Thursday, December 20, 2007

If this is Hawaii, you can keep it!

So the e-mail from Coach started out nice, track was closed tonight. We were running at the Boardwalk, which is a run that I really like. Then the closer, in big bold letters, followed by lots of exclamation points...

Hawaii sand intervals!!!!!!

And those three words made all the difference. 4 miles, 10 sprints in deep sand (give or take) and I can tell that I'm gonna be walking like and arthritic ex-football player tomorrow. Race specific training, yes, since Lavaman ends with a mile of trail and deep sand running. Fun? Not so much. Hawaii's gonna rule.

That's my rant for the day. Scripps Poway Parkway ride on Saturday. Prayers for rain on Friday night? I think so.

On the subject of Saturday, I wanted to post this little bit of verbal scattershot that came to me on the plane yesterday. It's called
Saturday Morning.

Standing. Arms folded
Sweating in the glacial sun.
Polarized. Wrapped.
Shielded tense tingling
The sound of waves.
The smell of pavement
of rubber and sweat.
Shivering, sweat becoming steam
Lenses fogged.
Breathing the daylight
Shaking away last night
Taut. Nervous.
Not ready at all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A New Season Begins, Well, Began,,,

So it's week six of the TNT Lavaman '08 season. I've been meaning to say something about that, but haven't quite managed it. This is also the official debut of See Ryan Run, mark II.

For those of you playing along at home, this will be tri number 3 for me. Second Olympic. That's right, I didn't get enough at Pac Grove so I'm doing it again. The cool thing, this race is in Hawaii, on the same course as the Kona Ironman. Cool, huh? I'm also mentoring for this team, which means I get to try and help people along through the program and impart knowledge like I know what I'm doing. Scary huh?

I'm also registered for the Carlsbad Half Marathon and the Wildflower Olympic race. The former is in January, the latter after Lavaman. So we'll have lots to talk about.

Look for more info over the coming weeks, but for now I'm going to close with the e-mail I sent to the team tonight after the combo spin/swim workout:

What a Wednesday...

So the hot tub at Coggan was looking a little like the helicopter just landed outside the 4077th tonight. The number of leg cramps...

I know I'm sitting here, catching up on some Tivo and watching my calf...well, I think it may be trying to evolve. Maybe so it can run away and tell me to take up a sane hobby.

My point? Nice job Ginger and Robbie. And nice work team for hanging in there and pounding out the laps and miles. We're six weeks in and going strong.

See you at track tomorrow and be ready for some fourth event. You'll want to be in shape for that too, come Lavaman.

Keep it up, you're looking good everyone.

Spirit Mentor Ryan, out.

Friday, October 26, 2007

More Fire News

Well, it's day 5 and the fires are starting to get contained. Pretty much everyone has gone home and they closed the Qualcomm shelter. There's smoke in the air, but the index says it's really only a threat to "sensitive groups." You know, like organisms that require oxygen to live. I know I feel like I've ramped up to a 2-pack a day habit since Monday. On top of that, you really can't go running or biking, which is driving me nuts. I haven't worked out in a week. I know, I'm suffering. I just have to be strong a little longer.

Snarkiness aside, this has blown over and looks to be ending well, at least in my personal sphere. No one I know lost anything (that I've heard about) and my parents were back in their house Wednesday night. We've been back at work since Wednesday morning. (Lucky us.)

All told, as hard as it's been on the city, it could have been far, far worse. The evacuations worked. Reverse 911 apparently did what it was supposed to. The firefighters and police kept things under control, and people came together to help each other out. Pretty impressive, really.

Take care, everyone.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

San Diego is On Fire

Mount Soledad. The fire is in Rancho Bernardo.

So it’s day 3 of “Firestorm 2007” as one local station has branded it. I’ve been meaning to post something about the fires since day 1 when I first figured out how serious it was, but I haven’t been able to keep my mind together to get it done. Between the calls, text messages and e-mails, I’ve been so busy recounting the whole experience that the blog seemed a bit redundant. Now that it’s slowing down and I’ve had some time to think, it’s starting to hit me just what’s happening.

