Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Attack Like You Mean It!

Those are the immortal words of my favorite high school football coach, Joe Bob Tyler. Playing high school ball in North Texas gave me plenty of opportunity to meet some real characters, some real fanatics, but old Joe Bob was not one of them. He was a soft spoken man who survived the Bataan Death March in WWII, had a deep and abiding love for mentoring kids and knew how to be both gentle and fierce at the same time. "Finesse and savagery go hand in hand so use your head, attack like you mean it or get off my field!"

These are the memories that I find myself drawing on more and more as I pursue my triathlon dreams and this is the mantra I used to carry me to a new PR in the half-iron. The morning began innocuously enough at 4 a.m. with me eating breakfast and then settling in for a good hour of quite reading. Once I headed down to transition things started to go awry. As I was setting up transition I discovered that I had left my cycling shoes in the car back at the hotel so I started running back to retrieve them but met the GEEKGRL and Pirate on their way down and my sweet had my shoes with her so I was saved the trip. I returned to transition to discover that I had forgotten the inflator valve for my air cartridges and that it was too late for me to run back to the hotel to get it so I was just praying for full tires that day. Finally, when I was putting on my wetsuit and goggles my goggles fell apart in my hands. I put them back together and they fell apart again. I put them back together one more time and they seemed to hold. Now I was praying for tubes full of air and goggles that would not spring from my head…but still, I felt calm and confident and ready.

I seeded myself toward the front of the pack in my wave. The swims in Tempe are all deep water starts so it is easy to tread water and jockey for position. When my wave took off I started slow and began to build speed within about 50 meters. I shortly began to pass all those guys who were overly optimistic in their self-seeding and swimming abilities and quickly found some relatively open water in that thin space between the middle of the pack and the real swimmers up front. By the first turn buoy I had caught the back of the pack from the wave that left 3 minutes ahead of us and made the turn, swam 50 meters and made the second turn and headed straight into the sun. Because the swim is rectangular in shape we spent nearly half the swim facing directly into the sun. All I could see was a glowing yellow ball, the haze of water splashing just above the surface and the methodical rise and fall of arms driving their amphibious owners forward. I just followed the splashing because sighting on a buoy was out of the question. By the time I was about three quarters of the way to the third turn buoy I began passing swim caps from the wave that had departed 6 minutes ahead of my own wave. A couple hundred more meters and I was rounding buoy three, buoy four and me and my goggles were ready for the final push back to the swim exit and we made it without incident.

I declined to make use of the wetsuit strippers because when I came through there simply were not enough of them so I headed for my bike and quickly changed into cycling gear and was off. While leaving transition I noticed that fellow Outlaw "Mighty Mike" Montoya was in process of putting on his cycling gear, the race was on. I began sprinting to the bike exit and right at the last turn I slipped on some wet pavement and almost went down but quickly caught my balance and proceeded to mount my bike and go.

I quickly settled into a moderate pace and started drinking and dug a Powerbar out of my bento box to start eating. I knew it was going to be a hot day and I wanted to get right on the hydration and calorie intake. Shortly into the ride Mighty Mike passed me and so I picked up the pace and kept him in sight. The bike course was crowded and required good bike handling skills but the lanes were wide so there was plenty of room to navigate. This bike course has several twists and turns as well as several U turns and I immediately noticed payoff in my bike handling abilities from all the screaming down mountain roads the past two months. As most triathletes were slowing dramatically and careening toward the outside of every turn I was able to keep a higher speed and take the turns tight banking steeply through the inside. On one of the many hairpin turns during the first loop of the bike course another athlete tried to take the inside line but could not hold the turn and swung wide right into my path almost forcing me off the course and into a police car. I righted myself and saw Mighty Mike pulling farther away. This is the point where I made two decisions. The first was to attack the course like I meant it, which didn't necessarily mean to ride flat out full speed ahead but instead reminded me to ride smart but aggressively and keep myself right at the threshold of discomfort. The second decision was to not look at my Garmin at all, not once, just ride by feel and let the speed and time take care of itself. I had also stripped my bike of all manner of computer…I was riding naked.

I refocused on Mighty Mike and started to reel him in and before I knew it I was past him and moving forward. Mike and I played leap frog for probably two thirds of the bike, driving each other forward, until he decided to just hang back and keep me in sight. He, of course, is able to smoke me on the run. I, on the other hand, was relentless on the bike. I could see the course ahead of me and I was not racing anyone but myself, trying to strike the perfect balance between speed and conservation. The other riders on the course were simply objects to react to. At one point at a 90 degree turn heading downhill there was a small depression crossing the road for water to flow. This bump kept throwing riders wide and there was a particularly large bunch at that point brakes hissing, speed slowing and bikes bunching. I decided to try my patented bunny-hop pass so I looked behind me, quickly swung wide then banked sharply to the inside of the pack and hopped over the little culvert clearing it easily and landing on the other side with a full head of steam banking into the turn below. It was a thrill to be moving so much faster than most of the other riders out on the course, a very different perspective, more tactical, more calculated and somehow less real.

