10 September, 2007


Category: Biking,DC — Moose @ 11:19 am

While out getting a sticky bun from Sticky Fingers this morning, I spotted a bike rack across the way at the Giant. It appears the District Department of Transportation (aka d-dot) has decided they need to do special bike racks now with their d-dot logo on them:

D-Dot Rack

9 September, 2007

Diamondman 1/2, 2007

Category: Racing — Moose @ 9:08 pm

I think it was the promise of a flat, fast course than enticed me to sign up for Diamondman for my first half. It’s not far from DC, easy drive up, and a lake swim. Not a bad set up, or so it looked.

Race day really started the night before. In retrospect I should’ve taken a melatonin or a benadryl or something, but I got I think maybe 2 hours of sleep. This could be a large factor in the time of the race and why I couldn’t get my heart rate to stay up, but more on that later.

So, up at 4-something, out the door finally at 5:45. Made it in just fine, got the bike out, topped off the tires, lubed the chain, and hauled myself down to transition. Set up there was easy, they had everything marked off well, and it all fit down just fine. As I laid stuff out I went over the mental process of moving from one sport to the next, and got it all down. My main focus for transition this time was to make sure I took my bike gloves off. I think both of my last two races I’d forgotten to do that, so kept reminding myself as I laid stuff out.

Race meeting was quick, details were easy, And we walked down the 1/4 mile to the swim start. The swim was in Lum’s Pond, a not-particularly tasty body of water that was nonetheless not bad to swim in. Good wind cover, no waves, good deal. Because of the distance, and because we had to run along a major road to get to the real transition, they let us set up a mini-transition with shoes in which to run over. This was an excellent thing as far as I’m concerned as I’m mostly blind without my glasses, so it gave me a good excuse to leave my sunglasses there as well.

There were three waves for the long course (aka “1/2 Ironman,” but without the trademark sponsorship), and a single wave for the sprint race they were also running. The women all went first, then men to 39, then men 40+ and the relay teams (where three people do one sport each). After the women were off, they put us out in the water. It was 78 in the pond, so wet-suit legal, but at the high end, so I declined to wear my wetsuit. Were it a sleeveless model it might’ve been fine, but I just knew I’d be too warm otherwise.

The guy called out go, and we went. I was toward the back, and forgot to hit my stopwatch until about a minute in. The first few minutes were tough, but I was doing freestyle at the beginning (I’d not swam an entire race through – I’ve always ended up doing side stroke or flipping over on my back, much to my annoyance). Then for some reason breakfast decided that it needed to be burped up (probably swallowing water/air while I breathed). Well, honestly, that just sucked because I couldn’t catch a breath, and ended up doing side stroke and flipping on my back. Until I was finally able to burp it up somewhere around half way through. It was bad enough one of the kayaks came over to check on me. Oy. It was bad enough that I was asking myself why I do these triathlon things instead of nice sensible things like duathlons where there’s no water involved. In other words, it just stunk on ice.

Then we turned around at the end buoys (it was an out-and-back swim course) and it was like I was in a totally different race. I did freestyle, I was zipping along much more quickly than I had been, and I was pretty darn relaxed. I could feel my heart rate coming down from the panic of the first half, and thought, you know, maybe this isn’t all bad. Now if only it could have been like that for the first half, too. Something more to work on.

Got my tevas and sunglasses, and hoofed it over to transition. Popped in, got my stuff, rinsed my feet to get into the bike shoes, and off I went. From the first, the bike was So Much More Pleasant than the swim. My heart rate was lower than I expected, for the most part my speed was higher than what I had expected. It kicked ass. Even the bridge we had to go over (and return across) with the slow, mile-long incline wasn’t that bad. I loved this bike ride, it was definitely my favorite of any race now. Loved coming off the bridge into a nice wildlife refuge, then looking across the water at the iconic shape of a nuclear plant cooling tower.

Oh, and note to the guy who passed me twice and whom I passed twice and left in the dust at the end, if you’re as slow as I am, that fancy teardrop shaped helmet probably isn’t doing you any good and is just keeping your head warmer than my vented helmet. Just sayin’.

Transition went well (aside from the tool next to me who racked his bike under the rack and on top of my stuff. jerk). I did remember to get the gloves off, and picked everything I should. Slathered myself with sunscreen as it was starting to get warm and ran out, posed for a quick picture for BC, then made a b-line for the port-a-johns before heading out on the run course.

