Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Confusion? What confusion?

I suppose this is what happens when you hit the ground running at 0400. Stuff gets done. Not always the most important, or most necessary, or even the most profitable, but stuff ntl. This morning was big time stuff. Our HoM spins seems to be providing ever increasing levels of power. Which, considering my profession and personal passion, is a good thing. I really enjoy working with our talented group with the goal of getting better. The new room configuration, while not perfect, is a nice change. And you know my thoughts on THAT. (insert smiley face here)

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the supporting cast. My family, neighbors, associates, cohorts, staff, friends and partners. I have slugged out enough miles exemplifying the loneliness of the long distance runner to know from

empirical, first hand experience, the beauty, value and rewards that come from having an understanding, compassionate support group. Simply stated, I could not, or better, would not, do it without you. Therefore to everyone who has supported our little group by consistent participation over these last ten years, I sincerely thank you.

I promise to work harder on my delivery. I promise to be a little more patient. I promise to balance the obnoxiousness with a little tenderness. Sometimes. Maybe. On occasion.

Ooops, there I go being confusing, creating domestic upheavals and making hasty decisions (again).

CompuTrainer Multi-Rider FAQ in the works. Please stay tuned and get your team ready.

Pix: Yasuyo, Lori and Cynthia at the gala birthday table after the morning spin. Stephanie's incredible six pound berry pie. And it's not even noon!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Security is an Illusion

Couple of quick notes this, yikes, afternoon. I guess that is what, or more precisely where, a morning filled with yoga, spinning, commuting and video editing will land you. A day half gone. That being said, I am happy to be out of the gate and steam-rolling down the path to Penticton. I want to start with some metrics as point-of departure data, so I used my most recent events as "Before". In 358 days, when we begin the taper, we will post the "After" to see if we can draw any legitimate conclusions. I will post them later along with some CompuTrainer Multi-Rider FAQs. These In support of my theory that to compete at the IM level at FOP (front of pack), one needs AT LEAST two hours of solid cardio per day, here is an excellent blog post from endurance to validate that stance.

"When the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts." Rollins

"Security is an illusion, do not ask me to blanket your freedom of choice." Lynch

Also, as I mentioned in a VBA response last night, my approach has softened somewhat. Although maybe aged, cured or seasoned is a better word. True, I remain prideful of that fact that I can "focus on the goal" and remain dedicated and committed through thick and thin. BUT, as we learned up at Lake Stevens, sometimes your best simply isn't good enough to achieve an artificial objective. After all, I had zero control over that that guy from California who so thoroughly cleaned my clock. All I have control over is me (and sometimes I question even that). Point being that my all-new, adjusted for illumination, official size and weight, race goal is now to:


Whatever happens after that, assuming those criteria are met, is alright by me. I have been to Kona many times. Just booked Alaska flight 67 for October 3. I will race there someday. It might be next year. It might not. As long as I can keep healthy, keep improving, keep growing, keep learning, and keep re-defining my understanding of the big (island) picture, it is fine.

Finer than fine.

Finer than frog's hair.

Monday, August 29, 2011

I am IN (oh God)

For those of you wondering.....

Guy goes 11:10!!!

The guy goes 11:10!!!!! I get back to my desk after the inaugural HoM spin in new config anxious to check in with the Ironman Canada times and see what the times were from my new age group. The one in which I will be participating in for the next five years. The one in which I would like to take advantage of my youth (sic) and KQ (Kona qualify). Please remember dear readers (VBA) that my PR in Penticton was a 11:15 way back in 2004 when the world was a radically different place and my hair was brown.

During class I made the decision to go for it. To suck it up and pay the piper. The clincher was that it might present a video opportunity for on-line training, as we have, as of RIGHT NOW, 364 training days till the 30th anniversary of this world class event. And that is no exaggeration. I log on. The results are still in preliminary stage and I scroll down, seeing names I immediately recognize and numbers to which I relate, bike splits, transition times, overall.

I scroll past the pros and the fast age groupers seeing the times increase as I go. Through the nines, into the tens, and at the start of the elevens. Please keep in mind that Ironman Canada draws a very talented international field, lots of Europeans, Aussies and Kiwis. The super fast 50-54 AG'ers start to pop up and suddenly I see a guy, someone I don't recognize, A German, in MY AGE GROUP, winning with a 11:10 time. For the record, and because we love to recognize exceptional individual achievement at RCVman HQ, the gentleman is Herr Klaus Rosskopf. He is from Kempten, Germany. I hope to have the honor of meeting him one day, preferably not, however, on August 25, 2012. I will look him up in Kona.

11:10! Five minutes faster than my best from almost a decade ago. I am aghast. I am disheartened. I am borderline angry at the unfairness of it all. 11:10. I can't go 11:10.

Maybe, maybe not. I can try.

In three hours on-line registration opens. I will be ready with CC in hand. It will take an instant $700 (thank you Willow) and then,

364 days of focused training to see if I can go 11:09. That is the goal.