It all started for me on Monday morning when my parents called to say they were going to gas up the truck and get their stuff ready to evacuate. That was a little scary, but still a bit distant, since I was at work dealing with client stuff. Fixing e-mails and updating websites, just going about the day. That afternoon, word came down to evacuate Scripps Ranch, where the office is. This was tough. I couldn’t just pack up and go, since our public facing servers are all run out of this room. We had to decide very quickly what the best way was to preserve as much as possible in the time allowed. Granted, we weren’t watching flames mowing down Eucalyptus trees outside the door, but we knew we had to get out and that we probably wouldn’t be back for a day or two, if at all.

In the end, our graphic designer and I packed the four development machines and the company archive server into the trunk of my car, and as many of people’s personal items as I could grab. I went through the office taking pictures of the equipment and artwork that I couldn’t move. That done, I locked up and went home. Hours of boredom ensued while I fielded phone calls and e-mails, telling everyone that yes, we were all okay and still had houses.

TV was full of images of houses melted down to foundations and chimneys standing like spinal columns that haven’t managed to fall over yet. Listening to the reporters mispronounce street names and give inaccurate directions, I eventually pieced together the fact that they were showing the remains of the neighborhood where several of my best childhood friends grew up. No one lives there anymore, but it’s surreal nonetheless. I found a list of destroyed houses and the house two doors down from one of my parents’ old places is gone, along with most of the houses on the road in. North County was blacked out and burnt, and Chula Vista was lighting up. If you watched enough local news that day (and believe me, I watched more than enough), you got spun up to the point that at any moment you expected to see footage of a guy in a toga playing a fiddle on Mount Soledad while San Diego smoldered in the background.

In spite of all this, I went to my Team in Training info meeting Monday night in Pacific Beach. Driving down, I watched the sun set bloody red behind the smoke and the occasional bits of ash landed on my windshield. Ten or twelve people showed up at the PB library to find out about joining the marathon and triathlon teams. I can’t imagine why they bothered that night, but then again I went because I wasn’t in danger and didn’t know what else to do with myself. In PB, apart from the smoke, you wouldn’t know anything was wrong. People sat out at the bars, drinking and smoking (yeah, I know) and just hanging out. Most of them were probably just happy that school was cancelled.

Even though I wasn’t really in any danger, I went through my house when I got home and took pictures of all the stuff I wouldn’t be able to take if I had to evacuate. I got all my papers and pictures and irreplaceable stuff together. It all fit on my kitchen table. It’s weird to know that if I had to bail out, I could load all that, 8 years of company development and coworker’s personal effects into a 2004 GTO and still jam in my road bike. Don’t know what kind of statement that makes, but it says something.

Tuesday was an exercise in surrealism. The top and bottom of the county are burning and I can still slip into Best Buy to pick up a wifi router. The whole middle section is just open for business, even though Qualcomm stadium is quickly turning into a refugee camp. (Granted, it’s a refugee camp with massages, acupuncture, wireless internet and cell-charging stations, but hey, this it California.)

My parents were finally evacuated Tuesday morning and by early that evening they were at my place with the dogs. We spent a fairly uneventful night.

Now here we are. The evacuation order on Scripps has been lifted so I’m sitting at work, sorting through messages and troubleshooting client issues, just like nothing’s going on. My folks still can’t go home, but at this point their house is fine. Here’s hoping it stays that way.

Thanks everyone for the thoughts and calls and e-mails. We really appreciate it. If you’re here in town, be safe.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Race expos, expert advice and tri #2...

So this past weekend was the Mission Bay triathlon. Sprint distance which, for those of you playing along at home, is about half the distance of the olympic race at Pac Grove. Since I know you're just craving numbers, that's a 500m swim (.31 miles), 15km bike (9.32 miles) and 5km run (3.1 miles).

I did it in 1:14:01, so now I have a benchmark for future sprints. With any luck, it'll only get faster.

This was a great race for me. I've now got a floating start under my belt, which is cool. Instead of running into the water in a tangle of thrashing humanity like we did a Pac Grove, we all swam out to a buoy and when the horn sounded, just started swimming. The new bike continues to perform well. Once I go back and get the fit adjusted, it should be perfect. Also, I managed to get and keep the computer in the right mode this time, so I could actually track my cadence and speed, so I knew how I was doing. Finally, and this is key, I ran the ENTIRE run course. No cramps, no stretching, no limping, no walking. Fantastic.

