IM Canada – PreRace Stress

Alright, so its been a week and I still have a lot of mixed feelings about my race in Whistler.  I have a lot of jumbled up notes lying around that aren’t falling into place by themselves.  So I’m just going to throw some stuff up here in some semi random order and apologize in advance if it doesn’t make sense.

In the weeks leading up to IM Canada I was really feeling good about this race.  My training had gone well all year.  I knew my fitness was as good as its ever been.  I felt very confident in my gear, my fueling and hydration plans.  I was healthy.  The unpredictable ebb and flow of work stress even seemed to be ebbing at the right time.  There have been two other times in my athletic life when I’d had the feeling all the stars were aligning and that I just knew I was going to have a great race.  Until 7 days before the race, I thought I was headed there again.  It certainly didn’t come crashing down around me, but several medium to minor things popped up that took me out of that ideal state of mind (and body).

First of all, I rolled my ankle.  Sunday morning, exactly 7 days before the race.  I was running a trail near home that I’ve run hundreds of times.  I moved to the side of the trail to make way for a guy and his two dogs.  I was 2-3 strides past him, moving back to the middle of the trail and just took my eyes off the ground BAM!  Now, I’ve rolled my ankle enough to know the not so good from the bad from the ugly.  This was definitely bad, but maybe not ugly.  Continuing to run was definitely out of the question.  I hobbled home as quickly as I could and started icing and fretting.

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Not the worst sprain I’ve ever had, but my ankle doesn’t normally look like this.

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Thanks to Dr. Dan Polizzi at New Heights Chiropractic for the tape job of the year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Less than an hour later my mom called to tell me that my grandpa’s health had taken a turn for the worse.  He is alive and well, but things were pretty bad for a few days and no one really knew what was going to happen.  For someone who likes to plan things, not even knowing what to plan for can be very disconcerting.  I spent a lot of time with my grandpa growing up.  I worked for him on the farm every summer starting after 6th grade.  I credit him with many of what I consider to be my finer qualities.  His health has been declining for some time now, but hearing that kind of news was very difficult.  It made the next few days quite difficult too.

I also had a couple of days of work travel planned, which was quite good for sitting in one place icing my ankle.  The trip involved a series of meetings that ended with a long, rather uncomfortable, surprisingly direct, difference of professional opinion between me and a client.  Everyone involved acted professionally, but despite the attempts of several co-workers on both sides it boiled down to he and I sitting right beside one another disagreeing.  I don’t enjoy conflict and generally try to avoid it where possible, there was no avoiding this one.

However, the thing that got my blood boiling the most during that week involved my bike.  I paid a local company, Pro Bike Express (yes, I’m naming names!), to transport my bike (and a bag of gear) to and from the race.  I signed up and paid for the service shortly after registering for the race last September.  While traveling for work, a group of us received this text.image1The sinking feeling in my stomach was almost immediate.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t put the serial number on my form.  My bike has a limited edition color scheme and numbered accordingly, I think I put that number on the form.  But wait, I filled out my paperwork almost a year ago.  If it wasn’t complete, why didn’t someone tell me?  Why did PBE even put bikes on the truck if they didn’t have the information they needed to cross the border?  They’ve done this before right?  Why is this 100% my fault?  The more I thought about it the madder I got.  Then the next text message appeared.

photo2This was immediately followed by other customers volunteering to split the cost and openly encouraging everyone else to chip in and make it up to Pro Bike Express.  It pissed me off even more.  Why are we acting like a bunch of buddies who chipped in to trailer bikes to a race, split expenses, and drew straws to see who had to drive? I thought I hired a company with experience doing this, you know professionals?

Then the email came. (I didn’t bother to correct any spelling, grammar, or punctuation, but I changed the font to bold.)

OK, just some everyone is on the same page on what the current position is. Due to the face that most or you, not all. Did not place your serial # on the PBE registration form, as needed coming into Canada. Custom assumed that I ( Pro Bike Express ) was selling these and not transporting to and from an event. There are fines to misleading the government. This was not Canada mind you but the good old USA.

Charged 5000.00 penelty for falsified government docs.. This is a much different place that Penticton  BC. Anyway, some have suggested splitting the cost up for those willing to help the cause. I will leave that in your hands on what type of value you place on getting your bike and gear to Whistler?

To be crystal clear, all of your serial #’s are under  your bottom brackets as there are no excuses to this BS. You can drive across with your own stuff but when you have $285,000.00 of others peoples it brings a whole new level on who, why and what are you doing with it. Further more, as I’m still here at customs as they will not let me through today, need to check with the higher ups here. I should be able to cross tomorrow but will let you all know.

I will not transport like this again, no exceptions!

At this point, I went from mad to worried.  My co-worker thought this could be construed as extortion.  If Pro Bike Express feels that I owe them a significant amount of money, and I have no intention of paying them anything extra, can I trust them with my stuff?  Hell no!  And what type of confrontation would it take to get my stuff back when it becomes clear that I have no intention of paying extra?  The worst part was probably not being able to do anything about it for 3 days.

