Thursday, October 29, 2009

I HATE to run...

The title says it all. We, in the upper portion of the US, have entered the silly season where the weather has NO idea what it wants to do. Sun one day, cloudy the next, sun again, snow the next, rain the next day, etc, etc, etc. Riding a bike out-of-doors is difficult at best, impossible at worst during this time of year. So, what to do? Put the bike on the trainer inside? No, not yet. Riding indoors is bad enough, much less starting in October. So, a few weeks ago I started to run. Running feels way too much like training. It hurts. It jars your knees, your ankles and your feet. It stinks.

But, in just a few short weeks it has gotten to the point where I HAVE to get up and run in the morning. In the rare day when I missed running in the morning, I felt all irritable and weird. I am not going that far, just a few miles, but I feel like I have to do it.

I was doing a shorter loop by the house, but now I am running down through a little park where I can run on the grass so I don't kill my feet/joints so much. There is a point about 3/4 of a mile in where I feel like I hit my stride. All of the sudden it feels pretty good to run. The fresh air in my lungs, seeing the world starting to wake up, seeing wildlife (I saw a couple of foxes run across the trail the other morning), getting the heart rate going to wake up for the day.

*GASP* I love to run...I can't believe I talked myself into this. And you know, running is almost like training.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cyclocross race 2.0

Well, I did it. I finally competed in my second cyclocross race. I say competed loosely as you know, I am not in any sort of contention, except for maybe the Lanterne Rouge. And, I said finally, not for the fact that I was anticipating the race, but more because of a snafu of when the race actually took place.

As I said in that ancient post below, this race was, as was my understanding, to take place on Ocotber 17th. I got up that morning, got all ready, and rolled the six blocks to the park with my son to the race venue to find...nothing. Nothing except my friend Jim, who was also looking for the race. After some junior sleuthing, we found that we were either wrong, misinformed or the date was changed. Hard to discern as the date on the website said the race was Saturday the 27th. Um, there is not a Saturday the 27th in October this year. All I can figure it originally said the "17th" and they went in to change the date and only changed the "1" to a "2" but didn't change the "7" to a "4". So, that's the story I'm sticking with. I couldn't have been wrong.

Long story short, Jim and I ended up going for a ride. We couldn't waste a nice day moping about because we didn't have a race (I actually was happy it wasn't that day). So, we ended up riding up M-Hill (my usual mountain bike after-work ride) on our cross bikes, giving me a little different perspective.

ANYHOW (geez, what a wind bag), I did race my second cross race this weekend. As I had mentioned, it took place only six blocks from my house. That coupled with the fact that the guy that puts the race on happens to be my son's dentist. And my son had a dentist appointment on Friday, after which I spoke with him and he asked "Are you racing tomorrow?" Before I even had a chance to make up a lie, hem and haw, or even engage my brain for a logical answer, my mouth had blown it for me "Yup, it is only six blocks from my house, so I'll be there" came out. Shit. I guess I am committed now. No backing out of this one.

On Saturday morning, my son and I cruised down to the venue on our bikes. He was going to do the "hand-ups" to me and cheer me on. The race took off without a hitch and quickly I was squirted out the back like the last drop of toothpaste from a tube. It wasn't immediately, but it happened without a ton of effort.

The course had a cool layout. Right in the middle was a picnic shelter that was the finish area, so my son hung out there and rang a traditional cowbell for me as I came around. In the middle was a small obstacle to jump then a short, steep hill to run up and/or struggle up on a bike. Then back down the otherside, another few obstacles, then back through a creek/wooded area. A 1.2 mile loop which we attacked for 60 minutes. SIXTY MINUTES. Did you see that? When they said we were going for that long, I started to cry once again (much like the first race). We were also told that at 5 laps to go we'd be told as such. At about 35 minutes in at about 6 laps, I was wondering where the call was. At about 45-50 minutes in, I started to cry again as there was still no call for 5 laps to go. I thought maybe I didn't hear it since I was so far off the back, but the man was kind enough to call 2 laps to go. Thank GOD.

I finished up the two laps and as I came into the finish area, the "fast guys" were hanging out by the end and they all cheered me coming across. Damn. The cycling community can be so cool. Giving props to a guy for finishing, even if it was 5 or 6 minutes behind them (and maybe a lap or two). A cool group of guys and gals out hurting themselves together and having fun, no attitudes, especially like the one I encountered last time. I am really glad I did this one. A really fun course with a fun group of people.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that my son was an AWESOME "pit crew". Every lap through, he'd ring his cow bell (which a cool guy there gave to him) and ask me if I needed water. He held the bottle up every time around even if I didn't need water. What a cool kid.

Well, next Saturday is the Halloween final race. Maybe Nacho Libre needs to make an appearance! If he does, I'll definitely post some pics. NAAAACCCCCHOOOO....

Friday, October 16, 2009

I've lost my inspiration.

