Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanks for a Perfect Weekend, and Other Running and Riding Randomonium

I guess it helps that the weekend was five days long, but over and over I found myself thinking, "Dang, life doesn't get any better than this!!"

That's ridiculous of course. My house is junk, my to-do list is a mile long and growing by the day, I haven't worked since the summer, and holiday stress is just around the corner. Some things could indeed be better. And I won't even start on all the real problems in the world that get me down if I think about them for more than two seconds...

But, for whatever reason, I was awash in feelings of contentment and ease over the last few days. Sometimes you just have to go with it. Probably an extended endorphin trip brought on by good runs and rides every single day. Plus an incredible Thanksgiving feast hosted by my brother and sister-in-law. They are top-notch foodies with creative cooking talent, so we were treated to a wonderful dinner and dessert. My bro also makes some mighty fine wine.

[all-day pause doing mindless chores, recovery riding, shopping, and cogitating on the subjects above...]

OK, there was something I wanted to verbalize but the verbiage isn't flowing so let me bang this out and move on...


Thanksgiving 4-Miler

Flat and fast course using Goleta neighborhood streets and a big chunk of the bike path:

Any thoughts that this would be a relaxed and mellow Turkey Trot were dashed immediately when I saw one Eric Forte high-stepping out the the car parked next to us. And he wasn't even close to the fastest runner at this pre-feast race. A Cal Poly kid ran sub-5:00 miles to win easily, and our own Todd Booth battled the other fastest guys in town to take the silver. Yours truly started slow and then slowed down. I think runners call that "positive splits" which is actually considered a negative performance.

I jerked some pics from various corners of the internet...

This is the kid (21 years old) who won. He went out fast, as in, 4:45 mile pace, and never looked back. His pace for 4 miles is faster than I can run 800 meters. Somebody said he's a collegiate x-country champ.

This is Todd, the big cheese of my new team. He's an excellent runner and a top expert-class MTB'er. I know he knows how to suffer, so he could be a really good road rider too if he put in some miles on the skinny-tire bike. Maybe I can teach him to ride if he teaches me to run. (That sounds pretty arrogant, huh?)

Anyway, the pic is at about Mile 3 and Todd is surging to try and drop Carl Legleiter and Eric. He put a few seconds into Eric but had to sprint from behind to nip Carl at the line. Surprisingly they had dropped Mike Smith who's been one of the top short-distance runners in SB for decades. BTW, how unfair is it that Smitty had a full head of wild blond surfer-hair, and he decided to shave it off??

This is me limping home a few minutes behind the action, after being dropped by a coupla teenagers. Like Smitty, I shaved my head too ...only I just did the top so I could look like Chris Horner and Levi.

These women are way faster than me. For that matter, most likely they are faster than you too. If I was a caveman chasing them, my genetic code would die off. Fortunately, my sweetie isn't faster than me, but she did run a great race to win her age group in 27:01 (actually, Mariann was a bit faster but she got the Masters prize so Gina was awarded the age-group win.)

The Woman in Red is Annie Toth and here is her blog. Sounds like she's doing a bit of bike riding too. If she gets serious, she obviously has the aerobic engine to be a top cyclist.

Speaking of women runners and top cyclists... New part-time SB resident Kristin Armstrong did the race. It appears she's having more fun than those three above. Since Lance was in town recently, and Kristin has gotten herself a place, I was going to start a rumor that they've reconciled and would be living here. Alas, only part of that is true. They both have (or will have) a house here, but separately. According to highly placed sources, it's only to make the kid-handoff easier. Either way, I'm eagerly awaiting the day Lance shows up to a local running race and Todd kicks his butt!

And more speaking of cyclists and the running races, Joe White did the 4-miler. That's him in blue on the right in the pic below. He made the classic cyclist-newly-turned-runner mistake, i.e., going out too hard and then cracking because his legs can't handle what his heart and lungs can dish up! He still ran a good race. Sadly, Joe's days back in SB are numbered as his wife will be doing her residency up in Palo Alto.

Steve Bertrand, on the other hand, knows exactly how to run a race. And I've also figured out why it seems he enjoys going to running races more than bike races, but that's a subject for another day...

If there was a prize for the runner with the biggest and bestest heart, it would go to this little guy for sure!

Todd and I pay close attention as Mariann instructs us on the finer points of running. She's also been doing some bike riding and she said she'll do a few mountain-bike races for our team this year! Now I need her to work on pressuring Gina into a few races. All part of my grand plan. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Results of the running race, if you care about that sort of thing.


Also got to do both group rides this weekend. 50 or so riders showed up for the festivities on Saturday and a nice time was unfolding until CHP officer King and a fat cohort pulled us over for running a stop sign in Summerland. Well, in fact, some in the group ran it BARELY (read: ~5 mph or so) and others of us really stopped. Really, we did. I executed a perfect trackstand for a solid 0.3 seconds at least. Yet California's finest pulled us all over and threatened to write us all tickets. But once again, after demonstrating their power and authority with a profound lecture, they released us with no tickets this time.

I wonder what would happen in court if I was contesting a ticket, and produced a video showing that I did in fact stop... I wonder what it might do for any other riders who get ticketed in the future when part of a group ride. How ludicrous that Officer King can claim he saw EVERY SINGLE RIDER run the sign. We're often a pack of 50 or more... some stop and some roll through.

And let me be clear: most CHP officers I come in contact with are very professional and seem to genuinely care about the public's safety. Officer King is not in that group.

Dang... why'd I go and write about that negative stuff???

Sunday was awesome! I went out early with Gina, Mariann, and G-Max as they were doing a loop around Casitas. Here's the view out across the ocean from East Beach. I think smoke from the fire in Malibu contributed to the pretty sunrise.

