Wednesday, May 27, 2009

100 Miles of Nowhere

In April the Fat Cyclist ("Fatty") proposed another great idea for a fund raiser: The 100 Miles of Nowhere ride.

The basic idea of the 100 Miles of Nowhere is that no matter where you are, on May 23 you’re going to either ride your rollers, trainer, or a very small outside course for 100 miles. Or if that sounds like too much, you can do 50 miles.

Or 25.

But, ideally, 100.

And since you will be the only one racing in your age group, gender, category, and region, you are clearly going to win your age/gender/region/category group.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m guaranteeing you are going to win. How often do you get that kind of assurance in a race?

Oh sure, as you ride, you will certainly have qualms, and may find yourself saying things like, “I can’t believe I’m riding my trainer for 100 miles,” or “I can’t believe I’m paying to ride my trainer for 100 miles,” but then you’ll remind yourself, “But I’m doing this for a really, really good cause.”

And that cause, of course, is helping Team Fatty raise money to fight cancer. Out of the $75 registration you pay, $50 will go straight to the Lance Armstrong Foundation (the other $25 pays for boxing and shipping and stuff like that — trust me, nobody’s making a profit here).

Really, a brilliant idea.

I couldn't make myself sign up for it, given the several hundred (maybe even a couple thousand) miles we have already ridden in the pain cave this year.

Those who did sign up seem to have been an extraordinarily talented group. I strongly urge you to get a big mug of coffee and surf on over to Fatty's site
for some of the "race reports" he has shared over the last 3 or 4 days.

This video is simply amazing.

100 Miles of Nowhere from Noodle on Vimeo.

First, she obviously knows what she's doing when it comes to making a video – great pacing, great visuals, and great music. More importantly, she captured the monotony, pain, and mental effort required to complete the challenge. Also, she likes Guinness – brilliant!!

If you are inspired, it isn't too late to donate to her fundraising effort – all donations go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Glenwood Springs

Despite frequent, and sometimes torrential, rain showers, we managed to squeeze in several bike rides over the weekend.

Saturday we intended to ride the Loop From Hell

with a little extra fun added in by riding from Golden (makes a killer 75 mile/6 hour ride).

We were either saved or stymied by the rain – it really depends on your point of view!

We got aced out of riding Squaw Pass due to rain and sleet. So, we improvised and rode from our house, up Highway 40, down Lookout Mountain to the stone pillars, back up Lookout Mountain, and then back down Highway 40 and home. I don’t have a bike computer at the moment, but I think it was about 40 – 45 miles, and just under 3 hours of riding.

After a big bowl of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches (it was that kind of day – now that I think about it, I should have had a mug of hot chocolate, too!), we packed up our road bikes and our mountain bikes and headed up to Glenwood Springs for the rest of the weekend.

Phil has an interest in Glenwood Caverns
Adventure Park. From the time the Park was in its first phase of development, through its opening 10 years ago, and during its first 5 years in operation, Phil put in a lot of sweat effort. Recently his job, our home improvement projects, and our cycling have conspired to limit his time there. It was time to do some catching up.

Of course, based on our load of gear, we planned to multi-task while in Glenwood Springs.

Sunday morning dawned cloudy, cool and with about a 130% chance of rain.

Since we both have Gore-Tex, the rain gave us no excuse to back out of our planned ride.

[We took off from the base of the tram that ferries guests up to the cavern park.]

One of our favorite rides in that area is from Carbondale through Redstone and over McClure Pass. Due to the expected holiday weekend traffic, we decided to try something different – and I’m really glad we did.

The Rio Grande Bike Trail between Glenwood Springs and Aspen is a “rails to trails” project which is built in the Aspen Branch of the historic Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. Train operations in the corridor ceased in phases, between the 1960s and the mid 1990s.

There is a steady 2% grade from Glenwood to Aspen, with a few rolling hills thrown in.

Once again, we were robbed of the downhill by a headwind on the return trip, but it wasn’t too bad, all things considered.

We rode about 75 miles, with 4 hours and 45 minutes of ride time.

We came across a little cattle drive just outside Carbondale, and that was fun to watch for a bit.