Ultimately, I took my empty bike box with me to the race and brought everything home with me.  Paying for extra airline baggage wasn’t fun, but it was worth the peace of mind knowing I didn’t have to trust Pro Bike Express with my stuff again.

In the end my ankle cooperated during the race, we didn’t have to change our travel plans, I earned some professional battle scars, and I retrieved all of my gear without incident.  All is well that ends well right?  I’m not so sure.  I’m a big believer in mental preparation, visualization, and that just being in a calm and confident state of mind is one of the best things I can do to prepare for a race.  I didn’t and I wasn’t.  Did it have any physical affect on my conditioning and my ability to perform? No.  Did it affect the development and execution of my race plan?  I’m afraid so.  Did it affect the way I dealt with adversity on the course? I hate to say it but, yes.

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Boulder 70.3 – ‘Not Much of a Race’ Report

Okay, I’m so far behind that I know this might not be what you were expecting next.  I have several more current things written, but I just can bring myself to post them out of chronological order.  Just bear with me…

When is a race not a race?  When its three weeks before your most important race of the season.  A week or two before Boulder 70.3 my coach asked me what my expectations were for the race.  My mind immediately translated that to ‘Why are we racing this, again?’  Fair question either way.

Honestly, I felt kinda bad about not doing a single race in Colorado in 2012.  It wasn’t  for lack of opportunity and certainly not competition.  It was primarily because there were several very appealing Rev3 races, family vacations, etc that took precedence.  I could use this as a tune up race anyway right?

Well, I’ve slowly changed my tune towards tune-up races over the years, especially this year I guess.  The sprint/Olympic tune-up still makes sense to me.  Olympic/Half tune-ups, yeah I suppose so.  Half/full tune-up, not so much.  Tapering and recovering from a true race effort just punches too big of a hole in your training (IMO).  And paying for a half just for a training day seems like less and less of a good idea each year.  Its fair to say this notion has cemented itself in my brain in just the last year.  If I do this again it will be because some other ‘good’ reason trumped good logic.

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Boulder Res sunrises are always nice.

So my priorities for this 70.3 dress  rehearsal were:

  1. Practice my nutrition plan for IM Canada
  2. Confirm goal watts for IM Canada
  3. Confirm goal run pace for IM Canada

Please don’t look at these results and ask me to simply double my time.  This was not a 70.3 at 140.6 effort.  But it wasn’t real racing either.  I’ll spare you the details, but I’m very pleased with how things went.  I feel confident about my race plan and am really looking forward to tackling 140.6 again.

Well, that took longer than I thought, so lets get to the race report.

IMG_0634Racing close to home is great.  But when you’re getting up at 3:30am all those good things seem kind of questionable.  Familiar faces are great.  Familiar traffic is not.  I had great warmup with Sonja, I kinda lost track of time and had to rush a bit to get to the swim start.  My new BlueSeventy Helix wetsuit went on without a hitch even though it was only the second time.

The swim was my first rolling start and I loved it.  Maybe if I had really been racing, it would have bothered me, but I don’t think so.  Tip of the cap to all of my fellow competitors who apparently did a very good job seeding themselves.  Sonja and I lined up in the first 1/3rd of the 30-32 minute group.  I felt like there was very little traffic and I had a pretty easy time navigating, swimming straight while passing a few people.  For the first time I was able to confidently swim the buoy line, even pass people on the inside.  It was easy to stay relaxed and probably one of the main reasons I swam 30:37 (1:35/1oom), one of my best in a few years.  I’d be in favor of doing this again!

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Michele even told me I was smiling a lot.

The bike was mostly a exercise in patience; stuffing my face, staring at my power meter, and avoiding drafting.  I liked the new single loop course.  The second loop used to just get too crowded.  There was still a bit of traffic for the first 20 miles, but I rode an honest race and tried to keep the power as even as possible.  Other than that it was pretty uneventful, just the way I like it.  2:24.32, 23.25mph.

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It always great to see Troy Weick on the course! Thx for the pics!

Starting the run was one of the hardest parts.  My goal was to settle in and get to 6:50 pace right away.  It didn’t take much, the hard part was watching everyone run away at 6:15-30 pace.  Quite a few people came back to me on the second lap, but others were never seen again.  I have to take a moment to apologize to Bryan Rhodes.  During his second lap (my first lap), we ended up in the same place at the same time.  I didn’t really recognize him at first, but after I did, I felt really awkward.  He wasn’t having the race he wanted and I was trying to stick to my pace.  I hope he understands that I wasn’t trying to mess with his race.  I finished right on plan at 1:28:57, 6:47/mi.

Generally speaking I was pretty happy with the results (4:27:28 total, 9th M35-39, 49th OA).  Very happy with the swim, okay with the bike, happy with the run pace.  No nutrition or hydration issues.  It was even considerably cooler than normal, easier to recover, all in all a pretty small interruption to the training plan.  I could get used to this.

