Sunday, December 24, 2006

Nouveau Commencement

A new beginning indeed. Last week I reported on my fractured foot and said that I was looking into riding brevets. Well, this week I have registered for my first one. For those not in the know, a brevet (pronounced brah-vey) is not really a race as such. There are no winners only those who finish and those who do not. However, they are timed. The purpose of a brevet is to ride some predetermined course following a cue sheet, a sheet with directions. Along the route you have to get checked off at various control points.

At the control point you have to get your brevet card stamped or signed with the time and date you were there. You have to reach each control point along the route before a specific time and you have to complete the whole route by a specific cut off time. From what I gather your average speed in a brevet needs to be around 13.5 mph in order to make the cut off times. No biggie right? Well, I don’t know if that’s a big deal or not. I mean, it’s certainly within my cycling ability but the trick with brevets is to go completely self supported, I say again COMPLETELY self supported no aid stations no SAG nothing, and the event takes place no matter what the weather is like.

Now I have been to a triathlon where the bike was canceled due to wind and I’ve heard of triathlons that were canceled all together due to inclement weather (last year's USAT Nationals comes to mind) but you will not show up to a brevet and have it canceled. From what I understand even if a troupe of evil flame throwing orangutans have inhabited the course…tough; ride and quit your whining or just take your DNF and go home.

For some history on the Brevet go to RUSA, Randonneur USA. In the mean time, the brevet is originally a French sport, hence all the French, but is apparently very popular through Europe, especially among the French, English and Italians. The word “Brevet” means something like certificate and one who rides in brevets is called a “Randonneur” if male and “Randonneuse” if female. The typical distances for brevets are 200 K, 300K, 400K, 600K, 1000K and 1200K though I think at the 1200K distance they are called Randonnees but I’m not totally sure. A brevet series consists of riding a 200 K, 300K, 400K and 600K in that order in one year. If you complete a brevet series you gain the status “Super Randonneur”.

The other interesting thing about brevets, there is none of the swag associated with triathlons…no t-shirts, no goodie bags no nothing. You just show up to the start, gather up your cue sheet and brevet card and head out. When you finish you turn in your brevet card to the official who certifies it, sends it to national who certifies it and then sends it to France where it is certified by the muckity mucks at ACP (Audax Club Parisien), the nexus of the Randonneuring world.

Once your card is TOTALLY certified a certificate of completion finds its way back to you. Oh, and you can pay and extra $10 to $12 to get a finishers medal, which looks to be of similar quality to the high quality type marathon finishers medals, nice and heavy with lots of detail and color. The medals for all brevets are cast and struck once a year in France and the shipped out all at once. It will be different from the high intensity and immediate gratification of triathlon but I think it will be cool…I’ll just reacquaint myself with my old friend Sartre.

So here’s the plan:

Dallas, TX 01/01/2007 200K (124.27 miles)


Casa Grande, AZ 02/03/2007 300K (186.41 miles)


Casa Grande, AZ 03/04/2007 400K (248.55 miles)


Dallas, TX 05/26/2007 600K (372.82 miles)


Boulder, CO 06/16/2007 1000K (621.37 miles)


I’m not totally sure about the 1000K brevet yet because it isn’t part of a series but I’m considering going for the R-12 medal, one brevet of 200 or more K per month for a year. The problem is that I can not find a brevet, except for in Florida, in the month of December and I’m only willing to spend so much to earn another trinket. I mean really, I’m already doing IMAZ and IM Louisville plus, plus, plus…

Next year’s (2008) resolution…incorporate some sanity into my race season…or…maybe not.

Oh yes, one more curiosity about the world of brevets, they seem to be kind of "old school" cycling pureists. They are in love with their comfortable old steel frame bikes so, now instead of seeking out the hottest new areo-carbon-speed machine I'm in the market for a classic steel frame with a relaxed geometry...something circa 1970's...and maybe a pipe with some good tobacco...and a beret..and a good baguette.
à votre santé

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Change in Strategy

Last weekend on Sunday I was doing my long run and at about mile 4 my right foot started hurting, by mile 5 it was worse, 6 worse and by mile 7 I had to stop and walk back to my car. My foot swelled up and that was it.

Got an order for an MRI and went to see my podiatrist who also gave me an exam and x-ray. He wants to wait for the MRI results but as far as I could see from the x-ray and from how my foot felt I know it is a stress fracture.

That’s right, a stress fracture in my third metatarsal on my right foot.

So, how did this happen? Well, last year I discovered two unfortunate things about myself. 1) I have osteopenia, which is lower than normal bone density and 2) the 4th and 5th metatarsals on my feet are shorter than normal, which means that every step I take puts greater than normal stress on my 1st, 2nd and 3rd metatarsals, especially the 3rd.

So the situation is, the more I run and/or the harder I run the more likely I am to fracture things in my lower body.

This posses quite a conundrum for a long course triathlete. I am pretty sure that I can get in 80 miles of running per month once my foot heals but I think I can only run 3 times per week. At 80 miles a month I’m probably not going to be getting faster on the marathon.

So what to do? I’ll be bike focused this year and probably several seasons to come. I’m on medication to help increase bone density and my podiatrist is working on orthotics to spread the loading evenly across my feet. The orthotics should help out in the short run but the bone density issue will take a few years to reach normal levels.

There is something that I have wanted to do for two years now but I’ve been focusing on more balance between my running, biking and swimming. That something is ultracycling. I have submitted my dues to the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association and Randonneurs USA.

Now let me assure you, I am not planning on getting away from my triathlon goals for the year, just planning on modifying my strategy.

More on my ultracycling plan next week.

Cheers

Monday, December 11, 2006

And so it begins

This last weekend was the first race of my 2007 season. Yes that's right, a race in 2006 represents the beginning of my 07 season and so it is each year. The race is the Polar Bear at White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, NM and it is always the first race of the South West Challenge Series, the longest continuous multisport race series in the world.

The race consists of a 5K run, 30K bike and 400 meter pool swim, in that order. There were 139 triathletes in attendance plus about 20 different teams. My brethren, the Clydesdales, had 14 entrants representing. The temperature at the beginning of the race was about 35 degrees so I decided to dawn a pair of gloves to go with my skintuit.

The run brought back the fond memories of last year and racing among friends. As I’ve mentioned before the SWCS, despite being a series of races across a large region, is like one large family. From the outset of the race I had a fellow Clyde declare he was going to try and hang with me throughout the run. About a quarter mile into the run he stepped on the back of my shoe and pealed it right off. I had to turn around and grab it to put it back on. This action was immediately met with a whole chorus of people heckling me for running too fast for my shoes to keep up. Once I was back on the run more people were urging me on to catch him, which I did by mile one.

I completed the run without further incident and a few nods and “how’s it going” in a total time of 23:23 and was then off to the bike. I started the bike thinking that it was a 20K but by the 15K sign I had been set straight. I then settled in for a 25K ride…until I hit the 25K sign then I resigned myself to a 30K ride, which I was able to complete in 51:40 with very little gas left in the tank. Once I hit the swim I was pooped and in a group of very fast folks. I got swum over maybe three or four times and spent the swim in a general mêlée to the finish. The swim took me 8:48, which is slower than my training pace but what the hay, it’s only 400 meters.

In the final analysis I took first among the Clydes, not only my group, the over 40 Clydes, but overall...beating out the young Clydes as well. I also ended up as 20th overall.

Yahoo! The omens are good!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Morning Glory

This November I stepped up my running in preparation for P.F. Chang's Rock-n-Roll Arizona Marathon. The weather has been fairly warm, which has resulted in morning runs that only required shorts and a t-shirt. However, this last week a serious cold front moved in complete with sub-freezing temps and snow. I was immediately transported back to the freezing morning runs I completed all last winter and have been approaching my workouts with, shall we say, determined trepidation.

This past Thursday I awoke to 18 degree temps and snow. I thought to myself, “Well, triathletes all over the northern latitudes are strapping on their shoes and heading out into the cold and snow so I’ve got no excuse.” The reward was immeasurable!

