Sunday, January 27, 2013

How to stack your race calendar when you feel like crap

Early last week, I mentioned I might be getting sick. My hunch was correct. Going against typical dude nature, I went directly to a doctor for a diagnosis. (Y'know, instead of putting it off and waiting to feel better and whining about how bad I felt.) That was wise. The doc told me I didn't have the flu, just pharyngitis. I got the prescribed meds and spent a majority of last week sleeping and trying to fight off the crud. It sucked. I was weak, bored and missed human interaction.

I spent my waking hours doing a few things — reading, posting stuff on Craigslist and watching documentaries. Watching docs like "The Ride" ("The Amazing Race" host bikes across America in 40 days) pushed me to do another thing — finally register for races I have considered/talked about/mentioned in passing.

The Crazy Desert Trail Half Marathon, March 9, San Angelo

First, for those who don't know, my first job out of college was working at the newspaper in San Angelo. I had never heard of the city and had low expectations for what I assumed would be a run-down, podunk town. Let's just say I was pleasantly surprised. The city of 95,000 is filled with cool people, distinct culture, a very nice fine art museum and abundant natural beauty. During my three years in Angelo, my favorite spot was San Angelo State Park, where I fell in love with mountain biking. In addition to 50 miles of trails (mix of singletrack and fireroads), it's home to some of the state's Official Longhorn Herd and a variety of other animals and terrains. It's been a few years since my last visit, so I am really excited to return for my first trail half marathon. I hope to see some old friends and enjoy a new experience on an old, familiar trail.

Irving Las Colinas Half Marathon, April 27, Irving

This is an inaugural event that my employer is collaborating on; when I first heard about it, I wasn't 100 percent sure I'd run. My sister, who has run several 5Ks since our first in Lovejoy, recently chose it for her first half marathon. No chance I am going to miss that moment; so, I signed up this weekend. I can't wait to see her achieve her goal. It's a flat course, so I have my eyes set on a PR.

24 Hours in the Canyon, June 1-2, Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Why would anyone want to ride his or her bike for 24 hours? That's probably something I said in the past. The answer: Because it's possible. After proving to myself that I could race 12 consecutive hoursthis seems doable. It's a boss event — consecutive 24-hour road and mountain bike races. I'm opting for the solo, 24-hour competitive mountain bike race. But options abound: you can register for competitive (timed), non-competitive (untimed), solo or team for 24-hour, 12-hour and 6 hour challenges on the road or the trail. I've ridden PDC before. The trail is excellent (fun, fast, not super-tech) and the park roads are hilly, hilly, hilly.

This also represents the first time I've raised funds through racing. All the money that's raised at 24 Hours in the Canyon goes to the Don and Sybil Harrington Cancer Center to assist in patient care. Donations can be made on my 24:00 donation page. I appreciate your support!

— — —

So, that's everything that's officially on my race calendar. I still plan to take on Hotter 'N' Hell's Triple Threat Challenge this summer and I would like to run a fall marathon outside of Texas. I'm seeking a race with a flat and fast course. A cool-to-cold climate is ideal. Oh, and I'd like to go somewhere I haven't visited. Is that too much to ask for?!?! Any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tunesday: Sick sounds

Sick. Not like, "Duuuude ... siiiick." More like that crap that's been floating around making folks feel awful. The same crap that spreads like wildfire on mass transit and throughout office buildings. That kind of sick. The bad kind.

It's a little early in the game to determine if I've contracted some bug. But some symptoms are rearing their heads. My body fights illness like a champ, so I easily could wake up feeling 100 percent Tuesday morning. Odds are I will.

On the off chance that I do feel like hell tomorrow, don't you go worrying about me. I'll have good tunes to speed along the recuperation. In no particular order, these are the best tracks to listen to when I feel like crap.

Midlake does three things well — repping Denton, growing beards and writing songs that can lull me to sleep. Peaceful and haunting, "Small Mountain" is a prime example of the minor-key excellence of Midlake. This isn't music to start a productive day to; it is, however, excellent for schlepping your tired body between sleeping sessions on the bed and your couch.

This is simple: When you're sick, you don't feel like yourself.  Where is my mind, indeed.

