Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Has Arrived

In typical Maryland fashion, summer has made itself known with two days of 100 degree weather and some nice humidity to go with it.  Now the fun really begins!  The first half of this week was spent recovering from the 10 miler as that race did a wonderful job of tearing me up.  By the end of the week, I was feeling much stronger.

Monday: Running: 8 miles total, easy, easy.  Quads were very, very upset.

Tuesday: Running: ~8 miles total, easy, mostly on trails.  Felt much much better, but still had some ways to go.
                Cycling: 13 miles total, commuting

Wednesday: First of the hot days.  Of course, it didn't stop West Side Worlds from happening.  I hydrated my face off all day and managed to survive the ride.  After ending up leading part of the first sprint and getting caught in the last push, I got dropped on the next climb.  Thanks to a combination of stubbornness and motivation, I managed to catch back up to the group at the top of the biggest hill, the only place they momentarily stop.  The last 20 miles of the ride went much better.  Overall, another well earned 36 miles of cycling.

Thursday: Running: 5 miles easy in the afternoon, legs finally feeling normal.  Hot as crap.  You know it's bad when it's still 90 degrees after the sun goes down.
                 Cycling: 13 miles total, commuting.  I was pretty sure I was going to drown in my own sweat on the afternoon ride back, but managed to survive.

Friday: Running: 3 miles, easy
             Cycling: 40 miles, first 15 and last 15 in the aero bars for some practice.  I can't ride slow while also in aero bars, so this basically ended up being a 2x"tempo" pace ride.  The middle 10 were slow thanks to a passing rain storm that made it nice and slick out.

Saturday: Cycling: 66 miles with some nice hills.  I joined someone on their last 100 mile ride before Ironman Lake Placid.  The pace was a little slower than my typical long rides, but overall, still a good one to get in with lots of hills.  Of course, my front derailleur stopped working 35 miles into the ride and I was stuck in the big chain ring for all the big hills, but was able to grind through it.  That bike hasn't needed a tuneup in over 800 miles, but on one of my hillier long rides, BAM just like that!

Sunday: Running: 11.5 miles, easy-ish  My legs felt good for all but the last mile of this run.  So overall, the 10 miler is behind me, and so far, the miles I'm doing right now seem to be working!

Cycling: 168 miles
Running: 35.5 miles

Up actual running workout on Tuesday.  It's about time!  I'll likely look for a mix of tempo running and speed work to get those legs moving in more than just races.  Rumor has it I may be doing a 5 or 10K in the next week or so, but we'll see.  No rush to sign up...

Bike miles will stay the same, running mileage will go to 40+ this time.

Monday, June 18, 2012


And, here is the mileage update from last week...

Monday: Cycling: 13 miles, commute to and from work
                Running: ~8 miles total around Fed Hill + the Monday night crew.  That was my first time inside Ft. McHenry, which is apparently a sin for a Baltimore City runner, but I finally made it, so leave me alone!

Tuesday: Rain all day had me second guess taking out the bike.
                Running: 8ish miles total, easy running around Gilman, not yet ready for TNT workouts

Wednesday: An adventure of sorts.  There is a tri club down in Columbia, MD that holds weekly run-bike-run workouts.  The AFC guys decided to nix the Wednesday night ride to go for the brick.  The plan was to meet at the 195 Park and Ride and ride down to Columbia, do the workout, and ride back.  Here was my day...

AM: Quick, short 2 mile ride to Fed Hill for an easy 4 miles with the BoMF crew, then a few more miles to work, for 8 total on the bike.

PM: Ride from work (nearly Dunkdalk) to the Park-and-ride, mostly easy pace, ~12-13 miles.  After a 20 minute nap (I was early), I joined up with 3 other guys and we made our way down to Columbia, another 12ish miles in a pace line, at easy pace.

The workout: 2.1 mile run, 10.5 mile bike, 2.1 mile run.  I took the runs faster than I have been running, but by no means all out.  I worked the bike to see what I could do on the 5 lap course.  It went well, until I busted my ass trying to dismount before transition.  Bike and rider were mostly fine, so I got up and finished the second run, feeling really good.  I think all the bike miles have actually made it easier to run after getting off the bike, just because I'm more used to cycling now.

