Friday, November 27, 2009

Ironman Arizona - 2009 - Video

TJ & Willie complete Ironman Arizona 2009.

TJ - IMAZ 2009 Race Report

TJ & Willie

When I started writing this race report, I envisioned a short bullet point race report list... to be followed by something with more prose and commentary. Instead, we've wound up with this one race report... half bullet point... half commentary... that is quite extensive and probably won't be read by anybody because it is too long. Oh well... I had to get it out so that I can now close the book on this past Ironman season.

Here is my "condensed" race report... summarized in 12.41 bullet points.

1. Ironman is hard. The race itself is hard but there is a lot of preparation involved, too. I firmly believe that Ironman (or any long distance triathlon) is 90% "mental game & nutrition" on race day... assuming you've done the training. And though I may have professed to understand this, I still was unable to be as focused as I needed to be at IMAZ 2009. I attribute a lot of that to the travel and other activity surrounding getting to the starting line on race day weekend. I had Tri Bike Transport, Race Day Wheels and had to shop for some items that were not brought to the race site. In addition, there was a social aspect to my race weekend and I think that fatigued/stressed me to some degree. Another thing is, it is hard to behold the Ironman Village if you haven't been there. Truly, the fitness elite. It's like taking the most fit 5 people from gym's around the country and plopping them all into one place. Lastly, an Ironman season is LONG. And, it doesn't help doing a race in late November... if you train in the Mid-Atlantic climate. I am going to look to do something in late July, August or September next time I do an Ironman.

2. The distances for each discipline are about 33% too long. That is what makes it so hard... at least for me. About an hour into the swim, you're like, "OK... this is starting to get long." On the bike, it's the same way... after about 70 miles, you've had enough... but you still have 42 miles to go. And then the run... well... that middle 10 miles can be a very dark place mentally. There is so much to think about, too. Pacing, nutrition and equipment status. Then, there are the other competitors. The swim is a blender of arms and legs... on the bike, you have to be careful of other riders. So, your physical endurance is tested... but the mental endurance is just as tiring. Especially for the people who have short attention spans (ahem).

3. I did something I've never done before in a race... I held onto a kayak during the swim as competitors swam by. The mass swim start is crazy, as is well documented. The sun started to come up over the horizon and shine into our eyes about 30 minutes into the swim. I tried to stay to the left and swim along the bouys. I reached the far turn buoys about 40 minutes into the swim. I wandered a little between the two far buoys. I could feel my calves "catching" the whole way out... but at about 60 minutes into the swim (so, I was heading back), both legs "seized up" and were locked into a palsied state. I could not swim. I waved and yelled out to the guys on the jetskis/kayaks and managed to pull my way (with a breast stroke) over to a kayaker. I held on for about 5 minutes, waiting for the leg cramps to release. It was like they were frozen into a cramped state. The right calf in particular was balled up and painfully tight. The kayaker (a he) had some water on board and I drank a little from his bottle. DNF did not cross my mind... but I was worried. The water was 63 degrees and the kayaker told me several people had leg cramps and had held on to his craft for a bit.

4. My transitions are disorganized. I do not go through T1 or T2 with purpose and tend to wind up where the "wind blows me". When my wetsuit was stripped, both legs cramped up again and I had to delay movement for the cramps to release. Then, I was mostly walking towards picking up my T1 bag. I considered taking a chair outside the tent but then remembered I'd be getting naked before putting on my bike shorts. So, I went into the tent and looked for a spot. I sat next to Willie in T1, if you can believe that. He had been in the tent for a while already as he beat me out of the swim. So, we're in there talking and complaining about the cold water and the grass that was sticking to our feet. Come on already... GET YOUR BUTT ON THE BIKE!!!

5. Whoever says the IMAZ bike course is flat is a liar. There is a gradual uphill on Beeline Highway. The last three miles to the turnaround has a steep grade. I don't know what percent of a grade, but it's there.

Incline on Beeline. With a headwind and on loop 3, this part of the bike course is a pain.

