Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Time to Make the Donuts

So, in the event that I have not written here on this blog that only I read (with the exception of maybe two friends, and the random person from eastern Europe), that I am planning on doing Rockwell Relay this summer with a few friends, let it now be known. With that said, I would encourage any of you that are not familiar with the race, to check out the site. And for those of you (you maybe two friends of mine, and that random eastern Euro reader) that would like to get a more personal and downright hilarious viewpoint and eloquent write-up of the race be sure to the Fat Cyclist's website. (SIDE NOTE: Fatty actually isn't all that fat. Unless you mistake muscle for fat, cuz Fatty is apparently pretty fast. So I'm thinking there's more muscle than the name would imply. Though I will admit, being on the shorter side like Fatty, us guys don't have as much place to hide the extra few lbs. we may gain for having an overly enjoyful (and thus bingeful) weekend of scarfing down our favorite foods.)

Anywho, check out the sites, and get the itch to ride Rockwell, and read Fatty's musings.

In the future, I will share some of the things that I am doing to prepare for this race, and how it really all came about that there are 8 of us now going to take on this ride from Moab to St. George in the great state of Utah. (ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: Be sure to check out Cyclng Nation's website for other notes from my fellow teammates as we prepare. I may even be allowed the occasional writing on the site.)

So for today's post, I would just like to share that as this is an overnight relay cycling event that will include riding in the heat of over 100 degrees during the day to possibly into the 20's during the night, I was excited to justify getting a light for the bike, and get in a little night riding. So, I present my night riding ready bike from this morning...
(ready to roll!)
My Niterider Pro 1800 Race light may have been a bit of overkill for what I might need, but in this case I figured more was more. As you can see from the picture, it can put off some blinding light when at its maximum setting. (Notice how the squares on the garage lose their definition from such an outpouring of pure, raw, light!) This will be good in the event I actually get some decent downhill time on my 2nd leg of Rockwell.

There I was today, rolling out before the sun came up (just like the Dunkin Donuts guy) with fellow teammate, Andrew. He, also a Niterider guy (of the smaller but just as sweet Pro 750 sort) and I ventured out in my first experience in the dark.

Not only was it fun to be out in the dark, but it was fun to be out in the FREEZING dark! Alright, that was not as true. It was cold, and for this California boy (with his Arizona roots) 37 degrees made me want to have the light show me the way back home into a warm bed. But we moved on, hitting the trails for a quick morning stroll to test out my light.

I set the light at its middle setting and we still were sort of giggly. Even more so when we encountered a runner on the trail at such an early time of morning. As we approached we shielded her eyes from the brightness that was the Pro 1800. (Mind you, I did have the light pointed down like I should have, but she was still the 1800's first, and probably not last, casualty.)

The rest of the ride went well. The sun came up before we were back, but the temperature was not following suit. I do look forward to using my light in the future, but with the cold the way it is (not to mention my work schedule right now), it will come little by little.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Spartan Race in Malibu - Part III

...Continued from Part 1 and Part 2


So there we were, through the hopping obstacle. (I'm sure that's not its real name, but Spartan Races can feel free to use my inspiringly laced technical jargon. No charge.) And we were in line for the opportunity to cross what felt like a river, but may have been more like a pond, of freezing cold water. Slowly, each person would enter the water, usually putting your arms over your head in hopes of keep as much of oneself dry (somewhat) and out of the cold water. What I loved about this was that there seemed to be very little talking. No one, male or female, seemed to be jumping around, putting one foot in, and then hop back out because of the cold water. In fact, you might see me doing this in my own pool, when it is 90+ degrees out and the water is in the 70's. Here, however, slowly you would take it step by step into the pond. Each time you would sink down a little further into the water. First, the shock of your feet. 'Okay, we know this was coming' you tell yourself, 'just keep going.' Then your legs, which usually isn't too bad, probably because all you can think about what is coming next.

'AAHHHHH!!!' You are screaming, but only in your mind. Maybe you let out a small, 'whoo'. But now there is no going back.

'Rrrrhhhhh!' Your chest is now covered in the water. You see people in front of you, noticing the depth of the water can depend on where you step. And in my case, you are wondering, 'When is the step where it is too deep and I am baptized in this river of ice that somehow they have figured out how to keep in its liquid state!?'

...and there's the step.

