Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Triathlon, Quadrathon, Pentathon...

Tri means three.

Triathlon. That means three athlons. Swim. Bike. Run. That's what you need to do, that's what I signed up for. But then they told me that the key to success in triathlon was nutrition.

Swim. Bike. Run. Diet.

Then they told me "you really need to work on your 'core'", which means strength training three times a week.

Swim. Bike. Run. Diet. Lift.

Now the new thing is yoga. You need to be flexible to prevent injury and promote recovery. You should go twice a week.

Swim. Bike. Run. Diet. Lift. Zen.

Ya know what? No. That's not what it says on the T-shirts. Swim. Bike. Run. If it's not on the T-shirt, I don't want to hear about it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Smell of Victory

I won my first triathlon award!

Don't get too excited... I won the "Best Feet Olympics" hosted by the Tri Geek Kahuna. The Official Judge conceded I won because of a little sucking up on my part, and the photo was all style no substance, but you have to play to your strengths, right?

You can see my gold-winning beauties here: Feet Olympics

Be warned: you'll have to scroll past the winners of the "Ugly Feet" category first.

Monday, June 26, 2006

If the shoe fits

I got a bike fitting.

I was one of the skeptics. I knew that it made sense for Lance Armstrong to get a bike fitting, but what difference would it make for us mortals? Paying someone over $100 to raise your bike seat seemed a bit extreme.

All I can say is that it's like I have a brand new bike. Turns out, my lower back didn't need to be hurting all the time. And there was no reason for my thumbs to lose circulation from all the pressure on the handlebar. I wish I had some objective data to share, but the bike just seems to roll better (which may be because of my better aero position.)

To be fair, the fitting is a little more than raising the seat. 5 things were adjusted: seat height, seat tilt, handlebar height, handlebar tilt, shoe clip position. Certainly anyone with a screwdriver could make the same changes, but you're paying for the experience of having someone know what will work best.

I can't make a blanket statement and say everybody should go out and get a bike-fitting. It is expensive, and your bike might not need as much adjusting as mine did. All I know is that it made a huge improvement for me.

I went to Brandon Heflin in Pasadena. TriCentric Training

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Motion of the Ocean

Our Tri Team had our first ocean swim of the season today. There were some good things and some bad things.

The good: I felt very confident in the water. Granted, the waves were pretty calm today but even the simple act of looking back at the shore and realizing how far out you are can cause some... trepidation. Today I felt safe and secure.

The bad: I'm a lousy swimmer. OK, I know, the fact that I'm doing ocean swims in the first place must mean I have some skill. Fine. But I am very ineffecient. I sort of already knew I had some problems; today reinforced it. I'll go all out and say I'm actually a pretty good breather; 13 years of playing trumpet, plus marathon training, plus cutting back to just 1 pack a day (kidding) helps with managing airflow. Unfortunately, the effecient lungs are being countered by all the wild flailing of the arms. IronAndre gave me some dead-on pointers in the water; understanding his advice and being able to FOLLOW his advice are two entirely different things.

I was supposed to do a 9-mile run today as well, but it was 87 degrees and rising when I hit mile 6 and I thought that was good enough.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Manufactured Villians

I'm very upset.

"Thanks" to Paul for letting me know that Peter Reid just announced his retirement from the sport.

Peter the Great retires from Triathlon

That's OK. It will still be great to see him.

Manufactured Heroes

I'm very excited.

Any sport is more interesting if you know the players. As you get to know a little something about the personalities involved, you can start to cheer your favorites and maybe even boo those you don't like. Television does a great job helping you with this during the Olympics: it creates heroes (Bode Miller) and villians (Bode Miller). For the past couple months, I've wanted to start to get to know something about the big players in the world of triathlon.