Phil had a flat tire near Basalt, but changed it with a minimum of fuss and we were back on our way in no time.

By Monday our legs felt like lead, and the rain was starting to get on my nerves! We had planned to ride our mountain bikes up Transfer Trail but it was far too muddy to do that.

So, we got all loaded up to take a spin on the bike path along the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon – and the minute we wheeled out of the parking lot, the skies opened and the monsoon erupted!

We beat feet back to the hotel, watched the rain, read for a while, took a nap . . . and by 3 pm the sun was trying valiantly to shine on us. We took another chance and actually got out for about 90 minutes. My legs felt pretty good on the flats, but the climbs were murder. Yikes.

The trail was closed down at the Shoshone Power Plant (the river is extremely high, and there were some washed-out sections beyond that point, I guess). We headed back to the hotel, but took a fun detour up No Name Creek. I only had my cell phone camera because I didn’t want to ruin my other one if the rains returned. So, the photos don’t do justice to how gorgeous it was. The creek is just ripping!

[Almost cut Phil's head off - not familiar with the cell phone camera - takes some adjustment!]

We closed out the weekend with a tasty dinner at the brew pub, then I suckered Phil into watching game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Finals – popcorn, a couple of beers and hoops on the tube [the Nuggets actually won!] – the perfect wrap to a good weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day

So, this morning we rolled out of bed at 4 am to do an abbreviated core workout, and then do a 90 minute bike workout. This was a scheduled recovery week, so we had three consecutive rest days this week – woo hoo! We should, by all rights, be completely rested up and just rarin' to get back at it.

Yeah . . . not exactly.

Time off seems to merely create the desire for more time off . . . funny how that goes.

Anyway, I was able to suck it up and get going knowing that today is Friday, and even better than that, it is the Friday before a holiday weekend. It doesn't get much better than that.

Like many people (I'd wager), I didn't give any thought to the origins of the upcoming holiday – I was (and am) just grateful for an extra day away from the office.

But by sheer random happenstance, the movie we had from NetFlix to keep our minds distracted this morning was Taking Chance.

In April 2004, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl, USMC, came across the name of 19-year-old Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, a young Marine who had been killed by hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Strobl, a Desert Storm veteran with 17 years of military service, requested that he be assigned for military escort duty to accompany Chance's remains to his family in Dubois, Wyo.Witnessing the spontaneous outpouring of support and respect for the fallen Marine - from the groundskeepers he passed along the road to the cargo handlers at the airport - Strobl was moved to capture the experience in his personal journal.

His first-person account, which began as an official trip report, gives an insight into the military's policy of providing a uniformed escort for all casualties. The story became an Internet phenomenon when it was widely circulated throughout the military community and eventually reached the mainstream media.

'Taking Chance' chronicles one of the silent, virtually unseen journeys that takes place every day across the country, bearing witness to the fallen and all those who, literally and figuratively, carry them home. A uniquely non-political film about the war in Iraq, the film pays tribute to all of the men and women who have given their lives in military service as well as their families.

It is tough to do interval workouts at the best of times – that is the whole point. You go as hard as you can for a specific period of time, then recover for a short time, then go again – over and over.

Let me just advise you right now not to combine interval workouts with weepy movies. Maximum heart rate efforts, combined with sobbing, is a recipe for disaster. Let this be my public service message to y'all!

But seriously, watching the movie humbled and shamed me. Memorial Day is not about the "beginning of summer" or just another reason for a family barbecue.

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War, it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action.

Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day.

Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."

So, as you enjoy your holiday on Monday, take a moment and remember those who have served our country. Whether they were "ready" or not . . .

Monday, May 18, 2009

Buena Vista/Salida/Leadville Weekend

Let’s cut to the chase – sometimes I’m a dumb ass.

Last week was sort of hectic around here – our friends who winter in Puerto Rico every year arrived in Denver on Tuesday, and spent the evening at our house, rather than driving straight home to Glenwood Springs. My brother Pat was in town for a conference and he also arrived on Tuesday – so we had a full house (on a school night) and stayed up past our bedtime.

