Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Hole Truth

Here's a question you don't want to think about: How big can a hole get in your sports briefs before you just throw them out?

I have several pairs of sports briefs I wear under my shorts to the gym or when running. Nobody sees them. There is a hole in one of them "underneath", between the legs. Even if you were to watch me getting changed (and please don't) you would not see the hole. The hole is getting larger, but for now the structural integrity of the briefs remains intact.

At what point do I just throw in the towel and get rid of them? Does it matter?

Saturday, March 28, 2009


There are many ways to commemorate an Ironman finish: Buying a finisher's jacket. Framing your race photos. Getting a tattoo. But this has to be the dumbest:

It's a 16-pound bronze tombstone for your living room. Now OK, maybe you think it's kinda cool. Looks kind of tacky to me, but then again I don't have much taste. But look at the price tag: $695. Are they crazy?! For that money, just go register for another Ironman!

They say that it makes a great gift. If there is an Ironman in your life, please don't buy them this. Get them some new gear for the bike, or just take them out for some beers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wedgie: The Bad Boy of Triathlon

NBC has aired a lot of fantastic Ironman footage, but I think we can all agree the greatest Ironman video of all time is IM CdA 2008 by Scott The Producer. And I'm not just saying that because I'm one of the stars.

Well let me tell you, I was shocked, SHOCKED to find out today that Scott The Producer hadn't properly secured all the music rights for use in the video. Specifically, the 80 seconds of "Oh What a Night". I uploaded the video to YouTube and now I am a criminal. YouTube has muted the video with the warning "Your video, Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2008, may have audio content from December, 1963 by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons that is owned or licensed by WMG."

It did occur to me that maybe if I was a little faster during the race, I would have finished during daylight hours and then Scott the Producer might not have used "Oh What a Night." But then maybe U2 would be after us for using "Beautiful Day".

I'll find another place to host the video, but it just stinks that people searching YouTube for Coeur d'Alene vids won't be able to watch mine directly. Stupid over-zealous copyright nazis.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I bet Jesus didn't have this problem

I know. You don't have to tell me, I already know. I know that you should never use one of those home bodyfat monitors. Whether it's a Tanita scale or a handheld Omron scanner, they will give you nothing but grief. They are inaccurate and fluctuate wildly and you should never use them.

Well I have one of course. And to be honest, I hardly ever use it. But since I'm not eating junk food during Lent, I thought it would be interesting to see what happens to me over the course of 45 days. (yeah, you THINK Lent is 40 days, but they have to throw in some extra days to make to make it all the way to Easter Sunday.)

Well here's how my weight and bodyfat % are tracking so far:

After 1 month, I am down one pound but am fatter than when I started. In other words, I was better off when I was eating Oreos and Peanut Butter Cups. I'm going to stick with it, but come Easter I am GORGING on all the junk food I can. That should get me in shape.

Oh, and the other night I dreamt that I was eating a Snickers bar, remembered that it was Lent, and then had to run around to find a place where I could spit it out without anybody seeing me. I carry my guilt into my fantasy dream life.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pasadena Marathon/Half-Marathon race report

The bad news: There was a torrential downpour right at the start of the Pasadena Marathon/Half-Marathon this morning.
The good news: I stayed warm and dry.
The bad news: I was still in my car, stuck in traffic, when the gun went off.

Flashback 2 years ago: my friend Craig started walking on a regular basis just for general health reasons. For his birthday, I made him a coupon good for one free entry to a local race event and I would be his walking buddy. I figured we'd do a 5k walk-a-thon around the Rose Bowl for cancer research or something. Nothing ever came of it.

One year later, Craig and his wife Jana show up as guests in my home holding the ticket. Guess what? Jana has been secretly running and is doing the Pasadena Marathon in November. Craig is going to walk the Pasadena Half and I have to be his walking partner. I gave him a coupon expecting to do walk just 3 miles with him and now I had to do 13? But what could I do? He was holding a coupon.

So they trained and trained and trained, and then on Race Day the event was canceled because local fire filled the air with soot and ash. I felt sick to my stomach for both of them. The race would be rescheduled for some time in March. That was fine with me, as long as it wasn't the weekend of March 21-22 because I was going to Las Vegas that weekend for a festival. (If you must know, it was a festival celebrating an 80s TV show about a talking car. Do not judge me.)

I was not about to miss Vegas, so I drove out Friday morning and went to the festival. Spent two days on my feet running all over the place. I left Vegas around 9:30 Saturday night and got home around 2:00 am. Woke up at 4:45am, left for the race at 5:05 am.

The starting line was about 7 miles from home with a 6:30am start time. At 5:15, I was 1/2 mile from the freeway exit and traffic came to a standstill. It took me over an hour to get off the freeway, and then I still had another mile to the parking garage. Amazingly stressful. Craig called me and I had to tell him "just get yourselves to the starting line and go. If I need to go Bandit and cut the course to catch up with you, I will. Just GO!"

