Subscribe Subscribe | Subscribe Comments RSS
running biking athletics training swimming exercise

Archives for June, 2012

Timmy Duggan on the Podium (Image courtesy: Jonathan Devich/

As part of my recent interview with Timmy Duggan, US road race national champion, he discussed the difficulties of battling such a long road race season.

“It is a long season and the key is to learn how to best manage the training, racing and travel. It is most important to keep your head fresh and motivated. That’s sometimes tough when I don’t see my wife for weeks on end, and I’m racing every day in the rain and away from home. You have to work hard when it’s time, but really know how to shut off and relax sometimes too. Otherwise you will surely burn out in the middle of the season!”

Even for the riders not racing one (or two) of the season’s Grand Tours, there are still plenty of other races – and lots of traveling – that must be done throughout the season.

I’d like to thank Timmy for taking the time to answer questions for my Bleacher Report story — and wish him the best of luck through the rest of his 2012 race season.

Image courtesy of Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Team RadioShack-Nissan-Trek manager Johan Bruyneel will step aside and sit out the Tour de France, after being named in the US Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation into Lance Armstrong.

The team will head to the 2012 Tour de France in just a few days without a clear leader — or goals for its general classification (GC) efforts.  The team could be in disarray, so it’s unsure if Bruyneel stepping aside in July will be better or worse for the team.

Here is what Bruyneel had to say in a statement published on his own website:

I’m sad to say that I’ve decided that for the first time in many years I will not be attending this year’s Tour de France. The story of the Tour should be the achievements of its riders and the thrill of our great sport. I dearly wish to be there but my attendance in light of the recent USADA allegations against me would be an unwelcome distraction to my team, and to all those participating in and supporting the Tour.

This is why I’ve decided – after consulting with the Team’s main sponsors and in agreement with the Senior Management of Leopard – not to attend the race. It is unfortunate that these latest, unfounded accusations have resulted in my withdrawal from the Tour, although I hope to prove my innocence and resolve this matter soon and once and for all.

It’s possible the team’s sponsors and Leopard management asked Bruyneel to sit the Tour out, but that hasn’t been disclosed.

The Wall Street Journal posted a story that indicated Bruyneel faces the following five charges:

  • Possession of prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO and blood transfusions;
  • Trafficking of EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, HGH, corticosteroids and masking agents;
  • Administration and/or attempted administration of EPO and other banned substances;
  • Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, and covering up in doping practices;
  • Aggravating circumstances justifying a period of ineligibility greater than the standard sanction

The full letter to Bruyneel, Armstrong, and several former team doctors is available here (PDF). 

It’s possible Bruyneel could face a life-time ban if the USADA completes its investigation and the charges are upheld against him.

Heavenly Gondola from the baseI have been coming to Lake Tahoe for 10 years and must have walked by the Heavenly gondola more than 100 times without giving it a thought.  Heavenly marketing gave me a pass for a free trip on the gondola and I paid $34 for a pass for my wife.  I did not know what I was missing.  Everything about the trip was good.

At the check-in counter, I gave the clerk my secret code and $34 for my wife and away we went.  Everyone was nice.  They made sure to tell us to stop at the first stop on the way up because the gondola does not stop on the way down.  The views were stunning.  It was also cold and windy at the first stop.  The local thermometer showed 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  We jumped back on the gondola to head to the top of the mountain.  The gondola went over the peak then down into a high valley between a few peaks.  When we got off the gondola, I could not help but notice how ugly it was there.  The views were beautiful from the time we got on the gondola until we went over the peak to get off in the little valley.  To be fair, it is a ski slope and designed for winter sports.  The summer use was an after thought because the equipment was already there.

High altitude



We walked around a few dead ends before we found the open trails.  The trails were all very well marked and easy to follow.  There were signs at most scenic overlooks with instructions on where to go next and how hard it would be to get back.  The views from the trails and scenic overlooks were all beautiful.  A gentle 200-yard uphill slope felt like climbing a mountain!  After walking around for a few hours, it got a little easier to go up the hills but it sure was a shock to find that walking up a gentle slope to be so difficult.  We spent 4-5 hours at Heavenly.  I highly recommend spending a summer day at Heavenly.  It was a lot of fun.  You can add lunch to your ticket for an extra $8.  I did not get the lunch with my ticket because of a big breakfast but the food looked and smelled good.

While walking around Lake Tahoe, I told people about how much fun I had on the gondola and how I thought it was worth the $34 price tag.  Most people told me that $34 was too expensive to ride up the gondola.  A few people told me they would consider it in the same tone you use on a used vacuum cleaner salesman.

Some viewI liked the gondola ride and think it was worth the money.  I probably skip the gondola trip unless I take guests up to Tahoe.  I will take them on the gondola just to get them to go.