Thursday Phil and I both played hooky and spent the day with Pat. Well, first we went for a pre-dawn bike ride, then Phil went to work for a half day, while I dragged Pat uptown for breakfast and then along Clear Creek for a long walk.

Then we played 18 holes of golf.

Then Pat said he’d really like to see the new Star Trek movie – and the 730 pm show was our best option. Ok, as you know, we are usually in bed at 830 pm, and we’d been up since 415 am . . . but it sounded fun, so what the heck! [It is really well done – even if you are not a big old Star Trek geek it is very entertaining – two thumbs up!] We didn’t get home until about 1030 pm. Friday was a very long day . . .

But, of course, when we got home Friday night there was no rest for the weary. We had to pack up our road bikes and assorted gear and boogie on down to Buena Vista so we could ride in the Buena Vista Bike Fest Century on Saturday.

Here’s the dumb ass part – I remembered to bring 3 different weights of skull caps, 3 different options for my bike gloves, several different jerseys, shoes, helmet, sunglasses . . . but no camera. So, this is a boring dang blog entry because I have no photos to share. Grrrr.

We were on the road by 7 am – and it was 42 degrees and very overcast – I was glad I had my warm gloves and skullcap.
Phil, however, also forgot several important items in his rush to get loaded up and on the road – including his gloves (and tool kit and sunglasses . . .). Luckily he had a really sporty pair of heavyweight camouflage-pattern gloves from Cabela’s in his vehicle, so he wasn’t entirely SOL. The day ended up being cool enough that those gloves worked just fine, even if he did get one or two fish-eyed looks as he pedaled past more fashion-conscious riders.

The Century route goes from Buena Vista over to Leadville, around Turquoise Lake and the Mineral Belt Trail, then back to Buena Vista – which is, theoretically, all downhill.

Not!! Or, if it is, the screaming headwind we fought for 30 miles robbed us of any downhill advantage. I really hate when that happens.
We finished the ride in about 6 hours and 15 minutes; a really respectable time for us. In addition to the good saddle time, we also got several hours at elevation – critical for our Leadville race training.

After we cleaned up we headed over to Salida. We plan to spend Labor Day weekend in Salida so while we were in the vicinity, we thought we’d scout out hotels, mountain bike trails and coffee shops (Phil’s criteria, not mine). We happened to stumble upon the “Cruiser Crit
and it was a hoot!
From brawny men in flowered dresses to a belly dancer, a pirate and a guy in chicken suit – the costumes were inventive and fun. We are already looking forward to our Labor Day get-away!

Sunday we rolled out of bed, ate a leisurely breakfast, packed up and headed over to Leadville. We figured we might as well get in some more miles at altitude, so we rode the Turquoise Lake loop and Mineral Belt trail again. My knees were sore from the ride Saturday, but my legs felt good – which is a good sign. I think our fitness is where it needs to be and we’re ready to start putting in longer rides with more climbing. Oh joy . . .

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Riding in the Dark

Now that is it a bit warmer in the mornings (though today it was only 37 degrees - my fingers are still frozen!), we have been able to sneak out for a couple mountain bike rides before work. We get up at 430 or 445 and get out on the bikes by 5 am. We need to use our lights for the first 30 – 40 minutes of the ride, then we finish up in the daylight.

I absolutely love it!!

Why? Because, let’s face it, I’d be up at that silly hour anyway, but instead of being outside in the pre-dawn stillness with stars overhead, I’d be in the pain cave (basement). Let me see . . . yeah, not a hard choice.

It definitely feels like I’m getting away with something when I head out for a ride in the dark. Even Fatty agrees.

Plus, this is what I see when we ride in the morning (the deer must think we're nuts!):

If you are thinking of getting a light set-up to do some night riding or maybe a 24-hour event, this series of reviews on is a great resource.

So . . . get your lights charged and let’s go for a ride!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Humble Pie

[Pre-race posing - after trying on 14 different clothing combinations to get just the right mix of warmth and breathability . . .]

[Phil unloading my bike - he is awfully good to me!]

