Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Great Adbenture

Mighty Mo is always asking if we can go on an Adbenture, (you know how well 4 year olds can pronounce), which is usually walking over the bridge in our backyard and chasing or being chased by dinosaurs, throwing rocks at the wall or looking at woodpeckers hammering away at palm trees. These end with, "Daddy, (sigh) that was a great adbenture."

It's important for Mistress and I to get Mo outdoors and off the tv. When we were younger there was no fear of predators or irrational drivers or deviants looking for mischief. We could play in the woods or down the street and just had to be home before it was too dark to ride the bike home or get lost on a path.

I know this sounds terribly stupid but I like to take Mo to Sports Authority and REI so he can play on/in the prop tents, kayaks, pedal boats and with all the sports gear and fishing poles. Its just easier when its so hot outside for little fella's.

Saturday we are going to the zoo but not see animals. We are going to rent a family bike, (pedalers sit side by side and two kids can sit in a high seat behind them), a sun boat for the lake surrounding the island of gibbons and lastly ride the trolley that takes people on tours of the entire zoo.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A kid like love

Yesterdays lunch was sitting in my gut all afternoon making me nauseas. Then Coach Nick, I swear was trying to drown me in the endless pool. Between the food and the water I was heading to the track with trepidation. There was a moment about half way through where I dropped from my fast pace to my IM "just keep moving gait" when Glen showed up. It gave me some time to get some water and get my GI distress under control.

Our resident speedy, Todd, kept spying the high school football team doing 40's for time a few feet away, listening to the constant shouts of "5.0, 5.32..." Coming from the coach. Todd began reminiscing his own high school youth, he is 42 years old and he said he could go under 5 seconds, so I challenged him to ask the coach for a split while I did my bleachers. He walked up to the coach, who must have been the same age and as I trotted down the stairs I watched him sprint down the track.

"4.90" Said the coach.

I gave him a whoop and yelled down, "You just beat most of the teams speed and your three times older!"

It made me think about how fortunate we are to be in the shape we are in. Here I am running bleachers while my pal runs a 40 yard dash for time with a bunch of kids looking on that could be our sons.

As we finished up our workout and the sun was going down, the three of us sat and joked and joshed. It felt good to feel like a kid again and as we eventually walked to our cars I realized every time I sit with my team mates and talk about the training or racing we just did together,
I feel like a kid.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Weighty matters

I have mentioned that many of my peers I work with are in the middle of a body change contest. I am not for a few reasons; I won this the last time, I am not horribly out of shape, I don't need a kick start for a season of change since I just started my off-season.

However it is hard to not listen to people state they've lost ten, fifteen, twenty pounds already and not feel that competitive Type A kick in.

I did not go through all the circumference and body fat testing but my scale has been the same pretty much all month. Down a couple pounds, wow-wee. But I have noticed that all the strength and interval work has started to put some more muscle back on my body and my upgraded nutrition is helping cut the body fat. Even though the scale don't lie, my abs are getting leaner and my arms more defined. The weights not coming off but the stuff that matters is.

I have said it before, that LSD training and/or Ironman training is not conducive to weight loss or body fat reduction and should not be used as such. There is weight loss through the higher volume of training but the toll on the body's recovery and repair process counterbalances any long term increase in metabolism speed and fat loss.

To quote one of my favorite columnists, John Bingham, "Waddle On"

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Your Past, Your Future, Your Present

Inside each of us is a hero.

I speak not of those who survive tragedy or malady. I do not pretend that the only prerequisite is sacrifice or notoriety. Inside of yourself is a hero who escapes selfishness and radiates graciousness, generosity, assistance and kindness when it is least expected.

Inside each of us is a hero who goes unnoticed because we are immune to the limelight. We pretend we expect praise and admiration and recompense for our righteousness but the reality is we do the good things and fight the good fight and resist the base nature of humanity because we hold our true heart above all else.

Inside each of us is a hero who holds doors open and smiles at unknowns not because its civil but because our heart tells us its the right thing to do. We are heroes because we expect more from ourselves than we read in the paper and see on the news. We are not the least common denominator that pans to our demographic on network television.

Inside each of us is a hero who marries their perfect friend and raises good children who contribute to society and makes you proud. You, the hero, who balances work with family always aware that on the lips of every child the word for God is Mother.

Inside each of us is hero that could hold the cockpit door closed from those who would do their worst and would watch for evil breed in youth amongst our own. We hold ourselves to a level of accountability that is above the pretense of Hollywood excess and designer wears.

Inside each of us is a hero who we don't think exists. You are not a policeman or fireman or soldier. You are not Canadian, Mexican, Asian or American. You are the unknown. You are the highlight to someones deary day, you are the complementer when one is not needed. You are the faceless body in the ether that catches someones physical or mental corpus before they fall to their doom. You are the enabler of consistency who through thought and action helped another reach their goal. There is no thanks for the hero, only personal satisfaction.

Inside each of us, inside of you, is a hero who you don't think exists. You are the example to your your spouse, children, co-workers, neighbors and community. Do what you do and do it well. Consider your heart and your actions and listen to the voice that commands action.

Inside of each of us is a hero.

Friday, May 25, 2007


I'm telling ya, when I was afflicted with the infirmity of Common Man Syndrome I could attribute my tiredness to staying up late due season finales. Or playing video games. But this year, this week, I say 'Nay, nay, nay'.

Lately I am just exhausted from all the speed work, interval training and cross training I have been doing. It physically feels like I am in the last phase of IM training but my training hours are much less. I have also changed my nutrition a bit, cutting back on processed foods, and its making me a bit tired as I my body repairs itself.

I can tell that the 'off-session' stuff is doing good for me as my weight is not dropping much but my body is leaning out as I have seen it do in the past. It means my body is putting back on the muscle it lost in all that LSD stuff.

I took yesterday off to recover and today have a 8-10 mile run planned. I may ditch it for the 3 hour Pirate of the Caribbean coming out today. I can make up the run on Sunday if I do.

Decisions. Decisions.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Jello and Juggling

Jello. No not the wiggly, jiggly stuff that people think must be eaten with half rotten fruit embedded in it; no I am thinking specifically about my legs. I have punished myself the last three days. Last night was a charge up Camelback mountain with John and Todd, (both first timers, good job pals) and this is after doing a coached swim bricked bleachers and track work the day before and a hard ride up the IMAZ course the day before that.

Today WAS to be a open swim then another bike hill intervals but a last minute meeting is holding me back. This might be a good thing. If possible I am going to try to hit the pool for a 30 minute set if not no big deal.

Juggling. Last weekend I bequeathed my time at the lake with the team to Mistress. It was her first real open water swim in years and of course she stayed on the feet of the fastest swimmer in our group, Jeff. This just goes to show that people who begin swimming as children through college have a tremendous advantage in the water over people like me.

This has prompted her to investigate a popular masters swim group. On Friday she will be in the water at 0530 for a 90 minute swim, her first organized swim practice in 11 years.

Why do I think I have finally awoken a monster?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A bad race

Last weekend there was a big triathlon here in town which I did not do. It had a sprint and Oly distance and lots of waves sending people off. So many waves that it took an hour to get everyone going and there was only around 1,000 people involved.

This caused problems with people treading in the water to start and those coming in from their completed swim. I remember that from last year, we all entered and exited the water on the same staircase. I also heard that even though it was well into the 90's there was only water on the run course, no Gatorade or gels. That makes a long 10k run. The finish line was not very interesting and in a bad location.

Its hard to always blame the race directors for this stuff and I admire their pluck for putting on a race, I can only imagine the stress but this was not the first year of this race.

