Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fun. Pain. I can't tell the difference.

So I did exactly jack in the week after Pac Grove, but here we are spitting distance from Longhorn and I'm alternating between cranked about my first half-iron and scared off my head.

I didn't mean to take a full week off. I really intended to sit out Monday and maybe Tuesday, then get on the horse and hit the gym Wednesday night, maybe a run on Thursday...none of that happened. Come Friday, I had done nothing except pick up my bike from Jason after he tuned it.

So Friday rolled around and I joined the gang out at the Cove with the intention of cranking out a quick mile. Well, by the time we all got there and got going, the sun was sinking inexorably lower on the horizon and the swells were climbing higher and higher above it. I got to the quarter in 0:7:30, the floated there for almost 15 minutes jabbering with folks. Finally, we decided to just bag it and head in. Most of us headed to dinner, though there was a bit of a schism over who was eating Mexican and who was eating with who. It wasn't exactly East and West Germany, but there was a little drama, nothing some clever text messages couldn't cure.

Leaving dinner, I had to jam home and shower off the wetsuit smell to go meet the volleyball kids at the Carriage House for some karaoke and booze in honor of Daniel's birthday. I was the latecomer to the party and they already pretty far gone, which was good since it meant I didn't have to catch up. I didn't emerge totally unscathed though. Drinking beer may be carb-loading, but Alabama Slammers don't qualify I guess. I had the sense to pull the ripcord at about midnight.

5AM Saturday and the phone goes off. It was a text from Mark bailing out of the day's ride. (You're gonna have to explain your later explanation dude, I'm still puzzling over it.) Ultimately not a huge problem, but I got up and started to get ready for the ride, only to realize that wait, it's five in the damn morning. I don't have to be up until 6. I went back to bed.

Dana and I caught the train up to Capistrano at 7:40 after an impromptu sprint through the Solana Beach Amtrak station in bike shoes, toting helmets and bikes. Thankfully someone was running even later than us and they held the train. I can't help but think though, about the helpful lady who sold me my ticket. The conversation, which began at about 7:35, went somthing like this:

Ryan: One for Capistrano.
Lady: I need your ID. Will this be cash or charge?
Ryan: How much is it?
Lady: I hope you make your train. Cash or charge?
Ryan: How much is the ticket? I don't know if I have enough cash.
Lady: Twelve dollars.
Ryan: Cash. (hands over twelve bucks)
Lady: Thank you. (begins typing on the computer, presumably ordering East European porn or something, but very slowly) I hope you make your train. All the way across on track 2. (hands ryan the ticket)
Ryan: Me too. (sprints out the door, clacking in bike shoes)

Once in Capistrano, we had a pretty uneventful time of things, except for the bike shoe shuffle across the slick tile and hardwood floors of the station cafe to find a bathroom, and hit the road.

If you haven't cycled this route, you have to go through Camp Pendleton, which is cool. We had a hard time keeping ourselves from pulling over to climb on the decorative tanks and play on the obstacle courses, some of which looked way fun. Then we rode past a Carnival at Oceanside harbor. Somewhere between oceanside and Carlsbad, we made the decision to bag the transition run portion of the day's program and turned inland at Palomar Airport Road to get in some hill time.

By the end of the 60 miles, I was well and truly sick of my bike chain clicking and we stopped at B&L, where we ran into Jeanie and Rolf. Turns out Jeanie's racing IM Cozumel in 2009, just like our good friend Katie. Oh, and I think I got pulled into being in town for the race. Guess I should make sure my passport's current. Oy.

A little while in B&L and Dana and I realized that we were about to pass out from hunger. We'd been on the road for four hours in the sun. So a quick stop at the cars and we were into Chief's for what might have been the best frings and burgers ever.

Saturday night was Paul's birthday party and I'll gloss over that lest I think too long about BG modeling the bikini.

Today was supposed to be a 13 mile run with Katie, her coach, BG and Rita, but two miles in I knew there was no way I was gonna be able to handle race pace and interval training. I dropped back and let them pull ahead and pulled into my head to just muscle through it. Around mile 5, my foot was partly throbbing and partly numb ans wasn't bending right, so I stopped, stretched and turned back. I ultimately did 10-point-something miles in just over two hours. It could have been faster except that around the Children's pool, my knee and foot stopped working and I had to limp back to the cove.

Not my best performance and it's got me a little rattled about the half-marathon at the end of Longhorn, but I also know that I can just suck it up and muscle through if I have to. I really don't want to, but if I have to, it's there. I'm expecting to hurt for about two weeks after the race, but thankfully I'm going down for post-surgical rehab just about then and I have six weeks to recover from all of it.

How do I get into this stuff?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pac Grove 2008

Well, it's Sunday night and another exhausting race weekend has come and gone. That's right, yesterday saw me running the Triathlon at Pacific Grove. If you've been playing along at home, this was my first ever race in 2007.

Since that fateful day last September, I've been racing like crazy. In fact, yesterday was my ninth triathlon in 12 months. Does that make me obsessive? I'm not qualified to answer that question.

I decided to return to PG after a year of racing to see just what I had accomplished. What better benchmark than repetition, right? Again, if you've been playing along, this year has seen lots of races, but also lots of injury. Cracked ribs, plantar fasciitis, blisters and cuts and bruises too numerous to recall.

