Friday, February 29, 2008


My Ironman training is ramping up, and I am exhausted all the time. Twice this week, I feel asleep around 8:00. Maybe I need to start eating more food or drinking more Mountain Dew, but I'm crashing pretty hard in the evenings. The early morning workouts aren't helping my energy levels much either. Thank goodness for the Writers' Strike so I haven't had to worry about missing too much TV. But now that all of the shows are coming back with new episodes, how can I possibly keep up watching everything if I can't stay up past 8:00?!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

No Cause for Alarm

Note to self: When meeting people for a 6:30am bike ride, set your alarm for FIVE forty-five, not six forty-five. I woke up by pure chance at 6:15, raced out of the house and made it to the ride at 6:32.

Where it was 48 degrees.
To do hills.
With Jon and Gerald.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hats Off to You

It was a bit cold and a little rainy, but I went for a run late this afternoon. I wore my best running hat, a bright yellow cap that says "Gotta Tri" on it. The hat was a bit wet and sweaty when I finished, so rather than just throwing it on the seat when I got back to my car, I put it on the roof so I could wrap it up in my towel when I was ready to leave. And yes, I drove off with it still on the roof. I didn't realize it until I got home. My poor little hat is out there somewhere, lost and alone. The more I think about it, the more I want my hat back. It is now about 9:45, and I am going back to look for my hat. He would do the same for me. I'll let you know how it goes.

10:25: Success! I drove out to Griffith Park, and there in the middle of the intersection was a bright yellow spot. A very flat, bright yellow spot.

It looks like my hat had been run over a few times. The brim is cracked and the plastic size adjuster broke off, but it may still be salvageable. Once it gets cleaned up and dried out I'll give it a try.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How Sweet It Is

I've touched upon this before, but it's important... I scoff at people who get all worried when they break their diet. "Oh no, I had some french fries with dinner last night!" "I was so bad; it was someone's birthday at work and I had a slice of cake." Freakin' amateurs.

Friday night, the day after Valentines, I did my ritual run to the supermarket to buy a bunch of candy at 50% off. I picked up 4 bags, with the plan that I would bring them to work to help replenish the candy dishes that co-workers have on their desks. After the bike ride Saturday, I figured it couldn't hurt to open one of the bags and have a piece of candy with lunch.

By the end of Saturday night, I had this:

I ate through a half bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Filled Hearts and about 1/4 bag of Peanut Butter Filled Kisses. By Sunday, I finished the Reese's bag and most of the Kisses.

So don't come crying to me about your diets. You have no idea what weakness is.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Riding for Deer Life

My new favorite ride leader Teresa took four of us (me, her, Robert, Steve) up to Cogswell Dam in the Angeles National Forest. Twenty miles uphill, twenty miles back. The last half mile or so, along a paved fire road, was by far the steepest climb I ever did.

Cold weather, beautiful scenery, blah blah blah. The interesting stuff happened on the way back down. Teresa was a little ahead of me on the fire road when she stopped to see a young deer. I quickly and quietly stopped to pull out my cel phone camera to snap a photo before the deer ran away.

Pretty amazing I was able to snap the pictute, huh? Um, no. This deer wasn't going anywhere. He let us pet him as he dug through our Bento boxes looking for food. We didn't give him anything that might make him sick, but I did let him drink from my water bottle. I then realized I probably shouldn't drink out of it on the ride home. He started licking my hand, probably responding to the salt, and even started suckling on my thumb for a bit. Awww, how adorable.

Now let's pause here for a moment. When you're in the middle of the woods and a wild animal comes up to you, as a general rule it's probably not a good idea to stick your fingers in its mouth. I was reminded of this when the precious little fawn bit me. You have no idea how hard these cute creatures can bite. (Twelve hours later, my thumb was still throbbing.)

The deer bite didn't really break skin, but he did split my fingernail, and after a short while it did start to bleed. Ever-helpful Steve started explaining all of the painful treatments they do for rabies. If I start foaming at the mouth, you'll know why but I prefer to think that the deer was radioactive and now I have deer-like superpowers. Like, I can eat leaves really well.