What has been your worst race experience that was not self-inflicted?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Titles and labels

I was watching American Psycho the other night. For many reasons one of my favorite movies and the book is even better. There is much concern amongst the males in the movie over business cards and whose is the best, since they are all Vice-Presidents.

It made me think that I have employee's who call themselves a VP of this or that, as if the title conveys something. I suppose I am a VP in the very company that I helped create but in ten years hadn't even thought I could be a VP. I seldom use the term 'Partner', though my other partners prefer it and the woman who does my business cards lists it.

People ask me what my title is and I say something funny like, "My son calls me daddy, my wife called me an wingnut this morning, and my partner called me Atilla the Hun last week." I have been called many labels that I really enjoy; soldier, Sir, son, husband, daddy, friend, ironman.

Labels are a funny thing, one man's janitor is another's maintenance engineer. One man's I.T. guy is another man's God of the Universe. And they are always changing based on our likes and hobbies. I haven't rocked climbed in ten years, can't really consider myself that anymore. Shot-King from my days in the bar are far behind me. Did any of you have a title or nickname in college or with a group of friends that you are so glad not be associated with anymore?

Titles and labels I guess are things that people put on others to define them. But if you could put one on yourself what would it be? What would you want it to be? What phrase would describe you as you want to be seen?

I suppose for me, "husband, father, friend." I even like 'Life Athlete. ' Thats catchy.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Its week...three now of my off season and I am finally starting to see patterns to my workout schedule that I think will help me this summer. I wanted my training to be organic, not forced. I wanted to be pulled in directions that helped me train for wind and hills and strength along with doing some different things. I don't want to feel that I cheated myself if a couple of my workouts each week, while intense and fun, did not incorporate a 2 hour workout of swim/bike/run. 30 minutes workouts, done correctly can help me too.

For now it looks like on Monday I will be riding. Tuesdays swimming, then track work. Wednesday a longer run or hiking a mountain or trail. Thursday bike hill repeats or a swim/? brick.

My weekends are still a bit of a mess to figure out, mostly just waiting to see what others are doing and jumping in. I figure as long as I keep some long distance credibility I can keep this open for debate on what and how I do things. If I become lazy then I will create more structure.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Load levels

If you think for one minute this has anything to do with the $3,000 washer and dryer set in my house, you would be wrong. I don't know how to work them and Mistress is afraid I will break them. This is about training loads.

John asked me on the phone last night how long it took to get up Camelback Mtn., since I had not put that on the blog. I wanted 40 minutes but it was 45. It was hot. Up and down with a break at the top in 75 minutes.

I had to double check my numbers for the week but I have only worked out four and half hours. Which is weird considering it feels more like eight or nine right now. I have worked out every day this week, some days are two-a-day.

Monday- 5 mile run, about 103*, 50 minutes.
Tuesday- 51 minute coached swim, hard drill sets; then a 20 minute plyometric workout at Jeff's clinic.
Wednesday- Camelback Mtn. in 75 minutes at 101*
Last night Jeff and I did hill repeats for a total of 8 miles over 45 minutes and it just pummeled my legs. It felt like a three hour ride. Then did a very short run to stretch out the legs. It was 100*.

See. It doesn't even look hard, but I am using temperature, tempo and hills to create a much harder training set than I am accustomed too lately.

I feel great but almost like I am cheating myself. Today I am seriously considering a longer run around Tempe Town Lake this afternoon. Ten miles. Even though I am working on higher intensity stuff I still need to keep my long distance confidence up and that can only occur if I have LD key workouts each week.

To everyone racing this weekend. Cheers and have fun!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Gear Review- Headlamps

I love flashlights. Its almost a fetish trying to find the brightest, lightest, longest battery, most bombproof light available. While typical torch style lights will always be brighter they may not be the best tool for the job. So today I would like to discuss my new favorite type of lighting, the headlamp.

I am all about being hands free so headlamps and specifically Black Diamond's new Spot LED is a great treasure of my training and outdoor gear. Heck its a great tool for me around the house in general.

Weighing in at 3 ounces and running on 3 AAA's, it is water-resistant, shines a 1-watt HyperBright LED and three standard sized LED bulbs. There is eight total modes of lighting available considering you can switch between the larger bulb and the smaller bulb.

Backpacker Magazine's 2006 Gear Guide, rated this lamp their top choice for cool weather, it should have rated higher considering I own their top pick the Petzel Tikka XP and the Black Diamond is superior in case strength and lighting ability.

I have used head lamps for several years and one is always in my Bug Out bag or hiking kit, one hangs immediately outside my door to the garage in case of black outs or need of a light outside in the twilight. I have had the ignominy of having highly rated units bust on me in the field and having to make due with broken equipment. Nothing is more important that being able to see what you are doing. When the sun goes down and the tent needs to go up or the cooking needs to be done having a headlamp is an absolute must.

I have used this as my lighting for pre-dawn bike rides and do actually prefer it to my 'official' bike lamp. The reason why I prefer it is that with the ratcheting swivel the head is able to be adjusted for your specific aerodynamics plus its nice to be able to look down and see the digits on the cyclocomputer.

I have used this as my late night / early morning run light and will never run with a flashlight in my hand again.

On the home front, I keep this on the nightstand and while using the lowest setting, I can read in bed while the wife sleeps and don't have to worry about the 60 watt table lamp throwing light all over the room. Plus there is no shadow on the pages since the light is directly in front of the book instead of a few feet off to the side.

The nice thing about any micro-headlamp is that the battery's are behind the lamp and not in a separate box attached to the back of the head strap. When you are lying in bed, there is no additional pressure on your head from the pillow.

Since my wife and I have wildly varying sleep cycles, having the headlamp available ensures that I can move safely around my bedroom late at night or early in the morning while collecting my gear without turning on main lights or tripping over shoes and walking into doors.

Technology today puts the lighting of a headlamp in comparative scale to standard style flashlights which gives you a ability to not cheat on illumination and have two hands free to work on your project. In fact the other day a shot glass, used for my sons medicine instead of a toddler syringe, was ground up in the garbage disposal. I tried using a standard style flashlight but could not hold the flashlight and use the tool I was using and push open the flap of the disposal to see and grasp the glass slivers. Then I put on my Black Diamond headlamp which had a tighter beam that did not cast shadows into the drain plus it freed up one hand and the task was finished quickly.

Right now I do suggest the Black Diamond Spot LED, trust me I have tried several brands, though my second choice is the slightly less priced Petzel Tikka Plus.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Flippin It, Trippin It, Mixin It up

Well no bike today. I am so disappointed. Not really. I just didn't feel comfortable driving to a bunch of locations with it today and riding in an area I am unfamiliar with. Plus there is a dust storm warning for this afternoon when I would be riding.

Instead I am going to hike up Camelback Mtn. Its not really a mountain but a tall rock in the middle of town and there is a couple of really strong hikes to the summit. Its a point of pride to get up the Echo Canyon trail as fast as possible. Under 30 minutes is considered 'Awesome' and under 25 minutes will get you a 'Holy Crap' rating.

When I lived in uppety trendy north Scottsdale, I climbed Camelback frequently. I once hit 29 minutes on my watch but 33 minutes seemed to be about the average. Not very inspiring really. Back in 2001 as I was getting ready for the Bataan Death March marathon, I decided I would run from my house to the summit and back, meeting a friend at the mountain for the up & down. I ran the 9 miles there, climbed the mountain and the 9 miles back. Total trip was around 21 miles.

