25 March 2010

The New Sport Of Kings: A Conversation With Jeff Henderson, Part Deux and Giveaway!

My conversation with race director Jeff Henderson was excellent. I only wish that I had  more time to sit down with him and follow up on a lot of my questions. Good thing I have no problem being an incredibly persistent nuisance. I may just have to pick this guy's brain somewhere down the line again. 

TDOF: Jeff, it seems like the excitement with triathlon is a fairly recent phenomenon. Over the last couple of years, I have had more and more of  my friends, and colleagues sign up for their first sprints, and some are now considering longer events. Why is triathlon garnering such widespread popularity now?

JH: I think the popularity of the sport is regional. There are big differences between the east coast and pacific northwest with regard to its popularity. Right now, triathlon is far more popular on the east coast, but it is slowly gaining popularity in the northwest.  The popularity has to do with a couple of things:

First, a lot of America is mired in this obesity epidemic, and triathlon is at the other end of that spectrum. Triathlon, as you know, is a lifestyle. You think about nutrition, sleep, hydration, training, and keeping physically fit, not for vanity, but for performance. 

Secondly, I think that people are just looking for the next challenge. The fastest person is doing an Olympic distance triathlon in two hours. No one sees an olympic distance as the ultimate endurane challenge. A lot of people are decent runners, or swimmers, or bikers, but seldom do newcomers come to the sport with experience in all three. Triathlon is both mentally and physically demanding. That is attractive to a lot of people looking at challenging themselves. 

TDOF: How about competition? Do you think a lot of people who use to compete in high school and college are just looking for an opportunity to remain competitive ?

JH: Sure, and when people are seeing their friends training and competing in events, they say, "If they can do it, I can do it too."

TDOF: Have the entrants into triathlons diminished at all following the multisport phenomenon?

JH: Surprisingly, they are all growing. More triathletes means more races.  Partly, they both feed each other.

TDOF: I am almost embarrassed to admit this, but when the Ironman World Championships was broadcast live on universalsports.com, I kept my computer on the table, and would watch, and check parts of the race throughout the day to see what was happening. I would love to watch triathlon on television. Obviously, there are some inherent problems with it becoming a television sport. When NBC airs the Ironman, they edit it into a pretty two hour package and cover the winners and three or four other "feel-good" stories. Is this just the reality of the sport, or can triathlon make the jump to a mainstream television sport? 

JH: I think that triathlon will continue to grow and become more and more mainstream. The draft legal olympic distance was driven by television. The reason it was accepted into the Olympics had to do with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) asking the ITU to create a race that would be under two hours. Part of the reason is the IOC wants the marathon to continue its tradition of being the marquis event.  So the ITU decided to combine the longest pool swim (1.5 km,)  longest track distance (10 km) with a 40 km cycle. It debuted at the 2000 Sydney Olympics with decent success. Elite triathletes are finishing that under two hours. The advantage to this distance is that every discipline is a loop course and it is draft legal. This way, great cyclists are neutralized a bit so the races remain close, and because of the loops (often ranging from four to eight in both the run and the bike,) athletes are not disappearing into the countryside for prolonged periods. Spectators get more of the race.

TDOF: What is next for the sport? Where do you see it going from here? 

JH: Winter triathlon is still trying to gain acceptance into the Olympics, and it is steadily gaining more popularity with the multisport community in the United States. It is extremely popular in Europe, but we do not have a tradition of cross country skiing like they do in Europe and there are not as many places in the winter to do it. 

TDOF: My son competed in his first triathlon last summer and really loved it. Is triathlon something that more youth are getting involved with?

JH: Yes, more youth are getting involved providing growth.  They have a lot of relays, youth are attending youth championships where three compete on each team. Each would do short tri. Something like an  800 swim, 8 mile bike, and  2 mile run. These are becoming social events in Europe, where the whole family goes and makes a day, or weekend out of it. 

TDOF: If I raced Craig Alexander one-on-on, do you think I could beat him?

JH: hahahahaha


TDOF: No, seriouisly.

JH: Really? No.

TDOF: What if I raced him in the Micro-Mussel Super-Sprint

JH: Are you a good swimmer? 

