Sunday, September 29, 2013

The OCEANIC tide of 2013

Quite honestly, I'm writing this without looking as to the last post I did. Somewhere between then & now has been a roller coaster of life in 2013. Many things such as having my car totaled in my driveway & being tossed into my wife's car in the spring--by a lady who passed out at the wheel for starters, shook things up. We were in the house & heard a large BOOM! Next thing we know, neighbors were saying a lady just drove into our parked cars. Alas, the joys of having to have a car payment now.

We survived the Boulder 500 year flood but still had significant damage as our basement had to be torn pretty much down to the studs. Luckily, my niece & boyfriend had moved in the week before after landing jobs here in Colorado. Just in time to help move the basement "upstairs" if you is still a work in progress & we at least came away with our home & lives despite the damage. Many in Boulder were not so lucky. One neighbor had 4 feet of water in the basement & were on vacation, only to return to sewage and half of their belongings having to be thrown out in a dumpster as wide as their house.

My son's school was out for two weeks due to damages, I've been playing daddy daycare for him & one of his friends periodically, while trying to do as many clean up & repairs on the house over the past three weeks while working full time. I don't know what not working means any longer. Sleep, work, go to work, sleep (very little sleep at that). Not sure what training is any longer either. I'd like to get back to it, but hopefully I can do that once my son goes back to school. There is so much to do and so little time. It just never seems to end. Need a different line of work so I can work from home and get some of these "must do" lists off the agenda.

That aside, the big TV just quit working...should I say, turns ON/OFF/ON/OFF...over and over again. Wifey discovered this was a common issue & there is a class action lawsuit we are entitled to for Samsung to fix the problem. Should be taken care of in a few days.

Racing scene...did so-so this season with short course & trying new things. Went to Duathlon World Championships (ITU), Team USA--finished as top Master, as well as 3rd American overall (out of 372 athletes from USA), 16th overall out of ALL countries in the Olympic Distance race. It is nice to know I was up there with the elite of the sport and ahead of nearly all US competitors. Had I been in any age group but two others, I would have medaled at World's. However, this was on the heels of Boulder 70.3 Half Ironman--FIVE days prior. The plan was to race Boulder 70.3 "just fast enough" to nab a slot to Vegas 70.3 Worlds. I did that on a "half ass effort" basically. I was hot not tired at the end of Boulder's race. I did not want to jeopardize ITU World Championships too much so had to pull back on the pony.

ITU World Championships was a blast, with my room mate (and 50-54 gold medalist), Andy Ames from Boulder. A quiet guy, Andy and I bummed around Ottawa, Canada in a low-key type fashion. I had a pretty good race and was happy about it, aside from the fact I sort of blew on the bike somewhat. After the first 20K, my legs were smoked and couldn't bike any harder. Certainly the 70+ miles of racing less than a week before took a lot more out of me than I expected. Either way, it was a great experience and without having peaked for it, combined with the racing so soon before, it was a marginal success I'd say. No regrets, I wouldn't have done anything different I think.

After ITU's, I basically spent the weeks before Vegas, off the bike, with only 2-3 bike rides (it was about 3 weeks between races), then a few runs. I'd say around 3 hrs of training a week (if I was lucky). Realizing I really did not want to race Vegas I instead, used it as a road trip for the family to have fun. I did not care about the race & it was a C-race for me. Didn't train for it, follow my typical routine, not to mention was lucky they let me register. Took the kid out of school, wife out of work for a few days, drove, but arrived Friday night about 7:30 PM. Registration closed at 4 PM. What? All the races I've done that were 70.3 you could register the day before. So when they told me it was over, I was pissed as to the time and expense we made to get there. There was a girl "April" from WTC...she read me my rights basically, rude as hell. She was mean, bitchy--should not be working for Ironman. Turns out 30 others had other commitments they just couldn't get away from with extenuating circumstances as well. So we chased around all over Vegas, meeting here & there, rushing up until dinner time the night before the race, spending all day stressed out. Needless to say, we barely ate, rested or hydrated all day due to this cluster. The entire process was a mess. The T1 or swim area was a muddy mess, clearly the most disgusting and poorly organized race start area I ever saw. Bathroom were few, it was a downpour all throughout the morning and bike. The wife and kid ended up going back to the hotel while I raced. They made it there for the finish just in time. 

