Friday, January 30, 2009

All along the road...

There are very few single acts of courage, confidence and conviction that I have witnessed personally but along the road to Lake San Antonio, I met a man named James.

James stood at the bottom of the hill. He waited and waited until he was ready and held his left arm out high imploring any cars that might approach to stop.

He steps into the street and slowly takes another step and then another.

James is 70 maybe 75 years old and he is moving VERY slowly but with extreme purpose.

He is determines to get to the other side.

I watch this and wonder why James is alone – shouldn’t he have someone with him.

A frail older man can get hurt and may need help.

I stop pedaling and put my bike down on the sidewalk.

I say Good Morning and I ask James if he could use some help and he says yes.

“How can I help?” – I ask.

Can you get me to the left side of the road where the road slopes off.

I say sure and he takes my arm at my elbow and we walk VERY slowly to the edge of the street. I ask him why he is out here by himself and he says he is “getting some exercise” and I laugh and say "Yeah, me too."

We learn each others names – say goodbye and I pedal off.

James goes back to his walk – slowly – purposely and with ultimate conviction…stepping to feel the road where it slopes off to the edge of the street…

Confirming his position without his eyes but with his white cane – tapping from left to right and back again.

Riding and running outside our usual routes can be SO amazing and this last week I had a chance to really experience this.

Running at 6am on the San Francisco bay with the sun streaks starting to break the darkness lighting the bridge - only runners get to see the bridge like this.

Riding over the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Headlands - great road and views.



Climbing Mount Tam from Mill Valley and ending up on one of the most PERFECT roads I have ever ridden. Giant redwoods and coastal views with very few cars.

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Riding from Paso Robles to Lake San Antonio and back (ok – back should have been MUCH shorter but I miscalculated – 5:00 total and only 65 miles - that includes 7,000 feet of climbing) and getting to check out the Wildflower course.

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Riding to the top of Figueroa Mountain outside of Solvang from sea level to over 3400’ with a LOT of grades over 15%.

Figueroa Mountain Road, Solvang, CA

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At the base of the climb…


Wow – that is a long way up…


The day started at 37 degrees and I am half way to the top and it’s getting really warm…


At the top over 3,000 feet and 1:20 minutes of straight climbing with most of it standing in my bail out gear.




This past week was really something incredible…

I worked a bunch...and got to train in some very cool places.

Hopefully everyone gets to experience something truly different in their training...

It reminds us there is more to it than just numbers...

and maybe along the way meet someone like James.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Random notes from the week…

Sometimes my blogs have a point and other times they are just for amusement – mine mostly - this one has no point - sorry :)

I am in SFO (San Francisco for the non-frequent flier crowd) and it was Planes, Trains and Automobiles to get here.


The good news was as much as I fly I got upgraded and that meant free movies, breakfast and all you can drink Diet Cokes. They even had power in the seats now without a converter – very cool.

So – I am out west for work for 2 weeks and a few surgical conferences and I knew this trip would have some downtime on the weekends so I brought my bike.

Thanks to Paulie Fitness for the bike case that doesn’t really look like a bike case I got through check in without the $175 surcharge – BIG BONUS.

TSA decided to make sure that bike was not a national security threat – and as usual the curious georges did their inspection and less than perfect repacking job. I saved $175 on the baggage but TSA cost me $60 for a new derailer hanger and barrel adjuster – I can’t imagine how hard they jump on the case to get the metal to bend but they did.

I goggled shops near my hotel and I found Pacific Bikes on 4th street. These guys TOTALLY HOOKED me up. I brought in my broken ride and in a few hours it was not only fixed but tuned and the damage with a few CO2’s on the bill $60.00 – too cool – thanks guys!!!

In the interim between having a complete hissy fit at my ride being trashed and getting it fixed I needed to get my mellow on and went for one of my favorite runs in the world.

It runs from Market street to Embarcadero to fisherman’s wharf (listen to the seals barking) and around the corner and over the hill to the Marina. I dig this run as I have done it SO many times in my life and they are years apart. It is really cool to reflect on the different stages of my life when I ran here. Passing the Aquatic park I am always amazed to see some idiots in the water swimming laps around the course with no wetsuits…REALLY. It’s cold out and the water is frigid and these guys (and a woman this time) just always seem to be there.

