Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Retrospective

When it comes to training and racing, 2013 was a bit of a roller coaster ride.  In spite of a few big setbacks, I still accomplished several goals and set some new records for myself.  On the balance of things, I would have to say it was a great year.  What follows are a few of the "big" moments from the year.  Originally, I thought of this list as more of a top 10 style, but as I sit writing this morning, that doesn't really seem to fit.  There are certainly a few things here that seem like a "bigger deal" than others, but the more I read through what I'd written, the less it seemed to make sense in terms of trying to rank them.  Instead, I've listed them more generally.  Some are good, some are bad, but all were important in the past year.

First DNF- At forty-two years old, I've been fortunate that I've never broken any bones or dealt with other serious injuries.  That changed on October 27th when I crashed my bike during Ironman 70.3 in Austin, Texas.  I wound up with the typical road rash, but also with a broken collarbone and a cracked rib.  That was almost two months ago now, and although I'm back to running and riding on the trainer now, I can still feel the effects a fair amount.  It was a difficult way to end the year, but at least it was better that it happened at the end of the year, as opposed to the beginning.  It certainly put me in a situation where I had to take some serious down time (in fact, the month without doing anything was probably the longest period of time in the last four years that I've gone without exercising).  While I'm all for a bit of a break now and then, I wouldn't recommend a full month off at this point.  While it hasn't been terribly difficult to start working out again, the post workout aches and pains are a bit more pronounced.  I know that it will still be some time before I get back outside on a bike, but in the meantime I'll keep myself occupied with my trainer.  It also looks like I might at least get a chance to try swimming again in the next week.

Result from Ironman 70.3 Austin

Early season injury-  In February, I experienced my first running injury since sometime back in 2006.  Seven years of being basically injury free had been nice, so I guess it was my time.  Training for an ultra in the spring, I strained my calf muscle while out for a run one afternoon in February.  That put a major limit on my training as I was forced to do nothing but swim for several weeks.  However, out of that experience, I learned a bit more about my needs as a runner.  Most likely, the biggest contributor to my injury was a lack of flexibility.  Running on tired legs, combined with a pair of shoes with little drop between the heel and forefoot, put enough stress on my calf muscle to give it a pretty good strain.  Even though I laid off of it for a week, I re-injured it right away.

First OWS race- While I've done a number of open water swims in training and in triathlons, I'd never done just an open water swim race, but in early July, I had the opportunity at the Cancer Sucks Freedom Swim in Denver.  This was a 2.4 mile swim at a place called Grant Ranch.  I really wasn't interested in racing the event, I just wanted the opportunity to do some swimming in open water and to get a sense of what a swim at that distance would feel like.  My performance wasn't pretty, and I struggled through the first half mile with leaky goggles, but eventually I settled in and had a nice morning of swimming.  It was also for a good cause which I was happy to support.

Yearly Totals- Between the early season injury and the late season crash, I missed somewhere between 4-6 weeks of training.  Still, I managed to log more total miles this year than any previous year since I started this triathlon adventure back in 2010.  In total it was about 43 miles of swimming, a little over 1600 miles on the bike, and more than 560 miles of running.  In 2013, I rode and ran more than I did in any previous year.  I really started to hit that level of endurance that makes longer workouts and training seem less daunting.  Hitting those same numbers in 2014 will be a challenge for sure, but I hope to stay consistent in my workouts and see what I can accomplish.
2013 was a bigger year for training

Injuries in Feb/ November impacted training time
First Century Ride- In June, I completed my first (and only) century ride.  The MTCC was actually 106 miles, and it took me a touch under 8 hours to complete.  The ride has over 10,000 feet of climbing as you wind your way up through the mining towns of Cripple Creek and Victor before heading west and eventually back up north, through Guffey, and back to Florissant.  The ride was certainly the most challenging I've ever done, and I remember how exhausted I felt at times as I inched my bike forward a bit at a time.  The first few miles out of Guffey were probably the most challenging and it seemed like I was riding straight uphill.   By the time I'd finished, it felt like I'd run a marathon!

Melisa's first marathon- In May, Melisa completed her first marathon, the Colfax Marathon in Denver.  Having finished my ultra a couple of weeks earlier, it was really fun to be in the supporting role and to watch her finish the race rather than be in the thick of it myself.  The girls and I went over to City Park in Denver a few hours before the finish time and enjoyed the beautiful spring day.  Melisa had a positive attitude throughout her training so it wasn't surprising to see her smiling as she approached the finish line.  Although she hasn't signed up for another marathon yet,  she says that she wants to do another one sometime.

Maya runs her first Bolder Boulder- This year's BB10K was especially sweet as we had the chance to run it with our daughter.  Back when she was a baby, we'd walked the course with her riding along in a backpack, so it was fun to run with her and to see how much she enjoyed it.  She especially liked all of the chances to get sprayed by a hose or dump water on her head at each aid station.  Later in the fall, she joined the cross country team at her school, and it was awesome to show up at her races and cheer her on.  She's quite the little runner and like any dad, I'm super proud of her accomplishments.  I know that running will be a family tradition, and I'm guessing that her little sister will be joining in the fun very soon!

Half Marathon PR- In August I ran the Georgetown Half Marathon and managed to PR by about 3 minutes.  Chalk it up to all of the endurance training I've done, but I was able to settle into a good, strong pace and finish in about 1:37 (give or take a few seconds).  I'd gone in with fewer expectations, so it was awesome to finish the race with a PR.  A definite highlight to my racing year.

