Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Mt. Gretna Triathlon Race Report

2006 Got the Nerve? Sprint Triathlon

Before the Race
I woke up and 4.00 in the morning and was too excited to go back to sleep, so I got up and made myself breakfast. Oatmeal, and a turkey bacon and egg sandwich. Took an apple with me, just in case I wanted it. Learning from LAST YEAR (when I arrived with about an hour to prepare) I got to the race at about 6.00, giving me two hours to get registered, focused and ready. I set up my transition area, according to last year’s plan, and remembered some key points from the previous race: roll down my socks, loosen the laces on my running shoes, close my cycling shoes to the first latch so I could slip into them and slam the ratchet home.

They had a DJ, and normally that would be cool, but today I wanted to spend some time on my own, in my head. I went farther away from that area and found a nice quiet area to be alone with my thoughts. This year I found it harder to get into the “spirit” of the event, to get focused on what it was I was there to do. Don’t get me wrong: it wasn’t that I was disinterested, or bored. It’s just that last year my focus was so singular, my goal so obvious, and the accompanying adrenaline train so overpowering, that everything else became, not secondary (like this year), but nonexistent.

The other thing about races like this is where you set up. I like to set up back in about the middle of the transition area. There are two reasons for this. First, I get the sense that people who take the “pole position” are very serious about this. The last thing I want to do is tick someone off because my transition area is too big, my shoes reflect the sun wrong or my lobster towel upsets their sensibilities to the point where they can’t compete. Second, I like the people in that second tier of athletes. They’re friendlier, gregarious, and usually in the same area as you. I met a guy named Ray, who made Mt. Gretna his first triathlon last year, just like me. Also like me, we talked jokingly but with pride about losing a lot of weight (he had lost over 60 pounds and looked like an athlete), and wanting to put our bodies to different tests, to see how we measured up. His friend, Teddy, was there for her very first triathlon…at 52. Talking with them helped me take my mind off the vague doubts that had crept in earlier, and I felt ready to go.

The Swim
The water was 63 degrees.

Okay, maybe not that cold, but again, I was glad I had a wetsuit…I still think it was warmer than last year. I went out pretty quickly, and felt good going around the first buoy (the course is an inverted triangle in Conewago Lake, Mt. Gretna, swimming out to the first buoy, across to the second, then back to the start area). Going around the buoy, though, things bunched up a bit and people started climbing on each other. I freaked out a little, and even took on a little water. It was hard to get my form back at that point, and a lot of my training left me.

I pushed off to the side a little to get out of the crush and pushed on toward the second buoy. I was slowing down a little, and my form was pretty awful, so I started using my legs, knowing that would hurt me in the next two events. I just wanted to get out of the water. Things did get separated by the second buoy, and I came home with a hard push. I was hoping to see my wife and daughter at that point, but did not. As I came out of the water, I took off my swim cap and goggles, and moved on toward the transition area. Then I heard “There’s Daddy!” and looked over to see my family cheering me on—it put more than just a little bounce in my step.
TIME: 12.07 (which seemed fast for me)

Transition 1
T1 went smooooothly. Socks on, shoes all set up to go and slipped those on, grabbed the bike and went. No problems at all. I’m glad I used the Lobster towel, because it was easy to spot, and my placement was great.
TIME: 2.30

The Bike
So, I hopped on the bike and started pedaling away. About a quarter mile into the course, I hit Pinch Road, with the notorious CLIMB. I was still hurting a little from the swim, but I gritted my teeth and repeated my mantra: “I got no quit in me.” I kept gritting as I passed people up the hill…including more than a few who were walking toward the top. It felt pretty good. There is a brief flat near the top, followed by one last soul-wrenching upward jaunt, and I remembered to get a little speed to attack the hill.

As I coasted down the far side, it occurred to me I had no GU pack, and would have to survive on Gatorade alone. Not such a bad thing for a sprint, but I hate the taste of Gatorade on a ride—too sweet for me. It was a very hilly course, and the wind was brisk (a lot of guys said their bike was MUCH tougher than last year), so a GU pack could have helped.

