Monday, August 2, 2010

The Grapes of Wrath- VINEMAN

Brett getting ready to complete his first Ironman!

This past weekend I went out to Sonoma to race the Full Vineman Ironman. The whole build up to the race was a disaster and caused a bit of stress and "wishy washy" feelings in regards to what I should do. A little over three weeks prior to the race I broke my rib and it put a halt to training. I did what I could and waited for the damn thing to stop hurting enough to train. Long story short I was really under baked for this race and the week before tried to microwave myself and salvage something and hope for the best.

JZ always felt I should just have done the Aqua Bike division due to what happened and I suppose she gets an "I told you so" added to her credit. I had nothing on race day. The swim wasn't "hard" as I totally hopped on David Glovers feet and did as little work as possible. You're a good man David Glover! We came out just under an hour which is my worst Ironman swim to date. It still really took it out of me and I had a hard time pulling it together to get on the bike. Glover put a min on me just in transition. I never saw him again.

The bike was really cold for the first few hours. I didn't have a power meter and really didn't know how I was riding. It felt bad from the start and I never really got in a groove. The rib was bugging me on a very minimal level. But everything else just felt flat. I came through the 1/2 way point in 2:35 and was in the hurt locker big time. That is pretty slow so I knew things were off. I tried to stay positive as I knew the conditions were hard that day. Head winds all day and the air felt very "thick" to me. Lots of moisture so it was hard to move through it. I gave myself some credit and said "Well you are a good rider so maybe the guys up front are going to blow up???"

I started having inner leg cramps on the bike towards the end and my neck was burning for the last 30 miles. It just sucked. I still figured I would try and run. A training buddy of mine from a while back once said that he got off the bike in an Ironman feeling like pure ass and still ran really well. I was banking on that. I forgot that banks close early on Saturday and when I got to the run my legs were really feeling like crap. I shuffled along and when I got to the turn around I realized that I wasn't running that slow. I was still on about 3:01 marathon pace and after a huge session of slamming about a litter of coke at an aid station, my energy levels felt the best they had all day. It makes me wonder if something was off nutritionally on the bike, but I was taking plenty in so who knows?

Around mile 7 my left leg started twinging near the lower calf when I went up hills. I stopped and stretched it out for a second but it just kept bugging. I walked for a bit to see if it would go away but it didn't. I stopped again and saw a goat looking at me through a fence. "Should I pull out little goat?" He totally nodded! That was enough for me. When animals start communicating with you it is time to pull the plug!

I have never dropped out of a triathlon before and prided myself a bit on it but since I was considering doing the Aqua Bike I had less issue with it. And, I don't run through "that" kind of pain that I was having. I have two crippled parents who smashed their bodies up from years of running marathons. I am not looking to be like that. So I walked it in and enjoyed seeing the other competitors out there and encouraged those that were having a tough time too. I wasn't upset about the situation at all. In fact I thought "Wow! I really did get my Pro card, I'm dropping out of an Ironman!" Pro's drop out all the time! I laughed at that a bit.

One of the forces that made me want to go to Vineman and try was the fact that I had several people racing that I wanted to support. My dad decided to do the Full Aqua Bike but pull out at the 1/2 way. He wasn't ready for the full ride but wanted to do the entire swim. He had a rough day too from getting really cold after the swim and then having some horrible allergic reaction on his lip. It swelled up so bad that he looked like Angelina Jolie after a visit to the plastic surgeon. Good on him for still finishing his plan. Apparently I passed him on the bike but I never saw him. He just said I barked "On your left".

Grant, a guy I coach and whose real name is Sprinkles, is just getting into the sport. He did the Full Aqua Bike and won his age with a really good ride just under 5 hours. The course was so hard that day that a 5 hour ride was really impressive! Now if we can just get him to swim a bit faster he will be set. The guy runs really well even though he thinks otherwise. There will be more to report on Grant after he does his first IM in Cozumel this November. I'm excited for him.

Wadley of course had to sign up and do the Full Ironman because he has a disease that makes him sign up for all of the hardest events that he can find. I passed him on the bike at about mile 50 and all he said was "MAAAAAN. This sucks!" I agreed! Wadley won the swim portion....duh!....and actually looked really good on that first run loop. Ran into some issues later in the day but he got that shit done! More than I can say.

