Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ridiculously Overdue NYC Marathon Post

Alright, so it's been exactly a month since I ran the New York City Marathon, and I'm sorry for keeping you waiting. Needless to say it's been a crazy month with lots of fun happenings and news so that's my excuse, but more on that later, for now let me get into the marathon coverage.


My friend Sarah lives in Brooklyn and was kind enough to let me crash on her floor the night before the run. It wasn't as bad as it sounds, she has an Areobed so I was actually quite comfortable, plus she made a killer chicken noodle soup. I didn't have long to enjoy the bed though as I had to get up around 4:15/4:30 so I could be out of the house by 5:00 am. Before I knew it I was up and waiting on a subway platform wondering what the day would hold.

Just getting to the start line was a bit of an epic journey. I started in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, a short 15 min car ride from the start on Staten Island. Unfortunately I couldn't drive to the start. I had to take 4 or 5 different subway trains, get on the Staten Island Ferry, take a coach bus to the starting village and then follow the masses to my starting area. Luckily, the man upstairs was looking out for me that day and blessed me with the nicest New Yorker I've ever met, Erin. Erin, a fellow marathoner, was waiting for the train on the same subway platform that I was in Park Slope. The only difference between her and I was that she was a local that knew where she was going and had run the marathon 5 times before. At the first subway transfer I kinda followed her to make sure that I was going where I should. I thought it best to say Hi and she kindly agreed to sherpa me to the start line. Soon, because of Erin's knowledge of the subway we arrived at the ferry. We boarded and our journey to the start was almost complete. By this time it was 6:49 am and I got a wonderful surprise text message from Becky letting me know that Chad and Heather had baby Gavin earlier that morning. It was great news and I thought about it a lot during the run.

Finally, by about 8:30 am, over 3 and a half hours after it started, my journey to the starting village was over with. Erin and I milled around the enormous starting village for a bit, took in the pre-race church service and then met up with her other friend Andy. They were both great. Erin had some duct tape which she always used to put her name on her shirt so that people could cheer her on throughout the run. Andy and I followed suit, and it paid off big time through the whole race. People were chanting Go Clay, and cheering me on the whole time, I was very thankful that she had the tape and talked me into it.
The chrome duct tape crew, I would normally label who's who, but I think you can figure it out.

Before I knew it it was time for everybody to get into the respective corrals so we parted ways. Waiting for the start wasn't as bad as it could have been. The race was very organized and I didn't really get in my corral until about 10 minutes before the start so I didn't have to wait around too long. Suddenly there was a loud cannon shot, and we started inching towards to start. It was pretty crazy. The sheer volume of people participating was astounding. As we started to move, I shed the warm throw away clothes that I had been wearing (they collect all the clothes left behind and give them to the needy) and got ready to run. I was feeling good. I had warmed up a bit, the legs felt fresh, the weather was a bit overcast but the rain had stopped and it was in the 50s. It was all systems go and there was no turning back.

I'll leave you hanging with that. More about the actual run tomorrow.

Spoiler alert... I survived.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Less than 72 hours till the NYC Marathon

Seems like only yesterday I was in a hotel room in D.C. reading my email, when I came across the message from The ING New York City Marathon saying that I'd been selected for the 40th running of the event.

Well, that was over six months ago and now the race is right around the corner. I'm feeling pretty good. I feel like my legs and lungs are in shape and should be able to handle the distance. I had my annual check up with my cardiologist today and he said that my heart was looking great and shouldn't give me any problems either. I'm injury free and my joints have felt great on my long runs. All that said, it's a bit daunting as this is my first full marathon, and that whole fear of the unknown thing is creeping into the back of my mind. 26 miles feels like a pretty long ways.

I remember standing at the start line at my first half marathon having a similar feeling. Just not knowing what to expect makes it a bit nerve racking. Although, now having done 6 halves, they no longer really hold any mystery to me and I pretty much always know what to expect, which is one of the reasons that I'm stepping up to the full. It should be quite the adventure and I'm really looking forward to it. From what I've heard about the route and the fans, it's going to be an epic, memory filled run.

Gear wise, I'm good to go as well. My shoes are broken in, I've got my favorite socks ready and I found an armband case for my phone so I can use that instead of my iPod. My new myTouch phone has all my music on it, has a running app that interrupts my music every half mile with a nice voice that tells me how far I've run and what my pace is. Plus when I'm done, I'll be able to call Becky and hopefully won't have a too hard a time finding each other after I get out of the finishing corral.

So that's it. I think I'm ready. I'll put on my 'I think I can' hat Sunday morning and just start running. I plan to sign up for a pace group so I can finish with a goal time of under 4 and a half hours. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

4 days till Hartford, 26 days till NYC

So, I've been off the bike for a bit, in true noncyclist style. If I'm honest, which I'm told is the best policy, I haven't been on the bike since Philly.

I know, I'm kinda embarrassed, but it's the truth. The last time I was riding was the finish line of the century. I can't believe it and now you know the reason behind the lack of posts.

Now, to be fair, I feel like I have a somewhat legitimate excuse. Every time that I have an extra minute to exercise, I've been running. With the Hartford Half Marathon coming up on the 10th and the full New York City Marathon looming on Nov. 1st, I think that while cycling may be more fun, if I hope to survive these events, I've got to keep running.

I did a nice 15 mile run on Sunday. It was a beautiful day and a great day for a run. Becky and I set out together and the plan was to run the 7.5 mile loop by our house. She was going to accompany me for the first loop and then I would do a second loop. Unfortunately, she wasn't feeling well that morning and had to bail, deciding to turn around and do the 3 mile loop.

That meant that I was on my own for the lion's share of the run. The good news is that my legs and lungs were feeling great. The major challenge then became staying focused mentally for the whole 15 miles and making sure that my joints didn't take too much of a pounding. I finished feeling great, but it's still a little daunting when I think about having to do 11 more miles after a run like that. NYC should be interesting.

