Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blue Monkey Sojourn

This past weekend was the third annual "Blue Monkey Sojourn." It's not as well known as the Schuylkill Sojourn, but it is on the Schuylkill and it is a sojourn.

We put in at Aubern, PA. around 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. The weather was beautiful and we had smooth paddling. We stopped at the abandoned rail bridge below Aubern for a break and some exploring and fished a little also.

We departed from the bridge around 4:00 p.m. and made our way to our campsite. Again the level of the water made for a nice paddle. Along the way I fished a little using my fly rod, but was only able to land one fall fish. I also missed a smallmouth.

Got into camp around 5:00 p.m. and set-up the tents. After setting up, we tried fishing again, but the water was just a little too cold and I was only able to catch one smallmouth - on my first cast, no less.

This was my oldest son's, Kyler's, 4th overnight canoe trip; it was the shakedown cruise for my youngest son, Tristan. Both boys had a blast and enjoyed the freedom that camping affords: freedom to get dirty, explore, play with sticks in the fire, cook hot dogs and make s'mores.

The night was cool, perfect for sleeping and listening to night sounds. We were awakened at 5:30 by a wild turkey. My friend Matt said it best upon arising, "there's nothing better than to awake to a wild turkey, see the mist rising from the river and discovering fresh deer Sh** behind your tent."

After a quick breakfast we struck camp and headed down the river. It was beautiful morning. As we were paddling, Kyler yelled out, "Dad, there is a beaver." I'm going to have to work on some wildlife ID with him, because it was actually a mink.

The lower section, before arriving into Port Clinton, has some tricky sections, but with the exception of a sideways canoe that stayed upright, we all made it through okay. All in all it was a great two days paddling through the Appalachians.

Enjoy the video created by Cory Fisher.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

"Got The Nerve" Race Report

Drove out of Mount Joy yesterday on my way to Got The Nerve and saw the thermometer: 45 degrees. I thought to myself, that's only 13 degrees above freezing, and it has been a cold damp week, and Mount Gretna Lake is filled by small mountain streams...this was going to be a another Polar Bear Plunge.

I arrived at Gretna early and and was one of the first ones to get set up. I enjoy having a lot of time to prepare and relax. I can't sleep once I hear the birds outside, so rather than lay in bed, I like to get moving to get rid of the nervous energy. Followed the same ritual/set-up procedures from last week with the exception of tying my running shoes ahead of time. After a slow T2 transition last week, because of cold hands and the inability to tie my shoes, I opted to run in shoes that were a little less snug. Saw a lot of people I knew including students, friends, co-workers and acquaintances I have met through triathlons and enjoyed chatting with them while setting up. The sun was beginning to rise over the trees and it was starting to warm up and become a beautiful day for racing. Went for a 20 minute run with form drills, and it was a good thing I did, because the strap holding my timing chip broke. When I returned it to the tent the guy said, "that's odd, that never happens." Well it did, but at least it happened during warm-up. Returned to my gear and got my wetsuit on for the swim.


We had five minutes to jump into the lake before the first wave went off and I took advantage of it. The water was definitely colder than last week at Pinchot, but again, after the initial shock of a little water seeping down the top of the suit, everything was okay. I swam a few strokes then got out to await the start. We started from the beach and I decided that this year, I wasn't going to be timid. I got in the front, and went out with the pack and muscled and clawed my way to the first buoy. Last year I panicked when I bumped into people, this year I stood my ground, or should I say "water." I got into a rhythm rather quickly and established a consistent bilateral breathing pattern. Things were going smooth. I was hanging with the pack and even began to overtake swimmers from the first wave, but then I noticed the water appeared darker. I looked up to mark and, damn, I was in the shadow of the trees, which meant I veered slightly off-course. I quickly adjusted and made it to the next buoy and headed in. I swam hard and didn't stop swimming until I touched bottom. Stood up, wobbled a little, but had a good run up to the transition area.


