Ah summer, yes it's here and will be for the next few months. My training has been going well as I've actually acquired some type of periodization into my training. I love summer for it's 9 P.M sunsets, massive amounts of ice-cream eating, and fun in the sun with my girl and pups. But as each season comes and goes there is a time when you get this small feeling inside of you. You start thinking about the future. This near-future reflective perception can come in barrels of internal meditation or simply one huge thought after another. My thoughts have been looking forward to this fall which will be my first Cyclocross season. In my mind I keep downplaying cyclocross. I keep reiterating to myself, "This is your first season Adam, no sweat, no pressure." But, inside my body and mind there is a large competitive naturethat screams to be unleashed. I am more excited than ever to test myself in the dirt. I'm not sure mountain bike racing is in the near future because of my road racing endeavors but what's nice about Cyclocross is the time of year, and the simple fun behind getting a little dirty, post race beer drinking, oh and of course falling off your bike and not worrying about making a trip to the local emergency room.
Over the past two years as I've moved through the ranks of competitive road cycling I have become more confident in my bike handling skills, and ever more important have found Criteriums fun and exciting. But, I have no idea what it's like to jump off the bike, navigate barriers, and remount. In any case I have been quite excited about this coming fall.
This past weekend Maija and I took a trip to Providence Rhode Island as she was set to compete in the Rhode Island 70.3. I'm reluctant to to place advertisement names in my blog entries unless it's for a good cause. So, I have not used the title Rhode Island 70.3 Half Ironman. Half? Hmmm I wonder why Ironman chose to downsize from their first installment of the full ironman distance. For a while I've been teetering on reason and trying to understand how Ironman races have grown to become the #1 marketing company for endurance athletes. Sure someone has to be number one but at what cost? With their monopolized implementation into endurance sports, does this leave room for the small race directors, and race organizers trying to put on similar races? My mind changed this weekend when I was a spectator at the Rhode Island 70.3 Half Ironman.
Maija and I made late reservations at the Westin Providence Hotel in downtown Providence. After searching for a few hours on internet sites for the best rates, I still was not satisfied. I made a call to Westin reservations to find out if they were a pet friendly hotel; They were! The man on the phone was very nice and gave us a great rate for a three night stay. I learned sometimes the best rates and deals are not always found on the internet. There are times when a simple phone call can help you find what you are looking for. The internet still doesn't beat the power of a human voice. The person on the other end of the phone is more likely to help you out (with price or location) if you just tell them your situation and what you are looking for. I feel the internet gives people an easy way out from human interaction when it comes to travel and reservations. At the same time it's easier to order food online from your computer in a hotel room than it is to call up and find out what you like. So, I suppose my point is sometimes human interaction works better on what your looking for and sometimes the internet gives you a sign of relief.
We left NJ around 10:30 and the ride was smooth until we hit some traffic on I-95.
Although temperatures were in the mid 90's I rolled down, well I actually pressed the down window button so Coop could enjoy the outside smells. When was the last time you rolled down a window?
We arrived at the hotel mid-Friday afternoon and were greeted by likable valet and bellman staff. They were attentive to the small details which separated them from the majority of hotels. Maybe it was the Rhode Island hospitality but after traveling around the country quite a bit I was more than impressed by their professionalism.
Friday and Saturday we hung around at the hotel, ordered in food, watched movies, and played on the computer. It was the perfect way for Maija to relax before a big race.
Race morning we got up around 3 A.M or so. We headed about 30 miles away to the start of the swim where I dropped Maija off and watched her transition from the swim portion of the race to the bike. Then I hopped in the car with my two travel/spectator buds (Frito & Cooper) and headed back to Providence where the race finished.
The second transition area where athletes trade their bikes for running shoes was already flooded with fans, reporters, and photographers. Cooper and Frito made me feel like a mild celebrity as they were constantly greeted by strangers who wanted to pet them. Even though it was a long hot and tiring day in the sun with two dogs by my side it was definitely worth it when I finally got to see Maija race. I brought a large backpack filled with water bottles for the pups and myself. Within four hours we went through 6 bottles. It was hot!
With a black coat on Cooper, he drank more water than I did.
