love this bike. It’s fun to ride. It rides over and through anything and everything. It requires relatively little maintenance. It very very rarely flats. It would be hard to ask for a better DailyDriver.

But it is a little too small (check out that saddle height!) and I look not unlike a 90’s time trialist when I hammer, let alone sink to the drops. It’s also equipped with cantilever brakes and it rains here a lot. Also hilly. That makes for a dicey c-combo and my stopping distance is Considerable when it’s wet out (and steep out).

A few months back I caught sight of a kickstarter campaign and I took a gamble. I threw in a largish chunk of change and held my breath. The darn thing got funded though and now I’m poorer but I’m allegedly taking delivery of a brand new and untested exotic frame this coming January. This has me excited. I’ve been poring over parts lists and options and compatibility charts and installation guides and then balking at prices and through it all have come up with a Plan. This Theoretical Bicycle may one day become real but for now it’s little more than a google doc and a big number surrounded by red (parentheses) in my checking account. Recently though, it’s made its first strides out of the imagination and into the corporeal.

 I saw this photo on the internets of the first-off-the-line frames, still unpainted in Taiwan and made of a different alloy than mine is expected to be. Still, that’s something.

And then I took delivery of some of the first shiny elements.
They hint at the Plan.
And are certainly pretty to look at. But this project has a long way to go before the bicycle becomes Real. Lucky for me the Stumpjumper is a Helluvatrooper, ready for the winter studded tires, and happy to take me through the dark days of winter.

Stay tuned as this project takes on a bicycle-shaped shape.

Monday, October 29, 2012



TdM 2012, a set on Flickr.

Last weekend, October 29th, was the 16th Annual Tour de Muktileo. There was a deep field this year, 3 brave contestants, none of whom rode the same course, or could even agree on what the course should be. There were was one thing clear though, this was a Bike Event (This was a Swig Event).

First we all rode to the bottom of St. Andreas Blvd, just because we love riding back up it. I rode up it. Ocean rode up it despite being a baby about his helmet. Gerald decided to ride a more difficult course and rode up Picnic Pointe prior to Andreas, make sure her's legs were assuredly Jello before the attempt. A brilliant Strategy.

We rode to the Diamond Knot (II) becuase they make excellent pizza, but we just has a beer.

We rode to Scuttlebutt for a beer too. darker ones.

Skirtsteak met us there and joined us for the remainder of the day's stages. We set off at a blistering <10mph pace back toward Chateu Chapeau. Once there Ocean made us all the requisite Gins and Tonic that mark the successful completion of The Tour. Always refreshing after a Hot Summer Ride.

I don't know excacty who won the day (photo finish results pending), but Ricky Williams was the clear KOM.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cowboy in another life?

Le Grizz 50 miler, Hungry Horse MT, Oct 13, 2012

31st year of this race, a very popular Western States 100 qualifier because it is "easy" (36 miles gravel road, 14 miles paved, 2000 ft rolling vertical) and scenic. Yet it is a small race with many veterans, like Larry C. with whom I ran the first 100k of Pigtails. He ran it 23 times, twice finishing under 7 hours (men's record 5:34, women's record 6:37). I'll admit I have crazy thoughts of trying for WS100, and god forbid I actually get in one day (1/11 chance in lottery after qualifying with a sub-11h 50 miler). But for now it's more fuel for the addiction, 50 mile being my new fav distance.

Flew into Kalispell and drove 14 miles to Hungry Horse. Felt so peaceful in Montana, the same peace I felt flying into Spokane and driving north to eastern BC.

Now the routine, pick up rental car. Stop at grocery to buy food for race. Check in at Mini Golden Inns motel. Start swigging. Get up ridiculously early (in this case 4 a.m. mountain time) to make sure Body Glide is properly applied before getting on the shuttle to the race start.

Then the bus driver got lost, over 2.5 hours to get to the start. In addition to the usual Maniacs, I saw Keith S. who was at VT100, one of those guys who did the Badwater- Grand Slam combo, didn't recognize him without the pink tutu. Also heard a couple runners from iRunFar were there this year.

Francine had warned me the weather would be crappy, but did I listen?
At least Francine's husband is wearing the right gear to crew.

Rain Rain Rain. Gun start at the back of the pack.

There are few manned rest stops on this course, so everybody had their crew car constantly leap-frogging you on the course. Very hard to find a private place to pee.

It's a long road ahead, and you're pretty much on your own. Like life but a lot easier and more pleasant.

I hear it's got amazing views when not so rainy/ foggy, but it was pretty amazing anyway.

