Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Meeting a champion, in every sense of the word

I admire the athletes at the top of our sport but have always been hesitant to actually approach them and say anything other than the obligatory “have a great race today” or “good luck”. I have always thought why in the world would they want to talk to a lowly age grouper like myself when they are titans in the sport? Well, the first person to change my opinion was Cait Snow. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a talk she gave and she’s remembered me ever since (I hope that’s a good thing). She is a sweet, personable, down to earth pro who has taken time out of HER schedule at races to come say hello to me. At one point coming over after a race and hanging out by my truck to ask me how my race went, how I was feeling and what my upcoming schedule looked like. Talk about making me feel like a cool kid!

Then Sunday I got to attend a Q&A session and book signing for 70.3 and 140.6 World Champion Craig “Crowie” Alexander. Now I’ve been to PLENTY of book signings/questions and answer sessions for authors/stars/athletes and they are normally very canned, to the minute, you have very little “real” interaction with the person and then you’re off. Well Crowie smashed that mold Sunday tonight. He milled around the crowd before the event “officially” began in a simple black button up shirt and jeans, soft spoken and chatting with everyone on the way in. When he took the stage he thanked everyone for being there and spent the first 30 minutes or so talking about some photos in his new book “As the Crow flies: My Journey to Ironman World Champion”. Self deprecating and humorous, it felt less like a book event and more like Crowie was opening a scrapbook for us to see. After going through the imagery, he opened up the floor to questions and those questions spanned far and wide. There were a few points he talked about that I learned from and a couple topics I was surprised he commented on but all were jewels that I put in my brain for later.

- When asked what if any “mantra” he recites over and over in his head while racing (ie I can do this I’m gonna win), his simple answer was he says “relax” over and over in his head. You’ve done all the training, you’re ready so there’s no need to waste extra energy…remind yourself to just relax and race (ya, I’ll be saying that over and over in my head at my next race!)

- When asked about nutrition and how much and of what, he responded that you should focus on easily broken down (by the stomach) nutrition and that it’s easier to come back from being under fueled (light headed, hungry and in a state where your body wants to take in calories) than to overload the system and shut your stomach down, effectively ending your race day.

 -When asked about his thoughts on Lance and whether he would’ve been a success in Ironman he responded with a resounding “yes”, ”it isn’t an if but a when as to Lance standing on the podium at Kona. He wouldn’t be another person piling on Lance because he doesn’t know the details. He said “there was doping in cycling way before Lance ever showed up and there still is” and “I love that triathlete want to point the finger at Lance but will draft and cut corners at races…in my eyes cheating is cheating” and “don’t hate the player, hate the game”. He also revealed that one of the reason he wanted to race Kona in 2012 was because Lance was going to be there and he wanted to be part of that. 

- When asked about this year’s race at Kona, Crowie said he felt that although he wasn’t having a good day and he knew it wasn't going to end the way he'd planned, he felt an obligation to all his sponsors, family and those that had sacrificed so much for him to be there, that he owed it to them to finish. And Lastly, when asked about his relationship with Chris “Macca” McCormick, he responded with “I haven’t had a relationship with Chris for over 10 years”, “I see his dad often”, “I see his wife at the school drop off every morning” and “Chris’s brother was the first person to congratulate me when I won in ‘11”. He went on to say “Chris has always been Chris, I just got to a point in my life where I don’t want that type of atmosphere or energy around me, I want to focus on the positive”. Amen Crowie, Amen!

That Q&A session lasted almost 2 hours followed by a drawing for prizes from his sponsors while we stood the hour in line for him to autograph our copies of the book. Like I said, I’ve done lots of book signings and signings in general so I'm prepping J and our friends...getting their books and cameras ready for a quick snapshot and signature. To my surprise, when we actually got to Crowie, he was relaxed and drinking a beer (Sam Adams of course) and taking all the time in the world chatting to folks as he signed the book and stood up for pictures. No "handlers" pushing people through or saying you only had "x" amount of time. 

