theZeph

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The Worst Acronym

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Did Not Finish (DNF).

Okay, that may be a bit melodramatic. There are worse acronyms.

DOA, SOL, GOP – all infinitely worse than DNF.

But for an endurance athlete (again, I use that term loosely) having those three letters show up next to your name on the results page of any race is disheartening. Especially a race you were all geeked about.

So what happened at Pierre’s Hole? Nothing.

I had nothing from the word go. After twenty-five miles still nothing. No spark. No passion. No energy.

I’ve said it before, the mantra for endurance events is “no matter how you feel now, it’s gonna change”. As such, I kept going, hoping the lifeless feeling would eventually morph into something better. But as the miles ticked by…30…35…45…I never felt better. By mile 45 I was spending more time off the trail than on it while letting other racers pass. So at the end of lap two – mile 50 – I stepped off the trail and laid down on the grass. When theWife asked what I needed, I responded:

“I just need to lay here and ponder the meaning of life for a bit.”

And then slowly I slipped into a depressingly deep state of introspection.

It was only my fourth DNF in 10 years of endurance events. I’ve bailed on the Wasatch 100 twice and missed the time cutoff at the Butte 100 – but in none of those did I feel so desperately at a loss.

When I dropped at Pierre’s there were maybe twenty people from the Draper crew milling about. As time passed, I sat there two feet from the race course I had previously suffered on…pondering. Until at long last, it was just me. Sitting in a camp chair. Alone.

At one point I looked down and noticed I was wearing only one shoe – the other I must have pulled off earlier in the day. I hadn’t remembered removing it. If you were a stranger passing by you might have thought I was a lost, homeless, single-shoed mountain biker. We all know the scene in endurance event documentaries – you know the one, as racers still speed by there sits the one who dropped – his face solemn and forlorn. Wondering what might have been. What went wrong.

Yep. That was me.

Truthfully, for about a month leading up to the race I had felt the same way on training rides…lifeless. As I puzzled about what might be wrong with me , I thought seriously whether I was really sick. Was something terminally the matter? Did I have a tumor? (right now theWife is reading this, rolling her eyes and saying you are SO extreme. hi Wife!).

No. Nothing was wrong with me. Well, other than I eat like a glutton, train like a couch potato, and have too many balls in the air.

I am officially losing the battle with busy.

But sitting in that camp chair on that lonely August Saturday in Wyoming I wasn’t just thinking about the DNF at Pierre’s. No. No, on that day I sank much deeper into the recesses of regret.

I thought about the training plan I had worked up late in 2010 to prepare for a killer race year in 2011…DNF.

I thought about the disciplined diet I’d hoped to maintain leading up to and through the big races of the year…DNF.

I thought about the lawn I was going to mow before leaving for Pierre’s…DNF.

I thought about the horrific mess in the garage I’d promised theWife five years ago (and every year since) that I’d clean up…DNF.

I thought about that side business I’ve been wanting to start for the last two years…DNF.

I thought about the journals I wanted keep about my daily interaction with my sons (the same journals I’ve been meaning to keep for seven years now)…DNF.

I thought about visiting my best friends dad before he passed away from stomach cancer…DNF.

Then…

I thought about dying.

And wondering – when that day eventually comes – what my life list of DNFs will look like then.

Busy is a brutal tyrant. It can rob us of things in life that are infinitely more important.

On that Saturday in August, I learned a priceless lesson in life…enough really is enough. If it isn’t, we all risk missing out on what really matters most during our short time here.

So it’s one month later and I am still not winning my battle with busy – life has become even more hectic. But, I’ve lost ten pounds since I dropped out of Pierre’s and am eager  to give the Park City Point to Point race hell on Saturday (although we all remember how that worked out for me last year).

But more importantly than the race, I’m paying more attention to what is really important and working on shortening that final list of regretted DNFs.

Bottom line?

Life is short…don’t DNF.