Luckily for myself, as I knew I was shorter, that it was only a matter of when, not if, it would be too deep, I was walking lightly. As my front foot started to notice there was no ground to be found as it was stepping down, my back foot pushed forward and...I'm swimming. It is here that the cold really set in. All I can think of at this point was, 'Get to the other side. Don't worry about those that are trying to stay close to the bushes for higher ground. You're swimming now, so GET TO THE OTHER SIDE.'

It wasn't very far, but when your body gets that cold, it just wants to stop. Within a few seconds I was to the other side and out of the water. It had become hard to breath, and I had a sharp piercing feeling in my nether regions. It took some time for this pain to subside. One could think about how us guys almost became girls in such cold water (think of the Seinfeld incident with George and Jerry's girlfriend), but I will simply refer to us being very girly when in the water, and wanting to squeal to get out. Honest laughed afterward at this part of the race as he was behind Muscles. Muscles stated at some point in crossing that he couldn't move, at which point Honest started swimming to the exit point as he could not wait for Muscles to get moving.

Needless to say, though we would still go through more water, and mud, this was BY FAR the coldest part of the race. Every other instance of water was nothing. What also came from this, as I had joked so prophetically before about, was that Legs found his legs, and was ready to go. From this point on Legs was even with us, if not leading the pack.


After a short stream crossing, it was on to the rope climb and hercules pull. (Again, not sure of the naming, but it will suffice.) Needless to say, I am still bugged that I did not complete the rope climb. This was a place that I figured I would do well at, but I spent all of my time and energy trying to get my feet correctly around the rope that there was little left in the tank to actually climb. I would have been better off simply using solely my arms to pull myself up, and then using my feet to allow for a rest when a knot in the rope would allow. (It sounds great doesn't it. Needless to say it would be a great strategy, except for the height at which you would be at near the top of the rope, and the shallow water that lay beneath that would provide only very little support to slow you down in falling to the ground if you slipped.

The hercules pull was actually not to difficult as compared to what we had seen before we started the race. We saw men, very large in stature that, with all of their might could not get the cement block off of the ground. So, you may ask, did I complete the obstacle. No. No I did not. But, I did get the block somewhere between 30-40% of the way up. I realized that the technique was keep, as was having good hand strength. My hands were shot from doing the rope climb right before (this was a complaint that several had, what have two obstacles right next to each other that use the same muscle groups), so I cut my losses and went the burpee route. Again, I probably did most of what I supposed to do, but didn't want to count. The also again, there was Honest being honest. I love that guy. The next obstacles were great. The overhanging wall, the barb wire crawl (which wasn't bad because the wires weren't too low due to the steepness of the hill, but they went on FOREVER!), and then the javelin throw.

It stinks that the javelin throw only give you one try, but due to limited spacing and the high percentage of people that fail at this, they only required 15 burpees. These, I actually did count out. Honest was rubbing off! Then it was through a couple ditches with water, then a quick submersion in water to go under a wall, (I will remind you that this was not nearly as bad nor as cold as crossing the river/pond.), and up a slanted wall/rope climb thing, and we were ready to jump over the fire and push through the guys at the end with the oversized Q-tips to victory.

Muscles, Legs, and myself were all but done, but there was no site of Honest. We stood by the fire to keep warm and waited a few minutes (good second use of one of the obstacles), and then I went back to look for Honest. He was coming, slow and steady. We later found out that after his cramped leg was manageable after the javelin throw (for which we were still with him), he still had to do his burpees. Sadly, Muscles must have thought he had done them, and was ready to go as he wasn't there to remind Honest he only needed to do 15, not the normal 30. Either way, we were back together, and if I remember correctly all did the jump over the fire together is what must have looked like a very manly fashion. And we were done.

The race was a blast, and I am sure we will do it again. Though we almost froze to death, we made it. We got changed, and after some great Vietnamese pho on the way home, we were laughing a almost proud of ourselves. Or, maybe just proud to be able to tell the guys that backed out that they suck, and missed a great time.

(Leaving the race. Man, I wish I got some better shots of that beard. From some angles it almost looked good. Almost.)

Spartan Race in Malibu - Part II


After a quick drive down to Mailbu, we were out of the car and into the bus and off to the event. The weather had actually cleared up, and though there were still a few clouds in the sky it appeared we might actually be running this sans rain. (Of course this also meant no clouds to keep the warm air down, and it would only be getting colder, esp. considering the sun would be going down while we ran.)

Soon enough we were off the bus, had checked in, got our gear ready to go, and were able to watch a few of the events that people were trying to tackle. A few things came to our attention during this.