TDOF: I started swimming sans fancy drinks in coconut cups with umbrellas about four years ago. 

JH: In that case, definitely not. Crowie would be so far ahead of you after the swim that you wouldn't stand a chance. 

Followup:  The first part of my post dealt with the cost of running races. I asked Jeff if we could have a giveaway for one of the events that he puts together. Since most of my readership comes from the east coast,  Sir Jeff has graciously allowed me to post an entrance fee giveaway for the Fly By Night Duathlon at the Watkins Glen Motor Speedway on 29 May, 2010.  Here is the skinny on the raffle. Since some of you may not want to be considered for the raffle because you live across the country, those of you who do, will get:

1) one entry for leaving a post indicating that you are down for some duathlon on 29 May. 

2) You will be given an additional entry if you head over to the Musselman Triathlon page on Facebook and become a member. Leave Jeff a message letting him know what a cool hombre he is, and that you saw the giveaway on my blog. Leave a post letting me know you've done so.

3) Post this contest on your blog and leave a post letting me know you've done so.

Good luck to everyone and Train Smart!

22 March 2010

Clif Bar Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to Tim C, Jeff  and Big Daddy Diesel . These hombres are the winners of the Clif Bar Giveaway. I know... I know... all men. But, just like last time, I threw all the names into an excel spread sheet and mixed them up randomly. Then I used a random number generator to pick numbers between 1 and 104. Now, just for fun—and because I can—I am going to write a bunch of random things:

Golfballs have dimples.
I love Jell-o.
Purple is a nice color.
Dancing makes me nervous.
Only YOU can prevent forest fires.

But I digress. Thanks to everyone for taking part in my very successful  Clif Bar giveaway! Gentlemen, please send me a note (via post or email) with your Clif Builder Bar preference, and I will make sure that the nice people over at Clif send you a box.

Update: Started week 12 of training today. My body is STILL extremely tired from my 13.5 mile run with my friend Bill yesterday. We did not set any records, but we ran steady 8:27's. I was fine with that my first time out. I think we both could have run faster, but the legs were a little fatigued from a long bike ride the day before. Today was a nice recovery 2700 yard "recover swim." I need to go to bed early and rest this tired body. I will be posting part two of my interview with Jeff Henderson this week as well as announcing an extremely kick-butt giveaway. Stay tuned, and Train Smart!

20 March 2010

The New Sport Of Kings: A Conversation With Jeff Henderson, Pt. I

Back in October, I wrote a post about the prohibitive cost of training for, and racing triathlons. With the average cost of a sprint triathlon—an event usually comprised of an 800 yard swim, 15 mile bike, and a 5K—averaging around $75, to the grandaddy of all endurance race events: The Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 [marathon] run) ranging from $500-$600, it begs the question, how on Earth can athletes afford to compete in this sport? The race is only a fraction of the cost incurred by triathletes throughout the year. Gym membership, running shoes, wetsuit, carbon fiber bikes, race wheels, nutrition, tri specific apparel, am I missing anything? Not to mention, no seasoned triathlete is satisfied just racing one triathlon over the course of a season. We sacrifice our mornings, weekends, and slices of chocolate cake all off season for the opportunity to test our physical and mental preparedness out there on the actual stage. Unfortunately, the accoutrement associated with triathlon, and races can add up to thousands of dollars by the time it is all said and done. Unfortunately, many of my friends are unable to do more than one "big race" a year. Of course, if money were no object, I would probably do a race every weekend. Wait, my wife would never allow that. I take it back. In the midst of planning my race schedule this offseason, and paying for these race entry fees, I thought to myself, "with all this money being generated by race entry fees, corporate sponsors donating course nutrition, and shelling out big bucks to be associated with the race so that they can sport their logos on official race tees, volunteers helping to set up and manage the course on race day,  where is all this money being allocated?"

Surely, someone could provide an answer to this perplexing question, but I knew it would be difficult to find a race director who was willing to "open their books," and speak candidly about where the money for an event is actually spent. 

