Thursday, August 30, 2007

Am I Ishmael or Am I Ahab?

I think…Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no hope that I would ever regain my fitness and become the size of normal men, and nothing particular to interest me in the diet realm, I thought I would cast about a little and see the world of the Ironman. It is a way I have of driving off the helpless feeling created by a lifetime of being overweight, and regulating the vagaries of my self-image. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my doubts get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to iron as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the iron. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards becoming an Ironman and repeating that experience with me.

There is so much about IMKY that I can feel good about but I have so many questions, leads not followed and puzzles not pieced together and I do not feel whole. Mind you, this is not to say that I don’t feel proud of my accomplishment it is simply to say that I do not feel that I have finished the job. My year began with the iron book open and I have yet to close it with any real assuredness. Time is still on my side this year and I am already wandering the web looking in shop windows.

It just so happens I have had a sudden opening in my schedule with the cancellation of the 101 and it just so happens that there is an iron distance race on that very day, November 11th 2007…the Nevada Silverman.

I will toe the line once again attempting to solve the iron riddle. I quietly take to the iron. You may not agree but those of you who have come to know me will understand; that is, after all, the way I roll.

So tell me, am I Ishmael or am I Ahab? Ishmael is a sojourner of the high seas seeking respite from his inner demons and seeking to solve the puzzle of his life. In the end he survives even though only narrowly. Ahab is a man obsessed and with vengeance in his heart. He is destroyed, broken against his enemy and swallowed in darkness. You know my verdict but I won’t claim wisdom as one of my key virtues.
Yes, to the right IS a picture of the Silverman bike course.

Fortitudine Vincimus my dear friends, Fortitudine Vincimus!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Yet Another Lesson Learned: IMKY Race Report

I would like to start off my report by thanking the City of Louisville and La Grange Kentucky, as well as all the smaller towns and the counties through which the race passed. Louisville and the surrounding area is an amazing place to hold an Ironman. Their roads are in fantastic shape for the most part, the scenery is excellent, the people are enthusiastic and friendly and really, I didn’t think the Ohio River was all that bad.

The race began with the altered swim course and time-trial swim start. While I actually like the mass start of an Ironman I also really enjoyed this time trial start and I’m wondering if Ironman will decide to maintain this as a tradition for this race. The thing I liked about it is the excitement of people diving in one after another rapid fire. I don’t know how the athletes at the rear of the like felt about the experience being as I was probably the 20 or 30th person in the water.

When it was my turn to hit the water I ran over the mat and jumped in feet first and started swimming moderately easy. While swimming in the protected waters between Towhead Island and the rivers bank I didn’t notice any current and was able to draft quite a lot. The only problem I seemed to have was either running up on people or being dropped by the person I was drafting. The front of the pack was a strange mixture of fairly slow swimmers and very fast swimmers. I did see the GEEKGRL as I passed within maybe 5 yards of where she was swimming. She was hugging the banks of Towhead Island partly under the cover of overhanging trees trying to stay out of the way of the faster and more aggressive swimmers.

When I rounded the top of the island I could spy the turn buoys further up river and decided to start swimming a bit harder. Even in the open waters the current was not terribly noticeable and the river was fairly clam. After rounding the furthest buoy I headed into the home stretch, which is the longest part of the course. Despite it being longer I figured there was probably at least a little current so I still stuck with my plan of increasing speed to my half-iron pace and just dug in and went for the finish line. I don’t think I had any real problems with navigation, maybe got off course a couple times but since you were able to see so many of the marker buoys down river it was easy to simply aim for one much further on and not have to make very big corrections. When I finally reached the exit ladders I turned in and headed for transition. I checked my watch and was very happy to see that my swim time was 1:12:57, and IM swim PR for me and while whatever current there may have been would have helped the lack of a wetsuit was a hindrance so I think it all evened out. Besides I was 574th in the swim, a higher standing that I have previously achieved.

From the first day I saw the transition area setup I knew for a fact that I would not meet my goal of 8 minute transitions. The place was huge as in all IM events but this one was also very long. IMAZ has a huge transition area but it is somehow more compact. In any case I felt good getting onto the bike and made it out of transition in 8:41.

Once out on the bike I stuck to my HR plan almost exactly as I had said I would. Sticking to the plan was a bit difficult because I was being passed continuously, something which I hate. I was literally passed at least once every couple seconds for the first 15 miles and then the passing slowed a bit but I did not pass a single person until about mile 40. I just kept telling myself that if I could just hold back I would begin to pass people later in the bike, maybe by mile 70, maybe 80, maybe 90 but I knew that it would happen. I jumped into the small ring quickly heading up the hills and almost never left my saddle. I am actually amazed to see my average pace was as good as it was given all the hills. The hills were not as I imagined they would be where you could pretty much fly down one with momentum left to make it up the other side instead they were long and each and every one required climbing. Still, I was feeling good and enjoying myself and I was also sticking to my nutrition plan, which was also going very well.

At mile 65 or so there was the special needs stop and I had placed my bottle refills in my special needs bag. This is were things began to go wrong. I stopped at the special needs stop to get my stuff and discovered that there was no water at the stop with which to mix my carbopro. I did have a little water left in a Gatorade bottle that I had recently gotten so I thought I would be ok but then I turned around to get my bottles from my flatwing and discovered that one was missing so I had too little water and two few bottles. I went ahead and mixed what I could but it turned out to be too thick and sweet and it was 10 miles until I could get any more water. I headed back out on the bike course and just kept trying to stick to taking in the calories and fluids and I was eating Tums pretty regularly in order to keep my stomach calm.

Somewhere around mile 75 I was still feeling good and still in zone 2 to 3 and I started passing people fairly often and the hills were still not bothering me though I started to notice a pain in my left foot that I did not understand but it hurt like hell. I just did the best I could to put it out of my mind and continue forward. At some point around mile 90 I began to wear down. I think it could have been the fact that I was not able to take in as much nutrition or because I was starting to succumb to the heat but I was feeling weaker and could only hold on until the run. I began getting passed again between mile 95 and the end of the bike and I kept feeling more and more sick.

By the time I hit T2 I was not feeling well and I forgot to grab the Tums from my bento box. I grabbed my run gear, including my accelerade and accelerade powder mix and headed out. I began running easy and my legs felt pretty good but the accelerade powder in the back of my jersey was bouncing all over the place and the bag had somehow gotten a hole in it an powder was flying out all over. In addition to that I found that I could not drink my accelerade without feeling sick so now my nutrition plan for the run was down the tubes and all I could do to calm my stomach upset was to walk. I started taking ice and ice water to try and get some fluids but there was only so much I could tolerate and that was not enough to remain hydrated. I probably walked about 2 miles before I decided that I really needed to come up with a different plan so I decided to run one minute and walk one minute. This worked pretty well for a little while but it was so hot and the area where I was at the time had no shade and running made me feel even more sick so I went back to walking and sponging myself off with ice cold wet sponges.

Soon enough I was cooler but my shoes and socks were soaked so I knew I had to stop with the sponges but the problem is that nothing dries in that humidity so my shoes pretty much remained wet and my feet became tender and then I started developing blisters so there I was at about mile 6 feeling sick, unable to take in very much nutrition and with blisters developing on the bottom of my feet.

