Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Following a plan...

Isn't really as easy as it sounds.  It takes a lot of discipline to follow a plan to the letter.  As stated yesterday, discipline is my biggest challenge.  It's not the discipline of getting out and getting into the activity, it's more the discipline to follow the plan.

Ok, last night I didn't follow the plan.  However, had I met up with friends and did the sufferfest, I would have gotten in the hour on the bike.  It would NOT have been the workout prescribed as I would have pushed much harder than the plan.  But, it is one example of where my discipline breaks down.

Tonight, the plan was to do about 1500m in the pool.  A 4x75m warm up with various exercises, 3x400m at increasing exertion levels and a 6x25m cool down with each 25 m slower than the last.  I got the swimming, just not at the distance nor in the prescribed intervals.  In fact, I probably went slower than I have in my previous swim workouts.

This is  probably where a coach really helps.  A coach could provide me with details of why it is important to follow the intervals and exercises prescribed.  At this point with the swimming, I'm not really having an issue with boredom, so exercises or not, I have too much to concentrate on with the swim to have to worry about being bored.

Cycling on the trainer - without having a class or some exercises to follow (i.e. a video workout) - THAT IS BORING!!

Well, tomorrow is a long run.  I think I'll give gunner a little bit of a break tomorrow, maybe he won't get quite so much distance total for the day.  I don't want to work him too hard, he's still a puppy!

Food today, nothing too different from previous days.  Successes:  No chocolate from the evil jar!

Getting close to bedtime, off to dreamland to dream about swimming, biking and running.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My biggest challenge....

is Discipline.  Today's workout was supposed to be 30 minutes of easy run and 60 minutes of small ring trainer torture on the bike.  I should have gone to a trainer class - I brought the bike and trainer into the house but it never got set up.  Sitting on that thing for an hour without the visual stimulation of something like the sufferfest videos or the group dynamic of a trainer class was going to be too much torture. 

So, you can bet my christmas present to myself this year is going to be a set of the sufferfest videos and a new television to which I can hook my computer to watch them.  Those will get me motivated. 

I did get 40ish minutes of running in.  Gunner requires that, so it is easy to get out with him.  He really loves running. 

Food was ok today.  a bowl of cereal and a protein shake for breakfast.  fibre bar for snack, shrimp jambalaya and a veggie medley for lunch.  Even had some fruit - banana pudding!  Dinner was the rest of the stuffed chicken breast with some beans, salsa and cheese in a tortilla.  Also had a nice little salad to go with that.  Wouldn't be complete without my chocolate milk!

that's it for me.  I'm hitting the sack.  Tomorrow is a new day and just a swim, although I'll get some running in there as well....


Monday, December 12, 2011

and so it begins

20 weeks.  That's how long I have before the White Lake Half Ironman.  I've downloaded a training plan from Beginner Triathlete.  It is a 20 week program that I'm going to see how well I can actually follow.

Today's workout was intended to be 40 minute run at perceived exertion of 3, 2500m swim (800m warmup, 1500m main, 200m cool-down).  I was pretty worried about how this plan started - that seems like a long swim when you are just starting a program!  It makes me worry about what is to come!

So, my exercise routine started at 430am today.  I took Gunner out and bumped his distance a little bit.  It was a little slow, but we ran 2.7 miles at close to a 10 minute pace.  Ended up being just under 26 minutes of running.  since it was supposed to be at RPE 3, that was about the right pace. 

When I got home this evening, I took him out for another 2 miles.  This was at about a 9:30 pace, so that makes pretty close to another 20 minutes of running.  A few more minutes than the plan called for, but I had to break it up in two chunks in order to fit it in my day.  Does that still count?  I don't know.

For the swim, I essentially skipped the 4x200m exercises the plan calls for and just swam 2400m straight.  I know the exercises are designed to help me strengthen my technique, so I need to concentrate on doing those.  I was so nervous about the total distance, I just put my head down and went for it.  Just over 59 minutes to cover the 2400m. 

I could tell I was getting tired towards the end.  My technique started to break down, although my stroke count stayed pretty much the same.  I was hitting 19, 20 or 21 strokes for 25m.  I don't know how that is compared to anything, but that is where I am.

Especially towards the end, I wind up swallowing some water, or at least getting it in my mouth and nose when I try to breathe.  Makes it difficult, but I suppose it is not all bad - Tedd says that is what happens in an open water swim...

Food today: cereal again with milk and a banana.  fibre bar for mid-morning snack.  Hamburger steak with mushroom gravy and mashed potatoes (and gravy) for lunch.  PB&J sandwich as a mid-afternoon snack, protein shake for dinner. 

that's my day, going to take Gunner for another walk, then go to bed. 


Sunday, December 11, 2011

hitting the bricks

So, here I've signed up to do a half Ironman triathlon.  For those who are not familiar with Ironman triathlons, there is a full (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) and the half (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run).  I've never done a traditional tri before, but if you know me, it won't surprise you that I'd commit to a half Ironman having never done a real tri.

I have done a number of off-road tris.  However, the Off-road tri is very different in one aspect.  The water portion of the tri is a flat water kayak.  While a trail run is different from a road run, and mountain biking is different than road biking, the differences in those activities are not massive.  However, kayaking is VERY different from swimming - especially for someone like myself who does not consider himself a swimmer. 

So, because of that, I've joined the westside aquatic center which has a very nice pool.  I've been swimming about 2 times per week for about a month now.  I'm not being coached, but that's part of my challenge - see what I can do without a coach.  Although, I have to admit, it's really part stubbornness and part cheap.  I'm not in a financial position to really be paying a coach right now. 

I'm set to begin a 20 week training program tomorrow.  Day number 1 it calls for a 40 minute run and a 2400m swim.  While these two activities for tomorrow don't have to be back to back (we call this a brick), there are days where I'll be required to do a brick. 

In fact, I have done a couple of bricks in the last few weeks.  The bricks I've been doing have been a bike followed by a run.  A few weeks ago, my teammate Hudson and I went out for 28ish miles on the bike (WAY harder than I really planned), and about 3 miles of running (again WAY harder than I really planned!).  Today was another brick - 50 miles on the bike followed by a 3.2 mile run. 

How hard is too hard.  This is a very difficult question for me to answer.  I tend to work (ride or run or swim) at whatever pace my body feels like going.  Sometimes that means I'm pegged all of the time, sometimes that means I'm in total cruiser mode.  Today was a mix of both. 

I rode today with the A group.  What this means is that they are going to go pretty hard.  You get guys who have a lot of experience in the A group, and the pace tends to be fast.  Of course, for a guy who races in Category 1, today's ride may have been a true recovery ride.  For me, as I said, it was a mix. 

Early on in the ride, we encountered some rolling hills that caused my heart rate to get pretty high.  My respiration was also high, and I was thinking there was no way I could stick with that pace.  Things seemed to settle down a little, and I started feeling better about my chances of sticking with this group. 

About 20 miles in, our ride leader Jim stopped us and announced a 4.5 mile sprint zone.  As we started rolling again, everyone up front was looking at each other like they were waiting for something.  Well, if they were waiting for someone to jump, they weren't waiting for me.  I took a flyer off the front, knowing full well I'd be lucky to be able to stay out there for very long.  I gave it my best shot though, and it woke some peeps up. 

I came off the front when they caught me and found a spot in the pack to recover.  After a while, the pack started slowing down again, and I could see a couple people off the front.  Of course I had to take another flyer.  I chased down the first of the riders, held the front of the pack for a little longer, then relinquished the lead to someone else. 

By this time, I was really feeling it, and I was VERY lucky to be able to hold on to the back of the pack through the rest of the sprint zone.  It was a fun section and we had a little break at the stop sign to let everyone catch up. 

The rest of the ride picked up in the overall pace, but still stayed pretty civilized.  Our average riding pace climbed up towards 19mph, and I was feeling pretty good.  I sat on the front for a couple of rounds before I went back to the back of the pack.  As we closed down for our final miles, my body was starting to talk to me about the efforts I'd made. 

We finished out the ride in 3h02m and it was almost exactly 50 miles.  Not the fastest pace I've ever ridden, but for this period, in my current condition, it was plenty fast enough. 

So, now comes the brick.  A former team-mate Dave had also ridden in the A group and he had said he'd also be interested in making a brick out of the day.  So, we had our running shoes in my car, and when we got back, we made a quick change and set off on our run. 

I have a Garmin forerunner which has capability to time each activity seperately.  I need to work a little more with this device, as I messed it up today and didn't get the run timing down just right. It has a way to time your transitions and correctly time your next activity.  Looks like I'll have to get the manual back out to refresh myself on its operation.

So, we started off on our run.  Dave immediately set a pace I knew I wouldn't be able to keep.  That was OK, he became a carrot for me.  It made me run a lot faster than I had planned, but overall I felt pretty good, so I wasn't too concerned about it. 

