Monday, July 30, 2012

Sync Up

My favorite quote, so far, from John Douillard's terrific book, "Mind, Body and Sport", comes from former tennis great Billie Jean King. The passage was prefaced by another quote from the epic poem Mahabharata in which the great archer Arjuna reveals the secret of victory as establishing yourself first and then executing. To which Billie Jean responds, "it is a perfect combination of violent action taking place in an atmosphere of total tranquility." That combination being first a composed and calm mind and body necessary to create hurricane force (violent chaos). 

Picture 1000 watts of power on the bike. Hitting a baseball twirling toward you at 100mph, feeling your way proprioceptively over a jagged mountain trail, catching a spiral in tight coverage, nailing that three-iron pin high. All demand inner calm and outward power. Many people have one. A precious few are able to harness the absolute power of both. It is why we practice. It is why we drill. It is why we repeat, recover, repeat. We practice with acute awareness the adaptation taking place as we try to synergize these polar extremes, mind-body, in-out, soft-hard, slow-fast, silent-loud, yin-yang.

On those rare occasions when we are in sync, amazing things happen. Personal bests are set, records fall, dreams are realized. Some call it The Flow. Some call it The Zone. 

However you wish to label, it is a skill. A talent that can be learned and refined. We know the components: Show up. Commit. Focus. Work. Breathe. Rest & Recover. Repeat.

The rest are all details. Get good at listening to your body. Make the commitment to improvement. Do what it takes. Eat good. Sleep well. Repeat. 

Sync up. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Take it from Me

In the wonderful world of advertising it is known as celebrity testimony. Somebody famous, instantly recognizable by the target demographic, endorses a product by using it, wearing it, talking about it, owning it, and instantly the human hard wiring system accepts that product as legit, cool, of value or (at best) something they cannot live another day without. There are more examples of this successful concept than I can list here on a Sunday morning, but for this exercise, I cite two as rather colorful exhibits. 

First is from Camel cigarettes. Seems that as recent as 1949 more doctors smoked Camels than any other brand. Please check out the model at the end, merely toking on screen and smiling. 

Exhibit B is one of the classics from Miller Lite. The boys (all sports celebs) are holding the first Miller Lite Bowling Tournament. There is the usual debate over what makes the beer so special, its taste or weight. And then it's Rodney's turn. 

I bring these up to set the stage for this piece that was published earlier this week from Lake Placid. This, in regard to the top three Men being CompuTrainer users. As well as two of the top three Women. Overall 8 of the top 10 use the CT. Big stuff. The promo idea, in the form of celeb testimony is that if these extremely fast professional triathletes use the CompuTrainer to reach their goals (including their very livelihood) YOU MR or MS age grouper can too. 

Here is the only difference:  They do it full-time and get paid for results. You don't. 

Even more reason to use one. More results in less time. 

Take it from me.

Video is a very cool piece from LP, check it out. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Be Your Hero

I had the opportunity over the course of the last few days to get in some R&R. We were fortunate to get in a successful shoot of the upcoming Ironman Lake Tahoe bike course on Wednesday, leaving supplemental photo work on Thursday and a late departure on Friday. Due to the initial success of our new product development outline strategy I decided to get outta town early and get to work on the video and beta version. That is being done as we communicate. 

My rest and recovery, relaxation and rehabilitation, took the form of working at nothing. Keeping the urge to run suppressed, just saying no. I needed the time to heal up and allow a few nagging overuse injuries to re-build. This is difficult for me. I like to move. I like the physical feeling of muscular soreness, it feels like success to me. And after last Saturday's 70.3 I was a little run down, road weary and perhaps even suffering from low-grade DOMS, delayed onset of muscular soreness. Simply put, I needed a break. 

So I went to the ballpark, watched some baseball, shot the climb to Mt. Rose from Incline Village, and went to see a matinee of the latest Batman movie, the third and final installment from Christopher Nolan in the Caped Crusader Trilogy. 

I will spare you a traditional movie review as there are others who can transpose film to print much better than I, BUT, there are a few elements that were, perhaps, important to us (athletes) more than the GP, general population. I say 'perhaps' because the elements are universal, we simply find more ways to employ and execute their principals. We put them into play. We do. Here are a few examples, sans spoilers:

When we fist see The Batman he is retired. Hurt, crippled, morose. He has been beat up by bad guys and betrayed by the woman he loved. It hurts to watch. This is NOT the way Batman got to be a hero, let alone a SUPER hero. You want to slap him around, rattle the batcage, and snap him from the funk. Demand that he stop feeling sorry for himself and get out there and back in the game. Even Alfred tries his best. It is a favorite trick of Hollywood. It is called the moment of truth. The moment one decides to act. When we train, when we race and when we live fully, we get to make the same choice. Art imitates life. This is our story as much as an eccentric millionaire with BW embroidered on his batrobe. 

Act. Go. Do. You are the hero in this sequel. You can be super.  Make it so.

Gotham is under siege by a bully known as Bane. He is a combination of Hannibal Lector, Darth Vader and Goliath. He is big, bad, mean and smart. He kicks the stuffing out of Batman the first time they meet. Bane breaks Batman's back and exiles him to an inescapable hell of a prison while he executes a plan to take over Gotham City. In prison Batman meets a sage and a savior. Hello Yoda. He embarks on the journey back. He wants a rematch. It is the only way to save the city he loves and the entire population therein. Moment of Truth II. (Hollywood can do this). He knows that the next time he meets Bane it will be a battle to the death with the fate of the city and 7 million people riding on the outcome. We call it courage under fire. You had better be prepared. There will be blood. You must embody and embrace a no fear policy and accept the reality of death. This is the critical point. You have nothing to lose. Give it all or you lose all. 