P.S. by far, the highlight of Pierre’s Hole was seeing our good friend Brandon “Evil” Banks cross the finish line after 15 hours in the saddle. Brandon went through two years of endurance race DNFs before finishing (and completely destroying) three of the toughest races in the region this year. Brandon taught me another great life lesson that August day…how to persevere. Nice work Evil and thanks for the lesson.

Written by eber

September 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

12 Hours of Mesa Verde

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Headed down to southwest Colorado a couple weekends ago to race the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde with J Dub, Banks, and Tyler. When I say “race” I mean ride somewhat fast. When you are a middle-of-the-pack guy you aren’t really racing. Not really. More like packing the course down for the really fast guys who have lapped you.

The course was a 16.4 mile loop around Phil’s World just outside of Cortez, CO. If you haven’t been to Cortez, you really should go! Once (that should do).

The trail on the other hand was superbly, wonderfully, amazingly fun.

Well, except for the few miles know as Tuffy’s Rim. Tuffy’s was a bitch (to put it politely). Lots of sharp rocks, awkward drops, tough climbs up technical rock sections and just an awful lot of bone rattling horror.  We’ll get back to Tuffy’s Terror in a bit.

So we rolled into town on Friday afternoon, just in time to hit the local leather and lust bar for a late afternoon lunch. The food was fine. But the scenery unfortunately left little to the imagination.  The photos in the place covered every inch of wall space and were mildly distracting, to say the least. There is something about pictures of scantily clad, overweight, middle aged women straddling Harley’s that makes your food taste just a little skanky.

[shutter]

Rainbows. Butterflies. Teddy bears. Warm blankets. Church hymns.

Quickly moving on.

So we finished up dinner and headed out to pre-ride the course. Oh how loverly was the morning! That course was so much damn fun. Except Tuffy’s Tyranny – of course. By the end of the pre-ride lap all of us were giddy.

Who Needs Cash

To celebrate we headed out to the world famous Ute Mountain casino to sit around a felt covered table, in a smoke-filled room and light all of our hard earned money on fire and then sit there helplessly watching it go up in smoke.

Just to be clear – I am a terrible card player and I hate to waste money. Not an ideal mix.

But, what made this casino trip depressing was not my skills (or lack thereof), but rather the clientele and did I mention the smoke? Holy lack of ventilation batman. I snapped some pics for proof:

Did I mention the clientele? Talk about Zombieland – it would seem the entire reservation falls into a trance each night and makes their way to Ute Mountain, then mills lifelessly about pissing away whatever cash they brought into the joint.

They all had dead eyes. No joke.

It was like we were on the Polar Express only no one said a word. And no one was in pajamas. And there wasn’t a train. But you get the idea. Dead eyes I tell you.

Clientele and lung cancer aside, it was great to play with the guys and all came away with life in our eyes and carrying most of the cash we took in.

Race Day

I was pretty mellow during the pre-race prep. With Tyler and I racing in the duo category I was relaxed knowing I would have a 90 minute break between laps. That was until Tyler beat me in Rock-Paper-Scissors to determine who would do the first lap (including the Le Mans start). I’d never done a Le Mans start before, but I had seen plenty of video of idiots in spandex and cycling shoes stampeding wildly across a dirt road to know I might be in for more than I’d bargained for.

Sure enough. We lined up near the front (go figure) and when that whistle blew it was like 500 people had just been shocked with a cattle prod. Seeing Banks jolt and run like ol’ Bess had me laughing right up until the guy two rows up went down in a heap and damn near got trampled to death. Le Mans starts aren’t as fun as they’d seem. It might have been worth it had all 500 of us not piled up anyway at the creek crossing one mile down the road.

I need to figure out how to rig Rock-Paper-Scissors to ensure a win.

Lap One

First lap went just fine. Congested. Bottlenecked. Slow. But fine. So fine in fact that I hardly even noticed Tuffy’s Rim. There was some casual conversation as we all patiently rode through the 90% single track waiting for the race to spread out with time and distance.

I rolled the first 16.4 mile lap in 1:49 and felt no worse for the wear. Pulled into the transition barn and bid Tyler a merry farewell then moseyed over to the trailer for some food and rest.