The one issue I had, was with my left quad.  I could feel it wanting to cramp from about the beginning of the run.  It didn't, but had we run more than a 5k, it may have given me some real problems. 

With my timing issues, I didn't get all of my per-mile times accurately.  for example, I had run a quarter mile or more before I realized that I needed to do something else to get the run time to start.  I hit the start / stop button and ran for a little while.  After a couple more minutes, I looked down to see that the timer had stopped!  I hit start / stop again, and it told me to begin running.  How much did I just lose on getting good accurate timing? 

Once it finally started tracking the run correctly, I was already close to 1/2 mile into the run.  When I finally got to what it measured as 1 mile, it said my first mile pace was 14+ minutes.  I know I ran faster than that, but it counted the transition time in that first measured mile.  My second mile was counted correctly and showed as 7:47/mile pace.  I never actually made a third measured mile because of that issue in the beginning.  The clock stopped at 2.94miles.  My average pace had continued to drop - first mile 14+ min, after 2nd mile 11:05ish and at the finish, my average pace was down to around 10min/mile.  No matter what, the run was a pretty good pace for me.  I generally do 8:30-9minute miles when I am training by myself, or even when I run with the boys. 

So, that's a brick.  A pretty good pace for the bike, and a pretty good pace for the run.  Now I just have to get comfortable in the water....

What about nutrition for this day's exercise?  I ate a 2 eggs, half of a stuffed chicken breast, some beans, cheese and salsa wrapped in a tortilla for breakfast.  I ate nothing while on the bike or before the run (MAJOR mistake), then I fell off the wagon and ate junk food for dinner.  I'm not even going to say where it was I am so embarrassed by it. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

food and Exercise 12/9, 12/10

Just catching up on my food and exercise.  Going to be tough, as I am forgetting things quickly!

Friday, 9 Dec Food:  cereal with milk and banana, fibre bar, last of the leftover crackmac.
2 reese cups (doh!, but not from the evil bowl @ work - from my freezer), a babe ruth bar and some finger food at my company holiday party.

Friday exercise:  Gunner with a 2 mile run.

Saturday food:  Greek Strawberry Yogurt and a banana.
Eggs benedict and a few potatoes, hot chocolate and a large glass of milk.
A PB&J sandwich for a mid-afternoon snack and a glass of choc milk
Salad and a stuffed chicken breast for dinner.  And you know it, a large glass of choc milk.  Yes, I LOVE milk!

Saturday exercise.  GUTR #4.  That's all.

tomorrow I'll do about 55 miles on the bike followed by a 5ish K run.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

December 8th

just catching up on making some notes about my food and exercise routine. 

Have to start with Dec 7, as I did the guest blog last night.  I hope everyone took a moment to remember those who fell when Pearl Harbor was shelled.  It's been 70 years now.  I heard on the news that there were actually some Veterans from Pearl Harbor in attendance at the ceremony.  That is what started the US involvement in WWII. 

The 7th was a good day for exercise.  Got in 1.5 miles with Gunner in the am, ran with Bo and Tedd for 4.3 miles after work, then went straight to the aquatic center for a swim. 

Decided to do 1000m.  I'm really starting to feel the glide!  Tedd described it as a feeling of surfing, and I really am starting to feel it.  Not with every stroke mind you, but it happens pretty frequently.  I'm really starting to improve.  That really gives me a lot of confidence for White Lake. 

What about food on Wednesday?  Well, still stuck on cereal for breakfast.  Had a fibre bar for a mid-morning snack.  Lunch was pretty good, a chicken salad sandwich and a salad.  Bad part of that was the giant chocolate chip cookie and a large sweet tea. 

Dinner?  crack mac and a glass of choc milk.

After all of that, I didn't get into bed until 1030.  I had to get Gunner out for one last walk before bed, and it just got later and later.  The previous night, I didn't get into bed until after 11pm.  That is really late considering I still get out of bed at 445am.  Right now, I'm about to pass out, so this is going to be quick from here on out!

Thursday started the same as most mornings.  A 2 mile run with Gunner followed by a bowl of cereal. 

Running out of stuff to eat for a mid-morning snack, but had another fibre bar. 

Lunch.  You judge, I'm thinking not the best - Baked chicken and a portion of mac and cheese.  The mac is nothing like crack mac, but it isn't horrible.  Ok, this part of my lunch is REALLY bad - banana pudding. 

Dinner was a salad and the next to last helping of crack mac.  After tomorrow I'll be good for a little while.  Of course, a glass of chocolate milk. 

Workouts:  2 x 2mile runs with Gunner.  Spent some time with my foam roller trying to work out the kinks in my calves.  Not sure if that's going to take at all!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Guest Post: The Importance of Exercise for Individual's Dealing with a Cancer Diagnosis

So I was recently contacted by David Haas and he asked me if I would be interested in hosting a guest blog.  Since I am a bit of a cancer soldier, doing what I can to aid in the fight against cancer, and his post is very relevant to that subject, I thought it would be a neat idea.

He sent me the following blog.   Some good information here.

The Importance of Exercise for Individual's Dealing with a Cancer Diagnosis

When you are going through the various emotions associated with a cancer diagnosis, one of the last things you are interested in thinking about is exercising to stay fit. However, when you have cancer it is very important to maintain some degree of movement every day, doing this can positively affect how you feel physically and emotionally. Exercise will help you to have more energy, which in turn, will improve your quality of life. 

To achieve the aforementioned benefits, you do not have to become a body builder or exercise fanatic, all you need to do is take 10 minutes out of your day to ride a bike or walk around the block. 

Exercise Components
Experts have stated that every sensible exercise program has three components. Even an exercise program that includes only a little of each of these components is ideal. 


Stretching helps keep your muscles and joints flexible, which is important for everyone, from the people diagnosed with colon cancer to the people diagnosed with a rare cancer like mesothelioma. Any individual that is bedridden for any length of time would find stretching extremely beneficial.

An Aerobic Workout

An aerobic workout gets your blood pumping by speeding up your heart rate. Some of the more common aerobic exercises include brisk walking or jogging, bicycling on a stationary bike or outdoors and swimming. 

Strength Training

When you strength train you build your muscles and tone your body. This helps you maintain your strength while you are dealing with your disease and when a patient is receiving treatment that can weaken the body.

Exercise is Important

In 2009, the American College of Sports Medicine conducted a study that stressed that cancer patients need to avoid being inactive. Dr. Schmitz, the lead author of the Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia stated that programs for cancer patients that are similar to the cardiac rehab programs would be extremely beneficial.

Dr. Schmitz has stated that the cancer patient’s quality of life will improve and is the main benefit of maintaining a regular exercise program. 

Dr. Schmitz, along with her partners in the study, has created realistic, but aggressive guidelines for the cancer patients’ exercise program. This program avoids any tasks that may be too difficult for a cancer patient to overcome. For instance, certain medications or therapies that are used to treat cancer have a tendency to make the patient prone to have bone fractures. This must be realized when creating an exercise program tailored to the cancer patient.

You can ask your support person at the hospital if they have a personal trainer available that caters to the needs of cancer patients. If they do not, contact your local health clubs to inquire about fitness personnel that are trained to work with cancer patients. Do not be apprehensive about asking for the trainer’s documentation concerning his licensing and/or experience.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Suffering, but not in a good way

Tonight my peeps got together to enjoy another sufferfest. I was so bummed I missed it. What was I doing instead? I was sitting behind my computer working on the team's kit order. Well, I'm ready to send the order out, so I guess it is worth it. You could say I was suffering, but not in that good sufferlandria way.

However, I still got about 3.5 miles of running in today. 1.5ish this morning with my boy Gunner, and another 2 miles after work with him again.

Food? Not the best today, although I was able to stay away from the bowl of chocolate. Today was the holiday meal at work, so the feasting was big at lunchtime. Turkey, stuffing, mac and cheese and a salad. Followed by some cream pie with caramel and chocolate. Total indulgence.

Breakfast was cereal and I had another protein bar for my mid-morning snack. With the gorging at lunch there was no need for a mid-afternoon snack.

Dinner was to finish up some of the burrito makings. Still have some stuff left, but the ground beef is gone.

Two bottles of beer as I worked on my stuff.

Overall, probably not the best food day, but any day I can avoid that bowl of chocolate is a good day.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Today was a good day. Not only did I manage to completely avoid some very yummy chocolate treats in the evil bowl at work, I actually ate a good lunch and had my mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks that seemed to work so well earlier in the year when I managed to drop some weight.

Breakfast needs some work - cereal is just so quick and easy.

Dinner, ok, not the best, but not the absolute worst either - a plate of crack mac. gotta love some leftovers!

