Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Tour!

Dear Mark

July is a month filled with fun times. It marks the start of real summer weather in Seattle (the day after the 4th is always very nice). Our mother's birthday is the 7th. Lavi's birthday is the 17th. People start taking vacation and work seems to slow a bit at times as a result. But all of this is just truly fodder to the true reason that July is so special because it marks the start of the Tour de France!

Yes, lycra clad cyclists start whizzing down country side French roads at speeds that would make your heart stop if you truly comprehended the danger. Hopes and dreams of men who have trained a year or so for this race. The drama of the jerseys, the excitement of the hopefuls. It all marks a great 3 week bike race.

While I know this is not for everyone (even though it should be) and there are constant talks of doping and such, the Tour is awesome. I look forward to it like a kid waits for Xmas. I geek hard on it and work hard to conceal it from those that my not understand. I watch and root like a mad Cricket fan and dissect the race like ESPN Analyst.

Jack, Lavi and I have been watching on the weekends, and I watch during the day (of course never interfering with work, honest, truly... okay maybe a pinch). I'm watching on my iPad as I type this now. Jack is really into the bike race. He loves rooting for Thor Hushovd the "God of Thunder!" and Thor has not disappointed with 2 stage wins and over 8 days in the Yellow Jersey. In fact Norway has had a great tour with two more wins from Edvald Boassan Haggen. The neighborhood of Ballard is surely rejoicing.

This year's race has been brutal. I was reminded of the Rodney Dangerfield joke as I would say "I was watching a TV show on crashes when the Tour de France broke out." The first week of the Tour was a horror show of crashes. Some of the favorites were heavily affected. The first day 3-time Tour Champion Alberto "I didn't eat tainted beef, honest" Contador got caught behind a crash and started his Tour defense in the hole at over a minute back. This was just a preview. All the big favorites have fallen faster and harder than Wall Street Financial Institutions in 2007. My favorite US rider, Chris Horner was completely messed up and had to pull out.

There have been highlights though. Among the Norwegian winning ways we saw American Team Garmin-Cervelo winning their first stages. One of the wins by Washington State native Tyler Farrar, which was awesome.

The Tour is in the feared alps and the drama continues. Frenchmen Thomas Voeckler is doing a great job of retaining his yellow jersey hold and I hope to see him some where on the podium.

I will also make a plug for really enjoying BikeSnobNYC's daily editorial too.

Gonna wrap this up as work beckons me. I hope you are watching the Tour. If you are not, you should. If you do, then I say "Chapeau" and know that you know what that means.

My predictions
1. Cadel Evans - winning it in the final TT
2. Andy Schleck - realizing that he needs to be able to ride a TT and downhill to win
3. Thomas Voeckler - just happy to be at the party, like a dork at the prom.

Sur votre gauche,

Monday, July 11, 2011

Jack and Calvin drop the Peloton!

Dear Mark

As you know, Calvin and Jack have known each other since they were 6 weeks old. Bridie (Calvin's Mom) and I have been mocking up photos of the two for a few years now. Bridie has really out done herself with the latest one though.

This is the Team to look out for in 2035 when Jack claims the Yellow jersey. I suspect Calvin will be wearing the Polka dot jersey as he is shaping himself into a climber's body for sure. Now if we can talk Uncle Joey into getting Sabine and Daria into the Podium Girl circuit...

I can hear Paul Sherwen saying "Calvin and Jack from Team (Insert popular company needing marketing exposure in an international market here) have just dropped the Peloton and are pedaling ahead on their own." Only to be followed by Phil saying "I'm not sure I've seen an entire Peloton dropped like this before, but the young boys from the American squad are doing just that!"

Jens Voight will likely being doing German TV commentary and saying something in German that translated to "This is how the stages of the Tour should be. The strongest go out and put the Peloton on notice like Jack and Calvin are doing right now."

French TV will likely cut to commercial at this point rather than watch two Americans crush the peloton.

Panama TV will try to claim Jack as one of their own since he has dual citizenship, but will not pre-empt LOTTO drawing coverage to do so.

ESPN will have one link on their web site about the breakaway and win buried under Olympic Sports. Sportscenter will mention it as they go to commercial. Sporcle.com though will host several quizzes about the NW duo!

FoxNews will likely talk about NASCAR on their sports segment that day.

Alberto Contador will still be talking only about himself on Spanish TV.

On your left,

Friday, July 8, 2011

A New Challenge

Dear Mark

Well I did it. I signed up for the Portland Marathon on October 9th. I'm not sure if my sanity has completely left me but it seems that is has. Regardless, I'm up for the challenge. I figured I'm already trained up from the first marathon and I can "bank the gains" as my friend Lisa says. I'm looking forward to it.

Some have suggested (our father) that I might be well beyond the point of getting help, so the point of having my sanity checked might be worthless. Oh well, that's all for now. Hope things are going well for you and Siobhan.

