Thursday, December 30, 2010

Annual reflection

The end of one year and the beginning of another is a good time to take a few minutes out of your day to reflect on where you've been and where you want to go.  You can't change the past, but you can exercise control of your future.  An annual 'personal inventory' check is not a bad thing if you believe in ideas like self-actualization and personal improvement.

I like to view these things through a couple of lenses - primarily through the spiritual or emotional growth we experience as life offers us new circumstances and how we interact with these circumstances - including new friendships and personal relationships.  Secondary to me is the physical via the creation of new products or services that provide value to strangers, and the general acquisition of material goods like a shiny new bicycle or a gold coin or a prize in a contest.

Focusing too much on either will leave you out of balance - being a great spiritual guide is all well and good except for the living barefoot under a bridge somewhere part.  The same truth holds for being a hedonistic jetsetter always flashing the bling-bling while being a soulless ratfink bastard.   If you live under a bridge no one can hear your message.  If you ride high in the sky you can't hear anyone else.

2010 was a good year for me (and I hope, my wife), and I hope to make 2011 even better.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 triathlon schedule

Right now my 2011 triathlon race plans are:

April 16 - Belews Lake sprint
Apr 23 - Centennial Campus sprint
May 7 - White Lake Half
May 21 - Battle at Buckhorn sprint
June 4 - Gary Kirby maybe
June 26 - Kure Beach double sprint
July 10 - Triangle sprint
July 23 - Mission Man sprint
Aug 13 - Mayo Lake sprint
Aug 21 - Rex Wellness maybe
Sep 17 - Wilmington Y sprint
Oct 29 - B2B half

No olympic distance racing on the radar unless we do Lake Logan, where the temperatures are always cooler since it is in the mountains.  Those hot 10ks are no longer my cup of tea.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas.  We don't usually send a card or yearly update so if you sent us one, thank you very much and we appreciate the thought.  Glad you are doing well and your kids and dogs are all adorable.

We're going to spend a couple days with my wife's family in Virginia.  We enjoy watching our nieces open presents and Bri is not a slouch in the rending and tearing of the wrapping paper, either.

We'll get a run in somewhere around here as well.

That is all.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tron - a movie review without seeing the movie

Tron: Legacy will be awesome.  I don't care that my local paper just panned it as visually stunning yet having a $5 plot.  That's not true.  It will be the best movie released the weekend of December 17, 2010.  No doubt about it.

The USATF level I exam has 200 questions on it.  Arrgh!

Join our US Master swimming team.  We will have seven weekly practices starting in February, 2011.

Upcoming runs:

Little River 10 miler - January 15
Gasparilla half-marathon - February 28
Tobacco Road marathon - March 20

That is all.

Monday, December 13, 2010

keeping busy

The November December time frame usually allows me a bit more free time as athletes go on a break or maintenance schedule and there are fewer races to travel to and worry about.  This year we have managed to keep these months filled with various other endeavors.

Last weekend I dragged my wife to the USATF level 1 clinic in Charlotte.   The certification and education will prove useful to me as I am coaching high school track and field in the spring.  On top of that, it counts as 10 of the 15 continuing education units (CEUs) we need as USA Triathlon coaches.  Onto my favorite subject for a second: me.

1) This was the first weekend in a couple years where I did zero training.  Not even a sit up.  

2) I am amazed I was able to pay attention for the entire clinic.  I absorbed a lot of information and was able to make connections via existing mental schema.  Good stuff.

Equally amazing to me, however, is that of the 50 or so other people in attendance, 45 of them stayed for every session, were respectful of the instructors, and paid attention as well.  If this was representative of the world at large, we would have no problems.  I have to surmise that our group consisted of motivated and dedicated individuals.  If our class had been representative of the world at large, we would have had:
  • 5 no show no work
  • 15 shows no work
  • 10 combative and disruptive
  • 5 paid attention & learned
  • 5 paid attention but not equipped to learn
  • 5 paid attention for less than half the clinic (their particular sport) then leave
  • 3 work on personal projects while in class (like the guy in your building who builds websites at work)
  • 2 arrested for stealing copper pipe from the facility
The clinic was very well done and the presenters knew their subjects.  Two of the three work locally in the Triangle area with Human Performance Consulting.

I will actually be presenting (swim training for triathlon) at the Triangle Winter Clinic for the Multi Sport Coach and Athlete clinic at their Athletic Lab facility in mid-February.

Onto the next subject - media blackout.  Starting in January I am not going to watch or read the news for at least one month.  This will be difficult but it is also the beginning of my busy season and I need to improve my time management skills.  Watching or reading about the talking heads pontificate about things that have very little direct effect on my life and well-being is a fruitless and mostly frustrating endeavor.  I'll make time for my wife, Tosh.O, 30 Rock, and the occasional Jon Stewart show.  Everything else is work, reading for work, or reading for pleasure.  And some training.

The next Powerstroke clinic is on January 8.

I will run 15 miles this weekend on the build up to the Tobacco Road Marathon and hope to hit 40 for the week.  If you are curious, my general schedule right now is:
  • Monday: distance swim, easy run
  • Tuesday: easy run and threshold interval run
  • Wednesday: easy swim, easy bike, core strength
  • Thursday: easy run and tempo run
  • Friday: short fast swim, core strength
  • Saturday: long run
  • Sunday: easy bike
I am looking forward to the FS Series Holiday party on Wednesday night.  Last year I let someone who's name rhymes with Bike Meaman buy me one too many shots.

Das ist alles.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Family photos

A couple of our new family photographs for your fridge:

Now every time you open up the freezer for some ice cream, I will be there to remind you to go burn it off with a swim/run/bike.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Picture day

Today is picture day so we can send cute Christmas emails to all our family and friends and frenemies.  I will post them when they are ready.

