Wednesday, April 28, 2010

U outa be in pictures

Well they managed to get a pretty decent picture of me at the race I did earlier in the month, and people like pictures right? So here's one for the pending coffee table book LOL

I've also decided to officially jump on the playoff beard bandwagon, which is a totally CRAZY and impulsive idea. I like hockey, and totally dig going to a Hawks game when someone offers, but do not consider myself a die hard by any stretch. Wonder how long this is gonna last?! Note - cycling legs are not part of this hair brained(or should I say faced) idea LOL

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

running with the devil

Sorry, I can't resist throwin out a song title from the MIGHTY Van Halen ;)
2 weeks until the quarry man 10 miler, I've got about 3 or 4 runs in over the last month LOL. I've been respecting this event a bit more lately, and managed a 10 semi hilly miler in last week, and yesterday did 5 including the finishing mile up the Willow Springs hill. I KNOW I'm not running fast at this point. You want to run faster? Go Run!! but I am looking forward to doing it. Should be fun. I felt good the whole run, and floated up the hill. nice. Too bad I didn't prepare better, but I'm pulled in a number of directions and running has drawn the short straw. No problem. Something I forgot to mention is I was asked (last Friday) to step up and assistant coach boy #2's soccer team, so I'm back on the sidelines. First up was a Saturday all day tournament. We managed to work our way into the finals, and took 2nd place. The intersting thing tht occured is I felt glad to be there. The kids grow up so fast, and I have so many hangups of them getting big. I proved to myself (albeit unconsciously) that they still come first. - that goes back to the retired from racing stories from a while ago. He's happy I'm back on the sidelines. I am too. I was going to go up to do another mountain bike race in Lola WI this weekend but have to go to a work function which involves travel. It doesn't look doable - (the race), so I decided to make the best of it, and am taking my mom and dad with. The area is a place they frequented when they were younger. It's all good. I guess the moral to todays story is my family comes first. At lest I feel better about myself when they do.

The sucky news is our family room TV died Saturday night. I would say it is a big screen but who doesn't have one nowadays. Sunday I unhooked the home theater and put a 32 inch CRT TV from the basement in it's place. It's comical actually. Now I have to figure out what to do to afford a new TV. Man, we've been hit with too much this past year, but I guess that's why we wake up and go to that "W" word... Sorry Alice, my plans are to axe you :( for the good of the kids. More to come when I get off the phone.
Hoping to ride later today. Road or MTB hmmm??

Monday, April 26, 2010

a better time or just great people?

Saturday night I went to my grammar school reunion (29YEARS after I graduated!?!). Don't do the math, you will think I'm old. It was a great time,  I has a blast! I have hooked up with a number of old schoolmates on facebook over the last year or so, which is one of the BIGGEST reasons Facebook is so damn awesome!, and seeing them in real life is and always will be "where it's at" - don't forget that you children of the digital age... It's hard to believe so much time had passed, and it's crazier to mention that all in all I felt completely at home with them all again after the initial surprise dwindled a small bit. Lot's of reminiscing, pictures, and laughs. IUt's funny, for all practical purposes everyone seems to have turned out (and looks to be) just as I would have thought. It's like we are all created and stay the same thru our lives under 98.7% of normal circumstances. Philosiphical NOTE-That may help one accept themselves and those around them more easily in retrospect...
 MAN what a cool experience. Of course plans are made for the future, and I look forward to another round with all of them. Her's hopin'. The funny thing is we were so young back then, but all these years later and our interactions and attitudes are for all practical purposes the same. CHEERS to you St Trib's class of 81. You REALLY were a great part of my life story...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Da Bears revisited

On the way to pick up dinner tonight I found out "good ol number 76" from the 1985 Superbowl Chicago Bears was at a neighbors house. So I did what anybody in my position would do. I ran in the house grabbed my Jim McMahon jersey and Mirrored shades (of course!) and dragged the family over there for a quick photo and autograph. Like I told them, when it comes to situations like this you have to jump on it. WAY cool...

song of the day - thanks to Michael Stipe

They call me the apologist.
And now that I'm at peak.
You know at first it really hurt.
We joke about these things.
I've skirted all my differences
But now I'm facing up.
I wanted to apologize for everything I was.
I'm sorry, so sorry...