Stopping at the Marina I got to look out at Alcatraz and that was awesome.


The Escape from Alcatraz will remain as one of my TOP races I have ever done as it is just that cool.



I started back and even picked up the pace enough to feel like a runner again and finished my 15K in 1:20 – a few minutes off my River run effort :)

There are certain places that I dig running in and this city is one of them.

I dig it so much I ran again today and finished the big loop – starting at the Marina and heading up to the Golden Gate and over the hill to beach and back. I like to ice my legs after running and cycling and I forgot my Recover Gear so I opted for the all natural alternative.

It was NOT as nice but still such a cool moment I went back to the car for my camera.


I think Newton should start a picture program where they have their shoes featured all over the world – it would be a cool collage – here are my entries…


I know…I am shameless and I will definitely send this in to them and ask from some swag :)


Speaking of running – I saw a cool link on Matt Fitzgeralds post – check out

Other random coolness:

C-Bone’s B-Ball Team is undefeated (ok – they don’t keep score but he is STILL undefeated)!!!

I dig the logo T’s on 5 year olds :)

Coen BB 038

Speaking of 5 year olds – Tim Houston gets his running leg on February 3rd – BIG PROPS to Challenged Athlete Foundation – I will be raising money for them again at St. Anthony’s – they do good work. The link below is from the original story.

Also - this is from B. Hart – this is NUTZ!!!

wingsuit base jumping from Ali on Vimeo.

That’s all for this entry – off to dinner with a client and then back at work tomorrow.

With some luck I plan on riding in the Headlands tomorrow afternoon doing the Brett Snyder favorite route…it ain’t flat :)

I can feel my knees asking for the icy bay already :)

Speaking of not flat – below is a guest post from Freddie B…I hope you enjoy it – Rich and I laughed our a$$es off :)

This is totally for your amusement..........and it's all true. I had to share this with someone and you're one of the few people I know who will "Get It" and appreciate it for what it is.

So the other day I'm reading your blog and you mentioned something about riding Alpe d'huez. So I'm thinking that would be cool, I gotta give that a try.

So I download the course, load er up, fire up the computrainer and let the games begin.

Keep in mind, I've got the your time for the ride in the back of my head (close to 59 minutes). Now I fully realize that there's "No Way" I'm doing a 59 but I'd like to think I could do a reasonable time. See back in the good ole days, dudes would just plop em on a table and see who's is bigger, that settled most things between guys. Now we've got things like Watts, Watts per kilo, Heart Rate, total time, how many puke buckets we filled, sweat puddles etc etc. Sorry I digress, back to my story.

So away I go...the first 6 miles are a breeze, just flat, keeping my heart rate in zone 1-2, able to talk, watch TV, just enjoying my time. I know the hill is coming, but i'm looking forward to "Bustin a Move for 21 switchbacks. I'm watching the clock tick by and start to calculate my potential finish time.

Then the 6.01 mile mark goes by and we go from 0% grade to 7.9%. OK, I can deal, I've paid for all of my gears, might as well use them. The first few minutes are hard but doable. the legs needed to make the switch from 90 rpm to 60 rpm. Then we jump to 10.5% grade.....this is not good.....out of the saddle time. Heart Rate jumps to 175, (High Zone 3, pushing Zone 4) What seemed like miles going by we're only tenths of a mile going by. I'm starting to smell burnt rubber, and I am working my A$$ off. I sweat thru the first towel. Now the mind games. I'm only 1.5 miles into the hilly part and I'm trying to justify only riding 2 miles on the hills today and doing the other 6 miles another day. Who's going to know. Then I think back to the blog and those dark places your mind takes you (damn you Billy Hart) and I keep on, keeping on.

By this time I'm doing the math.....6 miles per hour, 6 more miles SH!T, that puts me at 1:30 for the entire course. How the HELL did Burke do this in 59? (editor – I actually rode JUST the climb – not the flats – Freddie did 5 miles more – to me that makes it even funnier :))

Anyway, I've still got 3 more miles and I'm praying for the grade to drop to 7% from 12.2%. How sick is that, I want the grade to only be 7% just to give my quads a break. By now I have seen my heart rate max out at 193 - not time to call 911 but getting close. I know I'm still watching TV, but I couldn't tell you whats on. I'm just focused on getting up this freakin hill.

