20141220

Ten miles of pain

The forecast for this morning, as of my going to bed, was for 30F, and dry.

So I dressed in a light base-layer shirt, softshell jacket, bib shorts, leg warmers, socks, skullcap, and boots.  That is, normal clothes for right at freezing (actually, a tad warmer, as I sometimes just wear a summer jersey under the jacket at that temperature).  It turns out it was only 23F (which I didn't find out until I returned), plus the group ride wasn't happening, so it was supposed to be an easy day of riding today.  The intersection of temperature, clothing, and exertion level was just not right.

It didn't start out too bad.  I was pretty sure it was colder than thirty, just based on the amount of frost on car windows, but it didn't feel bad.

After a couple of miles, I got on the bike trail at the normal place, and things still didn't seem too bad.  I was feeling it a little on my lower torso when I sat upright, but that's about it.  After getting a mile or two down the trail, it started feeling even colder, and that's when things went downhill.  Next, I had to zip my jacket all the way up to the top (which doesn't sound like much, but I hadn't been doing it recently).  Then my fingers started getting chilled (ok, that was no unexpected).

When my legs started getting cold, I decided I needed to cut things short from my planned 20-25 miles, even if only to go home and get more clothes on.  So I turned back on the roads, and even cut it a mile or so shorter than my original turn-back plan.  But it was still painful; I needed to speed up, just to keep myself warm.

I noticed the roads were a little bit warmer, but probably only a couple degrees.  It certainly wasn't enough to stay out longer.

And going home turned out to be a longer trip than I'd expected; by the time I got home, I was almost at eleven miles.  But after getting inside, I didn't even slightly feel like going back out.  I came in, got my daughter to go back to bed, and then got breakfast.

Digesting breakfast was enough to leave me shivering from cold; not a pleasant feeling at all.  I've been ok since taking my shower, but it wasn't fun.

Now I know: for an "easy" day, I need an extra layer, top and bottom, to do it.  The fingers are still an unknown, but I think they'll be decent if the rest of me is warm.  Unpleasant, but decent.

The next two days are supposed to be right around freezing when I ride.  If one is colder than projected, I'll do a harder ride that day.  If both are, I guess I'll need to go back more quickly, and add that extra layer on Monday.

20141219

Movie spoilage?

Been meaning to write this for a while, but I keep forgetting.  Gruber quoted a piece by JJ Abrams not long ago, giving Abrams' thoughts on movie spoilers.

As an avid fan of movies and TV myself, I completely understand the desire to find out behind-the-scenes details in a nanosecond. Which, given technology, is often how long it takes — to the frustration of the storytellers. Efforts to gather this intel and the attempts to plug leaks create an ongoing battle between filmmakers and the very fans they are dying to entertain and impress. But the real damage isn’t so much that the secret gets out. It’s that the experience is destroyed.


That might be Abrams' opinion, but it isn't backed up by evidence.  As a careful study reveals, it generally does not ruin the experience.  Changes it, but not ruins it.

It's pretty standard these days for people to offer up "spoiler alert" warnings when revealing a surprising twist in a story that some might not have read/seen/heard. However, a new study, that tested a variety of books both with and without key points "spoiled," found that people actually seem to prefer a book if they've been told a spoiler ahead of time.


I generally avoid spoilers, myself, but I can certainly understand what they're saying.

Riding chill

This morning was pretty chilly, right around the freezing point.  For a recovery ride, that was pretty tough.  My torso actually got a little bit cold, towards the end, which was a first (light base layer and rain jacket, only.  Not quite enough).  Fortunately, my fingers and toes only got a little cold in the process.

The hard part was to keep my heart rate down low enough.  I ended up doing a lot of back-and-forth across the road in a couple places where there were unavoidable hills.  Outside of those hills, I did a great job of keeping things relaxed.

I'm hoping this will help me to be able to improve my "base", so that I can get my recovery speeds up to 14-15mph.  That's a ways off, alas, but I hope this is the right path to get there as soon as possible.

Streak-busting

The Caps went into last night's game looking to avenge being on the losing end of the longest shootout game in league history.  Again.

