Monday, March 19, 2018

Grassland Half Marathon 20180317


pace Raluca first 3 miles.  part sandy course.  negative split.  nice weather: overcast.  good work out.

Garmin 630 GPS
12.7 mi@9:36
142/177 bpm

Garmin Connect data

photo via John Lai

Monday, January 1, 2018

A2A 2017/10/08, Georgia, USA. Flirting with tropical storm

This was to be my “A” event for 2017.  Base building went great, then training fell apart after Windhaven hill repeat x70.  Strength and speed sessions were interrupted by bike and run races, 8-ball tournament, and other life obligations.

I didn’t recover from Northshore 3 weeks prior.  I was confident with the distance but not speed.

Hang with Jessica and women lead pack.  Minimally I would contribute to downhill speed.  I couldn’t wait to go down Silver Hill for 11 straight years.

_surprises at Classic Center
A stranger with backpack holding a registration envelope approached, seemingly wanting something from me.  My guards went up.  He said he’s from Florida and was robbed in Atlanta that morning.  I lent him my phone and gave him some cash.  I wondered if I was just been had.

Weather was guaranteed to be unfavorable due to tropical storm.  “Noon Atlanta traffic with poor visibility and wet pavement.  Is it worth the risk?”

I decided to stick with full distance.  At least I could keep Jessica company.  Raluca and I ran into Jessica and Luke after packet pickup. Jessica convinced me to switch to 38-mile with her.  Raluca was relieved.

[leading the race with 86.999 miles to go]

_unrealistic expectation
90 minutes before race start, online weather forecast said mostly dry for the race.  Jessica and Luke swapped in dry wheels.

Half mile into the race, everyone was slipping with drizzle blurring sunglasses in darkness.

I thought I had a realistic chance to hang with Eddy for 2 hours.  The lead pack was quickly down to 14.  I decided to leave the pack 19:28 after the gun.  “Go ugly early.”  Nelson’s single bar advice applied here.

I was by myself for 20 minutes before group Candy picked me up.

_close call
Jesse came to a complete stop and turned 180 degrees.  He dropped his phone.  He drifted into opposite lane.  We shouted at him; he didn’t hear with music blasting through ear bugs.  Oncoming traffic swerved.

Sandra and Oswald begged 38-milers to go the whole way.  It was tempting; they could use the company.  I had plenty of legs at that speed; I struggled to decide.  “What risk am I willing to accept on this wet day?”  “What do I have to gain?”  Raluca made her preference clear.  I felt I let Oswald down.

_shutting it down
I inventoried competition 1 mile before finish line.  Just Jesse.  I explained the final T intersection and the immediate right turn.  I attacked but was unable to shake him easily.  I considered the variables and offered to tie.  Jesse accepted.  The final 2 turns were indeed unsafe.  We made it through for 3rd place finishes behind Jesus and Geisel.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 630XT
Distance:  38.38 mi
Time: 2:28:42
Speed: 15.5 mph
Elevation gain: 2430 ft

Distance: 38 mi
Time: 2:27:22
Speed:  15.5 mph
Place:  tie 3 over all

_post race party at Dacula
I changed into dry cloth before Luke and others rolled in.  We broke out beers Raluca bought and shared stories.  Jesse’s girlfriend yelled at him for the phone incidence.  It didn’t appear any of it passed through the wife filter.

The calmest pit bull guarded the bicycle shop.  I felt good being close to him.  Yvonne brought her baby; she played well with the puppy.

Bob and Raluca finally rolled into Dacula.  She got out of wet skates and sipped beer.  Everything worked out.

Monday, November 6, 2017

North Shore Inline Marathon 2017/09/16; Duluth, MN

I decided to train for NSIM in 2001.  I crashed at Allen Water Tower.  My employer demanded I stop skating before the telecom project finished.  4 jobs later, that telco project was still incomplete.

[broken nose]

My obligations changed in 2017.  It was time to experience the biggest inline skate race in North America.

Hang near the front.  Finish safely.  This was a training skate for A2A 3 weeks away.

 [fancy pre-trip dinner]

Duane sadly canceled the trip due to wrist surgery.

[view from hotel room]

_unrealistic expectation
Coming from Texas September weather, high 50’s F felt cold.  20 mph wind Friday made the discomfort hard to ignore.

[some handle cold wind better than others]
I started to fantasizing 22+ mph average speed.  The sun was behind thick cloud.
“So this was how Chad set the record on 80mm wheels.”