Ultra run complete- Perhaps my biggest athletic challenge this year was to race and complete the Collegiate Peaks 50 mile trail race in Buena Vista.  The two loop course included a lot of climbing and a fair amount of hiking and I was very tempted to call it a day at the 25 mile mark.  However, I stuck it out and after about 32 miles, I wound up finishing strong, a bit sore, but still strong.   I managed to complete this race on a minimal amount of run training as well.  With time, the memory of how difficult this actually was has faded a bit.  And although I don't have an ultra planned for the foreseeable future, I won't rule out doing another one at some point.
Sunrise before a morning run
Remembering this is fun- More than mileage totals, etc., I did these things in 2013 because they were fun (capturing the data is really just a way to look back on that fun, kind of like looking at old pictures from a vacation).  The gratification that comes from setting a goal and seeing it through is matched and surpassed by the time spent just being outside and enjoying the world around. Whether that's slowly climbing a winding mountain pass, or gazing across the sweltering earth on a scorching summer's day run.  Or being first to jump into a perfect, glassy pool on a Sunday morning and cranking out 30 laps before anyone else arrives.  Sometimes it's the rush of excitement pulling up to a race early in the morning.  Or seeing the sun crack open the eastern horizon on a bitter cold morning run, when the rest of the world seems asleep.  In 2013, I remembered that it's those quiet moments alone, when you begin to flow through the elements and across the landscape.   Whether swimming, biking, or running, a rhythm sets in, and as cheesy as it sounds, you really do kind of feel like you're "one" with everything around you.  Okay, not necessarily "one," but at least a part of something bigger.  For me, it's those moments that keep me coming back for more.  That was my 2013.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Racing in 2014

Time to post the racing calendar for 2014.  For the coming year, I hope to do a few more triathlons compared to last year where I only registered for two and was able to finish only one (due to the crash).  But the number one overarching deciding factor this year will be around the budget.  I am hoping to save a little bit of money in 2014 in preparation for a possible push to complete Ironman Boulder in 2015.  With a price tag somewhere around $700.00, I need to save a few bucks to be ready for registration in August.  I'm also looking at volunteering at a few races this year as well.  Always nice to give back to the sport! Here is my tentative plan for 2014.  For this list, I've also rated each of the events using the following criteria:

Definitely: Already Registered.
Likely: Not registered, but plan to do so very soon.
Possible: Will likely do, but might change due to unforeseen plans, events, etc.
Maybe: Made the list, but may not happen.

Event Cost (assuming early/ regular registration/ volunteer discount):
$$$- Expensive
$$- Reasonably/ Traditionally Priced (costs what you'd expect for event type)
$- Bargain

Event Type:
Triathlon, Road Race, Trail Race, Cycling Event

Race Priority:
A: The "A" race, or focus event for the year.
B: Supports the "A" race or one that requires some training to complete (In other words, not the main event, but one I'll take seriously).
C: Just for fun

Racing Experience:
N: New event for me this year
P: Previous Race Experience
P+: Multiple races of the same event
(Links to Post Event Reports)

Something Special about the race

We are planning a "non-event" run on New Year's Day this year, but we're still trying to think of a catchy name for it.  The plan is to have a two-option course (3.2 or 5.2 miles) on a mixed pavement/ dirt course.  Afterwards, I want to have Green/ Red Chili available along with some cold beer for runners and friends.  No expectations, just a fun way to start off the year.
Likelihood: Likely
Event Cost: $
Event Type: Non-event (run)
Race Priority: C
Racing Experience:  N (Inaugural) 
Other: I always enjoy bringing in the New Year with some kind of run.  Would be fun to share with others.

SoCo Runners put on the Valentine Twosome around Valentine's Day in February.  Two person teams run a short relay.  It's really just a family event with a fairly short course (1.6 miles each).  My daughter is interested in doing some races, so I might see if she wants to do this one.
Likelihood: Definitely
Event Cost: $
Event Type: Road Race
Race Priority: C
Racing Experience: N
Other: Any chance to run with my daughter is good enough reason!

Spring Runoff: I haven't made a serious attempt at this race for a few years now, and I don't really plan to do so in 2014. I might do this one if my daughter is interested (probably the 5k or 10k).
Likelihood: Definitely
Event Cost: $$
Event Type: Road Race
Race Priority: C
Racing Experience: P+
Other: Any chance to run with my daughter is good enough reason!

For the last couple of years I've kicked off the year with a marathon or ultra distance race.  Since I have the entire summer to train this coming year, I'm not going to start the spring with anything that intense.  Instead I plan on doing the local Ordinary Mortals Triathlon this year.  It didn't fit into my calendar in 2014 so I'm looking forward to this one.  I'll also plan to do a little pre-race volunteering to do my part.
Likelihood: Definitely
Event Cost: $$
Event Type: Triathlon (Sprint)
Race Priority: B
Racing Experience: P (OMT Race Report 2012)
Other: Hometown event and a reverse order triathlon.

During the Run Portion of the 2012 OMT
Of course I will do the Bolder Boulder again.  I keep forgetting how many years I've done it now, but it's somewhere around 25 or 26 times.  It's been a part of my life since the mid-80's, when I was in the Ninth Grade.  I would imagine that my daughter will want to do this race again as well, so that should be fun.
Likelihood: Definitely
Event Cost: $$$
Event Type: Road Race
Race Priority: C
Racing Experience: P+ (Bolder Boulder RR, 2012)
Other: This would be about the 26th time I've done this race.