As announced this morning, your comments are welcomed here on the re-configuration of the all new and improved House of Mirth. If you have any questions on the CompuTrainer Multi-Rider system we will address those as well. Kickoff is Thursday night. Let's start to get those teams ready for league play.

All for now. I gotta go find a swim coach.

Video is (standard def, sorry) a piece I Kung-Fu'd together in my motel room in Penticton the night of the 2006 IMC. I even have a cameo atop the now retired Great Panuzzi.

HoM re-config: Does it work for YOU?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I like it like that

This has been a difficult day.

Got off to a great start with an early and furious 8.5 mile BIG LAP DUECE (1:11) and then the HoM re-set. Re-re-set actually. There was some compromise, negotiation and diplomatic intervention involved. But we got it and the important thing is that we are now (almost) ready to rock ' roll in in the House of Mirth CompuTrainer Multi-Rider Center.

After than I washed three cars: Bluey, The Exploder and RG's KIA. Then we set up the finish PO brick facade and readied that phase (see photo).

The afternoon bike ride was cancelled, because, well, there is just no end to the work load, and things need to get done, scholastically, politically, progressively, ecologically and technologically. Leaving no time this afternoon for physicality.

But that wasn't the difficult part.

The difficult part was trying to keep tabs on my friends (via Athlete Tracker) racing long today in Penticton and Louisville. Double Ironman day and the internet again had its bandwidth tested. Congrats to Pros Jordan Rapp and Mary Beth Ellis for their wins in Canada and to Chris McDonald and Nina Craft in Kentucky. Final results off the geezers in my AG are still coming in, and might be a while. And this is the root of the dilemma. The difficult part.

It is now or never if I want to pay the $700 to race next year in Canada for the 30th anniversary of that grand event. On-line registration opens at noon tomorrow, and that will be that. It will sell all 3,000 slots by this time tomorrow.

Now or never. I have a decision to make.

Making the day a difficult one. And I like that.

Pix: New view from the instructors saddle in the all new and improved HoM. RG examines the PO, always ready with two cents.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

BIG Change

It has begun. And I won't attempt to sugar coat it. This is a BIG CHANGE. Your attitude, your acquired flexibility and your conceptual grasp of the big picture will be tested. Patters will dissipate and habits will cease. Good, bad or indifferent, here we go. You might want to tighten your chin strap because if you choose to take this ride, we are going to take it at 100 miles an hour. As fast and we can, with all stops pulled, at max, turbo charged, red-line full-on passionate over-drive.

And that is just the warm up.

This is a great opportunity for a fresh start. Day one. From the beginning. A re-set of values and maybe your last chance to start all over again. It is the end of summer. We head into fall (hoping for a few final days of sunshine) with a fresh opportunity for positive change. Kids go back to school and we go back to work. Change is not someday, not when the planets are in harmonious alignment, not when we retire and not when we have the disposable income, BUT NOW.

I want fearless people on my team. Not petrified of change or challenge, or stuck with the paralysis of analysis, but charging head-long into the unknown with confidence and courage. Lions, tigers and bears……so what. Bring 'em. Let the road unfold before us lined with danger. How else are we to discover our greatest selves? Playing video games, watching Oprah reruns, dummying down till our expectations are lowered below the prime?

I don't think so.

In our very inspirational staff meeting yesterday GM Shelly talked about our role in the community, what we do and who we are. Our mission statement is:


And that, my friends, takes the courage to change.

For eight hours yesterday, and probably another eight today, we orchestrated a total re-configuration of the House of Mirth (formerly known as the House of Pain). This, to incorporate a four person CompuTrainer Multi-Rider Center. It was challenging, at times feeling like square pegs and round holes. We hung (and re-hung) a 54" TV for video, we moved, cleaned, tested, oiled, repaired, polished, moved again, tested sight lines, angles, configs. Three times. And I (and maybe we) will do it again today because I am not 100% satisfied. Yet.

I want to offer the best experience we can. Be that of RPE in spin class or using the exacting metric data from the CompuTrianers. We have a limited amount of floor space. Therein lies the challenge. And therein lies the change.

All this because I want to reach you where you are, via video, internet, YouTube or live in the HoM. Wherever you are on your personal physical fitness timeline. From the fat to the fit, we will not discriminate. And then I promise to do my absolute best to inspire you to become more.

And becoming more takes courage. The courage to change. BIG CHANGE.

A few shots of the HoM. A work in progress.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Nothing Random

2,800 and $702. Just a couple of not-so-random numbers.

The fist is the number of participants in this years Ironman Canada, the 29th annual, which will start very ceremoniously Sunday morning at 0700 with a canon blast. It is a mass start and if you are not familiar with the term 'swim carnage', this is the place for a textbook example. The swim start in Penticton makes the Kona start look like kids in an inflatable pool wearing water wings. Frothy.

