Monday, July 29, 2013

Random Thoughts

As I train for my next race my mind seems to wander, as I'm sure most people do in a similar situation.  I might think about the things I should be doing around the house but, alas, the grass grows a little longer, the hedges don't get trimmed and edging, well, "I'll do it next week" I promise my wife.  I try to block those thought for more interesting like, maybe I should adjust my bike seat post up 1/4".  I wonder if I'd lose much power or how much time I could save if only I reduced my wind resistance.  Am I happy with my grip tape?  I suppose I could be happier with a different color and maybe some that's a little "stickier".

After reading a post on Facebook about gearing I decided to see what my bikes have and put them to print (blog) so I can go back and check months from now when I forget.  Specifically, is a compact or standard crank the best for my upcoming races?  I'm talking about the Ironman Augusta 70.3 and Ironman Florida.

For me the answer to this question is a no brainer!  I'll be riding my QR CD0.1 tri-bike with a standard 39t/53t x 170mm Vision crankset and Flashpoint FP60 wheels with a 12t/25t Ultegra cassette.

My tri-bike came with a stock Quintana Roo branded Alex wheelset with a 12t/23t Ultegra cassette.  I won't use them to race.

My Trek 5.2 road bike stock wheels include a compact 34t/50t x 170mm Ultegra crankset and a 11t/28t Shimano 105 cassette.  It's great for hills but neither course is hilly, unless you're from Florida where bridges are hills.  

The Augusta course is slightly hilly but nothing I shouldn't be able to handle with the standard Vision crankset.  Florida is pancake flat except for the bridge which we'll ride over twice.  So, that's it, a 39t/53t x 170mm crankset and a 12t/25t cassette.

My second random thought has to do with the Augusta swim course.  Anyone who has ever thought about doing a 70.3 triathlon, and is concerned about the swim segment has invariably been told to register for the Augusta race.  I'm a consistent 2:00 per 100m swimmer.  In Augusta I'm a blistering 1:29 per 100m swimmer.  Of course some of that has to do with the adrenalin of race day, but not 25%.  So, obviously the river current has something to do with my improved Augusta swim pace.   That's where my thoughts are focused. Theoretically, the water on the edge and bottom of the river is not moving at all.  And, theoretically, the water at the center and top of the channel is moving the fastest.  Anywhere between the center of the channel and the edge of the river bank is moving somewhere less than the fastest velocity and faster than at the edge of the river.  I want to swim where the water is moving the fastest therefore, nearest the center of the channel as the kayakers will allow.   Of course, this is not taking into account eddies from and bridge towers and abutments.

My third thought, has to do with Ironman training in general terms.  As me and my 3,400 or so other competitors train for Ironman Florida the thought of injury comes to mind.  Currently, I occasionally urinate blood, I have an inguinal hernia (going to the doctor tomorrow), and a knot in my eyelid that looks like a bug bite.  It's no wonder with all the sweating, sneezing after every open water swim, and getting crap in my eyes.  Training is like riding a knife's edge between extreme fitness and tragic injury.

My forth and final thought has to do with laundry.  My cycling gloves stink so bad I could hardly stand to wear them today.  I've got several pairs of gloves but I usually leave them in the garage with my shoes, helmet and other bike paraphernalia.  I can't do that any more.  There's probably more bacteria growing on my gloves than in my toilet.  In the future I will wash my gloves when I wash my shorts and jersies.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pedal for Pets 99

On Saturday, July 13th I finally got the opportunity to get some time in the saddle.  I signed up for the Pedal for Pets 99 a few weeks ago and ride day was here.  I hoped to find some of my riding buddies when I got to Senoia for the start of the ride at 7am.  The ride was not a mass start so some people left before 7am.  The shorter distance rides were advertised as having an 8am start time but many of those riders started with the 99 mile route riders.  I think I would have preferred a mass start at 7:30am with all riders.

Registration at Senoia United Methodist Church
I ran into some of my riding buddies in the church parking lot on my way to registration.  Even though I had already registered I still needed to check-in.  I ran back to my car to get my bike and gear ready for the long day.  As I took my sweet time a large group of thirty or so riders rode by.  Several of them were my guys.  I hoofed it to the street and hopped on my bike.  I decided to check the parking lot one more time for stragglers.  There weren't any that I knew, except a platoon of about eight Beck Cycling guys.  I knew I didn't want those guys to hurt me so I hauled butt to catch the other group which by now had ridden well out of site.  On my own I passed person after person, almost took a wrong turn, but the group stayed beyond my reach, until the Beck guys showed up.  John in their group, who I have ridden with before (see Naked Lady Ride), invited me to join in.  I did and the ten miles whizzed by until the group I was trying to catch were right there before me.  It was pretty cool that as we passed them I was doing my brief stint at the front.  "Yeah, I pulled these guys the whole way" I thought to myself.  Shortly after we passed the group I trailed off the back and only reconnected with a few of the riders at a rest stop.