Fortunately, I did not have to look very far at all. One of the first race directors I ever met was Jeff Henderson, director of the Musselman Half-Ironman, the Portland Triathlon, and the Fly By Night Duathlon at the Watkins Glen Motor Speedway. I first met Jeff in April of 2009 at a race meeting for the Musselman triathlon, where I was part of a creative team pitching an idea to Jeff about holding a 12-hour Arts Triathlon at the Smith Opera House in Geneva, NY to coincide with the race day weekend. This is where I learned just what type of dude Jeff is. Usually when you present an idea like this to an administrator, you get the invariable "sure, that sounds interesting, why don't you write up a proposal and we'll talk about how we can make that work next year, maybe." Not Jeff. He did not even flinch. Instead of citing reasons why we could not do it, he asked, "how can I help in making this successful?"

What I learned throughout our subsequent meetings and conversations is that Jeff is the ├╝ber-Renaissance man: a graduate of Princeton (where he also swam competitively,) a former professional triathlete, and able to command attention at race meetings while sporting shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops. But don't let his laid-back appearance, or his Haight-Ashbury-shine-on-brother demeanor fool you. This guy is as well organized as a Bach fugue—he knows a thing or two about putting together a quality race. The Musselman Triathlon has been included in Triathlete magazine's "The Top 100 Races On Earth" in 2009 and 2010 for holding the unique distinction as one of the Five Most Family Friendly Races.... in the world! I've seen this guy on race day. He isn't sitting back watching things unfold. He is in there, helping out with the volunteers, encouraging athletes at the finish line, and whatever else needs to be done for athletes to ask," When does registration open for next year?" I knew Jeff would be straight with me about race entry fees, even if it were something that I did not want to hear.

Our conversation went something like this:

TDOF: Jeff, triathlons are really expensive. You know, I've sat down and calculated approximately how much dough an event like the Kona Ironman generates. The revenue on race entry fees alone are just short of a million dollars. What the heck man? Where is all this money going?

JH: That's a good question, and currently a really hot topic. There are a couple of reasons for the race fees being the way they are. First, it is simple supply and demand. When I first started Musselman in 2004, there was only one other triathlon in the Finger Lakes region on Cayuga. Now almost every lake has a race: Keuka, Canadaguia, Seneca (Musselman,) and Cayuga. The sport has grown considerably—especially on the east coast. As more people train and race multisport events, the number of events will increase, and the cost will continue to rise until we reach a ceiling. So far, it seems like consumers are willing to pay—evident with the selling out of events consistently—leaving the ceiling yet to be found. When races stop selling out, only then will race directors have to take a hard look at the entry fee costs to determine if something should be done to encourage continued excitement for the sport.

Secondly,  a lot of people do not understand the costs associated with putting on these type of events. If you can break even the first year or two, or at least cut your losses to a minimum, you are doing well. The first year you you put on an event, you will have to purchase, or beg or borrow everything.   Banners, police at intersections (police for a triathlon often have different jurisdictions, so you have to sign contracts with each. This can range from $55 to $75 per man hour,) fencing for transition area, bike racks, coolers, medical supplies, cones, cups, etc. USAT requires one doctor per 200 athletes and one nurse per 100. At the Fly By Night Duathlon, I have to have an ambulance on the premises which runs $100 per hour. They initially asked for two. This would have totaled $800 (4:30-8:30.) Then, of course, there is everything else. Swim caps, bib numbers, t-shirts. Race t-shirts, although not a necessity for athletes (in fact most would opt to not have their 3000th race t-shirt,) serve two important purposes:

1) Sponsors love them. The first thing a sponsor wants to know is if their logo will be on the t-shirt.

2) Volunteers love them-and you can't run a race without volunteers.

Timing is a big expense as well. Races need results. results require times, and times require timers. A common way for timing companies to charge for this service is by the athlete an the number of splits the race desires for each athlete. Their are additional charges for setup fee, rental of finish line arch, and travel expenses. In a 110 athlete field at the Fly By Night Duathlon, I shelled out nearly $1000 in timing alone.

TDOF: Surely, the race director and his staff has to make some dough as well?