Did you understand me right?
The people here are good.
They tell me what I should have done
And offer what I could.
I'm good, all is good
All's well, no complaints.
When I feel regret,
I get down on me knees and pray.
I'm sorry, so sorry...

I live a simple life
Unfettered by complex sweets.
You think this isn't me?
Don't be weak.
There I go.
I'm so sorry.

Thank you for being there for me.
Thank you for listening, goodbye.
I can forfeit selfishness
I hope that you can apply
This happiness
This peacefulness
I'm sorry, so sorry...
I live a simple life
Unfettered by complex sweets.
You think this isn't me?
That's so sweet.
I'm so sorry.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The RIDE rules!

Or more appropriately, the MOB RULES! I have this sticker on my mountain bikes head tube, can you make out what it is, where it's from? DEFINITELY a keeper...

Four 22

April 22nd is a very special and private day for me. It must be why today is turning out to be a good one. It was on this day a number of years ago that a life changing illness hit me. I still struggle, and have limitations because of it, some good some bad, but all in all, I will ALWAYS remember this day...

I celebrated by finally finding my way over to a new Belgium Freites(french fries) restaurant that opened in town recently. I ordered a large order of fries (which it turns out could probably feed a family of four LOL) and enjoyed them with mayonaise (of course). I don't know if it's the fact I'm a cycling fanatic and Belgium and all it's traditions are very appealing or if I was a bit hungry but I swear they were the best freites I've ever had. LOL note I probablt barely ate a 1/4 of the order. Food portions are so redicously big nowadays, it is great for leftovers but WHO eats like that?! No wonder the US has an obesity problem...

The other cool thing is I saw "the hi guy"'s bike locked up outside the marketplace I was at. I  snapped a picture of it for some new crazy bike picture collection I seem to be starting. The guy is famous/infamous here in Chicago. One of the last times I seen him was when running in the Chicago marathon a few years ago, he was running in a pair of yellow crocs and carrying a gallon jug of water. If you look closely you can see that his baskets are full of race numbers from the events he's done.CRAZY!

What's on YOUR I-pod?! Changing channels for the day

Too much talk about training lately, and not enough talk of the music that MOVES me.Growing up with albums(giant black vinyl CDs (with AWESOME artwork) for you younger ones LOL) it's taken me a LOOONG time to appreciate the digital music age. It's even more ironic that I work in technology, and still don't like the fact that music has gone from analog to digital.. All that changed this winter when one of my christmas gifts was an ipod nano. Winter running changed INSTANTLY, and nowadays it's become as routine as bringing my heart rate monitor out for the workout. Anyway, I often wonder what people are listening to when I see them with headphones, so I thought I'd share what I've been listening to lately.

First off, I have been on a HUGE Alanis Morrisette kick lately, the lyrics to a lot of her songs are simply phenomenal, especially when I'm in a certain frame of mind in which I have been in lately. Don't know if it's a good or bad thing but it works. I just came off a Robert Plant binge, and a lot of his stuff sounds way cool on headphones. Another favorite is David Bowies You want to hear a cool tune? "I'm afraid of Americans", and "Gemini Spaceship" are 2 that sound awesome in your head...
Other than that, there will always be the prerequisite Van Halen, REM, PRINCE, and Judas Priest (or anything done by Rob Halford) - when I need that something extra. For some crazy reason I've noticed I don't have any of another of my all time favorites on the IPOD, Alice Cooper. I'm going to remedy that REAL soon.
I still think NOTHING beats sitting down and enjoying music on a good hifi system, and I have a pretty decent setup at home, but I've finally realized music can be a better companion than the voices in my head when I'm out running...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

beep beep beep beep (focus!!)