As for workouts, along with my runs with Gunner, I went to the pool again this evening. I've been reading the book 'Total Immersion" by Terry Laughlin with John Delves. This is an interesting book that really speaks to my inner engineer. The way they describe swimming with such an engineering approach makes a lot of sense.

I've been working on following their advice, and perhaps it is paying off. Of course, each day in the pool gives me a little more strength that allows me to be that much stronger the next time. While I am not breaking any speed records, I can tell my 50m lap times are improving.

the last visit to the pool I did 1050 meters in about 29 minutes. Tonight, I passed that mark in about 27 minutes. Then, I kept going until I totaled 1500m. Stopped the clock at 47 minutes. Still pretty slow, but I felt really good about it.

One of the reasons I felt good about it is because when I hit my lap button on my forerunner, it gives me my lap time. Last time, I saw most of my times in the 1m20s range. Mostly over 1m20s, but a few under 1m20s. This time, I saw many lap times that were in the 1m15s range. The fastest I recall was 1m13s. Still there were quite a few in the 1m20s or more range, but I was definitely feeling stronger and my technique is improving.

Speaking of technique, I know I could benefit from a coach, but I'm a stubborn fool and like to see what I can do all on my own. If I decide to do a full Ironman, I'll spring for a real coach. For this half, in one sense, I'm going it alone (well, I'll have plenty of support from my friends of course).

Here's the official food list for the day:
bowl and a half apple jacks/cheerios mix, with milk and one banana

Protein (builder bar) for mid-morning snack

Pork tenderloin and two orders of veggies (a corn / lima bean / green peas medley and a cauliflower / broccoli / carrot medley). Sweet tea (ok, shoot me)

Fibre bar for mid afternoon snack

Dinner - crack mac and a glass of chocolate milk.

2 x 2mile runs with Gunner. He is sacked out big time now. That running is very good for him!
1500m in the pool.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

12/4 food and workouts

2 bowls of mixture Cheerios and Apple Jacks (generic) with milk
Glass of apple juice
One home-made burrito
Some scraps of cheese as I prepare the crack mac
TBD, but you can guess that Crack Mac will be on the menu.
About 6 bottles of Miller High Life.

2 miles running with Gunner, inside just long enough to drop him off, then back out for another 3.5 miles (total 5.5 miles).

Today's ramblings - 12/4

Yesterday, Bo posted that he had run 8.5 miles. Last week, I know he and others ran 7 miles. So, I had to ask if peeps were training for a half marathon. Of course, they (unknown who exactly right now) are training to run the YMCA Resolution Run Half marathon on Jan 7th.

Bo asks if I want to join them. Well, of course I do! However, I'm not sure i've really been running all that much. Yes, I get between 1.5 and 4 miles a day with Gunner on most days (he has to get his run in you know!), but I haven't really been doing any long distances on my own. The most recent long distance has been a 5.5 mile run (today) and a 5 mile run (thanksgiving day).

I felt totally fine after today's run, in fact, I had no intention of stopping when I did, but those home-made burritos caught up with me and I had to make a bee-line to the restroom instead of the 2 mile route back I had planned (was hoping for 6.5 to 7 miles today). Well, I do know I'll get the extra miles - Gunner will need another run this evening...

The longest I've run in the past 5 years has probably been only about 7.5-8 miles. I have a month and I have a pretty good base because of the runs with Gunner. I suppose if I can get some longer runs in during the week, and longer runs on the weekend, I should be fine.

This will be good training for the Off-road tri I want to do in Febuary (11th). The Winter challenge is a fun little tri with a 7ish mile run, 6 mile paddle and a 10ish mile mt bike. I did this race a few years ago, and it really is a blast.

Talk about a difficult transition - run, paddle, bike! After that run you have to fold yourself into your kayak for 30-45 minutes. Your legs get completely cooled down and might even start cramping while your upper body does all of the work. I'd love to have video of the racers coming out of the boats and running (if you want to call it that) towards the transition with the bike. Your legs just don't want to work AT ALL!

Well, I'm looking forward to that, will have to make plans and see if any of my peeps are going to do it.

I'll post the complete day's food and workouts in another post, but wanted to get this down before I forget:

2 bowls of mixture Cheerios and Apple Jacks (generic) with milk
Glass of apple juice

2 miles running with Gunner, inside just long enough to drop him off, then back out for another 3.5 miles (total 5.5 miles).

Food and workouts 12/2 and 12/3

So, Friday.
A pretty good milestone for this weak willed chocoholic - I managed to pass by the candy dish several times without taking any pieces from it. Admittedly, there was no Snickers Peanut Butter Squares in there, so it made life a little easier. I'll take the victories where I can get them.

Don't ever expect me to give up my chocolate milk though...

Yep, another bowl of honey nut cheerios
Lunch - another healthy choice meal - lemon garlic chicken over a bed of angel hair. Green beans and garlic bread
Dinner - another healthy choice meal - forget which one, yes, chocolate milk.

2 mile run with Gunner (am)
3 hours raking leaves (gotta count whatever I can!)

Saturday Food:
Fruit protein smoothie (32oz)
2 slices of cheese pizza
2 uncrustables PB&J sandwiches, large glass chocolate milk.
another fruit protein smoothie (~32 oz)
2 home-made burritos - beans, beef, cheese, avacado, salsa in a jalepeno cheddar wrap. Chocolate milk ;)

Setup and tear-down of the State Championship Cross course. If it means anything, after setup, I took gunner home and he crashed for the entire rest of the day. I probably walked somewhere between 3 and 5 miles.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Posting this HAS to make me change my errant ways!

Today's food:
2 bowls honey nut cheerios (yeah, get ready for this every day....)
9 hersheys 'whoppers' malted milk balls
one fibre one bar
Healthy choice meal - Beef and Broccoli
Cake - yes, a corner piece with extra frosting.
Shredded beef burrito
chips and bean dip
2 big Dos Equis

What workout? I did walk Gunner 3 times today.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

workouts and food log 11/29 and 11/30

So, I'm not writing much, so to try to get back into it I've decided to do my best to keep a workout and food log each day. Shouldn't take but a few minutes to type up my activities.

Why? Because I have signed up for the White Lake Half Ironman on May 5, 2012. I have a long way to go, and there is a lot of work to do on the sports within the tri. Especially the swim.

Without further adieu, Here's my workouts and the best I can remember of my food from yesterday (11/29)
2 x 2mile run with Gunner
1050 m in the pool
bowl of honey nut cheerios w milk and banana
Too many chocolate bars to even count
protein bar
serving of crack mac, sweet tea
probably more chocolate than I should even think about
another serving of crack mac with some cheesy garlic bread and a large glass of choc milk

Today (11/30)
2 x 1.25ish mile run with Gunner
3.8 mile run with the boys
2 bowls of honey nut cheerios
10 'candy cane' hershey kisses
Philly cheese steak with fries, chocolate pudding
2 kit cat bars
serving of crack mac and large glass of choc milk.

Maybe writing it down will make me a little more likely to have some damn discipline and avoid eating so much of that evil chocolate at work.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This is for the cyclist in me.

So, today was an amazing day riding with the Polka Dot team on the Challenge to Conquer Cancer ride to Austin. Lots of thoughts of the loved ones affected or taken by cancer. I wrote about that in my previous post, but this one is purely for me and the cyclist within.

Today's route was on the Natchez Trace. This is a pretty flat road and the road surface is quite smooth. With this kind of terrain, it is not uncommon for teams to cover a full century during their six hour shift.

Because the C3 team is ahead of schedule, the Dots decided to go back to the future for this ride. We started about 35 miles from our scheduled transition point, and had we ridden in the direction we are headed, we would have probably taken the team from 1/2 shift ahead to one full shift ahead.

So, we decided to get creative. We wanted to ride, but at the same time, we didn't want to really take the team any more ahead of schedule. So, we decided to backtrack for about 25 miles. Well, we didn't really take into account the headwind we were riding into! After some delays, we finally got started about 1/2 hour into our shift. We covered about 17 miles before we decided to stop and take a short break.

We had left the bus at the place from where we started and headed back towards it. When we arrived back at the bus, we were two hours and 45 minutes into our shift and had covered just over 36 miles. Not a really strong pace, but we didn't really care. We were having fun and were working on helping the C3 team stay on track.

During that break, we found out that Toni really wanted to knock out a century. 3 hours and 10 minutes to travel 64 miles, well, it was really 3 hours and 5 minutes by the time we made the decision and started rolling again.

The team started out rocking a great paceline with everyone making short pulls (~2-3min each). We were flying along at a great pace but things were looking like it was going to come down to the wire for actually hitting the century mark within our six hour shift. We took a short break with about 1.5 hours to go, and we still had to knock out just over 30 miles. It was definitely going to come down to the wire.