Afterwards, with daylight running low, myself and the one remaining AFC guy from the original group made our way back to Catonsville.  After we parted ways, I had to ride in the dark on Frederick Road back into the city.  Thankfully, it was mostly downhill and well paved, until I hit the mine field that is Baltimore City.  When it was all said and done, I got in a total of 64 miles on the bike, and 8.4 miles on foot.

Thursday: Rest, rest, rest!!

Friday: Commute/ride to packet pickup for the 10 miler, and an easy 4 miles with BoMF.  16 miles total on the bike.

Saturday: 10 Miler!  57:00.  With my run there (I got a ride back because I was tired) and some more running to warmup, it was about 12.5 miles total.

Sunday: Rest, rest, rest.  My legs were shredded from that race.  It has taken until Monday afternoon for me to start feeling good again.  Clearly, I left it all out there, and my running legs may be just a bit behind my heart thanks to cycling.  But, my right leg is feeling good, no pain.  So all systems are go to keep the running up!

Run: 40.5 miles
Bike: 93 miles

Next up...still no running workout, but next week, I promise!!  I'll try and repeat my performance Wednesday night and stick with that A group again.  Running will stay in the mid-30s, cycling will not quite go back to 180, to "make room" for some running.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

5th Time is the Charm: 2012 Baltimore 10 Miler

The Baltimore 10 Miler....a race, and honestly, race distance that has not treated me well.  The B-10 is generally not a race for time.  It's a relatively hilly course, and the weather in its first four installments was positively awful for running.  Then something happened this year, and the high for the day was scheduled to "only" be 86 with decently low humidity.  With a 7:30AM start time, we were looking at starting temperatures right around 70 degrees or less.  All of a sudden, we had good weather for a June race.

I decided to go into this race with minimal expectations.  I had done very, very little running in the three weeks prior, doing only one "long" run of 10.5 miles the week before.  I was however, biking my ass off, as anyone who reads this blog can clearly see.  So I figured I'd be in good aerobic shape for this race, but possibly not ready for the pounding of 10 hard miles.  Combine that with the fact that my legs felt "meh" that morning, and I wasn't expecting much.

But, what did no expectations do for me?  It took off all the pressure.  I decided to keep it simple, and just run whatever felt comfortable early, and if I still felt good at mile 4/5, then turn it up a bit.  The course was changed for this year, and getting to the front of the crowd proved difficult, but eventually I found my way up front.  With the final hill in the course removed, times would hopefully be faster this year.

Historically, this race hasn't attracted the real top tier runners, but there was a Dave Berdan "sighting" which of course meant, the race was his to win.  I really didn't care, since I figured just winning my age group and maybe breaking 60 would be good enough.  With a 1:04:23 to my credit last year (terrible, terrible experience), it would be nice to just finally break 60.

The gun went off (10 minutes late) at 7:40AM, and I was quickly behind 15-20 others.  Every year, I've fallen for the trap of going out too hard on the first two miles (screaming downhill) only to get absolutely destroyed on the second half.  I was not having it this year.  My plan was to go out conservative on the early downhills and keep it steady on the 33rd street rollers out to a flat loop around Lake Montebello.

I hit the first mile, running with a couple of guys I know, Keith and Jesse (just out for a morning "jog"): 5:43

My legs were not a fan of the downhill, but otherwise, I felt way, way too good.  I honestly thought the mile marker was short because of how good I felt.  But no matter, I continued running with Keith and we slowly started picking people off.

Mile 2: 5:41

I still felt good, way, way too good.  Something wasn't adding up.  Regardless, I stayed within myself and continued to be steady.  A lot could still go wrong over 8 miles.

The downhills stopped at that point, as we began approaching the lake, hitting some decent hills.  Though mile 3 looked slow, Keith and I continued to gain on the people around us, so we must have been doing something right...

Mile 3: 6:00

As we closed on the lake, I passed another guy I have run with, Dave (40 year old with a thick English accent, good guy), who was looking to run 59:59, but took it out hard.  I had let him go early, knowing that was not going to work for me.  Now I had caught and passed him, and still felt way too good.

We hit the lake, and I was still firing on all cylinders, so I decided it was time to institute my Baltimore 10 Miler plan that has never ever come to fruition: turn it up on the lake.  Lake Montebello, is approximately a 1.2 mile flat loop where dreams in the B-10 and Baltimore Marathon/Half go to die.  I know every B-10 I've done has died on that lake.  But not today, this time I was planning on crushing everyone else's dreams.