Stay in focus. Charge. Summon your soul. NEVER give in. Attack. Be tenacious. You are not alone in this fight.

Lastly, the war on the streets is about to begin. The mercenaries have the police unmanned, outgunned and out positioned. You can see fear in the eyes of Gotham's finest as they prepare to meet their bloody demise. Suddenly from above, the Bat, a turbo charged, carbon fiber, jet propelled, super helio SWAT copter, piloted by The Batman himself, does a low-level flyover and the Boys in Blue cheer and then rally as the posse has arrived in the nick of time. They charge into the face of certain death, sure of their cause and with renewed vigor and purpose. The mere presence of our caped hero has empowered a thousand police officers wielding only service revolvers to attack the oppressors holding cannons, assault rifles and tanks. 

Courage. Purpose. Teamwork. Never give up. Regardless of the odds, do your best.

Batman saves the day, gets the girl and retires to Venice. But not before putting the essential elements of success, valor, integrity and wisdom on display. 

Further setting the stage, Robin shows up, The Boy Wonder, ready for his day in the sun.

We all get one. Be your own hero. Be super. There is a day to fight and a day for R&R.

Ask The Batman. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

To Win

Another day of shooting the IMLT course. Beautiful day in Reno/Tahoe with the roads filling fast with folks looking for some combination of fun, shade, food, rest and/or adventure and excitement. Me, I just observe. I am thankful we shot the course yesterday because today would have been a clustermare (half cluster and half nightmare). The stretch along 28 from Kings Beach to Tahoe City was a parking lot. Not good for video.

Took a break near the swim start, today filled with paddle boards, kite surfers, kayakers, volleyballers and sunbathers and found a couple of rather serendipitous notes. Try these on for size:



Followers of the blog will quickly put those two into context and join me in the harmony.

My work here is done. We have the foundation of a plan. The idea is solid, the players assembled. The pieces of the puzzle missing for so long have finally appeared, eager, willing, ready, primed. There remains one piece necessary to complete the coup, the final good-to-go from the tower. One way or another we will be at 33,000 feet faster than a Wiggo time trail.

All meaning that I am trying to get an early flight home to get started on the follow up work. There are things to be done that I cannot do from this hotel room.

Pix: Last night at the ballpark, home of the Reno Aces, my hotel Harrah's in the background. Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Winter Games, Bike start and finish, and the swim start at King's Beach.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Biggest Little

They call it the Biggest Little City in the World. Back in Reno to shoot some preview video of the 2013 Ironman Lake Tahoe. It's an easy 45 minute drive from downtown Reno to Kings Beach, despite the delays for road construction. I met with my hosts, Nate and Reid from Trainer Road and longtime CompuTrainer Multi-Rider coach Chad before first light. We were ready to explore and chat about our respective industry specialties. There being three in the wired-for-sound-and-video Mazda this morning.

You know what I do. I am the video guy. I shoot, I edit, I master. I do this in conjunction with our partners the World Triathlon Corporation, owners of the Ironman brand. I shoot the video that eventually comes to market as CompuTrainer Real Course Videos. Shouldn't take long to work the acronym, man.

Nate and Reid have created a terrific new software bundle and site that does amazing things. If you train at home, indoors on a stationary bike, I recommend you take a long look at their products.
Chad Timmerman is an experienced cycling coach who adds the mentoring aspect, bringing together the visual and technical as platform integration.

The four of us drove the course this morning, shooting video with a live mic to capture a rolling narrative of all things triathlon. I will admit up front that the only thing we were lacking on this assignment was coffee. We spent almost three hours in non-stop discussion, grabbing what I think will be excellent video of the new course. We even managed to pinch some video inside Martin's Camp until road construction and a giant yellow Cat road grader blocked our path.

Topping all that, the post shoot debrief produced a game plan and the formation of 'the model'. All those parts melded seamlessly together. The video, the software, the graphics, the workouts, the structure, the entertainment, the motivation and the ways and means to put it into play. Stream it to me baby!

I have the assignment of preparing a sample video segment using the media we captured today, adding a few bells and whistles, perhaps even a glockenspiel and penny-whistle, to use as beta for the additional component integration. The goal is to create one complete, fully functioning prototype to gauge potential. From there, assuming success (as we always do) the sky is the limit.

Could be the Biggest Little thing since Reno.

Pix: Guess where? King's Beach before the sun. Chad, Nate & Reid. King's Beach II. Rose Mtn.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It Ain't Me Babe

I have been thinking a lot about last Saturday. This, in the attempt to cherry pick the low hanging fruit of wisdom. Put some more tangy Rainiers in my experience basket. Keep the flesh, spit the pit. In this excellent article by my pal and longtime mentor Simon Ward, aka The Triathlon Coach, he goes through the same process with much greater insight and eloquence than I could muster in a summer of harvests. 

There were many positives, one of which was simple survival. It was hot out there for 75 miles. I was coming off two intense high performance efforts and not fully recovered. I did a Richard Kimble* swim. My big toe bled. REMs over two days were virtually non existent. Did I mention the heat? To get through all of that and lose 'only' 12 minutes over last year I consider to be a success. A positive even.

I had the opportunity to compete. I showed up and toed the line. I gave it all I had. Regardless of the result, what I had to give was donated to the cause. I enjoyed the process. Every step of the way, despite the sun, wind, distance, competition, frustrations, aggravations, challenges and irritants. That is the whole idea of an endurance event. The weak crumble. The strong prevail. One must manage inside and out. Overcome the minds relentless desire for the easy way, that path offering least resistance, some shade from the sun. Basic relief.

