Thursday, August 31, 2006

Back on the Bike... Sort of...
Thursday, August 31, 2006

OK, so it was only for 30 minutes, and it was on my resistance trainer (so I could sit up straight and put minimal strain on my ribs.)

It did tell me that riding outdoors is still a ways off... leaning forward to have my hands on the handlebars puts too much stress on my cracked ribs.

Two weeks since the crash.

Oh, well.


Monday, August 28, 2006

The Year of Long Distance the Crashed Turtle
Monday, August 28, 2006

Well, thanks to my bike crash a week and a half ago (and the likelihood of one or more broken ribs that will take 6 weeks or so to heal) - my Year of Long Distance will have to wait until next year. And this is now officially the Year of the Crashed Turtle.

In a practical sense that means -
  • probably no races in September, though if I'm feeling phenomenal I may shoot for the Pfalz Point Trail Challenge at the Mohonk Preserve on Sept. 24.
  • Shorter races in October - on Oct 15 I'm hoping to run the Ridgewalk&Run 14Mi Trail Race out in Wellsville (south of Rochester), rather than the MDI Marathon in Maine. This should also allow me to do the Black Diamond Offroad Duathlon again this year, and maybe I'll run the Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon again (or perhaps the Honey Chickenwingman Duathlon out near Buffalo.)
  • Shorter races in November - I still want to run the Jack London 7 mile Trail Race in NH, but maybe I'll do the After the Leaves Have Fallen 20K down at Minnewaska the next day... since I won't be attempting the Mendon 50K the following week (though I might try the Menodn 20K option...) And I still hope to travel down to the Lil Rhody Runaround.

It has been very difficult giving up my fall marathon plans, but it's for the best. And if nothing else - this gives me time to plan for a very ambitious Year of Long Distance in 2007 (hint: 4 marathons and at least one 50K...!)

Next up: the Rochester Autumn Classic Duathlon!


Friday, August 25, 2006

Crashed Turtle, 1 Week Later
Friday, August 25, 2006

Scrapes are mostly healed up. Bruise on my hip/butt is still tender but going away. My sprained wrist gets better every day, and the pulled groin muscles only grumble every now and again. The main holdout in the pain department are my ribs - those don't hurt as much as they did a week ago, but they're still pretty painful, and they make sleeping very difficult. After a week of getting very little sleep each night, I now have a better understanding of why sleep deprivation is such an effective torture/brainwashing technique. I miss getting a good night's sleep even more than I miss running and riding!


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Downs and Ups and Downs...
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Today I received two collections of Frazz comic strips, Live from Bryson Elementary and 99% Perspiration . For those who don't know, Frazz is (in my opinion) a brilliantly funny comic strip about a songwriting triathlete janitor at an elementary school, written by triathlete Jef Mallett. I rank it up there with Calvin & Hobbes and Get Fuzzy. (For more info, check out the Frazz Wikipedia entry...) Reading the first book tonight made me smile and laugh.

Today I received my confirmation letter for the Adirondack Marathon. I'm not cancelling my hotel room until the week before the race, and I'm holding out slim hope that I will be healthy enough to do it at a slower pace than I'd planned (and maybe even use it as a training run for the Mount Desert Island Marathon...) but it's a pretty slim hope. Downright anorexic, even. Reading the confirmation letter made me sad.

Today I scanned in photos from rides and hikes earlier this summer (it's hard to believe the summer break is almost over!) and worked on updating and streamlining some older sections of this blog. Happy and sad bounced back and forth on that one...

So where are things at physically? Last night went for a 2 mile walk in the Pine Bush and then helped with karate classes. My legs were pretty tired after all that, and my strained groin muscles were grumbling. Spent a few hours last night sleeping on my stomach, in hopes that might allow me to bypass the spikes of pain in my back that come from either lying on my back or even sleeping propped up on the couch. That may have worked - tonight will be day two of that experiment. Scrapes are mostly gone, hip and butt having a nice colorful bruise, and the ribs hurt like heck. And I suspect that's going to be the case for a while to come...


Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006

Indian Ladder Trail photo slideshow

At least I've managed to get a little more sleep over the past two nights, though I suspect it will be a good while before I can sleep on my back or in my bed again. Aargh...

Ann just headed back to Rochester. It was great having her here - both because she helped me do stuff that I either couldn't have done or which would have taken me much longer (like buying cases of water and soda) and because she helped distract me and keep my from going even crazier than I've been. And because she's my sweetheart. I miss her already.

Woke up to a rainy morning yesterday - that probably contributed to what looked like a fairly low turnout for the Savoy Trail Races. 20 miles in the rain and post-rain humidity wouldn't have been fun... but I really wish I could have done that race. I was really looking forward to it.

Late in the afternoon we went up to Thacher and walked along the Indian Ladder Trail (both the upper and lower trails.) While we were on the lower trail a brief thunderstorm blew through - no rain where we were, but we could see some lightning off in the distance. Pretty cool. The walk was fun - as long as I take it slow and easy that seems to be OK. I suspect I'll be taking a lot of walks over the next week or longer (depending on when I can get back to some running and riding) to keep from going stir crazy and to maintain a tiny bit of my fitness level.

Nothing new to report on the injuries. My wrist seems to be healing, as do the groin pulls. The rest is still sore and swollen and probably will be for some time. Gah.

Ironically, today I received a very nice cycling jersey that I won on Ebay, several days before I crashed. Shame it probably won't be seeing much use this fall... maybe it will be warm enough and I'll be healthy enough to use it at the Rochester Autumn Classic Duathlon on October 1.

Oh, well. Time to go watch some TV before I figure out what's on tap for this evening.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

"But listen, you play hard, at any sport, you’re gonna get hurt. You ride bicycles, when you do get hurt, you’re REALLY gonna get hurt. We’re talking about skipping your body over pavement at fairly high speeds--20 or 30 or 40 miles per hour--and while you may walk away from such a crash, you’ll be limping. Definitely. And bleeding. And you’re gonna be a hurting unit for days and weeks and sometimes months or the rest of your life. But it’s not like you haven’t known all along that crashing is a possibility. So you get injured, you don’t feel sorry for yourself. You heal and get back into shape and get out there and ride again."

--- Mike Magnuson, author of Heft on Wheels, in a 2004 interview

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

Today was supposed to be a short (90-120 min) easy run, and class tonight. Instead I'm becoming very well acquainted with my couch, the pitiful selection of broadcast TV programs, and videos of old Eco-Challenges.

Hobbling around a little bit better today, so either my hips and shoulder areas are doing a bit better or I'm just used to the pain and ignoring it. The ribs still hurt like crazy.

Looked over the bike... the seat will need to be replaced (it's destroyed... wondering if the ground or my legs did that?) and the rear derailleur may be damaged - can't tell without putting the thrown chain back on, and I don't have the energy for that yet. When I was lining the handlebars back up with the front wheel, I noticed the headset was loose, and I seem to recall some play when I was riding up hills yesterday, so maybe that was the source of the accident. Did some research on-line on how to properly adjust it, and did so. Maybe I'll order a new seat later...

Could be worse, but could be better, too.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Well, it didn't start out that way. Last night I transferred the brake levers from my old bike to the new one (mainly to have access to levers that could be used from an upright position as well as from the drops.) So today I headed out to the Mohawk-Hudson Bikepath over in Niskayuna to give the new bike a good shakedown ride and see how the triple chainring (as well as basically mountain bike gearing - no surprise, this road bike was made by Kent, which mainly manufactures mountain bikes) would handle the hills by GE and Knolls Atomic Power Lab. The ride out was good - the gearing takes some getting used to, and someday I suspect I'll replace the rear derailleur, which shifts a bit rough - and after about 45 minutes I headed back. And going down the last big hill before a mostly level several mile stretch back to the park where I'd left the car, I crashed.

