Saturday, June 30, 2007

Call me Butter ‘cause I’m on a Roll: Grady Williams Race Report

Today was the 21st running of the Grady Williams Memorial Death March…er…I mean Triathlon. This event is more difficult that an Olympic distance race has a right to be and so it draws more racers and better quality racers per capita than probably any other race in my region. It takes place in a town called Farmington New Mexico right in the “Four Corners” area where New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona all meet and subsequently we get racers from each of the four states. It is cool getting that kind of a draw from so many areas as I rarely get to race triathletes from Colorado and Utah, mostly just Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. It is also a little nerve wracking because there are many more unknown competitors who show up and today was no exception.

I’ve described the course before but briefly, it’s an “inside out” triathlon that goes swim – run – bike. You have your usual 1500 meter swim followed by a trail run that is mostly uphill, has lots of twists and turns and a multitude of pockets of deep sand. Sheesh! I had forgotten about the sand…I recalled a couple of sandy divots…I must always dissociate on that run because there were many, many stretches of Florida beach-like sand holes that would go on for 20 yards at a shot. And then of course you have your 40K bike that has a nice big flat space…in transition that is. The rest of it is constant up or down. Again my recollection of the bike was screwy. I thought it trended upward all the way out to the turn around and then downward on the way back but it was just the opposite. Fortunately though we had a headwind for the uphill trip back and the temp was hitting 98 degrees…Whoo Hoo! Good times were had by all! I guess that’s what I get for racing in the high desert.

Anyway, the event started right on time when the gun (person yelling GO) went off at 7:15. I am totally married to starting the swim with a nice easy stroke and sure enough as I was cruising along and sighting I could see the lead pack pulling away like a rocket…fine. By about 300 meters I started swimming over folks who, predictably, were falling off the back. By 800 meters I hit the second wave of dying amphibians and I started to put the hammer down and attempted to bridge up to the lead pack…of course you had your LEADER leaders who were not in any kind of pack but they were not what I was going for…they were most likely already ashore. By the last 100 meters I believe I was at the middle of the lead pack and I just kept stroking away until my hands grabbed sand and I was up and out of the water in 27 minutes.

I got through T1 as quickly as I could but didn’t get a time. I was soon off on the run, which begins with just about 3.5 miles of uphill with some ugly peaks and valleys in-between…oh, and don’t forget the sand traps…we mustn’t forget them. I was wearing my new trail runners so felt like I had better traction and I was running pretty good though I was breathing hard and must have sounded like some deranged bull moose come down from the mountains. I got passed by a few of what the GEEKGRL likes to call “Bird People” which doesn’t bother me and is always kind of fun when they shoot me a look of bemusement wondering what the heck someone of my size is doing so far along the course and then of course I get the obligatory breathless “good job” and they are on their merry way.

Now as I was running along, maybe in the first mile, I spied me a Clydesdale and what was he up to? He was walking the uphill…bwahahaha! (Sinister grin). This particular Clyde in a young up-and-comer in the division I believe he’s 27 but I could be on the low end by a couple years. He started running again but I new I could catch him and I did near the crest of the next hill. He began to walk and I just leaned into the hill and pushed. Mind you, I didn’t go screaming by or anything, it probably looked more like a Rascal race but there you have it, I got the job done.

The final couple of miles of the run is a quad punishing downhill sprint. You are flying down the trail all the while jumping roots, dodging loose rocks, negotiating rutted terrain and thinking about what a disturbingly loud snap your ankle would make at such a pace. I rolled into T2 without incident and briefly enjoyed the flat that is transition before heading out on the love rollercoaster, um, bike. At this point I was trying to push but I started to feel Buffalo Springs 70.3 in my legs and it occurred to me, “Oh, that was last weekend” so I just grimaced and tried to hold on. The bike was pretty uneventful though I did start doing a little math and figured if I were to just bleed a little I might be able to wrap this thing up sub-2:40, which was unexpected because last year I had a pretty good race and finished in 2:56:10.

By the end of the race I was VERY ready to be finished but I also felt very good about my performance. I finished in 2:39:26! Eight seconds short of my Olympic PR…which brings us to a point of contention; the run on this course is .97 mile SHORT. This run is ugly hard as is the bike. I believe that even though the course is short the very nature of the run makes it a rival for any Oly around. Heck, the overall male finished in 2:19…nobody goes sub – 2 at the Grady even with the short run.

In any case, my time was sufficient to land me at the top of the podium in the Clydesdale division, no split between masters and U-39 here, just straight Clydes. The fact that I beat the Colorado Clyde who beat me last year…just icing on the cake my friends…icing on the cake. Next up – the Bottomless Triathlon, New Mexico Club State Championships! Wish the Outlaws luck!

In other news, the GEEKGRL took second Athena! Check out the hardware.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Presto Change-O

I was supposed to be on an airplane right not winging my way to Newark, NJ to meet my younger brother and help him move beck here to New Mexico but when I got to the airport I discovered that my flight had been canceled and I probably would not be able to get another flight for two or three days. Apparently the Dallas – Ft. Worth area has been having one hell of a storm the past couple days and flights are being canceled and rerouted like crazy. Sorry Bro.