Anyway, I roll through the bike course as I expected right up until the last mile and a half or so. It was on the last major climb that I looked up and saw a marshal letting a truck onto the course! I’m still not sure what he was thinking—it seemed a REALLY idiotic move to me, as it was supposed to be a closed course. A car followed right behind the truck. So the riders were trying to get up the last hill, with an eighteen-wheeler on the course, passing him on the right. I decided to use my head and hold back just a little to see what happened. We crested the hill, and I remembered a tight right turn at the bottom, followed by one last moderate, but long climb. I started mentally prepping for that.

As I approached the turn, I saw another marshal in the middle of the road, directing traffic in a new direction. “What the heck was going on,” I thought. I found out later there was an accident (no details, but I have my suspicions that one of those cars got tangled with a bike or two) and they redirected the race so they could attend to the scene. This added an extra two miles to the course…and one more climb…just for fun.
TIME: 1.02.52

Transition 2
Linguine legs! Oh my goodness…I did this last year, and had it a little, but this year was like learning to walk again. Still, I busted into the transition area, threw on my shoes, sucked a GU and went.
TIME: 1.53 THAT IS FAST!!! 49th fastest in the entire competition!

The Run
Last year, I didn’t have to battle “linguine legs” but it took a long time to find my stride. This year, the wobble was, obviously, much worse, but I found my stride more quickly. I also knew from last year that going out (it’s an out and back course on a rail-trail) there was a false flat going downhill on the course. Last year I was thoroughly demoralized when I turned and realized I needed to go uphill. This year I was ready for it, so that was better.

I reached the turnaround and I was hurting. I went a little farther and I was really suffering. The pain in my legs was really intense (lactic acid is fuel, my butt!) and my lungs were burning. I started thinking about pain, and my mind wandered to a lot of places. I said my mantra: “I got no quit in me.” Up ahead, I saw a place on the trail I remembered (one of the tough things about this trail is it all looks the same) and knew I was getting closer. I pushed it a little harder and the pain ratcheted up a notch. “I got no quit in me.” I thought about Lance, and Chris Kaag, and Jesus, and about the nature of pain and suffering. “I got no quit in me.” I hit the tarmac, which is about half a mile from the finish, and I started lengthening my stride a little, stretching it out just a bit more. I have been hurt worse before (blew out my ACL in a football game) but I don’t recall ever hurting this badly for this long. I looked up and saw the turn for home up ahead, and I really started pushing it. “I got no quit in me.” I made the turn, down the stretch and saw the clock—I was approaching 1:56 and change. I actually did a quick measurement in my head and took off our staggered start times (the mind really is incredible…) and realized I could make it in less than 1:50 if I pushed it…so I did. I finished and felt, pain, but also elation. I had done it…again. “I got no quit in me.”
TIME: 32.31 I felt good about this, and was surprised it was that quick, given how much I was hurting.

TOTAL TIME: 1.48.07 (up from 1.42.50 last year, but there was an extra 2 miles and a hill on the bike)
Note: Numbers do not include those who DNF (Did not Finish)
Overall Place: 297/498
Place by Age: 41/57 (which I don’t think is bad, since I’m 39, racing in the 35-39 category...though I'd like to be stronger, next year!)
Place by Sex: 239/342

Thoughts and Ruminations
After the race, I stopped at a local Giant supermarket. If you ever want a study in contrasts, go to a sporting event with participants and then go to a grocery store. I was shocked by all of those lean, toned athletes who train and work to get to a point of competition, how they set themselves apart from others. I stood in line at the store, my race numbers still on my arm, the last of my runners high still in my body, as I watched…you know what? I can’t even go there. It was too depressing.

The next day, I went out and bought The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel. I want to start doing this, and I want to do it right…better. Science seems like a good place to start. I also looked for triathlon magazines, which were not available at my bookstore. Funny thing, though: There were the usual magazines: Bicycle, Runner’s World, that sort of thing. But, they were tucked away in the back of the rack. The front of the rack? It was stuffed with Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football. I had to laugh as I walked away, thinking how much more amazing reality is.