Having a fun weekend - yesterday we had the Delta Triathlon team party with quite a turnout, and then a smaller get together to throw a going away party to a couple we are good friends with who are moving to Boulder, CO. 

Boulder is one of the triathlon/running training meccas in the US if you did not know that. 

They also have the Boulder Brewing Company and Avery Brewing which are good enough reasons to relocate, in my opinion.

Bri and I are quite happy here in the Raleigh / Cary area and we're not going anywhere.   We have good friends, excellent training grounds, good races, good restaurants, and four excellent local breweries.

Today I went through the somewhat time consuming process of finishing all my paperwork for USAT coaching re-certification.  Next week Bri and I are attending the USATF level I certification in Charlotte to complete our education units, plus that will be good for the x-country and track&field coaching I am doing with Raleigh Charter HS.

Marathon training is going well, this week I hit 40 miles for the first time in who knows how long.   Most of it was slow but I did get in 5 x 1000 at sub-10k pace on Tuesday.

Our next Powerstroke clinic is January 8 if you are interested.

The end.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Old School Aquathon Series

I was sitting around a couple of months ago with some free time on my hands, and had an idea to keep myself gainfully employed: Mid-week training races.  There are a few of these around in different areas of the country, but none here.

Thus the Old School Aquathon Series was born.  This will consist of three swim-run races on the first Wednesday of each month in June, July, and August.

We're still determining the location of one #2 but they all take place in the Triangle area.

These will be low key and low cost - meant to be fun training/racing events to break up the week with something different.

Read all the details here:

Let me know if you'd like to be a part of it as a sponsor or volunteer.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Harry Potter and the goblet of being a pushover sissypants

Spoiler alert:  I am going to tell you how Harry Potter DIES in this movie.

Just kidding, beloved Harry does not die, but I wish he would.  In fact I would like all of the characters except Hermione to expire in some cruel and painful fashion.  I would save Hermione because she is smart and I have a big poster of her on my office wall (I am just kidding, it is really Hillary Clinton).  The rest of them are blithering idiots.  Here is the problem:

Harry is Mr. Super Wizard and can hold his own against the Dark Lord of Super Evil, but he can't evade the dumbest enemies, doesn't seem to be able to fight back in most instances, and doesn't kill some bad mothers when he has the opportunity to do it.  He is a total p**** f*** sh****^. 

In fact, all the good guys in this movie are inept suckers.  They expect things will just work themselves out if they stay true and good and pay their taxes.  Their leaders will figure things out because their leaders are smart and brave and honest, right?  Like here in Ameriduh.

Here is my alternate ending to the Harry SissyPants and Deathly Hallows Part I:

Crazy Bellatrix is chewing on Hermione's arm.  Hermione slips a dagger from her pouch and stabs Bellatrix in the eyeball.  Bellatrix starts screaming.  Then Dobby teleports in, sees the evil Bellatrix , and then teleports into her stomach.  He claws his way out and yells "Here's Dobby!" with just his head extending from her belly.  He has a mad smile on his face.  Bellatrix expires.  Dobby finds the wand of power and the deathstone and takes on Valdemort and everyone else.  Dobby wins by raining down super bad assed-ness and says cute things like "Dobby just stomped your jewels" and "Dobby just appropriated your spine."  Ron and Hermione commence baby making.  Harry helps.  Music fades. Scene cuts to a car crossing train tracks.  Harry is inside.  Train smashes into car.  Valdemort is at the helm.  World goes black.  The end.

I came home and watching "The Expendables," but that was worse. 

Now you can go read this synopsis to ruin the next movie for you. Or just read the book.   Whatever.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

2010 Turkey Trot

I ran the Inside Out Turkey Trot 8k for the 3rd time today.  Last year I kicked the heck out of a bunch of little kids in the 1 miler, but decided to let some other jerk have that honor this year. ;-)

The run went well, I have been very consistent with the runs and it is paying off.  Mile 1 - 6:07, Mile 2 - 6:20, Mile 3 - 6:38, Mile 4 - 6:24, Mile 5 - 6:35.  Total time 32:05 or so.  Miles 1 3 and 5 are pretty hilly.

I jogged to and from the race with the super-hyped up Tassie.  She rocked the show and made lots of new friends.

We're going to spend the rest of the day cleaning the house (or napping) then head over to a friend's for a nice T day meal.

A couple funny Thanksgiving related things people have pointed me to:

ThanksKilling Movie: Gobble, gobble, mother%#$*er!

Have a good one.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

random news

I went to Atlantic City over the weekend to spend time with my father and brother-in-law.  Both enjoy gambling - bro in law likes roulette while my Dad likes poker.  He played in a $120 tournament on Saturday and finishes 6th, while I played at a 1-2 no limit table and lost under $100 over the weekend.  Just not hitting the cards on the flop this time. Bro in law went up and down a lot but finished down by a bit.  None of us lost big and never will as we don't have issues with that.

Had a great dinner at Angelo's on Saturday night.  Very neat place with great food and a lot of charm.

I also managed to get a 11 mile run on the boardwalk on Saturday and a 6 mile run on Sunday, and went fishing with some old friends of mine on Sunday morning.   I like the Jersey Shore and have a good time there.  They don't have the same sort of park/tree coverage we have here in North Carolina but it can be a nice place if you know where to go.

This week we are staying around town.  I'm running an 8k on Thursday morning and then we'll cook, eat, and watch football the rest of the weekend. 