The second number is the cost to enter next year's event, the 30th. To be fair it also includes the Canadian GST tax and's slimy registration fee, still we have broken the seven barrier, and that is a lot of cabbage.

So I am working these numbers today. I love that course, that event. I would really like to spend another week in the Okanagon heat the end of next August with almost 3,000 pals. Maybe I should get a job?

In an hour (according to the Timex count-down watch) we will descend on the Bainbridge Athletic Club to transform our existing cycling studio (the infamous House of Mirth) into a CompuTrainer Multi-Rider facility. Yes, we will still use (abuse) the LeMond Revmasters for spin class, but having access to four CTs, a big screen and several motivated cyclists spells F-U-N in my blog. We'll start with individual time trailing, ftp testing and a two person racing league. That will get us up and spinning.

Who knows, with enough concentrated indoor cycling by loyal customers and yours truly, I might make enough to enter next years Ironman Canada - and show up ready to ride!

Nothing random about that!

Pic is the 1997 swim start. Here is a video I welded together in '07 for the IMC RCV release. Cheers.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blue Collar Dawg

One of the most cogent statements in regards to the achievement of our goals, goes something like this: Everything you do, every move you make, every choice, your every decision should move you one step closer to your goal. You might say that chasing triathlon victories via rigorous daily training pales in comparison with the more ethereal pursuits. And I don't mean to trivialize accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour, transcending into self-awareness, the pursuit of happiness, finding fame, fortune and true love or any other wholesome endeavor, but this blog centers on the use of the corporal physicalness of our bodies and, in turn, how that can impact everything else. Ya with me so far?

Sometimes I think all this training is a rather blue collar version of our reality. The white collar lab-coat brain trust guys get a lot of media attention. "Look what WE invented." Those of the clerical collar don't need the media, and in most cases don't want it. That leaves us, the muscle of mankind, to do the dirty work. Move heavy things. Run errands. Build stuff. Provide entertainment as a result of our balance, speed, strength, power, stamina and competitiveness. You know, sport.

You also know that there are layers, divisions, levels of sport. Football is as blue collar as it gets. Battle lines are drawn so an army of 11 can attempt to take property from another army of 11 by carrying, tossing or kicking an oval shaped inflated bovine intestine with a Nike logo. Don't misconstrue, I heart college football. I have a team on who's success I live and die. I am a passionate Husky. This also means, contrary to my training and philosophy, that I must hate (in the following order) our rivals:






Sun Devils




and now even,

Utes and


Depending on the day of week and time of year numbers one and two are interchangeable. It is also worth noting that here ten days from the start of the 2011 campaign, that I also must include pre-season opponents Eagles, Rainbow Warriors and Cornhuskers on the bad guys, most wanted, dead or alive list.

I think this is going to be an exciting year for us and can't wait to tee it up on Sept. 3 against Eastern Washington, the reigning Div. II National Champions.

So before we wrap up this verbose post I will make my RCVman ANNUAL DAWG PREDICTION:

Huskies go 8-4 earning (through hard work, repeated superior game-day situational management choices and some timely karmatic rewards for outstanding community service) a nice big post season, sugar coated Bowl of Glory.

Make whatever you do today one tiny step in the direction of your highest aspiration. Your yoga, swim, bike, run, stretch, eat, rest, recover, practice, study, prayer, love all contribute to the effort. Doesn't have to be flashy, just get that one yard when it counts.

Let us move gracefully through the minefield of the awesome.

Chris Polk is Washington's number one blue collar Dawg. Always looking for more yards.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

She Loves You

Here is the BAC Bulletin, Vol 7, No 7, September 2011.

Please notice the announcement of the new CompuTrainer Multi-Rider Center. Hosted by yours truly. The timing seemed right to pull the trigger on this, and of course, as soon as we go to press with the news, the CompuTrainer Boss calls and says get your butt to DC for the Nations Triathlon. The news of which immediately triggers a 5.9 earthquake with an epicenter about 30 feet from the bike start. Nonplussed and undeterred at that news, the timing is still right (as in not a moment too soon). Here is the short list of initial Multi-Rider offerings:

Two Person Team Racing

Individual Time Trail Racing

Specific Course/Event training

FTP (functional threshold power) testing

Custom fit and pedal stroke diagnosis

That is just for starters, enough we feel, to get us to Sept.11, the date of the 2011 Nations Triathlon in Washington DC. Those regular readers among you (VBA) will remember that last year we got drenched like a rat in a drain ditch and came away with zero useable video. This is take two.

Other big news today, with promised pic, is the status of the PO. Pizza Oven. After another round of design changes, we are back to the bricks this afternoon, laying the throat, flue liner and door opening. You will thank me one day as a steaming circular thin-crust slab of Neapolitano Margherita (with shards of pecorino romano, black truffles and locally grown basilo) pops from oven top to table top.