As we rolled along, we all found the pain cave. Everyone reacts differently when they enter the pain cave, but I was really proud of my friends on this ride. Although at times they were suffering the way a cyclist does when the combined effects of the distance and speed come to bear, every one of them pushed themselves with their eyes on the cycling goal we had set.

I know that part of what pulled them through was thoughts of their loved ones, but it is a testament to their intestinal fortitude that they pushed themselves to the limit.

As we all began to tire, Brandon told us about his experience with the Leadville mountain bike race. An old guy stood up to address the competitors before the race began and he said something along the lines of "You're stronger than you think you are, and you can do more than you think you can". Really true if you think about it. Your body and your conditioning can only take you so far. When you find yourself in your personal pain cave, it is only your mind that can carry you through.

With about a half hour to go, it become clear that to maintain the best pace, Brandon and I were going to have to share the work on the front of the peloton. At this point, we had something like 11.5 miles to go and lots of shallow rollers.

These shallow rollers are actually nothing to sneeze at. They are sustained 2ish percent grade for hundreds of yards. Sometimes, perhaps as much as 3/4 to one full mile of just gradual grade. Yes, we get the advantage of going down the other side, and we take full advantage of that. At one point, I looked down and saw that we were only going 10 mph up one of these grades. Not the pace necessary to knock out 11.5 miles in 30 minutes.

With my new Garmin 500 (purchased just for this trip, and about 1 week before departure), I can now see my heart rate. You have to recognize that in all of the physical activities I have done in my life, this is the first time EVER that I have been able to know how my heart is doing. All I can say is 'THIS IS REALLY COOL!!!!".

I found that if I keep my heart rate between 140 and 145, everyone was right on my wheel. If I allowed my heart rate to climb much higher, I would start to pull away. Very neat to be able to see that. In the past, I relied on my instincts and my perceived effort. Now I can put a number to it.

Another cool thing about the Garmin: It is pre-programmed to give your lap time for a 5 mile distance. Although we had one 5 mile time over 16 minutes, most of them were sub 15, and several were sub 14. I think the best 5 mile time was 13:10 - that's rocking a pretty good average pace!

At about that half hour remaining mark, Brandon and I began to exchange 5ish minute pulls. This was about the right interval, and I think we both realized this. When we swapped leads, it worked like this: If Brandon was riding in the pack, he would come to the front and let me know he was there. I would accelerate slightly to open a small gap, and he would pull in to take the lead. Then it was my turn to drift back and take position near the back of the peloton.

This was an amazing ride today. As a cyclist, especially a cyclist that really loves the team aspect of riding, it purely rocked. When everyone was strong, we all did our share of the work to meet the goal of hitting the century for the 6 hour shift. As riders began to tire, we communicated well and others stepped in to carry the load.

So, did we hit the century? I figure it only really counts if we do it in the 6 hours we have allotted for our shift. We covered 36ish miles in 2:45ish, and took a 10ish minute break. With 3:05 to go, we had to cover 64 miles. We took one short break and got quickly back on the road. We passed our target mile marker (incidentally, it was Natchez Trace mile marker 200) at 5:59:30. We covered our target distance with 30 seconds to spare.

That's coming down to the wire!

The dots go back to the future!

What’s that re ally mean? well, it goes back to how far ahead of our planned schedule that the C3 team has become. With so many strong cyclists in the group, we tend to ride more miles than expected. As we were sitting at IHOP this morning, and Flat stanley was about to knock down a stuffed french toast breakfast, we were talking about how we should deal with this situation. Between bites of cream-filled, strawberry and whipped cream topped french toast, Stanley whispered to me “Go back to the future”.

Of course, what this meant, was that if the Dots just rode the distance that we are capable of riding, we would go from a half shift ahead, to a full shift ahead. So, it was decided (with buy-in from Team Boss Ron) that the Dots would help slow down the overall forward progress of the C3 team with an unconventional ride along the Natchez trace.

So, What is the Natchez Trace. Lots of historical stuff surrounds this road, and we get so busy on this ride in our travels that we sometimes don’t take enough time to appreciate the significance of the countryside through which we ride. Part of this history is about keeping the Nation together in the early days. It was a pony express route that connected the towns together and kept that sense of togetherness that people feel when they are part of a nation.

Today, the Natchez trace is a National scenic road that is frequently travelled by folks who are on vacation and by many bicyclists. It really is a beautiful road and we always enjoy riding along this road. The C3 team rides for over 400 miles along this road, and each team will get at least one shift on this road. Some teams – Purple Power I think, will get two shifts on this road.

As we rode today, Lisa, Kelly and Taylor caught up with us. Lisa took many photos as we rode along in our little formation. Then, Taylor slowed down the van (I happened to be on the front of our peloton) and she told me that she wanted to do a short interview with each rider. The question she wanted answered was “Why are you doing the ride?”

One by one, we each pulled up next to the van and Lisa was hanging out the window with her video camera. I was not able to hear what my team-mates said, but my response to that question was along these lines:
I am riding for my many friends, family and loved ones who have suffered from the effects of cancer and for those who have lost the battle with cancer. And, because I can.

This occurred many miles into today’s shift. By this time, we were feeling the effects of our efforts. This means our legs were feeling a bit sore, and mentally we had to work hard to maintain our efforts. To help the team stay motivated, Brandon told a motivational story, then a little later, I had one of my own. These stories were based on our own personal experiences and certainly could help with motivation, however, a little while later, Ed gave us the best motivation – “This hurts a lot less than Chemo”.
As a cyclist, there are a lot of really cool aspects to this ride that I could write about, but that would be missing the point of our mission out here on the road. One very cool aspect that translates to both the cyclist in me, and the guy who is working to help find a cure for cancer was the teamwork.

The Dots really came together today, even more than we did yesterday. Everyone did their share of the work for today’s ride, just the same as we all worked hard to raise money to fight this disease. With teamwork like this, I am sure we can make a big difference.

A beautiful ride through the hills of Tennessee

A quick note, this was written on Monday 10 October, but I did not get a chance to post it, so take that into account when you read it.

After last night’s dinner at one of the last restaurants on Hwy 76 in SC, the Dots decided to travel to Cleveland Tn for some rest. We arrived at the Jameson Inn where the night Manager Jackie took really good care of us. As with many people we meet, she has also been affected by cancer. She has lost several of her close family members and her sister had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. We had her create several magnets that we have now added to the van.

We finally climbed in bed around 1230 with alarms set for 4am. Wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t sleep. Too many thoughts of all the people for whom we ride. I think I finally dozed off around 2am. The phone woke me at 345am – it was team Momma Jen – The Dream Team was already outside the hotel!

It turns out that Team Purple Power really rocked their shift and put us ahead of schedule by quite a few miles. Doing some quick calculations, Team Livelong would be doing the first of the big climbs that in the past two years have been the exclusive domain of the Polka Dots.

Thanks again to Jackie, she opened up the breakfast service and we had breakfast around 430 after turning the rooms over to the dream team. We rolled out and headed for Dayton, Tn, where we had heard Team Livelong was headed for after crossing the Tennessee River around 430am.

At 510am, we got the word that they were in Dayton, and we knew for sure they would be doing the first climb. We passed them around 540am and they had rocked the climb! We pulled a short distance ahead of them, and pulled over to get ready for our first 6 hour shift.

Compared to the past two years, The C3 team was about 15-20 miles ahead of the planned schedule. Knowing this, the Dots decided to enjoy a great ride through this VERY beautiful country. Of course, picking up the baton from Team Livelong, we still had plenty of climbing to do, they had done the first 3ish miles of climbing. The rest was up to us.

The route is gorgeous. Rolling terrain that I have been referring to as the Tennessee Walking Horse country. I say this only because of the massive open fields where I imagine beautiful horses frolicking. Actually, we saw only a few horses and lots of cows.

In fact, we travelled the ‘Trail of Tears’. I know very little of the actual story behind this, but this was the route travelled by the Native Americans as they were displaced from North Carolina.

Our climbing route took us up two excellent climbs, and three descents (Team Livelong stole the first climb, but we got the reward of the descent). After that last descent, the route remained rolling. Being so far ahead of the planned route, we took our time, relaxing with a number of quite long breaks.

We stopped at a small motorcycle repair shop to allow traffic to pass, and ended up with another extended stop. At this point, we were about 5 hours into the shift and had covered about 62 miles. The Lemon Bonkers were rolling up behind us, and met us there for a few minutes. We asked them to go about 15 miles up the road and we’d transition with them there.

Again, the roads we travelled were just awesome. More rolling hills through farmland. Many very cool barns and silos and really just outstanding beauty. We arrived at the transition at exactly noon – The lemon bonkers were ready to roll, and we cheered them on after some quick hugs.

And what about Flat Stanley? Stanley was a big help today. He helped us with Transition by helping Cara do a little driving. After the ride, he met with the Dream Team for a quick introduction before we all headed to lunch.