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Triathlon/economy survey results

1. Has the Great Recession affected your family income?
 answered question13
skipped question
Yes, I/we are unemployed/underemployed
We are on foodstamps 0.0%0
No, our industry is rocking
About the same as before
Things have improved in our line of work - income is up
2. Regarding triathlon/endurance sports & the economy:
 answered question12
skipped question
I am racing and training (spending) the same amount as pre-2008
I am new to the sport so spend more than in 2008
I am racing & spending less than 2008
I am racing & spending more than 2008
3. My house is:
 answered question12
skipped question
Sold back to the bank (foreclosed) and we are out on the street 0.0%0
Underwater with negative equity
We own this palace, baby!
We are about even on it
We are barely making the mortgage payment and baby-mama is hungry 0.0%0
4. I think President Obama is:
 answered question13
skipped question
A great President 0.0%0
Doing the best he can
A socialist shill
Hamstrung by an economy & society that is beyond repair
Beholden to the banks 0.0%0
5. In 2011 I expect the economy will:
 answered question13
skipped question
Get better with less unemployment & higher income
Get shellacked by higher commodity prices and dollar devaluation
China will unload their bonds, driving up US interest rates
I can't balance my checkbook, what do I care about the macroeconomic environment, dude.

6. My preferred triathlon distance & location is:
 answered question12
skipped question
Local sprints
Local Olympic distance
Local Half or Full
Exotic location Half or Full
Exotic location Olympic or sprint 0.0%0
7. In 2011 my total triathlon/racing budget (gear, race entries, coaching, travel, etc) is:
 answered question12
skipped question
Less than $1,000
Between $1,000 and $4,000
Between $4,000 and $10,000 0.0%0
Over $10,000
8. Any other relevant comments on triathlon and the economy? The top 3 serious and well-thought answers will be placed on my blog. I may also post the dumbest/funniest. 
The most complete and succinct answer: milk does a body good.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Beach 2 Battleship weekend

Bri and I went down to Wilmington to catch the B2B race on Saturday morning.  We had a few athletes racing in the half and one of our regular masters swimmers in the full.  Dinner the night before with a few of our gang, then early to bed to be well rested for a full day of cheering and jeering on the course. 

We were smart and brought our beach chairs this time to set up along the Riverwalk area.  Cancel that - they were still in the car from another trip so we made use of them.  Either way, it was as fun as a day of watching people torture themselves in a long distance triathlon. Our crew had 2 PRs, 2 first-timers, and 1 struggled in the cold but finished.

I am signed up for the Inside Out Sports Turkey Trot 8k on Thanksgiving.  May not do any races in December but will find something in January.

In other news, there is no other news, which is good news.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Aging up

Yesterday I celebrated my 39th birthday, and 11th with my best friend Bri by my side.  We were joined by a few of our masters swimmers and friends at a local tavern for a rollicking good time.  I swam hard at practice, drank a few heavy beers, and am suitably achy today. 

So for 2011 I am now considered a Master competitor in USA Triathlon events.   This is either inspiring or frightful, depending on how you want to view things.  I am very thankful to have made it this far, and I hope to celebrate many more with the love of my life.

This weekend we are going down to Wilmington to cheer on our athletes and friends who are racing the Beach 2 Battleship half Iron or full Iron distance events.  Good times.

In other news, I am painstakingly making my way through ledger entries in the OSB Quickbooks accounting software.  I have about 500 entries to make on expenses, and our little business makes enough to generate an Uncle Sam fee.  So we track everything.  It is a pain in the butt but when tax time comes around it is good to have sh*t organized.

In other, other news, I decided I will train to run a 3:20 or so marathon at the Tobacco Road marathon in late March.  This will give me an early season goal without having to spend too much time on the bike in the cold weather.  I would still like to get my 5k time back into the 18s, I have not been there in a few years now.  The 3:20 goal is achievable without being too competitive, meaning I can train for it without overly risking injury.

In other, other, other news, commodity prices and stocks are going up while unemployment rises.  The asset based economy and the 'real' economy we live in are becoming more disconnected than ever before (in the modern US, anyway).  CYA.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nosce te ipsum (know thyself)

I wrote this article for our most recent newsletter:

There are a variety of reasons people enter into the athletic arena, and these reasons can change over time.  When you were young, you enjoyed playing with your friends because it was fun and better than doing homework. As you grew into your teens, you started to appreciate the competitive aspect of your sport.  And as time continues onward into adulthood, you realized that there are many health benefits to maintaining an active lifestyle.

Or perhaps you were not particularly active as a youngster, and only now are realizing the thrill that comes along with competition.

Or maybe you just like having goals.

Whatever your reason, this is the time of year to reflect not just on what race you're planning to do next year, but why you are doing it. 

Over the past ten years, I have worked with a couple hundred people either on an ongoing basis or for various one-time lessons.  I have seen middle aged athletes with a indomitable fire for winning, and younger athletes who participate solely for the camaraderie they experience.  There are three central dynamics that drive folks, particularly endurance athletes:


This is self evident, since all endurance sports culminate with endurance races.  However, some folks are more competitive than others.  The desire to excel and do well in relation to other athletes is one way to approach competition.  The desire to make personal improvements and set season or lifetime PRs is another way to approach competition.  One is external and one is internal.  They are both fine motivators. 

You probably know at least one athlete who is not happy unless they win, and even then is not happy because something wasn't executed perfectly.  This would be a 100% competitive person.  They can be fun to train with but steer clear on race day.   They are not your buddy on race day.

You probably know someone else who is somewhat indifferent to how they do in relation to the field, but are very hard on themselves if they did not meet their personal goals.  This is an internally motivated competitor.  They compete with themselves rather than others. 

You know someone else who does not really care how well they do in comparison to themselves or to others.  This is a non-competitive person motivated by a different dynamic.

During your lifetime you may be any of these.  It depends where you are in your athletic life and what your reason for training is.