Today I would be happy with 40 minutes. Its going to be over 100 degrees and the rocks will be radiating heat. Some rocks will be quite hot as will the metal handrails that can be used for the steepest sections. Luckily coming down has a good breeze.

I miss these types of cross training sessions. Training for specific races like marathons and Ironmans make me feel like I am trapped into a specific training mold and if I swapped a 12 miler run or 50 mile bike for a trip up Camelback, I would feel like I am cheating myself.

Anyone else feel that way, or have no problem breaking their training mold.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What is an off season?

There is a body change contest going on in my company. We are highlighting the effects of two new supplements we're selling and many of my peers are using it to jump start their personal fitness programs that have been severely lacking. So when a bunch of Type A's start talking, bets are made and a company contest is created.

Many people looked to me to enter this fracas, but I kept my mouth shut. It started around Ironman Arizona and I was looking at an off season after almost 18 months of all-go, no-quit training. Besides I crushed my peers a few years ago when we did the last big contest and wasn't interested in doing it again. I have been coaching a couple of the managers but I am not taking the stuff myself. Unless we start getting a supplement that affects recovery from exercise that I have already used.

I have been liking my off-season now starting its second week. I have not been on my bike in ten days but I am okay with that, lots of running and swimming. Today is another swim with Coach Nick then track work after that. I really believe that the track and bleachers and the up coming drill sets I add in a few weeks will bring my pace down at least a minute over the course of the year.

If anything I am enjoying my training more right now than I have all year. Its nice to not have to be held accountable to a looming race. Yesterday I did an easy loop of the IMAZ run course in the late day, around 103 degrees and just took my time, worked on new nutrition, hydration and acclimatizing. Looks like its triple digits through Halloween from now on. My swims have been smooth and faster, though incorporating my new breathing pattern has been a bother in open water. It will come.

Off season is a good place for me right now. Trying new things, adapting new techniques.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Photos of the moment

Looking through the utter crap of the photography that was at the Mexico race, I came across a real gem. This is only the low-res version for viewing but I'll get the real deal next week. Finally a photo that makes me look like a hero and not a zero coming out of the water.
Water exit

The workout for Sunday was laps at Canyon lake and then a trail run. I did a half iron swim, 43 minutes, then drove a mile to the Boulder Canyon Trail. The first mile is 700 feet of elevation on loose rock. It was a tough go of it but the view was spectacular. I took some vista photos and then we all sort of hung out not really paying attention that Andy kept going and ran another mile at least. John and I waited until we could see him and really all we saw was the dust kicked up by his running pace. He was flying up and down the trails coming back.

Jeff and I overlooking Boulder Canyon. Weavers Needle and the
Lost Dutchman's fabled unfound goldmine in the background

Friday, May 11, 2007

There's a Zone 4? What!!! A Zone 5 too!

This whole week has been training at way over my comfort zone. While the hours have been short compared to IM training, my body is already neuro-muscularly hammered. I had no idea my heart rate could go over 170 and I wouldn't spontaneously combust.

Thursday was to be a run and then swim. I got to the lake first and tackled a difficult 5.5 mile run with a steep 1 mile hill before the turnaround. I thought I would bust out a fast 1st mile to tax myself and then struggle through the hill for additional stress. Thats when I realized that I had not sufficiently recovered from a 5 mile track workout including 2 miles of bleachers that I did Tuesday, (3 minutes per mile faster than IM pace) after a 1 mile swim in the endless pool at 1:40/100 (again much faster than my IM pace). When I finished run Thursday I could not manage the swim. I was too exhausted, so I soaked my legs while Jeff swam in preparation for Escape for Alcatraz in three weeks.

Jeff reminded me that Ironman was only three weeks ago, that my body went through a very severe dehydration and I just balls'd out a hard International distance race the other day. Last night I wrote my goals for Friday on the bathroom mirror in bold, "Freaking don't workout today". I woke up this morning and tried to figure how to fit in a bike ride. This was before I actually got out of bed. Once I got up my body said, "HELLO" and the mirror said what it said.

Life in the Zone 5. Gotta love it.

A little glimpse at me and a book review

The best part of reading a book is the personal memories it brings back. I had already gone through my 'Mountain Phase' when tragedy struck Mt. Everest on May 10, 1996. And while the high altitude adventure bug has never left me , Mistress severely governed my angle of ascent to 5.5 or less after I lost the tip of one finger and got two concussions in one season. I still however have my illusions.

Sidenote: My favorite climb to lead and sadly my last climb after Mistress came along was the Midway Route outside of Index, Washington, but my usual route/climbing area was at little Mt. Si and exit 38 in North Bend.

The book. Into Thin Air. Right. I re-read my first edition over a weekend of being stuck in bed. John Krakauer took a lot of flack when his Outside Magazine article was published and later when the book came out just a year after the storm. I went to one of his Everest symposiums and slides shows at REI before it really took off as a best seller and he was still obviously coming to grip with his thoughts. Not only does it tell a terrible story of hubris, mistakes and guilt, it brings to sharp clarity the dreams men have of conquering their boyhood dreams.

Written in the first person, Krakauer tries to sort through fact, perception, oxygen deprivation and ultimately the business that brought so many paying clients to the highest levels of the world and a terrific storm at 26,000 feet that killed many, and changed everyone.

If you are someone who craves adventure and wants to read a classic story of survival, recovering and coping this is it.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The fork in the road

There inevitably comes a point when all the hard work pays off; when there was notable success in your exercise or nutrition routine, perhaps you lost that weight, fit into that dress, looked your best and you shined in your critical limelight. Congratulations. It is such a tremendous sense of accomplishment to mark a date on the calendar to look or achieve your best, then use willpower, determination and persistence to make your dreams a reality.

Now, all the compliments have been given, the vacation is over, people impressed. You have dutifully and proudly silenced the critics. Its ten days into your “Pizza and ice cream” phase where you reward yourself for the months of sweat and healthy foods. As you sit there late one night in a sugar stupor on your couch you finally have THE thought…I need to start up again.

The reality is that most people have this thought about a dozen times before they actually feel pressured to make a decision to do something. There is a fork in the road about two weeks after any big event; one road is obviously well traveled with familiar signs and smells that lazily curves back around to where you were when you started this crazy trip and another road that climbs a steep dusty mountain leading to your next goal.

Right now you may look but certainly don’t feel as strong or as beautiful as the day you achieved your goals. But now the suppressed habits of your old life are competing with the structure and sacrifice of the new. The sad fact is that most people silently and far too comfortably fall back into their old habits and as if on auto-pilot they take the lazy curve back to the life of complacency. Back to the wardrobe which three weeks ago was bragged about that ‘nothing fit’. Back to the impulse eating and binge snacking late at night. Back to looking at yourself in the mirror each morning only to suck in, pull on and berate yourself mentally.

Dare to be great. Don’t take the curve in the road that you have seen a hundred people take before, the lazy curve that leads to weight gain and tight pants and lack of energy. Take the road that climbs the mountain, the steep road that causes you to sweat and sacrifice junk food for cleaner burning energy. Climbing the mountain doesn’t have the repetitive and calm scenery of the plains but when you finally look up from the road after a particularly steep part of the climb and you look out around you, the view reminds you that the effort was worth it. You don't want to take a picture of the left turn you navigate each day to work but you always wish you have one when reach the top of a peak with a killer view.

Many times when you come to the fork in the road, the arc moving away you’re your beginning is not all that rough. The mountain looks really steep because you remember how much effort it was the first time however it’s easy to forget that your body and the mind are in a different place, adapted to the climb. After a few bumps in the road getting started again you realize you have adapted to the effort and enjoy the challenge, the road becomes easier to travel. Once you have tasted success you realize that sacrifice and sweat are worth the effort.

