Sunday, April 29, 2007

I’m a Little Boy!

Ok, it doesn’t sound as cool as Ironman but whatever. Today was the third running of the Atomic Man Duathlons where they have a long course, 10K – 40K – 5K a.k.a. “Fat Man” and a short course, 4K – 15K – 4K a.k.a. “Little Boy.” While I need to get revenge on the Fat Man because I ran it on a fractured hip last year and didn’t do so well the GEEKGRL and I thought it prudent to go with the Little Boy this year seeing how it is just two weeks out from IMAZ.

Now you know how it is with shorter races, you just go harder so it isn’t exactly easy. Add to that the fact that the race takes place just outside of Los Alamos, NM at elevation 6500 ft in the Jemez mountains…that’s “haymez” for you non-espanyolers. It wasn’t just the altitude, the climbing and the twisty turny mountain roads that made it tough…it was also my rather poor memory of what exactly the bike course looked like from last year. You see, I was debating “Should I ride my tri spokes front and back or should I throw on my disc? Hmm, I seem to recall the short bike course being fairly straight and flat, maybe a few rollers…I think I’ll take my disc.”

It’s a lonely feeling being in a race in the mountains the only one of over 200 athletes with a disc on your bike.

Anyhoo…I did the Little Boy and had a great time. It was nice to be able to go flat out without a care in the world regarding nutrition. All I needed to do was pace myself well enough to keep going for a little over an hour. The 4K run was a loop set on it’s side, tilted kind of, with 226 feet of climbing, downhill at first then a long looping climb then back downhill for a while then back up hill into transition. Fellow Outlaw and Junior Clyde “Smilin” Cody took off at a blistering pace. I stayed right in behind him and took a look at my Garmin as we were running a 5:46 min/mile…NO…BAD CLYDESDALES, BAD was all I could thing but I didn’t want to fall too far off his back and knew that if I could just hang on physics and physiology would bring an abrupt stop to this silliness and I was right. We slowed to a 6:15 pace then a 6:45 pace then a 7:18 pace and started heading up hill where I passed him and settled into a 7:30 to 8:something pace depending on the current trajectory of the course.

Here is a Garmin Pic of my run elevation (green line) and HR (appropriately, red line), which was an average of 178bpm.
I cleared the first 4K in a time of 19:30 and rolled into transition gasping for what little oxygen is available at that altitude. Since I had forgot to bring my aero bottle and had no bottle cages I stopped briefly in transition and drank some Nuun which was enough to top off my tank and allowed my HR to drop a little. I cleared T1 in 1:09 and was on to the bike for my vunder ride…the old disc in the mountains routine.

The bike begins with a climb out of transition and then just spends the rest of the time going up and down. Much to my chagrin Smilin Cody passed me going uphill. MAN…I was trying to back off a little here to bring my HR under control and I thought I had a sufficient lead…now I had to go back to work so I told him to hurry up and finish the pass and pull in front of me so I could pass him back and of course being the true gentleman that he is, he obliged and I took off again but now I knew he was on my ass so I could not let up. It got real old hauling that disc up and down hills but it handled around the corners much better than I had thought it would so I was pretty pleased. I covered the 15 K in 28:04 climbing and all and arrived in T2 for my little Nuun break, change of shoes and off on to the second run it a total time of 55 seconds.

Here is a Garmin Pic of my bike elevation and HR (again green and red), which was an average of 175bpm.
As I was heading out for the second run I noticed Cody had racked his bike and was changing shoes. I prayed that he was feeling as gassed as I was because I don’t know if I had a retaliation left in me but I knew I had the strength left to run steady pace to the end. Fortunately Cody was in the same boat as I and I was able to hold him off to the end. I crossed the finish line with a second run time of 21:06 and a total time of 1:10:42, good enough to get me 1st place Clyde and 13th overall.

Not bad for government work.

I had such a good time just getting to cut loose. Next weekend is the Ransom Canyon Sprint Triathlon, one of my all time favorite sprints.

Ok, funny story. During the first run…I was PASSED by a woman running pushing a BABY JOGGER…serious as a heart attack, which is almost what I had. I almost caught her on the uphill but she fought me off. This woman did the entire duathlon with her child. She rode a mountain bike with a pull-behind stroller and I totally took her then ;-) I never did see her finish but i know he did and when she did cross the line it was far from last place.

