Sunday, December 5, 2010

End of the story, time for a new one...

The end of 2010 is quickly approaching both in and out of sport. With it, comes reflection, closure, and a moving on. It's also a time for setting new, goals, attitudes, outlooks, training plans, hopes and maybe even dreams to be realized. So with that being said, I've found it inspiring and ultimately necessary to move on to hopefully something new and or better without a need to "scroll back" so to speak thru the struggles and YES some accomplishments of the past year.As far as the past year is concerned I've had a lot in the back of my complicated mind regarding an experience I had gone thru regarding my joining a racing team. An experience that ultimately caused a lot of strife, aggrevation, and even misdirected resentment and frustration... An interesting and worthwhile note is thru this entire year, I NEVER once slammed the team  by name, and I'm happy I didn't. It would have been shallow, juvenille,and petty, and in all honesty, it wasn't the team per se, but "the fit" that didn't work. They are an incredible group, and one of the members is someone I've known since suspension forks were invented LOL, and I think incredibly highly of him. In and out of the sport. So as far as the team experience is concerned, live and learn, and YES I did. I've learned a good deal about myself over this last year, made some mistakes along the way, and fell into a couple mindtraps that really messed me up...With that being said, I'm ending this blog, (and currently considering wordpress or blog.com for added features) and since the new year falls on 1/1/11 feels like a very fitting time for a much needed for sport and personal reasons - restart. I  hope some if not all of you follow me over to my new blog,when it goes live! So now its time for me to ultimately wrap up all loose ends, get my house organized both "upstairs" and downstairs and move forward. Time to get "Stoned on Endorphins" I'm excited, and hopeful.
thanks to all
Ray

Sunday, November 21, 2010

DING! I have it figured out

Well like I mentioned a number of weeks ago, I would be reflecting on this past year, and plotting my course for the next one. So now that the dust has settled and I have had some (not done yet) time to look around, I've realized something/things.
* If it were not for this past years experiences, I would not have learned anything. Only thru trial and error am I able to improve.
* There's no faking it when you want results, your either completely in, or your not.
* A training regimen with all the focus and dedication equal to that of something like Lindsey Lohan's quest for straightening out her life, or Scott Weiland trying to stay straight doesn't cut it.
* Diet when your in your 20s and 30s does not equal diet when your in your 40's. The 40's are cruel but fair...
* Family will always come first, and I simply don't have it in me to short change them, or ever want to.
* My love of the sport can't be altered. My LPM pointed out a simple truth. You can take the man (me) out of the race, but you cant take the race out of the man.
* Dedication along the lines of obsession make it happen.
* There is no pressure when you have a redo, and are honest with yourself as to where you are.
* Today matters....

I am still getting things sorted out, but am happy to know that I am starting to make sense of it all. The frustration is gone because of a change in perspective. Now it's all about putting the pieces together in the puzzle that makes me who I am and seeing what I can do.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

drinkin the kool-aid AKA one of the cool kids

UGH, gone are the days I could be hitting the road or trail for a 7am ride. I am sitting here temporarily delayed, looking out at a dark (and brisk!) morning waiting for the sun to come up. A sobering reminder that winter is right around the corner. So since the time changes this weekend, I made every attempt to get out for a late afternoon ride a few days this past week. I recently picked up a new hard tail mountain bike or more appropriately a 29'er, and HAD to get out on that beautiful new machine to spend the required and tedious amount of time adjusting seat height, bar height, and I even swapped 3 different lengths of stems, and bars to get to a place I feel was dialed in(at least initially...) I suffer from a bit of O.C.D. (ala Eddy Merckx) when it comes to bike setup, but it's totally worth it in the long run, or should I say ride. First impressions? At first the big wheels made me feel like I was on a circus bike, and the fact that I spent the last year on a full suspension bike makes the ride even more noticeably different. Aside from that, NO complaints. I come from a simplistic back in the day hard tail rigid bike world, and way back then I even balked and didn't ride with a suspension fork. I have always preferred simple, so the hard tail is where I like to be. The riding feels different, but I am pretty convinced it is faster. The future of the sport? Maybe, but it IS for me. I'm digging it, and I'm digging the insane deal I got it for. NOTE Some situations work out in the end, case in point the bike purchase. I rebuilt my full suspension bike for my LPM ;) and I'm sure she will reap the benefits of a high quality full suspension ride and all the comfort and control it provides her. Not a bad bike to be given, but she is my "A" number 1 supporter, fan and the love of my life so of course I'm going to set her up big time.
The other notable thing I did is pick up some compression wear. I've been toying with the idea for a while and a vendor was at a race expo I was at last night so out comes the VISA, and off I go with the latest performance wear.I actually bought my LPM ;) a pair of the tights in my never ending quest to assist her in staying a healthy, faster, and less injury prone athlete.
 So now it's time to get on the arm and leg warmers, wind jacket, and anything else I may need to hit the trails on that WAY cool 29er that all the cool kids ride, and then I can follow that up with a stroll around the village in some cutting edge recovery compression wearr.
ALLEZ
Ray

Monday, November 1, 2010

Its the end of the world as I know it..

Boy, REM sure makes a lot of good music...
Yesterday morning I completed the last event I signed up for this year. A halloween 1/2 marathon called the Monster dash http://www.chicagomonster.org/. Lots of costumes - note (I was going to dress up in a running singlet from the team I'm on(in theory only) as a crafty artistic move but decided against it at the last minute), plenty of scary halloween music Thriller, Time Warp, LOL,overall a fun event. The course was along Chicago's beautiful lakefront and we never once were running in the streets.All lakefront path... It was cool and windy on the first leg of the out and back course, and aside from the winds was perfect for a running event. I did well. I set a goal of completing it in under 2 hours and finished in 1:50. The most ironic part of this is aside from about 3 runs over the last month with the longest being 9 a month or so ago, I did not prepare for this AT ALL or minimally at best. I went into it with no pressure (aside from getting from start to finish), and it was a pretty strange feeling. I am ALWAYS stressed going into a race, and it was a welcomed frame of mind. I need to work on the prerace stress next year. This proved that stressing out does not do you any good. Easier said than done, but totally worth working on. The family is still amazed how I can still pull this type of results off with no training. What I'm thinking is hmm, just imagine if I trained for it...
 So there it is I'm done. I learned, or better yet realized, a LOT this year, some good, some bad. If anything over the next month or so I'm taking the time to reevaluate what I want or more appropriately what I can do next year. I need to take everything into account. Time constraints, current abilities, current weaknesses, family and work (ugh) obligations. What I want to give up (time, interests, etc) and what I'm willing and able to do. 
So this past year I somewhat foolishly dove into racing(mostly the racing team) without having a solid plan or anything to realistically base my goals and limiters on.I based it mostly on where I left off 10 years ago, and a LOT has changed. To the benefit of this past years experience, I now know (realistically) where I'm at, and what I can and can't do with regards to life and how to live it. Even though it was frustrating, and at times heartbreaking, I can learn from the experience I guess if I hadn't of jumped in, I wouldn't have the answers that I have now. There's still one thing that remains true after all these years. I'm not willing to be absent from ANY of the kids activities, or take away from quality time from my wife. I  realize though that I need to be somewhat selfish with my training time if I plan to excel but there's only so much time and so many things you can do in a day... So it's going to take some reflection to get it all figured out, but I'l be back next year, better than I was this year based on what I've learned, and isn't that what it's all about?? It's the end of the world as I know it -and I FEEL Fine :)
Monster Dash half marathon race photos





Ray

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thats me in the corner...