When it was my turn I told him how much it meant to me that he finished Kona even though it wasn’t his day and that is a great example for us age groupers and aspiring pro’s alike that unless you’re hurt…you HAVE to finish. I also told him that I know he has a family and that he has a life but I hope he continues to race for the next few years because he’s an example that you can be fit and competitive in the sport as you age and for old guys like me…it means a lot. In my haste to take care of everyone else and excitement to meet him I totally forgot to tell him about my broken back and all my injuries and how triathlon, in my opinion, has saved my life. I was just so excited to actually be talking to him like a “normal person” that I totally forgot! And…and…and…I asked him if he was doing Eagleman this year because I will be and part of the reason I picked that for my first 70.3 was because I read how much he loved the course. Its flat, and we cyclists LOVE flat! He said that I’d love the course, especially the bike leg and although he wants to do it, he needs to firm up his schedule for the year still. He told us during the Q&A session that he’d built his 2013 race calendar a few days after Kona but had yet to share/discuss it with his wife and sponsors yet. I know I would be nowhere near the time Crowie crossed the line but it would be awesome if I got to see him at the finish?! And then…I got to take a photo with the him. That smile (which has been pointed out as only the second picture of 2012 to have me smiling) was of pure joy. Crowie is a genuine, down to earth, caring and engaging person as well as triathlete and we couldn’t ask for a better champion and ambassador for our sport!!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

The "Rules"...

I totally stole this from the guys over at Karbon Speed but it is SPOT ON! 

#1. Not everyone thinks what you do is awesome. Most think you’re a bit nuts, and they’re right. Remember that at your next cocktail party.
#2. No race jerseys of races you haven’t raced in, especially if the distance is longer than you’ve been. T-shirts are exempt. If you roll up in an Ironman France jersey, be prepared to explain how you handled the Col
e de I’Ecre.

