Sunday, November 30, 2008

One More Time!

For a week or so after this year's Silverman, I figured I was finished with long course triathlons. I can't do anything at this distance other than just finish the race. Forget about a "fast" time, finishing on the podium, or even trying to catch someone ahead of me in the race. Throw in the six-hour rides and two-hour runs for training, and I was having a hard time seeing how I was having any fun.

Then I watched the "trailer" for the Silverman video.

So once more, I'm heading out to Henderson. Who needs to go fast! This race is so much fun, I'll have a great time just being there.

Time to start training!


Saturday, November 15, 2008


Last Sunday, Nov 9th, 2008, I finished the Silverman triathlon. I didn't "race" the Silverman. I'm not strong enough to race that course. No one signs up for the Silverman thinking, "Gee, that's an easy race. I'll go do it so that I can pencil in another long course triathlon on my resume." People do the Silverman partly because it is a tough race, partly because it is so well run, partly because of the spectacular setting, and mostly because it is a lot of fun! If you go to the Silverman web page, there is an excellent race report under the link titled "SURVIVING THE RACE". It has a lot of information about the course, and some really good pictures showing what it would look like on a sunny day.

Last Sunday was not a sunny day. There are several threads on the Slowtwitch forums discussing the race last Sunday. If you go there and do a search for "Silverman", you can see what other folks have to say. (Sorry, I can't get the "insert link" to work, but you can copy and paste the following link. Check out "2nd Crack at Silverman". Same guy wrote up his experience this year, with more photos of this year's cloudy weather.)

I arrived in Henderson on Friday for packet pickup and the pre-race dinner. The weather was beautiful. Saturday I hit the pancake breakfast then went out to Lake Mead to drop off my bike. While I was there, I went for a short run. Again, beautiful weather. The weather forecast for Sunday was calling for slightly cooler temperatures and party cloudy skies with a 30% chance of rain. Sounded good for a long course race. I went to the pre-race meeting and there were a few comments about the weather, but still, it didn't sound too bad. I went back to my room, finished grading some chemistry lab reports, and was asleep by ten o'clock.

Sunday morning, up at 3:30, on the shuttle bus at 4:00, arrived at the race start early, stretched out on the carpet in the changing tent, and just relaxed. Once it started to get light outside, I took a peek at the weather. "Hey, this doesn't look too bad! Not too cold, a few clouds (so we won't have to deal with the sun on the last leg of the swim), and almost no wind. Heck, this is going to be great! I was happy that I'd decided to go with my sleeveless wetsuit since the water was almost 70 degrees. It looked like I wouldn't need any "cold weather gear" for the bike either, so I took my gloves, arm warmers, and turtle neck shirt out of my swim-to-bike bag and put them in my dry clothes bag so they wouldn't get wet. The gun went off for the swim right on time at 6:30 and we were off!

The first part of the swim was a piece of cake. The water in Lake Mead is so much cleaner than what we have here in Eastern NM/West TX. You can actually see the other swimmers around you, so I was able to draft off a couple of other swimmers. There was a little chop, but less than what you get at Buffalo Springs most years. I was thinking, "Gosh, I'll probably have a really fast swim time. Maybe I can actually try to "race" today."

And then the cold front arrived.

All that I knew from my position in the water was that suddenly we were swimming through some really big waves. I found out later that a 40 mph gust of wind hit the beach and blew a bunch of stuff over. The temperature dropped about 10 degrees. In the water, we were swimming into three foot waves and blowing spray kicked up by the 20 mph headwind with gusts to 40 mph. I couldn't see the next buoy, so I just started swimming in the general direction of the boat ramp. Eventually another swimmer came up beside me. It looked like she knew where she was going, so I started drafting off her. (And because it was a woman and not a man, I knew she'd stop and ask for directions if we got lost!) Eventually, we got close enough to the boat ramp to see and hear the people standing there, so I knew that I was going to make it. The last half-mile of the swim took 30 minutes. I didn't think I was working that hard, it's just that I was going so slowly. The funny thing was once my feet hit the sandy beach, my legs were absolutely rubber. I couldn't stand up for about 20 seconds. I had never had this happen before, and it was more funny than alarming.

Fellow Outlaw Paul was in the changing tent. We congratulated each other on surviving the swim. At this point, I was really questioning my decision to get rid of my cold weather gear. Was a sleeveless Outlaw jersey and trishorts going to be enough? But I figured I'd warm up once I got going on the bike. As soon as you leave T-1, you have a pretty good one-mile climb from the boat ramp to the main highway. Paul and I rode together for a while, and I did start to feel comfortably warm. I said goodbye to Paul and settled in for what I figured to be a seven-hour ride.

And then it started to rain. And sleet. And the wind kept blowing, and gusting. It's one thing to stay warm without adequate clothing if it's cold. It's impossible when you're wet and you're dealing with wind. I was really getting cold. The bike course at Silverman has (so I've read) 11,000 feet of climbing. But you get to go downhill quite a bit too. Not that this makes up for the time lost climbing, but at least it's something. However, given the slick roads and gusting crosswinds, it was all most of us could do to go downhill at 10-15 mph without going off into the ditch. Some riders did go off the road, and apparently one rider crashed hard enough that he had to be medevaced off the course. I started thinking about how much time I had until the bike cutoff, and pretty much gave up on having any kind of fast time.

After an hour or so, the worst of the storm front had passed. It was still cold, it would occasionally rain, and it was mostly cloudy. However, I was no longer shivering uncontrollably and I could think about things other than how cold I was. I was grabbing a gel at each of the aid stations, but one time I couldn't get it open because my hands were so cold. About 10 miles before the bike turn around, Andy Cope (from Mesa, AZ) caught up to me. He had been in the water for two hours, and he was happy to be out on the bike. We saw Paul and then George Ferland (from Artesia, NM) heading back in on the bike. They had almost a 20-mile lead on us. Andy took off, but the thought of getting to the turn around picked up my spirits. The turn around comes at 51 miles, and then at 60 miles you hit the longest climb of the day. Three miles long and about 1000 feet of climbing, it takes a lot out of you. After that, it was 30 miles of more climbing and headwinds before you hit the "Three Sisters". These are three short but steep (18%) hills on a bike path. Everyone at Silverman talks about them, most people with some degree of trepidation. I'm not a very strong climber, but these hills don't bother me too much. Sure, they're steep, and the fact that you've already done a pretty tough 93-mile ride makes them even tougher, but I can climb them slowly out of the saddle in a 39x25 gear without blowing up. Some folks do walk up them, though. After I'd made it up the last "Sister", I looked over my shoulder to see how much I'd climbed. I saw a really neat rainbow (we still had occasional rain showers) and I thought that maybe this was a sign that the rest of the day would go well. Not so fast. I settled back onto my saddle and started pedalling and then suddenly I started to cramp in my left quad. I started to favor the left quad and my right hammy started to cramp. Whoa, OK, ease up on the right side, and then my left glute started to cramp. Back and forth, back and forth, for the next couple minutes I was just fighting off cramps. Guess the Three Sisters had gotten a piece of me after all. Once the cramping went away, I figured I could pretty much coast into T-2, but then I started to get some tendinitis in my right knee. Wow, I've still got to run 26.2 miles. This could get ugly.