Camaraderie / Fun / Experience:

Another athlete just enjoys movement, sunshine, friendship, travel, and shared experience.  They don't care about winning, or setting PRs, or how fast you are.  They are in it to hang out with their spouse/loved one/friends, to see cool new places and to ride their bike over that mountain.  They may not push themselves very hard, but they are more than happy to go on a ride or run with you.  Or they may push themselves hard because if feels good to go fast.  Winning is not the main motivator - the experience of going fast is. 

In general, these are the athletes who can maintain a sunny disposition rain or shine.  PR?  Great!  Bad race?  No problem. 

Health / Fitness:

If you haven't read the paper lately, 60% or so of the United States adult population is obese.  Obesity causes a variety of health problems as well as makes moving around more difficult.  One of the easiest ways to correct this for most people is to get out and move around. 

Some athletes tend to start endurance sports primarily out of health concerns.  Some may become more competitive while others continue on due to the friendships they create. 

Some never really enjoy the sports but stick with it because they know it is good for them.  Hopefully they learn to have some fun with their friends.

Aerobic exercise and strength training combine to help you become more fit and look and feel better. This is a great motivator for many people. 

If you are not clear on why you are training and racing, take a quick assessment of your reasons for doing what you do.  There is no right or wrong answer - there is just an answer for you.  If you were in it for health but now want to move on to being more competitive, great.  If you used to be competitive but now stick with it for health and friendship, way to go.  If you train & race primarily to be able to eat pizza without feeling too guilty, I hear you.

Know thyself and let your actions reflect who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

Marty Gaal, CSCS, is a USA Triathlon coach.

Friday, October 29, 2010

cross country coaching and Seminole heartbreakers

You may not be able to tell from my gruff exterior, but I am a sentimental guy.  I have had a lot of fun working with the Raleigh Charter high school cross country boys and girls teams.  It is a large time investment but worth it in terms of seeing young athletes improve and learn more about running/athletic training.

Tomorrow is our Regional championship meet in Burgaw (coastal NC), and next week is the State championship meet, provided we make top 4 in the region.  The kids have really put in some solid training over the last few weeks - I had them on a structured program and we're now in full tapering phase for the last 2 races.

Can you tell which one I am?

In other news, the Seminoles lost a close game to NC State last night here in Raleigh.  We fumbled with 1 minute to go and the ball on the NC State 4 yard line.  Ouch.

They all play better than me, but there are instances where I think my grandmother could play better than them.  Anyway, we went to the game courtesy of one of my athletes, a NC State grad, and had a good time.  Here are a couple pics that Bri did not post on her blog:

Sigma Chi pledge brother (1990) Bill Kopelman and I

"Who is that dirty old bald man taking our picture?"

Prime time, baby!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Last clinic of 2010

Today we ran our final Powerstroke clinic of the year at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary.  We had a number of athletes attend from out of state for this one so I made sure to drink an extra cup of coffee this morning. :) 

Everything went well.  Bri is a trooper.  She works hard all week and then I put her to work with more on Saturday.  Then she continues on with coaching on Sundays as well.  I decided to write her a check this time if only for show (since what's mine is hers anyway). 

I would write more but am marble-mouthed and -brained after talking for four hours straight.

We will post the Powerstroke and open water clinic schedules for next year sometime in December.

In other news, I just read that one of the United States best open water swimmers, Fran Crippen, passed away during a 10k race in the Middle East today.  Tragic.  He was a big proponent/fan of open water swimming and a great athlete.  You can read more here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

French pension & retirement reforms

Someone over in France realized that if everyone sits around drinking coffee, there will be no one left to serve the sugar and cream.

So the French have revolted and are tearing up the country because: "That's not fair.  Everyone deserves to sit around and drink coffee and make disparaging comments about strangers."  

Pension reform
Union strikes
Vacation/work hours in France

Never let logic and rational thought get in the way of a good dust up.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

AC half-marathon

I did much better in the AC half marathon then I did at poker at the Taj, that is for sure.  Poker is a combination of skill, practice, and luck, whereas running is pretty much just skill/practice.  I did not really do well with the cards, but my Dad, aka "The professional," made it to the final table in our Saturday daytime tournament and finished 2nd, pulling down a few hundred clams.  He is very good but he also plays a lot and reads books on the game.  I am a simple dilettante.

Sunday morning greeted us runners with clear, cool skies and little wind, which was nice since it can howl up on the shore sometimes.  My goal was to finish strong and feeling good and I managed to make it happen.  3 miles splits were:

20:15 or so (the 12 mile mark was not clear to me)

We hit the boards at mile 8 and I was feeling good, so I started pushing my effort.

I finished with "a big kick" (for me that is slightly faster than whatever I was doing before) final half mile and crossed in 1:32.34, which is the fastest I've run the distance since May, 2007.  So not too shabby and I really enjoyed the run.  Wound up with 15 since I jogged to and from the start.  Legs are now tired.

The end.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Micro and macro economics

Wouldn't it be nice if all you had to worry about every day was punching the clock from 8 to 5 and then figuring out what to do with the rest of your time?   The industrialized economy of the United States had us there for a few decades, but those times are becoming a thing of the past.  Factory work and manufacturing used to make up the backbone of our middle class.  Almost all gone overseas to countries that now sell things we invented (cars, planes, TVs, computers, etc) back to us.  Goodbye jobs, goodbye dollar.

The bulk of mankind's history is a long story of uber-wealthy ruling over a large group of peasants, with a few well to do merchants thrown in the mix.  As a nation, we are headed down this road again.

