Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Paid to Train

Well I teased you pretty hard this week and many of you smarties commented on my 4 hour trainer ride Saturday and my training heavy Thursday. The reason is that I am participating in a live marketing campaign in conjunction with the Super Bowl here in Phoenix.

Here is what I know. GMR Marketing, specializes in large marketing campaigns using live subjects at big public events. Their Super Bowl campaign is for a 'Green' Company, we don't know the sponsor yet, that is having cyclists riding for 2 hour blocks running from 6am Thursdays straight through Sunday night at 8pm. They are paying $20 per hour and max out at four hours per day. I wanted more shifts but could only get 2 hours Thursday and 4 hour Saturday. Normally they are not letting people ride 4 hours straight but, when I told them I am an Ironman (yeah, I name dropped myself) they waived the exemption.

I told em, "Hey I got an 80 mile ride scheduled that day anyway, why not?"

So you want to know how I can sit on a trainer for four hour on Saturday? Pay me $80 for doing it. Plus the two hours on Thursday which I am just tossing on top of my normal training day.

There is no stipulation on cadence or distance, just keeping the pedals moving is all they care about and I can wear my iPod and listen to reruns of GYGO and TacBoy & Bigun. Of course the plan Saturday is to get 4 hard hours of training in, as well as smiling and proudly showing my uniform of a long sleeve green shirt with the yet unknown sponsor name. But I suppose with about 40 other people around me, there will be plenty to keep my occupied.

The event is at the NFL Experience complex, so I get free parking at the stadium and free admission to the complex. No, Super bowl tickets are not included. I didn't want to be anywhere near the stadium on game day. On Sunday I will knock out my 16 mile run then eat some sushi pre-game and have a massive BBQ steak and potato during the game with Pops.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


With sooooooo much going on in my life, I really had to address the one area I could control that was also getting out of hand, Ironman training. I was losing control because I was/am allowing outside anxieties and miscommunication to hedge into my training time.

Part of my fix was to go back to an older base schedule, albeit modified for current distance loads, that I am very comfortable with. The routine is easier mentally for me to follow than some of the crazier stuff I have been trying to fit in with my increased responsibilities at work and home.

This was also a schedule that I had just before my last concussion in November and finally, yes finally almost three months later, feel that I am past it. Part of the return in this schedule is the early pre-dawn runs and trainer rides. It was a little colder today at 0430 (40 degrees) than my last pre-dawn run in early November (55 degrees).

My schedule this week is pretty full and modified just a bit more than usual with emphasis on the trainer and not outside:

Monday: Off
Tuesday: Run one hour / trainer drills one hour
Wednesday: Bike trainer 90 minutes / swim endurance one hour
Thursday: Run 90 minutes / swim force drills one hour / bike trainer 2 hours
Friday: Run one hour hill repeats / swim easy 30 minutes
Saturday: Bike Trainer 4 hours
Sunday: Run 16 miles

You might be asking yourself, "Yourself. Why is Comm's doing so much work on a trainer?"

And that will be my post for tomorrow. haha gotcha'

Monday, January 28, 2008

My Bad, My Bad

I forgot to update my email with my server company and the web address expired over the weekend. After some scrambling and a couple phone calls, it was taken care of early Monday morning but the site didn't repost until later.

Thanks for all of you who called or emailed citing their concern. You will find I have deposited one million dollars into each of your accounts. Spend wisely.

I had a big weekend of training planned and didn't do a thing....nah, just kidding. I got 80% of it done. It could have been worse.

  • I worked late Friday and had to shave some distance off my run/swim brick so I could get home for Movie Night with Mighty Mo and Carol.
  • Saturday was supposed to be 80 miles on the IM course and I am telling you it sucked. I will take full responsibility but I will be looking at my drive train tonight because even though the wind was terrible and my legs were tired and my mind distracted, my gearing was all over the place. And squeaky. And skippy. Honestly, I was going to go back to the car to finish one 35 mile loop and then go home instead of going back out again. I was mentally defeated. I got to the bottom of the B-Line and pulled up to Jeff and Andy at the gas station with a case full of ass. They tried to get me to go back up the hill but I was already done, complaining loudly for all to hear. I had already planned my lunch and movie for the rest of the day. As they headed back up the B-Line, I turned towards Tempe Town Lake. I made it just past the gas pumps but turned around to make one more run to trip to the top of the hill, They were not surprized. It was just as miserable but I did it. Did I say it sucked?
  • Beginning late Saturday it poured rain. You probably saw the weather on the news hitting SoCal, well it hit us next. Yes I am spoiled with the great weather out here. It doesn't make it any easier when running 14 miles in the stuff on Sunday when I am used to no-rain weather. Jeff, Wendy and Andy were there too. I wore gators, tights, two shirts, a jacket, a gore tex hat. Geesh. We ran a muddy, rut strewn, rolling uphill/ downhill 5 mile loop desert trail and have the pictures to prove it. They ran faster than me but I had got there first and put in 4 miles ahead of time. I realized by mile nine that I had not eaten all day. So I gobbed some gel and Gatorade and did one more loop, bonking about mile 12. They were all waiting so instead of pulling the last miserable 2 miles alone, now in the hail, and after being out there for almost two and half hours, it wasn't hard to convince me to grab a hot lunch. I started with pure IM food; bowl of chicken soup and Coke Classic.
In 36 hours I did 2200 yards swimming, 61 miles cycling and 20 miles running. After all that I still feel guilty for shorting myself 300 yards swimming, 19 miles cycling and 4 miles running. If I had only had a bit better time management and a lot more mental defenses I would have got it all.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Packing it in

Well the weekend is here, thank god its Friday, right? Well yes if that means having 4 big workouts in three days.

