Thursday, September 27, 2012

Things A Beginning Cyclist Should Know/Do

Yesterday I took a neophyte triathlete friend of mine for a ride. She's still very new to the sport, having only completed one super sprint so far (but she won her age group!). She's so new to cycling, in fact, that she is still in that New Scared Rider Stage. It's the same stage that six mile seems like a long ride, that hill at the end of your street is a granny gear mountain, and you're super uncomfortable trying to fix anything on your bike because who knows how you're going to break it. And she did great. Her tires were much too under-inflated so we took care of that with help from Diesel. Her seat post bracket was broken so we rode to a nearby bike shop and replaced it, knees hitting her in the chest the whole time, but she's so new she didn't realize how bad that was and how much harder she was making it on herself. But we rode probably eight or nine miles all told just around her neighborhood and she was fine. No complaining, game for different routes, and, most important, she listened to me babble at her.
It all got me thinking about a List Of Things New Cyclists Should Know/Do. I'm not the first one to come up with a list like this, but I want my swing.

Things A Beginning Cyclist Should Know/Do
  • Get Lost- Ride somewhere you've never been, or somewhere you think you know where you're going but you aren't sure. Explore. There is an element of childhood to riding a bicycle and before you had a car this was your means of exploration. Rediscover that. 
  • Fix a flat- On the road, mid-ride. It's going to happen. You're going to have to do it. Might as well get it out of the way.
  • Fix that same tire five minutes later because you didn't do everything quite right the first time- Welcome to the Most Frustrating Thing About Cycling. The learning curve on flat fixing can be brutally steep. You will miss something and that tire if going to go flat again. I don't care how many YouTube videos you watched. Failure is learning. Welcome to class.
  • Weeeeee!!!- Going downhill is fun. Enjoy it. Say, "Weeeeeee!"
  • Visit every local bike shop then make a list of best to worst by customer service- You are going to be close with these people, you might as well find the friendly ones. And Amazon is great when you don't need stuff in a hurry but when the race is tomorrow and you just discovered your tire is flat or you're out of air canisters these will be your saviors. Be cool to them and find the ones that are cool to you.
  • Make friends- Talk about riding. Be That Guy. Talk, tweet, blog, text, and find forums online. Make friends who also enjoy cycling. They are all over the place and will be fonts of information and motivation. Plus, it is safer to ride in a group.
  • Little Hills/Big Hills- There are hills in your neighborhood that look like mountains. That suuuuuck to climb. That have oh the hurtiness qualities. Attack them. Ride them. Graduate to bigger hills. Then, in six months, go back to that first brutal hill and zip up it thinking, "What the hell was so bad about that?"
  • Don't apologise for being new- Everyone was new once. Even Lance sucked for a little while (insert doping joke here). Ride in a group and try to keep up. If they are cool then they won't complain, or they'll drop you then wait. Everyone remembers their struggles at the start. Ride, don't complain, and try.
  • Adjust your own bike, do it wrong, then troubleshoot fixing it- It feels so good to buy a book or look online and get in there and make adjustments. Your instincts and this book say your seat should be higher? Raise it. Don't tighten it down enough accidentally. Slip down while riding. Fix it again, better this time. 
  • Let your insecurities about your adjustments get the best of you and take the bike in anyway- Make the adjustments, feel right but weird, talk yourself into being positive you did something wrong and a horrible tragedy is waiting around the next pedal stroke, take the bike in to the shop, and watch them make miniscule adjustments. A proper bike fit changes your life, but you won't know it until you feel it.
  • Fall over unclipping- We all have done it. You'll do it too. Forget to unclip, do the slow unstoppable fall to one side, get up, glance around like you meant to do that, and move on.
  • Find chain grease on a random part of your body after your shower- "What the? How did I get grease on my elbow? And I swear I scrubbed it off my calf. chain isn't even on that side of my bike!"
  • Conquer a small mechanical problem while out on a ride using only a multi-tool- Your seat slips. An aerobar loosens. Your chain gains sentience and tries to make a break for it. Bust out that multi-tool in your pocket or seat bag and fix it right there on the side of the road. Leave your helmet on, don't trust cars, then get back out there.
  • Keep a small version of your stuff with you- George Carlin did a routine about Stuff. Here. NSFW because duh, Carlin.

