February 29, 2008


I have never not looked forward to a race more than I am right now… I am taking a break from a few hours in traffic after a crazy week with bad food and little sleep and I guess I just dont have the drive left in me right now. Not to be a party pooper but I am head underwater stressed out behind on sleep and feeling like poop!

The last few weeks of building my endurance ran right into a rest week full of stress at work. I have a presentation to deliver to Cisco Systems about Cisco Systems. Business relevance of technology and the value add that my company can deliver across a solution lifecycle with our cradle to grave methodology....Aaagghh... I feel sick going over and over in my head. Add to that the fact we are trying to finish our vacation plans because we leave the country next friday and I just dont have the time! I am beat but I started a few lists in my head tonight and thought I would blog it out...

Reasons to sit it out
Excuses - I can go on and on with these but I realize they are self imposed. Just found this quote too! "When a man says 'I cannot', he has made a suggestion to himself. He has weakened his power of accomplishing that which otherwise would have been accomplished." ~ Muhammad Ali
Overexposed - Do I need a rest and I am putting my health, season at risk if I push too much?
Balance - Racing is not work for me. I race for fun. There is no reason I need to do a race this weekend. Maybe this is what I need and this should go in the next section?
Selfishness? - I still need to drive tonight, check in early to pick up my packet and will miss Monique and her family (and Moms BDAY) on Saturday if I race.
I want to sleep.

Reasons to push on
Attitude - Starts and Ends here. nuff said
Pride - Many sides of my pride unfortunately but I know it wont be my best performance going into the race with 8 hours of swim, bike, run for the week already and a lousy week but I am doing this for fun and if I can enjoy myself who cares what my time is...Do I? Why cant I just go and ride . . . Why push myself all of the time? Pride or Self Challenge? Where does it come from and to who does it go? I guess if it comes from within and to prove to myself it is not pride... I think I like to torcher myself :-)
Balance - My friend at work always says "balance is Gods favorite word" and I think he is on to something there. Maybe I need to race to throw off my work and zone out of the world for a while and into my HR beat?

Decided. I am going to get up @ 3:30am and drive out to the race. I am going on some of the best trails in OC and will get to race with some fantastic mountain bikers on a great supported course. Why would I not go. I will take it at my pace. Leave my watch at home(make sure to bring my camera) and enjoy every minute of the day.

Carpe Diem - Seize the Day.

February 18, 2008

The Fragile Alma

Ok…I like my bike. I sold my Epic and I DECIDED to keep the Alama 29er because of A)funner, big wheels, fast, turns are alive, etc. B)Performance-Weight and hardtail = good climbing and responsive and C)I already have too many bikes and I needed to sell one. Now, with that being said, I had my Epic for about two years with VERY little problems and I trashed it constantly. I have noted before that the Alma is like a race car and is nice for racing but maybe not for adventure race type of expeditions when you need a comfy, dependable ride.

On Saturday we went for another little ride with the SSFTA and we had David staying with us so I was stoked to have him see some of the trials out by our house. In less than two miles into the ride my Alma decides to suck up my rear derailleur into the spokes as my FOURTH derailleur hanger broke. Four in about 6 months time! Knowing it was a problem I was packing a spare hanger (much to everyone’s surprise) and we were up and running in a few minutes.

However, what I didn’t know was that this time my rear derailleur got bent and a few minutes later ended up snapped too shortly after my chain did. Nice. What could make the day better? Well, I didn’t crash and hurt myself so the bike could be fixed… It only took about 10 more minutes for me to crash. I had my toe and Monique was pulling me back to the car when I took a few high speed diggers.. Monique’s got power and I have a sprained wrist and beef jerky all up my leg and arm. It was a day of testing patience and my bike and unfortunately we both failed.

We did have plenty of time with Dave at Barns and Noble and I a found a sweet book about swimming that I will be diving into over the next few weeks. Maybe a good read for Italy? Hopefully I can get my ride ready for VQ and figure out how to make it last…

February 16, 2008

A Cyclist

Monique always asks me, “do you feel like an athlete?”. I usually don’t know to be honest and the reason that she asks is because we do all these races with little training or planning for that matter. A day or two later, when it sets in and we look back we have to laugh and think about how we got away with another race under our belts with little training or planning. Spur of the moment bliss?

Training, however, can take on a number of meanings. We are stoked to race enough to keep us mentally ready and we get enough training from all the “activities” we do so that we don’t fall out of shape. I once read about someone stating “I don’t run so I keep in shape …rather, I keep in shape so that I can run”. That about sums up reasoning behind our training so far. .. We are also lucky enough to have the benefit of a good diet (thanks to Monique’s fabulous cooking!) that also helps a ton.