Should have headed out, oh, thirty minutes ago for my 8 mile run that bricks into a Endurance (Force) Swim at the pool. So I will be leaving as soon as this is posted.

Saturday is an 80 mile bike, or two loops of the IMAZ course with the team.

Sunday is a 16 mile run. The first six on my own, then ten with the team at First Water, a desert trail in Lost Dutchman State Park. Y'up, thar's gold in them thar hills!

If all goes as planned this ramp up weekend for Ironman will be 1.5 miles of swimming, 80 miles of biking and 24 miles of running. w00t.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Lately I have been lauded for actions and decisions that have been considered brilliant. For example, I never thought I was going to run a 1:47 at PF Changs half and I have been overwhelmed at the congratulations I have received from bloggers and friends (notice the order). It is still surreal to me that I posted that time.

At work during the last four days, I can't dodge a compliment. Every time I turn around I am being appreciated and congratulated for a decision or action or been an example in something that changed the paradigm of someones life. People telling me they have lost 20 pounds because of the example of exercise I set. Supervisors telling employees how I impacted them to become the success they are today. Employees flocking around me in the middle of a room giving me rapt attention and writing down what I say as if it's gold.

Funny thing is, I have been an absolute wreck the last two weeks. I am working and thinking out of sheer mental, emotional and physical stress. I am acting and making decisions and talking while scared shitless. The absolute most stress I have had in months. When I am alone or its quite my mind is working a hundred problems and solutions, trying to find dozens of angles to multiple issues. It leaves me exhausted and tired. Training suffers, everything suffers. I get headaches like you wouldn't believe.

Many of you may want to know where Mistress is in all of this. Mistress is part of that stress but I suppose in a good way. Much like our Training Contract, we don't have just one conversation about anything important and it stretches for a few weeks at a time. And we had a long talk last night about the stress she has put on me and the responsibility to it. Now she is happy, Mo is happy and that makes me happy, but no less stressed. I can barely put it into verbal words without falling over myself, so I will write about this in less ambiguity at a later date as things come together.

Funny thing is that the Ironman coming up in just a couple months doesn't have me stressed. Not in the least. And maybe thats because all the stress I have right now is about changes in my lifestyles and ironman is my lifestyle.

I suppose when I have God, family and my health (triathlon / exercise), I can get through everything... even if I feel like I have been hit by a train in all aspects of my life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


TBC posted that he is running a half marathon. Thats awesome. But it reminds me of THE QUESTION oft asked of long distance runners, "Did you walk at all?"

While this at first sounds like an innocuous question, BEWARE, it is insidious. It sounds like a reason for compliment but it is not. It is meant to belittle your efforts. Its is asked by people who have no concept of long distance running or endurance exercise. These are people that in the future when they overhear a comment, "Did you know Sally ran a marathon last weekend?" will chime in with, "But she didn't run the whole thing." It is as if the effort is marginalized due to a strategic or unplanned slowing of pace.

You could respond as I did after describing a perfect long training run and getting THE QUESTION, "I did ten toe touches to stretch out my hamstring," I responded. If like many people, myself included, you have strategic walk plans whether they be walking at each aid station or a 3/1 split (3 minutes running/ 1 minute walking), you can respond, "I ran according to plan. 26.2 miles is a long way to move. Have you ever done one?" Of course the answer is usually 'No.'

Lets be honest here, those that have done a marathon or seriously consider doing one, will not ask that question. Its absurd. To me its akin to walking up to a soldier whose been to Iraq and asking, "So, you kill anyone over there?"

People who ask are of two camps; the first is complete unknowing of the sport like a family member or close co-worker who is too fearful of the distance to know better and the second are Dreamkillers. Dreamkillers find something you're attempting to do, (marathon, lose weight, etc) and find fault with everything your attempting with humor or peer pressure. Wil once commented on a co-worker who tried shoving a doughnut down her throat because she was eating healthy and he was not. Ultimately the example shows that THE QUESTION, is made to make them feel better about their lazy habits. If the Dreamkiller finds out you DNF or DNS or fall off your diet, they feel superior in that they were 'smart' enough to never undertake such a foolish act.

It's posed to pull you down. So don't listen to the Dreamkillers. Stay strong and be prepared. Some people don't understand how a 3/1 or similar plan can for some people be actually faster long term than straight running, so telling them you have a run/walk plan makes no sense. "Your supposed to be a runner, don't you run the whole way," is the common myth of non-endurance people and almost wholly impossible to change public perception when their only casual knowing of the sport is watching the Olympics or the top finishers of a televised race.

Be brave and beware THE QUESTION.

How did you respond to THE QUESTION or would have responded had you said what you really wanted to say? Let'r rip.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Back to the Bulls

I am pretty lucky with my swimming holes. Not a lot of ego. Canyon lake is 1,000 yard loops with team mates, no ego but some jaw jacking afterwards over beer. At my weekday pool, most are businessman getting in lunch time swims or triathletes with set plans. Everyone is just trying to get in and out.

Then there's my club pools. I don't use them much, in case of emergency like last night. Not because there not good but there's too many distractions with people coming up to me with work issues. But it does seem that when I use club pools there is alway one or two people who think they need to be the fastest guy in the pool for the time he is swimming.

