The Runner and I finished the Death Valley Trail marathon in 4:27. No injuries, apart from my ego.
I will explain more in my writeup this Monday.
For the record, that’s twelve minutes faster than my previous marathon time, seven years ago.
Those of you who ought to be paying, please get your wallets ready.
And now I believe I need to sleep for the rest of the day.
A Marathon Chronicles-Related Note from Fatty: Thanks, everyone, for your feedback yesterday regarding whether we ought to go to Death Valley and run the alternate course, or go to St. George and pre-run the Ironman course, or make something up. We’re going to go to Death Valley as originally planned. The points about an event being different than a solo run, the scenery being worth seeing, and a road trip being worth taking put us over the edge. Plus, there were a few hard cases who asserted that the bet stipulated the Death Valley marathon, and I don’t want to lose a bet by default.
You should be able to read the race writeup on Monday. Provided, of course, that I write it by then.
Like most everyone else in the world, I have heard of The Secret, the book that promises untold wealth, health, and perfectly-styled hair on a daily basis…as long as you buy the book. Like most everyone else, I was curious what secret The Secret contains.
And like most everyone else, I looked on Wikipedia to find out, where I learned that the secret of The Secret is that if you think about something in the right way — whether it be an event or an object or the removal of the letters “C” from the English language — the universe attaches other similar thoughts and forces to your thought, your thought gathers force like a giant thought-snowball, and then the thing you thought about will happen.
Which is really awesome. Because I hate redundant letters.
However, since — to my dismay — I did not master the secrets of The Secret by reading the Wikipedia article, I went ahead and downloaded the Kindle version of the book to my phone, and read it as quickly as possible, provided “as possible” means “whenever I was in line at the grocery store, or whenever I needed to use the bathroom for an extended period of time.”
And you know what? You can probably do just fine with reading the Wikipedia article.
Which is not to say, however, that The Secret does not work. It does! For example, I am going to, right now, think about eating the Twix Bar I have here.
And now I am eating it.
Freaky, isn’t it?
But The Secret has a dark underbelly. Yes it does. And that dark underbelly is that if you don’t formulate your thoughts correctly, you may get the opposite — or worse, a strange tangent — of what you were hoping for!
I call this “The Universe as a Trickster Genie” theory.
Specifically, The Secret tells us that the universe is a little bit stupid, in that it doesn’t get negatives. And I don’t mean that it doesn’t get double-negatives, which would be understandable, because who doesn’t have trouble with those from time to time?
I mean that it actually doesn’t hear negatives at all.
So, for example, if I were to think to myself, “I am not going to eat another Twix bar,” the universe just picks up on the “eat” and “Twix bar” part. And — get this — right now I am eating another Twix bar.
Oh, it is so delicious.
Thanks, universe, for making me eat another Twix bar even when I thought I shouldn’t.
And also, now I guess I understand why I’m seeing more of the letter “C” than I used to.
The Secret and Cycling
Now that you are — as I am — convinced of the power of The Secret, you are almost certainly asking yourself, “How can I use The Secret to become an extremely awesome cyclist? And how can I be certain to formulate my thoughts correctly, so the universe doesn’t go pulling some wacky prank on me?”
It’s a natural question, and I will now teach you the things you must think — along with the things you must not — in order to leverage The Secret in your riding.
To Win a Race:
- Do: Imagine yourself going very fast, crossing a finish line. And be sure to also imagine nobody else in front of you, and lots of people behind you. And be sure to imagine yourself crossing the correct finish line, or you might wind up winning a completely different race. And you might also want to imagine a calendar nearby with the current date on it, or you might win the race, but as the sole participant in the Octogenerian category, 55 years from now.
- Do NOT: Imagine the problems you might have that might obstruct your win. For example, do not imagine yourself with a mechanical. Do not imagine yourself with a showtune running endlessly through your head. Do not imagine yourself being passed by me. Except now I have already made you imagine all of those things, and I am going to totally beat you when we race.
To Avoid a Crash
- Do: Think of yourself riding upright, in every possible terrain. Think of the road being empty. But do not think in terms of “devoid of crazy drivers,” because then you’re still thinking about — and therefore attracting — crazy drivers. Just think of a nice empty road. And go ahead and imagine ice chests on the side of that empty road, spaced every 100 feet or so and filled with the beverage of your choice. Oh, and imagine ice, too, because the universe needs you to be specific.