Relay races are so different. Between laps you can tinker with your bike, clean up the drive train, fuel up without alternating heavy breathing and swallowing, shoot the breeze with your neighbors, and catch up on some reading. Oh, and you can sit down and RELAX.

I could get used to this.

Lap Two

Tyler rolled his single speed rigid across the course in 1:41. Wow that was short. I pulled myself out of the recliner and got back on the bike. Headed out feeling sprite and energetic and then 4 miles in hit a wall. HARD. I felt like I had been riding for 100 miles! My legs had no juice, my back was stiff, and the climbs seemed significantly steeper than the first lap.

By the time I made it through Tuffy’s Testi Tenderizer I was thinking I was done at two laps.

1:36 was my time and I was COOKED.

That recliner never looked so good! Getting the bike into the stand was a chore, eating was exhausting, and those damn chatty kathy neighbors of ours were giving me a headache.

This relay format really sucks!

Lap Three

Tyler rolled the second lap 2 minutes slower than his first and I thanked him profusely for it. Surprisingly, my third lap was much better. I paced a little better and had almost as much fun riding the 16.4 miles as I did on the pre-ride the night before.

I learned a valuable lesson on this lap. While it is always good form to offer help to someone in need, during a race it rarely pays to do so. I came upon a lady whose chain kept dropping and offered to help. When she accepted I pulled off of the trail and watched a train of folks whiz by. Right about then I noticed the lady had hopped back on her bike and was off to the races.

What the crap?

Puzzled I got back on my bike and proceeded to get stuck behind that train of people for about 3 miles. Did I mention the course was 90% single track? Needless to say the next time that lady’s chain dropped I rode by without a word.

Sayonara sister! Good luck with that chain thingy you got going on.

1:42 – slowing down, but felt like I paced it better.

Lap Four

By now we were into the late afternoon and I knew that Tyler would be getting tired, having ridden all day on a single speed rigid setup, and was thinking my next break might be a long one. Tyler pulled a very respectable 1:52 on his third lap and set me up for my fourth lap as clouds rolled in to cool off the day.

I was certainly tired by this lap. Having ridden over 50 miles already I could feel the fatigue in my legs, back and hands. But I was having so much fun on the course that I really didn’t mind the pain. As it turns out maybe a little too much fun. There is a section of the course known as the Ribcage that was made up of steep smooth drops followed by equally steep ups as you rolled through one arroyo after another – a naturally delicious dirt roller coaster. With the speed generated on the drops you could really launch over the top of the ups. Which is great when you have energy and can control your trajectory. When you are exhausted mentally and physically controlling trajectory is decidedly more difficult.

On one of the last really big ups I neglected to pull up sufficiently at launch and suddenly found myself mid-air in this position:

Any number of thoughts could have gone through my head at this point. But this was the one – oh, this is gonna hurt.

I don’t know how I pulled it off. It felt like I rode a front wheelie at 15 mph for a good 50 feet. All the while wondering when it would end and if I would break one or both collarbones.

Wouldn’t you know? I pulled it off! Somehow I got that back wheel down and rode out the rest of the rib cage without incident.

On to Tuffy’s Tallywacker Twister. One. Last. Time.

Tally ho!

By the time I hit round four of Tuffy’s it was no secret I did not like this 3 mile section of trail. During my third time through I was audibly bad mouthing Tuffy as I rode across his spine. Well, apparently Tuffy is a bit sensitive and vengeful to boot. For as I rolled through the rockiest section of the rim Tuffy reached up grabbed my front wheel between two of his sharp, jagged rocks and hucked me over the bars.

Tuffy scornfully left his mark on my right hip, thigh and knee.

Finish

I finished the last lap in 1:43 and if it wasn’t for the time cutoff and the fear and loathing I had for Tuffy I think I could have mustered one more lap, but was certainly satisfied with over 66 miles on the day.

Road tripping with Tyler, J Dub and Banks is always a great time and made this weekend that much better.