We completely lucked out with the weather on Saturday for the Front Range 50. On Friday the weather forecast indicated a high in the mid-50s, with a pretty good chance of rain. Saturday actually ended up being perfect weather for a bike race – sunny, dry, with a high in the low-60s. [Today, however, our plan to sneak in 9 holes of golf got derailed by foggy, drizzly conditions. I won’t complain, though, given yesterday’s bonus.]

Many other things worked in our favor yesterday: there were no problems with parking or registration before the race; neither of us had any mechanical difficulties or flat tires (Stan’s sealant foiled the goatheads! ); I had no spills, and even though Phil went down a couple of times, he came up unscathed; the course itself was perfect for us – swoopy fun singletrack with three hard, short climbs and no technical sections; and my hydration and nutrition plan worked perfectly.

That said, doing a “real” race, with “real racers” is both unnerving and abundantly humbling.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about the Front Range 50 was the fact that there were multiple events going on at the same time on the same course. So, there were Pro & Elite level racers coming up and around me on the singletrack throughout the whole event.
The only other mountain bike races we’ve done, Leadville and the Laramie Enduro, are not loop courses, so that isn’t an issue in those events. As I noted before, I didn’t want to mess up anyone else’s race by blocking them on the singletrack, so there were some nerve-wracking sections in yesterday’s event. One guy took a big digger behind me, but it wasn’t my fault. Other than that, I don’t think I impeded anyone.

I did end up DFL in my age group (40 - 49), but finished ahead of a couple of gals in the 30 – 39 age bracket, and a couple of guys, so I wasn’t last dead last overall – whew.
My game plan was to go hard (just under my lactate threshold), but not to go at full-on race pace. I wanted to get a good hard training ride, but didn’t want to blow up. I think I did just that. My first lap was little faster than it should have been due to adrenaline, and not knowing what the course had to offer. The second lap my legs were feeling crampy from the effort I put in on lap one. But by lap three, I hit my groove and then felt really good for the rest of the race.

It was hard to go out on my final lap, because so many racers were already done. I had to play a few mental games to make myself keep going – I physically had another lap in me (maybe even 2 more, to be honest), but mentally I wasn’t very interested . . . That is the hardest part of endurance events. Your body can keep going for hours and hours, but the mind starts to be a liability. As a friend of ours said about the Leadville Trail 100 mile run “after 15 hours it’s just a mental problem.” Um hmm; it is definitely a “mental problem”!

Phil had a really good ride, and ended up finishing almost half an hour ahead of me. He went hard and really challenged himself. Good work, Phil!

So, here is the humble pie: the overall winner finished the 50 miles in 3 hours and 3 minutes – frankly unbelievable! Our buddy Yuki was 4th overall – 5 minutes faster than his time last year, when he won the event. That has to be hard to swallow – your time improves, but your placing doesn’t. Our friend Junko took tons of pictures of Yuki, Phil and me and posted the photos and mini-videos. Thanks, Junko!

Matt Helton, our exceptionally cool and encouraging bike mechanic finished over an hour ahead of me. His wife, Anna, was out on the course cheering – it was really nice to see an encouraging face – thanks, Anna!

And Chris Castilian, who helped Phil and me get into Leadville our first year, also had a great ride, improving his time by almost 15 minutes over last year.

SAITO Yuki 3:06:37.5
HELTON Matt 3:41:11.3
CASTILIAN Chris 4:01:54.1
KRIZ Phil 4:23:33.6
MORROW Joanne 4:51:29.8

Overall – it was a great experience and a great gauge of my fitness. I’m definitely on track for the season ahead, and will just continue to work on my endurance, sustained climbing at altitude and speed (mostly interval work to dial in hard efforts and recovery time). It's time to bear down . . .

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Show Time

Have I whined enough about the weather?

Complained and groaned enough about the pre-dawn hours spent turning the cranks in the bike cave? (I think I'm changing the name to "Pain Cave" – Nat came up with that, and I think it's a keeper.)

Mentioned my diaper rash dilemma?

It is high time for the whining and griping to stop, and the fun to begin.

It's show time!!