I later learned that she was a pro-athlete of some sort…amazing.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Letter to Mom

Since IMAZ I have been having a dialogue of sorts with my mom because she was so worried about my race. I'm sure most people don't blog a lot about their correspondence with their parents but I think more than anything else I enjoy a good philosophical musing...I just don't post them a lot because I suspect people would begin to find them rather dull. Anyway, I do think the following is post-worthy if only because it is my thoughts about the sport that we love, the distance we love, c'mon ya'll know you love the 140.6 even if you haven't done one, and maybe most importantly the community we love.
The GEEKGRL got in on this action by posting her own response but without further ado here is a brief note from Mama Baboo along with my response.

"Brian, this time the article came through. It is very interesting. I vaguely remember when Farrar was gov. of SD. He sounds like an amazing man. It's beginning to sink in that this Ironman thing isn't something most people do once or twice, but I still have trouble understanding why someone would do something that sounds so painful and is so punishing on ones body. Maybe I don't have to understand it, just accept it. You may not know this Brian, but I count you as one of my best friends and best friends support and love one another no matter what. But I just want you to be safe too."

and my two cents:

There are those who do try Ironman, or even marathons, just once and then quit. It is usually because they did not train well enough or something went wrong and did experience the event as very punishing. There are also a few who just do it for bragging rights, though I think this is a large minority.

Probably more than any other sport triathlon, especially ultra-distance triathlon like Ironman, is much more a lifestyle than a recreational activity. The same is true of all the ultra endurance sports that I have encountered. I'm sure there are many personal reasons that people get into the sport but once in you discover a huge group of like-minded people with whom you can really feel connected. In one sense it is like a church in that you can be surrounded by people that are a lot like you but in many respects it is not like any other organization because you can not just show up and start attending, you have to pay your dues and earn your way in.

I guess one of the core needs that something like Ironman fulfills in many of the people I meet is the need to prove yourself as someone with true grit for lack of a better term at the moment. In today's society it seems like everyone is a whiner, everyone is ego-centric, everyone is about "give me, give me" and everyone is about developing the IMAGE of something, success, wealth, strength, fitness, importance etc…whatever image it is they want to portray. There is very little that is real. Actually, that's not quite accurate; there is very little that seems real or that you can trust is real.

Mom, when you grew up on a farm your family really worked. You pulled your food from the land through labor literally and figuratively. In either case you were directly connected to life in a very concrete way. I think you can appreciate that this is less the case as time goes on. People are farther removed from the gritty nuts and bolts of life. Everything is shrink wrapped and sanitized for your protection.

Not so in pursuit of the title of Ironman. At the peak of my training I was working out 20 to 22 hours per week. I rode my bike for 100 miles and more in temperatures of 35 degrees or less with winds in excess of 30 mph. I swam for mind numbing hours back and fourth in a pool beginning at 4 in the morning and I ran in the cold and dark with a headlamp, heavy running clothes and nobody else to be seen. This is Ironman, not the race, the race is just gravy, the reward for all your hard work. To work that hard and to earn the right to stand toe-to-toe with so many others who have worked that hard is an honor unparalleled in today's society. Sure, it comes with risks, it comes with pain and even comes with a certain amount of trepidation…there are no guarantees and that is why we love it so. It allows us few an opportunity to embrace life with vigor and enthusiasm.

Borrowing from Walt Whitman's famous line in Leaves of Grass, "I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world"…Ironman is our yawp and I guess no yawp worth yawping is without risk.

And yes, I will be careful.

Friday, April 27, 2007

WTF? Not another IM Post!

Ok, it’s not like that…it’s not a post about THAT IM but coincidence of coincidences I was alerted to the fact that the course maps for IM Louisville were finally posted. Some time back I had written the race director to see when they would be up and was sent a form letter that, among other things, informed me that the course maps would be available sometime during the first of the year. Ok, I guess we’ll call the second quarter the “first” of the year since we have clearly not passed the half way point.

Here is the PDF for the swim and bike course. The elevation profile initially looks bad but if you look closely it’s just distorted, there really isn’t much elevation gain. The swim, on the other hand, has me puzzled. If anyone out there knows something about the Ohio River please tell me there is somehow little or no current in a major river system. I’ve seen the Missouri river and the Mississippi river and do not want to swim a mile upstream in either of them.

The run course looks pretty much like a run course. I don’t know the area so I don’t know what to expect but I can tell you that I am very excited about the prospect of running down the finishers chute on 4th Street Live! It is a downtown party area with lots of clubs and overhead walkways and add to that the extra fanfare that the IM organization will make sure is there and I’m thinking it will be like running in on a party.

So do I work towards an earlier finish, all things permitting of course, and get to the finish line when folks are fresh…relatively, or do I shoot for a 16:30 finish when the locals are good an drunk and leaping around on the overhear walkways? I think these plans both have their merits.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Many Faces on an Ironman

Ironman is a tremendous personal achievement and as far as I'm concerned it is something to be sought after not because it garners one serious "bragging rights", in my mind that is the least of it. Ironman should be pursued because of the myriad other benefits associated with it, health, friendships and personal growth on many levels.

