Saturday, January 2, 2010

2009 Schedule

No Ironmans this year! Mostly, I just don't want to spend the time to get ready for them. The past four years, it seemed my weeks would revolve around, "When can I get in a long bike ride and when can I get in a long run. (Not to mention, "When can I cut the grass" during the summer.)" It was nice to finish all of the Ironmans and Half-Ironmans that I have ever done, but I enjoy the shorter races just as much (if not more). And I could never really "race" an Ironman. I was simply trying to finish. (Of course, it would help if I got myself into better shape, but where would I find to time to train more than I did this past year?) Maybe I'll be Lance Armstrong/Brett Favre and sometime in the future I'll "get the itch" to come back and try another Ironman. But for now, I'm only doing sprints and Oly's.

All of the following races are part of the SWCS. Doing well in my age group for this series is important, but mainly I'm just happy to support the races and the race directors in the SWCS. I'm not planning on going someplace exotic to do a race this year. (Well, some people might consider Roswell exotic.)

Feb 13th - President's Day Du (WSMR)
Apr 11th - Raptor Du (Holloman AFB)
May 16th - Buffman & Squeaky (Lubbock)
Jun 5th - Milkman (Dexter)
Jun 19th - Chick Fil-A (Amarillo)
Jun 27th - TriRaider (Lubbock)
Jul 10th - Bottomless (Roswell)
Jul 24th - df Ranch (Sweetwater)
Jul 25th - Tumbleweed (Odessa)
Aug 14th - F-1 (Roswell)
Sep 18th - Cotton Country (Levelland)
Sep 26th - Elephant Man (Elephant Butte)
Oct 10th - Raptor (Holloman AFB)
Dec 11th - Polar Bear (WSMR)

A real neat schedule for a school teacher. Some early stuff to keep me motivated, a bunch of racing during June/July when I'm "off", and some racing in the Fall to keep me going.

Should be another great year!


2009 Goals Revisited

I was thinking about my 2009 goals today.

"So, what about 2009? OK, I've got three goals. I will "age up" to the M55-59 age group this year. I'm not going to blow away the competition there even if I can go as fast this year as I have in the past. However, while the "best" guys are quite a bit faster than me, the older age group is just a little slower overall. My first goal is to place in the top ten of my age group at the BSLT 70.3. In order to do this, I will almost certainly need to be faster than last year, but given "normal" weather conditions I ought to be able to do this. My second goal is to finish the Silverman in less time than it took this year. This might seem like a "soft" goal, but just finishing the Silverman is pretty challenging. If the weather there is better, and assuming that I do finish, I should be able to go under 15:30. My last goal is to run a sub 21:00 5K. This is not going to help me much when it comes to running 13.1/26.2 miles at BSLT/Silverman, but it's something I want to do. I used to run 3 miles in 21 minutes when I was a cadet at the USAF Academy, and that seemed pretty easy at the time. As recently as 1996 I could run 1.5 miles in less than 9 minutes. OK, I'm older now, but there are plenty of guys in my age group who can run 5K's even faster than 21 minutes. I'll work on this during the next few months. If I can do it I'll do it before the end of May. One way or the other, I won't worry about trying to do this after the end of May. After that, I'll be racing BSLT and ramping up for Silverman."

I managed to finish 9th in my age group at Buffalo Springs, and I was very happy with that result. I finished Silverman in 13:30:42. which was two hours faster than my 2008 Silverman. (It sure helps to have nice weather.) I never managed a 21-minute 5K run. The best I did was 21:38, two weeks after Silverman.

However, I have real hopes to get below 21 minutes this year. I won't be training for any Ironmans, so I'll have time to spend on running 5K's. The past few years, I was spending so much time doing 3-5 hour bike rides and 1-2 hour runs, there wasn't much time left for anything else.

2010, the year of the 5K run!


Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Goals

Three goals.

1. Run a sub-21-minute 5K. This has been my goal for the past few years, and I haven't made it yet. But this year, I won't be doing any half or full ironmans, so I'll have some time to train towards this.

