Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dreaming Ahead

I can hardly wait for my 2008 season to get started because I have some big goals that I am looking forward to meeting. The winter months are always difficult for me because I can’t just go out and do whatever occurs to me like a mountain run, which has been occurring to me relentlessly over the past couple weeks. Instead of doing something new and potentially stupid like snowshoe running through the woods atop the Sandia Mountains I have stuck to my low-land roads and single track trails along the Rio Grande.

Sticking to the routine has been a great experience though because I am finally getting to see the results of the meds I have been taking for over a year now. If you have been following my blog long enough you will recall that I had this ugly tendency to break my bones whenever I would increase my running volume too much and in seeking the answer as to why this was I discovered that I had osteopenia. The meds I have been taking are to increase bone density and I have been taking regular large doses of calcium and vitamin D. At almost exactly this time last year I was thinking that I would probably never be able to get my monthly running mileage over 80 miles…this, I have discovered, is not true.

In all of my running this month I have racked up 143 miles and will probably get in another seven by the end of the month just to say I did. This is a tremendous turn of events for be because to be honest I was mightily discouraged when I was told I had easily breakable bones but I guess I did what comes naturally to me and just forged ahead to see what happens next.

My high mileage has been very enjoyable and for the most part has not been too uncomfortable. My speed over longer distances is improving and the effort it takes me to run between 8:45 to 9:00 minute miles is pretty minimal. With every day I am more excited about my running plans for the coming year.

Add to my growing excitement I am reading some pretty good books too, some books that, as the GEEKGRL would say, are probably a bad influence on me. Anyway, the running and the books have me thinking more and more about a particular goal I have been coveting for the past two years.

Here is one quote from the book “Deep Survival” by Laurence Gonzales, which I recently finished reading that has me approaching that particular corner which I am seriously considering turning this year.

“…doing bold things isn’t about engineering risk to zero. Shit happens, and if we just want to restrict ourselves to things where shit can’t happen…we’re not going to do anything very interesting.”

Those are the kinds of words that really speak to me on a very personal level and remind me that I have this one chance to live a life that is bold and interesting and I do not know when that chance will come to an end.

Another quote from the same book slightly modified to make sense out of context.

To lose everything in search of glory “is far sweeter than to win by plodding through a cautious, painless and featureless life…The true survivor isn’t someone with nothing to lose. He has something precious to lose. But at the same time, he’s willing to bet it all on himself. And it makes what he has that much richer. Days stolen are always sweeter than days given.”

So like I said, with all the running and all the reading I think I am ready to make an attempt at a goal I have held dear…I want to become a mountain ultra runner. I want to do races like the Leadville Trail 100, The Race Across the Sky, and the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run and to get there I need to be equal parts smart and bold because those races are pretty unforgiving and the training is pretty specialized.

This year I am already scheduled for an easy trail 50K and an easy trail 50 miler but I am thinking about adding in the Silver Rush 50 mile (out of Leadville) and the Lean Horse 100. If things work out then maybe next year, 2009, I will make an attempt on one of my dream races.

Here’s to hoping!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Here’s Yer Christmas Stocking Stuffer Post

Well, the year draws nigh and I have a grab bag of things to post with no particular theme so I start with the shortest. I want to give my highest recommendation to the new Tom Hanks movie “Charlie Wilson’s War”. It’s a very solid movie with great acting and it has some very funny parts to boot. Tom is one of my favorite actors but in my opinion the strongest performance was that of Philip Seymour Hoffman, another of my favorites. Anyway, very solid acting all around, this is a must see.

As I approach 2008 my goals are solidifying and I think my ultimate this year will be to become an “Iridium” level Marathon Maniac. One of the criteria for Iridium level is to do 9 marathons in 9 different states and/or foreign countries during one calendar year, that’s the criteria I am trying to plan now. Here is where I stand:

January – Mississippi
February – Alabama
March – Texas
May – Utah

June – Idaho
November - Arizona

So you see I have some months to play with though September is out because I am doing the Colorado Relay with some fellow Outlaws including the blogging Outlaws GEEKGRL, Pirate and Bones.

Two obvious ones to choose between are the Duke City Marathon and the Rio Grande Marathon, both in New Mexico and both toward the end of October. While Duke City is right in my back yard I’m kind of leaning toward the Rio Grande, which is about 250 miles south in Las Cruses mostly because I run and bike the route of the Duke City all the time. My other ideas include pretty much whatever I can find within, say, 800 miles of Albuquerque, preferably trail marathons or 50Ks. I’m thinking I should try and do as many of these on dirt as possible.

Ramping up to this much long distance running has been a real bear. I’m trying to keep my legs in good shape but they are hurting a bit, right now it seems to be my right foot that is trashed for whatever reason and my left knee complains a lot but overall I’m holding up and hoping my body settles in to this new madness. I am getting faster though. I went on a bit of a run this morning down along the single track along the Rio Grande and turned in a pretty good 15 miles though I tripped at mile 14 and just laid on the trail staring up at the cobalt blue sky for a couple minutes before dusting myself off and heading on in.

I did my comparison between my 2006 training and my 2007 training and it looks about like what I was shooting for, an increase in my running percentage and decrease in my bike percentage. I didn’t really have any plans for the swim though I notice I got in a little more distance in a little less time, which is encouraging. My overall average didn’t increase by more than 10%, which is good, and I think I’m getting to a decent average training volume. If I can give it one more bump up this year I may be competitive at bigger events but I think that my multi-marathon and ultra year this year will end up slowing me down a bit but who cares right, for me it’s all about the journey not the times…well, I’ll take good times too but I’m just sayin…

2006 totals
Bike: 385h 55m 14s - 6377.53 Miles
Run: 136h 28m 11s - 822.64 Miles
Swim: 79h 34m 39s - 213474.7 Meters

Total hours: 602
Weekly average: 11.6
Swim %: 13%
Bike %: 64%
Run %: 23%

2007 totals
Bike: 379h 26m 55s - 6013.18 Miles
Run: 180h 54m 48s - 1024.45 Miles
Swim: 75h 26m 25s - 215089.4 Meters

Total hours: 636
Weekly average: 12.2
Swim %: 12
Bike %: 60
Run %: 28

Merry and/or Happy This Time of Year Things!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tagged - 5 Interesting Things