 You need a small Bike Version of your Stuff. Money, ID, cell phone. So you can buy a snack, a drink, or an emergency supply. So people know who you are. So you can call for help when you blow your second spare tube. Zip Lock baggie, back pocket, bam ready to go. 
  • Ride somewhere pretty- No matter where you live there is somewhere pretty you can ride to. Find it, ride there, take cell phone pictures and text them to your friends who slept in with snarky, superior messages about how awesome you are and how cool where you are is.
  • Have fun- Of course! This should be fun. Like I mentioned right at the start, you are basically using a grown-up version of a child's toy. Sometimes you need to stop and remember that.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

If Kipapa Don't Reach (I'm in Trouble)

Swim (Monday)
1 x 200- warm-up
100- 1:30
200- 3:00
3:00- 4:30 (fail)
400- 6:00 (fail)
500- 7:30 (fail)
1 x 100- cool down

Run (Tuesday)
time- 31:47
distance- 3.16mi

 Training isn't really the word for what I'm doing right now. Hell, it barely feels like maintenance most of the time. I guess going from the level of intensity I was at pre-Honu to what I'm doing now, which used to be intense when I started this journey, is weird. I feel like I'm not working hard enough, but with no near goals I'm struggling. Kinda been the theme of most of these posts for a while now. In October there is the Marine Corps Splash and Dash that I did with Super Awesome Wife last year and I'm thinking of registering for that. It is cheap, it was fun, and it gives me a reason to train.
We have moved and now live at the bottom of a gully. Well, we live up a steep hill which you have to go down to get to the main road which them climbs out of the gully. So every ride and run begins and ends with a steep-ish descent and then a steep-ish climb. Neither are long, it just isn't a fun way to start or end a workout. Finishing a long workout like that will be satisfying though. At the end of yesterday's run it did feel good to be able to quick-step it up the hill. Check out the link to my Garmin data to see what I'm talking about elevation-wise and determine for yourself if I'm being a wuss. I'm sure it'll get easier as I get used to it. And climbing = strong.
The title of the post comes from the name of one of the streets I ran along. I made a left instead of simply turning around and running back exactly how I came and then made a right on Kipapa, a road that I was pretty sure connected back to where I wanted to go. I was 95% sure. Just sure enough to do it. But then for whatever reason that song popped into my head and I started thinking, "If Kipapa don't reach I'm in trouble yeah..." That it pretty much all the song I know off the top of my head too, so that's not helpful.
Still paranoid about injury. Inner left knee was sore this morning, but not painful. Probably the climbing. I'll do a gait check.
And now, for all my Whovian friends, I present this:
OH! Also, please go check out my Active Articles page at the top. They posted my whole swim series as a really nice four-parter and it'll make me look good if you click over and read them again. it's good for ya! Thanks.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

4 Steps to a Faster 1.5km Swim- Active Edition picked up my recent A Faster Swim in the Key of S series. They will be posting it in four parts as I planned.
Now that the whole thing is up I have to say I'm really happy with how it came out. Much thanks to active for putting it up pretty much without interference.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fear of the Fat Dad- Dirtbag Parent Series

There was a swim and a run this week, but that is all. Neither were great, the run wasn't bad but I'm worried my leg problem from before is showing back up, which is strange because I've been doing so little to irritate it. Anyway, on to the post.

Dirtbag Fetus (aka Joe Batman)
Super Awesome Wife is just over six months pregnant with Dirtbag Fetus. The baby, and no we don't know if it's a boy or girl, is due in mid-December. At which point I everything in my life will change.
I'm more excited about becoming a father than I can express. I can't wait to hold the little bundle of Dirtbag Dough in my arms. I think about it a lot. My sister just recently had a baby, so I've been getting first-hand accounts of the life changes that are happening. It's one thing to have your parents tell you, "You just wait. EVERYTHING changes when you have a baby." It is another to have it happen in your peer group. And that is where my peer group is now. The wave of weddings has passed and we are now mid-set in the first wave of babies, bobbing in the waves, waiting for our ride.
Saying that you are ready for the change and actually being ready are two different things, though, and I recognize that too. I am well aware that things are about to happen to my life which I can only pretend at being prepared for. But (and be ready for a Circe du Sole-type sentence) knowing that there are things that I can't know helps me feel comfortable in my unknowing because I'm ready for the unknown. I'm mentally prepared to be flexible. I'm warming up for being upended.
And I have a slightly vain worry in all this.
I don't want to become a Fat Dad.
You've seen them. You might even know them. Dude was healthy and strong and then the baby came and his sleep schedule was wrecked and all that free time he spent working out became baby time. I want to be clear, I see these things as good and right. If I tried working out as much as I do now after December 11th-ish (due date is 12/11, so we'll see) it would be a toss up if Super Awesome Wife would kill me or divorce me first. And she would be right for doing so.
I am all about getting in there as dad and doing my job. She wants to be a stay-at-home mom, which means by the time I get home from teaching everyday Momma's gonna need a nap and a baby break and I'm getting tagged in. There goes those after after school runs and rides. She wants to breast feed, so while I'm not going to be directly responsible for those 3am feedings I don't expect for a second to be sleeping through them. I'm not getting up for a 5am pre-school swim after that. On top of that I'm going to want to spend as much time with Joe Batman (our placeholder in utero name for Dirtbag Fetus). When I weigh Three Hour Ride against Chill on the Floor With Baby baby is going to win every time.
Joe Batman vs The Burrito
 So how am I going to avoid Fat Dadness? Well, we are buying (read: we have put on our registry) a BOB Revolution Running Stroller, so that is going to be helpful. I will eventually get a bike trailer so I can bring the baby along on shorter rides. And Super Awesome Wife knows that working out is an integral part of maintaining sanity for me, so it's not like she's going expect me to put the kibosh on it completely. 
I've also taken advantage of the early registration rate for the Honolulu Triathlon, so I have a race on my calendar. That will help me get out of the house and stay active. I'll have Dad Adjusted expectations for the race, seeing as two-a-day trainings and the like will probably be out.
Tied in to all of this is that both of us want our children to grow up in an active household. We want the kids to know fitness from the get go. There is a whole other post in this little paragraph. 
The bottom line is I want to stay fit, I want to improve myself, and I want to be an excellent, involved dad. I know doing all those things is possible, I just don't know how it's going to come together yet. The next step of my fitness adventure is a big blind one, and I'm totally looking forward to it.
First Family Beach Picture