Yesterday  I had a good quality workout. Actually since Saturday morning, I've been putting in the efforts. It was a time trial/ race pace workout. I rode relatively easy out to 107th and Willow Springs road, and from their I lit it up and held my effort down to Archer road. No interuptions and my heart rate a few beats below where I would blow up. My heart rate monitor was beeping thruout the effort, and when I glanced at it and saw the numbers I realized I must have programmed it for that God awful redline zone that makes ya dig deep. I did NOT let up, regardless of the pain I was instilling on myself. I'm glad I didn't. When I finally made the turn onto Archer I rode back with a bit of satisfaction knowing (regardless of my current (lack of) condition, that I did what it took to get a good ride in. So at this point in my return to competitive riding I'm cutting my losses and moving on. My obligations/limiters don't allow me to have a lot of miles in my legs. Actually I have about 450 miles in them since the beginning of the year, so what the hell do I expect when I compare myself to the rest of the race community. I should  be glad I'm able to ride.... I HAVE to keep reminding myself it's as good as it can be and accept it.
DAMN ego :(
If anything it will be an interesting look back when the season is over. Rome wasn't built in a day, and I don't think the colloseum etc was rehabbed in a day either LOL

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A "sign" or just a postcard?!

Crazy, I was posting recently about the I'm doing in May. I just went to Union station to buy a train ticket, and as I'm walking I see a flyer all by itself on the ground. I picked it up and it was an ad for the race?! NO other garbage, or paper anywhere to be seen! That's pretty wild :) Better get running LOL

RUN to the HILLS!

What a cool song by Iron Maiden huh? I'm not that into metal anymore but Maiden is Maiden :) and  boy #1 and I are going to see them in a few months! So FORGET about how training has taken a nose dive over the last 2 months. Forget that I'm slowe and quite honestly feel out of shape. Forget that I've got my work cut out for me on so many levels that it's EASY for me to FREAK OUT! This past weekend I regrouped and moved on. Saturday early morning I dropped boy #1 off at track and went straight out to Palos for an hour run on the trails. WONDERFUL! There's something about being out on those trails that washes away all my problems, (at least for that hour) When I got home I rebuilt my hard tail frame with all the components from my higher end full suspension. The starting weight was 25.4 lbs, when all was said and done it was 24 lbs. COOL. Sunday I took it out and rode in Palos for about 2 hours. LOTS of riders out Sunday morning, and NO horses anywhere?! So my impression was the hardtail IS faster. It's not like either of the bikes hold me back at this point, but my assumptions seem to be right, Hardtails if rode with finesse are quicker and more efficient. I've always thought that full suspension is too complicated, and mentally I think I proved it to myself (at least in my head) So now I build up the new full suspension frame with the hardtails parts, sell it, and get some much needed cash for
a) some awesome new wheels (deep dish) for the road bike
b) even more upgrades for the hardtail
c) a cyclocross bike
d) send it to VISA (hmmm)

I have a 10 mile run I'm doing in Lemont FULL of hills, and have to get back into a running routine again. Saturday's trail run was a good start, and yesterday to address the UNBELIEVABLE HUGE AMOUNT OF STRESS I'm choking on at work, decided to get in a 10 miler with a number of hills included. Then it was shower and off to watch boy #2's soccer game. Their team is DOMINATING this year. HURRAY! Between track meets, soccer games, and getting them to and from practices, I can see why my training and fitness is WAY less than what I want. Regardless, just because I joined a cycling team, it doesn't mean I can or want to walk away from their activities (except coaching ;) ) It has been very complicated to fit it all in, and I just have to make the best of it...GOSH when I typed that it's easy to see (partly) why I'm at where I'm at.
Oh yeah, and I seen a friend on The Ultimate Cake off last night on TLC VERY COOL...


Friday, April 16, 2010

Make the Devil Bike faster!

I like bike projects, and I've got a good one to take on. I picked up a real nice full suspension Stumpjumper pro fsr over the winter. It's a nice bike, and all the components are higher end then the ones on my Hardtail (a rockhopper pro with a couple Black Sabbath stickers on it - "devil bike"). I've alwas been old school with regards to cycling, and never fully bought into the full suspension idea. I think the hardtail is SIMPLE and efficient, but since I had the opportunity to get a real good deal on a full suspension, and the components were a real nice mix of upgrades over what I have, I bought into it. Don't get me wrong, it rides nice,  real nice, and I'm sure the bike is not limitting my performance. BUT, I've decided to change over all the higher end lightweight stuff from the new full suspension onto the Hardtail frame. My goal is a lighter (than it already is) hard tail with a good mix of raceworthy components, wheels, fork etc. I'm thinking I can turn the hard tail into a real sweet raceworthy ride (hardtail style). Should be a fun project, and I'm looking forward to see how this turns out.  Like I said, it's not that I don't like the full suspension, but my mind still thinks a hard tail ridden with finnesse is faster than the cadillac type ride of a full suspension. Not saying I won't revert back to the cadillac but this is worth experimenting with.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

a moment of clarity among my typing talking and timing

I noticed in looking over the results of the Sylvan Stampede that I would have finished top 10 in novice. Aside from all my blabbing,, that works... If I was top 10ing in a bunch of novice races I would have to upgrade.  I guess I prefer the uphill challenge of jumping back into racing in the category I left a decade ago as opposed to sandbagging....