Our Tri Team is having a preview screening of a new triathlon documentary, "What It Takes". One of the athletes featured in the movie is 3 Time Ironman World Champion Peter Reid, and he will be joining us at the screening. I just finished watching him on the amazing 2003 Ironman World Championship DVD. (There's a 5-minute preview on YouTube. You HAVE to watch it: Ironman 2003) One of the biggest names in the sport is coming to MY tri team? How great is that!

If he's cool, then I'll have someone to root for the next time he enters a big race. If he's a jerk, then I can cheer the competition. The important thing is that now I will have some personal connection to future championship races. And one great thing about the sport of triathlon: amateurs compete in the exact same races as pros. So some day we could be racing together, him shooting for 1st place and me going for 1001st! Suhweet!

All things being equal, I think I'd rather have Tim DeBoom visit us. Not because he's a better athlete (or not), but simply because it's fun saying his name. Tim DeBoom.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Shoeless Pedals

My new clipless pedals make a huge difference in my workouts. I went to our weekly tri-team bike ride this evening and didn't even break a sweat. That may be because I left my shoes at home and couldn't go riding. I know, I know... better to get it out of my system now rather than race day.

Declaring Intentions

Everything you see here is Brad's fault.

Brad is the moron who threatened to fire me if I didn't join him in the 2004 Nike Run Hit Wonder 5k. (my blog, my story.) Later that year, we signed up for the Santa Clarita Half-Marathon. I injured my Achilles Tendon and had to drop out; Brad did the race. A year later, Brad signed up for the Long Beach Marathon and had to drop out because of an injury; I went on and did the L.A. Marathon. Brad has a marathon demon, I have a Santa Clarita demon, and a month or two ago the topic of the Santa Clarita Marathon came up. We sort of fell into this cold war stalemate: "I'll do it if you do it." "Well I'll do it if you do it." But neither one of us was willing to blink.

So I am now declaring my intention that next weekend I will begin the Marathon Training Program to do Santa Clarita on November 5, 2006. That does not mean I'm registering quite yet; I have two big triathlons I have to get through so I'm going to wait a few weeks to see if I can factor in the tri-training. Brad's only obligation is that if I do run it, he WILL be there. He may run it if he likes, or he can be there at the finish line to carry me home. That choice is entirely up to him.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Don't tell Iron Wil

Animal Planet aired a show "After the Attack" which featured a story about a man who was attacked by an alligator while training for a Triathlon in Florida. Ironically, his triathlon training is what saved him.

I cut down the segment to just show some of the highlights:

Alligator vs. Triathlete

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Buoy

Here's a shot of me leaving the water in the L.A. Championship Series Triathlon. See that yellow speck on the horizon? That's the buoy we had to swim to.

I'm no Shelley Winters

I had a disturbing thought this weekend. Suppose I went on a cruise and our ship capsized. People would be telling me "OK triathlon-boy, go swim through that flooded corridor to the next airpocket and go get help." Ya know what? I'm not that guy. I'm no hero. Let somebody else do it. I've decided I'll only vacation with people who are better swimmers than I am. That way, I can send them on the dangerous rescue missions.

Have any plans this summer Andre?

Saturday, June 17, 2006


I'm gonna kill Gerald.

Gerald is one of our Tri-Team leaders, and this morning he put together a slightly more advanced bike workout for us. First he had us do our regular 8-mile L.A. River bike-trail ride, then he had us do it again as a "time trial", meaning we were to supposed to do it as fast as we could. It was 90-95 degrees, so I don't think any of us really went at it 100% but we still stretched ourselves with it. After that, he not only took us to meet Mister Griffith, he took us even higher to meet Mister Griffith's Dad who lives on a place nicknamed "Trash Hill". The name might come the condition of the road, which is completely torn up in some places, but I think it refers more to the fact that it trashes your legs. I rode up the hill with Gerald and Stupid Cool David Ono. (David Ono is one of the local ABC news reporters. He's "stupid" because at my triathlon last weekend I watched him finish his third bike loop just as I was finishing my second; he's "cool" because today he was, well, cool.)