Now what? I am off work the next seven days with no plans…time to cook something up. I came back home and waited a bit for the temps to rise and then went and did a brick workout, about 30 miles on the bike and 5 on the run. The workout went very well, see the graphs (Bigun - Big Mike) and I got a lot of thinking done…and here is what I thunk.

This weekend my dear old Dad along with step-mom and newly adopted little brother Salvador are driving in from Portland to stay with us for a few days. This weekend is also mine and the GEEKGRL’s wedding anniversary. (Oh, the GEEKGRL has been doing some thinking of her own today...check out her blog!) Given this hullabaloo I decided that the GEEKGRL and I need to get away for at least an over-nighter so we are leaving tomorrow heading for Farmington, NM to do the Grady Williams Memorial Freedom Days Triathlon…ahhh, romance is in the air.

The Grady Williams is a very cool event. It is an Olympic distance race and is Swim – Run – Bike…yes it is kind of an inside-out triathlon. The swim is in a smallish lake that serves as the City water supply so there is absolutely no boats of any kind ever allowed in the lake, that is except for the kayaks that monitor the race course during the event. The run is a 6.2 mile trail run from the lake to the high school parking lot that serves as T2…that’s right, there are two transition areas, one by the lake for your running gear and one six miles away for your bike. The bike is a 40K out and back with hills, hills, hills. Of course all this fun takes place at an elevation of something like 6300 ft, maybe 6500?

Good times! Oh, and the bling available for those who take that walk to the podium…hand made Navajo pottery! It is beautiful stuff…I got a second place last year so maybe I can add a first place pot this year.

I did have just enough time to think up one more scheme…I’m gonna slip in one more half-iron before Louisville, you know, just for training…tweak that nutrition a little more. This race begins at 7000ft but that’s another post.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Buffalo is in the Hizzouse: BSLT 70.3 Race Report

I feel vindicated. I Have finally broken through what has been thus far a huge personal barrier…I have finally won a long course event. I have chalked up numerous wins at the sprint distance and two at the Olympic, I’ve only done 4, but I have never even come close at the half-iron, though I did pull off a 3rd at the iron distance in a small race.

Long course triathlon has been the proverbial monkey on my back and it has frustrated me tremendously. I have suspected that the major problem with my long course racing has been poor nutrition. Today at the Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon I have confirmed that to be the case. Specifically, my calorie intake has been WAY too low. Today I rectified that situation somewhat. I took in about 1000 calories for breakfast, a couple hundred more about ½ hour before the race, about 300 during T1, about 1500 on the bike and probably another 500 on the run, which was not enough but I couldn’t take any more. This kept the motor running better than it ever has during a long course event.

The Clydesdales, Athenas, Relays, Aquabike and I think 18 and under age group took off together in the last wave. The Pros took off at 6:30 and we took off at 7:05. I hit the water nice and easy and just focused on good form and a smooth, even arm turnover. The lead pack of my wave took off and I was left behind somewhere mid pack but after a couple hundred yards I noticed I was bridging up to people who were now straggling from the front. By the time I hit mid swim I was in the rear of the wave ahead and about ¾ of the way through I was deep into the middle of the wave ahead and at the rear of the group that was two waves ahead. I had a phenomenal swim. I felt relaxed, I felt smooth, I felt fast and I felt like I could have kept on going. I completed the swim in PR time of 34:20.

When I hit T1 I took a little extra time to down some calories so I had an uncharacteristically slow T1 at 3:19 but I think it was worth the extra minute. As I was heading out of T1 I saw Greyhound heading out just ahead of me and I gave him a holler. I hopped on my bike and headed for the climb out of transition.

One of the decisions I made prior to going into this race was to sacrifice a little speed on the bike to try and have more left for the run so when I did hit the hills I spent most of my time in the small chainring, stayed in my saddle and just spun up. I still was able to pass people going uphill but I went at an easier pace than usual. The second thing did was to mostly coast downhill. This resulted in a lower top speed but it also gave my legs a bit of a rest. All in all my bike felt good. The BSLT course is challenging but fun. The “Back half” of the course has some long, winding climbs that are a bit technical on the way down and the roads have a lot ob bumps in them, the kinds that are sudden and jarring, the kinds that, after 30 miles, make it feel like someone is hitting you in the crotch with a baseball bat. The only problem I had on the bike was when I threw my chain right at the base of a climb called the staircase. You don’t really have any momentum built up here so I didn’t loose much besides the time it took me to hop off the bike and thrown the chain back on but it was annoying to lose my rhythm. I got the bike done in 2:5657, nothing special but it was a decent bike split on this course.
When I hit T2 I was beginning to have some stomach trouble. I didn’t feel bad like my stomach had shot down but I was probably a bit full. I felt like I had a metal strap cinched across my stomach and I didn’t want to risk making myself nauseous so I skipped the T2 nutrition I had laid out and headed out on the run in 2:25. On the way out the GEEKGRL was cheering for me and I gave her a big kiss and was gone.

