Archive for March, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , , , on March 26, 2011 by brianestover

I’m back home for a few days. Although upon reflection it’s not really home. My parents no longer live in the house I grew up in, I don’t have my room anymore, there are only a few people from the days of yore that I still talk with, most of my friends in NC live in other cities, my grandfather has passed, my Nana has Alzheimer’s and has to live in a nursing home.

Besides the familial ties to the area, there are no other connections that bind me. As my parents age, and their decline becomes reality, the pull to move back to be around just in case still tugs at me. My sister lives in AUS and it’s a bit far for her to make a quick trip back to help out if something happens. Do I move from a city I rather enjoy back to an area that has several shortcomings? At least shortcomings from my point of view. It seems the women here come in large or extra large. There is nothing wrong with that if you enjoy large and/or XL. I happen to enjoy XS, S and have the ability to range up to medium if needed. The dialect gets to me as well. Don and Dawn are pronounced the same. The long O of my birth place does not exist here except in a transplant. There is no Mom or Mother here but lots of Momma.

On the other hand housing is inexpensive compared to my hometown. One can buy quite a bit more house for quite a bit less money here. There are seasons other then nice, warm and f*cking hot out. The roads for riding are pretty good, not a lot of bike lanes but not a lot of chip seal or cracks in the road. The BBQ is better then any I’ve had in AZ. My favorite place to run in the world is here. These trails seem to teem with all sorts of wildlife. I’ve seen deer, turkeys, squirrels, birds, snakes, turtles, geese and ducks on my many runs. Rarely do I see anyone out running on these trails, which is a shame.

When I’m here I tend to go a bit overboard on the running, this trip being no exception. While my goal is usually to average about an hour a day. Right now I’m sitting on two runs – just over 3 hours of running logged and just under 24 miles with three days left. The quads are reminding me though of all the downhill braking and stutter stepping I do to avoid tripping on a root. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have to hit Salem Lake for a less quad busting run.

It’s weird being back for the first time since Granddad has passed away. The house is different without him here. I’ve been helping Mom clean out his stuff. While she goes through his papers, I’ve been going through his clothing. So many times I’ve come across an article of clothing or picture that triggers a good memory. A few times it’s been overwhelming. He owned over 30 flannel shirts. He dressed grunge before grunge music became cool. He was skinny as a teen ager. Knees that stuck out, his chest was more rib cage then anything. His arms were ripped, not big, but sinewy. Every pocket had an unused Kleenex in it, a habit my Nana stared him for him. He wasn’t allowed out of the house without a Kleenex in a pocket many years ago. In one of the binders I found was their first ledger. Rent was $14 per week. Their first mortgage payment was $54.50. The telephone was $6 per month. They had ~ $80 left over every month from his paycheck. I knew he smoked cigarettes before his first heart attack. It was pretty cool to find some pipes that he had used and some of his always sharp pocket knives that I forgot existed until I saw them.

I also found one of his dog tags, pictures and letters of commendation from WWII. He was a Navy navigator on a bomber stationed out of the Aleutian Islands. My grandfather’s don’t talk much about their WWII experiences. My Poppop has only told me that he was a mine clearer with the Big Red 1. Some of the pictures of my granddad perched on his bomber showed 4 Japanese flags for fighter planes his bomber downed. I guess I never really thought of my grandfathers having actually having been shot at and having to shoot back. As that generation dies off, I realize what an incredible amount of history, told and untold, that dies off with them.

It was nice finding pictures of my Babcia, I haven’t thought of her in a long time, she died on the day of my First Communion. My Grandfather had to fly her body back to PA from GA. Uncanny her resemblance and that of my granddad especially their nose.

Mainly I realized though how much I’ll miss him.

Big Watts or Not

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2011 by brianestover

It’s a week removed from the Team Trisports training camp and 3 weeks from the Accelerate 3 training camp. I was hoping all the hard work over those 4 and 3 day camps would pay off. That and running with my friend Ted whom moved in around the corner. He is a bit of a faster runner then I am. He crushed me running Monday. I’m embarrassed to say I even begged for mercy about halfway through. My legs and I were shelled for three days after.

On the biking side I’m starting to see some payoff. My FTP seems like it’s gone up, I’ll know for sure later this week. I set new 1 minute and 5 minute power bests, 511w and 337 or 7.11 and 4.69 w/kg. Those just aren’t season bests, those are the best outputs I’ve seen since ditching my SRM and switching to Power Tap in January of 2009. I’m pretty stoked actually to be putting up better numbers at 39 then I did at 37 and 38. Now if that will lift up the right side of the power curve I’ll be happy(ier).