My sets last night were easy 2x200, 2x300, 2x400 with moderate 1x100 in between each set. Just a basic endurance practice. The only other person in the pool came after my WU, midway through my 2x200's. Just about every 100 or 150 yards I did, I would feel him blow by me and 'bull' through a 50 or 100 yard swim then he would just stand there for several minutes or do one lap with a kick board using a breast stroke kick causing large swells in the pool. I paid no head but I smiled to myself knowing that to his 4 lengths I was doing 12 or 16 with only a :20 second break in between sets. On some of my turns I could see his noticeable belly sucking air in and out in large gulps with hands on hips as he walked in circles near the wall.

I admit one of my moderate speed 100's were probably closer to T-Pace or faster and he was not swimming at the time. As usually happens, he left before I was done completing my workout doing close to 500 yards to my 2,600.

Does this happen to any of you?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Zoo, painting and vices played out.

The Valdora is in the shop and wasn't ready for riding Saturday when I went to pick it up just before my planned 60 miles. That workout was shot. Instead Mistress and Mo drove down and we all spent the day at the zoo, then REI, then dinner at Red Robin and finally a trip to some pottery store where you paint your own clay item. I helped Mo with a plate bearing his name, many times, while Mistress put some nice effort into her own plate.

I was going to do a nice big coffee cup with M-Dot, triathlon and AZTRICLUB logos but having just drooled over a double walled titanium coffee cup at REI for just a bit more after all the costs at the pottery store, I couldn't do it.

Had a very nice easy 10 mile run Sunday with Andy, Jeff and Wendy. We make up 1/3 of a relay event I will mention in the upcoming days. Afterwards we went for some Mongolian BBQ. Then walking through the new outdoor mall we found a 30 sq. ft. arcade/bar like Game Works.

I have not hidden my video game vice and how if I become too involved it begins to affect my work and home life. I have played video games for 24 hours straight. Its all encompassing. Well my eye's got wide as saucers and aside from the requisite firehouse hot wings and beer while watching some of the football game, it was Game On. I called Mistress like someone calling their Sponsor and her knowing that Andy was staying with me bode well enough for her to let me stay with nary a caution.
Two hours later, adrenally drained and completely satisfied, I left with a smile on my face. Andy offered to take my Play Card, but that would not (notice I did not say 'will' not) be a deterrent for going back. I think I can handle the occasional walk on the wild side.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Personal Message

I received a letter from my brother. He followed in the Mann family tradition of joining the Infantry of US Army behind myself, our father, both grandfathers and then great grandfathers on back to the dawn of our country. Unlike the rest of us he has continued to remain enlisted while the rest of us became officers. He was in a terrible battlefield injury (IED) in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope. His last long deployment was just hours after 9/11. While the country was still looking for leadership and answers and the towers still smoldered, soldiers, especially citizen soldiers like my brother did not hesitate and continue to not hesitate to keep the 'Tip of the Spear' sharp.

This is his notification letter to his family and friends. But I feel, (and I hope he agrees because I didn't ask), that this letter needs to be seen by everyone as a reminder that while we struggle daily with our own issues, they really pale compared to the sacrifices soldiers and especially families of soldiers face this very day.

This is the voice of a real American soldier, not the pap portrayed on tv or by politicians. Today as you and I deal with all our issues, real and imagined, hug your spouse, pull your children close and tell them today about a soldier, (this one or one you know) who has charged into the breach for their safe future.

Dear Family & Friends,

I thought it would be best to write one all inclusive email to everyone to say that I've been activated to assist with the war effort in Afghanistan which will start sometime in July 2008.

The past week has been very difficult for (wife) and (daughter) as they try and come to grips with everything having a deployed husband and father brings. (Son) is only 3 and really doesn't understand what's going on so it's been specially difficult when he wants to continue to terrorize the house despite the somber feelings everyone is having.

For myself, I choose to draw upon the positive aspects of what is happening despite all the negative I could dwell on. My last deployment directly after 9-11, I only had 4 hours notice to leave and this time I have about 6 months. Last time I did not know the unit I was being assigned too and this time I know at least two other people and possibly a few others. Last time I was dealing with low ranking privates and soldiers who really didn't care or know how to do their job and this time I am deploying as a Drill Sergeant and will be working with Drill Sergeants who time after time have a proven record of professionalism and commitment to duty. Last time it was unclear of when I would be coming home and this time I've been told that my deployment would basically encompass one full year.

This is my mission as I understand it now; I will be going to Afghanistan and putting an Afghan Army through a basic training process similar to the one we put our U.S. soldiers through and then leading them out on patrols and missions. As my primary MOS is still Infantry and having the designation of being a Drill Sergeant, I believe this is why I have been selected for this operation. The other two Drill Sergeants in my unit being called with me are Infantry as well.

While I do not want to be away from my family, I expect that I will do my mission well. I have been in the Army now for 15 years with five of those years being Active Duty. I am confident in my ability to lead, train, and bring the fight to the enemy.

Talking with (Daughter) has been the hardest. She just turned 12 and is struggling with all the things that 12 year olds struggle with and now has to deal with this. I told her that if by me having to go to Afghanistan means that she could live in world without the fear of terrorism than it is something I'm willing to do for my family, for my friends, and for everyone else who enjoys their basic freedoms we enjoy in this country. I know it's difficult for her to understand now but hopefully as she grows older she will grow to understand not only the sacrifice soldiers make but why we make them. This soldier still gets choked up every time I hear the National Anthem I love my country this much.

There are soldiers who have spent multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan away from family, friends, and home. I cannot in turn be upset or selfish about my country telling me they need my specific qualifications to combat terrorism. One friend I have has been away four of the last seven years (not continuously), and hasn't seen his wife or children grow up... How can I look him in the eye and say go again because I don't want to or can't.

