Sunday, October 28, 2012

Graffiti Art by Satellite-An Epic Adventure

After a week to remember:
Allergy cold
Felony assault on me and the dogs (more later)
Giant slip off the wagon
World series!
Foot issues, slowing my run training
Incapacitating shots in the arms at the Doctors

Something I'll never forget: I got an invite to ride with "Chris Phipps" a popular Bay Area Cyclist/Runner and Strava wizard on Saturday to replicate his great work of art displayed below...

This was composed by GPS tracking loaded up to Strava website (A social and athletic training web tool).
We would basically start our GPS units and follow a template overlay on a standard map. Seems simple but, is actually quite difficult and painstaking, not to mention the amount of riding, synchronizing gps and finding way's to control point connections with out having to ride our bikes through, buildings, shopping malls etc. We did do a considerable amount of carrying our bikes over lawns, dirt trails and through wooded areas!

I ran two separate GPS units. One to record overall time and miles and one to create the finished design. This map below is the other GPS recording overall mileage and elevation profiles.
I struggled with the idea of getting up to ride so early in the morning after being sick all week. Once I got up and got moving and I was very glad I had forced myself to do this.
When I arrived at the designated meeting area on the west side of Kezar Stadium, I assumed they'd be a hundred cyclist's there to do the ride. I was the  only one there and soon Chris arrived and one other person Katie Evans, a triathlete who's done along with many triathlons, the Hawaiian Iron man! I knew this would probably be a somewhat fast ride.

Chris gave the scope of what we were going to attempt to do for the day. I knew it would be a good 6 hours and about 60 miles with lots of climbing. 

The first third of the ride was not all that bad. Creating the "S" took us north into Pacific Heights, Outer Sunset and through the Golden Gate Park. As we got into the bottom of the "S" and Lower section of the "F" it became quite arduous! The climbing was more difficult and with some bike over trails portage.
Katie in front of me hiking it through the trails and woods

One problem was I didn't bring enough energy food and water and Chris is not one to slow down for anything. Once you get on the train with him you have to hang on for dear life! By noontime I was getting pretty bonked and begged to just stop for some gatorade, chips and a couple of Cliff bars. That did help some but, I may have waited too long and I had trouble getting my energy level back up.
Even though at times it was difficult I don't regret taking on this epic adventure and would do it again anytime.
Me, Katie and Chris along the Outer Sunset

Katie is a brute! She just hammered it all the way.

By the time we reached the Twin Peaks area I was really toast. We then had to go back all the way to the Ingleside area, over to the Outer Mission, up and over Noe Valley and back up through the Upper Market and Haight.
Finally we head out to the Inner Sunset and back along Lincoln, Golden Gate Park and the finish!

I was so glad to be done and when I got home Cathy had a big spaghetti dinner waiting and soon I was down for nap with the doggies.
When I got up I turned on the TV and hunkered down for the 2nd game of the World Series and a few too many beers...
Let's just say today nothing really got done...
 BTW- On Monday of last week around noontime I was attacked with my dogs out in the street by some crazy tweaked up asshole. There was no reason for it and he basically rushed us and kicked my little dog Layla as hard as he could. She went in to screaming spasms and was oozing out body fluid from every orifice! I defended us by kicking at the lunatic, seeing how I couldn't use my hands because  of the other dogs and trying to keep hold of them. It was traumatic and she was rushed to Pets Unlimited, treated medicated and put on a 24 hour watch. For two days she was out of it but, finally came back and is now doing very well yet still traumatized and afraid to go out. I just don't get it. It kind of sent me into a drinking session, cause I just couldn't get that image of her suffering and the attack out of my head. Another day wasted and I'm not feeling anymore safe in this shitty neighborhood I'm living in.
Layla recovering and being checked over by her sister Gaga
Layla Pets Unlimited

My poor little innocent and undeserved of being attacked...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Du The Bears, First Duathlon

Exhilaration and despair! There! Two contrary states of being all in one sentence.

This is how I feel when I compete now at my ripe old age of 58. My drive to compete, my focus and mental energy is just where it was 40 years ago but, I'm driving this shitty old car that's getting harder and harder to keep running in an efficient manner.
It's agonizing to see these young ones stay ahead of me and my inability to hang with them. I see why many middle aged people can become bitter and jealous when they lose what these young kids have in abundance.