There was significant headwind on the way out Beeline on loop 1. Coming back from the turnaround was a blast. I was able to sustain 32 mph at some points. On the way out for loop 2, the wind had shifted and was more of a crosswind. By the time we were coming back down on loop 2, it wasn't a headwind but the cross was coming more at us than behind. By the time we got to loop 3, the wind was negligible. It wasn't an issue at that point. It warmed up as the ride went along and the asphalt was definitely hot on the last loop. So, you are now tired from the ride and the heat is really becoming an issue. Fortunately, it was only a challenge on the way out. On the way back, with the downhill, it's really not a factor.

A guy wrecked his bike right in front me at mile 53 of the ride. I pulled over to try and help him out. He had lost concentration and run into the "keep drivers awake" ridges on the side of the road. BAM... down like a sack of potatoes. His name was Raymond. Definitely had some road rash and was clearly pissed... still had over half the ride to go. I comforted him for a bit and then got going again. I helped him collect his drinks and other stuff that got strayed out along the road. Man, that must have really hurt.

I really didn't have any issues... stopped to pee once on the way out on the second loop... around mile 40... I picked up my special needs bag on the way back on the third loop... around mile 92... I just ate my chips and took my Endurolytes. I ate two Clif bars and went through two bottles of Accelerade throughout the ride. I drank lots of water as it was very dry out there.

I had two dark periods... mile 70 and mile 100. Both times, I got through it just by concentrating on my breathing. Your breathing won't lie to you.

6. At T2, I was more purposeful and quick with my movements. But, as I was changing, a guy in the chair next to me asked a volunteer to come over. He wanted to know where he could turn in his chip. I thought it was important to try to talk him out of it. I put my hand on his shoulder and looked at him in the eye... "are you sure you want to do that? Why don't you just wait in here for a bit... or come out with me and we'll walk for a little while." I could tell the gears were moving in his head but he looked back at the volunteer and said, "no... I'm done." I looked away from him and said out loud as I got up, "It just wasn't your day." Then I was off. But for the Grace of God, there go I.

7. The volunteers were really great. There was a big crowd, too. Along the Ironman Village waterfront, there were hundreds of people with signs and cheering us on. That was really great and helped when running on that side of the lake. The aid station at the far end of the run course was the best. They were very attentive and helpful. The Phoenix Tri Club aid station had the best looking girls... they were dressed in cowboy outfits. (This post encapsulates what is wrong with my runs... I'm checking out chicks and seeing who is more attentive... rather than concentrating on my run performance).

8. My run sucked. Honestly, a veteran Ironman has to do better than I did. I was very disorganized and did not really have a plan to begin with. I stopped and started without much rhyme or reason and I took in fluids and food without looking at my watch as I normally do when training. In fact, for about the last 2 1/2 hours, I could not even see my watch. My vision is poor to begin with and then my right eye got foggy. I was carrying a little water bottle (7 ounce fuel belt bottle) in one hand and a gel flask in the other. I mostly did water and flat coke at the aid stations. I ate grapes and oranges. I had one cookie around mile 18. I tried some chicken broth, but this year it did not taste good and I spit it out. The bottom line is I need to do a better job of pacing and also have a walking/feeding plan and stick with it.

9. The middle 10 miles were particularly dark... dark as in "Darth Vader Evil" dark. I was not feeling it and even considering just walking the rest of the way at some points. But, even with sporadic cramping in my right calf and right quadricep and walking associated with that, I managed to run and as I got over to the bridge on the west side of the run course on loop three (mile 19?), I sucked it up and got behind two women who were going at my kind of pace. I just locked in and ran it in almost the whole way from there. I was even able to sprint up the chute. I don't really remember crossing the finish line though this year they did call my name, hometown and "You are an Ironman" which had not happened at my two previous Ironman's. The way the finish takes a left turn into the grandstand is really cool. I wished I was more tuned in so I could savor it.

10. I'm going to do another Ironman. It won't be in 2010. I MEAN IT. I know I said it last year that I wouldn't do one this year... but, I'M NOT DOING ONE NEXT YEAR. I need to clear my head. However, I will do another one... probably in 2011. I love the sport, I love the distance and I believe that I like the training more than I like the racing. However, I know that I have a 11:45 Ironman in me... and I'm going to prove it to myself one day.