2.5 miles to go, which at this rate is 20 minutes or so, I'm almost spent and I need a quick fix: some type of gel, which of course, I don't have. there's no way I'm getting off the bike becase I'd never get back on. So I pick up the phone and call Nikki's cell (she's in the other room) I barley sqeek out: Water....Gel....quick. She got the message and came armed with fuel. I down the gel, swigged back some H2O and began the final push

I'm watching my ave speed drop like a stone, my heart rate ave rise to new levels and cursing the day I ever bought this damn computraner.

Well, I'm glad to report I did finish. 1:28 and change.

Hopefully this is one of those training sessions that I remember when times get tough during IMFLA. I'll know I've banked some harder miles.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Back to work...

One of my favorite lines is:

“Looks like you’ve been missing a lot of work lately”
“Well I wouldn’t say I have been *missing* it Bob.” (Office Space)

Sometimes training is fun – other times it is work… and this week it was time to get back to work.

It started on Tuesday with a BRUTAL ride with VMS Client #1 Paul Cantin. He was in town for our National Sales Meeting and the company holds a golf tournament we were not chosen for a team...damn :)

Anyway, we decided to get in a few hours or riding in the valley instead. The weather ended up being BRUTAL and the golf tournament was cancelled – we still chose to ride. It was 48 degrees and pouring rain and we rode 2 hours.

We joked about how this was a good omen…the same thing happened last year and we rode in the chilly rain.

I dig it…training is supposed to be tough – physically and mentally and this one was pretty hard. I kept thinking to myself, I am out here…I am training in this crap…this is going to make me strong – very few other idiots would have ridden outside in 48 degree rain – we did.

Looking back over last year I think the most important key training session I did was a series of 3 hour trainer rides in the pain cave.


I actually did a lot of them. Most of these were done at very specific work levels and a many of them had hour runs off the bike. This was also some of the best mental work I did – I got really used to suffering in silence and watching the watts tick off – yeah I know – it’s sick but I dig the trainer.

B. Hart likes to say, when you spend some quality time in the deep dark places in your mind – they are not that scary anymore…I agree completely.

Friday, I had listened to a Mark Allen interview on Ironman racing and he talked about the mental aspect of the race…it was brilliant.

He talked about a lot of techniques I really dig and it was nice to have some of my crazier thoughts validated.


One really funny line he had (paraphrasing)…it doesn’t matter how much you visualize it…if you have not done the training – it’s not going to happen. You have to do the work...three hours in the Pain Cave...that's work :)

He also talked about quieting your mind – not trying to be happy…that is sometimes too hard…but instead just trying to be in tune with the nature around you. This was cool…just to be neutral and not go negative.

I log all of my rides and my runs in my training log – every one of them without fail. Some of my best rides and runs I also log mentally for when I need them. I try to build a portfolio of 3-4 great hours of running and 5-6 hours of cycling from my training to take me somewhere else when I need to escape to neutrality.

Getting back to the point – this weekend I started my ’09 collection…

This weekend it was BRUTALLY cold all along the eastern seaboard. Even in Florida it was in the teens with the wind chill – time to hit the trainer for the 1st of many 3 hour rides.


The computrainer made this not only possible but actually pretty fun – I know – I have issues :)

I wanted to work some long climbs so I chose to ride a few sections of Stage 17 of 2008 Tour de France and did Croix du Fer and Alpe d’Huez.


The 1st climb took 1:33 minutes straight…that was only 13 or 14 miles.




Next was Alpe d’Huez.


I don’t know what a “good” time is for that climb but I went 59 and change…I think the Pro’s go nearly 25 minutes faster – I can’t even relate.



Anyway – it was fun and it is logged…and it is in the collect for when I need it.

Getting back to work feels good, the dark places in my mind are just how I remember when I left them last…I logged a good hour – it’s in the bank…and when I need to focus this season, the crest of HC summit isn’t a bad image to visualize…especially when you’ve done the work.