Hartford on the other hand, I'm feeling really good about. I think I should be able to go for a personal best time of under 1:45 and I'm feeling more confident in my body's ability to push it at this distance. The half marathon, for me, really is a nice distance. It's long enough to make it a challenge and to be taxing both physically and mentally, but now, having done a few, I feel like I know what to expect and can run my race.

My friend Casey is coming in to run Hartford and Becky is running the half as well, it should be a great weekend. The only downer is that Becky's dad Larry, (the proud owner of the Lotus) will not be able to run with us. He registered and was looking forward to running Hartford, but a cliff diving mishap in Hawaii has left his back a bit of a twisted painful mess, and running is out of the question right now. Total bummer, but we just wish and pray that his back will heal up and that maybe he'll want to give it another shot next year.

As always, look for post event pics and wrap up here after the runs.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fellow Philly Fatty Fundraiser

As you know, just because the Philly Challenge is over doesn't mean that the fight against cancer can be put on hold. If you read about our Philly ride, you know that we had a blast, while still managing to do some serious fundraising work to help the world get rid of this vicious disease we call cancer. While my brothers and I were content to start scheming about what we are going to do to step up our fundraising efforts for Philly next year, a fellow Fatty team member recently contacting me letting me know that she isn't going to wait. She's going to raise money and participate in the final LIVESTRONG Challenge of 2009 in Austin. Yes, I'm pretty jealous and somewhat surprised that I didn't do this myself. Maybe I should look into flights. Anyway, her name is Jenni and she was quite a hit with her pimped out bike in Philly. Most notably, she was rocking pink tires and chrome grip tape Nice. To see some pics check out her blog here.

The pink tires got so much attention that she is now using them as a way to raise some cancer fighting funds. In typical Team Fatty fashion, she is conducting an online raffle in which you, for a recession friendly 5 bucks, could win a set of these lovely pink tires. Ladies, you know nothing says I'm sporty but still a lady, like pink tires. And gents, slapping pink tires on your bike exudes a certain confidence that's sure to attract some attention. People will stop and stare and wonder, "Wow, what gives that man such power that he can get away with those pink tires". You'll know...oh, you'll know. And male or female, you're sure to enjoy the satisfaction that comes knowing that when you pass someone, the last thing they'll see as you ride away is your pink tire. Ouch.

As always, most importantly, whether you win some sweet pink tires or not, 100% of the proceeds will go to LIVESTRONG to help them continue to do the good work that they do for people affected by cancer. Jenni herself is a breast cancer survivor and if you get a chance after you donate here, you should catch up on her blog here.

I'm continually impressed with my Fatty team mates and I'm proud to be a part of such a robust team. While I won't be in Austin this year, Chad, Clint and I are going to go big next year and hope to do both Philly and Austin, maybe even the Ride of the Roses. We'll see, you're sure to hear about it.

Big kudos Jenni for keeping up the fight, can't wait to hear all about Austin!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

VA Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon

Another weekend, another great event.

This weekend, Becky and I, along with Todd, Katie, their son Tyler, Lindsey and Kevin, (quite a crew I know) made the 8 hour drive to VA Beach. Well, I guess that's not entirely true. Since our crew had outgrown just one vehicle, Becky and I headed down after the others and we met up down there at the Oceanside Howard Johnson's. Oh ya, HoJo's, nothing but the best for this posse. While it wasn't the lap of luxury, it was an ocean view room right on the beach.

So why the Virginia Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon? Blame Katie. A few years back Katie wanted to do a half marathon and found this one. At the time I was over 200 lbs and just a tad bit out of shape. Well, monstrously out of shape, and on a whim (sound familiar) said that I would do it along with her. I trained a bit, did a few 5K's and before I knew it we were running in VA. It was crazy hot, took me over 2 and a half hours to finish but it was a start. I didn't really think that I'd get into running but I've found that having these types of events looming on the calendar helps get me off the couch and having lost 50 lbs since starting them is a good reason to keep it up as well. Back to the weekend.

Since Beck and I didn't arrive until late Friday, we missed the Boys II Men concert that was one of three concerts included with the race entry. You read right. Boys II Men. More like Men II Geezers theses days and I can't say we missed it, we just didn't make it to the show.

Saturday morning was bright and sunny and we spent most of the day at the beach. We headed to the expo to pick up my race bib in the afternoon and then spent the evening waiting for a table at the Waterman Restaurant. After almost 2 hours they finally sat us at two separate tables. Not awesome. Lucky for them, their food and especially beverages (best margarita ever) helped us forget about the inexperienced hostess and soon enough we headed back to the hotel.

The best thing about our room was that it was on the second floor looking right onto the VA beach boardwalk. If you've ever been to VA Beach, you know what a show can be had just watching the people on the boardwalk so after dinner, Todd, Kevin and I had a couple more beers (great pre race training I know) and had a blast watching the mix of people stroll, bike, run, argue, stumble and rollerblade by. Encore!

Sunday was race day and this year Becky joined Katie and me in running it so the 3 of us were up at 6 am and walked the half mile to the start line. It was a nice morning, a little humid but not as hot as past years. We made it to the start line with just enough time to get into our proper starting corrals and hear the national anthem. Then we were off.

I started off very slow which was a very conscious decision. If I'm not careful I can let my competitive nature get the best of me and they said it's a marathon not a sprint for a reason. Taking it out too fast can make the rest of the race a nightmare, learned that lesson during my first half.

After the first two miles I realized that I was running too slow to give myself a chance at finishing under two hours as was my goal. As I started to pick up the pace, I saw a woman who seemed too be running just enough faster than me to be a good person to "chase". She turned out to be my rabbit for the next 8 or 9 miles! She was running a great race and was very consistent and right on the pace that I wanted to be at. Around mile 11 I lost her after a water stop but by then I was very near the end and breaking two hours was very possible.

