Starting from square ONE... 2019 edition

“Start at the beginning!”

“And when you come to the end… STOP.”

  • March Hare and Mad Hatter, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland

Sorry folks, sob story time…

In 2014, I did the Issaquah Triathlon with my son Patrick, his first and only full-distance triathlon (still haven’t written this one up). Not long after that race I had the first of 2 different injuries that effectively ended my race seasons and ruined my summers for 2013 and then 2014. Then, after having issues with memory, attention, and energy, I was diagnosed with some other health issues that required some interventions (moderate and treatable, not severe). And I haven’t been in a triathlon since.

That Issaquah Tri in 2014 was my last race of any kind. In the mean time a few other things have happened -

  1. My son Patrick discovered an amazing love of mountain biking, which I have joined him on numerous occasions. He now owns a bike far more expensive than any of my bikes. This injustice must be rectified!

  2. In 2015 I rode in the RAMROD bike ride and *almost* finished. (more to come later)

  3. I have been numerous local mountain bike races, even taking the points race in the Clydesdale category in the Vicious Cycle Fat Tire Revolution racing series in 2017 (the last year they did a race series).

  4. I was promoted at work and then changed jobs, which affected my ability to ride to work (i.e. not nearly as often, even though I am now only 5.5 miles from home)

  5. In 2018 I strained my back during a race in Leavenworth Washington on the Freund Canyon trail at the Bikes and Brews Festival, but it was worth every minute of pain afterward. Unfortunately my bike mileage suffered that summer and hasn’t really recovered.

And that brings me to my current state of affairs…

  • I am over 320 pounds, the most I have ever weighed in my life.

  • My energy level and fitness are at all-time lows.

  • In 2018 I rode the fewest miles than any year since I started cycling again in 2007 and this year is on track to be even worse.

  • I haven’t actually gone on a run for fitness purposes since November 2018, and I only recorded 3 runs that year. None so far for 2019.

  • I haven’t done a swim workout since… I can’t remember.

So I am back basically at square one. The same place I was back at the beginning of 2005 when I looked like this-

Me with Boy #2 and Boy #3 when they were just a few days old

Me with Boy #2 and Boy #3 when they were just a few days old

Granted, in that shot my twin boys were barely a month old and sleeping through the night was a pipe dream, but my health was terrible. I was about 315 lbs back then and my cholesterol and blood pressure were through the roof. I did a program back then to change my health and get into shape through a local health club, spending a LOT of time and money. 18 months after that, in 2007, I did my first triathlon at the behest of a friend, and the rest is history.

Now I look like this-

Bad selfie!

Bad selfie!

I picked a bad selfie for a reason: I look terrible and no one wants to see a fat guy with a gut.

Compare that to how I looked before the Beaver Lake Tri in 2011, 50 pounds ago…

Just before the Beaver Lake Tri 2011

Just before the Beaver Lake Tri 2011

So where does this leave me? Looking for training plans and options for NEXT year. I was hoping to be able to take my son on a week-long cycling trip in Oregon this fall but that isn’t going to happen (at least not this year).

My current goals:

  1. Ride to work at least 3x per week for the rest of the year, starting next week (this week is a 3-day holiday week and there’s no way I can fit in that much riding before being gone for 4 days).

  2. Ride the rim of Crater Lake during one of their car-free Saturdays in September.

  3. Shed at least 50 pounds by the end of 2019 through diet and exercise with the stretch goal of getting down to 250 lbs by June 1, 2020, the unofficial start of the race season in Seattle.

  4. Go on at least 2 bike camping adventures with my sons.

  5. Ride at least 2000 miles by the end of the year.

  6. Be able to comfortably run a 10K by the end of the year.

  7. Track it all on this fabulous blog. }B^)

So that’s it. I’m basically starting at square one. AGAIN. (hence the 2019 edition in the title)

Will it stick this time? Will I actually do it? We’ll see. I mean, I’ve tried hitting the reset button before and it didn’t really work.

I mean… What’s the worst that could happen, right?


How to kill a Schwalbe Marathon

There only very few things for which I have zero tolerance. Flat tires is one of them. There is nothing in the world that kills the joy of riding a bicycle faster than a flat tire. Especially when you are going down a big hill and your freshly-installed tire was not properly seated on the rim. And you used a slime tube...

Tube failure due to improper tire seating

Tube failure due to improper tire seating

I spent my High School days in eastern Washington and was introduced to this little nuisance...

They can get REALLY bad, as Pat from 26InchSlicks found out...

