Saturday, September 29, 2007

Diet Died

I understand the importance of diet in Ironman training. I really do.
But understanding it and actually doing something about it are two
very different things.

There is a guy in my office who keeps a candy dish on his desk. And
it's not filled with the cheap stuff; he has Snickers. Butterfingers.
Hershey's Dark. It is always stocked. No matter how quickly we empty
it, the candy keeps magically reappearing.

I admit, I am weak. I munch on those bits of chocolate heaven all day
long. I feel a little guilty at times about how much he pays for the
candy and how much of of I eat, so every now and then I'll buy a bag
to refill the jar. Sunday afternoon I bought a bag of Nestle Crunch
Bars to bring in to work. By Sunday evening, the bag was empty. I
scarfed the entire thing. Oops.

On a related note, I'm in Vegas for the World's Greatest Triathlete's
birthday. Here I am blowing my diet again:

It may not look like it, but I actually am getting a workout in that
photo. That margarita was HEAVY. My arms got a nice pump with every sip.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How Not to Spend Your Day

1. Meet (Axis of Evil) Jon at 6:30 a.m. for a bike ride.
2. Meet (Axis of Evil) Leah at 6:30 p.m. for a run.


(Benchmarks: Short Chandler Mile, 6:33. 12-minute track, 6.1 laps)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Listen up, Tri-Maggots!

My tri-team had a special workout at "Barry's Boot Camp". I admit I
was a little nervous about signing up; for starters, if you look at
the website you'll see it has nothing but Pretty People. I am not a
Pretty Person, although my cup certainly doth overfloweth with inner
beauty. The second problem is that the trainers have name like Zeus.
Storm. Harley. I'm training for Ironman, not American Gladiators.

Fortunately, our "host" was named Martin. We were split into two
groups; my group was starting out on treadmills, and the other group
was on the floor next to us doing strength training. There was music
playing and Martin ran around giving orders on a wireless mic.

Basically we were given a speed and incline for our treadmills and
would run for 2-3 minutes while Martin instructed the strength group.
Then he would give us new settings. It was pretty good for the first
15 minutes or so as we built up our speed. But then I think Martin
lost it. It was like he was yelling out random numbers; they certainly
didn't make any sense to me. "Speed 8! Incline 6!" (You sank by
battleship!) We were running on settings which I was certain would
violate the manufacturer's warranty.

The other problem was that Martin is a Big Fat Liar. He would say
things like "OK treadmill... I want you to sprint as fast as you can
for 90 seconds then you're done." Fine. But then after 80 seconds he'd
say "OK, now increase your speed by .5 and give me 60 seconds. Martin
seemed to have a very different definition of "done" than I did.

I am pleased to say that I pretty much managed to keep up with
everything he threw at us. After just 35 minutes, I felt like I had a
really good workout and was glad I came.

Oh wait, we weren't done.

My group switched to strength. We each had a small bench/step and had
to get two sets of dumbbells, light and heavy. I don't remember the
exact numbers, but the suggested weights were something like 5-8 lbs
light for women, 10-12-15 heavy. Men could use 12-15 light, 20-25
heavy. I of course was all "hit me with the lights!" and went 12-20.

Well after about 4 minutes I was aching and had to trade in my gurly-man weights for even lighter kiddie weights. We would have to do things like lie on the bench with one foot behind our ear while balancing a dumbbell on our nose. At least that's how it felt. But this was the worst part: after doing an exercise for a while, Martin would count down the final reps. But he would never say "OK, give me 3 more... 2 more.. 1 more..." Instead he'd start out saying, and I swear to you I'm not exaggerating, "OK 16 more... 15... 14..." After 20 minutes I wasn't even weightlifting; I was weightholding. I was laying on the bench without moving, with a pair of kid's dumbbells sitting on my chest. When it was all over we did some stretching. I struggled to lift my arms overhead even without the weights.

Now here's the insane clincher. We were all aching and sore and dripping with sweat, and I had trouble leaving because the exit was blocked by the throngs of people signing up for more classes! We barely escaped alive, yet they wanted to come back for more? What’s wrong with these people?!

I know myself, and I know I won’t drive to Sherman Oaks on a regular basis for a workout. But if you want an intense 60 minutes of training, give them a try.

Barry's Boot Camp

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Just Being Fair

Due to issues of National Insecurity, I generally don't like being around people who are in shape (which can make it difficult being on a tri-team at times). So let me tell you, nothing will make you feel better about your physique than attending the L.A. County Fair and watching the general public milling around. You may ask yourself, "who on Earth would possibly want to have a deep-fried-Coca-Cola?" (yes, it's a real product.) Well come to the Fair, and you'll see them all. Yessiree, there are a lot of people there who really seem to enjoy partaking in life's finer indulgences. God bless 'em all.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Malibu, Part 2

For Malibu, I like to park my car along the race route and put signs on it for my tri-teammates. This is the 3rd year I've done the race so I thought I knew the routine. But when I arrived at the beach, the traffic lane I was in was being redirected to a remote parking lot. When the Traffic Nazi refused to let me cut over to the "normal" lot, I was thinking "um, excuse me? Do you have any idea who I am?! I'm 'Member of the Year' for my tri team!" I obeyed her temporarily but then made a couple of illegal U-turns and got to my proper parking space. After all, why would anyone want to hide this?