My friend Ogedei finished his first triathlon this weekend. My friend Eric is talking about doing one. Why not you?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tri to Get Up the Hill

So, I'm looking at the bike route for the triathlon I'm getting ready to do, and thinking about the hill that's in the first quarter or half mile. The first climb is a bear, as are the two at the end, right before the run. That should give the legs a little extra wobble, to be sure.

Two more days and I am getting PUMPED!!!!! (As long as I don't drown...

...or get eaten).

Great Quote!

I found this quote in my wanderings today, and thought it was "Bully!":

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

--Theodore Roosevelt

Rube Goldberg Builds a Car...

...and of course, it's a Honda. "Isn't it nice when things just...work?"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

How tough are you?

I'm not sure I'm as tough as Julie Moss, who crawled to second place in her IronMan in 1982. Pretty amazing.


My daughter was home sick yesterday. I tried to go out for a light training ride last night and couldn't pedal to save my life. So I'm wondering, "What's going on?" I woke up last night and realized what's going on. This morning I've been working on my running/sprinting, as I make the dash between the cubicle and the bathroom. It's not a 5k, but there have been times when it's felt like it. Drinking lots of water, eating super clean, and praying it passes (so to speak) quickly...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Finally, a Way to Save on Bike Clothes

If you're tired of how expensive cycling clothes have become, you could take a lesson from the women at You Knit What? and knit your own.

Triathlon "To-do List"

Found this at Beginner Triathlete:

The List
By Scott Tinley

The following are a few little tidbits I picked up while I was a triathlete for 25 years:

Leg cramps suck.

If it's hot outside, you ought to drink some water.

There are only two reasons to drop out of a race: The first is if you manage to break your right femur; the other is if you have busted the left one. Beyond that, I can't think of any reason not to finish.

Don't ever be intimidated by hard, tan, hairless bodies. The veneer is not a window to the heart and the mind - the two parts that actually count.

Don't be afraid of sharks when swimming in the ocean. "Jaws" was a fictional movie.

Chicks don't necessarily dig scars.

If you ever get the chance to sing the national anthem before the start of a race, do it. Just make sure you know the words, and start an octave lower than you normally sing.

Sunscreen is overrated. Hats are underrated. [NOTE: The only one I disagrred with--try the Coppertone Sport!]

It's OK to sprint the final 100 yards of a race even if you have walked 90 percent of the distance. You paid the damn entry fee.

There are two kinds of cyclists. Those who have crashed and those who are going to crash.

The next time you enter a race and all your friends of yours are crowded around, waiting, excited, nervous and the water looks a bit intimidating but strangely inviting nonetheless, appreciate what goes into putting on a triathlon.

Keep a pair of swim goggles in the glove box of your car.

Keep a pair of swim goggles in the drawer of your desk at work; not to use but to remind you of the concept of balance.

Keep every race number from every event you ever enter, writing down the date and a few notes on the back. The T-shirts, like the pain and soreness, will fade with time. But the old numbers, stuffed away in some long forgotten file and recalled at some distant point in time, are keys to unlocking priceless memories.

When you have a bad race, and it will happen, keep it to yourself. Go ahead and bore your dog, your fish and your pet turtle with your tales of woe, but spare your friends. They don't care. They only want to see you come home safe knowing you have enjoyed yourself.

When you have a good race, which can now be defined as coming home safe and happy, be proud of it, share it once and only lightly. And then inquire as to your friends' result.

When riding in an area without bike lanes and cautious drivers, consider attaching a 3-foot antennae to the side of your bike with a #10 sheet metal screw taped to the tip. If a driver is to come dangerously close, placing your health and welfare in question, he or she may be reminded of their lapse of consideration by the presence of a new racing stripe along the side molding.

When a free massage is offered at the end of an event, always tip the volunteer with kindness, gratitude or a few bucks. Consider it a karmic transaction.

When things get especially tough in a race, call on a source that is especially good at pulling you through. Hint: It's not your spouse, your coach or your college psychology professor.