Pat pulling dozens of thorns out of a fat tire using pliers.

Pat pulling dozens of thorns out of a fat tire using pliers.

Needless to say that when you are riding in eastern Washington State you ride with tire protection or you don't ride. Or at least you don't ride very far. That is Tribulus terrestris, commonly known as tackweed or goathead thistle. They REALLY hurt when you step on them barefoot.

So one day I was ranting about how much I hate flats and a friend at work introduced me to Schwalbe Marathon tires. They claim to be the only "flat-less" tire on the market, with the Marathon Plus model sporting an incredible 5mm of rubber between the tire surface and the tube. They even go to great lengths to prove how tough their tires can be...

So I picked up a set for my old mountain bike and started using them for daily commuting. For years I had ZERO flats.

In 2012 when I switched over from my 1993 Schwinn High Plains to a Specialized TriCross, I bought new Marathon Plus tires (700x35) to go with it and quickly ditched the really bad stock tires. And things went fine. These tires are AWESOME!

Until...

I was riding to work in the rain a few months ago and suddenly heard a quick "whoosh" sound, followed immediately by the unmistakable feeling of a flat rear tire. Luckily I was only going 15 MPH at the time and easily pulled over on the wide shoulder. A mile later I would have been doing 35-40 MPH down a very steep hill. Thankfully, I was unhurt.

It didn't take me long to find the reason for the leak: a MASSIVE hole cut in the tread. !?!?!

1.5" slice in my rear tire!

1.5" slice in my rear tire!

What could make such a hole? How did I NOT see it?

It didn't take long to find the culprit.

The Husky Sure-Grip Folding Lock Back Utility Knife

The Husky Sure-Grip Folding Lock Back Utility Knife

There is was on the road... a Husky Sure-Grip Folding Lock Back Utility Knife. You can buy them on Amazon for $11. They are a favorite tool among construction workers, landscapers, and anyone who routinely opens boxes (retail or warehouse workers). It was obvious by the damaged handle that the knife had been run-over several times by cars/trucks and had seen better days. So I picked it up and walked home.

Upon closer inspection I found the hole was impressively deep: even the tube had a 1" hole sliced into it.

I quickly swapped out with a new tire/tube and was back on the road in about 20 minutes.

Moral of the story: even the most armored tired cannot survive EVERYTHING. And I still have no idea how I didn't see that knife on the road before I hit it.

And who drops a box cutting razor knife in the road anyway? (probably fell off the back of a truck) A $14 knife carelessly dropped in the middle of the road cost me a $65 tire.

"Wait a minute, Lee... You just happened to have another Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire ready to swap out?"

Yes, I did. I have this nasty habit of pre-buying replacement parts for things that experience normal wear and tear. My garage contains a small stock of chains, cassettes, tires, and tubes for all my family's bikes. Remember my post about buying on the cheap? Buying ahead of need saves me a lot of money in the long run. 

I Broke The Law Tonight

Tonight I broke the law. I did it knowingly and willfully. I'll probably do it again tomorrow and probably over 100 times before next April. At least I hope to, if my work and personal schedule do not get in the way.

The Act

What did I do that was so heinous? I rode my bicycle home from work.

I did it in the dark on a multi-use trail, the East Lake Sammamish Trail, which runs along East Lake Sammamish Parkway in Redmond and Sammamish in Washington State. This trail, along with other connecting trails, offer amazing benefits to commuters, like me, to allow us to ride on trails where we are the fastest user, as opposed to riding on roads where we have to mix it up with cars, trucks, and motorcycles. On these trails the worst thing we have to worry about are retractable dog leashes, joggers wearing headphones, and soccer-moms walking three or four abreast.

What law was I breaking?

King County Code Section 7.12.480  - Presence in parks during hours the park is closed.  No person shall enter or be present in a county park area during hours the park is closed except persons who have paid the applicable use fees to camp in designated campsites or trailer sites, or to moor boats overnight at designated sites and persons using park facilities as part of an event authorized by the department.  Park areas are open dawn to dusk unless open for scheduled or reserved recreational activities.  (Ord. 12003 § 12, 1995:  Ord. 8166 § 6, 1987:  Ord. 6798 § 48, 1984). (Emphasis added)

Ouch. The trail is effectively closed during hours of darkness. Not just the East Lake Sammamish Trail, but also the following very popular trails used by commuters-

  • Burke-Gilman Trail (Connects Seattle to Woodinville, WA)
  • Sammamish River Trail (Connects Woodinville to Redmond)
  • Marymoor Connector Trail (Connects the Sammamish River Trail to the East Lake Sammamish Trail)
  • Snoqualmie Valley Trail
  • Interurban Trail

The Punchline

If the dusk-to-dawn hours were enforced, every bike commuter would have to take an alternate route during Pacific Standard Time (i.e. when Daylight Saving Time is not in effect) because, during that time of year, sunset is somewhere in the neighborhood of 4:30-5pm.