The funny thing is that much of what most people would consider "interesting" about me are commonplace among my fellow multisport athletes so where to take this thing…

1) I have lived in places, yes lived not just visited, where I have seen the sun rise and set over the Pacific Ocean and rise over the Atlantic. Still haven't lived somewhere that the sun set on the Atlantic.
2) I have climbed the highest peak in the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western parts of New Mexico.
3) I am the current president of one of my national professional organizations.
4) The one and only sport that I would actually sit and watch is Rugby and despite my lifelong involvement in sports I could care less about professional sports of any kind. In fact, this has at times been somewhat of a conversational handicap because when people start talking about "Hey, did you see that game between…" not only am I unable to feign interest but I have great difficulty covering up my impatience though I try to be polite.
5) I'm not a big fan of Holidays. Sure I love time off and love to travel, especially by car, but formal holidays like Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Thanksgiving etc… even birthdays, not a fan. It isn't that I dislike them it's just that I really don't care about them. All those things that they are supposed to symbolize, I think you should really try and express every day and not horde your goodwill, remembrances, good cheer, recognition, gift giving etc… until one lousy day per year because, let's face it, that day may not come this year.

Now for an update. This weekend was one hell of a training weekend though I didn't really plan it that way. I have been working on meeting the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association's "Year-Rounder" challenge this year whereby you have to ride at least one century each month for the year. The rides can either be organized or personal and you have to send in either a tracking sheet or something like Garmin data by way of Motion Based if you do a personal century. Anyway, I had chosen this weekend as the one where I would do my December century and finish off the year so I headed out on Saturday and got in 101.2 miles. The average temperature was 29 degrees with a high of 31 but I got it done and am pretty glad to be done with the challenge because it really tended to get in the way of my various training and racing objectives but I am glad I did it and will now await my plaque.

Sunday I had my last long run scheduled before tapering down a bit for the Mississippi Blues Marathon on January 5th. I headed out to get in 18 miles and at mile 14 I really started to wear down. I thought to myself, "Well, I put a lot of climbing in this run and I am running it faster than I usually run the day after a 100 mile ride." At about mile 15 I was once again focused on how tired I was and then it dawned on me, "This is about equivalent to what I would be doing on a peak IM training weekend and I have not been training for an ironman." Duh! So I cut myself some slack and ran the last few miles at about a 12 minute pace wondering how exactly I missed the fact that I was doing 100 miles one day and 18 the next. Since I have been run focused I have just been thinking about that and not paying attention to the bike so I guess I just thought about the bike as something I needed to finish up and the run as my workout. Weird.

Finally, I'm pretty happy to report that I have 10 more miles to run and I will have done 1,000 miles for the year! Sure, not as much as some triathletes I know but it is a goodly chunk of mileage. I am also about 20 miles from getting 6,000 miles on the bike and about 50 meters away from getting in 113 miles of swimming. I'll do a comparison between this year and last year next post.

Oh, people to tag. Apparently this thing has been going around a while so I'll only tag fellow Outlaws, at least one of which will need to finally create a blog of his own instead of lurking and leaving the occasional comment.

So I tag:
Mr. T
Deputy Dog

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My 2008 Season Preview Thing-a-ma-gigger

Well, after a pretty busy 2006 season I vowed to have a slower 2007 season and I believe I did one or two fewer races in 2007 than in 2006 but then again I did several more long and ultra-distance events in 2007 so I’m not exactly sure it counts as a “slow’ season.

Still, one thing I most certainly learned this year is that my racing is indeed a significant impediment to my training, which in turn is an impediment to my racing but…whatever, I love to race so here goes nothing.

I kicked off my 2007 season with a boat load of cycling and a couple ultracycling events. I also have been doing the Ultramarathon Cycling Association’s Year Rounder, a challenge whereby you have to ride at least one century per month for the calendar year. I guess you could call it my year of the bike and I have become a better long-distance cyclist and have learned some very important lessons about time, distance, saddles and male genetalia.

For 2008 I am going to kick my season off with a boat load of running and will do a couple ultramarathons. My run kickoff actually began for the Las Vegas Marathon just a couple weeks ago but will continue with the inaugural Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, MS on January 5th. My first season ultra will be the Black Warrior 50K on February 16th near Moulton, AL and my second season ultra will be March 22nd at the Grasslands 50-mile at the LBJ National Grasslands near Decatur, TX. Since I was able to get a surprisingly fast PR at Las Vegas I plan on taking the rest of these runs at a pretty easy clip, maybe 4:45ish for the Mississippi Blues and I am aiming for sub-6 for the 50K and sub-12 for the 50-mile. Like the ultracycling I am looking at the running as base and strength building.

Other events I have planned for 2008 are the Ogden Marathon in May, IMCdA in June the Colorado Relay, a 170-mile team relay run, in September and IMAZ in November. Beyond that I am just going to play it by ear. It is very likely that I will end up at the Halfmax Long-course National Championships on October 18th just outside Las Vegas, NV where maybe I can earn my way onto Team USA for the 2009 world long course championships. I also plan on getting in a few of the local races. The people in charge of our regional race series have decided to not require a minimum of 8 races to qualify, which is a big relief because I won’t feel pressured to get in 8 regional races.

Finally, big pressure is already mounting for the end of my season. I have IMAZ on November 23rd and the week before is the inaugural San Antonio Texas Rock-n-Roll marathon. Not only does Mom Baboo live right nearby but San Antonio Texas is my second home. If it weren’t for the dog gone heat and humidity it would be my home but New Mexico has it beat with respect to weather and, for the most part, scenery. However, I really am more of a Texas person personality wise and I can gawk and mosey with the best of them. My other end of year conundrum is the Las Vegas Marathon, which is a week after IMAZ. I would definitely do the half in that case and of course the draw is the great gathering of Elvi and after our cool Elvi blowout this year I believe we will have a whole bevy of bloggers and Outlaws there next year.

Will the choices never cease? I swear the nation’s race directors will not be satisfied until they have every last penny I earn.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ok, Now I’m Tired: A Polar Bear Race Report

Yesterday was my debut as an age grouper in my regional race series, the South West Challenge Series. I am still Clyde legal, bouncing between 198 and 203 but had I run as a Clyde I would have taken first by about 45 minutes…I am beginning to wonder if we are a dying fast breed in the Southwest because it wasn’t that way three years ago.

