You know you've been away too long -- from anyplace -- when several people ask where in the world you've been.

That's what happened to me this morning when the Fortius gang got together at a new local bike shop for a repair clinic before hitting the Malibu Canyon hills for some sweet cycling torture. I've been training on a different schedule lately, and with the holidays thrown in, teammate time took a back seat.

It was great to see everyone. Lots of laughter and learning, including how to measure chain wear (with a digital monitor, no less) and how to become more efficient at back tire removals (roll the wheel backwards to get more room and separation from the chain).

The ride itself was very productive: 4,100-plus feet of climbing and a new record at 7-Mile Hill (9:56). Last year my PR was 11:00, I think, so definite progress with climbing. We followed the bike with a short brick, which further made me realize that A) running with a new stride may be more taxing at first, and B) I'm still nowhere near my pre-Ironman conditioning level. I eked out 8:30-9:00 miles but my heart-rate was in zone 3 most of the time (150s bpms).

Though the ride and run were confidence boosters, I'll remember today more for spending time with teammates and friends. It makes a huge difference in training as the hours on the clock rapidly vanish. It's like getting a play date when we were kids.

And just like childhood, I'm off to take a nap. The one thing about getting older...naps become more and more cherished when one can find the time to squeeze one in.

150 days and counting.