Jake Taylor did his first Full Aqua bike in preparation for Ironman Cozumel too. He just added to the list of people that thought all that head wind was some serious BULL SHIT!!! ALLLLLLLLL DAY! I think I had maybe 2 min of coasting time during my 5 hours and 17 min of torture. Oh man, I need to take a break here and not think about it. I am having Vineman PTSD!

Last but not least of our group comes Brett Johnson. Brett is the ultimate trooper in sport. I have never met someone who can take on challenges with such a positive and calm attitude! I met Brett about 5 years ago and he did his first tri with a group of us and really got into training for all kinds of races. He wanted to run a fast marathon and we worked on taking him from a 4:30 PR to a 3:11 PR in his 40's! Then he took on the challenge of doing the AIDS LIfe Cycle several times and somehow got bit bye the Ironman bug after doing the Vineman 70.3 . I knew he was very nervous and intimidated about the distance and concerned that he wasn't going to get it done on the day. Considering how hard that bike was on the day, I started to get concerned for him! But of course, Brett is able to just put his head down and get it done. The highlight of my day was seeing Brett finish this thing! I was really impressed with his effort and excited that he can check this of his list and never ever has to do it again!!!! But I suppose there is always Ultraman in Hawaii to think about!

As for me, I came back to Boulder early instead of driving back to LA with Wadley for a week visit. I want to keep the ball rolling and get myself in a better position for the REV 3 Ironman which is September 12th. Vineman was a good prep for that and if I can make sure the ribs are all healed up and everything else feels good I do look forward to stepping up to another Ironman start line this year.

Thanks to everyone who came out to support and to my mother for making some kick ass biscotti for all of us. It's world famous! Congrats to everyone who finished and a major thanks as always to Dave and Amy Latourette for putting on such a great event!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I told myself that I would make a decision on the 4th of July if I was going to do the Full Vineman Ironman this year. I had to set an actual date because if I waited until I "felt ready" I would probably never do another Ironman again. Of course, to celebrate my decision that I would race this distance again I went out on my roommate Roddys boat and tried wake boarding for the first time. That way I could ensure that the next day I would wake up feeling like a truck ran over me. Nothing like having "Popeye" forearms and being aware of every muscle in your back less than 30 days out of an Ironman. Not to mention I took such a face plant that my eyes still feel like they are in the back of my brain. Other than that, I was pretty good and will have to monitor a new addiction!

One of the things that will be different about this Ironman is that I am not going to have a race done leading up to it. All of the Ironmans I have done in the past has had some form of triathlon race completed about 4 weeks out. However, my little wake board incident has left me feeling similar to the way you feel after your first race. So I am just going to let that be my "breaking in" for this race.

Everything has been going pretty well since I started training again and so many of the things that have been bugging me in the past have started to go away. It is a very pleasant feeling when you go to work out and the only thing that makes it challenging is the fact that it is challenging. Hopefully I will have lined up enough challenging days in a row to make Vineman a successful experience.

Now that I have taken my pro card back I have been asked more than once why I am going to go race Full Vineman rather than one of the larger WTC Ironman races. As a "pro" you can get into any of these WTC races whenever you want unlike age groupers that have to sit at their computers ready to sign up as soon as the race opens to ensure they can get in. This is usually a year in advance. How one plans an Ironman a year out is beyond me! Anyway, my reason for doing Full Vineman is because I want to do a lower key race as my intro back into Ironman and also, Full Vineman is a true test of the Iron distance.

At Full Vineman there will not be 20 guys getting out of the water and riding a train for 112 miles. The race is going to be a true time trial test. The two times I have done the race it has been me and my bike the whole way. It is the oldest Iron distance race on the mainland and is one of a small few Ironman races that has not been bought out by the WTC. I really enjoy the ambiance of this race!

As well, the last time I did this race I had two flat tires and only one spare. That didn't go over so well and caused a major delay on the bike. I have some unfinished business at Vineman. This year I am expecting better luck with my tires!

In addition to Full Vineman I am going to be racing the new Rev 3 Ironman. Rev 3 hosts a series of triathlons and will now be introducing the Full Iron distance this year. Again, it is another non WTC event. If these two races go well and don't leave me feeling trashed I will hop on the WTC band wagon and race Ironman Cozumel. It seems that it is going to be an iron year. I have no 1/2's on the schedule and don't plan to put any on it. I may do one Xterra race in between but that is it. After that it will be break time and gears will shift a bit.