"You don't know what you got till it's gone"!

I so understand that now.

Saturday morning I was up at 4:45 am. I went online and re-checked the registration roster for the "Du Bears Duathlon". I noticed there had been quite a few new sign ups for today. More younger and some more in my age group. This was going to be a tough race. One of my rituals is to go through the registrants jersey sizes for the event jerseys. Literally sizing up the competition. Everyone in my group was either large or, medium. I was the only small. At least I might have a weight advantage on the climbs.

I wished I had rested and tapered more this week. I was still a bit tired and I felt the possible onset of a cold which is a sign that I haven't easing back enough on the training lately.
I rode my bike down to the Bart train and caught the 6:15 to Orinda. When I arrived in Orinda I stopped and filled my water bottle at Starbucks with some Dark Roast blend and headed off for the 6 mile ride to the start. I took it easy and actually enjoyed the time I had to get my body moving and focus on the race.

I arrived, got my reg-pack, number and headed for the "Porta-san". After I went back to the starting line set up my bike in the transition area and listened to "Wolf" the Race Director's final instructions.
After the Star spangled banner was played we got the get ready signal and I jumped in line.

3-2-1-GO! The mass start and it was FAST! We looped around the parking lot and headed down a steep descent. It was a bit tough on the legs not being thoroughly warmed up. Even going down hill my heart-rate was in the red zone. Things settled in a bit and I just tried to find a comfortable groove. I new the real race would be once I got on the bike. The climb back up to the bike start was pretty taxing. I got really hot and wished I hadn't worn my outer jacket, which I ended up pulling off and tying around my waist.
I got to my bike and the real fast runners were all gone. Seemed I was one of the first older runners to reach my bike.
I slipped into my pedals very easily while I noticed a lot of other riders going through the change over in to bike shoes. So glad I put on cage pedals and straps.

As I headed out down San Pablo I passed a rider (young), struggling with his pedal adjustment. As I made the first right turn the same rider passed me seemingly grumpy and annoyed this old fool had gotten past him. I like first Rabbit and I will crush you down the road. On to the first little climb another rider, pin thin and sinewy on a TT bike with the aero wheels and helmet passed me. By the looks of it I wouldn't be seeing him again. 

OK, that's one else is going to pass me. My stomach and gut had been feeling a little troubled and my legs felt a little tired. I was somewhat worried but forced the negative out of my head and just focused on the enjoyment of riding and letting the training base take care of the rest. On the first substantial climb I passed two riders, one young woman and a guy. That gave me a little confidence. At this point I started feeling like I was in my element. I was amazed how strong I felt on the climbing and kept picking off everyone who was ahead of me. 

I think the last couple of years of focusing on riding a one speed has really paid off and given me considerably more strength then I've ever had. I don't spin the easy gears anymore. I gear up and power climb standing more than sitting.
My one issue though was my lower left back had been spasming on me since the beginning. It may be due to the fact I lowered my bars earlier in the week. You're not supposed to make any radical equipment changes on the week of a race. I should have known better and I was paying for it.
By the time I reached "Papa Bear", I was really cranking over the pedals and the guy I had been cat and mousing for the last three climbs I was finally able to vanquish. when I hit the top of the climb he was about a hundred yards behind. 
The descent down Papa Bear was spectacular and traffic free. I hit the last short climb and turn on to San Pablo ave for the final stretch and I started to feel the pain. I was pedaling into a headwind. Headwinds are my nemesis. I thought the guy I passed up Papa Bear would probably pass me and that thought kept me pushing hard. 
I finally made it to the bike finish and I was ecstatic that only one person had passed me and been able to stay ahead for the whole ride. One other side note is that for the past decade or so, I've developed very bad "Carpel Tunnel" in my hands. I could barely brake as I came into the bike finish. I got my bike on the rack and for the life of me I could not unbuckle my helmet strap! I kept banging my hands against my legs but, could not feel anything. Then the cat and mouse rider pulled in and I really started to panic. All that work and my freaking salami hands were going to give this guy the lead over me! As he trotted off my hands finally woke up enough and I got my helmet off and took off running.