A race volunteer offered to take my photo, even before he realized I was carrying my own camera. Doggie lost interest when he realized I wasn't carrying any beef jerky.

It would clear a little, then rain some more, then a rainbow....

The hard part was hitting hard pavement at 14 miles left to go, knowing that a sub-9 was still possible, but I had to average 10:30 pace to get there...

and that there was a steep scramble to the finish.

8:55:08, that's a PR for me. Handmade wooden finisher's plaque and PBR? life doesn't get better. 

My drop bag (and post race clothes) were soaking wet so I was too cold to brave the massage. Fortunately I met a fellow runner from Seattle who offered me a ride back. He had done the 200 at Pigtails and even finished PLAIN. I must've done good, rarely finish in the company of such fast runners.

Got back to Seatown at 6:30 AM, breakfast at Speedway Cafe with Ocean, then a blessed day to sleep. and swig and blog.

Oh Canada!

Montreal Marathon, Sept 22-23, 2012

When CZ texted that he was running the Montreal half-marathon, and did I want to come along (to run the full) it was a no-brainer. I had not been back there since graduation from M.D.C.M. in 1999. While there I was so eager to get back to Boston at every opportunity, I didn't fully appreciate the city, such is 20/20 retrovision. It sure felt different in my 40's as opposed to my 20's, but then again everything does.

Luckily I chose to take the red-eye and arrive late Friday night. Had time to catch a beer sampler on Rue St. Catherine, closed the place down.

Next day I had an agenda, went to replace my dead McGill backpack and get a view from the chalet on top of Mt. Royal. Luckily the subway system is great, you pretty much never have to see the light of day in winter (which is handy when it's minus 30) as the entire city is connected underground. 

After bagels boiled in honey water on the Plateau, stopped by the Shatner student center and by Redpath, the oldest building in Canada. 

Hiked up to the Trashcan (aka McIntyre medical building) where I spent so many hours. 
The students in there looked like infants. Then hiked up in the rain to the chalet. 

The climb is a lot less than I remember, but I wasn't a runner then. 

CZ was less excited about climbing a crapload of hills in the rain the day before a race, so we cabbed it to Oldtown, 

where I got to watch a 3D IMAX movie featuring polar bears while drinking beer and eating popcorn. The Canadians have it figured out. 

That evening, dinner outdoors next to the hill at km 16 of the race, and even fireworks outlining the Jacques Cartier bridge which we could see from our hotel room. 

Next morning, a perfect crisp fall day for a leisurely run through a beautiful city. I think I did more in that 1.5 days than entire months 17 years ago. 

Kaslo Sufferfest, Kaslo BC Sept 29-30, 2012

I actually sighed with relief when fellow Maniac Francine suggested we downgrade from the planned Loonie Toonie (200 km trail race, supported only by crew, divided over 3 days) to the "regular" Sufferfest 50k trail run. Either would earn you the coveted "sufferfest hoodie". 

Flew in to Spokane then drove 3 hours to pick up Francine in Rossland, BC. I was oohing and aahing the scenery, huge mountains and trees with crazy mountain bikers climbing 10+% grade hills for miles and miles. 

We drove 2 more hours to get to Kaslo, another beautiful small mountain town.

The Kaslo Sufferfest is a 3-day event with multiple mountain bike (100k, 45k, 14k, Monster Enduro) and trail running events (50k, 25, 10k) going simultaneously. People can mix it up (do 100k bike + 50k run) or double up (100k + 45 k bike), the Loonie Toonie being the longest. It was news to me there are separate helmets for ascending and descending.

Camped for $20 then got up in the dark for the 6 AM start, under a full moon. 

The pictures cannot do justice to the beauty of the trail. There was a fair amount of climbing but not the bush-whacking I feared after hearing stories about the brutality of Canadian trail runs.

They had a volunteer standing in the middle of the forest directing bikers in one direction, runners in another.

And there's nothing like seeing dawn through the trees, over some water with Selkirk mountains in the background, when you're slightly lightheaded from climbing.

And what goes up must come down

Met up with a runner from Alberta named Bobby Jo who was doing her first 50k.

Never such a variety of terrain in one race, forest, sandpit, rocks, single track, dirt roads....

and it was a perfect sunny day

We saw a bridge painted with dye made from beets, there were a lot of running in the wide open. 

And despite all the dilly-dallying, still finished under the 8 hour cut-off. 

After the race, grilled burgers and "suffer bucks" to spend in any food place in town, got to individually thank all the race volunteers. Love small town races. 

Apparently we didn't even get to see the most amazing parts (here are some photos pirated from the Sufferfest)

We'll be back next year for the Toonie.