In dealing with your job or business, you have to worry about a number of things - from making sure you do a good job for your boss, to finding new clients/business.  If you work for someone else there is a constant small background fear of being replaced or downsized or outsourced.   Anyone owning a small business has a myriad of other micro- factors to worry about.  This set of challenges is difficult, hence 50-60% of new small businesses are shuttered within five years.   So if you are your own boss, you have a 1 in 2 chance of surviving more than 5 years.  You can adjust this for your knowledge base, industry and expertise, but the odds are already not great.

Now since this is not challenging enough, you have to look at the world from a macro- standpoint.  War, famine, union strikes, deficit spending, inflation/deflation hedging, commodity and asset prices, tax policy, and so on.   Not only do you need to worry about the new competing service or product that Joe Sixpack down the street has started offering, you have to bear in mind the long term consequences of health care reform's impact to your bottom line.  You have to proactively seek out new products and services to offer as the old ones grow stale or lose customer value.  You can never sit still and relax.  If you do, the sharks will eat you.

You're also supposed to save for retirement in an environment that could be labeled "risk/reward model dependent" by some or "completely lacking transparency and a total ripoff" by others.

And you have to remain positive and retain a modicum of belief in your economic system, or fight to improve/change that system, otherwise it is time to head to the mountains with a shotgun and wait for the zombie apocalypse

What is money?  Money is a symbol of value that can coordinate/facilitate the exchange of goods and services a group of people can agree on.  A US dollar (at the time of this writing) equals 6 chicken eggs or so.  1 dollar also equals about 1/4lb of ground beef.  Hence 6 chicken eggs equals 1/4 lb of ground chuck.   A videotaped hour swim lesson with me is worth about 450 eggs.  Don't bring those to the pool.  The "money" makes it easier to conduct the transaction.

Now imagine some idiot government prints so many dollars they would not only buy all the eggs ever laid on the planet, it would buy all the chickens and cows and horses and goats, too.  It might make you question the actual assigned value of that dollar.  Maybe it is no longer worth 6 eggs.  Maybe it is worth 1/6 of one egg.  Maybe .000006 of one egg.

Now keep that in the back of your mind when you do your 3 Ps marketing analysis

Have a nice day.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

last open water clinic for 2010

Bri and I ran our last open water swim clinic for 2010 this morning.  We had a smaller group than the past couple of times and all went well.   It is good to see people make some connections and progress in the sport they have chosen.  Open water swimming can be intimidating and we have developed a good curriculum for these.

That was our 9th clinic of the year.  We have one more Powerstroke clinic planned for October 23 here in Cary at the Triangle Aquatic Center. 

Here is Bri during her lecture this morning:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Driving hours & 2011 triathlon plans

I am motivated for the fall/winter running season but already looking ahead for 2011.  Like I wrote in a previous post, there will be nothing more than 4 hour drive. 

We did a quick calculation on how much driving I did this year (strictly for trips) and it worked out to be about 120 hours.  That's three work-weeks of driving.  Way too much. 

Onto next season:
April - NC State Centennial Campus sprint
May - White Lake sprint
May - Battle at Buckhorn Sprint
June - Breezy Point Sprint (VA)
June - Kure Beach Double Sprint
July - Triangle Triathlon
August - Lake Logan olympic
early Sept - maybe a half-IM or another sprint
September - Wilmington YMCA sprint
October - Emerald Isle Sprint

That's 10 triathlons, with a couple extra possibilities to throw in.  I will do 5 NCTS races since I am going to be racing in the masters category next year.  Can you believe it?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What a day

What a day.  I got up at 545 and got to the Wake Med soccer park by 6:15 to set up a tent for my cross country team for the Great American XC festival, and then get ready to run the open 5k at 7:30.  Here is how my day went:

630AM pick a spot and set up tent at race site
700AM warm up
730: run the open 5k with 80 other people
749.32 finish the open 5k
800 start collecting runners and handing out chips, coaching instructions, general chaos management
930 call Bri for emergency breakfast drop-off
1030 accept emergency breakfast drop-off
130pm finish coaching(10 PRs & 7 season bests out of 22)
200 get Bri to meet friends for lunch
430 triathlon clinic led by Bri at Jordan Lake
530 leave Jordan Lake
600 out to dinner with athlete/friends
800 home to work on schedules and other stuff
1030 blog update

Saturday, September 25, 2010

USAT Nationals report

2010 nationals were held in Tuscaloosa, AL.  It was hot and moderately hilly.  I had a good swim, good bike, and then overheated and completely popped on the run.  The same thing happened at St Anthonys Triathlon earlier this year.  I can hold it together for a sprint on a hot day, but there's no hiding in an olympic distance tri.  Splits were 20:30, 1:02, 48:30, or so.   I was 6:35 at the first mile of the 10k run and feeling fine, then got hotter and hotter.  It gets to the point where my HR is way over my lactate threshold, then I can't breathe, then everything shuts down, and I feel like I am dying on my feet. 

I wound up 20th in my AG and 180th male overall.  Them's the breaks.  If I ever do nationals again it will be somewhere guaranteed to be cooler or outright chilly.   It will also just be the sprint.  Or the aqua-aqua.

We are straight into running season so I am fine with all this:
Oct 2 - Community 5k at the Great American XC meet in Cary
Oct 17 - Atlantic City Half Marathon
Thanksgiving - Cary 8k
Dec 11 - Bond Park trail 5k

Sunday, September 19, 2010

USAT Nationals

Bri and I are competing in USAT Nationals this Saturday.  I have been sticking with some short fast workouts and am looking forward to the race.  Bri is in really good shape, she has been pulling through on the Inside-Out Sports group ride, which is not all that easy.  I have been trailing behind, conducting heart attack mitigation on the same rides.  Nationals is in Tuscaloosa, AL.  It is another long drive but the cost of shipping bikes on a plane is just ridiculous.   I have already decreed within my kingdom that all races next year must be within a four hour radius.