Greg, John (in the back), Steve, and David (l-r) leaving a restspot

Riders at a reststop in Grantsville (I think)
Fortunately for us the rain held off and we had cloud cover all day.  I like the route for the 99 mile course.  The only thing I might change is the color of the road markings.  They were white paw prints with small white and/or blue arrows.  Unfortunately almost everything else someone wanted to identify on the road was also marked with white paint.

Thanks for reading.

Panola Mountain State Park

Susan and I stopped at the isolated Daniels Bridge Road free parking area before moving to the more popular and more secure Alexander Lake $5 per day parking area on Flat Bridge Road.

Daniels Bridge Road parking area
I'd recommend paying the $5.  The Alexander Lake area is patrolled even on weekends.

Me and Susan before the ride from the Alexander Lake parking area
The trails were not crowded in fact there were very few people using them on the sunny Saturday that we were there.  We saw no runners or walkers.  From what I heard later much of the trails are new and the word probably hasn't gotten out to the fitness community.

The trails winding up a hill

Two things that you notice immediately is the 1) Panola Mountain is in the flight path for aircraft arriving at Atlanta Hartfield-Jackson Airport, and 2) the trails are either going up or going down.

One of many aircraft over Panola Mountain
The approximate fourteen foot wide trails have the occasional bench and this monument to Marley and Ramon Castro.

The end of the trail we rode had a small park and parking area.

South Rockdale parking area
Rules of the trail
There's lots of pretty scenery along the way with a small bridge here and there.  The South River can just be seen at times through the thick trees.

The view from one of the bridges
We ran into our friend Joel on our return to the trail head 
See more of my pictures from the new Panola Mountain State Park trails here.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 19, 2013

New Jersey Trip

I found out a few weeks ago that I'd be traveling to the Atlantic City area of New Jersey for a few days of work.  There was a meeting scheduled at the FAA Technical Center about a new system.  I was to attend the meeting to offer some input from a technical operations perspective.  Since the facility where I work near Atlanta is at one of the few facilities not currently actively using the system, I was a bit skeptical about how much real input I could offer.  Undaunted and with no other volunteers, I decided to go.  I expected to take the opportunity to learn a bit about some of the issues that other facilities might be dealing with regarding the new system and continue my Ironman training, of course.

As I made my travel reservations I did an on-line search for places to run and swim near my hotel.  I wouldn't have my bike with me so I resolved myself to a week of running and swimming.  My search eventually led me to Facebook and the South Jersey Triathlon Club.

My travel plans had me departing Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport (ATL) for arrival in Philadelphia Airport (PHL) on a Monday via Airtran.  From Philly I'd rent a car and drive to Egg Harbor, New Jersey where I had reservations at the Residence Inn.

The tarmac at Atlanta Hartfield-Jackson Airport
After lift-off I could see the clouds that have plagued my training schedule for weeks.

Clouds as far as the eye can see
Shortly after lift-off we banked to the left right over Lake Spivey, my open water swim practice course.

Lake Spivey from the air
As my flight neared Philadelphia the same cloudy weather we've been having in Atlanta was right there with me.

Cloudy weather in Philly

Fasten your seatbelts
In Philly I picked up my Chevy Cruze rental car with only 200+ miles on the odometer .  It was a free upgrade from the Chevy Spark.

2014 Chevy Cruze
From the Philadelphia airport I headed out on the 45 mile drive to Egg Harbor, New Jersey.  

Downtown Philadelphia in the distance 
There are two things you'll notice right away when driving in New Jersey.  The first thing is that traffic tolls are a major source of income.  The second thing is that there are few, if any, billboards along the roadway.  A third thing that I noticed coming from Atlanta is  the lack of trash.  In Georgia far too many people use the roadside as their trashcan.  One thing that is not different is that people drive like idiots and rarely use their signals when turning or changing lanes.

The Atlantic City Expressway

The Egg Harbor Residence Inn
When I checked-in to my hotel I was informed that I'd been upgraded.  Click here if you're interested in seeing the full album including several additional pictures of my room.

My room at the Residence Inn in Egg Harbor, New Jersey
Right around the corner from my hotel is the Beacon bike shop.  Since I brought my old wetsuit along on my trip I went by the bike shop for some Body Glide.  Since my trip to Charleston for the Tri Charleston 70.3 I'm missing two containers of Body Glide and an unused can of Trislide.  While at the shop I bought a few gel packs too.