This would impact THOUSANDS of people in the greater Seattle area.

What is the possible penalty?

Sections 7.12.650-670 describe the possible penalties of this offense: up to a $500 fine, up to 90 days in jail, and suspension of use privileges (i.e. leave and don't come back). These are enforced through the King County Sheriff. Yes, this means business.

How do I know all this?

I was at a Sammamish City Council meeting in March of this year where they were discussing the East Lake Sammamish Trail (which is currently in the process of being paved). A local homeowner asked the City and County and the King County Sheriff to enforce the current trail hours (same as KC parks, essentially dusk to dawn), with locking gates, fencing-in of the trail corridor, and fines for violators. Neither the City Council nor the County commented on this “issue” so I did a little research on the county website and could only find mention of park hours of operation.

So I submitted this question to the King County website-

In regards to the various multi-use trails that the county maintains, such as the Sammamish River Trail, East Lake Sammamish Trail, Snoqualmie Valley Trail, etc., and their hours of operation: are there enforced hours of operations for these multi-use trails? Most KC parks have operating hours such as "opens half an hour before sunrise, closes half an hour after dusk" or similar. Are there similar rules in place for the trails?

I use several trails on a regular basis as part of my commute. During the fall/winter months (i.e. when Daylight Saving Time is NOT in effect) I ride to work in the dark (6:30-8am) and come home in the dark (between 5:30-7pm). If the trails are "closed" during hours of darkness it will significantly impact my ability to use the trails during my commute.

After being bounced from one person to another I finally received this reply, pretty much a cut/paste type of response (all names shortened)-

Good afternoon, Lee:

Thank you for contacting King County regarding the hours of operation for King County’s multi-use trails. We appreciate your inquiry. Currently, the hours of operation for these trails are a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset . Per King County Code:

            7.12.480 Presence in parks during hours the park is closed.  No person shall enter or be present in a county park area during hours the park is closed except persons who have paid the applicable use fees to camp in designated campsites or trailer sites, or to moor boats overnight at designated sites and persons using park facilities as part of an event authorized by the department.  Park areas are open dawn to dusk unless open for scheduled or reserved recreational activities.  (Ord. 12003 § 12, 1995:  Ord. 8166 § 6, 1987:  Ord. 6798 § 48, 1984).

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have further questions or comments on this rule. You can reach me at <email redacted> or at 206-477-4527.

Thank you for using King County Parks and Trails. Have a nice day!

Sincerely,
Matthew P.
Parks and Recreation Division

This raises more questions than it answers so I replied with this-

How is this enforced on multi-use trails that are essentially commute corridors with no access controls (i.e. gates)?

At a recent Sammamish city council meeting regarding the East Lake Sammamish Trail, one home owner along the trail corridor asked that King County Sheriff enforce the park operating hours on the trail through fines and/or arrests. This would mean I can’t use a King County maintained trail for bike commuting for 6 months out of the year since the sun sets well before I ride home. The same goes for the thousands of other commuters who use the BGT, SRT, I-90 trail, etc.

After 2 weeks I received the following response, which sums up the current situation pretty well.

Hi Lee.

I'm the regional trails coordinator, so your questions have found their way to my desk. I'm not certain that you got a final answer, so I'll wade into the last question. If you have already received an answer, then please consider this as additional guidance.

With respect to the question below, it is true that, presently, King County's regional trails are closed after dark. They are essentially parks in this regard. We recognize, however, that people commuting on the trails to and from work or school often need to use them after hours. It has been our decades-long policy that this use is tolerated, if not broadcast. Occasionally, someone will be stopped by local law enforcement as they commute to Seattle at 5:00 am and asked to leave a trail, but it hasn't happened very often! Of course, quiet commuting is better than boisterous commuting in these circumstances. Folks along the East Lake Sammamish Trail through Sammamish are particularly sensitive to trail use after hours with the concern that trail access may encourage crimes and/or inappropriate behavior. They are most anxious about their privacy, and we respect this.