When I finally completed my third lap I screeched up to the dismount line and allowed myself a peek at the Garmin. It read 2:29 and change. I was amazed and very glad for having not looked at it earlier because I think it might have started playing mind games with myself…"can I go faster, should I slow down, will I have any legs left?" I headed into T2 and converted to runner without incident. As I took off for the run my quads were burning but on the whole my legs felt ready to run.

My goal was to run the half-mary at a 9:30 pace and my approach was to start off slow and build. I began at a 10 minute pace and felt good, felt like I was moving very slowly. Carrying my own fluids I started to drink immediately because the temperature was already starting to break 90 degrees and it was even hotter coming off the pavement. I slowly began to pick up speed as the sun continued to bake us all; there was no shade to be had. By mile 2 I was up to cursing speed and running comfortably at a 9:30 pace. I decided that I would not take any gels on the run but instead take all my calories in pure liquid form. I was running along, drinking well and feeling good when the little breeze stopped. I hadn't noticed the breeze before but now that it was gone I noticed its absence in spades. I felt like I was suffocating and the heat just seemed to cling to me like a cloud of gnats. By the time I hit mile 4 I was reduced to an 11 minute per mile shuffle, my heart rate was staying high and I could not cool off. This is when I did something that I normally do not do well on the run; I changed my strategy before I was spent. I determined to switch to a run-walk approach before I was forced to do so by exhaustion.

When I first started walking it was about an 18 minute per mile shamble and when I would start to run I returned to my over-heated, high heart rate 11 minute per mile pace. I was beginning to feel discouraged about my prospects and the sun hung indifferently in the sky bathing the athletes in a stifling heat. Attack like you mean it, run smart and be relentless was all I could think so I refocused and banished my discouragement and marched forward sticking to my new plan of run – walk – drink, drink, drink. As I reached the half way point of the run and was getting ready to head out for my second loop I noticed that I was feeling a bit stronger, a little less hot and a little more energized. My walks had become 15 minute miles and my runs had returned to 10 minute miles. My new plan was working and decided to refine it just a little more. I decided to walk for exactly two minutes beginning at each aid station and then run the remainder of the distance between the aid stations. By mile 8 my walks had reduced to about a 13 minute mile and my run was between 8:30 and 9 minute miles. I kept drinking, eating ice, moving forward and getting stronger. I hit the final mile and wanted to run the entire distance but I held myself in check and took my walk break. A mile is a very short distance but I was not taking any chances because at this point I was feeling the heat again and I really didn't know how much I had left.

As I rounded the turn off the main run course and up the grass hill I picked up speed and headed for the final turn into the finish chute. I knew I had a PR in the bag, I knew I had salvaged my race and I knew I had employed several strategic decisions along the way that had brought me to this point. I had maintained greater focus and had been more flexible during this race than in any other previous race. I crossed the finish line knowing that I had beaten back the doubts that have plagued my long course racing, knowing that I had finally achieved a finishing time that I knew I was capable of achieving, finally feeling like I could legitimately think of myself as a serious long course triathlete.

Next up, the iron distance, Silverman, November 11th.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

So very tired

Well folks, I almost pulled it off, I almost met my goal but in not meeting my goal time I still crushed my old half-iron PR and earned 5th overall Clyde missing 4th overall by 1 one hundredth of a second. I am very pleased placing 5th overall Clyde and 261st out of 881; this race tends to call out the big guns in Arizona and Southern California.

I will post a race report alter, right now I’m beat from racing and then driving all the way back to Albuquerque. In the mean time here is how it shook out.

Swim: 37:55 – “1:54/100M” I place this is quotes because I heard from two pro triathletes that the swim course was long by 300 meters, which I tend to believe because I had a very good swim and this time isn’t as good as I would have expected.
T1 – 3:20
Bike: 2:29:45 – 22.4 mph.
I felt great on the bike, what can I say the climbing has really paid off.
T2 – 1:34
Run: 2:18:28 – 10:35.
I am actually pretty pleased with this run and I will explain in my race report. Here is what I can tell you for now though. The ambient temperature was between 90 and 93 degrees and the temperature as measured at about waist high with heat reflected off the pavement was 100 degrees. The heat, in short, was blistering.

Total Time: 5:31:01. NEW PR BABY!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Girded for Battle

I’m ready for war, war on my half iron PR. This weekend will be the first chance I have to test my late season training and see what it has come to. I know I should probably race conservatively this weekend at Soma but I’ve already decided I’m not going to, I’m going to try for a new half-iron PR because I feel ready to do it and it will be the only PR I have broken this year, except for some individual sports.

I look at it like this, my goal for Silverman is to hit the run without feeling sick and with any luck, complete the run without feeling sick. I do not have any PR goals in mind for Silverman since it is supposed to be the toughest course in North America.