The run begins with three miles of small rollers along the canyon bottom and there are patches of shade. I was running easy and doing between 9:30 and 10:00 minute miles. Aside from my stomach I was feeling pretty good but I was beginning to get worried because the miles were starting to tick by and I wasn’t getting any nutrition. I was keeping cool by pouring water on myself at the aid stations but after doing that a couple times I noticed that my shoes were soaked and felt like bricks. There is no way I needed the extra weight so I stopped that for a while and just used my sponge to dip in the water and wipe off my face. I also rinsed my mouth and tried to take small sips of the nutrition I was carrying but when it did I started to feel sick.

I finally cleared the floor of the canyon and got to the first big climb, which takes you out onto the plains. Here is where I implemented my second bit of strategy for the race, I walked the uphill though I tried to walk it quickly. I’m not sure how much this helped me in comparison to how much time I lost but I suspect that it really paid off during the final three miles. Walking the uphills slowed me to about 16:30 to 17:00 miles but I didn’t seem to be losing much ground to anyone so I didn’t feel too bad about the tactic. It also gave my stomach some time to relax, which it needed badly as I was still taking in very little nutrition. After getting out of the canyon there is a bit of flat and then a big descent and another long climb back up onto an area called “the energy lab.” Now, there really is an energy plant on this road but as I have said this stretch gets its name because it is flat and exposed and on hot days you can see the air shimmering as the heat rises from the pavement.

Mercifully we had almost perfect conditions, at least so far as the Lubbock area is concerned. It was partly overcast and the temps probably never reached 90 degrees. Still, the energy lab is a hot and demoralizing place to be…it is an almost perfectly flat, perfectly straight, exposed stretch of country road that goes on forever…well, ok it makes up about 4 total miles of the course but the racers are just stretched out before you like a death march of humanity. It just looks ugly. I was really starting to heat up out there and it had been a long while since I had any real nutrition or water and my stomach was still feeling bad. I knew I had to try and get something so I decided to start eating ice cubes. This seemed to work wonders because it was fluid that I could take but it wasn’t upsetting my stomach, at least initially. Still, I had been reduced to about 12:00 miles and a few walk breaks through the energy lab. Once I was finally out of the lab it was the big descent th the aid station at the bottom. This aid station saved my butt. When I go there they had just set out little 8 oz cans of Coke! I snatched one up and drank it down. Initially it made me feel full and sloshy but there was a big hill to climb right away and I knew I would walk it so I was counting on that break giving my stomach time to settle.

As the small group of people I was walking with neared the top of the hill one of the guys said, “OK, walk break is over” and he took off and we all started running again. It’s funny how people start functioning as units out on a long course, supporting each other and working off each other’s strength. By the time I started running again I was feeling much better my running was back down to 10+ minute miles. There was the last big descent into the canyon and then the 3 miles to the finish. Almost immediately upon reaching the canyon floor I saw a friend and Albuquerque area Tri coach, Mark Mico, walking so I pulled up along side and he said he was sick and bloated and his stomach had shut down. This guy had just qualified for worlds in France just three weeks prior at the evil Deuceman but he was done for today. It just doesn’t matter how talented you are, things can still go wrong. I went ahead and walked and talked with him for a little because I am very aware of how miserable it is to be that sick during a race and how lonely it is having everyone springing past as you trudge to the finish. I also know what a welcome distraction a conversation is during those low points. I probably only lost two or three minutes here but felt better for having stopped.

I resumed my run to the finish and was able to sustain 9:45 to 10:15 minute miles but the last four tenths of a mile seemed to take forever. I crossed the finish line with a run of 2:31:20 and a total time of 6:08:22. This is not a PR at the half iron distance for me but it is close and I think a respectable time for such a tough race. I did PR on both the swim and the run, which I feel great about. I immediately went from the finish line to the lake and waded into the cool water for a soak…the world’s best thing about racing at Buffalo Springs. I had two post-race beers, two oranges and a bottle of Gatorade.

I still need to work on my nutrition and probably hill running but I felt like today was a huge breakthrough. I am pretty content. I think I may be able to do well at the 101 by the time it rolls around and that is something that I am excited about.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Shhhh, be vewy vewy quiet

I’m hunting Cwydesale…huhuhuhu. I realize that I have oh so recently proclaimed my participation in the Tri-Raider sprint triathlon this coming weekend but I lied…or did I?

You see, sometimes it helps to know all the race directors in your region on a first name basis and sometimes it is nice to have your reputation as a glutton for punishment preceed you and sometimes…well, not so much. When the characteristics of a) friends who are RDs and b) reputation combine a certain synergy takes place that results in the RD thinking something like this.

RD - “Hey, we’ve got a registration here from Brian”
Assistant – “He’s coming back again? Didn’t he just do (fill in the blanks)!?”
RD – “Yeah, but you know him…that old boy just has a head full of simple”
Assistant – “Which race did he sign up for the sprint or the half?”
RD – “Are you kidding, (not looking at the registration form or, apparently the paltry sum on my check) he’s doing the half.”