Another group of cyclists came up to pet the deer. We started to leave, but the deer started to follow us rather than stay with the other group. He obviously liked us best, or else he wanted another taste of my flesh.

The sad part of all this is that the reason why the deer was so friendly is that his mother is probably dead and he's relying on hikers for food. He will probably wind up getting shot or hit by a car someday. So if you ever come across a deer with an affinity for spandex, leave him be.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


This week I've been having an extended Ironman panic attack, and the catalyst was, quite frankly, something ridiculous.

First, the overview: It's less than 20 weeks until Ironman. That's scary all by itself. And I started thinking, "I signed up for this race 7 months ago. What do I have to show for my past 7 months?! Why aren't I in better shape by now?! Why did I waste all that time?! But that's normal stress for me, and wasn't what triggered the attack.

I have a little less than 5 months to prepare, and at this point I need to have a more structured training plan. I have seen plenty of Ironman Training Programs online and I stress out just looking at them. They look like elementary school math exams: 3 x 400. 5 x 8 @ 75% MAX. Maybe I could cut 30-60 minutes off my finishing time if I followed one of these programs, but I just can't do it. It's too much to think about. I do recognize the importance of going through the staircased build phases, and I thought it was time that I laid out a basic training schedule.

Geek that I am, I opened up a spreadsheet and mapped out every day until Ironman, broken down into weeks and phases. I would come up with a target number of hours for each week (based upon guideline I've read about and my own experience). I would have a Build, Peak and Race Phases before the California Half-Ironman in March, then Transition, Build, Peak and Race phases before Coeur d'Alene. All very straightforward.

Now then, here comes the insane part that freaked me out: The Cali 70.3 is on a Saturday. So I counted backwards and filled in all of the weekly workout data, finishing on race day. Then I continued the pattern out through June. But Ironman is on a Sunday. Which means it falls during the following week, and everything else needed to be shifted back a week. I know what you're thinking: IT DOESN'T MATTER! Just have a damn 8-day week at the end and be done with it. I can;t explain it, it just really upset me. This isn't about logic. It's about OCD and fear and the irrational thought that if I can just make the spreadsheet symmetrical and balanced then the fact that all of my training might be spiraling out of control won't matter. I literally spent several hours just reformatting all of the column widths to make the training plan look balanced.

I think I understand the magnitude of an Ironman more than most other Ironman Virgins. I've been to 2 races, I trained with an IronNewbie and watched her finish. So I think I get it. But when I see the training quantified on screen, it's really starting to stress me out. If I can't even make a training spreadsheet, how can I possibly finish the actual race?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sorry, Jon

I think Jon's head would explode...

I wasn't sure what kind of support we would have along the course in Palm Springs, so I was prepared. This is what I carried on the bike with me:

1 bottle Gatorade
1 bottle Water
2 bags Shot Bloks
7 Snickers
2 Power Bars
Suntan lotion
Spare tube
Plastic tire-remover-thingee
Valve extenders
Course map
Moist Wipes
Cel phone
Cel phone cloth
Hotel key

I also packed a ham sandwich which I ate along the ride.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tour de Palm Springs

Yesterday was the Palm Springs Century Ride.

(I'm the one who looks like cyclist.)

I've done plenty of foot races with a mass start of people running. I've done triathlons where you start swimming. But this was my first bike-only event, and I admit it was kind of awkward figuring out how and when to clip into your pedals when you have 10,000 cyclists starting all at once.

The ride started out with a 1500 foot climb, but it was spread out over 16 miles so it was fairly mild. We rode through the desert wind farms, which is a sea of literally hundreds of windmills. Or at least we thought they were windmills. With some of the headwinds we hit, we kind of suspected that they were actually giant fans trying to blow us down the mountain. Still, they were pretty cool to see.