Yep, another sly reference to a song by a brilliant band, REM...
So it's interesting how God talks to me (you) when you need it most, and the creative way God does it. This past Sunday was one of those days. It started out with being asked to take up the offeratory gifts at mass with my 2 "little people", and a couple things that were said during mass. Later that day I was out doing my training RUN for this weeks 1/2 marathon, and I looked down and found this little rubber flourescent cross. I stopped, picked it up, and put it in the pouch I had on that I was carrying my car key in. I was thinking I found it for a reason, and will make a point of keeping it with me fore subsequent events. As an aside, later in the run,a full grown deer with a huge rack proceeded to come out of the forest and gallop for a good 1/2 mile slightly ahead of me because it could not veer off the trail due to the canal blocking it's escape. It was sureal. I had not see a deer that majestic in a long time and to have it run along with me was sureal, of course it was on a day I did not bring my camera/phone with... Anyway, when I finished the run, I went to get the cross out of the pouch and although the key was still in there, the cross was gone. It had worked it's way out of a hole in the mesh. hmmm... And to think I did NOT lose the car key. Fast forward thru the week and my most recent "conversation with God" came about because I've really started to get hung up on the thought that based on my age, I'm past my prime, and should seriously reconsider my athletic endeavors, and where I'm at in life.Hate to say it's all the trappings of crazy mid life thinking, and it has been REALLY fcuking with my head. I actually had somewhat of a meltdown over it last night.
So this morning the first thing I see is a FB post from a friend who just won silver at the World championships in his age group for the 2000 meter pursuit. Did I say he is at least 10 years OLDER, and he took a silver medal at the WORLD Championships?! It struck me like an eighteen pound sledge, it's NEVER too late, UNLESS I give up, and I've been contemplating that lately. Silly me.Realistically I will probably never get to the world championship arena, but I AM gifted with talent above and beyond your typical athlete,so TODAY matters, and age is irrelevant!So yes God I'm listening and thanks for the bit of hope, inspiration, and Divine Intervention (no doubt) .....
Ray

Monday, October 25, 2010

So what's really happening?!

Here's a bit of personal trivia, if my blog goes silent, it more than likely means I'm in a state of personal turmoil. This has been the case as of late. Work has been hellish, and taking it's toll. I've been so stressed and overwhelmed, that I totally got off track with everything other than surviving in my job, and foolishly trying to stay ahead and on top of everything. The end result is I'm burnt, overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, and simply confused. That's what happens to perfectionists working for perfectionists, and add to that type A personality, and a few other traits that can go either way as well. Without going into great detail, all I can say is I'm getting to a place where some dust is settling on a few decisions I made. It has been rough, but I ultimately learned what I'm willing to do to cope and more importantly what I can't do. Not having a good time right now, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't both scared, and hopeful at the same time.

My workouts have been reduced to about once a week over the last 3 or so weeks, and I have a half Marathon to do this Sunday. LOL As all of you know, I won't back out, and will be standing on the startline regardless of my current shape (or lack of). Which brings me to an important thought that has been in my head over the last couple of days. I'm blessed, lucky, fortunate, etc for my physical abilities, and have taken them for granted. My brother and my LPM ( ;) ) made a comment at breakfast yesterday how only I could pull off a half marathon with 3 runs in 3 weeks. It's like they write it off as a given. The reason that has been resonating so much is my LPM is struggling thru another injury not from overtraining but "other". I feel so bad for her, she wants to run so much, and yearns to run injury free and accomplish a few different race distance goals, but has experienced setback after setback. I've been fully supportive and most recently decided to build her up the full suspension mountain bike I rode this past summer for her to cross train on. YEAH I did get a 29er hard tail to take it's place so everyone wins :) BUT, the fact remains, I can go out and(insert event here) run a half marathon etc with little to no training, and she can't get her body to cooperate to get her thru a seasons worth of running uninjured that SUCKS! I did offer advice to her last night. I was hesitant because NOBODY wants to be told they can't do something they really want to do, but I hope it helps. I mentioned that she may want to cross train or ultimately focus on riding (and even swimming) for awhile. Change her direction... If running is bringing on so much injury she might benefit from riding, and trust me I've set her up REAL good with some great riding equipment. That's the benefit of marrying a cyclist ;) I'm sure if she gave it a chance she would probably totally enjoy cycling, YES I'm talking to you ;). There's a reason there are so many silent sports to choose from, and having a kick ass ride is much more exciting than having a nice pair of running shoes....
So yeah, I've realized how fortunate I am, and appreciate that more so than ever lately. It's ultimately influenced some of my recent choices on life and how to live it....
Ray

Monday, October 4, 2010

Take me x2 out to the ball game

 It's my dads birthday today, and I landed up scoring two great seats for the White Sox game yesterday (last game of the year) and he and I went for his birthday. The weather has been cold lately, but the seats were sheltered from the winds and we were actually warm basking in the sun during the game. nice...

  I got the tickets for free, and decided to get a birthday wish put up on the scoteboard for him. The cool thing is the cost to do that equaled what I would have paid for the tickets, so it was totally worth it, a few innings before it was up there my dad commented that the White Sox have the best scoreboard in the major leagues. He was thrilled to see it! nicer...

And to make the day even BETTER a foul ball was hit, bounced off the upper deck and landed right in our row, a dive across a few seats and I had it in my hands. Dad, Happy Birthday! Priceless....



:)
Ray

Friday, October 1, 2010

Run like Hell!

YEP, that's a great Pink Floyd tune (and the current image you see on my blogsite) Riding for the year as far as goals are concerned, is behind me, and I have switched into running mode. Over the last week or so I have transitioned to building running fitness which at this point is almost like starting from step one as far as endurance and speed are concerned. Outside of a run each week there hadn't been much if any of it done over the summer. That has officially changed. I'm now making it a priority over riding mostly because of a Halloween half marathon I'm signed up for, and to help shed some pounds I've put on. Along the lines of running, I've been TOTALLY digging a couple apps I have for my new smartphone which KICKS ASS! How have I been able to live witrhout this killer EVO phone?? It's taking over my life LOL Couple programs I'm digging are Cardio, and IMapmyrun (and ride). The cool thing is these programs layout your route when your done, thanks to GPS tracking, and upload all the stats of your workouts for later review. It should be cool to follow the improvements as time passes. The only thing I don't like is I cant track my runs when I'm in the trails, and I REALLY dig running in the forest. I also have to find a good solution to carrying mty phone without it feeling like it's in the way...But oh well, the coolness and wow factor outweigh the current shortcomings.
Last night, I ran on Argonne Labs trails to get in a 10 mile run, crushed limestone, rolling terrain, and a "woodsy" feel. It was reassuring to see my "base fitness" can get me thru a 10 miler with little preparation, but I felt heavy and sluggish mostly because running outside of 1 day a week with the running club I started late in the summer, or not at all = where I'm at. I'm sure with focus, persistence, and (unfortunately) being self centered with my training time, I should be able to get things together and make some decent improvements over the next month. Like the recent change in seasons, I am appreciating the change in activities but will miss riding (like missing summer). I guess you need to change things up a bit to appreciate what you really like.
Run on....
Ray