My cross-country kids are doing well - we had 8 or 9 PRs set (out of 35) this past week at either a dual meet or the Wolfpack Invitational, so off to a good start.  I am giving them 3 weeks of higher volume and intensity and then we taper for Conference/Regionals/State.

I am looking forward to taking an extended break from bike training.  I enjoy riding but it is time consuming.  We have a bunch of nice fall/winter trail runs and street races that keep me plenty entertained.  During the fall I'll swim a couple times a week but keep the pace mellow. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Patriot Half report - 9.11.10

I will edit this with a few pictures and more details late Monday or Tuesday.  The race went as well as possible and I am really pleased with a 4:34.54, 6th overall male (3rd 35-39).  I swam around a 26, biked 2:27 or so, and ran 1:37 or so.  A quick recap:

Started in the 4th wave nine minutes behind the first wave, which gave me enough time to see the strength of the current in the James River.  I shot way right (into the current) and hit the turn buoy as well as humanly possible.  The current was ripping 2-3 knots which is a lot when you have to swim into it.  Also compensated coming in by swimming upstream/angled and probably had one of the fastest swim splits on the day if not the fastest - I was the 9th person out of the water.

 Swim exit

The bike went very well - a fast guy passed me a couple miles into it and I targeted him for 15 miles, when he found another gear and just started hammering like mad.  I rode my own race for the remainder holding 21-24mph depending on the grade.  The race is advertised as flat but that is bunk (I grew up in coastal FL) - it is modestly rolling and false-flat 90% of the way.  High cadence riding and finished feeling good.  Off the bike I was 4th onto the course.

 Running with actual good running form

Run: started out around 7minute pace with a tight back that slowly released and I found my happy place in the 7-720 range.  I am not a light-footed runner, so the 3 miles of singletrack dirt trails on each loop were very welcome.  No problems until I started slowing down at mile 9 - effort was as high or higher than at the beginning of the run but the body just started shortening up (my run volume has not been high).  Miles 10-11 were the slowest just under 8 min/mile pace, then I ran with my arms for the remainder and finished strong.  Good nutrition / hydration on a coolish day so all was well on that front.  Four people passed me during the run which is acceptable on a long run like this.

 Here I am coming in for a mid-run kiss from my wife.  

We had a fun time hanging out with OSB athletes/Raleigh gang at Hooters later that evening and I repacked every calorie I burned between wings and beer.

 Erin, Tom, Marty

Bri kicked butt on Sunday, taking 1st OA female in the sprint, in her usual kick-butting way.

 The Bri-anator

The races are in a great venue at the Jamestown Settlement, so put this one on your calendar if you are in the mood for a trip to Williamsburg, VA.  It is a really nice town.

I would end my season here but am already signed up for USAT Nationals in Alabama, so will coast-train a few more days.  Looking for a top five AG there and then hang the bike on the wall for a couple of months.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Patriot half prediction

I just want to have a decent half-Ironman at the Patriot half tomorrow morning, and not feel like someone kicked me in the groin at the finish line.    I understand it is a mostly flat bike/run course and the swim has some sort of current, so lets say:

swim 25-30 minutes depending on the course
bike sub 2:30 good - sub 2:25 great - sub 2:20 outstanding
run sub 1:37 good - sub 1:33 great - sub 1:31 outstanding
not falling over, priceless.

The end.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor day weekend


We had a nice time in New Smyrna Beach with my family.  We got there in time for me to catch the tail end of the Hurricane swell on Friday, so I got out on the board for a few nice waves before turning my attention to the family.

On Saturday Bri got me out on a 46 mile ride that turned a bit ugly near the end.  I was in the middle of shifting my hand position and drilled a crack in the pavement.  Bounced out of my seat, had no grip, and went splat.  Nice road rash but no broken bones.  Still managed a transition run and then covered up.  Surfed a bit but the swell had died and the wind was blowing off shore.

On Sunday I rode an hour with Bri, then ran about 40 minutes.  Tired.

On Monday we got in an hour + run (Bri did more).  I am tapering a bit for the Patriot Half on Saturday of this weekend.

The drive home was uneventful, just long.  Ten hours in the car wears us out.  Tassie gets bored.  Bri gets bored.  I get bored!  

Good fun with the family though.  Dinner, drinks, poker with the guys, and playing with our nieces.

This will be a quick week, then off to Williamsburg, VA for the weekend.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Nuclear Swim 2010 in the books

The final swim of the Triangle Open Water Series is in the books, and all went well.  We had a bunch of volunteers and lifeguards out to make sure everyone was safe.  The course went further into the lake so we avoided most of the weeds that hang near the shallow spots of the lake.  217 finishers.

The men's and women's overall finishes were head to head battles and you can see those videos on the series Facebook page

After the swim was all said and done, The Angels (my wife and her friends) and I went for a 50 mile bike ride.  The bike ride was great, it was a nice day, and I felt good.  I  convinced Bri to do a 20 minute run with me through the trails of Harris Lake County Park after.  Please note this trail system is much more extensive than you initially realize.  We wound up running for more than 40 minutes.  Bri kept her cool and did not bash me over the head with a log, though I could see her thinking about it. 

We had a lot of fun with the swim series.  Now we get to focus on two more triathlons - Patriots Half or sprint (for Bri), and USAT Nationals.  I am back into good shape, have shed most of my beer belly, and am looking forward to racing well.  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Road race prices

Check out this op-ed piece in our local paper about the entry fee of road races.  The author essentially argues that road racing is too expensive.  In the article the writer states:

Since the race is sponsored by Garner rather than a corporate entity, it should cost less. Promoting exercise and good health should be the goal even if the activity loses money.
Do you think he will be willing to pay more in Town of Garner taxes?  That seems reasonable, since he wants the town to subsidize money losing ventures for his personal socioeconomic benefit.  Just a modest real estate tax increase.  Nothing to lose sleep over.