However, I am more than an "Ironman", I am a friend, father, husband and son among other things and it is those very important personal considerations that may sometimes go out the window when we, I, strive so single mindedly after a cherished goal.
I had many people deeply worried while I ran IMAZ, which is great so far as discovering you are so well appreciated goes but not so great with respect to the emotional health of those that are close to you. I try to imagine the GEEKGRL going through what I went through at IMAZ and it makes me sick. I just want her to be able to get out there and have a good time. Sure, a long hard day is always involved but I do not believe that Ironman has to be a struggle so long as you train and race wisely.

No matter how fast you are 140.6 takes a long time and as the saying goes, "there is many a slip betwixt cup and lip" but we, I, do not have to do things to increase the likelihood of those slips.

So…I offer a public apology for my stubbornness and failure to take better care of myself during the race. I really can back off and it does not diminish my enjoyment in the least.

However, as far as I can see triathlon in general and Ironman in particular, is a permanent part of my life; there is nothing else like it and there are no people like you people.

Here is a link that I believe proves my point.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Obligatory Post Ironman Philosophical Post

You may wonder if I am still enamored with the Ironman after my disastrous running of Ironman Arizona.

Yes…duh, what the did you think I’d say…oh my feet hurt…it was so hard…I got so tired…blah, blah, blah. Live and learn baby!

Why do I still love the iron? Maybe I can explain it thusly…it is the only setting I have found where I can directly confront my own weaknesses and grapple with them mano-e-mano. It really is a growth experience. It doesn’t make sense to plunk down that kind of money on everything involved in an Ironman just to get the shirt, medal and’s a total growth experience and NO, you can’t just do it on your own because a big part of it is actually being out there with all those other athletes who have the gall, the same gall you arrive with, to face down their own weaknesses, demons and/or fears. It is an honor to bear witness to the very best the human spirit has to offer and to know that you…YOU are a part of that.

Ok, the shirt, medal and title are totally cool too and I’d be one disgruntled puppy if I didn’t get mine!

It would also be a tremendous disappointment to me if my bad experience last weekend discouraged anyone from attempting an Ironman. In a race that long things can go wrong and that is multiplied by distance…however, things can go right too and often do. Yes, there were 208 DNFs at IMAZ this year but that means something like 90% of those who started finished! And let me correct myself a little, my experience was not bad per-se…it was at times painful and often somewhat confusing. However I had my moments of glory, my personal triumphs and my moments of lucidity and even bliss…I did enjoy myself overall…even on race day.

There it is…where else can you be so low and so high at the same time. Do it, sign up for an Ironman…you won’t be sorry.

Next on tap…easy workouts this weekend, cut loose with a short course duathlon the weekend of April 29th and then three sprint tris followed by an Olympic, weekend rest, Duce Man half-iron and then it’s time to start training seriously for IM Louisville!

Fortitudine Vincimus!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Mission Accomplished!

It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fast but it has been completed! The morning started out good with a pretty smokin’ swim for me and then through transition and onto the bike. The wind came up early and just kept intensifying. Friend Andy, who also did the race is something like 12:25 said that when he checked the weather for the day we had gusts to 45 mph and I think the sustained winds were at 30. What the hell is it with me, 140.6 and WIND?! Fair warning to you all, if you see my name on the entry list of your next Ironman be forewarned!

Anyway, the wind hit everyone, not just me. The first thing to hit me personally was my stomach shutting down. Happily this happened around mile 10 or 15 on the bike so I didn’t have to wait in suspense. I had A LOT of time to think about this one and my opinion is that the wind was causing me to work harder that it actually felt. I did have my HR monitor on and I did see that my HR was pegged at 177 on the bike, in an Ironman, and I simply noted, “boy, that sure is high” and just kept motoring along because, well, I felt really strong and I was dropping people like flies…and it was just so crowded on the course I could never find a good (read as fast; too fast) spot to slip in behind someone and get the requisite 4 bike-length distance…so I kept going looking for just the right spot.

So once the stomach shut down I was able to keep going strong for maybe the first half of the first of three laps on the bike…then my HR dropped and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it; my power pack was starting to shut down as well. There were a few other things going wrong with my situation, if I drank it made me feel sick, because the wind was so high my mouth was constantly dry so I could not eat or I would start choking, so I would drink to moisten my mouth, open it to eat, wind blows mouth dry, I choke on food, spit it out, repeat the cycle, quit.