JH: Yeah, it's a funny thing. This is often the biggest criticism directed towards race directors. Athletes and spectators think that directing an event should be a voluntary thing done in our "spare time," like stamp-collecting or whittling. Entry fees should be enough to cover the event with anything extra donated to charity. What often fails to garner any support is the race director's time in putting together the event. This is a year round commitment for me and others. You want someone who is committed in putting together  a well-organized and safe event. I draw a modest salary from putting together these races. That is my livelihood and how I support my family. There is always something on the burner. I will have several permits to take care of during the course of the year, and they all take serious time in filling out and filing with the appropriate agencies.

TDOF: That makes sense. I am not sure how I would react if performing groups suddenly decided I ought to volunteer my skills as a composer and only write pieces for free. How about the USAT? Where does all that money that we spend on our memberships, or one day waiver go to? Surely that could be used to help minimize the cost of triathlons?

JH: It does. This is probably the single greatest unrecognized benefit of the the governing body—USA Triathlon. No race director would ever be able to afford feel-good titles like "excess medical, Accidental Death and Dismemberment, and something called weekly indemnity on their own" For $250, you can purchase a million dollars in coverage. $925 gets you two million.

TDOF:  How about course nutrition and food? Are those donated?

JH: Generally, yes. And you better have a good spread after a race. The last thing you want is to send the message "thanks for coming, find the door." But this, like everything else, can be a logistical nightmare. The first year of FBN Du, I totally miscalculated the cost of post-race eats. I budgeted the post race barbecue for $5 a person-before actually gauging my ability to provide it. The intent was to hand off the entire production to a local civic or charitable organization, pay them my budgeted amount, and allow them to keep any profits. Curiously, there were few civic groups interested in doing my cooking for $5 a per head. Lesson learned—research first, advertise second.

TDOF: So, how well did you end up doing your first year putting together the FBN Duathlon?

JH: Fly By Nighted ended up netting me a cool $190 in its first year.

TDOF: Hardly worth all the hours.

JH: True, but I knew that most of the initial costs were out of the way, and that year two had the prospect of providing greater revenue.

TDOF: You obviously love doing this and are committed (or should be committed.)

JH: Yes, that is why, in my humble and obviously biased opinion, race directors and their team need to make dough for putting these events together. Very few people can invest the time without making money.

Postlude: Okay, as I was not sitting with a tape recorder (do people own those anymore?) I did not record every single bit of our conversation verbatim. And Jeff, feel free to swing the hammer hard if you think I have in any way misrepresented any part of our conversations, or share anything you think I missed, or could elaborate on further for us. In part two, I will have a few "fun" questions for Jeff about the past and future of multisport events, and a really awesome give away. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

17 March 2010

Back On Track: Ironman Reflections Week 11

After a pretty dismal week #10 of Ironman training, I am back on track—thanks in part to my new Kinetic Fluid Bike Trainer—an feeling much better in week #11. I had a kick-ass 11 mile run with my friend Bill Sunday, a great 2700 yard swim workout yesterday, followed by a nice 40 minute ride on the trainer, and am on cue for a nice swim/bike tomorrow. I have to say, I am a little leery of the bike on Saturday: 2:30, followed by a 45 minute run. Phew! Can't wait, the weather is starting to break here with a scheduled high of 60 for Saturday, but with a little bit of rain. I am sure I will not melt.

I have been working out hard, but I have been eating equally as impressive. I am never really exceptionally hungry right around the "normal" feeding times, but I am eating pretty consistently throughout the day, and although I have had somewhat of an issue keeping weight on, I can not help but feel guilty when all I want to do is snack after dinner time once we get the kids in bed. With out a doubt, this week, I am feeling like an Ironman, but these feelings are susceptible to change by the minute. I am on spring break this week, and although I should be catching up on sleep and have plenty of time for training, I found myself on my trainer last night at a quarter to eleven asking myself, "what the hell am I doing?" Seriously, Ironman makes you crazy.

