Monday, June 28, 2010

Hyde Park Blast 2010

We had a blast!
The Hyde Park Blast features the components that make criterium cycling racing an American legacy: the course is challenging and showcases one of Cincinnati’s most historic entertainment and retail districts; the large crowds come for the fun of the day-long event; and, the large crowd and broad community support make the Hyde Park Blast a strong marketing opportunity for our sponsors.

Meghan's cousin is a semi-pro bike rider who has competed in the Hyde Park Blast before - however he was in a wedding this year and missed it - which is a shame because it coincides with the first year that I am REALLY into cycling. so NET, Meghan and her sister and Aunt and I hit Hyde Park to watch the races and it was awesome. We only watch the Pro 1/2 and Elite race which is 75 minutes through the square and these guys are so strong and so fast! And to think they aren't even in "Le Tour" this year (The Tour de France).  I kind of think of the pro's at the Hyde Park Blast as minor league baseball (maybe A ball) since they are WAY better than most and may even make some money doing, but are a long way from the majors (where Lance Armstrong is). The Cat 1/2 pros finish under the lights which is pretty cool - but down the back alleys it is dark and there are some crazy partiers down there trying to give beers and dollars to the bikers going by.

Things you will see at the Hyde Park Blast

  • Awesome bikers
  • Dogs and people on the Roof watching the race
  • Street parties
  • Bikers stopping for a beer brake (what a riot)

Here's a video of the start!

Here's a street view - these guys are MOVING!

Here's a tight corner through the streets:

And the fast corner at the bottom of the hill:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Favorite SNL Digital Shorts

If you follow Saturday Night Live - then you know that the Digital Shorts have become very popular in the past few years. They are produced by "The Lonely Island" - an American comedy troupe composed of Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Andy Samberg, best known for its musical parodies.

A word of warning - some of these have questionable content (it is SNL after all) so watch at your own risk!

What I love about their work is:
1) They are really talented and produce high quality music videos
2) The songs are VERY well done and tend to stick in your head
3) They are funny to broderline over the top, with multiple layers of jokes - and then they take it too far

It probably all started with Lazy Sunday:

My Favorite might still be "I'm on a boat" with T-Pain (nominated for a Gramy!)

(Uncensored if you can handle it!)

This is another great one - "Shy Ronnie"

Maybe my favorite song and hilarious - "Boombox"

This one is more absurd everytime I watch it - "Space Olympics"

Now we transition in to even more questionable content, however I think this Justin Timberlake SNL digital short really put them on the map - "D*ck in a box"

And the sequel for Mother's Day - "Mother Lover"

And one that is a really great video and song - but will make your jaw drop - "J*zz in my Pants"

While we are out on a limb - "Like a Boss"

Last and maybe least is "Iran so far"

Bonus - "On The Ground"

Monday, June 07, 2010

Little Miami Triathlon - Spring 2010 Edition

It's back - after a humbling Triathlon last time -I have to say I was pretty excited about my performance this year. We had 3 teams this year:
Julie (Aunt-in-law) and Scott (cousin-in-law) and were JUST PLAIN PLAYIN'
Annie (Mother-in-law) and Dave were the DANNIE STYLTONS
Molly (Sister-in-law) and I were the HOT TOMOLLYS

Meanwhile Casey (Cousin-in-law), Meghan (Esposa), and her Dad Tom and brother Matt and "friend" Nikki were there as the ATHLETIC SUPPORTERS.

The race start was delayed by 1 hour due to thunderstorms but we all got to start together at 10:18.

Canoeing ~6mi [54 min, -10 min from last FALL]
Molly and I again got off to a fast start in the canoeing and didn't look back. I think there are a few reasons we were able to shave 10 minutes off our time.
1) We improved our canoeing technique from last year
2) I actually "trained" for canoeing this time by lifting weights, my arms weren't nearly as tired as last time
3) The water was higher so it should have been running a little faster
4) We found all the great lines in the water this time!

I really enjoyed the canoe this time - and Molly said she did as well. We put some good distance between our start group early and didn't look back. Near the end we were passed by 2 men who asked what our start time was - and they were dismayed to hear that they started 2 mins behind us and had been working hard all that time to gain 2 minutes!

I think we could continue to get better and stronger in the canoe - but it was nice to know we put some time on the competition (10-20 minutes on some teams in our start group. And although the water was higher - it seemed less treacherous as I didn't see as many teams dump in the water. We also didn't see as many teams as before since we were moving better.

IMPROVEMENTS for next time: I needed to bring a water on the canoe. I did last fall but forgot this time - I think it contributed to being dehydrated which I think hurt my run and bike - but more on that later.

