Sunday, April 25, 2010

A post on Darn Tough Socks by Michael Baucom

I was on the Thirsty Thursday run when Tres demo'd the Mountain Masochists and also gave away some DT socks. I unsuspectingly took a pair since I'd never worn any type of wool gear (cycling/running jerseys, socks, nothing) and I figured a free pair would be the best way to confirm whether they would itch once I started sweating in them (which I had always assumed). Now I've become completely addicted to these socks and am resorting to wearing this one pair embarrassingly often and in conditions that repulse our dog and definitely wouldn't pass Health Codes if I were a restaurant worker (e.g. a 40-hour stint of continuous wear that included two long, muddy trail runs, 2-ish days of casual wear and an overnight of sleeping in them -- I'm not proud, and I fully admit that I've fallen a long way from basic human standards when it comes to these socks, but it's not all my fault as I'll explain below).

To confirm what I'm up against and that I'm not the only one in this pickle (and that I'm confident you'll sell plenty of these socks once you start carrying them), I described my struggle to a friend in Boise, ID, who had mentioned Darn Tough socks some time ago. I told him how I hate to take them off and that I really only remove them when my wife demands them from me in order to wash them in the SuperAggressive washer cycle that usually includes most of my other running clothes, but that I promptly yank them from the dryer to get them back onto my feet pronto. He understood immediately and empathized since he had experienced the same addiction issues when he innocently came across DT socks at a local outdoor shop and wore them so continuously that he wore a hole in the heel, sent them back to Darn Tough for replacements (awesome guarantee), then wore those out as well while also somehow turning all his toes bright red (something his doctor described as "chronic excessive continuum of abrasive exposure to fine merino wool syndrome", commonly known as "DT-itis"). He had to quit DTs cold turkey for nearly a year until he could resume a 12-step program of gradually reintroducing them into his wear cycle. Now he's doing fine and has adjusted to wearing a more typical variety of socks, but he'll always be a recovering DT-holic and is very worried about me and the slippery slope I'm undeniably on.

Clearly Bull City Running is partly (even mostly) to blame for my DT cravings and sad hygienic predicament since it introduced me to these socks but now won't feed my pathetic jonesing since I'm limited to this one overwhelmed pair from Tres. In this case, the drug dealer-like "first one's free" method of introducing a product to a naive customer has unquestionably produced a fast convert-turned-addict, but unlike Crack I can't get any more DT socks from my Dealer. Makes me wonder if my "DT" abbreviation might also imply the dreadfully uncomfortable DeTox I'll be going through if I don't find a source soon for more Run/Bike No-Show Cushion #1416 socks in Light Grey, Natural and/or Black (just in case Tres didn't tell you exactly what he pulled out of his goodie bag that evening). If I don't find a solution soon, I anticipate the Trailheads periodically coming across me lurching aimlessly and wide-eyed through CNF while wearing a pair of Crosslites and exceptionally tattered Darn Tough socks and mumbling gibberish about Bull City Running, one single pair of DTs, a once-happy, mainstream life and a rapid collapse after a seemingly innocent demo run with a sock rep.

Respectfully (but in kind of a desperate, demanding way),

-Michael Baucom
PS -- So really, will you please start carrying them??

--We have started carrying them at Bull City Running Company and they have a lifetime warranty. Come try a pair.

Six Carbon 6 by Cannondale

This is a picture of my new road bike. I've put in about 300 miles on it so far and I really like it.

Boston and London--Marathon Inspiration

This week I watched Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, Sammy Wanjiru, and Tsegaye Kebede all run two hours, five minutes to win the 2010 Boston, 2009 London, and 2010 London marathons, respectively. Cheruiyot is 21 years old, a puppy by marathoning standards, and he crushed the previous record on the hilly track from Hopkinton to Boston by nearly two minutes. On Universal Sports I caught the replay of last year's London where Sammy Wanjiru won the prestigious marathon. By my count he has run six marathons since 2007 all in the 2:05-2:06 range. Many consider his Olympic win in the Bejing heat to be the best marathon performance ever. To the right is a picture of Wanjiru entering the Olympic stadium. I want to be like Sammy!

Kebede clearly put in the work to make sure he came ready to win in London this weekend. From the early press releases, he broke with six miles to go and won by over a minute. In some of these world majors such as Berlin, Chicago, and London it is very difficult for a non-kenyan to win. For an Ethiopian such as Kebede or an Eritrean, Moroccan, or American to win, one has to often go it alone. I mention these as just a few of the countries that have produced elite marathoners in recent years. Often the two or three pace makers hired are Kenyans which means they know whoever the Kenyan favorite is through a history at training camps or world class events. You could see in the coverage of the 2009 London marathon that when Hendrick Raamala of South Africa wanted the pace quickened and began to move to the front, the three Kenyan pace setters were a little thrown off. They did not want to make a move unless Sammy Wanjiru, a kenyan, wanted to quicken the pace. Advantage Kenya. Disadvantage--rest of the world. Hats off to Tsegaye Kebede for breaking through the Kenyan juggernaut and winning in London this weekend.