Monday, September 20, 2010

The "Chequamegon 40" 2010


Fun weekend. An 8 hour drive up to the northern woods of Wisconsin for the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival. The race takes place on the famous birkbiener cross country ski trails as well as the phenomenal trail system in that area. 2500 racer limit, fills up by lottery, and for the 1st time in "aboot" LOL 15 years I returned there for the fesivities. This was my last race, and my emotions were all over the place going up there because I am nowhere close to where I wanted to be physically and unfortunately mentally. I was reminded by the single greatest person to ever enter my life (the LPM) that I should go up there and have "fun". No need to have it turn in to an end all event. So that's what I did. GOD she has no idea how her little comments can make such a difference sometimes...Cool weather, the leaves have already turned colors, and a total vibe of a small woods town was totally great. That and the fact that NOTHING beats Wisconsin fish frys, and I made the best of it binging on all the fish I could find the entire time we were out there. The hotel had the indoor pool right outside our room, and a hot tub right there as well, so everybody had the opprotunity to have fun, and the one thing that's been most important to me is making sure everybody had fun when we would venture off on my race excursions. Race morning I found this small diner in town (the only one open at 6AM) - race started at 10..., and I enjoyed a hearty lumberjack  breakfast in a real small place that everyone knew each other, it was actually pretty cool.Reminded me of something out of that show Northern Exposure from a number of years ago. I TOTALLY dig finding those types of authentic and "unique to the area" places.  
I headed back to the room gathered my bike and gear and off we went to the start area 20 or so miles away. The weather was in the 40s  in the morning, with a forecast for sun and mid 50s. PERFECT for a long distance bike race on some challenging trails with aboot 2500 other riders. Like I said this is or at least was the biggest off road festival in the US.So I decided to wear part of the team kit (minus the jersey) that I belonged to this year, as well as some sweet Rock Racing arm warmers that totally had me lookin good LOL. I chose the kit since this was my last race, so out of respect there I went. Anyway, on to the race. The course simply kicks ass. Anyone you know who has done the Birkebeiner cross country ski race should be RESPECTED because that trail system is simply punishing. I like Xcountry skiing but couldn't even fathom doing that on skis.The race highlights included rolling thru Hayward with a couple thousand mountain bikers and listening to the rumbling sound generated by all those knobby tires on asphalt for a couple miles - imagine a mountain bike on a windtrainer x1500! Then there was the spectators, the coolest being Pirate Hill. Didn't know what to expect when I saw the sign warning of the hill and low and behold it was full of people dressed as pirates, firing off a homemade PVC cannon, as well as offering rum shots to anyone interested (after all they ARE pirates lol. Then there was the Seeley Fire tower climb. There is nothing I know of that I can compare it to, it comes in at "aboot" 30 miles into the race. I dreaded it and looked forward to it the entire race. I had no problem riding any of the races endless hills thrown my way, something I've always had a natural ability to do, and I was wondering what that climb had in store for me. A quick right turn and there it was, and it's so damn long and tall you simply can't see the top, and it really looks like it goes on forever - your best served not looking up. So there I went up, up, up, up, riders walking EVERYWHERE. I had one guy in front of me who also managed to continue riding the climb and he had been calling out his presence, and the others would part the trail and offer shouts of encouragement. I was riding the "redline" and so deep in the pain cave that I had nothing in me that wanted to give up any energy or concentration by yelling out or distracting myself from the task at hand, so I silently pedalled behind him. He ultimately dropped aboot half way up, and then it was me, and I am so grateful for all the encouragement directed my way. If your one of the thousands reading this ;) and you were cheering for me "THANK YOU"!  I would have responded, but it was me against the climb, and there was nothing extra. I made it to the last stretch before the jump in grade 20 or 30 yards yards from the top, and 2 guys bumped into each other while pushing their bikes and stopped me dead in my tracks. and the foot went down to the ground. There was no way I could get back on and continue riding so I pushed it up and over, jumped back on, and away I rode away DELIRIOUSLY lol I ALMOST conquered that climb... I made a comment to someone a bit later that there was nothing they could throw at us now that we were over that climb, but YES there was, they seemed to save the most hills from the Birkbeiner trails for the end. It was killin people left and right. Nobody was making jokes anymore, everyone was riding silent with the occasional groan and slew of  dismounts on the pushes op the climbs. I made every climb ;)   I rode a good race. I told those close to me I was hoping to do it in 4 hours, and landed up finishing in 3:23 which put me in the very middle of finishers among men. 856 0f 1602 to be exact. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel after the race was over, I did hold back some tears (for the most part), good and bad ones, but ultimately felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment considering how much(read little) training time I've had, and the current shape I'm in. I finished better than everyone I know that also came out to race and one victory over an acquaintance was a bit sweeter than the others, but that's the essence of competitiveness, and I don't doubt for a minute his goal was to beat me... He landed up coming in a minute behind me. That one small victory was indeed sweet...
So yes I had fun.. Not sure what comes next, but I figure I'll let the good feelings of riding a successful race to the best of my current ability sink in, after all, it's been a long bumpy road this year, and a "feel good" has been long overdue. Driving home my LPM told me to tell her she's right, and I did, but asked about what? She said "You can take the man out of the race but you can't take the race out of the man" She IS right.... and for that I love her.

So who knows what happens next, but this chapter is closed, and after a bit of reflection we'll figure out what to do. I'm moving on to running for a while to clear out the head and gain a new perspective, as well as get myself in shape for a Halloween 1/2 marathon,
Allez
Ray

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

the flow...

Yesterday I got out for my last off road ride before my last race. Went out to Palos and off I went. I simply wanted to spin my legs out because by the 3rd ride of the week my body feels good. I rode Sunday, yesterday was day two, and the race will be day 3 do I should be feeling good. The ride was a good one. I for  whatever reason became one with the bike and everything was effortless. I experienced "the flow".If you've ever experienced it you know what I mean, and when it happens it's magical...I rode a LOT of singletrack and ultimately landed up on the longest single track trail I know of in Palos. It winds itself completely around a lake and takes about 20 to 30 minutes to ride. A cool thing I came across was a pair of wolves halfway thru the trail. They basically turned and bolted into the thicket, but not before I got a good look at them and their full greyish while tails standing upright as they took off. Never seen that before. Trails were in great shape, andg ranted I wasn't hammering , but the pace was good, and like I said, it was effortless.Did a few intensity jumps, tuned into how I was feeling while I was riding, and it all felt good. I still question the need for full suspension, but the machine simply rides well, and aside from a weight penalty and more than needed complexity it doesn't give me much to complain about. I'm still considering giving it to my LPM for all her dedication and support, but not sure what I'l do. Boy #1 has been out with me on my hardtail(lighter ;) ), but like any teenager, regardless of how thrilled I am to have him along, I may be taken for a ride and this may be a phase, so I have options. No need to figure that out now....

The reoccuring theme here.
  Theres something about the escape of the woods, be it running or riding, that really takes you away from EVERYTHING. It's like Calgon(take me away) times 10 lol. So yeah, things aren't peachy right now, but there's no doubt I appreciate the times such as these when one of the benefits of silent sport shines brightly. That and "the flow"
Here's hoping I feel this way this weekend...
Allez
Ray

Monday, September 13, 2010

Long Live Fignon

Everyone has a favorite. Favorite color (purple), favorite food (Mexican), favorite band (hmm, Van Halen? Judas Priest? REM? Prince? - that's a tough one). Favorite cyclist - Laurent Fignon.... I was saddened over the weekend to read that he had passed away from cancer recently. I'm even more disappointed (don't know why) that I didn't learn about it when it happened on August 31st. I think I've been so wrapped up in my "cycling/ racing situation" that I had turned away from the sites I usually keep on top of like PEZ cycling news , Velonews etc, and simply missed the sad news. So yesterday I rode the road in honor of "Le Professeur" He has been my idol since I discovered the beautiful world of bike racing back in the mid 80s. So thank you Laurent (or more appropriately "Merci") for the years of inspiration you have provided, both in eyeglass wear, the often tried but never successful plan of having my own ponytail, and the years and miles of road riding I did  pretending to be you gracefully riding down many a road as Eurotrash cool as I could be. I had the opportunity to see Laurent when the Gatorade team came to Chicago for a International Criterium race a number of years ago. I had visions and aspirations of getting his autograph,or better yet a picture with my idol, but all I could muster was a number of  pics of him racing and photos of him all but ignoring me when I cornered him (so to speak) in the Gatorade press tent prior to the race. Not one opportunity for a pic making any sort of eye contact even as I was pleading with my eurotrash wannabe broken french phrases... The memorable moment came when a french security guard finally looked at me and uttered in broken English "Do not bother him". My L.P.M. and I use that phrase to this day LOL
Parisan - yes, beloved still? absolutely.
The most interesting trivia is I actually tried to name our first son Laurent, but "she" ;) didn't go for it. Something about kids making fun of him when he was growing up because of his name or some other nonsense.
At any rate he will be missed.

"Remembering Laurent" in PEZ cycling news
To the man who gave definition to the the phrase "8 seconds" and has and always will inspire me to ride.
Allez Laurent, I rode for you yesterday....
Ray

Friday, September 10, 2010

One more race (for the year?)