But that is not what we do on race day. We get answers. To big questions. We explore our souls. We push the time, speed or distance to failure. How long can I go at this intensity, how far, how fast? All eventual winners will have built their race around delaying fatigue longer than previous. Maybe by five minutes, maybe by five seconds. Yes, the course was the same distance as last year. But there were other variables at play contributing to a completely different challenge. The elements. External conditions that all must endure. It is the same for everyone. Rain, sleet, sun, snow - you still have to go. 

I took away a bin of lessons and positives from last Saturday. It was  great time, camping, racing, supporting, eating pizza and sipping barley pops. It is part of the overall experience that keeps me coming back, looking for more, searching for the speed, playing in the splendor of our national treasure of a backyard. I consider this to have a very high QOL rating. Off the charts even. What a blast. 

There is only one person in the world that cares that I finished second in (my former) age group. 

And it ain't me.

*Reference is to the 'one-armed man' seen fleeing from the Kimble home on the night of Dr. Kimble's wife's murder in the TV series The Fugative. 

Pic is from campsite looking across Chelan River at a single track trail that seems to be calling me. Maybe there is a Cherry Tree atop.

Off to Reno and Tahoe. Enjoy the ride. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Two Race Reports

Race reports can get old. I have written many. Sometimes they come close to capturing the emotion and drama of racing, sometimes they induce boredom faster than a math lecture. Which is interesting because numbers are usually where we start and finish when assessing a competition. It's a math lecture on screen. And today's lesson is peppered with history. 

PLEASE check out this perfectly penned race report from the 1936 Olympics where the USofA was represented in the rowing Olympics by the University of Washington crew. It is a great story, flawlessly told and cracking with intensity and pathos. I was cheering for the good guys (Huskies) as they matched strokes with the heavily favored bad guys (Hitler and Mussolini) in a rather hostile Berlin setting. 

Moving ahead 76 years, and jumping from rowing to triathlon, which didn't even exist at the time, I file this abbreviated report on Saturday's Chelanman Long Course Triathlon. Please forgive if it fails to illicit a similar emotional tone as the former piece.

Going in, I knew it was gong to be a battle of a different type. I was balancing on fatigued legs, tired from overwork, not fully recovered from two prior workouts. My right arm dulled by the relentless ache of RSI (repetitive stress injury). My sleep had been interrupted the night before. We drove five hours to get to a camp site where the sprinklers would cause yet another interruption to much needed REMs at 0200. Wake up call was 0500. You don't need a lecture to figure the math. Bloodshot and bruised at the swim start. 

Saying that the swim conditions were ideal might be an understatement. Seventy degrees, as calm as it gets and crystal blue water to match even that of Tahoe. The game plan was to go easy (again) smooth, breathing, rolling on side, maximizing every movement for propulsion and efficiency. At about 800 meters I even chuckled at how simple it was. Find the slippery groove and cut the drag. If I have been any more relaxed I would have sunk. The right arm goes numb at 1000, leaving the left to compensate. I adjust, correct and keep eyes on the underwater rope. What I don't need now is to lengthen the swim. Every five breaths I look up to sight, squinting into the bright yellow ball of fire in the morning sky. I think about the Race Director's sister and her battle with MS, I think about Chris and Stephanie's constant, gracious and fitting gratitude for strong and healthy bodies, I think about how beautiful it is right here, right now. I feel lucky, even with the use of only one arm. I think that this is not the time to be a wuss either so I put on a little move to test the limb. A least I am an alive wuss. And know what? In about five minutes the swim wuss would be hitting solid ground and morphing into a BIKER.

A biker with wheel fatigue it appeared. Off to a fast start on the 58 miles. Steady, controlled, big 56 ring ring churning. Nutrition strategy in place, new (non-matching) Michelin on rear. Beautiful blue skies, lakeside, 80 plus, slight sidewind. By mile 30 on the rolling out and back, the challenge was to manage the quad pain, keeping split times and finish goals in the equation. It needs to ouch a little but not to the point of failure, a scenario that often destroys confidence and willingness to stay aggressive. By the course signature hills, a consensual damage control gear provided close to maximum speed, now given the heat, fatigue, elevation and distance to target. Usually at about this juncture in any race the debate begins over what to give and when. Kill the bike, slug the run? Save a little for the 13? Or save a lot and kill the run? All part of the game. What they call in Iron. 

Back in T2, transition from bike to run, I am feeling decent, all things considered. Seemed to be an abundance of endorphins called into emergency action. With quads and hip flexors getting a rest and hamstrings and glutes about to take control, the big question was now about nutrition, electrolytes, water and pacing. What is left and how long until the onset of debilitating fatigue? Or, rather bluntly, how long can I go at desired speed? 

Facing but a single option to learn the answer I set out on the 13.1 mile out 'n back run. I am feeling surprisingly good, even without the data that would later indicate that my bike split, which seemed a day slower than last year, was actually fairly close, with the perception of half of the effort. In doing the obligatory total systems check I find back and core still surprisingly strong. Mental not to self is made to erasure hydration and with that the pace quickens to approximate desired speed and result. Legs are sore, tired and turgid. Close to cramping at any second. I shorten stride making quick, mid-foot strikes trying to coordinate upper body movement with ground level impact. Find the flow. Breathe. Two down. Keep charging. I am passing people with black markings on their right calf's indicating they could be my children. I recognize several from the bike leg. Teach them to pass ME on a climb. At mile 5 I am out of EFS liquid shot, the fuel I carry. I must now call upon my experience to mix and match water, Heed, Hammer Gels, pretzels, oranges and bananas to power the finish. A blister has developed on my left toe. I begin to splash ice water on my hamstrings and calves at every aid station. I no longer care about time. It is this step, this foot-strike, this breath, in rotation, that counts. I am managing pain. It hurts, but we endure. It is hot. I like it. The sun sparkles on the water and I think about how sensual it would be to skinny dip RIGHT NOW. I get to mile 10. My pace has suffered. Both legs are about the cramp. The toe is bleeding. I am passed by the eventual Women's Overall Winner. I run with her for five steps before she drops me like a bad habit. My head and heart want to give chase but my legs only want relief. They are screaming to stop this punishment. Five clicks remain and I can see the finish in the distance. Keep it going. Stay present. Find what remaining juice remains and squeeze it to pulp. The faster you go the quicker the end. This ain't so bad. I can take a little hurt. This is precisely the scenario for which we train. The person who can delay the onset of fatigue, wins. Not only will I delay, I will thrive in the effort. I surge. There is still some gas in this rusty old tank. Burn it. I get there. Finish. 