Thanks to BlueSeventy for making the best wetsuit around a little more affordable!  I’m really looking forward to swimming in my Helix a few more times this year.  Powerbar for helping me fine tune a nutrition plan that I’m really confident in.  Biotta Juices for a great little pre-race beet juice performance protocol, it felt great!  And certainly to Pearl Izumi, its great to feel like you’re wearing the home uniform even if its someone else’s course.  This course has presented some difficult shoe choices in the past, but the Tri N2 were just right.  No sore feet, no extra weight.

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People Scare Me

Forgive me if you’ve heard this one before… Car vs Bike – Cyclist Looses…  I’m sure it happens somewhere each and every day.

I clicked on  this Boulder Daily Camera article about Richie Cunningham’s recent season ending altercation with a pick-up truck because 1) its close to home and 2) I’m a fan. I can’t say that I know Richie, but he had been a member of the Rev3 Pro team until this year.  He continues to race at many Rev3 events and be a big supporter of the series.  I’ve seen him race many times and you could say I’ve followed his career as closely as any pro over the last 4 years.

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photo from Richie’s twitter feed, @SirRichieC

I’m not writing about the incident because Richie is a celebrity in need, or because we need to rustle up a spandex posse to bring justice to the driver, or because I think you need to know that a war is coming so that you can choose a side.  I’m writing because some of the comments from readers scare the hell out of me. I couldn’t even read past the first dozen or so, let alone the comments with 12 comments.  (I’m also writing because I had my own little shouting match with a Cadillac last Saturday.)

I understand that people will type things from behind a modem, or yell things from behind a windshield, that they would never say to another person’s face, or heaven forbid, DO.  We all know, ‘…words will never hurt me.’  I also understand that some people use these comments just to rile people up, throw some gas on the fire, or sit back and watch people loose their minds.

I’m afraid though, that whatever their intentions, they’re giving people a sense of like minded intolerance, on both sides.  Clearly, people of both sides see themselves in the right.  For some reason, humans tend to get bolder when they feel support from other humans.  It isn’t always a good thing.

index1I hope we’re a long way from readers and posters following though with actions.  But there have already been other similar cases go further.  (It appears this one won’t.)  What’s my grand plan for keeping the peace? I hope it isn’t a Bernie Goetz or Treyvon Martin -esque altercation where the courts decide a winner.  I’d prefer a lot more education and bit more tolerance.

I think both sides could use a little education.  If you happen to live in Colorado, here is a great place to start coloradobikelaw.com.  If you’re into reading statutes, or don’t like taking anyone else’s word for it, here you go.  If you want me to summarize it for you, it says that while on the road, cyclists have all the same rights and responsibilities as motorists.  There are also some rather interesting details in there about riding far right, how far right, how much room is required to pass, riding two abreast/single file, and when its okay to not ride far right.

I’ve heard people say that F=MA is the only law you need to know.  I guess its hard to argue with a trump card like that.  Its equally hard to argue with the person that plays that card.  Regardless, I don’t want to be ‘right’ and dead.  Nor do I want to be ‘right’ and in jail or trying to sleep with someone’s life on my conscience.

I also think that roads are so obviously designed for motor vehicle traffic, that many drivers take for granted that they are designed for their exclusive use.  I think cyclists do plenty of dumb stuff too.  Nearly every time out, I see at least one move that makes me think, ‘that’s why drivers hate us.’  I’d also wager that 8 times out of 10 the dumb stuff cyclists do, and the reason drivers get bent out of shape, has to do with a general lack of patience.  It only takes an extra 20 seconds to stop and put your foot down.  Which is about the same amount of time it will take you to slow down and wait for a safe place to pass a cyclist.

I’m not sure how you found your way to this post.  If you’re a friend or family member, I’d hope you’re reasonably sympathetic to cyclists by now.  If you’re late, hurrying, and getting madder by the second, TRY to remember why you’re late in the first place.  If you rode all the way to the top of that mountain don’t ASSUME you have the right to come down as fast as you want.  If you yell/swear/gesture at a car, or bike, how will you FEEL at the next stop light when you’re staring that PERSON in the eye.  And if you do loose your cool, please get it back before the sticks, stones, and 3,000 pound vehicles get involved.

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Rev3 Williamsburg – Race Report

_r0o1518The two weeks leading into Rev3 Williamsburg had been less than optimum to say the least.  I managed to pull a hamstring on a long interval run.  The intervals weren’t even that fast, IDK.  I had a lot of travel for work planned and some additional business travel popped up at the last minute.  I had a little bit of time to see Dr. Dan at New Heights Chiropractic for some ART, but not enough for my liking.

When we landed in Williamsburg I hadn’t run in ten days.  The hammy felt pretty good, but I’ve become a believer of the ‘when it feels like its healed, wait two more days’ philosophy when it comes to these things.  Needless to say, I was pretty relieved when my Friday test run didn’t show any signs of hamstring trouble.

Race morning, I really wanted to make sure I got a good warmup in, just to keep my hammy as happy as possible.  So, I was out jogging and doing some plyo’s while the pros and half-Rev waves were starting.  Normally, this wouldn’t have been an issue, but in this case I definitely could have benefited from watching a few waves take off.