Life is good my friends. We train, we work. We travel, we eat. We celebrate, we explore. As mentioned in class this morning, one of the sometimes overlooked benefits of high intensity interval training (HIT) is in the improvements to your heart (aka cardio). A bigger, stronger more efficient heart contributes to many positive outcomes, athletic and otherwise. With a bigger, stronger, more efficient heart….

…we can love more. And as John & Paul astutely noted "and you know that can't be bad."

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Wooden 12

John Wooden's 12 Lessons in Leadership: (with my one-beat comment on each)

1. Good values attract good people. Not always true, there are exceptions.

2. Love is the most powerful four-letter word. No contest.

3. Call yourself a teacher. And a student.

4. Emotion is your enemy. Love your enemy.

5. It takes 10 hands to make a basket. My two clap for this.

6. Little Things make Big Things happen. Amen.

7. Make each day your masterpiece. A labor of love.

8. The carrot is mightier than the stick. Motivation trumps fear.

9. Make greatness attainable by all. One at a time.

10. Seek significant change. Might be my fave.

11. Don't look at the scoreboard. Unless time is running out (and it is)

12. Adversity is your asset. I am loaded with assets.

Coach Wooden stands head and shoulders above almost every other coach who has ever attempted to motivate, inspire, lead, instruct and counsel athletes. It is an almost impossible job. Coach Wooden was able to master the physiological aspect of his game in order to achieve the results to which everyone who has ever played a team sport aspires: To win. Not just one game, but many games. Many big games. Championships. Several.

To obtain these results he used the same motivational and inspiration techniques that leaders in other fields have used successfully. The challenge to: Become the best you can be. Work hard. Study. Practice. Focus. Be willing to sacrifice. Have respect. Play hard but play fair. Never say die.

I was thinking this morning in Michelle's marvelous Yoga with Weights class about the importance of consistency. How practice makes perfect and how the best students make the best teachers. How we continually and naturally flow to new levels of success and adaptation with dedication through the passage of time. How such a small thing like a subtle shifting of balance can shake an entire continent. How this one pose can be a masterpiece unto itself, powerful enough to change vegetables to diamonds. About little things. How big they are. Because...

There are no little things.

One of my favorite lines on this is, "Anyone who thinks little things are unimportant has never spent the night in a tent with one mosquito." And from Dan Millman: "There are no ordinary moments."

It all counts. Don't look at the scoreboard.

Pic: In 2005 a rag-tag group of cyclists spent 24 hours on a bike trying to enter the Guinness Book. Four hours each. Took twelve legs. Front: Keil and Jim. Back: Glen, Chris, Sully, me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Leagues now forming

League Competition Format:

As you know two weeks from today is Labor Day. The first day of the rest of our lives. Everything changes. You will never be the same. The CompuTrainer Multi-Rider Center officially opens at the Bainbridge Athletic Club. The Two Person Team format will be one of the highlights of the new system offering a once a week racing opportunity in ten exciting categories:

Men's Open: 70 & Under (combined age)

Men's Open: 70 & Over

Women's Open: 70 & Under

Women's Open 70 & Over

Master Men: Plus 100 combined

Master Women: Plus 100 combined

Junior Male: Both U23

Junior Female: Both U23

Mixed Open

Masters Mixed: Plus 100 combined

Each week will see a different course from 10-40 miles. Season lasts 10 weeks. Winners of each division will receive awards and prizes and everybody gets to race, train and have some serious indoor cycling fun. Each team will consist of three people, one being an alternate. You ride your own bike to the pre-set course. Winner is determined by total team time. Individuals may be a part of more than one team. Cost is $100 per team. That is 10 races, or less than a breakfast at the Streamliner Diner per race. Serious bargain any way you cook your eggs.

6-9 on Tuesday and Thursday nights for the inaugural League season. We can add additional days if participation warrants.

I am putting out a few feelers today to get my team established. We did a 60 minute HIT session at 0530 to prep the motors. First time I ever played a Judas Priest tune, no less. Recovery run at 5 in the park later. In between is paperwork, jersey and flooring finish and more brick work on the PO.

Go Team RCV!

Pic is from Cat 4-5 road race at Sea Otter earlier this year. CompuTrainer Multi-Rider Two Person League, starts soon. Just like outdoor racing, without the road.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Couple of nice sessions last 24 hours. Saturday's 90 minute spin is always a pleasure and this mornings 12 miler with Willow and Bob was equally as festive. We perfectly executed the game plan and finished the 12 hillier-than-thou miles with the fastest mile of the day. Gold standard training for those high-profile finishes where you need to beat the clock (or someone in your age group). Not quite the full on sprint finish but at a controlled up-tempo, this hurts, it's almost over, pace. You know what I am talking about.