Saturday’s race was the Polar Bear Triathlon, a sprint that starts with a 7 K run then a 30 K bike and finally a 400 meter swim in a heated pool. Despite taking place in 2007 this race is the first race in the 2008 series…it is always the first race of the next season though there won’t be another until mid February and things don’t really start picking up until mid-March. This is usually a well liked race because it takes place in early December when most everyone is itching too do something because their seasons ended two or three months ago and because it usually brings out many of the faster people who compete in the series because it is also the same day that series awards are handed out.

From the beginning of the race I chose a new rabbit to try and follow, a fellow Outlaw we call “Bones” who is a front of the packer and who I do a fair amount of training with. From the beginning of the run we took off together and I was able to stay with him through the initial downhill and flat but when we turned uphill he left me behind as did the rest of the lead pack of runners. I looked around quickly to see who might be near and to my surprise there was nobody near, I was in a no-mans land between the back of the front pack and the front of the middle pack. I did my best to hold my pace and just kept charging ahead. A little earlier Bones asked me if I was feeling the marathon yet and I don’t know if I gasped anything but I know I thought, “no, I’m busy feeling the 5K I ran the day before the marathon, I expect to be feeling the marathon any time now.”

As the lead pack continued to scramble up the hill and away from me I decided to just focus on my leg turnover, no good, my legs felt beat so I didn’t want to focus on that. I started to focus on my breathing, no good, I was breathing ragged and strained so I just focused on the nearest person ahead of me and tried to keep a fixed distance between us and concentrated on the thought that I would start to close the gap again once we hit the flats. Once we did hit the flats I didn’t so much start gaining as I stopped losing ground and thought that if I could just hang on until the final mile, which is mostly down hill, I could make up some ground, which I did. I don’t recall seeing Bones run in to T1 or leave it but I knew he was at least a couple hundred yards ahead and I really didn’t have any further intention to catch him on the bike I was just trying to get the fastest start to the race that I thought I might be able to handle.

Once I headed out onto the bike I was right with this guy who was clearly a cyclist but he was sure able to run hard too. I followed him out of transition and just did my best to stay on his wheel. He was fast and I thought could be my next rabbit. I followed him and was pushing hard. My quads and hip flexors were burning like crazy but they still felt like they had a little strength in them. I knew that the first 5K or so of the bike was all downhill so I would be able to let my breathing settle a little. I suddenly noticed that my rabbit was looking around like he was confused and then he did a hard U-turn, CRAP! He had missed the turn which means I had missed the turn. I did a U-turn and started hammering my way back and saw people that I had beaten on the run making the correct turn and pulling ahead. My rabbit quickly past me and pulled well ahead and was gone, there was no way I was going to follow this guy he was too fast. I just settled in to the hardest pace I thought I could manage and focused on trying to pass everyone who had slid by during my misadventure.

I was able to catch and pass everyone who had gotten by me and then I was in no-mans land again unable to see anyone ahead of me so I just rode as hard as I could. By 15K I started to see someone ahead of me and then two people and then three so I started to push a little harder and then I started to catch the tail end of the front pack. At 20K I had passed three more people and then I spied Bones just ahead. We were heading up a slight incline and so I settled in behind him to try and store up enough energy to pass and pull ahead. I was certain that if I tried to pass hit right away he would fight back and I would blow up. When we hit the 25K mark I made my move and put everything into the pass. I got by him and then started working on another guy further up ahead. I knew that Bones is really a better swimmer than I am so I wanted to put as much distance between us as I could. I finally passed one more cyclist and headed in to T2, legs completely beaten.

The last guy I passed on the bike passed me in transition and beat me to the pool. I got in right behind him but was unable to hang on his feet because at the first turn as I pushed off the wall my calves threatened to cramp, I could feel them tightening up and I had to immediately bend my feet to stretch them out. I swam as hard as I could but not being able to push off the wall is no good and I really was whipped. I was moving through the water like a barge but still no sign of Bones. I was probably about half way through the swim when I noticed someone a lane or so over wearing the solid black skinsuit of the New Mexico Outlaws…Bones, damit! I tried to swim harder but I had nothing left. I tried to push off at the next wall and was again threatened by cramping and had to stretch again. I was digging at the water and kept seeing Bones gain on me. About 2/3 of the way through the swim he went past me like I was an anchor and then a second person was right on his feet. I drug myself out of the water like a drowned rat and plowed down in a pool side chair and was glad to be done with it.

I felt pretty good because I had given it all I had and if anyone beat me there was not a single thing I could have done about it, well, I guess other than staying on the freakin course. As it turns out I added about 6 tenths of a mile to the bike so including the slow-down, turn around and accelerate maybe I added as much as a minute to my total time. It turns out that I actually won third place in my age group! I was separated by the guy in first place by…about…one…minute! C’est la vie.

I feel pretty good about having made it to the podium and think I could have done better on fresher legs but this is the thing, I felt really good about that third place award. It has been awhile since I clawed my way onto the bottom step of the podium and it was nice. This was the first race in a couple years where I actually had the pre-race butterflies you get when heading in to serious competition and that felt good too. I was also happy for the Clydesdale over 40 who was so far behind me but still got to head home with a first place medal to show off to the wife and kids.

It was a good day all in all and I am looking forward to future duels with Bones and the challenge of someday taking first in my age group at one of our humble little races here in the South West Series.

This morning I went on a nice trail run in the Sandia Mountains with fellow Outlaws, Mighty, Sluggo and Stitch…they kicked my ass too but I was happy, happy to be running on snow dusted mountains with friends and happy to be chasing, I mean really chasing, first place in some po-dunk races out here in the desert southwest.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Viva Las Vegas! Viva Johnny Tri!

Yes this post will be rich with pictures and is brought to you through the incomprable hospitality of Johnny Tri!