There are worlds of differences between rowing and running, between the 1936 Olympics and the little, local 70.3. The stories and the passions are very similar. Sport is played out in order to reference the heroic. We need something to compare ourselves to. We like to create relevancy and validate our training, our talent and our character. We accept challenge.

It is why I keep coming back. Stories like the Huskies in '36. I want some of that. 

I'll keep trying. 

Pix: Top: 2012 Highway 97, Chelan, WA bike in , run out. A RCVman photo. Bottom: The 1939 Rowing USA gold medal winners from the UW. A Slate magazine photo. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Into the Light

  • Number of incarcerated people per capita
  • People who believe in Angels
  • Defense Spending

Out of the darkness and into the light. We are off for another adventurous racing weekend. It is raining hard here today. I thought it rained hard one week ago atop Hurricane Ridge, but this even has THAT topped. I am jonesing for Vitamin D. I pack no sunscreen. Give me rays.

Putting the finishing touches on my (patent pending) non-taper, we raced the Men's Oly TT 44K course last night. It was work. I considered the output and the effect on tomorrow's 70.3 frequently over the course of the 1:21 of high intensity. I considered it again this morning during our series of four minute climbs with a one minute break at 120 RPM. I didn't get a lot of sleep last night as right hamstring, calf and instep played "Cramp first" until 0400. We shall see. I have 20 hours to recover.

Leaving you with two links today, and as I am toting only cell, there most likely will not be another post until Sunday night, when the damage, or the results of prior damage, has been done. 

Matt Frasier on how much protein an athlete really needs and the incredible embedded video above. The three line items at the head are the three events where the USofA takes gold. It is a very powerful piece.

Have a great weekend, regardless of the weather and please keep on the road into the light. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Right to Remain

This morning's session was simple and straightforward. Warm up, then execute a seated push with cadence over 100 until expiration of current song. This, at level 11. Next song, stand at 11. Sit at 12, stand at 12. By the time we hit level 15 and Blue Sky (Lord ya know it makes me high when you turn your love my way, yeah, yeah) we had shared commentary on the pathetic and perplexing state of current affairs dealing with making a clean getaway. 

And I don't mean leaving town for the weekend. Seems my morning partner today is dealing with the reality of his father's mortality. A lot of us will be facing this same situation very soon. We both felt like the time is right for some compassionate, sensitive and nonpartisan compromise from our "leadership". Enlightened even. 

Is this possible? I wondered aloud, with the billions the health care industry, big pharma and the insurance conglomerates are hauling in on a regular basis, and coupled with the intimidation and fear tactics employed by, the Catholic Church and the Police State? How does one find enlightenment under all that oppression? 

We discussed the complexities. The Right to Die. Quality of Life. Dr. Jack. Native Americans. Medical technology. Our phobia on social care. The 1%, Totalitarian capitalism. War. Education. Inflation. Six feet under by shovel. 

By level 16 I was pretty cooked. Keeping 300 watts after 50 minutes felt like my legs were on the BBQ. We warmed it down, cooled, stretched and applauded each others effort and contribution to the discourse. His father is 65 and undergoing a liver transplant. He may not make it. Included in our conversation was the paradox of the rugged individual, the guy who thinks he can be self sufficient and totally independent. One can be the most self reliant lone wolf on the planet but sooner or later the paradox of receiving a liver from a donor will change your view. 

We need each other. We are social animals. Stress is reduced when we share. We like doing things together. We like the pecking order of having a leader, a cadre of specialists, a bunch of happy campers in the middle and a jester, prankster and comic to remind us that nobody gets out alive. 

The best way to die, I am convinced, it to know how to best live. To face the eventual with no regrets and the smile of accomplishment and experience on our face. I believe in the quality of life. Our days together are numbered. Nobody knows what that number is and it is different for everybody. It sometimes scares me to think of what a catastrophic mess I could find myself in, refusing to play the game. I do not want to burden anyone with cleaning up after I decide to go.

It's a good debate. A deeply individual choice. I do NOT want a puppet on a political string deciding for me. I see it as freedom of speech and the pursuit of happiness. It is quintessentially religious. I have the right to remain silent. 

In the meantime, I plan on living large and loud. 