Now at this point I was still heading out on my first venture onto the long out and back that comprised the loop and across the street I saw a guy who was heading back in presumably to complete his first loop suddenly veer off the course and grab on to the lower branch of a tree and hang by his arms and then he just dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes and curled up in a ball rolling on the grass. A woman who was also racing went over to him and asked if he was ok and asked if he wanted some endurolytes because what had happened is that he developed a severe cramp in his right calf muscle. He took the endurolytes and she moved on but then he spit them out and kept rolling around on the ground. I crossed the street to see if I could help and noticed he didn’t have anything to drink the endurolytes with so I gave him my water bottle and picked up the endurolytes and gave them back to him and he swallowed it all down. I also helped rub out his calf a little and the knot soon went away. He sat up and started so massage his leg some more and I figured he would be fine for now so I headed back to the other side of the street and was back on my way actually feeling much better for having helped someone so I started in to an easy jog that became a run that became feeling sick that became a walk. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

While walking I started to wonder about how the GEEKGRL was doing and knew it was very close to the bike cutoff time. I had hit the turn around and was headed back to the half-mary point near the finish line and I kept looking at my watch more and more wondering where the GEEKGRL was at. The further I went the more I didn’t see her the more worried I became then I started seeing fellow Outlaws heading back for their second loop and nobody had seen her which had me fairly convinced that she had indeed not made the bike cutoff. I suddenly didn’t care any more. I didn’t give a damn about the race I just wanted to go find the GEEKGRL and see how she was doing. I told fellow Outlaw “Bones”, “I don’t want this if Misty isn’t going to finish.” I knew at that point that I could finish but I felt selfish and I just wanted to know how the GEEKGRL was doing.

This slump had a tremendous impact on my morale, my pace and my stomach. My morale was in the dumps, my pace was a whopping 22 minutes per mile and my stomach was eating itself alive. I probably walked for 3 or 4 miles like that when suddenly out of nowhere I saw the GEEKGRL running towards me! I was elated! I ran over to her and hugged her and gave her a kiss and she asked me what was wrong and I was too choked up to say anything except “I’m just so happy to see you” and that was it…I went my way and she went hers.

I felt so energized that I began an easy jog which became a run which became sickness which became a walk but this time I felt positive and up beat. Oh, I was worn out. I felt sick to my stomach, my right foot had two huge blisters and my left foot had one smaller one and they both were very tender but I was ready to go, ready to walk it on in for the last 16 or so miles. Nothing else of interest really happened. I shambled along trying to hydrate and get whatever nutrition I could. I saw many people stop and sit down on the side of the road and just stare at the ground. I saw people walking in a daze and the ambulances seemed ever present running up and down the street pulling people from the course. It was a hot hard day but I eventually made it to the finish line and went to get a good seat to wait for the GEEKGRL to cross the line, which she did nearly two hours later.

I’m really at a loss as to what to say about my stomach issues. I had what I thought was an excellent plan and ultimately it failed. Every step of the plan worked perfectly during training and it completely fell apart on race day. I do think that I must learn to use the nutrition that is available to me on the race course if I am doing an Ironman. For a half iron I can make it through the bike and about half way through the run on my own nutrition but in an Ironman I can only make it about 1/3 of the way into the bike and then things start to go wrong. So, I suppose for IMCDA I will be training with nothing but Gatorade Endurance Formula, Power Gels, Power Bars, water and bananas. It sucks because I don’t think these are the best products on the market but they are the Ironman sponsors and that is what is available.

So, on to the next event.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Post Race

Ok, I feel like crap so I'll post quickly by l playing along with the Haiku thing.

Ride away on my carbon steed
Goodbye remedy
long walk, stomach wrench

Saturday, August 25, 2007

If I Could Give More

It's 8 hours until the start of the race and I'm laying here awake wishing for nothing else but to have some tangible way of giving the GEEKGRL my strength, my legs, my lungs. It's not that those things are so great but I do know they will carry me from start to finish in under 17 hours...I knew that before I did my first iron distance event at Oklahoma City. It's not arrogance on my part. I know that many outside factors can sneak in and prevent a finish but I have always been a very physical guy and if there is one thing that I know well it is my physical abilities.

The GEEKGRL on the other hand has never been a physical gal. As she has said many times she had mastered the sedentary lifestyle, why run when you can walk? Why walk when you can sit? Why sit when you can sleep?

The Ironman will not tolerate any hint of that attitude. The Ironman, at least in your first run through, smells fear and feeds off of it. The Ironman takes you to some dark and lonely places in your mind and let's faces it, some of us have much darker and lonelier places to go that others.

The GEEKGRL is one such person. The dark and lonely places she can get to are a far cry from the places I can go. By comparison I go to places where Teletubbies torment you with their endless silliness...the GEEKGRL can get to hell or at least very close. This worries me, it pains me,.. it sickens me that I can't stop it, deflect it or deflate it.

I know the GEEKGRL is strong; while I think she is beautiful, a great cook and a fantastic person to hang out with I married her for her character and her inner toughness, let's face it life can be hard and when the chips are really down you want a partner that can stand by your side and not cut and run or wilt and fold.

When I met the GEEKGRL she was a single mother of three on welfare living in a shack in a rural town of 250 people struggling to get by while working on her master's degree so she could provide her children a better life. Now she would take umbrage for me calling her home a shack but be your own judge. The place was condemned when she bought it, it had saplings growing through the floorboards. After she fixed it up many of the upstairs walls had plaster missing from the walls and holes in the floor boards. Her bedroom ceiling had old bed sheets stapled to it so she wouldn't get hit with falling plaster from when the kids ran through the house upstairs. She built the kitchen cabinetry out of used plywood and her gas line ran above ground from a tank to her house so in the winter if the pilot light went out the condensation in the line would freeze and she would have to go out in the snow and lay across the line to use her body heat to thaw it out so she could get the furnace re-started.

Anyway, she was surviving that and was still cheerful and optimistic. She had a husband previously who literally tried to kill her, choke her to death while, fortunately, another man beat him off of her as she was losing consciousness.

I have one true skill when I really apply myself and pay attention. I can see past people's surfaces, their surroundings and their defences. If I really focus I can read people's character like it was an open book and the GEEKGRL was the most amazing person I had ever seen and I wanted to be like her and I wanted to be with her. I knew that I could provide for her and her children materially and if need be, physically and that for that small trade off I would have the opportunity to enrich my life, enrich my soul, by more than with any other action I could imagine and so from that point on I dedicated myself fully to developing the kind of life and circumstances that would allow her to flourish and so my role as protector.

The ironic thing is in life you can kill someone with your protection. I could just as easily snuff out the fiery will power she possesses by never allowing her to make the kinds of outrageous moves that formed her in the first place and by doing that I would kill us both.

So here I am my friends, typing away this night worried sick about my wife and wanting her to face down this thing called Ironman. I have given her all I can, all that I dare give and still keep her intact. However, you can lend her your strength through your thoughts, encouragement and prayers and I would ask for all that may be given to help her through this day. I know that she can make it but it will be a struggle. I am her protector and I soften the blow when and how I can...I'm just askin'

As Al would say, thanks for reading.

My Pictoral Haiku

Spinning the GEEKGRL's idea because I have little to say.

See you at the finish line!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Crazy Day in Louisville

If you want to read a lot about our Louisville excursion go over to the GEEKGRL's blog, she types way faster than I and way more often. Here are my Cliff notes version.

1) Gatorade swim 7:30 am. Huge current, fast current. The practice swim was 1 mile in length. It took me 33 minutes to get upstream to the halfway point. That included swimming the half-mile to the first turn buoy, going around that buoy and sighting on the next buoy, which formed the far end of the rectangle, being swept about a 1.4 mile back down stream in those few seconds and then swimming back upstream to that second buoy and then getting swept under the buoy and wrapped up on the buoy rope while trying to round the buoy. Getting back down stream the way I had come in 6 minutes, not 33 and then getting swept past the exit stairs and spending the next 5 minutes trying to swim back up stream to get to the exit. So much for my "easy" swim.