2. Set a PR at Buffman & Squeaky

3. Set a PR at Elephant Man

Goals #2 and #3 sort of go together. I really like these two races, they're both Olympic distance, they both have open water swims, and they both have bike courses that aren't perfectly flat (especially Elephant Man). I had a good but not great race this year at Buff & Squeak. I ran a half-marathon "for fun" the day before this year's Elephant Man and I ran out of gas by the time I finished the Elephant Man bike leg. For 2010, I'm going to make a real effort to be ready for these two races and then see what I can do.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Silverman 2009

This weekend, I've graded about 300 chemistry homework assignments, 8 AP Physics lab reports, 24 final exams from my community college classes, raked and bagged the leaves, and sorted the mail. I'm as "caught up" as I've been in two months.

So, it's time to get off my Silverman report.

Straight away, Silverman is the coolest race ever. OK, I've never been to Kona, Escape From Alcatraz, Wildflower, etc., but these races would have to be beyond cool to be better than Silverman. There are plenty of places where you can read about how tough Silverman is. It's definitely not easy, but I'm sure any "iron distance" triathlon isn't easy. I like Silverman for a lot of reasons. The race director really does a great job. It's the best organized race I've ever done. The swag is great. The volunteers are outstanding. The local police go beyond the call of duty. The course is spectacular, starting with a swim in Lake Mead, a bike course across hills and valleys, and a run along pleasant streets and a shopping center in Henderson. And it's Vegas!

I left Clovis after school on Thursday (Nov 5th) and drove 5 hours to Grants, NM. It takes about 13 hours to drive from Clovis to Vegas. You can do packet pick-up on Saturday, but I like to get to Henderson for the Friday packet pick-up and the Friday pre-race dinner. It's an easy drive from Grants to Henderson, other than the bottleneck that Hoover Dam has become. I lived in Vegas from 1978-1980 while I was in the USAF, and we'd occasionally go out to Hoover Dam for something to do. There was no traffic, and almost no other people there. Now, I think it must rival Disneyland as a tourist attraction. They are building a bridge that will cross the canyon so that you don't have to drive across the top of the dam. However, when Myles and I drove there three years ago they were working on the bridge, and it doesn't look like they have made much progress on it. Maybe they didn't get their stimulus money?

Packet pick-up was uneventful. I stayed at the Holiday Inn express that is in the back parking lot of the Sunset Station casino. (The Sunset Station is the host hotel, and I've stayed there the past two years. Their rooms are really nice, but I saved about $100 by staying in the Holiday Inn.) They put on a nice pre-race dinner at the Henderson Convention Center, and Dave Scott was there again to give a short pep-talk and to tell a few funny stories about racing with Mark Allen. (What ever happened to the USA when it comes to getting results in Ironman racing?)

On Saturday I hit the pancake breakfast put on by the LDS church. They had the pre-race meeting on Saturday morning this year. This worked out much better than waiting around for the Saturday afternoon meeting that we've had the past two years. I went back to my room to grade lab reports, and a friend from Clovis called to tell me he'd made it into town. (Tom Duggan, the "Irish guy" that some of you may have met at the Bottomless races.) He was doing the Half-Silverman. I had taken his bike from Clovis to Henderson with me in my car. We made it to packet pick-up with an hour to spare, then took our bikes out to Lake Mead for bike and bag check-in. We did an early dinner at Pizza Hut, then I went to bed while Tom hit the Strip. (Oh, to be young again.)

Sunday was race day. They run shuttles from the Sunset Station to Lake Mead starting at 4:30. Tom's race didn't start until 8:30 (the Full Silverman starts at 7:00) so he slept in while I walked over to the bus. The bus ride takes 20-30 minutes, but when we got to the "Park Entrance", we ran into a problem. (That's another change from when I lived there. It's now "Lake Mead National Recreation Area." When I lived there, you just drove out to the lake and you didn't have to pay anything unless you were using a camp ground.) "Ranger Rick" told the bus driver that it would cost $250 to bring the bus through the gate. I thought he was joking, but "Ranger Rick" was dead serious. Someone said something about paying with a credit card and then getting the race director to reimburse him, but in the end we (the athletes) just got off the bus and walked the 1.5 miles from the gate to the transition area. (Edit to add. The race director and/or one of the volunteers raced up to the "Park Entrance" and got everything sorted out before the second bus arrived, and everyone else got to the start of the race with no problems. And "Ranger Rick" was just doing his job. There's always that 10% of the people involved in anything that somehow fail to get the word ahead of time.)