Fortunately though I didn’t start loosing my mind until about half way through the last lap of the bike. I first deduced something was wrong when I discovered I was walking my bike through an aid station. I thought to myself, “Self, why are you walking your bike through an aid station?” and quickly recognized that THAT was my plan for the RUN, to walk the aid station and run in between. And so I promptly walked my bike the rest of the length of the aid station, hopped on and pedaled away congratulating myself for having stuck to my plan. It wasn’t until the last 5 or so miles of the bike that I started shaking my head and twitching my arms for reasons I can not explain…I don’t know if it helped but I did it several times so let’s all assume it served a purpose. Oh, I only ran off the bike course once and got an orange cone stuck between my chain ring and bottom bracket…and I didn’t fall!

It felt good to sit down in T2 and change into running shoes and socks. I was VERY happy to be allowed to run at this point, REALLY, I was practically ecstatic. I knew there was some soda out on the run course and I figured that the carbonation would jump-start my stomach. It did this to a degree, I think I was able to “run” about a mile and a half before I was reduced to shambling, which I did until some point in the run, it had to have been somewhere, ah hell, I don’t know when it happened but at one point I stumbled off the running path and fell to my knees and viola, I puked my guts out…YEA!

After that I was totally able to run at least 5 feet to, I think my record was 2.5 miles, every so often. I kept reading all the signs ans race uniforms around me to keep my mind “sharp”, interesting premise and it may have even helped a bit but I wasn’t always able to read things or they simply did not make sense. At some point before I started my third lap of the marathon I lost the ability to determine how much time I had left in order to make the 17-hour cut-off…and I had developed huge blisters on the balls of my feel from so much slogging. These events had the effect of 1) making it extremely painful to run and 2) making me feel extremely pressed for time. I began to think that someone would yank me from the course and not even let me try to finish.
This was a particularly low point for me. I was informed later that teammate “Mighty Mike” Montoya, also now an IRONMAN, had walked with me for a while and spoken with me. He reported back to the crew,”I don’t think he knew who I was”. HA! Mike, fie on you! I didn’t even know anyone had spoken to me or that I had had a conversation. I guarantee you that if I had a mind left to perceive my surroundings accurately I would indeed have recognized you…so there! Err, I suppose. Besides, I DID recognize the other IRONMAN Outlaws today, Maria “Go Go” Ladd, Carl “muffin” Armstrong and Tim “Sluggo” Chavez. Though I did miss David Heichemer, he was WAY to busy smokin’ the course in a time of 11:05! He is 23 years old…with this wind…this young man is headed for Kona one day…as is Ms. Go Go…3rd in her age group. Unfortunately her AG only gets 1 slot but this was her first IM, I think it was David’s too but I’m not sure…and I’m insane.

Anyhow, when I hit the bridge leading up to the beginning of loop three I had worked myself up to such a degree with the fear of being pulled from the course that I just started running and smiling as big as I could, I ran the length of the bridge, through the crowd in transition and all the way down to the end of the pier where the crowd disappeared. The distance was about a mile and a half, maybe two…who knows. And you know what? I faked em' all out...they let me keep running, Hazah!

During that little run I learned a trick that I will share with you. Just before the bridge a member of the Iron Geezer Triathlon Club, Frank Farrar, caught me and he was at a slightly faster walk that was I. I said, “Do you mind if I hang with you for a little sir?” And he said, “sure but my old body is pretty broken down, you’ll probably go faster.” I just chuckled and said, “We'll see, I hope my body is in as good a shape as yours when I’m your age (78)” He then told me we should break into a little bit of a run and started asking me about longevity in my family. Anyway, our little conversation proved to be very inspiring and I started running faster and started looking at all my fellow sloggers and thought to myself, this is AMAZING! I can draw power from all the triathletes around me, not in a vampire kind of way mind you. Then I thought of my fellow bloggers and all the wonderful people I have met or “met” and I felt strong, of body that is, and THAT is what gave me the power to fake my way onto the third loop of the marathon.

In actuality, I had an hour more than I suspected so I wasn’t in danger but I didn’t know that so…THANKS GUYS AND GALS!

Not much else happened on the run except my race number finally fell off and so I clutched it like grim death all the way to the finish line. About a tenth of a mile from the finish line Outlaw Paul “Mr. Walnuts” a.k.a. “Stitch” Zetocha, also an IRONMAN today, for like the 8th time, met me out on the course and ran with me for a little…he was already fully showered, dressed in civilian clothes and fed, and told me I could get in under 16 hours…Whaat? Oh, well, cool. I somehow managed a strong kick down the chute, knees high, solid paw back, back straight, arms pumping and smiling like an idiot. I even dropped a few people. I came to the finish line and heard “BRIAN PILGRIM OF RIO RANCHO NEW MEXICO…YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! And I was immediately caught by the “catchers” as I collapsed.