One major change despite my absence is (Wife), (Daughter), and (Son) will be moving to Phoenix Arizona to live with my parents. A few reasons for this is because I am taking a massive cut in pay. As I (work for a federal government agency) we have been managing living out in California but unfortunately the burden is far to great in this circumstance on an Army salary. We plan to shut down Operation Mann family in California but keep the house, minus utilities, phone, cable, Internet, garbage, etc. thus cutting many expenses and (Wife) can work in Arizona to help make up some of the difference in our cut in pay.

Some other benefits of the family moving to Arizona is that my mom does not work so she can watch (Son) while (Wife) is working. My brother and his family live by my parents and they have a son who is just one year older than (Son) and he absolutely loves playing with (Daughter) and (Son). This way my children can still have a positive male role model in their life via my brother which closely resembles their own father...just not as good looking as me of course :0) My sister in-law (Mistress) gets along with (Wife) very much and she will be a positive influence on someone to talk to and my kids love being around her as well as I know she loves them very much. When we visit it's always fun to go visit Uncle Commodore and Aunt (Mistress). So basically that's one less thing for me to worry about during my deployment in that my family will be looking after my family.

I don't see this mission being scrubbed as it is my understanding that a surge of U.S. forces are being sent to Afghanistan in the months to follow. So much attention is placed on Iraq that it almost seems that people forget we are still fighting a war in Afghanistan. None the less I would ask for all of you too keep my family in your thoughts, your prayers, and/ or your well wishes. As the time of my departure comes closer, I will send you all our new contact information in case you want or need to get a hold of (Wife). I don't know what my Internet access will be but if I or (Wife) will send you my overseas address as well.

I hope this email finds all of you well. I know this is coming out of no where as not even I anticipated this deployment. I'm sure many of us will talk later and I apologize for the long email but I wanted to answer some of the questions any of you might have with this email.

(Name Withheld)

Friday, January 18, 2008

PF Chang 2008 photos

I have seen enough pictures of myself running to see that my form is looking different and that is a good thing. Since October I have been working hard to have better running form. The biggest change noticeable in the pictures is the lift in my trail leg. Even though I have run for almost two decades I've had a very low pick up with my feet and been a heel striker. It looks like the efforts have paid off.

I think I will challenge everyone this year to pose for one finishers picture that is not the static stand like your getting a Passport photo. Grab a buddy (like Kahuna and Trimama at IMFL) or pose in a different way. In all things...

Have Fun.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hubris meets reality

I wrote most of this post back in October of 2007. It never made the light of flat screen for some reason or another. However after the PF Chang weekend its pretty topical/funny/sad. The original post will be in orange and my current updates left in black.

I was talking to a peer when a trainer walked by talking about Triathlon. I had never met her, so I asked, "Are you a triathlete?"

"I'm doing Ironman Arizona next year to qualify for Kona.I researched and saw that I only need a 9:30 to get a slot."

"That is awesome. What Ironmans have you done already."

"I haven't."

(I think- Okay then she must have done something)....."So what triathlons have you done. Are you doing Soma?"

"No. I have never done an triathlon before."

(I think-then she must be a runner)..."Have you done a marathon yet?"

"I haven't finished one. I am doing PF Chang in January and that will be my last long run before Ironman in April."

(I think-then she must be crazy cyclist)..."So what bike to you ride?"

"I don't know."

(I think- if you don't know the make/model of bike you ride then you did not invest any money into it or rode it very much)..."How much did you spend on it?"

"I just bought my friends bike. He says it was a couple thousand new. I am going to start riding next month and do my last long ride in mid February."

(I think- WOW. This person has no clue. But stay positive and encouraging)..."How do you swim?"

"Swimming's my strongest part."

"Well that's great! Where do you swim?"

"I haven't swum in a while, but the pool will be fixed next month and I will start swimming then."

(I think-Stay positive)..."Do yo have a team to train with?"

"My friend is in a Tri-Club in Phoenix and I've been to one meeting already."

All I could do was be encouraging and in no way did I start sharpshooting her plan. We talked a little bit about my training for triathlons, locations, etc. As she walked away, my peer looked at me and said, "She has no clue does she?" "No clue," I respond. " Sometimes you have to let people fail in order to understand. No amount of incite or education can separate them from often times delusions of grandeur.

Apparently she ran a 5:49 at PF Changs this weekend. She tried to call in sick Monday as her body is a wreck, anyone whose run a bad mary can feel her pain myself included, but her manager told her to come in and service her clients; she 'knew' what she was getting herself into. And I agree.
She walked around limping, stiff legged and sore backed, trying to reschedule her clients. Stiff armed too as I was told by Mistress who witnessed the display.

There is no good way to end this post without being mean or bitter and that is not my intent. I like this person. Maybe its just a PSA. I feel she is severely deluded as to the effort and process of attempting an ironman.

'Swimming' is not just doing a couple hundred yards in the pool grabbing the wall a couple times. Its swimming a couple thousand yards. Twice.

'Biking' is not a leisurely hour riding down a hardpack trail. Its a butt numbing, leg aching, sweat in your eyes, tired as hell, get me off this thing before I shoot it, riding as fast as you can for six to eight hours event.

'Running' is not just not doing what it takes to make it to the finish line. Sometimes its not even running or jogging or even walking. Sometimes its just moving because all you want to do is sit. All your mind wants to do is shut down. Make you stop. Give up. You have six or seven hours to not just run, but live in your own head, permutate the outcomes, play the angles. Maybe the worst place to be on the course at anytime is staggering on your feet and talking in your head.