I inched into the parking garage at 6:40. There were people everywhere still trying to get to the starting line, although I was surprised how happy everyone seemed. Between the absolutely horrendous traffic-flow problems and all the rain, everything about the race was so miserable that people couldn't help but laugh. Craig called me and told me that because of the number of racers, he didn't officially start until 6:40. I fought my way through the crowd of 5k runners lined up for their 7:00 am gun and officially started the race at 6:44. I wasn't planning on doing any running at all today, but I sprinted out and caught up with Craig about 1/2 mile out. I was much relieved.

The rain stopped for a while, but we had another huge downpour around mile 3. But it was the downpour at mile 6 that killed me. We were by the Rose Bowl, surrounded by wide open fields and the wind blasted us. I was soaked head-to-toe, not wearing anything waterproof, and the wind was freezing. By far, these were the worst race conditions I've ever been in. There were moments when I was thinking "I can't do this. It's too cold, this is potentially dangerous being out here." I was terrified for Jana and the other marathon runners because the emotional drain must have been brutal. Fortunately, things started to dry up and warm up after that.

Craig was pretty much in high spirits the entire time, and although he later said he thought we were moving pretty slowly we actually maintained a pace 30 seconds/mile faster than he planned. I was very excited and proud to watch him during that last mile and see him cross the finish line.

We recovered for a while, then when it was getting close to Jana's expected arrival I went back along the course to around mile 25.5 with a "Hooray for Jana!" sign. I wanted to give her an extra boost for the home stretch, and then I would call Craig and tell him to get in position to see her. Funny thing: a little bit earlier, Brazilian Ben (aka Road Rash Ben) was in Pasadena, saw my Tri jacket from a distance and called me. I told him where I was headed down the course, and he came out and met me there. I was worried that when we saw Jana she would be limping and miserable from the conditions of the day but when we saw her she was jogging and all smiles. Now to call Craig and tell him to get ready: my cel phone died. Remember those 2 days in Vegas? I hadn't recharged my phone. Thank goodness Ben was there so I could use his phone instead.

I was able to take a different route back to the finish line and saw Jana complete her first marathon. Amazing.

Jana went to the medical tent to have them take a look at some blisters. One had popped so they put some magic goo on it. The other one hadn't popped, but wow it was doozy. It basically took up the entire side of her foot. Enormous. Funny how running 26.2 miles in wet socks can do that.

This is the scary thing, and I know many of you have been in the same boat. They were cold, and wet, and exhausted, with blisters, and during lunch they started talking about what they'll do differently next year. NEXT YEAR?! They're hooked.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Off Target

I realize I am probably not the best person to give bike-buying advice; I failed in my attempt to get a new bike a few months ago. But I still think I can give some general guidelines.

There's a guy in my office - think Dutch 2.0 - who has been asking me a lot of questions about triathlon lately. He's thinking about doing one and I, pretending to be supportive, have been giving him whatever advice I can. I offered to take him to Bicycle John's (a very tri-friendly bike shop) during lunch sometime so he could get a feel for all of the gear that's involved.

Well he came into work this morning and told me "guess what? I bought a bicycle this weekend!" I thought that was kind of a fast decision, but if he wants to dive right in so be it. Then he told me about his new bike: $99 at Target. I wanted to beat him senseless right then and there. (Good thing I didn't try, I don't think I could take him.) I can almost understand paying $99 for a bike if you found an old one on Craig's List and you just wanted to give cycling a quick try to see if you liked it. But going to Target for a new bike to do a triathlon? No way.

Fortunately, he got what he paid for. He told me that he took the bike for a spin and after a few miles the seat started to wobble. Either he's too fat (no), or the bike is just too cheap to hold itself together. He's returning the bike, and has promised to go through more... legitimate... channels for his next bike. Now I just need to get him fitted for a lead wetsuit and some cement running shoes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Not Keeping Up With The Joneses

I learned an important lesson yesterday, and it may seem fairly obvious. Suppose you signed up for a long, difficult race with a group of people and started training with them. Now suppose you dropped out of the race, and therefore stopped the training as well. Several weeks later, you should not - and I can't stress this enough - you should NOT get up one morning and just think you can join the group for one of their training rides.

I think it's been 3 weeks since I've been on my bike and thought it was time I did another ride. The Oceanside Half-Ironman team had their ride and I went along. I don't know what they were thinking, but some reason they seemed to be doing a pace 2-3mph faster than what we usually do. It killed me. They wanted to finish the ride with some steep hill climbing and i just surrendered and went back to the car. I was wiped out for the rest of the day.

The scary thing is that these are some of the same people who I have to train for Ironman Wisconsin with. I ain't ready.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


When I was a lad, my father and I used to give up snacks during Lent. The definition of "snack" varied from year to year. Cookies cake and candy were always out; some years pretzels and potato chips were allowed (they're not "sweets"), sometimes not. Some people gave themselves free passes on Sundays but we always thought that was for wusses. The Fast was traditionally broken with a Cadbury Cream Egg on Easter Sunday.

The weak link in all of my training has always been my diet; I love me my cookies. So this year I'm going back to my roots and having a snack-free Lent. It's been 10 day and I still haven't quite figured out what all the rules are. Certainly no cookies-candies-cake. Potato chips are definitely out. Soft pretzels like you get at the movies are OK because they're really just bread. But is that fundamentally any different from a hard pretzel? Yes. Because I will eat a soft pretzel because I am hungry; I will eat a hard pretzel because it is yummy. And yummy things are what get me into trouble (I never eat just one pretzel.)