Seems simple and straightforward. God Bless. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mailbox motivation

From a very good article entitled Top 10 Exercise Tips for Rapid Weight Loss. I cite Number 6:

6. You've probably heard that you should find a workout buddy to help you get to the gym. That's good advice, but a better idea is to find a 'challenger'. A 'challenger' is someone that gets in your face and challenges you to do better. He or she makes you uncomfortable by making you accountable. Sometimes the best thing someone can do for us is to make us mad, embarrassed or uneasy! This prompts us into action, and that action is for our own benefit. Do you have a 'challenger' in your life? Get one, and get one today! Maybe it can be your friend from work, or perhaps someone from church. How about a sibling? A 'challenger' is someone who knows you well enough to push when you need to be pushed, who will not let you make excuses. A good 'challenger' will call you at home and question why you're not at the gym today. A good 'challenger' will stop by your desk at work to see what you're eating today. A good 'challenger' will not let you fail.
"He or she makes you uncomfortable by making you accountable."
Boy (oh boy) do I like that one. As compared to, say, making  your fat ass comfortable by enlarging the padded seating area and recline-ability, at 15-50% off for three days only.
Lazy-Boy Inc has no clue as to their motivational success with athletes considering alternatives to serious training. And, again citing Number 6…
 "A good 'challenger' will not let you fail."
Remember the sale is factory authorized. Consider yourself challenged.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


This drives me nuts. Anybody can pick a subject and rip it to shreds. The part I detest is when there is no closure, no antidote or little alternative. It's somewhat like ripping one politician and/or policy without offering a solution or suggestion. Today this juicy little article was in the NPR Health section. The author goes big game hunting with a BB Gun. He puts the bear in the cross hairs (Coca-Cola is hyping sugar again) and squeezes the trigger only to miss the target because he didn't factor distance, trajectory, wind or heat. Nice try dead-eye, next time finish it off. To be fair, this piece ends like it was pushed off a cliff at knifepoint so I think it might have met a ruthless copy editor or word count restrictions. He gets close with comments and quotes from Jurek and Noakes and then the readers take over and all hell breaks loose. Coconut water to original Gatorade and everything in between but the kitchen sink. Bias spewing like a broken sewer main. This is pretty common and I understand. I see it a lot on several other sites that I visit. I irritates and frustrates. It's always an election year in the comments section, skeletons come out of the closet, names are called, feelings hurt and the Internet bullies of the world tell us how they would like us to behave. 


I am not questioning the importance of nutrition in training and racing. After almost forty years of testing I have as yet to find the magic elixir, that perfect combination of carbohydrate, protein, fat and electrolytes. I have made my own "sports drink" baked my own "power bars" and experimented with chia, malodextrin and chocolate milk. I have been vegetarian for twenty years and have raced suing minimalistic nutritional support. I have bonked. After all this I have come to one conclusion:

WATER IS WHERE IT'S AT (but please don't drink the water in your local pool)

You body is smart enough to handle almost everything else. It will convert (almost) whatever you ram down the pie-hole into fuel. That being said, there are levels of this that the ultra competitive or results seeking demo, can utilize for maximum effect. The faster you go, the higher the burn rate and the longer you keep at it (Ironman) the more you need to use science and experience. And this means testing. You need to experiment and gauge for yourself the results. Can you process this as fuel? Will it be available on course or will you have to carry your own? What is your sweat rate? How many calories do you burn in an hour of steady state racing? If you are doing a slow 5K you don't even need water. If you are doing an Ultra you had better prepare. When emergencies hit, you best have a plan. Like a five dollar bill in your pocket for a coke and snickers. 


Everybody is different. Heading to the pool for a quick K. Water and protein after. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Happy Camping

Monday, the start to another rollicking summer week of training, adventure, excitement and RACING. YES!!! It will be interesting to see how all my morning 60 minute high intensity sessions will play out over 70.3 miles in Chelan Saturday morning, BUT, judging by my RPE over 112 on Thursday, I think the eventual answer will fall somewhere between superb and exceptional. AND (I am gong to shout all articles from here on out) please allow me to remind the vast blogging audience, the group formerly known as the VBA, that what really matters is not the outcome but the effort. I will say, in other terms, IF I can orchestrate an effort that in my objective estimation nears my personal best, that commodity known as 110%, and honestly grade my performance as a 10, I don't care where I finish. The finish could be so far from the podium, say ten miles up Highway 97 (towards Pateros), or MOP, BUT, if my mind (ego), spirit (soul) and body (motor) unanimously agree to the quality of output, I will head for rest and recovery (pizza and beer) as one happy camper. 

The VBA that know me might take exception to this as some type of blasphemy or election year misdirect. Others might think it crazy, lazy or a outright falsification of everything we hold dear about sports and competition. It is not any of those I assure. AND here is why:

I know from twenty years of experience at doing this that one leads to the other. That if I can sustain an efficient wattage for five hours, properly fueled and cooled, focused and in the zone, I will end up, not in Pateros, but on that makeshift flat bed podium accepting a logged water bottle as reward for my five hundred hours of training and thousands of dollars of equipment and travel related expenditures. Meaning...


And it is. I like to compete. To test. I like the drama. The challenge. I like going fast. And long. I like being out there all day doing battle, with the clock running, the sun relentless, the hills dusty and daunting. I like the smell of fear. I like having a bogey, something to chase, a time reflective of previous efforts, recorded when I was young, green and prone to errors of judgement. 

Which would be last year.

So here we go. A new week. The Genesis of Race Week. I wish that I could afford a "real taper", acclimatize, carbo-load, massage, lots of R&R, BUT that isn't the way that this one is going to play. There will be change, challenge, travel, racing on-the-fly. All fine by me.

Here are links to the stories I prefaced in the HoM. This first is a phenomenal story about Diane Van Deren. She is a world class ultra runner. How she got there is the story. If you are in need of any motivation for your next run, PLEASE give this one an ear. 

Second is a hilarious piece by Jimmy Fallon on spinning. Check it out and be advised that it is rated R. 

Lastly is a link to a time, speed, distance calculator that is useful for doing all kinds of mathematical projecting. The old, what if??????

The old what if?

Do your best, be prepared, train smart and race hard. That way the only what if you'll need to answer is where to pitch your tent. AS a happy camper.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Rain Train

Watching the rain on Sundays is like watching a train leave the station with someone you love aboard. It is a melancholy emotional mash-up of sadness and joy. Worse, I always feel additionally saddened with the fact that there is a race happing, literally, as I type. Lots of my pals are out on the Lake Stevens (new) course this very minute. A year ago we were out there with 'em, mixing it up, hammering on the bike and sluggin' out the 13.1 hilly miles. 

