Monthly Archives: August 2012

Sub-6:00

I hope to post Lisa’s pictures tomorrow after I download them. Today, you get the race recap. My 1,000 2,000 words, if you will.

Yesterday, I was running down Portland Avenue in Old Orchard Beach, less than a mile to the finish of my first “long course” triathlon, when I made eye-contact with a spectator cheering from the side of the road. She had clearly been done with her own triathlon for a while and was sitting on a shady rock in someone’s front yard, most likely waiting for a triathlete she knew to run by.

“I’m going to break six hours!” I shouted as I approached.

“WOO HOO! Good for you!” She yelled back, smiling and clapping, as I passed.

I was so excited about how my race was turning out. When we left home on Friday morning to head to Maine for this triathlon, I had three big goals:

  1. Survive my first ocean swim.
  2. Successfully execute the plan I had been developing during the 18 weeks of my Half Ironman training.
  3. Finish in under six and a half hours.

My stretch goal was to complete a sub-6:00 race. To do that was going to mean perfectly executing my plan by hitting all of my paces without over-exerting myself during the swim, bike, or (especially) the run. Basically, I was going to have to do the swim in 45 minutes, average 19 miles/hour on the bike, and go around 9:30/mile for the run. (And my transitions had to not suck, too.) I was going to have to eat right to keep my energy up, manage my blood sugar well, and stay properly hydrated.

When I went past the 10-mile mark on the run, my watch read approximately 5:29. With only 5K left to go, I needed to pick up the pace a little bit. A mile later I had just completed the only real hill on the run course and started to build a little time cushion. The last mile was a mostly downhill run toward the ocean, and I only had to do it in 11 minutes. I couldn’t afford to get complacent, but I was feeling so happy about how my race was unfolding.

I saw Lisa in the finishing chute, posed for her camera, and kicked it in for a finishing time of 5:58:36. Here’s how it all happened.


The Swim: — 1.2 miles in 45:24 = 2:21/100 yards.

Saturday morning, Lisa and I headed down to the pier in downtown Old Orchard Beach to practice my swim. Earlier in the week, one of the people I swim with at the lake told me that I wasn’t going to have any problems doing my first ocean race. Despite his assurances, I was having stress dreams for most of the previous week, and I didn’t sleep well the night before either.

I’m glad I did this pre-race swim, because I learned a lot of things:

  • Swimming against incoming waves (even breakers and swells only 1-2 feet high) is more difficult and slower than flat water.
  • It’s harder to sight in the ocean, since sometimes you’re at the bottom of a wave, and if you’re pointed out to sea, the only thing to see is the tiny buoy hidden behind the swell.
  • Coming back to shore I could aim for the big bullseye of the ferris wheel.
  • My goggles (which are only a season old) get foggy quickly and need to be replaced.
  • When I hit a point near the end of the pier where the water gets very cold, it means I’m just about done, and the water warms right up a couple hundred feet later.
  • That salt taste doesn’t really go away until you drink something after the swim is done.
  • And my split during this race was going to be a bit slower than my typical triathlon.

Sunday arrived with a beautiful, salmon-colored sunrise. As I was walking back to the hotel in the dark after dropping off my stuff in transition, I told myself that I had been getting up before 5AM far too often this year. Nevertheless, it was nice to have my hotel less than a block from the start. I could go back, pick up Lisa, put on my wetsuit in a comfortable environment, take a leisurely walk to the beach, and hang out for about 20 minutes before eating my breakfast, giving Lisa my backup pump, and jumping into the water.

It was my first ever mass-start from the beach. I purposefully stayed near the back, preparing to do my own race. Running into the waves was an incredible thing—like rushing towards my doom—and when the first one hit us above the knees, we all dove into the water. It was pandemonium. Within the first one or two minutes I had to tread water twice to adjust my goggles—the first time after a fellow yellow-capped swimmer elbowed me in the face and started to knock them loose and the second time shortly afterward to get some of the fog out that got in while I was adjusting them.