Not sure why it happened - I was lightly riding the brakes, so I wasn't going full bore down the hill, but about halfway down things didn't feel right and I said to myself "I'm going to crash." I seem to remember doing an endo over the handlebars, so maybe the front brakes caught and slowed the front wheel too quickly... I really can't say. All I know is a second later I was smashing into the ground, probably at about 20 mph or more (haven't installed a bike computer yet.) Don't know if I hit the pavement first and then bounced into the grass or if I managed to aim myself into the grass. My right hip and butt hit, as well as my right side and the right side of my back, including the scapula area, and somewhere in there my head hit too, hard enough to destroy my helmet. Knocked the wind right out of me, because initially I thought, "Oh, no, I can't breathe - I've broken my back." But then I rolled onto my back (a good sign) and after a few seconds was able to gasp out some moderately painful breaths. Took stock of the limbs, which all seemed to be working, and painfully got to my feet... checked out the bike and found it to be unrideable (the seat is all twisted up... as it turned out, the rear derailleur may have also been damaged, but so far I haven't felt motivated to look that closely) so I pushed the bike hobbling along the path for about 75-90 minutes. (Worst part of that - it was a mosquito-fest. 2nd worst part - the other riders zooming by me from behind without any warning that they were passing. Some of them were obviously serious cyclists and should know better. I did have two riders ask if there was anything they could do to help.) Painfully loaded the bike on the car, drove back home, eventually managed to get myself, my bike, and my gear up all the steps to the house, and made phone calls to let Ann and Master Hillicoss know.

So the current list of injuries (self-evaluated) is:
  • scrapes on my right calf, hip, and elbow and across my shoulders
  • a cut on my right pinkie finger
  • a sprained right wrist (seems like a minor sprain, with almost no swelling.)
  • at least strained and probably pulled groin muscles
  • major bruising on my right hip and butt
  • major bruising to my right ribs in the back and a bit on the side
  • major bruising to my right scapula area and probably strained/pulled muscles in that area
  • strained/torn cartilage between my ribs on the back right side, with possibly some cracked ribs

It all hurts like hell, but everything seems to be functional, so with luck nothing is fractured. I'm not coughing up blood (actually, I try not to cough, because it hurts too much) and can breathe normally, except for the fact that its bloody painful to take a deep breath; also no blood in my urine, another good sign.

Unfortunately, getting around is a bear, and I can't lie down (partially because it hurts too much and partially because I wouldn't be able to get back up.) I've been working on ways to "lay" on my much-too-small futon couch, but haven't managed to do much more than doze for short periods of time. Gah...

So - no 20 miler at Savoy this weekend. No 8 mile Greylock Road Race on Labor Day. Unless this heals awfully darn fast (yeah, right) I suspect this will also destroy any chance I have of running the Adirondack Marathon (I may be able to run again a month from now, but I doubt I'll be able to run 26 miles...) and probably the Mount Desert Island Marathon in mid-October (I might be able to be ready for that, but I need to register soon, and I'm not sending $55 in for a race I might not get to do) and the Mendon 50K in November (I really don't want to do that one without having run a marathon first.) In other words, the Year of Long Distance may have come to an early end, and I'll have to wait until next year to do these races... yes, I'm more than a little upset and depressed at that thought.

But I am trying to remind myself that it could be a lot worse.

And now I guess I'll go try to manage that dozing/sleeping thing again. It's going to be a long few days (at least...)


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

18 Mile Run Along the Genesee Valley Greenway Trail
Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Genesee Valley Greenway Trail info

Sunny, but not too hot and humid - a good day for a long run on the basically flat Greenway trail. I started at Route 20 and ran south for 9 miles, then turned around and ran back. Saw a few walkers and one couple on a motorcycle. The trail is in good shape - in particular, the area just past York Landing which used to be covered in fairly large stones (difficult to ride on AND run on) is now stone dust like much of the rest of the trail.