I drove down to the gym, pulled on the insulated tights, one long sleeve shirt, one short sleeve shirt, socks, shoes, headband, baseball cap and headed out to conduct my morning run. The run was 7.5 miles on a dirt trail along the Rio Grande at sunrise; my favorite run of the week.

On this particular morning, like I mentioned, it was snow covered and cold. There was not a single other person out nor had there been. The snow covered trail was completely fresh except for a few footprints from the rabbits and coyotes that live along the river. There were also Canadian geese, mallards, great blue herons, san hill cranes and a host of smaller birds in abundance. The giant old cotton woods were glistening in the sunrise and steam was rising off the river.

As far as my pace goes, it was pretty good but who cares…this was one of the best runs of my life! While the snow is already gone it is still cold and I am pretty much guaranteed to have the trail along the river all to myself during my early morning weekday runs.

Glorious!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Any given weekend

This is one of my favorite statements, any given weekend. I use in in two specific contexts. The time I use it most is when I am talking to others about racing. On any given weekend you just don't know who might show up and who will show up with their best game. You may reasonably believe you will win, place, finish etc... but on any given weekend things may not go your way or they may totally go your way.

The other context I use the phrase is as in "You never know what people are doing on any given weekend" I have been amazed at the time and energy people put into triathlon and three years ago I would have been completely oblivious to all the goings on that now take up a good third of my life. Well, this morning on my long run I was with friends and we ran into yet more friends. While we stopped to talk the topic of an "Ultrarunning cult in New Mexico" came up. I was stunned, not that there may be a cult in New Mexico but that I had not heard of this thing.

I promptly came home and did my research and this is what I found, Devine Madness. Originally based in Boulder, CO and now located in Reserve, NM.

Any given weekend...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Holy Acceleration Batman!

When we last visited our humble, sort of, Clyde he was touting the virtues of the wondrous LifeForm program. This week yet another spectacular find has been unearthed. In the bowels of the program is stored several years of data specific to our hapless hero. In April of 2005, just a couple weeks before my first triathlon I apparently went for a 3.1 mile run. It took me 34 minutes and my average HR was 172. Earlier that same week I swam 400 meters and it took me 20 minutes; God only knows what my HR was. I recall those dark days of grim struggle when the pool would be lined with terrified onlookers and mothers would hide their children’s eyes lest they catch a glimpse of my spastic floundering and gasping red face.

Lets see, this week, just for ease of comparison, I did an 18 mile run in 2:51 at an average HR of 143 and swam 1500 meters in 30 minutes. Now the onlookers are gone and the mothers tell their children, “Oh don’t worry sweetie, when you grow up you’ll swim much faster than that” Well, it ain’t much but at least I have graduated from imparting fear and concern to warranting a gentle mocking.



Now, while my teammates, the Outlaw types, have seen the following video, you others have not. I leave you with my Soma 2006 video creation in celebration of my mockworthiness.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hi Ho Hi Ho it’s back to Life Form I go

During my first year in triathlon and endurance athletics I went from 268 down to 212 in about 12 months exactly. During my second year of triathlon and endurance athletics I went from 212 to about 219 in about 10 months. Hmmm, what’s going on here?

This season I have been much more active, which I believe has given me the feeling that I have a license to eat. I NEVER have that particular license. I have a driver’s license, a marriage license and even a license to practice psychology but never, never, never a license to eat. My weight loss/gain always goes in two year cycles where I will focus on weight loss for about a year and get down to some lower weight and then gradually my eating and weight creep back upward.

Now here is the upshot, in a typical two year cycle I will drop to a low that is not as low as the previous low and I will jump back up to a high that is higher than my previous all time high. In this two year cycle I dropped to an all time low and went back up to a weight that is below my last low.

Does that make sense to you out there? My new high is below my pre-triathlon low…Amazing! Now I’m not trying to say I am elated about this situation, I’ve got some weight to lose but man have I got a lot less to drop. The really nice thing about my current situation is that I probably need to change very little beyond just getting back on track with monitoring my food intake.

So what will be my secret weapon? Life Form of course. This is a cool little program that Wife found a few years back that you can enter a ton of information into with respect to diet, excercise, nutritional values, body measurements, medical information etc...and it has always worked well for me because it exactly tracks my calorie intake versus output and this is the thing that always amazes me...if I don't pay attention all the time my intake will typically drift up to be 1,000 or more calories per day than I am burning. I think I must have a defective "Hey, you're full stupid!" Mechanism.

Anyhow, check out the Life Form web site if you get the chance, it's pretty cool.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

2006: A Clyde-O-Riffic Season!

What can I say, 2006 has been one hell of a season! When I look back now at the early part of the year I feel almost like I’m looking back fondly on my childhood. This is my second season of triathlon and despite all the little goals I set for myself I had four major goals:

Finish an Ultramarathon
Finish a half-iron triathlon
Finish a full iron triathlon
Win the Clydesdale Champion award for the Southwest Challenge Series

I am mightily pleased to say that I met each and every one of these goals! This is not to say that I would call the season a complete success. Below you will see five races with an asterisk next to them. I actually ran these races on a hip with a stress fracture in two places. I think the injury took place at the Rio Rancho Duathlon, which is probably the toughest short race you will ever run. I spent a couple weeks with some fluctuating pain and kept hoping it was something that would go away but it just kept getting worse and I kept getting slower. I got to the point where if I tried to stand on my right leg it would just buckle beneath me. The Buffman & Squeaky Olympic Triathlon was an exercise in agony but I was able to grimace my way through it to a 3rd place finish in the masters Clyde division.

The picture here is me at the Buffman & Squeaky.

I finally got an accurate diagnosis after my family doc referred me to a Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon and I received the proper care and advice and was soon on the mend. I missed out on the Buffalo Springs half-iron but was able to switch my registration to the Aquabike, which I loved!

This has also been my first year blogging and I have enjoyed that quite a bit as well. I’ve been able to meet some great people from across the country, some I have even been able to meet in person. I think maybe next year one of my goals will be to travel and try and meet as many fellow blogging triathletes as possible.

Before giving you the layout of my 2006 season I just want to note that there is actually quite a bit of variability in the distances of the Sprint triathlons I’ve done. Living in New Mexico the triathlon community is plagued by a dearth of water so we swim where we can. The swim splits range from 300 yards to 1200 meters, the bike splits range from 10.2 miles to 30K and almost all runs were 5K except the Bottomless, which has a run of 4K. Also, the Southwest Challenge Series season kicks off with the Polar Bear in the December of the preceding year, hence my December race at the beginning of the list.

So here it is:
December: Saturday 10th Polar Bear Sprint Triathlon, Las Cruses, NM - 1:23:12
January Sunday 15th Ghost Town 38.5 Ultramarathon Hillsboro, NM - 8:41:14
February 11th John Stermer Memorial (run/bike) Duathlon, Las Cruses, NM - 1:17:02
February 19th Lost Dutchman Marathon, Apache Junction, AZ 4:47:19 (PR)
March 12th Stealth (run/bike) Duathlon, Alamogordo, NM - 1:26:06
April: Sunday 2nd MVTC Sprint Triathlon, Las Cruses, NM - 1:16:56
April: Sunday 9th Rio Rancho Short Course Duathlon, Rio Rancho, NM - 1:37:02
*April: Saturday 15th Wind Run Swim Biathlon, Las Cruses, NM - 43:04
*April: Saturday 22nd Amarillo Sprint Triathlon, Amarillo, TX - 1:03:51
*April: Sunday 30th Atomic Man Long Course Duathlon, Los Alamos, NM - 2:57:48
*May: Sunday 14th Jay Benson Sprint Triathlon, Albuquerque, NM - 1:15:06
*May: Sunday 21st Buffman & Squeaky Olympic Triathlon, Lubbock, TX - 3:14:01
June: Sunday 25th Buffalo Springs Lake half-iron Aquabike, Lubbock, TX - 3:26:38
July: Saturday 1st Grady Williams Olympic Triathlon, Farmington, NM - 2:56:10
July: Saturday 8th Bottomless Sprint Triathlon, Roswell, NM - 1:02:06
July: Sunday 16th Mountain Man Sprint Triathlon, Flagstaff, AZ - 1:17:58
July: Sunday 23rd Deschutes Dash Sprint Triathlon, Bend, OR - 1:27:11
July: Sunday 30th Las Vegas Olympic Triathlon, Las Vegas, NM - 2:58:00
August: Saturday 5th Tall City Sprint Triathlon, Midland, TX - 1:14:16
August: Saturday 12th Socorro Chili Harvest Sprint Triathlon, Socorro, NM - 1:13:00
September: Saturday 16th Cotton Country Sprint Triathlon, Levelland, TX - 1:09:26
September: Saturday 23rd RedMan Iron Distance Triathlon, Oklahoma City, OK - 14:27:15
October: Sunday 1st Stealth Sprint Triathlon, Alamogordo, NM - 1:28:20
October: Sunday 29th Soma Half-Iron, Tempe, AZ - 5:55:22
.