After a fast transition, for me, I was out on the road. I don't know what it is about the course at Gretna, but once again, I had trouble clicking into my pedals. This didn't cost me a lot of time, but while I was fiddling around, I noticed a a guy with a "45" on his calf pass me, so I knew I had to play catch-up with him. I finally managed to get clipped in, and off I went. I was moving fast, but wasn't gaining ground on "45." We got to the first hill, which is one of the biggest hills on any course I have ever raced on, and I Wes able to reel in a few bikers, but not "45." He manged to stay about 50 yards ahead of me. I did, however, reel in one person in my age group on the hill, so I moved up a little in the standings. The ride went well, but the wind picked up and we were pushing head winds at times, which slowed me down a little. No matter what I did "45" stayed 50 yards ahead of me. At one point, I thought of making a move, but a truck passed me then stopped in front of me at a stop sign, I was screaming, Go, Go!! and the volunteer at the intersection was waving frantically for him to get moving, but he was oblivious as to what was going on. I lost momentum and had to shift down, and this was the last time on the bike that I had a chance to catch "45." Although I didn't catch "45" I did pass two other riders in my age group, so I knew I was moving up. I would have to make my hay on the run.


Transition went well, but it was slightly slower than last week. Part of this was because even though I had my shoes pre-tied, I started to run with my bike helmet on, so I had to take a few seconds to run back and take it off. The run course a Gretna, begins with a small, but taxing incline. I could feel that my quads were tight, so I shortened my stride and took it easy going up the hill. Once over the top, I could feel my legs loosen a bit and I opened it up. No sooner did I begin to feel loose than, lo and behold, my old friend "45" appeared. Maybe I could not catch him on the bike, but I had no problem catching him on the run. I went by him fast and, he never went with me, so again, I moved up in the standings. Got to the rail trail and was feeling good, but winded. The first part of the trail is on a slight decline, so I had a chance to settle down a little and drop my heart rate, During this time I came upon another runner in my age group and sat on him for about 400 yards, once my heart rate dropped I made a move on him and he didn't go with me either. Moved up another place. I got my legs under me much quicker than last week and really was able to open it up the last 1.5 miles and had fun picking people off including two more in my age group. Again, I remembered the words from my friend Rob Duffield, who said to me at last years race when I was staring to flag, "finish with dignity." I found another gear and sprinted home to the finish, passing one more runner in my age group, which turned out to be the one I needed to pass to place.

Results and Final Comments

63rd overall; 3rd in my age group, WOOHOO!! more hardware (Actually, glassware. They gave out pint glasses to the winners with our place on it)

Swim, 12:43 (2:33 pace); T1, 1:36; Bike, 46:52 (19.3 mph); T2, 1:14; Run, 22:23 (7:13 pace)

* My swim time was only slightly better than last year, despite feeling that I swam faster. After talking to people, everybody swam slower this year than last year. It could have been the cold water, but I think the course was slightly longer. Others felt the same way.

* I still need to work on transitions. With limited time to train, it's hard to devote training to just transitions, but I have to come up with some time-saving procedures.

* Do I want to do an Olympic distance triathlon? I don't know. I'm in good enough shape, but the thought of being in the water for 1500m doesn't thrill me. It's not the ability to swim 1500m, and it's not the fear of being in open water for that long. It's the slowness of swimming that drives me nuts. I'm thinking I will try to do two more sprints this year and continue to work on my technique then undertake an Olympic distance.

* Training for triathlons is more fun than training for marathons; racing in triathlons is more fun than running marathons. With that said, training for Boston is largely why I'm more successful this season. Guess I'll have to do Boston again next spring. Why not, there's nothing else to do over the winter

* SEALs bonk; Marines finish. My buddy was on a relay team with a Navy SEAL who was doing the swim leg. He never finished the course. I heard, however, that his hair looked good and that he had cool sunglasses.

* Once again Chris Kaag put on another quality event. The organization was superb and the volunteers were outstanding, OOHRAH!!!

* Congratulations to Manheim Township students Josh Sindorf and Sean Delaney. They finished first and second respectively in their age group.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Training Report 5/19-5/25

I'm getting ready for the Got the Nerve Sprint Triathlon this Saturday, so I kept my workouts fairly short, but intense this week.

Monday - rest
Tuesday - 4 mile run with 4x800m @ 6:30 pace, 1:00 RI between 800s
Wednesday - light weight routine in the morning; 16 miles with 5x1000m at 22-23 mph with a .25 mile RI on the bike in the evening.
Thursday - 1200 yards in the pool with some fast 50s.
Friday - rest
Saturday - race
Sunday/Monday - Canoe trip down the Schuylkill River with the boys

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pinchot Triathlon Race Report

47 degrees this morning under clear skies; water temps in the 60s. What a great day for a triathlon. Awoke at 4:50, dressed, loaded my bike and off I went to Pinchot Park which is about 50 minutes from my house.