Here are some photos of the day starting with Banks in all his evilness:

J Dub rolling through one of the fast sections:

Tyler going purist on his single speed rigid:

Me, better managing the trajectory:

Wish Mesa Verde wasn’t on Mother’s Day next year too. Would like to go back, but I won’t miss Tuffy if I can’t get the hall pass.

Written by eber

May 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm

22

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Unless you are a mathematician (or somewhat odd) you likely have not looked up a number on Wikipedia. I suppose I fall into the “somewhat odd” camp – my 8th grade geometry teacher would certainly agree I am no mathematician.

So just for fun I looked up the number twenty-two. Fascinating, I tell you.

For instance, did you know:

  • When cutting a circle with just six line segments, the maximum number of pieces that can be so created is 22, thus 22 is a central polygonal number (you don’t say)
  • Psalm 118 verse 22 contains all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and is dead center of the Bible (for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to go through the effort to validate this one)
  • 22 is worn by Manchester United player, John O’Shea, the only player in club history to have played all 11 positions (this one is for you Mark)
  • The Titanic was traveling at a speed of 22 knots before it crashed into an iceberg (this is a somewhat dubious claim, but interesting nonetheless)
  • There are 22 stars in the Paramount Films logo (this one is legit – I counted)

So what, pray tell, does 22 have to do with this post?

Eggnog. That’s what.

Because my wife loves me (or wants to kill me – I am not sure) this past winter our refrigerator looked like this on most days:

theWife buys in bulk. The real glory of this is that I am the only one in the family who really likes eggnog. Consequently I set a new benchmark for myself. Between the drive home from Fall Moab in October and the end of February I consumed a LOT of eggnog. Yes, I said February. Eggnog makes great food storage.

22 quarts to be precise (this is legit – I counted). If you are keeping track at home, that equates to:

  • 792 grams of fat
  • 26,400 calories
  • 7.54 lbs of weight gain (assuming 3,500 calories equals an lb)

Just from the eggnog alone.

Which would be life sustaining, if that is all I consumed over the winter and hadn’t already established that I have some restraint issues when it comes to junk food.

When I started my eggnog binge back in October, I had just completed two long days of main-lined awesomeness riding with friends in Fruita. Prior to that I had completed the Leadville 100 in August and LOTOJA in September and was feeling pretty svelte (if I do say so myself).

The intervention came in February, when upon returning from a run I found a stranger in my house. I first noticed him when I walked by a bedroom mirror and caught a peripheral glimpse of him in his tights.

“Why would some dude sneak into our house in tights?” was my first thought.

“Oh sweet mercy!” was the realization.

The man in the mirror…was me.

After a pretty active year, surely you can understand how I mistook this for a stranger:

Now that I am 37, another problem I’m noticing (in addition to my sweet tooth) is that I can’t seem to keep the winter weight off.

Let’s just say this winter was an unpleasant wake up call. A real doozie.

With a planned death run across the Grand Canyon and back, RAWROD, 12 Hours of Mesa Verde, the Squaw Peak 50, Butte 100, and Park City Point 2 Point coming up over the next 5 months, I best be for doing some sit ups or getting some gastric bypass work done.

PS – I also don’t recommend going on a hair vacation and a health vacation at the same time. This winter I became Gene Frenkle.

Written by eber

April 11, 2010 at 8:26 am

i have problems

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I like to eat food.

I mean I REALLY like to eat food.  But not all food.  For instance, theWife joined a veggie co-op last year and every other Thursday she comes home with this:

Veggies

Which doesn’t excite me all that much.  You see my body has a daily vegetable quota.  Once I reach the quota the next bite of vegetable usually makes me all gaggy and such.

No.  This is more like what I prefer theWife bring home from the co-op:

Junk Food

Oh sweet mercy.

[Sidebar: Dug I know you are seeing those Cosmic Brownies and think you have found your culprit.  I’m innocent.  Boo’ing is an impossible task for me…I consume the treats long before they make it to the door.]

Problem #1

Over the years I have developed a Pavlovian response to junk food.

It all started as a child.