During the Fast, I can have peanut butter on a bagel for breakfast. I can have crackers. But I CAN'T have peanut butter on crackers (again, they get me into trouble). Protein bars are allowed. So oddly enough, I can eat my Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Peanut Butter & Pretzel protein bars, even though they have chocolate, pretzels, and peanut butter in them.

I'm debating whether or not to allow pretzels (I have not eaten any, aside from the Protein bars). I have very odd eating habits and it's difficult for me to take in enough calories of "real food" if I'm not snacking. Especially if I'm training. Apples, grapes etc. aren't satisfying enough, and the protein bars are TOO filling. Pretzels are a relatively healthy snack that would take the edge off. We'll see.

And I'm still allowed to drink all the Mountain Dew I want. No reason to be stupid about it.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Yesterday was Joe the Trainer's birthday. How did I find out it was his birthday? He has this little game he likes to play: when counting reps, he'll count "5...6...7...7...7...did I tell you 7 is my favorite number? I was born March 7..." Gee, that doesn't get old. Sure is funny every time.

I said before that I was concerned that Joe was young - concerns which proved unfounded - but for quite a while I didn't know quite how young he was. Turns out the punk just turned 21. I'm telling him tales of me puking my guts out after New Year's and he couldn't even buy himself a Zima.

Far be it from me to violate Trainer/Client etiquette but I thought I should acknowledge his birthday somehow. So what's an appropriate token gift for someone you've hired to teach you the value if making healthy lifestyle choices? Beer!

I picked up a small Guinness gift pack: Two cans of Guinness with two pint glasses. He seemed to really appreciate it, although I suspect he's already had more Guinness in his life than I have. I think sometime we should have a session and do shots between sets.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Ironman Oceansideline

Things aren't really real until they make it to the blog, so I might as well make it official: I'm dropping out of the Oceanside California Half Ironman next month. The reason is actually quite simple: it's a tough race and I don't want to do it. I did it last year; it's a cold, choppy swim, a hilly, windy bike, and the run - well the run is pretty flat but it's still 13 miles. I'm 40 years old, and if I don't want to do a race nobody is gonna make me. So there.

The bigger picture is that I am doing Ironman Wisconsin in September. When I was getting ready for Coeur d'Alene, I started getting excited about 18 months before the race. Wisconsin is 6 months away and I feel... nothing. I am completely neutral about it. I am not excited about it, I am not nervous about it, it's just another reason that I'm going to have to get on an airplane. And that's not good.

When I started training for Oceanside, it wasn't getting me psyched up for triathlons. I was resenting the workouts. I resented the fact that it was cold or wet or early and yet I "had" to do a workout to prepare for a race. I WILL have to get into that mindset for 4 months of Ironman training, but there's no way I was going to add another 2-3 months of that because of Oceanside.

I am still going to the event. I paid my entry fee. I will pick up my race bib and I will have complete access to the transition area and all the food at the finish line. And I can cheer Robert (his first Half Iron) and some other people from my team. So instead of it being a stressful race day, I can just have fun. (Well, I STILL stress out watching races, but it's a different kind of stress.)

I'm sacrificing Oceanside for Wisconsin. I think it's the right move.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Two years ago, I was skiing in Deer Valley, Utah and saw a guy wearing an Ironman Coeur d'Alene sweatshirt. This was still a year before I decided to do CdA, back when I admired Ironmen. (Now I realize that Ironmen should not be admired, but pitied.) I went up to him and asked him about Ironman and he was excited to talk about it. I enjoy skiing, and thought it was cool seeing the triathlon/skiing connection. Someday, I thought, I'd like someone to come up to ME at a ski resort and ask about Ironman.

This past weekend I went skiing in Mammoth. I don't have any Ironman shirts that would be good for skiing, but I have a medium-weight Ironman Coeur d'Alene jacket. Not quite warm enough for skiing, but I figured with enough layers underneath it would work. Fortunately, I have a lot of cold-weather bike clothes which can do double-duty as ski layers.

I was riding up in the gondola with a group of people and one of them was wearing a Deer Valley hat. We chatted briefly about the resort, and then someone else saw my jacket and asked "so, you did Coeur d'Alene?" Turns out he was a former triathlete although he stuck with shorter distances. But the group had a friend who qualified for Kona and so they were very familiar with the race.

I wanted to make a connection between skiing and Ironman. Mission accomplished.

One other thing: the people in the gondola were the nicest bunch of anti-snowboard bigots you'd ever want to meet. (I am a Ski Snob myself). When talking about Utah, the guy in the hat said "what I really like about Deer Valley is that they have a no-snowboard policy". Preach on! Another person in the group said that he had two compressed vertebrae because a snowboarder ran into him. More proof that snowboarders are evil. (He had a legitimate reason for his bigotry; me, I'm just petty.) Poor Stupid Dutch, a snowboarder, just had to sit there and take it.

They were Good Folk.