I check my bike and then went to the changing tent to lie down and relax. I was pretty scared about this race. I had had such a bad time during the 2008 Silverman when it was wet, cold, and windy. Beyond that, "iron-distance" racing is just so tough for me. I really enjoy sprints and olympic distance racing, but once I go beyond the three-hour point, I'm always hurting. I don't just mean uncomfortable, I am hurting. I hoped that I was ready for this year's race, but you never know. It was a real relief when it was time to put on my wetsuit and get into the water.

For the first time this year, I saw Andy Cope when I got into the water. Andy has done the Silverman the past three years. He is a hammer on the bike, but not very fast in the water. We wished each other luck, and then the gun went off right on time at 7:00. Counting the "pro's" (who start with everyone else) and the relay teams, there were only about 220 people in the swim for the Full Silverman. (The Half-Silverman had about 450 swimmers in their wave, but it didn't go off until 8:30.) I know that you get a special vibe at an M-dot race with 2000+ swimmers going off at once, but I much prefer having some space to myself in the water. The water in Lake Mead is clear enough that you can see other swimmers 15-20 feet away. I just pick out one or two people who look like they know where they are going and I follow them. This way I only have to "sight" once in a while, so the swim is pretty easy for me. I finished in 1:15, which was 22 minutes faster than last year when we had the 40 mph winds and four foot waves.

The bike leg at Silverman gets a lot of attention for its 11,000 feet of climbing, but overall I don't think it's too bad. The net gain in elevation is only 1000-2000 feet, so you get a lot of downhill "payback" on the bike. The worst part for me is the long climb at about the 60-mile point. You make a steady climb for 4-5 miles. The grade is probably only 5% or so, but it's a long time to be climbing without a break. The "signature moment" on the bike is at the 92-mile point. You come off the main road onto a bike path, and there you have the "3-Sisters". They are steep (15-18%) and it's no fun doing them after 92 miles of riding. But they're pretty short (maybe two hundred meters each) so you can get out of your saddle and grunt your way over them. They're not easy, but heck, it's supposed to be tough! The last 10 miles or so of the bike are through the streets of Henderson, and you get some great stretches of downhill riding. I finished the bike in 7:21, which was almost 30-minutes faster than last year when I was freezing for the first half of the bike course.

The run is two laps of a 13.1-mile loop. It starts off on a gentle downhill, which can give you a false sense of how fast you can do the run. Then, its a 2-3 mile climb, followed by more descents and more climbs. There isn't much "flat" there. I was taking it real easy on the first lap. Last year, I really struggled on the second lap, and I wanted to save something this year. However, I think my big problem was that I was just about frozen stiff on the second lap last year. This year, the weather was perfect. Still, I was scared about the second lap. I was "running" 10-11 minute laps and walking through the aid stations. Then, I hit the 20 or 21-mile point and I knew that I was "home free". I started "running", and by the last three miles I was doing 8:45 or so miles. For the first time ever in an "iron-distance" race, I broke 5-hours on the run (4:42:46) and my overall time was 13:30. This was my fastest "iron-distance" race ever.

They put on a breakfast and awards ceremony on Monday morning. I picked up the third place trophy for my age group, and then Tom and I hit the road to return to Clovis. (BTW, Tom really enjoyed the Half-Ironman. He's always kind of slow on the swim, but he can normally hammer the bike. However, he did run out of gas towards the end of the bike, and the run is tough for everyone. But he had a lot of fun.) We joined the other tourists for a while at Hoover Dam, then it was off to catch I-40 and back to New Mexico.

I would do this race again in a heartbeat if it was during a "school holiday". It's tough doing it during the school year. The "administration" hates to give time off for a boondoggle like this. Beyond that, I get behind on my classes and it's tough to get caught up again. I haven't signed up for 2010 yet, but it's such a great race, I won't rule anything out.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Chile Harvest

Who would have thought that they would have an excellent sprint triathlon in Socorro, NM. Socorro is one of those small towns (population 9000) that you pass while driving on an Interstate Highway (I-25 in this case) and you wonder why the town is there. Like most of these small towns, you'd find a nice community in Socorro if you took the time to stop and visit. Among other things, Socorro is the home of New Mexico Tech, and they have a very pleasant campus on the west side of town. Quite a few of my high school physics and chemistry students end up attending New Mexico Tech.