The rest of the swim went without a hitch. It felt long—swimming always does—but I reminded myself that it was actually the shortest part of my day and would be done soon. Every time we got near a buoy, the ocean became like a washing machine, churning and choppy. I was swimming with the sun in my eyes, and at one point I feared that the people I was following had accidentally veered onto the parallel Olympic-distance course nearer to the shore and that we would all be disqualified when we failed to turn at the correct buoy. But we stayed on course, made the correct left-hand turn, and high-stepped our way onto the beach. (The run to transition from the beach was long and was included in my T1 time, but as usual it was slower than I wanted and mostly due to getting my diabetic house in order. Really, I have to work on that. Practice, practice, practice.)


The Bike: — 56 miles in 2:57:15 = 19.0 mph

Friends, I am used to passing more people than pass me. This race was different and for many reasons . . . and I’m probably better for it. Typically, I start in a late wave and pick off earlier starters. In this race, I was in the first wave. Usually, I just put my head down and chase whatever is ahead of me. This time I had to work hard to execute my plan, which was to ride in a particular heart rate zone. At several points I said aloud to myself, “This is my race. I’m going to do my race.”

There’s not a lot else to say about the bike. It was almost three hours long—a little faster than I had expected—and felt pretty easy. The course had similar terrain to where I live and train and was over very good roads. I was wearing new tri shorts, which were much more comfortable than those I wore in NYC, and as I rolled into town I was starting to pass people again. That actually felt pretty good, because most of the people I passed were part of an enormous drafting pack and were consistently a half-mile ahead of me until the late hills broke the group apart for me to pick off. (Drafting isn’t legal, and there were many time penalties awarded this race.)

I’m sure it was a beautiful course, and I’d love to see it sometime.


The Run: — 13.1 miles in 2:04:58 = 9:32/mile.

I don’t want to put most of the emphasis of this race on the run, because I couldn’t have gotten where I did without making it through the swim, being consistent on the ride, and faithfully eating and drinking on the bike. Nevertheless, it was the part where I dug deeper than ever before in a race. Getting off the bike and on to the run course with a 3:53 on my watch had me highly motivated to push as hard and give as much as I could. I wanted that six hour finishing time so badly.

I was also really tired. I didn’t know the out and back course well, but I had studied it over the previous days. It was an uphill run out of town followed by a long downhill to the Eastern Trail, which was a flat, gravel rail-trail that was straight as an arrow and crossed the Saco Heath before turning around to retrace the whole route to the finish. It was going to be warm and sunny, and I had trouble with hydration during NYC, so I knew to bring my own water (which I had spiked with Nuun electrolyte tablets). This was the right decision despite the extra weight. It let me drink when I wanted, take water from the aid stations to refill, and dump cool water over my head whenever I got the chance.

My first mile off the bike is always too fast. And this was no different. But, unlike the past, I forced myself to slow down and conserve my energy. And I was once again passing more people than passed me, talking to them along the way. I asked one racer from the Montréal-based “Les Chickens” team why they were named that. “We needed a funny name,” he said, “so we picked it.” Très bien fait, mes amis. One woman and I had a little conversation when she passed me about how great the day was, and I felt bad when I passed her a mile or two later after our second crossing of the treeless, sunny, and humid estuary.

Because it was an out-and-back course I was able to bargain with myself. “I know you’re tired. Let’s try to make it to the turnaround point, see how it’s going, and possibly start the run/walk thing there if necessary.” When I hit the turnaround, I saw that I was still on pace to break six hours, but it was going to be close. I had already started to slow a bit, from 9:02 pace for the first 5K to 9:42 for the next and (eventually) 10:15 for the third. Run/walking (or any walking) was going to be out of the question if I wanted to make my time, but I knew that I was starting to feel seriously fatigued. Not fall down dead tired, just heavy legs and hard breathing. I wanted to be done, but mostly I wanted that time.