We certainly saw some beautiful scenery along the way: wide open desert valleys, snow-covered mountains. But nothing compared to the view at the first rest stop:

Behold, the Giant Table of M&Ms. It was glorious. Right next to it was another table of Chex mix. That presented a bit of a problem for me: You see, I love pretzels. But Chex Mix is only about 10% pretzel. So I had to take several cups, dig out the pretzels and then toss the rest of the mix on the ground. Wasteful? Perhaps. Yummy? You bet.

The SAG stops (I have no idea what that means) were big, elaborate places with sandwiches, drinks, port-a-potties, mechanics... the works. We probably spent FAR too much time in them, but the event was a "ride" not a "race" so we were pretty leisurely. One thing I do need to mention: you always hear how great the volunteers are at events. But the people in Palm Springs were PHENOMENAL. Seriously. Way beyond the call of duty. And most of the volunteers were younger people. I was walking around with my water bottle at one point and a girl came up to me and asked "can I fill up your bottle for you?" She didn't wait to be asked, she actively came to me. Another time I was refilling my own water bottle and a volunteer asked if he could hold my bike for me while I filled it up. Other people had similar stories. The volunteers weren't just responsive, they ANTICIPATED our needs and were very enthusiastic. I cannot emphasize it enough, they were fantastic.

As we got farther and farther out of town, the roads became straighter and more empty. It was a great time for me to practice my aero position. Most of my rides lately have been in traffic and I haven't been very comfortable going aero, especially at high speeds. Well I spent a lot of time dropped down yesterday and I can really notice the instant speed boost I get. It's sort of a paradox: going aero makes you go faster, but the faster I go, the more nervous I get. I'd say 30 mph was about my cut-off; above that and I would go back up to my normal position with my trembling hands on the brakes. But I used to be afraid of aero at 25mph, so it's a big improvement.

I was feeling pretty good up through the rest stop at mile 52. But then something happened, and I just seemed to lose it for the next 20 miles. I was tired, and not just the muscles in my legs but my eyes were getting heavy. I just wanted to sleep. I haven't been doing much distance in my training over the past few months (aside from the 66-mile Malibu Bonk ride last weekend) and I just assumed that my current conditioning had a 50-mile limit. I'd have a lot of work to do before Ironman in June. But at the rest stop, I switched from M&M's to Cliff Shot Bloks (with caffeine). I felt like Popeye with a can of spinach. I was wide-awake again and felt great hitting the road.

There were two big problems with the course overall. First, the signage was terrible. People got spread out along the road so there wasn't always someone nearby to follow, and many of the turns were not marked. (Lost Greg made a wrong turn and went 3 miles out of his way and 3 miles back.) The other problem is that since this was a ride, not a race, the roads were open to traffic. This wasn't much of an issue out in the middle of the desert, but it was frustrating coming back into town. After riding 90 miles, the last thing you want to do is stop for red lights every quarter mile. And these were long lights, complete with a left-arrow cycle. Quite annoying.

I felt pretty good at the finish. My overall pace was was only about 1.5-2mph less than what I'd like to for Ironman, and I didn't feel like we were pushing ourselves too hard. But I couldn't even conceive of running a marathon at that point. Still have more bricks to do.

All-in-all, a good ride.

Friday, February 08, 2008

You should see me in bike shorts...

I'm in Palm Springs. Tomorrow I'm doing the "Tour de Palm Springs Century Ride".

I went to pick up my registration tonight. The parking lot was pretty full, so I had to park a bit away from the actual pick-up location. Two young women got out of their car about the same I did. I didn't see anyone else nearby. As I started walking towards the registration, I overheard the women behind me:

"Do you know where we're supposed to go?"
"Let's follow this guy. He looks like a cyclist."

I wanted to give them big giant hugs right then and there but I didn't dare. I was afraid I would turn around and see some other guy nearby, the actual object of their conversation.

Maybe I'm delusional to think they really were talking about me. But I'll take it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

More Spirit

My Tri Team had a private screening of "The Spirit of the Marathon" I already saw it at the one-night public screening, but I went again. Still gave me goosebumps even the 2nd time. And one nice thing about screening rooms at a major Hollywood studio: the sound are picture are tweaked to perfection. No offense to the fine folks at AMC theaters, but they don't exactly spend a lot of time tuning your film-going experience.