The writer goes on:
We who love the sport of road racing should want our sport to be accessible to the masses, not just the affluent.
There are costs associated with races. Police are paid to keep the course safe, but couldn't volunteers do this work? Traffic control is not rocket science. Cutting costs must happen if the sport is to grow beyond its small base of affluent runners. I can play a round of golf with a cart for less than it costs to run a road race.
I'll keep running road races with my family - and begging for discounts - but my days as a bandit probably won't end anytime soon.
A quick check of FS Series, which timed the Garner event, revealed several upcoming 5ks that have entry fees of $20 if paid ahead of time, and even one completely free 5k in November.  Free!  My gosh.  It must be an evil communist plot. :P

There is actually an insurance requirement for most road races (and virtually all events on open roads) to have police or county sheriffs provide traffic control, since they are  authorized to stop people.  Volunteers can yell all they want, but they have no legal right to stop someone from driving through a race course. An armed peace officer has that duty.

He also advocates running as a bandit, so he and his family can continue to enjoy road racing.  I have a proposal.  Instead of stealing services from your local race organizer and any of their charities, how about you pick and choose your races?  You could take your family to three or four events a year.  Make it a special family event.

If you are having trouble with your personal finances, making a 5k entry a hardship, perhaps you should work on ways to create additional income streams rather than setting a poor example for your children.  "Hey kids, let's go bandit another road race!  We'll take advantage of the hard work of other people, and then eat the food and drink afterwards, and go home feeling righteous.  Life is not fair, and you are allowed steal from other people as long as we couch the term in something cutesy like 'banditing'.  We showed them. F--- the man."

I could go off on a long political tangent here but will refrain.  

Running is free - provided you get some decent shoes.  Participating in any event you want to is not.

If the author wants to see low-cost running events offered and promoted to the public, I propose he go ahead and establish a free community based running program that culminates with a low-cost 5k.  Then he can learn to enjoy things like fixed & variable costs, event design, course design, course management, t-shirt ordering, awards, permit fees, city council meetings, Fire/EMS scheduling, Police officer coordination, volunteer coordination, insurance and event sanctioning, and every other little thing that comes along with running any sort of racing event.  He could put in a couple weeks worth of time to operate the whole shebang on a break-even or even slightly money-losing basis (since it is promoting health, after all). 

He could then write another op-ed piece afterward and let us all know how he liked fronting the capital and sweat equity ... so he can listen to a small but vocal minority of  people tell him they didn't like your t-shirt design, or post-race food, or course, or your entry fee was too high, or whatever.

(In case strangers stumble across this post in isolation: FS Series is our partner for the Triangle Open Water Swim Series, and I operate as a for-profit race director that donates a significant portion of the bottom line of this race series to a non-profit organization.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Nuclear Swim and other things

The 2nd annual Nuclear Swim is this Sunday, August 29 at Harris Lake County Park.  One Step Beyond is offering $100 to the first man and woman overall.  Bri and I have enjoyed winning some cash prizes over the years so it is an opportunity for us to give a bit back and offer more incentive to the overall contenders.

We promise the checks won't bounce (which is a misdemeanor in North Carolina, by the way).   Heck, we will probably make it cash due to that.

The race series is going to raise a significant bit of cash for the Triangle Aquatic Center as well, which is where we hold our master swim team practices.  We are happy to do that.

Cross-country coaching is going well, the kids are working hard and our first meet is next Tuesday night.  It will be good to see how they do.

My training for the Patriots Half on September 11 has been going well.  I am not going to be in super shape but will be pretty fit and hope to turn in a good time.

I have been playing around with a "Facebook like" plug in to the blog, but apparently my blog is still an old format so I will need to goof with it for a while. Technology is moving at light speed.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Me & Running-in-the-Heat are breaking up

That's it, Running-in-the-Heat.  We've had it.  We're done.  You tease me with ten, twenty, sometimes even thirty minutes of good times, reminding me what it was like when we first met, back when we were young and full of energy.  Then you turn vicious and ugly; your true colors come out, and no matter what I can't make you happy.  You scorn me.  You laugh at me. So we're through.

It's not like you haven't seen this coming, Running-in-the-Heat.  For years we've been on and off.  You tease me and make me jealous, parading out your "friends," Cool-Summer-Day and Refreshing-Sunshowers, bringing them in for a while to show off your real power.  Then dismiss them as easily as you dismiss me, at 6:30AM at the top of a lonely hill in downtown Raleigh.

Why, Running-in-the-Heat, why?  We were so good together once.

But like they say, that was then, and this is now.  We can't go back.

So good luck with everything.  I should let you know I've been talking quite a bit with Cycling-Lots-in-Summer.  We're making all sorts of plans for next year and she promises to be nicer than you.  And her friend Swimming-More has always made it clear she's got a thing for me. The great thing is I don't think Cycling-Lots-in-Summer would mind.  She's cool with that.

Way cooler than you, Running-in-the-Heat.  And that's no pun. 

Now your sister, Running-in-the-Winter, she's awesome and we're totally gonna hang out.  Probably five or six times a week, if you know what I mean.  Hope you don't mind.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Free swim clinic at USAT nationals in September

Bri and I along with Susan Williams will be hosting a free swim clinic on Thursday, 9.23 from 530-730 PM in Tuscaloosa Alabama on behalf of the USAT Women's committee.  You can read all about it and sign up here.