Socorro is about one hour south of Albuquerque and about two hours north of El Paso/Las Cruces, so they can draw on a fairly large number of potential triathletes. It's a four-hour drive from Clovis to Socorro. I was going to take a pass on the race this year because I didn't want to make that drive, but in the end I couldn't pass up the opportunity to do the race. A factor in my decision was that this race determines the Club Championship for the triathlon clubs in New Mexico. The New Mexico Outlaws had won this the past three years, and no other club had ever won it four years in a row.

They limit the race to about 320 participants and they sell out early every year. This year I got to Socorro early enough on the day prior to the race to do packet pick-up. Along with packet pick-up, they had a free spaghetti dinner and some of the locals playing live bluegrass/country music. I met a couple of guys from Taos, had a nice dinner, and then checked into the Econo Lodge for the night.

They moved the start of the race up to 7:00 AM this year. It was still pretty dark at 6:00 when they opened transition. There were also people doing their packet pick-up on race morning. I was thinking there was no way they would be able to start the race as scheduled. However, they got through the "pre-race briefing" quickly, everyone seemed to get their stuff set-up on time, and we headed over to the pool for the swim start.

Socorro has a nice 50-meter pool with eight lanes. They use chip timing, and the swim is a time trial start with about 5 seconds between swimmers. Some people thought that the swim was too crowded, but I've never had any problems there and I didn't have any problems this year. It's one-way traffic in each lane, and there's plenty of room to pass or to be passed. It is so much less crowded than a big race like Jay Benson where they do a run-bike-swim format. I think it's less crowded than even a small race like the Cotton Country Sprint that also uses the run-bike-swim format. And the amount of "body contact" at this swim doesn't begin to compare to the punching and kicking that takes place at a mass start open water swim.

The swim start order is based on the predicted times of the participants. I had predicted a 400-meter time of 7:52 which put me as the 127th starter. I could see some people in the water ahead of me who must have predicted a six-minute time but who looked like they were going to take more than ten minutes to breast stroke/back stroke/side stroke their way through the water. For myself, I exited the water in 7:48, but by the time I ran over the chip timer I ended up with a swim time of 7:53.

For some reason, I decided to wear my bib number on the bike. No big deal, but it took a few seconds standing in T-1 to get my race belt buckled. (It sure makes more sense to do this during T-2 while I'm running out of transition instead of simply standing at my bike.) Anyway, I headed out on the bike and was quickly passed by fellow Outlaw, Cody, who had started about 30 second behind me on the swim. Last year at this race, I had a really strong bike. I thought I was feeling pretty good this year. I was thinking, "Dang, Cody, when did you get so fast on the bike!" We leap frogged past each other for the first couple of miles before he dropped slightly off my pace. The 20K bike route goes out to two different turn-around points, and there are two north bound legs that are both about two miles long. We had a fairly strong head wind on these two legs, and I knew it was going to hurt my overall bike time. The part of the ride that I always remember is the downhill section that you ride after passing a guard shack about two miles after the second turn around point. It's not very steep, and there are just a couple of easy turns on it, but I'm always going as fast as I dare to ride on a bike unless a road is perfectly straight. I made it back to T-2 about 45 seconds slower than last year's race but at a still reasonably fast (for me) 21.6 mph average speed.

The 5K run starts out on a city street heading north. The first time I did this race, you eventually turned off the street and ran along the top of a dike that borders an irrigation ditch. The last two times they kept the run on city streets. This year, we were back to the run on top of the dike. Not a big deal to me one way or the other, but people seemed to like this run better. With about one mile to go, Patrick Hall caught up to me. He is one year younger than me and I "aged up" this year, so we are not in the same age group, but we're pretty close in ability to each other and pretty competitive in most races. I worked as hard as I could to stay in front of him, although I didn't know if he had started the swim before me or after me. I managed to finish just in front of him (or he kindly allowed me to cross the finish line first). My run time, 23:04, wasn't spectacular, but it was good for me in a swim-bike-run tri.