In the changing tent I commiserated with another competitor. We were both in "survival mode" by then, but just finishing this race is not so bad. I headed out on the run, knowing from doing the Half Silverman that the first mile is downhill and that I wouldn't be able to keep the same pace for the rest of the run. Still, it gives you hope that you'll have a good run when you go through the first mile in eight minutes. Then you hit a two-mile climb, and reality sets in. I wasn't worried about finishing before the cutoff at midnight, but I knew I was going to be slow. The run course doubles back on itself on a few legs and you run two laps, so you get to see a lot of people. I saw Paul, George, and Andy a couple of times. Paul and George were having pretty good races, and Andy was having a good run. Me? I was sampling whatever they had to eat and drink at each of the aid stations. Every now and then I'd feel the tendinitis and I knew even if I felt like running faster I couldn't. By the time I started the second lap it was dark. And then it really got cold. I wasn't moving fast enough to stay warm. A lot of folks were "running" with Mylar "space blankets" draped over their shoulders. I thought that looked pretty silly, but at the 18-mile point I asked for a blanket. It helped, especially on the lonely and dark leg down to the turn-around at the 20-mile point. By the time I made it to the 23-mile point I'd warmed up enough that I figured I could finish without the blanket. (I also didn't want to look too stupid running with a blanket through the Green Valley Ranch Station outdoor shopping district with a space blanket. Of course, I looked pretty stupid running in a sleeveless jersey and shorts anyway.) I crossed the line in 15:30:09. Slow, but I was a "Silverman Finisher".

This is a way cool race and I can't recommend it highly enough. The race director really has his stuff together. There are tons of volunteers, and they do an outstanding job. The schwag bag is the best you'll ever get. Dave Scott and Chris McCormack have been there the past two years signing autographs, telling funny stories, and racing the Half Silverman (although Dave didn't race this year). The course, from the swim in Lake Mead to the spectacular bike to the hilly run is challenging but lots of fun. You won't set a PR here (except for folks like Paul and George who did this as their first ever long course triathlon), but you'll enjoy it more than any other race you do.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Long, Slow Run

Wow, I missed posting anything last month. I did two triathlons, the Cotton Country Sprint in Levelland, TX, and the Elephant Man in Elephant Butte, NM. The Cotton Country Sprint is a small race that I have done every year since it first started in 2002. The first few years they only had about 50 people show up. The numbers have steadily climbed since 2005, and this year they had 101 individuals and five relay teams. I had my fastest time ever this year, and that was good enough for third place in my age group. This was just the second year for the Elephant Man. It is my favorite race in the SWCS. Intermediate distance, spectacular scenery, open water swimming, tough bike course, and tough run, what's not to like! My swim and bike times were just average this year, but I had a really good bike. The hills make it tough, especially for a feeble climber like me, but I averaged 22 mph. I passed four guys in my age group during the bike, and none of them caught me on the run, so I managed to win my age group.

My big event recently was yesterday's 50 K trail run in Palo Duro Canyon, TX. I had never done a 50 K run before, and I had never done a trail run. Heck, we don't even have "trails" here in Clovis, unless you count the caliche clay roads. But Myles Pilgrim suggested that it would be good training for IMAZ/Silverman next month, and I figured I need a long run once a week anyway, so why not go and do the race!

Never having done one of these, I didn't really know what I was up against. I figured that my "open" marathon time of four hours should allow me to easily coast around a 50 K in less than six hours. Things didn't work out that way from the very start. In the first place, they started the race about 45 minutes prior to sunrise. I think this was partly to avoid having the 50 mile participants (the real gluttons for punishment) finish in the dark, and it allowed all of us a chance to complete at least part of our runs before the heat of the day. However, it was dark when we started. Throw in about 200 runners on a single track trail, and I ended up walking in the single-file train that everyone ended up in for the first two miles. Eventually, the 50 mile runners split off from the 50 K runners about the same time it got light enough to run without a flashlight. After that, I was never held up by anyone else.

However, running on the Palo Duro Canyon trails wasn't easy. I thought "trail running" would involve some wide pathways through a forest with pine needles cushioning your stride. But the Palo Duro trails were mostly single track, hard as concrete dirt/rock (with a few patches of sticky mud that you had to run off to the side of the trail/jump over to avoid), with pot holes and boulders thrown in along with some short stretches of steep climbs/descents. I'm sure the "trail runners" didn't give it a second thought, but for a "road runner" like me, it was pretty tough. I downloaded my Garmin, and I didn't run a single 10-minute mile! My fastest mile was a 10:02, and my average pace was 12:18. My total time was 6:19 on my Garmin, but that doesn't include the time that I spent standing around at the aid stations/porta potty. I didn't look at the clock when I finished, but it must have been about 6:30.

I thought it was a lot harder than running a "road" marathon. You really need some leg strength to do one of these. There is a lot of "starting/stopping" as you go up/down/left/right on the trails, and you don't have much chance to get into a mindless straight ahead run. But it was a lot of fun. Everyone running the race (at least from my MOP position) seemed pretty low key, and the organization and volunteers were great. And they had some gooey "date bars" at all of the aid stations that beat the heck out of energy bars/gels.

Wait 'till next year!


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Outlaw Month

August was a good month for the NM Outlaws.

The NM Club Championship was held on August 9th at the Socorro Chile Harvest Triathlon. We were back trying for a three-peat. I wouldn't say that any of us are what you would consider "elite triathletes". However, for the Club Championship it's important to have a lot of people there. If you can get enough podium spots in enough age groups, you'll do OK.

The Outlaws had 27 members show up for the race. I'm pretty sure none of the other clubs matched this. Although our best overall male, Paul Gutierrez, only finished "13th overall male" and our best overall female, Maria Ladd, only finished "4th overall female", we had a lot of folks finish on the podium in their age groups. The three-peat was in the bag.

Maria, Miguel Sanchez, John Leroy, Karen Williams, and I all won our respective groups. Neil Galvez, Jamie Prochno, Mark McKenzie, Hartley Wess, Carole Cook, and Misty Pilgrim all came in second. Paul Zetocha picked up a third place finish. And the rest of the Outlaws, Jon Pilgrim, Courtney Benefiel, Michael Loiselle, Nick Pena, Paul Gutierrez, Michael Montoya, Tim Chavez, Brian Pilgrim, Roger Senn, Orlando Dow, Debby Casson, Guido Kemp, Greg Southard, Naomi Finson, and Debi Wess all finished the race. I'm not sure how the scoring system works, but it does make a difference whether you finish the race or not. And it's always pretty neat to see how much support the Outlaws give each other, whether it's a training ride, a sprint triathlon, or an Ironman.