The goal in your mind this time may be completely different than the first one which means the road is not the same. When you reach your perfect weight, the next goal may not be weight loss, it may be performance driven, it may be destination driven. Ask yourself a question: If you were your ideal weight right now, what would you do that you don’t currently do? Surprised at your answer? Hike Europe. Run a marathon. Go to a tropical beach and just sit and soak without any mental torture.

After reaching a goal like weight loss, or fitting into an outfit for a dinner, or a wedding, or just finally being fed up with the way you look in the mirror; it’s normal and necessary to take a break and bask in your success. Good Job. But when the time comes for you to decide if you go back to where you came from or if you continue to pack your workout bag and extra snacks every morning remember the way you felt on the day you reached your last goal. Remember that all that adoration and success came because you took the fork in the road.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Guest Race Report: Wildflower

My swim coach Nick from Durapulse raced at Wildflower last weekend. He is a 6 time Ironman finisher with a sub-10 finish at Kona, he also got an IM slot by placing in his AG at California 70.3 a month ago. He is also someone I consider a friend in life and mentor in this sport. As part of his distribution list, I got his race report which he doesn't normally do but he wanted to impress on us just what it takes to do this sport even from front of the pack people like himself.

I was taken aback by the sheer honestly of the recap given his position as a paid coach talking to his clients. It takes tremendous selflessness to do this. The bravado is stripped bare and the essence of what it takes to be the man he is makes the transparent report all the more important.

I am continually blessed to have the people around me that I do in this sport. From Kevin at Tribe Multisport, to my brutha' Bolder and Benny and Nytro my regular callers to my awesome team mates at AZTRICLUB to my constantly growing stable of coaches and mentors all the way along to the people who bring me so much joy in my day, my Commenters. All of you affirm the goodness of this sport and the belief in humanity. Enjoy.

I competed in the Wildflower Long Course Triathlon in Lake San Antonio, California on May 5th. This triathlon is arguably one of the toughest half ironman courses in the world. Why did I decide to do it, for that reason. How tough could it really be? The Wildflower Triathlon Festival has been labeled "the Woodstock of Triathlon." This year was the 25th anniversary of the race. Lake San Antonio is in the middle of nowhere and the most comfortable accommodations are the ones you bring. Imagine 20,000 camping tents lining the hills of Central California with bikes hanging from trees and "tri-geeks" everywhere. It is a great sight. The total number of athletes competing in the festival (three races) is around 8,000. The long course had 3,000 registered.

I arrived on Thursday evening with enough light to set up the tent for me, my wife, and my 2 year old son. Thinking that I would get a good night's sleep I blew up my comfortable air mattress and laid my head down. Little did I know, I had set up the tent right in the middle of the "Team in Training" camp site. They were up all night yacking away with no regard for me wanting to get sleep. It's my fault. I shouldn't have set up there in the first place. Anyway, Friday went well as I prepared for the race on Saturday. I rested and enjoyed the cooler than 100 degree temperatures. As the evening came I ate my traditional chicken and pasta meal. The wind started to pick up and the temperature had dropped to the 50's by 6 PM. No problem, we brought enough blankets. Wrong! The temperature got into the 30's that night. No longer was it camper's keeping me awake but my body shivering. I tried to tuck in close to my family but still kept me cold. 5:30 AM came pretty fast with only a few hours of sleep. Oh well, the race must go on.

I gathered all of my gear and rode the 1.2 miles on my bike from my tent to the transition area. I gave myself plenty of time to set up my gear, get body marked, and find a calm place to sit down and relax. About 15 minutes before my wave started I began putting on my wetsuit. They announced the water temperature to be 65 degrees and I was glad that I had a wetsuit. With 3,000 people doing the race there were a lot of waves. Fortunately for me I was in the third wave, right behind the professional men and professional women. The swim start is from a boat ramp. It is not an “in water” start. We are standing in between two boat docks spaced about 20 yards a part. I would say there were approximately 100 people in my wave. The first buoy was around 300 yards away before we made a right turn. Even with all of the open water preparation I have done I still felt overwhelmed this day. The gun went off and we all fought for a comfortable spot. That was a mistake. There is no comfort in a congested swim. For about 400 yards I swam with my head above the water trying to get in a groove. By that time I was extremely frustrated and slashing through the water without any form. Many doubts ran through my mind.

You see, the last time I raced was about a month ago in another half ironman triathlon. After the race I had decided that I needed to put more time into swimming. I had committed to swim at least 4 times a week in preparation for Wildflower. In the last month I have swam a total of 5 times. I figured I was a good enough swimmer and that I could "wing it." Never will I do that again. There has only been one other race in my triathlon career (over 100 multisport events) where I felt the swim ruined my race. And it certainly did because I DNF'ed that race. My only DNF. Well, the swim at Wildflower felt very similar. About half way into the swim I had this incredible burning feeling in my gut. It was so painful that I had to stop and do the breast stroke for about a minute to relax. I found a group to draft from that point but still did not feel right. In a triathlon there are a lot of emotions that go through ones head. "Why am I doing this?" and "I am never doing another triathlon" were statements that frequently can into my mind during the swim. I had to reach deep and move past the pain. The last thought that cam into my mind was "the swim is almost over and then it's time to bike." I am a much better cyclist than swimmer so I knew that once I came out of the water the race would begin for me.

As I exited the water I looked at my watch and saw that I was about three minutes slower than predicted. I was a little bummed but was glad that I came in as fast as I did. But, a triathlon is not always about time, especially when I still had to bike 56 miles and run 13.1 miles. I felt horrible coming out of the water, even to the point that I almost called it a day and chalked another DNF on my record. I fought the tendency and ran (jogged/walked) through the transition area with a heart rate of 185 bpm to my bike. I calmed down a little as I grabbed my helmet and bike. I was ready to move on in the race.

The day before I drove the bike course to get an idea of how hilly it really was. I had heard that it was a tough course and I wanted to preview the course to not be shocked on race day. There is a little 3-4 mile loop right out of the transition area that I had skipped on my preview drive the day before. I thought that it wound through the campground and would not be a threat on the bike course. I was sure wrong. The only part of the bike course that I did not preview was the most challenging part for me. A bad swim contributed to the pain on this first part of the course but if I would have known that this 6% grade of a hill that lasted a mile long was there I would have taken it a little easier right out of the water. Never before in a race have I experienced such painful cramps on the bike. My leg muscles began to contract on the front and the back. Usually when I cramp on the bike I stand up and stretch a little. It was more painful to stand than sit and I was climbing a hill so I couldn't stop pedaling to relax. I thought my race was over. I almost pulled to the side to walk my bike down the hill and turn in my chip. But the little angel on my shoulder told me to keep going. I suffered through it and made it to the top excited to find a long decent to recover.

The first 30 miles of the bike are rolling hills with a slight down hill grade. It's a nice time to pick up speed in preparation for the "nasty grade" at mile 42. I was expecting to get a good average speed on this part before my speed dropped to under 10 MPH on the uphill. To my surprise, and everyone else racing, there was an extreme headwind for this stretch of the course. It was so frustrating. I thought for sure that I would be able to make up a lot of time from my bad swim. On spots where I thought I would hit 30 MPH I was barely hitting 20 MPH. It did not help my mental game. The bike course is a loop so we did get tail wind but it came at a point in the race where tailwind did not matter, up the 6-10% hill. I would have much rather had tail wind on the flat part than the up hill section. The only thing I could do was stick to my heart rate and trust in my training. Everyone else had to deal with the same weather conditions so I was not alone.