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The swim was a beach start, with an extremely shallow run in.  I’m not sure what I would have learned about the start.  There really wasn’t a good way to get going, but it wouldn’t have been a surprise.  However, it would have been helpful to see everyone getting pulled left by some combination of river current or exiting tide.  I started in my customary front outside (left) position and got pulled further left just like everyone else.  Certainly could have done better.  By the time I realized what was happening and what it really would take to correct it, it was too late.  There was a bit of chop in addition to the current, which made the entire swim a bit of a slog.

The water was also pretty warm.  Just on the edge of wetsuit legal temps.  I swam Saturday’s practice swim in tri shorts just in case.  It was very comfortable.  But race morning was wetsuit legal, so felt like I had to put it on.  I’m still sure I would have been slower with a swim skin, but man it would have cooler!

I got out of the water and felt behind, but really didn’t have a clue.  The official time, 26:10.  Yikes!  I guess I’m old enough it means I’ve been disappointed by swim times so many times that I don’t let it bother me anymore.  I was looking forward to the long run from the beach to T1 anyway.  T1 = 2:50, and I was pretty happy with that.

The bike course was without a doubt the easiest on the Rev3 circuit and likely the easiest I’ve ever competed on.  No surprise that I turned in my fastest Oly bike split ever, 59:32.  First time I’ve ever been under an hour!  The first 10-12 miles were great.  There was a steady stream of HalfRev competitors to make things fun.  Passing people always puts me in a good frame of mind, even if everyone knows you’re supposed to be passing them.  I wasn’t, however, passing many (any) OlyRev competitors… ugh.  Once the HalfRev racers split off, I didn’t see anyone for a long time.  I passed one guy who had dropped his chain on the 30 meter long ‘hill’ and that was it.  Getting close to T2, a spectator told me I was in 8th.  It made me feel a little better, at least it explained why I was seeing anyone else.  AND I wasn’t getting passed, which is always nice.  It was getting a little hard to keep pushing but thankfully as I was running into T2 I spied 3 guys running out.  Finally, targets!  I counted bikes, and yup spectator was right.  I got out of T2 in a respectable 1:05 and the chase was on.

Prerace, I had planned on biking hard then taking the first few miles of the run a bit easier, just to make sure my hamstring was going to cooperate.  That plan lasted about 1/4 mile.  The good news was it felt like I was running easy, so I was happy to see 6:03 for my first mile split.  At that point I guess I had already thrown caution to the wind, so it was time to get serious about catching some guys.  As soon as I had this thought my right hamstring gave me that cautionary twinge that says ‘not so fast!’  Literally.  I guess I’d been favoring the left side and righty was objecting the the additional load.  I couldn’t argue.

The course was out and back, so you could get a pretty good look at everyone ahead/behind you.  (I’m also convinced that the run course had more elevation gain than the bike course.)  I was a bit resigned to pushing really hard on the hills (didn’t seem to bother righty) and keeping the flats around 6min/mi.  Anything faster and I’d get another warning.  I was still able to pick up 3 spots and was really close to a 4th, but just ran out of course again.  I’m pretty happy with 36:55.  Two other guys in my age group were 36:5x and no one else in the race was under 38:00.  Yay, old guys!

2:06:23 total was good for 6th overall, 2nd M35-39, but I got promoted b/c our AG winner was in the top 3 OA.  Thanks, James DeFillipi!  I also think it may be a PR, but only by seconds, or fractions of seconds.  Regardless, I haven’t gone that fast in since 2008 and I feel really good about it.  Even if the bike course was too easy.

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Even bigger thanks to all the people who make it possible: my wife for supporting, cheering, photographing, and fetching my bottles when I leave them in the hotel room race morning!  my coach, James Cotter at Hard Yards who raced his way to an 8th place pro finish in one of his first races in 18 months!  and to our wonderful TeamRev3 sponsors: Rev3 for a fantastic inaugural Williamsburg race, Powerbar for fueling all my racing and training efforts, Pearl Izumi for super comfortable kits and a fantastic new line of EMotion running shoes, Normatec and Compex for accelerating my recovery from nearly every training session, TriSwim (it might not have looked like it, but I’ve been progressing in the pool this year) and Biotta Beet Performer for the added boost of endurance and hours of entertainment watching people try your juices at the expo.

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Appologies….

I swore this wasn’t going to happen this year… my blog has turned into nothing but a string of race reports.  I don’t race often enough to justify that.  We’ve actually be doing some fun stuff worthy of sharing, but…  I’ll spare you.  I could go on and on about work but #1 – I swore a long time ago that I would bring that crap here, and #2 – no one gives a hoot anyway.

Busy work stories are every bit as bad as the time you took that bad beat in poker, or the fantasy football game(?) you lost because the other person’s obscure player scored 4 TDs or your mortal lock got hurt on the first play.  We all have those stories.  Frankly, I’d prefer to blatantly lie and tell you things are great, than try to explain to you my crappy work story.  Mostly because 9 times out of 10 it just opens the door for you to tell me your crappy work story, which I care equally little about.