Anyway, how did I do? I crushed myself.

Pac Grove 2007 Finish: 3:10:22
Pac Grove 2008 Finish: 2:49:42

Apart from the overall, what did I want out of this race?

1. Beat my swim from 07. Check.
2. Beat my run from 07. Check.
3. Finish the run with no walk breaks. Check.

Icing on the cake:

1. Beat my Lavaman bike split. (by about a minute and a half)
2. Ran my fastest triathlon 10K. (by about 5 minutes)
3. Cracked the top half of my age group.

That's 3 PRs in one race (bike, run, overall).

Oh yeah, bring on Longhorn.

It was interesting, racing on my own even though the TNT crew was there and they all knew me. I raced in my age group rather than with them and for the first time since I started this, I stepped into the chute not knowing a soul in my wave. I couldn't feed off the energy of friends and had to really pull into my own head for motivation. As I wandered around on the beach waiting for my turn, I could look up at the road and see the wall of purple jackets. Part of me wished I was up there with them, but I went into the water and just stood there for a while. There's an angle you can find where if you look out to sea, all you can see are rocks and water and grey sky. You can hear the announcer and the crowd, but if you tune it out it's almost like you're out there alone.

The swim was solid. I found a good rhythm pretty quickly, though I had some crowd issues. I came out of the water to go around the rock and braced for the next wave to land on top of me just like last year. It didn't happen, so I snuck a quick look at my watch. 13:36 for the first half of the swim. Not a PR but I had nearly 90 seconds to get out of the way before the horn went off for the next wave.

No problems until the home stretch. I was drafting off of a guy's shoulder and he started pulling to the outside, into me, since I was to his right. I stuttered a stroke and let him pull ahead, then cut inside. No problem, right? Well, he turned back inside and swam underneath me. We got all pretzeled up. As I tried to push off of him, he mule kicked me square in the right shoulder, hard enough to stand me up in the water and stop me cold. I gave him a second and finished my swim.

Up into T1 and I got my bike shoes on before I went completely, totally blank. I was literally standing in front of my gear with no idea what I was doing. The i heard someone yelling my name. I looked up to see Tim and Neil from the TNT squad cheering for me. That snapped me right out of it and I suited up and ran out to the mount line.

It was on the bike that I realized just how cool the AG start was. Last year, the bike course was straight out of Thunderdome, with people all over the road on all manner of bikes and no two of them following the same set of rules. In snowboarding, we call that the human slalom. Since I took off in wave two, the road was a ghost town. I had no traffic until lap four and by then it just didn't matter. After IB, I was really worried about my dismount into T2, so I prepped my shoes and slowed down a little early, but it worked. I stuck it and ran into transition. I could even feel my feet this time.

T2 was smooth and I was out on the run. Looking at my bike on the rack, I saw that I only used one of the four Gus I brought, which had me a little worried, but I had a tough time putting it down, so I didn't try to force a second.

On the run, all I wanted to do was run the whole thing without cramping. I figured that meant all I needed to do was find a pace that I could hold and just be steady, forgetting all about speed. This was a perfect strategy for me, apparently. I had no muscle issues, didn't stop at any of the aid stations and finished smooth. The 1:01 time is a PR for the triathlon 10K, so maybe for Lavaman I can get it under an hour. Who knows?

Congrats to the TNT crew. You guys looked great out there. Some of you actually looked like you were enjoying yourself. And the after party...mother of god, you people know what you're doing. I'm still hurting.

Oh, and you guys at Nation's...nice job all of you.

Congrats to Ben on his first olympic distance race.

Thank you to all the SCU crew who came down and to everyone who texted or emailed or facebooked a good luck message. You guys rock.

Well, I think that's about it for now. I need sleep since it's back to the real world tomorrow.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Signs (of the Apocalypse)

I was reading a menu tonight and I saw an entry for "Mexican Hot Chocolate." We were in a Mexican restaurant, so nothing unusual there. The thing is, underneath the item name, it said "Made with real Mexican hot chocolate."

I pointed this out to Mark, who mentioned that he had happened to read the back of his chocolate milk container earlier that day and saw the warning that the product inside contained...wait for it...MILK!!!!!

Ah, lawyer shields. I have a bag of trail mix in my pantry that warns me that it was packaged on equipment that processes peanuts.

The list goes on and on. It put me in mind of this fragment I wrote a few years back. Nothing ever came of it, and I think I wrote it after a turn in jury duty.


There’s a sign on the door that says “Court is in Session. Do not Enter.” If you look in the window, there’s no one inside.

You pass by thousands of these examples of human idiocy every day. What you don’t do, most of the time, is notice.

When the man at Disneyland goes crazy and refuses to believe that you took his family’s picture, you politely tell him that yes, you did. He persists because there’s no film in the camera. You show him the little screen and attempt to explain that it’s digital. You do not, for example, whip out a Browning 9mm and blow off his right kneecap. In a perfect world, maybe, but not here.

Monday, September 1, 2008

What keeps me up at night?

The Lee Majors Bionic Rechargeable Hearing Aid. You heard that right. I just saw the commercial for it on the History Channel. And guess what!!!!!

It won't cost you six million dollars!!!!!!!! Hooray!!!!!!

I'm going to go vomit.