Sunday, November 29, 2009


Okay, we are all busy.  It's the one word we can throw out there to get us out of whatever we DON'T want to do.  "Yeah, I'm just too busy right now."

Which makes me appreciate those people who are NOT too busy.

Here's my point.

This weekend was full.  Preparing food, eating said food, shopping, working, a movie if you were lucky -- all time taker uppers.  But perhaps what I am most thankful for are these super busy people:

1.  Turkey Trot spectators, cheerleaders and volunteers esp. the SERTOMA Club.  A race without a fans is just another training day.
2.  Family organizers who planned and executed a great family reunion.
3.  Friends who stop by to say hello.
4.  Kids who stay home.

Sure, we are busy.  But taking the time makes it all worthwhile, I'd say.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Better, Faster, Stronger

Sir Roger Bannister

When the world's first sub-4-minute mile had been run in 1954 by Sir Roger Bannister, Franz Stampfl, Bannister's coach wrote this:  "Training is principally an act of faith.  The athlete must believe that through training he will become fitter and stronger...He must believe that through training his performances will improve and continue to improve indefinitely as long as he continues to train to progressively stiffer standards."

Do you believe?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

For Starters, Breathe.

I went down to watch the start of Ironman Arizona today.  

Here's a little glimpse as the cannon went off.

After positioning myself at the bike exit, I watched as swimmers became cyclists who screamed out of T1 with panic in their eyes.  Some of them didn't have their chin straps fastened.  Some struggled with their clipped in cycling shoes.  Some tried to pass in the small confines of a single file cycling shoot.  RARELY, did they come out of T1 with a calm, relaxed demeanor.

PANIC!  STRESS!  ANXIETY!  These can all be part of an Ironman day.  But none of these were helpful to today's competitors. It was very evident that most of these athletes were running on crisis mode instead of systematically and logically pacing themselves toward their goal.

I know this is a race, but unless you are a pro, a frantic sprint through the transition zones can only cause problems in this long, long day.  RELAX.  FOCUS.  BREATHE.  It applies to triathletes.  It can be applied to life.  We're all better when we are sure of ourselves.  Push the panic away.  Point yourself in the right direction.  Then "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!"

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hurts So Good

If you've never used a foam roller, you might not appreciate the new Grid roller from Trigger Point. But this new piece of equipment is a gem.

Most old-style rollers are about three feet long,  styrofoam and bulky.  Physical therapists and athletes use them to apply gentle force to adhesions or "knots" on IT bands, calves, lats, or any body part that is fatigued due to exercise.  Those tender spots on the body can be worked out by rolling over the spot and holding for about 30 seconds, to bring the muscles fibers into straighter alignment.

The new Trigger Point Grid is a more compact and better version of it's older self.  And it has massaging grids that feel awesome.  And it's a cuter color than white or baby blue.  I love mine.  I can get right into those tight knots in my legs and roll them out for instant relief. 

In therapist words, "It helps restore your body back to it's optimum level of function by resetting the propiroceptive mechanisms of the soft tissue." 

Blah blah blah.  It's just good.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pro Triathlete Pointer #2

Another tip from Jenni, sans photo.  I'm going to call it the Plank 'N Pike.  This is a good warm up for a swim.

1.  Assume the position of either downward dog/pike, or another way to say it, reach down for your toes and then place your hands flat on the ground.

2.  Step the hands away from your body until you are flat,  as if you were doing a push up.  Now with your toes, take tiny steps forward until you are back in that pike/downward dog position.

3.  Repeat this up and down movement  5 times or so.

This exercise activates wrists, core, back, glutes, hamstrings and ankles among other muscles.  It especially loosens wrists and ankles making it a beneficial movement for your pre-exercise routine.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Elementary, my dear.

I attended an all day seminar last weekend put on by this gal,

Pro Triathlete Jessi Stensland.

Um, yeah.  True story, you can find her by googling "hot triathletes". 

But enough about that. 

Jessi taught the absolutely essential need to warm up before any swim, bike or run.  She suggested even one minute of pre-exercise drills will keep you injury free for a lifetime.

While I have many of these to share with you, I'll give you just one for today....skipping.  Yep.  Skipping.  Skipping activates the ankles, knees, hips, arms and core.  You can skip lightly for say, 30 second, before any run to trigger your muscles and mind that you are ready to move.  Try it on your next run.  It's pretty awesome. 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Power of the Guy Who Yelled "Gorilla"

As the last screams and shouts fade away from the Ironman finish-line,  and I turn away from the beach-front condos to begin the daunting 26.2 mile run ahead of me, I make a mental note of my progress. Swim, check.  Bike, check.  Run.  Okay, now onto the last stretch of the race.

In the Florida course, the mass of humanity funnels itself into the single-file flow of runners who snake through the quaint neighborhoods of Panama City and into the desolate trails of a St. Andrews State Park -- then return and repeat.  Aide station volunteers scream out "Water!  Gatorade!" Power Gel!"  to all the passers by.  But soon the footsteps and my own breathing fill my ears louder than any spectator ever could.