We were able to hang out with the producers of the film for a bit after the screening. All very cool. You could really tell this was a labor of love for them.

Producer Gwendolen Twist, cinematographer Sarah Levy, and Producer/Director Jon Dunham. And of course, Wedgie.

There is an encore screening February 21. Look for theaters near you.

The movie should be available on DVD this summer.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

"Don't worry, you can't get lost"

I went for a ride in Malibu today, up the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway. This was my first time doing the route, but we had several veterans with us. The plan was to do 3.5 hours; I had no idea if that meant 45 miles, or 60, or whatever. I didn't pay much attention when the ride leaders were discussing the turn-around point; I figured that I would just follow the group, and the PCH is pretty much the only road leaving Malibu. I overheard them say something about heading towards Camarillo, the 101 (freeway), and a Texaco. Sounded like we just stayed on the road until we hit a Texaco where we could grab a snack, pee, and head back. Perfect. Our fearless Tri-Team captain even said "don't worry, you can't get lost." Well that sure sounded like a challenge.

After about 10 miles I was falling behind the group. The PCH is pretty hilly and windy, so I didn't know if I was 1/4 mile behind or 2 miles behind. But I kept on riding. Something you need to know about the PCH: there is nothing there. Rocks on the right, ocean on the left. No stores, no houses, no gas stations. After about 15 miles of not seeing any friendly faces, there was sort of an exit ramp with a sign that said "Bike Path". I wasn't sure if I should take it or not, but I figured "when in doubt, stick to the main road." So I just forged ahead.

The road quickly became smoother, straighter, wider. It just didn't feel right but I just assumed that 1 mile or 10 miles down the road I would find a Texaco where I could snack, pee, and turn around. I kept on riding for a few miles. You may ask, "Wedgie, at what point did you realize that you were on the wrong road?" That was probably when the policeman pulled me over.

Yes, one of Oxnard's finest stopped me. He told me I wasn't allowed to ride a bike on a freeway. Freeway? That would explain why the cars were whizzing by me so quickly. He was very nice about it. I told him I was following a group of bikers, but missed a turn and and had no idea where I was. He asked me where I was heading: good question, because I really didn't know. I told him the 2 words I remembered: "I'm supposed to meet at a Texaco at the 101".

"Texaco? 101? You mean in Camarillo?" Camarillo. That name sounded familiar. I said "sure, that's it." He told me I had to take the next exit, cut over for a couple of miles and then take a left on "Las Posas Road." That would take me to Camarillo, with a Texaco where I could snack, pee, and turn around. Thank you officer, sir yes sir.

When I got to the intersection of Las Posas, I ran into Ann who was riding with us. The first thing she said was "I got lost... I was on the freeway." "Me too!" We rode for a while together, and then about 1 mile outside of Camarillo we ran into the rest of the group coming back the other way. So we turned around and followed them, which meant we didn't get to the Texaco. No break, no snacks, no peeing.

I completely bonked the ride back, for many reasons: I hadn't been on a ride in 3 weeks. I wasn't taking in enough calories. I increased my run distances over the week and was still a little sore. And it was a fast group I couldn't keep up with.

I made it back to Malibu and civilization but still had about 15 miles to get back to my car. I was getting self-conscious at the idea that everyone else would be sitting around waiting for me in the parking lot. Well let me tell you, it's very liberating to get to the point where you can just say "screw my friends." I hadn't peed in 50 miles. There was a gas station across the street. It had a urinal (or at least a concrete wall), and Mountain Dew, and snacks. My friends would just have to wait a little bit longer. It was probably a 10-minute break, but worth it. I had my Dew and Chocolate Chip Cookies and Reese Pieces. Yummy.

Eventually I made it back to the car. I was sore and tired and cranky and frustrated, but at least I got a long ride in. How many miles did I ride? 66. Satan's number. Makes sense.