The Bolder Boulder: A Family Tradition since 1986
My second triathlon in 2014 will be the Boulder Sunrise Triathlon.  I've actually registered for this one already given the low $35.00 entry fee.  This spring I'll be raising money for the Alzheimer's Association as my charity of choice.  I did the "Sunset" version of this race at the end of August and the heat at the end of the race got to me a bit.  I'm looking forward to doing the event in June and I hope that lower temps will make for a better race.
Likelihood: Definitely
Event Cost: $
Event Type: Triathlon (Olympic)
Race Priority: B
Racing Experience: P (Did the Sunset on the same course in 2013)
Other: Fast Course!

The Mountain Top Cycling Club Experience Ride has made it back onto the calendar this year, thanks to its incredibly low price.  For $30, I just can't resist.  It's also a killer workout so I'm looking forward to doing this one again.
Likelihood: Definitely
Event Cost:$
Event Type: Cycling Event (Century Ride)
Race Priority: B
Racing Experience: P (MTCC Ride Report)
Other: The best bargain and a beautiful ride.

With 10,000 of Climbing, MTCC puts hair on your heaving chest!
My brother has proposed a self-supported 70.3 for July, and I really like this idea as there wasn't a good triathlon race option during this month.  The minimal cost of doing a self-supported event is also appealing.
Likelihood: Likely
Event Cost: $
Event Type: Non-Event (Triathlon- 70.3 Distance)
Race Priority: B,C
Racing Experience: N
Other: Great Inexpensive option for the middle of summer.  I think a post race cool down at a local brew pub would be in order!

 Barr Mountain Trail Race:  I'm looking at this one for the following reasons: 1) It's close by (minimal travel required). 2) It looks to be pretty cheap so that might make it worth it.  On the downside, this race can be rather taxing on the body and requires a fair amount of training.  While I would have a fair amount of time to recover, I'll have to see how it would impact my training for September.
Likelihood: Maybe
Event Cost: $
Event Type: Trail Run
Race Priority: B
Racing Experience: P 
Other: I like trail racing!

 My "A" race this year will be another 70.3 distance event, the Harvest Moon Triathlon  I need some redemption after Austin and a chance to see what I can do at this distance.  I'm fairly confident that I would have done a sub 5:30:00 at that event and so I'll be hungry for this one.
Likelihood: Likely
Event Cost: $
Event Type: Triathlon (70.3 Distance)
Race Priority: A
Racing Experience: N 
Other: Need to get the last 70.3 out of my mind!

The end to my 2014 season will hopefully be the Blue Sky Trail Marathon outside of Fort Collins.  I like the location and it's a relatively low-cost marathon.  I don't have any aspirations for this one, other than just the chance to finish.
Likelihood: Likely
Event Cost: $
Event Type: Trail Run (Marathon)
Race Priority: B
Racing Experience: N 
Other: Good location and a nice way to conclude the 2014 season.

Update:  Unexpectedly, I decided to join my wife and do the Rock n Roll Marathon in Denver in October.  This means that I will have to save Blue Sky for another year.  This will be a completely different Marathon experience, but having the first weekend in October allows me to pursue another one of my passions: Beer.  The Great American Beer Fest takes place in Denver the first weekend of October, so there's an opportunity to do something different.
Likelihood: Definitely
Event Cost: $$
Event Type: Marathon
Race Priority: C
Racing Experience: N 
Other: It will be fun to spend October drinking beer and running!

I may decide to finish the year with the Rock Canyon Half-Marathon.  It isn't quite the bargain that it used to be, but I enjoy it as a race, and I kind of like the fact that the weather can be so dramatically different.  It adds an element of surprise to the event.  I couldn't do it this year due to my injury, so I may want to try again in 2014.
Likelihood: Maybe
Event Cost: $$
Event Type: Road Race
Race Priority: B
Racing Experience: P+ (2012 Rock Canyon RR)
Other: A good motivator for the coming year!

Totals:  For those keeping score at home, that's a total of 4 Triathlons (including one self-supported),  6 running events (including one self-supported, a half-marathon, and a marathon), and one century ride.  If I did all of these events (which I won't), the total cost would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $500.00 or just under $50/ event.  Not too bad, I'd say.

Volunteer Plans:
As I mentioned, I'm also looking at doing some volunteering this year.  Part of this will support a discounted entry, but I also like the idea of giving some support.  As of right now, I have plans to volunteer for the following events.

Summer Open Triathlon:  I raced this event as a "duathlon" a couple of years back.  This year, I'm going to volunteer which will qualify me for about a $40 discount for my "A" race.  My brother does this event every year so it will be fun to go out and support him.  I will be working the transition area for this one.

Ordinary Mortals Triathlon: I plan on racing this event, but I will also volunteer to do some work before the race as well.  This is our local event and I think it's important for club members to ensure that the event goes well.

Ironman Boulder: I've never been to an Ironman, and since I'm tentatively thinking about going for this one in 2015, volunteering will give me a better idea of what the race is like.  I also think it will be a great motivator for the coming year.

Well, that's the plan for now.  Thanks for Reading!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Best Beers of 2013

So another year has come and gone.  That being the case, it's time to highlight some of the beers that caught my eye in 2013.  I would be hard pressed to determine how many different types of beer I tried this year, but suffice it to stay there was an ample selection.  Still, I couldn't really generated a  list of 10 beers that stood out, so instead this is a top seven list (note: If I have anything spectacular between now and Dec. 31st, I'll update this post). Here's my list of the top brews I had this year.