Got in some work on the PO (pizza oven) and today will be the dome build. Neighbor Paul came over at sunset for the weekly inspection and we chatted about bikes (his 29er and my race 650s), Hawaii (vlog and papaya), food (pizza and geoducks), girls (what gets discussed on the deck stays on the deck, sorry), beer, aerodynamics, the aging process, neighbors and metaphysics. Maybe mostly the latter (as it connects them all). It was a most pleasant evening until I ran out of Session Black and had to spin to the Texaco station mini-mart for some Henry's. My friend the Thai (I think) owner's wife (I think) has been running in the park. We passed her last week and I encouraged her to run with us for a spell. She has a world class smile and now when I see her at the market we actually have a conversation other than one that starts and ends with, 'debit or credit?'. So last night I have the Henry's on the counter along with some (gasp) cashews, and I ask if she has been running this week. She says she runs Tuesday thru Saturday, but very slow and it seems to her, awkward. I say all you need is some practice and dedication and the speed and confidence will soon follow. She smiles and asks how long I have been running. When I tell her that I have been running since Eisenhower was in office she cocks her head trying to figure that in people years and smiles. I grab the Hanks, smile back and head for the door as she says, "You have the perfect body for running".

That was such a nice thing to say. It was so nice, in fact, that I had no response. Nothing clever, nothing belittling, nothing overtly flirtatious, nothing at all. All I could muster was a weak thank you.

The Wienhards was crisp and cold, the sunset gold. I sat and wondered until dark what I could (or should) have said. I do that a lot these days.

Metaphysics it could be simply about pizza and running.

Paul's friend's oven, finished and fired, and mine, well, getting there.

Friday, August 19, 2011


In searching for some examples of CompuTrainer Multi-Rider Systems, I came across this one on a real estate site! They were cross promoting all the activities available in their area and thought, I guess, that this would entice people to move to Southern California. OK. Seems as how we are getting very close to the grand opening our our very own MR Center, this might provide some additional background information. Should you have any questions on what we do.

Because folks, and it pains me somewhat to admit, we need to start to take a close look at our fall and winter training plans and get structured. That, of course, making the assumption that your goals for 2012 include upgraded fitness, power to weight improvements, changes to MBI, the inclusion of speed, power, stamina and endurance to your current cycling acumen. Not to mention fun, racing, social interaction and college football tips and picks*.

All this on the CompuTrainer Multi-Rider. We will start with a four person system and add units as the demand dictates. All this (and more) at the Bainbridge Athletic Club starting Labor Day, 2011.

The Boise Aeros Tri Club video.

Robbie Ventura's Vision Quest Center.

Total Cyclist from North Carolina.

UW Football (*The RCVman's picks do not necessarily reflect those of management).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ton of Bricks

Quick one today. Got a ton of bricks showing up for the PO sometime this afternoon and need to be ready. Please note that in this instance a ton of bricks means exactly that and not 2,200 bike/run sessions. Astute readers will quickly note that while there are 2,000 pounds in a short ton, the metric, or long ton number is 2,200, and since we go long around here, that is the correct usage/distance/ metaphor.

Some other short takes on going long. I am seriously considering heading up to Penticton next Sunday to stand in line to register for the 2012 Ironman Canada. This as a result of re-reading the USAT rule book. Now you race in the year of your birth, not your age on race day, as it used to be. Meaning that I can race anywhere I want next year in the super-geezer class and try again to KQ (Kona Qualify). This has been a strategy issue because I really like IMC but it traditionally is held a few days before my birthday. Big quandary removed. I need to decide today.

The PO (Pizza Oven, pictured above) is growing. Had to make another design change yesterday, but I think it will work OK. Being my first build I am hoping that I don't get to the next stage only to realize the engineering reason for the initial plan, and how I totally blotched it. Might get there tomorrow.

My elbow is on fire. Can't sleep. Coffee in left hand. Deep concern. What if it isn't the self diagnosed tendinitis? Ouch.

Going through the last phase of the jersey process, getting final check-off from the sponsors. We had to change a few logos, and nothing can rile a brand manager more than somebody taking unauthorized liberties with their corporate identity.

The Multi-Rider Center is galloping along at full speed. Looks like next Friday will be install day. Floors, walls, big screen, CTs and all miscellaneous decor going up. Still lots to do, but real progress and everyone has been super supportive along the way.

Summer has finally found the Northwest. A couple of beautiful days here. Had to chuckle out loud driving to the Home Depot yesterday with The Brothers still showing a snowy summit in back of shimmering Liberty Bay. My thought was if a realtor can't sell Northwest property on a day like today they had better find another line of work.

Good for running and riding, too. Maybe not a ton of bricks, but surely one or two.

Bricks provide a solid foundation, for both pizza and race fitness.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Big Hammer

We talked about the tool kit this morning. The cyclist or triathlete's need to be a master of the many, a Jack of all Trades (and Master of some). Among the tools:

The speed tool. High RPM, efficient cadence. 0-60.

The power tool. Because playing fields are never level.