Okay no more boring blog typing. My poor arms are worn out from the typing due to the fact that wake boarding has left my hands in a fist for most of the day. I think I will take that activity off the schedule until early August....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

AIDS Life Cycle Recap

Another AIDS Life Cycle has come and gone. The week was one of my best training blocks that I have had in a while and the energy of all the other riders was beyond awesome. The weather was perfect (minus a few days of head wind) and deciding to ditch the tents and "Princess" the whole thing turned out to be a very good decision!

We all started early Sunday morning just outside of San Francisco at the famous "Cow Palace". I was well rested having had an amazing home stay with my buddy's Dan and Andres. Nothing like being able to chill in a private roof top hot tub overlooking the Golden Gate bridge the night before a week of tough riding, running and swimming.

On the morning of our first ride out the plan was to meet up with Dope Peddler, Michael Gray and his brother Robert. They had rented an RV and Robert was going to be the driver. This was the true VIP treatment as I would not have to use the ALC staff for luggage transport. Hotels and an RV.....That goes beyond the "Princess Tour". But in my defense I did the tent thing twice and twice is twice too many times! But others love it and this year had no rain so I am sure it was fine for them.

Mike and I walked into the Cow Palace towards the end of opening ceremonies. Again, we have "been there done that" and wanted the extra sleep so we skipped it. They don't let you into the bikes that you parked the night before until opening is done so we just waited in the hall outside the packed auditorium. Of course I get the urge to go to the bathroom for the 5th time so I tell Mike that I will be right back and jam to find one. I walked all the way around the stadium where there were ones with no lines. As I am in there I can still hear Lori Jean, the head of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, giving her yearly "HEEEELLLLOOOOO RIDERS! Pep talk". She likes to talk and does it well but it sounded as if she was about to wrap it up. I was trying to hurry it along so that I could get back to Mike before Lori was done but didn't pull it off and when I came out the halls were being flooded with riders walking to their bikes. For some reason they held everyone in the hall for a while and it was total claustrophobia. I lost Mike and had no way of getting to him so it looked like ride out was going to be solo.

I started about 1000 riders back which is kind of a pain in the ass because it means a morning of "On your left". Not to mention there are a lot of stop and starts the first hour and everybody wants to race. That made for a really hard morning as I don't like to have 400 watt bursts like that. But I needed to get out of the mix and find some open road. My little joke about "On your left" is that when you pass a gay guy they tend to say (use the gayest voice possible) "You didn't say on your left loud enough. Why are you riding so fast?! It's not a race!" And when you pass a lesbian you get (use your butchest deep voice) "HEY. Nice pace. Mind if I try and sit on your wheel for a sec"?

Once I started to get out of town and find a rhythm I noticed that I had a guy on my wheel. When we stopped at a light he said that he was also a Dope Peddler. I was happy to find another fast rider. We hammered the first day and made it to Santa Cruz in no time at all. His name is Chris and informed me that he was only going to be on the ride for 3 days as he had to get back to work. In fact, when we got to Santa Cruz he had to drive back to San Francisco to put on the musical "Wicked". He is the head electrician for the show....and no, he is straight. It happens. Anyway, he and I had a blast riding for the first three days. Day two was 107 miles and I felt like I was on fire and hammered pretty hard. It was nice to have some company!

Day three we were off to Paso Robles which has the dreaded "Quad Buster". It is not the longest day but there is some good climbing. Another buddy, Zach, decided to ride hard that day so he joined us at ride out. We actually had a few riders in the AM. It seems like there is always a group that wants to get to the base of the climb so they can race up it. Zach was riding really fast and I was trying to sit on his wheel so I could actually get a warm up in. When you sit on a wheel and your power is in the 300's you know the pace is pretty strong. I could tell early on that Zach was a climber so I figured he would want to smack it. As we got close he said he wanted to drop back and rest up a bit before we hit Quad Buster. Thank God! I was hoping we could slow it down for a bit. We hadn't even been riding an hour yet.

We all clumped up and when we hit the base of Quad Buster the race was on. I held back at first because one, my legs felt like ass, and two I could tell right away that Zach and Chris were going too hard. The climb was super foggy and you couldn't see the top. I knew how long it was and that it got pretty steep towards the top. About 1/2 way up my legs decided to show up for the ride and I attacked. To my surprise I was able to hold them off and get up the climb first. Both of them are really strong guys. I think they just played their cards wrong on that one. Zach decided to go back down and ride up again with some of the other riders. Chris and I kept on to Paso and I happily sat on his wheel the whole way. My legs were done and needed an easy day.