Beacon Cycling and Fitness in Northfield, NJ

Dinner at Burger King - Yuck!

The Garden State Parkway headed down to Stone Harbor, New Jersey
The South Jersey Triathlon Club swim in Snug Harbor in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.  Stone Harbor is just a 30 mile drive south of Egg Harbor on the Garden State Parkway.

The Yacht Club at Stone Harbor

The channel southwest from Great Sound 

The channel northeast to Great Sound

Snug Harbor to the north

Snug Harbor to the south

Me, Jim, Susan and Debbie (l-r) before our first lap in Snug Harbor

I also ran three times that week, twice in Stone Harbor and once from Somers Point over the new bridge to the Ocean City boardwalk.  Stone Harbor is a quaint little town with a lot of nice homes which were obviously untouched by hurricane Sandy.   Second Avenue in Stone Harbor is a wide boulevard with landscaped dividers which make it easy to see traffic.   It's a good place to run.  Ocean City on the other hand is a mess.  The bridge was a fun place to run but the traffic between the bridge and the boardwalk is too much of a challenge for me.  And then there's the boardwalk.  This time of year it is full of people enjoying the carnival type trappings that a child might enjoy but are not conducive to running.  

So, my training continues with little interruption from my short stay in Jersey.

Lastly, good luck to my new south Jersey friends who will be competing in the 15th Annual Stone Harbor Triathlon on July 21st.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Beirut Restaurant - PTC

Susan and I had dinner at The Beirut restaurant in Peachtree City about two weeks ago.  We went there with our good friends Jim and Mary Ann Macie.  Mary Ann can be seen in the picture below between the two umbrellas standing just out of the rain.  The metro Atlanta area has been under epic thunderstorm conditions for about a month.  It has literally rained every day for the past four weeks and frankly, we are sick of it!

The small but well patronized restaurant is located in a retail space near the Target department store.  My cycling friends would say it's located near the Peachtree City Trek bike shop.  In fact, Susan and I learned of the restaurant from some of our cycling friends.

The Beruit restaurant in Peachtree City
We all opted for the popular La Grande - Lebanese Style dinner which was served family style.  It featured salad, falafel, lebanee, hummus, sautéed mushrooms, baba ghannouj, stuffed veggie grape leaves, spicy potatoes, and fried cauliflower.  The shish kabob (beef), shish tawook (chicken), and shish kafta (lamb) were served later on a separate platter.

The Lebanese Style family style Lebanese banquet

Lebanese beer

Lebanee (yogurt)


Stuffed Veggie Grape Leaves

Sautéed Mushrooms

Spicy Potatoes

Falafel and Fried Cauliflower 

Shish Kabob (beef), Shish Tawook (chicken), and Shish Kafta (lamb) 

Shish Kabob (beef), Shish Tawook (chicken), and Shish Kafta (lamb)

Hummus and Baba Ghannouj (eggplant)

So, The Beruit was really good.  The owner, Hadi Rabai, and the staff were knowledgeable and attentive.  The food was flavorful but not so different from "American" fare that it might be off-putting.

I'm sure that we'll be back!

Thanks for reading.

Helix Wetsuit - First OWS

I took my "new" Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit for a its inaugural dip in Lake Spivey the other day.  I haven't been swimming with a wetsuit for at least a month so I thought I'd better give it a try before the water temperature gets too high.  I came close to my Ironman 100m pace goal on the 1.17 mile swim to the dam averaging 2:00 per 100m.  The 1.07 mile return trip was a bit slower at 2:15 per 100m.  It's difficult to gauge how much my new wetsuit helped, if at all.  My old suit is broken in and I could definitely notice some distinct differences between the two suits.  The upper portion of the Helix, and especially the sleeves, is very thin.  Like a thick, sticky Under-Armor shirt.  I felt more restricted in the new-er suit and it took forever to get the sleeves situated properly.  Once they were on though, it felt fine.

Susan followed me in the kayak with a noodle (the blue float) and some Gatorade juiced-up with Perpetuem.

Taking a break before my return swim
I took a few pictures of the inside of my wetsuit which better illustrate the different panels that make up the construction of the Helix.

The front of the wetsuit with the various panels in orange and black
The Helix has a top to bottom to close zipper, opposite from my Reaction wetsuit.

The back of the wetsuit with the backwards zipper, key holder, and name plate area 
The sleeves are constructed of orange and black panels.  The black panels on the sleeves are very thin which makes them very flexible.

The sleeves with panels of varied thicknesses
Thanks for reading.