Saturday we are riding in our first race of the season – the Front Range 50.
It is a 50 mile – fast (for some riders, anyway!), non-technical - mountain bike race at Bear Creek Lake State Park (near Morrison/southwest Denver). It has a reputation as a great place to test early-season fitness.

The weather report is calling for highs in the mid-60s with only a small chance of showers later in the afternoon. [According to Channel 9 News - Saturday: Partly cloudy with a chance for a light shower or two. The day will not be a total washout. Morning lows will be from 40 to 45 degrees, afternoon highs from 60 to 65 degrees.] The race starts at 830 am, so we should be off the course by 130 pm at the latest, well before any showers move through the area.

Phil and I had talked about doing the Battle the Bear
, which runs concurrently with the Front Range 50, but would only involve racing 10 or 20 miles (depending on the rider category selected). When I asked Nat whether he thought it would be a good idea to do the event and test our fitness he said yes – but also said we should do the 50 miler. Hmmm.

That means humping it up a little more than I planned to at this point in the season, but what the heck? As our friend Matt said, it is a loop course, not an out and back, so if we decide to just quit after 30 miles, it is easy to do that. Sweet!! I always like to have an exit strategy. Plus, with so many events going on concurrently, it might not be abundantly obvious to all onlookers if I'm DFL

So now the planning begins:

What will I bring to eat? A combination of Vanilla Gu, Gu Roctane, Enervit Cheerpacks
, and EFS Liquid Shots.

How much? Since the race is probably going to take about 5 hours, I need to get about 200 hundred calories/50 grams of carbohydrates every hour – not a whole boatload of stuff to pack – whew.

What will I bring to drink? Phil likes Cytomax, but it makes me gag, so I'll just go with plain water and some Camelbak Elixir tablets.

How much? I'm a big drinker, so I'll need at least 30 ounces each hour – I'll pack two Camelbaks and just swap the whole set-up as I come through the aid station, rather than fussing with swapping out bladders (since we'll be self-supported with no crew to pamper us).

What will I wear? It will be about 45 to 50 degrees at the start – so I'll go with a set up similar to what I wear at Leadville.

Which tires should I run? (Tire sealant is strongly recommended due to goathead
thorns on the course.) I think I'll go with my tried and true favorites – Specialized “The Captain” cross country race tires [550g in the 2.0 version]

Should I bring my iPod? Probably not – with all the traffic and the amount of singletrack in the course, it is not a good idea to block out the sound of approaching riders – though I'll definitely miss the boost I get from jammin' good tunes.

I'll bring my camera, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to get many photos.

The great thing about this event is it is less than 10 miles from our house, so we don't have to camp out at the course the night before, or get up at 4 am to drive a couple hours to the start. We can get a good night's sleep and roll out about 7 am.
My goals for the race are simple:
-- don't get hurt (meaning, don't be a fool and crash like a monkey);
-- don't interfere with anyone who has a chance of placing well in their category (meaning – get out of the way and let the fast guys and gals pass whenever it is feasible);
-- go hard enough to test myself, but not so hard that I blow up and need to take a couple days to recover;
--and have fun – 'cuz it's show time baby!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More Movie Reviews

I reached back into the late 90s for several of these movies. Between NetFlix and Chamois Butt'r (or A&D ointment - "diaper rash" is getting to be a problem!), we may survive our indoor training after all!

April 5, 2009 – split workouts – 90 minutes in the morning, and 105 minutes in the evening. We made the morning workout more interesting by watching The Long Green Line, “a film about running, teamwork and life.”

The Long Green Line (2008) As the dedicated runners of York Duke's 2005 Cross Country team attempt to claim their twenty-fifth state titles in fifty years, filmmaker
Matthew Arnold marks the occasion by crafting this sincere portrait of beloved coach Joe Newton, whose tireless efforts in transforming boys into men has inspired generations of high school athletes. The Boys Cross Country team at York High School in Elmhurst, Illinois is the most winning high school team in any sport in the entire United States, a feat accomplished in no small part by the caring mentorship of the man who has been coaching that team for half a decade. In a sport where only the top five athletes per team score points and only even are included in the competition, a staggering 214 boys have joined the York team simply to be in the presence of such an iconic and inspirational leader. Of course coaching such a sizable team is no small undertaking, but even when two of the star athletes are expelled from the school for arson mid-season, the optimistic Coach Newton refuses to give up hope that his team will endure and prevail.