I ABSOLUTELY appreciate my family and close friends who DO care about my crappy work stories!  I’m just trying to do the rest of you (and me) a favor.

If you insist, I’ll just say that I’ve spent far too much time trying to make this thing do what I want it to do…

IMG_0584… and now back to the race reports!

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Rev3 Knoxville Race Report

Okay, so we’ve established that is was cold (58-deg water 55-deg air) and rainy.   I’m not going to beat that horse anymore. The forecast offered no glimmer of hope, so I had adjusted my outlook to some blend of ‘it is what it is’ ’embrace the suck’ ‘let the weather affect everyone else’ and ‘just keep the rubber side down’.

Coming into the race I’d been feeling really good about my fitness.  I’d seen some real improvements in my pool swimming and was looking to see if it would translate to open water.  I’d been feeling great about my cycling all winter and recently did an FTP test that confirmed what I’d been feeling.  Quick aside; I love my Quarq power meter, but really just love training with power.  I wish I’d made that investment much sooner.  Its made me realize how little I was getting out of my trainer rides pre-Quarq.  Along with some great power-based coaching from Hard Yards, I’m convinced that’s why I feel so much further along this year than previously.

I raced the Olympic here last year and was looking forward to comparing splits, etc.  I’m trying not to do that now, or a least splash some ice water on my face before I do.

I only remember a couple things about the swim.  The water didn’t feel that cold.  I’m assuming its because I didn’t have any blood in my hands, feet, or face by the time we got in.  The current seemed stronger because of all the rain, but I’m really not qualified to judge such things.  The course is basically 400m upstream, right turn, 50m, right turn, 1000m downstream.  After the second turn I had a really hard time staying on line.  I immediately chalked it up to my notoriously crooked swimming.  But after the race two people asked me if I thought he current was pulling us toward the middle of the river.  I’m going with that.

Anyway, after a couple of buoys I was back on track and finished pretty strong.  It felt like there were A LOT of dudes in front of me.  Actually, there were, but somehow my 21:33 was good for 3rd in our AG.  That’s definitely a record for me, regarding position, but I had no clue at the time.  I felt behind.  I guess that’s part of starting in a wave with all men 39 and under.

I had all kinds of warmer clothing laid out in transition, but when I got there I didn’t really feel that cold AND the bike next to me was already gone.  I remember thinking he looked legit when we were setting up that morning, so I put on socks, helmet and took off.  I immediately regretted that decision.

All in all the riding wasn’t that bad.  I looked forward to the uphills and took plenty of extra caution on the downhills.  I definitely left a few minutes out there on the descents and one 4-5 min stretch where I got caught behind a car who didn’t want to pass another racer.  I definitely wanted to pass that other racer!  I pulled into T2 with almost an identical time to last year.  Not too shabby given the conditions.

T2 was a bit of a challenge.  When I get cold, my thumbs kinda stop working.  They really just loose all strength.  I was using my palms to shift late on the bike, but could not unbuckle my helmet to save my life.  I even tried pulling it off with the chinstrap still buckled.  Ultimately, I had to ask a volunteer for help.  She was maybe 13 yo, with a friend, and clearly thought that soaking wet chinstraps were gross.

The run felt really good.  Except for a few ankle deep puddles, the conditions were great.  I left T2 with another pretty fast 34 yo.  I stopped hearing his footsteps around the first mile marker, but he definitely kept the pressure on for the whole 10k.  I think he finished 30sec behind me.  I did a little better job pacing this year and finished much stronger.  Just ran out of course before getting this guy.  Almost exactly the same run time as last year too.

rev3 knoxville2013-free-dsc_0185Total time almost a minute faster than last year, nearly all on the swim.  Weird, I know.  Regardless, I was very happy to win our AG and place 18th amateur overall.  I’ve always said I want to be more than just a runner trying to catch people in a triathlon.  I’d love to be in the top 10% of each discipline, so having 3rd, 1st, 1st AG splits makes me really happy.

It was a great day to be dressed in Pearl Izumi!  Just wish I’d have been sporting more of it on the bike.  I really loved my brand new Tri N1’s, absolutely no blisters, hot spots, or other discomfort on pretty challenging day for such things.  Our new kits are pretty cool too.  Big thanks to Powerbar for fueling my race and recovery as always!  Happy to report very little soreness afterward and what there was was quickly dispatched by the Compex and NormaTec combo.  Thanks everyone for all the support!

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Volunteer Weekend

Rev3 Knoxville – The weekend report.

To say the weather dominated the race weekend, would be selling mother nature short.  You should watch the pro race recap, but I don’t think it does it justice.  My recollection is that it started raining Saturday around noon and didn’t stop until Monday early morning.  Mostly a nice light rain without any lightning or thunder, the kind that rarely ever happens here in CO.  I remember this rain from my years in St. Louis, it can be quite pleasant when its 80-degrees outside.  It was not 80-degrees in Knoxville, TN last weekend.  More like upper 50’s, mayyyybe 60?  and the river was 58-degrees as well.  At least it wasn’t windy.