Maija was not having the best race. Lately she has been dealing with some iron issues which can hinder ones performance drastically. It almost feels as if someone is holding or pulling you back as you ride a bike or run down the road. I know exactly how she feels because I dealt with this problem at the end of last season when I was completely burnt out from overtraining. It took me about 2 months to fully recover and get back to where I once was.
Here is a photo I snapped at the finish. I'm proud of Maija for finishing the race. She didn't have to finish but for her own self she pushed past the draining fatigue and got the finish line just under 6 hours.
It was a long and hot day for all the competitors out there but as they came in I found myself near the finish line barriers ringing my cowbell and cheering for whoever came through. I haven't spectated at a lot of endurance races because I'm usually in them. This experience was uplifting as it made me feel good watching other people accomplish a goal. People of all ages, races, and religions, participated this event.
My only issue with the race was at the finish line. After you crossed a line where was a large pool where they would give you a water bottle. Maija wanted a second bottle but the woman told her she had to get it from the "Athlete's Lounge" about a half mile away.
A half mile is a long way to walk after just finishing a half ironman.
Notice the large pool of water bottles where you were only allowed 1 bottle!
After the race Maija and I headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap. Her tired from the race and myself burnt out from sitting in the sun all day. All in all it was a great weekend. We left RI late Monday morning and headed back to NJ.
Luck is a preservation of the past, present, and future. I have been trying to calculate the exact amount of luck one needs to accomplish a goal, like say a bicycle race. I truly believe when luck is combined with fate it brings ourselves to a specific point during competition. This spot is then traversed into a sign one receives either consciously, unconsciously, directly, or indirectly. It is then in this split second our muscles and brain make a decision whether to continue down the path of mediocre or rise up....
With that said it's no surprise I'm saying these words unless I have already reached this point past what I believe to be mediocrity. So far this season I have raced three times with only one positive outcome. Although this outcome was not personal I believe my presence has been known. I can, in the future be a force to reckon with.
Many changes are coming my way in the near future. I'm relectent to share these ideas yet because it is not set in stone. But if we never waited for good news then what would we have to appreciate?
A few updates....
Battenkill did not go as planned. I was racing well for the first 30-40K until my chained decided it was time to snap. The neutral mechanic was able to get rid of the broken link but by the time he finished the field was too far to chase. Ah amateur racing...Where is the team car when you need one? Bear Mountain was another upset for the most part.
I had the most beautiful and hard working girl, in the feed zone.
Thanks Maija :)
So the day was not totally wasted. Early on there was a crash I got stuck behind and I used everything I could just to catch the main field. After a few attacks I found myself off the back not able to maintain the suicidal pace. Among other things I was seriously dehydrated and started getting leg cramps. But I kept going with a group of about 10 riders. We took turns working and for a short period actually we rode as if we thought we could catch up with the group. After another 40K or so guys would drop out but we would pick up other stragglers along the way.The expression on my face tells it all. Pain of being in a Pro 1/2 race.
On a more happy note I feel my body changing. Of course our bodies are always morphing but mine in particular feels different than it ever has. I'm learning a lot about the sport of cycling, especially this season since it's my first introduction into the "pro" ranks. My body feels strong and more able to handle the pain accompanied with racing competitively.
The Tour of Somerville is this weekend. Lets see what the future brings...
Now things are finally underway here in the Northeast for racing bicycles. Central park is filled with spandex bicycle aficionados at 6 A.M with something to prove. Central Park (Manhattan) and Prospect Park (Brooklyn) will always be home to those who need to prove their bike handling and sprinting skills. Now a category 2 cyclist in two years my best placing in Central Park is 3rd and that was in a 4 race! Every time I finish a race in these two locations I'm more happy to be alive with all the skin left on my body. Speaking of flesh, skin, and staying alive I'm heading back to the Tour of the Battenkill. Last year I had a bad crash which left me in the hospital while two nurses scrubbed small rocks out of my legs, hands, and arms.
That was an experience I will never forget. Especially being on morphine, eating ice cubes and watching a Star Wars Marathon.