Before Paso we stopped in Bradley, which is a really small town and they have a BBQ for us that raises money for their school sports teams. It is the only fundraiser they have to do all year since 2,000 hungry riders come through and buy burgers from them. Chris convinced me to stop and wait. They were not ready for us yet so we hung out and chatted with roadies and the people cooking food. Eating a big burger and then getting back on your bike is a very hard task! Not to mention, I missed my morning glory. The last 20 miles felt like crap. Literally.

I met up with my parents in Paso, as they live there, and my mother was kind enough to drive me to the pool. They have a fantastic 50 meter there and I got a great swim in. Then I took her out to get a foot and neck massage for her B-Day. It is kind of scary that she is now 61! She looks like she is in her 40's. I hope I get that gene.

The rest of the ride I was without my buddy Chris sine he had to go back. Luckily I enjoy the solo riding. I did get some quality time in with a few of the other guys and made an effort to stop at the rest stops that put on a little show for us. I even had some ice cream at Paradise Pit in Santa Barbara. The town comes out and brings a huge truck full of free ice cream and other treats for the riders.

The whole ride was a better time than I could have imagined. I was fortunate to get in some quality runs and swims. I had written a few weeks ago about some of the issues that I have been having with my left leg and, knock on wood, they all seem to be going away. In fact, when I got to LA my Frontrunner friends convinced me to run the Pride Run 10K the next day. I managed to win the whole thing with a 35:20. Not too shabby for 20 miles a week and no speed work! And today nothing on me hurts! Something this last week clicked and I am just going to go with the explanation that it was "magic".

Thanks to everyone who supported my ride this year. Not only have you helped a wonderful cause, you also gave me one of my best training weeks to date! I look forward to keeping this momentum up and racing Ironman. Congrats too all the other riders that made the journey. Not only were there some really hard days, everyone managed to raise the money required in a very tight economy. I am planing on doing the ride again next year and if you think this is something you want to do and would like more insider info please feel free to contact me.


Friday, June 4, 2010

It's Not a Race....Or Is It?

For the last few years I have incorporated the California AIDS Life Cycle into my triathlon training. It is a fantastic way to bump up my cycling a bit, as it covers 600 miles over the 7-day trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and I have been able to line up pools and plenty of trails to run on all the way. It is the ultimate triathlon training camp for a great cause.

Every year as I get ready to leave for the trip, people always say to me "Good luck at the race" or "I hope you win." It makes me laugh because there is no "race" involved but everyone who knows me understands that I can and usually do turn ANYTHING into a race. "I need to go to the bathroom".....WANNA RACE?!

It is true that there are a select few on this ride who have been known at times to turn it into a hammer fest. I would say that I am not the prime instigator and would probably blame Ben Armstrong (his last name says it all) but then I would be lying. I guess I just need to come clean and say that I am a "race-aholic." But still, the reality is that the AIDS Life Cycle is not a race. And I keep telling people that.

Today when I was on the phone with one of my good friends, Ms. "John" Miranda, he just laughed and said "Oh shut up! It is totally a race!" Before I could stop him with some half-baked notion that it isn't a race, he went on a long rant as to why it should be.

In John's mind, this event needs to be a race to symbolize the urgency of things. He expressed how passive everything is becoming and that nobody has a sense of urgency anymore. AIDS is not over and the lack of an "IT IS A RACE" mentality is causing a situation that one day will blow up in our face just like HIV did in the 80's. It is URGENT that we educate the youth out there who are becoming positive in alarming numbers. It is URGENT that we find a vaccine for this virus. It is URGENT that we prevent further cuts to funds for people living with HIV and AIDS. It is URGENT that we let people know that HIV is not the new diabetes and cannot simply be handled just fine with medications in all instances. (Although the drug companies might disagree with that one.)