The Bambini:
Have I ever told you how happy my daughters make me? All of my children have vastly different personalities, but the one common denominator among the girls is that every time I break out the camera, they are ready to pose and urge me to "take a picture of me daddy, take a picture of me!" Here is my future Irongirl Janina sporting an interesting new way to wear an Ironman visor. The other day at dinner, we were talking about amphibians—just standard dinner conversation when you have five children under eight. Anyway, the conversation morphed into dolphins. So, I ask Luca, "... are dolphins fish." "Yes," he replied quickly, "...well, no... I mean, they are kind of like sharks." My wife and I look suspiciously at each other until Julian—who is six—interjects "Luca, dolphin's aren't like fish or sharks, they are mammals like us because they breathe oxygen from a hole on top of their head." My wife and I look at each other, then she looks down at Luca and says "You're really good at sports buddy." Of course, we understand that everyone has multiple intelligences, and that Luca has the memory of a napkin right now. Julian has inherited an amazing memory to recall even the most trivial data from his memory banks.

Update: Okay, the long awaited race entry fee post is ready for immediate departure. Seriously, I promise this time. I had SO much stuff to get done this month that keeping up with my blog posts has nearly taken another year off my life.

Giveaway: I have not posted a time for my Clif Bar giveaway, but I think that I will draw the three names on Sunday and let everyone know in a post Monday morning. Stay tuned!

p.s. Had an excellent 2700 yard swim this morning, and ready for my one hour ride this evening after putting the kiddies in bed.

Train Smart!

13 March 2010

Deliciously Dangerous Clif Builder's Bars: Review And Giveaway

One month ago, I walked into a coffee shop next to the Y for a post-workout bagel and some water to rehydrate. While I was there, I looked down to see the usual array of Clif Bars that I had seen every morning. I have been eating Clif Bars for about two years before and during my workouts. I cut them up  into bite size squares and chomp them on my long bikes. If I am at work and I am heading to the gym for an afternoon workout (something I seldom do these days, per the agreement with my wife to get all my Ironman workouts done in the a.m.,) I will scarf one down for some much needed carbohydrates before engaging in any one of the "holy trinity" of triathlon disciplines.

Still, in a pinch at any time for some extra fuel, I tear open a Clif bar (usually chocolate chip, or chocolate chip peanut crunch, but I have been known to down a few Chocolate Brownie Clif's in my day as well.) However, on this particular day, I looked down to see a package that I was unfamiliar with. It read: "Builder's The Entirely Natural Protein Bar" Then I see the red Clif decal on the side of the wrapper and it says it has 20 grams of whole protein. "Hey," I thought " I'll give it a try."  Coincidentally, it was the only Clif Builder Bar left, and it was their chocolate bar (pictured on top.)
The Clif Builder's bar are one in word: dangerous. Why you ask?  I do not think I have ever eaten a recovery bar prior to tasting a Clif Builder's Bar that did not taste like paste, chalk, or tree bark. Granted, tree bark may very well be high in dietary fiber, but definitely not yummy. I gave some to some dancer friends of mine. They loved them.

Exhibit B:

The top, or bottom of each bar has a thin glaze-like layer that tastes like the bar's particular flavor—chocolate, lemon, vanilla almond, chocolate mint, cookies 'n cream, and peanut butter of that particular bar. Then, a crunchy middle section—which in my opinion makes this bar unique—and makes it taste more like a candy bar, than a "good-for-you-taste-like-chalk," bar. What  makes the middle section crunchy and dangerously addictive are different with each bar as far as I can tell. When I look through the ingredient list, I read soy rice crisps, organic oats, dried roasted peanuts, and dried roasted almonds. I was especially humored by my wife, who spent  minutes carefully deconstructing  the Cookies 'N Cream Clif Bar with her mouth to isoloate the crunchy part as if she was trying to figure out a Rubik's Cube. Lastly, there is a gooey second outer layer, again either on the top or bottom depending on the bar.

My wife ate a Chocolate Mint bar on Saturday following her dance rehearsal and said, "Yeah, that should not even be legal. How do people avoid eating these as snacks? They taste too good!" Now, mind you, my wife is a harsh critic. I have bagged whole compositions I have been working on by the furrowed eyebrows and other non-verbal feedback I pick up in her body language while playing a composition for her. I wish I could say I had a favorite, but I don't.  The chocolate is really good, and can satiate my wife's discriminating chocolate fix. I have to admit I was a little leery about trying the lemon bar, until I did. If you like lemon meringue pie, don't eat this bar. Otherwise, you will only eat this bar and none others.  To me it has a refreshing lemon zest flavor.