Growing up we had The Third Drawer (my friends coined the phrase). The Third Drawer was the third drawer down on the left side of the stove in our kitchen and Mom kept it fully stocked with junk food…much to my (and my friends) liking.  In all my youth, I can never remember a time when the third drawer wasn’t brimming with artery clogging, waistline expanding yumminess.

Over the years, my fondness for treats has evolved into an addiction.  Literally.

Case in point, we ate dinner with Mark and Rachel a couple weeks back.  Rachel being famous for her skills whipped up a wicked cake of lemony deliciousness and combined it with chocolate pools of heaven.  Being the great hostess she is, she sent us home with a sizeable portion of what was left of the cake.  I ate two slices at dinner and then most of what she sent home.  Looking back I think I ate half of that cake.  HALF.  By myself.

Herein lies one of my problems.  I can’t say no when offered junk food.  I can’t stop myself from finding and consuming junk food.  I know where every junk food stash is at the office.  I can never stop with just one.  I usually will eat junk food until I am sick.  I even eat when it doesn’t sound good.  I can’t stop myself.

Admittedly, my “habit” is a running punchline at the office.  That’s not good right?

Problem #2

I am getting older.

I was blessed with good genes.  My parents are thin.  I grew up thin – so thin, in fact, my friends would  ask me to pull up my shirt and suck in to show the rib cage in all it’s glory.  They used to call me Alien.  Nice, huh?

These days when I pull up the shirt and suck in…it looks the same as when I don’t suck in.  Bulbous.

Age and junk food began to collide around 2001.  That was the year we bought 19 boxes of girl scout cookies from a nice lady at work.  One month later I was complaining to theWife that all of the girl scout cookies were gone.  She said of all 19 BOXES she had only eaten one sleeve of thin mints.  Houston, we had a problem.

So what I am about to type is not based in vanity, more to illustrate the point.

When I met theWife in college, I was spending 4-5 days a week out climbing the crags around St. George, consequently I was in pretty good shape.  The first time theWife saw me with my shirt off her comment was “look at your body.”

Today? She calls me Shrek.

I think she has a fair argument for bait and switch.

Problem #3

Further, emphasizing the problem are the guys in the neighborhood.  All great guys to be sure, but all also are incredibly fit and much faster than me on a bike.

Sam is the Wunderkind.  It appears Mark has affixed anvils where his calves should be.  Rick looks like he just came off the Pro Tour.  Erik is almost always shirtless in 60 degrees.  JDub and I started in about the same place a year ago and now I can’t catch him up a climb.  Even Dug – the elder statesman – in an off year, is no slouch on the bike.

Eating junk food like I do makes it nigh impossible to match pedal strokes with these dudes.

Problem #4

With all the riding I did this year in prep for Leadville and LOTOJA I actually lost weight…20lbs.  That’s great right?  Correction, that WAS great.  Only, one month after LOTOJA I have put 10 lbs back on.  ONE MONTH.

What’s worse is I look like I have added 30 lbs.

Last weekend I put on the jersey and shorts to go out and ride some dirt for a few hours and this is what I saw in the mirror:

Fat Guy in a Kit

I’ve got rolls and ripples popping up all over the place.

That’s it.  I resolve to not gain weight this winter.

Problem #5

So I started with some ab workouts.  It was hot that morning, so I had my shirt off.  I was laying on my back crunching and twisting when I heard it.

It sounded like a fart.  Funny, didn’t smell like one. Come to think of it…didn’t come from the traditional location either.  Slightly perplexed I continued with my routine.

When it happened again I was horrified. I had pinpointed the source.  It was a back flab fart.

What on the great green earth is a back flab fart you ask?

Well my friends, a back flab fart occurs when you eat too damn much junk food, don’t exercise enough, take off your shirt and do ab workouts on a yoga mat.  Combining blub rolls and sweat on a non-absorbant surface traps pockets of air that rupture as you roll about…thus creating the back flab fart.

To quote Kramer:

Look away, I’m hideous.

Written by eber

October 30, 2009 at 6:40 am