Wednesday, January 23, 2013

23 millimeters of rubber

I am a relativity sane and normal 44 year old man and I am in love with my bikes.  I have two rides and I love them both with equal intensity.  I actually have a fondness for all bikes but my girls are special.  Millie and Forrest (they are my bikes and I can name them anything I want) have both saved my life and put my life in peril   Both of my girls have had a hand in changing and shaping my life.  Both of my girls and I have spent a lot of time, and a lot of miles, together.  My girls and I have been in relationships longer then most of my people relationships.  But to be fair, I put more time and care and love and effort into my girls then I do with most of my people relationships.

TOP 10 REASONS WHY MY GIRLS ARE BETTER THEN REAL GIRLS (except for my wife, she really is the coolest girl I know...and my daughter, she's a little angle.  When she smiles at me first thing in the morning...fugedaboutit!!!! It just makes my whole day)

1. They don't get jealous of each other.  I can ride Millie all day and Forrest will just sit at home and wait her turn.

2. They each know their place and they don't try to be someone they are not.  Millie is my road bike, she and I have been on some epic long rides together.  She was with me for both Ironman's and all 6 half iron's.   We've ridden from our home base in Bethesda, MD to exotic ports of call like Frederick, MD and Sugarloaf Mountain, Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah and Harper's Ferry, WV.  Millie gets to go to the beach with me and ride from the northern tip of Ocean City to such diverse and charming little hamlets as Dagsboro and Selbyville.  Millie is fast and smooth and well mannered.  Forrest is my daily commuter.  A single speed cyclocross bike, she is tough and durable and very stable but sorta nimble too and surprisingly fast.  Forrest is perfect for running errands and getting me around the city.  Forrest gets to go to exciting destinations like Nationals ballpark, the gym at Friendship Heights and The Giant.  Forrest, I rarely ride for more than an hour at a time, usually only :15-:20 minutes per commute.  Millie, I have rarely ever ridden for less than an hour at a time, usually 2 or more.

3. Both my girls have taught me lessons about life purely with my best interest at heart.  Lessons about overcoming obstacles  lessons about expecting the unexpected curves life throws at us, lessons about being aware of your surroundings, lessons about planning, and lessons about what to do when those plans go south.

4. My girls never lose interest in me.  They are always ready for any adventure or mundane task I may call upon them for.  They are also willing to wait months or even years for their next adventure.

5. Although usually very predictable they sometimes like to be unpredictable, just to be silly.  Like the time that Forrest decided to loosen her rear wheel so the chain came flying off.  Then there was the summer that Millie flatted 6 times in 8 weeks.  I really learned how to change a flat that summer, got my time down to about 5 minutes.

6. Nobody is more dependable.  Sure, Forrest lives in my car and Millie resides under the stairs with the furnace and old cans of paint.  But when it's go time, they are ready.

7. Forrest helped me find a condo to move into.  Millie helped me find myself.  When I first got Forrest my home search was limited to a half mile radius from work, I didn't want to have to drive everyday.  She expanded my search to a more affordable 5 mile radius.  Millie and I have ridden over 11,000 miles together, including 9 separate rides of 100+ miles, usually solo, but never alone.  If you don't learn something about yourself during a century ride then you are just not paying attention.

8. They taught me a little bit about how the body works.  Think about this for a bit.  If you went to the "body parts store" and bought a hip bone and tried to balance it on the saddle of a bike it would fall off.  If you got a complete skeleton and placed it on a bike it would still fall off.  If you were able to see a working model of the human body in motion while peddling and controlling a bike you would see every muscle in the core working to either stabilize the hip bone or shift the hip bone into a slight tilt forward or back, left or right to help control the bike.  It is those slight variations in position that steer the bike or provide power to the peddles.  It all starts from the core.