Of course, the best part about this bar is that they are a great post-workout bar. These bar's are loaded with 20 grams of whole protein, 0 trans fat, and 23 vitamins and minerals, and they taste awesome!

Speaking of awesome, the fine awesome folks at  Clif are allowing me to give away THREE boxes of Clif Builder Bars on my blog. The rules for the Clif Bar Giveaway will be similar to the Timex Ironman Race Trainer Giveaway:

1) Go to the Clif Bar website and come back and leave a post telling me which Clif Builder Bar you would like the most. (1 entry)

2) Be a Follower of my blog. Leave a separate comment letting me know who you are (1 entry)

3) Become a Fan of Clif Bar on Facebook. Leave a separate comment letting me know who you are. (1 entry)

4) Post this contest on your blog, leaving a separate comment letting me know you've done so. (1 entry)

Okay everyone, in my next post I will explain how to make week 10 of Ironman training non-existent.

Train Smart!

09 March 2010

Stress Test

You ever have one of those days, weeks, months, years were you feel incredibly stressed out? I'm there. I just finished a new piece—a piano concertino (for piano and small accompanying group including flute, clarinet, percussion, violin, and cello)—aptly titled Stress Test. I am a strong believer that music should reflect where composers are in their lives, both aesthetically and personally. The last couple of months have been incredibly stressful as I am in the throws of training for ironman, raising children, finishing a piece, and managing not to get fired in the process. Unfortunately, the one thing that has to fall by the wayside when I get buried is my training. I want to spend time with my children, and I have to write. I do not have to train. Sure, if I don't I am definitely not a happy camper. I get incredibly grumpy, stressed, and I am not a lot of fun to be around. Ask my wife. Not to mention, that if I do not put the time in, I can go out there and run Ironman, but Ironman will not be very forgiving. It knows if you have not put the time in. When I get my workouts in, I am a better human being, husband, father, friend, colleague, and composer. Workouts clear the cobwebs. It is my therapy. My saving grace. I am not sure how to cope when I miss a workout—or worse—a few consecutive days because life is kicking my ass. Any suggestions? I feel really guilty (and lethargic) when this happens, and always feel like it is going to take another week to get back on track.

So, my new piece is all about where I am in my life. It is broken into four separate movements:              I) Glossolalia (the act of speaking in tongues,)  II) For My Father, III) Hyperactive Sofa (for my  friend, composer Marc Mellits,) and IV) For My Mother. My parents always comment on how they do not understand contemporary music and ask me repeatedly why am I unable to just write music like Mozart, Beethoven and Puccini. I have had discussions with them about this, but it proves futile, as they really do not understand that those guys are now dead, and had they been alive and writing music now, they would probably be writing experimental music using brake drums and cow moo's. With my parents  getting elderly, I wanted to attempt to bridge the gap between music that they "understand" with my music. I sought out to write a movement for each of them with simple melodic lines,  transparent textures, and a more consonant harmonic language that communicates what I want, and at the same time connects with their sensibilities as music listeners from a different generation and cultural upbringing. That is what I like best about music—its transcendent nature—to connect, and share a unified communal experience. The whole piece is about twenty-two minutes long. Stress Test premiere is in April and I am really excited. An old student of mine, friend and wonderful composer, Nicholas Omiccioli is copying parts for me. Watch for this young composer, he has an incredibly bright future!

Just returned from a forty minute run between classes. Ah.. therapy!

More soon, Train Smart!

08 March 2010

Ask A Pro: An Open Forum With Dr. Alex McDonald

I received a really exciting email yesterday from my friends over at Timex about Dr. Alex McDonald. Dr. McDonald is  professional triathlete and a Timex Multisport Team member. The team members—made up of 50 elite and amateur athletes from U.S., Australia,India,Ukraine, Mexico, Czech Republic, Estonia, Canadaand the United Kingdom—just took part in the team's preseason training camp at the Timex Performance Center in East Rutherford New Jersey. The camp—which took place Thursday 18- Sunday 21, February—featured state-of-the-art performance evaluation and analysis. Each athlete was afforded the opportunity to gain in-depthknowledge about their individual performance indicators: biomechanical testing analysis, VO2 Max testing andMELT Method training, under the direction of a collaborative team of sports medicine and training experts led by New York Giants VP of Medical Services Ronnie Barnes and Polly de Mille of the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Timex Multisport Team member Alex McDonald, MD, a professional triathlete and medicaldoctor from Durham, NC, participated in a unique dual role - as both a participating athleteand member of the medical counsel led by Barnes.  