I don’t usually stay in ski hotels, but you can’t beat the location.  The Park Tahoe Inn is directly across the street from the Heavenly Gondola and the Heavenly Resort.  The resort is a really nice area but you can’t get a room there unless you rent a time-share for a week.

Snow plow

It is really cool when you pull into parking lot and see an old four-wheel drive truck parked in the corner with snow plow and tire chains.

The staff was really nice when I checked in.  A suite at a ski hotel is not the same as a suite in a normal hotel.  Here, a suite means you get a bigger room, king bed and a pull-out couch.  I guess you need all of the room for your ski gear but it is nice to have the extra space for a summer visit.

The king bed is a memory foam bed.  I never slept on a memory foam mattress.  It felt odd but I slept well on it.  The pullout bed was not as comfortable as the memory foam but it was one of the more comfortable pullout beds that I have tried.  The bathroom is okay with good water pressure.  It was nice to have the sink outside of the shower area.  This is probably to keep things moving along on busy ski mornings.  I did not notice a breakfast area that I would consider essential for a ski hotel.  It does not seem right to get a hotel across the street from a ski resort then have to drive to breakfast.

I did not notice if the TV had cable or a bunch of HDTV channels.  It did not matter to me because it seemed like there were plenty of channels.  There were no plug in ports for Internet connection anywhere in the room.  The hotel does have Wi-Fi but the bandwidth is pretty low.  We got a better connection to the hotel next door than we did to the one here.  There was enough bandwidth for me to check my email this morning but connecting to the Internet tested my patience after dinner.  I did not come out here to play on the Internet anyway.  I came out here to check out the sights, hike, swim and run.

The next time I go to Tahoe, I will look into staying at the Park Tahoe Inn again.  The people at check in are very friendly.  The location is great, the price is great.  The room amenities are a little light but it is well worth limited bandwidth for a clean hotel with nice people at a great rate.

I usually rent a house or condo when I go to Tahoe.  It costs more for one night than it did for three nights at the Park Tahoe Inn.  It is really nice to spend more for food than lodging.

Mermaid Triathlon Alameda 2012

The City of Alameda played host to another endurance sports event over the weekend, with the Mermaid Series invading Bay Farm Island.  It was a short triathlon, and helped foster the sport by inviting new and experienced athletes alike.

Mermaid Triathlon Alameda 2012 pictures can be found here.

The results from the triathlon can be found here.

The Importance of Tapering


Tapering is important, and it’s a topic we love to talk about here on Alameda Runners.  Some endurance athletes have a hard time trying to taper, but it’s a crucial part of training for any major event.

If you’re experienced in yoga and pilates, you can continue to participate lightly.  Avoid having the personal trainer completely dominate you during workout sessions, and don’t go too heavy if you’re running or riding.

PacificHealth Laboratories recommends increasing your glutathione, vitamins C and E, and zinc intake prior to a race, as some athletes are prone to respiratory tract issues from heavy workouts. posted a guideline mentioning how many athletes end up eating far too much while tapering for an event. This is detrimental because you end up gaining extra weight and can feel a bit lethargic come race time.

Here are a few additional tips:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially in warm weather or if you have to catch a flight to the race.
  • Try to avoid foods that are high-fat, high-fiber, spicy, gas-producing, or unfamiliar, especially the night before the race.
  • Don’t gorge yourself the night before the race. Instead, eat a dinner of 800 to 1,000 calories, such as a baked potato topped with stir-fried vegetables and tofu.

Just like we’ve said in the past, don’t get too creative the night before a race – and race morning – because you don’t want to end up getting sick because of your decision to try new foods.

Have fun!!

National Running Day!

Today is National Running Day in the United States, and active companies are tweeting up a storm about the day.

Even if you’re not able to get out there and run today, simply acknowledging that it’s time to get outside for exercise is a step in the right direction.  The hardest part of training tends to be the first few steps out the door – once you’re moving, though, hopefully you won’t want to stop!

Brooks had these tips:

1. Express Your Passion

Post a status update on Facebook or Twitter sharing your running plans for National Running Day and invite your friends to join you on a run. On June 6, our partner Competitor will also be providing a Facebook app that enables you to add your distance to a national mileage reel and the ability to post a custom National Running Day Facebook badge. For more details, visit

2. Set a Goal

Just like New Year’s, National Running Day is the perfect moment to set a new goal or renew an existing one. Whether you are attempting to set a 5k personal-record, or qualify for the Boston Marathon, setting and achieving running goals offers the opportunity to stay healthy, motivated and realize your full running potential.

3. Run!

It’s easy–just go for a run on June 6! Set aside some time before work or school, during lunch, or at the end of the day and go for a run around town or on a local trail. Better yet, meet up with friends and go for a run together. Don’t know where to start? Join a National Running Day group run.