I don't think the body-marking lady had her coffee yet. She put my race number on my arm and then put an "R" on my leg for "Relay". I have no idea why she thought I was part of a relay team. First she tried to turn the R into a 3. That didn't work. So she just scribbled it out and put my age underneath with a big circle around it so people could see it clearly. Yes, that helped.

This race is normally very well-organized but something broke down regarding the food. The refreshment tent had... pasta salad. That was it. I saw empty boxes of oranges, but no oranges. I saw empty boxes of chips, but no chips. Either they ran out of food or just weren't restocking properly. The mere thought of eating pasta salad at the time made me sick, so I skipped it completely.

They have a fenced-off area for the "celebrity brunch" which you need a special wristband to get into. I had a band so I figured I could eat there. When I arrived, the "buffet" was pretty much just 6 tables of empty trays. They had some freaky guacamole rolls or something left over. I ate 2 pieces of soggy bread about the size of marshmallows. I don't know what happened this year, but the food situation was completely unacceptable for an event of this magnitude.

I ran the race wearing Mickey Mouse ears. An editor of Triathlete Magazine saw me and took my picture. Nearby was Andy Baldwin, "The Bachelor". I admit I don't watch the show and I wouldn't recognize him, but I have heard about him being a star triathlete. The Bachelor is an ABC show, so he raced for the (parent company) Disney Tri Team. The magazine editor called Andy over to me so he could take another picture. That's right, I don't go to celebrities, they are summoned to me. So to be clear: this is not a photo of me with The Bachelor; this is a photo of The Bachelor with ME.

Why couldn't it have been the year Jennifer Garner raced for Disney?!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Jon Cryer kicked my ass

The results are in; Jon Cryer beat me by a staggering 5 minutes in the Nautica Malibu Tri. Let me tell you, it's a tough pill to swallow to have to admit that Ducky is the better man. At the time, I thought I was having a good race. Turns out, in the 3 years I've done this race this was my slowest swim. My slowest T1. My slowest T2. My slowest run. It was my fastest bike, but only by 18 seconds.

So here is my excuse: I did 3 races in 1 month (Lake Arrowhead Tri, Disneyland Half Marathon, Nautica Tri.) And by training for all 3 events, I wound up training for none of them. And it shows in the numbers. (Wait a minute Wedgie... didn't those other people do the same 3 races as you and still have good finishing times? Shut up.)

I still had a fun day in Malibu. Congratulations Mr. Cryer.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Nautica Malibu Triathlon: Race Report

I grabbbed my first ass in the swim today.

Under normal circumstances, I would think it would be easy to avoid grabbing someone's ass, but I now understand how and why this can happen. In my race swims, it's usually pretty crowded with a lot of kicking and shoving at the start. But by the time we round the first buoy I've fallen behind a bit or have gone out to the side far enough that I have some room. Today, I was a little more aggressive; I stayed with a pack from my age group. It wasn't the front pack, but a pack nonetheless. Of course this meant that there was a lot more bumping and shoving.

I even managed to pass some people during the swim. Normally, if you come up behind someone swimming, you would expect to grab their feet or maybe get kicked in the head. However, what happens if they aren't kicking? Their legs will start to sink, but their bouyant wetsuit might keep their buttocks at the surface. I think that's what happened. All I know is that I took one big stroke and then BAM! I got a handful of neoprene butt crack. And like any good swimmer, I did a complete follow-through with my stroke. Which meant my hand slid down the cheeks and right between the legs. I have no idea who I groped, but unless I somehow managed to catch up with the co-ed relay teams that started 15 minutes before I did, it was probably a male, 35-39. Meh, if the neoprene is thick enough it all feels the same.

I did have to stop many times during the swim because of congestion so I don't think I will have a good time, but I am very happy that I tried an aggressive swim. Even if it meant getting fresh.

There was music playing in the transition area, and they could not have picked a more appropriate song while I was trying to get out of my wetsuit: Tommy Roe's "Dizzy" ("I'm so dizzy, my head is spinning, like a whirlpook it never ends") iTunes Link. I WAS dizzy. My head WAS spinning. The song made me laugh, and I've been hearing it in my head all day. I think it's going to be my new theme song.