Ironmans are no joke. Those that do them, finish or not, spend hundreds if not over a thousand hours practicing for months or years ahead of time. It a supreme investment of your life. I don't begrudge anyone who race shorter distances. Not at all.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I'm Dirt Cheap?

Not sure how long this LINK will stay up, but its a local news station doing one of those "On Your Side" consumer reports and they actually did a favorable story on the company I helped create.

The written article is almost verbatim to the video clip BUT the video was shot at the location my office is at. So if anyone is interested in seeing where I work, literally, give it a whirl.

I was hesitant to hear we were going to be on tv. You can never trust the news to report anything right. Usually they smile and shake your hand, turn on the camera, leave fast and stab you in the back later that night for a whole city to see. God knows my own statements have been cut and pasted the last few years. Anyone remember the ol' Elk in Tempe Town Lake statement.

But this article is a good thing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

You heard it hear first...

Everyone knows that Arizona has two Ironmans in 2008 and then one permanently scheduled to fall's starting 2009. It got me thinking a long time back about how lucky you Coeur D'Alene 2008 people are because of the way NA Sports now does their sign up for events. The race venue gets first come-first serve and the remaining slots are put online. For historical repeater M-Dot's like Placid and Canada you can expect only a couple hundred of the 2400 slots being available on IMCdA will probably be able to put only 20% of slots online and those will sellout faster than a Hannah Montana concert.

It made me think more. Based on this current entry strategy, which further deludes the ability of first timer to race M-Dot's, (is a beginner going to fly to Lake Placid to buy a slot for next year?) is NA Sports really going to make CdA, in June, the first IM race of north America every year? I thought not and then considered the possibilities of warmer climes for a spring race. With IM-Florida, IM-Arizona and Vegas 140.6-Silverman in November, I thought Texas would be ripe for an official 140.6 M-Dot race and the gulf will be perfect for this event in the Spring.

I was WRONG!!!! A source told me over the weekend that Ford California 70.3 (Oceanside) held in late March is going to become a full fledged 140.6 race in 2009. Can you believe this!! According to my source, it won't cost NA Sports any more money and will simply become a two loop course.

This fills a big gap for those living south of Kansas and sea to sea that can train almost year round for 140.6 events. Until its announced, "Anything Is Possible."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Race Report #3 2008 PF Chang Half Marathon

For my third endurance event of my season, the PF Chang's half marathon, I want to do well but first I have some mental obstacles. Standing in corral #5 I have a bladder that won't fully empty and a dead battery in my footpod; I won't be using my pace to guide me through this race. But the weather is damn near perfect. My mind, lately plagued with plateaus, missed workouts and increased responsibility at work, is only focused on the streets ahead. I plug in my ear buds, crank up the playlist, start my watch and move under the start line banner. I am determined that today will be different. Today I will be Unusual. It's 8:30am.

My goal is simple. Set a good pace for the first three miles. Increase my heart rate to threshold until mile ten and then pop the remaining safeties in my mind and go for it the last three miles. I am going to run a sub-2 hour half marathon. A great race for me is to finish around 1:54.

The half marathon is a distance I do at least twice per month in training but not at anaerobic threshold like I will this day. I train for Ironmans and the requisite running is long distances at a much lower heart rate zone. Its about being consistent, think more tortoise than hare.

By mile two I have finally emptied my bladder at a honey bucket along the course and conceded to striking my lap button at each mile marker, I will run by individual splits and heart rate alone, the Polar 625 on my wrist will be well underutilized this race. My first 5k comes in 27 minutes and feel I have more to give to this course. My mind is sharp, my feet moving well and I begin to push the pace.

There are 20,000 people running the half and even being seeded in corral 5 of 30, there are thousands of people in front of me and they are between me and my goal. The next three miles I continue to dart through and around people. Normally these quick lateral movements and spurts of acceleration are more tedious than anything but I find that my pace and my energy are up to the task. I continue to click off miles each of them a couple seconds over a pace of eight minutes.

I know at mile ten I want to push it harder. My heart rate has already been locked in at 167 for the last several miles. My form feels perfect and my breathing is effortless. I have no reason or thought to breaking my pace and in fact haven't slowed down or walked at all. These last three miles will decide my fate of a sub 2 hour run. I can't let up at all.

Miles nine and ten are slightly uphill. They're not really hills, but enough of an incline to make you think about it. I didn't hesitate, tucked my chin, pumped my arms and only lose a few seconds to the clock. Its at this point that two runners pass me on the uphill. The first to do so in an hour. I celebrate the realization and redouble my efforts pushing my heart rate into the high 170's.

Thankfully mile eleven is a well known stretch of road and its somewhat downhill. I make up considerable time, running my fastest mile of 7:43. My mind is no longer concerned with time or pace, I am moving as fast as I can. I realize my eyes are half-closed slits. All my energy poured into the last few minutes on the clock. The final mile brings me fully to terms with my endeavor. My pace has not slackened in the least and my energy output is still consistent with seemingly much left in the tank. I am pushing myself to the point of feeling the urge to vomit and still I continue my mission. My mind repeats the word, "squeeze." As in don't let up, keep squeezing the life from this road. I am fully flying past people only stymied by the bottleneck into the longest finish shoot I have ever seen.