After about 30 miles I felt that I had finally recovered from the swim. Yes, it was that bad. I was finally enjoying the race. The toughest part of the race was approaching and I was feeling great. The dreaded "nasty grade" or "heart rate hill" was in sight and I was ready to attack. I will be honest, it was not that bad. I rolled up the hill(s) without discomfort. With 5 miles to go I was envisioning transition #2 and the 13.1 mile run.

I ran out of T2 feeling really good. I knew that it was going to be a great run. One thing I did not do was preview the run course. I wish I would have for the same reason I wish I would have previewed the entire bike course. The run course was tough. The first three miles run next to the water along the same course at the off road triathlon. All I saw for the first 10 minutes was off road triathletes finishing their race. It worried me that I was on the wrong course. I did not see a single long course athlete. I trusted my instinct and kept pressing forward. If I was on the right course I was surely in a good position overall. About 2 miles into the run there was a turn around for the off-road athletes and the long course athletes needed to go straight. It was a big relief to see that. I ran by myself for almost 4 miles. The run course was beautiful. It was also challenging. At one point on a mile long hill another athlete passed me. He was clearly faster than me so I did not challenge at all. About half way up the hill he started to walk briskly. It was more beneficial for him to walk fast than to run. I did the same and my heart rate dropped about 4 beats, which gave me a chance to recover. I was feeling really good and was right on target to go under 90 minutes.

The course continued to go up and down through the trees. The scenery kept my mind off of the pain until around mile 6. At this point I felt a little cramping in my left hamstring muscles. This is something I have experienced before. In the past I have run through the pain and it has either gone away or dropped me to the ground in agonizing pain. I took a chance and ran through it. The day had been bad enough and I didn’t want to let anything else halt my progress. I slowed my pace a little and gradually the pain went away. It was such a relief. If I kept the same pace I could still have a decent run split. After that point I felt great. I was passed by a couple people in my age group, but found myself passing them towards the end.

At mile 10 there is a mile long downhill section that takes the athletes to a turn around. I could see my competitors running back up the hill that I was going down. It came as a mental shock that I had to run back up the hill I was running down. I knew I only had three miles to go so I kept pushing knowing that it would all be over soon. The very last mile of this course is a downhill section that is so steep that it forces you to run out of control. It’s nice to have a downhill for the last mile but it is a challenging downhill at the end of a very challenging course. The finish line was in sight and I eased up a little thinking that I was by myself. To my surprise the announcer started talking about someone besides me. I then realized that I was not alone. With 20 feet to go I was passed by another in my age group. I crossed the finish line grabbed a couple towels, some water and oranges and found a place to sit down. I was greeted by other athletes who did the race. It was nice to share stories about the swim, the wind, and the run. Really, that’s all it is now, a story.

I have always said that the swim in a triathlon can rarely make your race but it can certainly break your race. It certainly did that for me. I lost it in the swim. Even though it is a tough bike and run course I felt that it was the swim that kept me from hitting my goals. I am a little disappointed with my results. I did my best and I have to be satisfied with that. I will take what I learned from this race and apply to the next.

The most important thing that I have learned is that it takes hard work to complete and compete in a triathlon. My pride kept me from sticking to my training plan and I surely suffered because of it. When my coach tells me to do something I will most certainly do it. Will I swim at least 4 times a week from now on? Oh yes. My good biking and running skills got me to the finish line but my weakness in swimming caused me to suffer for 4 hours and 50 minutes on race day. The great thing about triathlon is that you can always improve. There are three sports to work on and everyone can improve.

Would I do this race again? Certainly, yes. I had a great time and recommend this race to everyone. It is one race that everyone who calls themselves a triathlete should experience. I feel so strongly about this race that I have already begun planning the trip for the team next year. Mark it on your calendars!

I saw Nick on Tuesday and he 'Ah shucked' his way through the grilling I gave him on the race. He finally fessed up that he came in 10th AG, 32 overall and 1st Arizonian (non-pro) at Wildflower.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A little shout out

One of the benefits of starting the tri club, oh I haven't mentioned that? AZTRICLUB, is that we attract people like Tony who when surrounded by people who want only the best for him, wants only the best out of himself.

After joining the team and doing some training with us last year, he lives on the other side of the valley, he dropped the hammer on Ironman Arizona 2008. Also after by being a regular reader of CMS, he started his own blog, Fat Ass 2 Bad Ass. As you can tell he has quite a good sense of humor.

He has only put up a few post, but please stop by and surprise him with some 'welcome to the neighborhood' comments.

Turning the page

For the first time since the fall of 2005, I have a significant break in training. Next planned race is pacing a friend through the PF Chang 1/2 mary next January. Ironman training is blissfully put on hold until September. So whats the Intrepid Age Grouper to do?

I took Monday off.

I know I should probably take more time off but this does seem like a break in training for me. The next few months I will not be concerned with distance or total time but getting back to some fundimentals that got lost in doing 3 Ironman training programs back to back to back.

I am going to learn to breathe correctly. I think that if I improve my breathing I will become a better swimmer and runner.

Food is for fuel not entertainment. I am going to manage my daily intake better on a personal level and I am going to redesign what I use in practice and races to give me optimum performance in any situation.

I will continue to improve in the swim. I have made great strides but there is still much room to improve. Using a coach I will be a middle of the pack swimmer who has good swimming mechanics.

I am going to become a better cyclist. I am so close to break through in my riding. By improving my cycling endurance and speed by just 10% over the summer, just 2 mph on average, I will take 45 minutes off my Iron distance time.

I am going to incorporate weights, speed work, hills, bleachers, intervals anything that will build speed and strength on the bike and run that I have not done in years.

I love to run but I am not consistent lately. I will be a consistent runner who can rely on being able to run a marathon at will.

Most people would tell me that racing is a good part of the training improvement plan, it shows statistical numbers to work off of. But I look forward to a summer with no taper or recovery. I like the idea of beating the piss out of myself in training without concern for if it will affect an upcoming race. I look forward to putting race money into an endless pool for the house or a great vacation for the family. This is not to say that I may jump into to something last minute. Anything is possible, but I won't be killing myself financially or physically for it. I will not stress myself out on race anxiety this year or race injured.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Race Report #2 2007: Rocky Point, Mexico

What a fabulous weekend but first, thank you so much for all of you that read my post titled My Head Injury. I didn't quite know what to expect and yet again I under estimated the compassion and understanding of bloggers.

First the fun stuff then the race report.

Rocky Point, Mexico is about a four hour drive south of Phoenix. Mistress and I left Mighty Mo with our parents and had an adult weekend with two other couples we like very much. The resort is brand new, still in their first year, it is Las Palomas. Wendy set us up to stay in one of the penthouse rooms which conveniently had its own elevator outside the door. The penthouse was 4,000 sq. ft inside with 3 bed/3bath and everything else you could imagine plus a 2,000 balcony area with full view of the pools below and ocean ahead. There was a fire pit and full bbq and food prep area.

Most of the weekend for me was spent in the penthouse or on the balcony drinking beer and having fun with the other people staying there. Friday night most of the other team mates in town came up for a tour and some food so we entertained until about 11 pm. Mistress and I did go out for a swim in the ocean Friday evening and she loved it. She was a varsity miler on a PAC-10 swim team and though she hasn't swum much since Mo was born she is so natural in the water. She became so child like out there and youthful it was great. Each day we all drove into town and bought shrimp for meals and did shopping for trinkets. The wifes all had a great time going through stores and Jeff and I lamented that based on our status as business owners we could no longer buy the gross and crude tourist shirts that are so fun to read but not so fashionable to wear as an adult.