Gerald and David certainly weren't going all out climbing the hill, but I still didn't feel like I was holding them up or anything so that was good. Overall, it was a 27-mile ride which is the farthest I've ever rode on this bike, and I felt tired but good when it was over. Unfortunately, I didn't do any stretching or soaking afterwards, and now my legs are feeling pretty tight. By the time Monday rolls around and I see Gerald, I'll forget about the soreness and thank him for the great workout he gave us. But if I were to see him again today, I'd kill him. Unless it involved getting off the couch.

(It really wasn't that bad. I'll get some Mountain Dew, I'll be fine.)

That didn't take long

I had my first crash with my clipless pedals. It's the same old story: I was coming up to the end of the bike path, slowed down and clipped out of my right pedal, then tried to do a very slow left-hand turn-around. About halfway through the turn I realized "if I'm turning left, I should really have my LEFT foot out of the pedal." Then everything went into slow motion. I thought to myself "well here I go, this is going to be my first crash" and then I just plopped over. Fortunately, I had about a half-dozen people right there to watch me in all my clutzy glory.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Self Improvement

It is safe to say that I am a better runner, cyclist, and swimmer now than I was a year ago. But the thing is, I never wanted to be good at any of those things. I just sort of fell into it by accident. What would have happened had I decided to focus on the things I actually WANTED to do? For example, I wish I could play pool. It's not a lifelong dream or anything, it would just be a nice skill to have. I wish I could play piano. I'd like to learn how to program Flash.

Suppose for every run I did last year, I played pool instead. For every bike ride, I practiced piano. For every swim, I picked up a Flash manual. By now, I would be great at the things I actually wanted to do. And just think of all the money I would have saved!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Three Days

Regardless of what length race I've done, there has always been one constant: during the race, at some point I will say to myself "Never again. This is the limit to how far I can go, and I don't WANT to try to do something longer." That's how I felt at my first 5k, my first 10k, first tri, 1/2 marathon, marathon, and last week's first Olympic Tri. In each case I was tired, and sore, and mentally bored, and just wanted it to be over with. Also in each case, it takes about 3 days before I become an idiot and forget about the pain and start thinking "hmmm... maybe I could do THIS." This is a dangerous cycle that needs to be stopped.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Taking Off Training Wheels

I finally have a Big Boy's Bike: I bought new clip-in pedals and bike shoes. My old pedals had "baskets" that I slipped my regular running shoes into - no clips - but those were called "clip pedals". My new pedals have clips that lock into the shoes, but these are called "clipless". I don't get it at all.

I think I like them. I can already notice a difference when I try to accelerate- I can definitely feel more power. I still have zero confidence clipping in and out of the pedals though. It's only a matter of time before I get stuck in the pedals and crash. Stay tuned to for breaking news when that happens.

I probably should have bought the new pedals month ago, but I don't regret not starting out with them. When I first started triathlon training, it was just one more thing to have to buy and one more thing to worry about packing before a race.

I guess the next step will be getting the official triathlon handlebars, but I'm not ready for that yet. I'm worried that there won't be any room for my killer whale squeeky horn and that has to take priority.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I did my first Olympic Distance Triathlon today, The L.A. Championship Series. It was very interesting. How interesting?

My T1 time was about 5 minutes.
My T2 time was 2 minutes.
My T3 time was 90 seconds.
My T4 time was 3 minutes.

How did I have 4 transitions? We'll get to to that in a moment.

This story begins, as many do, with The Cat. Last night I laid out all the clothes I would need for the race. This morning I put on my jersey; it felt wet and smelled like cat pee. Thanks cat. Sadly, this is the SECOND time this has happened to me. You'd think my cat would have me trained by now. It was a mad dash to try to wash it out in the sink, then I drove to the race with my jersey hanging from the passenger visor and the vents blasting hot air on it all the way. It was mostly dry but still a bit damp by race time.