…and so it is sports fans, I’m doing the half…the dreaded Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon 70.3. for those not in the know, BSLT 70.3 is “dreaded” because of the climbing, the heat, and the exposed nature of most of the course. The bike course takes you sailing in and out of canyons on a regular basis but fortunately those dives and climbs are punctuated by flats. The run begins pretty flat for the first three miles and then you have to run up out of the canyon where you are greeted by “The Energy Lab”. The Energy Lab is a four mile out and back that has a couple climbs on it but it is completely, perfectly, brutally exposed and you hit it in the very heat of the day with temps historically ranging between 98 and 106 (I believe that was the record high).

Here’s the bike profile that seems to scare everyone…decide for yourselves.

Now a reasonable person might say, “Well, you could simply bring this mistake to the RDs attention and do the sprint, after all you paid to do a sprint and you just did a half three weeks ago.”

Sure, right. First of all this is the grizzled old RD who has done something like 300 tris himself and lectures us on the evils of “Starbucks Triathlons”…the old school “When I was your age we swam through molten lava, pedaled stones through fields of razor wire and ran on fields of broken glass soaked in lemon juice” RD. Second, I really strive to save whatever rationality I can muster for my day job, which leaves me precious little for the remainder of my waking hours.

The up sides?...Well, there are a few.

1) I’m a stealth entry. I’ve told everyone I was doing the sprint and they are probably thinking “His name on the roster is just a mistake…he’s not gonna do the half”

2) I get to work on my long course nutrition again before IM Louisville.

3) I get another crack at limiting my sucking on a long course race.

4) I get to do ALL of BSLT. For those who are new to my escapades, or those who have the gall to read about them without scrupulously taking notes and committing to memory every detail of my life history, I was registered for the BSLT 70.3 last year but suffered a fractured hip before the race so I was unable to participate…well, at least fully. I still did the swim and the bike (Aquabike), I mean, come on…it was a hip!

5) And the #1 reason to go ahead and race the half…easy…I get to spend more time with Outlaws! There will be a number of us there lowering the general respectability of the event including Ironman vets “Mighty” Mike Montoya, Tim “Sluggo” Chavez, Maria “Go Go” Ladd, and Debi “Ironmaiden” Wess. In addition, the one and only Dread Pirate will be making her half-iron debut!

Hey, look at it this way…it will make for a better race report.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Special Training Post for Bigun

I normally don’t post my training but Bigun has recently made…well, almost a plea, for as much training data as he can get his hands on and I feel obligated to support and even encourage his perverse need to delve into the minutia of the world that is blogging about Tri training.

Sure, some of you may call me an enabler…Ms. Bigun may even call a home wrecker for keeping Bigun so occupied but please, that is not my intent…I only wish to be a steward of this community, a binder if you will…dare I say glue? Maybe more like paste…that kind of first grade paste that has the little lid with the stick built in so the clumps don’t fall back on your hand…the paste that that weird kid was always eating…but I digress.

Sunday I had a fantastic run. It was a run to end all runs, it was an early morning trail run along the majestic Rio Grande River through a wooded area known as the Bosque…that’s basically Spanish for Riparian Zone for you non-espanyolers out there. I headed out on my run, a 16 mile run, at about 5:50 am and I took off at a relatively slow pace, around 10:30 min. It is slower to run on single track dirt trail because of issues with traction, the more winding nature of the train and the need to hop over downed branches and fallen trees. During the course of the run I got all that and some running up and down stairs and running through patches of deep sand. I was able to complete the run in 2:43:27, an average pace of 10:11 minutes per mile…it was great.

For some reason not long after the run I became violently ill. It is very rare that I do become ill but when I do I really do it right. I spent the remainder of the day throwing up and flopping around in bed with intense body aches. I lost 6 pounds and stayed home from work the next day feeling weak and tired. Thankfully I felt quite a lot better today so was able to get right back to training though I did take it a easy.

I started off my day with 2000 meters of swim drills and then rode my bike in the 15 miles to work. After work I then did a brick workout, 15 miles on the bike and 6 miles on the run. As you can see the bike was all downhill but of course that means that I rode all uphill in the morning. The run was difficult and hot and I felt weak but I guess, at least, I got it done.

Enjoy the graphs!

Oh, and my Blog is...
What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

Thanks Al!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Me and Old Red: Gallup Triathlon Race Report

Today was the inaugural race of the Gallup Triathlon held, obviously, in Beautiful Gallup New Mexico at an average elevation of 6,800 feet; can you say oxygen deprivation? There was a surprisingly large crowd, 143 participants, for this race considering it is the first year and it is in a relatively remote area and, well, there aren’t whole heck of a lot of triathletes in our sparsely populated neck of the woods.

I had received recon from fellow Outlaw Karen “Warpath” Williams that the bike course was going to be rough roads with heavy traffic and shoulders with gravel and glass…ugh! This being the case I decided to leave the pretty boy Lucero and ZIPP 808’s at home and take good old Red, my trusty Trek E-9, and his training wheels, a set of Bontrager Race Lites with Kevlar clinchers filled with Stan’s, out to the race instead.