11. Willie and I had company this past weekend. Roseann Dougherty, from Team Inspiration, was staying at the race hotel and we hung around with her pretty much the whole weekend. She did the race with 140 LiveStrong bracelets on her bike and body for the run.

Kona Chick - Roseann Dougherty

Roseann got second place in her age group (50 - 54), which qualifies her for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. It is totally awesome. Her time was 11:28 and I am extremely proud of her. It made the weekend even more special as we were like three peas in a pod pretty much the whole weekend.

2nd Place Age Group

Roseann is an oncology nurse. She is very involved with cancer patients and her Team Inspiration's mission is aligned with inspiring those who have cancer or are survivors of those who have passed due to cancer. It is a result of deaths in my family due to cancer that I found this sport... this lifestyle.

12. My mom and my sister were there. It must be a real trial to stand out there all day. My seven year old nephew Joseph was there, as well. Mom and sis both had volunteered and shot some pictures and video on race day. Thanks and I love you both. I don't think I could do that... stand out there all day and watch people race. Chad and KDOG were in attendance, too. I saw them on the bike course near the turnaround and Chad would jog a little with me on the run course to check in on me. I missed training with them this year so it was good to see them on the course.

TJ & Jessica Ann

12.41. The Sky is the Limit. I'm a three time Ironman. I have a PR of 12:05:00... which is pretty good. I've been under 13 hours each time and I've finished each race. No DNFs. Ironman helps me focus on the Desire, Discipline and Determination that is required to get through life. The people I've met along the way are the real treat of this sport. The first time Ironman finishers from DC Tri Club were very inspirational to me this year. Colette and Davis were two training buddies who accompanied me on long swims, rides and runs. Linda and Jessica Rose have been very patient on my long ride Saturday's and Sunday bricks. I've been encouraged by veteran Ironman finishers from the club and am in awe of Philip Schmidt's sub 10 hour Ironman at Ironman Louisville this past August.

Willie, we did it. To God goes all the glory. And, listening to Ron R. at the Midtown Group on race day morning reminded us both of this fact... we've climbed our highest mountain already. To have lived through all that we've been through and then not only toe the starting line, but complete an Ironman... MORE THAN ONE... it's an awesome gift. I am grateful. And... I'm a THREE TIME IRONMAN!!!

The numbers don't lie.

-- TJ

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Willie - IMAZ 2009 Race Report

Willie at Saturday's practice ride.

Hey – It was awesome! I did of course have a few issues…the swim was cold and gave me a headache the entire time – it really was uncomfortable and I guess the good news is I got hit hard right in the nose about halfway through and I was able to focus on how much that hurt instead of my headache – it actually made me stop and panic for a moment – but of course, they were climbing all over me by now, so I just shook it off and wanted to finish as soon as possible – actually felt great strength wise and probably could have gone stronger if it wasn’t for the headache and nausea. Not too bad, a 1:18 swim – I’ll take it! I would have been happy with 1:25, considering the circumstances.

T1 was a disaster due to the nausea and really close to spilling it – thought it would actually help – but this happens to me every time in the swim…then things got worse due to the grass cuttings getting on my wet feet (didn’t plan for this one) and then all over the inside of my chamoied-buttered shorts (brilliant!)– it took at least 10 minutes to clean everything up – but by that time the nausea had started to decrease and on to the bike….thus the horrible T1 time of 17 minutes!

Got on the bike – it was very cold and then it happened to my disgust at mile 8 the left knee pain re-appeared! I could not believe it with all the rest and the last time I biked 100 miles it did not appear until mile 80 – this really frustrated me especially since at mile 15 the hills started and we had a head wind – it slowed me to 10 mph since I was not able to push as hard as I wanted – the turnaround was downhill and I went semi-hard trying to make up some speed….I really was hurt and I knew I had to do this 3 times… I tried many different angles on the left knee the rest of the way – kept applying the ibruproen…but it really didn’t matter…another gut check bike ride…I was disappointed since I was ready for a really much better time! Time: 7:11 – I was shooting for 6:30 max, possibly even better…

T2 – no issues – just nausea.