Last Saturday, Aug 23rd, ten Outlaws showed up at Bottomless State park for the F-1 Triathlon. This is a really neat race. It's the only "draft legal" triathlon that I ever do. I hate it when I see people drafting in a race where drafting isn't allowed. But it's cool to get into a paceline at a race where it's perfectly legal.
(I guess it's a little like driving a car. I hate to see people driving 50 mph in a residential area, but I don't have any problems driving 75 mph on an interstate highway as long as the speed limit is posted at 75 mph.) At this race, drafting is not always a big deal for most of the participants. You do two 400 meter swims to start the race. Then, after you jump on your bike, you have a pretty good hill to climb to get on top of the mesa. And the field at this race is usually pretty small. They normally have less than 50 people there, and this year there were only 34 participants. This is a shame because the race director puts on such a good event and it's one of the better venues for triathlon in the West Texas/Eastern NM area. Anyway, between the swim, the first hill, and the small field, a lot of people end up riding the bike legs by themselves. This year, I managed to catch up to Mark McKenzie on the first bike loop. He and I managed to do some work together, along with a couple of random guys who really didn't take many pulls. It probably saved us a little time, but not much.

After the first bike loop, you go through transition and head out on a 4 km run. I always try to save something during this run, because you have another bike loop and another 4 km run to go. I actually managed a reasonably fast run this year. Then it's back on the bike for the second bike loop. This time, Mark and I got together pretty quickly. We worked pretty well together and managed to catch fellow Outlaw Miguel. Off in the distance in front of us, we could see yet another Outlaw, the uber biker Mark Trejtnar. It took a fair amount of work, but we managed to catch Mark. We were really flying the last few miles on the bike. I wouldn't say it was a textbook example of a team time trial, but we worked pretty well together. I'm sure it saved me at least a minute on the second bike leg, and all of us gained at least some time.

The final run leg is always a real slog for me. I'm always pretty toasted by then, and it's hard to go fast at all. I had a pretty good run this year, and overall it was my fastest ever race at this event. I was 6th overall, right behind Mark T, and just ahead of Mark M and Miguel. Outlaw Naomi Finson was the overall female winner. Paul Zetocha finished in the top 10, Michael Giudicissi and Greg Southard were in the top 20, and Hartley Wess and Orlando Dow rounded out the field for the Outlaws. As much fun as the race was the post-race lunch at Farley's. It was great to hang out with everyone over a burger and brew.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that on the same day we were doing the F-1 Tri, the fearless leader of the Outlaws, Brian Pilgrim did a 100 mile run at the Lean Horse Race up in South Dakota. (And it actually takes more than one day to do this run.) This is an event/distance that I can positively say I will never attempt. A 100 mile month is a big deal for me. Kudos to Brian for finishing this race!

Tomorrow I'm off to the Turtle Marathon in Roswell. I get in a "long run" every week as part of my Silverman training, and I figure at this race I won't have to carry my own water and food. Then I get to do two more fun races, the Cotton Country Sprint tri and the Elephant Man tri at the end of September.

Wow, is this a fun life or what!


Monday, July 14, 2008


Saturday (7/12/08) was the 25th edition of the Bottomless Tri. The race is held at Bottomless State Park just outside Roswell, NM. It's a short sprint tri (400 m swim/13 km bike/4 km run). Even though it's short, it's a real workout. Everyone is going all out and you do have a short steep climb coming out of T-1. It's one of the few races that I can finish in less than one hour, and the overall winner will finish in less than 50 minutes.

I car pooled down to Roswell with fellow Outlaw Willy Wonka and a couple of other Clovis triathletes. One of the things I like about this race is they don't start the race until 8:30 in the morning. It's only a two hour drive from Clovis, so we don't need to leave here until 5:00. Sure beats having to drive 5-6 hours to get to some of the races, and you can almost get a complete night's sleep.

It was sunny, fairly warm, and humid. Not Atlanta humid, but pretty sticky for New Mexico. People often feel they aren't sweating because any sweat in New Mexico normally evaporates as fast as it appears. But I was sweating on Saturday.

The swim went off in three waves. Women, young guys, then old guys. I was in the old guy wave. Bottomless Lake is fairly brackish, but it's about as clear as you get in Eastern New Mexico/West Texas unless you are swimming in a pool. I had a pretty fast swim, but I forgot to hit the lap timer on my watch until I got to my bike in T-1. I didn't have a very fast T-1. I cannot run without socks unless I want to get blisters. Although I can bike in bare feet, it's either put socks on during T-1 or put them on in T-2. So I just put them on in T-1. This time, it took forever to get my right sock on. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just clumsy, I guess.

I came out of the water just behind fellow Outlaw Bones and just ahead of Stitch. By the time I left T-1, Bones was well up the road, and Stitch was a few seconds in front of me. I had a fast bike ride and I caught up to Stitch after 2-3 miles. Then I passed Miguel, yet another Outlaw, with about 3 miles to go on the bike. I didn't quite catch Bones on the bike, and he beat me out of T-2.

I was going OK on the run, but not fast enough to hold off Stitch who caught and passed me just after the turn-around. I couldn't keep up with Stitch, and I was never going to catch Bones. It looked to me like I was all alone with about a quarter mile to go. One of my fellow Clovites was just getting started on the run and he gave me a shout out, followed by a shout out for Mark Balsiger just a few seconds later. Wow, how did Mark manage to catch up to me? First of all, Mark is four years older than me, and he's a lot faster on the bike and run. However, if there is a swim, I can sometimes build enough of a lead there to hold him off. Secondly, Mark (along with Flip Lyle) is a key player in organizing and keeping the SWCS going. He's a swell guy, and I certainly don't hold any animosity towards him. But hey, this was a race! I tried to pick up my pace, and I was soon at my redline. Just as I turned the corner with 50 meters or so to go to the finish, I thought I was going to get sick to my stomach. I managed to hold on (and I think Mark was letting up) to finish just ahead of Mark, and then I walked over to the bushes and got sick.

It wasn't my fastest race there, but I was within one minute of my fastest race in 2004. And in 2004 my swim was about one minute faster than Saturday. The swim turn around buoy placement is fairly arbitrary at Bottomless, which makes year-to-year comparisons difficult, but it makes no difference to the outcome of a given race.

Post race, a bunch of the Outlaws met up at Farleys for lunch. I'm not sure Lance Armstrong would approve of our post race appetizer of Rabbit Droppings. Think deep fried cheese balls with Jalepeno peppers. Anyway, lunch was a great time to meet some new Outlaws and to chat with everyone there.

The same folks who put on the Bottomless Tri put on the "F-1 Tri" at the same location on Aug 23rd. This is a "draft legal" race. Although it really burns me up to see people drafting in races where it isn't legal, it's a lot of fun to do this race once a year. The past two years, we have had a couple of good "Team Time Trial" pacelines going with several Outlaws. This year at the Bottomless Tri, we could have had four or five Outlaws in a paceline on the bike. We didn't do this on Saturday, but wait until August!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

BSLT 70.3

Sunday (6/29/08) was the BSLT 70.3, formerly known as the Buffalo Springs Half Ironman. I was the cyclist/runner on a relay team for three races (2002-2004) and then I did the race "solo" twice (2005-2006). Last year I did the Tri-Raider sprint which they run on the same day in the same location. Mike and Marti Greer are the race directors for both of these races plus a few others. They do a super job putting their races together.

