Friday, June 29, 2012

One Of Our Own

Mesa, Arizona has something to be proud of today.  Breeja Larson, a Mesa native has made the Olympic team, qualifying first place in the 100-meter breast stroke.  Congratulations, Breeja!  We are proud of you over here in the desert.  Good luck in London!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Voyeristic Confessions

Tomorrow is a big day in the triathlon community:  Trisports open on Mill Avenue in Tempe.  If you've ever heard the saying 'location, location, location' then you know that parking a tri store on the corner of Rio Salado and Mill, smack dab where IM AZ finishes, is a BIG deal.  I'm excited to be joining the team at Trisports.  Come look for me next week and say hello.

But, alas, I digress.  All week long the new team has been assembling racks and merchandising product at the new store.  And out our front window looms 'A' Mountain-- here's a photo...

Can you spy it there on the left?  It has the big 'A' on it.  And Trisports is just a little more to the left on the other side of the Hayden Flour Mill stacks outside of the photo.

'A' Mountain is a pretty popular place to hike.  The pitch is steep but the distance is short. During the day as we've been working,  we've also been watching people walk up the steepest section of the trail, which is right outside the store windows.  And let me tell you, this is a prime people watching.

Day One of the store's unpacking,  an employee spotted a guy just bookin' it up the side of the moutain in full sprint mode.  We all cheered him on from inside the store as he was just killing it uphill in 110 degree weather.  You go guy!

Then, all of the sudden he started walking.  Then grabbed the side of a half wall. Then sat down.  Then finally laid down and possibly had a heat exhaustion situation going on.  Oh bummer, man.  Sorry that you tried to kill yourself in 110-degree heat and full sun exposure.  Thank heaven you were wearing a sweaty Camelback for optimal hiking hydration.  Glad you made it back alive.

And yesterday was another funny one: and old guy, shirtless, tan and skinny, arms flailing in the air holding Shake Weights as he tried to balance himself, his weights and his footing down the side of the mountain.  He zigged and he zagged, but he made it and I'm sure gave the ladies a little dose of eye candy for their daily pleasure.

Anywhoo, I'm just sayin', beware.  We're watching you out our plate glass windows.  If you're going to attempt uphill sprints in the heat of the day, just know that you've got a bunch of people either cheering you on or giggling as your shake your weights and your booty down the mountain.   It's a fun little perk of the job.  I can't wait til tomorrow. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Escapee Report - Alcatraz 2012

I was so worried.  Worried about the infamous icy water with it's snarly currents that disorient even the strongest swimmers.  Worried about the ric rac San Francisco landscape that would burn my quads as I rode uphill and possibly force me off my bike to push it over the mountain.  And that sand ladder, wow was I worried about that!

All for naught. 

Escape from Alcatraz was a GREAT race.  I survived!  The race was high on a degree of difficulty, especially for a sprint/olympic hybrid distance.  But it's do-able -- even enjoyable.  There's not much to complain about when you are where you are, running biking and swimming in the City By The Bay.

Race directors thought of everything at EFA (Escape from Alcatraz).  The triple decker boat the swimmers boarded for take off was warm and comfortable.  Two thousand triathletes spread out quite comfortably on the carpeted decks of the mighty Hornblower ship and had a lovely view of Alcatraz when it circled the island.  The foghorn signaled the start of the race and the sight of hundreds of wetsuit clad swimmers with bright swim caps jumping into the ocean was spectacular.  Something I will never forget.  **RACER TIP: Wear two swim caps, it keeps your noggin warm without messing with your equilibrium.

The current pulled us west toward the Golden Gate and we swam in an arched pattern to the beach, sighting the familiar landmarks:  Coit Tower, a huge telephone tower, and the dome of the Exploratorium.  Because of the natural currents in the swim, the racers spread out quickly -- very opposite of an Ironman swim where you are constantly hit and kicked by your opponents.  And after 1.5 miles, it was done.  The escape was not that bad!

On to the bike.  But not after a transition that included a half a mile run to the bikes. **RACER TIP: Bring a second pair of running shoes.  You'll need them for this extra long transition run.  The bike course is hilly but not CRAZY hilly.  My advice again, train on steep hills and you will be fine.  Eighteen miles and you're done. 