WOW! I can’t believe it, that’s my 2006 season, the whole enchilada…

So what have I learned?

I’m stronger than I would have imagined…other people are stronger than they imagine…that includes YOU.

Give me enough time and there is probably no feat of endurance that I can not accomplish.

Involve your family in endurance sport if you can do it without hounding them into it, it builds bonds as strong as the people who participate in them.

The people who participate in endurance sports are fantastic!

For me, endurance athletics is primarily a social endeavor. I love all the exercise and I will try my hardest to chase people down every time I’m out on the course but ultimately it’s not the time I achieve, it’s the time that I have…the journey and not the outcome.

I can hardly wait for my 2007 season!

Fortitude Vincimus my friends! Through endurance we conquer!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Cyling Adventure and Power Mystery: Soma 70.3 Race Report

First – I recommend the Soma 70.3 to anyone. So…there was this shrill screaming as I pedaled past the pleaton and I was left to wonder who had been run through with a spear. You see, up to this point, about half way into the first of three loops on the bike course, I had already seen three accidents, all looking pretty serious. I even saw one guy ride smack into a “road work ahead” sign; needless to say it proved a serious impediment to his forward progress.

I’m getting ahead of myself; let me return to the beginning. This past weekend was the Soma 70.3 in Tempe Arizona; an event that has become one rockin’ season ender. There were over 1200 athletes on hand, the temps were in the low 80’s and it was overcast and virtually windless all day. The course used at Soma has many similarities to the course used for IMAZ and the event begins with a rectangular swim with a deep water start in Tempe Town Lake. I felt good and was hoping for a strong finish. As I jumped into the water I discovered something that I will make sure and put at the very top of my “things to avoid at all costs during IMAZ 07” list; I splashed into the water and raked the toes of my left foot into the jagged concrete edge of the man-made Town Lake.

The upside of this incident is that I was fully submerged by the time the pain registered so nobody could hear my rather indiscrete vocalizations. My foot really hurt and I was quite satisfied not to be able to see the damage. I swam the 100 yards to the start area with everyone else and just stared fixedly ahead waiting for the start horn to blow so I would have something to focus on other than the pain in my foot. When the horn blew we were off and the thrash fest was on. My first 300 meters was intensely frustrating and I could not get going. Not only did I have trouble getting my stroke working, every tack I took landed me right behind some tugboat…with a damaged engine.

After the first 300 meters or so I finally got into a groove and started bridging gaps between myself and other swim packs. Eventually I ended up in the no-man’s-land between waves that consists of that odd mixture of really fast swimmers bridging up from later waves and running over really slow swimmers from early waves. What can I say; this seems to be my lot in the swim. My overall swim split was 42:55, a rock solid average effort for me, in a typical pool-based, non-wetsuit, workout swim that is. My average HR for the swim was 179. This is something that I can’t explain; it just seems too high for such a sluggish pace. Could it have been the foot? I don’t know.

In T-1 I got my first look at the foot. My big toe suffered the most damage with a pretty good chunk taken out of the first knuckle and slightly less damage on my second toe along with scrapes that ran up the top of my foot. I think 43 minutes in cool water staunched the bleeding so it wasn’t much of a mess and there wasn’t much swelling. Despite the injury and the grand proportions of the transition area I got out in 3:54 and hit the bike.

The bike course was a blast! Despite the fact that it was a three loop affair you had little opportunity to get bored because you constantly had to adjust to twists, turns and corkscrews. However, the course was also marked so well it was impossible to get lost The best description I have heard of it was “It kind of has three out and backs, each with its own out and back; sort of like a giant hand with 10 or 12 fingers.”

So…there was this shrill screaming as I pedaled past the pleaton and I was left to wonder who had been run through with a spear. As I passed this woman she screamed at me so loudly that I almost fell off my own bike…I mean it literally hurt my ears. “On your left!!!!!! Don’t you know how to say ON YOUR LEFT?!?!?!?! Don’t you know the RULES?!?!?!?! Now maybe she had a point but here’s the thing, there were 1200 other riders out there and we were all traveling in huge mobs and there was constantly someone flying by on your left or you were flying by someone on your right…point being…nobody was saying anything 99% of the time unless it looked like a good potential for a wreck. It was just the case that we all had to work together and allow faster riders to pass and allow slower riders room to negotiate the course. This resulted in congested areas where, when the opportunity presented itself you would have 20 or so riders pulling out to pass at once. I can’t speak for others but while I did try to avoid drafting it just wasn’t very realistic much of the time though things did seem to clear out by the time I was on my third loop.

Like I said, I had a great time on the bike but was still plagued by a lack of power. Often enough I was able to move like I wanted but whenever I hit an uphill stretch I would get dropped like a bad habit. My bike split was 2:39:23, about 9 minutes off my goal pace but a decent split none-the-less. My T2 was uneventful and included a pit stop, total time 4:07.

I was now off on the run, which consists of two loops around Tempe Town Lake with one out and back stretch that is about a quarter mile long. I covered the first two miles in close to 18 minutes and everything looked good for a fast but comfortable run. However, by the time I was approaching the third aid station near mile three my energy was beginning to flag. I felt good but again there was the issue with the power output. My heart rate was sitting at 165 but my pace was falling fast. I started hitting the Gatorade and was given a bit of a boost but just could not get back down to a nine minute mile. I covered the first loop in 1:03:32, an average 9:41 pace. The second loop, 1:23:33, a devastating 12:27 pace. Like I said, I felt good at the start of the run and felt like I made a bit of a comeback towards the end but there was a huge slump in the middle where I just couldn’t pull it together.

All in all I have to call this a good effort though it was a huge mental challenge. I covered the 70.3 in 5:55:22, which hit my goal of going sub 6 but I know I can do better if I can work out the problem of fluctuating power output. I’m thinking it had to do with nutrition as I burned 8630 calories during the race and probably did not take in enough to keep up with demands. Soma is a great race put on by a great triathlon organization. If you have a chance include this race as your next season ender.

Monday, October 23, 2006

My wife, my wife, the love of my life

Ok, this isn't easy for me because I have far too much Norseman in my emotional makeup and that influence seems to get stronger with age. However, I have to say that my wife is still able to amaze me. Her latest endeavor has been to register for Ironman Louisville. She will be going there with me and several others on our team, the New Mexico Outlaws.

There is just the general impressiveness of daring to take on the iron distance; I respect anyone who is willing to take it on. However, there is also the courage it takes to take on something like an Ironman when there is as yet no evidence that finishing is a sure thing. Let's face it at the iron distance everyone must acknowledge that a DNF is a real possibility for numerous factors such as mechanical failure, nutrition mishaps, unexpected blistering or "wardrobe malfunctions". As well, some face the iron distance as their first ever triathlon and so have no real idea as to what they are getting into, which in and of itself provides some protection from anxiety.