I thought it hurt on the first run but, damn my legs were toast and I just forced myself to keep moving. when I finally made it down to the dam and the turn around I started seeing other runners pouring down the hill and most of them were really young and also a couple of guys looking around my age. My heart was pumping out the adrenaline and I just focused on keeping my pace. On the climb I passed a few runners and I kept looking over my shoulder to see who was gaining. I just couldn't catch Mr. Cat and Mouse but, I didn't care any more. I just didn't want anyone to pass me. I worked to hard for this. I deserved it and I got mad! I put my head down and just hammered with everything I had left. I could hear the crowd going wild as the runners crossed the finish and I ran and ran like I would die tomorrow!

-I'm so lucky I'm alive. All the shit I've been through in my life. The wrong choices, the right choices. The gift of life. The chance to experience pushing the human machine to it's full potential. Proving to myself that I'm more than I ever thought I would be. I try forgive myself for the bullshit I caused. I run from the part of me I hate. It's over and done so move on. Go out a winner and have no regrets. Life is a gift so live as best you can. The exhilaration and the pain is the reward...-

I dig deeper and the final climb is before me. One more glance back...clear! I rise up to see the finish and everyone yelling and smiling. I'm just instantly joyous and beaming! As I cross the finish line I think of what inspired me to try something like this.
I read a book recently by "Chrissie Wellington" renowned triathlete (probably one of he greatest) that truly inspired me. For many years, through injuries, hardship and grueling training she dominated the Hawaiian Ironman. 
When she crossed the finish line she would drop and roll to commemorate the athlete "Jon Blais" another Triathlete who passed away from Lou Gehrig's disease, who inspired her very much. It's called the Blais Roll. So inspired by her I did a modified version of the Blais roll. I'll call it "Chrissie's roll"!

I do my Chrissie's roll and everyone laughs and cheers while the announcer yells over the loudspeaker,

"And there you have it! The most spectacular finish of the day by Pete Ferguson"!
That's good enough for me...
2nd In Age Group, 25th place over all.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I'm A Criminal Baby!

..."Shit" I think to myself. All I need to top of my day now is a friggin ticket!

As I approached the intersection on my SE single speed, my mind was preoccupied with the days bizarre events. On top of everything else that had aggravated me today, the traffic was ridiculous going through the Presidio. I hate when people drive below the speed limit while talking to themselves obviously locked into a phone call and every four way intersection becomes a game of "Mexican standoff"..."you go", "no, you go"!

I was in the mindset to at least bust one personal record on a segment of my Strava profile. Since my Klein was broken (that's a story for later) and I was on my 1 gear cannonball on wheels, I figured it would have to be a flat, short segment.
Me and the trusty SE singlespeed...Old picture

Ahhh... "Cemetery East" coming up. How perfect for my F*d up day.

Just as the car in front of me pulled out into the intersection I rolled with it "Hollywood Stop"! Then I blasted into the segment right as I got to full speed I noticed a Motorcycle cop coming the other way who had seen my maneuver coming towards me with cars on his ass. He yelled at me. 

"That's a stop sign"!

I smiled and waved, then looked away and stomped on it. As I started to round the curve I looked back saw the blue light and him turning in the middle of the intersection I had just blasted and heading for me. Fortunately I was way ahead of the cars behind me so I put the pedal to the metal and like a Gerbil on Crack I screamed past the tombstones in a blur. At that perfect moment, I get a phone call and glance at my phone...It's Cathy!
I hit answer and in one breath.

"Honey, I'm running from the cops, call ya back"!

I hang up.

I cut hard to the right up towards the rear of the cemetery figuring the cop would guess I went straight. At this point I was quite a bit from the cut off and I glanced back to see him going straight. I kept my speed up and soon pulled over real tight to the edge of the road where I could see from every angle.
Safe! Now to cautiously wiggle my way out of the Presidio and out through the Marina.

I sleazily pulled through the gate at Fort Mason, went to the far back of the parking lot and locked my bike. I then innocently walked out the gate and began jogging towards the Bridge like a little angel.

Check out the PR on Cemetary Sprint! Faster than I've done on my Klein Road bike!

Kind of Karmic in away due to the fact I was summoned to Superior court this day to testify against a career criminal, meth freak, arsonist who attacked me my wife and tried to set my building on fire a year ago. 
The disgusting Pig Shit Defense Lawyer spent the whole time trying as hard as he could to present me as some kind of bully making up the story and picking on his poor little client! 
I look over at the prosecuting attorney and she's sitting there with a look that could kill at the other lawyer and her lips were silently repeating the F* word.
This was just the preliminary!
I walked out of there feeling so incredibly weirded out...
What the Hell has happened to this world?
I can't write anymore about it at this point.