I registered with for this race, and they sent me an e-mail to "review" the race. It was interesting to see what the other reviewers thought. Almost all of the comments were positive. No one seemed too upset about anything, but a couple of people had suggestions about changing some aspect of the race so that we wouldn't have to run "in the heat of the day." Gosh, most people were finished with the race and their 5K run before 10:00, and I don't think the temperature was above 80 degrees F by then. I can appreciate the wish to avoid running a marathon at noontime in 90 degree temperatures, but this wasn't bad at all. A couple of people commented on how long it took before the awards ceremony started. I thought they got started fairly quickly this year, they had accurate results, the awards were nice (jugs and glasses from a local brewery/restaurant) and everything was wrapped up before 11:30. I wish all races were as quick and organized about their awards ceremonies.

Overall, my time was about 45 seconds slower than last year (pretty much all from the bike leg) at 1:07:58, but it was fast enough to win my age group. We had a big gang of Outlaws there. Cody, John, and Miguel also won their groups, Michi, Mark, Debi, and Brian all ended up on their podiums, and we had plenty of other finishers. In the end, we had plenty of firepower at this race to successfully defend the State Club Championship again. Now we'll have to get ready for next year!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Is summer great or what! The annual Brett Favre soap opera, NCAA football "media days" for each and every conference in the country, and plenty of free time for me. Yesterday the summer issue of "USA Triathlon Life" arrived. Receiving this magazine must be one of the "bennies" of being a USAT member. It's not the greatest magazine that I've ever read, but it's not bad by any means. Two interesting items in this issue.

There was an article, "The New Carbon", talking about water shortages around the world and especially how this relates to the Southwest US. They reference a study that projects a 50% chance that Lake Mead will be dry by 2021. I'm not sure what their definition of "dry" would be. Do they mean absolutely no water (I don't think so), just a few mudholes (maybe), or so little water that Hoover Dam won't be able to generate electricity (also maybe). Even more dire is the 10% chance that Lake Mead will go dry by 2014 (five years from now). Looking at this as an optimist, there is a 90% chance that it won't go dry in the next five years. However, it is pretty depressing to look at the "bathtub ring" around Lake Mead when I go out there for the Silverman Tri. There are also abandoned marinas that used to be on the shore line when I was living there in the late 70's. Now, they are a half-mile or more from the water. Maybe it will start to rain and snow in the Southwest again, or people will give up their grass lawns, or we'll stop irrigating lettuce fields in the middle of the desert. But I'm kind of pessimistic.

Less depressing, and a lot more nerdy, was the column giving a short summary about the demographics of triathletes. They provided a link that you can go to if you want to read the entire report.

Here are some of the things in the report.

"Triathlon participation in the United States is at an all-time high, following unprecedented growth over the past 10 years. USA Triathlon can easily track the surge through its membership numbers, which surpassed 115,000 annual members in early 2009. To put that into perspective, annual membership hovered between 15,000 and 21,000 from 1993 to 2000."

Wow, that's pretty good growth! BTW, based on data for the 107,000 USAT members from last year (2008), 62% are male and 38% are female. In 2000, only 27% were female.

There are 525 members from New Mexico (ahead of Mississippi (478), Rhode Island (472), Alaska (437), Maine (372), Delaware (239), Montana (197), Nebraska (164), Vermont (146), Wyoming (123), West Virgina (117), South Dakota (75), and North Dakota (27)). Wow, how far do you need to travel to get to a race if you live in North Dakota?

Not counting the "17 and under" youth group, the largest age group is 35-39 (17,112) followed by 40-44 (15,469). There are only 24 people over 80 years old, and none over 90 years old. (I'm setting my sights on qualifying for Kona in 2044 when I hit 90.)

In 2004, USAT sanctioned 897/277 triathlons/duathlons. In 2008, USAT sanctioned 1769/425 triathlons/duathlons. They estimate that another 500 non-sanctioned races were held last year.

The median income for triathletes was $126,000 last year. (It's even higher for the athletes surveyed who were doing "M-dot Ironmans".) I hope to hit the mean sometime.

63% of triathletes are married, and 44% have kids living at home.