April 12, 2009. Easter Sunday – which means, of course, the weather was crappy. So, a two hour trainer ride in the bike cave was in order. We watched Hoosiers.
It follows the typical “inspiring sports movie” formula, but with a cast including Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper, it does so with style.

Hoosiers (1986) High school basketball is king in small-town Indiana, and the 1951 Hickory Huskers are all hope and no talent in this Oscar-nominated drama. Things go from bad to worse when coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman
) joins the team. In short order, Dale expresses ambivalence about the star player, ostracizes himself from the townsfolk and hires a drunk (Dennis Hopper). Feelings for the coach change, however, when the sad-sack team turns itself around.

April 18, 2009. Rain and heavy snow since Thursday evening. Much too wet (and cold) to get outside. We watched Speed, and the time really went quickly (2 hour ride – ugh). Sandra Bullock was fresh, funny & engaging in that movie. Keanu Reeves was buff and dumb. Some things don’t change . . .

Speed (1994)
Keanu Reeves stars as an LA Bomb Squad specialist whose principal antagonist is elusive bomber-extortionist Dennis Hopper. Seeking vengeance after his latest ransom scheme is thwarted, Hopper presents a personal challenge to Reeves: A wired-for-destruction city bus, which will detonate if the speedometer drops below 50 MPH. Playing the reluctant civilian who is pressed into service as the bus' "substitute driver," leading lady Sandra Bullock became a major star in her own right. Once Speed gets to the meat of its story, the excitement never lets up--not even after the boobytrapped bus is out of the picture. Run Time 115 min.

April 19, 2009. The sun is out, but the roads are a wet mess . . . bike cave time. Another 2 hour endurance ride. 3:10 to Yuma is ok, but that’s all. If they are showing it on the plane, go ahead and watch it. But don’t run out to Blockbuster or put it at the top of your NetFlix queue. Kind of like Deadwood with less swearing. Everyone looked hot, sweaty and dirty. Personal hygiene just wasn’t a high priority, I suppose. Russell Crowe looked pretty good; Christian Bale looked nasty (he had one of those scruffy little beards that guys who can’t really grow beards end up with).

3:10 to Yuma (2007) Rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale
) agrees to transport the captured outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to the nearest town with a rail station, where they'll wait for a train to court in Yuma. Holed up in the hotel near the station, Wade wreaks psychological havoc on Evans, while Wade's henchmen plan their next move. The movie is a remake of the 1957 classic starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin.

April 23. We’re heading out on vacation today – 4 days in Palm Springs with Phil’s boss. Knowing that we’ll eat and drink with abandon, we squeezed in a workout before leaving for the airport. “Duck” may not be for everyone – it is a small movie with no action scenes and not a whole lot going on, but I find myself thinking about it often since we saw it. It is a sad movie about growing old and lonely, but is also uplifting. Everyone needs a purpose – and you need to find that purpose to keep moving forward.

Duck [2005] An aging societal outcast and a motherless duck set out to find shelter and meaning in a future where people are separated by as many degrees as they are connected. The last public park in Los Angeles has been closed to the public. The city is a desert, and dispossessed widower Arthur Pratt (Phillip Baker Hall
) has outlived his usefulness. A retired history professor who spent all of his savings caring for his beloved late wife, Arthur sets out to the park where his son and dearly departed wife are buried to pay his final respects before ending his own life. Arthur's grim westward march hits an unexpected hitch, however, when an orphaned duckling that has recently cheated death adopts the homeless septuagenarian as a surrogate mother figure. Once again displaced when their park becomes a landfill and their pond is drained, the unlikely pair embarks on a journey to find shelter and meaning in a world where their lives seem to have little value. Writer-director Nicole Bettauer's quietly touching indie drama screened at the Hollywood Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at Cinequest in Las Vegas. Run time 98 min.