As I head out of town, I am cheerfully greeted by those costumed characters who offer me beer shots instead of water.  They are wild and crazy and fun!  But as I tick off the miles, my journey becomes more solitary,  and a man standing alone picks me out of the crowd and calmly, quietly encourages me: "Good job, Gorilla.  Keep going."

I had been yelled at by thousands of spectators who seemed to draw more attention to themselves than to those struggling runners for whom they are cheering.  But this man didn't make a commotion.  He simply stated an affirmation that I heard and took heed.  When I pass him the second time, I am not expecting him to be there.  Again he singles me out.  "Okay Gorilla, you're doing fine.  Keep it up."

Daylight savings robs the town of Panama City of it's afternoon hours with sundown at 4:51p.m.  By Loop Two, twilight is setting in and the portable spotlights begin to hum as the generators kick on. The runners become a bit more spread out and "to themselves". As I round the corner once again, my personal cheerleader is waiting on the same patch of grass.  He's found my jersey in the shadowy darkness and quietly restates his powerful words:  "You've got this one, Gorilla."

At mile 24, I passed him a final time.  This time, I expect him there for me, I stand a little taller, run a little prouder and smile as I look his way.  "Congratulations Gorilla.  You're there.  Nice job, today."

You can't escape the hype of the family and friends who await the Ironman finishers.  Their cheers and screams energize and rejuvinate each participant and remind them that they did not get here alone.

But there is something to say for the mental uplift a single person can give another just by acknowledging a name, a bib number, or a logo on a jersey.  The power of a quiet human voice can communicate louder than any stadium-packed crowd.  Don't ever doubt the power of one.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Emperor's New Clothes

As a participant and/or spectator at an Ironman, the event can be a little...disconcerting.  With day glo Newton shoes, compression socks, Breathe Right strips and lightweight aerobars you may feel a little like one of the royal subjects in The Emperor's New Clothes -- mindlessly following the crowd.

There are so many gadgets to buy into -- GPS systems, lightweight sunglasses, nutritional magic pills.  And as athletes, we are definitely doing just that.  We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve our times with lighter wheels and featherweight bicycles.

Take for instance the teardrop helmet.  These helmets were designed and wind-tunnel tested to be more aerodynamic than traditional cycling head gear.  Manufacturers suggest wearing one can help save from  30 to 60 seconds per hour on the bicycle.  This is great news to a triathlete.  And perhaps the idea of wearing something sleeker and lighter psychologically helps to improve the overall bike split as well.

Proceed with caution is what I say when considering all the latest Ironman gear.  We sometimes get hung on up what the Emperor is wearing and fail to recognize our "engine" is what will get us through that grueling day.

As I watched the Kona Championships this year, I noticed most of the athletes were wearing the teardrop helmets, except for two:  Chrissie Wellington and Craig Alexander, the two overall winners of the race.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Snaps

Don't these photos just make you happy?
                                                 Ryan Fish  finishing in 11:55

Greg Arnett in 11:27

And my finish at 12:12. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Take Aways from Florida

1.  You WILL get through the swim, but it's not gonna be pretty and you won't make any friends.
2.  Do not compare race times with previous year's race times/places.  Every day is unique.
3.  Hug your family and friends.  You didn't do this alone.  And thank the volunteers -- good karma.  (See also: Dave Weins, Leadville 100)
4.  A steady run through the marathon, instead of a walk, will boost your mental energy even if you are tired.  Ever played the game called Road Kill?
5.  Keep eating/drinking even when you are sick and tired of eating/drinking - it all plays into that last two hours.
6.  Overfill your special needs bags - options are good!  Bring anything you might think:  'that sounds like a good idea.'
7.   Read the signs along the way and "insert your name here".
8.  Over prepare, over pack, but do not overthink. You've trained and you are ready.
9.  Secure all your belongings as items tend to shift -- Screw in cartridges, push in water bottles, and tighten up everything! (Serious garage sale going on out there on the course.)
10.  Like I've said before, smile at the finish line.  Today is about you.  Tomorrow is probably not.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Five Alive

You want betters abs?  I have the recipe: 

1.  Less or No white flour products
2.  Very little sugar
3.  No fried foods
4.  No carbonated drinks
5.  Eat as many raw foods as possible (lots of fruits and vegetables)

This, and quite possibly six hours a day in the gym (like Rachel), is the recipe for her Ninja-Turtle-like abs.  

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New York Minute

We did it! An American won the New York City Marathon today.

Now, he might not have been American born, but Meg Keflezighi represented the U.S. in style, crossing the finish line in 2:09:15. That is significant for our country because an American has not triumphed in New York since Alberto Salazar in 1982. The United States needed to flex their distance running muscles to the rest of the world.  And today, they did.  In fact, Americans took six of the top 10 spots in today's race.  That's good news for us, and great news for what's to come in London in 2012.

Just a side note:  the NY Marathon is on my bucket list.
Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True