24 May 2007

World's Toughest Half-Iron Triathlon

'Don't drown. Don't drown. Breathe. Breathe.' x100

And so is how the 1.2 mile swim started for me at the 'World's Toughest Half-Iron Triathlon' in Auburn, California. They say that you should always focus on the task at hand and not your finish time, average speed, etc. My focus was on not sinking. For whatever reason the swim started out poorly for me and I could not catch my breath. All the technique that I had worked so hard on went out the window. Possibly related to me not doing any open-water swimming or wearing my wetsuit since this race last year.

The last 500 meters were probably the best I felt. Out of the water at 7:47am; I thought the swim took 47 minutes, which seemed accurate, considering how poor I was feeling. Ends up it started late and my swim was 39 minutes, only 4 minutes off of last year. In this picture I look like it took 3 years.

On the bike and stoked. What else can I say?
My plan: go as hard as I could and not think about the run. This is my third triathlon and I think I can diagnose what I get on the bike as 'Poor Swimmer's Syndrome'. I am more amped, aggressive, and competitive on the bike part of tri's than in bike races. I'd pass someone with Aerobars and Zipp wheels, they'd step on it and try to over take me again. I'd hear them breathing heavy so I'd push down a little harder. Slowly their breathing would become inaudible and it would feed my aggression. Odd, right?
Wanted to sub-3 hour the 56 miles (600o ft elevation gain), but ended up around 3.14. This includes both transitions, which I am slow at (note that I am sitting in the picture!). Only 5 people did sub-3 and my 'bike split' was ranked 31st out of 200 (Overall results). The course was more up and down then any long or steep climbs. So beautiful. Little traffic.

Run! The route is almost 100% off-road with technical sections of roots, rocks, streams, etc. Also two STEEP, long climbs. The first part of the figure-8 was tighter. Some rocky downhills. No coasting when running! A couple of people passed me, but I eventually got into a groove and picked it up. You run past the finish before heading out for the last 10k (6.2 miles). I noticed the clock for the first time: 5 hrs 02min. I'd have to run a 58 minute 10k to sub-6 overall. This motivated me and I managed to not struggle nearly as much as last year on the last long downhill. It's brutal. My arms hurt from the swim and the impact was exasperating it, but overall, really, I was stoked and having a great time. Ran the whole way back up as fast as I could.

Finished in 5 hr 58 min. Despite the longer swim beat last year's time by 7 minutes. Also got 5th in my age group this time, but got better awards (olive oil and cytomax!) than 3rd. This race is so fun and run super well. Apparently it is 'much different' from other triathlons, which reinforces the stereotype of others. This one is super DIY and 'grassroots'.

The real endurance test was driving back to LA after the race and then getting up at 630am for work the next day.

So the question is: Will I be ready for the World's Hardest Full-Iron in Norway? I've got two months of training.

Thanks to my father for the x-mas gift (covering the registration) and to Uncle Bob for putting us up. Also my great (unofficial) support crew and photographer.

18 May 2007

Ride of Silence article

I wrote the following article for Cal State-LA's student paper and wanted to share it with a larger audience.

Ride of Silence Remembers Cyclists Killed or Injured by Motor Vehicles

One common misconception of bicycle riding is that it is a dangerous way to spend your time and by simply being on a bicycle, in traffic, you are risking your life. Fortunately this is not the case and simple steps exist to significantly reduce our risk of injury or death while bicycling. California, and most other states, give bicyclists the right to be on the street, taking a full lane when necessary, and with this right comes our responsibility to ride with traffic as vehicles. This means that bicycles do not belong on the sidewalk nor are they regulated to recreational trails or paths. The majority of bicycle and automobile collisions occur when bicycle riders are traveling on a sidewalk or against traffic. Unfortunately many automobile drivers do not recognize cyclists as having a legitimate right to be in the road and they create an environment that can be unfavorable or dangerous to cyclists. Like being a pedestrian or living in a major city, bicycling does carry some risk and every year we hear about the tragedies.

The Ride of Silence was created in Texas because of one such tragedy. A local rider was struck and killed by an automobile and on the one-year anniversary a close friend held a memorial ride with one condition: Everyone would ride in silence. One thousand cyclists participated. This delivered a powerful message that his death will not be forgotten and that future fatalities can be prevented. The ride is now an international event that takes place during Bike Week in May.