In case you're just tuning in, it was a really fun race, more so for being home turf. Makes me want to try all the other races in town. It is odd, though, to drive into Pacific Beach at 5AM on a Sunday morning. The only other cars on the road are going the same place you are.

Even more interesting than the race was the expo the day before. Coach Gurujan gave his course talks and several of us Pac Grovers volunteered to demonstrate transitions and answer questions. We had a fun time and it was kind of surreal to have people coming up and asking us for advice. Most of us had all of one race to draw from. Now we have two. It was a trip to answer those questions and to think that just a few short months ago, we were the ones asking where we'd go to change our shorts between swim and bike (you don't), what you carry your keys and wallet in (your bag, in transition) and how you ride a bike in your aero bars (if you haven't, don't try it on race day). So many other questions. How do you attach your race number to your wetsuit? What does "no drafting" mean? How hard is it to switch from biking to running?

Suddenly, all us rookies are experts?

Still, to see some of those people on race morning, and see the jitters and excitement on their faces. I wonder if that's what we looked like at Pac Grove? Probably.

Monday, September 24, 2007

This just in (sort of)...

I did my first relay race yesterday. The La Jolla Cove 10 Mile Relay Swim. What a trip.

You take a team of five (or one or two or ten, but we had five) and combined you swim 10 miles. It's weird having an hour and a half between heats. Gives you time to think a little.

The night before the race, I was at a party and someone asked me why I would go do that, swim two miles. The trite old answer is of course "because I can." As we talked a little, we got on to the fact that these races aren't cheap. The relay was $60 or so per person. Yes, some of it goes to charity, but my friend is also right when he says we could just get five people and go swim the ten miles for free. You don't even have to pay to park in La Jolla.

This is where I got stuck. Yes, we could do it for free. We know we aren't going to win or anything. We're not competing, if that's the way you want to look at it. We are competing, we're racing after all, but we're competing against ourselves. the fact of the matter is, once you realize that you can do something like go swim a mile in the open ocean, the thought of not doing it becomes harder to swallow. In other words, you do it because you can do it. The fact that you get to give something back with the charity aspect is just gravy, as is the competitive element. You're not out there to win, but someone is.

Someone is trying to win the race. Someone else is trying to prove that they can, in fact, swim the mile, or get past a crippling fear of kelp. Some of us are just doing it to get together, be outside and get some exercise. Spending time with people who think at least a little like we do.

Why do we do it? It's fun. Simple.

Oh, and by the way, I swam my miles in 27:26 and 28:10, respectively.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

So this is it...

So I know the race was almost a week ago and I'm only just getting to the final report. It's taken me a few days to process exactly what went down in Monterey.

First off, I finished the race. I did it in 3:10:22, which is a little slow, but hey, it's the first one, so I'll take it. Here's how it broke down:

Overall: 3:10:22
Swim: 31:59
T1: 3:01
Bike: 1:25:50
T2: 2:46
Run: 1:06:46

So what does this tell me, now that I am a highly trained triathlete?

1. I swim crooked. I got aggressive. I swam over people, yanked them out of my way, clubbed them with my forearms (Sorry, Pat.) but I guess I still went around one too many. Still, Coach swears the course was longer than 1500 meters. Sounds good to me. I still need to work on my sighting.
2. It was hard to get that damn wetsuit off.
2a. Never trust the people in transition. If you don't know where to go, they sure as hell don't.
3. My new bike is faster than the one I trained on.
4. Work harder to go around, through and over the people who can't seem to get their bikes back into transition. Throw shoulders if you have to.
5. I need to learn to run through leg cramps. Seriously, the ones I had could have brought down a stegosaurus.

All told, I was only 10 minutes slower than my projected time, and most of that could have been made up on the run. Maybe I need more electrolytes on the next one. Maybe I need to even out my pedal cadence while biking. Maybe I just have to drill my bike/run transition more. Probably all of the above. At any rate, I have another race coming up to try some of the fixes.