You can usually count on Lubbock, TX, being hot, dry, and sunny in the last week of June. It certainly has been every other year I was there. The sun and the heat take a lot out of me. Throw in the hills on the bike, and especially the hills on the run, and this is a tough race. They have slots for Kona and Clearwater, so you get some of the heavy hitters from all over the United States showing up. I just look for a reasonable time and hope to finish in the top half of my age group.

This year, it was cool (temperatures in the 60's/low 70's), with gray skies, lightning in the distance, winds gusting to 25 mph, and rain. If I had been the race director, I would have been worried about having 1000 triathletes riding bikes on wet and slippery roads getting blown around by the wind. If Mike and Marti ever considered cancelling the race, I never heard about it. Other than a delay because people were late getting parked and down the hill to the transition area, everything went off without a hitch. Sure beat my experience at the USAT Age Group Championships in Kansas City in 2005 where they cancelled the race because of wet roads.

The swim starts in a small cove. There is no way to have a mass start, so everyone goes off in waves of 100-200 or so swimmers. This year, some of the pro's figured out you could run through the shallow water on the south shore of the cove rather than starting your swim from the middle of the cove. This saved them about 100 meters of swimming. Sure enough, the age groupers saw this so every wave had some "runners" at the start of the swim. I didn't want to step on something in my bare feet, so I started swimming from the middle of the cove. I could watch the "runners" and except for the few "runners" at the front of the group, most of them were bunched up behind the leaders so they were just walking. I don't think it cost me more than 30 seconds, and probably less.

The roads were dry at the start of the bike, but then a bunch of showers started coming through. Along with the wind, it made the bike course extra difficult. Some of the corners were really slick. In particular, you come down two hills with some fairly sharp curves after the second and third turn-arounds, and everyone that I saw was sitting up riding the brakes coming down these two hills. I saw one guy who had failed to make one of the 90-degree turns from one road to the next. The EMT's were already working on him, but he had road rash from his knee to his arm pit. I had a fairly slow bike, but I never went down.

The slow bike meant that I had quite a bit left in the tank for the run. It was still pretty cool and the sky was still overcast, so I was able to get in a pretty good run. I had never been able to run a sub-2-hour run on a half IM, but this time I made it in 1:56 and change. That doesn't sound very fast, but given the three hills on the Buffalo Springs run, I was pretty pleased.

I read on Iron "Geekgirl" Misty's blog that races in Texas always start with a prayer and end with beer.

Now that I think about it, in my experience that has been a true statement. Sure enough, this race started not only with a Christian prayer, we also had a Native American prayer (although it might have been a plea for rain). At the finish, the local Miller beer distributor was passing out free beer.

Great race, gutsy race directors, and free beer. What a day!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Support Your Local Race

I'll swing by the site now and then to see what people are saying on its forum page. I came across a discussion today under the title "Triathlon Seems To suck right Now". (Sorry, I can't figure out how to copy the entire link.)

We all want to rant about different things at some point. There are several ideas coming out of this slowtwitch forum thread. The way I read it, many people are not happy with their experience at some of the "big" races. The entry fees are high, it's no fun having to travel to get to the race, and then there is the problem of people drafting on the bike during the race.

Most of us have dealt with these and other issues at some of the "big" races. I think $500 is a lot of money to pay for an "M-dot" IM and now it's about $250 for an "M-dot" 70.3 race. Some of the big races that aren't under the "M-dot" banner (Escape From Alcatraz, Boulder Peak, etc.) are pretty spendy these days. I don't see the price of gasoline coming down, and good luck dealing with the commercial airlines these days. As far a drafting is concerned, if you put 1000 plus people on the same course at places like Clearwater or SOMA, you are setting the stage for a draft fest.

I have some thoughts on these issues. Among other things, the folks at WTC and NAS are well within their rights to charge $500 for races that fill up within hours of the time that registration opens. If plenty of people are willing to pay that much money, WTC and NAS would be foolish to charge less. Same thing for races like Escape From Alcatraz.

If you are willing to pay $500 for a race, then $4.00 (and even more) for a gallon of gasoline might not seem too bad. Similarly, $15 per bag and $100 for a bike box (one way) on an airline flight (that already costs twice as much as it did a couple of years ago) is another cost that you are willing to suck up.

Drafting (and anyone who blatantly drafts) is cheating and you might think that everyone in a race would be ashamed to draft. However, I'm afraid you will never eliminate it on crowded courses, especially the flat crowded courses. Look at your average citizen. Is he/she upset about baseball players on steroids? What do they think about football coaches who illegally video tape an opposing team? How many cycling fans are willing to support their favorite cyclist who failed a drug test? We live in a country where our government argues that water boarding isn't torture. Is it any wonder that some people feel that drafting in a triathlon is not a big deal?

Is there a solution? Some of the posters on the slowtwitch forum made comments to the effect that they're done with the "big" races. From now on, they're just going to enjoy a few of their local races. I'm not completely put off by the "big" races, at least not yet. I'm looking forward to the BSLT 70.3 in two weeks, but it's just a two hour car drive from my house. However, I did sign up for the Silverman this year, as opposed to IMAZ. Quite a few of the NM Outlaws are going to IMAZ, and they'll have a good time at that race. But I've done IMAZ (and the Half-Silverman) before, and while the Silverman only has about one-tenth as many people, I enjoyed it a lot more. What I appreciate even more are the small "local" races. There are at least eight races within a two hour drive from my house (which is pretty amazing given the sparse population density in West Texas/Eastern NM). They cost $40-$50 to enter, you can drive there in the morning, race, and be home by mid-afternoon. They only attract 100-200 people, they don't put on an expo, and there are no Kona slots at stake, but they're a lot of fun. Thank goodness for these races and for the directors who put them on.

See you at the races!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Saturday, June 7th, was the 24th Annual Milkman Triathlon. Wow, 24 years. What were you doing in 1985? This is a fun race and pretty popular with the New Mexico and West Texas triathletes. It's in the small town of Dexter, about 15 miles south of Roswell (and the Alien Museum). If you find yourself in the area on the first weekend in June, you should give this race a go.

The swim is in Lake Van. I don't know who "Van" was, and I sure don't know why it's called a lake. More like a large pond. The water is never more than four or five feet deep, it's pretty murky, and the bottom of the lake is covered in about six inches of mud. In spite of that, it's a pretty good swim. They stretch a rope with buoys 250 meters from the shore, so you get the same length swim every year. The water seems clean enough and it provides a nice backdrop to the race venue. The water temperature is always in the low 70's for the race, so wetsuits are optional. The "strong swimmers" usually swim without wetsuits. For a more feeble swimmer like myself, I've found that I'm about one minute faster with a wetsuit than I am without one. (9:15 vs 10:15 for the 500 meters.) I went with the neoprene this year, and sure enough I swam 9:15.