Regional trails throughout the region under the management of other jurisdictions such as Seattle and WSDOT are generally open 24 hours. King County manages about one-half of the regional trails, so our rules are not universal. Of course, many of our trails are the ones most people use, so that makes it a little more complicated. We are proposing to modify regional trail hours to make this more consistent throughout the network, however. This requires a change to the King County Code, and there is no telling when that might occur. The ELST may always be an exception. We may have to continue to officially close the trail at dusk. This would likely necessitate bicyclists using East Lake Sammamish Parkway for part of their commute. This route will eventually have full bike lanes along its length, so it will provide a more bike-friendly environment along with better illumination.

I hope I have answered your question. In summary, the ELST is closed dusk to dawn, but we recognize, value, and generally tolerate regional trail commuters after dark. ELST creates a unique situation that may present some commuter challenges, but East Lake Sammamish Parkway may provide an alternative for part of your commute.

If you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,
Robert F.
Regional Trails Coordinator

The short version is this: there are hours of operations (pretty much a CYA policy) but we are not enforcing it on commuter trails. Why have a trail that doubles as a commute corridor if those commuters can’t use it half of the year? And those months where it makes the most sense from a safety point of view? And the hours will only be enforced on this trail because of... the local homeowners? What about the homeowners along the Burke-Gilman Trail? I decided not to push my luck on that point.

I pinged Robert one more time, 6 months later, to see if anything had changed in regards to the King County Code. His reply was exactly what I expected to hear-

Hi Lee,

Glad you checked back. The rules are currently the same. A change of County Code is currently being considered by the County Council, but I don’t believe final decisions have been made. I believe we should hear soon, however.

Robert F.

The moral of the story and the future

So what happens next? King County plans to finish the paving project on the south half of the ELST sometime in 2017, pending ongoing legal action by local homeowners.

The King County Council may update the current county code to allow these trail corridors to be used during commute times, even if they are after dark, but I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Moral of the story: keep riding, be quiet, be a good citizen, and hopefully we won't get cited for riding a PUBLIC TRAIL in the dark. Hey, at least they paved it!

}B^)

Track Racing Report 2014

Wow. How did I let this one slip? I wrote this in October 2014 and, well... I have no excuse. OK, I have a long list but none of them are really worth it. So here it is...

Well, another race season has come and gone. And what do I have to show for it? Maybe a cat-4 upgrade? Not quite, but more on that later. 

To officially race at the Marymoor Velodrome you must jump through a few hoops-

  1. Take one of their Adult Track Classes. These happen on various Saturdays and Sundays throughout the Spring/Summer. I took mine on June 21, 2014. It lasts 4 hours and give you a great introduction to the track, track safety, and basic race tactics. Bike rentals available just bring a helmet (and your own bike shoes/pedals, if you have them).
  2. Safely compete at least 3 "Cat-5 races" on Thursday nights during the Spring/Summer.
  3. After you have been cleared by the Thursday night racing officials, you can go to Monday Night racing, where the Cat 4 men duke it out.

At least that's what I've heard: I didn't make it to step #3 but I'm getting ahead of myself...

As described previously, I've been having a blast on Monday lunch breaks doing track workouts.

A sunny October day at the track: you better believe I put in a few laps!

A sunny October day at the track: you better believe I put in a few laps!

I did quite a few practice runs before my personal schedule lined up with a Saturday track class. It showed me quite a few things I didn't know, like how to get on your bike and start pedaling without hanging onto a rail. No, I'm not kidding. Have you ever tried to start-off from a dead stop, with no assistance, with clip-less pedals and 48/15 fixed gearing? That one took a while to learn. 

Just under 2 weeks later I made it to my first of three required cat-5 sessions. My son made a video of my first ever time trial (1-lap 400m TT from a standing start).

Not my best attempt but it was enough to get me seeded in the racing for the night. More importantly, I didn't crash and I stayed below the red line for the entire lap. 

After that we did a 5-lap scratch race, a 3x4 points race, and an unknown distance race. 

Sitting on the rail waiting to start my first scratch race. That's me, second from the rear.

Sitting on the rail waiting to start my first scratch race. That's me, second from the rear.

Lap times in training vs. in a race (i.e. drafting)

Riding in a pack is a LOT different than alone on a wide-open 400m track. How different?

  • Best 400m lap time by myself: 39 seconds
  • Best 400m lap time in a pace line: 35 seconds

That doesn't look like much but consider this: that's an 11% improvement. The main reason is wind resistance while riding in a pack but the dynamics of pack riding also come into play. I know that the best way to run faster/farther is to find a running partner even if we only run side-by-side for the duration of the race, as I did in the 2010 Issaquah Triathlon.