The GEEKGRL, Mini-Me and I woke at 4:45 am, ate breakfast, packed our gear and headed over to the race course. We were the first to arrive but transition was marked by number so there was little racking advantage though we each did get the sweat spot at the end of our respective racks right in the runway through transition. The race was due to start at 7:00 am sharp but didn’t begin until about 7:40 because EMS failed to tell the RD that their shift change was at 7:00 am so we all had to wait around for the new shift to come on duty and then drag their butts over to the race course. Still, I must say the men and women of the Gallup PD and EMS did a FANTASTIC job making sure all athletes were safe.

The event kicked of with a very brief 375 yard swim in a beautiful new state of the art aquatic center. We were seeded by our estimated swim time. I guessed mine would be about 6:50 so I was sporting the number 27 and, of course, was the 27th person to take off. The RD told us that there was to be no passing mid-lane, only at the walls because we were sharing lanes going up and back in each lane. Well, I hit the water and took off swimming quite strong. After about 125 yards the guy who started behind me started slapping my feet so at the wall I let him pass and then followed on. The pass took too much out of him because I was on his feet within 10 yards so I passed him back at the next wall. I then ran into more feet and when I looked up like I was sighting in open water I saw a pile-up of three ladies with the lead swimmer slowing dramatically. The problem was she would not let anyone pass at the wall. I was practically doggie paddling now and three walls went by and nobody would let us pass. I thought, “screw it, if they want to DQ me…fine!” I sighted once more and saw nobody at all was coming down the lane headed in the opposite direction toward us and I pushed hard off the wall, put my head down and hammered past all three swimmers in about 15 yards…finally I was able to start swimming again! Despite that 75 yard slow down I was still able to clear the pool in 6:35.

I hit T1 and popped on my cycling gear and headed out in 1:02, a little slow, to take my chances on the bike course with Old Red. Now get this…the RD and her husband didn’t only SWEEP transition…yes, with brooms, they also stayed out past midnight SWEEPING the bike course! Mind you, not all of it but still they were out there for hours sweeping the freakin bike course! The bike course was kind of hilly with a couple decent climbs and a couple fast down hill runs and I was sticking to my usual strategy of trying to spin up the hills and hammer the flats and downs. Surprisingly I found myself catching a few people while I was headed uphill…small people! Ah, what the hell…I passed them too. I drank my full bottle of Nuun and took one Accell Gel and arrived back into T2 in a time of 39 minutes and change…not exactly fast but given the altitude and the climbing…it was enough to earn me the 5th fastest bike split of the day. Way to go Old Red!

I trundled through T2 in about 1:00, another slightly slow transition but I was feeling good, and headed out on the run. Mercifully this run began with a down hill unlike the evil DeuceMan, which began with 4.5 miles of uphill running. Now I also received recon from fellow Outlaw Hartly “Silver Bullet” Wess that the run course had a real steep hill on it…Ok, I’m ready. After running for about .7 of a mile I spied a short but steep little hill ahead and thought, “Well, it’s kind of steep but it’s very short, no problemo.” Then I notices that the couple of people ahead of me took an abrupt left turn right before the hill and I thought, “Hartly must have been mistaken about the hill.” When I took the left turn I was confronted with this looong hill…ugh. It slowed me to a 12:43 per mile pace by the time I reached the top. Thankfully the remainder of the run was downhill or flat!

I turned in a run time of 25 minutes and change for a total time of 1:13+. It turns out my effort was good enough to get me 1st place Clyde, there was no split between the youngster Cydes and the old-boys like Bigun and I. Well, I was pretty pleased with topping the whipper-snappers but was even more happy to discover that I was #8 overall male…Whooo-hooo, broke into that top 10% for the brethren!

IT was a great day, a great race and great company. The GEEKGRL also won the Athena Division and Mini-Me pulled off a second place finish in the youngsters category, 15 – 18. The Outlaws pulled down a lot of hardware. I think we had 10 in attendance and 8 of us walked to the podium.

Next up…the Tri-Raider sprint at Buffalo Springs Lake…I’m commin’ to getcha!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Laughing at Ourselves

A couple days back I published a post on funny "Southernisms" and caught someone who is indeed a Texas Aggie and not being one of THOSE kinds of Aggies she was totally cool about it. It even turns out we have a bit of a shared heritage.

Anyhow, speaking as a psychologist, it is a sign of good mental health to be able to laugh at ourselves and the foibles of others and laughing at others is very different from laughing AT others if you get my drift. There is good and bad all around us and to be able to hone in on what is humorous and life affirming is a skill that will pay and pay and pay. BTW, if you are ever in need of some therapy and you meet a therapist who is gravely serious just run like hell in the opposite direction because that person is either burnt out or is too preoccupied with their own problems to take serious note of yours.

So...laughing at myself as a tribute to our Southern brothers and sisters...I'll let you in on a few morsels.

1) When I was in high school, 9th grade to be exact, I had this new girlfriend. Of course I was the coolest, most studly guy in town so she was more than willing to make out with me behind her house. Somehow during that relatively brief interlude...I didn't want to push my luck because her dad was an All American guard (football) in college, University of Illinois...I got the boot laces from one foot hooked into one of the "speed lace" hooks on the other foot. When we went to walk away my feet were locked together and I feel so fast that I didn't even have time to put out my arms. Face first into the grass...try to recover from that one.

