Sunday, December 31, 2006

2007: Year in Preview

I don't like setting "goals" for the new year. Making a list of goals sounds like something you would do for work. Instead, I like to "make lists of things I'd like to do". That sounds like something you'd do on vacation, right? See, it's much more fun that way. Last year I had a bunch of things I wanted to do, and I did most of them. For 2007, I'm only listing one thing for myself: I want to complete a Half Ironman. That would be huge. I'm already signed up for Wildflower in May, so hopefully that will go well.

I'm totally drunk on the tri-Kool Aid that says triathlon is a team sport. Whether you're racing with someone, cheering someone else, training with them or just sharing race and injury reports, I'm fascinated by it all. So I'm going to add a few items to my list of things I want to happen in 2007 that I'll need help with from my "team" (however loosely you want to define it):

1. I want to watch someone finish an Ironman in person.
I've watched the live internet feeds of several Ironman finish lines, sometimes knowing a name or two from a blog. It's pretty exciting. But imagine being there, tracking someone for an entire day, someone you've trained with, then hearing their name called out at the finish line? That has to be amazing. IronmAnnie has already volunteered to help me with this by signing up for Ironman Arizona. Right now I'm probably more excited about it than she is, so she'd better not screw it up. (She's gonna kick ass.)

2. Iron Wil needs to finish Ironman Wisconsin.
Well, duh.

3. I want to be friends with Elite athletes.
It's all about reflected glory for me. The Pros and Elites have their own special section in the race results, and I want to look at the list and say "oh yeah, I train with him...Glad to see she got her bike up to speed". Either someone from the Axis of Evil (Gerald, Jon, Andre) will have to bump it up a notch this year, or I'll have to become friends with Paul in San Diego.

4. I want to cheer on Tri Team Tammy.
Tammy didn't race in 2006 because of injuries, yet she still went to more events than anybody I know. She's the best cheerleader we've got. Seems only fair that we should clap for her while she's suffering.

5. Tri Team Tim needs to do something fun.
Tim and I met as clueless Tri-Newbies 2 seasons ago, so I consider him my "Tri Hermano." He does a lot of biking, so maybe he can do a Century Ride or a multi-day event. Or maybe we can do a relay-event or some sort of budy race together. I don't know, I just want him to have stories to tell.

6. S. Dutch needs to do something.
S. Dutch didn't catch the tri-bug, and that's fine. But I don't think execise should be its own reward and if it's important to you, you should share it with your friends. S. Dutch's girlfriend seems to be getting excited about running again so maybe she can sign him up for something. The bottom line is I've done MORE than my share of whining to him about being exhausted or injured during my training this year, and it seems only fair that he return the disfavor.

7. Brad can do nothing.
He did his marathon. He can sit on the couch and eat Bon Bons all year for all I care.

Have a great 2007 everyone!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Everything I need to know about Triathlon I learned from Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero is a videogame for the Playstation 2 with a controller that looks like an actual guitar; as notes scroll by on the screen, you have to press the corresponding buttons on your guitar. There is an on-screeen meter; when you play correct notes, the meter becomes more green. When you play the wrong notes, the meter becomes red. If you fall too far into the red zone, you get booed off stage and the game is over.

T-Bone came over to play Guitar Hero today. We were playing a difficult song, and he told me "it gets tricky in the middle, so we have to be in the green when we get there." That's been one of my main strategies for the game: rather than learn how to play the difficult parts, I just do really well in the easy parts, and that gives me enough of a buffer to make it through the rough sections.

While we were playing, it occurred to me how much this relates to triathlon. I'm about 15-18 months from trying my first Ironman, but I think about it a lot. And my philosophy has been that all I need to do is be fast enough on the bike to give myself 6 or 7 hours for the marathon. At that point, I could walk the last 5 or 10 miles and still finish in time. But ultimately that's a flawed stratgey: you don't want to limp across the finish line. In Guitar Hero, you can often make it through a song by simply surviving the solos. But that's not the way to get a high score. If you want to get your name on the Top Rockers board, you have to learn the solos. Similarly, if you want to have a good triathlon race day, you have to plan to do well in all 3 disciplines.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some guitar solos to learn.