However, Soma is a place where I can PR, it is where I have my current PR of 5:55:22. I think that 5:30:00 is within my grasp if I can nail my nutrition. I remember last year at Soma when I set my current PR I had this huge energy drain half way through the run and didn’t get my legs back until late in the final lap. I think it was because a lack of fuel but I have since learned to take in more nutrition on the run than I was able to do last year.

The other factor will be the weather. I already know it is supposed to hit 90 degrees and it will do so while I am on the run. I think I can keep myself cool enough to have a good run, we’ll see. The big factor will be the wind. If it gets going then I’ll bag the bike and just focus on keeping my HR relatively low so I have plenty left for the run. It’s the run I am counting on for big time savings over last year though my swim time will probably come in a good 5 to 8 minutes faster.

I am not looking to place in the Clyde division here. This race is one of those races where little big men, guys who probably weight between 180 and 190, come and lie about their weight in the hopes of bringing home some hardware. Last year the number 1,2 and 3 “Clydes” came in at 4:56, 4:57 and 4:58 respectively and let me tell you, they were tiny…Shetland Ponies I’m sayin.

Ok, I guess I should try and make some predictions here to try and hold myself accountable on Sunday.

Swim: 35:25 (same as my Mountain Man swim, which was fairly good)
T1: 4:00
Bike: 2:40 (21 mph average pace)
T2: 4:00
Run: 2:04:27 (a very daring 9:30 per mile pace…this one is dicey)

These times would put me in at just under 5:30.Here’s to hoping!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Misplaced Nostalgia?

This morning I weighed in…I weighed in at 203. That’s correct two hundred and three pounds. I am four measly pounds away from no longer being Clyde legal. I have not weighed this little since I was 20 years old. The last time I knew for a fact that I was under 200 was when I was 19. I have been battling my weight for 20 years and now, for once, I am winning.

But here is the catch, there is a certain nostalgia associated with this weight loss, a certain sadness, a certain, dare I say it, hesitancy. This is totally unexpected but I should have seen it coming. Ok, I’m sorry but I am going to go all psychologist on you so if you want you can hit the snooze button and wake up later in the post.

Everyone has some central self-concept that they organize their identity around, organize their lives around, get their rewards and punishments from. For me that self-concept was, in bad times, the fat man and in good times, the big man. “Hey Fat Boy!” I heard that a lot when I was younger. “You can do it Big Man!” Shouts of encouragement from people who wanted to draw the fat man out, wanted him to succeed and do better than he thought he could. The big man, the fat man, this was who I was. My constant battle with weight was my mission, it was my meaning. The discrimination suffered by overweight people in our society was my cross to bear and it hurt…and it felt good, comfortable, familiar.

When I got into triathlon I was able to adopt yet another big man persona, the Clydesdale. I was not only able to adopt that mantle but I was a FAST Clydesdale, at least in my region. I was the regional champion Clydesdale the last two of three years and was third in the region my first year. I was not just A clyde, I was THE clyde…and my “battle” with weight kept on taking place and my self image as the big man, the fat man, was allowed to remain unscathed…but then I got distracted.

I toed the line at Ironman Louisville on August 26th at 223. I was frustrated with my performance but not with my weight. I thought to myself, as a triathlete I am better than 15 and a half hours, way better and I set about doing what a TRIATHLETE would do to prepare for an attempt at recapturing some dignity at Silverman. I did not think about what a fat man would do but what a triathlete would do. Now this was not a conscious decision on my part. As far as I was concerned I was just planning out the remainder of my season the best I could. It is only in retrospect that I can recognize that for once, for the first time in over 20 years, I did not start my thought process with “the fat man”

Now, here I sit at 203. The only thing that separates me from the loss of an identity I have held my entire life, because I was a fat kid too and only had a brief respite during high school, is the equivalent of a super sized big mac meal.

I had always thought that there was something wrong with my body, that it was so unfair that it was easy for most everyone around me to keep the weight off, that I carried some special genetic burden. I’m not so sure about that anymore. Maybe what I really carried was a special mental representation of who I was. Maybe the encouragement gained by a fat man trying was too seductive, maybe the cross I bore was too compelling, maybe the battle I fought became too noble. Maybe, just maybe, I sabotaged myself all those years not because of dysfunctional relationships with food and not because of dysfunctional genes but simply because I had an identity, an identity that I understood, that was comfortable and that was just another variation on the identities everyone else has that keeps them where they are wherever that may be.

This morning I weighed in…I weighed in at 203. I was startled to discover that I am not a fat man, I am not a big man, I am just a man, nothing more, nothing less…so, where do I go from here, in what identity will I take refuge, and how will I be known?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

It’s Official, I am a Maniac!

I am Maniac #671 and I am the lowest level of Maniac, yes, the lowest level. What am I talking about you ask? Well, I had a pretty cool experience today at the Duke City Marathon, more on that later. While at the marathon I was introduced to someone who was doing her second marathon in two weeks. She was trying to qualify for the Marathon Maniacs club. It’s a national club something along the lines of the 50 States Club but it is just based on number of marathons or ultramarathons run in certain periods of time rather than marathons run in different states.