My wife has done several sprints, a few olympics and will be completing her second half-iron this coming weekend. She knows as well as any non-iron person could what she is getting into and she also knows that given her one half-iron performance she should not be able to complete an iron distance in the allotted 17 hours. And yet…

There are so many people out there who wait, wait for something, wait for some evidence of assured success, wait until there next step won't seem so big, wait until they can locate a crossing with shallower waters…wait, wait, wait. Not my wife and that is one of the major reasons she is my wife. The courage and strength I saw in her life prior to our marriage inspired me, caused me to understand that no matter what qualities I may perceive in myself, this is someone that would not only enrich my life but enrich me as a human being and I have been dead on.

I know she can do it and it will be amazing. I know she will toe the line completely filled with fear and doubt but once the cannon goes off and the race begins it will be nothing but fight and determination all day long, that's just the way she is.

So, here's a quote for my wife, my great inspiration.

"The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become."
Charles Dubois

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The off season approacheth

The leaves are turning and the weather is cooling off and I know it's time for the triathlon season to come to an end. I have one more event this season, the Soma 70.3 in Tempe, AZ, and it is supposed to be one of the best season enders around. However, my mind is turning more and more to running, my favorite off season activity. Not just good short to middle distance runs but big long runs of 20 miles plus. Unfortunatly I can't get too many of these in because I don't really have the time to build the kind of base necessary to pull many of those off. I'll be building mileage after Soma in order to prepare for P.F. Chang's Rock-n-Roll marathon but then I need to get in some decent recovery and start focusing on Ironman Arizona.

In lieu of actually getting in an off season ultra I am reading a lot about it and let me tell you this would have been useful information last year when I was preping for the Ghost Town 38.5. I've subscribed to Ultra Running Magazine, purchased a copy of "A Step Beyond: A Definitive Guide to Ultrarunning" and just today I purchased a copy of the fabled tome "Lore of Running."

If I don't end up gettin in an ultra earlier in the year I am seriously considering getting in the Sunmart 50 miler at the end of the season, this year it takes place on December 9th, the same day as my season opener, the Polar Bear Triathlon, and the same day as the South West Challenge Series awards for the 06 season will be given out.

Anyway, not much of a post I know, maybe I'm just becomming wistful for a season that was such an adventure though it's not yet time for a year in review. I think I'll just curl up with one of my new books.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Post ironman doldrums.......NOT

I have heard any number of stories about people who have experienced post ironman doldrums, not wanting to race not wanting to workout just wandering around listlessly frittering away the days until their inertia is overcome by their boredom. On the other hand I have never heard a story about someone who has maintained a high degree of motivation for training and racing immediately after an iron distance event.

Well, my story is just such a story. I can’t say why I am able to soldier on but I doubt it is because I am uniquely blessed among fellow triathletes with strength, stamina or determination. I suspect it may have more to do with the fact that stories about a perpetual motion machine are far less interesting than the dark musings of someone caught in the midst of an existential crisis.

Rather than bore you with details I will just see if I can provide hope for those who may believe that the post ironman doldrums are a fact of life by providing a pictoral preview of the known events in my next 12 months of life.


I'm telling you, I feel just as ornery as my old pal, the world's toughest Milkman, Reid Fleming.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

From going long to red line

Today was the last event in the Southwest Challenge Series, the Stealth Triathlon at Holloman Air Force Base in Alomogordo, NM. The temps were mild and the course was flat, a perfect combination for a fast race. The day did indeed bring out a lot of fast triathletes from the region trying to get in their last minute points and the Clydesdale group was no exception.

While I have the Championship locked up for the 40+ clydes there was still room for manuvering among the younger guys. To top it off a potential spoiler showed up, a fast Clyde who has not been racing this year. Having just done an iron distance race last weekend and having nothing to gain from this race I was ready to just mosey through this race but as the time neared for the start I started getting excited and my competative nature kicked in. I really wanted to be the #1 clyde for this one last race of the season, not the #1 in my age bracket but #1 among all the clydes.

Well, long story short...mission accomplished! The triathlon was a reverse with a 5K run first, then a 20 mile bike followed by a 400 meter pool swim. When the race started i just red lined it from the get go and kept pushing. My total time was about 1:28:20. I'm not exactly sure on my splits and my official time because the race director sent everyone away without results. The Stealth is famous for always screwing something up, usually the results, but their races are strategically placed in the season so people keep comming back.

I am tired!
Gooood night!

Monday, September 25, 2006

I am an Iron kind'a guy!

I don’t know what it’s like to complete your second or third or fourth iron distance triathlon but I can tell you that completing your first is a deeply personal experience. To the anonymous reader my report will echo other reports written by that minute percentage who have ever completed an iron distance race, to my friends and family it will be personally meaningful in ways I can not anticipate, for me, it is a recounting of something wholly unexpected, something that I still don’t understand as anything more that a personal process that has been set into motion…not a goal that has been achieved.


There is the idea of Ironman, the image and the mystique…and then there is the actual distance itself, a gulf of time and space that can only be spanned by one person on one day…one stroke, one pedal push, and one step at a time. My journey began September 23rd at 7:15 am on the shores of Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The winds were high and the lake was low, exposing the blood red clay of the Oklahoma soil. There was 104 yards of red mud standing between us and the 108 yard stretch of 1 to 3 foot deep water that served as a time sink before we were able to reach the actual swim start. The athletes preparing to race as teams, Aquabike, 70.3 and full iron all lined up ankle deep in the 70 degree water facing into the 16 mph wind contemplating the day that lay ahead, and more immediately, how they were going to approach the swim with such heavy chop. In true western fashion the start of the race was signaled by a single shotgun blast…BOOM…we were off!


The full iron swim was two loops around a triangular course and I hit the first loop easy wanting to carefully conserve energy for the day ahead.





Here's some theme music in keeping with the conditions of the lake.



The swim was crazy! There was the usual jostling and bumping for position but the wind that was driving the chop just kept intensifying. People were getting thrown all over the place, sometimes you could be in a trough and see a swimmer above you or you could look down and see someone below you. People were swimming at crazy angles trying to stay on track or simply because they were disoriented. There were several times when I had people swim straight across my front at a right angle to the direction I was heading. I eventually got into a groove by running the theme song from Hawaii Five-O through my head; hey, whatever works right? Besides, with the waves crashing and the swimmers in their mod eyewear it fit quite nicely. I did the first loop in about 48 minutes, off pace but I still felt very strong so I picked it up a bit and finished the second loop in 45 minutes, which was almost dead on for my predicted iron swim, actually it was probably a bit faster given the fact that we had 108 yards of running in knee deep water and 104 yards through the mud before hitting the timing mats.


I took my sweet time in T1 wanting everything to be right before heading out on the bike. I sat down and dried off my feet being careful to get rid of all the mud then I slid on my socks and smoothed them out making sure there was no bunching. I put on my cycling shoes, grabbed a cliff bar to eat and hit the restroom. Came back to my bike, looked it over real quick, snapped on my helmet put on my gloves and left transition at an easy jog. Total time was 9 minutes flat.


By the time I headed out on the bike course the winds had reached about 20 mph with gusts to 30mph. The course was two 56-mile loops on country roads through a landscape of rolling hills, corn and sorghum fields, cows and bright red squares of soil where fields had recently been plowed under after another growing season. The ride, though tough, really was beautiful in a Midwestern farmland sort of way. It wasn’t until I hit the bike that I was able to start spotting my competition, fellow Clydesdales roaming the Oklahoma countryside in search of good grazing at the next aid station. It was on the bike that I began judging how I should go about the remainder of my race. The excellent thing about a non-WTC iron event is that there are few enough people that you can actually race, even if you are not necessarily Kona material.