I heard that song on the radio yesterday afternoon and it perfectly sums up where I'm at and what I'm thinking/feeling.  I've been contemplating how to write this one out, and the song was a good motivation to get movin before the thoughts continue on into the ether and a new chapter comesa along.

I raced my 1st USA cycling race in 10 years Sunday. It was a mountain bike race down in Moline IL, or what may as well have been Iowa. Not only was it my first sanctioned MTB race, but I'm in the Sport (Category 2) field. This is the category for riders who race all the time but have not yet moved into the elite category. Like I said, it's been 10 years and maybe it would be fairer to race in the novice class for a while, but theres that thing called EGO, and driving 3 hours I may as well get my moneys worth right? The interesting note to make me feel better is I would have been in the top 10 for novice if I went that route. The problem is I rode/raced well when I was younger( late 20s/30s ), and regardless of what I've done (or NOT done) over the last decade, I am picking up where I left off as far as categories are concerned. I can provide a million excuses some good some bad but the reality of it all is I need to focus on where I'm at now, and make the best of it. I was nervous leading up to this weekend. First race in ages, new bike, training issues over the last 4 to 6 weeks, wrist injury, etc etc.  The race was on an island at the Mississsippi river and was 4 laps on 5 miles of technical singletrack. A very technical race. I was planning on riding at or slightly above my Anaerobic Threshold, and even ran out Saturday and picked up a heartrate monitor from Sportsmart (that's what I still call it), because changing batteries on my cyclecomputer rendered it useless.. I should have known better. I was NOT going to back off the pace based on a winter test result and landed up riding most of the race at least 7 beats higher than my plan. I only looked at the monitor on occasion just to get a feel as to where I was riding. At least I have new numbers to train by... The morning of the race I woke up with an old familiar feeling I have not had in literally YEARS. Race morning anxiety.... I made a promise to myself and blurted it out to my family shortly before my race started. If I was going to be ALL stressed out, and the family time and experience wasn't fun I/we would walk away. It isn't going to be fair for any of us if I am a stressed out ASS every day I race and the wife and kids don't enjoy the day. I purposly reminded myself of that declaration  more than a few times, and I think I kept things in check. So YES I did race back in the 90's. I had some good success, and managed to place well in a good number of events on the road, and dirt. Things were different back then though. No long term training layoffs like this time around, not as many (if at all) family commitments, no illness or genetic issues to deal with, a lot less limiters. Back then, a number of years of hard work, lots of time to train, and a good collection of race experiences ultimately resulted in  a number of  seasons bringing home some good results. Then I retired because my family and responsibilities grew, I had to deal with (mostly) a genetic illness, and ultimately I felt it was more important to be a good dad than a bike racer. The only thing that didn't change and never will, is my passion for the sport. So I'm 10 years older, I have all the setbacks that genetics throws at me (and then some),  my free time is limited, I continue to miss training opportunities because of track meets, soccer games, and the general business that comes with a family -BY CHOICE, that and my training hasn't been great (again comparing to Ray version 1).
My LTPM (Long time personal manager LOL) was keen to know how I am on race morning and did a good job at anticipating  the stress. I was mindfull of that though,  I even seen that stress trait in a fellow racer barking at his family before the race. I DON'T want to be that guy... I wasn't :) Stressed? yes? Did I act out? no (at least I don't think I did). It was also my first race in a new teams race kit. I was representing xXx. So enough of the blabbing. I showed up, (which can be a victory of sorts), and after warming up and taking pictures with an excited family, Dad the bike racer was off. It was 4 laps on 5 miles of technical singletrack mostly flat. A fun course for sure. I rode all the lines well, and was able to easily ride in control. BUT after the 2nd lap on the quarter mile start/finish stretch of gravel trail that, if you could, most riders shifted big ring, grabbed the bottle, or food etc, and tried to make up time on the riders still in the single track. I crashed with another rider bigtime. It's funny, one reason I'm racing off road is I don't like the idea of crashing (who does?! (WTF) on the road. So up into the big ring I go,  and when I'm going into my jersey pocket for a GU, another rider crosses into my path as we are drag racing, and the collision has him going down right into/in front of me and taking me down in the process. It was slow motion. All I was thinking is I can't believe I'm crashing on the only stretch of the course that resembles the road. strange isn't it? We were moving fast, it happened in slow motion and I remember falling and rolling with the rider, and his bike along the limestone and into the gutter.  No blame (from either of us) and after regrouping and getting my chain back on it was back to business. I was freaked out though for a few minutes. Turns out I took a majority of the impact from either his bike (or him) into my left ribs. NOTE - Hurt like Hell Sunday night and Monday was worse -deep breathing was hurting, and there is tenderness on a rib or 2wo...  I rode the rest of the race and did not hang with the group I was with right before the crash my times were pretty consistent  per lap. The best part of the day was hearing and seeing my wife and kids cheering for me each lap. That's a big reason to continue to do it. On the finishing stretch I seen a little kid riding onto the course and I let up to avoid hitting him, at the same time a guy came out of nowhere and passed me with about 10 yards to go. He stopped and said he saw me sit up when the kid entered the course, and appologized for taking it. Oh well. It's over. I still think not hitting a child is more important than a finishing place but it sucked seeing him come out of nowhere. No biggie...
 I had nothing to compare my results to, and it's been so many years since I raced. I would/AM stupid to think I can jump right back into racing after so many years and get good results. I'm not a prodigy, I do have a passion though (and a natural talent- yes, I still think I do)... I think I placed 62nd in the category 2 race and did NOT do well in my age group. YES I'm disappointed, but it really opened my eyes to a number of different things. Things like what I'm doing to help my racing, what I'm doing to hurt my racing, realistically what can I do with the free time I have that is better than how I am managing time currently etc.  My younger boys first question to me when I was done was in response to my blurb about "if it's not fun we're not going to do this anymore". He asked if I had fun, he asked if were going to do this again. I said yes, and he was thrilled that we are continuing, REALLY thrilled. All of them were proud of me, and that means a lot. It also means a lot that they were so excited to go, they had a good time, and are looking forward to next time.  So aside from my dissapointment, I am glad I went, and again, I would be stupid to think you can get right back to where you left off all those years ago. I guess the best way to look at this is the pressure to place is off, and I need to remember to keep it fun. I didn't get results overnight the last go round so now I can enjoy the experince of seeing myself get better with experience (again)