2) A nerdly one. When I was in college I took a statistics course and learned about regression to the mean. I spent the rest of my undergrad days worrying that my A's would inevitably begin dropping to C's so I worked much harder and became even more suspicious when I began getting A+'s. Seriously, I had a lot of anxiety over this!

3) Triathlon - I did a sprint triathlon over in Flagstaff Arizona called the Mountain Man. It is a fantastic event and they run a sprint, Oly and half in the same day. The GEEKGRL and I did the sprint because we were on the first leg of our triathlon vacation, 2006 edition. When I went to get my body marking the woman who marked me scrawled my number down my shin! Her penmanship was terrible too. It looked like a band of wayward 2 year olds with magic marker had assaulted my leg. All the other triathletes were walking about in their cool gear with their great bods and perfect body marking and I was all frumpy with my scrawled mark of shame. I did retaliate by winning my age group, yes AGE GROUP, they do not have Clydes as a separate division at that race. I tell people that my humiliation caused me to want to just get the hell off the course and scrub off.

So if you are willing, leave a story and have a good laugh.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Lost Wedding Ring

Today is the first day I have gone without my wedding ring since the GEEKGRL and I were married and I must say I hate it. Yesterday while I was swimming in Cochiti Lake my ring must have slid off into the water. I never knew it happened and didn't realize it was gone until I was out on my run. It's stupid I know, I shouldn't have been swimming with it on but I just never take it off and have had close calls when it has been off.

I suppose the combination of cold water and many fewer pounds made it inevitable. I should have gotten it re-sized a long time ago. My ring had become so loose that sometimes it would just fall off my finger if I were shaking my hands dry or some such thing.

I guess all I can say is I'm glad it is somewhere that nobody else will find it and sell it or something, not that it was a valuable piece of jewelery from a financial stand point. We were flat broke graduate students when we married and went for cheap and simple, plain gold bands. I'm also glad that it is at least in a location where I know where it is and that it is in a place we love.

Fair warning to all you weight dropping Clydes out there, get your rings re-sized or, at a minimum, don't swim with them on.
Now I'm in the market for another plain gold band.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Non-Race Free Association

I didn't race this weekend. Not an Ironman, not a half, not an Oly, not even a Sprint. I did not race. I don't know if that's a good thing or not, you can be the judge. However, when I am not otherwise occupied I am prone to free associate. My dad was a psychologist and whenever we were driving around in the car as a family unit I would often sit quietly in the back seat staring out the window and was prone to fits of laughter. My Mom or brother or both would ask "What's so funny?" and my dad would say, "He's just free associating again." My childhood was filled with a multitude of un-childlike terminology. By the age of 10 I could analyse or pathologize just about anyone.

In any case, being unoccupied with racing I was left to my training, which does not keep my mind particularly focused.

Saturday I did a 75 mile easy bike and got to thinking about my upbringing in Texas. I had a football coach named Joe Bob Tyler, a friend named Jim Bob another called John Mike and one that was just called J.D. Now I'm guessing that Johnny Tri has at least one Jim Bob, Joe Bob, John Mike or J.D. or some such two name first name person in his background because he lives in Texas but what of Bigun? I mean, he is in the south, sort of. What about Duane? He knows people in the south. Run Bubba Run? He's a bubba but I mean, way, right? Big Mike and J-Wim, nahh...genuine Yankees, right? Certainly not Wendy and Brent...I know Canadians do not have two-named friends though I've heard they have something called "Newfies" is that's how it's spelled? They seem to be something like the Texas Aggie, the Appalachian Hillbilly or more generally the American Redneck. Certainly though LBTEPA wouldn't have any, I mean that's not even North America though I am aware that Australia has it's own brand but who are they have two first names too?

The GEEKGRL also grew up in the South...though she is quick to remind me that Texas is NOT the South...same as Florida is NOT the South. Maybe she's right, I mean, I didn't grow up eating "Whomp Biscuits", you know, the kind of biscuits in a paper tube that you "Whomp" on the edge of the counter in order to break them open? Nobody I knew was "Slap Ass Crazy" and, well, nobody ever began to criticize me with the phrase "Bless your heart."

However, in my defense, I knew my Dad was "busier that a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest" and that I was always "Fixin' ta do somthin" and that my grandfather told me the best way to catch trout was to dress up in a fish costume and swim upstream, you know, so you can "kinda sneak up on em like"

The ride went pretty well all in all but I found myself pondering various southern , or I suppose at least quasi-southern phrases during my 1500m open water swim and 9 mile run on Sunday. Here are a few that me and the GEEKGRL were able to come up with:

"Well, he's Book Smart"
"That Boy ain't got no common sense"
"He ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer"
"That poor boy is dumber than a bag of hammers"
"She's dumber than a barrel of hair"
"That ole boy is dumber than a door knob"
"That ole boy got a whole head full of simple"
"His brain rolls around in his head like a mustard seed in a 5 gallon bucket"
"Awe, she's cuter than a sack of puppies"
"That boy looks like he fell out'a ugly tree and hit every branch"
"Oooh, he's uglier than home made soap"
"Son, wuz you beat with an ugly stick?"
"That old man is ugly enough to knock buzzards off a gut wagon"
"That woman was ugly enough to make a freight train take a dirt road"
"Son, you look like a sack of chewed bubble gum"
"Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit"
"It's hotter'n a hoo doo"
"I feel like I was ate by a coyote and shit off a cliff"
"That tastes so good it'd make you want to slap your mama"
"Well, it's better than gettin' poked in the eye with a sharp stick" (one of my Dad's personal favorites BTW)

As you can well imagine there was never any shortage of things to think about that would cause me to laugh, the images were plentiful.