I knew there were at least 8 Clydes and I was able to spy four of them on the bike; one was at least five miles ahead, two were at least five miles behind and one was right with me. The Clyde that was way ahead was a real big boy and I estimated that I could run him down in the marathon if I played my cards right on the bike. The two that were way behind didn’t bother me because they weren’t in play yet. The Clyde that was right with me was a strong looking guy from Louisiana; I’ll call him Louisiana Clyde. He looked to be a formidable competitor, him I had to work on. I beat him out of the water and was gone from transition before I saw him. He powered passed me with authority at mile 10 on the bike going uphill and into the wind. I thought, “Man, this guy is strong” and I decided to see if I could stick with him, just enough to keep him in my sights but not try and go for an immediate retaliation. Biding my time, I was able to keep an eye on him through mile 30 and then I started to slowly reel him in as his pace seemed to slow. At mile 40 I passed him and took my first psychological shot. When I passed him it was going uphill, into the wind but I took it more slowly because I had a Cliff bar in hand and as I passed him I looked over mid-bite and said, “Oh, hey, how’s it going?” like I hadn’t noticed him and was just casually pedaling along having a snack. I didn’t see him again until I stopped for my special needs bag at the turnaround point. He didn’t stop for a bag and just kept going. I caught him again at mile 60 or so and looked over and said, “Great kite weather, huh?” and kept on pedaling, shot two fired. By this time the sustained winds were at 25 mph with 40 mph gusts and it was work to keep the bike at 12 mph.


Mile 100 on the bike provided me with the day’s most startling experience. I passed through an aid station manned by a Cub Scout troop. I was full on food and fluids and only had 12 miles to go so I decided to just fly on through. I was going about 20 mph with the wind now at my side and I was feeling very strong. These kids at the aid station were leaping up and down screaming and yelling, “Go man, you can do it!” “Yeah, Go, Go, Go!” they were just going nuts and I was suddenly overcome with emotion and the thought went through my head, “You aren’t a fat kid any more.” When I was a kid those same kinds of regular sized kids used to tease me pretty relentlessly about being fat, now they cheer me because I’m some schmo crazy enough to pay good money to race in what has been called the most grueling single day event yet devised. My reaction was completely unexpected and was there and gone in the span of 10 minutes. Ironman means something different to everyone and that meaning is both deeply personal and completely unpredictable. Apparently after 40 years on this good Earth, to me, Ironman means I am no longer a fat kid, who woulda thunk?


I hit T2 with a much slower bike split that I had wanted, 6:40:06, but I figure that factoring in the wind I was doing about as well as I dared given the fact that I still had a marathon to run. I also took a good amount of time in T2, again drying my feet, changing socks and checking my gear. I was sitting in T2 taking care of business when my old friend Louisiana Clyde arrived on the bike to begin his transition. He sat down and said, “Man, I wish I would have done the half today.” I smiled and replied, “Well then what would you have done with the rest of the day?” with shot three fired I went off to use the restroom. By the time I got back he was out on the run already. My T2, 11 minutes 6 seconds.


Now the marathon and my new goal, chase down the Clyde that was so far ahead of me on the bike. I caught Louisiana Clyde at mile two where he was taking a walk break, I increased my pace and ran past him saying, “Looking strong man.” Shot four fired, he was done and I was on the hunt. I still felt strong and didn’t have any problems going from the bike to the run. At mile 2.5 or so I saw Wife on her return as she was finishing the 70.3. I stopped to give her a kiss and tell her she looked good and then was off again. I finally ran down the other Clyde; let’s call him Big Clyde, at mile 7. At this point, if the route was straight enough, I could look back and see both Big Clyde and Louisiana Clyde so I just kept running to try and put some distance between us. I hit the turnaround point for the marathon in a blistering 2 hours and felt like I had put a decent cushion between myself and Big Clyde so I slowed it way down. It was then that the second curious notion of the day struck me. I thought to myself, “This is the last time I will ever do a first Ironman; I’m going to savor it.”


I began taking frequent walk breaks, stopping to talk to the volunteers at the aid stations and taking the time to cheer on my fellow athletes. I was like some crazed good will ambassador set loose on the course. I was very popular at the aid stations and volunteers were yelling “GO OUTLAWS!” while my fellow athletes were looking at me with a mixture of friendliness and suspicion. At this point I knew I had at least four Clydes behind me and figured that if any were ahead I could not identify them and there was no point in just trying to chase down the unknown. I was interested in holding my position and wanted to make sure I had something to fight back with if it became necessary late in the marathon but by god, I was going to meet people, laugh and joke and watch the sun set over Lake Hefner.


I never did have to fight back any attacks; I just spent the rest of the evening enjoying myself. Honestly, my feet began to hurt from being on them for so long but I was having the time of my life. Some of my fellow would be Ironfolk looked happy and some looked haggard. The only thing these people had in common was their determination to finish an iron distance race; it was an awesome spectacle. I finished my own race in a leisurely 14:24 and change. A stunning 5 hour and 50 minute marathon…socializing sure takes a lot of time. Despite the slow finish I felt like a superstar, like the greatest athlete there ever was, it was as if everyone was there only for my benefit…I was the main attraction. I also ended up with a 3rd place finish among the Clydes. It’s quite something to end up on the podium in an iron distance race. Next up, Ironman Arizona. I guess IMAZ will have to be for the PR since any podium finish is going to require a lot less socializing and a lot more speed. However, the reason I am most looking forward to IMAZ, I’ll be doing it with a bunch of fellow Outlaws, some of whom will be in their first Ironman. I can’t wait to be a part of that experience again and a partner to their experience. GO OUTLAWS!


And here is my finish…pure joy!







...

Friday, September 22, 2006

15 hours & 53 minutes to iron

The days is finally here and I am pretty excited. Wife and I slept in today and then went on an easly little 2 mile run. After the run we had a big breakfast, went to Starbucks, loaded up on coffee and then went and drove the bike course. I remember reading the description of the bike as being flat with some rollers. I would describe it as some flats with rollers. There is good and bad points to the bike. The bad part is that there are large sections of the road that have very rough spots, lots of potholes, both filled and not, and portions of the road that are warped. The good part of the bike is that the rollers are exactly that, for every up there is a down, they are pretty long and shallow and they are pretty evenly spaced.

Wife and I also checked our bikes into transition this afternoon and there were a lot of Redman staff setting things up. From what I see it looks like it is going to be a very well run race. I think that all things considered this is going to be a good event for a first full. The course is going to be fairly mellow while still offering variety and the organization looks good.

Tomorrow, Iron.
Fortitudine Vincimus!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

We're in High Cotton now: A Cotton Country Race Report

Well, another year at the Cotton Country Sprint Triathlon is done and I am happy to announce that no Outlaw in attendance left without some hardware or software as the case may be.

First place awards at this race are a miniature cotton bail and I now am the proud owner of my second as is Wife. I beat my time by last year by about 2 minutes despite the heavier wind and ever so slightly longer course. Wife beat her time 6 minutes.

The race began at a very civilized 9am with the flat out and back run. By the time the race began the wind was strong out of the south and growing stronger. My plan for this race was to take it easy and just get in a good brick and test out my bike in race conditions for the Redman next weekend. I took out on the run at a quick but comfortable pace and thought I'd go ahead and keep good ole Steve O in my sights since he represented my toughest Masters Clyde competition this day. Woops, did I say competition? Yep, I was truckin along and thought to myself, I'll just hang back and keep him in my sights then I noticed that I was matching his pace exactly and maintaining about a 10 yard gap between us.

I thought to myself, "Self, you could just kick it a little and reel him in, tuck in behind him and get a nice draft going" So, kick it I did and then I tucked in nice and quiet like. He let me ride for a while but when the road turned into the wind he glanced over his shoulder and tried to shake me. I hung on wanting to grab a nice draft but he wasn't having any of it. I though, what the hell, I'm just here for a workout so I pulled up along side him and said "Go ahead and jump in behind me, I'll pull." He told me I'd need to grow another foot...ouch. It's true though, he is probably a good 4 inches taller than me but I still could have cut him a nice wind free swath. I could see his shadow and could tell he was drafting a little but then he started falling back so I just tooled on down the road. After I had put the turn around about a quarter mile behind me I saw friend and fellow Clyde Arnold C chugging along...he has had a cruddy last half of the season with work and school so he's been off the training for a while. He was hurtin for certain. I ended up with a run time of 25:10, which was around a 7:30 mile given the extra distance.