_2 Harbor start
I was surrounded by Rainbo and Bont skinsuits.

I was relieved the Boom wheels gripped the wet surface.  No one went out fast; everyone wanted to be near but not at the front.  Repeatedly, pace line split and merged.  I took hints from Rainbo guys as they changed lanes.  A few guys tried to get away; they got reeled in real quick.

I noticed my left leg's inability to push effectively.  I adjust under-push to compensate.

[things felt under control at mile 3;  photo by Maureen Steltz Photography]

_self-inflicted wound
I saw a bug at corner of right eye; I tried wiping it off the lens before realizing I wasn’t wearing glasses.  Larry Griffin passes me in a pack of 4 as I pushed the bug into my eye.
[ photo by Maureen Steltz Photography]

I knew I should’ve followed Larry but was preoccupied with bug moving under eyelid.  The moment passed.  I tried to be content with current position.  The uncoordinated pace group shape-shifted like a sardine ball.  There were 20 to 50 skates in front of me at any given time.
I couldn’t complaint.  I moved at 20 mph not facing the wind.  I focused on staying up right.

A gap formed at mile 6.  I covered it but couldn’t close the next gap after wasting legs for couple minutes.  I hid behind long-legged Gary who caught me, watching the advanced lead pack staying in sight.

[pros looked intense;  photo by Maureen Steltz Photography]

First crash in lead pack happened at mile 7.  The guy looked stunned sitting on the ground.  2 miles later another racer went down the same way.  I was spooked.  I went to the front so I could see the road.

Everyone settled 30 minutes into the race.  I haven’t skated this fast for this long since Texas Flyer days.  I was determined to enjoy the day and stop thinking about the 40 skaters who got away.  “Just stay safe.”

No one wanted to push the pace at half way point.  Speed dropped.  Soon our pack was down to 10 or so.  The only girl actually apologized for skipping pulls.  We let her stay.

_Lemon Drop Hill
The pace was barely a line by the time we came to the big hill.  One guy attacked; I followed; we failed.

_They shut down Highway 35 for the race
The pack wasted energy not staying in line on the empty freeway.  The surface near the tunnels were slippery.  I backed off and lost my position before the exit ramp.

_shutting it down
The ramp out of the freeway was my final chance to improve position.  My legs were surprisingly dead.

[muscles out of shape for this intensity;  photo by Maureen Steltz Photography]

A volunteered shouted “slow down.”  I had little to gain by going against her advice.  I let others go around me at the final 90-degree turn.

I was elated to finish safely and check NSIM off my bucket list.

GPS Garmin Forerunner 630XT
Distance:  26.4 mi
Time: 1:23:18
Speed: 19.0 mph

Distance: 26.2 mi
Time: 1:23:03
Speed: 18.9 mph
Place:  (36/711 finishers) in advanced group
61F; 7 mph NE wind

[Texas participants]


Hang out with Harwell and Oswald over pizza, bar food, beer, and Jenga.

[beers and fried protein were good for recovery]

[sunny the day after race]

[Mall of America before departure]

Monday, September 25, 2017

Richardson Corp Challenge Billiard 8-ball 2017/09/25 Monday 6pm

Partner 8-ball.  My first pool tournament on real table in decades.

I reached the venue after unsuccessful attempt to nap in my office.  It'd be a long night if we were competitive.  I was nervous during the drive to smoke-filled Billiard Den.

_what felt like betrayal
Andrea canceled with little notice.  Meghan Stockinger graciously agreed to join.  Former intern Ashley had minimal experience with pool.  I spent most of my practice time helping her with bridge.  Our women's team lost 2 straight games.

_learning curve
Women's team came close to winning 1 match except for a scratch on 8-ball.

Holly and I lost our first match.  Holly was inconsistent making long shots; I judged table speed poorly.  Things slowly improved through out the night.

_feeling old
10 pm.  I couldn't stop thinking about bed time.  1 opponent asked me if we could use his personal measles cue ball.  My first reaction was "get off my lawn.  I was too wired to nap in car.

_semi (game 5)
Holly lost concentration in semi final.  We won confidently because half of other team was drunk.  I started to feel the ball: banking, curving, and hooking became realistic.  Some spectators had never seen this level of play and showed appreciation.  I wouldn't need to attempt so many tough shots if I had cue ball control.  Shane van Boening I was not.

_rolling through the field
John peaked for the tournament.  Chris was making good shots.  They won the winner's side for the double elimination.  Neither would be here if Robert and Brandon didn't give up their spots despite winning the tryout.