The dynamics of pack riding are also something I seem to struggle with, especially the accordion action of entering/exiting a turn. I'm sure this will ease as I get more experience but for now it can be unnerving. 

Second race night (i.e. I've got nothing)

After my first race night I was very excited for my second of three required cat-5 races. The night of the race something just felt "off" and I couldn't get moving as fast as I had before. After every race I would hang my head and pant like I had just run sprints. 

It wasn't until later that night that I figured out the problem: I had a booster shot for T-DAP vaccine that morning and was having a mild reaction. Note to self: do not race within 12 hours of having a shot of any kind. It REALLY slowed me down. The other racers dropped me like 3rd period French, to coin a phrase.

Injury report

While coming home on my commute one night (July 2014) something didn't feel right. I got up the next morning with a familiar pain pattern. After a quick trip to the see the doctor yes, I had another hernia. Surgery ended my season before it really got started. As with 2013 this one had the same story: no riding for nearly 2 months. Ugg. 

Just over 2 months later I rode my bike to work for the first time and, as expected, it took me a LONG time to ride to/from work. This winter is going to be a little rough. There is also this sleep issue I'm still dealing with (as in lack-of-it) which totally zaps my energy and motivation. 

What about next year? I'm thinking track racing (at least an upgrade to cat-4), RAMROD, and Cycle Oregon. And maybe a triathlon. Only time will tell... }B^)

Magnum PI Ironman - A Race Report

The other day I was watching Magnum P.I. on Netflix, something I used to do with my family when the show was in its original run in the early '80s. Yes, my Netflix queue is full of shows like MacGuyver, Knight Rider, Highlander, etc. What caught my eye is that in episode 18 of season one, the season finale, Magnum competes in the Ironman! 

OK, it's not exactly the Ironman Championship in Kona but it is close enough. 

SPOILER WARNING: KEY PLOT POINTS DIVULGED. If you haven't yet seen this episode (season 1, episode 18), I highly recommend trotting over to your streaming provider of choice and check it out. The entire series of Magnum P.I. is available on Netflix as of Nov. 1, 2014. 

Episode Details

Plot summary

Magnum is hired by Babs to find her missing fiance Roger. She cannot afford to pay for his services for more than one day. Her fiance is... blah blah blah... he needs to find a guy who is also being chased by some other shady characters and the best way to find/save him and the girl is to participate in a triathlon. Cool!

Race Summary

First off, the events are in the wrong order (swim/run/bike) but we'll overlook that and call it creative license. If they did put them in the right order, and called it the Ironman, the producers would have probably had a disagreement with the M-Dot guys (were they even enforcing the brand in 1981?). It fits better in the plot that way because a bicycle race is much more exciting than a foot race: they can do a quick montage of the swim and run while focusing more on the bike. 

Training

He runs and swims often, as shown in just about every episode of the TV show, including the opening credits. He frequently does sea-kayaking (surf-kayaking), snorkeling, and is seen playing basketball, softball, and, my favorite, running from the resident guard dogs at the Robin Masters Estate. Overall he is in good shape. 

Pre-race

They don't show packet pickup but they do show a Hawaiian band and hula dancers greeting the athletes. This scene also shows a banner with the name of the race, "The Iron Man Classic".

Copyright 1981, Universal Television, Glen A. Larson Productions

Copyright 1981, Universal Television, Glen A. Larson Productions

The racers do have their numbers written on their shoulders. Magnums's number is 62.

Rick and TC give him a thorough pre-race rubdown while Babs, acting as his "trainer" shoves a salt tablet in his mouth.

Copyright 1981, Universal Television, Glen A. Larson Productions

Copyright 1981, Universal Television, Glen A. Larson Productions

They line up for a mass start and are off!

Copyright 1981, Universal Television, Glen A. Larson Productions

Copyright 1981, Universal Television, Glen A. Larson Productions

Swim

The first thing I noticed was that the swim was done VERY close to shore, within 75 feet (20-25 meters). The race distance was 5 miles?!?! (not 2.4) He swims without a wetsuit or swim cap, as do almost all the racers, which makes me wonder how much drag is created by his hairy chest and long hair. He does wear goggles with clear lenses.

His stroke isn't too bad and he breathes on every left stroke. His form is wonderful compared to some competitors who swim with their heads completely above the water.

From the start line, Rick, TC, Higgins, and Babs drive along the course in the Island Hopper van to meet Magnum at T1. Here the race team experiences a problem known to many triathlete spectators...

TC: "Which one is he?"