After lunch, Stanley helped Siddens navigate, he even climbed up on a cotton stalk when we stopped for a break. I believe he’s enjoying his little adventure out here on the road. Most importantly, I think he is beginning to appreciate what the efforts of this little band of cyclists and team managers are trying to accomplish. We’re trying to make a difference in a horrible disease by helping as many people as possible.

Team polka dot picks up a stow-away

We’re off! Today the Challenge to Conquer Cancer team assembled to make our departure from the Cancer Center at Greenville Hospital system’s Memorial Campus.

The departure is always a very emotional time. Many friends and family stopped by to see us off. There were so many cameras! People were snapping photos left and right. Of course, the polka dot team was fully outfitted in our dots. We made quite the spectacle!

I met one of the people for whom I ride today. Marty’s friend Mike is currently undergoing treatment, and I ride for him. It was great to see him out chatting with the riders and taking in the scene. Great meeting him. Nice to put a face with the name on the magnet.

As we rode out from the Cancer Center, the emotions are always running really high. There are so many people who are suffering or have suffered with this disease. Meeting their friends and family and seeing their appreciation for what the C3 team is doing is really amazing.

So, what about this stow-away? Well, a cousin of mine’s daughter Skye, is participating in the Flat Stanley project. Skye prepared a Flat Stanley and put him on a plane to come out with us, but I thought he never really arrived.

To my surprise, He did! There he was as we were doing the final preparations with the van! He even helped mount the rack on the roof! When I asked him what delayed, he stated he heard he was going on a bike ride, and had to stop for a change of clothes.

So, he jumped on the van with Jen and Cara and rode along. Here we are at dinner after the first shift!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

3 days and counting

We’re down to 3 days before our departure. It’s an incredible feeling to be so close to such a grand adventure. Bonding with the people associated with this Challenge to Conquer Cancer has been a big highlight of the last several years.

It is amazing to meet such a group of selfless individuals. Many of the people associated with the Challenge to Conquer Cancer spend A LOT of hours preparing for fundraising events. Of course these folks have families, jobs and other activities they are involved with. It just happens that fighting cancer is something they have a passion for, and they are tireless in their efforts.
Tonight we gathered at the Brown Street Club for the Jazz Jam to Conquer Cancer. Of course it was an excellent time, and Montana Skies rocked the house. It was really great to see everyone. We are so ready to make this journey.

I hope everyone follows along with these blogs. And please, make comments on the blogs – it really means a lot to us when we hear from you.

Next post will be from the road. See you there!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A letter to my Challenge to Conquer Cancer Sponsors

We have only 2 weeks before the Challenge to Conquer Cancer team departs from the Greenville Hospital System's Cancer Center. We will roll out at 3pm sharp! Here's a map of the GHS campus with some info on our assembly area and route.

Take Faris Road to Doctor's Drive and turn towards the Cancer center. In year's past, the parking area up and to the right has been opened for family and friends to park while sending us off. I believe that will be the case this year as well. We'd love to have a big sendoff, so please mark your calendars to attend.

Our training rides are starting to wind down. Yesterday (Sept 24) and Friday (Sept 23), Most of the teams went out and got a good ride. I joined several others for a 75 mile ride from Furman to Saluda and back. We included a number of fun climbs along the way - Packs Mt, Callahan Mt and the watershed. These are very classic climbs for this area, and we enjoyed ourselves along the route. With the beautiful fall weather we had, we saw many other riders out on the road. It was a great day of riding. I think all of the riders are physically ready for this ride.

Last night, we had a team meeting where everyone got together to talk about logistics, the route, packing lists and various other topics. The route will be similar to the route we rode in 2009, although there was some distance added in 2010, and some other small modifications for 2011. I'll try to find a link to our route and send it out when I do.

Another big highlight of last night was the distribution of the team jerseys. Every year the jerseys have a similar look to maintain some continuity, although each year there are small changes to make the jerseys uniquely identifiable for the year. This year, we have a Texas flag on the back, and a SC flag on the front. Also, to memorialize a very good friend who passed away in 2010, we have a small polka dot on the collar with his initials. It is a good looking jersey and I'll be proud to wear it to Texas this year. In the link below, I've included several photos of the jersey.

A task that I've performed for the last couple of weekends is preparing the magnets for your loved ones. A few of the local folks have taken magnets home with them to personalize. PLEASE get these magnets back to me before our departure. I've included photos of the magnets (along with the jersey) in the link below:

If you have asked me for a magnet and do not see your loved one's name in the photo(s), PLEASE contact me so I can make sure I honor or memorialize your loved one. I try to keep things organized, but I'm human, and mistakes are possible. Please contact me If I have missed a name.

Fundraising; I've nearly reached my goal. Thanks to the awesome generosity of my family, friends and co-workers I am only about $150 short of my goal. There is still time to make a donation, and I encourage you to make the donation you may have intended, regardless of how much I have remaining to meet my goal. Remember, your donations go towards cancer research and survivorship programs on both a local Upstate South Carolina (Greenville Hospital System and Anderson Cancer Center) as well as a national (The Lance Armstrong Foundation and Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer) level. Meeting my goal simply ensures me a spot on the ride to Austin. Your donations mean a whole lot more to the many folks who benefit from these programs. So, please take a moment and make that donation you would like to make - remember, even a $5 donation helps.

Donate through this link: Thank you!

Blogs: Folks have started blogging on the blog. You'll start to see more and more as we get closer, and once the ride starts, there will be a big increase in participation. Please follow us through the blog. You'll also see a 'Where are they now' link to the upper right - this is a 'SPOT' tracker that we'll carry along in the bus. That tracker will be active when we depart, and will stay active throughout the ride to Austin. It will stay with the team that is riding throughout the trip.

I'll also post to my personal blog all of the entries I make along the way. You can follow me at

Again, thank you very much for your generosity, it means a great deal to a lot of people, especially to me.


Monday, July 4, 2011

2011 - A new Challenge to Conquer Cancer

Two years ago, I signed on to participate in an incredible event. I became a fundraiser for a local Greenville 501C3 charitable organization - The Palmetto Peloton Project (P3). P3 raises money that benefits local Upstate Cancer research centers as well as National efforts to battle the effects of cancer.

The way P3 raises money is through cycling events. Every year since 2008, one of those cycling events has been the Challenge to Conquer Cancer. Five teams set out on an October Sunday from Greenville Hospital System's Cancer Center and ride relay style to Austin, Texas. Bikes are on the road 24 hours a day. The point is to raise awareness and money to help in the fight against cancer.

When I rode with this group in 2009, I had never really done anything quite like it before. It was a challenge, but perhaps not for the more obvious reasons. Those being the challenge of riding my bicycle in 6 hour shifts for a week or raising the funds required to participate. No, the biggest challenge for me was dealing with the emotions experienced throughout the journey.

Well, I've committed to riding to Austin again for 2011. I've spent some time thinking about why I am doing this. I have only one answer. I can. In fact, this is a quote stolen from one of my 2009 team-mates. I ride because there are others out there who cannot.

In 2009 I didn't really have a personal connection to Cancer. Really, what that means is I didn't have any immediate family or very close friends who had suffered the effects of cancer. Well, in 2011, that is completely changed. Many of my very best friends are battling cancer, or have a loved one who is battling cancer. Some of those friends (or their loved ones) have been lost to cancer since my 2009 ride.

Here's my list of who I will be riding for this year. I hope this list doesn't grow, but I know it will as this journey continues:

In Honor of the following Cancer Warriors:
James (10yo son of a friend)
Jeni (riding partner and friend)
Kathy (riding partner and friend)
Rene (riding partner and friend)
Dustin (riding partner and friend)
Marty (co-worker, riding partner and friend)
Jeannette (Aunt)
Valorie (co-worker and friend)
Rachel (co-worker and friend)
David (co-worker and friend)

In Memory of:
Donna (co-worker)
Pip's dad Bill
Kip's uncle Bob
Bo's Uncle Buddy
Jeni's Aunt Barb

Because I can, I'll also ride in honor of or in memory of your loved one. Help me raise my funds and I will be his or her representative on this journey. Here's a direct link to the page where you can donate towards my fundraising goals:

The total amount I need to raise is $5250. I have already donated $250 as part of my registration as a rider. I am committed to personally donating another $1000 towards my goal so that 100% of your donation goes towards the battle against cancer.

After you make your donation in my name, please let me know the name of your loved one (send an email to me: If you donate $100, I will put their name on an 'In honor of' or 'In Memory Of' magnet which will be placed on our team van. Your loved one will ride to Austin with us.

Thank you for supporting a great cause.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Assault on the Carolinas - 2011

I've ridden these roads before, many times. Today I did it from a little different direction. The assault on the Carolinas is a benefit ride where the monies go to various charities in Transylvania county. It really turned out to be an awesome day for a ride, I'm glad I signed up. It didn't hurt that the metric century(ish) route included Hwy 178 from the NC side, and Caesars Head from the SC side.