Run…the surgery leg was inflamed since I obviously was putting more pressure on that leg instead of the left knee leg…it was swollen and shaving spasms…I walked the first 2 miles trying to get relief, but the spasm sgot worse…then, I could not believe my eyes, but there was a blister, spasm, medical aid center, and I screamed out of joy that they were there (got lots of laughs)! The surgery leg hurt so bad before I got to aid - that DNF actually crossed my mind! In the aid center, they were able to massage the spasm and left knee and applied ice for a while….I then dropped ice down the compression sock and poof – I was out of there and running!!!

I was actually running quite well for the next 8 miles, but again, compensating now for the left knee, I was rewarded with a hell of a back spasm…to the point where DNF became almost a reality! I then limped to the same medical tent, this time for treatment of the back spasm…it worked! I was back to running, and I was so totally elated that I only felt good when I was running! It’s a real shame for me, since I was really ready for this and really only wanted to do it if I was running – I hated the walking!

If I took out the stops and walking due to intense pain – I was looking at 12 minute miles on the run…so I know I have it in me….I actually had some 11 min miles in between all the drama – which for me is awesome and my training the last weeks before taper I was averaging 11 min miles… By mile 18 – I was completely nausea and sick to my stomach – it never really went away from the swim and I think I ate too much on the bike for fear I would be out there the whole 17 hours. I was not able to eat anything solid from that point – but by this time, the major pain issues were in control and not finishing was not an option!!! 6:59 run time – I was looking at 5:15 max.

The plan would have worked if not for the knee, which I guess is next on the list to have looked at… All in all – I was ready – I was coached well – the event, volunteers, the memories of loved ones passed and those still suffering, and all the training and good wishes – was just unbelievable! I really do this for many reasons…I am so grateful to be this active and an example for my kids and others…My thirst for Triathlon is greater than ever and I am already excited for next year! Have a Happy Thanksgiving! God Bless!

-- Willie 2-Time Ironman

Ironman Arizona - 2009 Statistics

This is a good sign.

Obviously, I was faster last year than I was this year. I did two triathlons this year... Northeast Triathlon and Ironman Arizona. My run sucked in both races. But, I did finish and I was still middle of the pack.

Here are some heart/calorie burn rate stats from IMAZ...

Swim: 138 avg. 156 max 1222 calories
BIke: 141 avg. 161 max 4821 calories
Run: 128 avg. 151 max 3872 calories

I did nail my nutrition. I didn't have any GI or bonking issues. I didn't feel "hungry" until the last 4 - 6 miles of the run which is just about right. But, I wasn't bloated or sloshy, either. It was very dry and I did good managing my thirst.

I was definitely disorganized on my run. I need to work at getting better on how I organize my run. I have seen video of me running in Ironman and I don't like what I see and it doesn't compare favorably to how I run when I train. There is a lot of room for improvement.

Willie and TJ on the run.

-- TJ

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ironman Weekend

Ironman weekend....

Any questions?

-- TJ

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Willie Update

Ironman Arizona - This Sunday!

As you may already be aware – I will be participating in my second Ironman race this Sunday in Arizona. I did finish my first one in Florida in 2006 – so although racing at this distance is not new to me, the excitement and agony of knowing the pain that awaits still haunts me. As always, ... I race in the honor and memory of friends who have succumbed to cancer, and it’s remembering what they still mean to me that will ultimately carry me through to the finish line. This year the charity that I have raised funds for and will continue to do so in 2010, is the Ulman Cancer Fund. The race starts at 7:00 Arizona time, which will be 9:00 AM EST. This is a mass swim start, with approximately 2900 athletes participating. If you are interested – you can track my status during the race here - My bib number is: 2048 Don’t look for any speed out of me – just endurance! To hear a clip of what inspires me – listen to this.

-- Willie

Sunday, November 15, 2009

All Star Weekend

72 degrees on November 15.

72 degrees... on March 27.

Today at Tidal Basin... notice a difference from the March 27 picture?

