Thursday, September 30, 2010

Alberto Contador: Winner or Loser?

Here we go again. Last night Cyclingnews was reporting that 2010 Tour De France Champion Alberto Contador had tested positive for clenbuterol. Clenbuterol is typically a steroid associated with Bodybuilding and one that I have heard of from my weightlifting days. The initial reaction to the news is one of shock, which turns into disbelief, and then anger.

The shock comes from that another Tour winner or participant has tested positive for an illegal substance. After just getting over the Floyd Landis controversy, we now are hit with another scandal within the cycling community. It has been happening on a regular basis that cheaters have been caught and suspended, but when the Tour Winner tests positive, then it is major headlines.

The disbelief part comes from trying to figure out why Contador would stoop to that level? I know the obvious answer is that people will do whatever to win, even if it involves cheating, but I still don't understand when someone has so much natural talent, why would they stoop to such a low level. Like him or hate him, he is a great cyclist.

The more I think about it, the angrier I get. Cycling is a great sport and one I like to do, but when numbskulls like him continually bring the sport into the public eye in such a bad light, it infuriates me. People like to rally around winners, not cheats and it really lets the wind out of your sail when things like this happen. I know they are human, but when you are at such a high level of competition and and are thrust into the international light, you have a certain level of responsibility to the fans and the public. I know Charles Barkley thinks he is not a role model, and I agree that the parents should be the role model, but whether Charles or Alberto like it, they are broadcasting an image to the youth and fans of today.

I personally have never been a Contador fan because of actions like him overtaking Schleck's chain problem.. Right, wrong, or indifferent, I think that he has never been a team player. Cycling is very much a team sport. Yes, they always have the GC contendor, the climber, the sprinter, but they always function as a team. If you read Lance's book, he paid his team a big bonus after one of his Tour De France wins, because he realized he could not have done it without them. Priest Holmes, the former great running back of the Kansas City Chiefs, won an award for the most rushing yards in a season and he went out and back all of his lineman gifts, because he realized he could not have done it without their help.

He did the same thing in the 2009 Tour when he attacked his own teammates and ended costing Kloden a podium spot. Lance was able to bridge the gap, but fell from 2nd to 3rd. Team manager Johan Bruyneel was not happy with the move, but I would have expected no less from him. Kind of ironic that everyone left him on Astana to go to team Radioshack.

Alberto is supposed to have a conference today in his hometown and I guess explain what happened? Right now he is saying that is because of some meat that he ate. The guys over at Science of Sport have a more accurate take on this, but my experience has always been, that lies usually proceed the truth. Whether it is a politician, athlete, or even the President, they always start out lying and then eventually the truth comes out.

It may be possible that it is because of him eating some meat that caused it, but I don't know if I buy it. I am not a doctor, nor portray one on TV, and I did not stay in an Holiday Inn Express last night, but I can read human nature. Floyd Landis had everyone fooled. Wrote a book about his innocence, conned millions of people into believing it, had tons of money donated to his legal defenses, and when it appeared that he got mad about getting snubbed for the Tour of California, he comes clean. Greg Lemond has been kind of a cantankerous, bitter, old kook as of late, but maybe he is right on some of these things. He is kind of like the crazy, old uncle everyone has.

Sadly, last month, great cycling champion, Laurent Fignon, passed away after losing his battle to cancer. He was a father, champion, and hero to many. But before he passed away, he said that he did not know if some of the doping that he did may have attributed to his cancer. No one will ever know, but to think that to achieve the highest level in this sport may have cost him his life, is truly sad. It is one thing to be the best, achieve the highest, and succeed where others have failed, but when it costs you your health and your family, was it really worth it.

Time will tell whether Alberto is innocent or not. The media will try him in the public, long before the courts do. In the meantime, I hope that he is honest with his fans and himself. Whether you like him or not, I do not think anyone wants to hear about him passing away at a young age because of the choices he made to be the best.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Race Across the Sky - Leadville 100 MTB Race

Race Across The Sky 2010 from Citizen Pictures on Vimeo.