Canoe Data:

1st Transition [0 mins, - 2 mins from last fall]
I didn't bring a change of shoes this year - I figured after running the half marathon in wet shoes (I mean standing in ankle deep water at the start line) I knew I'd be fine. Just don't wear cotton socks! I also bought a water-proof arm band so I didn't have to move the iPhone from a waterproof bag to and arm band.

6 mi Running [64 minutes to killer hill, = to last fall]
Only now in looking at the time did I realize that it was equal to last year. I thought it would be worse. I didn't feel good at all during the run - I think I was starting to get dehydrated, it also started getting warm and the sun was burning off the early morning rain into a humid disaster. Molly stayed with me the whole way - so I am sure I added some time to her race - but it was fun. I was disappointed because this is a section I wanted to be more aggressive on than last year. I was hoping the training for the half marathon was going to help - but after the knee issues I really hadn't run since the half marathon a month ago.

Running will have to be an improvement area for me for the fall - and I think staying hydrated would help.

Running Data:

Killer Hill [7 minutes, +3 versus the fall]
After the killer hill debacle last year where I took it easy running only to get destroyed trying to run the hill - I knew it would take me 5 minutes to walk up, and about 7 minutes to walk up easy. It was still hard but I felt better at the top this year.

In the morning with the rain - we have to walk down killer hill to get to the start - and it was wet and sloppy and people were slipping and falling HARD. I thought we'd see a lot of carnage on the hill but it was basically dry by the time I got there.

Hill Data:

2nd Transition [~5 minutes, +3 mintues from last fall]
From my experience last time on the bike - I decided to make sure I hit the rest rooms at the top - I also didn't feel that great so I removed my polar HRM strap and got a drink. The 2nd transition time is split with 3 minutes of that in the "Hill Data" and 2 minutes in the "Biking Data" as it depends on when I start and stop my iPhone GPS.

Biking [1:17, -13 from last fall]
Once again I was looking forward to the biking the most since it is what I have done the most training for. In fact since the half marathon I almost only biked since it is easier on the knee. It's unfortunate that the event I am most looking forward to and probably most prepared for is last. Pretty much right out of the start my legs started to cramp. It would come and go, and I'd occasionally have to start peddaling to try and massage them - or the pain would be so sharp I'd grunt and swerve to grab my leg and people around me thought I was crazy! I didn't have much else to do other than try and drink a lot as I assumed it was from dehydration - so I drank my entire water bottle in the first 6 miles or so. Next time I'll have a second water bottle on my bike. I was able to muster through the pain in most areas, I ended up using one gear lower than I normally would for each situation to keep the force low - it seemed to help my legs, also I varied how I was peddling. Sometimes when my legs were working I'd just keep on peddling no matter how tired I was because I didn't know when they'd go bad on me.

Afterwards I heard that 4/6 of our group had issues with leg cramps - and I saw some people on the side of the road with problems, or when they tried to run to the finish they looked like they had leg cramps so who knows - it was pretty bad and in fact there were a few times I thought I'd end up pulling over and just quitting because when your legs hurt and you are on your bike it is a lonely feeling as you are a LONG way from home. I heard Dave had to pull over and work out his leg cramps for ~ 10 mins on the side of the road, what a bummer - I've been there as I pulled over last year to rest and take a bathroom brake which wastes a lot of time when you are on a bike!

So NET I felt a real strong sense of satisfaction just for finishing the race under the circumstances.Going in to the race my goal was to make it in under 3 hours and 30 minutes total. When I was 2 miles from the finish I knew it would be close - I started really pushing it, and according to my watch I pulled in to the finish area one minute under my time. I came in pretty fast (our team slogan is "coming in hot!") and I ran to the finish - total time 3:28:22! Not only did I over come the leg cramps - I finished under my goal time - which was 15 minutes faster than last fall!

Also to note on the bike - the wind might have been stronger this year than last fall - but I thought the wind direction was much better as some really long straight-aways from last year didn't have the head wind this time, it seemed like the head wind biking legs were shorter. I think it was pretty windy - but I also have been using the drop bars on my bike since getting a professional bike fit. Now riding in the lower more aerodynamic position is SO MUCH more comfortable for me.

Biking Data:

One of the reasons I was able to beat my time was my intimidating "triathlon" bib number markings. Serious triathletes have their number written on them - and I looked the part. I think that gave me an edge!