The last mile or so is on the famous VA Beach boardwalk and it's a great home stretch. The heat was getting to me at this point and I was definitely pushing myself for a decent personal time this year. By the time I made the boardwalk I was huffing but determined. As I was nearing the 13 mile mark, only about 2 tenths away from the finish, I was shooed along with the other runners to the left side of the boardwalk by medical staff working on a fellow runner that had gone down. It was a very terrifying sight to see the staff doing compressions on a fellow runner and I've had a hard time getting it out of my head ever since. I went on to finish in under two hours, 1:59.18 to be exact. I saw the woman that set my pace in the finishing corral and congratulated her and thanked her for unknowingly helping me to a great finish. Becky finished really well, especially it being her first half marathon, coming in at just over 2 and a half hours. This was Katie's first half since having Tyler and did a great job as well.
Almost done.

Finished, clock time 2:03.44, official chip time 1:59.18. Have you ever seen someone claim 3400th place so hard? Double fist pump...wow.

Becky finishing like a champ...also a fan of the double fist pump apparently.
Still smiling even after 13.1 miles.

That night we saw The Truth and Salvage Co. and The Black Crowes at the race feature concert. We knew the Black Crowes would be good and they were, but I had no idea that Truth and Salvage Co. would be so great. Check them out if you get the chance.

The only major downer of the weekend was the fate of the fallen runner that I saw on the home stretch. While the race medical staff responded very quickly and did everything that they could do, the runner didn't make it. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and siblings. He was a 23 year old healthy kid and the cause has yet to be released. It's pretty scary to see someone in their final moments as a result of participating in an event that you're participating in. Crazy. It's a stark reminder that life is so very fragile and that pushing it during these endurance challenges can have consequences. We all do our best to prepare and hope to run or ride a smart race, but I guess you never know.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Some Extra Philly Pics

Here are a few more pictures from the ride. Clint took most of these with a camera that he had stuffed in his jersey's back pocket. Love it.

Pre race jitters.

Me leading the race on the left with Team Fatty Captain Elden on the right. 6500 riders behind us, the police escort up ahead, it was an amazing, memorable moment.

Chad having just gotten us to the lead spot, with Elden on the right again. Clint had a nice turn up front also. Unfortunately since he was the man behind the camera we don't have any photo proof but trust me he had his turn and he lead it well.

Me riding about 40 miles in. Clint gets major props for taking this picture. I was wondering what he was doing rummaging through his back pocket, next thing I knew he had powered on his camera and was blindly pointing it behind him and this was the result...awesome shot.

Our super fans on the side of the course

The devil that was taunting us on the mile long uphill at mile 59.

The next day "doing" Philly, Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, cheese steaks...good times.

Again, a big Thanks to all who supported me. Great cause, great ride, great people; needless to say, we're already thinking about next year.

Thank You!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Philly Phase Two - The Ride

The most exhilarating 20 miles followed by the most grueling 80 miles ever.

The alarm clock came early on Sunday morning and getting five riders and five bikes out the door on time wasn't easy. We put our bib numbers on, got suited up and had a traditional Frost pre-competition breakfast. Scrambled Spaghetti. Just as it sounds, boil up some pasta, scramble up some egg whites, mix it all together and douse with a crazy amount of parmesan cheese. Great taste, plus a great protein to carb mix. Ahh, it was just like we were at a USS swim meet decades ago. Anyway, we made it to the lobby on time and were ready to roll.Our captain Elden wore the number 247 when he crashed out of the Leadville 100 two weeks ago so I was hoping my extra 7 was good luck.Uhhh...I hope I'm not forgetting anything, like a bike.Numbered up and ready to go.You like? Very Nice! Me doing my best Borat impression sans thong.It wasn't even light out yet, but my prescription sunglasses were the only way I could see.

The Roll Out

So we met as a complete team at the hotel opting to ride the 5 miles to the start line together. It was a nice way to start the day. Since our team raised the most money we had the distinct honor of being able to start the race at the very front. This was one of the reasons that we headed out together cause we didn't want any Fatties left behind. Well, about halfway to the start, we realized that we were short about half of our team. Chad and I were in the middle and hung way back to tell the back part of the group when to turn. We waited and waited and waited until we couldn't wait anymore. The front half of the group was now out of sight and the back half was still no where to be seen. As neither Chad nor I had any clue how to get to the start line, we couldn't wait any longer and now had the pleasure of racing to catch up with the front group so we didn't miss any turns. We caught up no problem and without wasting too much energy. Finally at the starting line we had a few nervous moments as Clint was in the back group and had yet to arrive. Finally we saw a bunch of Fatties roll in, Clint included, so we were ready.

Ready to wait.

The start of the ride was pushed back about a half hour because of the sheer size of the event, so now we had some time for our legs to get tight and our minds to get apprehensive. Great. The time flew by though and before I knew it they were staging us at the front and announcing the start of the race.

Before I get into this I should outline the plan that we, the Frost group, had talked about before the ride. Since Team Fatty was so big, and to have some order at the start, Philly Jen devised a 3 category start. The A group would line up at the very front. They would not stop at the first rest stop and would travel without a sweep at the fastest speed. Behind them the B group would line up. They also wouldn't have a sweep, there pace would be a little slower and they would stop at all rest stops. And finally the C group would be the slowest, have a sweep, someone riding clean up basically, and would stop and enjoy every rest stop.

After talking about it, we decided to roll out in the very front with the A group. This is a no brainer for Chad as he is an A rider. Clint, Todd and myself however, are not really A riders, but we felt we didn't need to stop at the first rest stop and plus, how often do you get a chance like this really. Eventually we'd slow up and find our own pace. So there we were, lined up in front, ready to go.

The energy was awesome. We were all really excited and very eager to just start turning the pedals. Then with a few words from the MC and a blow of the horn we were off. The first couple hundred yards were strait with fencing on either side and a couple speeds bumps in the road, but as soon as we turned onto the real road it exploded. Like thoroughbreds released from the gates, we shot out. Team Fatty was on the move.

