boston runner

a cyclist who swears he'll someday run boston in under 3 hours.

running on my muffled mind.

november is here, which means i’m thinking about running again… and hopefully i’ll do more than just think about it within a week or two. and with the return to running comes my return to but a few things have changed since i last posted from arizona back in march…

for starters, i’ve now become quite the tweeter. it’s just so damn easy… micro-blogging. on top of that, i’ve launched a new start-up ( which keeps me busy a solid 25 hours per day. so as much as i love to speak my mind, you’ll be spared a bit for now.

so if there’s a soul who actually reads this site and wants to stay tuned, just follow me on twitter and you’ll get the daily dose. and hopefully there’s an easy way to feed twitter posts into the main blog area here… any suggestions?

8 November 2009 at 19:12 - Comments

Indoor Cycling – How Much Would You Pay to Play?

Finally! Boulder Indoor Cycling, Colorado’s first indoor velodrome, opened in January. It’s only the second indoor facility in the USA and a huge win for fans of track cycling. Especially us East Coasters… we’ve been riding down the boulevard of broken dreams for years. From Pennsylvania to Massachusetts, plans for an indoor track have blossomed like Spring flowers and then quietly wilted away. Boulder’s success gives us renewed hope.

This Nor’easter melodrama began in 2003 when Northampton Cycling Club acquired the dismantled Vandedrome for $1. Despite efforts by some of New England’s finest, it sat in a warehouse collecting dust for five years. Then in July 2008, Major League Cycling – a bunch of Amish farmers from Lancaster, PA – acquired it with grand plans to tour across the country. Okay, I can’t attest to their cultural and religious beliefs but with the exception of Jon Chodroff, isn’t everyone from out there an Amish farmer? As much as I want them to succeed, I have no idea how those plans are coming along but this page does not suggest we’ll see a rebuilt Vandedrome on tour anytime soon.

Oh, how the plot thickened in late 2006 thanks to Dave Chauner’s group in Philadelphia. After they announced plans to build an indoor velodrome near Valley Forge, I was ready to load a U-Haul and move back to Philly. Hell, I even registered for (though never took) the PA Bar exam. Yeah, $800 down the crapper! Last I heard, they’re shopping for a new location after losing the old space due to a lack of financing. Thanks to Bill Clinton, Fannie Mae and George W. Bush for totally f’ing our economy and squashing what seemed to be a dream come true.

Don’t fret, New England, there’s still hope. Tony Eberhardt and Laurie Daley of the New England Velodrome in Manchester, NH have whispered about building an indoor track for several years. I haven’t spoken to them in months, but knowing Tony, he’ll never throw in the towel on that dream. And he can do it with some help.

So it looks like this story may still have a happy ending. But we can forget about any municipal funding for at least a few years; it’s gonna’ take private money to do it. In Boston, it’ll cost you anywhere from $75 to $200 monthly for a gym membership. Surely it’s cheaper in the burbs, but you’re still gonna’ plunk down at least $30 per month.

So my question for all you New England cyclist is this: how much would you pay for monthly access to an indoor velodrome? Sure, it would make sense to have different membership levels based on how frequently you go or peak versus off-peak hours. But let’s keep it simple for now; assume the track is within a half-hour drive and you’d want access all year long. How much would you pay to play? Please respond by commenting below. With some luck, the feedback might actually make a difference really soon.

Meanwhile, congratulations and thanks to Paul Wells and the gang in Boulder for actually making it happen. You’ve given us New Englanders hope that we too can have an indoor velodrome.

29 March 2009 at 16:10 - Comments
A typical gym membership is $40.00 a month. If the v-dome offered some amenities such as lockers, showers, bike ...
22 October 09 at 18:47
$200 a year would be a fair price, but some people may have trouble justifying the time focused on Track ...
24 December 09 at 00:07

142 Miles – By The Numbers

Until today, the longest training ride I’d ever done was 112 miles. That was one month ago, my third day here in Tucson. That was a small group ride out to the top of Kitt Peak w/ Rebecca M., Adam M., Shawn M. and Dan V.

Well, I’ve now got a new record, one which I suspect will stand for much longer than a month.