I have a brand new speedometer for my bike, and it wasn't working in the morning. I had my bike racked up and was spinning the front tire, but I couldn't get the thing to register. I was very bummed. But then when I went fout on the bike, it worked fine. No idea why. I think I had a decent ride, but I don't know what my split time was. I'll be disappointed if I didn't improve over last year.

For the run, I wanted to finish in 36 minutes and according to my watch I did 35 and some change, so I was dead on with that.

Overall, it was just one of those races where I really enjoyed the day. More to follow.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I'm coming for you, Jon Cryer!

Tomorrow is the Nautica Malibu Triathlon. This was my very first Tri two years ago, where I defeated my arch-nemesis Jon Cryer. Last year, through some underhanded, dastardly cheating, Jon Cryer beat me. This is the Rubber Match, and you're going down Cryer, you hear me?!!!

(no celebrities were actually threatened in this entry.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Talk amongst yourselves

Tonight we had our big Tri Team carb-load dinner in preparation for the Nautica Malibu Triathlon this weekend. This year they added a new award for the "Tri Team Member of the Year". And who did they select for the inaugural recipient? Yours Truly.

I am not a medal-contender at my races. But I have so much fun participating in this sport. I love that I can run alongside (well, OK, maybe 50 yards behind) a group of Ironmen in a grueling workout one day and then be cutting out construction paper for some silly race sign the next. I love the pre-race and post-race get-togethers. I love cheering people on at races as a spectator. And it's all because of my Tri Team. I can't believe that I can call these amazing people "friends".

What can I say... I'm a little verklempt.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Sweatiest Race on Earth

I ran the Disneyland Half-Marathon.

The race had an insane start-time of 6:00am. A group of us rented some motel rooms near the park the night before, but we still had to wake up at 3:30. (well, 3:45 because somebody accidently left their phone alarm on "vibrate". No names.) The event was very Disney-fied: they had fireworks during the National Anthem. A monorail pulled up on cue above the starting line. Everything was veyr big big, very bright, very Disney.

The first couple miles went through Disney's California Adventure and Disneyland theme parks. The parks seem much smaller when you're running through them and not fighting crowds to get on to the next ride. I made sure to high-five every character I passed: Goofy, Pluto, Buzz Lightyear, Flick, Lilo... We even had pirates firing at us with canons! How cool is that? Best of all, although sadly I didn't have to take advantage of them, the public restrooms were open for us. No porta-potties, they had real flushing toilets and sinks with running water! Almost made me want to chug some extra Gatorade just so I could use them.

The course took us out through the streets of Anaheim, with some of the best supporters I've ever seen. There were several school bands playing. Many cheerleading squads. The Boy scouts were in full force cheering us on. And the students weren't simply standing around, they were all very enthusiastic. Bravo. At one point they had a couple of hula dancers in the road. I had to cut over a few lanes to get to hem, but I thought it would be fun to do a few spins with them. Bad idea. Sure, the crowds laughed and applauded, but after running 6 or 7 miles, the last thing you want to do is start spinning. I was feeling pretty queezy after that. We went through Anaheim Stadium, home of the Angels. They had a camera set up so we could watch ourselves running on the Jumbotron. Again, how cool is that?

It was then back into California Adventure and through Downtown Disney for the big finish. Goofy was waiting there at the finish line for me.

So, we have a flat course, great spectator supporter, festive themed lands, and fun cartoon characters. Sounds like a perfect race, right? Well, there was one tiny problem.

The weather.

Sunrise was at 6:27. Thirty minutes BEFORE THE SUN CAME UP, it was already 76 degrees. It quickly jumped to the 80s, with unusually high humidity for Southern California. I did not know that they had 3 special categories of race-weather-warnings, but they had them posted. Yellow means "use caution". Red means "no, seriously, you really need to be careful out there!". A black flag means they turn the race into a fun run and don't publish fiinishing times for anybody. We were at "Red Flag" status, so things were pretty bad.

We all seemed to agreed that we hit the Wall coming out of Anaheim Stadium around mile 10. The heat was just sucking so much energy out of us. I was hoping to finish in 2 hours, and I was still on target up through mile 10-11. But then I jjust gave up and had to walk a bit. I finished in 2:06. Most of us were slower than we expected to be, although Brian (husband to run-leader Leah) came in 5th in his division for a medal. Suh-weet.

I wasn't feeling very well after the race. I think my legs were fine, I just had some mild form of heat exhaustion or dehydration. (I was sucking down Gatorade by the barrel for the next 2 days.) I hung out a while to watch everybody else finish, and headed back to the hotel around 10:00. I didn't want to deal with the shuttle lines, so I decided to walk. It was another 1.7 miles to the hotel. In the upper 90s. After running a half-marathon. I'm an idiot.

It's a shame that the heat is what we all remember most, because other than that it really was a great race.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Ironmen

A big congrats to everyone who finished Ironman Wisconsin yesterday, especially Iron Wil and Steve "The Hairless Wonder" Stenzel. I've been following both journeys closely over the past year, and it's great to see the final payoff.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Could Be Batman?

