Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Blue Monkey Sojourn 2009

Sunday and Monday of Memorial day weekend have been reserved for the annual Blue Monkey Sojourn down the Schuylkill. This was the fourth edition of the grand event, and it was pleasurable one.

We put in on the Schuylkill at Auburn, PA at 2:00 pm. on Sunday. Our only mishap was a broken paddle 200 yards into the float. Fortunately we had a spare and the journey down the river commenced again.

The water was running a little high, which made for great paddling, and we made our first stop at the abandoned bridge, half way into the float. We had snacks, and did a little fishing and the kids had a wonderful time throwing rocks into the water and shooting BB guns.

We pulled into camp around 5:00, and other than a brief thunderstorm, we couldn't have asked for better camping weather. We enjoyed the evening fishing, swimming, and shooting the bull. The kids had a great time running around around like nature children unfettered and beyond the the normal bounds of civilized society. Tristan and Jackson especially enjoyed catching caterpillars, while Kyler enjoyed target practice with his BB gun.

The fishing was great, and we caught numerous smallmouth bass, although they weren't big. Nonetheless, the fact that we caught numerous bass is a testament to the recovery the river is making from its coal mining degraded state. One of the best signs of recovery was the large numbers of mayflies that hatched in the evening.

We woke this morning around 6:00 and had coffee and a quick breakfast. We were packed and on the river by 8:30 and arrived into Port Clinton by 9:00. After loading all the gear we went to 3Cs for a real breakfast. We then said our goodbyes, and headed home.

Here are some photos of the trip. Click on the slide show for larger prints.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Got the Nerve Triathlon 2009

GTN number three for me yesterday. I was a bit apprehensive after last Sunday's triathlon, because 1) my biking seemed to be slipping a little, and 2) I cramped during the run , which left my quads sore for the first half of the week.

Up at my usual time, had a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee. Proceeded to the race around 5:30 and was checked in, body marked and set-up in the transition area by 6:30. This gave me plenty of time to warm-up and socialize. Triathlons, as well as road races, as I have said before , are movable feasts - only the venue changes.

I added two new things to pre-race preparation: first, I rode my bike for about 15 minutes, and second, I drank a Red Bull. It used to be that I would only run for my warm-up, but the short ride as well as a short run seemed to better prepare the muscles. As for the Red Bull, I have read numerous reports that a little caffeine before a race can enhance endurance. I used to drink coffee before a race, and still have a cup first thing, but too much coffee - which, because of habit, I tend to imbibe to excess - seemed to leave me a bit dry in the mouth for some reason. Thus, I experimented with a small Red Bull 30 minutes before the gun.


I think I could probably write the same thing here for all my races so far. I was planning to go gang-busters at the start to get out in front, so I could get a little separation, and hopefully get into my rhythm faster, but I ended up being conservative. This didn't hurt me that much, but it cost me at least two places. The problem seems to be, that I get out there in the open water, then get disoriented, and two, pre-race jitters cause me to get out of rhythm. In a pure foot race, pre-jitters aren't a problem, in fact, they help me start well. In swimming though, especially for me, a new swimmer it messes with my stroke. I did learn, however, that breathing every second stroke, may be better than my practiced bi-lateral, every third stroke approach. I came about this by accident, but it seems that in a sprint, the breathing on every second stroke might be an advantage. The bi-lateral breathing may be better for longer swims. Nonetheless, I finished better than over half my age group, and lowered my time by two minutes from last year. Time, 10:53, for a 2:11 pace (this includes a rather long transition run).


I was worried about the bike, but I made a major change to my style, which made a significant difference in time. My friend Bill L. suggested trying a set of TT bars, which he helped me procure during the week. We had trouble finding a pair to fit my OS bars, but he came through by the end of the week - thanks, Bill, I owe you a beer. Friday night before the race, I mounted them and went spinning around my neighborhood to get a feel for them. The new bars were also a reason, I went for a warm-up ride. All I can say is WOW!!. I always thought that bars would help a little, but I was able to add almost .5 to 1.0 MPH to my riding by getting into a tuck. I had the best ride ever, 20.4 MPH on a hilly course.


Not much to report here except one big thing. I felt good off the bike, and for the first time, I went under a 7:00 pace for the run, WOOHOO!!!! A 6:42 pace, which is only 20 seconds per mile slower than I ran my fastest 5K last year. (Now I need to enter a 5K and see if I can lower my time)

Results and Final Comments

* Overall place, 51st, 6th in my age group

* PRs, all around (not a swim PR, or a bike PR, but PRs for the course): Swim 10:53, 2:11 pace; Bike 47:21, 20.4 MPH; and run, 20:47, 6:42 pace. My only faster bike was in Harrisburg, which is a flat course.

* I didn't place in the top three this year, but I'm much happier with my performance.

* There were 100 more competitors on the course this year (700 total), and Chris Kagg, the race director handled the race with aplomb. Great event, great volunteers, Semper Fi, Chris, and OOHRAH!!!

The photos below were taken by Phil M., Thanks, Phil.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pinchot Triathlon 2009

I ran my third consecutive Pinchot Triathlon yesterday. The weather was cool and overcast. There was a pretty strong wind at the beginning of the race. Fortunately, the rains held off.