See Jane Run Alameda 2012

See Jane Run was back in town for their annual half marathon through the streets of Alameda.  SJR is a fun racing series for women.  The race begins at Washington Park up by Crab Cove.  It is a great place to start a race but there is not a lot of parking in the immediate area which causes a lot of people to scramble to the start line.  If the race gets much bigger, they may have to use a shuttle service for parking.

Assuming you get to the race early, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained before the race starts.  The have dancing, aerobics and stretching before the race starts.  The start line is a little narrow so the people who plan on placing near the top of the race have to squeeze up to the front.  Outside of the first two rows, everyone seems more interested in having fun the setting a personal record.

See Jane Run is a local sports store for women with three bay area locations and one in Boise Idaho.  They support Girls Inc. of Alameda and donate a portion of every entry to the breast cancer fund.

If you run a half marathon right by our street, someone from Alameda Runners is going to show up with a camera.  We took a lot of pictures today.  They can be found here.

The Basics of Group Riding

Tired of riding alone?  Want to push yourself and meet some new friends while in the saddle?  How about a local group ride?

Alameda Runners previously published a few tips about group riding, but we’re back with another edition of basic group riding tips for you to survive your time on the road.

BikeRadar published a good video featuring Jamie Sparling, Team Raleigh-GAC super domestique rider, and he shares a few tips about safely riding in a group.

His tips:

  •  Do not do anything abrasive – Riders are around you, so make sure no frantic movements are made.
  •  Be attentive – Look out for potholes and road obstructions, which keeps you and your fellow riders safe. Either point out road dangers, or be vocal and call out to everyone else.
  •  Keep the group tight – This one takes some skill and practice, as newbie group riders can be really jumpy. You should have some space, but still be able to ride as a cohesive unit.

I’m a complete maniac when I’m peddling by myself, but behavior drastically changes with other riders around me. The first few times riding in a group were intimidating, but as you gain more experience, it becomes a fun time.

Make sure you ride with a group close to your skill level, as you don’t want to participate in a group ride where you’ll be promptly dropped and forgotten about. Team Alameda has weekly organized rides for cyclists of all skill levels, and clearly post the scheduled speed and distance of the rides.

If you’re riding with a local cycling team, don’t be bashful by telling them you’re still new to riding in a group. Remember, a group ride isn’t a race against the clock, and your goal isn’t to try and explode out of the group while simultaneously splintering your riding partners. Also, don’t be afraid to hang out towards the back of the group, avoiding the wind and pace making duties – less experienced riders and slower riders – often end up chit chatting and hanging out.

For some additional tips, this story has some good tips for you. also posted a, “How to Master the Group Ride” article, and it has some good pointers. Finally, visit the League of American Bicyclist website to see a series about advanced cycling, including a few helpful group riding tips.

Team Alameda had a bike ride around Paradise loop posted so I decided to join them.  It was an ice cream ride for them but it was fun.  We started out at the Sports Basement by Crissy Field and headed out to the bridge.  The west side of the Golden Gate Bridge is finally open to bikes!  I have been riding across the bridge for about 10 years and today was the first time I went across without construction equipment on the bridge.  It was nice.  The bridge was foggy and windy all day.  In the morning, the fog horn was sounding.  I like to listen to the fog horn when I cross the bridge.

After we crossed the bridge, we stopped to regroup and shed some wool.  It was 60 degrees Fahrenheit on the bridge and 75 on the Sausalito side of the bridge.  We cruised down to Mikes Bikes for another break and to chat some more then we headed off to Tiburon.  The temperature kept climbing as we went, topping out at 91.  The weather and views were stunning.  I feel so fortunate to live here and be able to go ride my bike in these beautiful areas.  Ride details can be found here.

When the group stopped in Tiburon to get something to eat, I rode on.  I intended to do the Alpine Dam loop but when someone at a stop light yelled out for a guide to the Rodeo Lagoon, I volunteered.  The wind was brutal and my tourist could climb like the wind.  He was also good at descending.  Because of my slowness, I got stuck behind a car and he totally dropped me and missed the turn.  I went looking for him to no avail so I headed back alone.  When I got to the GGB, I ran into Team Alameda at the re-group zone.

We talked for a bit then headed out to Sports Basement.  I ran into my tourist on the bridge.  I felt better, knowing that he did not head up the coast on Route 1.  It is hard to do but I worried all the same.  I asked him why he was on the bridge when he was going back to where he joined me.  He told me he did not know where he was going but it seemed like a good way to go.  I pointed him in the right direction while admiring his attitude.

It was great to get out for a social ride with Team Alameda.  Check out their site and consider joining them for a ride.  If not them, pick another group and go out for a no-drop ride.  It is a good change of pace from running all of the time.

Ride pictures are here.