We try to be prepared for every possible contingency. But sometimes fate throws something bizarre our way. Around 8:00, when it was time to put on the wetsuit and head down to the lake, I managed to get a fishing hook stuck in the bottom of my sneaker. Have you ever tried to remove a fish hook from a sneaker? It ain't easy. I had to go to one of the bike mechanics and say "here's a new one for ya..." He wasn't phased at all, grabbed some pliers and yanked the little bugger out. Not a big deal, but it did cost me a bit of pre-race preparation time.

Tri-Team Leah was familiar with the course, and yesterday she gave me some good advice about the swim. She told me "when you look out across the lake and see the buoy, it's going to look REALLY far out there. So be prepared for that." Sure enough, I saw the buoy and it did look pretty far, but I had been warned about it and it seemed doable. Until the race announcer mentioned the turn-around at the second buoy. Second buoy?! You mean that speck of yellow on the horizon? OK, now THAT was one far-ass-away buoy. The race announcer - in all seriousness - told us that to stay on course, we should just follow the elites. Sixty seconds after the race started, do you think I had ANY idea where the elites were? For much of the swim, I seemed to have the lake to myself. And that's a problem because I am terrible at swimming in a straight line. My goggles were fogged so I couldn't see either buoy most of the time, and I didn't have any other swimmers to guide off from. Well, not until the second wave of swimmers caught up with me. And the third wave.

Survived the swim, picked up my bike and headed out of the transition area. I made it about 1/10 mile when I realized I didn't put on my race number. I probably didn't NEED it, but I knew that if i didn't get it right then and there I would have forgotten it before the run or it would have blown away or something, so I went back. (T2) I put on my race belt, headed out on my bike, made it about 2/10 mile when I realized I didn't have my timing chip. It came off while I was pulling off my wetsuit. As it turns out, I didn't need it at all because the way the transition area was set up you only got clocked when you finished the swim and when you left for the run. But this was a 3-loop bike course, I didn't know if you had to check in at each loop or something so I went back to pick up the chip (T3). My friend Susan was there to watch the race, and she later told me that while I was out on the bike she asked one of the volunteers if the Disney guy had come back yet. At first the volunteer blew her off with an abrupt "I dunno", as if to say "there are hundreds of racers... you think I know each one?" But then the volunteer said "oh wait, you mean that guy who kept coming back to the transition area? No, he's not back yet." I'm famous!

After that, bike was mostly uneventful and it was on to the run. I knew I was a back-of-the packer when I passed a snot-nosed boy scout volunteer who asked me "do you know how many people are still behind you?" Gee, sorry if I'm keeping you away from your xbox. It was lonely in the back, I hardly saw any other runners. And the signage was horrific. Embarrassingly bad. There were no mile markers; I don't have an 800 dollar GPS computer on my wrist, I like seeing signs to help me with pacing. And there were hardly any directional signs. Most of the time I didn't have anyone else to follow, so it was kind of guesswork whether we were supposed to run along the road or veer off on a walking path. I later overheard 3 cases of people who either ran 1/2 mile off course themselves, or who saw other people take a wrong turn. That's pathetic. Amazingly, I did seem to find my way to the finish line and only took one wrong turn that cost me maybe 100 feet.

Susan and Tri-Team Tammy (aka T3, not to be confused with Tri-Team Tim, also aka T3) were there to see my late if not glorious finish. Yay!

So you're probably wondering what the final results were. You know how the hippies like to say "everybody's a winner!"? Well, Mister P. may not have been a loser today, but he was no winner. Out of the 202 people (male & female) who entered, I placed 191st. Some of the people I beat were a 53 year old woman from San Dimas and a 70 year old man from Costa Mesa. Before you start factoring in all the extra time I spent going back to the transition area, you should know that the next slowest guy in my age group beat me by 10 minutes. Now, here's the inspirational part of this post: I finished in the top third in the L.A. Marathon. I finished in the bottom 5% of the San Dimas Tri. Yet I feel far better about my performance today than I do about the marathon. (man, I really hated that day.) I felt good coming out of the water. I'm completely neutral about the bike, and I did the 10k in a little over an hour which is almost the pace I would do a training run. I knew going into this that it was stretching my abilities a bit. I thought it would take me 4 hours to do the tri; I did it in under 3.5. If 190 other people are faster, that's their business.