Support sponsors that support triathlon. Another karmic thing, even if it is rooted in capitalism.

When you dream of winning, stop not at a liquor store to buy a lottery ticket on the way to work, but take the time to write the dream down on a piece of paper and keep it in a safe place in your wallet. It has the same value as a winning ticket.

If it's cold outside bring the jacket you think you might not need on your bike ride.

Race entry fees aren't cheap. Create a little fund inside a cookie jar that sits on the kitchen counter. Every time you buy something on sale, make that lawn mower last another season or have Jim Rice at Sole Performance fix that broken heel on your favorite pair of pumps, instead of buying a new pair, toss a pocketful of loose change into that jar. Pretty soon you'll be racing for 'free' and feeling better about yourself in the process.

Knowledge can be found in a book; wisdom's found on a street corner. But the cornerstone of both is built upon experience. Race often and with purpose.

Leg cramps always suck. If you find a sure cure, please tell me.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Swim, Bike Run...It's So Much Fun!

Found this little ditty at Beginner Triathlete...the new Official Song of Triathletes everywhere? I'm not sure, but it is kind of catchy. Enjoy...

Monday, May 15, 2006

If You Blinked, You Probably Missed....

...Justin Gatlin setting the new mark for the Fastest Human Being on the Planet. 9.76 was all it took to blaze through 100 meters. You can watch the video at the link above, too.

A couple of observations. First, he was a little slow getting out of the blocks. Now, I'm not criticizing a 9.76 100, I just wonder what would happen if he had "hops outta the blocks". Second, the video took longer to load than it took Gatlin to to run it...funny.

A follow up--someone needs to go back to math class for a refresher on rounding. Still, now he should have a renewed focus: 2/100ths of a second to be the World's Fastest Human.

Monday Morning Funny...

A Japanese company and an American company decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile. The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat.

A team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese had eight people rowing and one person steering, while the American team had eight people steering and one person rowing.

So American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

To prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to four steering supervisors, three area steering superintendents and one assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the one person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the "Rowing Team Quality First Program", with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower.

There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles. Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles and canceled all investments for new equipment.

The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses, and the next year's racing team was outsourced to India.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Isaiah 40:31....

The last two days have been road work...sort of. I was going to go out on Thursday, but 5 minutes before I was going to depart, it started pouring down rain. Funny thing: I was still thinking about it...until the lightning came. My treadmill is out of commission, so I was in a bit of a quandary, when my neighbor Bob asked if I wanted to come over and run on his. Sah-weet. I put in a half hour of steady-state and worked up a bit of a lather. Bob came downstairs and lifted weights while I ran.

Yesterday it wasn't raining. My wife called me and asked if I wanted to go out and have dinner at a popular Japanese restaurant near our home. Immediately go to calculating in my head and wrinkling my brow (can I eat that much...I need to run...Sunday is rest day...what if I switch...)...."Ummmm, yeah! Let's go."

So, instead of ordering a hibachi chicken and shrimp (ooooohhhh...that's good stuff!) I went with a sushi platter that was lighter and had some high gi rice, which, by my prediction would be crashing into my system with some high GI carbs in time for a run tonight. Weird things happen when you're focused like this.

People ask questions like, "Do you want a glass of wine, or a beer." And you say weird things like, "No thanks." My friend John says I have the bug, and I suppose he's right. Anything that makes you think wearing a Speedo is a good idea has to have some addictive qualities to it...

The other thing I find is that people have different responses. "I could never do that." "Interesting." "What is wrong with you?" My favorite is, "I want to do that!"

Friday, May 12, 2006

What happens when...

....you cheat to win, and lose anyway. According to this story, that's what happened to Ricardo Mayorga, who tested positive for Furosemide, a diuretic that masks the presence of Vitamin S. Mayorga got a severe beat down from Oscar De La Hoya on Saturday, falling in a TKO in 6, then had to face allegations of cheating today. That's a pretty rough week in anybody's life, but when you give yourself an edge and still lose...in boxing? Ouch.

