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.


  1. If I had any confidence at all that my hip would be well by next year, it would be a no-brainer to sign up for Louiville. I've always wanted to go to bluegrass country!

    It's such a shame IM doesn't have a registration transfer policy.

  2. Wow. I thought all IM events sold out pretty fast. It's amazing that IMLOO still has openings. I would think this is actually good news for anyone who's waffling about whether or not to do an IM event.

  3. As you're aware, pretty much every Canadian knows every other Canadian. Hence, I only know half the country, and Prime Minister Harper isn't in that half - I'm one handshake away (Wendy's in the same boat).

    Don't be too cross about IMKY; IMAZ *still* takes a while to sell out. Also, lots of other iron-distance races get great local support and don't sell out.

    BTW, Florida 70.3 2006 had full-blown peletons out on the course. Sometimes it really is the case.

  4. It is great hearing from an athlete that is also an official. You get a much better frame of reference.

    I hope IMKY 09 is that way as that may be my first IM (only IM).

  5. HA!

    (I know people who know the PM ...)

  6. Well, how long did it take IMAZ or Vineman to sell out after opening? Don't those always take a little while, too? I don't think we should complain...surely it will fill before next summer and there are many athletes that will be grateful to find an open spot in any IM with less than a year's notice and no unneeded kidneys required.

  7. We sould be glad it hasn't sold out yet. It's got a good rep, so that's not the issue, probalby. It's more like most of the freshman M-dots; last year IMCda took at least 30 days to sell out, this year, what, 10 days?

    congrats on your stripes promotion!

  8. Nice job on the ref gig. That sound so cool.
    I am not sure why IMKY is not full yet. Every other one sells out so fast it's not even funny. That means when I finally decide to do it, I won't have to drive there to wait in line and should be able to do it over the net.
    Glad you laptop is fixed.

  9. I think IMLoo sounds like a lovely experience, but I am not ready for it. When we are at that point I would definitely be interested - especially after the good review from y'all, plus Mike's mom and grandparents are a short drive over the border (or so) into N Carolina, so we would already have a fan club there.......

  10. A couple of years ago it took IM CDA a number of months to sell out. Last year was three weeks and this year was a week. I guess good news just travels slow.

  11. I think IMKy is still a new race, the new IM's seem to sell out slower than the established ones. I wish I could sign up for it, but not in the cards for '08..

    But I do like the idea of not fighting for a IM entry spot...

    Now, I have to check my phone messages to see if the Canadian prime minister has called me back yet concerning IMCanada.

  12. Great post. How the heck do u find the time to IM train, race as many races as u
    do, oficiate, work full time, father, husband, mabage multiple coffee shops I
    know I'm missing somethings too.

    I'll give you one good reason I won't do IMKY. Iron man racing is exhausting!
    I'd be too dang tired to fight off some Hilly Billy wanting to relive the scene
    from deliverance. I must think of self preserbation my friend!

  13. Ha! IMKY sold-out for regular entry as of October 16: link

  14. Hey Brent, they can thank me later for providing that last registration push ;-)

  15. I like your rant. IMLou was a GREAT race. I would say maybe it's still filling up because it's new... the first year it was all exciting and BRAND new, so everyone wanted to sign up. Now, it's not brand new anymore, so it's lost that cache, but hasn't had the time to establish itself like the other races? Just a thought.

    Interesting about the walking sticks... not that I plan on using them, but hmm.

  16. Part of the decision process involves how well you know your body and how well it will hold up with the amount of running. The first year I did longer events, I could "feel" my knees, and actually backed off a bit the next year, to let my body get strong enough to tolerate the pounding. My knees are extremely important to me :) and I have a history of joint problems.
    While we're on the topic of rules and ref'ing, how 'bout clarifying the punching people in the pool rule....Maybe you could do a post about pool rules (it's ok to hang on the lane line, so long as you don't move forward...is it OK to walk?)

  17. Here is evidence (via Kona Shelley) to convert you from a peleton skeptic to a peleton believer: link

  18. Oh yah..tons of peletons this year when I did IMUSA, I worked the penalty tent at IMWIS..saw peletons going by RIGHT in front of me...read Slowtwitch, they have tons of people talking about the blatant drafting at IMFLA...when will they do something about this?? (I used to be a USAT official too).
    BTW i'm in for IMKY..didn't wait, signed up right away..can't wait for it to come!!