Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 2011 Training Goals

In February I committed to running 80-miles, cycling 300-miles, and swimming 4-miles during the month of March.  It turns out that I was overly optimistic.  A knee injury and a case of the lazies prevented me from meeting my training goals for the month. 

I'll forgo the "creative cipherin" and just cut to the chase.  I ran 56.3-miles during the month, biked 200.22-miles and swam 1.6-miles. 

My goals for April are the same.  I should do better this month since the Gulf Coast Triathlon is only five weeks away.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2011 Georgia Rides to the Capitol

On Tuesday, March 22nd at noon cyclist from all over Georgia converged on the state capitol to support legislation promoting better bike safety through the annual Georgia Rides to the Capitol event sponsored by Georgia Bikes.

I planned to ride with others cyclist from Epic Bikes in McDonough.  I worked all night and only got home at 6:15AM.  I got ready and had some breakfast before I left the house on my bike at 6:45AM.  It was an 8 mile ride in the dark to the shop.  I used a headlight and worn a reflective vest so that I'd be better seen.

Timeline of the day's events
  • 6:45AM - I departed home on my bike enroute to Epic Bikes in McDonough
  • 7:15AM - I arrived Epic Bikes
  • 7:30AM - We departed Epic Bikes enroute to downtown McDonough
  • 8:00AM - We arrived downtown McDonough
  • 8:15AM - We departed McDonough enroute to the Decatur MARTA station parking lot
  • 10:30AM - We arrived at the Decatur MARTA station
  • 11:30AM - We arrived at the Georgia State Capitol
  • 12:15PM - We departed the capitol
  • 3:00PM - We arrived back at Epic Bikes
  • 3:30PM - I arrived back at home thanks to Ken who gave me a ride in his car
Epic Bikes in McDonough
We met at the bike shop and left for the McDonough square at 7:30AM.  There were six of us riding from Epic Bikes to the capitol that morning along with a contingent of police. 

Henry County Police Department escort from Epic Bikes (the sun is just coming up)
Chad from Jail House Brewing was kind enough to provide SAG (Support and Gear) support for the ride along with being our official cameraman.

Chad standing by the Jail House Brewing truck (in Decatur)
The route took us north on Hwy 155 by Panola Mountain State Park and through Pathersville, by Agnes Scott College then west on College Ave. through Decatur, Lake Claire, Candler Park, and Inman Park.

Just outside of McDonough we were stopped by a freight train.

Waiting for a train to pass
Five of us got caught at the railroad crossing.  Ken made it through before us.
At the railroad crossing
In McDonough we met up with eight more riders, more police, and the mayor of McDonough at the Wells Fargo bank parking lot.
A picture before we left McDonough
Chad's view from the Jail House Brewing truck
Ken and Frank
Carlos, Tim, Eric, Michael and Junior ready to ride the last few miles to the capitol 
Other cyclists in Decatur
Scott getting a bit to eat as we prepare to leave the MARTA parking lot in Decatur
Mix1 provided free all-natural protein drinks to the riders.  I had the blueberry-vanila and it was very good.
A rider from Griffin, Georgia in our group
There were probably 20 cyclist when we arrived.  There was no line to the only port-o-let!  When we left there must have been 500 riders (and a long line at the port-o-let).  I'm not kidding, 500 riders and a long line! 
Riders lineup to leave Decatur
I apologize for not having any images of the rally at the capitol.  I brought a Nikon D-50 DSLR camera which was too big to carry while riding.  Chad took my camera back to the shop for me when we left Decatur so I was camera-less.

The announcer said that 2500 riders made it to the capitol.  I have to agree.  It was packed.  The weather was perfect for a bike ride; mid-50's at the start and in the low-80's at the finish.  We all got sunburned.

Ultimately, I rode 85.65 miles on Tuesday.  It was a long ride and an even longer day!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Custom Triathlon Team Kit Design

Several of my friends and I are training for the 2011 Florida Ironman in November.  Some of us are also doing the Gulf Coast Triathlon in May.  We're not a "team" per say, but that won't keep us from getting some team jerseys and shorts.  Who knows, maybe we'll create a team once we get to sportin' some cool new duds.  I'm hopeful that we can create something we can as least be proud of.  With no skills of my own and no graphic artist on-hand I decided to see what I could come up with.  My friend Chip and I have been talking about doing this for months.  Maybe this blog will help get the ball rolling.  If nothing else it should help us get a better idea of what colors we prefer.

