Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Ride The Bus

Some time ago, I wrote a primer to riding the Metro Area Transit (MAT) bus. While I believed I was offering this advice as a benefit to the community, I was in fact fomenting an attack against good old MAT. At that time, I confess that I didn't have much bus brio. I offered few of its virtues as I skewered most of the experience.

It seems that in the Big 'O, the perception exists among the public that riding the bus is like, well, so proletariat. For example, the other day this guy was telling me about how he's commuting to work by bike to save money and the environment. When I asked him if he's considered riding the bus, he literally burst out laughing and scoffed, "The bus? No way, man. I don't ride that thing."

Poor MAT.

So now I'm turning over a new leaf and am actively promoting the bus as viable alternative to driving to work as a means to save money while reducing impact to the environment.

Since that last posting, I've come to appreciate these items:

1) Buses are to be fitted with Bike Racks. As part of the new Omaha-Council Bluffs pedestrian bridge, money has been ear-marked to retro fit buses with bicycle racks. Sure, you're not likely to drop your $10K Serrotta TT bike off on that rack, but an option for the budget commuter. Suddenly, the bus becomes more publicly accessible with a bonus of some exercise. Good job, MAT!

2) Federal Tax dollars at work. MAT receives federal grants to offset the purchasing of equipment, maintenance and fuel. This past year, they received a grant to purchase new buses. New rigs cost around $250K each. Rather than buying new, the administrators decided to apply the funds toward refurbishing the old. You know, the grand make-over. I can appreciate that after re-making Old Yeller. To this end, MAT had the 1994 series buses stripped down to their frames, fitted with new engines and transmissions, new flooring, seats, glass, and completely remade external paneling. All this for around $80K per bus. Apparently, the Transportation Department was initially hesitant at funding these refurbs, but we're converted after flying a couple of the feds out for a personal tour and ride. Now that's what I'm talking 'bout, MAT!

3) Save money through Park & Ride. For example, parking downtown costs $40 to $120 per month. That's on top of high fuel and maintenance expenses. A year's worth of these savings easily justifies the purchase of new riding gear, equipment or even a new bike. Slap me some skin, MAT!

4) Enjoy the ride and feed a neurosis. Avoid the driving hassle while reading a newspaper, catching up on google reader or feed a new compulsive habit of spotting buses. From what I've been told, there are 171 different buses to see and ride in Omaha alone. And since I started keeping a tab nine months ago, I've ridden only 64 and spotted an additional 21 of that count. With these results, I'm bound to be entertained by this very low grade amusement for years to come.

So there it is. Let it be known that when I'm not running nor cycling to work that I am one satisfied customer of good old MAT.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tuesday Nights At the Track

"I haven't felt that bad in a long time"
-Lucas after tonight's 4 x 1200 m repeats

Intervals have started again at the track. Actually, a few of the brave started meeting as much as a month ago, but last week was my first time to drop some (lactic) acid this year.

While last week it was 800m repeats, this week it was 1200m intervals. That's three loops around the donut. Please forgive me if I sound condescending; when I first showed up at the track a couple years ago, I didn't know that 400m was the standard distance for a single loop. In fact, it took me most of that first practice to get it into my thick head that four loops was a mile.

Well tonight, seven of us showed up for 75 minutes of camaraderie, warm temps, steady 20mph winds with 40mph gust and some good old fashioned ass-kicking running pain. It was grande.

How to Survive an Interval Workout
Let's be honest. No one likes doing this. If you do, then you probably take sadistic pleasure in rubbing your knees with 60 grit sandpaper and kneeling in rubbing alcohol. For the rest of us, this is about survival. Here are some tips from my journal on intervals:

1) Preparation. It begins long before showing up. Perhaps even the night before. Get your gear, water bottle and Gatorade packed in advance. This does a lot on getting you in the right frame of mind. Mentally focus on what your workout goal is. It could be running certain splits, it could be focusing on your form, or finishing strong. What ever it is, commit.

2) Dump the Trash. Whether you're a novice runner, a world class sprinter, or a Corellian-class Star Destroyer preparing to jump to hyperspace, it's always a good idea to dump the trash before throttling up. Some get by with only #1. I recommend the #2 combo, or the Big John as they call it at Jimmy John's (no kidding).

3) Warm up. Don't skip this. Two miles or about twenty minutes at easy pace. Resist the mental anguish of fretting of what's to come. Just enjoy this time, talk with your friends, smile a lot and act like you're having fun. If you need a good laugh, think of Fred's golf game.