There were about 800 riders present amongst the three rides (100k, 60k and 40k). Of course, I did the 100k ride to make sure I was able to get in the climbing. It was a great ride, a large pack lead the route for most of the ride. I dropped off the back on the first climb - a short but steep bump on Walnut Hollow Road. I hooked up with a number of guys and we set off in pursuit mode. Wouldn't you know it, we caught the pack just before they turned on to Hwy 178 (and more climbing).

I set my own pace up the climb, staying near some of the guys who chased back on with me. When we got to the Continental divide, a clydesdale got out front and started pushing the downhill pace. This happens to be an awesome descent, and when we went through a couple of turns, I could see that he wasn't quite as good in the turns as I am - you know I had to pass him!

The descent was AWESOME! I did have a couple of guys follow me into the first turn after passing the clydesdale, but by the 3rd turn, there was no longer anyone behind me! I love descending! Bending through the turns just makes me smile HUGE!

It flattens out a bit (well, it rolls really), and the group started to re-form. We rode a paceline until we got to the next descent section, and of course, I was by myself after a couple of turns. But of course, they caught me when the terrain went back to rolling. No problem, I fell in with the small pack (maybe 10 guys) and we went to work.

We could see the big pack ahead of us as we rode along hwy 288. We just about caught them as we started the ascent of Caesars head. I helped in the chase, but as we got close, I backed off a little as I knew they were going to leave me on the climb. Better to save what I could for the climb I thought.

Although the climb started around mile 42 (and 42 hard miles it was), I am still pleased with my 42ish minute ascent to the state park. A little slow compared to my best, but considering the terrain we had already covered, I feel good about it.

Some folks passed me on the ascent, and I passed some others. At the top, I ended up riding by myself for quite a number of miles. Just as we turned off of Hwy 276 on Barclay road, a small group of about 6 (who I had ridden with earlier in the ride) caught me. I grabbed on to their wheels and we rotated for the last several miles.

I feel pretty good about the 3hour, 21 minute time for the 65 miles that this ride covers. Me and a number of peeps rode hard and the climbing was tough. The organization of the ride, the volunteers and the SAG stops (although I didn't take advantage of them) were awesome!

I met a number of guys who had been riding in the area for the past week. This was their last ride before they got in their cars for the ride back to New Brunswick (Canada!). A bunch of great guys, who can really ride a bike.

Hard to beat a day like today. Hope everyone else had a great day as well.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spinners Represent @ SCTAC for opening night!

Sounds like it was a great ride tonight @ SCTAC for the peeps in the A
group. I spoke briefly with Randy after the ride and he said that
there was a number of Spinners out there including him, Allen and
Abhay. Sorry if I have forgotten someone, but sounds like the A race
contingent did well with a strong showing.

Brian F, Bo Z and I took on the C1 country loop. The
pace always starts fast in this group, and Bo, being the consummate
gentleman, stopped to help a damsel in distress when she had a mechanical about 10 miles into the ride, thus having the luxury of riding the remainder of the ride with two lovely
ladies (that's not to say they didn't push it, they worked hard to try to regain the group).

Meanwhile, Brian and I continued on with the group. This is not a 'no
drop' ride, so whatever happens, happens. Brian did some monster
pulls out there, and drove the pace when it was necessary. Seems like
there were some folks a little timid about getting out in front.

We had an awesome time throughout the ride and especially on Holly
Road. This is a narrow, twisting road through some beautiful farm
country. About 3/4 of the way through the road, there is a very steep
drop follow by a short (but steep) climb. Almost immediately after we
turned onto this road, he waved me up next to him and said "trade 10
second pulls with me". Hell, I'm game, so I told him to go.

We began trading pulls and quickly pulled a gap on the rest of the
group. At one point, about half way along the road, as I was pulling
alongside to take my turn, I told him I wasn't sure I was going to be
able to keep that pace. Thankfully, he still had his head on straight
(because I was totally red-lined and no longer thinking straight), and
told me to bring it back a notch. I did, and we continued trading

I hadn't really looked back once we started trading pulls, but when we
got close to the dip in the road, I did look back. We had pulled a
pretty big gap on the field (about 8-10 guys or so). After descending
into the dip in full race mode, we practically coasted the remainder
of the way to the stop sign (about a 1/4 mile or maybe a little more)
and were still in front of the pack. We killed it! Such a great

Our average over the 30ish miles was 21.5 mph. Perhaps not a
staggering figure by any means, but part of the pride we take in this
particular ride is the stopping at the stop signs AND carrying this
average speed. We finished with 8 or 10 guys out of about 20 to 25
who started with us. The decelerations and re-accelerations really
take a toll on the average speed. I've seen as much as 0.3 mph change
in average speed in a single stop sign! It takes one hell of an
effort to bring that average back up.

So, great seeing a number of my Spinners team-mates and many of my peeps out there tonight. Congrats to the A group contingent for an excellent showing and Thanks to Bo and Brian for helping me represent on the C-1 group.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Finishing a race, sometimes that is all one can hope for. That was my day today. Today was Race 5 of the Greenville Spring Series and it was held @ the River Falls course. This is a great course, but today was a horrible day for bike racing.

The forecast called for about a 40% chance of rain at Noon as of last night. I thought "well, that means 60% chance of no rain!". We got the 40% all right, in fact, it rained for the entire cat 4 race, and it seemed that it rained for all the previous races as well (and the following!).

The Greenville Spinners Racing Team had a great showing in the peloton today. Seven of us (Randy, Peter, Brian, Abhay, Plantec, Moser and me) lined up for the start. We had a plan and the goal was to put Randy or Peter or Brian on the podium. We all had assignments, the question was how well were things going to play out?

The start line for this race is at the top of a hill, so of course you go downhill almost immediately. Worse, at the bottom of the hill there is a right hand turn that seems to be more than 90degrees. Worse than that, add in wet brakes that really weren't working at all going down that hill and you had a recipe for disaster! Thankfully, no-one went down and the peloton made it through unscathed.

Almost immediately, there were attacks off the front. All along Devils Fork Road there was a group attacking the front. Abhay was up there in the mix and Peter and Randy were playing it safe near the front of the main peloton. I was a little further back in the peloton with Brian, George and Plantec.

Devils Fork Road rolls alongside a river. It has a couple of rolling hills but overall you are descending from the turn off of Gap Creek Road (at the bottom of the hill). As we came down from the first of the rollers, I found a path towards the front along the right side of the road. I took advantage and advanced many positions. I was now in front of Peter and Randy, and could see Abhay working the front, trying to establish a break.

The peloton was not letting a break get away, so we were slowly gaining on those 5 or so individuals who were trying to break. We pulled them back in as we came up to the Tankersly Lake. I had a clear path, so I took a lead position. I was surprised to be pulling away slightly, so after the right turn onto River Falls Road, I put down the hammer a little. I began to pull a gap. I was pretty surprised by this, my intention was not to make a break, but to push the pace.

However, since I was out there, I decided to make them work for it. I did my best to stay out front, and soon Peter came up behind me. We worked together for a ways, and as we neared the right turn for Gap Creek Road, another rider came up next to us. He got in the mix and did some work. We were quickly approaching the 1/2 mile climb up to the start / finish line, and I knew I didn't have the fitness to stay with them. I watched as the peloton swallowed me, then quickly closed on Peter and this other guy.

The pack set a solid pace up the climb, and I didn't have enough to hold it, despite my efforts. I fell off the back and briefly thought my race was over. I wasn't going to give up this time, after all, the conditions were really nasty, and I kept thinking to myself "This is Ranger weather"!

I chased, and chased and chased. I could see the pack again when we got to the rollers on Devils Fork Road. They were mostly together, but there was a small group of about 6 who were falling off the back. I managed to get in with them, and a couple of guys in there worked a little harder, then the peloton slowed to turn onto River Falls Road. We caught back on to the pack.

I worked my way up in the pack until I got up next to Brian. If nothing else, I wanted to offer encouragement to those guys. I didn't have enough in the tank to get out and drive the pace, but if I could show them I was still in, maybe it would help. No clue if it did anything for those guys.

Peter and Randy were looking strong in the pack as we rolled up and over the climb for the 2nd time. Brian was still in the mix, and I think I saw Abhay mixing it up at the front! Over the top, and descend to turn right on Devils Fork Road. I dropped back in the pack as we came up the climb, but managed to stay on the tail end of it as we descended.

It actually takes a lot of effort to stay at the back of a peloton. The constant accelerations due to the accordion effect play hell with you. If you are already hurting, these accelerations slowly break you down. I was at the back as we turned onto River Falls and was watching as small gaps opened up in front of me, only to be closed with another acceleration. I was back there with Brian and Abhay. I think George and Plantec may have dropped back by this time.