Today’s ride by the numbers:

142 – length of today’s ride in miles
229 – length of today’s ride in kilometers
7:25 – total time in the saddle
19.2 – average speed of today’s ride
169.3 – weight immediately before today’s ride
155.8 – weight immediately after today’s ride
5,180 – total elevation gain in feet
91 – miles I rode with a group
51 – miles I rode alone
80 – minimum number of riders on today’s Shootout group ride
7 – other New Englanders on today’s Shootout
12 – minimum number of Canadians on today’s Shootout
20 – meters to go to the Shootout sprint sign when I ran outta’ gas
2 – riders (both Canadians) that beat me in the Shootout sprint
10 – riders that did the Madera Canyon extension
220 – calories in the Honey Bun I ate at mile 62
190 – calories in the pack of PowerBar Gel Blasts I ate at mile 102
220 – calories in the Honey Bun I ate at mile 112
112 – ounces of sports drink I consumed on today’s ride
54 – temperature (F) at the start of today’s ride
85 – temperature (F) at the end of today’s ride
8,904 – calories I burned according to

22 March 2009 at 03:40 - Comments

Five Weeks Left… But Who’s Counting?

That’s right folks, 5 weeks from right now, many of us will be reveling in the glory of having run the Boston Marathon. How excited are you? (twitter users, use tweet tag #boston2009) I’m very excited going into this year’s race… and think I may finally eek out a sub 3:00 finish. (if so, it’ll be very close)

A few interesting news tidbits related to the marathon today:
1. B.A.A. Announces New ‘Invitational Mile’ Races
This was a pleasant surprise, since I’m working on plans for a 1-mile “dash for cash” along the streets of Boston later this year. The B.A.A. race simply adds credibility and exposure to the distance.

2. 23-Month Old Qualifies For Boston Marathon
Heart-warming story… especially the guy’s training routine w/ an empty carriage!

Rest day for me today, after a 4-day block of long, intense mileage. Yesterday I raced the Hungry Dog Criterium up in Phoenix, AZ. Since the prize list was ridiculously weak and I’m here to TRAIN, I opted to let it all hang out in this race. To that end, I hit it hard from the gun and lead a strung-out field the first few times through the start/finish line. (note, laps were less than 1km)

There were 10 Team Waste Management riders along with at least 6 Team Landis riders and two more teams with at least 4 riders, so I had my hands full covering attacks all day. Not to be out-done, I threw down a few of my own but none evolved into a group with all teams represented.

The fast pace (27+ mph) and constant attacking was starting to get to me about 2/3 way through the 70 minute race, so I chugged my remaining water, stretched and hoped for the best. Luckily, no cramps for the finish… which was a full-on field sprint. I got into the Landis lead-out with 4 laps to go and was sitting in 2nd with 1 lap to go. Unfortunately, the guy peeled off too soon so I had to shuffle things around a bit. Ended up 5th wheel into the final turn until one of the Waste Mgmt riders lost control and slammed into me; man, I hit him so hard he bounced across the road. Everyone stayed upright but that momentary tango moved me back to 10th-ish. I could hear flyin’ Ryan behind me “pedal Alain, pedal as hard as you can” but I was admittedly a bit spooked from the near-miss.

With ~150 meters to the finish line, I was only able to move up to 8th place. Not the best finish, but considering how much time I spent off the front, I was very pleased. After the race, I went out for a 35 mile ride and thought about my father the whole time – cancer took him from us on March 15th, 1990.

16 March 2009 at 18:21 - Comments

Yes, I Can Breathe Again! – AZ Winter, part 3

Even though the Tucson Bicycle Classic went all wrong, I am happy today. Friday’s 3 mile TT was supposed to be my chance to finally do good in the “race against the clock.” “I’m a sprinter and a decent 5K runner so this is my race.” Yeah, fuggedaboutit. Low power + too much coughing = UGH.