2) Drove the bike course with the intention of getting out of the car at some point and riding a bit. There are no shoulders in the Louisville area, at least nothing I recognized as shoulders. Indeed the entire width of their roads out here are about the width of our shoulders back home. The traffic was also very heavy. There were a couple brave souls out riding the course but there was no way I was getting out there, not this close to the big day. The course is indeed fantastic! The majority of the roads seem to be smoother than most anything I have ridden and one long stretch is freshly paved. The road itself is going to be fast but then there are the hills. This course rolls and rolls and rolls. In addition to the constant rolling there are also some pretty substantial and sustained climbs. I know the GEEKGRL did a post where she made the course to scale because the one on the website was distorted and scary looking. Well, the truth is somewhere between her course and the one on the website but if I were trying to determine how difficult the course is likely to be I'd go with the website.

3) Went to the welcome dinner and met up with Duane, Mary Sunshine and Dying Water Buffalo and we all got to yell loudly at each other until the actual welcoming began, there was a VERY loud band playing. After wiping the blood from our ears we got to chat a little and made some plans for tomorrow.

4) Walked down 4th Street Live, very cool. The president of IM said he thought it was the best finish line in the sport and I must say that I agree. It's not that I know about ALL the finish lines but this is one that you just can't go and set up, it's part of the City's infrastructure.

5) Met up with Ma-Baboo and step-dad and talked for a while and made plans for the rest of the weekend.

6) Now in room packing stuff for race day and watching the GEEKGRL create some cool post while I knock out the b-rate version.

General observations:

Swimming in the Ohio here at Louisville is not bad, water quality I mean...the current is a different story.

Louisville seems like a cool city.

The bike course is, again, fantastic but will be tough.

As much as we triathletes bitch about the cost of an Ironman, except Spokane Al who has a frustratingly rational and well informed understanding of market economies, the Ironman organization is indeed amazing and they do indeed deal in peoples dreams not just in event production. The logistics of this event are truly staggering. I will say one thing and that should suffice if you just sit with it for a moment and let it sink in. For two hours on Friday, for two hours on Saturday and for four hours on Sunday the Ironman corporation has arranged to have the Ohio River, a major shipping channel, CLOSED in the Louisville area. Yes, 2 hours and 2 hours for the practice swims and 4 hours for the race. How amazing is that?!

Oh, also got an e-mail from the folks at Triathlon One O One and all events are canceled and it looks like they are canceled for me that looks like death. Now I'm gonna lose at least $200 on that deal because of the fees associated with transferring my plane tickets to some other flight to some other place and I may lose more depending on how a few other things pan out but I am more saddened than angry.

It is my understanding that the folks who were doing the One O One were first rate event organizers and so this must be a tremendous blow professionally not to mention the time and effort down the tubes. I'm pretty sure some folks will suffer some much greater financial loss that the few hundred I am likely to loose but I think the biggest reason it saddens me is the same reason that I was so enthusiastic about embracing them in the first place...they were very friendly to Clydes and Athenas. That is not something you see very often, not at the big races. Heck, IMKY right here and right now does not even recognize Clydes and Athenas, there are no categories for us only age groupers. So, for that reason I bid the One O One a sad farewell, I bear you no malice, sometimes life is just hard and you move on...good luck to you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tri One O WTF!

You know the Bigun and I have our first show down at the 101 in The Woodlands...wait a minute Doug Grout, RD for the Woodlands 101 is handing me some breaking news.

Dear Triathlon One O One - The Woodlands Participant,
Over the last several months, the Triathlon One O One staff has been working diligently to secure the final course layouts as well as the required permits in order to execute this event on November 11th, 2007 in The Woodlands, Texas. At this point it is becoming very clear after working closely with the various entities in the local area that it is going to be next to impossible to put on this event in The Woodlands venue.

For the last ten days, Triathlon One O One has been working feverishly to secure an alternative venue in the Houston area. Once this is complete, we will notify all the participants, partners and sponsors of the venue change and what the new course layouts will be moving forward for this 2007 event.

Thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter,

Triathlon One O One Staff

Any H-Towners out there? Where else is there for me and the Bigun to throw down?! Buffalo Bayou perhaps?

What the @%#&! is up with The Woodlands!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

IMKY: Putting Me Through My Paces

Ok, I’d love to go sub-11 at IMKY…not happenin’, that is not unless someone slips me some manner of potent performance enhancing drug(s).

I would be thrilled with a sub-13, totally unlikely and I won’t include that range in my pace estimates.

Something between 13 and 14 hours, doable and here is how.

Swim – looking at swimming easy, starting slow and then building slightly to the half-way point then pick it up to my half IM pace. I am hoping this will result in an overall pace no slower than 2:00 per 100 meters.

Predicted time – 1 hour 17 minutes 14 seconds.

T1 – check HR and allow it to drop into my biking zone 1 heart rate, about 102 to 117 bpm. I hope this takes me no more than 8 minutes to clear but the governing principle will be to move calmly, efficiently and do not leave without haven fallen back to biking zone 1. I know from past experience that when my HR is higher than it should be I feel more excited, less focused and am more likely to depart from my plan.

Bike – I am also looking at taking it easy on the bike, easy enough that is to maintain a constant pace from beginning to end. I plan on starting the ride at a pace of 16 to 16.5 mph and maintaining that for 30 miles and then reevaluate. I should be maintaining a zone 1 HR then I will pick up the pace until I am in zone 2, about 117 – 133 bpm, and maintain that for the next 60 miles only going into zone 3 on climbs. My zone 3 is about 133 to 148 bpm. For miles 61 to 90 I will be shooting for an upper zone 2 average HR and then miles 91 through 112 I’ll be looking at upper zone 2 to mid zone 3.

Predicted time – between 7 hours and 6 hours 47 minutes 16 seconds. This may be modified based on my speed at given heart rates. If the winds are super high like they have been in EVERY ultra distance race I have EVER done then I will probably be more like the 7 hour mark. If the weather cooperates I know that I am able to maintain an 18 mph pace at my planned HRs so that would be a bike of more like 6:13:20.

T2 – again move calmly and efficiently and allow my HR to drop to my running zone 1 heart rate, about 105 – 121. By the time you hit T2 your HR is usually a little more resistant to dropping because of cardiac drift. For those who may not already know cardiac drift is when your HR gradually climbs simply because of the prolonged stress (exercise) and not because you are excreting a higher degree of effort. The drift tends to be minimal when you are in better shape, are not ill and have been working at lower heart rates from the beginning, another reason it is important to maintain low heart rates during long races. Drift tends to be greater when all the opposite is true. Again, hoped for time is 8 minutes.

Run – It’s all about the run…ok, it’s all about EVERYTHING in an IM but when you are seriously looking at limiting time losses, at least this is the stance I’m taking today…for this race…sacrifice a bit of speed on the bike for a lot of “speed” on the run. I know I can maintain a high zone 3 average heart rate for distances of 20 miles and still have gas left in the tank so it will be my goal to move quickly into low running zone 2, between 121 and 138, and then try and maintain mid to high zone 2 for the first half of the run. During the second half of the run I plan on shooting for high zone 2 to mid zone 3, which is about 146 bpm (Z3 = 138 – 154 for me). It is my sincerest hope that these zones will have me running a 12 minute to 12: 30 per mile pace.