I cruised in to T1 with Steve O not terribly far behind and I just strolled transition like a tourist. There was no way I was going to risk ANYTHING buy speeding through transition. After a leisurely 1:30 T1 I jumped on the bike in time to see poor Steve lose his shoe, he was trying the shoes clipped into the pedals thing. I sped off on the bike to fight the now monstrous headwind. It was probably a sustained 20 mph with gusts. I was moving along when I saw friend and fellow mental health professional Stuart C up ahead on the bike. He had passed me in the run and was departing transition as I was entering. He must have been having the bike of his life because he was dropping people and moving right along. I pulled up and dropped in a couple bike lengths behind him and decided to just match his pace for a while.

Just before the turn around I decided I wanted to jump ahead before the turn around and kick in the after burners. I passed Stuart and a couple other folks and then turned and hit it. I got quickly up to 30 mph and started dropping people like flies. I was able to spy teammate Willy Wonka ahead, he had smoked me on the run...as did Muffin, and Sharkbait, and Bones but it gave me some folks to chase, all the Clydes were well behind me by now. I chased down Willy Wonka and started working on Muffin, who was waaayyy ahead. I finally caught him pulling in to T2 but then I did the tourist thing and strolled along taking care not to twist an ankle or step hard on a rock. My bike time was 35:23, somewhere around a 22+mph pace, not bad considering the wind. Oh, the bike is in tip-top race shape.

I jumped in the pool for the amazingly short 300 yard, 5:53 swim and was cruising along for an uneventful finish. The Outlaw dujour was Bones with an incredible 3rd overall. Unfortunately #2 overall was also in his age group so he took 2nd. Sharkbait took second in his age group as did Muffin. Willy Wonka, Double-barreled (Wife) and I all took first in our groups. We had a great time after the race talking with friends and eating the lunch that comes with the race entry fee. The Cotton Country is one of those little local races that you just don't want to miss because of the hospitality and the feeling of camaraderie created by an intimate gathering of local athletes.

So... maybe I didn't take it as easy as I planned but it was a good workout and a great time. Total time, 1:09:23...good enough for government work.

Next weekend I become an Ironman!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Twenty Years in the Making

Last night my mom called me to wish me a happy 40th birthday. We got to talking about the iron distance event that I'll be doing on September 23rd. I said that I thought that I was in about the best shape now as I have ever been in my life. This morning I was on one of my mid-distance weekday runs thinking about this. There is a lot that I could do at age 20 that I know I can't do now. A good exapmle is rugby. I tried that about 5 years ago and spent the next 3 days laid up in bed. However, one thing that I may not have been able to do is complete a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike or a 26.2 mile run. Youth and stupidity might have seen me through any one of those events individually but I'm not even sure about that. I have now completed all these events individually and am confident that I can string them together in one day. I'll get my chance September 23rd at the RedMan.

It's funny to look at old pictures of yourself and consider all that lies ahead of the person you are looking at. It's also funny to consider how similar or different you are to the younger you. Interestingly there is quite a lot that I have in common now at 40 with the 20 year old me. For example, I have returned to being much more physical. At 20, in Marine Corps parlance, I was a "lean mean fighting machine" now I am a slightly chubby amicable triathlon participant...those are pretty similar...right?


In any case, over the past 20 years I've been pretty busy. I have:
1. Served 5 of my 6 years in the Marine Corps
2. Lived in Southern California
3. Played Rugby for the Marine Corps in the Military National Championships
4. Got out of the Marine Corps and moved back to New Mexico
5. Got married
6. Earned a Bachelor's degree and worked full time in a psych hospital
7. Moved to South Dakota
8. Earned a Master's degree
9. Got divorced
10. Got married again (weird but PG rated story but that's a non-public post)
11. Moved to Texas
12. Earned a Ph.D. and got a "real" job
13. Moved back to New Mexico
14. Earned a second Master's degree
15. Wrote the grants for and developed a residential program for homeless veterans that is now pushing 90 beds
16. Wrote a grant and developed a program that helps unemployed veterans return to work
17. Won 3rd place Clydesdale in the Southwest Challenge Series 2005 (covers New Mexico and West Texas)
18. Got Wife and step-son into Triathlon and Duathlon
19. Won Champion Master's Clydesdale 2006 for the Southwest Challenge Series...and
20. For my 20th year since my 20th b-day, in the month of my birth I WILL complete an iron distance triathlon.

I did other stuff too but I wanted the list to go to 20 so I just picked some highlights and one particularly low point that did at least contain some good lessons.

You know, probably the most important thing that characterizes me at both 20 and 40...I love life! I can hardly wait to live another day. Some has to do with the way I've come to think about life, some has to do with my work and some with my play. I have to give a large part of the credit to my marriage, which is fantastic! I'm not saying there aren't bad times, there are, I'm just saying that in my line of work I get to see A LOT of very messed up lives. Heck, even just being a member of our society I see a lot around me that suggests that while I may not be on top, whatever that might be, I have it damn good.

Oh, and my haircut is virtually identical.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Triathlon gods are appeased

At some point this season I angered the Triathlon gods. I fear that I mocked them by over-training and they inflicted me with








1)
A stress fracture in my right hip
2)
A cold immediately following recovery from the stress fracture
3)
A pulled calf muscle in my left leg shortly after recovery from the cold.

These aflfictions took place right as the season was heating up and the last one started to heal just as the season was winding down. I believe I have done my penance through appropriate recovery, a reduction in my race schedule and a slight reduction in my training volume. I have been rewarded with two consecutive days of completely awesome high volume training. Yesterday I did 4600 meters in the pool at race pace and followed that up with an easy 30 mile bike. Today I did a 10.3 mile tempo run on a hilly course and followed that up with an 80 mile bike from my home in Rio Rancho to the Doc Long Picnic area on the opposite side of the Sandia Mountains. I briefly considered climbing the mountain, which would have added an additional 20 miles round trip but I dare not mock the Triathlon gods again…they can be cruel task masters.

Below are the elevation profiles for my morning run and bike. The bike profile is just one way without the return trip. It would only be a mirror image since I followed precisely the same route home.

Fortitudine Vincimus!

Friday, August 25, 2006

What the hail?!


We have been having an incredible amount of rain here in Albuquerque over the past two months and I have had several opportunities to ride in heavy rain storms. The storms in New Mexico are very typical of desert storms; clear sky with some towering cumulus clouds that will start to form an anvil head, cloud turns black, heavy winds ensue and then the fury of the heavens lets loose as rain comes down in blinding sheets for the next 10 to 20 minutes then it tapers off and it's clear again. The rains have been welcome to a degree because we are in the midst of a drought that is going on 7 years I believe. However, they have caused a great deal of damage as well.

Yesterday as I was riding my bike home from work one of these monster storms struck and this time it was accompanied with hail ranging is size from pea to lima bean. This is not the kind of weather a New Mexican is used to riding in. Any experts in wet weather cycling can feel free to add your advice but here is the technique I developed for riding in a hail storm.

1) Get into the smallest possible profile
2) Remain calm
3) Continue to focus on the road ahead
4) Pay special attention at intersections
5) Continue to pedal at a nice even cadence
6) Escape deep inside and find your "happy place"…ouch!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

What it all means

My high school football coach, Joe Bob Tyler, I went to school in Texas so you do say Joe Bob, said once that the most terrible thing in life is to discover one day that yours is full of regrets. This is a man who knew something about appreciating life as one who had survived the Bataan Death March. I have really tried to hang on to that idea and tried to live my life without regrets. One thing I have discovered is that regrets aren't necessary if you have the capacity to take full responsability for your life and your actions, to stare life down and face it without calling upon anything external. This allows you to accept and learn from your mistakes a.k.a. potential regrets.

Actually I guess it is more accurate to say that I discovered this second hand through the reading of many an existentialist text. If I had to claim a philosophical home it would have to be existentialism.