I have complained this fall about the weather. But, these past two weekends have been gorgeous. I did my last brick workout on a sun-drenched, 72 degree Sunday in Washington, DC. I rode down Rock Creek Park to Hains Point and back with Davis. I rode my 10 speed Schwinn as my bike is on it's way to Arizona via Tri Bike Transport. in fact, I had to borrow a helmet from our neighbors and dig some other cycle-related equipment out of storage as all my bike gear is in a bag in a van on its way to Arizona. I transitioned to run and felt fabulous... probably because the ride was only 30 miles today. Even though I've been trying to run at a slower pace... the brick runs the past two weeks have been the fastest two of they year. No problems with PF today, either. I feel ready. And, looking at the pictures, you can really tell the difference in my body composition. I weight 196 lbs. as I just can't seem to get down to the mythical 190 lb. level.

This concludes the training season. I'll have very little going on this week. Some light swimming, stretching and core workouts. But, a word about this weekend. I celebrated my ninth anniversary on Friday. I had some great speakers share on my behalf. All great men with a strong, spritual message. The meeting concluded with Chris S. playing a very touching version of "Amazing Grace" on his harmonica. Then, I was part of putting together Brother Alexis' 36th anniversary meeting on Saturday morning. Again, great speakers, all with a wonderful message. After a short stationary bike workout, I played a gig down on Kent Island Saturday night with the Bad Weather Boyz. We had a great time and the crowd enjoyed the show. This morning, I led on the 11th Step at Greenbelt and saw some old friends from the fellowship. I had the great brick workout and then the Redskins won and the Cowboys lost. Really, a great weekend and great preparation for next weekend. In the old days, I would have predicted GLOOM and DOOM next weekend... how can you have two great weekends in a row? But, I now know the truth... THE SKY IS THE LIMIT... great weekend this week... EVEN BETTER one next weekend. I know I am blessed and I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to toe the starting line of an Ironman.

TJ & Davis at the Jefferson Memorial

-- TJ

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weather Report - IMAZ 2009 10 day weather report - Tempe, AZ

Well, race day is now on the 10 day weather report. Good thing I packed my arm warmers and long sleeve wet suit in my gear bag. Which, by the way, is on its way to Arizona right now. My bike is with Tri Bike Transport.

Rode the stationary bike for a half hour yesterday and swam for a half hour at lunch today.

-- TJ

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Remember me?

Wow - here we are at taper time and I finally decide to write something. Life has been way too busy, and trying to keep up with everything has been difficult. So my apologies to TJ who has been diligent in writing most of this blog.

Here's a summary of me since the last time. I think my last post was from TJ who reported on my ChesapeakeMan Aqua Velo times. Again, it was mixed reviews since I wasn't feeling all that great that day, and despite that I went through some tough mental times getting through the race and that in and of itself was an accomplishment. Problem is that I still have significant knee pain and weakness in the surgery leg. Despite that it was a breakthrough workout mentally for me, knowing that in spite of the pain I can get through the distance.

Since then I did several long rides with TJ and although I slowed him down, they were great training rides for me. Continued with my schedule as far as training was concerned, mainly focusing on strength training whenever I ran. I did make the mistake of several weekend madness periods with a long ride on saturday and a long run on sunday and after reconsidering broke these up during the week during the last two months.

Been on a slight taper for over a week and went in for another VO2 check and I improved my peak VO2 by 5 points and increased my fat burning capability significantly for zones 1 and 2. This has given me all the confidence I need right now knowing I have the conditioning necessary for my IM.

Now if I can only stay away from all these germs, I will be happy happy.

All in all I am ready to go and so looking forward to AZ! It truly is one of my favorite places to be!

Happy Training!

-- Willie

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ironman Swim - IMFL 2009

The swim at an Ironman... described as a blender of arms and legs... it is hard to imagine if you haven't been through it. Well, check this out...

Video from IMFL 2009 swim

So... still want to be an Ironman?

-- TJ

IMFL Drafting Video

This is incredible video from IMFL 2009. Drafting is not allowed during the bike ride. Hard to tell from this video. Some participants are passing the guy and they aren't even pedaling...