Predicted time – 5 hours 14 minutes 24 seconds to 5:27:30.

Total predicted time – 13 hours 34 minutes 54 seconds to 14 hours 44 seconds. Either of these would be a new PR for the Ironman.

No all this talk of paces begs the question, “What will you do if your heart rates don’t match your hoped for paces?” In theory I will stick to my heart rate plan and bag my pace predictions, this is after all my IM reset race. In practice…who knows, I can be a bit prideful and a bit stubborn and that causes me to push when I shouldn’t. I will really try and stay on top of this because, of course, the main goal, the prime directive, is to finish the race and have a good time.

Oh, one final word. My theme word for this race, the word that I will keep in mind as an easy way of summarizing my approach to the race, the word I center myself on…Spock, yes the Star Trek Spock.

Friday, August 17, 2007

San Francisco and the Ghost Town Finale

I was very worried that coming to this conference in San Francisco would really mess up my taper for IMKY but so far so good. I packed my swims and bikes for the week to the front end before I left town and have left my two runs for San Fran. I headed out yesterday morning for an easy seven miler along the Embarcadero…the San Francisco water front. It was 5 a.m. when I took off so not a lot to see just city running but let me tell you, the oxygen…good stuff…talk about a performance enhancing drug! Why didn't Bigun tell me about O2? I know he has tons of it where he lives.

I ended up having a great run and went much faster than I would have wanted for this distance considering I am in taper mode. Around mile 5.3 I thought I was headed for a 10K PR so I picked it up a bit to see if I could break it, which would have been quite something considering I was running fairly easy. Turns out I missed it by about a minute but I know that had I been shooting for a new 10K PR I would have done it and would certainly have gone sub 50. Oh, the elevation profile, my Garmin must have had the hiccups during the last mile, the run was basically pancake flat.

The conference goes on, psychologists are huge nerds! Many of the older ones are a mixture of hippie hold overs and “progressive” baby boomers…men who declare themselves feminists and women who are way too masculine. The younger ones all kind of have the edgy hipster look but their years in academia doesn’t allow them to quite pull it off I mean lets face it these are a bunch of Ph.D.s not 20 somethings who spend their time at raves. Of course there is a huge cross section of all kinds or regular people but you get the major themes. In general I enjoy their company, they are very smart people with a lot of interesting things to talk about but OH MY GOD do they talk…it’s friggin’ endless! There is much to be said for the solitary long bike or run!
Anyway, here is the race report for the Ghost Town 38.5 to follow up from yesterday.

Ghost Town 38.5 Ultramarathon
January 15, 2006

The race was the Ghost Town 38.5, an ultramarathon in its first year. The race is centered at Hillsborough, NM, which encompasses mile 30 of this 38.5 mile run. I discovered the ultrarunning crowd to be quite different from triathletes in some respects, much more reserved, more inwardly focused but still very friendly. However, like triathletes, ultrarunners have their own close-knit community and there is always room for the initiate willing to go the distance.

The alarm clock in my room at the Black Range Lodge in Kingston, NM went off at 2:00 am rousting me for a nice long run. All 43 participants in the event met at the race director’s house at 2:30 am for coffee and snacks and then joined a 3:00 am caravan of cars and a couple of rented shuttle vans to head 30 miles down NM 27 to just outside of Nutt, NM where the race was to begin at 4:00 am. The morning was a perfect 29 degrees, no wind, clear skies and a very bright full moon. It was surreal, the small knot of runners shuffling from one foot to the other in the middle of nowhere out on the plains of the Nutt grasslands waiting for the start whistle to blow.

At exactly 4:02 am the start whistle blew and we were off into the darkness. The road was well paved and the moon was full and bright making headlamps mostly unnecessary. Probably a quarter of the runners began the run with headlamps on, me included. However, once the run was underway the lamps began to blink out and so I shut mine off as well. It was so quiet. All you could hear were the rhythmic padding of running shoes on asphalt, controlled breathing in perfect cadence and the occasional muffled conversation between two runners. The pack spread out quickly and soon I was running alone across the plain on a chilly moonlight morning.

Aid stations were placed every five miles with any drop bags a runner may have brought along at miles 10, 20 and 30. I was nervous about this run because I had been sick for the previous two and a half weeks and only two days prior to the race was still feeling low. However, I had a plan and followed it like clockwork. I placed a fresh pair of socks, gels and fresh drink in each drop bag. In my mile 10 drop bag, I included a fresh pair of running shoes. Out of every 10 minutes I ran eight and walked and stretched two keeping myself strictly to a 12-minute pace. My plan was unfolding perfectly. I was exactly on time at mile 10, four minutes early at mile 20 and three minutes early at mile 25. Once I hit mile 25 things began to change a little.

The course we ran was very demanding, gaining about 2000 feet in elevation from beginning to end with 1000 of those feet coming in a steady climb out of Hillsborough at mile 30 to the finish line in Kingston, eight and a half miles away. By the time I hit mile 25 the sun was up and the winds were blowing with gusts to 20 miles per hour coming across the course out of the west. In addition, by mile 18 or so we had started running into big rolling hills, quick long downhill sweeps and punishing steep upward climbs. By the time I was descending into Hillsborough at about miles 28 and 29 the winds were sustained at 20 with gusts to about 40 and my legs were beginning to feel like led.
Once descending into Hillsborough, the course turned west, directly into that incredible wind. Now with the wind full in my face I began to experience a pain in one of my left toes. At the 30-mile drop bag station while changing socks I noticed a large blood-blister had developed at the tip of my toe and had spread up under my nail bed and my toenail was being separated from my toe from the increasing pressure. Welcome to ultrarunning I thought. I had read about this phenomenon before. I slapped on some fresh socks, put on my shoes, sucked down another gel and gingerly got back on the road. This is when the race got interesting in an unexpected way.

Because I was running continuously into a strong headwind, because I was running continuously uphill and because of the cardiac drift caused by 30 miles of running, I could not keep my heart-rate down without moving slowly. You all know that body mechanics are much less efficient at a very slow jog as opposed to a brisk walk or run so I ended up having to speed-walk most of the last eight and a half miles. Whenever I ran my heart rate would quickly bounce up into a zone where I was anaerobic. Even at a brisk walk, my heart rate was a solid 150 to 155. So there I was, surprisingly still in possession of the will and the leg-strength to continue running but the old ticker was not going to let it happen. Maybe it was the recent sickness; maybe I just hadn’t put in enough miles on my feet.

Regardless, I did finish running. I pulled into Kingston at eight hours, 40 minutes and turned on the afterburners, covering the last bit of distance in two minutes. At the finish line, I was greeted by cheers and a little girl, maybe four years old, poking me on the leg and informing me that she had seen some chickens. Great! What a day, what a race. It is definitely an experience I would recommend to any Triathlete. I would also recommend this particular race. The location is beautiful, the race is well organized and the race director is truly dedicated to running a good event. She is also a gracious and generous hostess and the towns’ people of Hillsborough and Kingston are enthusiastic and man a great aid station. Thank you Ghost Town 38.5 for giving me a positive experience that I will not forget!

Fortitudine Vincimus!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Salute to the Past: Why I Ran the Ghost Town 38.5 Ultramarathon

Not long ago Big Mike told me he was going to have an article posted about he and J-Wim in the local news paper and I told him that had happened to me once before when I ran an Ultramarathon. Back in January 2006 I ran my first, and only so far, ultra marathon and a few days before the race the RD asked participants to submit an essay, not mandatory so don’t worry you non-English writin’ types, about why we were running the Ghost Town 38.5. Like any good college grad, or at least anyone who can’t stop talking about themselves I suppose, I submitted my essay and it was selected and published in one of the local news papers in Truth or Consequences, NM. Anyhow, Big Mike suggested I post that essay and so now that I’m sitting here in San Francisco at the 115th annual convention of the American Psychological Association I thought I’d do a string of “historical postings.”