Why do I even bring this up? I've been reading Tri blogs for a little while now and I keep running across entries that have to do with meaning and the creation of meaning. Since I've been doing triathlons I've also been asked a number of times "Why do you do it?" I was asked the same thing about the ultramarathon I ran, my running of three marathons in three months and my completion of 20 events so far this year.

I suppose I have several potential answers but in my philosophical musings I am reminded of an essay by Albert Camus, "The Myth of Sisyphus" in which Camus relays the apparent pointlessness of Sisyphus' esixtance but acknowledges that Sisyphus ultimatly finds meaning in his existance, to eternally push a stone up a hill only to have it roll back down so that he has to begin the task again, through the simple act of applying himself fully to his task.

To quote some of the writing:
"As for this myth, one sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it, and push it up a slope a hundred times over; one sees the face screwed up, the cheek tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands. At the very end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain.

It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock."

So I guess that's it. When I look deeply at myself I discover that I am not a great man, not a powerful man, not a rich man and as far as my atheletic prowess goes, not a praticularly talented man. However, I do walk back down the mountain with shoulders squared and jaw set, I get my footing, lean my shoulder and place my cheek against that cold stone and prepare for another push. In my life I have found something inside that allows me to be stronger than my rock and my participation in endurance sports is an expression of that, my choice to work with the homeless is an expression of that, my choice to be a vegan is an expression of that, my choice to acknowledge that from great suffering comes the capacity to experience great happiness is an expression of that.

Oklahoma City RedMan 140.6, we have a date on September 23rd 2006.
Soma 70.3, we have a date on October 29th 2006.
Ironman Arizona, we have a date on April 15th 2007.

I leave you with a quote by another favorite writer, Victor Frankel.

"What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

V for Victory - The Outlaws did it!

I am pleased to announce that the triathlon team I am on, the New Mexico Outlaws, pulled off a victory in the New Mexico State Team Championships at teh Socorro Chili Harvest Triathlon last Saturday. It was a great race and everyone had a good time. I was worried that I may do poorly because of a pulled soleus but I taped it up and put quarter inch heal lifts in my running shoes and was able to go with only a little discomfort.

I am reminded on occasions like this just how great it is to be on a team and to have these kinds of semi-serious state wide competition between folks who race together all the time. Because it was the team championships the race draws a lot of the "usual suspects" from around the state and it is always fun to get to see them again. The Chili Harvest is also a very popular race for first timers and locals in Scorro. The race was capped at 330 registrants and I believe 303 arrived. There was a huge field of Clydes this year by New Mexico Standards, 29 of us in all. I was fortunate enough to place 1st overall for the Clydes, just a scant 11 seconds ahead of the Jr. Clyde winner and fellow Outlaw. Me and Wiz, our team captain, traded places this year. Last year I beat him by 13 seconds and this year he took me by 11 seconds.

Anyhow, here is how the Outlaws ended up in the final standings.
Jon – 3rd M 15 – 17
Amy – 2nd F 30 – 34
Mark – 3rd M 35 – 39
Jane – 8th F 35 – 39
Mark – 1st M40 – 44
Roger – 2nd M40 – 44
Michael – 5th M40 – 44
Paul – 7th M45 – 49
Greg – 8th M45 – 49
Chuck – 10th M45 – 49
Guido – 13th M45 – 49
Naomi – 6th F45 – 49
Kathy – 8th F45 – 49
Carl - 3rd M50 – 54
Debi – 6th F50 – 54
Miguel – 1st M55 – 59
John – 1st M65 – 69
Jay – 1st Jr. Clydesdale
Cody – 3rd Jr. Clydesdale
Brian – 1st Masters Clydesdale
Karen – 1st Masters Athena
Misty – 3rd Masters Athena

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The good with the bad...the bad with the good

The bad news first. I somehow hurt myself on a slow run this morning. It actually started Sunday on my long run. I was doing 14 miles aiming for a nice easy 9:30 to 10 minute pace. I started having a little stiffness in my left calf but was bothered more bothered by some blisters that had come up on my toes. I took Monday and Tuesday off as usual and then went on a 6 mile easy run this morning. I hit about mile two and there was a sharp pain in my left calf, actually it is just below the calf, so I stopped immediatly and turned around and walked back to the gym. This being the case I did what I think is the smart thing and wrote the race director for the RedMan triathlon and asked him to move me from the iron distance to the half, which he did without a problem.

It's a big dissapointment but it just isn't in the cards this year. My plan in preperation for the RedMan was to get in 1 Olympic, 1 half, 2 more Olympics (1 is Las Vegas) and then the iron. I ran the first Olympic on a hip with a stress fracture, didn't know that at the time just knew I was in pain. I skipped the half and did the aquabike instead while I was healing. I went on to do the next two Olympics and thought I was back on track for the iron with the expectation that I wouldn't do as well on the run as I had originally hoped but today tears it. I don't have enough time to let this recent injury recovery and still get my running legs in shape for an iron distance race by September 23 and I don't want my first iron to be nothing more than a grim attempt at survival with the very real possability of being pulled from the course, those are already possabilities when you take on an iron distance race.

Oh well...Ironman Arizona 2007...we have a date!

The good news...after winning the Clydesdale division at the Tall City Triathlon last weekend I have earned the points needed to claim the title of Masters Clydesdale Champion for the 2006 Southwest Challenge Series. It is completely impossible for anyone to win it regardless of what I do the rest of the season. It was my #1 goal this season and as it turns out it is the only goal I will reach and I feel great! Even if only for one season I'm the #1 Master Clyde in New Mexico and West Texas...cool. Sometimes the breaks go your way, sometimes they don't.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Double Race Report: Blogging from behind

Ugh, I've been bad about keeping up with the Blog. I've had such a great time on vacation and then came back swamped at work. Add to that an Olympic and a Sprint and you've got one tired puppy.

Last weekend i did the Las Vegas Olympic Distance Triathlon at Storie Lake, Las Vegas New Mexico. The outcome of this race for me was a combination of effort and dumb luck and just plain dumb. I'll begin with the dumb. I stayed up to 11 pm, woke up at 3 am to drive the 2 hours to Las vegas and "fueled" up with a quart of coffee soymilk and two servings of oatmeal. I was sick as hell before I left not to metion tired. Who knows where my brain was. For that matter, who knows where my basic survival instincts were.

Anyhow, to keep the kvetching about my self-induced problem brief i will just note that I covered the distance in 2:58:00. I got increasingly sick during the race and was unable to take any nutrition because my stomach was doing flips, which means I was becomming increasingly dehydrated and glycogyn deficit. My swim was 34:14 with a T1 of 1:26, neither of which is bad. My bike was 1:16:27 with a T2 of 50 seconds, a bit slow on the bike but adequate given the increasing stomach upset and lack of hydration though the T2 was good. The run is where things really fell apart. I REALLY had to throw up but absolutly could not. I ducked into the bushes a few times to try and force myself to throw up but nothing ever happened but dry heaves. I just had to push through it as best I could and I completed the run in 1:05:06.

The end result...1st place clyde out of two officially, there was actually a third clyde earning points in the Southwest Challenge Series but he was not allowed to compete as a clyde this race because they require a 215 cutoff. With him included I was still first. Just dumb luck. Last year this time would have earned me 4th in a field of 7.

The second triathlon is the Tall City Triathlon in Midland, TX (results). I also took first clyde in this race. It was a 500 yard pool swim, 22K bike and 5K run. I did the swim in 9:19; bike in 36:05 and run in 26:30. My swim was pretty average, my bike was very good but it didn't feel very good. I felt slow but held a 22.73 mph average. My run was slow at an 8:33 pace. I guess that post injury I just have a lot or run loss that needs making up but not this season. While I have a couple more sprints left I really need to settle into my ironman training to prepare for the Oklahoma City RedMan on Spetember 23.