Its been a strangely snowy spring in CO and with every Wednesday that it snowed 6 inches, I began to get more and more excited about racing Rev3 Knoxville.  I had last year burned into my brain, sunny and low to mid 80’s.  Too warm for a halfRev, but just right for an olympic.  Get some sun on my face, race hard, and get away from work for a while.  Apparently, I was a little too invested in my idea of what this weekend could have been.  I still had a blast with all my Rev3 teammates, but we’d have had even more fun if we were warm and dry.

Before I go any further, conditions like these warrant extra special thanks and heaps of admiration for all the non-racers who endured the elements.  I’ve gotten to know a lot of Rev3 staff, friends, and teammates who work these events when not racing.  I was truly amazed by the fact that I don’t recall hearing a single complaint from any of them.  I’m pretty sure that I complained a few times and I was out there about 1/10th of the time that they were.  Big thanks to all the police, EMTs, and other service people who keep us safe out there!  More of us needed you than ever.  I realize the call it the Volunteer State for a reason, but I didn’t think standing in the rain all day so I can race other middle-aged men for a box of powerbars was really what they meant.  I know free t-shirts are nice, but I also know the THANK YOUs were too few.  It was mostly because my lips were frozen, I couldn’t take my eyes off the road, and I was too afraid to take my hands off the bars to even wave thanks.

My weekend got off to a rather interesting start.  At the rental car counter in Nashville I was approached by a man needing a ride to Knoxville for the race.  He had clearly identified me and the woman with the bike box standing next to me as triathletes.  After I explained that we were NOT together, she looked at us both like we were from Mars and went about her business.  His drivers license had expired and no one would let him rent a car.  The urgency and embarrassment in his voice made it pretty clear that he wasn’t just some wierdo trying to get into a car with a stranger and that he really had exhausted all his options.  He was now down to pleading with complete strangers.  Somewhere in there he dropped the ‘I’m a pro’ card.  I’m not sure why, but it made me more sympathetic to his situation, eventhough I had to apologize for not recognizing him.

So, Chris Foster and I each gathered our things and set off on a 3hr drive with complete strangers.  No surprise, but Chris turned out to be a pretty regular guy, humble and gracious.  He just makes a living by racing really fast.  We talked most of the trip, a little triathlon stuff, a lot of life stuff, education, jobs, wives, kids (or lack thereof), pets, travel and his current travel conundrum which was only half over.

When it was all said and done he certainly had a new fan.  I offered to help him get back to Nashville after the race, but our flights were significantly different.  He thanked me for the 1,000th time.  I told him about sitting next to Greg Bennett on my flight to Knoxville last year and that Greg won the race.  “No pressure,” I said.  I’m not sure it was received the way it was intended.  Anyway, Chris had a great race and got second.  I’m very happy for him and glad I could help.

I think Chris is happy with his race too.

I think Chris is happy with his race too.

Team Rev3

Some of my Team Rev3 mates.

The weather was still nice Friday evening when I arrived.  It was great to catch up with some of the team over a quick dinner, then we were off to the inaugural Rev3 Glow Run.   I’m not sure if 5K’s are just that appealing or if Knoxville is just really supportive of its UT alumni.  If you hadn’t heard, Rev3 chose to donate all the profits from the glow run to Nicole Gross and her husband Michael, both former UT swimmers who were injured in the Boston Marathon bombings.  Either way, they raised $25,000, and my friend Matt got to run in his speedo.

My teammate Heather is so proud of her hubby.

My teammate Heather is so proud of her hubby.

I also got to spend some time with one of our newest sponsors.  Doug from Biotta Naturals needed a little relief on Saturday afternoon, so Andy and I held down the tent for a while.  Biotta makes beet juice along with several other vegetable, fruit, and juice blends.  If you haven’t read anything about the performance benefits of beet juice recently, (or if you’re really wondering what Jesse Thomas was talking about in his Wildflower race report) check some of these out.  Studies indicate up to a 16% increase in endurance performance.  Performance or not, its been a treat to experiment with their juices this winter.  I also got a huge kick out of watching people give it a try.  They’re reactions to the taste, weren’t nearly as entertaining as their reactions to the idea of drinking beet juice.  A lot of people had seen the literature and were eager to try it, but there were plenty of scrunched up noses too.  Maybe I’m just ornery, but it got to be kinda fun to talk the skeptics into a shot.  Either way, keep an eye out for Beet Performer this race season.

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Real race report to follow….

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Scheduling

Okay, so I’ve had most of 2013 planned out for some time now. But just in my head.  I imagine I’m like most triathletes in that I started planning out 2013 last October, or earlier.  Scheduling races isn’t easy, there’s rarely time to do all the things I’d like to do.  Some just don’t fit well with others.  Some don’t fit well with other things in life, weddings, reunions, conferences, things I have no control over scheduling, and some are just bad ideas.  After that, you compare your list to your spouse’s list and however you resolve that, please let me know.  Then its time to balance THE list against the budget and allotted vacation days.  Oh, and don’t forget to start this process early enough so you can register before the races sell out.