Meanwhile, Columbus had finally gotten most of their players healthy, and were riding a seven game winning streak, and a four-game overtime winning streak (tied for the longest in league history).

Well, the first period played out about as you'd expect, with a very hungry team and one that might be a tiny bit complacent.  The result?  The Caps took a 2-0 lead on the back of a 15-5 shot lead (with Columbus leading in blocked shots by 7, so it was even more unbalanced than that appears).  It is true that part of that edge came from both power plays being in the Caps' favor, but they were plenty dominant at even strength as well.  In fact, Ward's and Chimmer's goals were both at even strength.

That period certainly left me feeling a bit complacent, and contemplating going to sleep early, but I didn't.

And Columbus didn't either, coming out firing in the second.  Nine minutes in, they scored on the power play on a nice passing play giving Jack Johnson a slam-dunk of a goal.  Three minutes later, Foligno tied it, also on the power play, and then all hell broke loose.

First, Wilson was manhandled by Dalton Prout (never seen that happen before), then Boll and Latta went at it two seconds later.  Half a minute later, the penalty boxes filled up as Brouwer and Tyutin exchanged a few niceties, resulting in roughing minors for each.  Almost a minute later, Carlson was hit hard, and responded by going after the first Blue Jacket he could reach.  A bit of a dive there, I think, but Carlson also went off for roughing (yeah, it was mighty crowded in the box at that point).

The Caps did kill the penalty successfully (finally), but Brouwer decided he wasn't done, as he and Chaput fought only a minute after that (it didn't go terribly well for Brouwer, but he wasn't hurt).  Chaput got the extra call for instigation on that, but the Caps weren't able to convert.

That finally got us to the end of a period that saw the Jackets outshoot the Caps, 15-9, and left the score knotted up.

The third started very poorly for the Caps, with Foligno scoring on the rebound of Morin's shot from a sharp angle.

It took a bit over six minutes for the Caps to answer that, and the answer came in the surprising form of Karl Alzner.  He found a busted clear in the high slot, skated out to the left, and shot back across the goal, sneaking it in off the inside of Bob's arm.

That left things very tense, and they got more so for the Caps, when, eight minutes later, Chaput got his first NHL goal off a rebound near the net.  He put it over the sprawled Holtby to give Columbus the lead with only a few minutes left.

A minute and a half later, Green got the puck in his end, and did his old "one-man breakout" routine when he saw Columbus changing.  He took it all the way into the zone, cut across to the opposite side, then threw it back across the rink where he perfectly hit Troy Brouwer, who was making a back-door cut to the open net.  I really wish Green would do that sort of thing more often; it's a lot of fun to watch.

The last three minutes passed in anxious waiting for something to happen, but things were quiet.

That sent the game into overtime again, where Columbus' record is far better than Washington's.

But things worked out well.  Half a minute in, Green got it back in his own end and saw a lot of open ice in front of him.  He took it all the way up, staying on the same side, and threw it to the front just before he passed behind the net.  Fehr was charging in, there, and put a one-timer between Bob's legs for the win.

It was quite an exclamation point for a roller coast of a game.

The win leaves the Caps in third place in the division, and hanging on to the edge of playoff position.

Next up, the road trip continues in New Jersey, Saturday evening.  Go Caps!

20141218

Riding right as rain

After about a week of my legs feeling pretty dead, they felt pretty good this morning.  So I decided on my first up-tempo ride in a week.  And while my speed wasn't great, my power numbers were up, much closer to where I want them to be (plus, I have yet to have problems with my replacement power meter.  *fingers crossed*).

My one surprise was that I didn't set any PRs on Strava.  I was feeling good, so I thought it likely (and was certainly hopeful).

The closest I came was tying my PR on one segment down near Shirlington.  In a way, it was surprising I was close, as I wasn't standing up for any of that.  In another, it wasn't, as I was going faster than a car on the road below me.

The point of all that is that the gentler rides I've been doing for the past six or seven days finally paid off.  And my heart rate was well up (avg 160, which is 9-10 bpm faster than I'd managed over the last couple weeks).  Rock on!