The torque wrench. To apply appropriate wattage for the task (climb) at hand.

The explosive power tool. Short bursts of ALL YOU GOT.

The endurance tool. Because going long is going to test you.

The intensity tool (today's lesson). Out of comfort and into challenge zone.

The focus tool. Lazer-like presence.

The positivity tool. Yes I can in a jar.

The confidence tool. Yes I will in a baggie.

The humble tool. Always room for improvement. ALWAYS.

The fuel tool. Precision nutrition.

The rest and recovery tool. This one is the hardest to master. Be it analog, pneumatic, electric, solar, nuclear or digital, the opposite of intensity is not lethargy. For our purposes and in our tool boxes, the greater the intensity, the harder the work, the higher the effort, the more we need to master the use of the rest and recovery tool. Opposites attract. Yin to Yang. If you are going to saw you will also need a file.

Please keep your tools calibrated, clean and assessable. You might also want to keep them locked up, safe and secure. Because there are plenty of folks out there that do not have your talent. They will steal your tools. They do not possess your skill. They have but a small percentage of your dedication and discipline. You have a work ethic. They have a dead-end job. You have the tools of the trade. They want it in pill form. You recognize the value in the work. They just want the pay check. Tools, btw, make great gifts.

You also understand that any tool is only as good as the person wielding it, that the successful combination of tools and talent often creates magic. Or a masterpiece.

We have opposing thumb and finger. We have a brain. We have tools. There are instructions. Let's go to work.

The hammer, the paintbrush, the tenor saxophone. Forging the swim, building the bike, honing the run.

Pic: The big hammer pounds the 56 tooth ring into submission.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

One More

OK, just one more. The absolute last post on Sunday's race. This because I am still trying to get my arms wrapped around the take away. And for the record, the context of this understanding through examination is most likely the primary reason why we race as often as we can, to prove to ourselves that we can do better, learn the lessons of the skirmish and grow. Somewhere deep inside this abstract desires manifestation. Although my hamstrings and calves are still sore, all other moving parts feel pretty good. Yesterday's HIT spin session, an easy 5K recovery run and an hour of yoga this morning has me feeling comparatively chipper. I plan on another run tonight and tomorrow is back to the HoM for the weekly Wednesday wicked spin. I am already wishing there was another race this weekend. More testing, different day.

'Cause I have things to prove. To myself. I don't need validation. I don't need any more awards, medals, cheap semi-technical garments or the adulation of my peers. I want self respect. This keeps pushing me. I want to continue to feel that with enough consistent effort, dedication, discipline and desire, I will, one day, over perform. It will all fall into place. That place known as the zone. Where EVERYTHING gels and flows. Firing on all cylinders, smooth, steady and strong. Efficient and sustainable. Powerful, fast and focused.

My best. I thought I had it Sunday. What I had was some of it. For a while. Not 70.3 miles but maybe 55.7. There were times that my situational awareness wavered. There are some technical things I can incorporate to streamline the effort. I can have a lot more respect for the swim, allow my elbow to heal and do a ton more hill repeats.

But I am not sure how the law of diminishing returns would play out. Because I like the challenge of doing those things necessary for improvement. I like the process. I like the work, day in and day out. It keeps me sane, balanced and hungry. I have great respect for those whose DNA makes it easy. They still have to go out and prove it. Yet I have even greater respect for those that have to struggle, flight, claw, suffer, agonize over details and persevere despite the glaring reality that they will never win.

And that, to me, is the most important win of all. It is in the effort, the 24/7 access to courage, the hard work, the experience and the path. Getting there.

Anyone who can honestly call an athletic performance their absolute best has already won a victory far more important than being the first one to cross the finish line.

Get to your best, and forget the rest.

Pic: The recently retired Norman Stadler wins Kona. There is nothing like winning. But there might be something better.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A tip of the cap

Following on yesterday's recap saga, I would again like to explore the process versus results concept. I will be brutally honest with you (as always) and get this out of the way early as established fact: I like results. I like to win. I like to see graphic and empirical plateaus reached after concentrated effort. I like rewards and I especially like the feeling after maximal, sustained output. The glowing satisfaction as response to quality work. Results are validation of successful process and it is always nice to ride the high harmonic frequencies of the bell shaped curve.

But that doesn't quite ring altruistic. We get caught up in the 'win at all cost' paradigm seeking victory over growth, immediate gratification over sustainability and community. Me vs You.

As witnessed yesterday the sun don't shine on the same dogs ass all the time. If your definition of self comes from results and your best effort provides less than championship caliber numbers, you have a problem. When I looked in the mirror this morning at 0430 I didn't see the face of failure, I saw the bloodshot eyes of a fighter who had gone 70.3 rounds, been beaten, and who was now getting off the canvas (asphalt) and heading back to the gym for more work. To find ways to improve, to get more answers to more questions, to keep at it, to endure, to live to fight another day. The process. That is what we do.