If you’re like me, this process usually starts with that ‘A-race’.  The PR you want, the race you want to qualify for, or the hard to get entry that finally came through.  For me, its Ironman Canada again this year.  Yes, I’m still chasing a KQ performance, for this year at least.  I made the decision based on two things; a late August race maximizes the training season here, and  all the turmoil between IMCanada, Penticton, and Challenge resulted in a some uncertainty over the location so WTC sweetened the pot by offering 100 KQ spots at this years race instead of the normal 50.  Then they decided on Whistler, BC, a place we’ve always wanted to visit, it seemed like a good fit.

My next most important goal for 2013 is performing well enough in the 2013 Revolution 3 Triathlon series to earn a spot in their age group championship race.  If you haven’t heard about it, check this out.  That means doing well at a couple of early season Olympic distance events at Knoxville and Williamsburg.

I’ve raced Rev3 Knoxville three years in a row now, and love the timing (itching to race by early May), the venue (challenging but fair couse), and the logistics (travel was so easy last year and there is so much so close to the race site).  This year it will be great chance to preview the series championship course.

I’m also really excited about the first year for Rev3 Williamsburg.  My wife and I like visiting new places and neither of us have ever been to northern Virgina.  We’ll definitely spend a few extra days doing tourist-y things.  My mom’s cousin and great friend lives a few hours away, so they’re planning a vacation around the race too.  They did the same thing at the 2011 Rev3 South Carolina race and had a great time.

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From there, the schedule gets filled in with ‘training event’ races that aren’t as significant.  Last year I didn’t do a single triathlon in the state of Colorado and it kind of bothered me.  We have a lot of great events here that don’t require flights or vacation days, so this year I’m doing a half in Boulder that schedules well with Canada, and an early season Olympic in Grand Junction.

We have several friends racing in GJ and it seemed like a great chance to just have some fun.  It also happens that the race is the weekend preceding an awesome volunteer opportunity/work commitment.  Two of my best clients sponsor a ‘Children’s Water Festival’ at the local University for roughly 15oo local 5th grade students.  Last year some co-workers and I did a series of demonstrations on how temperature and salinity affect density and ocean currents.  I’m looking forward to it already.

Amazingly, Michele and I had one event in common on our list this year, the Buena Vista Bike Fest.  It amounts to great supported training ride with beer and bluegrass at the finish.  We did it last year and had a great time seeing some new parts of Colorado and spending the weekend with friends.

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Obviously, there’s a couple of months at the end of the season that aren’t scheduled yet.  We’ll see how I feel, what opportunities are available, and what the budget will allow.  Rev3 has another new race in Branson that I’m eye balling and I almost pulled the trigger on a last minute trip to Rev3 Florida last year.  Maybe a relay this year, finishing on a warm beach sounds like a nice idea.

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Butt Fumble

I take it all back.  All that stuff about welcoming new people to the gym… not anymore!  One of you went and screwed it all up for everyone.  I’m now suspicious of you all.

Why the change of heart?  Oh, let me tell you about a simple, but egregious, breach of locker room etiquette, that changed everything….

So there I was, headed into my local 24hr Fitness a couple weeks ago (probably less than a week since that last post).   I had a doozy of a run on my schedule, just over an hour but, the kind with hill efforts and specific paces.  The one where you know you’re going to need at least one water bottle and probably two towels.  It was cold and dark after work, but it really didn’t matter.  I fully expected the place to be packed, but I was headed to the treadmill anyway.

The locker room was busy, but I lucked out and found an empty one on the end of a row.  As I’m changing, I’m using the bench for several things, because, well, the floor is just to risky.  I don’t even like putting my feet on it at times.  I don’t consider myself a germ-a-phobe either.  I’ll do what I can to stay healthy and maintain a strong immune system so I don’t have to avoid those environments.  But some risks are just unnecessary, right?

Anyway, as I’m changing some older guy comes out of the steam room and gets into his locker two doors down.  I didn’t really think about out it because were the only two on our row so their ought to be plenty of room.  The next thing I remember is hearing my water bottle hit the floor.  I look up immediately to see this guy’s mushy white butt right where my bottle used to be!  Now, I wasn’t staring at my water bottle, nor at his ass, but from the orientation of things it was clear that he bent over to get something off the bottom of his locker and there was no way anything other than his buttocks could have contacted my water bottle (the top 1/4 to 1/3, no less) causing it to roll across previously discussed floor.

It kind of looked like this…  Jets vs. PatriotsOnly imagine Mark Sanchez is my water bottle and 325lb Vince Wilfork isn’t causing the whole thing….

I can’t imagine that he didn’t realize what had happened.  But he certainly chose to ignore that it happened.  As I stood there partially terrified and completely flummoxed, he grabbed his towel and proceeded to try two wrong doors before finding the showers.  Clearly, it was his first day.

I was so astonished at the event, that it took me longer than it should have to realize that they sell bottled water at the front desk.  After that, I began to realize the humor in the situation.  A $3 bottle of Dasani never tasted so good!