Today riding, I bonked. Not once but twice and it sucks more the second time then the first. Twizzlers, which were a new choice to end the bonk for me today, it seems won’t really sustain me through 12 miles. I knew it was bad when I looked back to cross three lanes of traffic and got dizzy. The people behind me must have seen my swervy bike handling skills. All of them slowed up so I could cross. Eight miles after the Twizzlers I bonked again. At this point I was only 4 miles, most of it downhill, from home. Somehow I made it home, opened the door, clomped to the fridge and grabbed a Pepsi. The delicious, carbonated, caffeinated, sugary, sweetness never tasted better. Mmm good.

I’m going to blame the 8.5 hours of painting yesterday after I worked out and not the lack of breakfast. At least my office is painted, well not the molding and the living room/dining room are almost done. Only the molding and the dark colored walls to go there.

The Baddest, Bestest, Coolest TT helmet….EVER

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , on March 16, 2011 by brianestover

That’s right my freshly painted TT helmet is totally 110%, nothing else comes close badass. If it were a stereo, 11 wouldn’t be loud enough. It’s that badass, and more badass then your badass custom painted helmet (you know who you are)!

I recently got my TT helmet back from the Scott at AZ Pro Fiberglass. I believe this is the 4th helmet he has done.

The reason it was getting painted in the first place was because some of the University of Arizona Tricats made fun of it’s bright, neon green color on Facebook. Not being on Facebook myself, it was a few days before someone told me. I think the TriCats were just pissed I made up the 4 minute stagger before the halfway point in the bike. TriCats my ass. With racing like that they should be called the TryKittens.

The Before Color

I could rave for hours about the skull on each side, the eye’s glaring at you, the fade, or the smoke trails coming off the front. But instead of reading about all the kick assness my TT helmet now is, you can just gaze upon the most badass TT helmet you’ve ever seen.

After, front shot

Side shot

So pretty

This is what most will see as I pass you

Most common view in races

Another Race, Another Win

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , on March 13, 2011 by brianestover

In today’s Blythewood, SC Spring Omnium, James grabbed another win!

It was a 30 mile circuit race, mainly on flat, technical streets with a short 1.5 minute climb then a 400 meter flat, straight shot into the finish line. Coming into the last lap, James was sitting in the third spot as the lead group crested the climb. He punched it over the top to lead out the long sprint. The chase was on, James is in the lead, the rest of the Cat 4 field is pounding their pedals in frustration. James moves well clear of the field to grab the win!

Starting the Winning Move...From the Front

This marks his second win this season bike racing, out of two races, and it was his last race as a Cat 4. Congratulations to James on notching another win and getting more then enough points to upgrade to Cat 3.

Saucony Kinvarva

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 9, 2011 by brianestover

Through the years I’ve tried Saucony shoes. A pair here, a pair there, but I never found them to run as well as most of the other shoes in the rotation. Saucony has hit a home run with their Saucony ProGrid Kinvara.

Kinvarva running shoes

This shoe is Saucony’s answer to the minimalist fad that is vogue now. I picked up a pair of these on a whim in early December. This shoe has a low heel, minimal drop and a wide base in the forefoot. I was a little concerned that the wide base would constantly clip my legs when running. I can not recall a single incident of this happening which continues to be a pleasant surprise.

Wide forefoot base

My first run was a 7.6 mile jaunt or just under 55 minutes of running. About 5 miles into that run, my legs were wishing the run was over. I could feel the added stress that the lower heel induced. Other then that first run, I found no other runs were needed to adapt to the difference between these shoes and any other shoe I have reviewed. Before you rush out to buy a pair of these shoes, you should carefully think about how you run and why you want to run in these shoes. They will not be a shoe for every runner, nor should every runner adopt the minimalist approach to running shoes.

Most of my running is on groomed trails that are free of rocks, thorns or sketchy footing. Saucony has many other shoes that I strongly suspect would be a better shoe to run in on rugged, technical trails. My physician with whom I run with now and then has run these on some trails and said they seemed to do well. I still think there are better shoes out there for rocky trails.

This shoe feels good when you put it on. I find it a bit narrow across the ball of my foot but rather accommodating for those of us with high volume feet. Unlike some other brands, the shoelaces are plenty long on this shoe. The Kinvarva has an aggressive lug pattern on the sole, has a lower ankle notch, less material on the sides then most other shoes and runs quite well. Saucony claims 7.7 ounces, but I think it runs like a shoe that is heavier. The previous pair of shoes I reviewed weigh 2.3 ounces more but run faster then this shoe.