Back in April it took me just under 5 hours to run 18 miles, mainly along the Erie Canal path (most of it paved.) This took me 4 hours and felt considerably less difficult. So I guess all the running I've been doing has done some good, and maybe I have a chance of running the Adirondack Marathon in under 6 hours...


Monday, August 14, 2006

15 Mile Bike Ride Along the Erie Canal
Sunday, Aug 13, 2006

Packed some lunch and had a relaxing ride along the Erie Canal to Greece Park. A pretty good way to spend the afternoon!


Sunday, August 13, 2006

9 Mile Run In and Around Genesee Valley Park
Saturday, August 12, 2006

Genesee Valley Park website

Needed to get in a short-to-medium length run on some pavement to start breaking in my new Saucony Omni's (the shoes I'm planning to use for the Adirondack Marathon on September 17.) So Ann and I headed over to Genesee Valley Park, Ann with her bike and me with my shoes...

It was definitely a nice evening for a run - low humidity, not too hot, and the paths weren't too crowded (though there was lots of noise and activity at the various park shelters... parties galore.) Good running along the Genesee River and the Erie Canal. And I made decent time without feeling like my legs were totally destroyed, which bodes well for the marathon in five weeks...


Thursday, August 10, 2006

3 Hour Run at Thacher & Along the Long Path
Wednesday, August 9, 2006

NY/NJ Trail Conference Long Path site

Good things:

  • the view from the escarpment trail in Thacher Park
  • the view from Roemer's High Point, above Thacher on the Long Path
  • running through and along fields of golden and purple flowers
  • running along a quiet country road on a sunny day
  • running on a section of trail I'd never run before
  • the cool boulders and outcroppings along the Hop Field trails at Thacher
  • running all the way up Paint Mine Rd nonstop and most of the way up the hill in the field
  • frogs in the huge puddles on the logging road near Roemer's High Point

Not so good things:

  • "running" (OK, hiking!) through meadows of waist-high undergrowth, unable to see what's underfoot
  • thrashed quads for the last 30-40 minutes, either due to too much riding the day before or not enough electrolyte intake during the run
  • leaving the gorgeous landscape of Thacher to return to the city of Albany!


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

15 Mile Ride Through the Pine Bush
Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Albany Pine Bush trail map

About 2 1/2 weeks ago the rear axle on my ATB snapped, and it was an unusual enough size that the Downtube (one of the best bike shops in Albany needed to order it for me. I finally got the new axle a few days ago, installed it, and then spent a while getting the rear derailleur properly adjusted again. But today I was able to hit the trails again, so I headed over the Rensselaer Lake park with the plan to ride through several sections of the Pine Bush.

It was definitely fun to be trail riding again, even if the riding I do is considered basic beginners stuff by mountain biking standards. One nice thing about being out in the middle of the day - very few other folks on the trails with me! I rode through the Rapp Barrens as a warmup, then hit the road into the Fox Run property (a trailer park which is gradually being returned to the Pine Bush as the leases run out) to try to find the entrance to the overgrown dirt road that runs over to the Karner Barrens. No luck - everything was either overgrown or looked like somebody's yard, so I headed over to Columbia Circle and the Blueberry Hill sections via the road.

Blueberry Hill East was stripped down to bare sand last November to get rid of an infestation of black locust trees (restoring the native habitat, I think they call it.) I understand the rationale, but it destroyed one of my favorite sections of trail there and left the whole area looking like a desert for months. It's looking a lot better, now that the grass is growing back, but the trails are still a bit rough to ride. Made my way around the perimeter, then jumped on the trail to the Kaikout Kill Barrens, which was a bramble-fest. Ended up pushing my bike and getting my legs chewed to pieces by pricker bushes. (The same thing happened last summer... you'd think I'd learn better.) Fortunately the trail through the barrens was brush-hogged late last summer, so that was relatively clear.