For more adventures with me, T-Bone, and Guitar Hero, click here: The Story of a Winner

Big Ben

You may recall some of my... "issues" regarding my small watch. I told my mother I could use a new watch for Christmas, one for daily wear (as opposed to a tri-watch.)

My kind-hearted mother bought me a nice watch, but it is... gargantuan.

For someone who is physique-challenged, the thing looks ridiculous on my wrist.

I went to the mall to return it, and while I was there I was getting really curious about how much this thing actually weighed. So how do you weigh something at the mall? I went to the candy store and when the clerk wasn't looking I dropped it on the candy scale. (hey, it worked.)

.33 lbs.

This thing is 1/3 pound. That's heavier than a video iPod. You want to carry an iPod on you wrist all day long? I don't think so. I suppose I could get a constant left-arm workout lugging it around all day, but that would cause to me to always swim to the left.

I couldn't find any watches that fit me well (although the women's section had some nice options) so I'm going to try a different store.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ironyawn Austria

When you get into the nosebleed channels on DirecTV, you can find quite a bit of triathlon coverage. The VS network covers every Ironman race, and I watch them all. They condense the race to one hour, cover the pros and pick one or two age-groupers for human-interest profiles. It's good TV.

But something freaky happened with their Ironman Austria coverage. It's yawn-inducing. I guess their regular crew couldn't make the trip so they outsourced the editing to some locals or something. For starters, the commentator sounds like a waiter reading the daily specials at Denny's. Boring. And there is a lot of down time, when you're just watching random footage with no voice-overs at all. Sure, it's nice scenery but I'd rather know what's going on. Worst of all, they've padded the entire show with music clips I'm positive they downloaded off the internet for free. It's like cheap porn or something.

It's the Spock's Brain of triathlon.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


I am always reading about the wonders of peanut butter as an endurance fuel. Many people pack peanut butter sandwhiches on long bike rides: two slices of bread, a tablespoon of peanut butter, and some banana slices. Some people "treat" themselves to an afternoon snack of a saltine with a teaspoon of peanut butter on it.

I laugh at these people. When I eat peanut butter, it isn't measured by spoonfulls. You use measuring cups. If you saw we with a jar of peanut butter, you would swear I had an eating disorder. I'd easily put away a cup at a sitting. And it's not just the peanut butter by itself: I'll smear it on Oreos and Ritz Crackers and pretzels. Again, all in a single sitting. I have no will power when it comes to peanut butter, so I make sure never to buy it. I can't buy a small jar and just nibble on it from time to time. Once I open it, it will be gone in two days.

This being the holidays, sometimes you need to bring food or snacks to other people's homes. And in all modesty, I happen to make great peanut-butter-kiss cookies.

I made a couple batches over the past 2 weeks, which unfortunately meant I had to buy peanut butter. You would not believe how much of it never made it into the recipe. And I still have another batch to go.

I am weak.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ancient Chinese Secret

The dry cleaner down the street has one of those signs out front with inspirational messages that they change every couple of weeks. I wanted to snap a photo of the most recent one, but I guess it wasn't inspirational enough to get me to walk one block with a camera and now they've changed it. The old message was:

It does not matter how slow you go as long as you do not stop

Who would have thought that Confucius was a triathlete? It is a great philosophy, although methinks Confucius never had to face cut-off times.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I am a big fat pig

I weighed myself for the first time since the marathon. I've gained 5 pounds in 6 weeks. (Technically 11 pounds, if you count the 6 pounds of fluid I lost race day.)

This brings me up to 157. (Go ahead, roll your eyes.) But understand, there can be a GOOD 157 pounds, and a BAD 157 pounds. These aren't good pounds. It's all Hershey's miniatures, and peanut butter, and Oreos. Mmmmmmmmm.... Hersheys and peanut butter and Oreos... Look, I know it's no thrill seeing me step out of the shower even at my lower bodyweight. I'm just saying it's even a little worse now.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

2006: Year in Review

Wow. Did 2006 really happen? On January 1st, I posted a list of things I wanted to do in 2006. Let's look back at the list:

1. Complete a Half Marathon.
I did the Orange County Half and the Pacific Shoreline Half. If you're looking for a SoCal event, I much prefered the OC.