Why I’m running the Ghost Town 38.5
Brian M. Pilgrim
Age – 39

At exactly this time last year I weighed 270 lbs and could not run a mile without needing to walk. While I was athletic as a teen and young adult I have never been a runner or endurance athlete. I played football, threw shot-put and discus and played rugby while in the Marine Corps. After completing my enlistment in the Marine Corps, I entered college and began working toward my degree in Clinical Psychology. I spent the next eight years devoted only to my education, earning first a bachelor’s, then a master’s and then a Ph.D. During that time I neglected my health and spent all of my time in academic pursuits. While this paid off academically, being accepted into Phi Eta Sigma, Golden Key, Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa national honor societies and graduating Suma Cum Laude, I reached a weight of just over 300 lbs and was so heavy it hurt my feet and knees to stand. I should note that even at a healthy weight I am a larger than average man standing 6’2” and weighing about 195 at 18% body fat but clearly, I was terribly overweight.

After earning my Ph.D. I considered getting back into sports as a way of loosing weight. I attended one Rugby practice with the New Mexico Brujos and spent the next three days in bed eating percocet. Apparently, I was not as young as I had been when I played rugby for the Marine Corps. I briefly thought about getting into triathlon but soon became involved with my new job at the Veterans Hospital and decided to go back to school part time to earn a master’s degree in Public Administration. Sine I was only attending school part-time, that endeavor consumed another 4 years of my life though I was able to loose a few pounds in the mean time. In December of 2004 I graduated with my second master’s degree and in January 2005, at 270 lbs, I became determined to finish a sprint distance triathlon by the year end. Things didn’t quite work out as planned.

I did not finish one sprint distance triathlon I finished 11 sprint distance triathlons, one 50-mile bike race, one 10K race, one half-marathon and one full marathon. Along the way, I lost 56 pounds but ended up gaining third place in the Southwest Challenge Series Clydesdale division. The Southwest Challenge Series is a series of triathlons and duathlons in the New Mexico and West Texas region and the Clydesdale division is the division covering men weighing over 200 pounds.

The Ghost Town 38.5 is my first ultra-distance event. I was drawn to the event because, since I live in Rio Rancho, it is close by and because it made me feel crazy to think I was going to pay $89 plus travel expenses to try and run 38.5 miles. The idea was so compelling I couldn’t stop thinking about it no matter how much I wanted to stop thinking about it. Ghost Towns, New Mexican history and 38.5 miles from start to t-shirt and finishers medal, how could I not sign on? Therefore, I signed on and the Ghost Town will kick off my “year of giants.” This next year will not only see me through another year competing in the Southwest Challenge Series, I will run my first half-Ironman triathlon at Buffalo Springs Lake near Lubbock, and I will run my first Iron distance triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run) in Oklahoma City in a race they call the RedMan.

However, as great as all this seems for my own personal growth, I have recently received one more bit of motivation to run the Ghost Town and run it with gusto. Just recently, November 23rd 2005, my grandfather passed away just nine days short of his 101st birthday. His remains will be laid to rest on January 14th 2006 and on January 15th 2006 I will rise early and run with him across space and time. I will endure as he endured, I will smile as he smiled, I will overcome as he overcame and together we will journey together one last time.

Editor’s note: In my “year of giants” I did not quite do what I said. At some point around mid April I suffered a stress fracture in two places in my right hip and did 3 sprints and one Olympic triathlon in a fractured hip, that is before the fracture was diagnosed…prior to that I just knew it hurt like hell to run but before each race I would imagine it felt a little better…I was seriously in denial. Anyway, I did not do the Buffalo Springs 70.3 because my hip was fractured. Instead I did the Aquabike at the Buffalo Springs 70.3. I did, however, do the RedMan.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

When a Simple Comment Becomes a Full Blown Rant

I was cruising the blogosphere, as I am known to do from time to time, and came across Bigun's post. I began to leave a simple comment but then it became a full blown rant, which in turn became this post. I think about this kind of stuff all the time, seriously…all the friggin' time and it is rarely limited to the world of sports so I rarely put it out there because, well, frankly I think it comes across poorly when you are constantly engaging in philosophical debate on a triathlon blog, Like Excel Man said, "train, race, repeat"…the advice is as timeless and as sound as "Chop wood, Carry Water."

However, given the opening…I'm going there post haste and so here goes.

Prescribed medications at therapeutic levels for the purpose of treating legitimate medical problems tend only to have the effect of treating the problem. Of course I think that anyone who has a medical need should be treated for that need and not penalized.

There are also a number of caveats. First off I don't think aging should be considered a disease as seemed to be indicated in the slowtwitch article…and yes there are medical specialists who do treat aging as a disease and treatment is exceptionally expensive. To go along with the aging I don't think that aging athlete's abilities should be propped up by performance enhancing drugs so that they can continue to compete with younger athletes. Accumulated injury is aging and decreasing ability to recover from injury is also aging.

Why not split pros into age groupings if folks are genuinely interested in allowing aging pros to continue to compete on a level playing field and to play clean? There could be much larger age groups that are based on actual human development, say 18 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 54 and then retire or keep adding depending on the size of the pool of athletes who turn out to continue to compete. I mean lets face it, it isn't like endorsements and sponsorships will go away for these older athletes with the aging population and with all us middle aged athletes out there.

Now there's a picture, Greg LeMond leading team Geritol in the grand masters TDF! So…who leads team Depends?

As far as the current situation in sports like cycling and how we can keep it out of triathlon…to some degree I don't thing we can keep it out if the stakes continue to rise. To keep the sport clean requires more than testing protocols it takes a full out grass roots movement on the part of those who make the sport popular and therefore lucrative to demand integrity. If we do not get integrity then there must be a collective turning of our backs on the professional tier of the sport.

That is the point at which I lose hope for the future of sports with integrity. Just look at more main stream professional sports like basketball, baseball and football sports. I'm not saying that they are all dirty though I'm sure many are dirty. However of me it goes well beyond performance enhancing drug use it goes to true character. When you have professional athletes walking around acting like thugs, spouting racist remarks, whining about pay etc… you have a system that twists the development of the character of our youth and therefore our society.

I turned my back on professional sports a long time ago because they did not reflect the values that I hold. I am not saying that there are no good people in professional athletics, I believe there are but in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King "We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people" and in my humble opinion there is far too appalling a silence within the world of professional sports.

On, and just in case someone wants to take issue with pros complaining about pay with the rejoinder, "so then the owners should get it all?" I answer emphatically No! Here's my belief; the money generated by the pro sports industry…many hugely lucrative industries for that matter, should go towards the advancement and benefit of society in general.

Yes, pro athletes can have very short careers because of injury and they do provide valuable entertainment to the public so their compensation should be commensurate but, for instance, think of all the youth athletics, nutrition and fitness programs that could be funded with all that money. There would be no such thing as an obesity epidemic, no growing childhood type two diabetes and just as another of the many positive outcomes, there would be many fewer women living in abusive relationships. Yes it's true; no single factor predicts a woman's willingness to leave an abusive relationship than her participating in athletics as a girl.