#3. Only refer to courses/segments/people by their nicknames. Highway 19 is unacceptable. It’s called the Queen K, and Crowie owned it. And Macca before him. Don’t let this happen again. Pay ‘N Save Hill. Look it up.
#4. Training in rough conditions makes you tough. A little rain or heat won’t make you melt, buttercup.
#5. A reality check should be performed once per year. MIT is not going to test the effectiveness of brick workouts. The rolling resistance “expert” uses a 100 pound sac in his garage for testing. Not all wind tunnels can even record data at the slow speeds we ride. Not everything that glitters is gold.
#6. Gadgets are strongly encouraged. An old pair of shorts and some Keds are not our gig. You absolutely need every item that is out there. Afterall, we invented aerobars. If we stop with the gadgets, who the hell would cyclists copy?
#7. Feelings are for Oprah, use your data. If you own a heart rate monitor and/or a powermeter, yet train just by RPE, then you either don’t know how to use it or you’re embarrassed by what it’s telling you.
#8. If you’ve raced the distance, it counts. If you’ve trained the distance, it doesn’t. Nailing a training day is one thing, nailing a racing day is quite another. Please don’t confuse the two. Ironman/marathon/etc. only counts if you are in there mixing it up. I’m the heavyweight champion of the world if we don’t have to actually compete.
#9. The number of logos allowed on a race kit are equal to that of NASCAR. In other words, go nuts. Only Wimbledon and the ITU restrict logos to the point of communism.
#10. Ironman tattoos are perfectly acceptable. You just finished one of the toughest days of your life. A bit of ink is just fine. Don’t let douche bags rain on your accomplishment.
#11. No buckets. It’s doesn’t matter how well thought out your transition is, don’t bring a bucket unless you plan to paint parking lines on the concrete or are going fishing after the race.
#12. Shave. You’re representing a group of people generally regarded as some of the fittest in the world. It’s a hot, sweaty, sometimes muddy sport, that keeps clothes to a minimum. Hanging out all day with gorilla legs and a hairy back does not make you a good steward of the sport. Clean it up.
#13. Learn who the pros are. In this sport everyone likes to think they’re the next big deal. Do yourself a favor and learn the names of those who actually make a living at being a badass.
#14. Support the sponsors. They pay money so you can have a great time. Don’t spend 45 minutes picking their brain and then head to the ‘net so you can save 3 bucks. That will get you flogged.
#15. Exaggeration of training is perfectly fine. Just keep in mind that Rule #39 is still in effect at all times.
#16. Drinking and triathlon are first cousins. Embrace your first cousin. There’s a reason beer is offered at 9 am at the race. Because we love it. Science has actually shown that a buzz and runner’s high is very similar, and endurance athletes drink more than your average bear.
#17. It’s a transition area, not your hotel room. Spreading out all your stuff for transition beyond 1 small towel is not acceptable. 1 bag limit.
#18. White race kits are only allowed if you know your body well. Really well. If you’ve ever worried about poo leg on a long run, then white is not for you. Ladies, if you are expecting a visit from your “Aunt Flow” then white is not for you. I don’t think I need to say anymore.
#19. Qualifying for Kona and your local “wellness” or “anti aging” clinic do not go together. If by some coincidence you decide your wanker doesn’t work right the exact same time you’re trying to get to Kona, stop everything and look for a new sport. Getting HGH, Testosterone and EPO shots in the name of ‘aging’ or wiener health won’t fly here. There are sports where cheating seem to be acceptable like here and here, so try those sports. This isn’t one of em.
#20. This sport has a history, learn some it. If you don’t know who the Big Four are, unfamiliar with the ’82 Moss Crawl, or think the Ironwar has something to do with the Industrial Age, then you got some reading to do.
#21. No “trunks” in the pool. Look, we get it that you’re a little self conscious wearing a skin tight swimsuit. Get over it. I promise you that you will get 10X more comments trying to swim laps in basketball shorts than you will a jammer.
#22. It’s OK to hate swimming, but you still have to do it. It’s not OK to use your wetsuit as a life preserver. Learn to swim. If you don’t there’s a sport called duathlon just waiting for you.
#23. Learn to circle swim. You really don’t need the whole lane to yourself. Stay to the right.
#24. Complaining about the water makes you look like a sissy. This is a tough sport. The distances are tough, the conditions are tough and the people are tough. Whining that the water isn’t as clear as your last trip to Grand Cayman isn’t winning you any cool points there Nancy.
#25. Learn Flipturns. You can pick the person out racing in high-tops right away. You get the idea.
#26. Obey the law – Nothing gives us a worse reputation than someone blowing through a red light like he’s above it all. The law applies to vehicles. You’re on a vehicle. Don’t be a douche. Obey the law.
#27. Don’t ride with headphones. Save the Rocky Soundtrack for your run. Your ears are needed to help keep you alive on the bike. Plus, depending on your state, it’s illegal. See Rule #26
#28. Support yourself. Others should not be obligated to babysit you on your ride. Flat tires should not take a village to fix.
#29. No aero helmets in training. While you might ride a whopping .2 mph faster, you will look like an absolute dork.
#30. Save the race wheels for the race. Yes, the bike does look cooler with $2,000 wheels, but your wallet will be thinner when a pot hole or rock crack that carbon. Leave some sizzle for the race.
#31. Learn to ride in a group. Wobbling down the road being afraid of anything around you is no way to go through life.
#32. Hold your line. Erratic movements in a group ride will take everyone out. Tighten it up.
#33. Don’t make accordions. Taking a turn up front is expected and appreciated, but not if you floor it the moment you take the reins, The guy 20 people back is going to get dropped by moves like that. Accelerate slowly so everyone can play.
#34. No shorts over your cycling shorts. Sister to Rule #21. Dress like you know what you’re doing.
#35. Learn to pee on yourself. You’ll spend $5,000 dollars to shave 55 seconds but won’t pee down your leg to save 3 minutes?
#36. The engine always trumps the rig. Always.
#37. Be on time, but don’t leave early. If the group ride or run is scheduled for 7 am, courtesy allows for 5 minutes. That means that sometime between 7 and 7:05 the wheels start rolling. If you roll up in your car at 7am and think everyone should wait for you to assemble your bike and pump up your tires, think again. Likewise, convincing the group to leave at 6:54 because you have a t-ball game is just bad form.
#38. No tan-lines allowed. This is not cycling. A farmer’s tan doesn’t make you look cool in anyway. The only exception is cycling short lines. Those are permitted, but need to be laser sharp.
#39. If you decide to talk the talk, be prepared to walk the walk. See also Rule #15. If you claim 3 hours at 300 watts, you’ll be expected to prove it.
#40. Crawling is an acceptable mode of transportation. It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done, and this sport is about getting the job done.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The 2013 USAT Championship Schedule is out