_finals (game 6 & 7)
Everyone was tired by 11pm.  Didn't expect Brandon to stick around to moral support.

Holly regained composure.  I was finally able to string small runs.  I never had the chance to take out the jumpy.  We simply outplayed the other team for 2 straight matches.

Chris missed a simple shot and missed out on the chance to run out for the gold.

We were 1 point away from team gold.  We could've used Andrea.

We left Billiard Den at midnight smelling like ash trays.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Richardson Corp Challenge Run 5k 2017/09/10 Sunday

5k run race wasn't ideal this time of the year 6 days before Duluth Inline Marathon.  I didn't train and hoped for 7:05 pace.  I figured 22-minute finish would give Systemware a chance at podium assuming John Stewart started sensible pace, and the girls would average 9:00 pace. 

Lauren and Andrea both canceled, which made me want to bail too.  My time would be better spent skating Windhaven.

_out numbered
I didn't expect so many people. 
Southwest Airline:177
Texas Instruments: 111
Raytheon: 119
Pioneer Natural Resources: 164
PepsiCo: 103

I walked around all the participates and inserted myself 3rd row from start line.
The weather was great.

The gun went off on time.  I held 7:00 pace and was immediately passed by hundreds--some were in full sprint.  I felt good and nailed most passers back by 2-mile mark. 

I caught a big pack with less than half mile to go.  I went sub 6-minute pace. 

John Steward came in shortly after in Vibrams.
Seeley crossed the line huffin and puffin.
Robert Johnson set a PR.
I put on skates to keep Yi and hubby company.
Systemware ended up 2nd to last place ahead of an incomplete team.


Garmin 630xt
Distance: 3.06 mi
Time: 20:31
pace: 6:42 mph
HR: 169/190 bpm

Distance: 5 km (3.10686 mi)
Time: 20.34
Pace: 56th over all
winning time: 15:25

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Hotter n Hell 100-mile bike ride 8/26/2017; Hurricane Harvey weekend

I skipped 2016 due to funeral in Taiwan.  2017 bike season had been unfocused and plagued by equipment issue.  I was confident PR of 4:36 was out of reach.  The legs struggled to recover from 9-mile time trial.  I wasn’t sure if the wheel alignment and new chain fixed the rear derailleur issue.  I was not anticipating ideal weather.

I was disappointed Murrells couldn’t make it.  Casey was recovering from Leadville 100 trail run.  Voon decided to do another race.  Casey’s coworker Joe took up the spare bedroom at Ann’s.

Good visit with Ann.
Injury-free, bonk-free.
Finish before noon => average 20.3 mph

[Ann’s new dog Wesley]

Rudy Project continued to have attractive helmet and sunglasses at unattractive price.
Most products made me feel I belong to an older generation.  The attendees made me feel young.  A 70-year-old observed that average age seems to rise by 1 year every year.

I bought bunch gels for Brandon and Robert’s first marathon and some gifts for Raluca.  I acquired enough Roctane for A2A and next 2 marathons.

Rain came before spaghetti dinner.  I put on the rain coat and was unconcerned about wet ride.  I scripted a 5:30 mostly solo ride.  This would be a training ride for A2A.

_century ride
Pre-ride went as planned.  I watched the fly by and office start from top of the bridge at 7:05am.  Air was humid but cool.  Mild wind.  Hurricane Harvey was 400 miles away.

The lead pack was led by a unfit-looking road cyclist using aero bar.  I let couple hundreds go before jumping in.

_easy first 50 miles
Garmin 310XT said mostly 23 or 26 mph with low heart rate.  I appeared to be in better shape than anticipated.  No one seemed to work too hard.  We were on track for 4:30 finish.  I wished I was fit to capitalize on the condition.  I disposed a full bottle at rest stop, disgusted I carried the dead weight for half the race.

_Hells Gate
I cut the timing chip to barebone and wondered if the sensor would pick the signal (it didn’t).

[timing chip setup unapproved by the organizer]

The big group split.  I was with 20 other guys and started to play team time trial.  Half the group wanted nothing to do with rotation.  We were quickly down to 9 and was swallowed by a chasing group.

Most boy scouts were surprised to see us.  Some riders didn’t get the anticipated water.  I took a long sip on my 2nd 700ml bottle and gave the remaining to a grateful triathlete.  I carried 100% too much water and felt like an idiot.