You will be please to hear that I had the presence of mind to stop my watch, stager in the direction of the woman with the finishers medals, though the catchers made this difficult because they thought I was going down but I am a Clydesdale after all, they had little choice regarding direction. Then I switched direction and staggered over to the finishers t-shirt table but was unable to pull that one off…they were wise to me and were whisking me off to the medical tent. HOWEVER, there was this black woman with LONG braids that I recognized as someone who ran SOMA as an Athena and I reached out, eyes pleading, and said, “You ran SOMA last year.” Of course as any triathlete who has personally experienced a punishing, multi-hour slog-fest she immediately said, “Yes I did sweetie…Hey; get this man a finisher’s shirt! Extra-large!”

And then I was in the arms of the medical tent, piled high with blankets, IV bag dripping away and as I was fading in and out I could look around the room and make out a tent full of people with stupid grins on their faces and finishers medals around their necks…in short, a room full of IRONMEN.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fortitudine Vincimus!

It is 4:45 am and I am getting ready to go eat breakfast and start hydrating. Andy and I will head over to Tempe Town Lake at about 5:15 and the games begin. The time is upon us!

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood.

Bib #1184 - See you at the finish line!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Calm Before the Storm

The energy today down at Tempe Town Lake was noticeably higher and the transition area was buzzing with athletes checking in bikes and transition gear. My friend Andy did some quick calculations and estimated that the transition area had to contain roughly 6.5 million dollars worth of bikes alone. Let me tell you, $6.5 mill looks pretty SWEET!

I had to drop by the Inside-Out Sports tent at the expo and pick up some last minute supplies. I picked up two small bottles of spray-on suntan lotion, one for my swim-to-bike transition bag and one for my bike-to-run transition bag. The event actually has sunscreen applying volunteers but I didn’t want to take any chances on them either being slow or fully occupied. I also got a cheap tubular tire for my bike special needs bag.

In my only IM experience I had very little use for a special needs bag but they are given to you and I would just feel like an idiot having had a bag, not using it and then wishing I had one…so then the trick become putting a few things in them that might make sense. My bike special needs will include a spare tubular, air cartridge any maybe a bottle of Perpetuem, though I am loath to put anything in there that will cause me to feel obligated to stop. My run special needs bag, well; I probably will skip that one. The run course is like an 8.5 mile buffet line that you traverse 3 times…8.5 miles with 9 aid stations! The only other thing I might wish I had was a long sleeve t-shirt in case I am out late and get cold but it is very pleasant here in the evenings and I think I’ll be fine…besides, I don’t have a long-sleeve t-shirt with me and wasn’t going to buy one.

All in all my day was relaxing. I did get to have lunch with members of the Arizona Tri Club, to which Andy belongs as does the redoubtable Commodore of Common Man Syndrome fame. I am having a banner year for meeting Blogopeeps and it is only the beginning of the season! That is one benefit from forking over the dough to travel to big races.

And now a word from our sponsor…eat your heart out you other non-Nuun-Kona-Cola-trying people…I tried some of the new Nuun Kona-Cola flavor and it ROCKS! With Nunn’s light effervescence and the cola taste it really is just like drinking a slightly flat cola but it is not sticky-sweet and heavy. The cola Nuun also has caffeine…Yea! They had a display tent with samples in the Inside-Out Sports tent and of course I went up there with fellow Outlaws “Mighty Mike” and “Sluggo” to introduce ourselves and try a sample. The woman handing out the samples knew our team and loves our blogs…very cool. I was very close to snapping up some cola Nuun for the race but since I didn’t train with it I thought better and went on my way.

So…the weather for tomorrow…warm, windy, dusty. Well, it ain’t like I haven’t been training in the wind…I was just hoping to have a crack at scorching a bike route.

Sun, Apr 15 Mon Hourly Forecast
6am 9am 12pm 3pm 6pm 9pm
61°F 68°F 75°F 77°F 73°F 68°F
Partly cloudy, with a high near 79. Areas of blowing dust after 11am. Breezy, with a east southeast wind 11 to 14 mph becoming southwest between 19 and 22 mph. Winds could gust as high as 34 mph.

Andy and I are just getting ready to sit down to some pre-race hydration and the 2006 Ironman Arizona DVD. I am ready!