But today it rains and I watch from my finestrina (Italian for little window), as a thin plastic blanket protects my woodwork installed over the pizza oven to protect it from, yes, rain. Welcome to the Great Pacific Northwest in July. 

Meanwhile in others climes fun thinks are taking place that rewire no Goretex or black plastic. 

Here is a terrific report from Coach Joe Friel appropriately entitled, How Hard is the Tour de France? Here is my two word response: Damn hard.

Another astute entry from Coach Chris Carmichael on a rather timely (for me) look at mid season weight gain. Been here done this. 

I had (almost) forgotten the running sub theme from Forrest Gump. This unauthorized (and that is OK in this usage) video is a great reminder of the reasons why we run. You remember those don't you?

Taking it one step (at a time) further, here is a wonderful collection of ways to keep your mojo up when it feels like it's on the train outa town. 

Lastly, before I get back out and deal with the weather in order to push the PO project, we will OFFICIALLY begin the London TT competition TOMORROW. I have finally transferred and created the Men's 44K (28.02 miles) course (shown above) and it is ready for your TTing mirth. We only have two weeks to get rides in so let's get after the gold. I will post format, scheduling and additional info over at the FB site, so if you are interested (as you should be) to see how you match up with the best Time Trialists in the world, now is the chance. The event from London airs live on August 1.

3, 2, 1 GO

All aboard. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Thunder & Lightning

I have always liked thunder and lightening. The sounds and sights of power. Mama Nature with attitude. Thursday we enjoyed a terrific 111 mile ride out front of the storm. She hit later that evening with a vengeance, a roof-thumping, wall-rattling, glass-shaking vengeance. Cool Northwest mountain air, meet warm summer thermal . Pow, wham, rattle, BOOM (chaka-lakka). Rain, wind, the crackle of organic juice. We made it to the top the next day in a little over two hours, had a cup of coffee in the lodge and watched with cool amazement as the blue turned to grey, the grey to black and the black to a bikers nightmare. Only one way out. Fast, down, cold, bleak, visually impaired, slick, windy and dangerous. And that was the fun part. Seventeen miles later, with prune-like hands, chilled to the bone, it didn't take lot to manufacture connect, change into dry clothes and head for the nearest short stack and cuppa joe. There were a lot of lessons along the way, all addressed in class this morning. I am a better rider for the effort and experience and cannot wait to get out and do it again. Man, that was fun. 

Special thanks to all my compatriots in the epicness, Bernie, Chris, Clo, Stephanie and Captain SAG, Steve. You were all fabulous and thank you from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity to ride with you. 

We uncorked a five minute tune trial this morning that was a shade different. That change thing again. Here is the link to the incredible variation of the jazz standard Caravan, here done up by the Brian Bromberg Trio. Seriously soul stretching. 

Rory delivered the PO doors this morning. As soon as I get back on the roof and nail off the protective overhang I will assemble and install. We are getting closer folks. 

I'll sign off with that and try to get as much done today as I can. This between the ongoing thunder and lightning. Which somehow seems an appropriate score. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Bubble

Notes to self: No junk food Wednesday. Drink lots of water. Recover from and prepare for. You started with smoke, let's finish with fire. Be yourself. Embrace the reality that you are not perfect. As an example of this I use myself with the following simile: I am to perfect what white bread is to pizza. I make mistakes, many. Some, I have repeated due to ignorance, stubbornness or sloth. Others I enjoy and will pay (gladly) the price to err. The bureaucrats call it a sin tax. This phenomena pops up regularly in our training and racing. I am not a great swimmer. You might have heard. I can and do, however, ride and run fairly well. Which always makes my triathlons a real test because of the mistake I make in thinking that I can bike past or run down the faster swimmers in my age standard. Sometimes it works and I forget about the embarrassment of being almost last out of the water. But when I miss a win by two or three minutes because I spotted Mr. Fish five to ten from T1, the errors of my ways start to haunt like Freddy Krueger on Halloween. 

The counsel (as told into mirror) is to practice your weakness. If you have power issues on hills, and who doesn't, you should consider adding progressive resistance. If you have spinning issues you might want to rehearse your high RPMs, if you want to race long you need to ride long. Same with fast and same with strong. This isn't advanced astrophysics, it is simple. And in its simplicity comes its dynamic. We must repeat until adaptation is complete. That might take a year. It might take ten. You might never get it BUT the act of practice gets you a little closer. Hour by hour, day by day, year by year and race by race.

This is known as the road. The journey to there. Your path. It is imperative, pilgrim, that you be gentle with yourself along this trail as one can easily succumb to frustration, burnout or injury or, worse, boredom, apathy or disillusionment. You must keep the faith, stay motivated and remember who you are and why you are here, doing this. You will never be perfect. One day, with any luck at all, you might put together a very good race, but a perfect one? Odds are against. You are still the dark horse running at 1,000 to 1. Regardless, always bet on you. Big money on me. 

But never give up. Do not quit under any circumstance. Enjoy the ride. Be in the bubble, bask in the light. Toss a little love at it. Feed the fun. It is you being you. Every time you engage in a training session or an event you demonstrate to the universe your understanding of the value of life. How big is that? It is money. YOU are money. 

If you pay attention and listen closely you might even hear the Cosmos respond by showing your weakness back to you. This is the way friends talk to one another. Upon completion of every race (in or out of the bubble) I hear an ethereal baritone whisper laughingly, "Dude, your swim!" 