Next weekend will be the end of what I see as a failed return to racing for me. I made the mistake of comparing modern day Ray to Ray of old.  Disappointed? without a doubt. confused?clearly, lessons learned? yes... My biggest mistake was thinking I could return so quickly to where I left off. It left me frustrated, and demoralized. I didn't really have a game plan other than to join a team and get right back into it. I wasn't up for road racing or crits- intimidated. The team I joined was/is WAY successful, and I ultimately felt so overwhelmed/intimidated that I began to resent being on it. I clearly could not live up to the expectations I set and my training simply fell apart. I wanted to race off road and realized there are NO off road races close by, and the couple races I managed to enter I found myself amongst seasoned racers, and I simply couldn't hang. You want to race fast? Go race a bunch. Something I wan't able to do. My mindset took a downward spiral, a spiral I'm at the bottom of currently. I've got one last race next week. I'm feeling out of shape, I'm 10 pounds over weight (compared to where I was when I was consistently training in the early part of summer), and I feel like walking away after it's over. I have not been able to balance life as I now know it with being a bike racer. I really wanted to taste success again, but at the same time had other things, important things like family (and other odd distractions) mixing it up. It has left me "frustrated". But it's almost the end of the season, one more race and then who knows what.
My focus turns (back)to running now.I signed up for a half marathon occuring on Halloween, and hopefully that will motivate me to train again. Over the last month or so, my running has been reduced down to 1 (maybe 2 days) a week, and this  half marathon may be just "what the doctor ordered".
So right now, I'm not in a good place, but where else can you go but up right? I'm not sure what I'm going to do, except reflect a bit more on this past year, and hopefully learn from life's lessons, and mistakes, and move on. THAT and try to get rid of this headache that's got me feeling out of sorts all this week....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

20 years later and this quote remains true

"I'm miserable when I'm not running" I actually told a local reporter that when I was being interviewed for the Chicago Marathon back around 1990. I forgot about that infamous misunderstood(by loved ones)quote until we were going thru some old stuff recently and we found the article. I think the first reaction from someone is usually along the lines of "nice...", but even to this day, the phrase remains pretty accurate. I reminded myself of that article when I was out running on the trails yesterday morning. Toward the end of the run I said to myself, "self, maybe you would be better off selling the car and running everywhere. Imagine how good of a mood you would be in if you ran to and from work each day". Unrealistic?, yes, true?, yes. I know they have these emotions in pill form nowadays, but the nice thing about the run is the side effects are much less bothersome. You know what else I realized about the trail run? That is one place an IPOD has no business. You lose out on the beauty of a trail run with the distractions of music. It's like the polar opposite of your typical curbside run. I was glad to have gotten out there yesterday, it was REALLY needed....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Meltdown

HA! So you thought you were going to read all kinds of juicy details regarding a personal crisis, and how I finally spun into a self imposed implosion!?! Nope. What I do want to finally get around to is my recent race experience at this years Palos Meltdown. I'm lucky. I live 15 minutes away from the very best mountain biking anywhere near Chicago. I'd be willing to bet the only trails to rival them are up north in Wisconsin's Kettle Morraine area. With a mountain bike race put on by cambr.org so close to home, there's no reason not to do it. I realized this year that if I wanted to race mountain bikes throughout the season, there was hardly nothing close by, and driving 100 plus miles to each event just didn't work out. I only did one race off road this year back in April, and that didn't go well. Back to the the Meltdown.... I originally signed up for the Sport class

Novice
Sport
Comp
Expert
The categories are pretty self explanatory, and considering I had not been racing it made sense. The catch was I had purchased a license in the beginning of the year (and joined a team etc). Licensed racers fit into the Comp, and Expert categories, but I could have chosen to race in any category I wanted.... So a 2 lap race for seasoned riders who don't race much (if any) made sense. BUT I haven't been getting any large volume or intensity rides in lately, and I'm going WAY up north to the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival in Mid September, and that is a 40 mile race on the famous Birkbeiner trail system. So the day before the race at 3 pm when I picked up my race packet (pickup closed at 3pm) I decided to move up into the Comp class for the extra miles. I decided to ride to the race (from the house) to get in an extra 10 miles and a nice warm up. Not to mention the race started at 1pm and I get nerve wracked prior to racing so I figured it would be best for everyone if I went on my "merry" way and have them meet me there.
Prerace line up. They start the expert men, 2 minutes later expert women, then comp 39 and under, followed LASTLY by comp 40 and over (my group). I was not liking the fact that I was among seasoned racers going off last. So off we go, and as always the pace is high right from the gun until we find our groove in the singletrack. I rode well. I came upon guys that went out too fast and seen a number of them pulled over to regroup. I was consistent. I never stopped. The course was GREAT. Including a very challenging climb 3/4's of the way thru each lap. I never had to stop, I rode up every climb including that ass kicker that had some great music, cowbells, and race fans. I cramped up on the last lap, I was hurting half way thru the last part, and paid attention to my effort to try and keep things going. It worked. I came across a few riders who weren't so fortunate, which was reassuring that I wasn't the only one dealing with the rigors of the days course. Then came what I call my "Darth Vader Moment". On the last lap I rode up on a guy on the team I joined. He was walking. I asked and found out he flatted, and had no gear to get going again. I stopped, told him my name was Ray, I joined his team in the beginning of the season, and considering how the season turned out, he will more than likely never see me again. I gave him my tube, tire iron, co2 cartridges and an inflator, and wished him well. I proceeded to ride off, with the thought that the whole fcuked up team "situation" was made right in my minds eye with that act of selflessness. No one chooses to be Darth Vader(not me at least)...You may not get that. lol
I rode the best I could that day. I rode well, never needing to stop, or dismount. I cleared every obstacle, every hill. I was smooth. I didn't place well in my age group in the Comp class though. I finished 21st out of 22 in the 40 and over group, and 55th out of 70 in the entire Comp class. If I would have raced the Sport class as planned I would have been in the top 1/3rd overall. To be honest I'm really down as to my performance, and the way this whole year went. For a multitude of reasons it's been nothing close to what I hoped for. How I trained, and a number of other things became inconsistent.With one race left in a couple weeks time, I want to just walk away. I feel like a failure. It's funny I've got boxes of trophies, and ribbons etc from my days before I retired from racing 10 or so years ago. This time around I haven't been able to get it together- AT ALL. Some good reasons and some bad. My mistake was thinking I could come back to it, and pick up where I left off. My life is different now, that and I'm older, and have more distractions. Some good some bad. I can no longer train and race all the time. Family still comes first, and that is a big reason why I walked away a decade ago. The guys that stuck with it  are doing great, but I don't think it's to be for me. A racer deflated, a (pseudo)season in turmoil, an unrealistic outlook. The passion was/is there, the love of the sport was/is there, I wasn't.... Not sure what to do next. Regardless of how jacked up this year was, I'm grateful that I was able to cross train boy #1 while he was rehabbing a high school running injury. When he was smaller I was hoping he would be all over the sport, and he wanted nothing to do with it, now I think he picked up a liking to 2 wheels, that, and I had some quality time with him, and regardless of what I decide to do, I'm looking forward to more of that.
Sometimes life doesn't work out the way you want it to, sometimes you can get caught up in your past glories, sometimes you place your self worth in the wrong place, sometimes you can be your own worst enemy, sometimes it's time to move on, sometimes you have to accept where your at. Sometimes you just have to get it off your chest regardless of how damn silly it may sound to the rest of the world.
So there, I said it...Jeez, I can kind of understand how  Marco Pantani felt when he couldn't get it together again.Anyway, I found a couple pictures from the race, and they actually turned out nice. Regardless of the bitchin, moanin, and complainin, I'm glad I did it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

fate or just that stupid new mouse? Ride on...

"Ride on" - probably the best song AC/DC ever wrote WAY BACK when they started...Anyway, yesterday I finally came clean and spilled my thoughts about last weeks Palos Meltdown mountain bike race and a number of other things. Sentence after sentence, thought after thought, word after word. I've had a lot of mixed feelings this summer and as of late they've been bubbling up, and over. At the time I was typing (on this new laptop) and I was getting it all out, something happened. A part of my hand must have made contact with these touchpads that act as mice nowadays, and ALL the text disappeared from the screen except the words "ride on" and then blogger autosaved. Everything I spilled out on electronic paper for all my fans to read and discuss around the countless watercoolers, coffee shops and  street corners- GONE....So what does that tell me? I still don't know. One thing I can tell you is aside from being pissed off at the time, I'm wondering if it was a sign from God, the Universe, Chuck Norris?? LOL to move on, reflect privately, learn from this past year, and keep moving forward with out looking back? A few things happened to me very recently. Things/signs/occurences./situations etc that made me take notice. Things that make me want to say "I've been heard" It's been dark, at times real dark. Over the last 48 hours I'm kinda amazed. I'm going to recap the race a bit later, but this "occurence" or series of them, has taken a bit of a priority as far as my reflection and frame of mind go. I've got to let it all sink in, and look at the road map....It's that, or these laptops SUCK ;)
"Ride On"...
Ray

Thursday, August 26, 2010

YES it was cool

I had a string of good luick as far as my musical life goes. Last week I won tickets to see Jon Anderson from YES do a solo show. Me and the LPM ;) have been fans of YES for a long time. Good music, and Jon Anderson  exudes a very positive aura about him - Something much needed in life at times... I tried REAL hard to get my new phone to get some good quality photos but that didn't work out. I DID manage to get up front for the end of the show and get a couple good photos. The problem with Jon, (if you want to call it a problem) is he is usually dressed in white, add stage lights and the guy glows on film. MAYBE it really is his angelic presence ;) At any rate here are the best shots I took for your visual enjoyment.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dreams a window into your mind or reality?