I looked it up as soon as I got home and I already qualified for entry at the lowest level, Bronze, because I have done 3 marathons in consecutive months, the Tucson Marathon in December 05, the Ghost Town 38.5 ultra in January 06 and the Lost Dutchman Marathon in February 06.

So here is the beginning of my welcome message:

Brian, at last you have found refuge, a place you can call home, where the Insane can feel Sane again, and once again be treated like a normal human being.

Welcome To The Marathon Maniacs InSane AsyLum!!!!


Ok, the cool thing. Me and some fellow Outlaws were doing our pre-Soma brick and Mighty Mike asked if I wanted to help out at the marathon as a cyclist leading out runners. I jumped all over it. Today I was the lead cyclist on the marathon riding just in front of the first place marathon relay team. They finished in 2:09 and it was windy as hell! I had a great time. It was weird having someone “chasing” me down on foot while I was on a bike. We averaged between 11 and 12 mph, occasionally dipping into the high 10’s when the wind was particularly fierce.

Oh, oh. I have apparently just made the GEEKGRL insanely jealous with my admittance into the insane asylum and now she is on the outside looking in and green with envy and so I am now committed to doing the Grasslands 50 mile because she has just said she will toe the line at the Grasslands trail marathon, which will give her three marathons in three months. I so love having a wife who is just as loopy as I am!

Ok, ok, so I have recently been pushed for some rules so even though I did not ref this weekend I will none-the-less include a brief discussion in response to two requests.

“What if I go to pass someone on the bike and I get up beside them and then can’t complete the pass because there is a hill or I run out of gas or the person speeds up can I just drop back 4 bike lengths” – NO, you must pass or you will be hit with a drafting penalty.

Another request had to do with the conduct of the swim. Here are some general issues. Swimmers may use ANY stroke to propel themselves through the water and may tread water, float, hold a kayak, buoy, lane line anything as long a NO FORWARD PROGRESS is made so you can not use a lane line to pull yourself through the water.

However, you can indeed run the entire swim if your feet can touch the bottom. Here is a quote from the Great Tome of USAT. Article IV rule 4.2 Bottom Contact and Resting. The first sentence says that you can rest using an inanimate object to keep afloat if needed. Now, the second sentence says “Excluding the bottom, a participant shall not use any inanimate object to gain forward progress.” EXCLUDING THE BOTTOM.

I know of at least one race in my area where the RD tells participants that they will be DQ’d if they are caught running along during the swim, the swim is in a pool. I know of another race where the RD says you can not dive into the pool at the start of the swim. I know of another race where you are not allowed to pass in the swim because the lanes are kind of narrow and you swim up and back in the same lane.

All of these ARE NOT USAT rules and no USAT race official should ever enforce them. Here’s the deal. RD’s are prone to inventing rules and threatening athletes with disqualification…actually, they are also prone to threatening disqualification for just about anything. USAT officials enforce USAT rules…PERIOD. It is indeed the RD’s prerogative to kick out of their race whomever they want for whatever reason they want but if the USAT official sees this happen it will go into their race evaluation report to USAT, which could in turn threaten the races USAT sanctioning.

Ok, here is the thing to consider. The RD’s who run our races…they put a ton of hard work into them and they bear the liability costs. If they want to make some threat because they think it is important to make their race safe, fine, just follow their rule and enjoy yourself.

One last thing…A RD can confer with USAT before the race and raise the bar on a specific penalty. For example, you will get a time penalty for wearing headphones during the race. A RD can tell USAT, “My bike course is open to traffic and it can get heavy plus there are a couple points where there is road construction. I believe that my course is so dangerous to someone wearing headphones that they should be DQ’d immediately if they are caught.” USAT is perfectly fine with something like that and it will be announced in the race literature and/or during the pre-race meeting and it will be enforced…DQ first time you are caught.

Keep those requests coming it gives me good practice.

Oh, remember, I AM MANIAC #671

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hello, My Name is Baboo and I am a Race-a-holic

My 2006 season was sick. I raced in 24 events. Most of them were sprint triathlons but there was also a marathon, ultramarathon, half-ironman and a full ironman. But that’s ok because you know, I was just trying to get a feel for things…it was all, um, research.

My 2007 season was even sicker. By the end I will have raced in 21 events, which includes two ultramarathon cycling events, one marathon, four half-irons and three iron distance races. But you know me, ever the research scientist just testing my hypotheses about various race strategies, nutritional approaches and pacing schemes. I hasten to add that I have learned a lot…really…I think I’m getting this Ironman thing figured out.

My 2008 season, well, um…it’s in the planning stages…ahem. I swear I won’t race as much as I have the past couple years…scouts honor. I have heard the people in their wisdom…race less…train more.

