Scheduling workouts – stop the madness!

I often find that my biggest challenge really isn’t getting out the door.  Most of the time, I’m fully motivated, and follow through.  What *really* throws me off is a constantly changing schedule. Continue reading “Scheduling workouts – stop the madness!”

THIS is why I don’t bike on the streets

city bikingBefore I get started, I’m going to state something that seems obvious to me:  The more interesting the training area, the more enjoyable the training is.  I get it – you’re going to have a more interesting run in inspiring places.  Same goes for biking.  What could be more peaceful than flying down a local road into a brilliant sunset?

But the problem is when you get on a road, you could be taking your life in your hands.  You can ride in the bike lane, or in the absence of a lane, get as far to the right as possible.  You can arm your bicycle with blinking lights, wear a helmet and all the reflective gear you can find.  You can do all that, and it still won’t stop someone who’s simply not paying attention from killing you.

A triathlete acquaintance posted a story from my home state of Illinois early today, in which two bikers, a husband and wife, were killed from behind by an SUV driven by a 16-year old.  At this time, very few details are available, other than the riders were struck from behind, that the man died at the scene, and that his wife died later after being airlifted.  Both were wearing helmets.

The couple were on a training ride for a charity event to be held next weekend.  They were to participate in the Bike MS: Tour de Farms event in DeKalb, IL this weekend.

The latest reports state the driver was “issued a citation for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.”  In Illinois, this is a petty offense, punishable with a fine only, with a maximum fine of $1,000.

For the record, I’m not calling for the driver’s head – I have no idea what happened, and no idea of the circumstances surrounding the accident.  That said, let the record state that $1,000 is the cost of taking two bicyclists’ lives in Illinois.

That’s why stories like this really piss me off.  They’re the reason I don’t get out and bike as much as I’d like.  The simple fact that other people aren’t careful could cost you your life.

I’ve always been of the opinion that there need to be stiff laws in place to protect cyclists.  Laws that will force drivers to actually look for bikers and be careful.  I’m sorry – I just don’t think that $1,000 does the trick.

And, before I get the comments, I understand the whole “you take a risk when you walk out the door” thing.  But knowing the area in which I live, and seeing the number of people I see texting while driving, drifting in and out of their lanes with their heads down, that’s just not a level of risk I’m willing to take.  I value my life, and cherish the time I have with my wife, kids and friends too much to add that level of chance to my life.

Maybe that makes me a wimp.  Maybe that makes me a worry-wart.  It likely makes me a touch paranoid about this topic.  I’m OK with that.

The Washington & Old Dominion trail: A biking gem in Northern Virginia

What a crazy few weeks.  Work has been nuts, my son is back from college, new phones and a new car bought, and I’ve entered the final stretch of weekend classes in a certificate course.

The net result – not enough training, and not enough blogging, either.  I’ve worked out twice in the last two weeks, but I got back on track (actually…back on trail) Friday.

One of my favorite things to do when I can’t run is get on the bike and hit the trails.  Being more of a road bike guy, gravel and mud don’t really work for me.  I’ll do it for fun, but if the ride is about a workout, I’m on a road bike.

Fortunately for me, there’s a great paved trail not too far from me that stretches some 45 miles in its entirety.  The Washington and Old Dominion trail (technically the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park) is built on the bed of the railroad of the same name, which closed in the late 60s.  I’ve never ridden it from end to end, but I’ll get around to it one day.

The only down side to using the W&OD is that I have to load up the bike, and drive about 15 minutes to get there.  That’s because there isn’t a route to get there that doesn’t deal with the DC area’s insane drivers.  A workout isn’t worth getting killed over, after all!

W&OD map

The W&OD itself is a two-lane trial stretching from Shirlington, VA to Purcellville, VA.  It passes through heavily populated areas, suburbs, and more rural areas as you move westward.  Lots of nice towns, good food and bike-friendly things to do along the way.