From there I decided to head over to the Karner Barrens rather than going through the Madison Avenue Pinelands and the Great Dune sections (where I usually run and ride) - haven't been on the bike much this summer, and I was getting tired. Got to the trail heading back to the dirt road I'd been searching for earlier, and not only found it closed off, but could also hear the sounds of machinery and workers - probably something to do with the City of Albany's plans to expand the landfill (a huge money maker for Albany) into that section of the Pine Bush. Yup, just gotta love Mayor Jerry. So I continued on the trails and found a side trail over to the area I wanted to go. Explored for a bit, then took the overgrown dirt road down into the Fox Run property (through some sections that were extremely overgrown - no wonder I couldn't find it from the other side!), headed back through the Rapp Barrens, and ended up back where I started at Rensselaer Lake park.

One very cool thing - I saw a pileated woodpecker on one of the shaded trails in the Blueberry Hill section. What a huge bird! (When I was running in Thacher Park two weeks ago I glimpsed two large black birds with red heads flying away - now I know what they were!) Unfortunately all I got was a glimpse as he flew off into the woods, but still very cool.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

A Year of Long Distance - Race#10
Race the Train 8.4Mi
Saturday, August 5, 2006

a fun article about the 2002 race

2006 Race the Train results
2006 Race the Train photo slideshow

Upper Hudson River Railroad info

I first heard about this race through a review on the Albany Running Exchange site, and didn't really give it much consideration... but as August approached and I looked at races to do, this one gained a strange appeal. Basically, the runners take a train from North Creek to Riparius, and race the train back to North Creek, running mostly on a dirt road which roughly parallels the tracks. Maybe it was the appeal of running on a dirt road instead of gnarly trails, maybe it was just the fact that this was something different, but in the end - around the beginning of July I mailed my application in and made plans to head to North Creek early in the morning that day.
As Ann pointed out the other night, there's something very ironic about the fact that someone who hates mornings as much as I do will repeatedly get up and hit the road at various horrid hours (5:30 AM this time) to go do a race. Add in the fact that I actually pay money to do so, and the true depths of my insanity should be clear.

Of course, this time getting up wasn't that difficult - because I never really slept. I think I dozed off once or twice, but at 3 AM I gave up and spent the next 2 1/2 hours somewhat productively. Got on the road at 5:30 and headed to North Creek, NY, just under 2 hours away. The weather was wonderfully cool, almost chilly even, and the drive out was fairly pretty - lots of mist coming up from the ground, and part of the ride goes along the Hudson up in the Adirondacks. Once in town it took me a couple of tries to find the train station, and then at the station it took me a while to find race HQ, but otherwise an uneventful trip. Stood in line at the men's room for a while, changed into my running gear, and at about 6:45 got on the train for the ride to Riparius.

The Upper Hudson River Railroad is a historical railroad that dates back to the 1870's. At that point the train ran between Saratoga and North Creek. The railroad was used for over 100 years to carry both passengers travelling to the Adirondacks for recreation and then later the products of mining operations to the north. Probably the most famous passenger of the railroad was Theodore Roosevelt, who was an avid outdoorsman and frequent visitor to the Adirondacks. In 1901 when President McKinley was shot and killed, Vice President Roosevelt cut short a hiking trip on Mt. Marcy and was rushed to North Creek, where the fastest train available was waiting for him; from there he went to Buffalo where he took the Oath of Office and became President of the United States. The railroad was closed in 1989, and nine years later Warren County purchased the track with the goal of setting up an excursion railroad for tourist purposes. Work is currently underway to extend the railroad further south (only the 8.5 mile stretch between North Creek and Riparius is currently open.) For more information see the Upper Hudson River Railroad site (which, of course, is where I got most of this information!)