The Great Santa Run
Saturday was the day, it was the test and the leg held strong. The morning started with a rubdown and a lower leg taping and then it was off to the Great Santa Run. It was amazing, at last count there were 7800 Santas ready to run. There were big Santas, small Santas, white Santas and black Santas. Some Santas were smoking some were eating energy bars some were drinking beer and some water it was just unbelievable. Once the race started it took a while to get going because I had started back in the pack with Johnny Tri and Miguelvis thinking that my leg may not hold out. We took off easy and just rolled into the race. By the time we were close to the first mile marker my leg was feeling good so I started to pick up the pace and when that felt good I picked it up a little more then Miguelvis took that as a sign to start pushing the pace and Johnny decided to let us go and go we did. I put the hammer down and pulled ahead of Miguelvis and started weaving between all the Santas that had lined up ahead of me, including the GEEKGRL who I finally caught at about mile 1.5. The fastest time recorded by Garmin was a 6:14 pace but with all the jacking around I didn't get anything like that for a full mile.

I was determined to get the most of my experience so I ran the entire race with my Santa beard on, I got a cup of water at the one aid station and tried to drink but ended up with a mouth full of beard and a beard full of water. I also tried to get at least one fast mile in a Santa suit. I didn’t really get the splits right so I have some easy running in all three miles in each of the mile splits registered by Garmin but was able to turn in some good times.

The Las Vegas Marathon
Me and Misty, Miguelvis and Johnny Tri woke early to head down to Mandalay Bay for the third running of the New Las Vegas Marathon. We had to go over to a special location for the morning gathering of running Elvi so that we could walk in an Elvi processional out on to the marathon starting corals lead by the Running Elvi mobile, which is a jogging stroller hooked up with a car battery and six speakers blasting Elvis. It is all draped in red and sequins with a big picture of the King himself on the front. When we came out onto the course we were greeted by a professional Elvis impersonator and they were playing the introduction to Elvis’s Viva Las Vegas concert. The Elvi had their own special coral that ran alongside the regular starting corals so we could be fed in to the crowd a bit at a time, sprinkled through the race.

I felt good from the very beginning. The drama of “will the leg hold?” was pretty much taken care of yesterday but I did still have that fear in the back of my mind that exactly 7 days prior I had ended a 15 mile run at about mile 1.5 in pain. I felt what I’ll call a minor complaint from my calf somewhere around mile 8 or so but nothing else. Miguelvis and I ran side by side almost the entire race. We started together and finished together but there was a bit of time from about mile 20 to 25 where he was as much as a couple hundred yards behind me because he has stopped at a couple aid stations but I just kept chugging on through. Somewhere around mile 16 my quads were protesting a bit, mostly they just had this kind of thick, heavy feeling. I was saying to myself, “If I can just hang on until mile 20 then I can take this pace on in.”

I ran the marathon without my Garmin, not by choice but because I forgot the damn thing at Johnny’s house so what pace I was holding I didn’t exactly know but I knew it was a good one.

Running as Elvis was a complete and total blast! There were just over 200 Running Elvi between the half and the full marathon and far fewer on the full which meant that where ever Miguelvis and I went we were still a novelty.

There were three British Elvi, one Dutch Elvis and a few Canadian Elvi but I don’t know what other countries may have been represented, if any. I must have said “Thank you, thank you very much” about 100 times. People just got such a kick out of it when they called out to you, er, Elvis, and got that famous reply. I also got a special boost through the aid stations, especially the ones with the cheerleaders lining the chute, they went wild for Elvis! It also seemed to liven up some of the runners to have Elvis out on the course, especially late in the race when people were hurting and were looking for pretty much any diversion to take their minds off the pain for a bit. I personally only had one bit of pain towards the end but it was totally managable.

After crossing the finish line Miguelvis started to throw up and was promptly carted off to the medical tent, which he later raved about. One thing that is for sure, the organization of this year's event was a hit! I went and got a massage and then was off to the finish line party where Miguelvis and I spent a couple hours having people come up to us as ask if they could have their pictures taken with us. Heck yeah Baby, we'ere Elvis and this is Vegas! We were also offered money for the chance to have a picture taken with us but we turned that away, we are, after all, men of the people.

On a side note, I absolutely crushed my marathon PR, I mean crushed it. My old PR was 4:47:19 set last year at the Lost Dutchman Marathon. My new PR, well, that’s posted below.

I am definitely running as Elvis again, heck, I may run many more marathons dressed as Elvis, it’s just way too fun for everyone! As a matter of fact, I am saying here and now that I will run the Mississippi Blues Marathon as Elvis, it is his home state after all.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Vegas Prep

I’ve been running around this week praying for my calf to heal, worrying about my Elvis suit and freaking out about the ETA for my wig…MY WIG! These are not concerns I ever imagined I would have but there it is.

So just a quick update to keep you in the loop. I want to thank everyone for their support on my last post! The calf feels MUCH better. Legs are tight but I had a great massage yesterday and I think it’s a go! My motto will be “Slow and Easy”

The Great Santa Run will most likely be a run/walk or slow jog just to see how things hold up.

The Las Vegas Marathon will be slow too. I want to take the opportunity to act the fool and cheer back-o-the-packers on to victory, after all it’s Vegas Baby, everyone needs a bit of the King!

My hair DID NOT arrive today so the GEEKGRL and I went to a local wig shop…her hair didn’t come in either. The GEEKGRL was talking to the shop owner while I was out in the car doing something and apparently the shop owner told GEEKGRL, “When your husband first came in he didn’t say a word he was just really quiet and started looking around…I thought he might be a cross dresser.”

INDEED, a cross dresser! Apparently I fit the M.O. of a cross dresser, big quiet white guy in a wig shop…a lot like Bigun I suppose…hmmm, is there something we don’t know? Apparently these big guys come in quietly and say “Can you make me beautiful?” I must have ruined the moment when all I said was, “I need some Elvis hair.”

The other thing…my receipt has “head” on it. Now I don’t know about you but that is one word I never thought I would see on a receipt...even if it is the Styrofoam, wig holding kind.

Finally, my compadre, fellow Outlaw Miguel…he has taken to calling himself “Miguelvis”

Viva Las Vegas BABY!

Monday, November 26, 2007

What goes up…

I have been riding a high for the past month or so that was just unprecedented. I PR’d the half at Soma, had a great race as Silverman and PR’d my 10K on Thanksgiving. In addition to that my training was going very well and I was starting to settle into my winter running. This Saturday I went for a three hour mountain bike ride down along the Rio Grande and Sunday I went for an easy trail run with some friends and a mile and a half in BANG!