Green LizardI typically start at the 10-mile marker near Vienna.  About 10 miles to the west is the Green Lizard bike shop in Herndon.  That’s my shortest ride – there and back.  I love to stop there, catch my breath and look at bike stuff.  The staff there is very knowledgeable and helpful.  They’ve got a full-service repair shop in there, if you’re in need.  Additionally, they have a coffee shop inside that makes smoothies – perfect on a hot day!

Mediterranean BreezeIf I’m not in a rush, or if I’m riding with the wife on a casual ride, we’ll stop in at Mediterranean Breeze, also in Herndon.  It’s just a block from the Green Lizard.  They do a little bit of everything on the menu, and everything we’ve had is pretty good (my personal favorite is the New Orleans jambalaya).  Good prices, too.  They also do a Sunday brunch, if that’s your kind of thing.

Carolina BrothersIf I’m on my own on a longer ride, I’ll go about 35 miles, and visit Carolina Brothers Pit BBQ (mile marker 27.5) in Ashburn as my midway point.  I’ve been there probably a half dozen times, and each time, the food’s been great – and cheap.  Of course, the down side is that the ride back ALWAYS takes longer than the ride there.  A belly full of BBQ will do that!

With all that said, today’s ride was short – 10 out and back, for 20 miles total.  It was my first ride on the bike this year, and it felt great to get out.  I pushed the pace on the way out, and focused a little more on form on the way back.  I deliberately didn’t time the ride, so as not to be competing with the clock.

Since it was a Friday afternoon, the trail wasn’t super-crowded, which is often the case on the weekends.  All in all, it was a great ride!

How — and Why — Scott Jurek Set an Appalachian Trail Speed Record — Discover

“Was this the journey they’d imagined in the days after Jenny’s miscarriage? Were they getting away from pain and grief?” At Backpacker, Steve Friedman chronicles ultrarunner Scott Jurek’s challenging journey to break the speed record on the Appalachian Trail.

via How — and Why — Scott Jurek Set an Appalachian Trail Speed Record — Discover

On Muhammad Ali

Ali In Training
American Heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali), training in his gym, 21st May 1965. (Photo by Harry Benson/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

While I normally post about running and training, with the death of Muhammad Ali, I felt the need to post on this today.  It’s been on my mind for most of the day, and has kept me from really plunging into anything else.  I remember watching the fights toward the tail end of his career (thanks to ABC’s Wide World of Sports), and I remember the kind of stature he held among boxing fans, even in the twilight of his fighting days.

I held him in pretty high esteem then and ever since, despite his flaws.

With his death, there have been lots of stories in the media about how truly noteworthy he was.  Of course, anytime something is posted online, people feel the need to comment.  Some offer thought-provoking insight, while others simply flame away without regard to fact.

One comment in particular caught my attention.  It was from a person who remains incensed over the boxer’s decision to not report for military duty when his draft number came up.  The guy ranted for a couple of paragraphs on how Ali was a draft-dodging traitor, an ungrateful citizen, and much worse.

Whatever you think about Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay), the man was not a draft-dodger in my eyes.  Our American system gave him two options:  report or pay the price.  He chose to pay the price, and I respect his willingness to stand up for what he believed.

People who fled the country instead of serving were draft dodgers. People who abused the system to get deferment after deferment were draft dodgers. People who used political connections to ensure they didn’t have to serve were draft dodgers.

Those people who cowered behind borders or behind the system deserve the vitriol. A man who stands up for his beliefs and owns his actions deserves respect, even if you don’t agree with him.

That said, I’m proud to be part of an all-volunteer force and proud that our nation doesn’t have to resort to conscription to fight our wars, even if it means we are probably a bit too fast to spend blood and treasure abroad.

What exactly is prolotherapy?

medical-on-the-runProlotherapy – not a familiar term, is it?  In fact, it’s obscure enough that the computer dictionary tells me it’s misspelled.

Since my doc is recommending it as something that might help cure my Achilles pain, I figured I’d better look into it before making a call on it.  Either way, I’m probably going to seek a second opinion, just because I’m tired of messing around with this, and I want to know the chances of success. Continue reading “What exactly is prolotherapy?”