There were a ton of bikes, and Chad was up ahead. He looked back to find me and Clint and when he did, he gave a quick and simple, "Come on". With that, we understood that it was time to go and to follow him. We mashed the pedals, followed him through some bike traffic and then suddenly there wasn't anymore traffic. We were at the front. Two pacelines had formed, Chad leading the one on the left and our Captain, Elden "Fatty" Nelson leading the right. It was surreal. He we were flying, going well over 25 mph, with the likes of Chris Carmichael, Lance's coach, Lance's good friend College, and about 6000 others behind us and the police escort ahead of us.

It wasn't too long before we heard the first of many "Go Fatties!!!". I looked up and there was my beautiful wife Becky and Katie, Todd's wife, going bananas for us. What a great feeling, they truly were the best spectators we could have asked for. Throughout the day, they became pretty well known along the course, cheering for everyone, but maybe a bit louder for Team Fatty.

In cycling people take turns "pulling" in front because the lead position has the toughest job of breaking through the wind and leading the pack, so after awhile, Chad pulled out to let the man behind him take a turn pulling the whole group. That man happened to be my other brother Clint. It was so awesome. Clint took up the lead position like a champ and Chad slipped in behind me. A few minutes later, Clint was ready to give someone else a turn and when he pulled off, it was my turn to take a pull. I hit the pedals hard to get up to where he had just been, and then there I was, leading the entire 6000+ person ride. Elden was to my right, still pulling the right paceline but the only thing ahead of me was the police motorcycle and pace car. It was a great experience. I looked down a couple times to read the speedometer saying anywhere from 25 to 29 mph.

I had never pulled in a huge group like this, and while it was an exhilaration experience, it certainly was much, much tougher than being in the pack. To keep up that speed I was working pretty hard. Plus, for some reason, when it was my turn to pull, we started hitting some rolling hills. Nothing major and with our head of steam going, we could power through the downhill and carry enough momentum to get up the short roller in the top gear, but it was no longer flat and I could tell. After a few minutes, my turn was up and I pulled off to the side. My time at the very front was over.

I slipped back into the pack and we continued to roll at a pretty blistering speed. It's hard to describe the feeling of riding so close, with so many other riders, going so fast. I imagine it's as close as humans can get to swimming in a very fast school of fish. The whole group kind of ebbs and flows as it speeds through the streets and around corners.

The streets were narrower now, with lots of sharp lefts followed by sharp rights. And the hills kept getting a little bit bigger. Clearly I couldn't keep this up for the whole race, and after a couple good hills, I was getting dropped off the back. A couple times I powered through it to catch back up the the group but then it was clear that I'm wasting my energy and that the next time I go off, I should just stay off. And like that, I was riding alone. The lead group blasted up another hill, but I just kept on my pace and watched them pull away. Clint was still hanging on with the group, and Chad was still leading it probably, but my time was up. It was the most fun I'd ever had a bike, and probably the fastest 20 or so miles I'd ever do.

It was weird to go from the lead pack flying through the course to being pretty much alone. We had led out so fast that even though there were 6000 people behind me, no one was anywhere in sight. Besides a couple other stragglers that got dropped, the race was no where to be found. So I pedaled along at a much more sustainable (read slower) pace. The next rest stop was at mile marker 21 and I was there pretty quickly and saw a familiar face. Clint was waiting there for me. He had dropped off the back shortly after I did. We did a quick check at the rest stop for anyone else we knew, but it was clear that Chad didn't stop, Jed if he had stopped was already gone, and Todd was yet to arrive. Clint was eager to roll and so was I since the few minutes we spent there had allowed some of the masses to catch up and the roads we going to be crowded soon.

We took off and got about the business of completing this ride. The next 20 or so miles were pretty uneventful. I had some early cramping issues with my left calve and right hamstring, but more fluids and creative pedaling got me through it. Around mile 35 or 40 another mini paceline, maybe 8 guys, formed and again I got my turn pulling. It's fun, and I even got a "nice pull" from a guy in line as I slipped in the back when I was done. Around mile 40, stopping to say hi to our fans.
But really from then on the ride became about making it from one rest stop to the next. I was pretty tired at this point and this course, ask anyone who rode it, was much more challenging than anticipated. It was relentless hills, followed by fast descents. There was never any long flat road, you were either heading up or heading down. The real test came around mile 59. The longest hardest hill I've ever seen.

It started with a sign that said next rest stop one mile. Normally a good sign to see, but like 50 feet later another sign warned that that mile, was all uphill. I wish I had pictures of these signs cause they were almost as cruel as the hill. Every couple hundred feet there was another sign, telling me how tough it was going to be or how it was still a long way to go. And tough it was. I could barely make the pedals go around in my lowest gear. I was probably only going 5-7 mph which makes for a very long mile. Do the math, if I was going 5 mph it would take me 20 minutes to climb this one stupid long, stupid steep hill. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to physically endure, and 20 minutes felt like 2 hours. About halfway up a guy in a full on devil costume, horns, pitchfork and all, said the top was 50 meters around the next corner.

The devil lied.

I got around the corner and the end was still no where in sight. The anger might have helped me get through it and finally I could see the top. At this point there were some spectators that apparently like to watch people suffer, but they cheered us to the top. When I finally made it up, I legit felt like crying. It was so amazing to have that behind me and to have made it up without stopping or getting off my bike. The rest stop at the top was pretty sweet too. Clint was there waiting for me, he had made it as well and was in the process of refueling. We enjoyed that rest stop, tried to cool off, but after some quick food and drink, we moved on to get this thing over with.