I got up at 4:30, ate some breakfast, loaded my gear and then drove to Sheetz to meet Bill L. I met Bill through my blog. He raced at Hempfield, and as it turns out, has been casually reading my blog for a little while. He was the individual that I mentioned in my Hempfield race report. After reading the report, he emailed me.

We had a nice ride to Pinchot, and after checking in got set-up in nice positions on the racks. Another friend, Eric D. passed us on the way to the race and met us at the transition area. This was to be Eric's first tri.


I have been working diligently on improving my swim, and wanted to average 2:00 per hundred, which is not too bad for an open water swim, especially for someone who only began swimming two years ago. It was decided at the start of the race, that all swimmers were going to go out at the same time. Last year this would have unnerved me, but I wasn't bothered this year. At the horn, we were off and I got into a rhythm faster than I ever have. I quickly rounded the first buoy and was off on the long stretch of the swim. Things went well, and I was holding position, and actually passed people. The only bad part of the swim, was when I rounded the second buoy. The wind had created chop, and it came over my face as I went to breathe. I got a mouth full of water, but still maintained form and came out of the water in the top third.


I haven't been biking as much as I would have liked, because of weather and schedules. I started out well, and felt fine, but the first hill seemed harder than I remember. Then, on the back stretch, the wind was directly at my front, which made maintaining speed difficult. I held position, and managed to win most close battles, but my time ended up slower than last year. I did catch one individual in my age group, and passed him. He would get ahead of me again at the transition, but he couldn't hold me off on the run.


My run wasn't great, but it was the best time in my age group, so I can't complain. The lack of biking, also meant the lack of doing bricks, so I think I started a little too slow.


I continue to improve here, and no longer lose significant amounts of time.

Results and Final Comments

* Overall time: 1:38:47; Swim, 14:11 (1:53 per 100 yards, goal met); Bike, 1:00:21 (17.9 mph, work needed); run, 22:24 (7:28 per mile, brick work needed), T1, 1:16; T2, :35.

* 20th place overall; 2nd in my age group. 2:30 faster, and I would have been 1st. I'm getting there, but can't seem to excel at all three events at the same time.

* Well run event with great volunteers

* Must find ways to shave a little time off the bike for the next race. I'm going to try a set of add-on grips to bring my arms closer together and narrow my frontal profile. I also need a little more conditioning. Bill L. who was a former bike racer has suggested two key work-outs: 5 minute all-out repeats, and 20 minute LT repeats.

* Congrats go out to my buddy Eric D. for completing his first tri.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ride for Literacy 2009

This past saturday was the sixth annual "Ride for Literacy" sponsored by the Sunrise Rotary in Lancaster, PA. There were three options, and like last year I rode the 43 mile "Triology" with members of my high school cycling club. Five of us began the ride at 7:30, and we set a pretty good pace over the length of the course. We even took the "Cat's Back Mountain Challenge." This amounted to climbing a fairly large hill - by Eastern Lancaster County standards. It was a great time, and the food was superb.

View Larger Map

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

It's sometimes hard to believe that my mother has not been with us for almost 25 years. This year will mark the the first time that I have spent more time on earth without my mother than with her. She would have adored, and been proud of her grandchildren. Happy Mother's Day, Mom. We love you and miss you.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

SNP 2009

We, friends and I, have been going down the the Shenandoah National Park every spring since 1993, or '94. We made the discovery that some of the best wild brook trout fishing in the east can found in the many tumbling streams off the slopes of the mountains. This year, I had the pleasure of taking my son Kyler along for the first time.

We started our adventure at the Holiday Inn in Winchester, VA Friday evening. We had a great time swimming and then watching Friday Night Smackdown. We got up early, swam again, had breakfast then proceeded down to the park

We arrived at the trail head around 9:30, and began the 3 mile trek up to our favorite camp to meet Andy B. and Kyle F. For his first time backpacking trip, Kyler did great. We established a nice pace with frequent breaks, and made a few minor adjustments to his pack. We arrived in camp around noon.

After setting up the tent and eating a little lunch, we headed downstream to fly fish back up to the camp. Kyler got a little frustrated because of stinging nettles and the cold water. Also, the Hughes River is tough to fish up near where we were. I should have taken him downstream a little farther. In any event, he persisted for a little while, and almost caught a trout, but the nettles got the better of him, and he wanted to head back to camp. I took him back to camp, then fished just below where were set up, and managed to bring in a few brookies. When I arrived back to camp, Kyler was out like a light. He had a tough day, and the nap did him good.

After supper, we took a little hike upstream to play on some big rocks. Later, when it grew dark, we went on a salamander hunt, and found some really nice species.

After the hunt, Kyler tucked in. Andy, Kyle and I sipped a little scotch cut with mountain spring water. The moon was out and it was a nice evening. We were fortunate to not get rained on.

Sunday morning, the rains finally came and we packed up in a steady drizzle. Kyler and I hit the trail around 9:00, and we busted out in just a little over an hour.

Kyle and Andy came down after us, so Kyler and I drove the car to the trail head and picked them up. We then headed into Sperryville to our favorite lunch stop, Rae's.

It was another great trip to the park, but I was unable to take Kyler up Skyline Drive, because of the weather. Oh well, we'll be back down soon enough.

SNP 2009