At the turnaround I was still on the trail, which had its own mile markers, and I could see the distance ticking down by the quarter mile. I was working myself from one mile marker and landmark to the next. There’s the heath. There’s the bridge on the heath. There’s the last road crossing at the end of the heath. At four miles left I started framing my run in terms I was familiar with. Four miles is the same as running to the end of the bike trail. Three miles is the same as the loop. Two miles is the same as the run home from the rotary.

Reaching the Olympic-distance turnaround was an especially nice landmark, because it meant that I only had 5K left. Every 5K race is supposed to be painful; it’s the definition of the event. Run as hard as you can for 21 or 22 minutes. Yes, it’s going to hurt. That’s why we run it. Having 5K left told my brain that I knew what’s coming, that it was okay to hurt, that it would be over soon, and that it was my time to give what I had left.

Looking at my watch I saw the buffer growing and knew with a mile left that I was going to make it. I was so happy, and that happiness helped me dig a little deeper and keep going hard over the last, flat half-mile. I was half-convinced that the finish line would never arrive, even though I could hear the music and the announcer and the cheers of the finish line growing louder with each block I covered. All told, I clawed back a minute and a half over the last 5K and finished a very happy man.

Posted in 101 in 1001, Cycling, Diabetes, Reluctant Triathlete, Running, Swimming | 7 Comments

Old Orchard Beach

Lisa and I are having a great time here in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Since we arrived on Friday, we have played mini golf, ridden on amusement park rides, gone on a driving tour to see lighthouses, walked on the beach a lot, and eaten plenty of food.

Oh, and I did a half-Ironman (70.3) triathlon this morning. I’ll write more about it soon, but you should know that it went really well: I beat my stretch goal of six hours by a couple minutes. I trained hard, and I’m glad that I was able to execute my plan so successfully. Tomorrow, the recovery starts—and I need it—but here are a few pictures to tide you over.

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Posted in I am Rembrandt, Reluctant Triathlete | 3 Comments

The Best Bike Rides Are the Ones with Your Besties

I love riding my bike. That’s not a surprise to most of you, I’m sure. “Love” is not too strong of a word. Even the occasionally painful or tedious parts can’t dampen my ardor. Whether it’s spinning along on an easy weekend ride, putting my head down and pushing as hard as I can during interval sets, finding the maximum pace I can sustain during races, slowly grinding my way up a mountain, or flying down the other side . . . it’s all pure joy.

I just find such pleasure in watching the road unfold ahead of me and in the way the world dissolves into a blur in my peripheral vision as it slips by. I enjoy the way the air feels as my body and bike cut through it and the sound of the wind in my ears when I’m going fast. I have always liked seeing the world at this pace, and I love that my own body is the source of that motion. There’s something especially satisfying about the resistance my legs feel when I turn the pedals, and often I get into a rhythm that feels like meditation. Even climbing hills, canyons, and mountains has the feeling of overcoming obstacles, making the struggle feel worthwhile. Plus, I actually like that feeling of intense exertion—breathing so hard I can’t talk, feeling like my heart will explode when I stand to climb out of the saddle, willing the bike to move upward—at least for a while.

Alone or with a group, in rain, sunshine, wind, cold, or heat—it doesn’t matter. Of course, I’d prefer the ride with great weather in a scenic place with lovely terrain and friendly company. And that kind of really great ride is exactly what I had a couple weekends ago when Scully and Andy and I looped around Cayuga Lake.

Scully and I had been looking forward to this trip for a long time. We became fast friends during the March weekend of Around the Bay and had such a good time riding 100 miles around the Twin Cities that we picked a weekend for a camping and bicycling trip somewhere between Ontario and Massachusetts. I mapped a 90-ish mile route around Cayuga Lake, and Scully picked the campsite. (Lisa and I went to a wedding in the Finger Lakes area in 1998, and I had been hoping for a chance to ride here ever since I got back into riding in 2009.)