So it's off to the doctor this afternoon to get the cortizone shot in my right wrist to address the pain I'm experiencing. The ribs? I don't know what will come of that.. A bit better today than yesterday, and I don't really want to ask for ppain meds again. I'm also considering swapping all the upgraded components off my full suspension frame and onto my hardtail frame to see if I should stick to a lighter simpler more efficient hardtail. I still haven't been convinced full suspension is the way to go, and  I need some kind of excuse right? LOL

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Quervo WHAT?!

Tonight  at the doctor, my wrist injury has been diagnosed as De Quervain's Tenosynovitis . Which is tendonitis associated with the thumb and it's tendons above the wrist. Caused by overuse. Apparently the legs were fine for some longer off road rides this past weekend but the thumb and associated tendons and muscle were not. HURTS like Hell. It came down to getting a Cortisone shot, and mentally I wasn't ready for it. Since it will require me to splint and mobilize the thumb, and the factthat I have my first race of the season this Sunday, we decided to mask te pain and come back on Tuesday for the shot. I can ride the road bike leading up to Sundays race, but need to minimize the time on the MTB because shifting (right hand) is the reason this happened. I could have gotten the shot right there on the spot, but I really want to get this first race in, and my doctor understands me. I was half joking when I mentioned that more than half my visits are due to sports injuries over the years, but  you need to exercise to stay healthy! WTF?! I'm not thrilled about the situation, but it all happens for a reason, and like I said I can ride the road bike, and run with no issue. That's ironic because I DO need to focus on more running in preparation for that WAY hilly 10 mile run in May. It all works out when you let it, or at least I can spin this situation into a justifiable reason to change things up.
I did manage to get in one hell of a good hill repeat workout in this afternoon before going over to the doctor Most if not all the motivaton to complete every last repeat was thanks to one of the most stressfull days at work I've had in a while. This one shook me... Today's workout has been officially named the six pack. Ride out to the big climb in Willow Springs, ride up to the top, coast back down to the bottom turn around and repeat 6 times. All of them in BIG gears. Then I had to tempo ride back home to make it over to the doctors with about 5 minutes to spare. The topper to what I would consider a bad day? I missed half of tonights episode of LOST, so I guess you cant have it all huh?
Ride on...