When I got home I decided to clean up my Klein road bike. Cleaning for me is cathartic  Must be a leftover Catholic purifying compulsion.
As soon as I grab my bike...Arrgh!!! WTF! the headset is completely frozen up. The bearings are seized up. Two days before I have to race on this thing. 
I just sink...
Screw it, I gotta get out of here before I slap someone.
I throw my cage pedals on my Tank and fly out the door and down towards the Marina...

Felt better today, got some work done and just focused on my Klein and began the chore of disassembling the headset. When I got it apart I realized that the bearing seals had folded up probably due to the fact that the labeling had never been taken of during the original assembly! It had bound up the headset after almost ten years usage and very well I could have gotten in a serious accident had this happened on the road.
The assembly was done by a shop that I will not mention due to the fact this happened a long time ago and a bad mechanic caused this. I can't disparage a shop that probably has come along way since that time with probably very good employees.

Duathlon Saturday and at least I feel somewhat comfortable with with my equipment.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Animals, Athleticism -The Elixir For Depression

Lalya   Gaga   Bee
How do you keep the fire stoked? I question myself a lot with that. I hit these walls some days and it's like I've just fallen on my face. No rhyme, no reason...
I've grown up with this so, it's something that doesn't surprise me when it arrives. I've been diagnosed with depression and been down all the different roads of treatment, therapy  anti-depressants, all to no avail. It's one of those things that just is.
It's funny when I get in these moods. My dogs know there's something up and I get the serious "guard dog look." It disarms me and the realization that I'm a very valuable asset to them, that they somehow feel the need to protect me from myself.
My middle dog "Bee" is very attuned to me and when I start going "that bad direction" leaps on me scratching, pawing and licking my face. She knows that I don't need to go to that place. Maybe that's love?...
My experience with these rescue dogs has been completely transcendent for me. I've changed in so many ways because of them. Their honesty, loyalty and genuineness is rare in many humans but typically natural for canines. I find myself being inspired by them and aspire to the degree of pureness of which they exude in abundance.

I want to be like my dogs. At least in the way they seem to be Universe attuned.

They have so much to teach me about the world and myself. They don't have to get high, no need to risk their health and welfare for a rush. Love to exercise and always seem to work out their Doggy Day Care social challenges. They know their place in the pack and are happy in their positions.
My girls are awesome.

In combination with my puppy Prozac, keeping up a regular regimen of cycling, running and working out for my overall fitness is my go to remedy for these bouts of depression. I'm starting to understand and tie together the philosophy of how the human being is naturally born to move, to run and to compete. Secondly humans have a propensity to nurture, it's in our genes to strive for the harmony of others and ourselves.

I now realize that's been my problem all along. I wasn't allowing my being, my soul to do what comes naturally.
I think finally late in life I'm starting to get wise to the secret to living and being happy. All I really had to do in the first place was listen to my inner voice.
I'm hoping I'm right, so far so good.

As far as hitting the wall and falling flat, running has taught me so much. I'm learning to push through the dark and have the faith that tomorrow is another day, that they'll be miles ahead when the sun will come out and I'll float back up to where I'm at peace with myself.

My first Duathlon! October 20th and I'm excited. I never knew that the true definition is Run, Bike, Run. Thought it was just a bike and run? 
In preparation I've gone back to cage/straps for my road bike pedals. Will make the running transition a hell of a lot easier. I'm becoming so "retro" in my old age.

I'm using my "Brooks-True Grits" trail shoes for the run and bike. They have a nice, fairly firm platform and slip in and out of the pedals quite easily.

Seeing my "Grand master" competition and after checking my age groups shirt size order, I think weight will be a factor working in my favor! I wear a small...the only one in the 50-60 group that does.
BTW I'm feeling great on the bike. The core workouts and 8 months of running a pumping up my wattage.
We shall see Saturday!...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Running With The Rabbits In A WolfPack

1st in Division, 2nd Grand master, 12th Overall. Wolf pack Fall Showdown Trail run.

Insanely epic weekend, brought to you by intense self-flagellation!

