Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Epic Mini Series - Riding to Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain as seen from intersection of Comus Road and Peach Tree Road.

Remember the "Epic Mini Series" on network television in the 70s and 80s? "Roots" was the standard bearer... followed by "The Thorn Birds", "Centenniel", "North and South", "Holocaust" and "Shogun". My Ironman training has had its own Mini Series... a series of rides from Capitol Hill to Sugarloaf Mountain and back.

Yesterday was my first 100 mile ride of this season. The longest I had gone was the Tour de Cure... a 67.5 mile ride. Training buddies KDOG and Chad had picked the ride... from their place on Capitol Hill to Sugarloaf Mountain and back. We did this ride six times last year, each with its own story associated with the ride. Yesterday's ride was no different.

I went into the ride with some trepidation. 1. It is still early in my training season... six weeks ago I was riding my beater bike on the jogging path. 2. The group on this ride is fast... KDOG and Chad to begin with... but I knew Joe Coyne was coming and he is at peak training condition for his second IMUSA... and it was likely Eric Goetz and Philip Schmidt, world record holders for Race Across America (Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, MD... on a bike) would be out there with us. 3. The Sugarloaf Mountain ride is no joke. The course is hard... it's not Deep Creek Lake hard... but it's probably as hard as you can get from DC to points west within 50 miles. It doesn't help that we try to include all the tough hills on the way out.

I figured I could relieve some of my stress by crashing Friday night at Chez Louieee. Chad and I watched a stage of the Tour de Giro (up Mt. Vesuvius!) and had lights out about 11 pm. I woke up at 5:30 am and started getting ready. I had forgotten my heart rate monitor strap and borrowed one from KDOG. We clipped in before 7 am. Laurel and Philip were waiting outside the house. We rode over to the Capitol and waited for the rest of the group. Sure enough, there is Eric and Joe. We head down to Georgetown and then pick up some more riders. At least a dozen in all.

So, we're heading out MacArthur and the group gets separated into three packs... I'm in the last pack at the lead. I think I can bridge to the second group and pick up the pace. We're going along... but I ain't getting any closer. I look at my computer and I see I'm going 26.5 mph and my HR is 165 bpm! And, it's mile 11 of a 100 mile ride! I'm thinking, "this is unsustainable and I'm not playing along"... I pull up a little and the people behind me (led by KDOG) pass by and bridge up to the second group. I slow down to 21 mph (ha!) and see them disappear ahead of me. Everyone is red lining. Everyone but me, now.

So, I pretty much took it easy the rest of the ride. At the T, only six of us went on to Sugarloaf... Joe, KDOG, Chad and I. Two other people I've never ridden with go along. The guy was fast... the girl was not as fast as me. It was a beautiful day and I took a few pix along the way. Though I wasn't as fast as I wanted to be... I didn't have any problems on the hills, nailed my nutrition and quite frankly, enjoyed myself.

I can't wait to do it again... though give me a few weeks until the next episode!

TJ at Potomac Overlook at top of Sugarloaf Mountain.

-- TJ

Monday, May 25, 2009

Shock to the System

No bicycles and no loitering. Come and get me, copper!

Though my "training season" doesn't officially start until tomorrow, I believe my recent training sessions have shocked me into triathlon training shape. The past two weeks have been chock full of workouts. Though I had last Monday off for a colonoscopy and took Tuesday off to recover from that, it has been full bore since then. 60 minute run Wednesday, 20 mile bike ride on Thursday, 40 minute swim on Friday morning with a 60 minute run in the evening. Saturday, I did some tempo bike work to the tune of 45 miles. Yesterday was a 55 minute recovery run and then today, a 55 mile ride with the Half Ironman Program. I tried to get a swim in this afternoon but a thunderstorm rolled in and cut the swim short.