Next weekend, Socorro Chili Harvest Triathlon, the NM State team championships.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Fat man qualifies for Nationals: A Deschutes Dash Race Report

Its been a while since my last post because I've been on vacation and Wife and I had a GREAT time. The last weekend of our vacation we were in Bend, OR for the Deschutes Dash, which is Oregan's Best of the US race and the Pacific Northwest National Sprint Distance Qualifier.

The race began with a 1300 yard down stream river swim. The water was about the coldest i've even been in but the swim was a blast because you were able to ride a fairly strong current. I thought I had a better swim than i did but it turns out I left the water 13th out of 32 in a time of 17:41. I can only figure that i didn't do as good a job staying in the middle of the river where the current was strongest, still, it was a good swim for me.

T1 was heavenly. I don't know about the rest of you but living in New Mexico I spend all my time transitioning through asphalt parking lots. This time it was a park with deep gree grass. It fetl great on the feet. I stripped the wetsuit off and put the helment on at the same time and got through T1 in 1:36, the 4th fastest T1 in my age group. This is something i've been working on and it is starting to pay off.

The bike was 14 miles and the first mile or two contained four roundabouts or traffic circles whatever you prefer. My bike handling skills aren't as good as they could be so that slowed me down some and the ride out to the turn around had 836 feet of elevation gain so since my butt isn't as narrow as it could be the up hill grade slowed me down too but the ride back to T2 was a blast. During the bike leg there was a guy in the 45 - 49 age group that was leapfrogging with me throughout. It was one of those fun races within a race. I think he beat me back to transition by a fraction because I caught him on the run but he passed me again later and I ended up watching him all the way to the finish line. My bike split was 42:35, which was a 19.7 mph average. Not too bad given the course but I probably could have produced a better effort.

T2 was 58 seconds, 5th fastest in my age group and then i was out onto the run which was two laps around a section of jogging trail that ran alongside the river. The race didn't start until 9 am and my wave went off at 9:55 so by the time I hit the run it was really heating up. I had a hard time keeping cool and my HEED was warm and not particularly refreshing. Despite all that i felt like I had a pretty good run. I did the 5K in 24:18, which is a 7:50 pace, not as fast as i was running pre-injury but I'm not going to complain. I was just looking at the results and realized that the guy who took first in my age group won the race on the swim. I've never seen that before, it is usually won or the run.

Anyway, my total time was 1:27:11, which was good enough to earn me 8th place in a field of 32. It was also good enough to put me in the top 25% which means I qualified for Nationals, not bad for a clyde. Unfortunatly I can't go to Nationals because I'm pretty sure they are on August 12th and I have the New Mexico State Team Championships that weekend and my team, the New Mexico Outlaws, plans on winning.

As an aside, the pics in this post come from two different races, neither of which is the Deschutes Dash but the bike and run pics are from the Mountain Man, which I did the weekend prior to the Dash.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Mountain Top Madness: Mountain Man Triathlon Race Report

Pre-race tip number 38; avoind the hotel 200 yards from the local train tracks...that has trains running on it....every 10 to 15 minutes...all day long...and...ALL NIGHT LONG.

When Wife and I got to lovely Flagstaff, AZ for the 22nd running ot the Mountain Man triathlons, there are three in one day, we discovered that the train ran pretty much right outside our window on an almost continuous basis. It wasn't a discrete event either, it was the full blown rumbling, chugging, horn blowing affiar. I probably didn't get to sleep until 11 pm and was awake off and on from about 2 am until I finally just got out of bed at 3:30 am to start getting ready for the race.

The race of choice, since we are on vacation, was the sprint; 700m lake swim - 18K bike - 5K run. I ended up covering the distance in 1:17:58, which is pretty good for me but not top form.

The swim was nice, the water was perfect and there was very little chop but there was a current. The swim takes place in Upper Lake Mary but I really think it is more of an intermittant river with the two "lake" portion seperated by large swaths of green belt and wetland. It is truly a beautiful race venue. Anyhow, I've never swam in something with a current like this so on the way out to the middle of the lave I was drifting down stream and kept having to adjust. The water was also very murky, not really in a bad way, just a lot of suspended organic material. Anyhow, I couldn't even see my arms much less anyone in front of me. There were about four times when I only knew I was near another swimmer because i was swimming over them...literally on top of them. Sorry if any of you unfortunate souls are reading this post. After the first turn you head upstream, which isn't particularly hard but a little slower. Then it is back to the bank looking directly into the sun. If I were to change anything about this race it would be the start of the sprint swim so that we could head straight out from the swim end, head up stream and then back to the swim end at an angle. You really can't see heading back to shore unless you are at an angle.

Out of the water there are no wet suit strippers so you are on your own but you will have plenty of time because it is a pretty long transition. Surprisingly I was out of my wetsuit and through T1 in 2:20. That is a fast T1 for me, wspecially considering the length of transition.

The bike course was as near perfect as I have ever experienced. The roads were totally smooth and free of debris, the shoulders were wide and the course had some gentle rollers thrown in. The scenery was so nice that you really have to focus on the fact that you are in a race to that you don't just start toodling around enjoying the scenery. There was a bit of a head wind on the ride back. It must have come up while we were headed out because I don't recall much if any tail wind. I was able to maintain a 21.9 mph pace on the bike, which I'm pretty happy with. Me and this other guy started leap frogging during the last 4 or so miles of the ride with him passing me going up and me passing him on the downhills and flats. It was nice to have this competition within the race and helped keep me focused.

T2 went well and i was off on the run. The run also had some gentle rollers but you hardly notice them. Again the scenery was beautiful and the temps were still cool, at least compaired to the races I usually do in New Mexico and West Texas.

At the end of this race they actually give you a finishers towel! The race is a bit expensive compaired to most, the sprint and the Olympic both run $80 but I have to say they are generous with the goodie bags, finishers towel and the overall winner trophies are to be coveted above all else. God I wish I was that fast. They are hand carved stone figures that are quite famous here in the Southwest. I'd say at a store you could expect to pay $300 to $500 for these things.

My bonus, I actually took first in my age group, WOW! I was bummed that there was no Clydesdale division for me to run in and I figured I head home empty handed, which is fine, but it's nice to get the souvineer...and I did.

This race has my strongest reccomendation. You should consider traveling to Flagstaff, AZ to run it and to enjoy the local doings. The Grand Canyon is nearby and there is a ton to do in this college town. Lots of camping, hiking, biking, eating, clubbing etc...and like I said, the race venue is to die for. There is a sprint, Olympic and 70.3 going off all on the same day.

I almost forgot, there was a bike in transition for the 70.3 that had a flat with a dozen Krispy Cream doughnuts strapped to it. The person literally had a special bar attached to the seat post and a set up for this purpose, it was hilarous. On my way back in on the bike route I saw a doughnut on the side of the road and wondered if the person had lost one.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

There's a fire in my belly and I'm on my way back!

This has been a fairly discouraging time for the past 3 1/2 months. I'd have to say the last time I was racing at 100% was the Rio Rancho Duathlon on April 9 where I believe my injury began. Running up hill on the second run was the very first time I felt any odd sensation at the point that ended up being my stress fracture. I waited two weeks and ran two more races, both loaded up on ibuprophin. I event set a Clyde course record at the Amarillo Sprint and won overall Clyde at the Wind Triathlon but those were the last times I was anything close to fast. After two weeks I went to see my family doc and got a consult to a sports medicine guy. Another month went by with three more races. I had four scheduled but one I just went as a spectator due to increasing pain. My running times became slower and slower and I was feeling worse and worse as I saw my increadible season fading into memory.

I was released to run again June 30th and the very next day started comming down with a cold. I have been struggling with a cold for the past two weeks and have contined to feel some discomfort in my run. In fact I find that I actually fear going for my training runs because I didn't feel or see my injury comming and bang! I had a stress fracture.

Well, the past two days have been the first that I have had any sense that I may be comming back and I am dying to come back. I am not sure what the rest of the season holds for me but I do feel like I know what I need to do and I do think, for the first time in almost 3 1/2 months that I may yet have some good races ahead before season's end.