I'll definitely be coddling myself tomorrow.  Saturday, it'll depend.  I'd like to do the group ride where I always get my butt kicked, but we'll have to see if the timing works out.  If it does, I'll go as hard as I can.  If not, I'll do an easy (if long) ride, and maybe push it a bit more on Sunday.

Either way, the plan is for easy rides Monday and Tuesday, then another hard one on Wednesday.  Let's hope I feel up to that.

One interesting thing about the ride this morning is that I put down my camelbak, finally.  I got a little under-seat bag for my tools, and was going to use a water bottle (but forgot).

I have mixed feelings about it.  My left shoulder definitely appreciated not having the pack up there (it never even occurred to me that that could be a factor in that chronic problem), and I certainly felt more aerodynamic.  But it's certainly tougher to get a drink from a water bottle, so that might be enough to push me back that way.  For sure, I'll keep using the camelbak on very long rides (where, so far, I've used the camelbak for water, and a water bottle for gatorade, to good effect).

I should also point out that I recently ran across this video on training polarization.  The idea is, instead of pushing as hard as you can, as often as you can, you mostly go at jogging pace, or thereabouts (I wish he'd discussed it in different terms than lactate concentration.  I'm sure it's less ambiguous, but it's not terribly helpful if you don't have a way to measure that).  And then, a couple times a week (10-25% of your overall training), you go as hard as you can.

The goal, I think, is to be well-rested when you want to go hard, so you can go really hard.  That way, you get your heart rate more elevated, and get more benefit out of your hard workouts.

For me, that was a real eye-opener.  And that's why I was willing to do five or six easy workouts in a row and keep resting my legs.  I'm certainly going to be thinking about this for a while (I wonder about a couple factors related to the studies mentioned), but I won't be trying to hit zone four every day now, for sure.

Trying to do that had led me into what is described, at the end of the video, as the black hole.  Where your "easy" rides aren't easy enough, and your "tough" ones aren't tough enough.  I'm hoping it'll help me get over a hump.  Plus, I need to start doing intervals; that one's mostly a question of figuring out the mechanics.

Shooting out the lights

I wasn't able to watch Tuesday's Caps/Panthers match-up, that night.  I wasn't able to start it before the kids were in bed, and then crashed right after putting them in bed.  Ugh.

But that's why we have DVRs, so I watched it last night.  And man, was that a game.

Until it started, I didn't realize how closely matched the teams were likely to be.  I assumed the Caps were way ahead of the Panthers in the standings (just based on past history).  Well, if so, then one point is the definition of "way ahead".

It didn't start especially well for the Caps.  Through the first half of the first period, they weren't allowing a bunch of shots, but also weren't taking them.  And they spent entirely too much time in their own end.  It was a game featuring a heavily-clogged neutral zone and a lot of hitting.

The Caps weathered the storm after bending a bit on a rough forecheck, though, and by the end of the first, things had evened out a bit.  The Caps were ahead on shots (9-6), though I was guessing they were also ahead on blocks.  Not so, after checking: Florida was ahead there, 9-2.  For those who want to figure full Corsi or Fenwick, missed shots were even, at five a side (WSH CF% 64, FF% 56.  Great numbers!).

The second period also didn't start great, with Florida getting an early power play, but the Caps killed it off (painfully; three shots plus one blocked).  The Caps got a chance back a minute later when Wilson drew a hooking call on Flash.  They weren't able to really get set up, though, and got only two shots off (both by OV).

A few minutes later, the Caps got another chance when Backstrom drew a hooking call.  This time, they quickly cashed in.  Brouwer's first shot was blocked, and went out to OV.  Sasha put it back to Troy, whose second shot was blocked as well, but Brouwer got another shot immediately with the puck right next to the blocking defenseman, and this one not only got through, but went over Luongo and into the top of the net.

It looked like the rest of the period would be played at evens, but Orpik was called for slashing with 2:06 left, forcing an end-of-period kill with a regular PKer in the box.  Despite that, it went well, with a successful kill, allowing only three attempts (one wide, two blocked) against.