We have lost our sense of urgency, not only in matters of HIV and AIDS, but with everything! I mean, take the situation in the Gulf right now. There was no urgency to make sure those wells were safe or fixable in the first place. Now there is urgency, and guess what? Too late! There was no urgency to make it mandatory to have a double hulled ship carrying oil until Exxon hit a rock and screwed up Alaska. That seemed like a no brainer to me! I am only using the oil example because it is on everyone's mind right now. But what else out there, if we actually take the time to think, could use some urgent attention? How about the obesity crisis in kids or the school systems? Maybe the energy crisis, if you even believe that it exists? And if you don't, I am thinking "Drill Baby Drill" is out for a while. How about the fact that I am loosing my hair? Okay, that is a selfish, vain, of no real importance issue but I'm a gay male so it makes it URGENT!

My point here, and John's as well, is that we all need to get up and start racing! So for me, this week, as I ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, it is a RACE! A race to symbolize the UGENCY of HIV and AIDS related issues in the United States. If you would like to support my RACE you can go to; and if this cause is not "your thing" you can still do something by getting your own ass up for whatever you feel is of an urgent matter AND START RACING!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Triathlon Update

I had to take some time before I posted this one, considering every single person in Boulder was right about my last post. When I told my buddies that I wasn't going to race triathlon this year they all laughed in my face and started making bets as to how quickly I would be back at it. The total time away was 3 months. And in that three months I really found out how much I actually love training and racing in the sport. I also was fortunate to reunite with my real true love which is skiing! Aspen, Taos, Mammoth and Eldora were hit pretty hard.

What I don't love is injury. While I made the remarks that my main reason for stopping was so that I could focus on my real estate business, I kinda lied about that. Obviously I knew that trying to build up a business and train/race would be a bigger challenge, my main reason for stopping was that I was ALWAYS injured. It is a hard thing to accept.

In this spot, the athlete is in a constant battle with "something". With me that something became chronic and not totally diagnosable. My running rant about that whole issue has been that I have a male pro right leg and female age group left one. I wanted to see this time around if the time off would help clear up the issue and then also see what happens when I start back up. It is a major downer to try and become better at a demanding sport like triathlon and have to constantly miss workouts and have pain not only in training but day to day life.

I started things up about a month ago and to my surprise, I was REALLY out of shape. But to my even bigger surprise, the out of shape thing didn't last very long. Neither did feeling injury free. It only took about 2 weeks for that mysterious issue in my left leg to come back. I wasn't sure if I was even going to bother seeing someone about it because nobody could ever give me a clear answer before. But I did with a little push from the ever optimistic JZ.

The conclusion was either that I had a nerve in my lower back that was "shutting off" my leg, which then led to injury because smaller muscles would have to take the load of my whole body, or that it was from my hip surgery that I had in college. I broke my femoral neck and had it fixed. The nerve in the back is something that can be dealt with but the surgery is what it is.

One of the biggest places to look when it comes to a nerve being pinched is in your bike fit. We spend a lot of time in the saddle and if something is not right you are going to have problems. So I went in and made changes and it actually made things even worse and now my left leg really started to shut down and continued to atrophy. Well, that was depressing at first, but turned out to be a good thing because we at least knew that something wasn't right on my bike. JZ made me come over and deconstruct my bike. I swear that women could charge top dollar for bike fitting if she wanted to. In only a few hours we had made some serious progress due to her changes. I think the biggest change was going back to the Adamo saddle. Yes, I know it is ugly and not "cool" but I really don't care The thing works and keeps my junk from going numb!

I also saw Bob Cranny, The Wizard of Boulder, and Sara Berg my Chiro and they both got to see that my left ass was not working and I could barley get my calf to fire. Clearly a nerve! Everyone had hope about things at this point but me. I know that sounds pessimistic but I was at the "Show me the money" point. And they did. Over a few weeks time the leg has improved. I can run about 20 min now which is not ideal but I can bike and swim without issue and that is a good start. I have a running background so I am going to be calm and patient about it and see what happens. At least now, on the bike, I don't feel like I would be better off with a prosthetic. That is no joke.

I really want to race Ironman this year and am going to give it my best shot. Full Vineman at the end of July is what I want to do followed by either the REV 3 Full or Ironman Cozumel late November. It is hard to say what will happen as my confidence in this issue clearing up for good is not super high yet....but it is there. My main goal, I suppose, is to always be able to train which is what I love the most. Racing is just the icing on the cake.

AS part of my training this year I decided to do the AIDS Life Cycle again and raise money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The ride is the biggest fundraiser of the year and is always an amazing event. It is from June 6th-12th so if anyone reading this would like to sponsor my efforts you can go to Everything helps!