The transition area is right next to the lake. It takes me an extra 15 seconds to peel off my wetsuit, but it's still a net plus for me. The 20K (12.4 mile) bike course is an out and back on a sparsely traveled county highway. The road surface varies from "kind of rough chip seal" to "pretty bouncy patched potholes chip seal". A lot of people run with lower tire pressures on this course. There is also one cattle guard on the course. (Think twenty parallel railroad tracks with about two inches of spacing between the rails.) In previous years they have covered this with sheets of plywood. This year it was uncovered, which was no big deal. A lot of us deal with cattle guards on our training rides, and they're no worse than crossing railroad tracks. Just cross them at a 90 degree angle. This year there was a 20 mph wind from the south. Great when we were heading north on the way out, not so great when we were heading south on the way back. I was happy that I was not quite one minute slower than last year.

I needed to run a 22 minute 5K if I was going to match last year's overall time. Back in the day, that would have been no problem. Even now, I could have managed this if that was the only thing I was doing on the day. However, after pushing through the headwinds on the bike, I was never going to finish the run in 22 minutes. The run is interesting. You start off on the road around the lake, then run some dirt and grass trails for a couple of miles, then finish on the road around the lake. The last 100 meters is across a grass field to the finish line. I finished the run in 23:45, which left me about one minute slower overall than last year. Not bad considering the wind on the bike!

This race is part of the "Best of the US" series. The overall male winner was Clay Moseley, who is pretty much the alpha-male among New Mexico triathletes. Uber biker Seth Wilkie was less than five seconds behind Clay. Third, fourth, and fifth places belonged to some "old guys", 48 year old Bobby Gonzales, 51 year old Perry Toles, and 46 year old Jeff Johnson. These "old guys" were able to finish in front of some of the young guns from the local area including Albert Lugo, Jason Atkinson, and Chance Payton. The top three females were Deborah Kidd, Gretchen McElroy, and 50 year old Tamsen Schurman. Pretty impressive, and it shows how you can still be competitive in "middle age"!

This race also recognizes the "First Time Triathletes" by bringing them up to the awards podium and giving them a Milkman coffee cup. I didn't count, but there were more than 20 first timers (among a total of 110 male and 63 female individuals) at this race. They also get quite a few relay teams participating. This year there were 14 relay teams. It's things like this that help grow and maintain interest in triathlon.

Finally, they present the Pegye Jann Marshall Spirit Award at this race. She was an active supporter of multisport who passed away several years ago. People who are presented with this award have made some significant contribution to multisport. This year's winner was Flip Lyle. If you have participated in any of the Southwest Challenge Series races during the past 20 or so years, you know who he is. He pretty much created the series and he is the glue that has held it together for the 20 or so years that it has been around. He has received other recognition from the Guinness Book of Records and from USAT, and it was nice to see him win this award.

Less than three weeks until Buffalo Springs!


Monday, May 19, 2008

I Can't Fight This Feeling

This was a great weekend. Dinner with fellow Outlaws Mark, Naomi, Cody and his family at Orlando's. My favorite race on the SWCS schedule, and I still got the grass cut on Sunday after the race.

I was standing in the transition area before the race looking at the swim course for this weekend's Buffman and Squeaky triathlon. This race is at the same location as the Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon 70.3 (the race formerly know as the Buffalo Springs Half Ironman). The swim for both is in Buffalo Springs Lake (go figure). It's not a huge lake, and the race organizers (Mike and Marti Greer, who really do a super job with their races) have to squeeze to get a 1.2-mile swim course laid out within the confines of the lake. The Buff&Squeak (named after the Greer's two dogs) is an "intermediate" distance race, so they only need a 1500 meter course. I've done Buff&Squeak every year since they started doing it, including 2004 when it was the M&M tri. I've done the Buff Springs half twice by myself, and I've been there as part of a relay team (or for the Tri-Raider sprint that is held on the same day as the Half Ironman) four other times. Anyway, the placement of the buoys for this year's 1500 meter course looked a lot like the placement for the 1.2-mile course. Now, everyone has to swim the same course, so it really doesn't matter if it's a little long or short. But I'm one of those people who views any swim as the necessary evil that needs to be taken care of before you are allowed to bike and run.

I started the swim pretty conservatively, not wanting a repeat of the panic attack that gripped me at Ransom Canyon two weeks ago. No problems this time. You swim eastbound (thank goodness the sun was already pretty far above the horizon) for a few hundred meters, then north for a few hundred meters, and then you set out on the long westbound leg that skirts the north shore of the lake. This leg always seems long to me, and yesterday it really seemed long. I should probably concentrate on my stroke or something while I'm swimming, but mostly my mind just wanders. I was thinking, "Good grief, this swim is taking forever. It's time to bring this ship into the shore, and throw away the oars forever."

Ah, 1985, REO Speedwagon. 24 years on, and this song still sounds good.

And how about that hair!

Maybe I would race faster if I could get a different kind of song stuck in my head. But REO Speedwagon seemed to do the trick yesterday. It was my slowest "1500 meter" wetsuit swim ever, but I did manage to match my Buff Springs 1.2-mile time. (Hmmmm....) I had my fastest bike ever at this race, and I was only a few seconds off my fastest run time there.

In addition to Mark, Naomi, and Cody, fellow Outlaws Amy and Helen also did the race. Mark finished 20th overall. Amy almost caught up to Cody and me, and she finished as the 4th place overall woman. She and Naomi were second in their age groups, I was third, and Mark, Cody, and Helen were just off the podium in their super competitive age groups. Overall, a great race and a great time.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Power of Suggestion

Last weekend (May 4th) I did the Ransom Canyon triathlon. This is one of those small local races that attracts about 120 people each year. I have done this race every year since 2002. In fact, 2002 was the first year they held the race, and it was the first time I did a triathlon (other than being part of a relay team in a couple of other races). Mike and Marti Greer put the Ransom Canyon tri together. They also put on the Buffman and Squeaky Oly distance race and the Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3. I think Mike was doing triathlons before Dave Scott was even born, and their races are super well organized and very athlete friendly. All of these races are just outside Lubbock, Texas. Now Lubbock isn't exactly Orlando, Florida, (or Branson, Missouri) when it comes to tourist attractions, but it's only a two hour drive from my house. I really like these races.

The swim is in Ransom Canyon Lake. They have a small "party island" connected to the shore by a narrow causeway. It's supposed to be a 500 meter swim, but the geography of the island dictates the minimum distance. I think they may have had the buoys in very close to the shoreline a few years ago, but the last three years they have had the buoys farther out in the water and I'm guessing the swim is about 600 meters. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with the longer swim. Obviously everyone swims the same distance, and it seems to give more balance to the swim leg of this "sprint distance" race.