I wish I could take credit for the following comment but I can not and can not even recall the source but when I was in an undergraduate honors seminar on American popular culture abroad there was a book that we read and somewhere in that book was a statement to the effect: "After World War II the United States had more money and more leisure time than any other country in human history. We had the opportunity to build a civilization but instead we built an economy."

And so now we bemoan our false heroes, our failed leaders and our fragmented society. To quote the Roman poet Juvenal "Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions - everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses"

We do have the power to change society and certainly to keep our sport clean or mostly clean but it will take the community as a whole to shun those who would cheapen our sport, a collective back turning but then of course we would have to give up our bread and circuses.

Finally, I recognize that not everyone is a crusader and I fall short plenty of the time but that's the beauty of a Democracy and democratic processes...they only require that most people are trying to do the right thing most of the time. Nothing dramatic just try, just act one day at a time.

Thank you for this opportunity to rant. A parting quote again from MLK:

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

…and now on to IMKY and other things triathlon.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

That’s How I Roll: A Socorro Chili Harvest Tri Race Report

I’m actually more nervous about doing this post and admitting my deed than I was about doing the race this morning. Yes, you heard me correctly…RACE. Today was the Socorro Chili Harvest Sprint Triathlon, a New Mexico favorite. This year was a bit different though in that the City pool was closed for construction so we had to use the outdoor pool at New Mexico Tech University, which is a smaller pool. The result was the field had to be limited to 120 people whereas it is usually more like 350, a big race in these parts.

Despite the small size of the race we had some of New Mexico’s fastest triathletes on board and I even had one of my local nemeses present, E.P. Higgs from Socorro, to duke it out with.

Ok, ok, before I go any further I should address the calf issue. Yes it’s still stiff and sore and yes it was probably foolhardy to go ahead and do the race but what can I say…that’s the way I roll. I did have a heart-to-heart with someone whose opinion I respect and who knows me and my abilities very well. I talked it over with the GEEKGRL and some fellow Outlaws. They all know me well and know that I like to know what is going on in my life and that simply waiting for IMKY to roll around without having confidence in my leg would eat my lunch.

I took some big time precautions though. Yesterday I was taking anti-inflammatorys, I iced it down and then immediately jumped into a tub of warm water to soak in Epsom salts. I got up this morning and gave my lower legs and knees a good rub down with ultra strength muscle rub, basically Icy Hot, and then I did both an Achilles wrap and a compression wrap on the injured leg…Oh, and I promised myself that if I felt trouble I would stop and walk.

So, with all the precautions in place I toed the line and headed out to seek my fortune. The swim was tiny, 300 yards. I have discovered that I suck at swimming pool racing, I am much faster in open water. My swim time was a paltry 5:20 and I didn’t pass anyone but at least I didn’t get passed either. I came out of the water filled with anxiety because of course I had to run from the pool through transition and to my bike. I knew that this would be a time when my calf would be lacking the support of my shoes with the lifts in the heals so I went gingerly and blew 1:28 in T1 but considering that I made it onto the bike in decent shape I was glad to have taken the extra time.

Every year I do this race about a mile in I start saying to myself, “Jesus, I forgot how hard this bike course is!” Not only does it contain two turn arounds and some climbs but the roads are rough and there is a steel track laid across the road at one point where a large metal gate rolls. They do put carpeting down over the track but you do not want to hit it going fast or your wheels could be in trouble. You have to cross this obstacle twice.

I rode the bike pretty hard and don’t think I let up much at all. I was going into this thing hoping for a 23 mph average but then of curse I got out there and remembered that it was not a fast course. Now the Chili Harvest is a time-trial style race with a seeded swim start and I knew there was one Masters Clyde that was seeded well ahead of me. Rationally I know that I never have to pass him in the race in order to beat him but I just can’t go for that kind of uncertainly so I was on the hunt. I kept passing people but none were him. I kept looking at the people who were headed toward me to try and see how far he might be ahead but I never saw him but I did see E.P. several times and he was annoyingly close. At the beginning of the race he was seeded only one person behind me. He said it was so he could chase me…bastage!, he knew what kind of shape my leg was in and he wanted to put the screws to me and that’s all there is to it because he is indeed a faster swimmer than I and the only reason he did not get immediately behind me is because he didn’t actually want to pass me he just wanted me thinking about him coming up on me…well, at least that is how I thought about the whole situation.

Anyhow, I kept looking for the swimmer Clyde that was well ahead and by the time I was about ¾ of the way through the bike I still had not seen him and I was getting worried because I didn’t think I would be running anyone down on a bum leg. Just before the second and final turn around I spied him and his big red shirt, oh yeah baby wave that red in my face. I knew that if I dug in I could catch him and if I dug deeper I could probably pass him and hopefully put a bit of a cushion between us before I hit the run. As soon as I hit the turn around I was out of my saddle and cranking up to speed right on his tail and then there was E.P., damn! He was ridding strong and starting to piss me off.

Most of the rest of the bike back into transition was downhill where every Clyde has an advantage but the Clyde with the least fear of speed will come out on top and so throwing caution to the wind I entered the puke zone and hammered as hard as I could. I caught swimmer Clyde (his name is Larry BTW but I like the nickname) not long before the right hand turn that is just before the steel track in the road. He must have been slowing for the turn and the track because I went blazing by him. I came to the turn, braked and banked hard and then bunny hopped the track and laid the hammer down to get back up to speed and try to start working on that cushion. I also knew that I would not see E.P. again on the bike unless he were passing me but I knew he was back there and coming on strong.

Because I was afraid to run in my bike shoes because of the calf issue I decided to get out of my shoes while still on the bike and then just peddle in with my feet on top. Since I haven’t done this in a race before I started early, maybe a half mile out. I got out of my shoes easily enough but for some reason as soon as I did my chain just froze. I couldn’t see what was wrong but I certainly could not peddle. I was trying to peddle backwards and forward and was shifting and nothing…that is until my chain jumped off the big ring and hung loosely on my crank arm. I had been coasting for about a quarter mile by not and was getting frustrated and losing time but at least my chain was off and not frozen so I was able to shift hard and thrown the chain back up over the big ring and onto the small ring and I had power once again. I hit T2 in a fair 35+ minutes averaging just over 21 mph for the 20K. I beat my time last year by just a few seconds but then this time last year I was about 35 days out from the Oklahoma City RedMan Iron Distance Triathlon, a race I highly recommend…especially as a first timer.

I cleared T2 in about 48 seconds but now was the moment of truth, the run. I knew both swimmer Clyde and E.P. were breathing down my neck and I knew that I would not run as hard as I usually run. I started out running a little easy at about an 8:20 pace and paid close attention to how my calf felt. Things seemed to be working well and the stiffness was tolerable and didn’t feel like anything was going to give. I then decided to try and pick up the pace a bit and settle into a nice stride that would carry me through to the end. The run route is and out and back with a few turns, a few ups and downs and about half of the run is on a dirt trail. I had come out of transition with some age grouper that I figured would smoke me but I hung on his tail the entire time. I think I passed two, three, maybe four people on the run and was only passed once and that was by fellow Outlaw “Mighty Mike”, which is something I expected.

I ran and ran and did my club presidential duty of waiving and gasping the name of every Outlaw I saw. By the time I reached the turn around I there was still no sight of swimmer Clyde or E.P. but all that meant was that they had not passed me. I headed back to the finish and there was E.P. and he was too close for comfort. I guessed he had started the race about one minute behind me and I had now idea if he was still one minute behind. Oh well, there was nothing left to do but try and pick up the pace one more time. I started speeding up and all of a sudden my calf whispered out from under the tape job, “Ahem, remember I’m still down here. Are we sure we want to do this?” I thought about it for a second and replied, “Why certainly” and so off we went. Just then I saw swimmer Clyde…E.P. had gotten him and he was fading so one down and one to work on.