It's back! I think I might throw my name in the hat for the lottery next year.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tulsa Susan B. Komen Race for The Cure Report

I know this is only a 5K and I have the reputation of being a long distance runner, but it worked for my schedule. I have been only running solid for the last two weeks as I have been concentrating on cycling more over the summer. I would have much rather been doing Do-Wacka-Do or Flatrock last Saturday, but the 5K was in the cards. I am going to concentrate on some shorter, faster races in hopes of going sub-60 in the Tulsa Run. That may be a stretch, but it is worth a shot.
We were greeted with beautiful lower 60 degree weather early in the morning. We grabbed a front row parking spot in the Mabee Center at ORU and started to set up for the day and I do mean day. My race started st 7:45, but they had an untimed 5K after ours, a Survivor's walk, and later a 1 mile fun run. So basically, we were trapped until after the 1 mile run, unless I didn't get an award and we could leave early. All the races start on 81st St. and we were facing the road for all the action. After the mandatory 500th last port-a-potty trip, it was time to start warming up.
I have not done a local 5K in awhile and it looked like the usual suspects were out. A lot of runners here in town do all the local races and you can expect them to show, but this race was huge. I heard on the radio Thursday, that they had 12 -13,000 people signed up for all the races. My work, Bank of Oklahoma, had a team and I was a part of it. My race ended up with around 2,000 runners.

You can see that it was cool out as I had a jacket on to warm up. I always love how most all of the faster runners go up and down from the start warming up and doing some sprints. It reminds me of some form of animalistic mating ritual. Like strutting peacocks.
At 7:45 we were off. One mild complaint about the start, if you are going to use an announcer to start the race, just make sure that the speakers are pointed towards the runners, so they can hear the instructions and the start. Just a thought.

We headed down 81st to turn onto Riverside to head north to a little bridge, turn around and head south to about 86th St., turn around and then back North on Riverside to 81st and to the finish. The course is pretty much flat and a good one to run fast.

As usual, I started out really fast and then try to hang on for dear life. I head out and hit the first mile in 5:59. About this time we turned and I could see who was behind me at this point. I saw Scott Ostrem and knew he would be coming after me. He is in my age group and would be challenging me for an award. One good thing about Triathlons is they write your age on the back of your calve, so you can see who is in your age group. Maybe a thought for running races?

I felt good at this point and managed to hit mile two at 6:14. A little slower, but still good. At close to 3K, Scott passed me, but I managed to stay with him to the turnaround and then he started to pull away. In between mile 2 & 3 is where I really started to feel the Hang On For Dear Life Syndrome. I turned the corner onto 81st and it is a flat, straight shot to the finish. I tried really hard to maintain my arm swing and keep my turnover up. I went through mile 3 in 6:25 and finished in 19:21. Good enough for 27th male and 2nd in my age group.

While I am talking about age groups, when they finally posted the results, my age group was 44-47, not the standard 5 year age groups. It wouldn't have mattered as I would have still got an award for the 40-44, but I have not seen this before and I have done a lot of races.
After the race, it was time to walk around and get something to drink and eat and take in the festivities. Re/Max brought out one of their hot air balloons.
After walking around for quite some time, I finally located the tent where the goodies were. It was hard to find where to go, but once you got there, they had quite a bit of stuff. Whenever I just finish a race, I cannot eat and just look for something to drink. I have learned though to grab whatever I want for later as it may not be there. I will say for this race, they had plenty of stuff and did not even run out of water. Pretty impressive for such a large turn out.
I just had to throw this picture in. This is one of Tulsa's finest motorcycle Cop's ride. A six speed Harley Davidson. They have always said that after God created the Harley-Davidson, he rested.
The start of the 1 mile fun was delayed as somebody got in an accident on Lewis and they had to clean it up before they could start. Really?

Once they did take off, I did not think it was ever going to end. It looked worse than a Marathon. I don't know how many people were in this race, but it was huge.
Here is the mass still coming at us.
After it was all said and done, it was time to get my award. One complaint here. I am not for sure who timed the race, but to wait 2 hrs. to see if you got an award is ridiculous. A lot of people took off because they got tired of waiting. I am stubborn, so I wasn't going anywhere until I saw the results. I finished my race at 8:04 and they did not post anything until 10 AM. I have seen Ultra finishes posted faster.
After all that, I did manage to get my award. Pretty cool looking.

Overall, I am glad I did the race and I am happy with my time. To run a 19:21 on only 2 weeks of training, I am pretty pleased with the result. With another solid month of training. I will be even faster and hopefully fast enough to make my goal.

I am pretty sure I will do the Zoo Run 10K this Saturday and I may even do the Mother Road 1/2 Marathon the following weekend. I will probably then lay low until the Tulsa Run. Then it will be time to get ready for the Route 66 Marathon. I have done the race every year they have had it, so why stop now. The results of the Race for the Cure can be found here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Open Letter to New Balance

I have debated for a long time about writing this report and I finally have time today to do it. I am writing this to vent my frustration with the New Balance corporation and how they handle some new shoe releases. I highly doubt that anyone from New Balance will actually read my blog, but this is more for me and my own piece of mind.