Maybe Mister P. is a winner after all!

Olympic pre-race report

5:20 am. Last night my cat peed on my tri-jersey.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Tomorrow is my first Olympic Triathlon, and of course I'm a little nervous. But this time, since I only signed up for it a week ago it hasn't had time to build up into a big event in my mind. I'm not really nervous about doing well in the race, I'm just not looking forward to how exhausting I think the day is going to be.

I started packing up my Tri Bag and turned on the TV. It's not a show I normally watch, but my TiVo had recorded Baywatch for me this afternoon. It's an episode where Mitch enters an Ironman. Way to go TiVo! I can think of nothing more inspiring the night before a race than to see the Knight Rider doing a Triathlon.

Unfortunately, this was some sort of Lifeguard Ironman where the events were swimming, surf-riding, boating, and sand-running. But it's the principle of the thing.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Over The Hill

This Thursday, Niketown LA is hosting an open casting call for a new Nike commercial. People are supposed to show up in their best Nike gear. I'm sure there will be hundreds or thousands of Beautiful People lining up for their big break.

Here's the thing: they are looking for women who appear to be age 25-40, and men who look 25-34. What are they saying here? A 40-year-old woman is still sexy and desirable, but a man in his upper 30s is not?

Middle-aged men have been suppressed long enough! I think it's time we teach Nike a lesson. All of us mid-to-late 30-somethings need to swarm upon Niketown on Thursday in our stretchy pants and show them just how attractive we can be! Who's with me?!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tough Love

My first Olympic Distance Triathlon was supposed to be the New York City Tri in July. (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run.) The individual distances aren't difficult, but that's the dirty little trick triathlons play on you; when you have to do them back-to-back, things get a LOT tougher. The NYC Tri is in 6 weeks, and for some reason I just haven't been able to get my training in focus.

I figured the only way to kick my butt into gear is to just throw myself into another event, so I signed up for the Olympic Distance "Los Angeles Triathlon Championship Series #3" this coming weekend. It's going to be tough; I imagine it's at least a 4-hour event, and the most activity I've done in a single day since the marathon has been some 90-minute brick workouts. I've never swam that far, I've only biked that far once, and my shins are still hurting a bit from the marathon.

That which does not kill you only makes you stronger, and I'm hoping this will be a good wake-up call for me to get ready for New York.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

It isn't just me

Friday, June 02, 2006

Start Spreading the News

My big event for the summer is the New York City Triathlon. I sort of signed up by accident.

Our corporate partners at ESPN formed a Tri-Team to do the NYC-Tri, and they invited us left-coasters to join them. As it turns out, it's the same weekend as my mother's 70th birthday in Jersey. I assumed that with most relay teams, they would trouble finding swimmers so I told the good ESPN folk I would fly out there, just do the swim and then could celebrate my mom's birthday. I got on the roster, but they wound up with an abundance of swimmers and not enough bikers. Biking would be the hardest for me because of the logistics of flying with a bike, but if I didn't do the bike leg I'd be making things MORE difficult for them. Long story short, (too late), I'm doing the whole race solo.

I'm a little nervous about it, mostly because it's New York. I love The City, but it means that everything is going to be big. If you can make it there you can make it anywhere, and I'd like to do well in my pseudo-home city. Also, it's an "Olympic Distance" which is a longer swim and a longer bike than I've ever done. And to top it all off, my shins are still hurting from the marathon back in March, so I haven't been running much.

My guess is that once I survive swimming in the Hudson River, the rest should be easy.