So this Saturday I'll be heading back to the dirt roads of Cambridge, New York. It's a great race and the promoter was the director of my team from last season. The race grew from it's first year of 200 participants to now over 2,000. It is considered the largest Pro/Amateur race in the United States. Usually with racing I try to stay away from superstitions, tales, legends, fallacies, and prayer.
But I think this season I need some type of cycling angel.
AH! NO! NOT THE SPECIALIZED ANGEL!
First year at Battenkill I was a Cat4, it was 80 degrees and my fourth race EVER. I had one bottle, no food, and got massive leg cramps after 30 miles. Somehow managed to get 19th overall.
Last Year CRASH.
This year? Hat Trick? NOOOOO!
On some other news I have decided not to finish my Masters, at least for now. I am going to start my own business. I'm not obliged to go into details right now considering I'm so broke donating sperm doesn't sound like a bad idea. I'll get back to the details later but lets just saying it seems like my calling in life. A way to homogenize life, sport, love, time, family, and community. It's going to take a lot of planning, support, but anything is possible in life. I'm the first to say
Ah race season is finally underway for me. I've been in this training bubble alone outside in the cold everyday since December. The clouds have part ways more and the sun expresses it's hotter temperatures onto the earth. It feels nice not having three+ layers on me while I cycle. I already have my zebra/cycling tan going on. It looks pretty cool and my girlfriend Maija admires it :)
My first race of the season was also my first race with a new team; Team Somerset/Somerville Bike Shop. Gill the owner of the Somerville bike shop took me on even though everyone else on the team is CAT1. I'll have to work hard to show him and the rest of the team they are not wasting their time. If anything I'm sure it's comedic to have a muchacho blanco on the team. Our first race together was this past Sunday at Central Park in NYC. The course is a little over 6 miles long and we did 5 laps. A short race for most 1/2 guys. It's one of the many reasons I'm not a big fan of racing in Central Park. In my opinion it's a place for sprinters or beginner competitive cyclists. Just as New York City can be claustrophobic so can a bicycle race in the park. The road twists and turns like a snake and because of it's short distance the pace is blazzing fast from the start. Sunday was no different. It was a great temperature (mid 50's) for a morning race but I was still felling overdressed in my all black cycling kit. Our team kits have no come in yet so we are all wearing matching black kits with no sponsors. The black knights! My legs responded to every hard effort the pack or the course threw at me.
New York City racing is a small community of people. For this reason it was no surprise when my teammates and I rolled up to the starting line everyone had that "who are those guys" expression on their face. In the end it really doesn't matter what your wearing. I'm sure if they had full results instead of only top 10 our team would have spoke for itself. All 4 of us finished in the top 15. The race went off with a few attacks that were brought right back. Gill did a great job of working hard on the front, chasing down any attacks. I did exactly what he said which was sit in until 1 lap remaining and then get up into the top 15. With one lap to go I waited until the hill to get a good position in the top 15-20. I sat right on Gill's wheel but didn't see our other two teammates which was essential for a proper lead out. Coming into the final 1-2K it was very hard getting around people because we were veering in and out of the joggers lane. (Not intentionally) In the final sprint I had no wheel to chase, went hard as hell to still have a top 15 finish. I was a little pissed with this result. Also because one of our other teammates finished 6th. Where was he for my lead out? Guess I will have to wait until next weekend for another shot at a lead out. I've been thinking lately that still at the CAT2 level it comes down to what I can do for myself in a race. I can understand why it's hard for people to sacrifice themselves in a race for someone else. Especially when they are not getting paid. Tour of the Battenkill will be my first good test to see how I match up against other CAT2's. I'm very excited for the day.
On other news my body has been a little bit of a mess lately. Two weeks ago I had some pain in my big toe. Turns out I had an ingrown toe-nail and needed it removed. That set my training back a day or two. I'm still dealing with some residual soreness. Then about a week ago the right side of my mouth was killing me. Turns out I had a bummed wisdom tooth that needed to get removed. Right after the race on Saturday I headed back to Long Island where I went straight to the Dentist where he ripped my tooth out. OUCH! I've been on painkillers for 2 days now. I'm hoping today will be the last day of this.
Other things on my mind...
Thinking about finishing my Masters.
Thinking about what to finish my Masters in...