Anyway, after a few delays the fairly packed train headed south, and I discovered I'd sat on the wrong side - the other side had views of the Hudson for the whole trip. Oh, well. I got to look at lots of trees and boulders instead. On the way down the the conductor warned us that the train had been in, well, training (his pun, not mine!) all week - they'd even had it pulling extra cars to build up its strength, and the train was determined to have fewer runners beat it to the finish this year. After half an hour we pulled into Riverside Station in Riparius - what a pretty spot! Of cvourse, that wasn't immediately evident, as I spent the first 20 minutes standing in line at the Port-a-johns. After taking care of that, I went and sat on the bridge over the river, enjoying the view and waiting for the race to begin. And, a bit after 9 AM, with a blast from the train's whistle - off we went!

Fortunately I knew a little bit about this course ahead of time, both from reading an article about the race and from things I overheard waiting in line beforehand, so I wasn't surprised that the first two miles were all uphill - initially a gentle slope, but after that some of it was quite steep. Ran most of it, with only one or two short walking breaks, and managed to hit the 2 mile mark in 23 minutes - not bad at all for uphill! After that things were mostly rolling, basically level with some gradual ups and downs and a few short, steep hills. I was glad when the paved road turned to dirt - easier on the body, and not a problem, given that most of the time I run trails. As the race progressed I passed a few folks and was passed by a few. Nice quiet course (other than pairs of runners chatting with each other) and by the three mile mark the houses had basically disappeared, so it was very peaceful and mostly shaded.

Plugged along at a decent pace, enough to keep my breathing heavy but not enough to do me in. Nearing the halfway point I could hear the train and the passengers cheering - there was a spot where the train stopped for a bit, and I got there just as it was pulling out. (I knew from the start I wasn't going to beat the train, but it was good to see it once!)

The field was thinning out a bit as well... there were always a few other runners around, but I was basically running by myself, trying to maintain a good pace that might still let me pick things up a bit in the last two miles. And other than a steep, rocky downhill (that I had to be careful going down) and a somewhat steep uphill about half a mile from the finish, coming into town, that's what I did, passing several other runners (and being passed by one or two who were also surging for the last bit!) Had a few moments of concern during the last mile and a half, as my right knee kept threatening to go out, but made it to the end without incident and even managed a decent hard run to the finish, for a time of 1:28:07. Hopefully the photographer taking pictures of the finishers will post them... they did after last year's race. Collected my finisher's medal, grabbed some food and drink, and wandered around for a while as a cool down, then changed into dry clothes and made the drive back to Albany.

Don't know if this will become a yearly event for me, but it was definitely a fun time this year, and the folks organizing seem like a really nice group of people. The support on the course was impressive - there were a least 4 water stops, and someone at each mile marker to call out the time. And I got a nice-looking T-shirt to boot. Who needs sleep - I'm glad I went!

Next up: I was going to do the Run for the Roses 5K over in Grafton next weekend (the plan being that afterwards I'd stay and either run or ride at Grafton Lakes State Park) but I'm going to see Ann instead (didn't get out to Rochester this weekend, which was the original plan.) So the next race should be SAVOY! A 20 mile out and back over muddy, gnarly, technical, hilly, hot trails in the mountains of northwestern MA... hopefully the next two weeks of training will help make it a little less painful...


2006 event totals
snowshoe - 3 miles, 59.5 min
running - 99.2 miles, 24 hr 48 min
riding - 32.4 miles, 2 hr 32 min

Friday, August 04, 2006

A LONG, HOT 3 3/4 HOURS...
16-17 Mile Run Along the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway
Thursday, August 3, 2006

The heat and humidity were slightly less oppressive today, but still rough. Late in the morning I headed to Colonie Town Park and the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway. Ran west to the Niskayuna town line, then back to the car, where I changed into a dry shirt and picked up fresh water bottles. Then I did a 5 mile out-and-back heading east on the bikepath. Spent the whole time wishing the predictions of rain would come true, but no luck... lots of clouds and far too much sun, but no rain. Overall, it was a tough run, especially the 2nd out-and-back. Looks like I have a lot of work to do before the Adirondack Marathon...