It was in many ways a cruel beginning. I wanted to keep my heart rate down at the start, but it wasn’t having much of that. And it didn’t want to be comfortable in the ranges I normally run in. Not good. We had to run around the camp ground where transition was set up and where we parked, so had this big mile or so loop before heading out to the main course, mostly in the sun, with little shade. Did some walking, no biggie, then ran across the street to run down the main drag (with off and on shade), then walked and ran to the mile 2 marker and aid station. All this time I was trying to figure out where my heart rates would let me run, since they didn’t want to go up with serious nausea, and it ended up taking me quite a while on the run to find out where my limits were.

After mile 2 was a downhill to the main course, the C&O canal towpath up in Delaware. Now, the part at the top and the slope was in shade, but once you hit the canal itself, you were in direct sun, with no shade whatsoever. And it was probably around 87 or so, while the sun reflected nicely up off the light dirt. For a mile or two I was afraid this was going to become the Diamondman Death March. Suddenly the presence of an aid station at every mile marker seemed to take on much, much more sense. It was hot, sunny, and slow.

Thankfully around mile 4 or so we began to get some clouds blowing in which proceeded to cover the sun for most of the remaining race for me. The wind also picked up, which gave us a nice breeze off the canal. But it was still far too hot to be comfortable. I am very glad I brought along my hand-held water bottle. That allowed me to sip water at my own pace rather than gulping once a mile. Much easier on the stomach. After the turn around I did try some Gatorade (which I never do during a race – don’t like the stuff). I had looked at my arm, which had a nice build up of salt. Took a sample on a finger, took a taste to check it. Nothing like the taste of sunblock and salt. Yuck.

Finally found a grove around mile 6 or so, with a good (if low) heart rate than allowed me to sort of run. I think I ended up doing abysmally slow 15+ minute miles. Not quite the death march, but close.

On the road into the campground I got a lot of thumbs up from folks leaving with their stuff. The run back around the campground was moderately better than the first time around in terms of ratio to running and walking, but still disappointing. Rounded the corner (forgot to flip my race number around), through the chute, and off to the nurse to get checked while she took my chip. Grabbed one last thing of Gatorage (it was there and cold) and choked it down. I just hate sports drinks, especially after a race when I’m all sugared out from the nutrition that’s the norm at these things.

Total time, somewhere around 7:35 from the finish clock (we popped in 5 minutes after the official start, and the clock showed 7:40). I’ll get the real time on Tuesday when they post results.

I think it’s a good thing that I scheduled a sprint for a month from now. That’ll give me a nice, relaxed end to the season. Doing this race certainly gave me a better appreciation for the long course and the training needs involved. I’ll do another, but not any time soon.


Category: Racing — Moose @ 7:32 pm

Finished the race, will work on a race update tonight/tomorrow. Seven hours and 35 minutes or so (I forgot to hit the stop watch when we started the swim). Sore, but pleasantly so. Tomorrow, probably not so pleasant, but for today, not bad. Sucking down water now that I’m home, just ordered in dinner from the local Thai place (hmmm, stand in the kitchen and cook, or hobble downstairs to let the guy in. Decisions, decisions…).

7 September, 2007

Recent Pictures

Category: Pics — Moose @ 4:40 pm

It’s all his fault I took some few pictures today, but here’s a few of the prep (mostly done).

And here’s some my Dad took at the Rock ‘n Roll Half last weekend (they’re mostly post-race of myself, BC, his sister, her partner, and a great panorama he put together of the beach at the end.

Pre-race Jitters

Category: Games,Geek,Home,Mood,Racing — Moose @ 3:34 pm

Okay, got laundry done, went grocery shopping, assembling the race gear now, as well as cleaning the house now (and by “cleaning the house” I mean that I set the Roomba loose in the bedroom while I was out shopping and it’s now getting the kitchen and front hall done). Car reservation made. Hotel reservation confirmed.

Once assembly’s done, there’s not a lot more to do except try to relax. Which will likely drive me crazy. Thankfully I have Sacred to keep me somewhat distracted.

Tomorrow’s plan is to pick up the car, get BC, then off to Bear, Delaware, for packet pick up the race on Sunday. It doesn’t appear they’ll be doing live updates, but I’ll try to get something up on LJ after I’m done.

Paying Attention

Category: Credit,Finance — Moose @ 10:24 am

So, I get this notice from one of my credit card companies. It’s the usual, “we’re changing the terms, blah, blah, blah,” type things, which people I guess usually just toss since it’s typically written in a lot of legalese. I decide to peruse the thing, see if there’s anything that pops out, and lo and behold, in the middle of the first page:

Your APR for [pretty much everything] is chaning to a corresponding ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE of 24.99% (Daily Periodic Rate (DPR) of 0.068465%).