- Do NOT: Think of the word “crash.” Ever. It doesn’t even matter if you think of the word “Don’t” before you think the word “crash.” You still thought of crashing. Also, you should probably not stop wearing a helmet. Because there may be someone out there who is thinking of you having a crash, and maybe that someone is better at The Secret than you.
To Handle a Crash in the Event That You’re Having One Even Though You Thought You Had Done a Pretty Good Job of Imagining Not Having a Crash
- Do: As you fly through the air toward the tree, boulder, road, or cinderblock wall, imagine pillows. Lots and lots and lots of fluffy pillows. And it may not be a bad idea to imagine an ambulance on its way, just in case the pillows don’t arrive on time.
- Do NOT: Imagine yourself hovering in the air, magically defying the laws of gravity. The universe is totally not cool with people spiting its laws, and will slap you down even harder. Don’t go upsetting the universe, people. Also, do not imagine yourself lying in a broken, crumpled heap, because that’s counterproductive. Besides, you’ll have time for that later.
To Get a New Bike
- Do: Imagine yourself with a new bike. Be really specific about the bike though — know the brand, the model, the year, the size. Everything. Also, imagine that you obtained it legally, because otherwise the trickster universe might just plop one in your hands, but it’s stolen, and some of your local authorities may not really understand The Secret as well as they should. Also, imagine that it’s yours, and not that you’re just washing it for a friend or something.
- Do NOT: Imagine what your significant other is going to say when s/he sees you coming home with yet another new bike. In fact, you may want to do some pre-emptive counter-imagining around that scenario.
To Lose Weight
- Do: Imagine yourself thin and ripped. Imagine yourself buying all new cycling clothes. Imagine yourself a blur of motion as you climb your favorite killer hill.
- Do NOT: Imagine yourself not eating. Because the universe will ignore the “not” part and will make you eat. But also, don’t imagine yourself eating, because — of course — that’s where the problem began in the first place, isn’t it? But remember, you should not stop eating altogether, because that brings problems of its own. Like starvation, for example. Wow, this Secret thing is turning out to be pretty darned tricky.
To Get Awesome Quads
- Do: Imagine yourself with my quads.
- Do NOT: Imagine me wearing a big floppy sombrero, because that would be a mean trick to play, especially since I’m letting you have my quads and stuff.
Really, I’m just gettng started here. I also have very useful tips I can give you on what to think (and what to not think) on how to spin circles, how to ride a clean line, how to keep your chain lubed, and how to avoid broken glass. And much, much more.
But to get that, you’re going to need to buy my upcoming book, The Secret and Cycling, which I am write now imagining getting a big fat publishing contract for.
And I’m imagining it already being written, too.
PS: Whoever it was that imagined me wearing fake elephant ears, an orange tutu, and these clown shoes, cut it out.
I wish the Tour de France — and all of the big cycling tours, really — would follow the same route each year. Now, I freely confess that’s probably a stupid wish, but I’ve got my reasons. To me, part of what makes a traditional cycling event a great tradition is that as much as possible of that event remains consistent. The approximate date, the rules, the incentives, and the course are pretty much the things that you can normalize, and so you should.
By having a different course each year, it becomes difficult for us to really compare the winner of one Tour to another.
But in pro cycling, that’s pretty much normal. Which makes me think: are there any other sports where the most-well-known annual event is actually a completely different event each year? I can’t think of any.
So, you see, that’s why I don’t ride in any of the Grand Tours.
On the other hand, each year I do the Leadville 100, which has seen two minor course changes — one having to do with bandwidth, the other having to do with safety — in the thirteen years I’ve ridden it. It makes an excellent yardstick of my fitness for the year.
And I like doing the same rides — whether road or mountain — several times each year, for kind of the same reason. Whenever I ride the Alpine Loop, I’m not just getting a good ride, I’m taking a ride down (but first, up) memory lane.
Same thing goes with Mt. Nebo. And Frank. And Squaw Peak. And Jacob’s Ladder.
And Tibble. Especially Tibble. When I found out that there’s some rerouting at the base of the climb, I nearly cried.