April 27. I have confessed my dirty little secret before – I’m a fan of Dancing with the Stars. This season I wasn’t very interested, because the “stars” were pretty low-grade celebrities and no one really caught my eye. But, as usual, I did get sucked in. My favorite (though I realize he isn’t much of a dancer) is Ty Murray.
I know he won’t win, and in fact, I expect that he’ll get booted during the first week in May. But I like him because he is so obviously out of his comfort zone, and also, trying as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen on the show. The big surprise for me, is that Phil and his mom are both in Ty’s corner – in fact, Phil even voted last week, just to try to keep Ty alive one more week! So, when I saw “Adrenaline Cowboys” on NetFlix I figured it was worth a try. It is actually a good little film – personal interest, inspiring underdog stuff – just the ticket to kill a 90 minute workout.

Adrenaline Cowboys: Eight Seconds to Glory (2005) Bo Derek plays host for this in-depth documentary, which takes a look at the bone-crushing rodeo sport of bull riding -- and the hardy breed of men who participate in it. The video includes profiles of rookie Mike Lee, who became Professional Bull Rider 2004 Champion, and "King of Cowboys" Ty Murray (widely considered the greatest professional bull rider in history). Run time 90 min.

April 28. "Bigger, Faster, Stronger" wasn’t quite what I expected. It had more of a World Wrestling Federation/meathead power-lifter slant than I expected, which, in retrospect, makes sense. I get so used to cyclists being on the hot seat for using performance enhancers, I forget that they aren’t the only group of athletes trying to gain an advantage – by any means.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster (2008)
In the hopes of exploring American culture's increased obsession with winning, documentary filmmaker Christopher Bell examines the anabolic steroid use of his two brothers. After setting the stage with a look at the cultural backdrop of the 1980s -- in which hulky stars like Syvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were the ideal -- Bell illustrates how he and his brothers became involved in the bodybuilding subculture, eventually discovering the brutal truth that success in the lifestyle of pumping iron demanded the use of steroids. Run Time 106 min.

May 2. You may be shocked by this – but it is Saturday, and it is raining. Back to the cave for our 2 hour workout. Today we did hard intervals as penance for being sissies and not racing the Lookout Mountain Hill Climb. It was 42 degrees and drizzly when I was slated to take off . . . nah, I decided to pass. So, I tried to redeem myself by going really hard during our indoor training session. The “Transporter” was perfect – tons of action, nearly no dialog – and no annoying plot – with a super hot dude to watch (also a hot chick for Phil – I don’t discriminate). 92 minutes of go go go. Easy to keep my heart rate up.

The Transporter [2002] An outlaw finds his life becoming all the more dangerous when he turns against a gang of criminals in this action drama. Frank Martin
(Jason Statham) is a former Special Forces officer who lives on the French Mediterranean and has a lucrative second career as a underworld courier for hire. Martin will deliver anything anywhere, but he has three iron-clad rules - once the plan is in motion it cannot be changed, neither he nor his customers are to ever use their real names, and under no circumstances will he open the package. Martin is hired to make a delivery to a wealthy but unscrupulous American known as Wall Street, but after taking possession of the package he realizes that whatever is inside happens to be alive. Breaking his own rule, Martin opens the bag to discover a beautiful Asian woman, Lai, who is bound and gagged. Lai briefly escapes, but Martin captures her, and delivers her to Wall Street as promised. However, after being given a parcel to deliver by Wall Street, Martin finds out what Wall Street is up to - in partnership with Lai's father Mr. Kwai, Wall Street is part of a scheme to smuggle Asian illegal aliens into France. Martin's conscience gets the better of him, and he sets out to rescue Lai and put Wall Street and Mr. Kwai out of business; however, as if this wasn't enough of a challenge, Martin discovers a French detective, Tarconi has gotten wind of his illegal business. Run time 92 min.

May 3. We actually could have ridden outside today, but I had a hike planned with some girlfriends and I also needed to go into the office, so the efficiency of a workout in the pain cave won out. Back before we knew that Mel Gibson was a nut job in real life, he played a nut job in Lethal Weapon – and it was entertaining from start to finish.