To make the the creative process go easier I broke it down into just a few steps 1) choose the style jersey and shorts 2) choose the panel colors and/or create a pattern 3) create a team logo, and 4) choose a font and add any text.

I did a search online and found the Champion System website.  They're a company that specializes in manufacturing custom sports apparel.  Many of the pros cyclists and triathletes wear their shorts, singlets, tri suits, and jerseys.  I downloaded their templates for the top and shorts that I want to customize.

The Champion System Custom Tri Top jersey and Distance Tri short seem to fit our style needs.  Step #1 is done.  To help sort through the endless panel color options I created a simple color template.  With the downloaded template as a guide, I used Microsoft Paint s/w to form the outline and insert colors into the panels.  The image below is just an example of how the solid color panels might look using different colors.  I want to stay away from colors that are less visible like dark green or gray colors.  Reds and yellows seem to provide the best visibility.  Ultimately, Champion Systems will need actual Pantone Color Matching System (PMS) numbers for each color in the final design.

Instead of having solid color panels, we might like to add a pattern of some sort.  Clouds and blue skies look nice and might be appropriate since we are mostly a group of Federal Aviation Administration and National Weather Service employees.  The look of molten lava or the surface of the Sun are other options.  One can't think about lava and volcanoes without thinking of Hawaii and when a triathlete thinks about Hawaii he's thinking about the Ironman World Championship in Kona.

The Sun

Including patterns on the template is more difficult. 

Another option is an abstract pattern.  Something like the argyle pattern on the 2010 Garmin-Transitions cycling team perhaps.  I'm toying with the idea of having the pattern that looks like a bunch of propellers.  I created the image below using Paint.  They're not propellers but offer a similar effect.

Red & Yellow Pattern

Blue & Yellow Pattern

Reducing the size of the pattern gives a slightly different look.

Tighter Pattern
Loud and visible!  I like the patterns it they might cause any text to get lost.  Step #2 is a work in progress.

Chip has asked someone to create a logo for us.  Step #3 is also a work in progress.

We don't have any sponsors and are not likely to have any so step #4, choose a font and add any text, should be easily done.  Currently, though, it's still a work in progress.

Hopefully, we'll be able to wrap this up in a few weeks.  The order process takes 6-8 weeks so we're unlikely to receive them before the triathlon in May.

I'll write more about ordering custom apparel as I continue to figure out the process myself.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Had a Flat, Saw a Rat

I planned a good 30 miles training ride Friday afternoon with two of my training partners, Richard and Bill.  We met at Harp,s Crossing Baptist Church in Fayette County at 3PM.  The weather was great, 82-degrees and sunny. 

The three of us setup our bikes and headed out.  Seven miles into our ride I had a pinch flat on my back tire.  Luckily for me I was prepared.  I had a patch kit and a new tube with me.  Richard and Bill removed the useless tube from the wheel and I got my spare tube from my pack.  That's when we realized that everything was not all roses.  The spare tube was for my other set of wheels.  The stem was too short.  Well, the patch kit should fix things right up.  The tube was prepared and the patch applied.  A low pressure test before installation was good.  In went the patched tube.  Just pump it up and we're back in business.  Nope!  Pump it up and listen to the air leak out is a more accurate description of what happened.

There I was, stranded on the side of the road.  At least it was a beautiful day.  Richard and Bill rode back to the church while I waited.  I had brought half a dozen tubes but they were in my truck back at the church.  During my wait I, pulled weeds, heard a rooster crow somewhere off in the distance, and had two people stop to offer assistance.  I also had the opportunity to extensively investigate the barbed wire fence-line and bathtub habitat of several field rats.  The three old porcelain tubs must have been a watering holes of sorts for cattle or horses that had enjoyed the field many years ago.  Now the tubs were full of muck and the fence-line was overgrown with privet, vines and stumps.  The field rats had made a network of walkways covered by a canopy of twigs to get to and from the bathtubs.

A few minutes later Richard and Bill arrived with the correct tube.  We changed the tube, I said goodbye to my new friends, and were riding again soon after.