But a cyclist? Even if I never thought I would be a spandex wrapped roadie I knew I needed to build some pretty good endurance on the bike this year to serve as the foundation for the longer events I am planning on . . .but never thought of myself as a cyclist. An athlete. I guess we have “got by” so far but with this year’s schedule I am challenged just enough to push out of my comfort zone an into an athlete’s training routine. Tired from a few weeks of a build phase and more cycling that I have ever done in a month I headed out on a ride today and forever changed my view of being a cyclist.

Round Mountain. We did a ride on new years that was about 40miles and had a nice little climb right in the middle. Up and around the mountain. I was pretty beat from the long rides lately, two runs this week, two swims and a weight session last night (I guess I am training this year!) but I wanted to get out on the road and ride. I decided that the round mountain would be a perfect gauge for fitness test on the bike. It has about a 10min ride on a the flat bike path on the way out and back for a warmup/cooldown and lots of turns, flats and climbs. A good mix to test bikes and fitness. I was off and “testing” how I would feel until I left the path and would determine my pace from then on.

I felt great…more than great. Tired from a long list of workouts but so stoked to be in a “habit” of CONSISTENT rides. The turning of my legs around and around felt natural. It felt so good. I have all my gear worked out, my clothes packed, food setup, IPOD loaded with everything from PODcasts, worship music, books on tape and rock and roll. I was comfortable and with that came power, endurance when I didn’t think I could go on and a low heart rate because I am finally adjusting to all this “exercise stress”. I wanted to ride all day and not because I had to…I wanted to more than ever. Even on the road which I have never had that feeling before. “I want to ride my bicycle” song was in my head all day.

Back at work I ran downstairs to the coffee shop to get a turkey sandwich, bagel, banana, double tall cappuccino, tea and two waters. I was hungry. While I was waiting on the cappuccino and stretching, the girl behind the counter asked if I was from the yoga class next door. I said, “No, I just got back from a little ride”. Then she said, “Oh, yeah… You’re a cyclist I see”. I said, well, yes…I guess I am. . . .

February 14, 2008

Night Climbs

Finally got some off-road action with my mountain bike... It has been over three weeks since I have been off-road with the Alma or any bike and with just three weeks to the Vision Quest I needed all the time I could get. I met up with Ryan and the crew for a night ride up Blackstar to Beeks place and then we would drop down the backside to Corona and back. Nice group of about 10 guys and warm night.

As we climbed up Bstar I had a real hard time keeping up and feeling good about it. For some reason I just felt heavy and couldn't catch my breath. I realized that this was the first time on the Alma up Bstart too so it is now officially broken in. I have been riding so much on the road lately that spinning feels great but climbing is a whole new world. Once Ryan and I got into conversation I forgot about the heavy breathing and all was well with the wheels again. Ryan has had issues with his ride and was on his single speed (along with about half the group) and I still dont see how they were pushing through the climb. Maybe someday I will give it a go on my SS but for now I was just stoked to get to the top without blowing up... I still ended up standing a ton on the ride and my back got a pretty good workout.

Am I ready for VQ? Not sure but at the pace that I am planning on I will be fine. I have more plans for Italy and work on the mind now anyways and a long season that may end with an Ironman so it is all about slow and steady at this point. They may open the course up for a ride this weekend so I may be back for a ride then? Not sure...

On the way back Ryan took a little digger... Well, it keeps you on your toes and Ryan took it like a champ. There were sooo many more ruts and it felt like they were deeper but maybe it was the night light? The course has a few nasty sink holes and at one point the road is all but gone except for about six inches road and a single track that rides up the mountain. Hopefully that is fixed by race day.

February 12, 2008


February 09, 2008

Morning wet to sunset

Following my rest week I wanted to get a swim test in this weekend since the aquatic center had the long course setup and I had finally started a regular swimming program. I have been practicing drills and a little volume but I have wanted to time myself for a baseline and it would be the perfect chance to get a measurement before the season. The plan was to get some bfast with Monique, swim long and then meet up with the SSFTA for the Saturday local mountain ride.

However, we got a call from M&M while eating breakfast and before we knew it our next adventure was well underway... A few bagels and quick jokes later and we were packing for a weekend stay with Mandy and Marius again with a loooong ride planed to San Diego. Here we go again ;-)

Before we left Bako, however, we got in a good swim and the water felt sSSOOOooo nice. Long course is just plain more fun and with the sun out I was taken back to how much I love the warmth of the sun in the summer. I got in my 1K meter time trial test at just under 30min (29:57) and we got to video tape some stroke sessions that were scary at best... What is with my left leg all out in right field??

Our plan was to get to M&M's and then pack up some camping gear / get a hotel / ride all night? until we got to San Diego but we compromised for Saturday night on a short 3 mile ride to the beach and snacked on some Trader Joe's dinner. The sunset insane and you could see all the obscure details of of Catalina.