Lethal Weapon [1987] LA cop Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson
), whose wife has recently died, is a loose cannon with a seeming death wish. This makes him indispensable in collaring dangerous criminals, but a liability to any potential partners. Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), a family man who just celebrated his 50th birthday, is partnered with Riggs. As Riggs gets to know Murtaugh and his family, he begins to mellow, though his insistence on using guerilla tactics to catch criminals is still (put mildly) above and beyond the call of duty. The main villain is The General, a drug dealer responsible for the death of the daughter of one of Murtaugh's oldest friends. The General is also in charge of a deadly, militia-like gang of smugglers. Adding fuel to the fire is The General's chief henchman, played with all stops out by Gary Busey. Run time 110 min.

May 4 and May 5. Had a couple long indoor workouts to knock out on Monday and Tuesday. So long as you completely suspend your disbelief and give in to the guilty pleasure of watching stuff blow up, True Lies is a lot of fun – and it is much longer than most of the action flicks out there, so it worked nicely for us.

True Lies [1994] Borrowing liberally from the French film La Totale
, this is an action picture, domestic comedy, and political thriller rolled into a crowd-pleasing ball of entertainment. Producer James Cameron ("Titanic") wrote and directed the film. Henry Tasker (Arnold) is a workaholic computer salesman neglecting his mousy wife Helen (Jaime Lee Curtis), a legal secretary. Harry suspects that Helen is cheating on him, and he sends a few colleagues to kidnap her. Helen then discovers that Harry is a secret agent, working for a shadowy group called the Omega Sector. Harry and his partner Gib (Tom Arnold) are trying to find four nuclear warheads that have disappeared from a former Soviet republic. Mayhem ensues. Run time 141 min.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bored with Myself

I have a Bruce Springsteen lyric rolling around in my brain right now: "I ain't nothing but tired, man I'm just tired and bored with myself ." [Dancing in the Dark (1984)]

It has been a while since I’ve posted an entry here. I blame it partially on being really busy both at home and at the office, and partially on being bored – with myself, with the topic of training, with the weather . . . blah.

I don’t have any good reason to be bored. We spent last weekend (April 23 – 26) in Palm Springs golfing with Phil’s boss (Bruce) and his wife (Dar).

Our annual trip to Palm Springs is one of the highlights of our year. I have to be honest – the first time we went I spent several weeks dreading the whole thing. I mean, really, I had to take vacation time to go hang out with Phi’s boss. Little did I know it would turn out to be such a great experience.

As you may have surmised by reading this blog, Phil and I are each a little bit ADD. We don’t do well with long bouts of forced inactivity and we tend to use our vacations to squeeze in as much as we physically can every single minute of every day.

That doesn’t work on the Palm Springs trip.

We are forced to chill out and relax – and it is really good for us! We still get up early, but we typically don’t have anywhere to be until our afternoon tee time. So, we forage for breakfast – which we enjoy eating by the pool (tough duty, right?) Then we head out to one of the 3 driving ranges at the PGA West resort, where we are staying. We hit balls for an hour or so, practice pitching and chipping for another 30 minutes, putt for a bit, then make our way back to Bruce and Dar’s in time for lunch.

Then it is time to load up the golf carts (Dar packs coolers with beers, pop, GatorAde, snacks . . . she really pampers everyone). Then the rubber meets the road. Bruce is an excellent golfer. Me and Phil? Not so much. So, in order to make it fun for everyone, Dar (who is a heck of a stick), plays with me and Phil in a 3 way best-ball scramble against Bruce. It takes all the pressure off of us, and we just swing for the fences and have a good time.

After we finish our round, clean up, have a frosty beverage and some snacks, it is time for dinner – which is closely followed by time for bed. As you can see – mucho relaxing.

It is, however, amazing and disheartening to find out how much weight you can pack on in 4 days . . . so this week was spent getting back on the narrow path . . . sigh.

That might explain my boredom. Eating well and working out is my own personal rut – and I’m okay with it . . .usually. But add in the consistently crappy weather and an overloaded in-box at work and my level of satisfaction takes a dive.

So . . . until I don't bore myself, I'll try not to bore you, either!