Off to run,

Happy Birthday Mom

Dear Mark

This past week was our Mother's birthday as you well know. We traveled to Larry & Cathy's house for a fun dinner and a delicious birthday cake. I took a few pictures to share.
Your Mother had a good time. She kept lamenting that she is much too young to be this old. We all scoffed at the idea of course and when that didn't work we fell back to simply teasing her about her age, which seemed more appropriate.

We of course missed you a great deal, but we all were thinking of you two and the little one that is on the way. We are all pretty excited for you. We wish we could all come spend a few months with you when the new family member joins us. We hope all is going well.


Jack in the Pool

Dear Mark

Summer decided to land here in Seattle, finally. It has been a long and cold winder, even by NW standards. Although not nearly as bad as your season, but more outside of the normal for sure. For once we even had a good day of weather on the Fourth of July. For those who are not from the NW you will have to understand that summer starts for Seattle on the 5th of July. If we don't have a fireworks show with low cloud cover its just not normal.

I pulled out the kiddie pool and fille it up for Jack. He went right to it.

I took some videos for you to check out. Enjoy and I hope that Summer is treating you well.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Marathon

Dear Mark

I have run a Marathon. So far I'm not tired of saying that over and over. Last weekend I was able to finish the Seattle Rock n' Roll Marathon in 4:36:27. I met my goals of finishing and a 4:30 finish time (yes I was off by 6 minutes, but close enough).

The Morning & The Start
The race started in Tukwila. The race organizers were busing people from Qwest Field down to Tukwila, but I decided to arrive in style. I secured a town car to transport Joey, Bridie, my neighbor Christy and myself to Tukwila. It allowed us to sleep in a bit more. I arrived, dropped off my race bag for pick up later and headed to my start corral.

My friend Lisa and her husband Jeff were meeting me in corral 16. Lisa was running her 21st marathon and Jeff was running the half marathon. Lisa had agreed to pace me. We had a goal of me finishing under 4:30:00 and maybe getting a 4:15:00. Now, in the past with bicycling I could wake up hungover during a heavy pollen count and still haul off a 100 mile bike ride with minimal exertion. I'm not bragging by any means (a tiny bit, yes), but I am just saying this was possible as an illustration that helps you understand my friend Lisa. She can wake up and just run 26 miles and get a pretty good time. She's just really use to it. It's pretty amazing. Thus, I was quite lucky to have her running at my side.

I was excited to have Lisa pace me and guide me along the course. Plus, a 4 hour plus conversation with a good friend, count me in!

The First 13
The start line count down came down and off we went. The sky was overcast, but it was not cold. Here I am in the corral with Lisa getting ready to start.

We started off at a 9:45 pace, which was slow for how fast the crowd made you want to start. We made our way from Tukwila to Lake Washington to Seward Park, up Lake WA Blvd and on to I-90 for an out and back. We touched 13 miles as we ran through the I-90 tunnel on our way back to Seattle.

All along they course there were bands playing music and cheer squads giving us encouragement as we ran along. I was quite impressed with how much moral support was along the route. Running along Lake Washington BLVD was fun. I've ridden my bike here a thousand times, even completing some time trial training along the route. Running along in a massive pack of people was pretty neat. I felt good and strong and was encouraged.

It was right before mile 13 that I hit my first bit of trouble. One thing that happens to male runners is chaffing. I'm not crossing a line here in discussion, this stuff just happens. I've been using Body Glide on my training runs to keep from chaffing several body parts, like nipples. Well one thing I never did was pour ice cold water on my chest like I was doing this day. Now we all know what happens to nipples when they get cold, enough said. Lets say that this did me in on the chaffing. I was beginning to realize that I was miles from a serious problem. I tried applying more ointment to lube them up, no good. At mile 13 the shirt had to come off. Now I'm not one to show off my upper body. I'm just not that built for the public exposure. However, all that was thrown away as I saved my nipples from serious injury. It was very much the right decision, but I just wish I could have avoided it.

So from mile 13 on I was shirt less. Luckily I was not the only. You can see that in the slide show after the next section.

The Second 13
From the I-90 tunnel we came into downtown Seattle and got up onto highway 99, the viaduct. We made our way through the tunnel and up to the Aurora bridge for a turn around. We came back on the top of the viaduct, stayed on 99 to the West Seattle bridge off-ramp where we turned around, back up on the viaduct, exited and came into Qwest Field.

What you may not realize when you are driving is how steady it is uphill from downtown to the top of the Aurora bridge. If you look at my Garmin link post you can see that the time per mile starts to slow down right around mile 15, with mile 18 being my second worst mile. The steady uphill and failure to eat more was starting to cook me. My legs and lungs felt just fine, but I was running out of energy for sure.