It wasn’t hard to stay in the group, but yo-yoing was scary at times.  The pace was erratic.  GPS showed 18 to 24 mph.  The pack lifted its pace suddenly; not everyone was ready.  I jerked my handle bar to avoid rear-ending.  I ended up riding on mud and grass.

_riding into ditch
I never unclipped.  By the time my wheels contacted pavement again, I was 20 seconds behind.  I chased.  Pack’s acceleration felt like deliberate: it spitted out 4 other guys.  I burnt all my matches futilely.

I worked with the only willing rider in sight.  I provided short pulls for which he excessively thanked me.  He pulled into R8 rest stop at mile 77.  I struggled to stay in the group that caught me.  I anticipated the wall to hit.

The wall didn’t come; the struggle prolonged.  The sun came out.  I worried I didn’t have enough water.  Things looked up at the mile-91 turn.  Head wind ended; pavement improved; suffering didn’t ease; we just went faster.  Left calf hinted cramping; I regretted carrying extra water instead of promotional sample Hotshot from the expo.  The twitch didn’t bloom into full cramp.

Top time in 2017’s beautiful weather was 4:04:55.
In 2015, top time was 4:13:18 when I rode 4:36:44

Water: 2x 24 oz + 2x 700ml (1000 ml unused).
Gel: 7
Jelly bean: 1
Endurolyte: 4 pills.

GPS: Garmin 310xt
Distance = 100.2 mi
Speed = 22.0 mph
Time = 4:33:52
HR = 147/171 bpm;
Power = 142/788 w
No stop

Butt was sore from riding at the seat tip.  I was unable to bend over to unbuckle the shoes.
I screwed up the chance to break 4:30 for the event but cherished the experience to struggle for the final 30 miles.  I remembered the 2004 promised: I wouldn’t waste the freedom if spine surgery succeeded.  2017 turned out to be a beautiful ride.

_reference point
2009 with yoga injury:
Time: 4:42:57
Speed: 21.2 mph
Heart rate: 155/180bpm
Stop #1: pee against fence at mile 27
Stop #2: regroup after bonking: mile 91
slow final 12 miles
Ride data:

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Richardson Corp Challenge Bike 15k 2017/08/20

This was 1 of the 22 events Richardson hosted.  The written rules were wordy yet unclear partly because the word “team” was used for 3 contexts:
- The 4 riders whose time actually went into result
- The up to 20 riders who ride with timing chips
- All riders representing the company
There’s no rule against motor.  What would the organizer do if I showed up with Ninja?

Riders were not educated on passing.  We ended up slicing between riders and going outside of cones to avoid contact.

Not embarrass myself and the team.  Crash-free.

1 lane was blocked off but the corners weren’t well thought out given # of inexperienced riders.

I took off on my 12-year-old QR and the only sperm looking helmet in the whole event.  Ashley latched on.  I couldn’t imagines the girls accelerating quickly.  Beaney probably wasn’t ready on his hybrid.  For the first time I realized the ancient helmet had a huge blind spot from aero position.

First right was the only clear turn I didn’t worry about collision.  We made the turn without braking.  I made remaining turns conservatively and probably paid many seconds for safety.

Ashley took over on Waterview Parkway.  He attacked the hill with enthusiasm.  Neither of us knew how to pace a 9-mile TT; we went too hard.

The 2 Indian girls at Central right turn weren’t aware we were catching them at 28 mph.  I braked.  Ashley had to wait on 75 surface road.  The right turn was well-marked at Palisades Creek Dr.  Ashley stopped looking fluid once we started the long climb.  He told me to go, I decided to slow and hope he’d recover.  This was supposed to be a team time trial.  We barely made half way.

My heart rate was recovered by Campbell; legs didn’t bounce back.  Mild head wind.  I had the faster bike.  I accelerate gradually and hoped Ashley would hang on.  He did.  I struggled to reach for 26 mph.  The final right turn came quicker than expected.  I gave Ashley the lead.

Giving the cop and other racers too much room, I turned onto sidewalk at 20.8 mph.  I had to jump off a curb, Peter Sagan-like.  Wish there's a video.  Very happy having no road rash.  Heart rate transmitter broke just before race ended.

Garmin 310xt
Distance: 8.74 mi
Time: 22:42
Speed: 23.1 mph
HR: 165/180 bpm

Distance: 8.95 mi
Time: 22.38
Speed: 23.7 mph
Pace: 1st in division D

Tony Martin: 33.5 mph for 40k at 2017 TT World Championship.