All right! The race.

I had a great race. I haven't looked at any of my official numbers but my watch and my thinking is that I PR'd by a few minutes at least. Easily my best race swim yet. The race was pushed back an hour due to low tide so we got to sleep in. Nice. The entire event was very laid back. Tons of security, easily the most I have ever seen, but the flip side was that Mistress walked through transition with me, walked almost all the way to the swim start with me on the beach.

Tide dropped 23 feet. What was to have been a in water start was a stumble over coral to the start buoy then walk a bit further out to get some room. Once the race started I swam well, Florida Ironman cured me of any fear in open water. I came a bit off line along the long backside of the 1000 meter course but overall I moved cleanly through the water. I had to stop swimming at 23 min. and then proceeded to stumble and fall over the coral again, then run up the beach and up some stairs to the timing mats, 450 meters total race officials say and 5 minutes on my watch, to reach T1. That blew.

What was really great was that I beat Hardcore Mike and Big John out of the water by a few minutes. At Ironman AZ when I was sick they both beat me. I had to relieve myself and we all came out of T1 within few minutes of each other and all I cared about was putting as much distance between them as I could.

I felt awesome on the bike. Just very smooth. I honestly do not think I was past by more than 1 or 2 people who started behind me but I pasted at least a hundred on the 24 mile 3 loop hilly course. Those that past me were already on the course. This race is known for its 1st time race factor and it was evident on the bike. I was yelling 'Left' every couple of seconds. I yelled 'Right' a few time and even a 'Middle' once or twice. People were weaving all over the place. People were falling over pedaling up the hardest incline, people were crying because they couldn't change their tires. Saw a few walking their bikes up the hills. I was able to keep an eye on Mike at the three turnaround per loop and I'd be damned if he wasn't staying sorta close. I kept putting some distance on him but not enough for me to not be pissed he was having a great ride too. Mike kept me racing scared the whole time and I love my team mate and training partner for bringing that out of me.

My T2 was fast. I was outta there I had to put distance between Mike and I and felt stiff. I looked at my first mile of the 10k and saw a 8:29 split but it felt like 11:00. The course was a double out and back so I was able to congratulate Jeff aka The Machine and Andy in front of me and see Mike and John and other team mates behind me plus "The Millions (And Millions) of fans at Rocky Pt." I don't think ten minutes went by in the race that someone wasn't calling out my name with encouragement. I got passed quite a bit on the run but it was okay, not nearly as much as I passed other on the bike or still on the run. I was happy out there.

Coming back to the finish was a 500 meter run along the beach. When I say along the beach I mean the soft sand that is impossible to run in unless you over exaggerate your stride and arm swing. The finish shoot was a 100 yards long between rows of shaded beach chairs with people screaming on either side, very much in the Tour de France style of people cheering on the course. I saw a shadow behind me and sprinted for dear life hoping no one passed me that close to the finish line but it turns out it was someone standing on the course. It made for a dramatic and fast finish line for me.

Well my race season is officially over. "Thank you for coming, remember the 11 o'clock show is not the same as the 7 o'clock show. Try the veal." Nothing left on the calender officially until 2008.

Today I start my 'off-season' strength building phase, but more of that this week.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

My Head Injury

This is the most intensely personal story I have ever written about my life, but its not a secret. I have been open about this in my real life because I think hope is a power thing. Its easier to say than write and have been crafting this post for about six months. Its hard to put all the details into a single post and for each incident I include I have ten more that I want to put in. Ultimately I did not know when I should or if I could ever post this but I think if I can talk about this in real life, I can do it online. I also thought that I would not leave my computer, waiting for comments and with being in Mexico for the weekend, there is no way I can look at e-mail until Monday.

I woke up on November 8, 1986, sixteen years old and a scoundrel. I wasn't a bad kid. I wasn't a good one either. I was the kind that like to get things started. I had popular friends, the smart ones in my high school class, because they I knew I could get them in just enough mischief that they could stay out of trouble and have a great story to tell their other smarty friends. I also had friends that were true trouble makers that did actually get themselves in trouble.

That night was a sleep over for a youth group I was in and some of us in the afternoon were getting food for the party. I volunteered because there was an election coming up for the head of the chapter and I wanted the title officially. At that point in my life I craved power and through reputation, fear and intimidation I was rising to the top in my region. I was the de facto leader for the same reasons the popular kids liked me, I could appeal to peoples base emotions, but these kids knew the other side of me too, the part that backed up the threats and taunts. I protected them from others by sticking up for them in back alleys and the dark hallways of organized meetings. I gained their respect by defending them from bullys. Probably the same kind of guy's I was capable of being except I was on their side.

But that afternoon I was in a car accident. A woman driving too fast slammed into the back of my friends car, of which I was in the back seat. When I came too, the cars had been pushed into a parking lot and some men were pulling with all their might to open the back doors. I am told that my mother driving behind us took us all to the ER and after looking at the large bump on the back of my head they gave me two tylenol for my headache, a free ice pack and a swift kick out the door.

Later that night at the sleep over I am told I was starting to act funny. I would be fine and normal and then pass out, waking up only after being slapped awake. I complained of headaches, severe ones. I left early and drove home.

When I woke up the next morning I didn't know who I was or where I was. My mom and brother took me to the hospital were I stayed for a while, unable to move because I had suddenly lost all feeling in my body and couldn't communicate with the doctors.

The first x-ray discovered that I had a massive whiplash. The vertebrae in my neck had been spun 180 degrees from normal. This also caused my trapezius to swell and gave me decreased blood flow and impulse to my body. I had become temporarily paralyzed. After several days and super high doses of demerol right into my neck I was able to regain control of my body.

The real damage was the closed head injury to my brain. Actually this was my second brain injury. My first was an open head injury I got in a backyard fight. To stop me, the other guy grabbed the first thing he could reach and then he drove it into the top of my head as hard as he could. Unfortunately for me he used a garden hoe which is essentially a solid rake and he split my skull wide open with it.

When the hospital finally scanned my brain after the car accident they saw that underneath the little bump they dismissed the day before was a massive concussion, contusions and multiple subdural hematomas, which were all causing acute brain bleeding and swelling. As it swelled up it put pressure on my skull and it wasn't going to give so the damage 'rolled' back and created more damage in my brain. This is why closed head injuries are more damaging than open head injury's, the trapped pressure can cause more long term problems.

As a result the left and right sides of my brain stopped communicating. I lost higher brain functions like the ability to read, write, type, walk, talk, remember how to tie my shoes, who I or my family was let alone my friends were. My voluntary and sensory information; the ability to learn and process, my long and short term memory, my ability to be an individual were all stripped away. Mentally and emotionally I suffered from a type of amnesia which is now called traumatic retrograde amnesia. (each word is helpful link)

It was explained that the body sought a way to relieve the pressure on the brain and it moved down my brain stem and through my spine but that was a mess from the whiplash. The blackouts I had the first night were just the beginning of many years of what turned out to be seizures my brain would have from all the electrical disconnect and pain it suffered. While new pathways were created between my brain thanks to therapists, it didn't help the actual brain heal any faster.

Of course the whole story I just related to you is all second hand. I still have no personal memory of my life from birth until about two months after the accident and its a mishmash for about another year. My entire childhood is an oral history like you would read about somebody elses life accomplishments in a museum.