I saw Lavinia as I was coming down the Aurora Bridge and what a sight for sore eyes she was. I was so happy to see her. I immediately told her I loved her, informed her that I pretty tired (I looked it) and gave her my water bottle, ipod nano (which had stopped working) and my shirt that I was carrying.

Just past Lavi were my friends Rod & Lisa who came out to cheer me on. It was so nice to see them. I ran the next mile with a big smile. Rod has run this one before. I shouted out that it was more uphill than I expected and he just grinned in acknowledgment. Yet another shared story of suffering between us.

After we turned around it was back to downtown. I ended up doing some walking between miles 21-23.5. I just felt like their was no gas in the tank. At one point I thought my bladder would do me in, but got it under control.

Throughout the whole run my friend Lisa was with me. She was just super. I've been that person as a cyclist. Trying to coax along a buddy who is running out of juice or hurting. It's a fine line between Buddy/Support and Jerk. Lisa was brilliant. She was encouraging and let me handle the struggle as best I could. She easily could have left me like a sports car dropping a VW Bus from the 60's, but she stayed with me.

By mile 23.5 I had my nerve worked up to not walk again and made my way to the finish. At mile 24.5 a guy came up along side me and asked if this was my first marathon. I told him it was and he was just elated for me. Told me i had it in the bag and it was in my DNA now. He was just super.

Right around mile 25 Lisa informs me that the 4:30:00 pace guy is right behind us. This caused us/me to pick up the pace and we made it to the finish. The last 100 yards I swear I almost fell down. Never have I wanted a bike frame under me to hold me up more than those 100 yards.

But finish I did. 26.2 miles completed in 4:36:27. I've completed a Marathon!

The Finish
I walked through the finish looking for the recliners or foam pads to crash on. All I found was water, oranges, pretzels and cytomax. All were good but I really needed to collapse. I found Lavi and made a little spot of asphalt my own to collapse on. I was cooked and elated.

Garmin Data
I downloaded information from my Garmin GPS. You can see route and my time per mile. Miles 18 and 23 stand out.

Lavi took some good photos. She was able to see me at mile 18 and at the finish.

The Celebration!
That night Lavi really outdid herself. Not only did she manage to get me home and cleaned up. Then she proceeded to make a post-race pasta feed for me and out other marathoning friends. We had 9 kids over and their running parents for dinner. It was just great. I think everyone looked pretty tired, with the exception of Lisa.

The Recovery!
This is probably the best story so far. After the race was done I was cooked and spent. I could not have fended off an attack from a blind teddy bear. The rest of the day I had the vacant stare of exhaustion. To add insult to injury/exhaustion I was so high on adrenaline that I couldn't nap. I did my stretches, got some sleep, hydrated and that started me on a good path of recovery. Normal muscle soreness, what you would expect. A few bruise sore points on my IT Ban connectors. With the wisdom of my age I scheduled a massage for Sunday and that was so necessary. By Monday stairs were still not my friend. I kept getting up and moving around to not stiffen up. By Tuesday I was feeling almost 100% and, frankly, I was hella surprised by that. Thusday I felt really good and just completed a short slow 2 mile run. All things are still good. I'm very happy that recovery has gone well. I read that as we age (yes, we)that the body responds differently. I think accepting that and doing what is necessary has been rewarding.

The Question?
Now that I have completed a marathon the two questions I'm asked over and over are "Did you just feel like dying out there?" and "Would you run another?" There seems to be morbid curiosity in both questions, but the second one is the one I want to discuss. I have to admit that immediately during and after the answer was a "No" to would I run another. The very thought was as laughable as you waking up on time or Mom not looking up some reference or word she doesn't know.

I think the answer though is surprising. The recovery has gone very well. I feel I'm already trained to a certain level as well. I feel confident in my ability to improve my finish time. I have really enjoyed the work load and the path back to exercise. I know that getting some time to get out and such has truly helped me relax and focus more. Putting that all together I'm about to sign up for the Portland marathon on October 9th of this year. I've got just about 18 weeks. Here goes nothing!

I think every one who succeeds in life needs to thank those forces that have supported them. To that I must say I wouldn't have been able to get through the race with out Lisa pacing me. I never would have made it through training without Lavi's support and help. Once again she has managed to play the role of coach, fan, team trainer and manager all in one.

Overall this was one of the hardest things I've done. Think about some of the cycling things I've done to put that in perspective. I have gone farther into the red zone on the bike before. The difference though is that the bike holds you up when you are exhausted and you can coast on a bike. Not so when running. The hardest part was running out of food, and that is something I think I can fix. Still, for sure one of the hardest things I've done. Like all those other times that were tough for me this one was just as much fun. I learn a lot about myself as I do these things. I think I learned that I could train myself back to shape, have fun, set new sites and continually push myself to go big.

Okay, for now I'll keep running and seeing how I do.

On your left,