Rick: "He's right there! Can't you see?"

They then show a wide shot of the swimmers coming in to shore and it is not clear where Magnum actually is. The swim is typically the least exciting part of spectating at any triathlon. At least the band and hula dancers are there as well.

T1

The first transition area is a picnic table in the sand, with all his gear brought in by his transition team of Babs, HIggins, Rick and TC. The general public are in and around T1 area, which is not closed or marked in any way. Babs is in charge of his "4 ounces of glucose", TC is in charge of towel, tank top, and shorts, while Rick is handling socks, shoes, and foot powder (!). Rick and TC hold up a towel while Magnum changes his shorts. Higgins attempts to encourage Magnum by giving a rousing speech describing the Greek battle at Marathon as Rick and TC help Magnum on with his socks (with foot powder!) and shoes. 

Copyright 1981, Universal Television, Glen A. Larson Productions

Copyright 1981, Universal Television, Glen A. Larson Productions

As he sets out on the run Babs shouts, "Knees to chest!" A comment no doubt to remind him of his run technique.

Run

The run goes along beautiful roads and paths with views of the surf. The entire run in a short montage and moves directly into the bike. During the montage Magnum does a voice over to advance the plot. It is here where we get the title of the episode, where Magnum talks about how he had to try hard because "Beauty knows no pain."

Copyright 1981, Universal Television, Glen A. Larson Productions

Copyright 1981, Universal Television, Glen A. Larson Productions

T2

Not shown as the montage flows seamlessly from run to bike. Apparently T2 happens but we don't see it. I can only imagine it was like T1.

Bike

Earlier in the show Higgins announces that Magnum will be sponsored by Robin Masters, who will buy him an "Italian Racing Bike", which the internets say is a Bianchi with the decals removed. Magnum's helmet is a typical 80's minimal style (foam core with plastic). Most of the bike course is not closed, moving through "Austin Memorial Gardens" near Waimea Falls Park O'ahu. Inside the garden they have to dismount to walk over a bridge then ride across some packed dirt, not an ideal road bike course but perfect for Cyclocross.

Copyright 1981, Universal Television, Glen A. Larson Productions

Copyright 1981, Universal Television, Glen A. Larson Productions

At one point during the bike leg TC counts the riders in front of Magnum and determines he is in 14th place. At that exact point Magnum has figured out a major plot point, thanks to something Higgins says, he decides to turn around on the bike course to go back into the garden to save Roger. As such he never finishes the race. As he gets off the bike he is quite tired and can barely walk, as would be expected after such a ride.

Copyright 1981, Universal Television, Glen A. Larson Productions

Copyright 1981, Universal Television, Glen A. Larson Productions

Post Race

After a scuffle involving Roger, Magnum, Babs, and a guy with a gun, Higgins points out that "you know you have no chance of winning." Magnum, now holding the gun, looks at Higgins, then at the pistol in his hand, and back at Higgins as we fade to black.

Magnum is then seen resting in the main house of the Robin Masters Estate with his feet on ice as they watch the news highlights of the "Iron Man Classic". They see footage of Magnum riding backwards on the course, much to TC's chagrin, until the news reporter compliments the rider on his resolve and repeated mentions Island Hoppers, TC's tour company, and shows the logo on Magnum's jersey.

Where might he have placed?

Swim: As far as swimming goes his stroke is slow, short, but not terribly inefficient. Hmmm, sounds like me? His pace would easily put him in the rear 2/3 of the pack. The footage gives no visual perspective of where he might be.

Run: Magnum claims he can "run 8 miles a day in under an hour". That puts him at a 7:30 mile pace, which is moderate but not in contention to win the race. If he could hold that pace for a marathon (doubtful) he would have a 3:16 split, which would have been faster than the real 1981 winner John Howard by about 6 minutes, and only 9 minutes slower than the Men's run best in 2013, Joe Kashbohm at 2:59:48. What is more likely is that he was doing 8:30-9 pace, which would make his run split 3:45-3:55, squarely in the middle of the pack.

Bike: As stated previously, he was 14th up until the point that he turned around. We aren't shown at what point he did turn around so we cannot gauge how much he had left at this point. Based on his swim and run pace as well as his 14th place observation he was no doubt moving up the field. If this is the case he may have finished in the top 10 or just outside it.

Conclusion/Lessons learned:

  1. An Ironman can be a great place to get away from it all and solve an attempted murder case.
  2. Even guys with shaggy hair and a big 80s mustache can get a top-20 finish at Ironman.
  3. Sometimes the most boring person in your life (i.e. Higgins) can give you the inspiration you need when you least expect it. 
  4. In the end, saving the life of a petty thief is more important than finishing an Ironman. Wait... what?