Random Pictures:
The HOT TOMOLLYS and their manager in HOT TOMOLLY gear my parents sent us:

The DANNIE STYLTONS and their team manager in gear:
HOT TOMOLLYS hit the bikes!
Imagine how FAST my bike will look with the new ULTEGRA crank on the way!
Dave hits the bike!
Scott was the first to the bikes - and the first to the FINISH!!
Annie is ready for the biking!
Julie on the bike! (note the aero-bars!)
One year in the making - and the CRUISIN' COUGARS hit the bikes together!
Scott finishes 1st!
Molly was next to finish!
Here I am SPRINTING to the finish - I wasn't sure how close to my goal I was!
Dave overcame leg cramps of his own to finish strong!
Annie and Julie finish together - with some help from Scott!

Overall I was pretty pumped up about this triathlon. I was in better shape for it than the last time - so finishing wasn't an issue like last time where I hit a wall on the bike part. Also I saw the benefits of my training in the canoeing (lifting weights) and the biking (training) so I am more motivated to do more training. Also I felt a much better sense of accomplishment finishing this year versus last fall. Last year when I finished I felt a little defeated as the course I think won the battle - this year I distinctly remember passing the part of the bike where I had to stop for a rest last year and I felt a strong sense that I can conquered the course this time as I still felt strong from an endurance standpoint. Even with the legs cramps I felt great knowing I could over come those and still finish strong - and while no one would be bragging about my time I feel great about it and think I can probably still get better.

So all in all while it took me a while after the last triathlon to want to do it again - I can't wait for October 3rd this year to do it again!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Ready for the Triathlon?

This is a question I ask myself. The race is this Sunday. Basically I am WAY ahead of where I was for last fall's Triathlon, however I still wish I had done more for this race.

Below is my training (BLUE = running, RED = Biking).

I've done a lot since the last triathlon. I ran my 1st race (10K). Then I ran the half marathon. I thought this would help me get in shape for the running part of the triathlon, only it created issues with my knee which I never had before - so I haven't actually run since the half marathon (if you exclude the time I tried to run and got 3 miles from home and had to have Meghan pick me up because I couldn't even limp home). So overall - I think the half marathon didn't help me physically train for the tri - but it is nice to think that I only have to run 5.5 miles in the tri and I have run 13.1 before - so there is a good feeling there. Also running the half marathon in the rain let me know I don't need to bring a change of shoes for the triathlon. If our canoe dumps (like the 20% of canoes we saw last year) then I'll be fine to just run in wet shoes (just no cotton socks!).

I have also done a bunch of stuff in the biking world as well since the last triathlon. I bought a really comfy seat because my last one hurt. I also bought a new cassette to help with hills, and I bought an indoor trainer so I could ride my bike in the winter. I've progressed the most in the biking realm - too bad it is the last event in the triathlon and if I am exhausted by then it may not matter - but I have put a lot more miles on my bike this time and feel great about the biking part. What I like about biking is that there is more equipment to optimize - the bike etc. It's pretty fun for an engineer.

I also had a professional bike fit at Montgomery Cyclery. It was exactly like what you see on the video like there - except no computer! It was a bit bootleg as they were dropping measuring tape and plumb lines and using levels - but it works! This made a HUGE difference as I used to have pain and fatigue in my wrists and back - now my bike feels amazing. For the cost of the fit ($75) they spent 90 minutes measuring me and my bike and making adjustments. They also included a new stem ($60 value) as mine was too long and too short. My new stem has a 17 degree rise and is much closer to my body, and my arms feel great!  I also used to ride with my hands on top of the hoods - I did not feel comfortable riding in the "drops" on my bike (which is the most aerodynamic way to ride) and now I do it most of the time because my bike just fits me better.

I also went to my doctor to get a prescription for asthma - and long story short he was concerned when I told him about my high heart rate while exercising (apparently most people don't read 208 on their polar's) - so he sent me to a cardiologist. An EKG, Thyroid test, Heart Rate Monitor and Echocardiogram later I have a clean bill of health and a high heart rate. I have a prescription for singulair instead of an inhaler just to keep the heart rate down I guess - we'll see if it helps.

Now for the goals for this year's Triathlon - they are almost the same as last year's goals.

1) Finish the darn thing!
2) Finish in under 3:30 (which I hope to do)
3) Stretch goal: Finish under 3:17 which was the median time last time

I finished the triathlon last time - so that's no longer a goal. And I'll have to shave 13 minutes off my time to finish under 3:30 but I feel like that is likely this time. Below are my current best predictions of my performance for this Sunday:

I'll have to keep my transition times short (and restroom breaks short) to make 3:30 but I think it's doable. The color coding is just based on the longest to shortest legs, as you can see improvements in biking carry disproportionate weight as it tends to be the longest leg by time.

I guess that's it - I hope to run a better triathlon this time, and continue to work out and train for the one in the fall as well.