As we made the 3rd lap turn onto Gap Creek Road and approached the ascent, I worked my way back up near Peter and Randy. Again, I wanted to give those guys some encouragement. This time, I was able to chat briefly with them. Of course, the pace had picked up as we began the climb, and I quickly fell towards the back.

I tried to stay with the pack. My poor legs just didn't have it. Those guys were blistering up that hill, and despite my best efforts, I couldn't hold the pace. I could hear Duke (moto-ref) behind me, and finally, I waved him around. Thanks Duke for the kind words as I dropped off the back of the peloton. I was hoping that Randy and Peter were going to be able to stick with the pack - they were our remaining hopes for a good result.

Although I was no longer in the mix, I decided that I was going to finish the race. No dropping out like I did last week, if I was going to suffer, I might as well get a workout! At the top of the ascent, I got into the drops and into the big ring, and started in my time-trial mode.

The next three laps was all about me and finding the zone. I stamped out a solid cadence and tried to keep anyone from passing me. In that I was successful - I passed maybe 4 or 6 other guys who fell off of the back, and no-one passed me.

It was cold out there. I was having trouble shifting with how stiff my hands had become. I could barely wave as I passed the corner workers. I knew it was just as bad for the other guys in the peloton.

As I approached the final climb, a single rider - a pro /1/2 rider, turned around in his warm-up to ascend the hill. I used him as my rabbit to keep me motivated up the hill. I don't think he was going all that hard, although I was pushing for everything I had. I wanted to finish this race, and I was going to do it as if it really counted.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Welcome back to racing - in a big way!

Today was my first race for the season. It was my first race since my surgery. I'm just over 5 weeks out from the surgery, and only about 3 weeks of getting in some hard riding. I had to get out there today as I was going nuts watching all my team-mates mixing it up. My plan today was to just hang in the pack and ride it out, but like most plans, it just never seems to work out that way.

I was a little nervous as we lined up behind the Pro 1/2, and the Cat 3 peletons. Big George came out again to give the Pro 1/2 group some lessons on how to race. Man can that guy ride. Great to see him out there rubbing elbows with the common man.

Poppa gave us his speach, with plenty of seriousness and a little humor thrown in for good measure. We waited a few minutes after the Cat 3 peleton before he set us off. Immediately, two guys went off the front. The peleton reacted, but it didn't seem to be a serious threat.

I was lined up pretty far back, further than I had really planned, but again, plans don't ever seem to work out. No problem, we set off with a pretty good pace and the pack got strung out through the rollers leading up to golf course hill. I took advantage of this and moved towards the front. The only place to be in a race is near the front. Otherwise, you're like a sitting duck, the front is where everything happens.

At the top of golf course hill, we absorbed the two guys, and the pace continued at a serious clip. Not at all unmanageable, but a little faster than a 'group ride' pace. As we rolled along the back side, I tried to stay protected from the wind and stay near the front. Because I had done a full lap of warm-up, I knew where the wind was blowing and I knew it would be coming directly into our faces as we turned to go up 3m hill.

The wind was a factor today. For sure. On the back side, I stayed to the left side of the peleton to take advantage of the protection and while we ascended 3m hill, I moved laterally across the peleton to the center. As we neared the top of 3m hill, I was positioned pretty well - on the right side (for wind protection) and in the top 10 (to watch / cover any breaks).

Sure enough, as we rounded the corner at the top of the hill, two guys went off the front. I don't know if it was the same two, but they hit it hard and a number of us set off in chase. We had a bit of a cross, but slightly tail wind as we went through this section. I was pushing hard, and calling out to get the guys around me to organize to chase the break.

It was working. Several of us started to get organized, although some of them dropped off pretty quickly. A two person chase group had now gotten a little gap and I was in the 2nd chase group (which was pretty much the entire peleton). Granger came up and gave me a good pull to help me get closer to that second chase group that were gaining on the 2 man break. I sat on his wheel for a little while but came around and started to chase on my own. Granger told me later that he sat up after I went around, as the entire peleton was on his wheel.

I was able to bridge up to form a 3 person chase group. I thought I was sitting pretty - the three of us were bridging up to the breakaway and we were working together. Each of us was taking a short pull before we handed it off to the next guy. We switched off a number of times, and we were making great progress when a fourth guy pulled into the chase group.

By this time, I was really starting to feel it. Although I don't have a heart rate monitor, I could tell I was at or above redline. I tried to stay with these guys, but couldn't hold their wheel when I switched out after a short pull. I kept pushing, some crazy belief that I might be able to bring them back. A couple of other guys pulled up alongside and I tried to catch their wheels, but alas, I was burning matches left and right and I was running out!

As we crossed the start / finish line at the end of lap 1, the break had about 6 guys, I was behind about 20 yards and chasing and the peleton was getting shattered behind me. I made the right turn at the stop sign and looked back. I needed the protection of the peleton, I was out of gas.

They absorbed me as we rolled through the terrain leading up to golf course hill. At the top of the hill, I was a bit disappointed that the pace seemed to slow. It almost seemed like this was going to turn into another group ride. I was still recovering, so my heart wasn't too broken by that!

As we came through the rollers on the back side of the course, I felt several times a handlebar rubbing me on the rear end. That is real racing. Nobody got upset by it, and the racing was clean. I was trying to stay near the front again just to see if there was something I could do.

As we approached 3m hill, I had had enough of the group ride pace, so I attacked - uphill and into the wind. How smart is that? I did open a bit of a gap, but my match supply was really low, and I had just burned a couple that I didn't really need to burn.

The attack did what I wanted it to do - drive the pace. Once they re-absorbed me, the pace was brutal! I stayed with the pack, now strung out single file for the rest of the 2nd lap. I was basically just hanging on for dear life! Remember that cross / tail wind (seemed like more cross than tail!)? It was really taking it's toll on me.

I was with them through the start / finish at the end of lap 2, and stayed with them through the rollers near the golf course, but I popped about half way up the golf course hill. I just didn't have anything left. So much for staying with the pack, although there was nothing in my plan about trying to chase and grab that break.

I'm certain that is what did me in. Although, I do feel that is what I needed to do. Even though it was just my first race back, and I knew my fitness was in question, I needed to see what I had in the tank. Now I know.

What I am really glad of is that I have the instinct to see things forming at the front. Not only to see them, but I also feel I have the ability to react to them. I'm totally comfortable to ride near the front of the pack and to make things happen out there. Now I just need to get my fitness up to speed so I can stick with it through the entire race.

So, I didn't race my plan. I had to improvise on the fly. I feel I reacted well, although with my current level of fitness it definitely turned out to be the wrong move. Next time, I'll stick with my plan!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Mirriam-Webster defines milestone as "an important point in the progress or development of something : a very important event or advance". What's this got to do with me? Two things really.

First, as I have mentioned in my blog, I recently underwent some surgery as part of my total orthodontic treatment. That has left me with some residual pain and more discomforting - some numbness in my chin and lower lip (some might say in my skull... ;). This numbness was causing some pretty serious discomfort if I put in any strong effort while riding my bike on the trainer.

Last tuesday, I decided to push myself a little harder than I had been (on the trainer). It didn't take long for this discomfort to cause me to make the decision to let up and scale back the intensity. I just wasn't ready for it. It really makes my face feel like it is starting to swell up pretty badly.

Two days later, while again taking a trainer class from Jeni (, I decided to push it again. This time, the discomfort didn't manifest itself in the same way, and in fact seemed to be a bit reduced. I was able to keep up the intensity for the entire hour and 20 minutes of the trainer class. That was a big deal for me as I really don't want to be too far behind in my fitness and my training once the spring riding season begins in just a couple of months.

The second milestone - that's a much bigger deal for me. This has to do with my big goal for the year. That being of course to change my body composition. If you have been following along, you know that I am tracking my weight and by % body fat. Today marks the 10th consecutive day that my 7 day average weight has been below 170 lbs. That, for me, is a very significant number.

Why is it so significant? Well, I haven't seen that number on a scale for a long time. Probably the last time I saw a weight below this number on a scale was when I was in the Military. I got out of the Military (about) 24 years ago. It is a big deal for me.

Of course, my jaw surgery and the diet I'm forced to be on has helped, but interestingly enough, I really have only lost 5 lbs before my weight stabilized. You'll see it in the chart I'll post at the end of the blog. It was the first few days after the surgery that I had a significant drop in my weight. Since then, as I have already said, it has been 10 days that my 7 day average has been below 170.

Now I have to keep that up, especially once I can go back to a more 'normal' diet.