We didn't stop at the next rest station cause it was pretty soon after the one we were just at, so we kept plugging along. The rest stop after that was at the 80 mile mark, and we now felt like we were really getting close to finishing it. This rest stop is where we met back up with Todd as well. He had been motoring along on his own, barely stopping at the rest stops and had caught up to Clint and I. It was great to see him and to see how well he was doing. Now we'd get to ride the last 20 together.Around mile 85, Clint, myself, and Todd

The last 20 miles was a blur of heat, sweat and slow hills. I was asking a lot of my body that day, and the first 20 miles at race pace, and this crazy midday heat were really wearing me down. We had been on the bikes for over 5 hours now and the finish wasn't going to come easy. I kept telling myself that if I just keep pedaling, at some point it'll have to be over. We stopped at the last rest stop meaning that we only had 9 miles to go. We got some ice bags for our heads to try and cool our core body temp down, and refilled our water bottles. With that we took off and the next stop was the finish line.

The three of us rolled down the finishing corral 3 wide and crossed triumphantly together. Fatty was waiting to shake our hands as he was doing for all 170+ team members. He's quite a guy. Chad was also waiting for us. He had finished about an hour ahead of us, and we learned that he stayed with the lead 5 guys until mile 70! At that point, College dropped the hammer and Chad thought it best to finally hit his first rest stop of the day and wait for us. He waited over 45 min and we still hadn't showed, so he finished the race on his own.

Becky was also there waiting. She was happy to see us and got all these good pictures that you've been seeing.

One of the smartest things I did all weekend was add another night to our hotel stay. That meant we had a place to go after the ride to wash up and such. So after a post race meal and beer, we headed back to the hotel. Clint, Chad, Jed and Laura (Laura did the 40 mile ride and did a great job), got cleaned up and the got in the car to drive back to Boston that night. Total troopers those guys. Beck and I headed out with Todd and Katie and some fellow Fatties to grab a bite, but then retired to the room pretty early and passed out.

So Philly LIVESTRONG Challenge 2009 is in the history books. We all had a blast and did it while raising money for a very worthy cause. It's safe to say that we're all doing it again next year and can't wait. We were pretty much brainstorming and planning for 2010 in the car back to the hotel.

Thanks again to all who supported me. It was wonderful and your generosity touched me. I won't forget it and you should pat yourself on the back for helping fight this imperative cause.

Thanks and Love,


P.S. More pictures from the race to be posted soon. And check back as I transition from cycling to running while I prepare for the 2009 New York City Marathon on November 1st.

Philly Phase One and a Half


I've been up blogging, trying to get this posted tonight, but I'm falling asleep at my computer. I'll finish it in the morning hopefully. Till then, sorry to keep you in waiting. To tide you over, here's an embarrassing picture of myself getting ready for the race doing my best Borat in my cycling bibs. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Philly Phase One... Century Eve.

The Philly LIVESTRONG Challenge 2009 is over. It turned out to be more than just a ride, it was an epic weekend.

The weekend starts as we caravan with Todd and Katie to the hotel. We arrived in Philly around 2:00 pm hoping that we'd have a room. As you know, there was some major confusion surrounding our hotel room but after I gently persuaded the GM Tony to see if there was anything he could do, we wound up getting a room. Note - a room. Chad and Clint got bumped from their room, so while we did have a roof over our heads, we were now packing that room like a post prom party. Chad, Clint, Lauren, Jed, Becky and myself would be sharing the cozy Doubletree room. Since I did the bitching that got us in the hotel, Becky and I got the bed by default I guess. Logically, Clint and Lauren took the pull out sofa as they are going steady, which left Chad and Jed to duke it out over the air mattress that we brought along. Chad won the coin toss and left Jed to sleep on the sofa cushions. Did I mention that we also stuffed five bikes and luggage for six in this room. Classic.
With sleeping arrangements all set, we set out to the LIVESTRONG Village to pick up our registration packets. It was a bit muddy, but we got our bibs and goodies and headed back to the hotel.
The Riders - me, Chad, Clint, Lauren, Todd and Jed.
At this point we were all feeling pretty good. They treated us like gold, cheering and clapping as they announced our fundraising totals to the masses as we registered. We made it back to the hotel in time to get ready for the LIVESTRONG Fundraising Appreciation Dinner. And by "get ready", I of course mean, put on the most ridiculous outfit I've ever worn out in public. Being that we were representing Team Fatty at this dinner, we were told to wear our Team Jerseys. Normally not something that is to be worn to a business casual dinner, but OK, I'll go with it. Now, what can possibly compliment a tight lycra bike jersey you ask. My answer... sear sucker pants, what else. Oh ya, check this out.
The dinner itself was amazing. It really brought home why we were all here. Sure they had a sick spread of delicious pastas, breads, salads, desserts, and an open beer and wine bar, but the meat of the night was the presentations. John "College" Korioth, Lance's good friend and an original member of the Foundation spoke and lead us through the night. He gave an insightful view on how the LAF really helps people and their loved ones find their way through cancer, and really made us feel proud of the work we did to help out. (really you guys deserve the credit)Lance's friend and good rider in his own right, College. We'd see more of him tomorrow.

Then it was time for team Fatty to take over. We won all the awards that they gave out and as such they gave our leader Elden the floor for about 20 minutes, and he was great. It took an amazing amount of courage and strength to get up there so recently after Susan passed, but he inspired and moved a lot of people that night, and I'm sure Susan would be proud.

Amos Lee got up and did a private little show as well which was cool and the keynote speaker was Ethan Zohn, the winner of Survivor Africa, and recently was diagnosed with a rare kind of Hodgkin's disease. A great guy and good speaker, he had us thinking and laughing and delivered a great speech.

The only downer of the night was that it was over so soon. Before we knew it, we were raiding the dessert table for treats to take back to the hotel. I guess there was one more little downer. The dinner was in this amazing restored powerhouse. It was really well done, but you could tell that the up and coming revitalization of the area was a little more coming and a little less up. Maybe in five or ten years it'll be a neighborhood that won't terrify you after dark, but for now, lets just say I've never been so happy to see an on ramp for Interstate 95 in my life. Yikes.