2. Do a Marathon
I did the Los Angeles Marathon. It left me very empty and with lots of bad joojoo, but I did it. And then, much to my own surprise, I wound up doing another 26.2 this year, the Santa Clarita Marathon. It was a much happier day.

3. Do an Olympic Triathlon
I was targeting (and completed) the New York City Triathlon. I started getting a little nervous during my training, so at the last minute I threw in a "trial" olympic distance tri, The Bonelli Tri Series. The Bonelli event was the race where I went through T1 three times, came in dead last in my age group and almost at the bottom overall. And had one of my most fun races ever.

4. Run a 22-minute 5k.
Didn't happen. Originally I had planned on working on my short-distance pace after the marathon was over. But I hadn't planned on doing a second marathon so I kept working on distance stuff and never worked on my sprints. And I'm totally OK with that.

5. Volunteer at an event.
It took me a while, but I finally helped out with the City of Angels Half Marathon. If you haven't volunteered before, do it.

6. Hit X% bodyfat.
OK, I admit I had no idea what I was thinking. I kind of thought bodyfat was like water retention; you'd burn off lots of it during a big day (like on a marathon) and then could get an artificially low reading. I thought I could dip down to 10% (as measured by my inaccurate yet consistent Omron Bodyfat Analyzer) for a day. Nope. Turns out, to lower your bodyfat percentage you need to add muscle AND stop eating chocolate. And all the running can only burn off so many Hershey's Miniatures. Still, I went from 18% down to 14% which is an improvement. (OK, so I'm back up a little higher now. Shoot me.)

All in all, I have to say it's been a pretty productive year.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Big Finish

I always tell people "finish big!" It's something my father said all the time regarding musical performances but it certainly applies to racing. Whatever energy you have left for that last 1/10 mile, you need to get rid of it. Spectators at the finish line will have no idea you were sobbing like a girl in the port-a-potty 5 miles back; they'll only see the majestic ending to your race. And it just feels good running in strong with everyone watching your beautiful form.

The kind people at Safeway Foods sponsored free finish-line DVDs for everyone at the Santa Clarita Marathon (tiny shipping fee.) I thought that was very cool. But it's funny how the video doesn't quite show the same race I remembered. See, I recall speeding across that finish line with a beautiful long stride, my head held high, and my Fists of Power churning at my sides. Somehow the video tells a different story. Oddly enough, when they converted the video to DVD it made my arms look like they were made of jelly flapping away in the wind.

Because it's a small marathon, the announcer was able to call out of our individual names. The reason she has trouble reading my number must be because I was so fast, it was just a blur to her. The entire experience is summed up in the small grunt you hear right as I finish.

Mister P.'s Marathon Finish

Mister Ten Below

I'm going through my second treatment to get a plantars wart removed. Since it didn't work the first time, the doctor is being "more aggressive". Today I got the liquid nitrogen freeze-blast on it and you would not believe the pain I am in. It has a sort of non-stop painful tingling feeling to it. I want to move my foot toget rid of the itching sensation, but when I do it stretches the skin which causes more pain. I should be able to walk on it "normally" in another day or two.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Been There

Friday, December 08, 2006


I'm sure many of you are familiar with that most-awesomest of Tri-podcasts, "Get Your Geek On". One of their regular segments is "Surprise A Triathlete", where they call a regular age-grouper triathlete and do a quick interview. From the very first episode, I thought to myself "wow, maybe someday they could surprise ME and I would get to be a tri-celebrity for a week!" Well, about a month ago Iron Wil got in touch with me and asked if would want to be on the show. OMG! I was very excited. I started planning everything I wanted to say. I was going to be charming, and witty, and sophisticated, and it would be a pure delight to listen to me. When the day of the interview came, there were some technical problems and we couldn't do the interview. Then we had some rescheduling troubles and it never happened. I was a little disappointed, of course.