I'm also going to momentarily rant at the race organizers.  For a 4500+ person race which we paid a steep price for, it is completely unacceptable that there were cars ON THE COURSE at this point in the race, cars, heading straight for us.  I know races these days are just about making money, but seriously, I can dodge cars for free any weekend.  They will be hearing from me about that one, because honestly, it's just dangerous.

But back to the race...

Mile 4: 5:43

After what was supposedly a slow mile 3, I clearly rebounded well and ended up dropping Keith.  A group of about 2 or 3 others started exchanging positions with me.  One guy with some kind of orange bandana then put a small gap on me.  As we started to come off the back side of the lake, I decided I had enough of looking at that bandana and passed him.

Mile 5: 5:49

I was still feeling strong, but knew crunch time was approaching.  We would be leaving the lake next to roll back on 33rd street, and then climb all the hills we flew down at the beginning.  The next 5 miles would determine the race.  Though at this point, I running better than I ever have at the B-10 and knew I just had to take it a mile at a time.

After a complete BS out and back off 33rd street, I hit the next mile.

Mile 6: 5:43

I wasn't quite yet digging, but the pain was coming.  Off in the distance I could see 4 guys, two of which I knew, "Beef" and Eton.  I had been chasing those two guys basically since mile 3, but could see ever so painstakingly slowly, that the distance between us was shrinking.  With the course looping over itself now, I also got a few shout outs from the Back on my Feet crew, and various Geico Pace Group Leaders.

It was certainly appreciated!  Of course, the guys ahead of me knew I was coming, so there would be no sneaking up on them.

Mile 7: 5:41

I was in complete disbelief that I was still running this strong.  The next couple miles would be the ultimate test, but at this point, I was going to make absolutely sure to hold on.

Time for one more rant.  Once again, for the amount of money I paid, it is completely unacceptable to feel unsure of where to go.  Between mile 7 and 8, besides the confusing cones, there was no course marking, and NO volunteers directing runners.  The freaking Baltimore City Police were telling us where to go, and it is not their job to do such (as we are always told), they are supposed to keep us from getting hit by cars!  Once again, for a race this size, completely unacceptable.  I can get lost near Johns Hopkins for free any day of the week.  But thankfully, beyond all hope, the cops directed us correctly.  The organizers of this race seriously need to consider their priorities when it comes to putting this stuff on.  I've run $2 races with better course marking and control.

But, once again, back to the race...

Over Miles 7 to 8, I finally caught up to that pack of 4.  It took a lot of patience, but I got there.  As soon as I hit the pack, it was beginning to crumble, with a guy in a DC Tri Club jersey pulling away.  I went with him and managed to pull ahead, though I could still hear footsteps for most of the mile.

Mile 8: 5:24

Either this made up for mile 3, or I was actually burning up the pavement, but either way, I was starting to feel it.  I had passed a lot of people and was still running strong, but the gas tank was running low.  I used the downhills over that mile to help me along since Mile 9 would take me back UP into Druid Hill Park.

I had a few things working in my favor for this hill.  First, I finally could no longer hear footsteps behind me.  I had no interest in a sprint to the finish, and hoped I had just decided the race right there.  Second, with the final hill taken out of the race, I only had one left.  Third, the mile 9 water stop was likely to go absolutely crazy when they saw me.  So I dug deep and told myself "just get to the water stop."  As I approached the mile marker, someone shouted to me "you're in 4th!" to which someone else said "no, he's in 3rd!"  I didn't have a damn clue what place I was in, but was quite surprised I was that close to the top.  Regardless, I wasn't giving up my spot if I was second to last at that point.

Mile 9: (nearly at the top): 5:34

As I rounded the curve up the hill, I got a cheer from the official Back on My Feet water stop that I kid you not, was as loud as anything I heard at the Boston Marathon.  My legs were fried at that point, but I knew I had to keep pressing.

We hit the "1 mile to go fudge factor loop" through a desolate area of Druid Hill Park, which I survived, continuing to feel my legs falling apart.  After the loop, I turned back onto the main road for the final run to the finish.

I saw 56 tick away as I crossed the line in 57:00, my fastest B-10 time by far, and a mere 5 seconds slower than my all time PR (also on a hilly course).  I was confirmed as the third place finisher, and actually got some pretty nice hardware for my efforts.