4) Manage Pace. Not everyone's speed demon. That's okay. Intervals are ideally about you and the clock. I think that a good goal should be to do your best to hang in there solely to recruit fast twitch muscles. Those fast twitchers will help make you a more efficient runner in the end. So who cares what pace Dr. Bannister is running next to you. Just dial it in and persist against the stop watch.

Interestingly, today's Pez Cycling News Toolbox had a great write-up on Time Trial pacing for cycling that can also apply to running. In it, the author points to a study that suggests that the best strategy for conducting a time trial is to take the first half of the race at an elevated pace of roughly 5% greater than your average power. During the second half, the cyclist should continue to increase their output gradually until peaking at maximal output near the finish. In my humble opinion, the same applies to running. Even during intervals, this strategy employed over multiple intervals can be quite effectively at producing a balanced workout with a strong finish.

5) Cool down. 10 to 15 minutes of a very very easy pace with light stretching is compulsory. You've just killed yourself, now it's time to let your mind catch up to where your body is/was/will be. Part of the stupor you're in is a result of the hard-earned beta-endorphins that are coursing through your veins. Good job. Pat yourself on the back. You deserve it.

6) Recharge. I've read that withing the first 60 minutes after a strenuous workout, your body is like a sponge. Give it some good stuff to replenish what you've just spent. I like this recovery blender shake:
* 6-8 milk,
* 1-2 cups of frozen strawberries,
* a frozen over-ripe banana,
* a tablespoon of honey,
* 2 Tbsp of non-fat banana pudding mix
* A couple scoops of whey protein
After a hard workout, the muscles need this mix of carbs and proteins to repair the microscopic tears you've just induced.

Well, that 's all I've got.

Six days to get ready for another Tuesday night at the track. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Over the weekend, I picked up a set of aluminum CycleOps rollers off of Craigslist to complement the off-season/bad weather trainer.

For those of you who don't know what rollers are, they're the equivalent of a treadmill for the bicycle. Two 3.5 inch drums in the back for the rear wheel and one for the front. The front and rear drums are connected by a belt so both wheels move as the crank spins.

What's unnerving about the whole thing is that there's only about two feet of lateral space to ride the bike. It took some gumption to let go of the wall steadying me.

Actually, it's like learning to ride a bike. Flash back a few years into my past. We're going to Heatherbrook Lane in Kirkwood, MO. Dad was there running alongside of me, holding on to what was then my original "old Yeller" - the yellow Jr StingRay Deluxe that was my first bike. I remember hearing his feet and voice of encouragement as I peddled along. Then the voice started fading away. It was at that moment of self-awareness that I was in fact riding a bike that I simply forgot how to do it. I stopped peddling, things went wobbly and down I went.

And it was just like that on the rollers. After I let go of the wall and was gaining confidence, concentration lapsed for just a moment...crash!

Of course you gotta get back up on that horse when you fall off. I did it then and I'll do it again.

Thanks for getting me going, Dad!


Today I completed my first bike-run workout, or a "brick" as tri-geeks call it, of the season. It was a 30 mile loop to Ft Calhoun followed by a 10K run.

Fighting the 20mph gusts from the north made going to Ft Calhoun a fine workout, followed by a delightful 30mph spin through Boyer's Chute. That was nice if not deserved. You know, I used to compare riding a motorcycle to well-written poetry. When the conditions are just right, as they were in Boyer's Chute today, cycling is like nirvana. The memories of this ride, of cycling through the vestigial chaff of last year's corn fields, will last a lifetime. They certainly stoke the desire to go out again for another ride soon.

And then there was the run to complete. Oh Nike, my former mistress, how fickle my heart is.

The transition to run was a little rough as I got the breathing all messed up and quickly developed one of the worst side cramps I've had in years. I had to shut it down and walk for a minute before slowly building up the tempo with a renewed focus on the breathing. It worked. Although it was a good run, I secretly wished that I was on the bike instead.

The best news is that the left knee is strong again. No troubles there.

As for the greater running world, I was happy to see that Ryan Hall ran a fantastic London marathon. While he didn't win it -- he was fifth -- the kid keeps getting stronger every time he goes out. Baring injury, he'll be a contender for many years to come.

Finally, after snow on this past Saturday, I think that we can finally say goodbye to one helluva nasty winter. 70s are promised for later this week.

Ah, the good life.