What can I tell you about Scully, other than that she’s my diabestie? (Not that I don’t love all the rest of you out there, but we just—I dunno—clicked in a way that I wasn’t expecting and rarely feel with other people.) For one thing, she’s a bit odd . . . but in a good way. She embraces the same kind of crazy that I seemed to find a lot when I was younger, even though it kinda stressed me out back in the day being around awesome people like that. (Hello, low self-esteem and teenage angst!) Yet, despite this crazy, she’s also down-to-earth enough that we can have long, wide-ranging conversations about anything and everything under the sun.

And talk we did. This was actually one of the things I was most looking forward to from the trip. Friday, the night before the ride, we huddled together in my tent for about an hour talking and waiting out the rain before she retired to her own “two person” tent. (Have you noticed that you can sleep two people into a “two person” tent, but only if no one needs any personal space?) We talked a lot on the first part of the ride from Seneca Falls to just outside Ithaca where we met Andy. We talked while chilling in the lake and toasting marshmallows around the campfire after the ride. And we still had plenty to talk about on Sunday morning while we packed up camp and Scully made coffee over her backpacking stove.

We didn’t talk the whole time, though. There comes a point in most long rides where it just gets a little difficult to talk. You forget what pace you should be riding, get caught up in the desire to be at the end, and find yourself pushing a bigger gear than you should. Or you get to a monster hill and have to just shut down the talking part of your brain except to say, “Shut up, legs!” Or you’re just in a bit of pain, talking means talking about it, and it’s better just not to say anything. Or (hypothetically) the two people you’re riding with don’t realize that you’ve fallen off the back and are happily chatting with each other as they ride away. Or (also hypothetically) every time your ride buddies catch up after you’ve slowed, you’re somehow instantly off the front again with no one to talk to.

Most—okay, all—of these situations came to pass on the ride. Leaving Ithaca we encountered some rather steep hills. Going up produced a healthy burn in the legs, and the ride down the other side had us touching 40 mph. Andy, who lives in the neighborhood, knew the route well, so we didn’t have to use my cue sheet or map to know where we were going. (Although I did pull out the map when we stopped at a state park just to see where we were and so that I could feel that the time I spent making the map was worth it.) Andy is a nice guy and does crazy long-distance rides on bikes that he builds himself from parts scavenged from other bikes. (It’s weird to draft off somebody with fenders on his bike.) He also knows the best place in town to get coffee, and for the record Gimme Coffee also makes a tasty chocolate/hazelnut croissant, which is a bit unorthodox but will be something I’ll seek out in the future.

Basically, it was a great ride. The weather was as close to perfect as you can get in mid-August. The scenery was beautiful. My riding companions brought the fun and good conversations. There were chocolate croissants. We even shot a little video at the end of the ride, which we will post once I get some time to add subtitles and bleep out an F-bomb when I almost ran into a mailbox while filming. I can’t think of anything else that would have made it better.

Where are we riding next Skullz? New England is beautiful in the autumn, you know?

Posted in Cycling, I am Rembrandt, Photography | 4 Comments

What I’ve Learned about my CGM

I’ve been using a Medtronic Minimed continuous glucose monitor (CGM) for a little more than a year and a half now, and here’s what I’ve learned about it.

