It’s been over a year since I posted anything to my blog. Why? Well, I think we can all agree that 2016 just sucked as a year, and it was really hard to find mojo and time to train let alone write about lack of training. Not only did 2016 suck nationally, it was a mixed fruit cake of pain personally as well. A quick recap is necessary.
1. Finished residency, again.
2. Moved into my dream home, complete with dream pain “cave.”
3. Work is more invigorating that ever.
1. Death and grief surrounded me multiple times.
2. Politics, WTF.
3. Guns shooting people.
4. People shooting guns.
5. David Bowie
7. Again, David Bowie.
But, here we are, in mid January 2017, and it is time for a serious reboot. Southwestern style. Complete with tons of avocados. 50 pounds ago, my biggest impetus for healthy living success was putting an X on the calendar. So, have belly flopped forward and signed up for Ironman Arizona. Including plane tickets and hotel. That’s right. Ironman Arizona is going to happen with more certainty than 2017 being the most politically controversial year in modern history.
So where is the Ironvan now? Back at the beggining. If my performance at Boise 2014 was my Star Wars Rogue One, then I’m way back in the land of Jar Jar Binks. And we all know how much that sucked. I’m running about 25 miles a week, including a reoccurring long run of 13 miles weekly. Swimming about 5000y a week with long jaunts of 2500y right now. And cycling a bunch.
Which I got to tangent to. Zwift is pretty much my dream come true. The only thing that could be better in my cycling life is if AC/DC was playing live in my pain cave. I love video games and I love riding indoors, so Zwift makes more sense than Anna Kendrick being the spokeswoman for red solo cups. Plus, the addition of virtual racing is more motivating than a steroid scrotal patch. So I hear. Anyway, here I am with a few 200 fellow online riders. Best thing; none of them will judge me based on my cycling socks.
2017 heralds two big differences than my past Ironmn sacrifices. First, I am focusing on training smart and not just following a generic plan blindly. I have a good idea at this point what it takes to bring my body to optimal, so I am rolling with it. Second, anyone who has ever read this blog in the past know that I am a prolific home brewer and craft beer lover. It seems my liver has a sense or irony because for some reason, I find it hard to drink much beer these days. It’s like my body has developed a sort of allergy to beer. So I ended up cutting back extensively; it will be interesting to see how this affects my performance. And yeah, I’ve seen those posts about beer being a great recovery drink. Sure, maybe, but I can also find studies showing cocaine really improves interval performance. Everything in moderation. Except cocaine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no teatotaler either; I can drink single malt scotch or wine like the Rat Pack…all together.
Well, I guess there is one other big change. I now have a great running partner, with not only two great legs, but four. My family and I adopted a rescue dog from an incredible local shelter and the experience has been incredible. Best yet, she loves to run. As much as I enjoy riding inside, the dog is making me love running outside. I just can’t wait until I can run outside without a snow plow strapped to my waist.
So folks, I’m rebooted. I’m back in the game and ready to perform. Come along for the fun and runs!
It is the one. Well Maybe. Today, I want to share with you what I see as one of the most painful journeys to self satisfaction I have experienced in a long time. No, this is not a post about mind over matter in training with ridiculous references to the Matrix. This post is a more down to earth tale about man versus screwing.
First, some background. In 2004, I bought a 150 dollar trainer from Performance Bicycle to start my trip back into the cycling world. In the years between graduating high school and 2004, I had spent most of my training doing pizza and beer repeats. Since 2005, I have been using the same fluid trainer. Yes. Three Ironmans. 8 years of triathlon. On the same trainer. Here is what that looks like:
In addition to undergoing a transition from no resistance to high resistance after about 15 minutes of riding, my trainer sounded like a train trying to stop on a dime. So after I completed and passed my medical boards, I decided to reward myself with fancy schmancy Tacx Neo. Merry Christmas to me!
Of course, the trainer was on backorder, so it took a month to even ship. No problems; I figured I had waited 11 years, I can wait another month. Then, in mid December I received word the trainer was on its way and would be arriving right before Christmas. Great, what joyous, perfect timing! Except for the fact that I missed the UPS guy! Looks like my wait was going to be a bit longer. Finally, in early January, the 60 pound box arrived, and I jumped like Ralph with his new BB gun.
Out of the box it went like a bacon from the pan. Thanks to the instructions, the assembly was a cinch. As everyone already knows, you have to buy a cassette to go with the Tacx. The hub is a cool EDCO Multisys. Basically it is a hub that excepts both Shimano and Campy. I slid on my Shimano cassette, but my Shimano cassette tool didn’t fit. So I just decided to tighten by hand as much as I could and loaded up my bike.
Okay, so I just couldn’t wait any longer and I loaded up Zwift. The trainer paired up like Taylor Swift and lipstick: flawlessly. A few minutes later, I was cruising Zwift bathed in the soft glow of LED light and navigating along automatically changed resistance. The first ride was everything I imagined. Smooth. Alive. No more crunching along in my highest gear while just barely scraping my FTP. It was like a dream come true….except for the loud clunking. Yes, the scourge of DC Rainmaker’s comment section emanated from between my legs.”Clack-clack-clack-clack” pierced through the nirvana that is the Neo.
Into emergency diagnostic mode I went. Like a patient with chest pain, I went through every possibility, proceeding from most to least levels of probability. Adjust derailleur. Adjust quick release. Check cassette. Re-tighten cassette. Oil chain. Oil cassette. Drink beer. Try different bikes. Get bike tune up by LBS. Nothing I did mattered to the Neo.
So, after two days, I gave up to the one possibility I wished to avoid: my trainer was a fluke on the assembly line. Back in the box and back to Trisports it went. Exchange went smoothly, and after three weeks, another trainer was in my hand. Rinse and repeat and there I was again, clipped into my pedals. Cadence picked up and…..”Clack-clack-clack-clack!!!” After this, my mind was as fried as Jens Voight’s legs. In one last hope of desperation, I took my bike and trainer to Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish, Montana. I gave them my story and waited for the phone call.
There are some days you remember in your life. Your first kiss. Graduating from college. Your first Ironman finish. Thursday was one of those days. The bike store appeared on my phone, and I picked up the call with the trepidation of Wesley Snipes answering a call from the IRS. Was my bike framed cracked? Quarq bottom bracket busted? No. After all that, the culprit was…..a loose cassette!! Turns out, a few more turns of the screw with the proper tool was needed to cinch down the cassette. A campy cassette tool at that. This news was sort of like texting your friend that he left his phone at your house. Hilarious mixed with 2 shots of WTF.
The story came to the end this morning. Finally, after three months, I climbed atop my Christmas, Birthday and Boards present and pedaled off onto the Ironman Kona course. Whisper quiet. Smooth resistance changing with the terrain. Beautiful.
They say that good things comes to those who wait. In this case, my problem solving skills can be looked at as an investment in awesomeness. Glad to finally have the trainer of my dreams…just wish it had arrived sooner!