The next morning was early rise and we beat the sun back up on our way out. Such a fun ride but I totally blew my rest week. We decided get some lunch in Encinitas, I test rode a lightspeed bike at Nytro and we grabbed the train in Solana Beach for a ride back. The ride will have to be on a repeat fo sho with some good planning and a night stay in San Diego with a stop at ExtraOrdinary.... oh la la....

Some pics

February 07, 2008

New climb with a new toy

I have been on the road sooo much in the last few weeks and actually haven't ridden my mountain bike since the rio bravo. Yikes...VQ is getting close but I feel confident about the miles this year. Perhaps taking a new approach with lots of miles on the road will be better than short hills that left me with a knee problem for most of last year... we will see how it works out. I did need to get back on my 29er and needed some climbing too so I set out on a new route up Breckenridge Road with my new toy to log all that data...

The toy... Okay, I have been thinking about it for a long time now and due to my Polar watch battery going dead I have not even used a HR monitor for about four months now. Actually, I have only used my Polar for post-activity review and to keep a training log but never really to integrate it into any workouts. Time to change all that with my NEW TOY ;-)

The Garmin 305

Corby has been telling me to get a GPS for a long time and I know Marius can do all kinds of tricks with his too so with our Italy trip on the loom I found enough justification to drop a few hunnies and get one going. I know its big and bulky looking but I have had it for a little over a week now and I forget it is even there as far as comfort goes...but that is where it stops. I actually use this more than my Polar because of the INSTANT feedback on pace...So cool. Still working out a few things like the extra small digits for the heart rate reading. I sear I am ether going to crash trying to look at it or go blind! Hopefully, I can just adjust a setting somewhere?

So, does it get even better? Well, besides actually sticking to a low HR pace and doing a few workouts around a HR monitor plan (actually using the HR function this time around) just adds to the well developed software that it comes with and you even have access to software online that just plain ROCKS! The polar software is still great for a training log and I will continue to use that but the way that you can slice and dice the data with this is just cool for a enginerd like myself. Add to that the location element of GPS and you its easy to loose time wading through all that amazing output...

Check out the route playback feature....

Here are a few charts from my ride today. Low HR or sub Threshold (160bpm) for me on a climb and you compare how much time you spent in each "zone" climbing, decending, etc.
For example, I rode about 300ft with my Heart Rate at about 152bpm and descended a little over 350ft with my HR at 125bpm.

Heart rate in relation to the elevation gain

How about a pie chart that shows the time you spend climbing vs. flat or decending?

but wait....There IS more. How cool is google earth already? Add to that the ability to map your ride/run to a layout and then race yourself or your buddy over the same course and the fun never stops. Highly motivational and Slater recommend fo sho.

The Breckenridge road was sweet too and I will have to explore a lot more of the roads up thar... Next time it will be the cross bike with bags and maybe a loop to Lake Isabella and Keyesville. Okay, that would be like 100+ miles so maybe not next time but a future trip for sure.

February 06, 2008

Reasons to run

I did a run this morning with no ipod, no heart rate strap and no plan except to get a run in to start my day and talk to the Lord. I need more good habits like this ;-)

I usually don't read all of the SPAM emails I get but this topic related "reader wisdom" in an email that I got from Trail Runner Mag caught my eye and it hit home.

10 Reasons I Run
by John M. Bernhisel

  1. It is the best addiction I can think of. Gambling, alcohol, pornography, tobacco, shopping are all bad. Running is superbly, staggeringly good.
  2. I’m uncoordinated. I can’t pass, kick, throw, catch, dribble or do the backstroke but as long as I can tie my shoes, I can run.
  3. My dad didn’t. He had a heart attack at age 52. I’m running from high cholesterol and a spare tire from growing over my belt.
  4. I’m a book lover. I load five or six audio books onto my iPod and listen to Grisham, Clancy or even Dostoyevsky as I run. I’ve sometimes put in several extra miles in order to solve the mystery.
  5. It cures my depression. Kids, my teenage daughter’s cell phone bill, my boss, a broken dishwasher, the mother-in-law, phone calls, bird flu and global warming are all forgotten on a long run.
  6. I’m a mathematician. If I run five miles at a 7:40 pace and then slow to an 8:25 pace for the next four miles, what will be my total time? Then what is the most fun, charting my pace and miles on the computer.
  7. I love to cook (and eat). A 15-mile run burns 2000 calories. What that means is that I can eat twice as much as most people and still fit into my jeans.
  8. I’m an insomniac. There is no finer way to spend the 2 a.m. hour than go for a run under a full moon and then go back to bed (Yes, my wife makes me shower first).
  9. I believe in God. Running for hours in the mountains or sagebrush of Wyoming reaffirms my belief in a Creator that loves me.
  10. My friends hate to run. I love them dearly, but if any of them wanted to invade the euphoric joy I get from a run alone, I’d have to get new friends.

John M. Bernhisel has been a runner since the seventh grade. He most recently won the Lean Horse 50 Mile race in South Dakota’s Black Hills.