I was never close to physical death but I felt I was given another life. I believe to this day that God had a plan for me and he gave me the shove I needed because I had closed myself off to his voice. He gave me a second chance and though I have made mistakes in the last twenty years, I have made amends to my former life and rebalanced my enternal soul ten-fold.

Its wasn't an easy road though. I had all kinds of people working on me; chiropractors, physical therapists, cognitive therapists, neurologists, psychologists. I was a mess. The M.D.'s told my parents that at best case I would be the mental and emotional level of a third grader and to be prepared to care for me the rest of their lives. Expectations were that I would be physically impaired from brain damage and I probably never talk or walk normal again. The head doc's wanted me commited because I was having some very serious psychotic issues and I did spend a very brief time 'under supervision'.

On the day of my accident I had a girlfriend. She dumped me. A former girlfriend whom I openly fought with and who was abusive to me, came to my aid with a change of heart. Lots of friends came to my aid teaching me basic skils and manners through my recovery process. After school these people would come to my house to stretch me out and take me for short teetering walks to the end of our cul-de-sace and back. Then I would go from one home to the other, each person teaching me another valuable lesson. One taught me to read, another to write, another manners and how to control myself. My mother was a Montessori teacher at the time and I was basically a new student to her. My brother had me watch my favorite movies over and over because I alway forgot that I had just watched them. I was taught to be kind and gentle and have compassion. Maybe that was from God, I don't know.

I had no short or long term memory for many months. In the beginning my short term memory was clocked at 1 second and my long term at 4 seconds. I began to function better but everything had to be written down. Some people wish an experience they had was put into a move. I think I got that in a Harrison Ford movie called Regarding Henry. Its almost too scary how well it captured my post injury experience and I can't get through it without great emotional distress. If you want to truly see what I went through relating to my family and my conversion from ass to affable after my accident watch it.

I learned to live by routine. Almost too much so. I could not drive anymore, I had forgot and the seizure didn't allow relearning for some time, so I took the bus to school. The bus would show up at 7:30am and it was a 1/4 mile straight down the street so I could remember that. I would show up at 7:20am. This meant I would get up at 6:30, shower, eat my toast and hot chocolate and slowly walk there.

Many times I would wake up, look at my clock and see it was half past then go through my routine. I would leave on time, walk to the bus stop and wait from 20 after till 45 after and walk home. I would go to my parents room, knock on their door and tell my mom the bus did not show up and would need a ride to school. She would then say to me, "Honey its 4 o' clock in the morning. Go sit in the kitchen I'll be right there." Sometimes this was earlier or later in the night.

I would not see the hours, just the minutes, because I was on a routine. I would not notice that it was pitch dark outside and that I was the only one standing on a corner for almost a half hour when a dozen kids should be there. It was frustrating, especially when I kept doing it over and over and over. One of me earlier memories is sitting in my parents bathroom crying uncontrollably because I was getting better but my mind still played this particularly cruel time trick on me.

For a long time mom would ask me to do something, a chore or move an object, and I would just stare at her blankly. She would ask if I understood her and I would say yes but my mind could not take the thought and make it an action. I knew she wanted me to, for example, move my shoes but thought stopped there. It would never occur to me to actually get up and move my shoes.

I had a brain scan that showed my brain waves were reversed. Brains do not have nerves so they feel no pain, but they know when they are overloaded. The seizures were my brains way of shutting itself off due to overload. I used to have seizures multiple times a day and then after about six years I was and am down to once or twice a year. This is some of the most intense pain I have ever felt. I can feel it come on and found that only complete sensory deprivation works. I put plugs in my ears, blind fold my eyes and lay in a half full tub of water for hours just so I can't hear or see anything.

I never lost my license to drive but I wasn't allowed to for a long time. The first time I was allowed to go by myself my parents proudly stood at the top of the stairs of the house watching me drive down to the bus stop and back, just a straight shot. I had a seizure, passed out and drove the car head on into a car parked on the other side of the street. Many months later I drove a friend home and had a seizure, I drove up into someones yard. I came to with her screaming hysterically. Usually the fastest way to get me out of a seizure was to slap my face. I think she was kicking my ass from the passenger seat. But she was one of the best friends I had through my recovery and I owe her a lot.

None of the teachers at school or students other than my friends really understood or cared about my new problem. I was now a Special Kid but had built a reputation for myself at the school and was treated as a fraud, or with apathy or was abused. Those that disliked me took great pleasure in pointing me in the wrong direction when I had lost my way in the halls, made fun of me for being slow and sometimes pummeling me. How wonderful that these are some of my first new memories.

My entire personality was altered. I went from being left handed to being right handed. I lost the ability to smell. I began to talk differently. Instead of a swagger I tripped over myself. Instead of a confident voice, I talked with my head down and with great pauses and I would forget what I was going to say or where I was going with a statement or sentence.

I became very susceptible to suggestion, a trait with head injury recipients. When this became known, a cruel joke was played on me at a high school party. It was on a house boat and someone who wanted to make fun of me, told me to jump in the lake. I did. I didn't know how to swim and had to be rescued. That was when people started to take my transformation seriously and all my excursions were monitored.

Sometimes it makes me very sad that my first memories are not playing with my parents at the beach or a birthday party or taking a family trip or even sitting in a class room. Its being made a complete fool of. Its being helpless, knowing I am helpless and falling for every stupid line that came my way.

When I started to get my life back together I was instructed to collect as much information about myself as I could from people. I was told truthful things about myself that my new personality found repulsive. I was told lies that I believed for many years and only through collaboration with true friends did I realize I was not the complete monster and degenerate I thought I was. In the end people were more happy with me the way I turned out than the way I was going and that was fine by me. I owe a lot of people for the person I am today.

I recovered so well from such a traumatic event and could verbalize my progression so I was put in a position to speak to families on behalf of victims which generally had a brain injury or aneurysm. I would simply tell this story to them and they would weep from the familiarity and the hope I gave them of a full recovery for their loved one. I gave them incite on what their loved one was going through and helped with the coping process.

I could also talk to the victims and be a voice of commonality to them. I still do it now and then. Many of us have similar challenges and I know that I very easily could today be a person of diminished capacity and walk with difficulty and need to wear a helmet in case I fell. My heart breaks when I encounter these people and it just brings to light how lucky I am. I often times refer to myself as the 'Mayor of Simpleton' because I don't feel any different than those that didn't recover like me, that I don't deserve to be as smart and physically strong as I am. That I was given a gift and even though I try my best I still don't know if I have earned it. When Tom Hanks uttered those words, "Earn this," in Saving Private Ryan, I thought he was talking to me directly.

Today it doesn't matter who I was before the accident. I don't like that person. Today I have no emotional connectivity to my youth. Over time I created a new family dynamic with my parents and brother. I am now living my forgotten childhood through my sons eyes. Mom says we are very much alike. Someday I will relate how I met Mistress post accident, but her brothers and especially her parents remember knew me pre-accident and they did everything possible to keep us apart. It took them years, literally a decade to begin to trust me.

I proved all the doctors wrong when I progressed from a third grade mentality to actually graduating (with help) from college. Today it would be hard to know I ever had to learn to read again. I learned to walk again, then run. I taught myself to swim at 22 and Mistress taught me to ride a bike at 29.

I joined the Army a couple years after the accident and wouldn't you know it, I had just enough smarts to make it into the infantry. It's not like they needed anyone smart, a score of 30 out of 120 got you in and I was told what to do every minute of my life. But I had learned to memorize really fast and every year I became more functional as a person and pretty soon I moved up through the ranks going to OCS and becoming an officer in the Infantry.