IMFL 2009 Bike Course Video

-- TJ

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bib Numbers

It's official... we've been assigned bib numbers.

TJ: 1472
Willie: 2048

-- TJ

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Confidence Builder

Taper continues... swam 50 minutes yesterday morning and did a core/stretching routine at the gym during lunch. Did some dips and pull-ups, too. After my ride on the trainer on Thursday evening, I felt a lot better. But, today was really the breakthrough...

I did a 40 mile ride... Davis and I clipped in around 8:50 and met the "A" Team at Georgetown about 9:20. Eric, Patrick, Andy, Bobby, Joe C. and others were there. We then rode up the hill towards Reservoir Road and took the left turn. My plan was to hang on with this group, no matter what, up to the one lane bridge over Cabin John. Last week, I was dropped at Glen Echo. Well, I pretty much made it all the way to the BP. We went up Mountain Gate... and Old Anglers, of course. I was not the last person up Mountain Gate... nor Old Anglers. In fact, I was able to accelerate on a couple of hills and pass people. We were doing 24 - 25 mph the whole way (except the hills). Last week's pace was faster and I believe that because Phil and Chad weren't out there today, the group was a little less competitive.

Additionally, I caught up to that Bicycle Place group again and dusted them all up Democracy. Seriously, I was averaging about 18 - 19 mph going up the hill on Democracy to Old Georgetown Road. Earlier this year, it was a struggle to go 14 - 16 mph up that hill.

So, it was a huge confidence boost and I really do feel strong on the bike. The taper is working, and that's a relief. I'm due for a brick tomorrow but it'll be short and sweet. 90 minutes on the bike and then a 30 minute run. The heel is feeling good right now... so we'll play it by ear regarding this run. Would rather rest it and heal 100% than get a brick in just to get a brick in.

Lastly.... today is Ironman Florida. Some friends/training buddies from DC Tri Club are out there today. Of note is Tuan... who broke his clavicle in September. He healed up and is down there... probably riding his bike, right now. A real warrior. I can't wait to read his race report.

Tuan... bib # 761... GO FOR THE GLORY!!!

-- TJ

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Life... turned up to 11

Well, since no one else will listen to me, I'll post here...

I have two major things happening...

1. Life is going crazy... between work and home, it's pretty zany. I won't go into too much detail but if it's not enough to be getting ready for an Ironman, I also have full days at work and a lot of activity around the house.

2. I can't seem to shake the PF on my left heel. I did run last night and though it felt ok, today, I can feel it. I may just try to lay off running until we get down to AZ and see if some rest heels it up. I'm also going to refrain from wearing dress shoes at the office as I don't think that helps. Stretching would be a good idea, too.

Sitting at my desk at the office is a real trial right now. I feel a lot of pent up energy just on the edge of being unleashed. Plus, I think I can actually feel fitness melting away... and fat accumulating on my chin, hips and ass.

The good news is that two weeks from now, I'll be in AZ. And then, I can get body envy from all the fitness elite preening around town.

-- TJ

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Climbing the Walls

Well, we're officially in taper time. This has been hard for me. I don't know about Willie. But, for me... I'm climbing the walls. Life came in heavy this week between work, home and family... so I didn't get a workout in on Monday (usually a weightlifting day) or Tuesday (usually a swim day). By lunch at work today (a Wednesday) I was going out of my mind. I envisioned myself as gaining 10 lbs., losing all my cardio fitness and just generally being in no shape for an Ironman. It is crazy where my mind goes.

Thankfully, I managed to get in a short run after work. Tempo run of 30 minutes which covered around 4 miles. I felt better after that. I'm going to try and ride the bike for a bit tomorrow and then get a swim in, too. I've decided to drop the weightlifting workouts at this point. This is the latest I've lifted weights in an Ironman year... and though they are good for muscle tone and stamina, I think they do slow me a down a little.

So, hopefully I can make it through tomorrow and get in those workouts. I've also been ravenous and have had to take it easy with food. As you know. Halloween was last weekend so of course there is candy everywhere I go. Overall, I've managed to hold the line. The mental part of taper is really hard to explain, though. At least for me... it's like that character on "Gulliver's Travels"... Glum was his name I believe. "We're doomed... we'll never make it."