What are some of your favorite colloquialisms?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Perspective - DeuceMan 70.3

Ok, now I'm a day away from the event and have had more time to process the race. I got up this morning with fellow Outlaw Miguel and we headed back down to the race venue at Fool's Hollow Lake to watch some friends do the Xterra. I was a bit amazed and a little sorry to see a couple guys throw in the towel after swimming about 50 yards, actually one made it about 50 and the other made if about 100. The 50 yard guy was very heavy and did not look like he would have had any hope of finishing an Xterra. My impression is that an Xterra is a much less forgiving race because there are so many opportunities to go down hard on the bike and if you do not have the basic fitness to do all the climbing and rock/log hopping the a lot of your "bike" just becomes a run while carrying a mountain bike - called "hike-a-bike" I learned this morning. The 100 yard guy was elderly and at about 50 yards he came up on shore and took off his wetsuit and tossed it to someone. I can only imagine he was feeling freaked out by the open water swim and was hoping that it was actually just a wetsuit that was too tight.

Anyway, on to my own deal. I am feeling considerably better about it today though am still frustrated with the course and its description on the website. It turns out that was the 5th Clyde out of 9 but get this, the #2 Clyde...I found out this morning that he left the Xterra pro ranks at some point in the recent past, we spoke with his girlfriend both yesterday and this morning, she did the half too...he went back and did the Xterra this morning but didn't do so well. He seemed to have another great swim and I saw him return from the bike and he looked like he was hurting, he said something like "Jesus Christ!" when he came in and then he went off on the run looking less than energetic. My hat is certainly off to him...he's one tough guy. However it begs the question, who in the heck was the 1st place Clyde who finished in 5:09:05! I would never presume to estimate that as a possible finish time for myself at the flattest half...maybe 5:10:00.

Anyway, the #1 and #2 Clydes were in their own class. Number 3 I think did very well and then there was #4 and me and #5 who I think are probably more representative of the kind of "regular guy" triathletes you find at most races. This is good to think about, I am a regular guy triathlete who isn't particularly talented but just gets out there and gives it what I've got. Actually, now that I look at the results, I saw the #3 guy when he was at about mile 11.5 or 12 and I was at mile 9.5 or 10. He was hurting, I thought I would catch him honestly but I just spent too much time walking and he was too far ahead. I'm amazed that the #4 clyde didn't pass him. That guy passed me and he was running pretty well and taking few walk breaks. I tried to keep up with him but we still had about 5 miles to go and I just couldn't hang. But you know what...I just know that if I would have backed off on the bike I could have finished somewhere closer to him, maybe even beaten him.

Speaking of the bike, I think that my average pave of 18.7 mph is not so bad considering the climbing and my malfunctioning bike. I really think that is within my realm of ability so I'm comfortable with calling it a good bike split though I do wish I would have had a better idea of what those "hills" were actually going to be like because i would have done more hill training and would have backed off a little more during the early part of the bike. I am also happy with my swim. It turns out that my average pace was 1:55 per 100 meters. My all time best swim is 1:49 per 100m and that was in an Olympic and my best half-iron swim pace is 1:54 per 100m.

As for the run...I don't know what to think really but here is what I was thinking a lot yesterday and also today. I read in "The Lore of Running" that marathoners legs are long and lean with more wiry muscles because that is just the way that slow twitch muscles grow and develop it's not just about low body fat. On the other hand a sprinters legs are stout and powerful looking, heavily muscled because fast twitch muscles bulk up when you exercise them. My legs are pretty bulky, I do my best racing in sprint distance races...maybe I just have too high a preponderance of fast twitch muscle to ever be more than mediocre at the long course stuff. You know what, I'm fine with that too. I don't earn my living doing this it's just recreation but what I do need to get past is the EXPECTATIONS that I keep holding out in front of myself, the same expectations that caused my blow-up at IMAZ.

So, my next lesson to learn...How to hold out higher goals for myself on the long course stuff without succumbing to my own driving expectations?

Just a Kind of Angry Wandering Post - DuceMan Race Report

I am not sure how to post my “race” at the DuceMan half-iron but I’ll get the bad news out of the way right up front. I got a PW – Personal Worst – on this course and am 99.9% sure that I was the 6th place Clyde out of 7. It is about 7 hours post race and I still don’t know how to feel about it. I can start by saying that I was not prepared for this particular race; I was prepared for a race that wasn’t here when I got here. I read about this race and the web site said “This course is exceptionally fast with a few hills at about the 40 mile mark”. The bike profile looked ugly but the description said otherwise so I figured to profile was just distorted, I’ve seen plenty of those. I have to say this was the single hardest bike course I have ridden in a race…there is nothing fast about it. For those who were able to pull off good times I can only say they were probably well trained, lots of climbing, and I am impressed with their ability.