}B^)

Finally Getting Back on Track

At 12:30 pm today the countdown officially ended: sunny skies, high temp around 55, and a slow day at work. The stars aligned to allow me to bring out my new training tool...

That's right, I'm finally doing something I've always wanted to get into. And it came about on a whim.

My '07 Scattante has been having some frame issues so I've been shopping around for possible replacement options. This has taken me to Craigslist and eBay countless times in the past several months. As I was browsing frame after frame, I came across a listing for a track frame with a current bid of $30. After considering it for a few minutes, I put in a max bid of $70 and thought nothing of it. A couple days later I received an email from eBay notifying me that I won the auction at exactly $70. I was floored. 

You will notice that it is missing a few things, like wheels, a seat, and even a chain. With further searching on eBay I found a set of wheels that fit my needs: tough, somewhat aero (Deep-V rims), and around $200.

That left me with just a few other parts to purchase, which arrived from Amazon over the coming week: a chain, cogs of various sizes, a cog lockring, and a Park Tool Head-Gear lockring wrench.

I had other parts on-hand from previous replacements or stock-ups: Schwalbe Durano S tires, Specialized tubes, a Forte Pro SLX seat, and Shimano PD-R540 SPD-SL pedals.

And then I had to go to the bike store to buy some rim tape. Duh!

Now that I have a track bike assembled and ready to go... I became a hipster and started wearing weird clothes and drinking PBR, right?

Um... No.

Only 5 miles from my house is the track that hosted the cycling events for the 1990 Goodwill Games, many regional Olympic trials, and several National Championships, the Marymoor Velodrome. It is a fabulous outdoor, 400m concrete oval bicycle track with 25 degree banked turns. Most tracks are shorter, which means banking up to 45 degrees. 

Panorama of the Marymoor Velodrome, Redmond, WAThe key thing here is "outdoor". That 25 degree banking can be downright dangerous in the wet. With that in mind, the only thing I needed was a dry track. This requires a dry/sunny day. In late winter in the Seattle area. Suuuuuure. It only took about a week of waiting.

My new track bike at the Marymoor VelodromeI came down for a long lunch at the track and took in a few turns. There were only a couple people there, including Rob McD, a track racer I know from work. He had some very encouraging words but in the end I was just there to show everyone how slow and out of shape I have become in the last 18 months. 

The circus had indeed come to town. No, really. That big white tent behind me is for Cavalia. Think Cirque du Soleil but with horses. One of these days I'll actually go to one of their shows. Anyway...

I did an even 40 laps of interval training: sprint for 1-2 laps, rest for 2-3 laps, repeat. OK, I did have to stop a few times to adjust various things on my bike like stem position, handlebar height, etc., since this was my first time on this bike.

In the end I didn't kill myself. I didn't even embarrass myself, although I tried a few times. Note to self: FIXED GEAR BIKES do not have a freewheel. Trying to stop the pedals at 25 MPH is a BAD idea.

It was a great day. I can't say enough good things about this track. And I'll be back. My next opportunity appears to be Monday, only 3 days away!

On race night the atmosphere around the track is electric. The competition is fierce and the speeds are high.

Marymoor Velodrome during the 2012 FSA Grand Prix

One of our favorite track events is the "Marymoor Crawl" where they have everyone "race" from turn 4 to the start/finish line for up to 2-3 minutes, at which point they ring the bell and everyone does a 1-lap sprint for a $100 prize. The catch? If you put your foot down or cross the start/finish line before the bell, you are eliminated. It is crazy and looks a little something like this-

Getting Back On Track: T-Minus 2 Days

The suspense is building... except not as I would like it. As I have embarked on this latest adventure, which I have mysteriously referred to as "Getting Back on Track", it seems that I keep forgetting small details.

First came the initial box...

 

Then a friend showed up...

And then some other frends arrived and pulled a couple of others that arrived last year. What a party!

We'll see where this party ends. I'm hoping by Monday. My kids are just lapping this up.

}B^)

Getting Back On Track: T-Minus 4 Days

"What does a dyslexic owl say? How! How! How! He should get together with another owl and the werewolf then all they need to know is when." - Boy #3

That's how my day started. How about yours? }B^)

It ended like this...

