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/active.com 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...........


Monday, July 20, 2009

Runner's World

I like "Runner's World" magazine. I've probably gotten more useful tips from it than from any of the other magazines that I read. A few observations from the August 2009 issue.

How cool is it that they had Sarah Palin as their "I'm a Runner" person on the last page. They get some pretty interesting people there. FWIW, I didn't vote for Senator McCain and former governor Palin last year. I think she would have been a terrible vice-president (especially if she didn't quit after a couple of years). But I'm glad she does some running and that the magazine gave her some space to talk about her running.

On page 2, there is an add for a women's razor. How many guys use the "Venus Spa Breeze" razor to shave their legs?

There is a short article about Scout Bassett who runs with a prosthetic leg. They also referenced Sarah Reinertsen. I'm sure I saw Sarah at this year's BSLT 70.3, but I didn't see her name in the results. I have seen her there a couple of other times, and I know she has finished BSLT (along with Kona) before.

At the back of every issue, they have their "advertising section", where you can look at running related "stuff" and they also have a lot of adds for races. I looked at the rest of the magazine where they had full and half page adds for 12 other races. Two of these 12 were "trail runs" and three of them simply advertised that they were putting on a run. Of the remaining seven, one of them was a cancer research fund raiser, two had a tie in to Disney, and four were somehow associated with rock and roll music. Nothing wrong with any of this. It was simply interesting to me how many races (and race directors) threw in some "hook" to get people to their race, other than simply, "Hey, we're going to get together for a run. Hope to see you there!"

There was an article about going to the "big box" stores to try and find running gear. I know that today, I get more wrapped up in having the "right" shoes, shorts, etc, than I did twenty years ago. I used to go by the BX, buy some "running" shoes on the basis that they looked good, three pairs of cotton tube socks, and two pairs of nylon shorts. Seemed to work, and I was sure faster then!

Speaking of gear, they reviewed four pairs of sunglasses. They ranged from $69 to $149. I still buy glasses from "Boston Bill" for $40. http://www.bostonbill.com/ Yeah, I'm pretty cheap.

They also reviewed some MP3 Players/Digital Radios/Cell Phones that you can take on a bike/run to listen to some tunes (or even more, in the case of the radios/phones). OK, I get why people want to do this on a long bike/run. I also understand why USAT doesn't allow them, and why some running races have banned them. I've never used them in training or racing, and I don't see myself starting. Too much "sensory deprivation" for me. I just think about physics problems, chemistry labs, what's happening in "the news", and when I'm going to get around to cutting the grass. (And sometimes I'll sing to myself, but you wouldn't want to hear any of that.)

There were (of course), a lot of articles/columns about running and run training. If you are interested in running half-marathons, running in hot weather, or dealing with nagging injuries, you'll want to read the magazine. (I will say I rolled my eyes a little about the guy with the hurt leg eventually going to a "doctor" who told him to have his "adult intellectual self" talk to his "child" about how "I know you had to put up with a lot of garbage. But I'm here for you now. Now I'm going to help you." If it works, who am I to say.......... I'll leave it to the professionals to debate.)

BTW, I'm not being paid for plugging the magazine. But it was a good read!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Bottomless Is The TOPS!

Saturday was the 26th annual Bottomless Lake Triathlon. http://myweb.cableone.net/janolesinski/ This race is so cool for so many reasons. It's a great venue, anyone under 18 years old races for free, you get a discount if you sign up for this race and the "sister" F-1 Tri, they combine both races into the "Bottomless Series" and give awards to the podium finishers in the series, and the engraved trophies are some of the best trophies you'll ever get if you finish on the podium. The race director, Jan Olesinski, really does a great job putting this and the "sister" F-1 Triathlon together. This year, Jan was out of town, but Perry Toles took over and everything came off without a hitch. Perry is one of the fastest athletes in the area, but he's nursing a knee surgery this year, so I didn't have to worry about finishing behind him (again) in the race.

The race takes place at Bottomless Lakes State Park, which includes a fairly large water filled sinkhole where they hold the swim. The race is advertised as a 400m swim, 14K bike, and 4K run. I guess they like the number "4", because none of the distances are exactly as advertised. The buoy on the swim course is placed in the lake without (as far as I can tell) the benefit of a GPS receiver or a laser range finder. It has been as long as 600m and as short as 300m during some of the races that I have done there. However, I think it was pretty close to 400m the past two years. I know the bike is 7.86 miles (not quite 13k) long, which is pretty much dictated by the road that loops around the park. Finally, the run is probably about 4.4k long (based on my race times vs. my 5k times). Part of this is because there is a long run from T-2 to the road which could be where they start measuring the run. Anyway, the distances are the same for everyone, so it's not a big deal to me. And it's the shortest race I do, so I can finish in less than one hour!