The actual bike profile was not all that it was cracked up to be. For just about every down hill section there was a steep uphill that killed your average pace and the “few hills at mile 40” were actually two large hills that erased any speed you may have built in the previous 40 miles. It wasn’t just the deceptively hard course either, apparently the shifting cables on my new bike have stretched out enough to cause me to be unable to successfully use any of my climbing gears and I was unable to shift very well between gears. I would shift and the chain would stay put so I would shift again and it would jump up or down three or more gears and like I said, when I would try and get into my climbing gears the chain would just jump around on the larger part of the cassette. This took one hell of a toll on my bike, any time I was headed uphill, which was often; I was just grinding away skipping gears and getting passed like I was standing still.

A final note on the bike course, well, actually the race as a whole…the traffic was amazingly heavy throughout almost the entire course. The police were out in force protecting intersections but when you road along side the highways and rand through what seemed to be quasi residential areas there were cars, trucks and giant recreational vehicles flying by at high speed all around. On the areas around mile 40 where the major climbing began a group of cyclists just ahead of me were treated to a swirling black cloud of exhaust that was being belched out of a big RV that was right next to them. They all pulled off the course and were coughing and gasping when I went by. The vehicles were also going by at very high speed and very close to the racers. On the highways you basically had three options, ride on the debris filled shoulder, ride on the rumble strip or ride on the white line in traffic. I just felt like I spent much of the day breathing exhaust.

The run course was also tough, pretty relentless hills. I’m not exactly sure if there was any appreciably flat area…but I’m not sure how much that really mattered because I was reduced to walking much of the time anyway.

So…how to analyze my race. I had a good nutrition plan and stuck to it and despite my tiredness I feel like everything was functioning well. Had I had any strength left there would have been adequate fuel on board to keep me going strong. I also had a good race strategy and was able to make adjustments as needed, unfortunately I spent a lot of energy I could have used later in the race earlier on the bike because the “hills” at mile 40 were far more formidable than I expected to encounter. Had I known what was coming I would have played it more conservatively. I also blew a lot of strength screwing around on a bike that wouldn’t shift.

Emotionally, I’ll be honest, I spent a good chunk of the race drifting between anger and something just below enragement. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would title this post “LIARS!” and just slam TriSport and the race organizers but the truth of the matter is TriSport is a very athlete friendly organization and the RD for this race is one hell of a nice person and the race was well organized and in a very scenic venue…it’s just that it is a lot tougher race than is let on and, well, the traffic SUCKED and the course felt dangerous a lot of the time even though I didn’t see or hear of anyone getting hurt.

Anyway, I think I was so angry so much of the time that I also wasted a lot of energy on emotion as well, I developed some pretty significant tightness through my shoulders, which is not normal for me in races of any distance but is normal when I am particularly stressed. This tightness through my shoulders had a pretty negative effect on my run because any time I would start running I was usually forced to stop after a bit not because of my legs but because of increasing muscle tension in my shoulders. I tried pretty hard to relax them and had some success late in the race but the damage had long been done and I was stuck with it.

As I reflect on it the whole disorganized nature of this post reflects my experience today…I just got taken by surprise by the bike course and my malfunctioning bike and everything was kind of discombobulated and colored by negative emotion. Even my swim was not so great but that bothered me far less.

The Clydes and Athenas took off in the first wave with the pros, elites and relays…that was a small field and in pretty short order I was alone in the water with marker buoys that seemed impossibly far apart and I discovered just how dependent I am on swimming in a pack to help facilitate my sighting and pacing. Ha, sometimes I even found myself swimming toward shore directly perpendicular to the swim course. I wasted a lot of time swimming all over the lake and popping up to look around and try and locate a buoy. Things got a bit better when I was overtaken by the lead group from the men’s wave, which started 4 minutes after my wave, but then that was a bit discouraging too but it was also nice because I was able to get some better swimming done.

I was happy to note that the difficulty of the course and my observations on the traffic and debris covered shoulders were not mine alone. When I finished everyone I met was walking around in a daze saying “well that just sucked” or “I feel really beat up” or “That was way harder than advertised” etc… My friend Miguel and I were talking about it and reached the conclusion that this race was harder than the Buffalo Springs Lake triathlon, which is famously difficult in my area. We were not the only ones to make this observation. A few hours after the race we met a triathlete in a convenience store and we were talking about the race and he spontaneously said “I think this was harder than Buffalo Springs. I don’t know If I’ll be back for this one, probably not, maybe the Olympic, maybe the X-terra…I just don’t trust what I will find and that’s not something that I can feel good about. I want to know what I’m getting myself into before I enter a race so I can train and plan appropriately.

The GEEKGRL also finished this race and I spent a good part of the time completely sick with the Idea that she was out on the same course suffering, completely unprepared for what was going on…that too made me angry as hell.