Got to Pinchot around 6:00 a.m. and got a primo spot on the racks, right on the end. Set up my gear and checked in. I didn't go down to the lake, but someone said the water temps were in the 60s. There has been a lot of rain in the last couple of days, so I knew the trail run was going to be swampy. This was confirmed when the race director came back from mountain biking the course covered in mud.

After getting my gear arranged, I went for a run to warm-up. Ran about a mile and did some form drills, got my heart rate up and worked through some of the pre-race jitters. Got back to my gear and put on my wetsuit for the swim.


Unlike the the first two tris I did last year, I was really ready for the swim today. My feet were freezing while I was waiting on the bank and I was bit worried about the water temp, but when I finally got in I was amazed to discover that the water was actually warmer than the dew on the grass, and that it felt "warm." While the first wave was moving out, I took a plunge and other than the shock of the first stream of water that goes down your spine under your wetsuit, I had no problem adjusting. We took off 3:00 minutes after the first wave. The start was a little shaky for me being the first open-water swim of the season. It took a little while to get my groove, but I finally settled into a nice bilateral breathing pattern and managed to stay on course. I also managed to stay up with, or rather right behind, the main pack. I came out of the water a little unbalanced, but had no problem making the transition to the bike.


The bike went well for me this year. Since I knew the course, I was able to shift at all the right times and maintain cadence. I was very efficient at attacking on the hills and wasn't passed by anyone with the exception of two bikers who passed me briefly around mile 7. One of the bikers who passed me, I actually passed on the second of the two big hills. Once over the hill and on the flat he caught back up to me, but on the next hill I passed him again. He then caught me again on the flat, and I passed him on the next hill and so on until we got to the steepest hill on the course on the second time around. I hung on his tail until half way up the hill than I attacked and passed him. When I got to the top, rather than catching my breath, I went all out for the next mile and was finally able to drop him. For the last two miles of the bike course I had my legs under me and was able to maintain a 22 mph pace. During this time, I passed two competitors in my age group, which made the difference at the end of the race. Came into the second transition a little winded, but not too bad, and had a fast turn-around to the run.


Not much to report here other than the fact that it was muddy. I hope I didn't ruin my Asics 2130s. Don't know why I didn't wear my trail runners. When I started the run there were five runners in front of me that I could see. I passed all of them by the 1.5 mile mark and then came upon two more runners that I was able to pass. I ran with another runner for about a half of a mile, but on the steepest hill of the course I was able to pass him. Once over the top, I felt great and was able to pour it on to the finish. I actually wish the running portion would have been a little longer, because it took me almost 2 miles to get into the groove. Afterwards, I was rolling.

Results and Final Thoughts

Overall, 32nd; 3rd in my age group. Hardware, WOOHOO!!!!

Splits: Swim, 16:09 (2:01 pace); T1, 2:01; Bike, 57:48 (18.6 mph); T2, 1:29; Run, 22:50 (7:21 pace)

1) Wish I would have had speed laces after the bike ride. Hands were cold and I could hardly tie my shoes.

2) Need to get into a rhythm faster on the swim.

3) Should not have eaten spicy wing zings the night before.

4) I know I could go faster on the bike leg if I would invest money in either a new bike or significant upgrades for my bike. But, where does it end. Furthermore, there is nothing better than dropping someone who is riding a $3000 to $4000 bike when I'm riding a stock Felt F75 (Which I love by the way).

5) Congratulations to Josh S. who is in my cycling club at school. He had a great day of racing and took home the gold in his age group. Way to go Josh!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Good Earth

The boys and I finally had a nice evening to get the garden started. We made a run to River Road Greenhouses and picked up pepper, tomato and cucumber plants.

Friends of ours are nice enough give us a row in their garden, and this is the third year now that we have been raising produce. Steve always tills the row for us, so all we have to do is hoe it, prepare the beds and plant our vegetables. There is something very satisfying about digging in the earth and planting things, more so when your efforts come to fruition and you can enjoy the bounty.

USA Youth Fly Fishing Team

Tryouts for the 2008 USA Youth Fly Fishing Team were held this past weekend on Fishing Creek near Lamar, PA. Donegal Fish and Conservation Association club member Peter Sheetz was there and I'm happy to announce that he made the team as an alternate. Way to go Peter! And good luck to the rest of the team as they travel to Portugal for the world championships.