By the time I rounded the final corner and saw the finish line just ahead I picked it up one more time and came in to the cheers of the truly speedy Outlaw. I finished off the run in just over 25 minutes managing an 8:07 pace. Not great but not too bad all things considered. I then waited...staring fixedly at the finish chute to see how long it would take E.P. to come rolling in. It didn’t seem to take long, at least not long enough. I was pretty sure he had beaten me and so I went over to him and said “Great race!” and then headed back to transition to pack my trash. I spent a little time talking to folks, took a shower and met a soon to be fellow Triathlon ref and then saw that the results were up so I walked on over to see what that damage had been. The usual suspects topped off the top 10. As a matter of fact 7 of the top ten positions were held by Outlaws…Semper Outlaws! Much to my surprise I was sitting at #16 overall but not only that, I was #1 Clydesdale. I handled both the Masters and the youngens. My time was also just a fraction faster this year than last. Funny thing too, at this race last year I ran with the exact same tape job because that is when I first injured this particular muscle.

My legs are a bit sore and my calf more so but it isn’t anything other that tons of lactic acid. The leg she did me good. So it’s another one in the books and tomorrow I have and easy breezy 60 miles to ride with the GEEKGRL and the Dread Pirate then it is rest up and coast my way to Louisville.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

2.84 in 30:16

Please feel free to use your favorite long string of expletives, colorful ones, vulgar ones, forceful ones and then attribute them all to me and my current state of mind. Seriously, it's a free ticket to be wildly profane and pass it off as empathy when those around you look shocked and dismayed.

So, you ask, "What's up with the vulgarity voucher? Why do we get the pass on your behalf?" Well friends, I say with bitter sarcasm, I re-injured the left calf muscle that I pulled just about a month ago…it's true. I did not go on a 20 mile run up and down the side of a cliff. I did not try to run hill repeats at a 6 minute pace. I didn't even kick my neighbor's dog…no, I ran 1200 meters at my 10 K pace on a track in my racing flats.

Apparently despite the fact that I haven't heard a peep from my calf in a week I am not yet ready to return to running in racing flats even for the shortest of distances and for discovering that fact I was handsomely rewarded with a 2.84 mile run this morning that took me 30 minutes and 16 seconds to complete before hanging my head, turning around and trudging back to my car at a 20 minute 16 second per mile pace…FYI, that's slower than my "out of my mind delirious shuffle", which I perfected at IMAZ this year. Oh, and yes, the 20:16…uncomfortable.

So…16 days and 13 hours to Ironman. It took me about 20 days before I could run comfortably for long distances when I last pulled it on July 14th though this one doesn't feel quite as bad. Will I make it? I mean will I be able to run at IMKY or will I be looking at a nearly 9 hour walking marathon? I am fortunate in that I should still finish under 17 hours even with a 9 hour marathon assuming everything holds up but I was really hoping for something more in the 13+ hour range.

Oh well, I suppose there's nothing left but to fix my eyes on the finish line and forge ahead. It's what I do, it's who I am…Mr. Grin and Bear it.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tagged - Getting to Know Me

Now I've been tagged by the GEEKGRL I suppose because I made the comment that the bloggers of the female persuasion sure seem to like this tagging stuff. It seems like GEEKGRL has been tagged a zillion times over the past year about a zillion different topics and it has almost always been by the ladies out there. The dudes, on the other hand, not so much tagging action but every so often one breaks through the gender barrier and is let loose on the blogosphere and so here goes…

Jobs I’ve Held
High school years (actually beginning in Jr. High – I got an early start):
Never held a "real" job prior to graduating H.S. but worked a lot as a general labor grunt due to my size. Jobs included –
Moving lots of boxes and furniture
Bucking hay (lifting 75 pound bails of hay and throwing them up onto the bed of a trailer)
Walking beans (trudging through bean fields cutting weeds with a machete)
Clearing irrigation and drainage ditches of trash and weeds using a yo-yo (metal blade on the end of a wooden handle)
Mowing lawns, trimming trees and shrubs and hauling yard waste
Roofing with wood shakes (and working for cash under the table along with adults who were transients and drunks)
Clean up at an oil rig supply and service company
Clearing weesatch and mesquite trees using an axe
Hand digging trenches for lawn watering systems
And I almost forgot – hanging drapes and curtains

Unites States Marine Corps – Mechanized Infantry (0313)

During College:
Psychiatric Technician (during undergrad)
College instructor for undergraduate courses (during grad school) – Stress Management, Introductory Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Theories of Personality and Psychotherapy

After College:
Director, Psychosocial Rehabilitation (basically I'm a VA psychologist who works with vets who are homeless and unemployed. I run programs whose focus is to get them housed and employed and we also try and address the myriad of disasters they have experienced that has left them homeless and unemployed. I guess you could say I'm not so much the kind of psychologist that lives by the motto "I'm ok, you're ok" but more the motto "get a job"…ok, but maybe with a little more sensitivity.)

Movies I Can Watch Over & Over
Cold Mountain
Lonesome Dove
Saving Private Ryan
Thin Red Line

I'm basically a huge fan of westerns, war movies and movies portraying historical events. If you can combine a war in the west that is historically accurate you have me for sure.

My Guilty Pleasures
Now I can't say that in public!
For the most part guilt is not a useful emotion, you do things that you should and don't do things you shouldn't. Everything that falls between you try your best and if it goes well, great…if it goes poorly, lesson learned…accept responsibility and move on to the next adventure.

Places I Have Lived (in order)
Vermillion, SD
Yankton, SD
Texas City, TX
Galveston, TX
Victoria, TX
San Antonio, TX
Wichita Falls, TX
Albuquerque, NM
Atascosa, TX
Stonington, CT
Albuquerque, NM (again)
San Diego, CA (boot camp)
Camp Pendleton, CA (infantry training school)
29 Palms, CA (first duty station)
Okinawa, Japan (second duty station)
Camp Pendleton, CA (final duty station)
Albuquerque, NM (again)
Rio Rancho, NM
Vermillion, SD
Dallas, TX
Rio Rancho, NM (again)

Shows I Enjoy
The Daily Show
The Colbert Report
(I actually hate TV and wish there were none in my home but the GEEKGRL is a TV addict so I compromise)

Places I Have Been on Vacation
As a kid: Who knows, LOTS of camping trips…oh, once to Big Bend National Park, Lincoln National Forest several to South Dakota to visit family (and accrue many of my hours as a farm laborer), Family lake cottage in Minnesota (Lake Carlos) Nashville, TN to visit family friends

As an adult: Portland, Or Arizona (all over!)Most of the National Parks in the southwestern US, including: Grand Canyon, Meteor crater, Petrified Forest, Death Valley, Yosemite National Park, Mono Lake, Volcanic National Parkland: Redwood National Forest, Sequoia National Forest, Climbed Mt. Taylor and Wheeler Peak Lots of backpacking in the mountains in New Mexico and a couple in Colorado with the GEEKGRL

Favorite Foods
Food…period, but if I have to be somewhat specific, Indian, Italian, Mexican, Thai, Mongolian, New Mexican (yes we have our own cuisine mostly centered around the Hatch Green Chili)

Websites I Visit Daily
All kinds of Blogiddy Blogs
New Mexico Outlaws message board
Beginner Triathlete (my training logs)
Yahoo Mail