So…I am registered for IMCdA, that’s no seceret. Wanting to get in some good base miles I am doing the obligatory winter marathon and have chosen the inaugural Mississippi Blues Marathon and since I will have that under my belt why not treat it as my long run for an early season ultra? So, as I have publicly admitted, I will be toeing the line at the Black Warrior 50K right alongside the GEEKGRL.

Now, you know…I have had a hankering to tackle me a 50 mile ultramarathon…sooo, I could use my 50K as a long run in preparation for an early season 50 mile race. My choice, the Grasslands 50 mile just outside Decatur, TX…a scant 585 miles from my house.

A friend of mine e-mailed me today and told me about this great marathon, great course and great scenery, the Ogden Marathon in Ogden, UT. He is in and it takes place May 17th…Hmmm, that’s a whole month away from IMCdA and more than a month after my 50 miler. Ok, stop twisting my arm…I’m in.

Now, step inside my head for a moment if you please. This all seems perfectly reasonable to me. The logic is undeniable…right? he, he, he…

I’m kicking around the idea of doing a 100K and a 100 mile ultramarathon. No, no, not before IMCdA…after. I am eyeballing the Katcina Mosa 100K Mountain Run in Orem, UT on August 2nd and then the Javelina 100 in Phoenix, AZ on October 27th or the Cactus Rose 100 mile in Bandera, TX on November 1st.

So here is what is worrying me…what if I go from a 50 miler to a 100 miler without the ensuing 100K? I’m sure lots of people do it, right? So…if I were to do that then I could slide on in to…Leadville…yes, the race across the sky.

Please help…please?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Racing, Reffing and Ranting

Lots of stuff going on right now, lots that I thought I wanted to blog about but one thing is REALLY bothering me, more on that later…first the news.

I worked the Toyota U.S. Open in Dallas last weekend and had a great time. There were over 1100 athletes and the most smoking fast pro field I have ever encountered. The pros at this race included such luminaries as Hunter Kemper and Andy Potts. These guys specialize at the Olympic distance and are fast! The pros who win Ironman races are too slow for this crowd. Anyway, it’s a different scene.

I think it’s a huge advantage being an athlete and a ref. I really can identify with what the athletes are facing out on the course and I think that gives me an edge when it comes to knowing what is going on. For instance, I know what it is like to come up on someone on the bike and think, “Ok, they are going a wee bit fast for me to pass them right now so I’ll sit back and re-evaluate later” and then after a couple minutes saying, “This is BS, I’m passing” and then as soon as I make my move there is a little rise in the road that mysteriously sucks the energy right out of my legs. Now since I’m in the middle of a pass I MUST PASS otherwise I’m hit with a drafting penalty. I saw that happen a couple times and I was looking right at the athlete and there is this look on their face like F$@%K! now what? And they just dig in and pass.

I see that kind of stuff all over the place, athletes trying to run a clean race and circumstances occur that puts them in a bind, mostly traffic, terrain and weather…that or little miscalculations on their part that end up costing them. We should be proud of our fellow age group/weight class triathletes, I know I am. They seem to be good people with a lot of heart and a lot of integrity.

Oh, and one final note, I am never going to accuse a race of having “giant packs of people drafting throughout the course” in a big race with lots of people everywhere you look it looks as if people are drafting but the fact is that most of the time they are lots of people constantly in the process of passing, entering the draft zone and moving out. This happens so frequently that practically speaking someone, or some group, may be moving through the draft zones of 15 different cyclists. I have also learned that if you are looking at cyclists ahead of you your depth perception is crap and you can’t tell if someone is too close to the person in front of them with any degree of accuracy. Anyway, we compete against a lot of honest people.

As a result of working this race I have been promoted to a Category 3 race official, which means that I can now be head ref at smaller events, you know, the ones with training wheels…Joe Schmucatelli’s backyard sprint and whatnot. Well, I’ve gotta earn my stripes and pay my dues. The ride from doing the race officials clinic and starting at CAT 5 to being promoted to CAT 3 is fast and easy, attend clinic – turn in test – work race as part of the clinic as a CAT 5 – auto promotion to CAT 4 – work two races as CAT 4 with no reimbursement and as long as you don’t make an idiot of yourself it is auto promotion to CAT 3, all you have to do is send in your Race Official’s Record, like a resume, to your regional coordinator. From here to CAT 1 it requires more effort. You have to work more races, more races as head ref and you have to start getting letters of recommendation and your performance is reviewed based on your ability to do good work and turn in your paperwork on time and the performance evaluations that are turned in by the race directors. I think I’ll do a good job.

I ran too hard when I did that run in Dallas and followed it up with a long trail run on Sunday evening when I got home. I have been sore as hell the past two days and so have been taking it easy but it just felt SO GOOD to cut loose and just run. Being of the injured reserve is heaven now I just need to keep myself healthy.

Ok, now for the big puzzler.

Ironman Louisville IS STILL OPEN!? It has been about 45 days since registration opened. What is going on people? IMKY was a great race, tough sure but it’s a freakin IRONMAN so it should be tough. Louisville was such a great host, the people were great, the venue was great…I mean, come on.