That's right, I'm doing it again. Mission Bay is coming up in a couple of weeks. It's a sprint, so I can play around a little. I should be past the first race jitters too, if I'm lucky. We'll see how it goes.

Finally, I'd like to say this: the triathlon hangover is interesting. It doesn't hit until the second day after the race and then it lasts a little while. You have crappy motor control, writing and typing tend to look like exercises in drunken hieroglyphics and cryptography, respectively. You space out, you get cramps. Sitting for too long makes you stand up like a drunken, arthritic walrus. It's not pretty, but it's totally worth it.

Thanks to you all. Everyone who reads this, everyone who donated, Coach Gurujan, Coach Robbie, all the mentors, and to the team. We made it. If things work out right, we'll see you at Lavaman. Otherwise, we'll see you in a start chute somewhere along the way.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Is it me or is that light getting brighter?

Well, I know I haven't been overly vocal these last few weeks. Between work and training, I haven't had a whole lot of time or energy left to spin coherent thoughts onto the internet. Why'd I let that stop me?

It's pretty much zero hour now, kids. Strap in, hang on and scream your guts out. When next I post, the race will be over. I'll be posting times and splits and all that cool stuff. Maybe even some more pictures.

Am I ready? Somebody asked me that the other day and I said all that remains is to see what I mess up. I'm ready. I can swim bike and run the distances. I can do it in sequence. I've got my purple lycra top... But seriously, the bike is on the truck, along with the race bag. The voice mail tells people I'm out of touch. The spam filter is cranked up to high and everyone knows that if they call me I can't really help them.

I'm jittery and anxious. I'm ready for it to be over and yet not quite ready to be done. This has been an incredible ride. I never would have thought I could get to this point, let alone actually be entered in the race and ready to compete. I even bought my own bike. And I registered for another race. I'm such an addict. I was warned. I didn't listen.

I'm starting to ramble now. I'm off to pack and set the alarms, then think wistfully about sleeping until I go to the airport in the morning in my purple jacket. I'll write again when it's all over.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My computer is thinking. I'm trying not to...

So I already mentioned the practice tri on Saturday. I enjoyed it. I did well. There's no reason at all to think I won't cross the finish line at Pac Grove. So why am I nervous?

I think because it's almost zero-hour. This Saturday is the Iron Mountain brick, by all accounts the nastiest, gnarliest (yes, that's the Southern Californian in me coming out, dude) workout we'll do. The rite of passage for all us newbies.

The last donations are goin in; the fundraising is done. (Thank you, everyone. Seriously. I couldn't have made it here without you.) We're wrapping up our coached workouts, and it's getting on time to check our lines one last time and step into the lights.

All I have to do now is heal up the blisters, clean the bike (after the big ride, of course), and not do anything too silly between now and the 8th of September. Sounds simple enough, right?

Ah well, enough of that. This is the problem with the microphone. You tend to say things so people can hear. I think I need to go to bed, I'm starting to ramble.

One last thing before I go. Here's an action shot from this weekend's race. They even got the side where my shoe was on.

Damn it all, I was gonna throw up another one, but I left it on my other computer...


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Breaking the seal

This whole race thing is starting to get a little more real. Four months of training, watching a couple of tris, I've learned a lot, but it has all been largely academic. Now, not so much.

Yesterday we ran a "practice tri," which turned out to be a race a little shorter than a sprint, but complete with transitions and rules and a marked course and all that. It broke down into a 300 meter swim, 11 mile bike and 2 mile run. I finished in 1:05:06. I screwed up my splits, but I know that I did the swim in 6:35, and the run in 18:32, which is about a minute slower than I should have. The big hole was on my bike ride.

I felt like I was hammering hard and going fast, but several people from the team flew by me like I was stopped. In replaying the race in my head, I think I need to work on shifting and learning how to stay in the optimal gear, to preempt the lag in cadence that says the road has changed and missed it. I also need to get my shoes on faster. I lost some time working on that. Live and learn. Race again and do it better next time, right?