The lake is spring fed, and it never gets really warm. This year, we've had a pretty cool spring, and the lake was colder than I ever remember. Mike said it was 62 degrees, but that was a bit of wishful thinking. I grew up in western New York state, and I can still remember swimming in the Finger Lakes. 62 degrees was not too bad there, and 70 degrees was positively balmy. Anyway, most of us didn't get into the water until just prior to the start of the race. The ones who had gotten in earlier were shivering and chattering their teeth. I was standing next to Mark Balsiger and Flip Lyle (who have done a few thousand races between the two of them). Flip said something to the effect, "You know, when the water is this cold, a lot of people will have panic attacks." I'm thinking, sure Flip, a lot of these newbies will probably struggle. But this isn't my first time at the dance, and I've done the Harvest Moon swim. That was cold! This can't be any worse.

So the gun goes off, and I'm swimming reasonably hard to the first buoy that is 50-100 meters from the dock. You have to make a 90-degree turn at this buoy, and with 120 people in a fairly small area, it can get pretty crowded. I felt OK, but a 15-20 mph wind was blowing a small chop into my face. That messed up a couple of my breaths. Just as I reached the buoy, I was kicked in the head by another swimmer. It wasn't enough to knock me out, but it was as hard a kick as I've ever had. I paddled around the buoy, trying to get back into a rhythm, and then I thought about what Flip had said. Sure enough, as soon as I put my face into the water, panic attack! Whoa, how can this be? I can swim, I've been in colder water before, and I'm only 100 meters into this swim. But I couldn't breathe. I ended up sculling water on my back for about a minute in order to get myself under control. I noticed about 20 other swimmers doing the same thing (or doing breast stroke). For a few seconds, I wondered if I would ever finish the swim. And then, everything was back to normal and off I went. I ended up taking about two minutes more to finish the swim this year compared to last year (when I had a really good swim), and about one minute more compared to two years ago. Now, if Flip had never mentioned "panic attack".......

My bike leg went really well considering the wind. It was really fun coming back with a tailwind and hitting 45 mph going down Yellow House Canyon. I had a good run too, and ended up first in my age group. Next time I do a swim in cold water, I'm getting in to do some warm up swimming and I won't even think about Flip and panic attacks. Don't think about panic attacks. Don't think about them! Stop thinking about them!!! Quit thinking about panic attacks right now!!!!!


Sunday, April 20, 2008

I Rant

The stars must be aligned. Lately, I've been reading threads about the Kona lottery. Some thoughts to the effect that the current system is unfair. "I've been doing triathlons for 20 years. I have never been picked for the lottery, but you get people who've never done a single race who win a lottery slot. And then there are the triathletes who are good enough to win their age group at a qualifying race but they enter and win a lottery slot. It's not fair!"

Then there was the DNF rate at IMAZ (17%). "You should have to qualify before you are ever allowed to sign up for an Ironman. In fact, the cut off time needs to be lowered to less than 15 hours so that we don't get these folks who are just trying to fill a square on their resume."

But what really brought things to a head was the recent issue of US Weekly magazine. On one page they were reporting on Andy Baldwin's romantic relationship with Marla Maples. On the next page, they had the latest update from Trista and Ryan Sutter. Now, I don't envy any of these people, but I don't hate them either. But there are triathletes who get upset that Andy and Ryan were able to race at Kona.

Get over it. Unless you're a pro, triathlon is just a game. Some of the posts on different threads equate triathlon (and Ironman races, especially Kona) as some kind of sacred religious event, not to be sullied by the unclean masses. "I train for 20 hours a week. I know what it takes to be an Ironman. Kona is special. You can't let just anyone go there! I'm not quite fast enough to make it there by qualifying, but they should save the lottery slots for someone like me. No one who has never done an IM race (and preferably no one who hasn't finished in less than 12 hours) should ever be allowed to sign up for the lottery. And stop letting these grade-B celebrities entry into Kona. They don't deserve it!"

I don't have a problem with anyone plunking down some money to enter the Kona lottery (or to get a Powerball ticket). Heck, the chances of winning either are pretty slim, and everyone knows this. If someone who is fast enough to qualify for Kona (by winning their age group at IMAZ for instance) wins a lottery slot, good for them! They can let their slot roll down at the IMAZ awards ceremony.

And call me cheesy, but it's fine with me if a few "celebrities" get invited to Kona every year. I know your average TV viewer has never heard of Chris McCormack, but they might know Andy Baldwin. (Andy finished Kona 2006 in 9:45, and Ryan Sutter finished Kona 2004 in 11:38. I don't know how many triathletes who didn't get a lottery slot those years would have gone any faster.) Heck, if Paris Hilton and Justin Timberlake were to go to Kona this year, it would get a lot of people interested in triathlon. Maybe we could get a few more folks off the sofa and out on the roads biking and running.

If I ever get the opportunity to race at Kona, I'll jump at the chance. I know just getting registered for an "M-dot" Ironman race in North America is difficult. I think it's a good thing that so many people, including some "average Joe's and Jill's" want to get the IM experience. I'm happy with the current system. If I never make it to Kona, I won't be miserable. And there are plenty of "non-M-dot" iron distance races that would be happy to have you there.

See you at this year's Silverman.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why Do You Race?

OK, I'll start with a funny story I heard on NPR while driving to today's race (the Pecos Valley Stampede 1/2-Marathon in Roswell, NM).

A female author was telling the story about taking her 3-year-old son to the YMCA for swim lessons. After the lesson, she was getting dressed in the locker room when her son suddenly darted out the door of the locker room. She was stark naked, and the towels at the "Y" weren't big enough to cover her completely. As she dashed out the door into the lobby to catch up to her young son, she wondered, "Should I cover my top or bottom?" She decided to cover her top and she caught up to her son after running (apparently bottomless) through the front lobby of the "Y" just as her son was going through the open doors to an elevator. The next week she asked the other moms in "playgroup" what they would have covered. Some said "top", some said "bottom", but the clever response was the woman who said, "I would have covered my face!"

On to today's race. As I was driving to Roswell, I thought, "I really enjoy working out. Training is a lot of fun. Do I really need to go to races? Why not simply stay home and do my own run?" At the start of the race, it was only 41 degrees, and it didn't get above 49 degrees before the end of the race. I thought it was pretty cold, but it turned out to be just right for a long run. A fellow triathlete in my age-group from the SWCS (Jim Humphreys) was there and he's a much faster runner than I am. So I knew I was shooting for second place. I ran the first mile faster than planned (7:45) and then settled into a comfortable 8:10 pace. The course is an out and back, and going into the turn-around it looked like there were three other "old guys" (in addition to Jim) who were 1-2 minutes in front of me. I felt really good on the way back, initially running some 8:00 minute miles and finishing with three 7:40 miles. I managed to catch the three "old guys" and finished with my fastest 1/2-marathon ever (1:45:50). OK, I haven't done many 1/2-marathons, and most of the ones that I have done have been the last leg of a 1/2-IM, but I was pretty pleased. I did finish second (behind Jim) in the 50-59 age group.