Now the really cool part: Dr. McDonald is going to answer our questions about training and sport performance. Of course, I have a sleuth of questions I could fire away about all things triathlon, but I want to give all of you the opportunity to respond to this with any training questions of your own. Think about it. How many times will be able to fire questions to a professional triathlete AND medical doctor? Unless you have cell phone numbers for Craig Alexander, Chrissy Wellington, and Dr. Oz, the opportunities for a professional athlete to make themselves accessible are often quite rare for amateurs like many of us. If any of you have questions regarding all things triathlon, please submit a question to this blog post. I will compile a list of question and answers in a future post. 

Update: I just started week 10 of training and it did not go so well. I completely bonked today in the pool. I am not sure why. Well, I have an idea. After two great swims in North Carolina. I went for a forty minute swim today, but I could only get through about half of it. I could not get my heart rate under control. Turns out, I am still really tired from my week in NC, and I was very dehydrated when I got in the pool this afternoon. Oh, and Clif Builder Bars—although the greatest post-workout bar— is really not an adequate substitute for lunch. Hoping to get back on track tomorrow. 

Interview: I am still writing my post on race entry fees following my interview with Jeff Henderson, race director of the Musselman Half, Portland Triathlon. and Fly By Night Du. More soon. Happy Training everyone!

04 March 2010

Arctic Boone And Odd Beer

A few days before I left for North Carolina, virtually the entire east coast was hammered with a winter storm that left schools closed, traffic advisories, and Hoth Stormtroopers hiding everywhere waiting to take the young Skywalker out once and for all. The first picture is of me shoveling a foot of snow off my driveway. Notice my roof rack is still on my car, just in case I want to bring my bike somewhere and get a nice ride in. This winter has been especially brutal, so I was really looking forward to my trip down to Boone, North Carolina, where I was sure to find warmer temperatures. I am down here for a conference and a concert of my music. A lot of high brow chin-wagging stuff usually done over tea and with fake condescending laughs reminiscent of the ones you would hear in bad English comedies. I will also be lecturing and working with some students in both music and dance respectively. Rock star stuff. Good times.

When I got off the plane in Charlotte I wasn't at all excited about the conditions. It was wet, cold, foggy. You know, miserable. The drive was going to be two hours, so I put on some bad talk radio and started driving. It seemed like the weather was getting progressively worse by the minute.
Slowly, the dream I had about mixing in some nice, dry, warmer weather runs were suddenly dissipating as I continued my ride to Boone. It was barely snowing when I landed, but within an hour it looked like a full scale, western New York lake effect snowstorm. So much for temperate weather. I was about ten miles from reaching my hotel when a 18-wheeler tractor-trailer jackknifed in the road right in front of me. Not good. There were a few cars in front of me  who squeaked by the trailer on the left hand side of the road, avoiding a ditch to the left of them. I was not so brave—or stupid—and seeing as how I did not purchase the optional $180 collision insurance on my rental car, I thought it better to ride out the storm, wait for the semi to get towed, and the plows to clear the roads. My father would have been very proud of my decision not to put my life at risk to get somewhere in a hurry. It seemed to be his personal mantra to me growing up. "Slow down: Your friends will wait for your/your food is not going to run away/think about what you want to say."
To make matters worse, my cell phone was going in and out of service through the mountains and it completely died while I was stranded here in the middle of the mountains, or as the Carolinians like to refer to as "the high country." Luckily, I was next to a small studio apartment complex and one of the tenants let me use his AC to recharge my phone. I also planned ahead and packed some gels and Clif Builder Bars in my suitcase because I knew I would be getting some workouts in. The Cliff Bar held me over just long enough to not think about my stomach. While I was stranded there, I met a couple of undergraduates who were coming back from a student teacher assignment where they had been placed—an hour and a half away! Whoa! When I told them I was heading to Appalachian State, they were quick to correct my pronunciation: There is no long 'A' in Appalachian, it is a soft 'A,' Mary Grace told me. My most sincere apologies. Us western New Yorkers are use to making all our 'A's' quite long. Four hours later, I was on my way once again, making the ten mile trip over the hills and to my hotel. I was kind of excited about the prospect of getting down early, having lunch and getting a workout in before I started writing. Instead, I did not even check into my hotel until 4:30 and once I got upstairs, took a shower, and changed, I was starving.