  • Having CGM is the greatest thing. It’s a decision-support tool, a dashboard, and a security blanket. I’ve learned so much about my diabetes from it, and it’s provided the data I needed to make some important changes to my self-management. I wish everyone had it.
  • The BG values it reports are delayed by 15 minutes. This is a fact of life. The CGM looks at “interstitial glucose” between cells (ISIG) instead of blood glucose, and there’s a lag time between the two. Don’t expect the BG numbers from your meter and your CGM match unless your having very stable BGs.
  • The most important factor in getting believable CGM readings is calibration. Wait until your interstitial glucose (ISIG) is the most stable before calibrating.
  • If my BG is on the move but the system says I need to calibrate it, I’ll let it go past the “Meter BG Now” deadline and look at the “Sensor ISIG” values on the CGM information screen. When this value isn’t changing much, that’s when I’ll calibrate.
  • Lots of things affect ISIG values and therefore CGM accuracy: the rate of change of BGs, the level of hydration, and the wetness of the sensor (both too wet and not wet enough).
  • I find that if I keep my sensor and transmitter covered, I get a longer sensor life and better readings.
  • Tegaderm film works the best for me. Unlike IV-3000, it doesn’t come off when I’m swimming or sweating a lot from exercise; it doesn’t leave behind a lot of residue; and it’s stretchy enough to cling nicely and create a good barrier.
  • Hydration matters a whole lot to accuracy. If you’re dehydrated, the sensor will read incorrectly, or perhaps not at all.
  • Don’t calibrate first thing in the morning. There’s too much going on. Almost everyone is slightly dehydrated when they wake up, and I’ve noticed that the very act of waking up and getting moving causes my CGM sensor to give inaccurate readings for about a half hour.
  • Don’t calibrate right before or after exercise. For me, my blood sugar usually is on the move during the first bit of a workout and immediately after it. Plus, the chance of BG swings is greater while exercising, which is bad news for calibration.
  • I find that sometimes I can count on my CGM values when I exercise, and other times I can’t. The lag is a little less during exercise, but my hydration is also different so it’s less accurate. Sometimes it catches big BG swings, and sometimes it doesn’t.
  • Swimming: I find that I can swim for at least an hour without affecting the sensor or transmitter. But I also find when I swim three or more times in a week, the off-label lifespan of each sensor is noticeably shorter.
  • Sensor life: The longest-lasting sensor I’ve used that produced reliable BG estimates is 12 days, which is not too bad for something that’s only supposed to work for three. (Just tell the CGM that you’re starting a “new” sensor when it says “Sensor End,” even though it’s the same one and not new at all.) Because my transmitter battery requires a quick recharge after 6 days, I have to very carefully peel off the Tegaderm I put over the sensor and transmitter, give the transmitter a charge for 15-30 minutes, and then reattach it and apply more Tegaderm.
  • Occasionally, the sensor values will just drop out after the three days; they might come back to match my BG, and they might not.
  • When the CGM graph gets really noisy, the sensor is dying.
  • Sensor freshness matters. A sensor getting close to its expiration date won’t last as long and seems to give less accurate readings.
  • Treat the number after finding a “Lost Sensor” with some skepticism. I find I often need to recalibrate 30-60 minutes after reacquiring the sensor.
  • To avoid “CAL ERROR” messages, I don’t calibrate if the CGM and BG meter values are very different.
  • The Medtronic CGM does some curve fitting, so it often doesn’t “snap” the CGM values to the calibration value when they’re very different. I hate that. Entering another, new BG value usually gets them closer, though.
  • Post meal, a period of flat BG values followed by a rise 1.5-2 hours later almost always means that the meal bolus was too small. (There are a lot of other trends you can spot, but this one was the most consistent.)

Do you use CGM? What have you noticed?

Posted in Data-betes, Diabetes, Life Lessons | 14 Comments

Extra Extras!

I have extra diabetes stuff, and it can be yours if you need it.

A few years ago, I switched from an older FreeStyle meter to a OneTouch meter. This left me with about 150 unused strips. I’m completely confident that I no longer need them. They’re about a year expired, but I suspect they will still work fine. (These are the “FreeStyle” strips, not the “FreeStyle Lite” variety.)

A few years before that—2005 actually—we went to India, and I brought some Lantus pens as a backup in case my pump went on the fritz. I never used any of the pen needles, but I didn’t know about the DOC at the time and had no idea what to do with all of them. These, too, are expired, but I expect unopened needles take quite a while to actually “go bad.”

If you can make use of these supplies, please send me an e-mail.

Posted in Diabetes, General, Hoarding | Leave a comment

Catching Up, Part 1 – Colorado Springs and Denver

Hey, everybody! I haven’t intended to be so absent, but there’s a lot going on round these parts. Let’s go through the last few weeks and catch up, shall we?