It felt like someone had thrown a rock and hit me hard on my left Achilles tendon and I was brought to an immediate stop as pain radiated up the inside of my leg all the way to my hip. It was a brief shot but the pain was nauseating and then everything went pretty numb. I hobbled back toward the car as my friends ran ahead to come back and pick me up. I was unable to push off my left foot and anytime I accidentally did there was a weird watery grinding feeling. I immediately took some anti-inflammatory meds and drove myself to the nearest gas station to get some ziplock bags and ice.

Since I was able to walk/hobble I decided to wait until this morning to make an appointment with my family doc, who I trust, and didn’t go to the ER. This morning I got in to see doc, he poked and prodded and said the tendon felt really strong and there was no pain. I then said, well, it hurts when I do this and I got off the exam table and stood up on my tip-toes and GASP, immediate pain. He grimaced and said, “Ok, there it is, about four inches up from the heal. I’m going to set you up for an MRI.”

I can’t claim to know what exactly is going on until the MRI results come back but I did some reading and apparently you can rupture or partially rupture your Achilles tendon and not immediately crumple into a heap writhing in pain. Apparently the sensation ranges from feeling like getting hit hard in the tendon to feeling like being shot. I would say mine felt like getting hit by a champion rock skipper…I have no idea what it feels like to get shot.

If indeed this is a rupture I and done for the winter and might be able to start coming back early spring, maybe March or April depending on how things go and what the treatment may be, either immobilization and physical therapy or surgery, immobilization and physical therapy. At a minimum I am unlikely to do a marathon this weekend. Best care scenario, I wrenched a muscle or the tendon really good and will only be out a couple weeks, doc said I heal surprisingly fast.

So here is a new challenge, being an invalid, not of my own choosing but one that I guess I do need to work on. I suck worse at being an invalid than I do at the iron distance but at least I love racing the iron, I REALLY REALLY HATE being an invalid.

So here I am in bed typing away between readings of a truly unusual but interesting book “C.C. Pyle’s Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America” determined to be a good patient. Of course I’ll keep folks updated as to my condition and start trying to figure out what I can do to stay in shape if I get bad news.

In the mean time I went ahead and registered for the new November Ironman Arizona, after all, this is only a temporary setback.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

2007 Season in Review

I thought I had better squeeze in a season wrap up before I start hitting my marathon and ultra season, starting next weekend, and my 2008 tri season, which actually begins with a race on December 9th called the Polar Bear.

My 2007 season has been epic! I think the biggest news for me is that I have earned the title of Clydesdale Champion for the South West Series for a second consecutive year and will now be retiring my local/regional Clydesdale Racing Card. I weighed in this morning at 199.5 and think I will continue to lose through this winter. However, even if I were to continue hovering at 200 I still wouldn’t race Clydesdale in any of my local or regional races because I don’t want to feel like I might be discouraging new comers. I think there is a point at which you stop being a motivating person to chase and start becoming a discouraging opponent to face though at big races like Soma or out of state races I’d still probably race as a Clydeif I still qualify.

So, on to the season review. I hadn’t planned to do it but this year I completed:
2 brevets, 1 was 126 miles and one was 194 miles
1 10K
1 marathon
2 duathlons
8 sprint triathlons
2 olympic triathlons
4 half-iron triathlons and
3 iron distance triathlons

23 races and only one broken bone and a calf muscle that kept acting up but otherwise I’m no worse for wear.

The Best and the Worst of my season:
Best swim – Ironman Louisville: 1:12:57
Worst swim – Silverman: 1:35:32

Best bike – Soma HIM: 2:29:45
Worst bike – Ironman Arizona: 7:23:09

Best run – Hobbler Gobbler 10K: 47:14
Worst run – Ironman Louisville: 7:18:21

Best overall race: it’s a tie - Soma HIM and Silverman iron distance
Worst overall race: Ironman Arizona

Best triathlon advice: In an Ironman race you must train to eat what will be on the course and you must train to eat anything and everything because you don’t necessarily know what you will encounter on the course but you will most certainly need it. You should also learn to race by heart rate AND RPE, if you get HR and RPE correct your pace will take care of itself.

Worst triathlon advice: In an Ironman race you must develop a highly systematic nutrition and pacing plan and stick to it. Train with exactly what you plan on using for race day and do not try new foods or fluids out on the course.
Most valuable lesson learned this season: A sprint is a race and an olympic is a race and while you also race a half-iron and some people are able to race a full Ironman they are not really races so much as they are they are tests of survival that require you to be able to keep your wits and adapt.

Both of these distances require you to be solidly in the moment, be flexible and be patient. You can most likely pull off a HIM self-supported with your own nutrition but it is exceptionally unlikely that you could ever do so in an Ironman. I want to say that it is completely impossible but as soon as I do someone will comment on how they did it. Never the less, I would estimate that the chance of something going wrong during an Ironman is 99.9% and the only way you will recover from that mishap, actually in my opinion it will be more than one mishap, is if you are focusing on taking care of yourself in the moment, are flexible and are patient. You need to be able to calm yourself down, take a deep breath, smile and move forward doing the best you can in that one moment.

Oh, one other bit of advice, don’t look at a bad race time and conclude it is a bad result, it is a learning opportunity. Endurance sports are thinking persons sports and when you waste your time bitching about slow times or poor performances you lose the edge that could be gained from that experience and applied to your next race.

Fortitudine Vincimus my friends! Through endurance we conquer!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Thanksgiving Thank You: Illuminating the Shadow

In Jungian Analytical theory there is a concept referred to as the Shadow. The simplest and most straight forward description that I have ever heard of the Shadow is, “The Shadow is the place we put all those things about ourselves that others and society find unacceptable.” Just like the name implies those things that dwell in the Shadow are hidden from the light of day, not only from the light of society or the light of our friends and family but much of what is relegated to the shadow become lost even to ourselves.