Thinking about how much I love training and living in NJ compared to Long Island.
I really like cookies.
I have become crazy attached to our dog Cooper :)
Video games are cool but a waste of time.
March Madness is crazy fun and the games are so close!
I can't wait for my mouth to stop hurting.
I have been realizing I might be a Philanthropist. I've been looking into volunteering so of my time but haven't told anyone yet. There is this organization that needs people to help out with war veterans. It could be senior citizens or people who are the same age as myself. I think this would be interesting. My life of cycling and training sometimes makes me a selfish person. I'm constantly thinking about how I can improve myself as an athlete physically. But I am realizing that to help others and donate your time can be not only mentally stimulating but effects our minds positively. This week I'll look more into this veterans help idea.
I have also realized that we should never try to be someone that we ARE NOT. While trying to figure myself as an individual I do not want to become a person on the basis of someone's own endeavors. We can only be who WE choose to be. Most jobs out there are respectable professions but we must respect ourselves before we can commit to that type of livelihood. Parents are quick to think of the top respectable jobs for their kids because those professions are well regarded intellectually. No matter what the circumstances if we do not choose our own path to righteousness then we are living the dream of someone else. Those words do go with the fact of finding ones lifework. The question we must ask ourselves is, If we could live our lives all over again would we change anything?
Ah but the real question is:
What choice did we actually have from the start?
We can't run from who we are, our destiny chooses us...
Ah so I promised that I would continue to update my blog from the other day but somehow I seemed to get preoccupied. So where did I leave off? Ah, yes the woman's mind. While I'm speaking about relationships between men and women this does not count out relationships with two men or two women. In the end, they are still relationships! I feel as if there is no true understanding of our counterparts inner thinking. Life and relationships are meant trying to figure out those idiosyncrasies, quirks, and favoritism's. So what gives with the high divorce rate in America and beyond? Were we meant to be monogamous people in this world? I think it comes down to obvious signs. But the true question is, when you meet the right person that fulfills your cognitive and physical desires, do you need to look any further? Sure we can say common recounts such as "Time will tell", or "Fate will lead me in the correct direction." I have a friend who was constantly fighting with their partner. It seems their physical emotion was letting them get the most of their relationship. While they cared quite dearly for each other they could not seem to stop fighting over every little thing. Of course being the outspoken person I am, I gave my friend my two sense. I told my friend they needed to communicate differently if they wanted to keep the longevity and relationship healthy. Last I heard they were on a "break". I never understood the reason behind a "break" in a relationship. I'm sure there are couples who need time away from each other but in this specific case I said it was not the best option. This couple would take a "break" from seeing each other and then some time down the road, a couple of weeks or months, they would reconnect and be happy when they saw each other. The only downside to this so called break is that the problem still lingers behind the curtain. I said to my friend time would go by and things would be fine but the next time a fight or argument came about they would be at each others throats, still lacking the needed communications. Lastly, I said to my friend they needed to figure out a better way to solve their problems than fighting it out. Don't get me wrong we (couples) needs fights every now and then to solve issues but I definitely feel there is a decisive difference between healthy fighting and destructive fighting.
On a more positive note, my winter training is coming to a close and the race season is around the corner. This is good news! Over the past few months I have been working with my coach Mike Monestero and using a powertap to regulate training days. Last year as a CAT3 I would ride 3-4-5 hours a day and I thought this was "good training". Sure it was boat loads of fun getting lost on Long Island but ironically it didn't get me anywhere! Training in central New Jersey has been a blessing. Sure I would like climbs that would be a little longer than 15-20 minutes but it beats climbing over-passes on Long Island. Oh and there are not many traffic lights and the drivers around here are quite friendly, well at least where I train.
I'm very excited for this up coming season. I keep thinking of getting to CAT1 and getting my name out there to some domestic pro teams. Sure this is a totally long shot but I have always believed in endurance sports you need to constantly shoot for the stars because no one is going to ride my bike for me. I've been looking at getting a pair of race wheels for some time now but with my finances not in the GREEN I am not sure if this is a possibility anymore. I wish this could change because having a nice pair of race wheels definitely makes a difference.
The sun is shining and above freezing so that means it's time to head out and train.