Colorado Springs by Bike: As you might remember, the last time I wrote, I mentioned having to stop myself from passing a park ranger’s car in Garden of the Gods at almost double the speed limit while doing interval training. The consensus of everyone who heard about that ride—including Lisa—is that I should have pushed my luck and celebrated my bad-boy accomplishment, whichever way it turned out. (Next time.)

I did one more ride in Colorado Springs—a four-hour, 53-mile ride that took me over a lot of ground in the foothills and canyons along the city’s western edge. Rounding one corner I found myself slipping past a sign announcing the major street was for “Local Traffic Only” and suspected I was entering the area that had burned extensively in the previous weeks. I had seen a bunch of signs—both handmade and professionally produced—earlier in the ride thanking the civilian and military firefighters, first responders, police, and volunteers for their efforts in saving buildings and neighborhoods, so I figured I must be close to the burn area. I wasn’t at all prepared for what I saw. I’ve seen the scorching effects of wildland fires before, but I’ve never experienced what happens when they come into town. Whole blocks were burned to the ground, some so badly that chimneys were the only evidence anyone had inhabited the place. It was remarkable and tragic.

Earlier in the week, I had been stymied in my attempt to ride up Casper Mountain because of the wind and the elevation and the steepness of the climb. I wouldn’t exactly say that I was looking for some kind of redemption on this ride, but I definitely threw in North Cheyenne Cañon on the aforementioned long ride as a way of seeing exactly what I was made of. The climb started 35 miles into the ride, when the elevation was already 5,850 feet (which was actually the low point of the ride). Three miles, 33 minutes, and 1,200 feet of climbing later, the road turned to dirt. Turning around, I was happy to spend the next five or six minutes freewheeling down the winding canyon road. I didn’t pick up an excessive amount of speed—though I easily could have doubled the speed limit—because I needed a little time to catch my breath, give my blood glucose a few minutes to rise, and get ready for the fifteen hilly, gusty miles back to the hotel. At one point, a double-amputee passed me, which gave me a little extra motivation on the way up the hill, but basically I was pretty spent by the time I got back to the hotel.

Family Reunion: It wasn’t all bike riding in Colorado Springs. Lisa, her brother, and I went to the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, which was old-timey but well-curated . . . and ridiculously hot (but that’s hardly their fault). We also went to the tourist trap that is Seven Falls, which is next to the much nicer (and free) North Cheyenne Cañon Park where we returned later the same day I rode it on my bike, continuing onward after the road turned to dirt for an exciting mountain drive.

Speaking of mountains, the whole extended family (all 33 of us) took the cog railway up and back down Pikes Peak. Everyone was wearing their family reunion shirts, which conveniently let everyone else know who belonged to whom and who the crazy people on the train were. The same could not be said later the same day when we took the family portrait at Balanced Rock in Garden of the Gods. But you could still tell, because we were the camera-weilding people all crowded around a big a rock. A couple days later, as we left Colorado Springs for Denver, nine or ten of us showed up to tour the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, a tourist trap with a tragically fascinating gift shop.

Antibiotics: Before leaving Colorado Springs, I also took my last dose of penicillin for the massive strep-B infection that I had a couple weeks earlier. I hadn’t been that acutely sick in a very long time. A 103-degree fever for three days, chills, dull pain throughout my body, weakness, fatigue, dehydration . . . I had it all. Fortunately, the chest X-ray indicated that the crackling in my lungs was not pneumonia. I suspect that I had a minor infection around the time of the NYC Tri, which I probably could have soldiered through if it hadn’t been for the dehydration during and after the tri. I can’t prove any of this, but I think the dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance, prevented me from adequately regulating my body temperature when the illness started. Instead of what probably should have been a low-grade fever and a bit of malaise, I spiked the 103 and was out for days. Within a day of starting the antibiotics, I was feeling so much better. Unfortunately, I had to keep taking them for another two weeks, which I understand even though I didn’t like it all.