For the period, shots were even at ten (even at seven, at evens), WSH CF% 46, FF% 48.  At evens, 46% and 47%.  Not disastrous, but not good.

The third period had a ridiculous amount of cloggage and hitting (hits for the game were 50-48, in favor of Florida), with no penalties or scoring.  Play was heavily in favor of Florida, though, with shots 11-3 in their favor.  Yuck.

Going to full Corsi or Fenwick doesn't really make things look better for the Caps, either.  WSH CF% 27, FF% 29.  Wretched numbers.  Truly wretched.

The only thing that made it look better was that, at one point, Laich appeared to score.  But it was ruled to be kicked in (though I feel like pointing out that it was not a dangerous kick, being sideways by a trailing foot), so it was disallowed.  And man, was that a pig-pile in front of the net when it happened.  I think there were seven or eight players inside, or next to, the crease.

So, it went into overtime, where the Caps looked a little better.  Shots were even, with Washington having the only missed shot (and there were no blocked shots, by either team.  Very weird.  Makes me wonder how much the percentage generally goes down at 4-on-4).

Overall, WSH ES CF% 49, FF% 46.  Definitely a "needs improvement" rating on both of those.

And that's when the game really got interesting.  It didn't seem like much when all three shooters, by both teams, were held scoreless.  It didn't even seem like much when the fourth shooter from each team scored (OV and Jokinen).  It started to seem a little weird when the next two shooters from each team were held out.

And quite a bit weird when the next two from each team scored (Ward and Carlson vs Mackenzie and Bergenheim).

Then things turned downright bizarre as the next five from each team all failed.  Surely, someone wants to win, right?

Orpik and Olsen both did, so they cancelled each other out.

Alzner completed the list of options for Trotz, and was kept away.  Mitchell (ironic, picking the captain last), similarly.

Backstrom and OV went next, and were each denied (OV beat Lu, but put it over the net).  Jokinen was stopped in his second attempt, but Bjugstad ended it with a snap-shot that Holtby couldn't follow.

Yeah, twenty rounds.  The Caps have now been involved in both of the longest shoot-outs in league history.  I say they should have given the goalies a chance (at least the back-ups) before starting through the line-up again.

I'm not a fan of the shoot-out (I think it's a terrible "solution" to the problem of preventing ties, and playing for ties), but that was an interesting one.

The one thing I can't figure out is how Holtby didn't end up one of the stars of the game.  For that matter, why wasn't Luongo first star?

Next up is the rubber match against Columbus, tonight at seven.  Go Caps!

20141216

Ride of the century?

I mentioned that I was taking a day off, last week, and going for a full century on my bike.

The temperature was kind-of in-between, and I wasn't sure what to wear.  I went with my new Assos shorts (T.cento), leg warmers, heavy base layer shirt, jersey (worn just for the pockets), and a windbreaker (mostly ditto, though that's not the only reason I'm glad I wore it).

Things didn't get off to a great start, though, as I grabbed the wrong gloves and turned back after only a minute or two.  Unfortunately, the gloves I grabbed instead were also the wrong ones (the first lacked windbreaking ability, the second were ok there but still not warm enough), and that's most of the story of the ride.

But not entirely.  I'd alluded to being tired the night before, and that kept on, into the day.  In fact, it took about an hour before I started to feel good, and I never did feel great.  But to get back to the gloves...

Basically, I was expecting the ride to start at 35F, and quickly warm up to ~40F, and stay there for most of the ride (I did check the forecast, though only for the near end).  Instead, it was right around freezing for most of the day, and it felt like it.  At one point, getting close to Purcellville (my destination), I came to an intersection and tried to stop, as visibility wasn't great, but there was definitely a car coming.  But I wasn't slowing down much, so I tried squeezing harder.  After a minute, I realized that the reason I wasn't stopping was that one of my fingers was in the way of the brake.  Thank goodness I didn't try to squeeze even harder, and that the car wasn't as close as I thought.

