Sunday, April 26, 2009

Catch Up

I just updated my workouts at my Runner's World training log and realized that I had three bike rides to enter. The first was a meander down (and back up) Beach Dr. in Rock Creek Park with my wife, the esteemed Dr. J.

The second was a MTB ride at Fairland with Kevin, Kona (my dog), and Cassie (Kevin's dog). This was the second trail ride along for Kona and the first with her bestest friend in the whole wide world, Cassie. Kona made it for the whole 7 mile loop this time (the first time we only went 5 miles). After we dropped the dogs off, we rode the opening section in an all-out, reverse direct sprint.

The third ride was again with the esteemed Dr. J to/from my football game. Once I assured Dr. J that there was only 1 hill on the ride, she agreed to come along. Too bad I underestimated. There actually about 10 hills total. Oops, sorry hun.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Introducing Dr. J!!!

The (future) has been dropped and her name is officially Dr. J! Jenny (wife) presented her last dissertation recital for (French) horn performance last Saturday. Her dissertation defense was this morning and the committee signed off. The signing off by her committee is when the degree (and title Dr.) was officially conferred.

The defense was pretty cool because I got to sit in for it. It lasted about an hour with Jenny presenting a summary of her dissertation topic (Works for the Horn by American Women Composers) including her likes/dislikes, challenges encountered, and relevance of the topic. After that, the committee members all asked questions and Jenny answered.

Watching Jenny speak so confidently about her topic really impressed me. She definitely knew the ins and outs of all the pieces and their composers, which I think is the real intent of the defense from the committee's perspective. One aspect that became clear to me through the committee's questions is that the dissertation is the beginning of something bigger (who knew? I thought it was the end).

There were pointed questions regarding what the next step is for: Jenny, the works played, and future recordings. There was discussion about why her topic was chosen other than Jenny being a woman. Exposure is a big hurdle, especially a lack of recordings, for composers when trying to get their works played.

Jenny did a great job. I'm impressed and will be proud to call her Dr. J!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tree 1, Me 0

Friday's weather was gorgeous...too gorgeous to work all day and not get on the trails. Kevin simultaneously sent me this email and text, "Cut out early and hit shaffer today? Perfect, perfect, perfect day to ride... Did I mention its perfect out?" at 8:59 am. I hadn't been at work for a half hour yet, but I knew he was right. I left at 12:30.

Kevin was impressed by Shaffer Farm after our first ride there. He wanted to go back and even offered to pick me up. How could I refuse?

Cassie (Kevin's dog) recently tore off two of her paw pads, so she gets to wear these cute booties on the trail now.

Cassie is ready to go

The weather was perfect and the riding superb, except for that pesky tree. We were on a section of trail with several 180 degree turns passing back and forth across a wide, 5 foot deep ditch. I came around a left turn and dropped into the ditch a little off balance. I saw the tree and focused on it. Unfortunately, I was too focused on it...and too close to it. BAM!

There are alot of obstacles (trees, bushes, etc.) that pass close by while mountain biking. The best way to ensure that you'll graze one of those obstacles (or run into one in my case) is too focus on them. When I constantly (and consistently) look down the trail 10-20 ft, obstacles stay out of the way. I must try to remember this in the future.

It stings

Day after upper arm

Day after forearm

How do I even the score with the trees?  Trim some branches?  Pull out leaves?  Or do I have to use a chain saw? 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Found My Savior On The Trails

Easter Sunday was a perfect day to ride some new (to me) trails at Shaffer Farm in Germantown, MD. Shaffer Farm offers about 10 miles of rolling singletrack with plenty of obstacles to play on. There are tons of logs to go over and tree trunks to traverse (for those that are so inclined).

One of the toys to play on

Kevin is working on his tree trunk rides

I met Kevin after his bike patrol ride along training at Black Hills Park, which is nearby.  We rode most of what Shaffer has to offer and loved every second of it.  Mild climbs warmed us up enough so that the down hills were exciting and the stream crossing splashes refreshing.  

I did try a short tree trunk ride.  As soon as I got on the trunk I lost all momentum and hopped off.  I'm still working on the multiple log piles such as the one below.  I didn't make it over this one this time.  Mine is more of a mental block (or challenge if I may) opposed to the 3 foot tall log pile.   I get intimidated by the obstacle, which makes me cautious instead of just going for it.  

I'm still trying to work myself up for going over log piles like this

After riding about 10 miles at Shaffer, I suggested we try some of the Hoyles Mill Connector Trail. It connects Shaffer Farm to Black Hill Park. Kevin and I tried to ride there once before, but the trail was waaaaay too muddy. This time, it was in great shape. The opening of Hoyles Mill (from Shaffer) contains alot of rocks. I've heard of rock gardens. I don't know if this qualifies, but to me it counts. There are enough rocks that one has to look ahead to pick a line that won't run into big rock. There's one part where the trail goes between two big rocks (maybe 2 feet across) with just enough room for a bike. Between the two rocks there's a big tree root (maybe a foot across). That part always makes me think of the movie Labyrinth, featuring 1986 David Bowie.