My legs were trashed, I felt tired, but overall, felt really, really happy.  Running has been somewhat rough lately, and this was a perfectly timed confidence booster.  I was also really really happy to have finally done well at the B-10, and even placed overall.  I've done this race every year since it started in 2008, and have come a LONG way from my 1:15:51, and 125th place debut.  If you don't believe me, check the 2008 results.

A couple pictures, first of my approaching that final water stop (courtesy of the hard working Back on my Feet volunteers), and a picture of the sweet trophy I got:

I'm taking the rest of the weekend off after this one.  As far as I'm concerned, I freaking earned it!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Bike Can Become Very Consuming

This week has gone quite well on multiple fronts.  I continue to see steady improvement on the bike thanks to all this mileage I've put in.  Equally important, my legs seem healthy once again and are responding positively to running.  So here is the week...

Monday: 3 mile run, real easy jog

Tuesday: 43 miles total cycling including...6.5 miles to work in the morning, 31 miles at an easy pace after work, and another 5.5 bonus miles after that to meet up with the TWSS crew at Gilman as they were finishing their track work.

Wednesday: 38 miles total riding with warm up.
 I finally made my return to group riding, specifically the Adventures for the Cure, Wednesday night West Side Worlds A ride.  It's a 35 mile route that contains three respectable hills (one with a section at 18% grade), and three designated sprint sections.  I never even came close to the end of this ride without getting dropped last year.  This time though, I survived the whole way.  Note: survived.  I made sure to just tuck into the draft and stay behind people that I knew wouldn't get dropped.  I only joined break aways to keep myself firmly planted behind another wheel.  Between that and my extra mileage, I was able to hold on and got a really solid interval style workout in.  And aside from death gripping the handle bars most of the way, my group riding skills were a lot more solid than they have been: holding my line, keeping my velocity and acceleration smooth, drinking water without endangering the lives of everyone around me, and keeping the gap with the next bike minimal.

Thursday: Commute to and from work by bike, 13 miles total.  Running...5 miles easy pace, but faster than jogging.  I felt no pain in my leg at all during the run.  My quads were a little beat up from the bike, but that was ok.

Friday: 4 mile run, real easy jog.  Everything was still ok on the running side.  As for the bike, here is a quick story:

I purchased my current vehicle, a 2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse (new) down in Annapolis, about 35 miles south of Baltimore.  This particular dealership has a ridiculously good service plan such that, I make the drive down there for maintenance (and once when I blew out a tire).  With free oil changes for life and a free loaner car (I only pay for gas I use), it's a pretty hard deal to pass up.  Plus, I like driving and the drive down is usually pretty quick.  This time though, I decided, why not just drop it off Friday, ride my bike back to Baltimore, then ride back down Saturday and pick it up?

Well I decided to do that, and it was pretty awesome.  I've been on many of the back roads between Baltimore and Annapolis and basically had a route planned out in my head already.  The only dicey part was the two or so miles in Annapolis in a pretty busy area on West street before it turns into Generals Highway.  But, with my experience riding within Baltimore city, I figured I could handle it.

The whole thing went off perfectly, I rode 35 miles back to Baltimore Friday, and 35 miles down to Annapolis on Saturday.  It was a little warm on Saturday, but the route was relatively flat.  I think the people at the dealership thought I was crazy...

Sunday: At long last, it was time to give myself a real test.  Originally, I was going to do 8 miles, but opted instead to join a few other runners for an easy 10.5.  Since I'm allegedly running a 10 mile race next week, I'm either going to be healthy enough to run 10, or still be injured.  At this point, there really is no in between, so 10.5 or 8 really shouldn't make a difference. So with temperatures reaching the mid-80s by the end of the run, we managed roughly 7:20/miles for a somewhat exposed, somewhat hilly course.

Most importantly, no pain in my leg!  Aerobically, I felt fine, but my quads were a little sore.  They felt better than they did on Thursday during that 5 miler.  I think its a combination of just not having run much the last three weeks, riding instead of running, and some tiredness from the riding itself.

I'll give it a go with another easy 6-7 tomorrow, to give me back-to-back days of legit easy running.  That will be the final test, and I'll be willing to release myself for more reasonable amounts of running if my leg still feels fine.  I have to get back to running ASAP, because I'm really on a fast track to becoming a full blown cyclist...