Thanks Paul – I’m glad we rode…HTFU? We did :)

Thanks Mark – your words inspire!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The 1st of 2009 – blogs that is…

It’s the 14th of January and I am finally caught up enough to write this entry.

Work has been keeping me VERY busy with our fiscal year end and a National Sales Meeting which I am responsible for. Being busy is good for me and working actually makes me happy. Seriously, unlike a lot of people I know, I really dig what I do for a living…simply put…I LOVE my job. Sure, there are times over the past 15 years when I have not liked it but it is probably less than 10 times.

I am extremely lucky to work in an industry that has been barely touched by the current financial turmoil and we are still having record years and celebrating them.

Besides that, we get to do some good for people and in a corny kinda way – I think that’s cool…

More on this later next week…

Results and Raves

JC is simply incredible!!!

She really makes me wonder what she can become…This past weekend she raced at the Disney Marathon. She was 4th. No…NOT IN HER AGE GROUP…4th Female Overall!!!!

Clock Time 2:56:16
Chip Time 2:56:05
Overall Place 55 / 14940
Gender Place 4 / 7139
Division Place 1 / 1166
Age Grade 77%
5 Mile 33:54
10 Mile 1:07:44
Half Split 1:28:13
20 Mile 2:13:21

Check out her splits – they are NEGATIVE. Simply incredible race…she is back to the 3 sport routine in a few weeks so watch out – she is going to CRUSH it this year.


This is the current Disney Sports page and that is our cheeka in the middle – don’t forget the little people – (no midget – I don’t mean you :))


Base Challenge

Coming into December I wanted to do something to create some motivation and competition amongst the cyclists. Base season can be hard if you are training by yourself and with everyone working and the Holidays, training can be hard. I wrote a plan and posted it.

VMS Clients

The idea was to do 30 days of cycling and the winner would be the one who stuck to the plan. It started and ended with a power test and included intervals, hill climbs, long slow days, easy spins, rest days, strength and even Yoga. You could ride extra hours on the weekend to log more time but in order to get “full credit” you had to do the workout on the prescribed day. The winner would be the one with the highest points.

Yes, there was also a little smack talk but I couldn’t back that up so let’s move on…yes Kerry…I am your beeeeeeeaccccchhhhhhh :)

There were 7 of us that started and 6 finished. After almost 3 weeks of not missing a single workout, Will Larson from Tampa was hit by a car that ran a stop sign on a “rails to trails” style path where he was doing an easy spin. The brunt of the impact was to his ankle and he will recover but has to stay off the bike for a few more weeks. We wish him a speedy recover.

There were two rankings – GC (training plan) and PowerMan (power to weight ratio).

The PowerMan winner was Karel Sumbal who went from 290 to 295 watts and dropped 3 pounds in the process giving him a power to weight ratio of 4.57 which is GREAT!!! Congrats Karel – these sessions will make a BIG difference in the final 5 minutes on race day.

In the GC race, the overall leader was not decided until the final week.

It was close…really close and REALLY wasn’t close at all :)

Curtis decided that he wanted to win and logged a ridiculous amount of hours and miles. His monthly hours were over 80 hours with 1470 miles on the bike and 292 of those in the last 5 days.

I think we all got a lot out of this and set the foundation for a great year. Congrats to Jeff (Highest wattage), Kerry for kicking my a$$ (see note above), Will for not missing a day and even getting in some Yoga.

The overall winner, Curtis, even scored some bling from Chris Lieto’s Base Performance Company. (Hey the contest was called Base challenge…I figured it was a good tie in and besides I dig his products so I asked – can’t hurt to ask :))


Chris is an incredible athlete, speaker and an absolute guru when it comes to nutrition and performance.

His products REALLY make sense and I dig the balance of east / west and Green philosophy that he has created in the line. If you have not tried it…you should…and thanks for the bling Chris…


That’s a wrap for now – off to bed and then on the treadmill in the morning…off season is over – Kerry is kickin’ my butt on the bike, on the run and in the pool…time for some double double top secret animal style training…

Hey Kerry ever had an In and Out burger…they are low fat and really GOOD for ya – wanna bite? :)


Thursday, January 8, 2009