Our town is on a plateau with rather steep sides all around. Once you ride off the plateau, getting back up can be a challenge. On the north side of the Sammamish Plateau, where we live, there are three choices, all of which have 1/4 mile sections that with a 10% average grade-

 

  1. Sahalee Way - 1 mile, average grade 8%, max grade 12%
  2. NE 42nd Way - 1.4 miles, average grade 6%, max grade 24%
  3. Inglewood Hill Rd - 1/2 mile, averge grade 9%, max grade 13%

 

There is also 244th NE but it is a little out of the way and very narrow, not my perfect combination. 

Today I was riding home with my eldest son, Patrick, who recently turned 12. He has always been an enthusiastic bike rider and takes every opportunity to ride with me, even when it means riding up big hills. Today we rode from my office to his swim practice via the East Lake Sammamish Trail and then home via Inglewood Hill Rd. I like to dangle carrots in front of him to see if he can push himself a little more.

Today's challenge was a big one: ride to the top of Inglewood Hill Road without stopping.

The reward: a trip to his favorite fast food place, Jack-in-the-Box.

I guess I already spoiled it, didn't I? The last time he rode up this hill, not more than a month ago, he was very proud of himself when he only stopped 3 times. This time he got into a groove and held it all the way up the hill, without stopping or putting a foot down until he reached the top. We consider the Inglewood Beach Club sign the "official" top of the hill, even though the grade isn't completely level for another 20 meters.

For me this represents 3 consecutive days of effective exercise. I cannot remember the last time I did this. Yes, it has been many, many months, probably April of last year, just before my injury.

Tomorrow promises to be a bit wet but we still plan to do some mountain biking at Tolt MacDonald Park at arguably the most last-minute campout ever planned by boy scouts. 2 days notice. Sheesh!

GETTING BACK ON TRACK: T-MINUS 5 DAYS Part II

"Hold on a second... Part II? Why aren't you counting down?"

Well, the Brown Santa decided that the final day is actually Monday, as opposed to Saturday, thanks to some big cold, wet thing called Vulcan dropping immense amounts of snow on a few people in the entirety of the eastern US. That's only a slight exaggeration. 

And now, I bring out the ever-popular Soapbox...

Yesterday afternoon I took advantage of the gorgeous weather here in the Seattle area to go for a jog. OK, it was more like a fast-paced amble. I went on a local trail (the 520 trail, for any curious locals) for a couple of miles, nothing big, and was passed by many cyclists of all shapes, sizes, and colors (Blue shorts with brown jersey? Seriously?)

To the cyclists who passed me, I have 1 word for you: LUBRICATION.

If I can hear your transmission from more than 50’ away, it is time to invest in some Tri-Flow. Or Finish Line. Or White Lightning. Or even the new WD-40 lube if you are too cheap.

The worst offenders? The 5 guys in matching kits that passed me near NE 40th. WOW. It sounded like a flock of birds squeaking up behind me.

Perhaps this is a new bicycle warning system for pedestrians on multi-use trails?

That is all. I now yield the soap box to the more capable voicing of others.

Anyway, back to the countdown. What is it? Well, it's a way to get my health back to where it should be: right back on track. Any other place would be uncivilized.

How many kids ask for this, along with 3 of their friends? Quite a few, actually. FSA seems to like it.

)

Getting back on track: T-minus 5 days

Where do I start? Let's start with the obvious.Boy #3, demonstrating the proper way to "soak in some rays" on a cold, sunny, January day.
I love my kids. I really do. But sometimes they are incredibly difficult to deal with, both academically and emotionally. One day we are tearing it up at Soaring Eagle Park on some wonderful single-track and the next we are having the biggest battle of whits/wills I ever imagined. I used to be an extrovert until I had kids, each with their unique learning disability that makes life VERY interesting. And I learned a level of humility and patience I never dreamed possible. That much is true.
I love my body. I really do. But in the past 12 months it has put me through hell. And back. And back again. OK, I'm over-exaggerating a bit because I don't have some incredibly bad/terminal illness. A major injury that required surgery. And more sicknesses, trips to the doctor, and even one to the hospital (not for me, BTW) than I care to talk about. Yep, I'm whining again. I think I should be allowed to whine about gaining 50 pounds over the past 5 years. Time to shed that weight. (Hint: things that you "lose" you might find again. I never intend to find this weight again.)
I hated 2013. There, I said it. No races. None! Not even a basic sprint tri. The biggest bike ride of the year I did with my kids. No tours, no centuries, no athletic events. 
But this all stops. NOW. Why?
Because eBay is evil and should always be avoided. Just like Craigslist. 
...and because the correct number is always N+1.