In the past six months I've had two flat tires.  In both incidents I tried to repair the tube with the Genuine Innovations patch kit.  Both attempts were a complete failure.

Genuine Innovations Patch Kit
The components of the kit
I don't know if there is a patch kit that is worth buying but this kit probably isn't one of them.  I have no faith that these "glueless" patches will work in the future.

We ended up riding just under 27 miles.

Monday, March 14, 2011

2011 Gate River Run 15K - Race Report

This is more of a trip report than just a race report.  Since the weekend involved a lot of family time I thought I'd go ahead and include highlights of the weekend and the race.

The 2011 Gate River Run took place on Saturday, March 12th in Jacksonville, Florida.  Jacksonville is my hometown and the River Run is a great opportunity to go home and spend some time with the family.  This was the second year in a row that my family has run the race.  Last year my wife Susan, brother Keith, sister-in-law Diane, and niece Kristen ran the race.  We all did it again this year and added two more.  My twin brother Glenn and his wife Marcia joined us.  This was their first race, so they ran the 5K.  Susan wasn't feeling well so she decided to run the 5K as well.

In keeping with this year's more environmentally friendly theme, several days before the race the directors e-mailed participants a "virtual race bag".  It included links to coupons, sponsor websites, and maps of the pre-race expo, race start and finish, 5K and 15K courses, and post-race festivities, all in pdf format.

I woke up on Friday morning at 3AM feeling pretty bad.  I'd spent the night nursing a sore throat, headache and fever.  It's not easy trying to sleep with a throat lozenge affixed to the roof of one's mouth.  At around 8AM I called my brothers and told them I was sick and we wouldn't be coming to Jax.  Susan and I had intended to leave the house at 9AM.  Susan made me some breakfast and coffee and at around 10:30AM I took a shower and felt much better.  So, at 11:30AM we decided to go after all.  I took our dog Max to Puppy Tubs in Peachtree City while Susan got ready and did some final packing.  I returned home, we loaded up the car and we headed for Jax at 12:30PM.  This was much later than we had planned to leave but, what the hey...

An assortment of medication would help me make it through the weekend and the race, along with an endless supply of Kleenex and paper towels.  I found that using even two Kleenex's to absorb the contents of a nose in full flow was totally inadaquate and resorted to the less soft but more absorbent paper towels.  The Chamois Butt'r and the Body Glide were for my feet.

My Meds
The distance from our house to my brother's house just south of Jax is a 350 mile drive.  By the time we arrived in Jax I was having some pain in my right leg.  Great, one more thing!

While we were driving down from Atlanta my niece was collecting our race bibs, shirts and schwag.  The 15K'ers received an Adidas technical shirt and 5K'ers got a cotton shirt.

2011 Gate River Run 15K Adidas tech shirt
The color of the Adidas technical shirt for the women in the 15K race was a slightly lighter blue.

2011 Gate River Run 5K Charity Run cotton shirt
2011 Gate River Run 15K bib
On Friday evening we all feasted on spaghetti and meatballs, salads, and garlic bread.  On Saturday morning we had bagels and coffee.  I had four GU gel packets for use later during the race. 

We left the house on race morning at 6:15AM, picked up my niece and got to the Jaguar's stadium at 7AM.  We found free parking at the Sun's stadium. 

The 5K charity run was not timed however, the 15K race was timed via MYLAPS bib attached RFID chips.  The bibs had each runner's first name imprinted in large type.  I heard my name called out several times.  That was cool!  Timing mats were located at the start, 5K and 10K points, and finish line.  Water stations with water and Gatorade were located all along the 15K course.  Many of the water stations were manned by residents and volunteers supporting the countless politicians running for local office.  There were also several live bands performing on the course and spectators with music and noise makers of their own.  The course had smooth and flat pavement except for the few minor rises in elevation, and the Main Street Bridge and Hart Bridge, of course.  The bridges are also where runners would find grates on the roadway.  The long downhill run from the top of the Hart Bridge to the finish line is a welcome sight although the last 200 yards to the finish line were slightly uphill.

Before the race started the announcer asked the runners to observe 15-seconds of silence in memory of Sally Meyerhoff.  Ms. Meyerhoff was an elite female athlete that was hit and killed by a car while cycling only a few days before the race.  She had placed 9th amongst the female runners in the 2009 race.