Pac Grove is now just over three weeks away. Who knows what race day will bring, but I think I'm ready for it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Random Thoughts, Though They Make Sense In My Head

Since I've been training for this race, and will soon run it, I suppose it's safe to say that I'm well on my way to becoming an endurance athlete. This is cool for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that when someone tells me they'll pledge some amount per mile, I get to see the look on their face when I say the race is a little over 30 miles.

Another cool thing is that by the time race day rolls around, I'll actually be able to do this. My ankle is just about 100% again, and if I can survive Coach G's last minute attempts to change my stroke, I should be good.

The thing about endurance sports, they're all about slow twitch muscle. This is ironic because I've always been fine with slow twitch sports and for the last few years I've been training my body for fast twitch activities like surfing and sand volleyball. Along comes triathlon and undoes all of that in three months. This is how I choose my hobbies; logically and with an eye to what I've already prepared myself to accomplish.

I played in a teammate's volleyball tournament yesterday. It was for Team In Training, and it was fun, but by the end of five games of doubles with players who were way out of my league...

Let's just say that I wound up feeling like I'd been beaten with rocks and left in a 400 degree oven to bake up a nice golden brown. Seriously, that was WAY HARDER than the 25 mile bike ride or the transition practices, or the ocean swims, or...well, than pretty much any of the tri workouts that preceded it.

Anyway, it was good fun and everyone I played with was very tolerant and cool. They didn't seem to mind me playing albatross to their mariner for the duration of the game. (That's right, a Samuel Taylor Coleridge reference in a triathlon blog. Does that blow your mind?)

I did learn something though, apart from the fact that my v-ball game has departed for parts unknown. What I learned is this: fast twitch or slow twitch muscle, if you fling it at the ground hard enough and often enough, it's gonna hurt the same.

What was it Douglas Adams said about flying? All you have to do is throw yourself at the ground and miss. If I figure that out, maybe I'll take up basketball.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

You'll have to forgive me

I think I'm going to be serious for a minute, but don't worry, it probably won't last.

I had a bit of a scare over the last week or two. I couldn't run. I'd take off running and within a few hundred yards, my Achilles Tendon would seize up. It felt like someone had driven a nail through my ankle. I'd have to stop and stretch, then walk a bit. On our last Lake Hodges brick, we had a four mile run and I couldn't do it. I walked almost the whole thing. The next Tuesday, I fought my way through track practice, but I thought my ankle was just going to tear itself apart.

Anyway, I tried to run on it a couple more times and it just kept getting worse. I finally had to go to the doctor. After a few days on anti-inflammatories and a strict stretching and ice regimen (not to mention a week of no running) I'm almost back to normal. I was beating my pace tonight (one mile in 8:20 or so, which is 15 seconds faster than my race pace), and I only hurt when I lost my concentration and let my stride fall into heel-striking.

The scariest thing about this is not the injury, which turns out to be a minor strain, probably an overuse injury, but rather its proximity to race day. As of tomorrow we are exactly one month from zero-hour. The thought that I might be hindered on race day, or even worse, unable to complete the run, had me anxious and pissed. To have trained this hard and have it slip...

Thankfully, I'm gonna be fine. It does drive home the point that you are only as strong as your weakest link. the smallest crack in the wall can bring you down. This one was my fault. I charged a little too hard and I didn't recover properly between sessions. Add that to the general stress of life lately, with fundraising and all the insanity at work (stupid jobs, getting in the way of training) and you've got a recipe for disaster.

I'm sure my body tried to tell me something was wrong, but I didn't listen. And that's the moral of this story: no matter what you think you are capable of, nothing can run at 100% every hour of every day and not break down.

That's it for now, take care of yourselves, get some rest, eat your vegetables, stay in school, all that stuff. I'm gonna go veg in front of the TV for a while. Maybe I'll be back later to tell you how I spent a few minutes last Saturday on my back, clipped to my pedals, with the bike sticking straight up into the air and my water bottle rolling down the highway.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I think I'm losing it.

So here it is, Wednesday, and I've already run 9 miles and change and swum close to 3. This is since Monday...

Am I crazy? (Hint: I think I could have been going harder.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The photos have arrived!

So here are some pictures. They're not hi-res or anything, but you can start to get a feel for things.