OK, I cried.
My point — and I’m as surprised to be making a point as you are — is that when I know and am planning on a particular ride, I think about that ride. I get to the point where I’m no longer looking forward to a ride; I’m now looking forward to that ride.
And any variation from it takes some getting used to.
Sometimes, of course, it can’t be helped. A road or trail is closed. Partway through the ride someone in the group has a massive mechanical. Weather or road conditions force the group in a different direction.
It’s OK, I don’t whine about it. At least not very much, and I try to conceal my whining behind semi-oblique sarcasm.
But still, it’s a bummer.
The Death Valley Trail Marathon: Rerouted
So if I get a little hangdog and have to adjust to the change when a group ride changes course, consider how I felt when I got the following email yesterday from the Death Valley Trail Marathon organizer:
Due to rain, snow and ice, the Titus Canyon Road has been closed by the Park Rangers. The event will be held on the alternate course along Westside Road. You can view the new course map online here.
The new course is a thirteen-mile out-and-back (as opposed to a point-to-point) on a dirt-and-gravel road (as opposed to in the beautiful wilderness of Titus Canyon), is almost perfectly flat (as opposed to twelve miles of climbing, followed by fourteen miles of descending), and the entire thing actually happens below sea level.
You know you are feeling disappointed when the most obviously exciting thing about a course is its peculiar altitude.
Now, I want to be clear: I am not angry about this course change. This is not the first time this has happened on this course, and the organizer went out of its way to make it clear in the sign-up: about a third of the time, weather forces a route change.
So again: I am not angry.
But I am bummed. Which means I have a decision to make.
Last Saturday, The Runner and I ran 18 miles. I was tired at the end, but I was not demolished. I’m pretty sure that I can run a marathon this Saturday, and I want to try.
After all, I’ve been training for it for a whole six weeks. I don’t want to throw away all that preparation.
But do we drive eight-plus hours (each way) to do a flat dirt road marathon? Here are the things I’m considering:
- The Bet: A couple weeks ago, more than a hundred of you gave me an excellent incentive to do this race: around $4000 worth of bets. The problem is, the premise of the bet is messed up now. I can still do the Trail Valley Marathon, but that marathon no longer has 2000 feet of climbing, nor does it have 5000 feet of descending. If, on the other hand, I do the modified version of this race, I think it will actually be harder for me; I was counting on that fourteen miles of downhill (and net elevation change of -3000 feet) to help my time.
- The Alternatives: A marathon is 26.2 miles, and can be anywhere. A trail marathon is 26.2 miles on dirt, and can be anywhere. If we choose, I’ll bet The Runner and I could cobble together a trail marathon that is closer to where we live and closer in elevation gain / loss to what the original Death Valley Marathon was. Or we could pre-run the St. George Ironman course in its entirety. That would be helpful to The Runner, and with way more than 2000 feet of climbing, should easily satisfy the spirit of the bet.
- The Scenery: Death Valley really is a place everyone should see. I was excited to show The Runner the Devil’s Golf Course, as well as the Artist’s Palette. Plus, the marathon actually goes through the Devil’s Golf Course, which I think could be a surreal experience worth having. On its own merits — if we had planned for this kind of marathon in the first place, in other words — this course might be cool to do.
- The Drive: It takes at least eight hours to get to Death Valley. That’s a long drive. The thing is, though, I actually see this as a plus. A good audiobook can make a long drive a really great thing. (Audiobook fans: feel free to use the comments section to recommend an audiobook you’ve liked.)
- The Cognitive Dissonance: There’s a good chance it will rain during the Death Valley Trail marathon itself. The strangeness of being cold and rained on in the hottest, driest desert in the U.S. sounds pretty interesting to me.
Honestly, I don’t know what to do. And The Runner is as stymied as I am.
By all means, Internet, share your wisdom with us. For we are baffled.
A “Now’s a Good Time to Buy Some Fat Cyclist Stuff” Note from Fatty: From right this second through this Friday, February 6, Twin Six is going to be donating 25% of all purchases of Fat Cyclist gear to LiveStrong.
So if you have been thinking about getting a t-shirt, or a whole clutch of bottles, or a vest, or a hat, some shorts, or some arm warmers, or some stickers, now’s a good time to do it.