Ironically, it's not the first time de la Hoya has opened a can on a cheater. From the Wikipedia:
On September 14, 2002, Oscar fought his nemesis "Ferocious" Fernando Vargas. After fiercely competitive early rounds, Oscar seized control of the latter half of the fight. In round 11, Oscar De la Hoya dropped Fernando Vargas with a left hook. Fernando Vargas got up at the count of nine, but De la Hoya finished him with a barrage of punches forcing the referee to stop the fight at 1:48 of round 11(TKO 11). It was later revealed that Fernando Vargas had tested positive for steroids in his post-fight drug test.

Hurricane Floyd Passes...

Former Heavyweight Champion of the World Floyd Patterson passed away yesterday. For those that don't know, he was an Olympic Gold Medalist in '52, became the youngest HWCoftheW in '56, at the age of twenty-one, and became the first to regain that title after losing it.

A story, recounted at Sports Illustrated, I had heard:
He fought Ali in 1965, lasting until the 12th round despite taking a beating from the champion, who was angry because Patterson called him by his given name, Cassius Clay.

During the fight, Ali toyed with Patterson, peppering him with jabs and right hands, all the time asking, "What's my name?"

Former Ali business manager Gene Kilroy said the two reconciled in the early 1970s when Patterson came up to Ali while he was eating and said, "Hello, Muhammad Ali." They embraced and remained friendly after that.

I remember him as being a little guy, in the ring against giants...Ali...Sonny Liston...he was the guy you hear about who is all heart, and doesn't know how to stay down. This is the quote that reminds me most of Floyd Patterson:
"They said I was the fighter who got knocked down the most, but I also got up the most," Patterson once said.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Let the Games Begin...

I signed up for my second triathlon...the goal: To top last year's performance. I'd like to finish in less than 1:30...only in Triathlon can they call a race that lasts one to two hours a "sprint"...sickos. And I'm going to be one of them. Again.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Raleigh Time

Random thoughts on my club ride last night.

Starting at the B Level: Last year I worked my way up to B rides (16-18+ mph). Even with a layoff in the winter, I was able to start there this year. And, I am pulling at the front more than most, and find myself with strength at the end. Sweet.

Attacking: Some guys like to jump out and attack, just for fun. I'm getting better at anticipating when that will come and how it will happen, so I can get myself in positon to go with them. It also means I can throw in a random one of my own, like on the third of four rolling hills when everyone was wiped last night. I came from the back and just blew by everyone while they were trying to hump it up the hill...my best attack ever.

Finishing: No matter how strong you are, there is always someone faster and stronger in the group. I was rolling at the end of the ride, and I thought I was free and clear to finish. This guy just comes up flying past me like I was on a tricycle...humbling.

Water, water everywhere...drink water all day, everyday. I was not properly fluidated (just made a new word!). By the end of the ride, I was feeling it.

All-in-all, it was really good ride.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Building Castles at the Beach

My friend Russ sent me this link, which was really cool. It brought back great memories of going "down the shore" to Long Beach Island with my family. My brother and I would build sand castles at low tide, then wait for the tide to rise and wipe them away. In all the time I spent at the shore, though, I'm certain I never saw anything like this...

...or this...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Little Perspective...

A young boy had just gotten his driver's permit and enquired of his father, if they could discuss his use of the car. His father said, "I'll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible a little, get your hair cut and we'll talk about the car."

Well, the boy thought about that for a moment, settled for the offer, and they agreed on it. After about six weeks they went in to the study, where his father said, "Son, I've been real proud. You've brought your grades up, and I've observed that you have been studying your Bible, and participating a lot more in the Bible study groups. But, I'm real disappointed, since you haven't gotten your hair cut."

The young man paused a moment, and then said, "You know, Dad, I've been thinking about that, and I've noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair, John the Baptist had long hair, Moses had long hair and there's even a strong argument that Jesus had long hair also."

To this his father replied, "Did you also notice they all walked everywhere they went?"

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Five minute vacation to the mountains....

Another beautiful site, this one by SEAWALLRUNNER. The photography throughout is absolutely stunning. To wit:

...and also: