Friday, August 29, 2008

The nightmares continue

I assumed that after Ironman was over I wouldn't have any tri-nightmares. I was wrong. I know that other people's dreams are boring, but I like to keep track of them for my own benefit:

I was doing an odd sprint triathlon: Bike, Swim, Run. After the bike, I went to my transition area (the parking garage at work) and realized I had the wrong wetsuit: it was bright yellow with orange trim. I put it on, but it was FAR too big on me; I looked like a kid trying on his father's jacket. I went home to New Jersey to find my right wetsuit, but quickly realized that at this point I should probably just drop out the race completely. I was very, very upset. But then after a while I realized that I had already finished the race but I simply forgot that I had done it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Going Down

Gonna go off-topic for a bit, but it will come around...

Leaving the office today, I was in the elevator with 2 co-workers and we were talking about how unreliable the elevators were. I told them "I've been working here 12 years and - knock wood - I've never been stuck." Yeah, you know where this is going. We got out the main elevator just fine, then I went into the parking garage elevator alone. I went down about a level-and-a-half, the car slipped a bit and just stopped.


I called for help on the emergency phone and waited. I spent about 25 minutes playing Texas Hold 'Em on my phone but that was getting old. I had my laptop and didn't think I would have any wifi access underground, but I decided I gave it shot. Sure enough, I had a signal. I saw Stupid Dutch online and thought I'd have a videochat because - hey - what would be more fun for him than seeing some poor guy trapped in an elevator?

Unfortunately, right when I was trying to set up the video connection the elevator started moving and I was free. Why couldn't I have been stuck for just another 5 minutes? The humor was ruined.

However, not all was lost. Stupid Dutch's brother "Adam" is in town visiting and I got to meet him on the videochat. Stupid Dutch told him that I did triathlons, and that he designed my tattoo. Of course they told me to show it on the camera. As you can imagine, it is kind of tricky to show your calf on a webcam built into a laptop, especially when you're in the main lobby of the building where you work with people walking by. And you probably also know, when you move around a lot on a webcam the image gets all blurry. So as I'm trying to show him my awesome Ironman Killer Whale Tattoo, I hear Adam say "is that a frog?"

A FROG?!!!

Apparently he saw the green of the M-Dot and thought it looked like a frog.

First I was told it's a dolphin. Now it's a frog. By the end of the year, I'll be having 10-year-old girls telling me "Awesome 'My Little Pony' tattoo!"

Stupid Stupid Dutch's Brother.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

How J Lo can you go?

My tri team exists primarily to race in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon. The event is a fund-raiser for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and Disney is certainly a huge supporter of children's charities. I will be facing my arch-nemesis Jon Cryer once again, and I will have much more to say about him later. But I have new problem to worry about.

Yes, the stories are true. Jennifer Lopez is racing in the triathlon. So far, J Lo has raised 2.3 ZILLION dollars for Children's Hospital; I've raised 10 dollars. She's making me look bad. Sure, Jennifer Lopez will be there with her smooth, toned legs running along the beach, her golden skin glistening in the early morning California sun as her hair catches the ocean breezes as a soft gentle whisper... but I'll be there with freakin' ears on my head. Shouldn't that count for somethin'?

If you want to tell J Lo to stick to making movies and music and leave the fundraising to scrawny middle-aged balding men, Just click on the link. (You'll be helping a great cause as well.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Haves and Have Nots

I obsess over little things, and here's something that's driving me crazy.

I have the latest edition of "Los Angeles Sports & Fitness", a free magazine that covers Southern California races. This issue is focusing on marathons, and the "Publisher's Note" has an unintentional brain twister. I will check and recheck and recheck my typing; I assure you what you read is EXACTLY as it was printed in the magazine:

"Have you completed a marathon? Odds are you haven't. And being a reader of this magazine, the odds are with you that you have run several marathons. But you probably haven't."


I keep going over it again and again, trying to parse it. Is it saying I probably HAVE run a marathon? Or have NOT?

"Have you completed a marathon? Odds are you haven't."
OK, most people in the country have not run a marathon, so that makes sense.

"And being a reader of this magazine, the odds are with you that you have run several marathons."
Um, maybe he's trying to say that their readers are really dedicated, so chances are you haven't run ONE marathon but several.

"But you probably haven't."
Now I'm lost completely.

I can't figure out what he's trying to say or, if there is a typo, how it could possibly be fixed. I realize LAS&F isn't The New York Times, but seriously. Publisher Danny Greenberg must have been oxygen depleted or something when he wrote that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lake Arrowhead Triathlon Parking Report

This weekend was the Lake Arrowhead Sprint Triathlon. The transition area is set up in a parking lot next to a parking garage. Just outside of the garage, there were 4 random parking spaces. Robert and I got to the race a little area and we got the last of the 4 spaces. We parked 82 STEPS FROM THE TRANSITION AREA! (Yes, I counted.) Unbelievable. Greatest parking spot EVAR.

The swim is 600 yards in a lake. Annie was debating whether or not she should wear her wetsuit for such a short distance. (At this point we didn't know how cold the water would be.) Mac told her "Well I'm not wearing mine." Annie replied, "Yeah, but you're a big tough guy. Wedgie, are you wearing your wetsuit?"

Gee thanks.

Turns out the water was perfect in the mid-70s and we didn't need our wetsuits. I screwed up the swim but it wasn't really my fault. Well, I guess it was.

As with any race, we were supposed to swim around each buoy. But before the final buoy, kind of closer to the docks, was a woman wearing all white in a white kayak. She was kind of far away from the main race lane and the group of swimmers I was with started heading towards her. She was in an odd location, so it kind of looked like she was acting as a buoy. She was yelling stuff out to us, and as I got closer I heard it was "go around the buoy." I could tell that she had already given up. I asked, just to confirm "we're supposed to go around the buoy?" "Well, you're supposed to..." I told her "Well I'll be fair about it" and I went back to the buoy. Since the swim was so short to begin with, it did add a lot of extra time but at least I know I did a fair race.

The odd thing is that no one else remembers seeing the Woman in White. They think I was hallucinating or that she was some Guardian Angel of Triathlon.

Bike was hilly. 10 miles. This was Sara's first time doing the race and she did the bike as part of a relay with Annie & Scott. I forgot just how hilly and winding the course was but she rocked it.
Run was hilly. 3 miles. This was Scott's first time doing the race and she did the run as part of a relay with Annie & Sara. I forgot just how hilly and winding the course was but he rocked it.

I was shooting for a Top 10 finish but that was based upon last year's field of 30 racers in my age group. This year there were 45 people in my age group and I placed 20th. Not bad. Here's the breakdown:

My swim+T1 was about the same as last year, 20 seconds faster. (most of that time was made up in the very long run to the transition area and T1 itself.)
My run was about the same as last year, 30 seconds slower.
My bike+T2 was about 8 minutes faster than last year. This is only a 10-mile bike, so that's a 17% improvement. Yay me.

I wanted to finish in 1:20, I made it in 1:17:58. Yay me again.

Of course the main reason for doing Arrowhead is so that we can stay in a cabin for the weekend, drink Margaritas and play Rock Band. Saturday afternoon we went over to the community pool where an outspoken 12-year-old girl came up to us in the pool and asked why 4 grown men had a High School Musical 2 raft. There really is no good answer for that, but when we told her we worked for Disney she said "OK, that makes sense. Otherwise I'd be worried." Dudette, you're 12. Do not judge us.

Many people are very excited to "make it to the blog", but sometimes they make it for dubious reasons. Take "Aaron". Aaron found a watch in one of the bathrooms and asked "does anyone know whose watch this is?" Annie said "I think it's Wedgie's." Aaron, who was not familiar with my blog, said "no, I think it's a woman's watch." Oh no he DIDN'T. (For background, read here. Or here. Or here.)

On Sunday, we went to Lake Gregory. I did not want to go to Lake Gregory. Lake Gregory is where the evil water slides are. But Annie had never been there and she wanted to go. So we went, bought our tickets and headed to the slides. Annie had been warned about the slides but apparently did not remember my review from last year:

"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."

I guess we knew Annie wasn't having a good time when we saw her coming down the slide backwards on her mat. She seemed pretty miserable and I felt terrible because I couldn't stop laughing at her. I just hid my face behind my own mat. Scott on the other hand loved the slides and would have spent all afternoon there if it wasn't for the super slow lines.

So thar ya go. Lake Arrowhead Tri. Small and fun. Do it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sandbagging update

Tonight's run: 4.3 miles at 8.3 minute-mile pace... 1:20 at Arrowhead with a possible Top 10 age-group finish might just be possible. But I really, REALLY need to just release myself from the stress of the finishing time. 1:30 is fine, 1:40 is fine.

But 1:20 is better.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sandbagging Arrowhead

This weekend I'm doing the Lake Arrowhead Triathlon again. I am declaring the Lake Arrowhead Triathlon as a NON-SHAVE-WORTHY event. My legs finally look like a 13-year-old's and I'm not about to give up that growth for this.

Arrowhead is a low-key, fun race and it was supposed to be a low-pressure race again this year. But I just stumbled upon something which could make the race a little more stressful.

Last year I finished in 1:25:50, 30th out of 50 in my age group 35-39. Fine. Whatever. I randomly said that this year I'd like to improve by 5 minutes. If I can't do the bike leg alone 5 minutes faster this year, then Jon should disown me. So I looked up last year's results to see where I would place with a time of around 1:20. Funny thing: I jump age groups this year. 1:20 was a top-10 finish in the 40-44 age group. (out of 30, but who cares?) I will never have a Top 10 age-group finish in any race I do so this could be my big chance.

Here's the problem. Since Ironman, I've been a fat lazy slob. I'm 5 pounds heavier and have run a total of maybe 15 miles in the past 6 weeks. I think my swim time will be unchanged; my endurance has improved but I have never ever done any kind of speed training. I don't know how to swim faster. I still think I can do pretty well on the bike. But the run. Oh, the run. I've been doing 11-minute miles since Ironman, and I need to do sub-eights to beat last year's time. Ain't gonna happen.

Had I looked up the results even 2 weeks ago, maybe I could have done some crash training/dieting to get me up to speed. There's nothing I can do at this point except hope that my residual Ironman training can compensate for all of the summer Oreos. But it would be very cool to be able to say "I finished in the Top Ten in my age group" this weekend.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Double Teamed

It's been a while since I've done a Tuesday-morning ride. I was on vacation, I was sick, I was just too darn lazy. But I finally made it out again this morning. The usual suspects were there: Steve, Greg, Brian... but Jon showed up with someone else in the car. How odd. Could this be some newbie who just joined the (traitorous) Warner Bros. Tri Team and Jon is teaching him to ride a bike?


We knew we were in trouble when the New Guy stepped out of the car and we were blinded by the reflection of the morning sun off of his freshly shaved legs. Turns out, "Tom" was in town to compete in some National Bike Riding Championships in Irvine. Then next weekend he's competing in Chicago at the Crit Nationals. He is staying with Jon for the week and was hoping to get a few good rides in.

We were screwed.

Typically on our Tuesday rides, we either do "the bike path" or "the hill". Jon, wanting to be a good host, decided we would do both. Swell. We didn't do intervals or time-trials along the path, but it was definitely much faster than a warm-up ride. I was already tired when we started the hill climb.

I consider myself a fair climber. I don't make it to the top first, but Jon usually doesn't have to wait for me for too long. But I struggled today. One of the big problems was my gears kept slipping on me and my chain even popped off (foreshadowing). When you lose momentum going up a hill, it kills you and it was happening a lot.

The normal hill course is one big climb to the top, then we drop down the back of the hill and then climb back up about halfway, then back down to the cars. I hate doing the second hill, and I usually tell Jon "I'm going to skip the second hill and just head back to the car". But then he yells at me or gives me an Ironman guilt trip and I tag along. It's just the dance we do. As I got close to the top, I thought that this time I REALLY didn't want to do the second hill. How could I possibly get out of it? Well, I took a deep breath, pressed down on the pedals with my massive quads and SNAP! - my chain snapped in two. OK, so maybe it wasn't intentional but it did get me out of the rest of the ride.

"Fortunately" I was near the top of the hill and it was pretty much several miles of downhill coasting to get back to my car. There were two short flat spots where I had to push off with my feet for a while but it wasn't too bad. I will say that it a very odd feeling riding on a bike with no chain because there is absolutely no tension on the pedals at all and it just seems weird.

I now have a new chain and a new rear cassette on my bike and championship rider Tom is leaving town soon. I expect next Tuesday's ride to be much more pleasant.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Note to self: Hair Cut

Back in college, a girl once told me "you know what I like about you? A lot of guys really care about their appearance, but not you." Ouch.

But she was right; I don't spend a lot of time grooming. I do not moisturize or exfoliate. I do not use "product" in my hair. Most of my haircuts are a month or two overdue. Since I am quickly running out of hair on top of my head, I typically get a form of buzz cut. I know there are universal numbers that correspond to the depth of the clippers you use, but since I don't watch Bravo I have no idea what those numbers mean. 2? 8? 14? No clue. I get my hair cut from the same woman every time and she just knows what to do and I don't have to think about it. I have a "regular cut", and then I have a "race cut" which is shorter when I want to look extra fast and mean.

It was very humid in North Carolina with record high temperatures this week, so I went to a local shop to get a quick, cooling haircut. I told an old woman with a very thick southern accent that she could just use the clippers on me. She asked what setting to use: "Ummmmm....short?" She suggested 3, and I said sure.

Now I'm bald.

Well, mostly bald. Turns out, 3 is probably what I get for my "race cut", but normally I should be about a 4.

So next time I get a haircut, I can search my blog and know what to ask for, or at least what NOT to ask for.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Two Tattoo Tales

I'm still on vacation in North Carolina. The topic of tattoos came up twice last night, and neither time made me feel very good.

We drove out to the store and passed a tattoo place, and we joked that we should all get tattoos. That opened the topic of how painful they were. One of the guys with us is pretty big, and he has a tattoo on his upper arm. I said that my tattoo really hurt, but I've heard that getting one on the inside of the arm is much worse. He said "mine doesn't go all the way around. It was supposed to, but they messed up. My friend drew out a design..." I interrupted him. "Stop right there. Don't bother finishing the story." He was understandably confused. "Why?" I explained: "Let me finish the story for you. He sketched out a design which would wrap around my arm twice, but your arm was too big for it." He laughed "well, that IS what happened!"

No sympathy from me.

We stopped by Walgreens (the CVS of 60 years ago; I had no idea they were still in business either). As I was leaving, the checkout lady noticed my tattoo and called out "oh look, you have an adorable dolphin on your leg." Dolphin? ADORABLE?! I turned around and said "it's an adorable killer whale!" She was unimpressed. "Oh, it's a whale." "A KILLER whale! Fierce predator of the sea!"

The rest of the people in line just had to stand and wait as the cashier started to explain to me that she had a sun and moon tattoo on her back. But she lived in South Carolina at the time where it was illegal to get a tattoo. So her parents drove her across the border to North Carolina, where it WAS legal. I'm sure it was quite the scandal.

In an unrelated indignity, one of the kids staying in our beach house, maybe about 5 years old, saw my room and said "isn't this room a little girly?" I tried to explain to him "well, yes the room is yellow and there are flowers and polka dots on the blankets, but that's just the way things are when you stay at the beach." He wasn't buying it. He said "maybe it's because you work for Disney."

Apparently, if you work for Disney it makes you a girly man. With an adorable dolphin tattoo. And skinny arms.

Monday, August 04, 2008

East Coast Represents

Did you know people can actually have FUN in the ocean?

I've done a fair amount of ocean swimming, and I would rarely say it's "fun". But this week I'm staying at a beach house on the North Carolina Shore and it's a very different experience. To wit:

To go swimming in the Pacific, I typically wake up at 7am and drive 30-60 minutes to get to the beach.
In the Atlantic, I wander out of the house around 11:00 and walk 100 yards to the sand.

In the Pacific, I wear a wetsuit in the mid-60-degree water.
In the Atlantic, I wear my new swim trunks in the mid-80-degree water.

In the Pacific we fight against the rough surf to get to the smoother water farther out.
In the Atlantic, we walk through the smooth water to get the surf to play in.

In the Pacific, I have people yelling at me "you're swimming out to sea! Don't you know how to sight?!"
In the Atlantic, I have people yelling "come see the sights!"

The Pacific is filled with sharks, jellyfish, and sewage.
The Atlantic is filled with sharks and jellyfish.

East coast rocks.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Camp Pendleton Tri spectator report

The other weekend was the Camp Pendelton Triathlon. No, I didn't race. It's much better to watch other people exert themselves. Steve and I left at Oh-Dark-Thirty to drive two hours to get there before the race started. Not fun.

There were a bunch of old-timers doing the race, but the big story was that this was the first Olympic Distance for Stewart, Tommy, and I think Amelia as well. Great job!

The swim course does a U around some breakers so this is a rare race where you can actually get pretty close to the swimmers. We were excited to see Stuart come around the corner and I was thrilled to be able to get some great action shots during swim.

Well, at least until he got out the water and we realized that wasn't Stuart at all. Some total stranger got a lot of cheering from us.

Poor, poor Tommy. He ran some other races with the Tri Team (he's a very fast runner) and he probably should have been prepared for the kind of... "support" our team provides as non-racers. It was a small transition area, so Heather was able to get pretty close to him. Some Tri Teams might support their teammates by clapping and saying "good job", but that's not how we roll. Telling people they're doing fine isn't going to speed up their race. So sweet little Heather offered help the only way she knew how: "MOVE IT!!! Get those shoes on! Don't look at your watch! GO GO GO!!!" After the race, Tommy said to her "you were mean to me in transition!." Mean? Perhaps. But this WAS a military base. AND she probably shaved 30 seconds off his time.

I asked Stewart now that he did an Olympic Tri, what his next race would be. He gave me a nervous smile and said "an Ironman." Poor bastard.

The highlight of the day was seeing the World's Cutest Puppy. The big floppy ears completely sold it. The owner told us it was a "puggle": part pug, part beagle. Now then, I do not like pugs. Or more correctly, I do not like pug owners; they are insane. And before you get offended, tell me: how often does your pug sit at the dinner table with you? How many different outfits does your pug have? Insane. But the puggle hybrid is just too cute for words.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Blame Monica

After I posted my wetsuit photo, Iron Monica posted a comment:

"but we need to see the backside. where's the signature wedgie??"

I don't get many requests to see my butt. In fact, on several occasions throughout the years I've been told I have no butt whatsover (including a nurse trying to give me a shot down there.)

With all my physical insecurities, believe it or not I do not care about my butt. I don't have to look at it. Out of sight, out of mind. Anyway, this isn't really a wedgie shot, but it is a Wedgie shot:

Although this photo shows me at a complete standstill during the marathon (bad), you can see that I do, in fact, have a butt (good?). And I must apologize to Robert for boring him so much during the race that he has to check his watch.

Further requests to see more of my anatomy will not be honored.

Friday, August 01, 2008

What Not To Wear

I'm spending a week at the South Carolina shore with a group of high school friends and I didn't have a thing to wear.

I swim more than the average person and I have plenty of swimwear. But as a triathlete, my swimming attire is a bit... clingy. I don't thing my high school buds need to see me in a speedo. I had no idea how hard it would be to find more appropriate clothing.

I wanted a "bathing suit". Maybe that term is dated, so I'd settle for a "swimsuit" or "swim trunks". Turns out, they're harder to find than you would think. I DID find plenty of "board shorts", but those aren't bathing suits. I'm sorry, but the shorts go down below your knees they're really not intended for swimming. I saw youth bathing suits, but I really don't want Spongebob on my shorts and I don't have a 22" waist.

I went to Big 5 and Sports Chalet. Macys, JCPenney and Nordstroms. They either only carried board shorts, or the wrong size swim trunks. Why is it so hard for a middle-aged man to find something he can swim in without making it look like he's trying to a frat boy?

I finally found a small selection of traditional swim trunks at Sport Connection and I picked up a pair of conservative green trunks. Why green? I'm embarrasss to say, I picked them to match my tattoo.