The Outlaws have been pondering this puzzle on our message board and people have wondered if the market is saturated with IM races. My response is a resounding NO, IMoo sold out in what, 28 minutes. You can’t get into Canada unless you personally know the prime minister and Lake Placid requires you give up one vital organ and your first three children. Others have said it gained a reputation of being too tough…again, reference my statement…IT’S AN IRONMAN. Finally, others have supposed that because the swim start was not a wave start but a time trial start people are “turned off” because they think it may be a time trial start again.

Well…please, get a freakin’ LIFE if that is the case. Sure, I love the mass start of an IM but this was cool too and honestly, there were so may people and they went off so fast that you could hardly tell the difference.

I’m sorry to seem like a jerk here but I must admit to feeling embarrassed by the IM community. The people of Louisville went to tremendous lengths to support this thing and what do we give them in return, the old cold shoulder. Towns across America should be kicking our ungrateful buts out on the streets. Seriously, you people out in blog land…please give me some good reasons as to why IMKY is taking so long to fill, give me some hope.

Ok, I thought of one possible reason that I would find acceptable and I’m sure others will agree…it was the live entertainment at the pre-race pasta dinner wasn’t it? It was so loud that you couldn’t hear yourself think. You had to scream at each other just so you could fail to hear what was being said, anything less than a scream and you were encapsulated in your own mind numbing sensory deprivation chamber of sonic mayhem.

I know at least some are thinking, “Why aren’t you doing IMKY if you feel so strongly?” Hey pal, I did my part ushering in the new race, dropped some serious bank in the process. I’m all about spreading the wealth and IMCdA will be the beneficiary next year…I’m also trying to find a way of making the acquaintance of the Prime Minister of Canada…Wendy…Brent?

Since I went on such a long and crazy rant I’ll make my rule a quickie.

Unauthorized Equipment…guess what, walking sticks…legal. They do not really assist in forward motion so much as they distribute the weight so your knees and feet don’t suffer. Of course if you can comfortably run and or walk the distance the walking sticks/poles would probably be more of a hindrance but if you had reason to be concerned about the wear and tear on your joints, use em’ I always use them when I back pack because of all the additional weight I am carrying.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The White Boy is Back Baby!

The white boy is back
And you know he could never be wack.
The white boy is back.

The white boy is back.
With his foot up in your ass crack.
The white boy is back.
cuz you know he's the white boy.

The white boy is back.
And you know that he never smoked crack.
The white boy is back.
cuz you know he's the white boy...

Sorry you have to follow the link above to get to the music clip, I guess 45 seconds is too short for a music video and when I embedded the script it played something totally different.

After taking a week off like a good Baboo I finally got to run today. I got up bright and early and the GEEKGRL dropped me off at the airport and I flew in to Dallas, drove out to Joe Pool Lake and hit the dam for a quick run before having to zip over to my Pro rules clinic. I have to say I felt strong and fluid. I was holding back for the first few miles because 1) I know I was going for, well, a few miles and 2) I didn’t want to push my luck…but it just felt soooo goooood! I kept looking down at Garmin and bringing my pace back down a bit, you know, to display the appropriate decorum for one coming off a calf injury.

I hit the turn around, pretty much the end of the dam road at mile 4, and decided to go for a negative split. I hit somewhere about mile 6.5 and decided to kick it so I dropped to a 7:30 pace and held on until about mile 7.5 when I thought it best that I cool down a tad before jumping in the rental car and trucking over to my rendezvous with my USAT peeps.

What can I say, the run felt FANTASTIC and I do not have any soreness. The only thing I noticed is that my HR was higher than usual for the pace I was running but I’m not too worried about that because I know I have time to bring that back into line by Silverman if not by Soma.

Now the Baboo has got to get some shut eye…3:00 a.m. wake-up call, hit breakfast and then go help to make the Toyota U.S. Open Triathlon a fair and honest place.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Early 2008 Season Planning

Ok, I know I have Silverman looming on the horizon, I am aware of that daily but still I am dying to get to my winter marathon season. As a matter of fact I can’t wait to get through next Tri season so I can get to my NEXT marathon season. I think the main reason is that I am dying to really make some attempts at ultramarathon running. I did one but I want to do more. I had a big plan to get into it last year and then I fractured my foot so I changed directions and went a little into ultracycling. I honestly didn’t like the ultracycling all that much. It takes too damn long to train up all those miles.

Anyway, I am feeling like having a good winter season and I feel like I have learned a lot about running and how I need to do it to stay healthy. This being the case I, actually the GEEKGRL and I, have at least two runs planed. On the 5th of January we will be running the inaugural Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, MS. This will give us a Mississippi marathon in our quest to join the 50 States Marathon Club.