The average triathlete spent about $4000 on the sport last year.
$2,274 spent on bikes in past 12 months
$564 spent on race fees in past 12 months
$524 spent on bike equipment
$370 spent on training, running and athletic footwear
$277 spent on nutritional supplements
Of course these are "average expenses". I didn't buy a bike last year. (My current bike is almost five years old, but it still works fine.) I did spend money on tires, cables, chains, etc., last year. But what doesn't show here is the amount of money spent on "travel". Between gas and lodging, I must have spent almost $1000 going to races, and I didn't go anywhere "exotic". And anyone who does an "M-dot Ironman" spends over $500 for entry fees/ fees for that one race.

Sadly, triathlon seems to be like golf, NASCAR, and thoroughbred horse racing when it comes to minorities. According to their numbers, triathlon is an overwhelmingly "white" sport.
88.2% are Caucasian/White
3.2% are Hispanic
2.1% are Asian
1.5% are Multi-racial
0.5% are African-American
1.1% are other
Here in the SWCS, we have a fair number of Hispanic participants, but African-Americans are pretty rare. There are any number of social-economic reasons for this, but it leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable.

OK, I've finally got another race coming up! The Socorro Chile Harvest Tri is this weekend. I think I'll get off the computer and head out for some speed work.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Velo News

A lot of you read Velo News on your own, but for those of you who don't (or who don't have your summers off giving you plenty of time to read.......)

The most recent issue came off the press about half-way through this years Tour. There are a couple of neat columns discussing the Contador/Armstrong situation. The editor, Ben Delaney, writes how the race could have been sort of boring. You know, Astana crushes the field in the TTT then controls the race the rest of the way putting three of their riders on the podium. But here you had Armstrong getting into a break after the split on Stage 3 and then putting two of the Astana domestiques (Popovych and Zubeldia) on the front to drive the break and to keep the peloton (with his teammate and designated team leader) from catching the break. Armstrong picked up 41 seconds on Contador. So then Contador throws in his own attack on Stage 7 to move himself back in front of Armstrong. "Instead of high fives, there was tight-lipped grumbling in the Astana camp." Of course now the Tour is over, and we know how the race turned out. I'd like to read the book by the fly on the wall telling what it was like on the team bus and at meals during the race.

I know there are a lot of "Lance Fans" out there. I don't hate the guy, but I'm not a huge fan. Some of the fans have seemed to develop a certain amount of dislike for Contador. (Mostly because he is beating up on Lance?) Andrew Hood wrote a nice column about how "Contador Rides Alone". He had two people with him at this year's Tour, his brother and a Spanish journalist. He has the same girlfriend that he had in high school, the same friends, he lives near his parents house, and he calls his mom on the phone every night. The contrast with Armstrong and his posse of bodyguards, advisors, and celebrities (Bono, Robin Williams, and Ben Stiller) was pretty stark. (No need to get into the details of Armstrong's personal life. You can read "US Weekly" for that story.) I know that Contador isn't raising money for cancer research, but he seems like a nice guy.

There is a long article about mountain bike stage racing. I used to ride a mountain bike in Germany a lot. I would ride on trails that you couldn't ride on a road bike, but nothing too "technical". It seems like mountain biking here in the US is all about "wicked single-track" with off camber switchbacks, rocks, roots, and hike-a-bike sections. (Not to mention the requirement to start and/or end every sentence with the word "Dude".) You can guess I don't do much mountain biking here. I don't plan on signing up for one of these races either. Among other things in the article, they said the following. "Like triathlon's Ironman events, the epics target the doctor and lawyer crowd, as entry fees regularly surpass $1000 a pop." If you read the article, you'll see where the entry fees might be as much as $2000-$3000 depending on how much support you want when you do the race. Gee, and we complain about $550 for an Ironman.

Last of all, there is a full page add for "dznuts" chamois cream on page 61. (BTW, you need to pronounce "dznuts" as a two-syllable vs. a three-syllable word.) OK, we can all appreciate the benefits of a bit of friction relief down there. But this add is really out there. In case you didn't know, they splash the line "protect your junk" across the add. There is a picture of Mark Cavendish winning Stage 5 at the Tour of California, pointing at his crotch. This was "the dznuts salute." They attribute the following quote to Cavendish, "dznuts is such a necessity for me that I dedicated a win to it!" Once again according to the add, dznuts is "the official junk protector of Garmin Slipstream and Columbia Highroad". Well, if you see some at your LBS, make sure to pick up a tube for me. After all, if it works for these guys...........