The things that are relegated to our Shadow are impulses, the things that arise in us naturally and unbidden. Jung says that we are born whole people and the process of life experience and the imposition of social mores whittle away at us so we progressively become less and less of who we were born to be. Now this is not always a bad thing, infants have some pretty distressing impulses. Have you ever see the baby that discovered you could make cool designs with the stuff in his diaper? Have you ever experienced the thought when standing on a high ledge, “I wonder what it would be like if I just jumped right off the edge?” Those are impulses that are perfectly normal but I would suggest it would be a bad deal if we always followed through on them.

Some impulses are very weak and pretty much disappear like the impulse to smear feces…we hope. Some impulses are very strong, however, and persist in seeking expression. The weak and strong impulses are generally different for different people. Now here’s the hitch, the strong impulses that are stuffed into the shadows, it is theorized, begin to warp and change as the battle between them seeking expression and you trying to suppress them rages on. Jung contends that this is one of the principle sources of harmful or even evil acts; the impulse warps, becomes ugly and every once in a while it breaks through your defenses like a frog leaping forth from your mouth. A benign example; have you ever met that person who REALLY wants to be part of the “in group” but just can’t pull it off socially, they hang around the fringes and occasionally blurt something out that just isn’t quite right? That would be an example of someone who has the impulse to be gregarious and social but, for whatever reason, has relegated that part of them to the shadow but that part keeps trying to break out.

People who are really neurotic have huge Shadow selves and small, whittled down, anemic “authentic selves”. People who are just downright evil, say, like Hitler or Stalin, have enormous Shadow selves but have no compulsion in freeing their twisted impulses to reek havoc in the world. People who have fully liberated their Shadow selves and found ways to give creative and positive expression to their impulses are often referred to as “Self-actualizers” and most of us are caught somewhere in-between hopefully heading in the direction of self-actualization.

So, that is my enormously verbose psychologist way of leading in to what this post is really about, a Thanksgiving thank you, a thank you to the sport we love and to the community of triathletes that have embraced me and that I have embraced. I can not begin to convey just how small I had become and how far I have come. By the time I was 25 years old I was practically invisible were it not for my Shadow. I spent years fighting to escape into the light of day with some success and many, many failures. One I entered into the sport of triathlon it was as if someone handed me a sledge hammer and steroids and when I figured out what to do with them the walls came crashing down and I am rushing headlong into my future, ever more whole, ever more alive.

What, you ask, is the metric against which I measure? When I was 26 it was my goal to get through college, get an obscure degree in some field of Philosophy. I wanted to get a job in an obscure Philosophy department in a tiny college and get an office that was remote and packed with books and papers. I wanted to hide from the world and do nothing but read and think about things that didn’t have much application in the world…and now, well, now I will be running the Las Vegas Marathon dressed as Elvis and, indeed, that is the direction that I want to go, had always wanted to go.

I am heading in the right direction and every day I become more of who I am and so I am thankful, thankful to my lovely wife, my wonderful friends, my crazy bloggy peeps and the global community of triathletes that have helped ignite the flames of my passion.

Thank you, thank you very much!

FINALLY, had a little run today, a little 10K, smashed my old PR on a much harder course and ran about 47:10, I’m still waiting for official results to be posted. I did a 2 mile warm up run from my home to the run start and then about a two and a half mile run a little later after some post-race coffee with friends so when you look at my Garmin profile the run course is between those two downward spikes in my average heart rate. My first mile and last mile of the race are sullied by my much slower paced warm up and post race run but note that one sub-7-minute mile…Whoo-Hoo!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Silverman Pics and More

First things first, I want to shout out to Johnny Tri…SHOUT. The GEEKGRL and I had the great good fortune to have a sit down meal with the Johnster while he was in New Mexico visiting family on his way back to Vegas. We ate Indian, talked like old ladies in a crack fueled sewing circle and had a few laughs. El Johnno is quite the guy and I am really looking forward to getting together again in a couple weeks on his home turf…in his own home even. Thanks again John!

Ok, so now for the Silverman pics and a recent development in my own strange world.

A none-to-happy camper coming out of the water, I had just looked at my watch and was trying to choke back an open display of disgust.

Out on the bike I might have been a wee bit faster were it not for the 12 pounds of sunscreen that was slathered on my bod by the sun screening volunteers. On the bright side, the only places I got too much sun was where I took responsibility for the coverage. Also, note that huge blue thing in the background? That’s a view of Lake Mead from maybe mile 25 or 30. You can sort of tell that a whole lot of climbing has been going on already.

Here I am heading out on the run feeling my oats and ready to, a, well, run I suppose.

Now this is the finish line pic I’ve been waiting for…ok so in my dream that time sign says 9:58:27 and it is bright and sunny outside but let’s take this one step at a time, I’m still getting the pose right.

And last but not least, the pic that almost caused me to exercise my psychologist powers when I saw it and have myself committed. Have you ever seen such a psycho?! Well, at least I’m a happy psycho and yes, I was every bit as happy as I look.

Now on to the other news. You already know that the GEEKGRL and I along with Johnny Tri and his Pops are runnin’ a 5K in Santa suits with something like 7,000 other people in Santa suits. Well, the Vegas madness doesn’t stop there. Apparently the Silverman knocked something lose and, well, I am running the Las Vegas Marathon…hold on to your seats…I am running the Las Vegas Marathon…dressed as Elvis Presley! Oh yes I did, I said it, I’m gonna’ be a Runnin’ Elvis! The leader of the running Elvi is trying to organize a world record attempt at the largest number of running Elvi on one course. Actually I think he is trying to ESTABLISH a record since I don’t think one exists. I’m guessing that since the people from the record books will already be there to tally running Santa’s why not spend another day and record the Kings?

What can I say but, “Thank you, thank you very much”

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Course that Makes Ironmen Cry: A Silverman Race Report

When I signed on for the Silverman I thought I had only registered for the hardest iron distance race in North America. Apparently I was mistaken. The Silverman claims to be the “World’s Most Grueling Full-Distance Triathlon”, yes the WORLD’s most grueling full distance triathlon and I have to say that I believe that is true. Professional triathletes Dave Scott, Chris McCormack and Peter Vabrousek all said it was the hardest course they had done and all three of these guys have raced a lot, probably more than any three triathletes in the sport so who am I to argue. The other thing about Silverman, you probably get the best schwag in the sport…seriously it’s almost worth the price of admission.

