Thursday, March 31, 2011

Go Pearl!

It's amazing how one stick-in-the-mud person can ruin it for everyone. It's also amazing how one awesome person can redeem even the sticks-in-the-mud.

Last year I spent almost $600 on run shoes only: racing flats, trail shoes, and training shoes. Since I don't have a shoe sponsorship or even pro-deals on shoes, I turned to Pearl Izumi which I can get through Missoula Bicycle Works because of our cycling relationship with them. Pearl made my favorite article of athletic clothing, a black and red riding jacket that keeps me warm even in Montana. It's so good that I even run in it. They're also relatively new to the run game but I figured I'd give them a try and see what they've come up with. The catch is that there isn't a Pearl Run dealer in all of Montana so, all I could go on was their website, reviews and research. It turns out I ended up with a shoe that wasn't ideal for me.

The warranties and exchanges guru at Pearl, essentially told me to piss up a rope when I explained to him the issue. The problem was that I hadn't purchased the shoes through an authorized dealer. When I asked him how he suggested I do that when the closest one is over 600 miles away, he just said, "Sorry, it's not our problem anymore." ...and he was right. He was doing his job and I'm sure he was conforming to some internal standards set by not-him. A company can't last if it's repeatedly taken advantage of. More deadly, however, is a company that alienates potential life-long customers by not standing behind their product and tells customers "it's not their problem" over a shoe that probably cost them about $20 to make.

Enter G. A consummate professional in both business and running. She not only had in depth technical knowledge of all Pearl shoes, guiding me to a more appropriate shoe, but also the other brands and models I've been running in. She also saw the opportunity to engender the lifelong support of a serious athlete and customer.

So to everyone at all those companies who are more concerned about supporting athletes rather than the bottom-line, thanks. Keep it up and take a page from Pearl.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Falling Down

Few things bring joy to my heart like watching (other) people fall down. Some of my favorites include fat kids carrying cupcakes, people in Vibram Five Fingers, fat people in general, and my all time favorite, fat people in Vibram Five Fingers carrying cupcakes. As a connoisseur of gravitational foibles, I would be remiss to not provide you with an account of a different kind, the hotheaded-skinny-ish-athlete-taking-himself-too-seriously-trips-and-falls-into-a-lamppost-in-front-of-patio-full-of-people-eating-burritos variety. Correct. I was not enjoying a burrito.

While wrapping up a 70 minute run the other day I was feeling pretty good. I had some shiny new kicks. One of my favorite running trails was now free of snow. I was treated to stellar views of the valley. I was rocking some new tunes. It was a good run. I had some tempo work to do. I was doing my speed work back on the flatlands near the end of my run. While cookin' down Higgins St. I approached a roundabout (or "rotary" if you're from B-ah-ston, Mass.). I decided I was up to the task of navigating the complicated maze of sidewalks, curbs, intersections and turns at full speed. Now this roundabout happens to be on a busy road, at a busy intersection which houses a busy burrito shop, and, it being a sunny day, an even busier front patio. I was not up to the task of navigating said obstacles and began a rather slow and eminent full-face fall after a bit of curb jumped up and grabbed my new shoe. It was one of those falls that just hasn't happened yet - an inevitability as there is no chance the bottom half of your body will ever catch up with the top half. Unless, the top half of your body is violently arrested by a lamppost thus allowing the bottom half of your body to catch back up. The price of preventing a full-on, flat-out fall? An attention grabbing bang, a shaking lamppost and a bruised arm.

Yeah, there's really no way to recover from that so, deciding not to look over at the patio full of people, I just continued with my tempo as if it were some kind of new parkour move that the plebeians eating burritos just hadn't heard of yet.

But no, I really just tripped and fell.

And now to feel better about myself:

Thursday, March 24, 2011


When it comes down to it, I really am just a fat kid stuck temporarily in a skinny man's body. My first school uniform was "husky" sized as I'd spent several weeks with my grandparents before 6th grade. I had not yet discovered exercise. So it's pretty natural that given 2.5 hours of daylight, 768 ft. of snow this year, an average temperature of -29, and diminished exercise that I'd put on some, let's call it, "necessary insulation" over the winter.

My training partners and friends here really are the best, they pull no punches. My co-workers recently had to tune my suspension on my mountain bike to what they called "fat Ryan" setting. Several weeks ago, I also saw something I've never seen before 161 lbs. on the scale. Granted I was dressed and it was in the afternoon but even so, that would put me eeking in at just under 160. The real blow came yesterday though.

My friend Jen, a fellow winter warrior, and I were doing a swim set in which we exited the pool on the deep end every 25 to dive back in. She offered to switch sides of the lane with me. "Why?" I said. "So you don't scrape your muffin-top on the diving board," she glibly said. As I peered towards the other end of the pool, I saw the diving board encroaching on my much needed deck space. Out of sheer stubbornness I refused, and, yes, endured some scrapes on my muffin-top. Desperate times...

I have appointed Jen Luebke, Professional Triathlete, as my Under-Coach charged with muffin-top dissipation. She will use state of the art techniques, cutting edge science, and high maths to track my progress, including walking jigowatts, running wattage, swimming miles-per-hour, perceived rate of exertion, and frequent humiliation through the poking of my back fats.

Here's to a fitter, faster and more insecure me!

In all seriousness though, a special thanks to Elliot, Jeff and Jen for helping me to weather a tough and long Montana winter!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

PayneTrain Express

I'm kinda too tired to craft a clever blog right now and it would be 1,000 pages long if I did. So here's what's been going on in a brief and efficient bullet-point format:

-It snowed a lot in Missoula
-I learned to ride my trainer like a big boy
-I stole some of Linsey's ClifBloks (Mountain Berry)
-I learned to run on a treadmill
-I accidentally stopped drinking alcohol for Lent with my friend Chris (big mistake)
-The mechanics at work had to set my suspension to "Fat Ryan" setting
-I was accepted into every law school I applied to (one)
-I was given the prestigious award of Photo of the Year by the Helena paper, reminding everyone to swim pretty.
-It was overcast in Missoula
-I was fired and subsequently re-hired at Missoula Bicycle Works
-Pratt ate a sweater
-I accepted a seat in the University of Montana School of Law's Class of 2014
-USA Triathlon gave me an honorable mention in their rankings
-I turned 27 and had the best party I've ever thrown
-Two of my favorite training partners played snowbird this year and are in Tucson (lame)
-I was able to snowboard a lot
-I went to Big Sky with awesome friends from home
-I went to Seattle for a bachelor "partay"
-I nearly killed my oldest friend at Snowbowl (he ate snow to survive)
-My oldest friend has a renewed interest in physical fitness and Snowbowl's plan to be more "beginner friendly"
-I began working for International Justice Mission as a Justice Advocate
-There was some drama
-My first race will be the Grizzly Triathlon on April 23
-I get to go to LA to see my friend Matt (author of the most popular post on this blog- I pretend not to be jealous)
-I'm racing Wildflower May 1, a Montana tradition
-I got to live with the Rochesters for January!

And the highlight of this bleak and desperate winter:
-I saw an individual fall down the stairs while donning Vibram FiveFingers: The Barefoot Sports Shoe

Thank you.