9. I love the potential they hold.  What will the future hold for my girls?  Will Millie and I ever go more then 100 miles at a time?  75?  50? If we move to a new home will Forrest ever get to do the daily commute?  Will she be regulated to errands and blowing off steam around the 'hood.  When my daughter starts to ride how will that start?  I suppose in a bike trailer behind Forrest, then a third wheel trail-a-bike.  When she get's her own bike what adventures are in store for us then?  I can't wait to find out.

10. These girls are part of my past, my present and my future and I will never get rid of them.  Unless I unexpectedly come into a large sum of money, then I can see a new race bike in my stable, and a re-purposing for Millie and maybe Forrest as well.  But they will always be here for me if I need them.  Because I will always, to some extent, need them.

See you on the road friends

Saturday, January 5, 2013

random thoughts

Hello everybody, and by everybody I mean my five followers.  I know it's been a good little while since I've posted but as you are aware I've been a bit busy with little Maddie and with work.  Call it excuses, call it reasons, call it lazy, whatever.  So let's see if I can start getting a little momentum back.  It's never too late to start over.

I'm running again!  I've been pretty consistent since early November, getting out there about twice per week for about 3-5 miles at a time.  It has taken me a little time to adjust mentally to this new reduced workload and the new pace.  You see, back in my marathon/ironman days I would routinely run about 20-40 miles per week, depending on where I was in my training for a particular event.  I would do these miles any where from an easy recovery pace of 8 min/mile to tempo runs of 8 miles in under an hour to hammering out some track intervals at top speed, usually 8x800m in 3:15 each (1:00 recovery).  Now I have finally grown content with cruising along at an easy and relaxed 9 minute pace.  I feel like I have fully converted to the "natural" style of running.  I don't really have to think about it anymore.  Is the Plantar F gone?  Not really, I'm starting to think that this injury never really goes away, it just sort of lingers at a low level of discomfort forever.  I don't feel it when I run, I feel it a little bit in the morning.  I usually do all the right stretches and strengthening moves.  Do I have goals with my running?  I used to think about my next marathon, now I just am happy to get an hour of peace and quite and meditative solitude.  So no I don't really have any goals.  The thought of a  marathon is intriguing though.  What would that feel like?  To run a marathon "naturally."  My guess is that it would take me about 4 hours, maybe a little more. In the spirit of not setting myself up for failure I'm going to put that dream on the back burner for a few years.  Since a goal is nothing but a dream with a deadline, I'll pick a dead line later.  Maybe as a reward for earning my Masters, but that is for a another post.

I have run one race recently, it was the annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day.  It's a great race, one of my fav's.  This was the 30th annual incantation of the event and it just gets bigger every year.  It's a lot like every other Turkey trot/chase all across the country.  I love it because there are always lots of friends and family doing it as well.  You see little kids running with their parents.  You see semi-impromptu reunions on course. You see serious runners pushing for a PR and first timers pushing for the finish line.  I do this race most years, one year I was injured and another I was 4 days post marathon so I cheered those years.  But 8 of the last 10 years I toe'd the line.  There is always a lot of friendly chatter at the starting line, the normal stuff you'd expect to hear.  People talking about their training, about the weather, about the fiscal cliff and the inability of congress to do anything meaningful, talking about their jobs and their families and their lives, usually good natured and light hearted and laughing.  One noticable difference I found between the front of the pack runners and the mid pack runners is when the chatter stops.  When I was fast and would line up at the front and push myself I noticed that the chit chat would stop as soon as the gun went off.  Maybe a quick, "here we go!" or "good luck," but usually all I hear is beeping of the timing chips flying over the start mat and cherping of our watches as we start the timer.  Then it's 40 minutes of breathing hard and running fast.  But back with the 50-60 minute runners, the chatting never really stops.  It might slow down a bit in the second half but I learned a lot of interesting facts about some total strangers.  One guy felt as if he was mislead by the Realtor whose sign we just ran past, another joked about turning our 6 mile run into a 2 mile walk, I found out where one lady got a great deal on her running top and I learned whose husband likes to share and whose doesn't.

I was just handed a baby that I am told looks a lot like me so I gotta go now.  Until next time, keep moving