I for one, like good friend TZ, like shoes. I am very particular on which ones I run in since I had a bad case of PF that put me out of commission for over 6 months. I switched over to minimalist shoes since the injury, sans Anton, and I have been very careful on which shoes I pick. I do not want to repeat being injured again and running this way has kept the lions at bay.

So, when I find something that works, I like to stick with it. Trail shoes are very tough to find that are not beefed up and have a hoof under the heel. They are usually way too heavy and padded for my liking. Thank God that people like Anton have been involved with shoe design for awhile and helped to usher in a new revolution of lighter, more responsive trail shoes. The book, Born To Run, which I have reviewed in the past on this blog, also has helped keep the trend going. When New Balance came out with the MT 100's, I was ecstatic, as were others in the Trail and Ultra community. I had been running in the 790's and was happy with them until they discontinued them and made the switch to the MT 100's. I had been through a couple of pairs of them and decided it was time to purchase a new pair. I went to the local running store in August to be told that the shoes had been discontinued and were no longer available. OK, what about the new MT 101's? They will not be out until mid-October? What? Who in Corporate made this decision? I have been in business for a long time as a Manager in the Food Industry and now in Banking and you do not get people to buy your product and then discontinue it before you have something to replace it with. That is not the way to keep people loyal to your product. That is why QT every summer lowers its price on fountain drinks, so that you will get hooked on buying them and hope that you will continue once they lift the sale price. Good marketing. Whoever is making these kind of decisions at New Balance needs to maybe spend some time at QT and other places like Wal-Mart to see how to effectively handle sales and marketing.

I have been a loyal New Balance product consumer for quite some time.
I went through at least 7 pairs of the 767 AW when I was racking up high mileage. These obviously have become mowing shoes.
When they discontinued the 767, I switched to the 768 AW and went through at least 3 pairs.
When I injured my foot with PF, I switched over to the 790's and went through 2 pairs.
When the 790's were discontinued, I made the switch to the MT 100's and managed to run in a couple of pairs before they became unavailable. I do not understand the logic in this. This is not like the anticipation before Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad.

To top it off Runners World Magazine did a short blip about the new 101's in the October issue on page 119. Also, the October issue of TrailRunner Magazine did a little bit better review on page 56. Really, you can throw the teases out in the magazines and not release it to the public? This is what drives consumers to other products. I heard from a friend during a long run last Saturday that he talked to the NB rep and they said the new 101's may not be out until November. What????
I am perplexed as I look in this photo. This was right before the start of the Rocky Raccoon 50 miler this last Feb. and I was wearing the MT 100's and they performed well. It is too bad that New Balance has taken this kind of stance with their consumers. Maybe they have lost site of, if the consumers do not buy the products, then we don't get paid and I don't have a job. Maybe it is time to change things up at New Balance and add some fresh blood to the mix. All I know is, this is not how to run a business.

So for me, I may hold out for the 101's or I may check into the Inov-8 X-Talon's. I hate to buy shoes I have not tried on, but they may be worth a shot. I have already made the switch on my road flats and I will have a review coming out shortly on a really neat and unique shoe with a company trying to make its way in the field.

Next up for me is the Tulsa Race for the Cure this Saturday. I really don't like the shorter, faster stuff, but I want to do well at the Tulsa Run this year. I would like to go sub-60, but I have got some work to do. This is just my 2nd week of a full run schedule and things are going well. I have reduced my cycling to once a week and I am running the rest. We will see where the chips fall this Saturday and see where I am. I will then probably do the Zoo Run 10K the following weekend. Life is good!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Get Inspired!

Great video! Have an awesome Friday!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Garmin Giveaway

DC Rainmaker is having another Garmin 310 Giveway. Check it out here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Oklahoma Road Racing Championship

As Monty Python used to say, "and now for something completely different." I decided a couple of weeks ago to participate in the OK State Road Racing Championship in Kansas, OK. Yes, there truly is a Kansas, OK, all 685 of them.

I haven't been running a lot lately due to a number of factors. One of which is that New Balance in their infinite wisdom, decided to stop production on the MT 100, my personal running shoe, and would not release the MT 101 until October. I personally do not know anyone that works for New Balance, but whoever made this decision, needs fired. My current shoes are wore out and every time I run, my knee hurts because my shoes are shot, but I have to wait until October to get the new ones. I am very picky about my shoes and have not been able to find any to replace them. So, I guess it is time to cycle more.
The race took place at the beautiful Flint Ridge resort community. We were only about 20 miles away from Tahlequah and Arkansas. And no, I could not hear banjos playing while we were racing.