More dinner pics...

Chad's name in lights.About to chow

The Frost boys do the LIVESTRONG "red carpet".

We got safely back to the hotel and fought off the pre-ride jitters to try and get some sleep. We we due in the lobby of the hotel at 5:45 am to roll out as a team, plus we were riding 100 miles the next day, so some rest was important.

Speaking of rest, you must be tired from reading this ginormous post and I'm not even to the ride yet. Fair enough. This is clearly a two poster. The suspense will eat at you I know, but try to stay to stay focused tomorrow at work. Phase Two of the post to come tomorrow. It was a heck of a ride, you won't want to miss it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mission Accomplished!

We all finished the ride, had a great weekend and have lots to share. Full report to come soon, once I have all the pictures and stuff together. Thanks again for all the support.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Race weekend is upon us.

Here it is, Friday the 21st. That means that tomorrow we head to Philly and the next day we ride. Can't believe it's finally and yet suddenly here. Let me bring you up to speed on some recent LIVESTRONG Challenge happenings that have got us amped up before even leaving CT.

First of all, I made it to $2500.00 in funds raised. $2,555.00 to be exact. All thanks to you guys, a few key last minute donations and a little help from the little, I mean younger brother. All tolled, together the Frost boys raised over $7,100.00 to help benefit cancer research and awareness. And by Frost boys, I of course mean you guys, the people who we reached out to and who answered the call with resounding generosity and warmth.

We couldn't have done it without you.

I can't speak for Chad or Clint, but I am personally very humbled by the outpouring of support, and I'm very grateful for it. When it all came to a close, 85 people broke out their checkbooks, even in this hard economy to support me. That number itself surprises me but what surprises and humbles me even more, is the fact that out of the 85 donors, I only personally know 32 of them! That's right 53 people that I've never even met before donated to help me achieve my goal and to help us win the battle against cancer. Unbelievable! Really, I'm dumbfounded by this. I don't know what to say, it makes me feel wonderful that there is so much generosity and so many good people in the world, but it makes me a little bummed to know that cancer affects nearly everyone out there. You can see why it's important to me to do something, even if it's just a little fundraiser, to help the cause. Thank you too, you have obviously felt the call to help in this fight and I'll be thinking of you during the race.

Now that fundraising is closed, the thoughts turn to the actual ride itself. As you know, it's in Philly and since Becky and I live in CT, you'd assume that it's pretty important to have a place to stay in Philly. You'd be right in that assumption. We had even thought this through ourselves, and even went so far as to book a hotel room that that night. Wise idea right. So you can imagine what kind of fiasco ensued when we got a call from the DoubleTree West Philadelphia that we no longer can stay in the room that we booked months ago. Seriously, two days before the event we got that call. Apparently they've had some rain in Philly and the DoubleTree roof wasn't prepared for precipitation. Crazy. Now that they have water damage in some rooms, they are systematically ousting people. Our whole team is/was staying there so it's been quite a headache. They are trying to rebook us in an Embassy Suites, 13 miles away. Apparently they didn't think 100 miles was quite man enough, why not throw on a dozen more. Anyway, I've been going "Cathy Frost" on the GM of the hotel so there's a chance that we'll get a room there.

Besides the stress of worrying about a roof over our heads race-day-eve, (seriously, I had a dream about a strong chat with the GM last night) everything else I think is ready to go. My body feels as ready as it's gonna be. The bike's been tuned up and I'm about to hit the garage and give it a good cleaning. I know Chad and Clint are ready, Todd's feeling good, so it's on.

In other good news, since Team Fat Cyclist has ballooned to 197 participants and raised over $265,000.00, we won every award that the LAF gives out for the Philly event. This means that our team got 20 tickets to go to the LIVESTRONG Fundraising Appreciation dinner Saturday night. We were very honored to get invited by our team captain to help represent the team at this invite only dinner and I'm sure I'll have great stories and memories from the night.

So, the plan is to caravan with Todd and Katie tomorrow morning to Philly, sort out the hotel stuff and then relax until dinner, dine with other cancer fighters, sleep, wake up crazy early, ride, ride some more, keep riding, turn left and keep riding, turn the corner to the finish line, ride a little bit more, and then finish in a heap. Can't wait and you'll hear all about it after I recover next week.

Wish us luck.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Less than 24 hours to Fundraise...

And only 4 days till race morning.

Can't believe it, it's all happening. Last minute donations are coming in and while I'd love to still top the $3000 mark, I think a more realistic goal for the next 23 hours is to get to the $2,500 milestone. If you've been putting it off (like I probably would have done) the time to donate is now. Thanks to all who have donated, your support means the world to me and I'll be thinking of you during the race.

Since Monday nights ride, I've been resting the legs. I might get out and get in a few easy miles tonight after work, and Thursday I'll probably get in a nice jog (can't forget about marathon training). Sunday will be here before you know it. Can't wait to fill you in on how it goes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Less than a week to go

Can't believe it, we're less than 7 days from race day. Fundraising officially ends Thursday morning at 9am sharp. If you are waiting to be a dramatic last minute donation, I appreciate it but please make sure to get your donation in before Thursday morning. Currently because of your very generous support, I have helped raise over $2,100 dollars. Not too shabby but still shy of my goal. If you've been meaning to head over to my donation site, http://philly09.livestrong.org/frost, and splash down a few bucks, now is the time. I certainly appreciate it and as I've been saying all along, it is truly a worthy cause that I'm sure has directly touched each of our lives.

Last night I got a nice ride in with the C group at Pedal Power. We got in about 25 miles and considering the crazy heat and some weird stomach cramps, I felt pretty good. 100 miles is going to be epic, but I'm feeling pretty confident. The long term forecast is saying that by Sunday the heat wave should break so that's good. Everything is lining up nicely.