I began this race months ago, meditating on a sub-2 hour race. I told so very few my hearts desire to run 1:54. When I crossed the finish line and saw my time of 1:47, my heart swelled. So much emotion ran through me. I had done my best and slaughtered my expectations. My thoughts went to Mistress. I mentally thanked her first. I couldn't have run this day without her support. Without her acceptance of my training. She rarely disapproves and often is my biggest advocate for getting in my long hours of practice for my Ironmans. When I tell her I will be home at 1pm, she tells me she will she me around 3pm and she is usually right.

The time I ran, the love of my family, the legs still wanting to churn out the miles, my body showing me its excellent condition despite my mental self-conflagrations otherwise; I got emotional. My phone call home was choked up, with my heart in my throat and my emotions on my salty sleeve.

Many months ago I decided that the theme of 2008's would be the Year Of Believing. Right now I truly do.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Personal Hero Falls

Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to scale Mt. Everest, died of heart failure yesterday at 88. Long known more for adventures than his philanthropy. He reached the top of the highest point in the world and then touched each pole of the planet. Hillary lead a long life of adventure, was knighted by the Queen of England and and got his face on the New Zealand $5 bill, where is was a native. Along the way he eschewed the hype and self-huckstering that is the character of many adventurers of today. Instead of long book tours and the lecture circuit, this simple man, with definite opinions, lived his life as a bee-keeper, the same profession of his father.

I learned of Sir Edmund during a joint mission with some British soldiers. We were all at some run down joint and the mission was to get piss drunk before going out on our separate operations. I lost my favorite knife that night for the sake of 'cross-cultural promotion'. He got my knife and whatever he gave me is lost to my memory. I really loved that Gerber Mark 2...oh well. Anyway, I was so wrapped up in my own jingoism of American heroes and literature that this figure they described cut a wide schism in my myopic view of icons and I dived greatly into European history.

I started reading true histories about Hillary and Shackleton and put down the fiction of Mark Twain and James Fenimore Cooper books by Alexandre Dumas and Jules Verne. All because one drunk night while a bunch of soldiers from different countries laughed together, taunted each other and tried to put our self danger away for a couple hours by describing the dangers others willingly put themselves into in the name of exploration, instead of combat.

In my mind that night the name Sir Edmund Hillary made me appreciate a bigger world.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

She got what??!!??

Look, I got no beef against people who get "once in a lifetime" chances for races. I'm in for a lottery slot for Escape From Alcatraz this year. I am in awe of anyone who participates in Kona or Boston. I don't put them on a pedestal but its a significant accomplishment to be out there and finish a tough course.

It seems that Katie Holmes, aka Mrs. Tom Cruise, who ran a 5:30 at the NY marathon last year got a 'celebrity exemption' for the Boston Marathon. Her time was a full two hours slower than the qualifiers for her AG.

Its an honor for anyone to toe that line and in the chute before the gun goes off, it doesn't matter if they qualified or not. And doesn't the history of Boston prove with Roberta Gibb, the first woman to finish the race (as a bandit in 1966), that non-qualifiers can have more impact than top Age Groupers.

Julie Moss, didn't qualify for Ironman in 1982, she didn't even consider herself an athlete. She was competing to finish her work on a research thesis on exercise physiology. Granted there was no qualifier in 1982, but this unknown triathlete was the leading female until the fateful last miles when on national tv, she collapsed, got up, staggered, collapsed and was passed at the very end. That moment is a true big bang of triathlon.

I wish Katie Holmes well. I hope she has a great experience at Boston. The Boston Athletic Association knows that she will bring exposure to the race and hopefully more people to endurance sports.

But what about Lance Armstrong? Is he going to Boston? He qualified at the same NY race by 15 minutes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Buuut, Dadddddy....

...I want to be a MoFo."

Mighty Mo told me this as I drove him to school. Apparently one of the kids calls him MoFo.

I am thinking that at four years old, his friend has no clue to the adult slang of that term. Please Lord I hope not. It was part of a rhyming game they played at school with their names.

Without really using the word, (so there is no reinforcement) I am trying to tell my son, who is extremely polite and solicitous for his age and tells his mommy when people say "Shut Up" on tv, that 'MoFo" is not a proper term to be called and when he hears that he should tell that person his nickname is Mighty Mo or Super Mo or Dinosaur Mo or MoMo or just Mo as thats his nickname already.

He became quite upset with me and then whined that his mommy said it was okay. Oh she did? So I called Mistress and put her on speaker phone and made him talk to her.

After her laughs subsided, she backed me up. I walked Mo into the play yard, reminding him that I love him and that being called MoFo is like being told to Shut Up. Its not appropriate conversation. I also told the teacher at the yard and she said she would follow up for me, since Mo told me who said it.

Mo may be many things but he won't know those types of negative reinforcement until our conversations are PG-13 and not G rated.

"Mo, using that word is TALL TALK. You can only use SMALL TALK."
"You mean when I am bigger, daddy."
"Yes, when your bigger."
"When I am five?"
"Ahhhhh. No."
"When you're much taller, Mo."
"Buutttt Daddddy. I want to be taller now."
"But mommy and daddy don't."
"Okay. I won't be a MoFo till I'm bigger."

Monday, January 7, 2008


For the last few days I have been peaking. Not sure why since my training has been stable in effort and hours over the long holidays. Monday's swim was at a speed and ability that far surpasses my normal efforts. It felt almost normal to swim at speeds 10% faster than my established T-pace (I'll let IronPol explain). My Sunday ride on the IMAZ course is by far the fastest I have ever ridden that loop with a speed three miles per hour faster than my average on that course for that distance.

I haven't really felt a peak in a long time. I live in the realm of exhaustion more than rested. Even my races in 2007, especially Ironman with the viral infection, I was nowhere near peak physical conditioning physically or mentally.