You’ll be getting some stylishly self-deprectating clothes (or other accessories) and fighting cancer at the same time. Like you’re some kind of multitasking genius or something.
You’ll be both feared and admired by your peers. Because, after all, who doesn’t fear and admire a person who is so devastatingly self-confident that s/he is completely unconcerned about wearing something that says “Fat Cyclist” on it.
Or maybe you’ve wanted to get the wool Trainer, but you’ve been freaked out by how expensive it is. Well, first off, it’s actually below the MSRP, and the manufacturer isn’t all that excited about the price we’ve set. And second, with 25% — that’s $47.50 — of the cost going to LiveStrong to fight cancer, maybe the price doesn’t sting quite so much.
Oh, and there’s one Fat Cyclist item I think you’ll definitely want to pick up. Last year’s armwarmers — black with a white and pink accents — are on sale for $10. That’s way below what Twin Six paid for them. I think they accidentally added an extra zero to the order when they had them made and now just want to get them gone. At this price, you should probably pick up three pair, so as you lose them (armwarmers have an attrition rate similar to socks), you’ll still have plenty.
And while you’re shopping, take a look at the rest of the site. Twin Six is having its big annual Spring Sale, and everything’s marked way down. T-shirts for $16, 2009 jerseys are $45. It’s a good time to stock up on your ride and post-ride clothes for this Spring and Summer.
(Oh, and don’t tell anyone, but there are even a couple of 2009 t-shirts on sale for $6 [this one and this one. Madness!)
An Open Letter to the Guy Riding His Bike in the Cold and Wind and Snow and Slush and Rain
Dear Guy I Saw Riding Last Sunday Afternoon,
I think we can agree that we, as cyclists, need to stick together. We need to have each other’s backs, so to speak (although now that I think about it, I don’t think it makes very much sense for cyclists to ever be back-to-back). With that in mind, I think you owe me an apology.
You see, it was a very cold day. And snowy / slushy / rainy. And the roads were wet, trending to icy. No doubt about it, it was clearly not a day to go riding. And so, using the logic for which I am (justly) well-known, I did not go riding. Instead, I went for a nice drive up American Fork Canyon, just to get a sense of when it will be rideable.
The Runner was along for the ride, as we had a couple hours to kill before it would be time to fire up the grill and make burgers, for which I am (again, justly) well-known.
From the heated-seat comfort of the BikeMobile, I commented with authority and machismo, “Well, this road’s unrideable.”
And then you came around the bend. Riding. You looked up, smiled, and waved.
I’m pretty sure that your smile and wave were perfectly friendly, but if it’s OK with you, I’m going to imagine it as being malevolently smug, because that makes it a little bit easier for me to live with myself.
The Runner looked at me and observed, “So there’s a real cyclist.”
I had no response at all. Not then, not now. I’m 40 hours into a state of flummox, with no end in sight.
Imagine, if you can, Guy Riding Last Sunday Afternoon, how puny I felt. How very, very ahsamed. And, above all, how angry.
I’m angry because I now have to adjust my self image, from “steely-gazed, square-jawed, focused and resolved cyclist” to “fair weather pansy rider.” That’s quite an adjustment to make, and not a particularly pleasant one.
Thanks a lot, Guy Riding Last Sunday Afternoon.
And it’s not like this was the first time something like this has happened. There are other people who are like you. People who, in spite of the fact that I find the weather too cloudy / wet-road-y / cool / breezy to go ride, are going out and riding.
This has to end. Right now.
From this point forward, I would like you — and people like you — to please not go riding until I give the signal that it won’t make me feel like less of a man to see you out there. The signal will comprise the following:
- I will post something on my blog saying it’s OK to go outside
- I will emerge from my house, pasty white and fleshy
- I will ride my bike
That time has not yet arrived.
Guy Riding Last Sunday Afternoon, let me close with an appeal. In this world, we all have to accommodate others. Or more specifically, everyone else has to accommodate me. Please, Guy Riding Last Sunday Afternoon, don’t be so selfish. The next time it’s cold and / or ugly outside, think about someone besides yourself (i.e., me), and stay inside.
I think we’ll both be glad you did. Or at least I will, and that’s what really matters.
The Fat Cyclist
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