Yes, I know there are plenty of other places you can find this info (the USAT main site being the primary) but I wanted to put it on my blog as much for me as anyone else. Now I have a quick place to find it.

2013 USA Triathlon National Championship Schedule:

Date  National Championship  Location  
Jan. 27 Winter Triathlon National Championships (Powder Hound Winter Triathlon) Butte, Mont.
April 12-13 Collegiate National Championships Tempe, Ariz.
April 20 Club National Championships (ITU World Triathlon San Diego) San Diego, Calif.
April 28 Long Course Duathlon National Championships (Mount Rainier Duathlon) Enumclaw, Wash.
May 27 Paratriathlon National Championships (Capital of Texas Triathlon) Austin, Texas
Aug. 3-4 Youth and Junior National Championships West Chester, Ohio
Aug. 4 Aquathlon National Championships (Lake Logan Aquathlon) Canton, N.C.
Aug. 10 Olympic-Distance National Championships (Age Group Nationals) Milwaukee, Wis.
Aug. 11 Sprint National Championships (Age Group Nationals) Milwaukee, Wis.
Sept. 15 Off-Road Triathlon National Championships (C Me Dirty Off-Road Triathlon) Grand Prairie, Texas
Oct. 13 Long Course Triathlon National Championships (Rev3 South Carolina) Anderson, S.C.
Oct. 13 Aquabike National Championships (Rev3 South Carolina) Anderson, S.C.
Oct. 26 Duathlon National Championships Tucson/Oro Valley, Ariz.

Now the bigger questions is how do I get qualified to race at any of these events. Can anyone give me some help there?

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Thanks4giving 10k...who new a race could be fun?

I’ve been taking it easy when it comes to running since the Army 10 Miler. Ya, it was a PR but it didn’t come without injury so I’ve been laying off running and focusing instead on cycling, swimming, weight training and pretty much relaxing. But, I’ve run the Thanks4Giving 10k for the last 3 years so there was no way I was gonna miss out. J has been running it as well as was looking to set a PR so I figured I’d offer up myself as a pacer. That way I can still run, have no self induced pressure for a PR and I could actually help someone else on a run for a change.

I have to admit, there is something great about showing up for a race with NO expectations. Yes, I considered if I felt good in the first mile or two I might shirk off my pacing duty and race but I knew that the better way to go was be a pacer and use it as a training run. Not to sound like a smartass but there’s a big difference in the people around you at the middle to back of a race. They seem more laid back, chatty and chilled out. Up front, where I normally line up, it’s completely different story…its tense, racer eye balling each other to assess who the competition is or how good they are. Racers are looking at their watches/GPSs/Heart Rate monitors and are just waiting for that moment for the gun to go off and to click on start button. Here I am, in the middle of the pack chatting with J and my friend Matt and I don’t even hear the start…I realize it as the herd of people started moving.