Over the course of six years I had a complete physical recovery from the accident. Mentally I had overcome a lot of obstacles. Emotionally and rationally I was still a traumitized person unable to communicate well with new people on a human level or engage in any type of relationship with women that didn't end badly. I was damaged goods. I kept pushing myself farther away from people until I ended up in Guam. Geographically and symbolically Guam is the middle of nowhere and yet I found that away from all distractions I could finally hear the voice in my head and over the course of one year vowed to become a hermit and lay the foundation for the rest of my life.

I did not drink. I did not date. I took a vow of celibacy, which was not difficult since I decided that I would not even talk to women unless I had to conduct business with them like at the bank or store. There was no women on my base. I pulled missions at work and on my free time I drove to an old abandoned Spanish fort, Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, put my back against the building, looked at the ocean and for hours wrote in a journal about who I wanted to become politically, emotionally, financially, intellectually and spiritually. A few years and hundreds of hours later I came back to the states a much better person.

In the twenty years since my accident, I have carried 100 pound ruck sacks in triple canopy jungle, I have done running races and body building contests. I power lifted for a couple years and was also a decent rock climber. I finished an Ironman. Since the car accident I have had a dozen concussions, over half have knocked me unconscious. They say, more you have the easier they are to get. I can never participate in team athletics again, not even a pick up basketball game or touch football. Any serious hit to the head and it could be devastating. I have to call my wife when I hit my head in case something goes wrong a few hours later.

I still suffer from the head injury in other ways. Those that know me best, see the problems I have with conversation and speech; mostly that my mind will insert a completely different word into a sentence and when Mistress asks if I have seen her keys and I respond, "They're in the refrigerator, " she knows to ask again. I have a lot of pauses in my speech pattern because I can't think of the right word and know the one in my head is not right. It has taken me hours to write this post and most of my daily writings take a long time as well. is always up to make sure I spell correctly. When I am tired and my mental guard is down I have a hard time driving or making decisions about simple things. I have impulse control issues and say and do things that I later wonder why I did it. I finish a lot of phone calls wondering why I said something the way I did.

I am a lucky guy. I am blessed. I don't deserve the gifts I have been given and try to use my experiences to help others with their own challenges. I wouldn't be able to write this entry if it wasn't for my mother and those friends I had who did so much for me in the beginning. Thats maybe why I try to be such a fervent friend. I have a wife who understands and knows me from before the accident and after it. She sees the confusion in my face caused by a mind that sometimes doesn't grasp a simple concept and helps me through it.

I know that there is something inside me that helped overcome my head injury. A supernatural power, a touch from God at that point in my life, a tenacity to never quit or give up in the face of adversity. Its more than optimism. I see optimism's in the faces of all those head injury victims who did not recover as successfully as I did. I see their open smiles and their distant eyes and hear a speech pattern that for a time was my own. I try to reach out to them and say, "Its okay man, I know what your going through, how can I help." But more often than not I just choke back my tears and try to treat them like a real person of value, accepted by society and full of the promise they had before their accident. Just like I want to be.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Rocky Point Triathlon headquarters

I have talked about my upcoming race in Rocky Point, Mexico this weekend. Its an international distance (1000m/ 24m/ 10k). The race is thankfully Saturday morning which is Cinco de Mayo and there is free Corona at the finish line. Hoorah!

Jeff, Hardcore Mike and I and our wifes rented the penthouse at the host hotel. That night we are having a shrimp bbq and party at our penthouse that night. Should be a blast.

This is the host hotel

Just liked this one


90% of the background noise in my life is talk radio of one type or another. Very little music. For those rare times I listen to music its stuff on my iPod, which is also loaded up with visualization stuff.

Which is strange because I absolutely dominate on mainstream music trivia. I play 'name that band' a lot with friends at work and they never stand a chance.

There is one album that I had completely forgotten about but for several years was played non-stop in my car and in my room- Operation Mind Crime by Queenryche, a magnum opus in music. I saw it today at iTunes and had to download it. I became hooked on this band and this album very early on. How early? I saw them record it in the studio thanks to a co-worker who knew the lead singer. It helped that my brother dated the bass player's little sister in school, that led me to the lead singers 30th birthday blow out when Mind Crime was on the charts.

The first time I heard Sir Mix-A-Lot he was signing four feet from me at a garage party. The only time I saw Pearl Jam they were Mookie Blaylock and playing a college bar playing their soon to be released album Ten. I met Alice in Chains in studio cutting their first album; Layne Staley the lead singer, he and I lived in the same city as kids. He told me he was only cutting the album so he could make some money for his heroin addiction. He OD'd about ten years later. I was pretty opinionated about drug use back then and refused to see Nirvana but had many chances. Still glad about that.

The Posies, Soundgarden, MudHoney, The Presidents of The United States of America, I saw them all. Given all that, my favorite band was a folk/grunge band called Inflatable Soule. I probably saw them a dozen times, all in little venues or grass concerts. They never made it big out of Seattle but when three members of the band are related to Chris Cornell from Soundgarden you know its pretty good. Also that they worked they all worked at a bar down the street when they weren't playing didn't hurt either.

Well all that and $1.84 will get me a cup of coffee at Starbucks today but being in Seattle back then was something. Coffee was getting big. Microbrews were gaining popularity. I was in and out of active duty. I was thinking for myself for the first time in my life.

I might never listen to a lot of music again, preferring the stimulus of talk radio but for a time I watched greatness unfold and it was glorious.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Janus Question

One of my team mates is looking to get into Ironman Florida this year to see if he can get a Kona slot for 2008. He has the ability to get a slot. We looked online but couldn't find the information that I looked at and understood last year.

I thought that when I looked at getting a late slot into Arizona last year, Janus allowed you to buy in for $1000 and then you raised $500 or $1000 for their charity.

Has anyone done this before and could you explain it to me (us)?

Kinda cool observation

Did you know that you can use dry erase markers on mirrors? I didn't. Then Mistress started writing Mo's morning chores on the mirror in the bathroom and when he did one he got to climb up and wipe it off with a tissue, like a reward.

I thought, "hmmmm, why can't I write myself notes on my mirror?" So I have started writing my next workout on the mirror like: "Today-Swim at 3pm" or "What have you done for Ironman today?" (thanks Robo-Stu for that one).

Anyway, maybe it will help you too. If nothing else it keeps the tri-spouse up to date on your doings.

Haboob: The picture

Pictures speak louder than dictionary's. Since most of you have never heard of or seen a haboob, I thought I would cull some pictures from online that are good depictions. The top photo looks to be the middle east but the bottom two are from Phoenix.

When monsoon season actually comes to town, which is an considered an actual seasonal change like some regions moving into 'summer' or 'autumn', these can come several times a week or maybe just once or twice a year. During monsoon these haboobs moving at 30-50 mph are followed by terrific thunder and lightening storms and up to two inches of rain within just a couple hours. A complete and utter deluge of water.

Phoenix does not have so much a series of gutters as a network of greenbelts and waterways created to move this massive amount of water to the Salt River. During and after monsoons the possibilities of flash flooding occurring in residential areas is very real.

Last season our block was hit by a microburst, which is a hurricane occurring in the middle of the storm with tornado's very possible. Mistress and Mo had to watch our backyard and neighborhood be torn apart, cactus and trees falling over, roofs being ripped, all without power, while I was sitting in a bar with Jeff ten miles away eating boneless hot wings wondering if I would ever get to see a good storm that season. Didn't rain a drop where we were at. Mistress did call and tell me to stay put since the storm was so bad.

Enough about the weather. I think it pretty cool stuff. Enjoy the photos.