Last Sunday night, Clint and fellow Frost Philly Fatty member Jen Scharbach, held their joint fundraising event and it was a total blast not to mention success. They had a raffle/party at a local Mystic restaurant, Angie's Pizza. The Ramble Hoots played till one in the morning and with all the prizes they had to give away they raised over $1400 in one night. Kudos to them.

So there it is, the journey is almost complete. We started months ago without any stamina, no bike, and no real idea as to what I was getting into. Fast forward to today, I have much better stamina, I own a bike but still probably have no idea what I'm getting into. Well, I'll let you know come Monday. There will be pictures and I'm sure plenty of stories so stay tuned. And again, last chance to donate. You've officially been asked so please take this opportunity to help fight against this vicious disease that I know has touched your life in some way. Thanks for the support, I won't let you down come Sunday.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Contest to Benefit LIVESTRONG

Now is the time, less than 2 weeks till race day. The time to donate is quickly running out. Luckily for all you fellow procrastinators out there, good things come to those who wait.

In an effort to reach my goal of $3000.00, I am pulling out all the stops and having one last fundraising extravaganza. Alright, it's less like an extravaganza and more like a raffle, but it's still fun and you could win a great prize all while helping fight cancer.

The Prize.

A Complete Custom Alpha Cornhole Set from CornholeU.com. Those of you who know me well, know that I own CornholeU.com, but that's beside the point. Look at this beauty.

This set includes the custom painted boards in your choice of color, a set of matching bags, and shipping in the continental US. A value, if purchased at CornholeU.com of over $200.00! If you win and you're out of the US, we'll figure something out.

Don't yet know what Cornhole is? Not too worry, the short of it is, it's like horse shoes but played with corn filled bags and wooden boards with holes in them. For a more in depth view into what you've been missing, check out CornholeU.com. And what a better way to get into the "sport" than to win a custom set.

To be entered to win all you have to do is donate to my LIVESTRONG page anytime between NOW and August 20th. (Better sooner rather than later)

For every $5.00 that you donate you get one entry into the drawing. Donate 50 bucks and you just got 10 entries my friend. I like those odds. Ten bucks = 2 entries...you get the idea.

So hop to it. Winners will be selected using random.org and will be announced on Monday August 24th...could be your lucky day. Plus, you're fighting cancer at the same time. It's a win/win.

Speaking of win/win I almost forgot. Even if you don't win, (even though you probably will) everyone who donates between now and August 20th will get a $10.00 off coupon good at CornholeU.com. Giving 5 to get 10, it's like free money.

Thanks for your help, I can't do it without you.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hartford 5k Scramble

Tonight Becky and I headed to Hartford with her friend from teaching, Erica, to run the 5K scramble event. It's a great run. Instead of just your run of the mill 5K road race, this run take place on a variety of terrain right along the CT river. Some pavement, some mud, some gravel and some grass. Their were over 600 runners and for good reason. Not only was the course cool and different, after the race was over, there was free beer, hot dogs, burritos, and more. They had a great band, and did I mention this was all outside on a beautiful evening along the river in downtown.

The race itself was a little tough. I hadn't run on surfaces like that in a bit, it was about 95% humidity and I sweat out about 3 gallons of fluids. The crowds were pretty heavy on the little trails, but all in all it was a blast. I finished in 132 place with a time of 26:14 or a pace of about 8:20 a mile. I was pretty happy with it considering the heat/humidity and the enormous Mexican lunch a had a few hours earlier. Becky came in right around 30 minutes which is pretty par for the course for her, and like I said, the best part was winding down after the race with the band, food and scenery. Not a bad way to spend a Thursday night after work. The new job I'm loving by the way, thanks for asking.

I've got a long way to till I'm ready for the NYC marathon, but every run counts.

Monday, July 27, 2009

More Camping and a little more riding

This past weekend we headed out to do some more camping. I was hanging out with my brothers a couple months ago and in passing it was mentioned how much fun it would be to go camping for the weekend sometime. Now, if that conversation had just been between my brothers and myself, it probably would have ended there, but lucky for us Becky was in the conversation and that woman can get things done. Instead of a "Ya, that sounds like fun, we'll have to do that sometime..." it turned into an email that was like "OK, I got a campsite for the weekend of the 26-27th, who's in charge of bringing what?", and like that we actually had something planned.

Chad's wife Heather is pregnant with baby numero tres, and was perfectly fine, spending her time sans children and husband at the spa, so she didn't join us this trip. So that meant that Chad and his two boys, Luke and Boden were going to be there, Clint was coming down from Beantown to spend sometime in the great outdoors and then there was Becky and I. Then in a great last minute twist, Becky invited her Dad Larry, who had been chilling home alone for the past two weeks with his wife out of town and her brother Eric. We had quite the crew and we had quite the weekend. We all, Chad, Clint, Larry and I, brought our bikes with the hopes of getting a ride in. Chad and Larry brought kayaks, and I of course brought cornhole so we were set.

Friday night we got there in time to set up camp, get a great fire going, and cook dinner, chili cheese dogs, over the fire. Some of my favorite times camping have just been hanging out around the campfire and Friday night was no let down. We had a great time laughing and talking and just relaxing outdoors, nothing much better. We were just starting to think about turning in for the night, when it starting to rain, which made the choice easy. We scrambled to throw everything, and I mean everything, under the picnic table and we all headed to our respective tents. We were then treated to a spectacular lighting show in our tents and it rained like crazy. Our tent held up though, kept us dry and by the time we woke up, the rain had stopped and it was a beautiful Saturday. We walked down to the lakes beach and hung out there for a bit, the boys, Luke and Bo getting some fishing practice in. Then we had some lunch, and headed out for a kayak around the lake. We were short one kayak so I wound up towing Eric around on a little inflatable tube. It was hilarious. The kayak I was using was crazy old, had no rudder and no hull shape which meant I had n real way to control the boat. It was so bad that after awhile, we gave Eric a paddle and from the tube in back he became my rudder. Not the most graceful kayak excursion ever, but we made it back in one piece.