Which brings me to my point. Racing is more fun than training. It was fun to see Jim and some of the other folks from the SWCS that I only see when I'm at a race. And it's great to see the effect of even a small taper along with some adrenaline on your performance. Sometimes it's hard for me to keep an 8:00 per mile pace on a 5k training run. Most of my long runs are 9-10:00 minute per mile slogs. It was pretty cool to see how (relatively) fast I could go today. I would never do this in training. It would hurt too much, and the pay back doesn't seem to be there. But I can get "up" for a race. I feel so pumped today. I'm sure this week's training will be more fun than it would have been if I had just slogged my way through another weekend's long bike/long run.

Then there is all of the time listening to NPR while driving to and from the race. Along with the author talking about towels at the "Y", they had people talking about "what makes me think of Spring". It was nice and sunny (and warmer) on the drive home. I was thinking about how my brother, who played the organ for our church when we were in high school, would always play the "Meditation from Thais" from an opera by Massenet on one of the first Sundays in Spring. Winter lasted forever in Western New York State, but that piece was a sign that Spring was finally here.

I don't miss Winter in New York. I still enjoy listening to recordings of this piece.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Stealth Du

We had six Outlaws at today's (Mar 16th) Stealth Du. (Naomi and Mr. T, Karen Williams, Cody, Greg Southard, and me.) This was easily the best organized event at Holloman that I have ever done. (It was one of the best organized races ever, ranking right up there with Silverman.) They started on time, had lots of volunteers (but Mr. T still took a wrong turn on the bike), served a pasta lunch at the O-Club as soon as the race was over, and had the results and awards ceremony completed less than one hour after the last person finished the race.

It was kind of cool (maybe 60 degrees) and kind of windy (about 20 mph), but not bad at all for March in New Mexico.

Sixty-four individuals/relays started the race. Jason Atkinson was well in front of the field during the run (although you might not recognize him now that he has cut his hair.) Mr. T took off after him on the bike, but then made his wrong turn, followed by losing his breakfast (not a pretty sight) after a couple of miles. He never caught Jason, but he did finish as the second overall individual.

The rest of the Outlaws all managed to podium in their groups. Cody made his age-group debut and finished third. Greg finished his first race since last summer and finished second. Along with Mr. T, Naomi, Karen, and I all won our groups.

Personally, I don't know why, but I've been real slow in training this year. My run was pretty average today, but I was real happy with my bike. (21.4 mph average in the wind.) I caught a few people on the bike, and only one guy passed me. It must have been my new Outlaw aero helmet. Being the shy person that I am and lacking in self-confidence, I felt a little dorky wearing it. (Although I only wore it while on the bike and not during the run or the awards ceremony.) But I think there were some jealous people there, especially after they saw how I was flying on the bike!

It is such a relief to not be doing IMAZ this April. I was telling Greg last night about my boxing career at the USAF Academy. We had our boxing bouts in the late afternoon. On the days when I had a bout, I couldn't think about anything during the day except for the bout. The last two years, I could never do anything from January-April without having IMAZ in the back of my mind. I think I was in better shape the last two years, but I'm sure enjoying myself more this year. I sure enjoyed this race!


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Goodbye Old Friend

I bought a Timex "Ironman" wristwatch almost five years ago. That was 82 races, two bikes, 15 pairs of running shoes, and what seems like a dozen or so "NM Outlaws" jerseys, shorts, skinsuits, and aero helmets ago.

However, it is dying. The display is getting harder and harder to see. I thought about taking it in to a jeweler to have the battery replaced, but watches never seem to work quite right after getting a battery transplant.

Tonight I was at Wally World, and I picked up a new "Ironman". The display is nice and clear, but this watch has no history to it.

What should I do with the old watch? Toss it in the old sock drawer and forget about it? Cremate it and spread its ashes over my favorite 5K run? Build a Viking funeral pyre and float it out into the middle of Bottomless Lake after setting it on fire? Offer it up to the Smithsonian Museum? Scratch a likeness of Ronald Reagan on the back of it and then sell it on EBay?

Goodbye, old friend.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Feelin' Flu

Straight away, I feel a twinge of guilt writing about my bout with the flu this week. Myles managed to tough his way through a 50 km ultra today. (Read about it on his blog, ). But I was watching the national and Albuquerque news last night, and both had stories about how many people had come down with the flu recently. This, is my story........

Last Sunday, I was planning on going for a long run. When I woke up, I didn't feel too perky. By the time I got around to going out, I'd bagged the idea of running and figured I'd do an easy recovery ride. I was gone for about an hour, and by the time I got home, I was feeling woozy. I started drinking juice with vitamin-C and gargling with mouthwash, but I could tell this was going to be around for a couple of days. Sure enough, I felt pretty crappy on Monday and Tuesday, but I felt like I might be coming out of it on Wednesday.

And then I woke up Thursday morning. Nauseous, sore throat, hacking cough, splitting headache, and every muscle in my body felt like I'd been run over by a truck. (Kind of the way I felt with six miles to go at IMAZ in 2006.) I literally tip-toed around at work, because it hurt to move. I got home at 4:00 and went to bed. At 9:30, I woke up, feeling pretty good. I got up and graded papers until midnight, figuring everything was going to be OK on Friday. I even gave a thought to getting in a swim or a run. However, I still didn't feel very chipper on Friday. At least I could walk without grimacing, and I was only coughing about once every ten minutes as opposed to Thursday where it was every 30 seconds or so.

So now it's Saturday. I feel great. I've been thinking, it's almost worth being sick so that you can experience the euphoria of feeling well again. And what the heck, we could all use a "recovery week" in our training schedules.

Then again, I don't ever want to feel as bad again as I felt on Thursday. Not during a race, and especially if I'm not racing.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

The New Golf

The idea that triathlon (or specifically M-dot Ironman triathlon) will be the new golf has been out there for a while. My $0.02.......

Both require quite a bit of money just to get started. While you can rent a set of clubs at the public links and play in a pair of running shoes, anyone who is "serious" about golf will buy their own clubs, bag, shoes, and maybe even their own cart. While you might borrow a bike and helmet for your first triathlon, you'll soon be spending enough money on bikes, shoes, helmets, shorts, jerseys, and swim wear to pay for at least a year of college. Golf has its green fees or even pricier club dues. Triathlon has its race entry fees ($500 for an M-dot IM these days). Not to mention the costs of travel, lodging, and eating on the road in order to get to the race locations.

While I don't have the demographics at my finger tips, I can draw some conclusions based on my time spent around golfers and triathletes. Compared to the general population, both sports have fewer minorities, people who are generally financially secure, and people with at least some college education. (Of course you have exceptions to these generalities.)

It's cool to tell your golfing buddies that you are taking a trip to Monterey to play Pebble Beach or that you've been invited down to Georgia to get in a few rounds at Augusta. Triathletes drop lines such as, "There was the time I was doing Ironman "XYZ" and you should have seen how tough the heat/cold/wind/rain was on the day." Triathletes secretly (if not outwardly) plan their trip(s) to Kona.

So, will triathlon take over from golf?