I tip my cap, again, to the five guys who beat me yesterday. I went as hard as I could, found a few previously untapped places with the shovel while digging, got some answers about my attitude, my intent, my values, my fitness and my soul. The fire still burns. That is why I race. Not to win every time out. Those five guys and everyone else out there yesterday made me better, they pushed me. I am bigger and stronger today as a result.

And THAT is a result I will gladly accept as part of the process.

Pic: My cap gets tipped in humility and gratitude. Thanks boys. We shall meet again.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Is it all about perspective? There may not be a cleaver way around this. No spin will do justice. Say what you will, and think what you like, my best today, plainly and simply wasn't good enough. I was NOT one of the few, but one of the many.

And I can live with that. It is OK. I am fine, happy even, that I had the chance to go out and mix it up with some incredible athletes. I did NOT achieve my goals, I did NOT win my age group, and because the guy who did went 5:05 to my 5:17, I didn't even stick around for the roll down. I don't deserve to race at World's when I was clock-cleaned by a whopping dozen minutes. I can't go for that, no, no.

But what I did do was this: Race my race. I did the best I could under the circumstance of racing with a less-than-perfect ankle and arm. Tendonitis has infested both to painful degrees forcing a strategy formatted upon balance, control and focus. Today was not a go as hard as you can for as long as you can day. And it was, well, interesting. I held back. I reigned it in. I sacrificed power for cadence, wattage for efficiency and results for process. And guess what happened?

I was three minutes faster than 30 days ago in Lake Chelan, on a course that is arguably much harder, at 80% of max. And finished sixth!!!!! Let me repeat that, 6th!

I should be crushed. I should question my motives. I should be half in the bag, begging for sympathy and pity.

No way. I raced. I gave all I had. I improved areas that needed improving (not the swim) and I had a blast doing it. All day long I had a mash up of David Crowder, Bad Company and The Animals blaring in my head. It was Sky River II at 40mph, all systems go. I did a negative split on the run with the final two uphill miles the fastest of the day. I was spent at the finish. Done. Char-broiled. The fork was in. I stood in the summer sun in awe.

And then amazed that somebody else, five of them actually, had done more than that. My sincere congratulations to those fine (and fast) gentlemen.

So I am content. We inflicted no additional collateral damage on the ankle. Yeah, yeah, the arm went numb again at the swim turn, but so what. Here is the big take-away:

During the last uphill I was thinking what a handicap it was for me to not have the use of my left ankle tendons. Until I passed a Marine who had no ankle at all.


Thanks for all your support and well wishes. I owe some coin. Humbled but happy.

Pix: Bob and Kurt at the CompuTrainer booth Saturday night. For some strange reason, my camera instantly focus' on the Real Course Video being played (in this case the NYC Tri) instead of faces. This morning at 0600, pre-race set up in front of one of my favorite signs: Swim Finish.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Time for some Fun

The work is done. Time for some fun. There are FIVE 70.3 (Half Ironman) events this weekend. Benton Harbor (Steelhead), in the PI (Philippines), in Wiesbaden, Germany, Yeppoon, OZ, and locally up in Lake Stevens. This is the last series of races to fill the field for the 70.3 Worlds in Vegas on Sept. 11. I would like one of those slots.

To do so I will have to have a spectacular day, go approximately nine minutes faster than a month ago, hope like heck that my ankle can withstand the load, and then get an assist from someone, somewhere, somehow. Ah, the beauty of racing. You just never know. Show up ready, go hard and hope that is good enough.

Upon completion of our brick this morning, I outlined my race strategy to Sean and Chris, ending with the statement that I need to race smart. Not like an antelope out of control, but fast, focused and 100% within myself. With the left ankle tendons still mending, I cannot hammer out of saddle or push off when climbing afoot. One ill-advised move could cost me the race. And I am not going to slug out a endurance fest. I am going to race at a high level, where speed is the sole criteria for success. The comprise for power will be cadence. I will up my RPMs while simultaneously maintaing a controlled HR, thereby putting less torque, load and stress on the weak link. And hopefully traversing the distance quicker and with less physical trauma in the form of explosive power output. That is the trade. We'll see what happens. It was chilly this morning at 0700 so I expect similar tomorrow. I was hoping for some big sun, but, we'll play the dealt hand.

All that is left is the pack, ferry ride to registration, expo, some pasta and check in at the Motel 6. Looks like wake up call will be around 0400. Our wave goes at 0635.

The work is done.

Pics: The first, ahem, brick goes on the hearth for the pizza oven. Later a nice fire with the first row of bricks setting up in background. This morning's brick was a 1/13/3 run/ride/run final dress rehearsal tune up. Big BZs to the Harvey men for their participation and effort.

Time for some fun.

Friday, August 12, 2011

New Jersey Poll

....Or why we moved West from Hackensack...