Awards I’ve Won
In general…as an adult
, I had tons of little things for various activities as a kid:
American Psychological Association Division 18 Early Career Achievement Award
Phi Beta Kappa
Phi Kappa Phi
Golden Key National Honor Society
Phi Eta Sigma National Freshman Honor Society
Letters of Recognition: National Red Cross and Governor of South Dakota
Distinguished University Graduate, Summa Cum Laude, University of New Mexico
Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Academic Performance, Summa Cum Laude, University of New Mexico, General Honors Program
University of New Mexico General Honors Program Freshman Stipend for Outstanding Academic Achievement
Dean’s List every year I was in college

U.S. Marine Corps National Rugby Team - 1988
South West Challenge Series (Tri & Du series) 3rd place Clydesdale – 2005
South West Challenge Series (Tri & Du series) Clydesdale Champion – 2006
South West Challenge Series (Tri & Du series) Clydesdale Champion – 2007
3rd place Clydesdale Oklahoma City RedMan iron distance – 2006
2nd place half-iron Aqua Bike at Buffalo Springs - 2006
1st place Masters Clyde Buffalo Springs 70.3 – 2007
2nd place age group male 40 – 44 Mountain Man 70.3 – 2007
20 + 1st place finishes at regional triathlons and duathlons (past 3 years)
10+ 2nd and 3rd place finishes at regional triathlons and duathlons (past 3 years)

Body Parts I Have Injured
Seriously? (I'll exclude injuries and just go for broken bones and openings that required stitches)
Broken 5th metatarsal left foot
Broken 3rd metatarsal right foot
Stitches to close gash in bottom of right foot
Osgood Slaughters left knee
Fractured right femur
Double fracture right hip
Cracked ribs twice on right side
Broken 5th metacarpal right hand
Broken thumb joint right hand
Broken each finger twice and I think it was my right ring finger and left index finger and pinkie that have been broken 3 times
Stitches to close left index finger
Stitches to close left wrist (no it wasn't a suicide attempt)
Broken left forearm (not sure which bone) twice
Broken right forearm (not sure which bone) once
Stitches to close axe wound in back
Stitches to close lower lip right side
Stitches to close upper lip left side
Stitches to close cut on top of head, only once I believe

And, no…these were not the result of one or two major car accidents or anything, they are all individual injuries I've had over the years. I've always kind of been a full contact kind of guy.

Nicknames You’ve Been Called
Zipper – reference my injury list…my dad called me this when I was a kid because "you were always being opened and closed"
Grizz, Bum, Pigman, Myles, Sweet Baboo.

Hopefully now the Bigun can feel better about me as a nemesis because while a little paranoia can be good I wouldn't want him to become crippled by it.

Who to tag? Honestly I've fallen down on my blog reading these past couple weeks so I can't say that I know who has and has not been tagged but it seems like NUMEROUS people have been.

I'm re-tagging Bigun because he has remained stubbornly silent after having been tagged…so I'm saying this one don't count it's a reminder.

Johnny Tri

Spokane Al

Sea Monster

Run Bubba Run

Eminently Biological

Geeze, 5 isn't very many…so many bloggers, so much curiosity.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Illicit Post

Shhh, don't tell anyone you read this because I'm actually posting from work so we want to keep this quiet. Ok, ok, I'm on lunch but still. A few days back I gracefully spilled about 20 ozs of water onto my laptop, directly onto the key board. I immediately reached for it to flip it over to drain and dry and in my haste I punched the "On" button. After waiting a couple days for the thing to drain and dry I discovered that indeed my keyboard is fried but the computer is operational. I got a remote keyboard and mouse as a temporary fix but it really sucks because I am now constantly inadvertently punching weird buttons, deleting e-mails that I haven't read, canceling e-mails and blog posts that I am leaving comments on and sending the computer into hibernation mode. Fortunately I can just order a new keyboard and have it installed and everything will once again be peachy.

In triathlon news my IM training is going pretty well. This past weekend I had a big brick planned for Saturday, 20 mile ride followed by a 20 mile run. The bike went well and I felt strong and then jumped off and felt like I was running well, about 10 min miles with my HR in the mid 130s. The course I chose to run is basically 10 miles uphill and then 10 miles back down, about 750 feet of elevation gain. I thought it would be a good course because, well, frankly I'm sick of doing my long runs in one straight, flat line and I figured I could use some elevation change. As long as I was on the flats I was running around 10s but when I started climbing I was hitting 11s and 12s. The day started heating up around mid run, somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 degrees and I hit my refuel station at mile 12.5. I took about 10 or 15 minutes to top off all water bottles, hit the head (that's restroom for you non-Marine Corps/Navy – Coast Guard? types) and stretch out a little then it was back to the trail. I experienced a stabbing pain in my left knee about three times between miles 13 and 16 and I take that as a sign that I really need a new pair of shoes. It just occurred to me the day before the run that I was probably having some knee pain because I have somewhere over 350 miles on this pair of shoes and I really can't get away with much more than 250 or 300 miles to the pair. Anyhow I was able to finish off the run feeling tired but pretty good and had an average pace of 12:10 per mile including my pit stop and the couple of walk breaks I took to quiet my knee. It is my hope that I can hold a slightly faster pace for IMKY but I'd be happy with a 12:10…actually I'll be happy with anything that involves me running 50% or more of the course.

After the brick I iced down and waited upon my lovely bride, we headed home for a shower and nap and then later that afternoon we headed up to Cochiti Lake to take our new tandem Kayak for her maiden voyage. Yea!

Kayaking is one of those things I have wanted to do for years but have just never gotten around to it but I finally said enough is enough and took the plunge. The maiden voyage was quite the experience since the GEEKGRL and I have no idea what we were doing and were simply trying to paddle together…oh, and I had failed to install the RUDDER.

Anywho…we were not exactly paddling straight or efficiently but we got where we wanted to get to. After a while I simply took over the paddling by myself and let the GEEKGRL relax in the bow…I know you are already impressed with my grasp of the nautical.

After about an hour and a half of paddling around the lake a huge storm blew in and the winds picked up and the lake became choppy and we were on the other side of the lake from our car. I kicked it into high gear and started paddling for all I was worth. I got up to pretty good speed and the GEEKGRL bet me I couldn't out run the storm, sort of…she actually said "let's see if you can out run the storm." So there I was paddling like mad with my rudderless tandem kayak bouncing on the chop. Meanwhile the boat was trying desperately to head in a direction I did not want it to go. I started paddling mostly on one side to keep it turning in the direction I wanted it to travel but was having only minimal luck so I began in on using wide sweep strokes, which worked far better, that is until my paddle snapped in two. So there I was in the middle of this lake with a New Mexico gale blowing in and the GEEKGRL counting on me and the two halves of my paddle in either hand.

Without further ado I stuffed one half of the paddle in my cockpit and had at the lake with the remaining half of the paddle and got the job done canoe style. We made it back to shore safely and the rain only started hitting harder once we were ashore where we were greeted by park rangers admonishing us to hurry up and load the boat so they could lock up the park entry gates.

From time to time I have thought of myself as the Homer Simpson of triathlon and now it looks as if I'm off to a banner start with the sport of Kayaking. I can only say that I am glad I have such a brave wife who will put up with my antics with only a modicum of exasperation.

Sunday was far less exciting. The GEEKGRL and I hit the road for an easy 60 mile ride and then went home to lounge…oh, that is after I went to REI to return said un-trusty paddle.

One more week of high volume training and then it's taper time…YEA!