So we’re off. I look down at my Polar RC3 to see what a 9:00-9:30 pace feels like, that was the pace J was looking to run, and I’m chatting away. Yes, chatting! Normally, by a quarter mile in I’ve set my jaw, hate the world and am focusing on breathing to get me through the next 5+ miles. Not today. I’m chatting, kidding around, making jokes and even took time to applaud a fellow runner on her turkey costume (she had a tail feather wardrobe malfunction that was quickly repaired a nice spectator). I know this course like the back of my hand having ran or ridden at least 15 or 16 times over the last few years so I focused on previewing what was to come on the course and repeating the mantra out loud that’s normally in my head “deep breaths, open arms, shoulders down, upright body, strong kick and relax” for the race. I thanked every volunteer, cop and spectator on the course. I pointed out funny things (the dead opossum by the traffic cone) on lookers and just tried to yuck it up. Who knew racing could be fun?! The course was a double loop (one loop is the 5k and most of the runner’s were doing that race) so when we hit the 2nd loop it was time to turn on the speed a bit. It was funny to say out loud what is normally in my head “there’s a slight hill coming up time to dig in, get to the top and there’s a break before the turn, now you’re on the flats, time to empty it out”. Most races are a blur but I guess I really do think about stuff when I run. My goal was to talk the whole time, keeping J’s brain occupied so she could just focus on sitting on my shoulder and running the race. I guess it worked because while her goal was to try and take 60 seconds of her PR, she ended up taking 90 and was pretty happy. And I ended up crossing the finish line with a huge grin on my face and cutting up. I was grabbing water bottles for folks, saying good job, high 5’ing people and all sorts of craziness. Me, in a good mood after a race? What?! And it didn’t go unnoticed, friends that I normally race with all commented about how nice “this Dutch” is (note to self, work on some semblance of this for when I “really” race in order for people not to hate you at the finish). It dawned on me that my friend Jen was also racing so I quickly ran out to pace her in…only to find her stroking into the finish at her 1st 10k! And my friend Joe ran a 44:49 after having done his first 140.6 just a few weeks ago. Nice job all around everybody!!! And with that, the 10k came to a close and it was off to the house to deep fry a turkey and enjoy a well deserved meal. Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Shower Pill...why, its not a pill at all...

Now I have to admit, when I heard “Showerpill” I was envisioning some cool George Jetson-like pill that I could take that would immediately have me feeling as if I’d just had a refreshing, cleansing shower. That was not to be the case but it is still a pretty good product nonetheless.  

The ShowerPill is not a baby wipe, this thing has the heft of a washcloth that makes it easy to use all over your body and its durable enough to last head to toe. After a race and wanting to head out for a meal with friends or that lunch run/ride go a little longer than you expected/ Then this is just the ticket in lieu of a shower. It kills 99.99% of common germs in 30 seconds (that was one of the issues I had, it says on the package to spend 30 seconds on each body part…totaled up, that’s not really fast enough for quick “wipedown”), but gentle enough on your sensitive skin because it contains moisturizing Aloe Vera and Vitamin E.  There’s no rinse needed, it dries quickly and while it does have a smell, its more soap-like than perfumy (yes, I just made that word up).

Yes we’d all like to take a long hot shower after our sweat creating workout of choice but sometimes we just don’t have the time…or the energy. If you’re looking for an individually packaged, self contained “shower in a pouch” to keep in any of your training/racing bags…then this is the product for you (and me). I like them because one package will clean my whole body (I’ve always ended up using half a tub or package of baby wipes to feel clean…and then I smell like a baby) and I can throw them anywhere (a spare or two in the glove box is a must). At $9.99 on Amazon for a box of 10, the Showerpill is an affordable addition to your athlete “must haves” list. And, and, and…Showerpill is offering a deal for Black Friday! They are having a buy 2, get 1 free sale. All you have to do is place 3 boxes of ShowerPill in your shopping cart and enter the code: “SPFRIDAY” to receive the 3rd box free.  This offer is valid from 11/23-11/25 (Friday-Sunday). So...great product…more than affordable…and now you have a gift idea for you or the athlete in your life…BOOM!

I received this product for review purposes. All opinions are my own.