After that, it was time for some cornhole. I successfully created 3 more cornhole addicts in Chad, Clint and Eric. Chad and Eric were on the same team and dominated. I was hoping that it was beginners luck at first, but they both were star cornholers. It took like 5 games before Clint and I finally won one. We had a blast.

Then Luke started tugging on my arm to go bike riding. Now, here's a kid who's just turned six and for his birthday Chad and Heather got him a sweet six speed Trek mountain bike. Lots of kids his age are still rocking training wheels and he speeds around on this "Big Boy" bike like he's been doing it for years. He's awesome. We rode around the campground for a pretty long time. It was cool to see how well he can ride a bike. His balance is great, he's fast and he loves it. He kept saying how much fun he was having. It was great, not much beats the enthusiasm of a kid doing something he loves. It was finally time to pull back into our site for dinner but not before Luke made me promise that we'd ride some more "first" thing in the morning. I happily obliged.

After another night of good campfire food (cheese quesadillas with peppers, onions and cilantro) and some adult beverages, we hit the sack. It rained again during the night. Becky and I again fared well in our tent, staying totally dry, but this time some of our camping compatriots weren't as lucky. I think Clint, Eric and Larry were a little more damp than they would've liked but we all survived. As planned, within about 40 seconds of me being awake, I found myself riding bikes with Luke. It was a refreshing way to wake up for sure. It was cool to be riding around like a kid, with a kid. In all this training, and the lead up to this 100 mile race, it's easy to forget how to just ride a bike around for the sake of riding a bike. Riding around with Luke, going somewhere, but yet nowhere in particular was a blast. Before we knew it though, it was time to pack up and head home.

It was a great weekend and many thanks go out to Becky for making it all happen. If you want to see some pics of the weekend, including Luke on his bike, click here. Becky uploaded the photos to the Internet but not my computer so I don't have any to post in this post as of now. If I do later I'll update it.

So that was the weekend. Now it's Monday morning and I start my new job today. I can't wait, I'm very excited for the possibilities that T-Mobile has to offer. I'll be training Radio Shack employees on how to sell T-Mobile. It's the same industry that I was in before and I'm doing Training just like I love to do. As an added bonus, Radio Shack is Lance's new team partner for 2010, very cool. Hopefully I can score a Radio Shack/LIVESTRONG jersey somewhere down the line. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cali and another good group ride...

Back from vacay and much to report.

First of all Becky and I had a great time in sunny California. We got back around midnight last night and were needless to say, whooped. Our trip started in San Fransisco where Becky has family so we got to see her Grandma, Aunts and Uncles and cousins. After one night in San Fran, we motored in our rented Jeep Wrangler to Santa Cruz for a couple nights in a nice little beach house. Becky's Aunt Laura happens to also live Santa Cruz and she also rides bikes. Jackpot. Not only were we able to beach it up, I was able to get the grand tour of Santa Cruz via two bike rides. One was about 25 miles and one was about 30, both were awesome and both were a tad on the hilly side. Not a lot of flat in Santa Cruz in turns out.

Laura Bontrager, me and her friend Stephanie before our first ride.

Laura's bike was made for a Team Discovery member a few years back. When he left the team she inherited a sweet ride, and yes that's me lifting it up with my pinkie fingers.

I was able to use Laura's husband Keith's bike which was pretty sweet. Full carbon frame, carbon cranks, carbon handlebars and great components. The saddle was better than I was used to as well. Turns out I have a pretty cushy, probably pretty heavy stock seat. Keith rides a pretty slim and hard, nearly weightless I'm sure, saddle. After two rides my butt bone was pretty tender. I brought my own pedals and shoes so I had to get Keith's pedals off. It took me a minute and some help from Laura to get them off but then we we good to roll. Our pre-ride breakfast was homemade organic oatmeal pancakes and the best coffee I've ever had. Laura then took us around Santa Cruz. The scenery and pit stops for wild blackberries were a couple of the highlights. Just riding around a different town is cool enough but Santa Cruz is beautiful. Having a local who knows her way around town is great too. Both rides were great and I can't thank Laura enough. Also, many thanks to Keith for letting me use his bike while he was out of town.

After Santa Cruz we headed to Yosemite for the rest of the trip. We camped, hiked, swam, cooked over the fire pit, took pictures and generally had an awesome time. If you haven't been, I definitely recommend it. I can't even describe the scenery. It's all so very impressive and it was great to see. Can't wait to go back one day.
Back in CT today, I headed out to the Pedal Power Monday night ride. I set out with the A/B group. We head out together but sooner rather than later the A group kicks it up a notch and leaves the B's behind. I'm naturally one of the B's left behind. I have ridden with the B group once before and tonight was another good one. We got in 30 miles averaging about 17.9 mph. A couple tough hills peppered in made it interesting and towards to end I found myself in a group that was breaking away from the rest. There was about six of us, about half the B's, and these guys started cranking. I was working pretty hard not to get dropped. At one point I was near my max and suddenly there was a pretty long, very visible hill right in front of us. I was just about to break when I noticed that we were taking a right hand turn right before the hill, total lifesaver. I didn't get dropped and soon we were pulling back into the shop. Just to prove that I'm a good Noncyclist, as I pulled up to a couple of the guys after the ride, we started talking and I forgot about riding.

Wait for it...

I totally fell over still clipped in. Here I am pulling up to talk about what a great ride we just had, and before I know it I'm on the ground. Real slick Mav. It happens so fast yet so slow. You can't lose focus for a second, I'm just glad I was back on my own bike, not Keith's. The guys, who I was really just meeting, were nice enough and did the whole, "Everyone topples over clipped in once in a while". Whatever, good for the ego to get slammed down like that from time to time. After helping me up, we did introduce ourselves, and talked about our good ride. Maybe next time it won't end with me on the ground.
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