Friday, April 13, 2007

A day about Tempe

I woke up this morning and it was cool and calm. I headed down to Tempe Town Lake for the “Gatorade Swim”, which I will call a misnomer because you in fact DO NOT swim in either a lake or even endless pool of Gatorade, it’s just plain old water. Anyhow, I survived this minor setback and was able to meet Wendy and her brother Brent, who is also doing IMAZ. Wendy came down from Canada just to cheer me on…well, ok, she probably came to cheer her brother and visit relatives but I’m loitering in the general vicinity so she did at least promise to blow a kazoo or something if I happen to be around. Brent flew in from the Grand Cayman Islands just to race with me…I think…maybe he just wanted to do the race for his own reasons…ANYHOW, it was fun meeting them as it has always been fun meeting tri bloggers.

I also met up with a few Outlaws, also just loitering, and Brent risked doing the swim with us. Of course none of us Outlaws had swim caps so there we were throwing care to the wind swimming without caps while everyone else was sporting the old skull condom. It cause quite a stir let me tell you. The swim felt great and I was able to jump in without pealing the top of my foot off, which I considered quite an accomplishment and now feel like I have conquered most of the race. My new QR wetsuit was awesome, yes Bigun, today was the first time I ever slipped this puppy on…but I didn’t try it new on race day!

After the swim we spent a goodly sum of time registering and then wandering through the expo. I hate to report that this was quite a let down. The registration process at the Soma half-iron was WAY more efficient and the expo…let me see…the GEEKGRL will understand when I say it was about like the one at the Lost Dutchman Marathon, which was fine for a small marathon…rated one of the best small marathons in the U.S. by Runners World in 2005, but this is an Ironman for gods sake. The expo at P.F. Chang’s Rock-n-Roll Arizona Marathon must eat Ironman expos for breakfast…now THAT’S and expo. To add insult to injury, the only item I wanted to purchase was an IMAZ cycling jersey and all they had were mediums, smalls and extra-smalls…they said their larges and extra-larges “didn’t come in yet”…WTF! We all had to pay for this puppy ONE YEAR IN ADVANCE…did that not provide enough time for prior PLANNING?

There was little else of interest unless you wanted coffee mugs, water bottles…that you could not use on the bike or run, towels, caps, t-shirts sweaters etc…I just stalked off thinking “I’ll get my t-shirt and a medal after the race, I’m not buying any of this junk. Who knows, maybe I’ll go buy some junk tomorrow but right now I’m a little peeved.

This afternoon we also went and drove the bike course. It looks pretty smooth but the uphill section is steeper than I had imagined it would be…oh well, it’ll give me something to do. Also, Outlaw Maria “Go Go” Ladd’s husband is with her and has apparently been fiendishly watching the Weather Channel so, unfortunately, he is Johnny on the spot with detailed weather updates. Sunday is supposed to be a high of 77, YEA! with sustained winds of 20 mph with gusts to 34 BOOO! At least it won’t be and windy at the Redman, at least if these forecasts hold. We also went for a very short 8.5 mile ride along a section of the course. That went fine too.

Finally, I attended the pre-race dinner and the mandatory athlete’s meeting and only really have one thing to report because I think it might serve as motivation for Duane. They had what they called “The biggest looser” competition and asked everyone to stand who had lost 30 or more pounds during their IM training and then the kept going up, 40, 50, 60 etc…with fewer and fewer people standing. The last person standing had lost 170 in 13 months! The amazing thing to me is that the guy now weighs 160…he lost more weight than he currently weighs! So they brought him up on stage, talked to him a little and everyone cheered…and then they gave him a giant basket of…COOKIES! I don’t know about you but I would take that as a slap in the face. Maybe that’s my own personal issue because when I was far more overweight than I am now I got SICK of everyone offering me whatever food happened to be left from the meal. “Hey, you look like you could eat some more, do you want some of this, pie, casserole, jello, biscuits and gravy” etc…

Anyhow, they also brought up the two oldest and youngest athletes, 18 yo guy, 20 yo gal, 73 yo guy, 74 yo gal. Pretty cool. They also introduced a guy from Mexico who holds the record as the only person to have done an IM everywhere they are held. He is currently on his 48th IM!

It was a long day and I have to admit I got a pretty bad headache and a little grumbly…I need a good night sleep and a more relaxing day tomorrow.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Greeted by an Iron Wind

I arrived in Mesa, AZ today and have been greeted by one hell of a wind. It almost blew me over when I got out of my car. However, the wind is supposed to die down and things will be calm for the weekend.

I’m going to try and spend a little time each day blogging about my experiences at IMAZ and since my only experience today was a long boring drive and the wind I’ll leave you with my comment about the wind and the following…enjoy.