#7: Eddyline Brewery- Inner Glow Chile Porter: (Not pictured)  You will see Eddyline in a couple of spots this year.  That's because it was the "discovery" brewery of 2013 for me.  While all of their beers are very well done, the Chile Porter stands out because unlike most chili beers, it's based on a porter.  What's more, the chili is based off of a New Mexico style "red chile" which makes it really unique in the chili beer niche, where most chile beers tend to be based on an ale and a green chile.  Inner Glow is an apt name for the taste of this beer as well.  The mouth feel of the beer is medium-bodied and the taste of the chile is a longer, slower, milder burn.  You get a nice, smoky flavor that is well complemented by the chile flavor.  Alas, this isn't a permanent offering at Eddyline so until/if it comes back again, you'll just have to trust me.

#6: Dogfish Head- 120 Minute IPA: Back in February we found ourselves enjoying a weekend in Denver and dining at the Yard House.  One of their specials that night was Dogfish Head's 120 minute IPA.  The name comes from the fact that they do a continuous hop boil for 120 minutes.  A glass cost me about $10.00 and at 15-20% abv, it was definitely strong beer to be sipped and savored slowly.  Its boozy taste was unique yet pleasant and made for one of the more memorable beers in 2013.  I recently purchased a 4-pack of the 90 minute IPA, and at a slightly lower abv of 9%, it's a good alternative if you can't find the 120 minute.

#5: Harpoon-Rich and Dan's Rye IPA: (Not pictured)  I got to sample this one while out in Boston this summer and the Rye IPA was something unique.  It's hard to describe the flavor that Rye imparts to an IPA and even the guys at CBR, who may sample more beer than anyone in the world, have a hard time figuring out how to describe Rye beer.  For me it just seems to complement the IPA style without getting in the way a lot.  Being a bit of a hop head, IPA's tend to be one of my favorite beers to drink, and I prefer a Rye IPA much more than some of the Belgian Style IPA's (sometimes referred to as White IPA's) that seem a little to busy for my taste.

#4: New Belgium Brewing- Frambozen:  I'm not really a "fruity" beer person, but I'd purchased a six pack of this last week and I've really been enjoying it.  The raspberry flavor in this beer is more tart than sweet and it delivers a kick to the smooth, malty flavor of most brown ales.  It's also a great "holiday" beer if you want something to go with the Christmas Season.  This is a seasonal offering from New Belgian and it's been around for a while, but it's nice surprise to "discover" it again this year.

#3: Shamrock Brewing-Pueblo American Pale Ale (a.k.a.- P.A.P.A): This beer has apparently replaced the Arch City Pale Ale as the standard pale ale beer for Shamrock.  Arch City wasn't bad at all, but P.A.PA. is better.  It's just a bit bolder and has more flavor. It's nice to see that they are going to keep it around (Not pictured) some more.

#2: Stone Brewing Company- Levitation Ale: Okay, so I'm a little late to the party on this one.  Stone Brewery in San Diego (or at least very near San Diego) is a fantastic beer.  This jumped way up on the list because of how well balanced it is. It's a beer that just plain tastes good and  I see Levitation becoming one of those "go to" beers that you can pick up any time of year.

#1: Eddyline Brewery- RiverRunners Pale Ale:  Okay, so here was my favorite in 2013, and guess what, it also took gold at the GABF in 2012.  Just a really well balanced, quality pale ale that I will associate with the "good times" I had in Buena Vista this year.   On our last trip, I sat out on the back patio at the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs staring out at the Chalk Cliffs and enjoying one of these after a long bike ride from Pueblo to Cotopaxi (about 75 miles).
Looking towards the Collegiate Peaks and the Chalk Cliffs in B.V., Colorado

I've talked about the Eddyline Brewery and Restaurant in previous posts, and I can't praise it enough.  Anytime you get great pizza and beer together, you can't go wrong.  I'm looking forward to a trip up to Buena Vista in the not too distant future, and a visit to Eddyline will certainly be part of the experience.

2013 was a great year for beer and I'm looking forward to everything I'll get to try in 2014.  Who knows?  Maybe there's a GABF to attend this year?  Certain to have some good beer there!

Sunday, December 8, 2013


While working on a blog post this morning, I came across a posting entitled "Triathlon is a Stupid Sport."  It was posted on something called "c." or "charlie's blog," I'm not sure which of these was the title.  My initial assumption was that this posting was somehow "tongue in cheek," but as I read further I discovered that this writer really had an axe to grind with triathlon, and more to the point with triathletes themselves.  His basic premise is that "triathletes are d***heb@gs."  What follows from that is a litany of reasons why the sport and its participants are "huge f______g a__h___s."
Now, the post is a couple of years old and from the sounds of it, there has been plenty of response from people, so it probably doesn't merit another response.  However, after reading it again, I have to admit I was really bothered by it. Not just because he seems to have an unlimited amount of hatred for triathletes, but because his "understanding" of the sport and its participants is so limited.  That wouldn't be so bad except that he claims "I can tell you all sorts of things about surfing, mountain biking, rock climbing, bowling, scuba diving, or what have you. I learn a lot about these activities, and I talk with people who do them."  In other words, his whole basis for what he writes isn't based on any first hand knowledge or participation in the events.  So try as I might, I just can't leave this one alone.
Before we begin, let’s make a few things clear.  First, there definitely are d***heb@g triathletes, and perhaps they constitute a higher number of the total number of participants than in other sports.  I don't know and I don't know how you would even begin to figure that out.  It's easy to spot these folks at different races as they strut around full of self-importance and perceived awesomeness.  But in reality they are few and far between.  Most of us just chuckle and shake our heads when we see this kind of behavior. Second, the average triathlete has an annual income somewhere in the neighborhood of $130,000.00, and it is an expensive sport for those that choose to participate.  And while I believe that there are plenty of ways to be a triathlete without breaking the bank, I'm not going to argue the point.  Instead, this rebuttal will be based on the inaccuracies and flawed logic of the author’s own statements.  
Charlie states the following towards the beginning of his post: "Triathletes are d****heb@gs. If you doubt this, go to any messageboard for any single sport like running, swimming, and cycling and declare that you are a proud triathlete. You will be showered with invective. People will hate on you, and you will think it might be envy. But it isn't. Triathletes are huge f_______g a__h____s. The sport and the d***heb@g personality go together."
Why this is wrong: People who are "triathletes" are almost always involved in other single sport activities as well.  When you peruse the message boards of a site like beginnertriathlete.com, you will find forums for all sorts of disciplines including cycling, swimming, and even ultras.  The truth is that very few triathletes began that way.  Most of us were involved in single sports as swimmers, cyclists, or runners.  Even though I do triathlons, I also enjoy trail running, century rides, and cross-country skiing.  Am I a triathlete? Sure.  But I'm also a runner, a cyclist, and even a beer drinker, for that matter.  

Charlie goes on to write about the fact that racing an Ironman Brand event means that triathlon is all about profit.  He doesn't recognize that there are plenty of triathletes that are critical of the Ironman Brand, but doesn't make the distinction that not all triathlons are WTC products (most of them aren't). It's unclear whether he understands that there are many different kinds of triathlons ranging from Sprint races all the way up to the 140.6 distance. He writes: "With other events like marathons and 5K's, the money made goes to charitable endeavors and maintaining the race. This is one reason why municipalities are willing to let organizers use their streets. It is for a good cause and promotes health. An Ironman is different. It is about profit. This is why marathoning is so egalitarian while triathlon is elitist."
Why this is wrong:  Are Ironman events for profit? Most definitely.  But so are an overwhelming number of marathons and other events.  Ever heard of the "Rock n Roll Marathon?"  Tens of thousands of people run these Competitor branded events all around the world.  They are most definitely for profit events so does that make those folks elitist? Are the participants also "huge f_____g a__h___s” and "elitist pr___s" as Charlie argues about triathletes?  Just because someone has an event that makes them money, doesn't mean that it's wrong for people to participate.  What Charlie also fails to acknowledge is that many triathletes raise money for charity as part of their training and racing.   There are also organizations like Your Cause Sports.  Through their races, all athletes who participate raise money for a charity as part of their race registration. At any rate, municipalities don't "allow" these events simply out of the goodness of their hearts.  They do it because they attract large numbers of racers and spectators, who stay in hotels, eat in restaurants and spend money.  If you think this isn't true, consider how much money NYC lost when they were unable to proceed with the race in 2012.
Unfortunately, the posting gets worse.  He rambles on, complaining about the average income of triathletes, and then talks about training time as a barrier to participation (his claims that AG triathletes have to spend 25+ hours per week just to be decent is untrue, and he brushes past the fact that cyclists and ultrarunners whom he seems to greatly admire, must also spend a significant amount of time training).   He summarizes his thoughts with this little gem: "Triathlon isn't really a sport but the narcissistic indulgence of rich a__h___s. The competition can't be that fierce since your annual salary is as much a factor as your genetics and your training. It is a status symbol. That's it. These rich a__h___s do this sport instead of opting for one of the single sports because it seems so awesome that they can suck at three disciplines instead of one." 
Why this is wrong: I've been passed by plenty of triathletes riding expensive equipment to be sure.   But I've also passed plenty of them as well.  Having expensive equipment isn't going to make you better in and of itself.  For some it may help them to save a few minutes here or there, but the only way to improve in any sport is by training hard.  And the last sentence here doesn't even make sense.
But wait there's more.  After his original posting, Charlie has created two updates to his original posting.  He seems a bit defensive and tries to justify his assumptions in the following ways.  Here are some examples:
"I have had coworkers who were triathletes and met some outside of work. Every damn one of them was a pr___k. I used to think this was just a few bad apples until other people told me they thought the same things I did."  
This is absurd.  In college I worked at a summer camp where high school students from France came to visit.  A lot of them smoked.  Still, I didn't make the assumption that all French people smoke.  My guess is that Charlie decided these folks were p___ks only after he discovered they were triathletes. 
“The reason I point this out is that a real job requires real commitment. In order to do triathlon, it helps to have a job that pays well but is rather shallow in the social contribution department. This provides both the time and the funds to be a triathlete with the attendant moral vacuum and narcissism."  
Seriously?  I make my living as an educator so I suppose I'm rather shallow in the social contribution department?  There are also a number of folks in the military that participate in triathlons.  They must be complete pr___s too, eh?  Clearly the men and women of our armed services have no sense of commitment to their work do they, Charlie?  The truth is that it really doesn't matter how someone makes their living.  Being in marketing doesn't automatically make you a bad person, any more than being a doctor or a nurse makes you a good person.  The truth is that most of the people that are triathletes are good people.  But here are a few examples in case you don’t believe: 
  • Sister Madonna Buder a.k.a. The Iron Nun.  At 82 years old, she is the oldest woman to ever complete an Ironman Triathlon.  Is she an "a__h__e" Charlie?
  • How about Christopher McDonnell whose daughter was killed at Sandyhook Elementary.  He was featured on the Ironman World Championship Special on NBC as he raced to honor the memory of his daughter.  Oh and Charlie, his tri-suit was Pink and Purple.  Is he a "pr__k?"
  • And then of course there are those folks at Athletes in Tandem.  Yeah, they are so self-absorbed and narcissistic that they race with a disabled individual in order to give them the experience of participating in triathlon.  I'm sure that you think they're "d***cheb@gs," huh?
Are there "pr___s" in triathlon?  Sure, and they certainly are an embarrassment to the sport, just as they are to any other endeavors in which they participate.  The truth is that Charlie's post really says more about him than anything about triathlons and triathletes.  He claims that "when you are a writer, you learn everything about everything."  But Charlie clearly didn't do that when he set out to write this blog.  I believe he has every right to express his opinion, but in the end that's all it is, an opinion.  And from what I read, a rather misinformed one.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Triathlon on a Budget