Something else I should comment on. My last blog talked about how I switched my scale to the 'athlete' mode for measuring % body fat. Well, as you might imagine, the numbers changed radically. It immediately went from an average of 25 to an average of 20.2. the % stayed at 20.2 and has varied only slightly since I made that change almost 2 weeks ago. One thing I really like about this setting - it seems to have less variance in the day to day measurement. Perhaps that has something to do with my diet, but I don't really know.

So, my numbers (7 day avg) as they fall out today are: 168.5 lbs and 20.1% body fat.

And, since it has been a few weeks since I made the body measurements, here they are as of this afternoon (baseline measurements in parenthesis) :
Chest: 40.625 (43.625) inches
Waist: 36.75 (38.5) inches
Hips: 38.625 (40.0) inches
Thighs: L: 22.625 (23.875) R: 22.5 (24.0) inches
Calves*: L: 16.125 (16.125) R: 16 (16.375) inches

*still not too sure about my calf measurements. I'll keep on posting them, but I'll have to keep an asterisk on that measurement until I have more confidence. Maybe I should just get a tattoo around my calf at the measurement point...

Total inches lost: 8.9

So, here's the screen shot.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Do I need to make a correction?

After my last blog, a friend of mine chastised me for my measurement techniques and the way I was reporting my weight and body fat percentage values. Of course, if you read my early notes on my measurement techniques, you'll remember that my goal is a relative change and I'm not terribly concerned if my absolute reported value is a few percentage points off. However, she really got me thinking, and I decided to try to learn a little more about a few things.

First thing I needed to do was to understand the different techniques for measuring body fat percentage. Of course, you know I simply went and asked my good buddy Google. He returned all kinds of interesting and informative articles on the different measurement techniques and their relative accuracy. Here's one I particularly liked. That site also has a number of other interesting articles on body composition as well.

Of the different measurement techniques available, there are a few that are more accessible to you and me. I hear that there is a hydrodensitometry weighing tank here in the upstate, there probably are a few, but this is not readily accessible to me on a regular basis. This method is all about measuring the body's density. This comes from the volume displaced by the water, and the weights taken while both in and out of the water. This seems to me the most accurate, but read the articles - no single measurement method is the best.

I'm certain that much more accessible is the use of body calipers. I know that Coach Jeni has a set. She and I will be scheduling a measurement in the near future. In this method, a caliper is used to measure the thickness of a pinched skin sample in 3 or more places on the body. A complex set of formulas is then used to calculate the estimated percent body fat.
If you have a buddy and a set of calipers, here's a cool site I found with the calculations already programmed, you just enter your specific information.

Perhaps the easiest and most accessible method for estimating body fat percentage is through the use of Bioelectrical Impedance. This is where a very small electrical signal is passed through the body and the computer calculates the body fat percentage. This is the method I've been using with my Taylor model 5598 digital scale. Turns out, this isn't necessarily the best method. Worse, the reviews I've read recently on my particular scale are not very positive.

One thing I've learned from this research - I should have been measuring myself in the 'athlete' mode. The scale has two settings according to your fitness or activity level. Wow! What a difference when I switched from the 'non-athlete' mode to the 'athlete' mode. I think the difference has to do with fat that could be contained within the muscles - an athlete is going to have less fat within their muscles than a person who does not exercise.

Yesterday is when I made this switch. In the morning, I was not pleased to see that my weight had continued to drop (down to 167 from what had been an average of 173.5), but it was showing my body fat percentage near 27%! I imagine I am losing some muscle mass while I am on this liquid diet, but sheesh! it can't be increasing my body fat percentage by that much!! So, after that research, I went in and changed the setting on my scale. The Body Fat reading? 17ish percent. Wow, now what?

So, what I'm saying is be very careful and do a bunch of research if you decide you are going to invest in a scale that measures body fat percentage.

Here's an
article on body fat measuring scales:
That same site has a great article on using the skin fold calipers:

For my purpose, I'm going to stay with the 'athlete' mode on my scale, continue to gather the data and I'll continue to report. However, as mentioned, I'll be making an appointment with Coach Jeni to get the calipers
out and make some measurements there.

A couple of other points that I found pretty interesting. Among the methods used to estimate body fat percentage there are a couple of simple methods that use only a tape measure and some calculations. Here's one site that requires some very simple measurements and returned for me a body fat percentage of 18.3%. I'm taking it for what it is, but it will be interesting to see how that number compares to the caliper method and the new readings from my scale in the 'athlete' mode.

I also found this other site that takes you through the method used by the US Navy to estimate body composition. I have not completed these steps yet, but will try to do that today as another estimate to add to my dataset.

So, what is my corrected body fat percentage? I have no idea. However, using the most recent data, I'm thinking it must be closer to 20% than to 24%. The most important thing I found in all of these articles is the same as the approach I have been taking all along - use the numbers as a reference and look for the change in value, not specifically at the absolute value of the number.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Update on body measurements, and how I am going to cheat on my plan...

So far things are going pretty well in changing my body composition. I'm not perfect by any means, however, I have made some very positive steps and I feel really good about the way I am eating and what I am eating.

The best part is that I really feel like I am eating more than I was before. I guess the important part is that the meals are better balanced and I'm eating in good quantities. A huge difference is in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. These make a difference as those are normally the times when I would be going for the reece's cup or whatever other evil chocolate that would be found nearby.

So, let's get down to the numbers: Recall, I am reporting only 7 day averages for weight and % body fat. Here's how they work out with today's calculation:
weight: 173.8
% body fat: 24.8.

In comparing those numbers to the numbers I posted previously, those changes are worth 7.2 lbs (down from 181) and 2.3% bf (down from 27.1%). It's not going fast, but I don't expect or really want it to go too fast. I want positive lifestyle changes that will keep me around for a long time - and in great shape for a long time!

Here's a screen shot of my charts:

I decided also to take my body measurements again this morning. I'm including the last measurements as well for quick reference.

Here's how they fall out:
Chest: 41.625" (down 2" from 43.625")
Waist: 37.125" (down 1.375" from 38.5")
Hips: 39.0" (down 1" from 40)
Thighs L: 23" (down 7/8" from 23.875) R: 23.125 (down 7/8" from 24")
Calves** L: 16.375" R: 16.5"

Not counting the calves, that is a total of 6.125" lost in just under a 2 month period. Funny how quickly it adds up when you are making multiple measurements.

I've put asterisks next to my calf measurements because they are actually showing bigger than the last measurements. It is easy to get a variation in my measurement of them with just a small change in tape placement. Quite a bit of taper on the calves. I will have to work on my measurement technique I suppose.

So, how am I cheating? A couple of days ago I did the most invasive part of my orthodontic treatment. In order to make my teeth straight, not only did I need to have the braces, I also had to have my jaw position corrected for an overbite of about 10mm.

How do they correct for an overbite you ask? Well, to put it in laymans terms, they broke my jaw in two places (near the hinges), moved it out by the necessary amount and then put three screws in each side to hold in it position while the bone heals.

What this means for me is that I am on a liquid diet for a minimum of 2 weeks, then I might be able to start chewing soft stuff. All depends on how well the healing goes and what the Dr. says. I dropped 2 lbs after only one day in the hospital. Thursday the 20th I ate no food whatsoever. Lots of liquids through the IV and cool water with small ice chips.

I don't think it's going to be a major problem though. I have lots of good ideas for liquid (or no chewing required) meals. Including smoothies, protein shakes, applesauce, pudding, soups, etc. Today is my first full day out of the hospital and I feel just as full as if I were eating 'normal' food. Maybe I won't lose any weight after all!

I'll keep an eye on it and keep you posted.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The value of exercise...

This can't be a blog about all the great things that exercise brings to you, there are too many benefits to list! I do know that for me and most of my friends exercise is a big part of our lives and I'm confident that without it we wouldn't have the great lives we have.

This blog is just to note an interesting observation I've made over the last week. Exercise has a very direct effect on my weight (duh)! Here's my most recent weight and body fat percentage chart:

Note the little up-swing towards the last data points as I have circled on both charts. These data points happen to correspond to a period of several days where Upstate South Carolina was shut down with the snow and ice. Of course I was not getting out on my bike, with those bad conditions. In fact, I wasn't getting out of the house at all for a couple of days. When I did finally decide to get out of the house on the wednesday to go to work, the roads were still horrible and that meant another day of no exercise.

If you count the number of data points, you can see there is 3 data points that create the upswing. Those are the three days I didn't exercise. When I finally was able to get in a run on the fourth day, you see that the corresponding data point goes back into the downward swing.

So, there you have it, documented proof that exercise is good for you! (as if you didn't already know that!)

Ok, so the next question you're going to ask is about the big gap in the middle of all that data, and why does the bf% jump after that gap? Well, that was over Christmas with family. It's a dark period in my efforts to improve my nutrition and change my body composition.

All I remember is there was lots of cookies, a number of different types of beer and more food than I've seen in a long time. That's all I am going to say about that.