But seriously, here is the second jersey option (the blue and green). I have put them together so we can take a critical look to hopefully determine whether the pink and yellow appears faster than the blue and green. You tell me. (I know which one I like!)

Guess That's Why We Race

I have been quoted as saying:

"Never mistake activity for achievement."

"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."

"If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes."

"Consider the rights of others before your own feelings and the feelings of others before your own rights."

"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."

"Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability."

"Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."

Who am I?

On other notes, we are back to the pizza oven construction after a respite of flurried construction activity elsewhere on the cabin project. Phase 296 is now (almost) complete. Just waiting on a specialty part (overhead barn door hanger assembly) to wrap. After the PO we're back on the roof for the remainder of the summer building season. This will, with any luck at all, provide a drier interior working condition for the fall and winter seasons.

Shown above is the first draft of the new jerseys to help celebrate the grand opening of the CompuTrainer Multi-Rider Center at the Bainbridge Athletic Club. With all the delays in assembling the artwork in proper size and format there is no way we are going to have them available for the Labor Day open, however, we will pre-sell as much as possible and are now looking towards an end of September arrival date. If you are interested in wrapping one of these babies around your motor, or have questions or comments, please befriend the 'post a comment' tab below.

My beloved University of Washington Huskies are back at it. This time of year is like Christmas week for me. News, pics of the Dawgs at practice, juicy quotes from Sark and the ever approaching date with the dastardly Ducks on Nov. 5. Feathers shall fly.

Today is Friday of race week. The ankle is at 70%, the elbow far less. I can live with that ratio. You will recall that during the Chelanman swim the right arm went numb at about the 1000 meter point, providing a rather interesting 'just get through it' improvised stroke. BUT, once out of the water, the elbow goes to auto with emphasis on the ankle to bike and run. This is where is gets dicey. So the revised revision and race day strategy: Swim easy and calm. Balance and flow. Breath and relax. Reach and turn. Repeat for 1.2 miles. Bike: As they have gone back to the two loop course (no comment) that I know very well, the first five miles will be painfully slow. Warm that puppy up. Drink. Find a groove. Then gradually, approximately by Lake Roegsiger, find a cruising speed that is near 90% and hold it. Do not stand unless back needs stretching, keep HR under control, drain both bottles of First Endurance by 56. Run: Think you took it out slow on the bike? This will be the tortoise to that hare. Let the ankle acclimate to the flexion of the run motion. Drink. Take shorter strides and find a stasis. Monitor with every foot strike for the first five. Then, AND ONLY THEN, make a brutally honest assessment, and leave everything you got on the streets of Lake Stevens for the last eight miles, acknowledging the wisdom in not mistaking activity for achievement, on a humble, grateful and perfect day fully filled with freedom and fun.

All I am looking for on Sunday is my best effort under these conditions. The level of competition is substantially greater than a month ago in Chelan. It is a World's qualifier and the highest profile race in the NW. There will be blood. I will need to rely on my base fitness due to the need for ankle and elbow 'healing rehab down time' over the last 30 days. I have no idea on how this will play out.

Guess that is why we race.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Exterior, twilight, a city street.

I have been working on a screenplay for many years. It is a work in progress. It most likely will never be completed. The basic outline is that of a guy who has elevated his awareness receptivity to an impossibly high level. This through extensive study and practice of several forms of martial arts, zen, and music. It seems there exists a universal consciousness decoding phenomenon that can be accessed through the serendipitous use of these three metaphors for body, mind and spirit. Scientifically it is knows as Random Cosmic Input (RCI). The US Military is very also interested in the experiments and has assigned two agents to gather intel on our hero. They are, in classic Hollywood stereotype, the bad guys. As he progresses in his 'experiments', he starts to lose all connection to spatiotemporal displacement and achieves a lucid state of flow, in complete harmony with the ten thousand things. This ethereal other-world state he touches with his heart as he struggles to keep his feet on he ground, one step ahead of the clumsy antagonists. It is his challenge, sometime funny, sometimes sad. A recurring 'theme scene' is of him walking down a city sidewalk tuned in to all conversational stimuli while Chopin's Nocturne, Op. 9 in e-flat major plays underneath. The camera dollies with him as we hear many voices:

The ankle is a flexible joint and does not respond well to constriction. Chuck Taylor learned this the hard way.

In a field of shoulder high wildflowers.

Where sometimes the water is so calm it looks like marble.

In Alabama for the wedding of her sisters' niece, and then Sacramento for an eye exam.

To let you know what's going on.

They never looked her in the eye and never ate together.

It could be the wheel bearings.

From the South wall facing North.

His name is Evil Jake.

Hand made in Sweden.

Thank you Lord.

Maybe some time Friday.

As he reaches the subway station to the closing notes of Chopin's melancholic night prayer, the interconnectedness of these random passing pieces fit perfectly together, along with their sub-text, innuendo and back story, completing the current day's holistic puzzle.

It is, he hums aloud, time to taper.