Saturday’s 80 mile road race wasn’t much better. After hitting a bump in the early miles, my seat (loose from Friday’s TT) slipped and pointed to the sky. As in: I couldn’t even sit on it. I managed to slam it down to what I thought was a tolerable angle, then got a 5mm allen key from the wheel van and tightened it on the fly. And 20 miles later… knee pain and leg cramps. WTF! I considered abandoning but opted to jump off, adjust and chase back on. With a little (lotta’) help from the wheel van, I caught on but missed an attack which split the field. Oh well, it was still a great workout: 82 miles @ 25mph. But the coughing worsened, especially that night.

On Sunday morning, after 30 minutes of debating to race or not, I finally jumped outta’ bed and decided to give it a go. Well, the debate lasted longer than the race; I dropped out about 2 miles into it. Rode home, googled a few things and called my doctor buddy. Wouldn’t you know, Tucson was #2 on the list of the USA’s 5 worst cities for allergies. It was my asthma. Two hours later, I was at Walgreens’s getting a prescription filled.

By Monday afternoon, the wheezing and coughing were nearly gone. Since Sunday was a wash, I opted to do my weekly run that evening. Ran 14.5 miles and – despite a sore left calf – was able to throw down 6-min splits again. (last week, I struggled running one sub-7 mile)

Yesterday I climbed Mt. Lemmon again and felt pretty darn good. Finally, I can breathe again!

11 March 2009 at 23:19 - Comments

Gettin’ Down (Up) to Business. – AZ Winter part 2

After a few days in the Grand Canyon (incl. an amazing helicopter tour!) and a great dinner in Sedona with my fabulous co-pilot, it was time to get down to Tucson for some hardcore training. Many of the country’s top cyclists make Tucson their home during the winter months, so it’s easy to find strong training partners. Like, really strong: in my first week here, I rode w/ a former world champion, 3 former nat’l champions and a bunch of bad-ass pros. And some serious mileage too:

Day 1: 81 miles – Big Square – rode w/ EmJ, flat & fast… 21mph. avg. whew!
Day 2: 101 miles – Shootout + Madera Canyon climb – sheriff pulls us over, wtf?
Day 3: 112 miles – Kitt Peak – 6,ooo’+ peak makes boring ride out/back so worth it!
3 days in Tucson: 294 miles - that’s more than i rode all winter last year!

Two weeks into Camp Tucson, I’ve put in some huge miles on the bike. It’s been a long, long time since I trained this hard and I’ve never done so this early in the season. Since I’m also (supposed to be) training for the Boston Marathon, I run once per week. Last week it was 14 miles, this week 12 miles. The runs hurt but I gotta’ do ‘em to run sub-3 on Patriots Day.

Rode out to Mt. Lemmon last week… and it’s no joke. The climb itself is 27 miles long, climbing 5,400′ up past the 8,000′ mark. The top is kinda’ rolling and you’ve actually gotta’ climb for about a mile before starting the long descent. Running late and out of water, I cheated and got a ride to the top and some H2O from Megan & Colton – they’re life savers!

Unfortunately, I’ve since developed a nagging cough and feel kinda’ flat, so have backed off a bit this week. Could be too much training, or lack of sleep (pursuing a new business idea) or a chest cold. Who knows? But the 3 day Tucson Bicycle Classic starts tomorrow so easing up isn’t too frustrating right now.

6 March 2009 at 01:10 - Comments

Go West, Young Man. Arizona Winter – part 1

After a busy January spent working on the Super Sunday race, I was ready to head south to Arizona for some serious winter training. My new ride, the $1,500 Green Monster, rolled outta’ Boston at 11:59pm Friday 2/6 and arrived in Phoenix, AZ late Monday night.