I've had some messed up dreams lately. One of them involves work. I find myself in a dark scary world. industrial mmachines, grayness,  smoke filled skies. Kinda Mad Maxish/Terminator movie setting. I'm trying to get away, but I can't.. I find myself cowering from the evil machines or whatever they were in the dream. SCARY stuff. I spend the dream running and cowering always on the brink of being trapped and or caught. Not a fun dream or better yet nightmare to wake up from. The most recent one was Friday or Saturday. I'm in my garage and there is a bike race starting down the alley or next block(I forget). I was within walking distance from the race but I missed the start, I remember trying to get to the start, but couldn't do it. I was actually flying in this dream. Don't know if you've ever experienced it but you wave your arms up and down and you lift off. The problem was I couldn't fly to the location to get in the race and no matter where I was floating to, my participation in the race was not meant to be, and I never made it in.I actually had a mountain bike race yesterday in the trail system 10 miles from our house. A great event by the way. There's no doubt both of these dreams are a window into my perceptiveness on what I'm going thru with both work and Sundays race/sport. The race was great yet bittersweet, but we will stick to one topic at a time to keep you all coming back for more...Look for a race report within the next day or so when I can get the pictures on line (for some fun eyecandy). I also need to get my Jon Anderson YES and Stone Temple Pilots photos up for another great post. Come on back now, ya hear ;)
Allez
Ray

Thursday, August 19, 2010

both of em want to get dirty with me

Continuing on with my "It's not about me" theme, not only does "boy#1" want to ride with me, but "boy#2" does, and has, as well. The younger one and I were out early Sunday morning, and it was pretty cool to watch him stand and dance on the pedals on the climbs we encountered. He looked at me and said he knows how to climb by doing what he seen the pros do on "The Tourmalet". Hows that for Eurotrash wannabe cool?! Like I told both of them at one time or another, they can't go wrong getting into cycling based on my lifelong "healthy obsession" with the sport, and they will have it made if their inseam matches mine.LOL At any rate, I'm enjoying the time out with them, regardless of the fact that my training (intensity) has now become "laid back" for lack of a better term. Rides with the boys are obviously shorter and less technical and intense, BUT having them out riding with me (and cross training "boy#1" during his injury) is WAY more important to me at this point. Now it's time to convince them that lycra IS better than those gym shorts. Baby steps....















ALLEZ!
Ray

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shifting gears (so to speak)

It's ironic, a few months ago I was going to sell one of my mountain bikes to help pay off some Aero wheels I bought.  I ultimately decided to keep the bike and see if I could possibly interest one of my boys to start riding it out in the trails with me on occasion. Regardless of the lure and comfort of recouping some recently spent $$$$, I'm GLAD I decided to hold onto it. He went for the virgin ride around his birtthday,  and we had fun. Imagine the excitement a dad can have when a teenager WANTS to do something with you :) So were in the process of getting him all dialed in as far as positioning goes, and the couple times he's been out with me so far he's enjoyed it. He's currently dealing with a running injury (right at the beginning of his cross country season, and that SUCKS! But like I told him, he's fortunate enough to have active parents that understand and can help him cross train to keep him in shape. I personally think he will return to X-Country stronger once his cycling muscles develop.
Here's where my focus has suddenly changed (again)
I'm now focused on helping Jr get some good aerobic cross training in, strengthen some additional muscle groups  in the legs, and having him possibly find a new found love for the sport of cycling. The quality father/son time is a BONUS.  Like I told him; my plans now revolve around the days he wants to ride (outside of the Wednesday running group I'm now leading) Funny, as time goes on, it's no longer "all about me", instead its all about giving back to other aspiring athletes, and apparently that's a GOOD thing! At least it feels that way in my book...
ALLEZ
Ray

Monday, August 16, 2010

Centurion Wisconsin video

Here is a video from the GranFondo I did up in Madison a couple weeks ago. "I said it before, and I'll say it again"( did ya catch the Judas Priest - Heading out to the Highway lyrics there?!) The GranFondo will be the next BIG thing to hit the states. Totally Eurotrash cool...


ALLEZ!
Ray

the 2nd or 3rd most interesting man in the world

Ruling out myself and the DosEquis man, I present to you in all his glory.
Mario Cippolini...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

the MIGHTY Purple 1 (continued)

For the large online contingent ;) who follow me here from FB, I decided to continue the PRINCE theme this morning ;)  It's an all PRINCE Thursday music, work outfit - right down to the purple socks, so "Rock out! with your..."

HIT IT!!
Carjack used 2 fix flat tires
Cadillac used 2 be a Benz
Big joints never gotcha higher
Freebase cost U in the end

I'm just a no-name reporter
I wish I had nothing 2 say
Looking through my new camcorder
Trying 2 find a crime that pays
I get hit by mortars, everywhere I go I'm loitering

"Chaos and disorder ruinin' my world 2day"

He's gay used 2 mean he's happy
Nowadays happy ain't allowed (alright)
U're played used to mean top 40
Now 40 days of being played ain't proud

I'm just a no-name reporter
I wish I had nothing 2 say
Lookin' through my new camcorder
Trying 2 find a crime that pays
I get hit by mortars, everywhere I go I'm loitering

"Chaos and disorder ruinin' my world 2day"

Safe sex used 2 mean no babies
When intercourse used to mean fun
If I had 15 ladies
I would only fuck with 1

I get hit by a mortar, everywhere I go I'm loitering
Chaos and disorder [rulin''] my world today

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

As it was meant to be...

I had a FUN, cycling filled weekend, with ups and downs(literally), and it even included a few of those "moments of clarity" that helped put some things in perspective. I went out to Madison Wisconsin to do the Centurion GranFondo. For what it's worth that IS the future of cycling in the states. It's no surprise these events are so popular in Europe where cycling is revered... . I decided (the night before)to get the AC recharged in my car since the trip up there was about 3 hours and it was hot. So Saturday we head off to the highway and NO AC. Turns out there is a leak, and the $100 I spent at Jiffy Lube leaked out a faulty hose within one day. I'm dealing with them later...For all my readers who are limited in time I decided to condense the trip into a collection of notable highlights, and include a collection of pictures for those of you who asked for visuals :)
  • First road trip with new GPS. Still got turned around because I didn't completely trust it LOL
  • Arrived at packet pickup Saturday winds were howling. Hooked up with a babe for a kodak moment ;)

  • Came across Fabian Cancellera's bike at the Specialized booth. Rep wouldn't let me ride it :(  Note cable stop I "aquired" - DON'T judge me...














  • Food was great on this trip! Lunch was at a Cheeseburger in Paradise which was across the street from the hotel, and dinner was at Cosi. Margarita Chicken pizza mmmm
  •  Saturday night we visited the closed to the public TREK expo. Some cool rides and gear on display. Kids suddenly want to buy road bikes LOL Had another photo opportunity to take a picture of a babe and a bike ;)
The 2 coolest things I seen were
1) The ultimate touring/pizza delivery bike


and a custom water bottle program in which you can design and order online.
these 2 bottles are going to be HUGE sellers.

The rest of the show was typical shiny new bikes you can find at any reputable shop...
  • Race morning was greeted with severe weather and a number of delays. The 100 mile race/ride was cancelled and everyone who stuck around did the 50 miler (complete with 3200 feet of climbing -In the Midwest :)  



  • We were moved into an airplane hangar while the storms moved thru.