I could be wrong (and I'm often hideously wrong), but I don't see it happening. USAT is excited that this year there are 100,000 athletes who registered with USAT. While that is probably a greater percentage of the US population than those who have registered with whatever association tracks curling, it is still only one in every 3000 Americans. It would mean there are about ten people in Clovis doing triathlons, and that is about right. There would be not quite 200 people in Albuquerque doing triathlons, and I'm guessing that's about right. However, the number of golfers in either location would dwarf the number of triathletes. If you start talking about sports and you mention "Tiger", "Phil", "Ernie" or "Veejay", quite a few people, (including a lot of "sports fans" who have never played a round of golf) know who you are talking about. Throw in "Macca", "Norman", "Faris", or "Tim", and even some triathletes would have a hard time placing these names to a face. Your average sports fan in the US wouldn't be able to guess what sport these guys are a part of if you gave them 20 guesses.

If you think about your average American with a few thousand dollars and a lot of free time to spend on a "sport", you've got to figure strolling (or riding a cart) around a pastoral looking golf course and then hitting the clubhouse bar for a few drinks is more appealing than going for a one-hour swim/five-hour bike/two-hour run (followed by some Endurox). And I've never had to deal with ill-mannered dogs, pot-holed roads, and crappy drivers on a golf course.

There must be some youngsters out there thinking, "When I grow up, I'll be a professional triathlete." But their parents are thinking, "You know, the guy who finishes in 276th place on the PGA money list makes more money in a year than I do in ten years. How many pro triathletes need their parents to buy their groceries and pay their rent?"

I won't go out of my way to watch golf on TV, but if I'm grading papers it provides a passable background. But as much as I enjoy racing in a triathlon, I can't see how watching even a two-hour ITU race would be much fun, much less an eight-hour IM.

I'm not saying it will happen, but I think triathlon, rather than becoming the new golf, could become the new tennis. If you can remember the late 70's-early 80's with Borg, McEnroe, Connors, Ashe, Everett, and Naritilova, then you can remember buying a tennis racket and playing some sets. Thirty years later, you see abandoned tennis courts used by skateboarders.

I wonder what someone will do with a carbon time trial bicycle frame thirty years from now?


Friday, January 25, 2008


Full disclosure. My own feeble abilities give me absolutely no right to criticize anyone else when it comes to triathlon results. However, since Al Gore forgot to include any editorial control when he invented the Internet, here goes........

OK, why doesn't the USA dominate triathlon? We invented the sport. We have a lot of people with spare cash to buy the best equipment and enough free time on their hands to train like they are getting ready for the Navy SEAL tryouts. We have access to all the right food (and most of the bad foods) along with every supplement you could want. We have coaches, doctors, and drugs (legal and probably at least some folks using illegal ones). We have a lot more races in the USA to earn slots to Kona. So what's up?

2000 Sydney Olympics
USA men. Shut out from the podium
USA women. Shut out from the podium

2004 Athens Olympics
USA men. Shut out from the podium
USA women. One third place medal

2007 ITU Worlds in Hamburg, Germany
USA Pro men. No one in the top-5
USA Pro Women. One third place medal
USA Age Group men. 4 x Gold medals (Only one less than 60 years old)
USA Age Group women. 4 x Gold medals (Only one less than 70 years old)

Kona 2007
USA Pro men. 4th, 6th, and 9th place
USA Pro women. 7th place
USA Age Group men. 5 x Gold medals (Only one less than 50 years old, and three of them were over 60 years old)
USA Age Group women. A welcome change! A near sweep of the age groups, only missing out on the 18-24 age group.

With the exception of the USA Age Group women at Kona this year, these are pretty slim pickings. Does this bother me? Not really. I don't live and die based on the results of any team or individual. It's just one more thing to ponder during a 5-hour bike ride/2-hour run/1-hour swim. What do they have in Australia, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand, Spain, and Portugal that we don't have? I can understand why Norway has better cross country skiers, and how would you expect the USA to start producing star sumo wrestlers, but our relative lack of recent success in triathlon gives me something to think about.

So, if you're reading this, why aren't you out there training!


Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's A Great Time To Buy

What are you willing to spend money on? I thought about this when I heard that people were spending at least $700 for one Super Bowl ticket. OK, I'm not a huge football fan. I don't even watch the Super Bowl on TV most years. But it made me wonder, what kind of person would do this? Assuming you were going to buy at least two tickets (who would go by themselves), you are talking about some serious money. Look around, do your kids have shoes? What's your credit card balance? What did you give to the United Way last year? What are you going to get for your money by going to the Super Bowl? Guys on steroids spending most of their time standing around waiting for a play to start? Officials calling penalties seemingly at random? A seat in a stadium that has less room than the airlines give you in coach? A second tier/over-the-hill entertainer and some fireworks during the half-time show? The chance to pay $10 for a tepid beer, $8 for a shriveled hot dog, and $50 for the official program? Good grief, there must be a lot of suckers born every day.

Wait a minute. What about getting involved in triathlons instead? Let's see, bike, helmet, bike shoes, running shoes, jersey/shorts, goggles, sun glasses, chamois creme, spare tires/tubes, gels, electrolyte drinks, technical socks, etc..........
And you haven't even tried to sign up for a race yet! USAT membership, entry fee, gas money, hotel room, and meal money. Ratchet the costs up a bit more if you go out of the "local area" where you have to figure in airline tickets, a bike carrier, and then the airlines' "oversize luggage surcharge". If you want to get into an "M-dot" Ironman race, your entry fee is almost the same as the aforementioned Super Bowl ticket cost.
Beyond the money, what about the time? If I spent as much time practicing the piano as I do training for races, traveling to and from races, and doing races, I'd be playing a Carnegie Hall.

Thank goodness, when you go to a triathlon (as opposed to the Super Bowl) you always get a nice T-shirt for free!


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Statistics and Lies

Myles always has some interesting stuff on his blog. He recently listed his 2006 and 2007 swim/bike/run miles and hours.

Myles compared the percentage of time spent on the three events. I don't track hours, but I do track miles and events. My stats for the past two years are as follows.


Swim - 122.4 miles = 2.4%
Bike - 4258.7 miles = 82.3%
Run - 792.9 miles = 15.3 %

Swim - 123 Events = 29.6%
Bike - 150 Events = 36.1%
Run - 143 Events = 34.4%

Averaged 8.00 Events/Week


Swim - 134.2 miles = 2.6%
Bike - 4292.3 miles = 82.1%
Run - 800.4 miles = 15.3 %

Swim - 134 Events = 30.6%
Bike - 157 Events = 35.8%
Run - 147 Events = 33.6%

Averaged 8.42 Events/Week

I don't know that these numbers say anything. They are pretty consistent from year to year, but that is mostly a result of how much time I have available and the races that I did rather than a conscious effort to do a certain amount of training. I did log a bit more swimming this year, but that was because I logged some extra miles in December for the USAT National Challenge Competition.

I'm concentrating on the BSLT 70.3 and the Silverman this year, so I'm guessing I'll get in more bike and run miles in 2008. Then again, it will depend on how much time is available.

Have a great 2008!