And then the run.  After a flat two miles the run/hike/obstacle course begins.  You'll climb some steps up from the beach to the cliffs that line the shore.  The single-track path gets tricky as athletes are passing shoulder to shoulder on the rolling trail.  After a mile or so, it winds downhill to Baker Beach where suddenly everything seems to slow way down as the heavy, deep sand grabs and sucks in your tired legs and feet.  It's tough here.  But again, the scenery is drop dead gorgeous.  The waves are crashing right in front of you and the salt water  spray will cool you as you pass and make your way toward the sand ladder, a 250 foot uphill "ladder' of railroad ties.

The ladder is the most challenging part of the run, but once it's over you can sigh a sigh of relief. It's all downhill from here.  The thought of this seemed to fill my energy depleted tank with joy and I picked up my pace as I crossed the finish line all smiles and happiness.

If EFA intrigues you, DO THIS RACE.  It's a bucket list event and you'll never regret.  Finish times become less important on this one.  EFA is all about accomplishing this feat and soaking it all in.  The race directors have perfected every aspect of the event from swag bags to finish line food --  all first class.  For me, it was a top five race.  I loved it.  And I'll be back to this one, guaranteed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Reality Check

This is D.  D coached me through my first Ironman in Florida.  I trained with her for over two years as she pushed my limits and molded me into something I had never been before -- an athlete.  D wrote my programs, met me at the track for speedwork, watched me cross the line at Ironman Arizona and tracked me at my races.  And along the way, become a true friend.

When I was ready to become a coach myself, D asked me to join her team.  We united with Gail at Gorilla Multisport and I have been coaching and training with these ladies ever since.  Gail is a Kona finisher and D is the most proficient mountain biker I know.   

But just when you think you are a bad ass triathlete, life can present a different mountain to conquer.  In this case: cancer.  D was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and now spends a big chunk of her days in a chair receiving chemo treatments that battle the effects of this horrible disease. 

D is a fighter.  She's tough.  One look at her biceps and anyone can see that.    She won't let cancer stand in her way as she has continued to train AND race.   I'm sure her mountain bike is sitting in her garage right now with a fresh coat of mud on it from a recent ride. 

I've learned a ton from D.  In no particular order she has taught me courage, faith and determination.  She faces a challenge head on and never feels sorry for herself.  And she smiles along the way, just to keep people guessing. 

D you are my hero.  We have lots of work to do.  Lots of athletes to train and inspire.  Lots of races to run.  So keep up the fight.  Keep smiling. And meet me at the track.

Buh buy, cancer!  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cheaters Never Prosper...

I learned that phrase in elementary school.  It was followed by "cheaters never win." 

In this case, the cheater won, then lost, and then the real champion was crowned.  Behold the hijinx and drama of Tour de France. 

We are T minus 30 days and counting for the official prologue or start of the race.  Twenty two teams have been invited to this illustrious affair.  Among the riders will be the newest champion of this famous race, Andy Schleck.

Scheck finished second in the 2010 Tour, just 39 seconds behind his rival Alberto Contador.  Contador then failed a doping test and upon subsequent review and investigation was found guilty of possessing the  anabolic steroid clenbuterol.  Contador blamed it on "tainted meat."  Hmmmm....

I love watching the Tour de France.  All the pomp and pageantry surrounding this iconic event.  I love the bikes, the kits, the emaciated riders and the behind the scenes coverage.  I especially love the hard mountain stages where Phil Liggett describes the "beyond category" climbs.

But for me, it's getting harder and harder to get past the doping issues that this event brings to light.  I watch these riders surge past their competitors and wonder to myself who is doping or oxygenating their blood or staying one step ahead of the drug testers.  Sadly, each season, one of my favorites get caught and then hangs his face in disgrace.  

I'll watch it though.  I'll switch on Versus after our group ride and catch the final hour of riding.  It's tradition.  And I'll hope for honest riders, fair play, and happy endings -- like Andy's victory yesterday.

Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True