On Sunday I was riding my bike along the City of Angels Half-Marathon course, looking for friends who were running in the race when I heard my phone ring in my pocket. I got off the bike, assuming it was another spectator friend trying to find out where I was. But it was Iron Wil and the Kahuna. I was definitely surprised! It was not the calm, controlled environment I had planned on doing the interview in a month before. Instead, I was navigating around a small crowd of race spectators with my bike, trying to find a place to hang up the signs I made, searching the scores of runners for any of the half-dozen friends I knew along the course, all while trying to come across as a sophisticated triathlete on the phone. I bonked it big time.

And I swore to myself that I wasn’t going to be one of “those people” who just went on and on gushing about how awesome Iron Wil & Kahuna were. I was gonna just play it cool and professional. Instead, I was a blabbering idiot. Well, they ARE awesome, so I guess that’s OK. I just want to be invited back again some day, so I can prove to the world how cool I REALLY am!

Thursday, December 07, 2006


OK, so let's recap:

My hand is still hurting from my bike crash.
My butt is still hurting from the marathon.
My foot is still hurting from the acid.

I'm in rough shape and it's sort of depressing me. I can not open a can of soda with my right hand. I can not spray deodorant with it. (To hit my left armpit, I put the deodorant on the counter, kneel down in front of it and press down with my right thumb.) I'm trying not to put pressure on my foot, and that makes me walk funny which puts pressure on my butt, which hurts.

I'm not saying I'm in excruciating pain or anything like that. It's just constant, 24/7 mild-to-severe discomfort and it's keeping me in a bad mood. There's nothing I could do about my foot, but the other injuries bother me. I know, I know, they happen to everybody, and often far worse. And I don't care if it's ridiculous: I'm down about the fact that "if I was a better cyclist, I wouldn't have crashed". "If I was stronger, I wouldn't have a sore butt" (There's just no dignified way to say that.)

If anybody was thinking of buying stock ni Ibuprofin, now's a good time.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

City of Angels Half Marathon

This weekend I was a spectator at the Inaugural City of Angels Half Marathon. I would have liked to run the race myself since the first 6 miles are along my regular training paths in my hometown, but I wanted to give myself a few weeks rest after the marathon.

I rode my bike to the starting line around 6:30. It was COLD. I think it was down around 50 degrees, possibly less, and I wasn't dressed properly. I had a t-shirt and a light jacket, no gloves. I was caught in the dreaded catch-22: It's cold riding the bike, so the faster I go the sooner I can get off the bike. But the faster I go, the colder I get. I did not envy the runners who had to stand around waiting for the race to start.

This was a point-to-point race, and there were hardly any spectators in Griffith Park. I felt a little bad for the racers who maybe didn't get as much encouragement as they might normally, but it was a nice, almost peaceful feeling riding along the roads with no cars or people around. (aside for the mob of 3600 about to run.)

I found some extra Department of Public Works signs and used them to create a mini-tower to hang my race sign. I borrowed a cowbell from Brad which was a HUGE hit. Many people did horrible Christopher Walken imitations demanding more cowbell. There was a problem however: the cowbell didn't have a padded handle. It was simply bent metal. My fingers were cold, chapped and numb, and at one point I looked down and realized my fingers were covered in blood. The metal scraped my fingers raw. (Unfortunately I took the photo after instinctively sucking up all the blood, so the picture doesn't do it justice.)

There was a short out-and-back loop, so I was able to see people at miles 2 and 3.5 from the same location. After I saw 6 or 7 friends go by, I rode my bike to a new location along the course. Part of the race was along a narrow bike path which (ironically) I didn't want to ride my bike on through the crowds, so I got a bit lost trying to find where the course hit the streets again. I rode up a few small hills that I probably didn't need to go up but was able to see everybody again around mile 9.

It was then off to the finish line in downtown L.A. By now everybody I knew was really spread out along the cross so I only saw 2 people finish. I was able to meet up with most of them afterwards though. The finish line was certainly a lot more festive than the start and from what I can tell most people seemed to think it was a pretty good race.