The course is like a rugged moonscape. If you have not visited the deep desert southwest where the landscape is covered in creosote bush, cholla and big sage and the most colorful things around are the rocks then it is hard to imagine but it is a beautiful place in its own right. Lake Mead is huge and clear and capable of generating the kind of wave action you only find in very large bodies of water. The bike course is mostly an out and back though T1 and T2 are in different areas with T1 at the lake and T2 at a community center in the city of Henderson, NV. The bike takes you deep into the desert on the longest and largest rollers I have ever seen. At about the half way point on the way out we literally rode up and over a high saddle adjoining two mountains, the rest of the 9,700 feet of climbing was just preparation for that monster climb and the “Three Sisters” that you hit at about mile 95. The three sisters are short and steep, three consecutive climbs of 18% grade with no downhill in between just climb, a few yards of flat, climb, a few yards of flat and climb again with the last climb being the longest. When I hit that point the guy in front of me wobbled to the top of the last of the sisters, rolled a few more yards and then got off his bike and started pukeing…that pretty much says it all. The run takes place through the suburbs of Henderson, is two “loops”, pretty convoluted and contains an additional 2,500 feet of climbing and, like the bike course, these climbs were not short choppy rollers, they were long sweeping climbs, at least one was over two miles of steady uphill, which made it a real bitch going up as well as coming down. In short, this course is made to beat an Ironman into submission or, at a minimum, make them realize just how monumental a task Ironman is, I mean realize it in their bones.

My morning started out well and I was feeling great. I ate about 1500 calories for breakfast and headed off to the start. The weather was perfect and everything was calm at the start. The water was 70 degrees and crystal clear. When the starting cannon fired we all headed for the first turn buoy and I was swimming fast. Unfortunately my navigation was very poor so I was heading in the wrong direction very quickly and every time I would sight I was way off course, I kept pulling strongly off to the right. I still have no idea why I was swimming so crookedly but it was terrible, I was all over the place and this was when the water was perfect. I finally got back on track long enough to round the first turn on target and then immediately began swimming way off to the right again out towards the middle of the lake. I know that it is my responsibility to swim on the marked course but I admit to feeling abandoned by the boaters and kayaks that were supposed to keep the swimmers from getting too far off course. I was not just a wee bit off course I was at least 200 to 300 yards off course on several occasions. My problem, sure, but come on I am not too fast for a kayak to catch. After the next turn my problems were compounded dramatically. At this point I discovered that a wind had blown in and the water now had pretty big chop coming from the direction you were trying to swim. Not only that but the course was also set up to have you swimming directly into the sun for maybe as much as 40% of the swim so here I was already swimming poorly with waves slapping me in the face each time I pointlessly peered directly into the sun. It was very rare for me to be able to see other swimmers because it was all a fog of waves and sun. I could see kayakers in the distance as long as they were beside or behind me but I could not see any buoys and the occasional glimpses I did catch of the swim pack only told me that I was straying farther and farther a field.

With the wave action and the constant trying to sight and getting slapped in the face I was starting to take on a lot of water and was starting to feel sick and for the first time ever in a triathlon I began to feel scared. I was out in this huge choppy lake losing strength, losing my direction and the boat support just seemed to be spectators. I finally started bobbing up and down and yelled "Help, I can’t see the buoys!" and one of the kayaker's fired back "Go to the yellow buoy!" I was overwhelmed by anger and knew then that I had to save myself or just swim like a maniac until I was pulled from the water, either way I needed to get to shore or be rescued. I didn't want to take it out on an unsuspecting volunteer so I plunged my head under water and screamed "F&%K!" and just started swimming desperately ahead, to where, I didn't know. Somehow I caught sight of the yellow turn buoy, which was a ways off, and I swam for it, made it and then turned to shore. I still had a hell of a time swimming straight, especially now that the waves were pushing me off course to the right in addition to my mysterious inability to swim straight but at least I could see and sight. I made it to the shore after what seemed like an eternity and noted that my swim time was 1:35 and change, a very inauspicious beginning to what I already knew would be a very long day.

I shot into the changing tent and caught myself feeling pissed about the whole swim ordeal and then reminded myself how bad a day I had at the DeuceMan when I let my emotions get the best of me so I checked my attitude and turned my focus to the bike. I got out of transition pretty quickly because it was a very small and efficient transition area. I don't want to go any further before stating that the volunteers at Silverman are indeed first rate and I can't explain what happened on the swim but I'm willing to consider that my perception was messed up and I developed an unfair attitude. The support was as good as I have seen in any major race.

I hit the bike and it begins with a slight uphill climb, the smallest of the day. Once out on the open road I immediately began to eat and drink and just rode by RPE. I had stripped all my bike computer stuff prior to Soma and left it bare again for Silverman. As the Bigun commented in an earlier post, I did this one Old School. I think that is as it should be because from what I understand about our sport from people who where there in the beginning the Silverman is indeed an old school course. It is not a typical IM course that caters to people's dream of becoming an Ironman, which is fine; it is a course that dares you to race it…I would venture to say that you should probably have done some other, pretty much any other, Ironman first before taking on the Silverman.

Anyway as I headed out on the bike I was feeling very good and was easily gaining ground on people who had beaten me out of the water. Within the first 5 miles I caught and passed one of the Clydes in my age group but he was not exactly competition just a guy out there doing his best. At about mile 15 I got a bit of a surprise when none other than current Ironman World Champion “Macca” pulled up along side, gave me the Hang Ten sign and said “Way to go Mate!” and then pulled on off down the course. Now I’m no expert in Australian culture but since he specifically referred to me as “mate” doesn’t that mean that I’m like a good friend of his…like I could stay at his house if I ever decided to go do a race in Australia? I just may take him up on the offer and remind him pointedly of our little encounter if he tries to back out or calls the police or something. I also got passed by Dave Scott but he was busily fumbling with a Gatorade bottle and according to his later account of his race he was having enough trouble without trying to be kindly to his fan club.