I am hoping it bodes well for PF Chang's this weekend. I am returning to the half mary distance looking for a sub two hour time. I have done it or very close to it in training for the last couple of months, every couple of weeks. It's just a matter of putting it all together, mixing in some good weather and on the course magic. This is the first real 'race' of the season for me though I already have bibs & medals for a marathon and a 109 mile cycling race in the last two months.

For those inquiring, the forecast is 44*/65* on race day and sunny. It will be like that all week through the race.


I stayed up late reading a book. I chastised myself and closed it at midnight knowing that morning would come too soon for me to get good sleep.

I woke up about thirty minutes before usual on a Monday. It was natural and I felt completely rested. In fact I felt nothing. No shoulder pain. No hip or back pain. No cramped or tired legs. No bruised foot. A morning where it felt great to be in bed and no shifting for comfort.

It was beautiful. For thirty minutes I visualized myself in a zen like state, living in the now. A fine tuned triathlete full of energy and without the itinerate pains associated with the hard work to get it.

A rare and wonderful morning.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Open Letter

An honest letter to many friends. Maybe you need this letter too. Maybe you need to give a modified version to someone close to you.

From the top of my pedal stroke I really want you to show up on Saturday for the ride. I am going to go 70 miles or 3 loops on the course. Any distance you are able to manage into your day is important and necessary. Just because you don't have the ability to go all that way tomorrow should not dissuade you from putting in some effort with the team for any distance.

We have some big goals set for ourselves this year and I ride, run and swim in dread and respect of my goals this very day. I too have failed to live up to my personal expectations. There are days I have let myself down when it comes to nutrition. There are workouts where I have stopped my watch many miles short of my planned distance. Knowing I am capable of these failures, sometimes all of them in one day, still does not give me fear that I will not be victorious this year.

I know that I have been lonely doing much of my training on my own. Sitting on the trainer late at night sucks. I don't want to get out of bed early to run. There's never enough time to get in a whole swim. Then when I am with the team on the weekends, all my perceived failures are magnified by people with fresher legs, higher cadence, faster splits.

And yet... and yet I continue to lift myself up and continue to move forward. Ever forward. Charlie Mike-Continue the Mission. Each practice and each day a continual movement toward a destiny I myself determined with the click of a button submitting my application. I have many days with destiny this year. And so do you. Today be the person you see in your mind when you hit the Submit button for each race you enter. That infinitesimally small pause between crazy and committed, when you envision yourself at the waters edge calm, fully prepared and ready to attack. The fact is that all of us go into races over-trained or under-trained and convinced its the best place to be for that day. We forget our nutrition and lose our race belts. All things that spiraled out of control in our mad dash to prepare for race morning.

Training and preparing for races is not supposed to be a mad dash. Its supposed to be a lifestyle. Maybe you have a lifestyle I don't know about. Maybe you're training your ass off and not telling me. That can be a good strategy. Most likely your letting yourself down and not telling anyone about it. Your training but not with accountability. Your putting in miles but its not motivating. Your enjoying the luxury of training whenever you want, but you find your filling that time with whatever you want instead of training. It's always a came of catch up.

No one knows better than I in the last year what it's like to be a part of this amazing group of people and yet still feel left out. You were in the midst of your season last summer and I took a 2 month rest period, still showing up but going through the motions. When I came back from my off-season, you were peaking for Soma and I was going through base training, in Zone 2 of all places, while the rest of you beat each other into glycogen failure in practice. Now you've had your off-season. Time to reconnect with your family, have some guilt free eating and rest your body and mind. Enjoy yourself for all the hard work you put in last year and it was hard work. You did good. Today, I don't care how much the shirt shrank. I don't care what your pace is. I care about you hitting your goals and meeting expectations that don't make you vomit when your done. Being part of the team instead of saying it.

I don't care if you think I am an asshole for saying this. And this isn't about me being better than you. Its about me being concerned for your goals. To let you know that when you joined this team, you became a part of something more than yourself. Others are invested in your success.

I really hope to see you Saturday. On Sunday afternoon I am swimming for 30 minutes at El Dorado then going on a 30 mile ride up the IMAZ course. Just to give you options.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Food Network

I can't stop eating today. Its terrible. Normally I can tolerate being a snacker or grazer. But I am just eating a ton of food today. I think the super rich chocolate pecan brownie finally tipped me over the edge of satiation but it could have been the #4 Combo at Taco Bell I had an hour earlier finally kicking in. Or the hoovering I have been doing all day long.

There is no discretion today, or apparently any shame. Nytro would be proud.

That this is also a rest day and my legs are trashed from my 12 miler last night.

While I could turn a leaf this minute and vow to eat well for dinner, I got plans. I am meeting a team mate to try out a new Mongolian BBQ joint down in Tempe. At least its super healthy but portion size is not something to bring with you to these places.

So I've just hucked the whole day and might as well have some more junk food for desert. Why not? Its a rest day.

Mighty Mo Update

Mighty Mo is doing well. He went back to the doctors Monday and they put him on three weeks of antibiotics since the last two weeks didn't get rid of everything. He also got a bunch of CT scans and X-rays to see inside him. The tech was very cool and showed the photo's to him and he thought he had dinosaur bones inside him. So now he thinks he is a dinosaur again.

We got him a Smart Cycle for Christmas. Pretty cool gift. Its a stationary bike for kids and you have video cartridges you insert for games. The whole thing plugs into the A/V inserts of the television. And when you have a big ass 57" man-size DLP like I do, it's pretty much in your face. Of course because he thinks he is part dinosaur now, he prefers that game and as he talks to the characters he calls them "brother". "I'll save you brother!"