My friends have a game called "Could Be Batman". The rules are very simple: wherever you are, in a store, on the street, wherever, you look at somebody and ask yourself "is it possible that this person is leading a double life and has a secret identity as the caped crusader?" You then either declare "Could Be Batman" or "Could Not Be Batman." That's it. It is not entirely based on physical stature: that pencil-necked kid at Blockbuster who gives you attitude for renting a dumb movie? Could Be Batman. Your 6-foot mechanic who can't get your hood open? Could Not Be Batman.

A local bike/tri shop had a special sale for our tri team and I had a chance to try on the new Zoot Zenith wetsuit. It was very tight, but not in a constraining way. It simply hugs your skin very closely. The material is much thinner than the old style of suit and I'll confirm their claims that it feels much less restrictive. There is an unfortunate side-effect to the design however. You see, I rely on the thickness of my wetsuit to add some mass to my arms. This new high-tech thinner material doesn't do me any favors.

However, with the built-in look of armor plating and bright highlights, I felt - for the first time - that just maybe, I Could Be Batman.

(The Zenith is the first step towards creating my Abs Suit:

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Lake Arrowhead Triathlon Race Report

A group from my Tri Team did the Lake Arrowhead Triathlon. It takes
place in the mountains outside Los Angeles at 5000 feet altitude which
means there is slighty less oxygen, many more hills, and much better
scenery than most of our local races. Some of us rented a mountain
cabin for the weekend; it was the best way to do the race.

There are many different things triathletes do to prepare the night
before a race: do a light workout, eat a special meal... We watched
the premiere of High School Musical 2. Before you judge us too
harshly, keep in mind that this behemoth is stuffing our paychecks.
And you know, when you watch it with a group it really is kinda fun.

In terms of organization, this is probably the easiest race I have ever done. We parked in a garage about 50 yards from the transition area. Super easy to get to. It's a small race and everything felt very low-key with little external stress. (I had generate all my own stress). The one problem was that there was a really long line for the men's room before the rcae. They had no porta-potties and relied on the bathrooms in the shopping village. I usually go at least 2 or 3 times before a race, and this was not working out. Fortunately, I found a super secret bathroom at the far end of the village which I had all to myself.

This is the first Tri I've done without a wetsuit. It was a 600-yard swim in a pretty warm lake, but I just felt sort of naked. We were swimming directly into the early morning sun and were blind most of the time. There were a few power-boaters out there creating some pretty choppy water at times. The swim wasn't fun, but at least it was short.

The bike seemed like the longest 10 miles I've ever ridden. It was nothing but hills and sharp curves. If I wasn't climbing up, I was riding my brakes all the way down the other side. There were a few hairpin turns at the bottom of hills and on more than one occasion I had to skid before making the turn. But the ride was nothing if not interesting. I much prefer tree-lined curved than straight open desert.

The run had a few hills as well, but nothing bad during the 3 miles. I have always preached that you should be good to the volunteers, and it paid off on the run: I went past some young female volunteers doing the generic "great job runner" cheer. I started clapping and said "great job volunteers!" One of them then said "great job runner STUD". That's right, I was called a stud. Sucking up works.

The finish area had one of the best spreads I have ever seen. Oreos. Pretzels. Vanilla Wafers. I'm sure they had some fruit some place but who cares, right?

Leah, our mean running coach who makes us do painful drills, placed
3rd in her age group. Amazing; she rocks. But even that accomplishment
was eclipsed by another victory; Ben won the award for Best Road
Rash. Yes, they actually brought him up to the stage for everyone to
see his bruises. He crashed less than 1/2 mile into the bike ride on
the first turn of the first hill. He just climbed back on the bike and
finished the race without further incident. Ben was feeling sore for
the next few days, especially when he laughed. Those ribs didn't
stand a chance.

Robert, Ben, Leah and I did a SECOND triathlon the next day. We went
to nearby Lake Gregory, where the first event was Paddle Boats. I teamed
up with Ben and our boat had a bad clutch; it would slip if you tried
to pedal too quickly. That wasn't too much of an issue considering
that Ben was missing a pedal completely. The fun factor was pretty low.

The next leg was swimming across the lake. Aside from some slime, it
was pleasant enough.

The third leg was the Water Slide. I didn't understand this at all.
There were two parallel slides. They started at the same place. They
finished at the same place. Yet one was a fun wet ride and the other
was a demonic nightmare. I could barely stay on my raft and I couldn't
see a thing because of all the spray smacking my face. Super scary.

So that's the Lake Arrowhead Tri. Very low-key, beautiful scenery, a great get-away for Los Angelenos. Highly recommended. Just work on your bike hills before you get here.