Now that I am back at it I will keep things on here updated a bit more, especially when on the ride! Hopefully there will be a good story to write about, as Blogs like this last one I just wrote put me to sleep!!!! Let me see if I can end it with something funny....hmmmm.....Holy crap. Nothing funny has happened lately. Maybe Carole will read this and put a potato at the bottom of the pool during masters that looks like a turd. Now that was funny!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sleeping With The Ex

I'm sitting here after a long hard day of.....reading. I have been told in the past that I was crazy to train for an Ironman. And rightfully so! But I must say that people who sit behind a desk all day are equally crazy!! I just got done with a nice 6 hour chair stint reading and reviewing material that will get me ready to pass the CO Real Estate Exam. I have not put this kind of study time in since I was in college. I forgot how draining it can be and my final assessment is that I would WAAAY rather have my ass glued to a bike saddle than a desk chair. With head wind!

I bring this up because I have made some changes to my 2010 plans. For the next year I decided to take a break from my pursuit of triathlon in order to build up a real estate business. I thought about doing both triathlon and real estate but after careful analysis I felt that, in the beginning, neither could be done to the standard at which I want them to be done at. So I had to make some tough decisions and come up with plan B.

Plan B (better) is that I will just focus on running. I come from running and I have never trained for an open marathon so there was some solid intrigue there. I joined up with Steve Jones running group here in Boulder in an attempt to have some team structure. Man I MISSED being on a team. That is where triathlon falls short. There are very few team dynamics out there. What we had going on last season with JZ and company was pretty close but still missed a true "team" feeling by a small margin. Maybe that is why they call it Tr"I"athlon???

Anyway, with the new running and real estate adventure came some adjustments. I had that "what the hell am I doing?" feeling for a good while but then I started to notice my running was getting much better and that feeling went away. Then I also realized that since I was taking a break from triathlon and nothing serious was in the immediate future regarding running that I could take a bit of time and become a "real" person again. So I decided to go hit up the Gay Ski Week in Aspen. I lost my gay card a while back because I never "did" anything anymore so I assumed that a week in Aspen with a bunch of homo's ought to do the trick.

Sure enough, I got my card renewed and I was officially "gay" again! I only had to say "Heeeey Girl!" once (thank god). I forgot how fun and funny that many gays at one time can be. It was a total blast to get back to some of my skiing roots as well. By day two we were hitting the double black tree runs until our quads wanted to explode. Unfortunately I think mine actually did. I came back with a bit of ITB knee pain most likely from all the hard skiing. I also ate shit on the board one day (I was cheating on skiing) and that may have triggered it. None the less, I am back in Boulder not running.

Hmmmmm??? Well if I can't run I suppose I could always get on the bike or go for a swim. Seems like a logical idea. Especially since I am sitting inside all day reading and going stir crazy!!! The idea wasn't as logical as I thought. Who knew that thinking about swimming or riding was going to cause such emotional chaos? All of a sudden, out of nowhere, the idea to go to the pool made me feel very strange. It was like I was about to sleep with an ex boyfriend that I had recently broke up with! No joke. I am sitting here right now coming up with all the reasons why I shouldn't go swim.

I suppose that it is because over the last few years I was given an extraordinary chance to experience something so wonderful and challenging. I traveled the world, met some of the greatest athletes in this world, developed life long friendships and pushed my own body and mind to limits that I never thought was possible. I feel in love with triathlon. And now, I seem to be feeling like we are breaking up. Yes, let me have my god damn dramatic moment THANK YOU!

I never imagined I would be feeling this way about it but obviously I am. I truly believe that we need to allow ourselves to have the feelings we have and deal with them rather than shoving them in a box and pretending they don't exist. I have tried that approach. It doesn't work at all for me.

So here I sit, broken hearted over triathlon, hearing the pool that is only a 2 min walk from my house call out my name. "I know you can't run. Come swim in me!!!" Sorry Charlie. I just can't do it right now. Give me time and maybe in the near future we can be friends again.

I know I must sound crazy, but this is the best analogy I could come up with as to how I feel regarding all the transitions in my life. I know that getting a business up and running will allow me to come back to the sport the way I want to. But for now the focus is going to have to take a shift. I'll keep you posted though, as there are odds all over town stacked against me that when the snow melts and the sun is shining that you will find me on the back of a bike train huffing and puffing my way up to Estes Park. I guess we will just have to see!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Thoughts on Clearwater.