Next up will be the Black Warrior 50K in Moulton Alabama deep in the Bankhead National Forest. This will be our Alabama race and our first trail ultra ever. Actually it will be our first organized trail run ever and I can’t wait. Not only that but the race location is right next to Oakville Alabama the birthplace of Jesse Owens, a true American hero. This is one museum we are definitely going to see for a little pre-race motivation.

I think we will be looking for something else in March but I’m not sure it’s really going to depend on how things are going and how close to IMCDA we think we can reasonably get away with running something like a marathon or 50K. I’m also thinking about ending my 2008 tri season in either in August or September so I can make an attempt on some really big distances or at least work my way up to see how far I might want to go. In my mind I’d like to do a 100 miler but I’m so far from that that I can’t even make a reasonable judgment about that so I will need time to test out a 50 miler and see if I want to move on to a 100K and then maybe the 100 miler. I dunno, are there any big distance ultra runners out there that can advise me on the progression?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Just Stuff

Today I received some troubling news. My father has calcification in his heart. Apparently the calcification takes place over plaque and this is all occurring near a valve. It looks like my dad requires either a valve replacement a bypass or both. Unfortunately because I have a background in neuropsychology I also know that plaque buildup is also a major cause of stroke. This is just not good. This is why I fight to keep the weight off, this is why I’m just too damn scared to have an off season, to race less often, to race shorter distances. It really isn’t because I’m too thick to understand the benefit of recovery or the fact that if I raced less I would most likely be faster. I am just looking for a balance between training as much as possible without getting injured.

I’ve been overweight my entire life with the exception, thankfully, of the time between ages 14 and about 21 when I was most active and chock full of all those fantastic young guy hormones. Since being in triathlon I have sustained a lower weight for a longer time than at any other time in my adult life, even when I gained weight and went into IMKY at 223. I figure that if I can keep this going for a few years I will have kind of reset my system to being used to being relatively thin. In other words I will have thoroughly changed all those really bad habits that kept me overweight and then maybe things won’t seem quite so pressing.

Speaking of weight, I have stuck firmly to my diet and weighed in this morning at 208, that’s 15 pounds down from Louisville! Interestingly, weight watchers kind of admonished me for losing too much too fast. I subscribe to weight watchers for men online. I really love their point system because it is so easy to track and it allows me to snack. I get 33 points per day plus 35 “flex points” to spend during the week PLUS I earn additional points for exercising. I am actually supposed to “spend” all my points each week to lose weight at a proper pace, about 2 pounds per week. I have not been spending all my points so the last time I entered my weight I was told, “Great job! You should be very proud of your weight loss but we are concerned that you may be losing weight too fast.” And then it gave me advice on how to slow my weight loss and why so I guess I’ll try eating a little more.

I also found this very interesting article in the journal Sports Medicine titled “Low Energy Availability in the Marathon and Other Endurance Sports.” So here is a quote that should give you the gist, “Energy availability is the amount of dietary energy remaining after exercise training for all other metabolic processes. Excessively low energy availability impairs reproductive and skeletal health…” Further, “Inadvertent low energy availability is more extreme when consuming a low fat, high carbohydrate diet.” That has been my diet exactly for about the past 8 years. It also says that prolonged low energy availability can lead to low bone density and stress fractures. Viola! ME!

I’ve been taking meds for the low bone density for about a year now and have altered my diet by increasing vitamin D and calcium. More recently we have triend to push up the percentage of calories we get from protein so maybe the exercise induced stress fractures will be a thing of the past…fingers crossed.

Finally, this is a bit embarrassing, but I seem to have strained my calf again. I came home from work and went to do a little 6 mile run and it was raining so I thought I’d just hit the treadmill. Well, my treadmill is full of shit. It said I was running at a 10:15 pace and that my HR was at 130. I honestly do not think I could have run much faster so I was probably closer to a 7 minute pace and my heart was getting ready to hammer a hole in my chest. The idiotic thing is I KNEW I was going way too fast but I just kept looking at the numbers and cursing the treadmill and at mile 1.98…BANG, pain in my left calf. So I have been taking a break and my running, so recently the best it has even been over a long distance, is now back to square one and I am waiting to get back to building again.

However, the cycling is going pretty good. I took a good recovery week from my last bout with the ride I now call “The Punisher” and hit that mean bastard again today. In fact, I found a way to add another 1500 feet of climbing to the route with only one more mile of distance. That ride now sits at 110 miles with 11, 583 feet of elevation gain! IT is my sincerest hope that if my rides are tougher than what I will face at Silverman I will have a better shot at the run.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

An Update from the Front

As promised I have been slow to post but I'm trying to keep up on all you bolggy peeps. I have been busily preparing for Silverman and also active in the USAT officiating arena.

On a training note I really stepped up my running as planned getting in 107 miles for September. My bike, on the other hand, fell to 400 miles but the drop was due to a decrease in commuting and most of the miles I did get were long rides with a lot of climbing. My swim, well, I need to get busy because I only knocked out 13, 000 meters for the month. What can I say, I got rained out several times this month…in the frickin desert! Yes, my gym closes the pool, all 5 of them at the three different locations I frequent, just about every time a darkish cloud shows itself anywhere in the sky.