It isn't that I'm cheap, and it certainly isn't because I'm thrifty, I just really love a bargain.  Unfortunately, the sport of triathlon isn't always conducive to this sentiment.  A study in USAT from a couple years back cited an average income for triathletes of around $130,000.00.  And if you've ever perused a catalog for triathlon equipment, then you've likely experienced some sticker shock.  Even just registering for races can cost hundreds of dollars.  In fact, signing up for a handful of races each year of varying lengths will likely set you back at least a grand in race entry fees.  The costs add up, and they add up quickly.  Is there anyway to do this sport at a discount?  The answer is yes.

Racing and Registration
#1: Race less-  Reducing the number of triathlons over a season by 1-2 events can save quite a bit of cash.  While the money savings is helpful, the time factor is also valuable.  Fewer events means more time to train, and less time spent in post race recovery.  It also makes for a less stressful season and frees up time for other activities.  If you are someone who enjoys the journey as much or more than the destination, then racing less is a great cost saving technique.

#2: Branch out- Triathlons are expensive because RD's are essentially putting on a swim event, a bike race, and a run all on the same day.  As individual events however, the costs aren't always as bad.  Individualized swimming, biking, or running events can provide a racing "fix" at a cost that's more manageable for someone on a budget.

#3: Hunt for Bargains- In 2013, I found some great deals.  The tradeoff was sometimes a different distance or racing events that were a little closer together, but the savings were huge.  I did a 50 mile trail run for $75.00, a century bike ride for $30.00, a 2.4 mile swim race for $20, a half-marathon for $15.00, and an olympic distance triathlon for about $35.00.  That's a total cost of $175 dollars for five events.  This savings allowed me to invest in a WTC event and the associated travel costs, etc.  Choosing these events also helped me to develop more of a "base" in each discipline which has helped my overall performance in Triathlon a great deal.

#4: Go beyond WTC-  For those who do half and iron distance triathlons, there is a greater challenge in terms of saving money.  In fact, I'm not sure that it's even worth trying for a full iron distance event.  At the half-iron level, however, there are a few other options besides the WTC.  For my first 70.3 distance, I chose a HITS event which was in its first year of producing triathlons.  If you register early enough, they offer a lot of discounts and a race at the half-iron distance can cost you as little as $100.  That's a pretty good deal.

#5: Volunteer to earn free or discounted entry- Some races will offer you a discount or even a free entry if you're willing to volunteer for them at another event.  This spring I will volunteer at one triathlon which will provide me a discount to the half-iron event that I want to do in early September.  The cost for me will be $100.  Again a pretty good deal.

Part of the appeal of triathlon, at least for me anyway, is all of the cool equipment that is part of the sport.  While some items may help enhance your performance through better aerodynamics, speed, etc., really progress is the result of your training and effort.  The "stuff" is just kind of cool.  For the budget-minded enthusiast however, this presents a conundrum.   In truth, triathlons can be done with a minimal amount of gear and experienced triathletes will tell you that there's no reason to invest in expensive gear right off the bat.  Using an entry level road bike or even a hybrid style bike makes perfect sense for someone who is just getting started in the sport.  Even a wet suit really isn't necessary for many distances (I was well into my first year of triathlon before I "splurged" on a wetsuit).
But if you do want to get some of the gear, there are a lot of obvious options for doing so with less cost.  For example, companies like Sierra Trading Post sell triathlon kit for a cost that is much lower than many tri-specific sites like Trisports.  I've also been able to pick up racing shoes from places like runningwarehouse.com for less than $50 (Plus they have free shipping).
Lastly, there is that great resource for just about anything: ebay.  For less than $40, I bought a used aero helmet that new would have cost me upwards of $200.