Where should I begin with this commentary on Clearwater?  I guess I will just start from the days leading up to the race as they played a key role in what went down.

 JZ and I had gone to Clermont the week before to escape the weather in Boulder and get some training in at sea level.  We had a nice apartment right by the pool and got in some fantastic riding.  I really love Clermont!  Anyway, about mid week we started to take notice of the tropical storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.  It seemed like there was going to be a very high probability that the race was going to be affected. 

Sure enough, when we got to Clearwater the weather was cold and really windy with scattered showers.  The ocean was extremely rough.  Knowing these races have had serious problems with the swim portion when the weather is bad, I figured it was going to be cancelled. WTC had a contingency plan and the day before announced that the swim would be moved to the bay.  They announced that the swim for the age group waves was going to go off Time Trial style with one athlete being sent off one at a time in the original printed wave start.

Upon first impression, this seemed like a potential solution to many of the drafting issues the race has had in the past 3 years. This was not the case, however. They loaded the entire field in the water way faster than planned; in fact everyone was in the water in half the allotted time from the printed schedule. The organizers were concerned about opening the unforeseen closed roads. Instead of a nice spread between waves, chaos ensued on the bike course with even more packs than normally seen. The maximum occupancy of the course was exceeded! Athletes need to stop blaming each other for drafting, as this was inevitable, but instead need to find a solution for the future.

The Pro Field was also robbed of a fair race. The Pro men and women went off in two waves as a mass start.  The women went off at 6:45 and then the men went off around 6:53. I have tried to come up with logical explanations for this decision. As an aficionado of conspiracy theories, I have come up with the following explanation. Since Clearwater 70.3 already has a reputation for SUPER fast times, they wanted to set it up so that a female Pro could break 4 hours.  JZ came very close last year so the possibility was clearly there.  With the Pro men going 8 min behind the women it was known that they would pass the Pro women on the bike after about 50 min of riding. The strength of the riders in the women’s field made it impossible for the men to go by without them getting an inadvertent free ride. The top women ended up in the mix with the boys and got off the bike with them.   Had the men gone off first they would have never seen the women and then both fields would have had a better chance of riding legal on the flat, fast, narrow course. This also added issues to the safety of the course. When the men and women merged it created more riders in a smaller amount of space.

This race doesn't deserve the title "World Championship" and dialogue needs to occur on how to make this event worthy of such a name. The venue in Clearwater is beautiful and the swim and run courses are top-notch, but the bike course has been mismanaged. A viable solution to the bike course situation has not yet been addressed, but that does not mean there isn’t one. Alternatively, a new venue could easily be chosen out of the other multitude of 70.3 events on the calendar. 

In addition to the other issues mentioned, Joanna had a horrible crash at mile 49.  Clearly Ironman has implemented the "Tara Norton" policies and procedures when it comes to this.  What exactly is the “Tara Norton Policies and Procedures”?  Well, Tara was hit in 2008 by a volunteer on the bike while in 4th place at mile 80 at the Hawaii Ironman.  Medical sent her home, WTC didn't give a shit and she ended up having 11 broken bones and was NEVER taken to the hospital by the race.  They even reneged on giving her a medical spot the following year.  Joanna never heard from anyone at WTC or the Clearwater staff after the crash. When you have a top athlete that you know very well, who has been in the sport for years, and who in fact won your “World Championship” race the year prior, that crashes because of a volunteer on the bike course, it raises a red flag when nobody from the race contacted her.

Just because we all sign a waiver, does that waiver allow a race to not try and make changes to some of the faulty areas?  I really think something needs to be done regarding aid stations on the bike.  While I love the fact that volunteers get out there and give us their time and spirit, they are not safe.  It’s a bad situation for not only the athlete but also the volunteer.  I know the one Tara hit was really hurt and could have been killed.  The kid that took JZ down probably feels horrible for what happened.  Something needs to change.  I have plenty of ideas on how they can do this and will share them in a later blog. 

In closing I would like to say that I was very excited to earn a 30-34 age group title. I know there were a lot of people, including myself, who were disappointed with how the race transpired. As athletes, let’s stop blaming each other and channel our negative energy towards finding positive solutions for the Clearwater 70.3 World Championships.