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lying About Your Times: Slightly Political Edition

Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan has recently been caught in a lie. I want to be clear, I'm not going to use this platform to jump up and down politically, so this post has nothing to do with the five provable lies he told during his RNC speech. This is about a lie he told on a radio show about his marathon time.
 Ryan, a devotee of P90X, went on Hugh Hewitt's radio show last month and told the host he ran a marathon back in 1990 in "two hour and fifty-something." Blazing fast for an amateur runner. That's holding a sub-seven minute mile pace for 26.2 miles. Super fast! Probably the fastest man ever to run (get it?) for national office.
Then this showed up. Runners World reported that Ryan actually ran that marathon in just over four hours. Ryan's response is that he should have rounded his marathon time to four hours, not three. I want to leave aside that I'm teaching rounding to fourth graders this week and they would faaaaaiiiiiil if they came up with an answer like that and focus on what I see as the more important aspect of this story:
A four-something marathon is a damn good marathon. A person does not complain about a four-something marathon. If I told my friends (and strangers because I would talk about it to anyone who even looked like they were going to ask) that I ran a four low marathon I would expect them to be properly impressed. It is impressive.
Here is the other thing: You don't forget times like that. You might forget the exact minutes, but you remember the basics. You can estimate your time pretty accurately. You don't misremember by an hour.
Example- My first half marathon was the Hapalua, and I did it in about 2:45. I don't think that is exact, but it is pretty damn close. You're going to have to trust me that I didn't look back and check. My Half Ironman time was, I think, right under seven hours. I'd guess 6:53. And the half marathon in that race was slower than the Hapalua, so it was probably about 2:50-something. Not fast. Not at all. My running race times have never been fast. If I was motivated to lie about a time, those would be the times I would lie about. I could stand to sound a little faster, and it would still be believable. I could lie about my swims, but even the swims I consider bad or slow aren't really. Lying about swim times would just piss off my non-swimmer friends more.
The thing is, I don't really care about time too much. I have yet to judge someone based on their time in any event. What a crappy thing to do. My opinion of you changes not one iota if you run a 5k off the bike in 18 minutes or 38 minutes. I don't think I'm alone in that.
So why lie about your time? And it is a lie. It was not a misspeak or a mistake. A runner remembers.
Fish stories are funny because you overestimate the size of your catch. That is part of the fun of fishing. No one can prove it, "Oh yeah, I had to throw him back. Already caught my limit." Everybody laughs.
Runners though, we know. And we care. Because, unlike fishing, we have a ton of control over the result. Training, nutrition, mental preparation, thousands of tiny things that need to be fiddled with and fine-tuned and corrected. The result of all that work is something we take pride in.
When a race doesn't go the way we planned endurance athletes delight in going into extreme detail about what went wrong! The second best thing* about telling a race story is talking about the damn cramp at mile seven, dropping your GU at the start, crashing your bike, having something to blame the time on! Complaining about race problems is humblebragging at it's best. "Yeah, I was right at the start of my HALF IRONMAN bike and the chain fell off the bike. I had to stop, fix it, and then worry about it happening again for the next 56 MILES. So that is why I was so slow during the HALF IRONMAN I DID THAT YOU DIDN'T DO."
So yeah, it bothers me that Paul Ryan lied about his marathon time. I think it speaks to deeper self-dissatisfaction, dishonesty, and a pathological need to impress us. It wasn't enough that he ran a marathon. It wasn't even enough that with a low four he probably finished in the top 50% of the field. My earlier statement is probably still true. He is probably the fastest marathoner to run (get it?) for national office. But that wasn't good enough for him. Rather than train harder and do better next time, rather than be proud he accomplished something so few people do, he lied about it. And he got caught. Of course he did because come on, pain is temporary, but race results live forever on the internet.

*the best thing about telling a race story is talking about all the people you passed and choosing whether or not to mention that one of those people was an 81 year old woman with one leg who somehow beat you out of the water and off the bike. I would mention it, makes the story funnier. Ryan would not mention it, or she would become a 24 year-old Chrissie Wellington-clone in his version.