Racing in the colder rain was dangerous with all those hills, but it was super-fun being out there in the rain. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The run was one of those days you wish you hadn't eaten garlic. One of my rules of "don't do" things. One mile into it, I had just caught another local gal who started some waves ahead of me (Sonja Wieck), as I started to get stomach cramps. It was the garlic. At mile 1 aid station, I dove into the porta-john. I was nearly 3 minutes in that porta-toilet. Better to take the time and fix what is ailing you than to continue in pain. It was a long, long time, knowing I was losing a lot of time. It didn't matter, it was a C-race right? A C-race with a near 3-week no training layoff after ITU Worlds, running around the day before without rest, food or de-stressing myself in the heat. It was just a really bad time & I didn't want to be there racing. It was about as self-destructive of an effort you could make for a race--totally out of character for me with shoddy results to prove it. Even the first five miles of the bike I rode sitting up braking to avoid crashing, until we got off the highway and heading towards the "out and back" section of the bike. It may have been more than five miles, but since I hadn't even seen the swim, bike or run course until I raced it, I wouldn't know. I did EVERYTHING I tell the athletes NOT to do before a race. Living example of just how wrong you can screw up a race without preparation. I almost have to laugh at how poorly executed the entire lead-up was.

Since Vegas, I've been pretty much in flood damage control, hoping that maybe, just maybe, 2014 will be a better year. Certainly training will be much more of a challenge in 2014 with the Boulder Tri Series on tap, with a changed worked schedule which will flip my training life upside down after 14 years (shame on them!) Sometimes though, what you need to do in order to get to the next level, is get a good kick in the ass to get moving and stop the coasting. Take charge of your life, your situations, reach for those goals/aspirations--and quit the routine in order to find a better routine. You may have to take a step back before you take two steps forward, but in the end, you'll be better off for it. Things are what they are & in the end, you CAN control where your ship sails. That is, with a bit of help from fate. I know that sounds ironic a bit, but fate starts you out down a path, it is up to you whether to stay on that path to get to your destination. You can stall out in life, or go far. In the end, HOW FAR DO YOU WANT TO TAKE IT?

PS: The picture here is a giant spider attacking the Canada Parliament building when I was at ITU Duathlon World Championships...Godzilla was nowhere to be found to save the day...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer Update!

Here we are mid July & plans for 2014 have already changed. Rather than Ironman Sweden 2014, with the advent of Ironman Boulder new to the family of Ironman for 2014, I will choose that instead as it will be a lot cheaper to ride my bike to the start than hop on a plan half way across the world. Although, it won't be as fun or exciting!  Anyhow, new age group in 2014 so time to mix things up with some different athletes.

So far it has been in interesting 2013 with everyone I coach just "KILLING IT" be they on a bike or triathlon, or running. I'm carrying quite a few athletes (pretty much maxed out), so keeping it all in balance has been a challenge. In light of this, I've managed to qualify for TEAM USA Duathlon World Championships in Ottawa, Canada in August. Not a seems I've proven I can race another sport quite well aside from triathlon and pure running. One thing I've found out is that my transitions (save for a once-in-a-while "lemon" race), my non-Ironman distances--are pretty much among the fastest if not the fastest. Who would have thought that by thinking & planning ahead just a little bit while changing gear would actually give a HUGE advantage (not just talking a few steps here). I'll continue to focus on fast transitions as I seek to move up in the results as I get older. Someone contrary to what should happen as I age. The goal here is to stave off the aging process as long as possible so I don't feel like an AARP person before it is really time!

Boulder Peak Triathlon is in the morning & after a couple weeks of walleye fishing in Ontario & being off my bike & out of the pool...this should be the last non-trained for race of the season. Time to buck-up & get out the door with some consistency as it certainly hasn't been that way the past few months. That is what happens in a non-Ironman year for me anyhow...lots of slacking. Despite that, things seem to be going fairly well, although all races have been quite short. The real test will be if I survive Ironman Boulder 70.3 while attempting something totally crazy by racing ITU World Duathlon Championships only 6 days later.
It may come down to backing off on the effort for the 70.3 & use it as a training day then race Worlds with less fatigue issues. HOWEVER...if I am in the mix for the 70.3 I may just finally accept my slot to Las Vegas World's in September. Decisions'll be a spur of the moment decision for sure on race day in a few weeks. Don't ask because I don't know myself yet!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tonight is the Big "Oprah" Night

I've largely kept quiet on the entire L.A. issue but with things blowing up in the media on the much anticipated Oprah interview with @lancearmstrong slated for tonight, it is time to ponder his direction and future in sport.