The weather at the start was clear blue skies with cool temperatures in the low 40's.  We stayed bundled up and out of the shade.  Before the race I wore a fashionable ankle length trash bag to keep warm.  I think I looked a bit like Steve Carell in Evan Almighty

After the race the temperature rose to the mid-60's.  We took a quick tour of the post-race festivities.  I entered a raffle at the Geico tent and got a free hat and key ring.  There was also a beer truck dispensing free beer.  The beer line grew fast.

Susan and I at the Jaguar, with beer
The results were posted online that evening and the first 680 finishers were printed in the Florida Times-Union newspaper on Sunday.  I placed 43rd in my age-group and 508th overall.  My chip time was 1:04:43 (clock time 1:04:53) with a 6:57 pace. 

Race results in the Florida Times-Union newspaper (check # 508)
All the 15K race finishers received a medal.  The top 10% of finishers received a hat instead.  I qualified for the hat last year but didn't realize I should have gotten one.  When I went back to the finish line the hat guy was out of hats.  I wasn't going to make that mistake this year.  In fact, unknowingly, I ended up with both a medal and a hat.  Oops!

2011 Gate River Run finishers' medal
2011 Gate River Run Top 10% Finisher hat
The "Don't be a pig" note
The note in the above picture was in the inside rim of the hat.  Since I don't run with my glasses I didn't get the opportunity to read it until I got home.

Expo and race day schwag
The free pizza cutter I didn't get
After the race we ate lunch at Mojo Kitchen on Beach Blvd. in Jax beach.  The service and food were both very good.  The restaurant got pretty crowded by the time we left.  I even had the opportunity to see some folks ride up on cruiser bikes drinking a can of beer.  I miss Florida!

Mojo Kitchen
The family at the table on the right
Pulled pork, coleslaw, and toasted bread
Carolina pork, fries, and toasted bread
Diane with her beef brisket sandwich and baked beans
Susan wanted to get some fresh seafood before we left so while we were at the beach she picked up 4-lbs of shrimp from Mayport at this place.

Beachside Seafood
Susan waiting for her shrimp
After Beachside Seafood we headed south to Mickler's Landing.  This is where we put my parent's ashes back in 1997.  It's a really pretty beach in Ponte Vedra, Florida.  Back when I was in high school people could drive on the beach. 

Beach rules sign
Whale sightings sign
Boardwalk through the dunes to the beach
Beach warning flags sign
The view north at Mickler's Landing
The view south at Mickler's Landing
The brothers Farmer
The girls
After Mickler's Landing we headed back to my brother's house.  I took a picture of their dog, Jake.

On Saturday evening I was able to get a picture of a 4' long alligator that has made his home in the pond behind my brother's house.

About an hour later my sister-in-law called out "there's the otter".  I grabbed my camera and headed into the backyard.  The otter acted as though he'd been waiting for me to arrive and quickly came on shore about 40' away.  He snorted and rolled in the grass coming closer with each passing minute.  Before I knew it I was getting close-up pictures with my 55mm lens.  With my family cooing in the background "ah, he's so cute" I wanted to pet the sweet little fella.  I was...The Otter Whisperer.  As I reached my hand out the monster bit the crap out of my finger.  I ran back to the house with the ferocious beast following close behind.

Hey, who are you?
Do you want to play with me?
Do you have something for me to eat?
When otters attack!
Susan and I packed up and left Jacksonville for Atlanta on Sunday morning.  One thing we noticed in Jax was that the whole city seemed very clean.  Almost no bandit signs along the roadway and very little trash. These define the scenery in Atlanta.  I commented to my wife that the I-95 interchange near my brother's house has better landscaping than the golf course near our home at Lake Spivey.  After a few hours all the signs indicated we were finally close to home.

I'm glad I saw that sign, I almost missed my exit!
A line of a dozen or so billboards
Billboards on both sides of the highway
Susan and I felt much safer during our long drive knowing that Georgia's politicians had voted to ensure that the billboard companies would have carte blanche to cut down those murderous trees along the roadway. 

What a weekend, drive 700 miles, run 9.3 miles, drink beer, eat BBQ, nurse a cold and a bloody finger.  It's good to be home.