Total miles for the week:
Bike: 164 (no long ride so I could save my legs for a long run, and the B-10 next week)
Run: 22.5; finally something resembling actually running.

This week, more running if everything goes well, and a similar amount of riding.  There will be no West Side Worlds this week, as we are going down to Columbia, MD for a run-bike-run brick instead.  That should keep me fresher for the Baltimore 10 Miler, which I have no designs on racing.  I'm just going to go with the flow for that one and see what happens.

Beyond that...the Maryland 2xrip Duathlon is my main goal, the weekend of July 15th/16th.  It will give me an opportunity to use my upgraded bike engine in a race.  Unlike Cascade Lake, this race will be competitive, so no cruising to a victory this time.  Since no one legit races duathlons, I actually get to start in the elite wave of this race.  Should be exciting...

After that, it will be time to pick a fall marathon, because that distance and I have a laundry list of unfinished business.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

More Miles!

I need to be careful, at this rate I could almost see myself becoming a full time cyclist.  I say almost, because I was reminded on Saturday why running is still better than cycling.  This is likely the last week I make any big jump in bike miles for at least a little while.  Overall, all this riding is  paying dividends, as I don't dread rides and finally have an idea of what kind of pace to maintain.

On the running front, I gave myself one more really easy test on Friday, and everything seems to be 100% so far.  By the middle of this coming week, I'll finally give myself a real test, back to back days of "actual" runs of at least 5 miles.  If all goes well from there, I think that I can start carefully putting in more miles.  Of course, then the question becomes, what the heck do I do about the bike?  I've made good strides in this last month and certainly don't want to just put it all back on the shelf.  It's a good problem to have though, at least for the time being...

Monday: 26.6 miles, just under race effort.  I could call this a tempo workout on the bike.  I took my race bike out to the Du the 2 (now re-branded Maryland 2xrip) course to ride it not quite at race pace, but close to it.  This was mainly to get used to my aero bars again, which I haven't touched since last year.  I was within 2 minutes of my actual race time from last year, so not too bad.

Tuesday: 13.2 miles, easy commute to and from work

Wednesday: 37.8 miles total, easy commute to work, and an easy 31 after work, from my office to Towson and back to my apartment

Thursday: 13.2 miles easy commute to and from work

Friday: AM: 3 miles of running, easy followed by 3x stride.  No pain in my leg

Saturday: This was supposed to be a 60 mile ride, but a popped chain and two flats made me change it to a 30.  I ran over a whole bunch of glass which did a number to my rear tire.  After replacing the first tube, I failed to remove all of the glass, and got a second flat within a few miles.  After that, I got it all out, but was out of tubes and opted to just light rail it back to my apartment since I was close to a station, rather than risk getting stranded with no tubes in the middle of Crofton, as I still would have had 30 miles to go.  It wouldn't have been the first time I was stranded in Crofton.  The Bike Doctor shop and a random stranger bailed me out last time...

Sunday: Long ride attempt #2...success!  I hit 60 miles in about 3:15.  This ride was a lot hillier than the one I planned on Saturday.  This one went north instead of Southwest, which means rolling hills that never end.  I rode from my apartment to the PA line and came back towards Timonium, opting to take the light rail back into the city, instead of navigating traffic in my depleted state.  I stayed hydrated pretty well, 3 water bottles did the trick, two stowed in my improved cages, and one in my jersey pocket.  I could have consumed more food, but still ate a lot more than I usually do...a power bar before I left then on the ride, a bag of honey stinger chews, 2 gu shots, and a bag of sports beans.  The variety was actually nice, since I can pretty much eat anything on the bike, unlike running.  I think anywhere from 2-4 more items would have done the trick.

I actually encountered of all types of people, a guy who rode BMX for 10 years on the light rail ride.  We talked shop most of the way back.  He wasn't a fan of my "huge" 56cm frame, low spoke count wheels, or the carbon fiber material of my frame.  I wasn't a fan of his bike's geometry, high spoke count, or the single speed.  Two completely different worlds!


Bike: 181 miles
Run: 3 miles (oh yea!)

I'm going to try and keep the bike exactly where it is in terms of total mileage, total number of rides, and my long ride, at least if time permits.  Running is back on the scene this week, if my legs will cooperate.