To the best of my knowledge, most gyms don’t teach etiquette, self awareness, or just plain common sense in their orientation sessions.  But they should.  Perhaps even test for it.  Particularly if new members are over a certain age, or able to bench press more than 1.75 times their body weight.  In my experience, most awkward sights, sounds, smells, and attire arise from these two demographics. Profiling, yes!  It wouldn’t surprise me if the entire concept of profiling was conceived at a health club.

My good friend Scotty and I used to joke all the time about the old guys (and really strong guys) at our gym in St. Louis.  Usually, after a while, the jokes always ended with, “I can’t wait until I’m that age and just don’t give a crap anymore.”  (Clearly, neither of us was going to be strong enough to not give a crap…)  I still hope to achieve this someday, but even then I think I’ll keep my ass away from water bottles.

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Resolutions

Well, timing has never been my strong suit, so Happy New Year!  I hope yours is off to a great start.  If you’ve made resolutions for your health and fitness, I hope they are still intact!  I’ve never been a big resolution person.  Oh, I’ve made plenty and probably been as successful and the average American.  But I’ve pretty much given up on them and before I start rambling off reasons why, let me say a few things:

Whatever you believe will make you happy and healthy, go for it!  I’ll wait for a treadmill, share a lane, or heaven forbid walk the extra 50yds to my car.  I’m not going to be an elitist who grumbles all the way to Valentines Day wishing you would get the hell out of my way and let me do a real workout.  I may appear grouchy at times, having to wait my turn.  But, I’m just impatient.  I’m probably just wishing I’d left work an hour earlier; not wishing you out of the gym and back to your couch.  I know a few of you will stick, so good on ya!

However, there are a few reasons that I chose not to make resolutions.  The first is really as simple as; I’m just not that motivated by the new year.  Certainly, my motivation ebbs and flows throughout the year, but I honestly never remember feeling a surge in ‘want to’ with the turning of the calendar.

Perhaps this is the same idea, but if something occurs to me as a way to improve my life, why wait until a new year to implement it?  Anyone who ‘saves’ a good resolution until the new year is just sandbagging.  If I have a good idea once a year, rarely are they that timely.  Yes, at the end of the year we are generally reminded of dozens of inspiring stories from the preceding year and I enjoy it as much as anyone.  But if it didn’t make me want to change when it happened, it probably isn’t going to at 11:50pm on 12/31.

A short aside; this pretty much sums up my feelings towards birthdays, anniversaries, and a lot of holidays.  If things (or people) are really important to you, you’ll celebrate them throughout the year and the day on the calendar becomes a lot less important.  Otherwise, the calendar is just for reminders.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things that deserve our collective remembrance.  But if you need a reminder, doesn’t it mean that you’ve forgotten?  And if you haven’t forgotten, who needs a reminder (a date).  I’m pretty sure this drives my wife NUTS, btw.

My other issue with resolutions is that I always seemed to be resolving to do something.  Doing things that are worth while usually takes time.  Time is something I seem to run out of quite frequently.  I tried resolving to train my body to function with less sleep, and that failed miserably.

Lately (the last 2-3 years), I’ve been focusing on trying to do SOMETHING productive with ALL of my time.   I have a lot of lists, some mental, some written, some significant tasks, some mindless ones, some only take minutes, but they all take time.  So I’m constantly asking myself, what can I be doing right now?  I kind of like it.  Even doing the mundane things like laundry when you really don’t feel like doing anything, helps free up time for things you really want to do later, right?  I guess it provides a sense of accomplishment, mostly because they’re things I genuinely want to do.  The problem is (surprise!) the list never ends.

Another side note:  I’ve also recently come to believe things like this article.  So instead of ALL the time, its become MOST of the time.  My ‘breaks’, down time, veg-out stuff, either come from the list of mindless activities, or I convince my self that I need them.  Then they become purposeful, and I’m back to ALL the time, right?

Anyway, if you’re still reading, my point is: for me resolving TO DO something is pointless scaleunless I resolve NOT to do something else.

I’ve given it a fair amount of thought actually.  There are plenty of things I do that result in wasted time: enjoying beer and watching college football are the first things that come to mind.

I’ve given up LIVE college football before.  Fast forwarding through the commercials, instant replay reviews, and half time can actually saves an hour or more from a 3-1/2 hour broadcast.  But the communal aspect of live sports really does add to the experience.  Watching or texting/tweeting with friends, fans, and random random strangers, as things happen makes it SOOOOO much more fun than intentionally avoiding your phone, the radio, and every TV that might show a scoreboard, highlight, ticker, or update.

That leaves beer.  Well, I’m not going to stop enjoying beer, I’m just going to try harder to contain it.  There may come a day, but not today.  I really enjoying tasting a wide variety of beers and sharing them with friends who enjoy the same.  This is a fantastic place and time for beer enthusiasts and I happen to have some very unique opportunities to enjoy it all.  I’ll be happy if I’m unproductive while enjoying a beer or two.  Its the ones after that, the ones I’m not really ‘enjoying’ in the same way.  They’re the ones that lead to unproductive mornings-after.  They’re the ones that can afford me the time to resolve to do things.

I may have just talked myself into a resolution after all?  Cheers!

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