May 26, 2006

Catching Up

I need to catch up on about a week and a half worth of activity. Luckliy there have been some highlights in the past week or two that have stuck with me, starting with last Saturday. I was finally able to get in a ride with Bryce and Kurt. I started off from Cedar Point Hill and headed south to Wallace Lake where I met the two of them and a couple of Kurt's buddies. The plan was to go long so I came prepared for anything and everything. I knew going in that it would be a strenuous ride in that I was the weakest of the group. However, I kept up the best I could and only fell behind a few times. I had no idea where we were for most of the ride until we took a left turn onto Rt 83 (heading South towards Lodi). I had driven this road many times and was amazed that I was now biking it. I was probably more amazed that we were actually going to ride into Lodi, which is about 45 miles from my house. In Lodi, we took about a 10 minute break and headed home. We didn't exactly double back but rather took some back country roads through Medina County, which were rather nice. At some point, I split off from the group because we were eventually heading to different places. I recall passing through Valley City, which owns the title as the Frog Jumping Capital of Ohio! When I finally arrived back at my car, I felt pretty good. Some of the hills wore me down but I seemed to recover quickly. Kurt called to make sure I was OK and informed me that they logged 92 miles total. The route I took for the last hour or so was probably a tad shorter than theirs, so I figure I was in the mid to high 80's.

Sunday brought with it the Cleveland Marathon and Bridget, Rachel, Lou, Dan, Jackie, Katie, Annie, Sue and Ed were all running. The plan was to see everyone off at the start and then hit a few spots on the course for support. Surprisingly, it was relatively easy to get around this course and I was able to see everyone, except Dan, atleast once. At the 16 mile mark, I jumped in with Bridget and ran her all the way in to the finish. Since the last 10 miles was all I ran, it was pretty amazing being able to actually enjoy the end of a marathon course. I took in the scenery and took some mental notes in case I decide to run Cleveland again in the future. Everyone did amazing despite the tough conditions. I was even impressed with the crowd support. It's not Boston, but a fair amount of people make the effort to get out where there normally wouldn't be anyone. Also, the volunteers were great at the water and aid stations.

After such an exciting weekend, my week has been rather glum! Suffered through a 3 day audit at work and spent Wednesday night alone with the puppies as Teresa was entertaining a handful of our Irish relatives in Niagara Falls. It's finally Friday and I'm chomping at the bit to get on the road to Portsmouth for the 1/2-Ironman I'll be doing on Sunday. Went to the pool for a light swim this morning just to work the jitters out and build confidence. Tomorrow when I arrive in Portsmouth, I plan to squeeze into my wetsuit and swim the course for 20 minutes or so just to get a feel for the open water. I may try to run a few miles on the course as well. Assuming I survive this thing, I'll have a full recap next week!

May 13, 2006

Thankful for Mother Nature

Yeah, yeah, yeah... I know we really need rain around here, but not on a Saturday when I've got a long bike ride planned! Luckily, I found a 4 hour pocket to get in a 67-miler. Started off at the Marina and went out to the Berea Falls and back. I stopped briefly at my car to refil on some Gatorade and then headed over to Edgewater Park where I met Liz. She was up for 30 so we made our way back down to the reservation and rode out to the Spafford Road hill. This is one tough little hill. The payoff is pretty sweet though. Once at the top, you find yourself staring directly down the runway of the Cleveland Airport. Liz and I marveled at the landing planes while refueling and then I marveled at my clumsiness as I fell over trying to get going again. It really sucks being locked into your pedals as your laying on the ground. Luckily I have a sense of humor about myself and was able to laugh it off : ) I felt sore at times during the ride. My butt, my arms and mostly my lower back will probably be yelling at me tomorrow. I've always tried to do lots and lots of push-ups to kep me running strong, but I really need to start doing some lower back stuff. Liz mentioned using one of those big aerobic balls. In the end, I totaled 67 miles. I would have gone a few more but it started to rain harder just as I pulled into the marina. Turned out to be a great ride on what I was fearing was going to be a pretty miserable day!

Feelin' pretty good after 62 miles!

May 9, 2006

Spring has Sprung!

Now that the warm weather has hit, I've been able to get in some great workouts of late. With little wind and moderate temperatures, the conditions have been ideal for biking. My goal from now until the end of June is to ride 200 miles/week combined with some solid swims and runs. I've maintained about 35 miles per week of running since Boston and I've been hitting the pool about 4 days a week (usually in the morning). A few of my friends just finished what appeared to be a very challenging triathlon in California but I'm hoping they can bounce back within a week or two so we can do some group workouts. I do so much better with a little help from my friends.

I'm in the process of customizing my bike for the upcoming racing season. I've yet to install my bike computer and I need to have a bike shop install some screws on the top tube and down tube of my frame so I have room for another water bottle and a handheld air pump. I'm also thinking about taking out a couple of spacers from my stem to allow for more of an aerodynamic position when in the aero bars. Whoa... I just made myself hungry by writing aero bars... Have you ever had the Nestle chocolate bar called Aero? If not, it's worth the trip to Europe or a specialty chocolate store to grab one!

May 4, 2006

Quatro de Mayo

Weather was perfect this evening for a bike/run brick. Taking advantage of the daylight, I started out on the bike at 6:00 and went 'til about 8:15 (about 39 miles). I'm getting very accoustomed to the course I ride on and have just about mastered the gearing for the various hills, etc. Like most routes, I've broken this one up into sections, which makes it a little easier to bear from a mental standpoint. I'm starting to power up hills with greater ease and less decelleration. I still don't like pedalling in the lower gears! Too much work and not much in return : ) Somewhere out in Strongsville, I was accompanied by a guy training for a century ride in a couple of weeks. We compared speeds on our bike computers and clipped away at about 19 mph for 20 minutes or so until we it one of my favorite downhill sections. Either my bike is really fast or he was holding back because before I knew it he was about 30 seconds behind me. Anyway, the final 10 miles or so were uneventful and I got back to my car feeling great. Made the transition to my running gear and headed out for an easy 6 miles. I didn't bring my watch with me this time because I wanted to go more on feel. Legs felt a little wobbly at first, but landed firmly underneath me after 3-5 minutes and felt good as new from there on. I was motivated by the thought of a Ciabatta bread sandwich from Donato's. I gotta admit, I'm a sucker for a good marketing campaign! I'll even pay more money for something if it's been marketed well. I guess that's the artist in me appreciating the thought process involved with planning a good commercial or print add. Got home and hooked up our new DVR! Finally, I can record all my favorite History Channel shows that are on past my "bed time".