The ride today was interesting... I was leading a group of Half Ironman Program athletes (HIPsters) from DC Tri Club. I had never ridden with any of them before. One young woman fell off her bike coming out of Glen Echo and then about five miles into the ride, fell off her bike again on Brickyard Road and almost got run over by a car. I was obligated to help her at that point so I told the group to ride ahead while I assisted her with how to change her gears. She was not getting down into the small chain ring for the steep uphills. After about 10 miles, I got her squared away and she actually did pretty well from that point on. I am now unofficially her "Cycling Coach". Additionally, I forgot to take my inhaler (for my newfound asthma) and I could definitely feel tightness in my chest throughout the ride. As I wasn't riding with Chad & KDOG, my effort level wasn't as high as usual so I managed to do ok and get through the ride without any problems.

We are now under 6 months until Ironman Arizona so I am starting up my specific training regimen and nutrition plan. Something that came out of the colonoscopy experience (which resulted in a negative for the Big C... no polyps or anything at all) was the concept of fasting. On Friday's, I am going to try and stick to a liquid diet to help clean out the system for the heavier training days of Saturday/Sunday. I believe that this weekend, KDOG, Chad and I are going to try to head out to Sugarloaf Mountain from their place on Capitol Hill. So... a 100 mile ride is on the horizon... already. The Total 200 is on July 12... so... stay tuned.

Chad and TJ goofing off before the Total 200 2008

Is something going in my mouth... or is something about to come out?

-- TJ

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Always a great training weekend. Willie is doing Eagleman course today. Chad and KDOG are at Deep Creek. Jessica and Gary are training at the beach. I will be in town and putting in some mileage.

But, I will take time to remember those who gave all serving this great nation.

-- TJ

Monday, May 18, 2009

In Memory of Matthew Stokes

The text below is from a letter that Chris Stokes, a training buddy of Willie and mine sent out raising funds for Team in Training. He's doing Eagleman next month with Willie.

In Memory of Matthew
Hello Friends and Family, As most of you know, on September 11, 2002, we lost our son Matthew to Leukemia. He was only two years old. Many of you know he is my “hero” and as a result of what Matthew and many others have experienced, I wanted to try and make a difference in helping to find a cure by participating in a Triathlon with Team in Training, which raises money for research to find a cure and to provide help for families that have someone with the disease. On June 14th, I will be competing in the EagleMan Half Ironman Triathlon, which consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.6-mile run. I am asking for support in my fundraising efforts by making a tax-deductible donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of my son or anyone you know who has fought this disease. Any amount is greatly appreciated.
Many Thanks!

Matthew Christopher Stokes
8/16/00 - 9/11/02

Donations can be made online to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tri Fever

It was great for me to go to the Columbia Triathlon today. The excitement, drama and friends really got me going. Though I was there as a spectator, I did run the course with my sister, Jessica. I ran the whole way with her. So, in a way, I did participate, too. I was able to encouage others, experience the sights and sounds of the run course and feel the energy. So, I really have the fever again.

Seeing the fitness level of other triathletes is very inspiring, too. It can be very depressing, also. If you want to see over a thousand fit men and women, got to a triathlon.

A big shout out to some Tri people I saw today :
- Mayor Adrian Fentry
- Lindsey Jerdonek
- Katie Davison
- Simon Hernaez
- Coach Patty Harden
- Coach Kevin Dolan
- Coach Hugh Harris

Ulman Cancer Fund fielded a team called Team Fight. Fighting cancer is near and dear to my heart so it was good to see them out there.

A great day.

-- TJ

Columbia Tri

Roseann and Willie at swim start.

Team Inspiration and Team in Training.

Go team.

-- TJ

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Willie upgraded today. He purchased a Cervelo P2C from Conte's in Bethesda. Looks pretty fast. I am sure that this will take at least 15 minutes off his Eagleman bike time.

Willie will write more later. He took the Red Rocker for a stroll around Columbia Gateway this evening. Tell us how it went!


Tour de Cure

Willie, Chris and I rode the Tour de Cure this past Saturday. Willie raised $1500 for the cause. We turned a 62 mile bike ride into a 67 mile ride thanks to a wrong right turn. Very hilly course that was a good start to the season. Great weather though a little windy. Definitely some good fellowship.

-- TJ