When it comes to gear, the reality is that if you don't have a lot of money, stuff that is gently used, on sale, or perhaps even closeout may not be the sexiest thing out there, but it will work just fine.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Traveling the world by bike . . . sort of

A couple of months back while listening to "Zen and the Art of Triathlon," the show's host, Coach Brett, mentioned a web site called Real Time Athlete where you can upload a "Map My Ride" course by plugging in the URL link.  Using the "street view" format it allows you to virtually ride just about anywhere in the world.  It's a rather crude visual but at least gives you something interesting to look at while riding the bike.
At the moment, I'm still recovering from a broken collarbone (the picture above is an old one) and it looks to be another few weeks before I'm fully healed.  Once there however, I intend to begin riding the trainer throughout the winter months.  To that end, I've been creating courses using the "Create a Route" feature on Map My Ride.  Here are a few of the ones I've done so far (you can click on a link below), copy the URL, and then go to realtimeathlete.com/trainerview:

1) Trail Ridge Road:  There's about 4,500 feet of climbing on this one, going from Estes Park up the Road for about 21 miles.

2) Climb to Lone Mountain: A little ways north of Yellowstone National Park is this 10 mile climb up to Lone Mountain in Big Sky, Montana where I spent many a summer as a Camp Counselor.

All out Effort:
3) New York City Sprint: Go all out for just under 7 miles riding down 5th avenue past Central Park and then back up Park Avenue.

4) Strip Sprint:  Another one for giving an all out effort riding up and down the Vegas Strip.

Joy Rides:
5) Mexico City: Fun because you would never actually ride a bike on this course unless you were completely nuts!

6) Nice is Nice!: Tour the French Countryside just outside of Nice on this 30 mile course.

It hasn't been to hard to rest the past month, but as I'm feeling better and better, the lack of activity is starting to make me a little stir crazy!  I'll be looking forward to trying out a few of these routes in the coming months and hopefully I'll be adding a few more as time goes on.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

More Beer Olympics!

While I'd rather be writing about this weekend's epic bike ride, the truth of the matter is that I'm still on the mend from my broken collarbone, so instead I'll be doing another round of the Beer Olympics this afternoon.  I've changed it up with a late substitution to the line up replacing "Red Rocket Ale" with "Red Tail Ale" from the Mendecino Brewing Company in California.  Red Tail is their self-described flagship beer so it fits nicely with the other selections in this round.
Its competitor is Alaskan Amber, an alt style (alt meaning "old") beer from way, way up north.  A few years back, a variety of beers from the ABC started showing up in Colorado liquor stores and nowadays they are a staple offering at any decent sized store.
So . . . on to the Head to Head competition.  As always the beers are served by my lovely wife and I don't know which beer is which until I've sampled both of them and declared a winner.  This blind tasting ensures that I don't bring any bias to the contest.  Until that time, they are simply known as Beer #1 and Beer #2.  I evaluate each of them across 4 categories: aroma, mouth feel, flavor, and finish.  Each receives a rating between 1 and 4, which are then totaled for a final score.  The victor will move onto the semifinal round.  To date, both Fat Tire and 90 Schilling moved onto the next round of competition.
In the category of "Aroma," there was a notable difference between the two.  Beer #1 was caramel and yeasty bread, very distinct, and probably the most noticeable smell compared to any of the other beers so far.  Beer #2 on the other didn't really produce any aroma to speak of, even after several sniffs.  Hmm. . . Aroma goes to Beer #1.
Next up was mouth feel, and this one was pretty much a tie.  Neither of the beers was exceptionally full bodied, nor really light bodied.  They both had a crisp bite to them and settled on my taste buds relatively easy.  I'd say they are on the lighter to medium bodied end of things and pretty typical of most amber ales.  Nothing to see here, so just move along.
In terms of "flavor," there's a big difference.  Beer #1 has a strong, forward taste to it.  It's very distinct and has a golden, honey-like quality to it.  The malts are very rich tasting.  A bold flavor to be sure.  At first glance, Beer #2 seems like a ninety-pound weakling compared to #1. It's much more traditional in terms of flavor.  As I sample both, I began to lean a bit more towards beer #2.  It was subtle to be sure, and not as complex in its flavors, but it was the one that I kept wanting to drink.
Lastly is the finish.  After washing down the gullet, what's left to remember the beer by?  Is there bitterness from hoppy overtones?  Perhaps a bit of "skunkiness" (is that a word?).  Simply put, Beer #1 doesn't mess around here either.  There is a long, lingering after taste on this one, but it makes sense and keeps with the character of the beer.  The malty flavor runs the length of the tongue and resonates off the back of the teeth.  I have to admire this beer.  It has a bold aroma and flavor, and the finish occupies your mouth for a good minute or two after taking a swallow. It has a definite personality which makes it stand out from a typical amber offering.  The question is, do I want to drink more of it? 
Beer #2 on the other hand isn't taking any chances.  It's well balanced with a dissipating finish that comes and goes rather quickly.  Drinkability wins out here.  The beer knows what you want and gives you exactly that.  There's not a lot of boldness or adventure here, but it's well balanced overall.  Nevertheless, I find myself at the bottom of the glass, wanting more.
In the end, I think it comes down to what you really want in a beer.  Are you looking for something that challenges you a bit.  If you do, then it's beer #1.  Or, are you looking for an easy-going beer that meets your expectations.  That might be beer #2.  Both of these are good in their own, distinct way.  Although I'd probably be more apt to down a couple of the latter beers, the nod this time is going to go to beer #1.  I'll give the brewer credit for creating an amber that goes beyond what you might expect.  It's a gamble that pays off in my opinion.  Going bold. So the winner is . . ."Alaskan Amber!"
One quarterfinal event to go!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Injury Update