It was a brisk 40 degrees at 7:00 but the air was fresh and the roads almost empty. Once we were rolling, it wasn't too bad. Besides, after discovering this blog I feel it would be wimpy to complain about SB winters.

I left Gina & Co. at the Ventura County line and turned back toward SB. I cannot express in words how happy I am that Gina is riding a bike. Not just riding a bike, but doing BIG rides. Around Casitas?!? There are lots of so-called real cyclists in town that don't do rides that far. As time goes on, our interests and activities grow ever more entwined.

Time-trialed back to East Beach, comfortably making the start of Sunday Worlds. Here's what we see every week as we roll out. Hunky guy volleyball players are also out (on the far courts) but I didn't take any pictures of them.

No pics from the 28 mph charge out to Goob, mostly because my nose was on my stem. I made it over with the front group but then had to bury myself to regain contact after STOPPING at the STOP SIGN at hwy 150. Too blown to go around Bates so I decided some more pics were warranted...

Cookie unleashed a wicked attack that nobody, I mean nobody, could match. He remains: the MASTER OF BATES.

Despite three weeks away in the high Andes Mountains of South America, M-Dubb continued to attack the ride like he always has. Is there anybody so aggressive on the group rides as Matt? I love it!!

Daniel in his new colors and Joe incognito.

Yackity-yack-yack... winter riding at its finest!

Rory forgets more about bike racing in a single day than most of us will learn in a lifetime. Among his many accolades, he is one of the few Americans who have beaten Greg LeMond straight up from a two-man break.

The ride back was a schizophrenic frenzy of social pace intertwined with 30+ mph blasts from the legs of Cody. As has been the case every Sunday for at least 20 years, there was a sprint for the sign at the Polo Fields. I can't tell you who won because my eyes are not that good. (Read: it was really far up in front of me.)


Kimberly (aka. DrKim) said...

I enjoyed your writeup about the weekend rides and runs. I didn't do the thanksgiving run this year--I have already fulfilled my running quota for this year. (that, and I'm really slow). Nice photos from Worlds, though :-).

Marco Fanelli said...

Thanks Kim. You're too kind because my write-up is rather weak. Somebody with better verbiage skills could do more justice to the Sunday Worlds ride. It really is a classic since it's been going on for decades and has had some serious bike-racing luminaries take part over the years. has asked for info about SoCal group rides and I'm tempted to write something up for ours but I'd probably want to get a route map and some other info. Being lazy as I am, that might be a show-stopper...

btw, it was great to see you out doing the rides again.

jen said...

you call *that* stopping? ;-)

lol, there's probably an entire blog post in the contortions involved in stopping without really stopping. my current fave is the clip out, drag one foot, roll through the intersection approach. somehow i don't think cartman is going to approve of that one. unless you've got a few donuts in your pocket. then, all bets are off.

really like that shot of rory o!

steve said...

You missed the fun Valley ride on Friday. You coulda snapped a few shots of me laying in the ditch on the far side of Cat Canyon in my new Platinum kit as Cookie laughed at me. A splendid time was had by all.

Marco Fanelli said...

Jen- I imagine the law says "must come to a complete stop" or something similar. A 0.3 second track-stand qualifies in my expert legal opinion. As far as I know, the put-your-foot-down thing is just a myth, but it is pretty funny when somebody goes rolling through the intersection dragging their cleat on the pavement shooting off sparks!

Prof Steve- I heard about your little ditch dive. Glad you're not hurt.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

marco ... that foot placement, baby.

that's damage being done i don't even want to think about.

and always fun to hear about the fireworks down in the 'barb.

Marco Fanelli said...

> marco ... that foot placement, baby.
> that's damage being done i don't
> even want to think about.

Yeah OV, it looks bad I agree. But so far, no damage.

[knocks on oak desk]

I have a theory that most riders politely dismiss as stupid, but it goes like this: cycling as much as we do is not a natural activity. We did not evolve to turn millions of 172.5 mm circles with force. The result is an unbalanced strengthening of certain leg muscles, which eventually start putting damaging forces into our knees. The classic chondromalacia-patella syndrome that so many cyclists have is because of that.

Sadly, Ben Haldeman is dealing with it right now, but ironically he can run pain free.

Running and walking help rebalance distorted cycling muscles. But, and this is key, the cyclist-turned-runner absolutely must begin really easy. Do not go as hard and as far as your cardio system would allow you to. If I were a coach, I'd strongly urge all my riders to do a bit of running in the off season. Plus, for anybody on the downhill side of 40-years-old, it's really good for maintaining and building bone mass.

Chester said...

Your not the only one who I've heard talking about what great cross training running is. I actually went for a run the other day... Short, sweet, and pain free. I was thinking during the run "wow I love this so much, why dont I get out and run more?" Then I remembered my IT band... Its funny, its a pain that sort of comes and goes. Somtimes it botheres me, somtimes it doesnt. But I agree with you 100% about running and your "not natural wheel turning force puttin damaging forces into knee" theory. Becuase it just makes sense!

Marco Fanelli said...

Chester- Do you have The Stick to work on your IT band? It's a great tool... just work your IT band with The Stick like it's a rolling pin and you're flattening bread dough.

Anonymous said...

You ever get care packages from your wine making brother? It would be nice to come home from a long [insert your physical activity here] and have a freshly delivered box containing some of the seasons new grape creations. Just wondering???
James Morgan

Marco Fanelli said...

Hey James- Let's just say that x-mas has been pretty nice the last few years. Gina and I typically drink wine in the $10-$15 Trader Joe's range, and my brother makes high-end wine that goes for two or three times that. We enjoy the fruits of his labor!

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

core strength = cyclocross