The bike course is a very, very difficult course. The climbs are long and slow but the descents are long and blazing fast but in the end you can not make up for the slow uphill trudges because overall there is more elevation gain than loss, a lot more gain than loss. Most of the roads are smooth as glass having been freshly paved through much of the park. There was one stretch of about 10 miles though that was pretty rough and at one point I hit a patch that was so rough that I later discovered it ejected both my water bottles and caused my bento box to fly open and the entire contents was ejected. I was going so fast at that point that I had a death grip on my handlebars and didn’t dare look anywhere but straight ahead and I just preyed that the terrible noise I had just heard wasn’t something like my bottom bracket cracking open or spokes snapping.

As luck would have it I discovered the complete loss of my nutrition about 7 miles from an aid station where they held our special needs bags. When I hit that aid station it was like a pit-stop. I was immediately swarmed by people who were asking me what I needed and pointing out their wide array of food offerings. One person giving me a hand was Isaac, a fellow blogger who was also volunteering. Thanks Isaac, it was good to meet you! So, I slammed down my Full Throttle energy drink (Blue Agave) re-loaded my bento box, grabbed two bottles of Gatorade and ate a peanut butter and jelly uncrustable and was back off to do battle with the second half of the course. At every aid station on the bike I also grabbed a bottle of water and drank down as much as I could squeeze out before having to dispose of the bottle, probably got at least 20 oz per 10 miles in addition to what I drank in between. I finished with the part of the bike that takes place in the Lake Mead area, which ends about mile 90, and headed into the city of Henderson and its infamous bike path that contains the three sisters. I made it up that evil little series of climbs and got to T2 still feeling pretty good, much stronger than I have ever felt after an IM bike leg.

I moved a little more slowly in T2 because I wanted to be methodical in preparing myself for the marathon after all, if you recall my whole goal for this race was to begin the marathon feeling good and with any luck complete the whole marathon feeling good. When I headed out onto the run I was indeed feeling good even though the run began with a mile down hill and my quads and low back were feeling pretty rugged. The run also consisted of impossibly long and continuous climbs but I was very conservative trying to walk the steepest parts of the up hill and also breaking up the long down hill runs with a little walking so as not to beat my quads to death too soon. It began to drizzle two or three times while I was on the run but it was very light and kind of nice. Again the aid stations were loaded to the brim and the volunteers were first rate. At one point early in the run a Japanese guy started to pull up alongside me while I was running uphill and I noticed he was walking. I let him by so I could watch how he was walking. After studying him for a few minutes I tried to copy his walk and low and behold I cut 2 to 3 minutes per mile off my own walking pace so now I didn’t need to worry nearly as much about losing too much time when switching to the walk.

During the run I kept drinking as much as I could switching between Gatorade, water, coke and the occasional broth and I kept moving forward as best I could. After completing the first loop of the run I got my special needs bag and plopped down on the curb and just sat and rested and drank a second Full Throttle energy drink. It felt so good to just sit there and enjoy my energy drink. I chose not to rush it and savored the moment, gathering strength for my last half-marathon. You will notice my much longer mile split at the half-way point in my Garmin data. After heading back out on the run I was feeling pretty good again but by mile 15 my stomach was starting to go south and at mile 16.17 I stopped to duck behind some bushes where I puked my guts out for a minute or so, rinsed my mouth out and hit the road again.

Somewhere around mile 19 I collected on an agreement I had made earlier. There was one aid station on the run where the people were drinking beer, not a wild party just having a few beers. During my first lap they offered me water, Gatorade etc…and I spied their beer. I said, “Hey, you didn’t mention the beer!” and the guy said, “Is this your first lap or your second?” I said “first” and he said, “When you come around for your second lap we’ll give you some.” So, on my second lap I collected a cup of Guinness Extra Stout, or real beer as I like to call it, and drank it down. Now them is some carbs!

I headed out for my final 7 miles and shortly spotted three guys running together that looked like they could all be Clydes. At this point I thought I was most likely in first place in the masters clyde division because I thought I had passed everyone on the bike and there wasn’t anyone I could identify that was ahead of me on the run that could have possibly qualified as a Clyde. There was no way I was going to lose ground this far into the race so I picked up the pace. I was still in an uphill section but I walked less and jogged more. I knew that about two of the last four miles was downhill and the rest was about 50% flat and 50% climbing. At the beginning of this last 4 mile stretch I decided to spend everything I had left in the bank and do my best to lay in some distance between me and those other guys. I thought about all the bloggy peeps I have met and read, all the people who have been good enough to comment on my blog and support me and gained the strength I needed to push the pace. I was able to lay down two consecutive sub-10 miles and some good distance on who I thought were my competitors.

During the last mile I had a small kitten start meowing at me from the shadows and it started running along side me. I am a sucker for kittens so I started meowing back and calling to it, “Good kitty” it disappeared into a bush but then picked me back up about a half mile later and I repeated calling to it in a kitten friendly voice. It came up to me and I gave it a scratch on the head and spoke to it a little thinking that I was alone in the dark. Right about then this tough looking triathlete that I had been going back and forth with for the last few miles of the run came running by. I stood up, cleared my throat and gave him a manly “good job” and fist pump and then ran off into the darkness. About a half mile from the finish line I peeled off the long-sleeve shirt I had grabbed from my spcial needs bag, rolled it up and tucked it in my jersey back pocket. I straightened up my Outlaws uniform and race number and then started my final kick to the finish. I must have ran down the entire finishers chute in my stupid “finishers pose” because I was DETERMINED to have a good picture once and for all. I think I had a great finishers picture but I’m still waiting.

I had completed the 2007 Silverman Full-distance Triathlon in 15 hours 5 minutes and 49 seconds. While I was the slowest clyde to finish the race I did finish and had my second fastest iron finish yet on a course that was harder by a wide margin than anything else I have done. I blew the swim somehow and my bike split and transitions were comparable to the first and second place clydes. I was blow out on the run but I’m working on that this winter and hopefully I will get just a little closer to really being strong at this distance. Regardless of my results this was an awesome race and I couldn’t be more pleased with my end result. Sure, I could have had a much better swim but even that was a chance to prove to myself that I have learned to take a bad race and turn it around. I applied everything I have learned and thought about all season and came across the line of the world’s hardest triathlon in good shape. Had I been on an easy course I would have PR’d. This is a race that I will probably do again but only if the right people are also racing because while I love the course I have nothing left to prove to the Silverman I would only want to share the experience with friends.