Diamond Lug Design bottom's

The Saucony Kinvarva’s currently are one of the top three pair of running shoes in the rotation handling more then their fair share of the weekly running. It’s not a matter of if I will get another pair of Saucony Kinvarva’s but which of the seven colors will I get.

Asics Gel DS Trainer 16

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 3, 2011 by brianestover

It’s no secret I love Asics shoes, or most of them. The Asics Gel DS Trainer 16’s are a shoe I love, so much in fact, that I have two pair, one of which will be my long course racing shoe this season.

Asics Gel DS Trainer 16

What’s not to like about this shoe? Two things. The first is very short shoe laces especially if you have high volume feet. The second is the final bit of the lacing system at the top of the shoe, which they call the Clutch Collar. Your heel sits snug in the shoe, but other Asics shoes accomplish this with out the Clutch Collar lacing system. Change for the sake of change is not always a good thing. I feel there could have been a better way to design this important part of the shoe.

DS 16 Clutch Collar

One the flip side, what is there to love about this shoe? The fit is awesome – it feels like a slipper when you put it on. There is enough room in the toe box for wider feet. It runs like a sports car – firm, fast and handles well. I had no problems putting this shoe on for the first time, running 6k, then starting an interval session. There is no break in period required. It runs fast right out of the box.

The Gel Trainer 16, like most of the shoes before it in this line, has a dual density mid sole. Those who pronate will appreciate this feature. If you run neutral, the dual density mid sole does not hinder the runability of this shoe.

Dual density mid sole

Your foot sits about as high in this shoe as an Asics GT2150 but you feel lower to the ground. This is probably due to the 2150 being an everyday trainer and the Gel DS 16 being a faster shoe for running. Don’t take this to mean that you can not use the DS 16 as an every day training shoe, you can. I often log 12-14 miles during an interval session, with 3-6 miles for warm up and/or 3-6 miles after the intervals.

Heel and toe

If you want a fast running shoe for interval sessions, that can double as a daily trainer you may want to give the Asics Gel DS Trainer 16 a shot.

That’s a (Training Camp) Wrap.

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2011 by brianestover

The Accelerate 3 Training camp has finished. It was a small camp open to just the guys and girls that I coach. Since everyone is scattered across the country and even in other countries, it’s great to get part of the group together and put a face to the name of the person you are coaching.

The purpose of the camp was to challenge each person with more intensity and volume over the four days of the camp then they would normally see. Add in the wind Mother Nature threw at us every ride and the fact that it snowed going into the final day and it became a pretty grueling camp. Those of us that had late flights out got to ride Sunday afternoon. Mother Nature snowed on us, then rained on us, then threw a stiff headwind that had us going at 3.0+ watts per kg maybe hitting 15mph….downhill. Then we got snowed on….again.

Snow low on the Santa Catalina's

The campers got to see some of the best climbs that are offered in southern AZ. Thursday we rode around McCain’s Loop and did a couple of trips up Gates Pass and it’s 14% grade. The next day we climbed Kitt Peak. That’s 20k of climbing averaging between 7-8%. On Saturday it was up Mt. Lemmon up to Windy Point in the very cold weather for another solid 20+km of climbing.

Throw in some runs with intervals, a long run through the Tucson Mountains and you’ve got the makings of a tough four days for the athletes.

Cory, Billy and Steve framed by snow before the long run

We swam in the world class facility at the U of A pool. It was interesting to see other coaches there and how they ran their squad’s swims. One coach, whom I won’t name but is based in Tucson and is a coach to several IM winners, must have gotten hold of my Thursday swim workout. I watched him write my Thursday main set for his athletes on Friday. Either I’m a genius for writing such a kick ass set (which I tend to think is true) or he’s a genius for recognizing geniusness when he sees it and decided to use my main set.

Since we were in Southern AZ, I wanted to show the guys somethings they may not see in their home ranges. While taking our clothes off at the base of Kitt Peak (don’t you wish you came to camp now?), we got to see some illegal aliens run across the road about 50 yards away. We had to go through a Border Patrol check point, some of us while biking. We ran through snow, which is a pretty rare thing to do in Tucson unless you go to the very top of Mt. Lemmon. We weren’t anywhere near Mt. Lemmon for our run. We climbed up and then descended down a 50 yard wide patch of black ice on the road to test our bike handling skills. Four of the campers climbed Kitt Peak for the first time and were able to look one way into Mexico and the other way looked towards Canada. Everyone got in about 20-25 hours of training over four days. Most of the campers reaffirmed my lack of climbing ability by spanking me soundly on the climbs. Some of the campers also got to see a Javelina. All in all good times for everyone while at camp!