The resort was tucked away amongst pine trees and provided some optimal shade, which was really nice as the temps this day were hovering around 100 degrees. We pulled into the gated community and did not see where to go for the race. So, we stopped at the office and they told us that the race was at the top of the hill to the right. This was a foreshadow of things to come.

We headed up this steep hill to find trees lined with cars to park wherever you could. We did a U-turn up by the registration table and found a nice shaded area to park in. I settled in to getting my gear together so I could head out on a small warm up before my start. I was registered in the Cat 5 group, which is the beginner group. They did not offer a Jersey to the winner in this category, but you could take home medals, 3 deep.

After a few miles of warm up, it was time to head to the start line.
Cat 4's were to start 5 minutes ahead of us, so we lined up behind them and watched them go and then it was time for the Cat 5's. We went through the mandatory roll call and we had 19 people to start. At running races, you always look around to eyeball your competition and this was no different. This was a little different as a lot of this is also about equipment. I had my entry level road bike and several people had there several $1,000 dollar bikes with their fancy team bike kits. I had my tri shorts on with my regular cycling jersey. My strategy was to stay towards the back in the beginning and stay with the pack as we had 4 loops to complete for about 22 miles. At about 9 o'clock we were off.

We immediately started uphill. This had me a little worried as the hills always slow me down from the real scrawny guys. The course wound its way through pine tree lined scenic views along with several housing developments. One of the bad things was that traffic was open and we had to dodge a few cars on the course. The course had several rollers on the first half, which made me hang on as best I could to the peloton. We turned back towards the start line at a rural fire station and this was a more flatter, downhill section to where I was able to hang a lot better. As we got closer to the end of the loop, we were met with a huge downhill followed by a sharp turn to the left with a steep uphill to the start line. It was this point that the group splintered. I really lost track of where I was at, but saw a group ahead and knew I needed to stay with them. I thought another group had went on ahead, but I just wanted to stay in contact with this group.

The group I was in was about 4 of us and we took turns taking the lead and letting others break the wind. As we went past the fire station, sirens went off and the EMT's took off past us. More than likely, someone went down. As went down the hill again, the EMT's had parked in the road and left us a narrow spot to maneuver the hill on. This was very tricky as I hit 41 mph on this downhill. The reason they were there was someone had crashed at the bottom of the hill. Lap 2 was in the bag.

We headed up the hill past the start area and I fell behind, but then caught back up to the group. This was pretty much my loop pattern. They would drop me on the hills and I would catch them on the flats. Some of this was due to my bike being heavier and some was due to me being heavier. Hard to climb hills against a 140 lb. guy.

On the back side of lap 3, I took off and broke away from most of the group for a little while, but they passed me on the downhill. At the bottom, the ambulance was now there and the road was still narrow. Up the massive hill for number 3. Lap 3 in the books and one to go.

I caught the group again on Lap 4 and they were moving slower, so, I took out in front. Nothing of a hard pace, but it was too slow for my liking. Usually you lead for awhile and then someone else steps up and takes over the duties, but no one was having it. I let up and still no one passed. We made to the back side and 2 of the guys took off. This was way too soon and I let them go, but kept them in site. I started to gradually reel them in. I was just about to pass the guy ahead of me, when a guy in a golf cart comes up and said it was a neutral finish. This meant that whatever place we were currently in was where we were going to finish. They had called a neutral because of the bad crash at the bottom of the hill. This was too bad as I just passing the one guy and going after the next. Oh, well. I had no idea what place I was in and thought that I was way back.

I crossed the finish line and talked to my wife and she said that only a few other guys were ahead of me. I didn't believe it, but I at least survived and did pretty well.

I went back to the Jeep and got changed and headed back up to see the results. I ended up 5th, which meant I was going into 4th and may have caught the next guy to go to 3rd. Wow! There were 2 others that were ahead of us in the front group, but we were the 2nd main group. Because of the rules, since I had a 1-day license and not a full USCF license, I was not eligible for an award, which I would have got. The guy in first had a 1-day and the guy in 2nd was from MO, so it would have rolled down to me. It's the thought that counts, right?
Having never been to Flint Ridge before, this was a really nice community and area. I love being surrounded by trees and there were plenty of them. I get tired sometimes of the more open spaces and like the woodlot areas as it reminds me of back home and deer season.
This is one of the beautiful waterfalls in the area. They also had minutaure golf and a full fledged golf course with a pool area. It was truly a nice place to visit.
It even came kid approved. Shannon liked it, but she it not real happy about taking a picture next to Wyatt.

Overall, I had a blast and would really like to explore more of this type of racing, but I am limited by my equipment. I can do with what I got, but eventually, I would need to get a better road bike. Something to think about for the future. The results can be found here.