I stopped a couple minutes after that at some benches, just so I could put my hands under my jacket and shirts, and warm them up.  Not a pleasant stop at all.

When I made it to Purcellville, I was against extremely cold, and stopped in a local bike shop there to look around.  While they were happy to have me there (even though I didn't buy anything), the shop was almost empty because they just fired their distributor, and are waiting for the new one to ship stuff.  Weird to see a mostly-empty shop right before Christmas.  Not their finest hour.

Nor my finest hour, come to that.  On my previous trip out there, I'd averaged eighteen miles an hour all the way (not including stops, of course).  This time, I was a bit below 16.5; quite a drop-off.  The cold certainly didn't help that, nor did the headwind I was going into just about all the way.  Regardless of what caused it, though, I was very disappointed.

In any event, after fifteen or twenty minutes, I turned around and headed back for home.  I actually felt a little better, heading back, than I had in my previous trip.  In fact, I averaged slightly better time on the way back than on the way out (not much; one or two tenths of a mile per hour, but it was interesting).  But the cold was even worse.

I put the liner gloves I'd carried on before I left, and they helped for a while.  But not for a long while.  By the time I got back to Ashburn, I ended up stopping at a BBQ place there as much to warm up as to eat.  Though I did eat a sandwich platter without a problem.

By the time I finished the platter, I was ready to head home, and that's what I did.  But by the time I got to Vienna, I was cold enough to seek out another bike shop just off the trail.  I didn't buy anything there either, though I thought about it.  But I noticed it wasn't quite as late as I thought, so I hurried out after a little warming up, and went to run an errand my wife wanted (that I thought I wouldn't have time for).

I hurried up a little, but still got to the place my wife wanted me to go a couple minutes after they closed.  But I was still able to get my errand done, as they were very nice.

After that, I decided to head straight home, even though it was going to leave me a few miles short of a hundred.  A disappointing end, but I wasn't feeling terrible.

I did finish the second half a bit faster (and a bit less sore) than my first attempt, but I still definitely wasn't feeling great.  In fact, I felt a bit worse the next morning than I had after the first long trip.

It's also left me wondering a bit about my selection of gloves.  Especially for the options just above freezing.  The PI 3x1 Pro Softshell gloves are good, in that range, when things are dry, but not for wet.

I got some Assos rain gloves, but they're not warm enough to get down to freezing (and my first pair wasn't big enough to make liner gloves an option.  I've since fixed that, but haven't been able to test yet).  Also, my Black Diamond Guide gloves turned out not to be warm enough for a long ride at 35F a couple days ago (at least part of the problem is that I wasn't riding as hard, undoubtedly).  I think I need a bigger size for them, as well.  I'm working on that.

Anyway, I've done easy (if long) rides each day since then (except the first day, which was easy and medium length).  My legs have not been happy.  Maybe I just need a short, easy day to help.

Backstrom bolts Lightning

The first period started out very well for the Caps, if, perhaps, like an extension of the prior game.  Bishop was definitely on, and was called on to make a number of good saves.

Tampa didn't get many chances, though one of those found the back of the net, when Stamkos put in a pass from behind the net.  But Callahan was called for incidental contact with Holtby (he did remove Holtby from the net, unquestionably), getting the goal (and shot, which would have been their first) called back.

I'd like to say that the relative times on the power play had a lot to do with the massive shot imbalance in the period (12-2 Caps).  But I'm not sure it did, since a) the Caps got, I believe, only one shot on those power plays and b) Tampa got a couple of short-handed chances, though I can't remember if those chances resulted in shots on net.

Regardless, it all felt very familiar.

The second period did not get going well at all.  First, Green was called on an iffy slash a couple minutes in.  No goal allowed, but they did get several shots on net (and, probably, several more blocked).  Then, Green got called again, this time for hooking, a couple minutes later.  That led to a scrum in which OV found himself called for roughing.

It was the Caps first time on the season, being down two men, and it wasn't fun.  But they managed to kill off the whole penalty without damage (with one incredible save by Holtby assisted by Orpik blocking the swing of a shot with his skate.  With his back turned), and then proceeeded to take it to Tampa.