Saturday, April 07, 2007

My New Hero: The Colorado Multisport Experience

First let me get this important piece of news out of the way. The GEEKGRL and I got to meet Duane and have a nice dinner together. Duane’s blog is a pale reflection of the man in person…what a guy! We had a great time. He came down to Colorado Multisport and we got in some introductory chatting amidst the bike dealing and were able to hit it off right away. He has a calm presence, and easy smile and a hearty laugh. He is a good listener too, which, unfortunately, means that between the GEEKGRL and I he is probably at home right now trying to cool off his ears with ice packs because we gave those things a workout. He also bought us dinner at BD’s Mongolian Grill though he did promise as part of that deal that he would dutifully come to New Mexico where I could spring for his dinner.

Now onto the juicy news. New Mexico has many many redeeming qualities, not the least of which is that it is full of Outlaws. However, we are destitute when it comes to Tri shops. We either have to slog over to Austin Texas, Tucson or Tempe Arizona or head north of the border to Colorado. Being a member of I chose to check out Colorado Multisport and what I saw on their website convinced me to head to Boulder.

The GEEKGRL and I spent the day with shop owner Tim Troha. Now, when I say day I don’t mean two or three hours, I mean from 10 am to 5 pm we had the store owner’s full attention. The usual top-o-the line bike fit at CO Multisport takes about 3 hour per person and it is all time well spent. I said this in an e-mail to a friend and I’ll say it here…this was the single best experience I have ever had as a consumer.

Now I am no big time triathlete and if I ever make it to Kona it will either be as a volunteer or as the worlds oldest guy who can still move (fingers crossed) but Tim took us seriously, listened intently, responded thoughtfully and was easy to talk to and full of good humor. Heck, he never even spat on me and I didn’t have to wax his bike to get him to treat us this famously…he just did it. So, despite the fact that this is truly a high end tri boutique it is completely sans the arrogance and sneering you may find at other shops.

There were a few issues that Tim cleared right up for me during the fit. First off he set me up on the Computrainer Spin Doctor (or whatever he called it) and saw that my pedal stroke was nice and efficient through the stroke but that it was a little lopsided. He evened this out by changing my cleat position on one shoe and increasing the stack height on the other. He also recommended some bodywork, like massage, that I could get done that may also help with the overall flexibility of my hip region.

The other issues I was dealing with was a back that was a little hunched, shoulders that were rotated inward a little too much and some pressure in my wrists when in the areobars. Those were what he fixed…the problems I was noticing was that sometimes my right shoulder would go numb during a race, I felt like I had some difficulty getting enough oxygen during full out efforts and once I passed mile 50 or 60 it becomes harder for me to spend more than 80% of my time in the bars.

After the fit…my back is flat as a board, my chest cavity is fully expanded and shoulders are square and my wrist and hand position are completely neutral. I believe these simple changes will make it totally unfair to my closest competitors when I next hop astride my trusty steed but that’s only part of the story…there is still the bike.

My new race steed…a Quintana Roo Lucero. To backtrack, at the beginning of the interview Tim asked me which race I was training for and I smiled and told him “I have IMAZ next weekend” and he just went blank and sort of blinked his eyes a couple times and then stared at me saying nothing. I immediately reassured him…”Oh, don’t worry, I’m not planning on getting a new bike the week before Ironman so I can race on it.” He breathed a deep sigh of relief and said “Oh, good.”

So the Lucero…here is the deal…it’s not a stock Lucero it’s the frame really. We’re bagging the Flash Point wheels since I already have a set of race wheels I love, HED3Cs. We are going with full Dura Ace…literally FULL Dura Ace. Tim was telling me about various stock bikes that come with “Dura Ace kits” and how they will usually include a DA component or two…most often the rear derailleur and the brake levers or something and the rest is a mixture of other stuff…except Tim didn’t say “or something” and “other stuff” he rattled off examples of various different brands of bikes and exactly what all their DA kits included. No kit for me, no siree…this baby will be DA from head to tail.

The base bar is going to be a full carbon Profile Design Cobra Wing, the areo bars will be Vision Tech Carbon Pro and the saddle will be a Selle San Marco Azoto Triathgel.

This is going to be one sweat ride! Light, nimble and FAST. Friend and fellow Outlaw Stuart usually says to me at races, “While you are out there busy crushing people on the bike…” I am pretty sure I’ll be looking for some new folks to “crush” once I straddle this rocket.

I can’t wait!

In more mundane news, because he ships it to New Mexico I pay no sales tax. Between the GEEKGRL and me that is a savings of over $1000. Because I plunked down full payment in advance he pays the shipping, which chips off another $100 or so.