... I hear the beeping from my Garmin sports watch continuously warning me that my cardiovascular system is in the red and ain't gonna hold out much longer.
Mile eleven and the 27 year old woman who I had started the race and paced for the first three miles was hot on my heels. I had gone the whole race without anyone passing me. That basically was my main goal. I hate being passed. It's heart wrenching when that happens so, I don't let it happen, period. She's gaining on me and I can tell she's at her limit. I let her catch up with me rather than wasting energy trying to surge on her. I figure that will leave me a little gas in the tank. This chick is tenacious! I try to banter with her and congratulate her on catching back up with me but, I don't have a whole lot of air in my lungs to spare. I kind of get the idea she was rabbit hunting me from the beginning seeing that we were pretty evenly matched and she had stopped for a "natural break" where I had gained the lead.

I didn't get a lot of sleep and getting to this event had been a bit logistically taxing. "Wolfpack" the organization responsible for putting this half-marathon trail run together is based in El Sobrante and I have to ride to the train, and ride from the train a few miles to the event start. It was very cold and I had to use a bit of my sacred stores of glycogen built up over the week. 
At the start I was a bit nervous and focused on zeroing in on the fast rabbits. When the start horn went off I let the fast front group go and slid in with the secondary group. Immediately I realized their pace was a bit below where I wanted to be so, I then set my sites on the few runners dropping slightly behind the front group.
I immediately found my groove and settled in to a nice 7:30 + pace. I met "Cecil", at least I'm pretty sure that was her name, late 20's, strong runner and pretty cute. I chatted with her and called out our pace times. After awhile I felt like I could pick up the pace a bit and began a surge. At that point she felt she needed to take a "Natural break" and now I was alone. I just began looking ahead and began the job of picking off anyone ahead of me. I probably passed 3 or 4 runners before I began the climb up to the dam.

As I began to ascend the very steep incline I used the power walk/climbing technique which worked really well as opposed to using more energy trying to power run which is really no faster. It probably saved me in the long run.
At the top of the dam I grabbed a sports gel, water, and sports drink and began the less steep second climb which I ran up.
at the turnaround part of the climb I finally got to use my newly developed descending technique which worked really well for me. It's a bit of a skipping style that cushions my bad knee a bit more and I was just blazing past people on the descent.
Finally at the dam things leveled off and there was quite a distance now under the hot sun to the end of the dam to the turnaround flag at the halfway point. I was really starting to feel the hurt at this point and didn't expect this section to be so long. The good thing was I could study all the people ahead of me and gauge what I was up against on the return trip.
Right before the final steep descent my power gels were kicking in a bit and I was starting to feel better. At this point I just let it all go and screamed down the single track in hot pursuit.
The trip back through the woods was really fast and  fortunately went by quick. I sat on a guy around ten years younger than me but was able to finally drop him and started picking off some of the original front group at a rapid pace.
Finally I felt like no one would pass me at this point until I looked back and spotted Cecil! I was in dis-belief! How did she do that.

I was trying to calm myself. My adrenaline was just pumping. We strode together at the same pace and I could tell by her breathing she had as little remaining as I had.
200 hundred yards to go and I was testing with some slight surging...I knew this was it. I can always sprint for 200 yards. I know that from experience so, I went for it!
Long speed stride, mouth agape, my heart pounding out of my chest...100 yards and she started slipping and I really kicked it in with everything I had! 20 yards, I knew I had it...Screaming at the finish line, the announcer calling our names...
"Now here they come! It's going to be close"!

Pete Ferguson wins the sprint!

I stopped dead after crossing and bent over to try and get some air in my lungs. I rose up a bit to high five Cecil. I was happy for her, yet a little sad that she had to just missed beating this old man. She had worked too hard to catch back up with me.

So was my experience of running my first trail competition at 58 years old.
It was surely a confidence builder and now I'm pretty sure of what I have in the "Lord Balls" department.

I rode back to the train beaming and kind of proud of myself. I won first place in my age group. A second place for the Grand Master slot and out of all the competition, men's and women's I placed 12th overall. I'd say a pretty good day!

When I got home, Cathy made me a nice home cooked meal of eggplant Parmesan. We had massive doggie day care and with friends stopping by, the blue angels booming overhead and going out to dinner I wasn't able to get much rest until Sunday where I just spent  most of the day playing and photographing the dogs and watching the airshow from the roof.

Some of the results from my photo sessions.

Saturday's Blue Angels-

In between air show dog photo shoot.