  • I had some pretty mixed emotions as to what I was going to do but decided to stay and do the ride when my "LPM" called my bluff. We have a rule in which we can't wear the shirt or in this case the jersey I bought, unless we do the event.

So back to the hotel I rode, switched my HED 60 mm wheels out for some low profile lightweight Mavic Ksyriums I brought (just in case), and changed into dry gear.










  • Some prerace comments. Not cool for "roadies" to rip on triathletes when waiting for the start. The Tri dude did have a great comeback when he brought up he was prepping for the ironman. Made the "hair-on-legs" roadie change his tune, and suddenly befriend him. Almost to the point of being over the top. Some people.... It  was also kind of arrogant to see a team walk up last minute and push their way to the front while the rest of us were out braving the drizzle and wind waiting for the start. POETIC but a story for another day. TRUST ME :)
  • The race was great. If great means torrential/monsoon rains, and wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour. I haven't done much pack riding this year so it took a few miles to relax, and ease into a steady rythem with a group I hooked up with. Initially I  simply couldn't hang with the hardcore racers at the front, but ultimately found myself holding my own with other strong riders after everyone settled in. Did I mention the monsoon rains and wind? Nothing more exciting then flying down some downhills in driving rain and seeing 42/43 mph on the cycle computer.  I did well on the climbs even though on a number of occasions I had to look down to be sure I had a cog or hopefully 2 in reserve (just in case). Going into the event I knew I wasnt geared for significant climbing, and I had to ride smart - I DID. I landed up stopping once to pull out a hand towel from the hotel that  I used as insulation from the cold rains at the start,kinda like they do in the tour with newspapers, but I fashioned the towel to not only cover my chest but also brought the end of it high enough to act as a makeshift turtleneck, and low enough to act as the fron tof a second pair of shorts. It was brilliant if you ask me, and it worked well. I alsostripped off my wind jacket since at that point I was SOAKED and warm from the efforts. I spent the last 10 miles or so trying to bridge back up to the group I rode with that landed up getting about a  half/3 quarters of  a mile ahead of me when I stopped. I never caught them but did pick off all the riders that were shelled off the pack, and encouraged each of them to jump on and work, but they were cooked apparently, and no one came along. THINK Time trial mode in no mans land.The sun came out with about 3 miles to go and turned the wet roads into a steamy sauna, and the organizers put a pretty good climb at 2 miles to go, which had my legs almost turning squares. I did continue to move past riders on the climbs, probably thanks to training out in Lemont over the summer. I jumped with about 500 meters to go and picked off every finisher within striking distance and was passed by no one when I lit it up at the end.
  • I finished 177 out of 584 racers/riders 50 miles 2:22:29  rank in category 28/92 M40-44



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
It's funny, I was concerned about a 100 mile race, and it turned into a 50 miler as if the universe gave me what was in my best interest. I did the best I could, and realized a few things. I have a tendancy of signing up for events that could be considered events I'm in over my head with, and that is possibly what stresses me out so much pre race. Ultimately I walked away happy, I haven't raced this year but have been enjoying the training when I can get it in (sound strange?) BUT if you are going to do GREAT in races you have to have race miles in your legs. NO QUESTION.... My reality doesn't provide for that right now, and my placing is a reflection of my natural abilities which IF I raced more would become more evident and move me up in the rankings (just like it did 10 years or so ago). Sure the ego thing gets in the way, but like I said, I did great with all things considered, and walked away happy

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ALLEZ!
Ray

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Olympic course? SERIOUSLY??

Well here we go. I've been looking forward to this all year. A GranFondo... If your a EuroTrashWannabe like me, and you heard one was going to be in the states you'd be as excited as a kid in a candy shop like I am. 100 miles on some VERY challenging roads. If you take the time to read the story in the link I included, you will see that it's on the same roads that were to be used in Chicago's failed Olympic bid. I talked to someone who rode in the area, and her comment was she wanted to cry after being on those hills. So then the little voice in my head starts to get the better of me and I start to psyche myself out - AGAIN... I could/could have been a champion if I could successfully get that voice to SHUT the FCUK up (I think) As a bonus, TREK(since they are a sponsor and we will be in Wisconsin). is opening their usually closed to the public new line up expo to participants and their families, and their is also an expo put on by Centurion. So it will be a cycling filled weekend for sure. I haven't done a century in years, but I've been getting in some 50 to 70 mile rides over the last couple months, and I've been hitting the local hills as often as I can. On one hand I can't wait for the experience, and unfortunately on the other hand I'm a bit freaked at the distance, terrain and the fact that that  voice in my head is telling me I'm not prepared. The interesting thing? That voice never once has told me I am ready. The AC in the car has been recharged, and I put together 2 mix CDS of some good tunage -that and I've got my Rock Racing -CYCLING ROCKS Tshirt out. It's gonna be fun - regardless of what the voice says. Maybe I should have picked up a rear cog better suited for climbing, and switched to climbing specific wheels instead of my new Aero HEDS. OMG time to panic (again ) LOL
ALLEZ!
Ray
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/sports/cycling/28wisconsin.html?_r=2&emc=eta1

Monday, August 2, 2010

Isn't it ironic (I REALLY do think)

Yeah, that was a reference to a song by one of the best female artists around, Alanis Morrisette. She REALLY hits home with some of her lyrics. So back to the topic at hand... I stopped taking the new blood pressure medicine (a selective beta blocker) because it slowed me down, my endurance took a hit, and off the record "MR Happy" was out to lunch - THERE I said it... So it was a rough couple of days when I stopped the medicine because your body freaks! when it gets accustomed to having a chemical inside it and is functioning according to what the medicine is supposed to do. Then came Saturday's time trial effort test on my 20 mile hilly loop. Last week while on the med, I did it in 1:07. Saturday morning albeit cooler temps, 57 minutes. No doubt the meds slow me down. Then came Sundays race. Something called the Muddy Buddy.  You ever have a race where you simply run and or ride in "the zone"? I was there. Yeah, it was a challenging race, but I floated thru it. We took 3rd place in our division. We were on the podium :) Theres no question I couldn't have done it at that level while on the medication. I've got some serious pros and cons to consider... Peace of mind, or athletic performance. I'm not in any health crisis so to speak, its got more to do with "curbing my enthusiasm" for lack of a better term.- I'm high strung and yeah emotional. So was the great race my swan song, or was it God's hint that the FCKING GREAT feelings you get from a spot on athletic performance is God's way of telling me to take the harder road and nix the meds, and make other somewhat harder choices to gain better health, and calmness? Not sure what to do. On one hand I DO want my BP to be lower and not a concern, I also don't want to be so strung out and frustrated thanks to a stressfull career as an IT director, with the additional challenge of kids! LOL I love them but yeah, it can be challenging. On the other hand, I LOVE performing well, and for better or worse some of my personal importance and charachter is based on my athletic endeavors. So I can't have both, and they are both important to me. SO since I don't know what to do, I am throwing my hands in the air, and letting go of this situatiion for now. God I HOPE your read my blog and either give me a sign or send me a messenger. At any rate the race was fun, I was very pleased with our performance, and the podium finish was a blessing for so many reasons at such an interesting time of my life. The team name? " Ray Loves Anne"  YEAH thats the name of my "long time personal manager" and she has NEVER been on a podium -EVER. As a matter of fact her first race when we first got together she finished last...  What a great day for us. If there is one thing I've learned over the last year it's the fact that I get more satisfaction giving back by helping others get better in the arena of sport - be it leading our new running group, or my continued quest to help my LPM improve as an athlete and most recently get on a podium :) It seems like it's not about me anymore, and I don't need to be the fastest to continue that road...  or do I?!
perplexed for sure
Allez
Ray

Thursday, July 29, 2010

You can't pick your parents

I love them both - A LOT. But hereditary issues suck. Last week, I added a new blood pressure medicine to my mix of meds I take. This one was a beta blocker and the bottom line is
a) my BP numbers are probably where my doctor wants them to be, I haven't taken a reading in a week to confirm.
b) the slugishness I felt when I started them a week ago  has not gone away.Sucks, I'm sluggish in a few areas...