I know, I know, I know.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Long Road

I fully realize that you have priorities. There are things in your life that are more important than riding a stationary bike. You have responsibilities and commitments, you have a family and a job. You have bills to pay and lawns to mow. Between the morning crossword and the evening news there is stuff to get done. I understand. 

As does your body. No longer needing as many calories to fuel your exercise, the absolute genius of its design is to store them for later use. Your body will blow through carbohydrate, both simple and complex, during your metabolic activities, such as walking to the parking lot, pacing to and from your cube, breathing, teaching your mouse to behave and repping 12 oz arm curls. Everything else goes to storage. You know where. 

With the passage of time this becomes your ritual. You have decided that money is more important than your health. You kinda like being a Fat Cat. Your kids like their toys and gadgets and the sigother likes the trips to Paris and club membership. The BMW is shiny and why would you ever want to walk instead of driving the golf cart?

More time passes. Your doctor suggests a diet. There are occasional life style issues. You can't keep up. Vitality, energy, endurance, performance slipping away like the memory of your glory days in High School or at the U. You have made a successful segue to the middle. A day dawns that you realize you can no longer touch your toes. You go through denial. Your doctor now prescribes a diet with exercise. 

More time passes if you are lucky. If you haven't had some form of heart disease, diabetes or disabling injury, there is precious little time. You begin the long, slow, painful, merciless journey back to good health, pleased that you had the wisdom to see the folly in your initial priority ranking. 

Your fortune has been made. Your kingdom built. Your family raised. You have the respect of the business world and complete acceptance in your community. You are on rehabilitation road. The way back. Bravo.

You have priorities. Please place your health and fitness at the top. There is no one else that can make this decision for you. It is all on you. Please reconsider and act appropriately. Today. 

That road back? It is a long one. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Truth & Pain

Climbing the hills in our never ending quest for deep satisfaction and inner contentment, we need the fuel to flourish. The octane to thrive. Some go-go juice. I am constantly reminded of this. Water cools and nourishes our overheating muscles, some combination of electrolyte replacement beverage keeps our chemicals in balance. Complex carbohydrates get the sugar to glucose to ATP transfer happening with astonishing efficiency and often just as astonishing results. How anyone could not be humbled by the intricacy and complexity of this miraculous dynamic, is about ten light years beyond my understanding. Simply stated, I find it fascinating. 

Even more so, perhaps, is the fundamental part that the central governor plays in all of this. Regulating, managing, encouraging, supporting. A little more of this and a dash of that for the next five minutes please. And be sure to properly dispose of waste and recycle whenever possible. Oh, and remember to breathe properly. The central governor, the hands-on CEO of YOU inc., unless directed otherwise by the BoD, has more to do than simply ensure adequate supplies (the supply officer does that for him) and direst focus (the drill sergeant steps up here) establish strategy and tactics (logistics) and keep moral high (MWR), she also limits, represses and removes the potential for harm. After all, you aren't much good if you don't have a body. Meaning that the deck is stacked against you from the get go. Pain is a powerful way to gain your attention. It indicates that something is amiss. You just sliced your foot on a oyster shell? Don't do THAT again. ITB as tight as a drum? Better get some quick and effective treatment. Knee hurt? Stop doing whatever caused the pain. Temporarily, and then get back at it, taking the lesson. 

Over time we become conditioned to respond very Pavlovian-like to pain. Avoid it. DO NOT ENTER. Safe and sane. Thus, it takes learning, re-learning and adapting to the new requirement that includes its gradual re-introduction to our training. Because pain is good. It can be our best friend, our guru, a sage and supporting training partner. Coach hurt. 

If you so choose. If you don't, that is OK too, just go find yourself something a little more sedate. Something that won't ask so much of you. Won't test you. Won't challenge you. That feels growth is linear, measured by age. Cable TV is good for this. So are spectator sports. 

However, if you aspire to your highest, if you have goals that include optimal fitness, outstanding health, unrestricted freedom of movement, joy, passion, respect, chivalry, purpose, compassion, effort and friendship, then you had better make an appointment with your CEO and come to terms. Pain plays a part. Some of this is going to sting a little. You will question your whys. Suffering is an gerund that, when we say, we smile. You had better get used to this lambchop twinkiecakes honeybunny. 

Allow me to ask one question today. Do you think it is possible to know your true potential without going through some ouch? 

If you ride and run on the flats every day, what do you expect will happen when you show up at the start of the hill known as Heartbreak, Diablo, Toe Jam or Hamburger? Ooops, that is two questions, sorry. 

Pain is our friend. Our best friend. He or she has, always, your best interests at heart. You simply need to address them, discuss them, agree to them, and get your ass in gear towards them. Read the signs. They are there to help. 

The truth hurts. But not nearly as much as no pain. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Exercise your Freedom

To a large degree what we do is about exercise. Movement. Freedom. When we ride, when we run (and I have the sore calves this morning as proof) we exercise our freedom. For this I am grateful. There are many situations and circumstances, oppressive and otherwise where this not the case. I believe it to be a basic freedom, and therefore something needing protection and honor. One might even go as far as to say allegiance. 

To those who understand, right down to the cellular level, the importance and pure joy associated with movement, there is no alternative. We move, fast, strong and graceful, because it makes us fell alive. There are precious few other activities that evoke this complex arousal of blood flow, attention and emotion. Sure, being face-to-face with a snarling Greman Shepard or sharing in the sacred dance with your lover are others, but those don't happen every day. I know they don't over here.

But every day we have the option of movement. The choice of go or no-go. To ride, run, swim, walk, ski, paddle, tango, twist or two-step. To feel the hot summer air rush past our skin, shiny with sweat. To be childlike and get a little dirty in play. To run in the mud and ride in the dirt. Maybe even take a bee in the bonnet or a bug in the grill. 