The little man inside my head during taper time...

-- TJ

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Riding on the Wind

Training for Ironman means a 60 mile ride is a short ride. I did my last "long" ride prior to race day yesterday... only 59 miles... HA! Really, though... it seems short. That is a good sign. Averaged 18 mph on a very hilly ride... Mountain Gate, Old Anglers, River Road, Query Mill/Glen Road, Democracy Blvd and then up to Georgia Avenue from the park. Some highlights from the ride...

1. Meeting the "Gang" in Georgetown- Tuan and his IMFL group were there. So was the "A" Team. Chad, Bobby, Patrick, Phil, Eric, Andy, etc. I departed with the A Team and it wasn't long before we were going 27 mph out MacArthur. We were in a paceline and I was definitely expending energy. But, it wasn't as bad as back in May. I was able to hang on all the way out to Glen Echo. There is a stop sign there and as there were a couple of cars, I slowed a little and lost the wheel of the guy in front of me. The guys behind me shot by and I was dropped. I saw them at the one lane bridge again (up ahead) but then they were gone. I managed to catch Laurel going up Old Anglers, which felt good. She hadn't done Mountain Gate. The A Team cut off at Oaklyn and head home so I rode up to the BP and waited for Tuan's group.

2. River Road- Readers of this blog know that I have a love/hate relationship with River Road. It's hilly, has a lot of traffic and wind can affect the ride. But, I've been on the road so much this year, I'm *starting* to get the hang of it. I left with Tuan's group and tried to stay at the rear of the group.. but the pace was too slow and by Norton Road, I went off the front and before long, I couldn't see them behind me any more. There are essentially three hills on the way out River to the "T"... at the top of the second hill, I double back and let the group go by... then I got in the rear again and by the top of hill three, I was third one up the hill. I think there were about 10 IMFL people out there. At the "T", they were intent on going back the way they came, so I bid farewell and headed out Seneca to Esworthy.

3. The Bicycle Place Group-I rode through the back hills of Query Mill and Glen Road by myself. Very peaceful. A head wind on the way back, unlike the last couple of weeks. I saw Jody of Conte's again... she was riding with her Cervelo jersey posse. Funny... I think I've seen her 3 out of the last 4 Saturday's I've been out on the road. There is a 1/2 mile stretch of Democracy that I love... with a tail wind, I've hit 40 mph and consistently can do over 30 mph... even into the wind.

Newbridge to Gainsborough... makes me feel fast

So, I'm cruising about 35 mph yesterday and I can see a group of half a dozen cyclists approaching the light at Gainsborough. I pick it up because, well, I'm competitive and I want to catch them. I'm amidst the group by the time we get to the light at Seven Locks.Turns out, it's a group of five guys and one woman from the Bicycle Place. I draft off the rear as we go up the hill to Montgomery Mall... but again... they're going too slow for me... so I pass them at 270 and by the time we get to Old Georgetown, I can't see them anymore. I let up a little and as I'm heading *downhill* on Grosvenor, two of this group have caught up and fly by. The light is green as we get to 355 and roll into the park. I draft off them until we get to Connecticut. But, as we get a green light and proceed down Beach, I get it going and drop them and with satisfaction, go under the Beltway and take the left up the hill to Georgia Avenue. They are out of sight behind me.
Editors Note: I realize this group probably didn't realize they were "racing" me... though their attempt to pass me on Grovesnor does suggest other cyclists had a competitive streak, too.

Thinking back over this training year, many memories stick out. A friend of mine, Chris Rolinski, turned me on to a live Judas Priest CD from 2005 that I hadn't heard before. They do a killer version of a song that I love... "Riding on the Wind". They didn't play it when we saw them on 8/22... but two highlights of the training year have been the night Chris and I went to the concert and also when this song came on my playlist while on a training run. I'm sure it'll be going through my head on the run THREE WEEKS FROM TODAY!!!

Judas Priest... the Metal Gods... "Riding on the Wind"

-- TJ