What? It's 7AM on a Saturday.
Look at all the cool stuff you'll get to buy. No, you don't need the plastic feet...

Woops! Somebody ate it.

Look ma! I'm flying!

Yes, this is Del Dios, and I'm one of those people.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Here sharky, sharky....

So we started ocean swimming as a team, complete with our nifty, TNT-branded wetsuits (logos on the inside and out, so when you peel it halfway down, they still know where you got it.). We swim from La Jolla Shores, as opposed to La Jolla Cove, where the tri club and other people swim. This is good, because we get to practice surf entry and surf exit, which we apparently won't really have to deal with in Pac Grove. Makes sense, right?

Even so, it's cool. It's high summer here in San Diego and there's sea life a-plenty even in the shallows. Guitar fish, stingrays, bait fish, leopard sharks. Yes leopard sharks. They're not real big and they're bottom feeders, but still...friggin' sharks! How cool is that?

I almost grabbed one last night by accident. I was just charging along, trying to catch a wave in to shore and I looked over at my right hand. Not a foot away was a leopard shark. A couple of feet long, just darting away. So awesome.

At about that point, I looked down and through the sediment I could see all these stingray wings flapping away. I couldn't really see the rays, just their wings moving. It looked like the ocean floor was the skin of some giant fish, all scaly and rippling. Never seen anything like it.

Apparently, when you go out from the shores and you get into the deeper water, if it's clear enough you can sometimes see schools of leopard sharks and even the occasional dolphin. Can't wait to find out. And me in my wounded seal costume....

Saturday, July 7, 2007

On the subject of masonry....

Brick /brik/ n. 1 a. block of fired or sundried clay, used in building. b similar block of concrete, etc. 2 brick-shaped solid object. 3 block, cube, chunk. v. tr. close, pave or block with bricks. adj. built of brick

So sayeth the Oxford Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus (American Edition). They conveniently left out the triathlon (or at least Team in Training triathlon) definition.

Brick /brik/ n. 1 A workout comprised of two of the sports making up triathlon, specifically cycling and running.

The brick workout is interesting. It's essentially a way to let you feel what it's like to hop off your bike after a ride (minimum, race distance) and start running. Sounds simple. It isn't. Try it, but don't ask me for a band-aid if you fall and break something. The first time you try it, it's a little like having a couple of shots of tequila, closing your eyes and shaking your head really hard, then trying to walk on a balance beam. Your legs won't do what you tell them to. This is because they know you are insane. You should stop. Sit down. Have a stretch, maybe a pretzel. Not go charging off to run a couple of miles.

Even so, when you're done, it feels kind of good.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

...And now with adolescent humor. (potty jokes)

So I ran the Scripps Ranch Old Pros 10K yesterday. (Yes, by the time I post this, it will be two days ago, but bite me, I started it on the 5th.) It was my first race since the elementary school jog-a-thon, unless you count that time'm not supposed to talk about that, not if I ever want to see my goldfish alive again. It's only been ten years. There's still hope right?

Where was I? Yeah...10k. I ran it in 59:13. It's important to note that that is an unofficial time, marked on my watch. I looked at the race website today, but apparently they're still tallying the 2006 results. So here's the thing, I was curious about my time, and using the shiny new Ironman watch I bought, so I took splits at each mile marker. This is how I scored:

Mile 1: 9:46
Mile 2: 9:03
Mile 3: 8:59
Mile 4: 11:21
Mile 5: 9:18
Mile 6: 10:43

So this is interesting for a couple of reasons, notably, mile 4, in which Ryan, who ignored coach's recommendation to make two pre-race porta-potty stops, got to learn how to untie the drawstring on spandex shorts 4 miles into a run on a sunny day...Let's just say that pioneering merit badge came in handy.

And mile 6? Well, I choked a little. I thought I was pacing myself properly, but apparently not so much.

Still, 59:13 isn't a bad place to start, even if the mysterious druids who calculated the "race pace" on coach's spreadsheet say I should do 10k in 53:35. I've got two more months to get there and then some, right? All I need to do is stop getting blisters and run faster. Piece of cake...very painful, sweaty cake.

That's all for now. G'night everyone.