Coincidentally, I’m on a different antibiotic right now . . . my third of the last six months. The ciprofloxacin—which has an amazing FDA “black box” warning—is for something completely unrelated to anything else. In a nutshell, I had some very localized pain that typically is either completely unbearable and the cause for immediate surgery or merely awful and indicative of a bacterial infection causing a painful inflammation. My doctor’s nurse practitioner said that I seem to have a high pain threshold but would definitely know the difference. Anyway.

Denver: After Colorado Springs, Lisa and I spent a few days with just her brother and my mother- and father-in-law in Denver. We saw some of the more- and lesser-visited sights, both the zoo and the aquarium, plus the Wings Over the Rockies air and space museum. (My g-d, we spent a lot of money during the Cold War to blow up the Soviets and to keep them from blowing us up.) We also went to a Rockies baseball game against the hated St. Louis Cardinals. I don’t want to offend any Cards fans—as one of my college friend’s aunties said, “Just because they worship the devil doesn’t mean they’re not nice people”—but I finally understand what it’s like when the Red Sox go to another town and their fans take over the stadium, turning chants around until the people who run the PA system just give up and go home early.

The night before we left, we headed back to the LoDo area from our hotel out by the airport to go to one of Lisa and my favorite restaurants: The Keg . . . or “Le Keg” as it’s called in Montréal, where we travel for the occasional food booty call. At one point, I involuntarily moaned while eating my delicious steak. It was quiet, but Lisa heard it and made fun of me a tiny bit. What did I care? I had all the love I needed right there in the form of food.

Big Thoughts about The West: On the flight home, I thought a bit about our trip. It was our first multi-week vacation since going to Australia in 2010, and our first summertime trip to the Rockies since 2008. I really love the scenery of the mountains and red rocks and grasslands. There’s something amazing about watching a storm blacken the sky to the west as the clouds unleash vivid lightning and shed sheets of monsoon rain. The pace of life is slower, it’s less crowded, and I feel relaxed when I’m there.

It was the first time that I trained at altitude for extended periods since 1994. In high school I had a ridiculously high hematocrit. Now I’m 20 years older and more-or-less anemic. (My red blood cell count and hematocrit have been marginally low or just within the normal part of the reference range for the last three years.) And when you combine the hills, mountains, wind, and elevation, it’s rather more difficult than at home. I hope the benefits will stick around through my tri on Sunday. Even if the blood benefits are fleeting, I think the difficulty of the altitude and wind has been a good preparation for being tired during the end of the bike and the run.

Training on unfamiliar terrain and roads has been strange. I had to buy a couple of maps to figure out my long ride and long run routes. I got lost running in Denver, but the trail system is so nice and extensive that I was able to put together a 14 mile run without having to cross any roads or stop at all. But living out of a suitcase and doing everything “new” feels a bit like living in a different country, and by the end I was ready to be home, ready for something familiar.

And it really does feel like a different country in other ways, too. It’s a conservative, gun-toting, bible-carrying country where people’s homes are saved by public-funded services despite an insistence that government doesn’t do anything right and that taxes are too high, where a man is charged with 156 felony counts after shooting up a cinema and people want more guns in everyone’s hands, where the land has as much of a voice as the few people who live on it. Don’t get me wrong; I know there’s only one America—and we’re both equally American—it just different in the West than in New England, and I’m very attached to where we live now. I just wish it weren’t so far away from all of the things that I love about the West: our families and the scenery and the ability to get away from it all.

Oh, and I love my bike.


Next time: Pictures from the trip and a ride with my dia-bestie in New York State.

Posted in Cycling, Travel, USA, Western Adventure | Leave a comment

Not Dead

Hey, everybody! Sorry to keep you waiting for something new and interesting from me to read. (Assuming you ever find them interesting.) There are about a million things going on that I could tell you about, but I’m having trouble finding the time.

I’ll be back shortly with stories to make women laugh heartily and men swoon. But for now, back to work! À bientôt, muffins.

Posted in General, MetaBlogging | 2 Comments