Flight of the Conchords is sweet

In all, we rode about 10 miles at Shaffer and another 3-4 on the Hoyles Mill Connector. Next time I'd like to ride more of the Hoyles Mill Connector. It was a nice way to spend Easter Sunday.

A day on the trails is a victorious one

Thursday, April 9, 2009

France and Lance Are At It Again

France's anti-doping agency, AFLD, claims Lance Armstrong went against its rules and delayed a drug test by 20 minutes to take a shower. What was Lance doing in the shower? And why didn't he just invite the doctor to join him?

Who knows. Who really cares. I think the interesting story is why this is even a story. Nonetheless, France still wishes to get Lance.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cherry Blossom Race Review

As I exited the porta john, the race director's voiced boomed through the speakers, "5! 4! 3! 2! 1!" And just as I leaped the second chain fence, "GO!" What a way to start my first road race.

I jumped in about 25 yards behind the start line so "GO!" was a bit anticlimactic. The herd of people walked up to the start line where I began a restrained jog. Navigating the crowd was like trying to move to the front at a rock festival. "Elbows out!" Dipak (good friend from college and frequent concert goer) always told me. Right on.

I had to shuffle step several times to avoid running over people. I darted to the outside the first chance I got where the flow forward was less clogged. After a half mile or so, I was able to ease into my stride comfortably. I was pushing my self and my legs felt fresh. My two week layoff helped with that. Typing (speaking) of, two weeks ago (notice the lack of posts?) I knew the 10 miler wasn't happening (at least not without crawling across the finish line at the time limit), so I stopped training and switched to the 5K race. That was a bummer, but reality is sometimes. However, I saw alot of people with 10 miler bibs running the 5K, which made me feel a little better on the inside. I know that shouldn't make me feel better, but it does.

After the pack thinned out, the Memorial Bridge approached along with the "1 Mile" marker. What a beautiful setting: running from the cherry blossoms, across the Potomac, toward Arlington Cemetary. Before I got off the bridge, the leaders passed me going the other way. There was a kid, looked like he was in middle school, in about 5th place. Dude! Getting whooped that badly by a middle schooler is not cool.

As I passed the halfway point, I saw Santa Claus handing out water at the aid station. Thanks for the Xmas offering St. Nick, but no thanks. Back on the bridge, I passed the "2 Mile" marker and my two-week-layoff freshness turned into two-week-layoff rust. I could feel the burn.

I had to push hard through the last mile or so while the trees canopied the road in full bloom..gorgeous! As I crossed the finish line (trying to remain standing), I reflected on the struggle (damn hips!) to get to there. It wasn't the finish line I had hoped to cross, but it felt good nonetheless to cross a finish line.

My time was 26:35 (8:34 pace), which was good for 102nd place overall and 64th male (out of 410). Awesome! Also, I was beat handily by a 71 year old and a 9 year old. Not quite as awesome. Kevin finished the 10 Miler in 1:12:20 for 1044th overall out of 14500+. Way to go Brosef! Check out his eventual race review at Kmax Trax.

The Cherry Blossom race was great. It was well organized with lots of volunteers. THANK YOU volunteers! The setting was amazing, the weather spectacular, and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. I'll definitely try to get in the 10 miler again next year.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Two To(Bi)kes Over The Line

The phone rang and (future) Dr. J picked it up.  The call for her to join me in my now year long biking phase has been answered...with a resounding Y-E-S!  

We picked up (future) Dr. J's new bike this afternoon from Performance Bikes.  Not 2 hours later, it already has 7 miles on it.  What a start.  We rode on Sligo Creek Parkway the whole way, which is nice and flat. Saw some interesting looked like a domesticated star destroyer with sharp contrasting lines and some prismatic windows. We also saw some kids learning to ride bikes with their parents running along side. It was hard to tell if the parents were protecting their kids or they were protecting the rest of us. We had a fun time and the weather was great.  I'm looking forward to our next ride. 

(Future) Dr. J's new ride

The second part to this story is that we currently have FIVE bikes.  In a previous post, I noted that (future) Dr. J's limit on the number of bikes in our house is THREE.  With her new Schwinn Searcher, we are now 2 bikes over the line.  And I'm happy to report that of those 2 bikes, we are each 1 over.  

Bikes #1, #2, & #3.  Eventually, the two on the left will go.

Bikes #4 & #5.  These both stay.