Some of the big names in the SWCS showed up for the race. Bobby Gonzales (48 years old) and Colleen Burns (60 years old) represent the "ageless wonders" who shoot for the overall win in the races they do. Jason Atkinson, one of the fastest runners in any race, represented the "young guns". Larry Marshall, the race director for the Milkman Tri, showed up to race and he brought over the bike racks and carpet to cover the gravel in the transition area. Kori Mannon, the race director for my favorite race (the Elephant Man Tri) was there. Mike and Marti Greer, who put on several races including the BSLT IM 70.3 were both there. (Race directors are my heroes.) "Iron Mike" Baker showed up in a 1986 vintage red and white speedo race brief. And a bunch of fellow "Outlaws" were there. (Brian and Misty, MG and Michi, Stuart and Helen, "Bones" Mackenzie, "Stitch" Zetocha, Naomi, Karen, and me.) All told, they had about 120 people racing.

The race is scheduled to start at 8:30. Some folks wish it would start earlier to avoid the high temperatures. Personally, I like the start time. I can leave home at 5:00 in the morning and get to the race in plenty of time. It's not that hot at 8:30 (certainly I train a lot in hotter temperatures) and almost everyone finishes by 10:00. The air temperature was still only in the 80's at 11:00 when I left after the awards ceremony, so I didn't think anyone had to deal with anything too extreme. They had three waves (women, old guys, and young guys) separated by 5 minutes. I am a huge fan of wave starts to keep the kicking and punching down to a minimum on the swim. The water was 78 degrees F, but this isn't a USAT race and for a short swim I'll never overheat in my sleeveless wetsuit. Since I'm such a feeble swimmer, I'm almost a minute faster even in a short race like this if I wear my wetsuit. So, I pulled on the neoprene and headed over to the race start. They got the ladies lined up and by my watch they started the race about 30 seconds before 8:30. Alright, that's the way to get everyone organized!

I went off in the old guy wave exactly 5 minutes later. I wanted to make up for the slow swim I had done at Buffalo Springs two weeks ago. I made a real effort to go out fast and then stay up with the front half of my wave. I felt like I was working hard, and I never felt that during the swim at Buffalo Springs, but I was far from blowing up. I finished the swim in 7:24, which is about right for a "fast" 400m for me, and I think I was in the top twenty or so of the old guy wave. After a fairly slow 2-minute T-1, it was off on the bike.

You have a few hundred meters of flat coming out of T-1 and then you hit a fairly good hill. It's not particularly steep, and it's not long, but it sure gets your heart rate up. Once on top of the plateau, I started picking up the pace. The road is pretty rough, but no worse than some of the roads that I train on. I was soon cruising along at 22-24 mph, figuring that "I must be really strong today!" (Not realizing that there was a 10 mph tail wind.) I was passing quite a few people, but one "old guy" went by me. They didn't write our ages on our calves, so I didn't know if this guy was in my age group or not. (It turned out he wasn't.) So I picked up my pace to keep him in my sights. The course drops pretty quickly off the plateau, but just when you reach the bottom you have a short but steep climb. Once past that, it's a flat (and bumpy) three miles back to T-2. I finally caught and passed the unknown fellow old guy, finished with a 21.7 mph average, and entered T-2 just behind "Bones".

I had a fast (for me) T-2, and started the run about 20 meters behind "Bones". I worked as hard as I could, and eventually caught "Bones" before the turn-around. We both watched as, first Colleen cruised past us on the run and then Jason went by (after making up the 5-minute head start that we had on him) like we were standing still. Dang, I used to be able to run. Anyway, "Bones" eventually got tired of my pace and he took off. I was staying at my red line trying to hold off any potential challenge from the unknown old guy. Last year, Mark Balsiger was coming up behind me fast on the run, and I just held him off by one second. In the end, there was nobody close behind me this year, and I finished the race in just under 52 minutes.

Among the other nice features at this race, you can jump in the lake after you're done, and then they have outdoor showers. The race is timed with stopwatches, but they get the awards ceremony organized pretty quickly. It's interesting that the order of finish between the people in a given age group doesn't seem to change even though it's a short race. It's just that there are only 10-30 seconds separating people who are normally separated by 1-2 minutes. This was another race for the veteran racers. Bobby and Colleen were the first place overall winners. (Once again, 48 and 60 years old!) They don't have the results posted yet, but if I remember correctly (and forgive me for any mistakes), Brian, Misty, Michi, Naomi, and I all won our groups, and Helen finished on the podium in her group. Everything was wrapped up and we were in our car headed out of there before 11:30. It's so cool to be finished up in time to stop at Farley's for lunch and then still get home in time to mow the grass.