This past week was a recovery week and I dropped my training way down and suddenly feel like I have never trained before. I always get that feeling during recovery weeks and the taper. One bit of news that sucks is that my calf is acting up again but I went to see my massage therapist and she doesn't think it's too bad so I should be able to roll on through with only a little reduction in my monthly mileage.

In officiating news I just finished being the assistant official for the inaugural Elephant Man olympic distance triathlon. The head ref was a guy named Mike Baker; a great guy who has DEEP roots in triathlon. He told me that the first year he went to Kona the entry fee was $75 and that he got pissed when it went to $125. He had a lot of stories including one about an iron distance race they used to have in Texas that had an RD that thought if more than 50% of the participants finished it wasn't really tough enough to be considered an ironman. He said the aid stations were "a guy in a pickup truck driving the course and dropping off water bottles on the side of the road." Gotta Love it!

In other officiating news I did indeed get selected to be an assistant at the Toyota U.S. Open Triathlon! Yahoo! This race is a Professional and Elite championship race also with a large contingent of open category age groupers. They are expecting 2000 athletes, one of which will be TriBoomer, and the course will be a point to point with both sprint and Olympic distances. As I said earlier the head ref will be the head of the USAT officials program and several of the assistant refs will be very experienced including one regional director and two incoming regional directors, one of which is the incoming regional director for my region, the Rocky Mountain region.

Finally, my incoming regional director has put my name forward for my first head ref gig! Of course it will be a small race, a local called the Defined Fitness Duathlon. It’s a 5K – 30K – 5K with maybe 100 participants.

I have some ideas regarding what I would like to do during the pre-race meeting mostly for the benefit of the newbies in the crowd. First I would like to make sure that the newbies are welcomed to the world of multisport. Sometimes this is neglected. I also would like to make sure the 7 meter drafting zone is illustrated visually because unless you have been racing a while it is hard to estimate 7 meters. I also want to be a bit more explicit in the “no drafting” and overtaken explanations with examples that are commonly seen but not commonly understood. Anyway, exciting stuff for me but I hope I don’t bore the crap out of the experienced athletes.

Whoops, the rule...thanks Mike.

Ok, I'm selecting 5.10a - Drafting

We all know, or think we know, what drafting is…right? Drafting is ridding really close behind the cyclist in front of you. Well yeah but that’s not it. The drafting zone for age groupers is defined as an area surrounding the bike that is 7 meters in length and two meters in length. That’s 23 feet long by 6.5 feet wide. The draft zone starts from the leading edge of the front wheel of the bike and extends back so you are looking at about 3 bike lengths off the back wheel of the bike in front of you. The zone is 6.5 feet from side to side and is split in half by the bike so say about three feet off either side. If you are anywhere in this area, to the back or to the side you are drafting. So, there is the traditional riding too close because “I’m a weak legged loser” type drafting but there is also the “I’m a newbie having a great time and riding along side my best buddy talking about what a great time I am having” drafting…yes, drafting. Sorry, enjoy that discussion on the run where you can run side by side with your bud.

Now here is where we get tricky. Motorized vehicles also have clearly defined drafting zones. They are 15 meters TO EACH SIDE by 30 meters EXTENDING BEHIND THE VEHICLE. That is a whopping 49 feet on each side and almost 98.5 feet to the rear! Yes, you can be called for drafting off a motor vehicle so basically if one is anywhere near you your are drafting. Fortunately most vehicles are zooming on by but you know how you get some stuck or you get those nervous Nellies who see bikes and start creeping along with the flow of the race. Well, those folks are a problem, specifically, your problem.

Here is the skinney on dealing with the vehicle. “With respect to a motor vehicle (including authorized race vehicles), it is the athlete’s responsibility to move out of the vehicle’s drafting zone or to continually communicate to the vehicle to move away.” I have done this before in a race where I yelled for the vehicle to speed up a few times but nothing happened so I put the hammer down and passed the car.

Ok, if you are dedicated/bored enough to have read this far I will reward you with a hint about drafting, gather round and listen close.

It is perfectly legal to pull straight up into someone’s draft zone and then kind of slingshot around them just make sure you don’t pass so closely that you scare them or could possibly interfere with their handling of the bike. Many newbies are paranoid about the drafting so they go to pass by pulling straight out to the side and then proceed. No need compadre, you have a total of 15 seconds to suck wheel and then get your front wheel to breach the plane of the other riders front wheel. Just pull in close and count one-mississippi, two-mississippi….10-mississippi and then BANG, make your pass. You get a bike of a rest and ZIPP….you are gone. Because race officials are not really keen on handing out penalties you will be given some leeway with the 15 seconds, not much mind you but some. Now if there happens to be any pros or elites reading this, so sorry Charlie, you guys don’t get any breaks. USAT officials expect you to be professionals and adhere very strictly to the rules. You have 15 seconds…period.