What kid can't be excited about gifts. Mo took great pride in his toys. He and I watch Justice League/ Batman/ Superman cartoons every day so most of his gifts were action figures.

Because he has been under the weather, and school has been out, he has been lounging quite a bit to get healthy. Here is his daily attire. Warm police car slippers, Spiderman jammies and his 'silky' an Asian robe my dad picked up in Korea.

I hammered my legs on a 12 mile run yesterday. Some hills, lots of wind. Even with the warm up and waiting for lights I busted under 2 hours. Which puts me in a good place mentally to go under 2 at PF Changs half next weekend. I have been unhappy with my running the last few month. My solo training runs are 9:30 pace +/- :30 seconds. Into the mid 10's on longer stuff.

Which isn't bad, but I am crushing the miles right now and most of my training partners are not. So when we get together I am always on tired legs and they haven't worked out in several days. I don't mind managing a 8:30 pace with them for a ten-miler but when I am running on legs that have biked 100 miles in the last 24 hours and they have not, well I fall apart and behind a lot faster which regardless of hours logged, right then it feels uncool.

I really look forward to a race with a taper and peak.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Guest Race Report

Jen_Runs has been a commenter favorite of mine for some time. Hell, every commenter is a favorite of mine. I lurves the comments. In any regard she like many people has attached to her comments which makes it difficult to correspond and I pretty much will respond to 85% of them. And she does not list her blog in her profile. But she has one, I didn't know that until reading her race report and now she's on my Blogline.

She is mostly a trail runner but has recently jumped into the waters of triathlon. Below is her first triathlon race report. I look forward to going back on her blog to read up on the rest of the amazing things she does Down Under.


Tri-ing by Jen_Runs

For years, my uncle - who has completed 5 IM events here in Australia and one in Canada - has been trying to talk me into doing a triathlon. For years I have resisted. I am a trail runner at heart who only takes to swimming and running when I can’t run on my beloved trails due to injury. But earlier this year, I met a boy (now my fiancé) who just happens to be a triathlete. I was able to hold off my uncle’s attempts to talk me into doing a triathlon - but their combined efforts over a bottle of red wine one night proved far too convincing!

So a few months ago, I joined my local triathlon club and on 19 December 2007, I took part in my first triathlon. I knew I could do each of the legs individually but putting them together was another matter entirely!

The club race I chose as my debut was a memorial race for a former club president who was killed in a training accident in 1999 so the format and distances were a bit 'different'. The short course race, which I did, was 200m swim, 10k ride and 2k run. The long course was 200/10/2/200/10/2. Ouch. The morning finished with breakfast - bacon & egg rolls. Perfect recovery food :-)

I was not nervous about the race in the lead-up to the event. But when the girls (who were given a 5min head start over the boys) were called to the water, I suddenly got nervous. I mentioned to the woman standing next to me that it was my first triathlon. Suddenly I was surrounded by 3 or 4 women all wishing me good luck, telling me “you’ll love the sport”, “it’s a wonderful club to be a part of” and to “stay wide on the swim”. I know runners are generally a friendly bunch but the level of support, comfort and security I received from these women was something I have never experienced before and something that will stay with me always.

The swim was ok. I am not a weak swimmer by any means but it is not my strongest leg either. I had a 'moment' during the swim. Not a panic attack. I didn't hit or get hit. But at one stage very early, I felt claustrophobic and probably went out too fast. So to calm down, I started breathing to my right on every second stroke - which of course meant I went veering off towards the shore. Note to self - keep an eye on the buoy next time J Anyway, I got myself back on track and got out of the water in about 5 mins. Unfortunately I forgot to turn my watch on so I only have estimates of the splits.

T1 was a bit too, um, leisurely as I felt light headed and dizzy when I bent over to put my shoes on.

The ride was a flat, 2 lap course around the rowing course for the Olympic Games held in Sydney in 2000. I live very close to the venue and have run around it on numerous occassions so I had the benefit of knowing the course intimately. Straight out of T1 and there is a small rise over a bridge. I made a very slow start as I could not get my foot into the cleat and was quickly passed by another woman. I later caught her :-) My uncle, who was doing the long course race, must have been slacking because he only passed me not long before I got off the bike ;-)

Onto the (out and back) run and my legs felt heavy. Having done several brick sessions and having a personal trainer who delights in absolutely trashing my legs, I was expecting, and used to, this sensation. I just focused on form, keeping my abs and core ‘switched on’ and getting my breathing under control. 'High fiving' my uncle as he ran back past me distracted me for a minute. It took me about 500m before I started to settle into the run. I finished the 2k run in about 13mins (including T2). I am really happy with this time given that 6:30m/km is my current 'training pace' - not to mention the fact that due to injury I have not run further than 2km since July!!

I was at the finish line when my fiancé finished his first Half IM earlier this year. Although a member of the same tri club, he chose not to do the race himself so that he could act as my official photographer and cheerleader which was very special for me.

So, with him watching, I finished my first triathlon in 40:57 - far exceedingly my fiancé’s estimate of 45mins and my own estimate of 50mins :-)

Within 5 mins of finishing and getting my breathe back, I was already plotting my next race and the things that I need to work on. I can now understand why this sport seems to be addictive. Although I have no desire to ‘go long’ just yet – trail running is my true love – tri-ing certainly offers me a great challenge, not to mention an incredible feeling of achievement and accomplishment. And now that Xterra finally lands in Australia in 2008, I think I may have found my calling!