I had a good but short visit with my in-laws in VA for my bro in laws 40th.  Up till 12:15 playing Cornhole and drinking adult beverages, and then up the next morning at 6AM for a 5k swim in VB.  That went well, it was a small turnout but nice conditions.  There were big wave sets rolling through which made the swim interesting.  I finished first in 1:00.25.  There was a slight current and we had to swim into shore and back out at the halfway point as a safety check. 3 mile jog back to the start afterwards.  I was real tired later in the day.

This weekend and next we get to stick around town which will be great.  Jack Johnson concert on Saturday night.  Bike riding. 

That is all.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dear Gatorade: G2 sucks.

On Friday night, Bri and I bought a few bottles of Gatorade for our open water clinic on Saturday morning. The clinic went well and afterwards we had a couple bottles left over and poured some into our bike bottles for a bike ride afterwards.  Both Bri and I took a swig and both of us made a "bleargh" noise.  We wondered what the problem was and then Bri realized we must have bought a bottle of Gatorade: G2.  After the ride we checked the ingredients.  One fake sweetener isn't enough for Gatorade: G2: Sucralose and another sweetener called Acesulfame potassium.  Both of these are artificial sweeteners and basically useless for the body in any shape or form if not downright harmful.

Gatorade: G2 is marketed as a lower calorie sports hydration drink.  I have an idea for Gatorade.  I will give it to you for free.

Gatorade: Gh2.0.  You take a regular 20 ounce Gatorade.  You dump 5 ounces out (back into your big Gatorade vat).  Then, you add 5 ounces of water.  Voila!  You've reduced the calorie content by 25%, and it still tastes great, just not quite as strong.  Sort of like Gatorade G2 without the lousy chemical aftertaste.  And if you want to get even more super duper scientific, you (Gatorade, I mean), could add back in the appropriate amount of electrolytes, so the only thing affected is the calorie content. 

I even thought of a catch phrase for you.

Gatorade: Gh2.0.  It doesn't taste like you're sucking aspirin. 

And it only costs twenty-five cents more per bottle.  That's the additional labor overhead burden rate per unit for hiring some minimum wagers to dump out good Gatorade and put in some good water., and then relabel the bottles with magic marker pens.


This is a perfect example of taking a great brand and then diluting it with 2nd rate spinoffs.  Beverly Hills Cop 3 territory.

Full disclosure: We own Pepsi Co stock, so you should buy more Gatorade. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

high school x-country coaching

I am excited to have been hired to be the 2010 cross-country coach at Raleigh Charter high school.  This is a 1A public high-achieving academic school in downtown.  We held the first two practices in the morning on Monday and Tuesday.

It is a good group of kids (about 30 of them evenly split boys/girls) and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work with them.  My goals for the season are:
  • Provide an intelligently structured training plan appropriate to their level of ability
  • Help each athlete meet his or her training & racing goal for 2010
  • Help them learn more about proper training, nutrition, gear, and recovery
  • Encourage fair play and team oriented thinking
  • Be fair-minded, disciplined, and a good mentor/coach/example
  • Do as well as possible at dual meets and invitationals
Our practices are in the early afternoon for the remainder of the season, so we'll be dealing with some heat for a few weeks.  It has been extraordinarily hot & humid here in the Raleigh area this summer.

On that note, this morning I got up at 5:00 to go for a tempo run with a few of my TAF teammates around downtown.  My heart popped on big hill number three at the 45 minute mark and had to hobble-jog back to our starting point.  Something like 8.5 miles in 1:04.  Completely wrecked!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lake Logan / Asheville weekend

We (Tassie and I) have had a good time in Western North Carolina this weekend with Bri and a couple of our friends. We rented a cabin outside Waynesville for the weekend and it is a nice place. Like my blog bio says, I enjoy long jogs in the mountains and lazy days at the beaches. Ha! I really would like a cabin of our own (and one on the beach too) but we are not there yet. One day.

On Saturday morning we woke up at the usual 4:00 AM to get ready for the Lake Logan international distance triathlon. It is a great venue and a beautiful course, so check it out if you're ever thinking of heading to this part of the state. I felt pretty good during the week and was looking forward to the race.

On Thursday night I rode with the Inside Out group, which is cutting it a bit close as far as hard training session goes, but the legs felt fine on racing morning.

There are $100 cash premiums for each leg of the race at Lake Logan, so I figured an outside shot at the swim preme. I pushed the swim pretty hard and came out of the water in around 19 minutes, first in my wave, which is great as I haven't been that fast in a while. Results would show that pro racer John Kenny from PA was a minute faster leaving in the wave ahead of me. John is also a former ocean marathon swimmer and New Jersey lifeguard so I didn't feel too bad.

The bike course is a bit deceptive; net downhill on the way out and net uphill on the way back. The air was thick with fog and we had a headwind to boot on the return trip. I rode solo and kept the effort moderate as I wanted to be able to run off the bike. 1:02 something.

The run is a 5k moderate uphill, then 5k downhill to the finish. I am not a great uphill runner so took short steps and tried to keep my turnover and momentum up. A couple runners from wave 1 were ahead of me but they slowly ran away. I managed to keep a decent pace and did a 21:50 5k to the top. I was very happy to see the run turnaround. Running downhill is much more fun. :) Return 5k was 20:45 for a 42:30 or so 10k, excellent for me at the moment.

This put me into 5th for the men overall with 2:05.53. One super fast woman went a low 2:05.

Bri had an amazing race. I will refer you to her blog for her details. I did a doubletake when she told me her time: 2:07.03. That is an olympic distance PR for her and got her 4th place. She also ran a 39:50.

We chilled out at the cabin for a while, then headed to Asheville for dinner with our good friend Al Johnson and some shopping (cupcakes for the girls; beer for me).

Today we are off for an easy ride though easy is relative since there are hills everywhere here.