Now that I have been doing more road riding, I have become more aware of the world of competitive cycling. I must admit, however, that my knowledge of the sport is still limited. Currently, I'm following the Giro d'Italia. I'm particularly interested in the Slipstream/Chipotle Team. I purchased a Felt bicycle last year and this is the bike that is ridden by the team. One of the team members, Christian Vande Velde is currently in second place. Other team highlights include winning the Team Time Trial on Saturday.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mothers Day

Today was not only Mother's Day, it would have been my mother's 72nd birthday.

The boys and I treated Tina to an elegant lunch at Today's Pizza then they went to a friends house which gave Tina and me a little time to get out together. Tina recently purchased a new pair of running shoes and we have established a goal for her to run her first 5K. Today we began training. This week we are running 2 minute intervals: 2 minutes running followed by 1 minute walking. We repeated this 10 times for a total of 20 minutes of running. We'll do this for a week then progress to 3 minutes running, with 1 minute of rest.

After the boys got home, and we had supper, Kyler, Tristan and I went out to visit my mom's grave. It was rainy and cold, but we took a picture to commemorate the event. It occurred to me on the way home that this year marks the time whereby I have spent as many years of my life without my mother as I had spent with her - 23 years.

Happy Mother's Day and Happy Birthday Mom.

(My boys can never take a picture without making some kind of goofy face, or striking some weird pose. I know my mother would have loved their sense of humor)

5th Annual Ride For Literacy

I rode the 5th annual "Ride for Literacy" sponsored by the Lancaster Sunrise Rotary Club this past Saturday. Four members of the Manheim Township Cycling Club showed up at 7:00 a.m. at Neffsville Park - Joe M., Josh S. Sean D. and Matt L. We waited until 7:30 to see if anyone else would make it out, but then we took off. The ride was very well organized and the road markings were easy to follow. The course went through the countryside of Eastern Lancaster County. It was a cool morning and there was no wind. The only obstacle to contend with was a by-product of riding in Amish Country - road apples ( horse s*** to those not familiar with sharing the road with equine powered conveyances).

I would like to thank the following individuals who sponsored me at $.10 a mile, or more, for a total of 43 miles. All proceeds benefited reading and literacy programs in Lancaster Co.

Jane. G.
Kay W.
Kristy S.
Michelle L.
Holly B.
Collete C.
David R.
Jo Elle D.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tri Tri Again

I've been enjoying myself since training for the Boston Marathon, but this is not to say that I haven't been training at all. I have two sprint triathlons coming up in about a week: The Pinchot Park Triathlon is on the 18th and the Got the Nerve Triathlon is on the 24th.

Triathlons are fun to train for as the workouts are varied. I have been trying to swim, bike and run at least two times each week. Most of this I can do first thing in the morning with the exception of my mid-week bike ride, which I try to do Wednesday evenings. This workout is about the only one that is done when the rest of the family is awake.

If I ever had to give advice to someone as to what the best way to get in shape was, I would probably say training for a sprint triathlon. It gives you focus, yet the distances are not that daunting. Furthermore, the variety in training alleviates injury, works all parts of the body and prevents boredom. Here is a typical week for me:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Swim (2000 yards)
Wednesday: Run in the morning; bike in the evening (3-6 miles w/speed or tempo work; 20-30 miles)
Thursday: Swim (2000 yards)
Friday: Rest (or bike or run depending what the weekend plans are)
Saturday: Long run (8-12 miles)
Sunday: Long bike (30-40 miles)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Donegal

Was supposed to head down to the Shenandoah National Park this weekend for our annual trout fishing trip, but soccer games, yard work and other family obligations precluded me from making the journey. This is the first time in about 15 years that I was unable to go.

Well, the mulch never came, and the weather was perfect for trout fishing, so I headed out to the Donegal. Fished the lower section and started with a green weenie and quickly picked up a brown. Around the next bend, I saw fish rising to a light colored mayfly which wasn't a sulpher, but didn't seem to be a march brown either. Tied on a light colored compara-dun and picked up two rainbows on top, but then the game seemed to end. I noticed the fish were making splashy rises, so I put on my favorite nymph, and Katy bar the door! It was non-stop action for the next two hours.

Rumors of my demise as a trout angler were put to rest this afternoon. I picked up trout in slow pools, fast runs, out of log jams and I think if I would have cast to the bank, I still would have caught trout. I couldn't miss; and my casting was spot on. I could have put a fly in a tea cup. Ended up with about 20 including two fish, a brown and a rainbow, that were 15", or over. Also had a Donegal hat trick: a brooky, a brown and a rainbow. Nice thing was the browns and rainbows were a mixed bag of wild fish and stockies.