First, let me keep Lance the guy who has done so much for cancer completely separate from Lance the athlete. Argue if you will, he would clearly not have been able to do all he has done in such as short amount of time without the success in the sport of cycling. That is besides the point. Lance the athlete seems to have merely one-upped his competition in doing similar things his competition has done throughout history of the sport, he just took it to a more professional level.

Believing in the myth or storybook hero of the world's best Tour rider ever, after personal tragedy struck, inspired so many in sport--outside of the cancer patients. I, for example, cannot express how many times I visualized Lance speeding along the road in my training, trying to imitate the tempo, the smooth pedaling and motionless upper body style while trying to achieve a solid ride. Although admittedly, I am not that great of a cyclist so it is somewhat embarrassing to know it never really helped a result for a race. Regardless, Mr. Armstrong was the inspiration to get back into shape for the 2012 Ironman Hawaii, in hopes that after he announced that his goal was to race or win Hawaii. Although he would race as a professional and myself as an amateur, it would have been "cool" to be on the same course at the same time to catch a glimpse of him, despite likely finishing about an hour-plus behind him. Now we know the real story, he would NOT have finished that far ahead of me "legally" as all those years of drug abuse, have resulted in a massive advantage in building up the body to such a high level it would be hard to compete with legitimately.

It was only few months before Hawaii, I had already qualified at Ironman CDA, in Idaho, USA. Lance was within one week of getting his qualification at Ironman France before all hell broke loose. The beginning of his downfall for years of lying, abuse, manipulation. "The Boss" finally was going to get what he deserved according to many of public opinion. He has certainly lost a lot, but for some reason, some say he thinks he will be able to fully get back to where he wants to be, in the winner's circle. As his biological clock ticks down, even with a potential reduced sentence from his life-time ban from all WADA sanctioned sports, would anyone really want to race him? Personally, he still seems mystifying as he certainly commands much attention anywhere he goes. Publicly, he is done, he burned that bridge. I would not want him representing my products, nor would I any longer want to be in a race against him. Time to pay the price, "The Boss" is not a boss any longer, but one of among many magicians, one who will go down in history as a fraud by the way things look for him right now. The lawsuits line up, media continues to print he is attempting to worm his way out of things through big dollar settlements. Intelligently, the government and others don't seem to be falling for it. Lance no longer holds the cards so his plan continues to fall apart.

Today, he lost his Olympic medal. What is next?

There are others in sport doing the same thing every day. This fall, an age grouper from the south named Kevin Moats was found to have been taking steroids. He was at the top of the world winning Ironman Hawaii in his age group. It is rare that USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency) tests ANY amateur, in competition or out of competition. From experience, I could likely name a good half dozen amateurs right here in Colorado that should be regularly tested out of competition for both HGH, EPO and testosterone. When you come out of the woodwork, to the degree some of these athletes have with such improvements it is ground shaking to the age group results, it sets off a red flag. Mark Fretta, an Olympic Training Center triathlete was recently found positive for EPO. Mark, while a nice guy (I met him personally a few years ago), wasn't even what I would call "first tier" level triathlete. He struggled for results. If Lance was beaten by some guys in triathlon, if Mark was beaten by a lot of guys, if Kevin Moats only had a few peers who could beat him, it makes me wonder, WHAT are those guys who beat these cheats possibly on?

How far up the ranks would we all be if all the cheats taking things on the WADA banned list were removed, move up? Sometimes, I wonder, but I still hope that it will catch up with them in the end and our final results will be where they should be. One thing for sure, should I get to Hawaii in the next couple years, although I'm taking 2013 off of long course racing, my results will be at least ONE place closer to the front. Thanks Lance, for helping me improve by one spot without doing any work at all!