Granted, I take it in the evening before bed, and seem to be sleeping better,  it's knocked me down as far as having any kind of "snap". I just feel slower than normal. Last nights group run confirmed what I suspected. It was a relatively quick tempo pace not over the top fast like in a 5k but with minimal to no talking. That's ALWAYS a sign that someone means business. 3/4s of the way thru the run I had to back off the lead runner. Not that I'm so egotistical that I HAVE to be in front, actually I prefer to not be in front and let the "Mob Rule" (Black Sabbath reference ;) ). But this was different. I HAD to back off the pace because it was above where I was able to hang and I let him go... I never had to do that with this group, so I KNOW something is up. YES we all have our good and bad days, but this is different. Like I said, I can feel the change, and it's not subsiding. SOOO I may take my pressure readings later just to see where I'm at, and then stop the new medicine. Better to stop now then do it after I have been on it and my body is completely accustomed to it. I've looked up side effects and treatments of this kind of med, and everything I am experiencing has been discussed everywhere I looked. If I was sedentary or am forced to be, then I'd consider it, but I'm active!

 It's a double edge knife. On one side my blood pressure is falling within the range of healthy blood pressure, and that has always been a goal of mine. I'm already on a BP med in the morning and have been for the better part of 6 years now. I also feel a bit more laid back and less stressed.

On the other side I'm left feeling slower than I want to feel pretty much ALL the time. Long term this can change exercise and perrformance as I know it.
Feel like I've been walking around with a sand filled vest and ankle weights, albeit a bit more laid back and at ease.
It's NEVER easy is it.
GRRRR
Ray

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sometimes what you get is not what u intended

I went to the Dr last week and what I was concerned about went a different direction.The bottom line, I am on an additional blood pressure medicine now. We both agreed that although my PP was up, and not the dangerously kind of up, I simply could not bring it down to the recommended values of 120/70. So I agreeed to add a med to address the longstanding issue. It's not for lack of exercise, relatively good diet, and lifestyle. It's mostly a hereditary thing. The new stuff is a new type of betablocker. A more selective type he tells me.I take it at night before bed. I will simply have to accept it, but a side effect of betablockers is slugishness in a number of areas. BUT this is a newer more selective type, and may not be an issue like older style BBlockers. So since I've tried with limited success to bring my blood pressure down without adding to the BP meds I take, I decided to do the right thing and address the issue a bit more agresively. This may well slow me down on the bike and run. It's been 5 days since I started and I have noticed it in a few different areas of my life. A bit more tired, etter sleep, but then theres that slugishness. It MAY go away when my body adjusts, but may not. Either way I'm doing the right thing, and like I said I wasn't expecting this outcome. A different one but not this one...
I got a 60 mile road ride in on sunday morning. I meant to do a Saturday ride as well but we had torrentrial rains on Saturday,  and news reports were 7 inches fell in a days time! Trail riding is out of the question for a while. So I rode out to the Monee resovoir and back making it a good 60 miler. It was 30 miles pretty due south with a tailwind, and upon turning around, a 30 mile headwind. Breeze was a bit stiff and the flags were standing straight out at times. Like I said earlier, I feel "flat "on this new blood pressure med. I'm sure the numbers are improved but I do not have that kick or snap in my legs since starting the new medicine. Maybe I will bounce back after my body gets used to it. A few good hilly road rides over the next 10 days should put me in a doable position to ride that 100 mile HILLY Granfondo. I'm looking forward to the challenge it brings. It's been a while since I did 100, and this one is going to have some very challenging "climbs". I did notice that all the running I've recently done really helps with fitness and has some carry over when you get back on the bike, BUT I still think that to improve the best I can for this ride I will really need to stay on the road bike leading up to August 8th event. A challenge it will be no doubt. I'm lookling to take those road miles and brring the training effect off road for the Palos Meltdown on Aug 22nd. Even though the BP medicine has me feeling like I'm riding and running thru a bit of sand all the time right now, I'm still looking forward to these events.
The tour coverage was great this year. What an epic battle. It was interesting how the mornings coverage (that I missed because I was riding) showed the whole big to do with RadioShak trying to ride with a different jersey provided by Arstrongs LIVESTRONG movement. The tour organizes had nothing to do with it and delayed the start, and made them change uniforms. Armstrong was the last to comply. The primetime coverage pretty much glanced over it. This is the Tour NOT the Armstrong show. They followed protocol and kept the focus on the riders and the winning team and rider. CONTADOR. I wonder if Alberto was adamant that Lance and his jersey escapade NOT steal ANY of Contadors victory. Not this time...
Allez!
Ray

Friday, July 23, 2010

Band names

So I have had a pretty good collection of band name ideas over the years. Here's some of my favorites
  • ChemicalButter (top of the list) has that REM feel to it...
  • KillOprah - kind of has that punk sound to it doesn't it? Not sure if I would ever use that one though because after all she IS Oprah, and I'm sure I'd be paid "a visit" LOL
  • SpatialTranquility - now this one sounds like a jam band ala Greatful Dead style. Note - I think I seen the Dead about 25 times or so back in the late 80s and 90s. Not that it has anything to do with anything, but Im just sayin'...
  • RobotSnowman - hmmm, alternative band?
Felt a need to do this today since more and more of my posts have been about "going fast", than "playing loud" LOL

I still want to rebuild my guitar. The only thing stopping me is once I begin the painting process it's going to be off limits for about 6 to 8 weeks. So I should pick it up and get some playing time in before I do it. Then theres the issue as to how I'm going to paint it. I've had the idea of doing it with glow in the dark paint. Maybe a secret message that only appears when its glowing in a blacklight etc. I'm also liking the idea of restriping it ala Eddie Van Halens 5150 guitar -here's how I origonally did it,  but this time make it white body with glow in the dark stripes. So you only see the VH stripes when its glowing.

It's got a unique look nowadays being sanded down but still having a purple hue in the grain work from the short lived Purple guitar phase. It will make for a good project when I need to preoccupy myself. Think I'l brush up on the playing first.


I'm lookin to try and get in about 75 miles this weekend on the road bike in prep for an upcoming GranFondo in Madison WI. The good news is all the running I've been doing lately has me feeling a bit of the snap in my legs. Not only that but the runs have made jumping back on the bike feel better than I thought. AHH that was the whole reason I took up cross training to begin with! Running and cycling REALLY compliment each other.
Allez
Ray

Monday, July 19, 2010

OK here goes..

I have been, and am currently completely perplexed (to say the least) over a pending Dr visit tomorrow. I had to cancel the last visit for a different reason, but previously (mentally) I was not ready to make a decision, and I'm in the same situation today...........
NOTE
If you read the post in it's entirety and can offer feedback and or advice, I'd appreciate hearing from you :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

If hell is like that....

Yesterday for the first time in my life I cut a planned ride short. I was going to go out and get a solid 40 plus miler in out to Lemont to get some hills in. It turned out to be a sub par 20 miler. My legs(and the rest of me) felt lousy. The temps were in the 90s and the heat index was rediculous. Last year on a similar occasion I rode the same route and at the end sprint (against a car full of teenagers) I had to pull over because I became dizzy. It startled me last year. This time around I didn't have it in me. I started the ride with a headache I had since 10 in the morning and that certainly didn't help. - I went out for the ride at 4... SUCKS, but I came back feeling pretty down, which is a common occurence lately :(  Granted this years training as far as intensity and mental toughness go has been inconsistent compared to my last go round , but this has NEVER happened. They say setbacks are opportunities to reasses and overcome but I've had more than my fair share lately - SUCKS. Nevertheless I am reassesing my outlook, goals, actions, etc. Something's got to give, because where I'm at isn't all that great. Each small step right? I've got the Dr's appt that I blew off a few weeks ago coming up this Tuesday, and I STILL don't know if I should go. Its a dichotomy. Pros and Cons, trust and distrust, comfort in the familiar, and fear of the unknown. SUCKS. So I got in a 20 miler, and seen on the evening news that a whole bunch of people were being treated for heat related trauma downtown. A bit of reassurance that I'm not completely failing, and I did actually go out for a ride, but like I said, I've always managed to push thru and overcome in the past. AGE? Lack of razor sharp training focus thru the year?, poor diet habits, too many negative distractions? - A combination of all of them? Can't be the heat...
Ray

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Le Tour and Le Run

It's Tour time BABY! Although I could do without Craig Hummer and Bob Roll each night, I mean come on, who wouldn't want to listen to Phil Ligget's anecdotes instead of those 2 knuckle heads. This isn't NASCAR, its Pro Cycling?! . The only down side to Phil is he would no doubt take Lance as a "life partner" if he could, and that gets old pretty quick. So the evenings are spent watching the tour, and I can't tell you how cool it is to have one of the boys and my "long time personal manager" LOL enjoy watching it with me.
So the Eiffel tower statue is on the office desk, The "Tour Tie" (circa about 1992) has come out at least once a week -notice the French flag as the tie clip, and I've donned the yellow converse professing my admiration, respect, and overzealous love for the grandest bicycle race in the world (2nd possibly only to Paris Roubaix...) As far as the pro riders go, I've been saying it for the last 2 years- ANDY SCHLECK... Looks like I may be right this year :)

 I plan on going out for a ride after work today, temps are in the 90s again, but I'm not complaining. I need to hit the road for some much needed clarity of mind and the training effect. Maybe out to Lemont to hit the "climbs" Vandevelde was raised on.