PS: When the nice man at the running store says you don't need to break in your shoes, take one of them, hit him over the head with it and then go break the damn things in.

Monday, July 2, 2007

What's happening to me?

This whole tri thing is getting under my skin. We're coming up on recommitment time, which for anyone who hasn't done TNT, is the time when we have to put up or shut up. This is the last chance to pull the ripcord and bail out, because from here on in we're on the hook.

(Which reminds me, anyone have rich friends or inroads at benevolent corporations? I could use a little help.)

I knew as soon as I got my first donation that I was going to finish this thing, but that's really all I was planning on doing. Turns out that just finishing is kind of like just taking one breath, or just eating one potato chip. Can't be done. Once you're in, you're in deep. some examples:

  • A couple of weeks ago I went to New Mexico on business. I was scheduled to get back at about 11PM. We wound up on a flight that got in about three hours earlier. My first thought? "Now I have time to practice tire changes."
  • I had lunch with some friends (not TNT or tri people) and as I was reading the menu, I found myself wondering which items might be good on race morning. Never mind that the race is 2 months away and nothing on that menu will even be an option.
  • I know the day of the week by the scheduled workout.
  • I just bought a 24-pack of Gu.
It's funny, but I don't remember drinking any kool-aid at my info meeting. Somebody must have spiked my water bottle....

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Just A Quick Update

Now that I have a minute....

I opened this blog account to set up a way to let all the people in my life know how the training is going, and to finally put to bed the question of why I'm doing this. Seriously, if I get asked that again I may slap someone. Now I can just tell them to come here and dip into my head for a few minutes.

So here we are in week seven of training for Pac Grove and I actually feel pretty good. Surprisingly for me, I've managed to keep up and even improve in all the sections. Well, maybe not the bike, since I've only had one successful ride, but that was the Torrey Pines hill repeats, so I'm not gonna bitch too much. If I survived that, I can get through the rest, provided I can keep air in the #$@$! tire...

So what have I learned so far? Lots of cool stuff. For example:

1. When running shoes die, it feels a lot like a tire going flat, except for the next day, when your achilles tendon won't flex.
2. In the open ocean, I swim about as straight as a one-flippered, drunken walrus.
3. Tubes get expensive.
4. Never stiff coach on a bar tab. He isn't running the race with you. (If you have to ask, don't worry about it.)
5. You can overcome the gag reflex when eating Gu.
6. After a while you totally forget you're wearing spandex.
7. No matter what you think, running on a treadmill is way harder than running on the road or a trail.
8. 10K doesn't feel very long until the next day.
9. Creaky knees are no excuse.
10. Even with a properly fitted bike and well-padded cycle shorts, the seat still hurts your ass.

I'm sure that every one of those is useful to all of us in everyday life, so you're welcome.

As for why I'm doing this: Because I can. There. That's the reason I put my name on the contract and bought my first ever bike helmet.

The thing is, there's more to it than that. I didn't know it at the time, but this really is a good cause. Every Saturday morning, we get to hear from someone who has had to stare down cancer, or is doing it now. They always tell us we're the examples, the heroes and all that. The thing is, it's the speaker's name we all write on our hands before we take off to ride.

Are we heroes? I wouldn't go that far. We're having fun. We may not say it out loud (at least not so coach and the mentors can hear) but we are. This is something we do because we want to. This isn't survival, not on our end.

We're just lucky that in indulging our impulses to train, be part of this team and compete, we can also be a part of something so much bigger, and so much more powerful. We get to be a part of someone else's fight to live. It's a very un-me thing to say, but that doesn't make it any less true.

Where the rubber meets the road

I'm sure I'll have more to say on this topic, but it seemed like as good a place as any to open this blog. I just spent $45 on bike tubes. Very small, very pop-able bike tubes. If this weekend's workout is anything like last weekend, then that's a one day supply.

I point that out to make this point: If you're thinking of taking up triathlon, then also consider a moderate crack habit. It may be cheaper. It won't be as much fun, but it will be cheaper.

That's my bit for now. I'm off to see about raising some money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society so I can stay on my race team and go swimming, biking and running in Pacific Grove. Why? Because I can, and there are people who can't, but I'll have more to say about that later.