200 posts! stress, speed, and shifting

Is 200 posts momentous? Does Google send me a free T-Shirt? Probably not... But I did notice this is number 200 so I thought I'd mention it, hurRAY for me! So I've been stressing lately over my training as of late as the MASS of followers I have recently read. ;) The good news? I did get some good feedback from a blogger I follow (thanks Amanda) and also a good conversation or 2wo with my long time personal manager(read wife LOL) regarding the thoughts that have been running thru my head. The bottom line is It's as good as it's going to get today, and I can't compare what I'm doing now to what I was doing the last time I was racing. A lot has changed, family, kids, freetime, that four letter W word, and even that age thing(according to my dad..). I get caught up comparing my current reality to what I'm seeing hearing my peers are doing. I have to remind myself that where I'm at in life is different and unique to me and those in it. I'm not going to stress about it (YEAH I say that now...) But it's the truth. Bottom line is my family continues to come first, and I will continue to strive for balance and do what I can to train ride run and occassionally race to the best of my ability. I simply can't (or don't want want to) be out racing every weekend. I knew it would be a challenge going into this, and at this point I need to take a step back and simply let it all work out. If this isn't fun then I shouldn't be doing it, so I'm going to try my best and roll with it (no pun intended). I did have a good weekend of workouts with that extra day off last week. (Good) Friday I managed to get in a good 3 hour off road ride, and I'm feeling comfortable on the new bike. Saturday I started upping my running mileage(read that as adding running back into the routine) in anticipation of the Quarryman challenge coming up in May. I am treating that event with the respect a CRAZY hilly 10 mile running race deserves. Then there was Sundays ride. I have a 20 mile loop that I do and it's got a collection of short hills, long hills, and long flat stretches. If I can do it in an hour or less I feel like I'm in good shape. I changed the batteries in my cycle computer Saturday night and the damn sensor wouldn't work when I went out to ride so I had to rely on a stopwatch and heart rate monitor. The bottom line? I did it (without the timer stopping at the collection of redlights I was stuck at) in 1:01:44 Strong winds and all! That gave me a bit of a mental confidence boost that I need going into the week before the first race of the year. I'm thinking 3 redlights probably equal at least 30 seconds each right? :)
 The bad news? I've developed some terrible pain in my right wrist and I'm off to the doctor tonight thinking it might be tendinitis caused by overuse (shifting on the mountain bike). It feels like a creaky door when I bend my wrist on that muscle that extends from your thumb up the forearm - Hurts like Hell... I've got to roll with it baby, there's really no other choice is there?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

suddenly you wake up in a sickened panic!

Great line from a great song by REM "Living Well...". Anyway, for a multitude of reasons, some good, some bad, my training over the last 2 to 3 weeks is not what I had down on paper, or what I was hoping to do. Now with the weather breaking, there will no doubt be a nice collection of epic rides coming up and I feel less than prepared for them. Granted I've NEVER felt adequately prepared or ready when it comes to just about everything, but this isn't sitting well with me. I've been typically obsessed with getting in the workoputs, and being sure the intensity was where it needed to be, but I've been derailed more than I wanted to be recently. I know (it's only) April 1st, and the season is long, but I don't like being behind the eight ball so to speak. I had no choice but to spend the last week getting setup on the new MTB, and I KNOW it was a necessary evil but still I feel like I've done nothing of substance that I can look back on and remind myself I've been working hard to do what I want/need to do...Maybe it was a necessary evil that needed to bring me back to where I need to be. Maybe it's more than likely "the mitote" playing mind games with me, and it will all come together, but I'm just sayin....