In Los Angeles, this will be the third year we have taken part. Last year, in an unfortunate coincidence, a close friend of the organizers was struck by an automobile in Hollywood just days before the ride. Morgan Beeby, a UCLA biochemistry doctoral student, had ridden Aids Life Cycle in 2004 and in 2005 raced the Furnace Creek 508, a 508-mile non-stop race through Death Valley. He was still recuperating in the hospital at the time of the ride. Fortunately he is fully recovered, back on his bicycle and finishing up his PhD.

Los Angeles, in my opinion, is one of the safer cities to ride in and tragic accidents are few and far between. What is problematic though, is a police and court system that is unfamiliar with the rights of cyclists. Often police take car-centric views on collisions and assume the cyclist is at fault. Accident reports are not readily available and in some cases drivers have been released without sharing their insurance information with an injured cyclist.

The Ride of Silence this year, while remembering local cyclists who were injured or killed, will also focus on education related to the rights of cyclists to be in the road and the rights we have when involved in a collision. Whether you drive, ride or walk, safer streets are our responsibility. We invite you to join our ride this year, starting at Hollywood Blvd. & Western Ave. at 630pm on May 16th. There are many other rides being coordinated simultaneously throughout southern California. Please see www.rideofsilence.org for locations. Also, for more a more in-depth analysis of the risks of bicycling, see www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/health/risks.htm.

13 May 2007

Boredom is counterrevolutionary

Brian, Jack and I were in Jen's car on our way to Redlands by 530am for Breathless Agony, King of the Mountains Stage 2. Last year this ride was miserable, one of the worst days on the bike I've ever had. This year only slightly better. That time on the Great Divide, when Steevo and I were riding along the exposed ridge of the actual Continental Divide, in the rain with temperatures in the mid-30's was miserable, but at least we knew why. Something about this ride makes my stomach unhappy. Is it because they have such poor food choices at the checkpoints? I probably did not eat enough.

This ride is 4 passes, the last one up to Onyx Summit at 8443 feet, at mile 74, where the clock stops. The last 30 miles are almost completely uphill (It's 114 miles total after you ride back down). The ride started like this:
Brian (at mile two): Wow Jack, you don't have a lot of stuff.
Jack: Oh shit I forget all my stuff!
(Jack turns around towards the start)

Brian was on it and we rode together till we caught a racer guy's wheel. About 5 miles later I fell off. The route is beautiful, lots of pine trees and canyons. Trying to keep pace with them I could only stare at the wheel in front of me, riding alone I could actually look around. Kept thinking Jack was going to catch me. Apparently he got caught behind a train (??). The results are surprising. I took 45 minutes off last year's time.

40 miles of descent in less than two hours. Fantastic. Like riding BMX trails (almost). After complaining about the beans having lard in them (again) and not being able to eat burritos at the finish, we were off to LA so I could get to the Earth Crisis show. Yeah, that's right, reunion show! Call them cliche, call the music simple, but they are the reason I am vegan (that and a cute girl).
Sasha said, 'I'll wait for you if you are in LA by 4pm, not 5pm, cause that is too late.' At 515pm we were on our way to Ventura. My bad. I decided to wear camo cut-offs cause I figured no one else would think of that. We only had to sit through four bands, which was four too many. I read every zine in the place. Apparently vegan-sxe is still a thing. 500 kids? Who knew? Lots of old kids like me, but lots of new ones too. Lots more females than I remember ever being at shows.

They played 'Stand By' second song in. Kids moshed. They did circle pits. Everyone sang along. Just like 1996. No bouncers, low stage. It's not often for me to be so completely focused on the enjoyment or action of one thing that it transcends all other thoughts. To have it happen twice in one day is exceptional. Having my politics expressed through song and taking it in with 500 other kids is something I miss. On encore they played 'The Order That Shall Be' and "Firestorm'. Fuck yeah.
Home at 1am, dehydrated and starving. I missed the second round of the Wolfpack sprints, this time they were on the 6th street bridge. Jack took 3rd.

10 May 2007

Griffith park is not an ashtray

I am in Griffith Park at least three times a week; it is an amazing spot with great roads for cycling (some closed to cars) and seemingly endless trails for running. It's only four miles from my house. I had heard that the fire was contained on Tuesday afternoon after burning only 20 acres. We came out of a Greek restaurant on Pico/Normandie Tuesday around dusk and as soon as we turned north to walk back to the house, we could see the line of flames outlining the ridge. I guess the report I read was slightly optimistic. According to this article, over 800 acres have burned. Often I see animals, including coyotes and snakes when I am out running. Fuck. I want to get up there and see how bad the damage is, then again I don't. What would be nice is if the golf courses burned down and they didn't bother to fix them.