Friday, April 11, 2008

31st Annual Lincoln National Guard Half-Marathon

*** For Immediate release ***
Lincoln, NE. We are pleased to announce the following special guest for the 31st Annual Lincoln National Guard Half-Marathon.

Come to the Embassy Suites Runners' Expo to:
* Hear Brady's comments about Dean Karnazes comments during Dean's morning and afternoon speaking sessions.
* Witness Dean Karnazes meeting Brady as Dean mingles with runners throughout the day.

In 2006 Dean Karnazes completed an amazing endeavor of running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. The Lincoln Marathon course was his Nebraska stop on the 7th leg of this pursuit. Now he will return to participate in this year's weekend marathon festivities. He's also the dude that completed a nonstop 350-mile run.

But this is not about Dean.

Brady's career accomplishments have included:
* Winning the Sigma Phi Epsilon Run With a Heart 10K
* Winning the citizen's division Omaha Mile in 2007
* Finishing third (of three) in the bike race to the top of Dana College Hill
* Running a marathon
* Calculating how many tacos it would take to complete 350-mile run.

Running 350 miles burns about 45,000 calories, or roughly 265 of Taco Bell's best, which is about the same number of tacos I paid Munson to overhaul Old Yeller.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Please accept my apologies for being away lately. Time's been short.

My road to recovery has been going well. The visit to the PT and the hip exercises following have been successful. The bike fit likely had something to do with progress as well. So while I have yet to go beyond 8 miles on a single run, I've stepped up the frequency and mileage without any troubles. Furthermore, interval sessions have officially begun and I managed to put in 6 x 800 meters on Tuesday night. Granted, I sand bagged the first two and only ran the fourth interval near the red line before kicking back to 90% on the remaining two. But still, it's progress I'm feeling good about.

And that's all for the update now. Again, time is short.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Peaches and Herb

So I'm borrowing a bit from the bikesnobNYC, but I couldn't resist on this screaming deal from Craigslist Omaha.


This is a beauty, no doubt. Oh. I mean the craigslist ad. While YELLING at us is always a nice touch, the kicker is the seller's willingness to trade for new truck tires or flat screen TV. Truck tires? I can see a flat screen, but he didn't even give the size of tires. I hate that! Be specific about your fungibles, dammit!

Anyway, allow me to create a word picture for a moment. Let's say that I found some satisfactory truck tires and made the trade. Fast forward to the next time I come home from a five hour ride on Old Yeller. It's time to patch things up with Ms Katherine. Wouldn't this just warm her heart and win her over? I can almost feel the harmony as we'd roll through Elmwood park on this classic.

Uh-oh, I can hear the music in my head again...

I found it very hard to stay away
As we reminisce on precious moments like this
I'm glad we're back together
'Cause I missed your kiss, hey, hey

Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited 'cause we understood
There's one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited
'Cause we're reunited, hey, hey

Yeah, yeah, yeah

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Left Knee Update

For the past two weeks, I've cut way back on the running and cycling mileage to allow the left knee a chance to recover properly from that nagging injury.

For the record, here are the steps I took to get better:

1) Rest: I rested by reducing frequency and restricting all bike rides to less than one hour. In two weeks, I was on Old Yeller twice and the P2sl three times. I ran three times for a grand total of 15 miles. Also reduced leg lifts to about 75% of what I was doing previously. I still swam like a madman.

2) Ice: great stuff. I hope we humans never lose the recipe. An ice bag strapped to the leg for 10 minutes on/off three to five times a day.

3) To reduce inflammation, I just completed taking Ibuprofen for ten days, 4 times daily.

4) Bike fit: I had the LBS professionally fit me to Old Yeller. The seat post height and cleats were apparently good, but I was stretched too extended over the top tube. This caused over-extension in the knee on the down stroke. Solution: a new zero degree seat tube offset and a shorter stem closed the gap.

5) Physical Therapy: I've visited Excel Physical Fitness' Mike Bartels last Friday. (Thanks for recommending him, Matt.) Apparently, the knee injury was a result of a poor hip alignment. Weak muscles in the hip caused the left hip to rotate forward. While not physically smaller, the effect was like having a shorter leg. Without knowing it, I compensated by hyper-extending the left knee. Mike sent me home with some hip strengthening exercises to get things back in balance.

Along the way towards healing I've found that resting often requires some of the most discipline in training when goals and race commitments are on the line. I hope to be back to 100% soon.