The piano chords and the drums are the steady boat at risk of being capsized in the maelstrom that is Jonny Greenwood's bowed electric guitar, a swelling orchestra and Thom Yorke's increasingly assured delivery. I hear this song and it feels like I'm in the ocean undulating — not unlike the foggy-headed, lack of equilibrium that's a hallmark of the crud.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What I've been up to recently

Slacking. Blog-wise, I've been slacking. Six days into 2013 and I haven't posted a darn thing! Sorry about that. I thought about doing a year-in-review post and/or a 2013 goals post, but that seemed too daunting. I would never be satisfied — I'd undoubtedly leave something out ... and it would take at least until February for me to finish.

Of course, the holidays dominated a good bit of my time recently. I spent Christmas Eve and Day hanging out with my father in Tyler. My sister and I caught up with him, shared stories, found out he self-published his first bookand we looked at old photos, like this one:

Such a classic picture — Mason City High School Mohawks Wrestling, early 1960s. Yeah, the grin is a family trait. 
My sister and I managed to safely return from East Texas during the Christmas snow/sleet nastiness. Once home, I continued the Christmas celebration with my Favorite Pink Girl. The holiday season included a most-excellent trip that she planned: Twin Lakes, Colo.

Little-known fact: Colorado is packed with MouNtAinS. Waking up each morning surrounded by such beauty was just perfect! I cannot imagine ever tiring of seeing those humbling, awesome mountains. My third time in the Centennial State was fantastic — a good bit of snow, a lovely, quaint cabin at Mt. Elbert Lodge, and fun hiking, snowshoeing, practicing amateur ichnology (a hurried rabbit's tracks are misleading). It was the best way to end one year and celebrate the New Year.

Books! I also have read a couple of books recently. The best of the bunch:

"The Secret Race," Tyler Hamilton's exposé of pro cycling's dark side. If you're interested in the latest news about Lance Armstrong (LA weighing doping confession), you should read this book. You don't even have to be a cycling fan or a rider. It's well-written (Hamilton teamed with Daniel Coyle, author of "Lance Armstrong's War") and a damning book that has every detail you could imagine and then some. It's hard to not have some sympathy for Hamilton — he felt he had to dope in order to compete. That still doesn't make it right, but I get it. We shall see how Armstrong fares if/when he confesses. MY guess is fewer people will feel sympathetic for him.

Upon returning to Texas, I fulfilled my civic duty:

Reporting to the court was greatness. Basically I got to sit for three hours, watch a jury duty info video featuring Clarice Tinsley and Scott Sams, and read Mountain Bike and Thrasher magazines (no lie, these were among the magazines the court made available to potential jurors). Then I was told I wouldn't be a juror and I was on my merry way.

And just yesterday, I ran my second 10K — DRC's Frigid 10K/5K at White Rock Lake:

Photo courtesy of Terrell Daily Photo
It wasn't truly frigid (40 degrees), but it was plenty cold to make running 6.2 miles pleasant. In fact, it was about 40 degrees cooler than my first 10K. The result? I ran 8 minutes faster (45:19). Shiny PR! Afterward, I cooled off and joined my sister for her very first run around the lake. Yep, the entire distance. She's run a handful of 5Ks since we ran our first togetherand she regularly logs 3-mile runs. I had a great time chatting with her as she achieved a significant milestone (and enjoyed a celebratory Hypnotic Donut). Anne, let there be no doubt: You ARE a runner!

Reading about MTBs during jury duty gave me the itch to hit a local trail — Cedar Hill State Park. It's my fave because it's not too far and is rarely congested with cyclists/hikers/runners/horses.

Now, I always call the park office to confirm the trail's conditions. This morning, the phone recording said "Trails are open." Guess what? They shouldn't have been:

That right there is a muddy mess. Five minutes into my ride and I knew I needed to get off the trails. There hadn't been any rain recently, but the frost on the ground made the trail conditions terrible. Riding in such conditions wreaks havoc on the trail (deep grooves) and the rider. I was almost tossed off the bike when that clump of mud stopped the front tire. Deflated, I intermittently rode and walked my bike back to the trailhead where I warned another cyclist of the conditions. He was appreciative and shocked that I collected that much mud in about 3 miles of riding and walking. We both informed the park staff that the trail needed to be closed (which they did). I considered going to Big Cedar but figured its conditions might be bad, too.

So, upon my return to Dallas, I settled for a windy road ride around the lake. It was just OK; not what I was hankering. It was sorta like craving Chinese food all day only to find out the restaurant is closed and then settling for a frozen pizza. The power of positive thinking: Any day I get to ride a bike (or eat pizza) is a good day, so I am counting my blessings (of which, there are numerous). I hope your 2013 is going great, too.