Even considering I drove the 500 miles from Albuquerque to Boulder, even considering that I drove through a freakin’ ice storm for 250 of those miles…I consider this time and money well spent. I can not think of any natural disaster that would make me think, “Ok, well I wouldn’t drive through THAT to get a bike setup from Colorado Multisport

Yet another reason to envy/hate Boulder Colorado as the Triathlon capital of the world.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Get a Rope

Ok sports fans, the bib numbers for Ironman Arizona have been released!

Now, I wouldn't make a very good scofflaw if I didn't create a little ruckus from time to time so I am officially thumbing my nose at you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

There, the gauntlet is thrown; you are hereby recruited as a member of The Angry Mob. This means that it is time for you to gather up your pitchforks, ropes and torches strap on your best pair of gumshoes and track an Outlaw!

The Outlaws are on the loose at Ironman Arizona taking up too much space in transition, loitering around the freebee tables at the expo, lingering at the aid stations trying to cram their fuel belts with one more free Gu and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

As a member of the Angry Mob you may capture an Outlaw and string him or her up by predicting their finish time at IMAZ within 10 minutes. The blogger capturing the greatest number of Outlaws will receive one tube of the fantabulous Nuun per Outlaw captured.

To top it off, if you catch me, the Outlaw chief grunt, the successful sleuth will also receive an exotic race t-shirt from the magical Southwest Challenge Series that I personally jammed into my giant pile of other race t-shirts almost immediately after drawing it from my goodie-bag.

Post your guesses on my blog and don't be shy. Invite your friends and family...we may come to a town near you so the sooner we are locked up the better.

So there you go, there should be enough data floating around on the web about us that the enterprising number cruncher could make some fairly decent guesses. Oh, and you might want to use Ironman Live to track us.

Here's the line-up:
Carl “Muffin” Armstrong - 1875

Tim “Sluggo” Chavez - 696

Maria “Go Go” Ladd - 2398

"Mighty” Mike Montoya - 790

Brian “Myles” Pilgrim (that's me) - 1184

Paul “Mr. Walnuts” Zetocha - 1586

Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Big Doin's

Ok Bigun, despite your sage advice I did indeed do my two sprint tris, one of which I've reported and the other was last Sunday in Las Cruses, NM. It's not that the advice wasn't of the highest caliber…it's just that it was rational and reasonable and that is something I only play at. However, I will strive to grow a brain or patience or good sense or something…just not this year since my season has already been planned under the old regime.

So, briefly onto the race. I only knew two of the 40+ Clydes and one of them was a no show. For reasons I can't fathom my arch nemesis Felix was absent despite the fact that this race was almost literally in his back yard. It must have been something dire or unavoidable because as much time as we spend traveling in the South West we tend to never miss a race that is nearby. I don't know the times because this race is famous for delayed posting of results despite the fact that they have rank orders completed by the end of the race. However, I took first among the Masters Clydes and 41st overall in a race of something like 280 people. The second place Masters Clyde placed 106th overall so he was a good bit behind me.

I am both happy with and disappointed in my performance Sunday. Last year I finished 25th overall and my time on the run was 1:25 faster and my bike was 1:31 faster. However, this year I vowed not to run quite as hard in training because last year I fractured a hip exactly one week after this race but this year I am a bit slower but my skeleton is intact, which will serve me well at IMAZ. The second factor is that I'm just entering my IM taper and so was not as fresh as last year so while going a tad faster would have been fun, I think I'm right where I need to be.

Now the absolutely AWESOME news: The GEEKGRL and I are heading to Boulder Colorado this weekend in order to get a serious bike fitting and a new pair of triathlon steeds! Yes indeed, we hare heading to the famed Colorado Multisport, stomping grounds of such blogging luminaries as Bolder, Everyman and the Big D (a.k.a. CPtIM). The GEEKGRL and I are slated to be worked up in the bike fitting grotto between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm…that's right, an entire day…these guys are SERIOUS!

I have some thoughts regarding which bike/s I would like but I'm going to take the approach of going through the interview and fit process and let the professionals make the recommendation. I have researched all the brands they carry pretty heavily and honestly, when you get to bikes at this end of the price tag you are really looking at miniscule differences in terms of flat out quality and are really looking more at the art of matching the athlete to the specific strengths of the bike in question.

However, if the bike does not meet my stylistic ideas of sweetness I'll press for another model. Because I will not be the fastest kid on the block I should at least look like the most dangerous kid…right? Anyway, I don't want to muddy their opinion with my hair-brained ideas. Besides, it makes it a little more interesting to head out not being exactly sure what I will come back with.

Oh…bib numbers for IMAZ will be assigned tomorrow!