Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Choosing the right shoes...

For weeks now I have been toiling over which new pair of racing shoes to buy. It is a personal decision and nothing to take lightly as the chosen pair will be used in an upcoming Ironman. For quite a few years I had been using the Brooks ST Racer—a lightweight and stable racing flat. It has a low arch and low toe box, plenty of room up in the toe area. Maybe it was being tired of the same shoe, sometimes they were great and other times I thought there should be a change in my footwear in an attempt to find something that was just better—period. Before the Brooks ST Racer I was sold on the Adidas Competition shoe. Lightweight but not a stability shoe, it served its purpose for several Ironman races and shorter races as well…including a 5km this spring.

I’m a bit particular about my racing shoes, so the search began many weeks ago with reading upon the models, features, reviews, materials used…anything to help narrow down the final few. Long story shorter it came down to the Adidas Mana, Adidas Tempo and New Balance 904. At this time I can’t really recall how many times I was about to sit down at the computer and order a pair of one of these online. Bolder-Boulder weekend I went to the most popular store in town where they had a huge tent sale. I tried on the Mana model, it just didn’t work. Too floppy and not supportive enough though claimed as a support racer model…then the Tempo (suggested to me by a co-owner of the store), it felt good. The week before I was at another store in town where I tried on the NB 904, which also felt good. Thank goodness for all the reviews on the web to research this daunting task, they helped put me in a place of indecision for a few more days until I could regain some sort of rational thought pattern on how to break this “tie” between the 904 & Tempo models. The thing I could come up with is that since these shoes were to be for my upcoming Ironman, how could I best feel how they would feel near the end of the race without actually having to buy a pair of these shoes?

Today was my last day as a “30-something” so the best thing to do with a little over three weeks left was to complete my last longish-like run (not super long but long enough). The plan was to get cleaned up and head straight to the two stores and try on the Tempo and 904 then run on the treadmill a bit in each pair. Right away the Adidas Tempo felt good on foot standing still, but on a treadmill after a quarter mile, the effects of my long run left my feet hyper sensitive and well aware of any potential hot spots. The seam on the inside of the big toe of each shoe (especially the one with the newly formed blister), stuck out like a sore thumb. The fatigue of the long run also left me a bit wobbly legged, and really put any stability or support the shoe was built with, to the test. Stack 112 miles on top of what I ran and we’re talking jell-O legs. The final analysis for the Tempo: No good for me to use in an Ironman.

Onto the next store. Upon slipping into the New Balance 904, then jogging another quarter mile on yet another treadmill, it was apparent that these were the winners. With a seamless liner, fancy non-slip laces, light weight (9.7 oz), not to mention a secure heel support and stability equal to the best racing flat I have used to date. Time will tell if it actually surpasses the “best” racer I’ve used, but regardless, the long daunting task has been completed. That’s one more item off the list of things to do!

Monday, May 18, 2009


Sitting on a saddle for five or six hours will make a man wince in areas unbeknownst to our counterpart gender. It will also force you to reflect and wince on some rather poor decisions you have made, decisions you need to make, or decisions you’d just rather not deal with. Some of my best thinking is done while on a long solo bike ride, as is rediscovering what it is that makes people and/or events so important to me. Health. This is certainly a reason I got into triathlons. I was an elite cross country skier at one time (now just a shadow of that skier—rarely racing even at a local level…as in once every three years or so). Before that I was a runner but only mediocre until I discovered triathlons where my running took a huge leap. Swimming…nope…biking…just a bit. It took triathlon to spur the curiosity in me to unravel the mystery of a three discipline sport, with many, many (sometimes seemingly way to many) miles and hours absorbing the chlorine filled water. Often times, my bottom was so sore from sitting on a narrow uncomfortable saddle that I didn’t even want to sit on a couch. Other times, my quads were so hammered from long runs that were absolutely needed to establish the level required to be competitive, that it seemed like a mindless and unnecessary act of foolishness. Through it all, a certain standard had been established by which I could return at any time to a state of mental retreat.