As we celebrate the 236th birthday week of our country, let's take a closer look at what we can do for it. We know that changing a part, changes the whole. We can get healthy and stay healthy. That changes a lot. We can start here, now, today. We can grab some freedom, take it out and dial it up. If you want to truly feel alive, to respect, appreciate and join the dance, all it requires is that you move. 

The politicians will try to tell you it's about jobs, or the economy or whatever they personally don't do what their opponent apparently does, bureaucrats simply what the bureaucracy to stay alive, haters will hate, 80% of America will over-consume today and millions will dummy down under the weight of propaganda and mass market manipulation. Somewhere, somebody wants your money. There is a subversive and dangerous undertone that puts profit ahead of your well being.

Keep moving. Take this responsibility into your own hands. Own your health. You have the freedom to choose. 

Exercise your freedom. 

Friday, July 6, 2012


It is officially the building season. The sun is shinning with zero chance of rain. For me this means that I try to cram six months (six years actually) of repairs, maintenance and clean-up into a few weeks. My biggest challenge (outside of having no budget) in this arena is to try my best not to start any new projects before the old, current ones are complete. Which is kinda like saying' first things first, one foot in front of the other and once begun, better finish. 

With that as opening metaphor, I was struck this morning as I circumnavigated the eight hilly miles known reverently as the Big Lap Deuce, by a thought about second wind. Here it is: In order to get to your second wind one has to use all of the first wind, first. You know that most people never get there because using all your wind kind hurts a little and contains an element of fear. Have you ever heard yourself wonder how much longer you can sustain the current pace? Or how you will respond to the current and coming output necessary for goal achievement? Have you ever backed off because it felt like THIS breath, THIS gasping for air, THIS out of control attempt to move oxygen and hydrogen from mouth to core might be your last? Extreme examples, perhaps, but we have all been close to one or all of them and understand the felling and concept. I trust. If you haven't - you need to. 

Following on that is the 'what comes next' paragraph. Because what comes next is a decision. A choice. YOU get to take charge of the situation and apply your current level of physical acumen and personal power. YOU get to opt to sustain or succumb to diminish. Keep going or back off. Hold on or let go. Please think about this for another second (heck you've come this far) and consider deeply what this really means. I will give you a hint:

It means everything. If you can keep the inertia you have created for another ten seconds, you have made an incredibly powerful statement to the universe. You have gone beyond, transcended, grown. You have won. You are a champion. 

That ten seconds represents a new door. Once through it you now face the next challenge. That's right, the next ten seconds. The road leading to that ten second door is known as physical adaptation. It is a long road. One must be patient as the miles pass. One must have faith in the process and keep eyes peeled for allies sometimes disguised as pilgrims or wandering monks. One must pay attention to change. One must hone one's skills, bringing strengths to battle while relentlessly practicing weakness'. One needs respect. One needs to balance all this with laughter and love. Then there comers another ten seconds. And another.

Collectively they create your second wind. A natural progression. Use the first in building towards the second. 

We can build from that, onwards and upwards. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

God's Cloud

Consider: Success is what separates the producers from the consumers. You, we, us, we all, ya'll need to get out of the consumer mentality and get back into production mode. That can take many forms. We create energy and inertia through our movement. Velocity and force are key elements. We produce speed, horsepower, wattage and good karma the same way. We make things happen. Good things. 

Consumers, on the other hand, get played just like another hand of poker. Buy this, by that, you need this, you can't live without that another day. If you want to witness the success of the consumer phenomena, go to lunch today at the closest McDonald's to your residence or place of employment. You won't have to travel (in your car) very far. More? How much do you spend a month on communications? Have you totaled your bills for cell, cable, DSL, movies and games? More? What is the difference in your driving habits now that the Oil Barons have temporarily settled on $4/gal as the pain threshold? More yet? How is your appetite for carnage? Our war on terror has to date cost 900,000 lives and five trillion dollars. Consume that!

So imagine my delight when it was announced that scientists have found found is being called the God particle. Not to be confused with the Higgs boson. Another piece in the "who are we and what are we supposed to be dong here?' puzzle. Please remember that every organized religion manufacturers their own version of this popular game. To be fair, so do scientists, engineers, doctors and most lawyers. The hook being that you, the believer, must consume the dogma and act in accordance with the rules of their version of the game. No meat on Friday, forty virgins and multiple wives, jihad for the infidels, kill the Buddha. All pieces of the puzzle and please not to infringe on the copyright. Shut up and consume. Obey. After all, everybody knows that priests make the best babysitters and he who defends himself defends a fool, right?

Let's produce something a little more progressive, shall we? Can we start to move in a more, say, enlightened manner, people of the world? Maybe we can stop killing each other for gas, oil and minerals. THAT would be a good start. Maybe we could start to support, educate and care for each other. WOW. Maybe we could be just a touch more tolerant of the opinions of our neighbors.  Maybe we could stop glorifying violence, greed, corruption and instant gratification. Maybe we could throw a little love at it and see what happens. 

We could start by talking the individual initiative to begin today. I read an article this morning on the importance of the first thing that you do every morning, as it becomes the tone-setter for your entire day. Make it count. Set the stage. Put the props where they can do the most good. Cast your best and brightest friends. Hire the musician who scores the sounds of your soul. Write the script to altruistically inspire and motivate those around you who could use some help. Love, thank, serve. Repeat. Man, that is BIG drama. 

Had to laugh when as I was imagining the concept of the God particle. Under the microscope, in the shroud of the double helix we finally find God's cloud, her non-polluting and eternally topped-off cushy vapor-ride. God's Cloud. 

With an Obama '12 bumper sticker.