The adventure doesn't end there however; I had to get myself home. I backtracked along the course, but many of the roads were starting to reopen. At one point a street-sweeper-truck came up behind me and when I tried to get off the road on to the sidewalk my front wheel got caught and I crashed. I tried to break my fall with my hand (bad idea, I know) and really bruised up my wrist/plam kind of bad. When I got home I couldn't turn the key in the door with my right hand because of the pain, nor could I lift up a bottle of soda. Three days later, it's still sore with a slight bruise.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sad Feet

Back in August, I went to the doctor to get a plantar's wart removed. He strapped my foot in acid for a week then zapped it with his Freeze Ray. Well, it didn't work. This thing on my foot Will Not Die. I had a tritahlon and a marathon to train for and I couldn't afford to lose up to 2 weeks of running (the skin gets tender as the flesh is being shredded away) so I finally went in for a follow-up yesterday.

The doctor told me, "yeah, sometimes it doesn't work right away. I had one woman who came in 28 times, then finally went to UCLA medical for chemo on it."

28 VISITS? CHEMO?! Oh, I don't think so.

My foot is soaking in acid again, and every now and then it hurts to walk. It will be worse next week when I go in for the deep freeze.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Mister P. is Awesome

Would anyone disagree that the key to a successful event is the volunteers? Anyone? Volunteers are awesome. This weekend, I volunteered for the inaugural City of Angels Half Marathon. Therefore, I am awesome.

If I was given a choice of assignments, I would have picked something on race day in in Griffith Park (the starting line) which is very close to my home. Instead, I helped with registration the day before in downtown L.A. As it turns out, that was perfect because I knew several people who were running in the event, so by volunteering a day early I was free to watch the race the next day.

My primary job was handing out bibs and timing chips. My shift was 7:30-1:30, and it was hard work. You don't realize how tough it is on your back to be on your feet for that long while constantly bending over a table. But it was a lot of fun just being part of the excitement of the race.

Most of the runners picking up their stuff were great. My only complaint was with the two people who arrived to pick up bibs for the 25 people on their team. I don't mind retrieving all the (non-sequential) bibs, but rather than just taking the bibs and sorting them off to the side, they spread them all out over our table to check them off their master list. But we remained helpful and no major harm done.

Not every volunteer is a runner. But I strongly believe that every runner - at some point - should be a volunteer.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Wild Cower

I don't know how I'll make it through Wildflower; I barely survived the registration process.

Registration opened at 8:00 this morning and I heard that the race fills up quickly so I was online at 7:55 ready to go. I guess I hadn't thought enough about the race, and my jaw dropped when I saw that it cost $195 to register. I'm a terrible financial manager so I don't care about the money, but it hit me like a brick workout that "wow, this must be a serious race!". That made me nervous. Then I started filling out the form, and needed my USAT membership number or I'd be charged an extra 10 bucks. Well of course I couldn't find my card so I had to go to their website to look up my number. But I didn't know my username or which email address I signed up with, and had to try about 10 different combinations to get them to email me my password so I could log in and get that info.

They wanted to know your estimated time to complete the race. You could select a 15-minute window ranging from under 4 hours to more than 8:15. I tried doing some quick math and I came up with 7:15-7:30. That's assuming everything goes well, and it was just a little unsettling to scroll down that far in the list to find my time. And who the #$%! is gonna finish this thing in less than 4 hours?!

Then there was the "Festival Registration". You can pre-pay for a campsite and it turns out it ain't cheap. But I have no idea if I'm staying from Thursday-Sunday, or Friday-Sunday, or who I'll team up with at a site. Do I rent an RV? Rent a tent? Do I know anybody who I can borrow gear from? I'm not good at making quick decisions, so I just skipped that part but now I have to figure out that whole aspect of the weekend. I checked; there aren't any Holiday Inns nearby.

It took about 20 minutes to register, and 20 minutes after THAT I still haven't received my confirmation email. I'm hoping the system is simply backed up from all the traffic, but I'm worried if I mis-typed something.

From what I hear, running the race is even harder than registering for it.