Not only was this a way of turning myself inside out and hiding from those decisions I was faced with, it was also a quiet confession time for and with myself to admit my true inner feelings on subjects with one person only. Feeling I was the only one that really was 100% trustworthy not to laugh, mock, or try to argue towards side or the other, my confessions were 100% safe and reliable. You know how someone can toss their opinion out there or present questions that are slanted one way or another? Not this way. Sport allows me to say what I want, even out loud (without anyone around), about any subject, person, or view from either side of the pro (or con) aspect of any situation without offending anyone (primarily because nobody else is around!) That said, it allows things to “soak” and find the best possible answers without any influence from any outside source or interference. 100% my decision. This way, I can take 100% responsibility of success (or failure) for whatever it was. What is it that these decisions are in reality? Speaking in tongues about something that I don’t want to say on a blog? Actually…nope. It is in reference to the fact that we have a lot of junk in our lives that we deal with each day. Things that we have to or don’t want to think or act upon, even if an outcome can be positive or negative. The discomfort of what we deal with in training for sport can fade away the mental pain barrier of those life decisions to a point where we can think more clear. The physical pain becomes the focus and the junk that normally clouds our thought process allows ideas to float freely and in the end, a logical resolution develops and we are left with the happy notion that this resolution is correct. Correct and all our own. In summary, I have concluded that I will go with the Adidas Mana rather than the New Balance 904 running shoe—it took a long time and research to get here, but that is it. Not exactly the earth shattering tug-of-war decision you thought I was toiling with is it? Happy trails~!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The latest from Boulder...

It has been sometime since my last post with all the “craziness” going on as the summer winds up. Between projects around the house, coaching, travel, the “day” job, planning out 2010 from all aspects of these…seems like a blog has just had to take a back seat for a bit. On one front, I am pleased to announce that Colorado Multisport is now the preferred bike shop of my coaching company Gemini Multisport. The experts at “anything triathlon” has chosen me as their pilot “ambassador” for many reasons which seem to parallel their company’s growth goals with Gemini’s. It will be great to work with them on multiple levels in the future, as both of our companies continue to grow at a healthy and sustainable pace. If you need anything related to multisport—from building or rebuilding bikes, an overhaul, top notch bike fits, nutrition or equipment in general—these folks have it or can get it for you. This shop is run by pro triathletes and serve the greater Boulder area. World Champions shop & stop in on a regular basis…in fact, I saw Greg & Laura Bennett there just last summer. Stop in, say hi, and tell them I sent you.

In other news…the big 4.0. is coming up quick in just a few short weeks. Looking rearward to when I was younger (say 20’s or early 30’s), 40 just seemed soo…soooo…old. Not that it really is now that I’m nearly there, but dang, it sure did seem that way. I feel the years each morning, stronger and stronger each time I get out of bed. Could be keeping up with the toddler or just battle damage from the years gone by. One thing I am thrilled about is the chance to get into a new age group. The Master’s age group. It should be an advantage for me for a few years anyhow, so I welcome it with open arms. Finally ditched those young punks in my 35-39 age group for a few years—ha! But there are the fast 40-somethings to contend with now…doh! I’m up for the change, the new competition and the unknown of how or when things will transpire the next few years with Father Time starting to take his stranglehold on the mortal self.

On the world scene, it sounds as if things are slowly shifting in the employment arena for those who are out of work. If this is you, hang on as long as you can, help will be on its way. It takes money to create money, and the economy was in such a wreck the last decade that it will take a lot of infrastructure to bring back jobs to the US. It will take some tough decisions by the government to weed out the crooked CEOs & CFOs of so many financial institutions—but things will get better. We’ll see more businesses disappear, more foreclosures, higher unemployment rates, but what is lost will be gained back on the other end with increases in other sectors. I just saw a report that said the last quarter showed a 3% increase in construction spending. Housing construction is even continuing right in my own neighborhood. They are building a new subdivision just a mile away in Boulder (didn’t think there was any room in town to build—but they plowed under a horse grazing field). Denver Metro area was named one of the top FIVE places for job growth recently in an article I read, with growth centering around the hi-tech and telecommunications sector. Sounds like a plan to me!

Onto my athletes…one athlete of mine just finished Wildflower, and felt he met or exceeded his expectations he set considering the course & a back locking up on him. Another local athlete, is about to toe the line in a duathlon, which will be his first race of the year. Another, is about to tackle the 70.3 in Clearwater. Yet another—is doing a century ride/race this coming weekend. The others…training for races down the road a bit later in the summer. Yessiree-bob…things are coming along swimmingly this season, and hopefully this year will be as fruitful in results for my athletes as last year was. Last season ended with a bang with three athletes PR’ing in the Ironman distance…not by a little—but by a LOT. It is nice to have athletes like these so dedicated and wanting to do ALL the work. I’ve worked with some in the past who were big talkers in the beginning, but then didn’t end up doing the work needed to succeed. Right now, I have the kind of athletes I like to work with—Bulldogs. They take whatever comes their way head on, no whining, and executing my plan to perfection. That is what makes this roster I have right now a group of winners. To future Gemini Multisport athletes…if you want over-the-top coaching & attention and are willing to do the work necessary, let’s talk. For the excuse makers and whiners…you need not apply. In triathlon the “big talk” gets you nowhere, action will get you everywhere.