As much as I like to visit local joints and check out regional cuisine, I decided to go across the street to the Neighborhood Bar and Grill. That's right, Applebee's. Whenever I go out of town, it is really simple to eat unhealthy. So, I decided to order a side salad (with my cheeseburger and baked potato.) I started hydrating a lot too. I was going to avoid a beer completely until I saw a little pop-up on my table advertising a local beer. Now, I know I was at a big corporate food giant, but at least I could order a local beer, support the local economy, and unwind and think about my crazy day—which had started at quarter of five in the morning— over a nice cold one.
Odd though. One would think that North Carolina's local brewery would brew their beer, you know, in North Carolina. I felt like I had been duped, or perhaps I misread the little pop-up. Nope. So, I asked my server, "Doesn't the sign say Carolina's own?" "Yup she replies." "Then I break out with an impersonation of Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny that was Oscar-worthy, ".. .but how is it Carolina's own if it is brewed in Pennsylvania?" She was very surprised as well and went to ask her manager. He was clueless too. So, in need of some explanation as to whether this was false advertisement, a simple typing error, or a calculated ploy by corporate headquarters to lure defenseless, thirsty out-of-town visitors into purchasing a little piece of Carolina in a bottle, only to be learn later that we are just drinking the average northern swill, she gave me the number and email of the corporate giant to figure out just what the heck is going on here.

Upon returning from dinner, I debated getting to the gym and running last night (I did not have the energy though. I got back to my hotel and crashed.) The hotel I am staying at has vouchers for a local gym, but I would rather go to the university gym and exercise. They are usually nicer. I walked over there last night to check it out. Sure enough, the facility is three years old and it is state of the art. They keep it well staffed, clean, and the pool was amazing! One of the first things you see when you enter the Student Recreation Center on the campus of Appalachian State University is a rock climbing room. It was packed with students climbing when I walked in, and equally busy when I walked out after my swim.

The pool is the crown jewel of the facility as far as I am concerned. It is absolutely ginormous (it is a word, look it up.) It is 50 long by 25 wide. When I walked in to do my swim, there was no one in the pool, with the exception of a class taking place in the far end. So, I asked the lifeguard if it gets busy. She said it did, and sometimes people have to double up lanes when it gets really busy. Wait, what does she mean? Do you mean that there is usually only one person to a lane? Sure enough, the whole time I was in there, plenty of lanes were still available to swim. The best part? The pool is open until 11 p.m. My swim workout today:
Today's Swim:
Warmup: 400S 200K 300P
Main Set: 14X100 w/10 seconds rest
Cool Down: 200 Swim

Tomorrow's Workout:
800 Swim, Kicking every 4th length

8 x 250 (middle 50 choice) w/30 sec rest after each
- Descend 1-4 & 5-8 from 60% to 70% to 80%
6 x 50 @60% w/10 sec rest after each

RUN 0:55

10:00 warm up jog, getting up above 65% gradually

8 x 250 strides (should be about 3:15-3:30 range) on 5:00 interval

- (This means to start one repeat every 5:00, regardless of when you finished the previous one)

Lastly, I miss my family. It is approaching midnight, and I just got off the phone with my wife after talking with her for over an hour. I think about Julian all the time and am constantly asking Alaina how his throat is doing following his tonsillectomy. The little man is still a little sore. Alaina said he woke up a few times last night in pain again. I can not wait until he feels better. He has such a great spirit and it is fun watching him be so playful. Here is is showing off his new frames he picked out at the museum last month. 

How does he think of this stuff?!