The picture above says it all for me. Cheruiyot the younger, as he is becoming known, and Merga of Ethiopia cresting Heartbreak Hill. I thought Merga seemed confident and in control of this race throughout the early miles, though Cheruiyot looked as smooth as a gazelle. The young articulate Kenyan ran negative splits at Boston. Negative Splits! That means he ran the second half faster than the first (1:03:27 for 13.1 miles then 1:02:25 coming home). This is not uncommon for elite athletes, but it is not common for anyone at Boston. This oldest of marathons is significantly faster and downhill for the first half of the race. Without manually checking the splits of the nearly 23,000 finishers I am confident that less than one percent of the finisher recorded negative splits. This tactic and result by Cheruiyot may tell more of us how we should approach our grueling 26.2 mile efforts in the future. I mentioned that many consider Wanjiru's 2008 Olympic win to be the greatest marathon performance of all time. Well, there is a new consideration and it is Robert "the younger's" 2:05:52 on Patriot's Day six days ago.

We should all stand in awe of these three champions. Someone will soon break Gebreselassie's 2:03:59. Will it be one of these runners or someone else? My money is on Zersenay Tadese. Never heard of him. Look him up.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reverse Brick

I ran 13 miles this morning at a little under 7 minute pace, 10 minute break to change and transition, and then a 40 mile bike ride holding 19.2mph. A very good workout in preparation for RAAM.
click map for details

click map for details

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Commuter junk miles Sun night - Tues am by monklinney at Garmin Connect - Details

Commuter junk miles Sun night - Tues am by monklinney at Garmin Connect - Details

I feel connected to my city in a much more visceral way when the car stays in the garage. It is also good for the heart and lungs.

Tweet Tweet

These are the baby bluebirds. They are out of focus, but that is only the fault of the camera. I think I see three from the five eggs. Maybe all five are smushed in there. Go birds.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My wife is so proud of this blooming rhododendron. She has grown a green thumb and it leaves its mark all around our front and back yards. She used to say that all plants died in her presence. Not so anymore. This flower is not far from the eggs pictured below and soon I will post a picture of what has become!


This project will explore a new passion of mine, new in the last year or so, cycling.

What's a cog?
A cog is another name for a sprocket which is a toothed wheel or gear that is part of a chain drive. Originally, "cog" referred to just a single tooth on a "cog wheel." Then "cog wheel" was shortened by popular usage to "cog."

I like to rhyme. Most writers do if they write with their ear, because readers and speakers love to rhyme. This dates as far back as the invention of the wheel when the cooks yelled out, when you finish with that you can have your dinner." But of course it sounded better with, "finish the wheel if you want your meal."

I tell my students to look for rhyme, repetition, and alliteration in their reading and writing. Simple concepts and easy to practice. It's kind of like cycling. You begin where you begin, maybe staying upright on the thing and one by one you learn a new trick, a new technique. I liken writing to cycling. Everyone thinks that Faulkner and Fabian Cancellara were carved out of stone as phenoms, but that's not true. They practiced and practiced and practiced some more. They listened to every thing and every one that would share secrets. And then they became master thieves and stole all the tricks from their mentors and worked them into their own tricks and trades. Sure, I'll concede that for the truly remarkable there is talent woven in which the rest of us could only dream of, but a craft well mastered is mostly about habit forming, practice, and the occasional calculated risk.

Is this about writing or cycling? Well, if you know me, and you probably don't, I'll make analogies of anything. Running and Writing, Cycling and Writing, Prayer and Yoga, Running and Faith.

Back to the Bike

I began with a fixed-gear bike called a Cannondale Capo. Thanks to my friends at REI I made this purchase in the Spring of 2009. My bike is black and white, simple and sleek. The rear wheel can be flip-flopped so it also doubles as a single speed with a free wheel. When it is set up fixey the crank arms stay in motion when pressure is applied. It might be easier to explain what the bike won't do, which is coast. The cog pictured above (or soon to be) is the original rear cog that came with the bike. It has 18 teeth or protruding points that grab hold of the chain as it rattles by again and again and again. Eighteen is also the day of my birthday in June so when I removed this cog, cleaned off the grease, the idea of this blog began to blossom. I just switched my fixey set up form this 18t cog to a 16t cog so that I could spin a little slower on the downhills around town as I commute to and fro. It also makes me work a little harder on the uphills which is good for overall fitness and a big race I have coming up in June.

This blog will include posts on cycling, spiritual escapades, my travels up and down the American Tobacco Trail hoping to meet the face of Jesus as pastor of the Tobacco Trail Church. On the lighter side, it will contain reviews of products related to biking, running,and maybe even church. I might review endurance nutrition supplements or global politics. I'll try to keep cycling somehow related, but no promises. Comment harshly if necessary when I diverge, but such less traveled divergences worked for Robert Frost so no promises that I will stay the course.

I also want to trace what I am learning as a budding cyclist. There is so much beta out there, so many experts, most generous, others more guarded. Their stories and advice may be helpful along the way. I am getting interested in various cycling disciplines: fixey, road, cyclocross, criterium and maybe more. I feel like there are insights along the way worth noting because I feel like once someone has become a master tradesman and habits become innate it is more difficult to re-trace the learning and growing process. I hope to map out some of my findings along the way. I hope you will join for the journey.