I've lost my inspiration to write semi-truthful, quasi-humorous stuff. My inspiration is riding my bike, especially by myself. Getting a chance to go out on a ride, whether it is on the road or on the trail, is the opportunity to clear the cobwebs from the deepest corner of the cerebral attic and find those little nuggets that bug you. Those things that just as you're falling to sleep, your mind latches onto and you start thinking about them and then prevents you from falling asleep. Usually, I can work those things out when I am on a ride and then I can come here and spew them out in a partially intelligible fashion. And now the weather has taken an ugly turn and riding is out, so I am not getting a chance to think about stupid, nonsensical stuff and in turn, bestow it upon this blog.

The day after my CX race, something weather-wise rolled in and has kinda hung out here ever since. Wet, windy and cold. Some rain, some snow and all crap. Ok, I know what you're thinking, hard riders would go out in this and ride anyhow, buck up you weenie and go out and ride. And I will in the snow and the cold, but this is kinda that in-between weather that slops out the trail and going on an hour ride will cause two hours worth of cleaning on the bike and about 3 weeks worth of trail work.

It's gotten to the point that I have started...*gasp*...running! Yikes, I MUST be desperate for some sort of outdoor activity. I took one of our dogs on the trail on Sunday and took a run around my side of town on another day. One would think I am sick, having some remnants of the H1N1 that was floating around the house that swined up my brain. And, unfortunately, I haven't worked my way up to long enough distance running to get a chance to think about a lot of stuff, but if this weather keeps up, I will.

The upside of all this is the weather is lifting and it looks like a nice weekend is in store. Saturday and Sunday in this 60's and possibly 70's, with another CX race on Saturday. I have a feeling that there should be at least one post in all of that. And I KNOW you're looking forward to those musings.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Now I can eat only waffles and be a cycling snob

For a few days I have been contemplating my post about my first cyclocross race. I've been holding off putting anything down in "print" mostly due to my desire to attach pictures to this post and not wanting to go all the way out to the car, get my camera, charge the batteries and upload the pictures. I guess I'll put pictures in later, so I hope my words weave a picture in your mind, but don't expect a thousand words.

So, as I alluded to, I raced in my first 'cross race this weekend. I say raced because, well I am quite sure I didn't race as much as just ride, but it was called a race and since I was a participant I guess I raced and I was a racer.

Initially, I was just going to go watch, but the "Prince" (go back and see some of the previous posts to see the explanation of the Prince) prodded me into doing it because he called me a pussy in a text message. And, as everyone knows, being called a pussy by a cell phone text message is akin to putting a horse head in my bed or saying bad things about my mom...the gauntlet was thrown down and so I had to do it.

So, I dragged the family to Spearfish at 9 in the morning on Saturday for the 10 am start of my first cross race. Once there, we hooked up with the Prince, Princess and their royal court (their awesome little girls). The Prince and I did a practice lap and immediately I wondered why the hell I signed up for this. Each lap was somewhere around 1/2 to 2/3 of a mile on the rolling hills of the Black Hills State University campus. Did I mention the ENTIRE race was on grass? You know what it is like to ride on grass? Like running in mud. A lot of effort put in for not a lot of gain.

At 10 am, the race organizer (and coincidentally my son's dentist) called for a quick pre-race meeting. I had hoped for a 30 minute race and immediately those hopes were thrown to the ground and stomped into the grassy terrain of the course. He says we'll go for 50 minutes....50 MINUTES! Aye caramba. I immediately felt a bit of vomit in the back of my mouth. Before I get much of a chance to wrap my brain around any of this, we're off and "racing". Seeing the lead guys with their strength and seriousness I said to myself that if I didn't get lapped in the first lap, I'd be happy. Well, it took almost 4 revolutions of grassy goodness to get lapped, so I felt OK about things.
After my 5th lap, the woman (and I use the word "woman" in the nicest sense of the word, during the race I was positive that she was some sort of succubus or chupacabra, making a pact with the devil) said we had 5 more laps to go. 5 LAPS TO GO? Holy CRAP. Tears ran down my face and they were decidedly NOT from going fast. My legs already felt like two old Twizzlers left on the dashboard of your car for a week after a road trip through the desert, how was I gonna do one more lap, much less five?

I have to say, most of the people there were totally cool. The fastest guys, when they lapped me, said things like "good job" and "keep it up" and I reciprocated. All except one douche bag. I don't know if the thought it was going to inspire me, but when he barked "You're gonna have to get it in gear", had no inspirational effect on me at all. At all. Immediately I wanted to stop in the trees and bash him right off his bike with a branch. Why does a guy, not even CLOSE to the top 2 racers and no chance of catching them have to act like we're in Belgium at the World Championships? Sheesh. I suppose it was because he realized he and I were in the same boat, getting schooled by the race leader and he was upset that he and I were somewhat equals. Yeah, he beat me, but he also lost with me too.

So, I did finish the race, in spite of what my brain said to do. And I am glad that I saw it through. I love that taste of iron in your mouth when you do something so aerobically hard you know your lungs are bleeding. And with another race in a week and a half, I will have to go do it again.