 Yesterday was another succesful group run, with yet another new face showing up. I'm SOOO glad I  put this together. It's like I was made to do stuff like this.  I've received a lot of good feedback from a number of people who have shown up, and I know it will continue to grow. So much for not running anymore LOL Funny thing is, with this "project", I feel I have a purpose lately. A way to give back and inspire. That is GREATLY needed in my life right now. I'm going thru some tough personal stuff, and I've been perplexed , frustrated, down, and stressed, etc, instead of being accepting of "life and how to live it" (an obvious REM reference ;) ). It's not been easy lately..., but leading this new group certainly stands out as a positive. I should "step up", and pull out the ACE fitness test prep stuff and get my certification if anything to at least have something to take my mind off of stuff and accomplish something in an area of life that is so worthwhile- Fitness... 
Allez
Ray

Thursday, July 8, 2010

not bad, not bad at all

I'm stoked, yesterday was week 3 of our new Wednesday night run group. 4 of us hit the local streets for what we've measured at just under a 5 mile course that includes water and facilities at the midpoint.. My old cycling buddy Budman showed up as well! Good times. So now we've got a group of what has already shown to be regulars, and were "visible" in the village. I'm seeing nothing but good stuff happening for this fun little project.
The trails have been GREAT all week.I give CAMBR.org a lot of credit. They monitor the trail systems (including our local trails) and have a simple green, yellow, red light system. If it's red - you stay off the trails, if it's green - you ride them. We had the better part of June with red light (wet) conditions. I've been ( as was everyone else in the region)looking forward to off road riding for quite a while and it was driving me crazy. When the lights went green,  I found myself out riding the single track, and one thing evident was the trails were in PERFECT condition. Kudos to you guys for all you do (even the simple light system on your web site). Our trails kick a$$! So after all the bar and seat height adjustments, and the extra time I've spent riding it lately, I  FINALLY feel comfortable on the Full Suspension mountain bike.
 It's becoming more and more frequent for me to stop "thinking about the bike",
 and let it just do it's thing. It's an interesting concept (that not everyone takes the time to grasp), when your finally setup well, you become one with the bike when your out riding. It's the payoff for having a bit of healthy Eddy Merckx style OCD. It's a beautiful thing...
Allez
Ray

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

upon further review, a bit of ridicule

So we did go see Sammy Hagar at Naperville's Rib Fest Friday night. I was excited we were going, (and that he was playing there with his old band the Wabos) for a charity. Here's where it gets strange. We show up around 6ish for an 8pm show. The front of the field near the stage isn't filled for the opening band. Regardless, we decided to keep the kids one sction back so there was room for the blankets etc. The later it got, the more I was surprised at the room to move around. It was like everyone was at the rib tasting and vendor booths. Then someone says it.... Juliane Hough will be coming up next. WTF? Turns out we were sitting by the wrong FCKUING?!?# stage! Did I say WTF?!?!We picked up and ran to the other side of the festival where we found another stage and hundreds of people walking toward us. Gates closed, filled to capacity. A lot of bummed out/pissed people. We cut thru the crowd and made our way to some bleachers near a fence outside the stage are, but within earshot. Turns out there was a policeman there and a crowd growing, at one point he moved to the other side and a gap in the fence appeared, that was our ticket in, bewildered kids and all! - hey this is rock and roll baby, they don't see us in concert mode often LOL. Right on time for the start of the show at 8:08 ("It's time to rock!!)- a good time. The fact that Sammy was at a festival is still not completely sittin well with me even if it does have the charity spin, but even Diamond Dave played there about 5 or so years ago so MAYBE it's a tad above one of your favorite musicians playin a neighborhood fest LMAO...

I went out on the 4th of July for the 100k ride down in Joliet, it's a good way to start the holiday each year, and. I make it a goal to break 3 hours so I am sure to get some good quality hard miles in my legs for the coming weeks of summer. This year was windy and by the later part of the morning getting hot. So I head out a bit after 8, and a small group of racers (from a team I will not name) roll past and one of the riders calls me out on the kit I was wearing. "Hey, aren't you supposed to be in France?!" chuckle.... At that point I'm flabergasted (at least on the inside.) these riders were half my age. I was racing when they were 10 years old WTF? Hypothetically speaking they may have been in a kit of the team I last raced with, or a kit of the team I decided to join this season I felt fukcing Fredded - All because I have style. I'm talking Mario FCUKING Cipollini style, and if Im decking myself out in some sweet lookin red and white polkadot colors complete with red shorts and shoes to compliment it, it's because I can. Kids...they don't even know who the Fck Super Mario, or Zaskula, or the pre L.A. era of cycling is all about. Legalize Spinacci- maybe ancient lore to them LOL. Lemond who right? SLX steel? chromed lugs on a Tomassini sintesi, Knowing what a Carbitubo rode like, or own a Leather hairnet because it made for a kick ass christmas present.? . WTF, I was a bit taken aback by the smart ass comment... So inevitably the group of racers form up in a pack, and I jump on. They proceed to animate the pack to shake off as many stragglers as possible and at times the pace was moving along quickly.  They stopped at the first rest stop, but I decided to roll thru. That first stretch presented a small dilema, I want to ride this alone, I can't break away from the group I just jumped on,  because Mob Rules in this situation, AND I'm a bit miffed at feeling a ridiculed and literally out of the click based on comments from that group of riders that just rode by. Another thing worth mentioning, I said hi to about 4 or so racers in kit - hypothetically speaking they may have been in a kit of the team I last raced with, or a kit of the team I decided to join this season, at a few different times while on the ride.Once as they were on the side of the road with a flat. - One of em looked agast as I called out asking if they have all they need.and completely ignored me. The other time was when myself ,and the guy who continued on with me from the first rest stop rode up and past another (racer in kit's) small group. I called out a hello when I seen the familiar kit, but did not get a response. MAYBE if I was in a race kit....They would have been friendly But today I wasn't representing albeit my own colors on a sick bike with what looks like no local race team affiliation. FCUK!!! are these guys that fcuking JADED nowadays? That's such a bad rap for the snobbie roadie!, and here I have just found myself on the other side of the current racers fence. All because I am out of a local kit and unrecognized by the current locals (or even teammmates)albeit the guys I've seen out there forever as well I think I'm gonna be sick... . I did not stop with the group at the first rest stop because it would have been a free ride all day in the pack, and I needed to get a hard bit longer effort in the tank for training purposes.  I was also not completley enjoying that certain pace you get to called race pace in a group of seasoned racers who have been stretching the elastic for the last few months, and wasn't lookin to do that all morning, althought I was surprised and a bit happy to experience that electricity that develops when the pack turns the screw and your moving along with it. Either way I did not want to hang with the race click at the time. So 2 of us continued on and pretty much time trialed on and off (more so on) the rest of the hot windy morning alone, and did stay away from the race pack the remaining 2/3rds of the ride..I broke 3 hours for the 100k again this year. The winds made riding with my new buddy Victor appreciated during some of that bitch slappin winds, and it was a feel good to hear him ask if I raced as a cat 1 or 2 when we were talking about our racing past and current happenings.
Allez
Ray