1 - It looked like a blast. Rope climbing, jumping over fire, wading through chest high water, the blood was starting to flow.

2 - Participants pointed out that there was still a water crossing, but at least it was part way through the race. Last year, it was right out of the gates, and reports from people doing the event was that it froze them the rest of the time. While I did look forward to this, I was happy to put it off for as long as I could.

3 - You were going to get cold, REAL COLD! Some people were running to the fire after they finished. Others were running to get changed. And some were absolutely shaking out of their boots. Like 'if you don't get changed quick, you may need medical attention' shaking.

We made our way over to the start line a few minutes early for our 3:30 start time, and they let us actually join the end of the 3:15 group that was just ahead of us.


Legs, Muscles, Honest, and myself were starting to make our way past a few people up the trail onto the first obstacle. However, before we made it to the first obstacle, Legs was starting to feel the pain. Now let me say this, Legs is amazing. He can run faster than me, jump higher than me, bench more than me, so on and so on. And I knew what was happening, Legs was SO pumped for this event it had wiped out his first bit of energy. We all made it to the first obstacle (a sort of net climb), and were up and over. As we reached the bottom Legs was sure to point out that he would not be able to keep up and that we should go ahead.

This, of course, we were not going to do. We told him he was fine, and that we would slow down a bit for him to catch his breath.

(Me, absolutely loving it!)

(Honest, maybe avoiding being kicked)

(Legs focused)

(Muscles being all courteous. 'Oh no, excuse me. Please go ahead.')
The next couple obstacles were great. A wall climb, an assortment of smaller wall climbs and jump throughs, and the monkey bars. Everything was going smooth, but Legs didn't make it to the end to the monkey bars. This meant burpees. Again, Legs had this, and everyone knew Legs had this. Except Legs wasn't sure yet that he had this. He made it through most of his burpees (we weren't going to win, so we weren't keeping the best track of counting as closely as others), and Legs again tried to say we should go ahead.

'Legs, I said (but calling him his real name), 'you got this! We're here with you. And besides, we're going to get into that cold water soon enough and your body is going to wake up and you are going to be leading the way.' (That may not be exactly what I said, but it just feels good to put things in quotation marks once in a while. Besides, that is the gist of what was said, so what if I didn't bring a recorder to get it exactly.)

He shook his head and was ready to go, but was sure to point out he wasn't doing any more burpees. Soon enough I would find out what it was like to do a burpee. (I had done all of none leading up to the event, so I wouldn't know the fun of doing 30 in a row, while being cold, and wet, and tired.)

Next up, we had to carry a weighted sack for a bit on the trail. I actually thought this part was fun, but it did turn to walking as the path got narrow, and there were people in front of you. After dropping off the sack, we continued on the trail, up and down part of a hill, and made it to the wall traverse. This part would have been doable, but by the time we got there it was too muddy for any of us to make it through. (NOTE: Muscles actually did make it through, but he used the top of the wall on part of it, so I'm not counting it. YOU HEAR THAT MUSCLES, I'M NOT COUNTINNNNNGGGGGGG IT!) The rest of us started the burpees. It was here I got to do my first one. Not too bad, until you are trying to do 30 of them in the wet cold. Needless to say, I did make an attempt to do 30, but I did not keep track. I probably ended up around 24-25. Legs, Muscles, and I were ready to move on but we couldn't find Honest.

After walking back and forth, from side to side of the end of the wall traverse, we could not see Honest. After a minute, he was spotted. He found another spot, along with a few other people, to do his burpees. All of them. See, that's the thing I love about Honest...he was being so honest. Legs was tired, and would do a few. I would do some, in fact most, but not really count. (I told myself it was because I didn't want to slow the other team members down, and really, I think that was a part of it. Even if it was a very small part. I think it had more to do with me not wanting to use all of my energy on burpees, and actually save some for the remaining obstacles. Sorry, off on a tangent...) But Honest was honest. He was going to do them all. He was the great, 'letter of the law' guy. (I was taking the more 'spirit of the law' approach. You know, if you didn't complete the obstacle, take you lashings and move on. I would get to where I wanted to die, and then get up and move on.)

After the traverse wall we had to do some hopping with a rubber band thing around our ankles. This was not too bad, but due to the larger size of the rubber bands, the tired hopping turned into skipping at points. Then you would have to stop, collect yourself, and make a concerted effort to get both legs going again at the same time. No big deal, especially considering the next challenge was about to turn all of us guys into little girls...TO BE CONTINUED...