We increased your APR due to the balances and APRs on this account.

Exsqueeze me?!?! I always pay off this account every month, there’s never a balance on it. The ‘new’ rate is almost 1.5 times more than the current (10.99%), not that any rate matters much since I always pay it off, but yeah, no, I don’t think so. I guess I don’t make them enough money as it is, so they want to squeeze more blood out of this stone.

Further down there’s a procedure to ‘reject’ the change, which involves writing to them, they won’t take just calling them (which has, of course, always worked in the past – to call and object and get any interest rate changes reversed or lowered below the current). I guess I’ll be sending a letter next week. If they up the rate, that’s the end of using this card, rewards or no. I won’t close the account as it’s my oldest credit account, but I certainly won’t give them any more business.

I guess the point of this is that it pays to read those standard notices (financially, at least – I won’t mention what it’s done to my blood pressure today).

5 September, 2007

Graduate Degrees

Category: Wierd,Work — Moose @ 5:40 pm

At my last job I used to have this little routine. Someone would come into my office, frantic, saying something to the effect of, “Moose, I need help!” to which I would reply, “Well, my degree is in law, not psychology, but I’ll do my best…”

It usually slowed them down long enough to take some of the edge off the “ZOMGWTF!” attitude.

Today’s been one of those days. Everything has been ZOMGWTF!!! in intensity. And the one office still has not learned the phrase “admission against interest.” I swear, the brain needs to engage before the mouth. Or fingers.

Rock n Roll Half 2007

I have to keep reminding myself that this is all perfectly normal.

I’m in the period commonly known as the “taper” for my race on Sunday (as well as “recovery” from the 1/2 marathon, but that’s another insanity). It’s when athletes ramp down their training time and intensity in order to give the body time to recover and be prepped for the effort of the race. And it’s perfectly normal during such a time period to experience feelings of depression, and let down, and anxiety, and just generally “blah.”

But knowing that it’s normal doesn’t make it any less annoying. Or make me any less grumpy.

But anyway.

So, I ran this little race last Sunday. The weather was near-perfect, with the start in the high 60s and slightly overcast. The boardwalk portion (a.k.a. the last two miles) was quite sunny and warm, however. Thankfully they had misting stations set up all down the thing, so one could run through the water for a quick cool-off. I tried to follow my heart rate for the run, knowing where my limits are for taking in nutrition, and trying to keep it lower for the first half. Mostly did okay with that, but definitely was slowing down by the end. Not nearly as much walking as the last time, though. Pretty much only walked twice (on the boardwalk) aside from the aid stations.

Oh, and lesson learned – carry water with me (like I did back in April). I can sip slowly when I want to, and not when they decide to put up a station, and I don’t have to gulp water down periodically, which was not pleasant. The water bottle stays with me for the upcoming race.

The bands were good this year, as they were the last time I ran this course in 2003. I finished faster (2:32:11) than the last time I ran it here (2:49:12), though slower than my overall best 1/2 (2:15:07). I wasn’t trying to kill myself, since I have another race (with another 1/2 marathon) a week after this one, though, so it was all good. I do recommend this race. It’s gotten bigger in terms of number of participants, but it’s still a fun course to run, relatively flat, and having a band every mile or so is definitely the way to run 13.1 miles.

BC and his sister also ran it and did well, with him at 2:20 and her at 2:12.

We had a perfect hotel for it, right at the end of the strip, and right where you got out of all the madness of the finish chute. Ocean views, and close enough to hear the stage but not so close that it was obnoxious when we closed the door to the balcony.

It was good to get a vacation weekend away with BC and friends. We did end up missing the concert Sunday night because dinner took for-e-ver, but that’s not unusual with holiday weekends in tourist spots. Not a bid deal to me, I’m not much of a fan of live music anyway, but you could tell there was some disappointment at the table when we realized how long it was taking to get food.

Since I’m originally from that area, BC got to meet my family as well, and they were out to cheer. Fun moment was BC’s sister running up to my Dad around mile 1 and asking him if he was my Dad (they hadn’t met), then BC running up behind, recognition, and her handing off a long-sleeve T for him to hold for her (she’d worn it to the start line). Dad’s version was more fun (“Suddenly this attractive young woman ran up to me off the course and asked if I was your father…”), but I can’t tell it as well as he could.

I do have to say, I’m glad the race season is almost over for me. One more month, four more races (1/2 iron, 5k, 5 miler, sprint tri), and that’s it. I need some down time after this year’s frenetic pace. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed all the racing, but I’m ready for a break.