First order of business was to get on the bike ASAP, since my season would start just 4 days later with the Valley of the Sun stage race. Stage 1 was a TT… I suck at TTs so nothing to report there. Stage 2 was a 92 mile road race, incl. 6 times up a grinder hill. This hill has haunted me in the past… I’ve chased back on down the descent more times than I’m willing to admit. Luckily, this year was different. Despite a big effort to help a friend chase back from a flat, my strategy of moving to the front at the base and drifting back through the field as we climbed worked well. So well that I never got dropped – though I was the last cat through the feed zone (top of hill) at least twice. With 3 miles to go in the race, everyone was together. Too bad the race was neutralized 1km from the line b/c of a crash in the earlier race. Yeah, a 92 mile training ride @ 25mph. Bummer. Stage 3 was a a 70 minute criterium; since I felt good in the road race and am typically a strong crit rider, I woke up very confident on Sunday. That confidence was shattered pretty quickly once the race began. My legs were junk and I was on the rivet from the gun. Within 15 minutes, I was off the back in a group of 8… little did I know that one of them was my soon-to-be roomie in Tucson. Anyway, it was a disaster. The officials yanked us somewhere around the halfway point and generously awarded us all finishing times. But the truth is I got my arse kicked… which is probably the best thing that could’ve happened as I was about to head down to Tucson for a 6-week training camp.

24 February 2009 at 03:11 - Comments

Super Sunday v2.0 – in the books

Thanks to everyone that came out to race today…looked like you were having a lot of fun! I’m @ the volunteer party now – what a great crew.

Today’s results were a bit confusing to some people… two words: NET TIME. Remember how congested the start was? Race results are based on net (chip) time, so the person 5 seconds in front of you @ the finish line might have ran (or run?) 15 seconds slower than you b/c they hit the starting line 20 seconds before you.

Thanks for all the great emails you’ve been sending – you guys rock. If you saw something today that we can improve upon for our next race, please send a note.

Okay, Springsteen’s almost done here so time to get back to the game. Stay tuned for updated results and info on age group awards and the referral contest winner.

Uh oh, I think Springsteen just threw out his back.

2 February 2009 at 01:20 - Comments


Yes! The shins felt okay for the Jingle Bell 5K this past Sunday and I ran a 17:57! I forgot to get my Santa costume on Saturday and thus missed out on the dash for cash. While only one santa finished ahead of me, it’s doubtful I could’ve finished as fast in a Santa outfit… but still, 2nd Santa paid $100!

Funny story from the end of the race. Some dude w/ a girl in tow passed me about 1k from the line. I stayed close, then Carlos from SRR pulled up next to me w/ about 700m to go. We pick it up and catch the two in front of us with about 500m to go. But speedy girl in red is turning around every few steps and crankin’ it… she wants to throw down! So she pulls up next to her buddy and Carlos next to her… and I’m stuck behind a 3-wide wall. WTF! Enough of this BS, ~200m to go I throw my right elbow into Carlos, then I jab speedy girl in red with my left and suddenly I’ve got a hole. Buh-bye. I shot outta’ there like my ass was on fire, caught baggy sweatpants kid (seriously?) that dropped me a mile back and high-fived Pickle at the line. And were it not for the shoving, I wouldn’t have hit my goal… the speedy girl in red had to settle for 18:01.

And speaking of goals, entries for the Super Sunday 5K/10K are coming in much better than I expected. We had 331 finishers last year and I was hoping to double that in 2009. But with 6 weeks to go, we’ve already got 460 people entered. Time to adjust that goal upwards.

19 December 2008 at 03:23 - Comments

Lights Out

I got to track practice @ MIT tonight but nobody was in the lobby. Instant first thought was “shit, i’m late.” Nope, right on time. Then noticed the lights were off upstairs so figured I screwed up dates and it’s tonight’s practice that is canceled, not next week’s.

Having rushed over from a meeting and psyched to test my legs, I wanted to run so meandered over to the outdoor track. While stretching, another BAA runner (John B.) arrived and told me there was a power outage at 5pm and practice had been canceled.

After a 2 mile warm-up, the legs started to feel a little better. Though still some lingering MTSS pain, it was not enough to cancel the workout. So John and I ran 1 mile in 5:39, rested 2 minutes and then ran another mile in 5:43. As long as the shin splint pain continues to dissipate, I expect to reach my PR goal of sub-18 at Jingle Bell on Sunday.

Tomorrow I’m helping with the Jingle Bell registration at Marathon Sports from 3-6:30, then running with Niketown @ 6:30, then having a Super Sunday race staff meeting at Globe at 8pm. Before all that, I gotta’ ride… damn bike’s been on the trainer in the middle of my living room since yesterday. Collecting dust.

10 December 2008 at 04:34 - Comments