It took a couple minutes for that to bear fruit, but Backstrom picked up the rebound of Schmidt's shot from the point, and backhanded it under the crossbar for the lead.  Eight minutes later, Wilson's initial shot was stopped, but OV knocked it from under Bishop before the whistle blew, and Backstrom picked up the trash and stuffed it into the net to double the lead.

Early in the third, the top line got a 3-on-2, with Backstrom carrying into the zone and handing off to OV.  He continued his rush down the middle, while OV went down the wing, when OV passed back to him.  Backstrom fought off the backchecker (by turning sideways to the net), and managed to throw the puck all the way to the edge of the goal on OV's side.  Bishop was already down, and covering the near side of the net by the time Backstrom let it go.

And it looked, for quite a while, like that's where the game would effectively end, with Backstrom getting his first regular-season hat trick and owning the scoresheet.  I came within a hair's breadth of turning the game off with five or six minutes left.

But Tampa fought back, scoring with 4:21 left and again with 2:31 left, both with Bishop on the bench.

That led to a tense couple of minutes, until Fehr intercepted a pass across the middle at Tampa's blue line, and calmly shoved it into the net to ice the victory.

Despite giving up three goals, Bishop played a hell of a game and probably didn't deserve to lose.  But the Caps certainly deserved the win, and it was good to see them bring it home.

Next up for Washington is a date with Florida in Sunrise, at sunset tonight.  Go Caps!

Shooting into a wall

I didn't get a chance to turn last night's Caps game on until nine o'clock or so, but I was able to watch the entire thing.  And I was mostly glad I did.  It felt a lot like the Buffalo Sabres game the other week.  That is, completely dominant performance by the Caps skaters, spoiled by a magnificent effort by the opposing goaltender.

Seriously, stopping 90% of power play shots is quite a good performance; Bob stopped seventeen of eighteen.  And yeah, eighteen power play shots on goal is a ridiculously high number; kudos to the Caps on that.

And kudos to Wilson for being quite the magnet for penalties of late.  He drew three in this game, and several more in the last several games.  If he can keep drawing them like that, then he can stay on the top line forever, in my book.

To get into more specifics, the one power play shot that got through Bob came in the fourth minute, as Fehr deflected Carlson's wrister from the slot over Bob's arm.

It took twelve minutes for Columbus to answer, and it was only on their second or third shot, but Foligno was able to waltz in from the point and deflect the puck off the near post and and in.  Terrible defense by the forwards, there, giving him so much time and space.  And a beautiful shot by him; Holtby probably should have had it, but he didn't leave a whole lot of room for shooting.

Despite more than doubling up the Jackets on shots in the first, the period ended

The second period looked like it would be much more even, with Columbus keeping Washington from getting a shot on goal for the first eight minutes.  But they only got a couple shots of their own in that time, and then they committed several penalties.  Although the Caps didn't score in the period, they still ended up with fifteen shots (to the Jackets' four, so it was less even than the first period).

So the game went into the third tied at one.  Almost halfway through, Brouwer got his first in a while on a beautiful deflection of Niskanen's pass to the side of the net.  I really wish the Caps would try more plays like this, as Bob had no chance on it.

Unfortunately, it took Columbus only a minute and a half to answer (does this sound familiar, if somewhat less so than last year?), as Connauton's point shot trickled through, between Holtby's glove-arm and body.  He had a great game, but that's definitely one Holtby would want back.

Over the last nine minutes, nobody was able to find the back of the net, so off we went to overtime, again.  Laich and Beagle did get a very nice chance, early on, but Beagle couldn't lift his shot over Bob's outstretched leg.  Shortly thereafter, the Caps got whistled for a penalty that was guaranteed to last until the end of overtime.  With twenty seconds left, Foligno's one-timer from the half-wall went over Holtby's shoulder, glove-side, putting the nail in the coffin.

Hard to be upset with the performance, overall, but the result was certainly disappointing.  I'll talk about it separately, but the game after was Saturday with the home rematch against Tampa.