Two weeks ago tomorrow, I suffered the most significant injury I've had as an athlete, and probably, ever in my life.  By all accounts, I'm pretty lucky that it isn't more serious or permanent.   It's also lucky that this happened at the very end of the season and I'm not invested in additional events, races, etc.  I was planning on a bit of down time anyway, and while this will be more than I would have liked, I know that I will begin again with renewed enthusiasm and energy.  Mostly, this has just been painful, but within the last two to three days, that has even gotten a bit better.  That is, as long as I don't cough or sneeze (turns out I probably have a cracked rib or two as well).
Although I'm feeling better, I don't have a solid timeline for getting back to S,B,R at this point.  I have a visit with the Ortho in another week and a half at which time I will probably start asking about what rehab will look like.  In the meantime, I get to wear this really funny looking brace (called a figure 8 brace I believe).  It pulls my shoulders back and kind of immobilizes the collarbone a bit.  It is not very comfortable and from the front it makes me look like I'm wearing a child's backpack.  Very awesome!
How can you not look cool with one of these baby's on!
While my collarbone is broken, my spirit isn't.  One thing I am certain of is that I will continue to pursue endurance activities and I even registered for the Boulder Sunrise Triathlon (in June 2014) last week since they had such a good deal on the price ($35 sign up fee and a commitment to raise the same amount by race day).  I hope to select a few more races for 2014 before the end of December as well.   It seems like many events will give you a fantastic deal if you do the early bird registration.
In the meantime, I think another round or two of the Beer Olympics will be in order.  I'm going to call an audible and substitute one of the beers in my challenge for this next one, but more on that later.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Austin 70.3 Race Repo . . . CRASH!

I've been wanting to post this for a while, but it has simply been too painful to do so.  Not in the emotional sense (I've actually handled that disappointment fairly well), but truly, physically painful.  As you can tell by the title of this post, this isn't a typical race report.  I did notch some new "firsts," but they aren't the kind that I was hoping for.  Still, I'll review how well things went, until they didn't go well anymore, and move on from there.
On Thursday afternoon a little over a week ago, with the car loaded up, the family and I began heading south to Texas.  It was a long afternoon of driving, but we arrived in Lubbock around 1 a.m. central time, not too worse for the traveling.  After just a few hours of sleep we were on the road again early on Friday, pushing our way further south.  The sunrise in West Texas slowly rose over the empty landscape and as sleepy as we were, there was also some excitement to know that we would soon arrive at our destination.
Heading east out of Lubbock
Texas Trees!

Well, not too soon.  It still took us a good six hours to reach Austin.  There were no major interstates and we seemed to wind our way through one small town after another.  When we did reach our destination however, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the resort we had booked into was even nicer than I'd thought it would be.  My brother and his wife had already arrived, and before long, the girls and I made our way down to the swimming pool for a bit of afternoon frolicking.

On Saturday, my brother and I headed over to the Travis County Fairgrounds to get ready for the race.   This race had two transition areas and all of our gear had to be placed in special bags for the race.  The bags actually wound up being a good thing considering that it rained the night before the race.  Since all of our stuff was in bags however, our gear was dry and we didn't have to worry about having soaking wet gear.
All transition gear had to be kept in special bags for the race.
 In the predawn darkness of  Sunday morning, Paul and I left the hotel and headed out to the venue.  We hit a fair amount of traffic once we got to the site and just managed to get the last of our stuff dropped off in transition before it was closed (they actually had to reopen it for a bit due to their own athlete transportation running behind schedule).  From a logistics perspective, this race was a bit of a challenge to ensure that everything was ready and in the right spot.  It worked out alright, but I think I will always prefer a single transition spot.  I like the strategic thinking that a successful triathlon requires, but the travel combined with separating all of the gear, left little margin for error.  Given the time crunch, I was really glad we had gotten most things into place the night before.  A good lesson tor remember to do things when you have the time, and not delay them for no reason.
The Honda Elementary (and the laundry basket) served as the staging point for T1 and T2
On the plus side, it was a pleasant, overcast morning which meant that the temperatures wouldn't be a factor for the day's race.  Very good news!  I was clearly set to have a PR day.  Due to the transportation problems, the race started a bit late.  After a fifteen minute delay, we found ourselves waiting in the long queue to get in the lake and our wave start.
The water turned out to be rather cool, and I had to stifle a shiver or two while waiting for the gun.  My strategy for the swim was to take my time and not burn too much energy in the swim.  I did my best to get into a rhythm and focus on swimming, but  I was only moderately successful at this. I struggled a fair amount with sighting and swimming straight and there were a number of sections where I didn't swim my best.  I also have to say that I was still pretty amazed by the number of folks doing the breast stroke, back stroke, back float, etc.  Here's my rant on this:
  I give full credit to anyone who challenges themselves to complete a triathlon of any distance.  It requires a tremendous amount of preparation, dedication, and perseverance.  This is especially true for races that are 70.3 and longer.  That said, I kind of feel like you may not be fully prepared if you can't at least swim freestyle for most of the race.  I really wouldn't have an issue with folks swimming other strokes except that the "frog kick" can really be quite a danger to other swimmers.  If you must swim using this stroke, I would suggest that you swim well at the back and off to the side.  And if you must swim using this stroke, then I will say that you aren't genuinely prepared for this event.  I'm not kidding.  I saw a race report from another athlete that day who wound up DNF'ing due to a broken rib he suffered.  The cause, someone doing the "frog kick."  Way to ruin someone else's race because you couldn't put the effort into learning how to swim better.  Rant over.
I emerged from the water right at about 40 minutes.  Not a fantastic swim at all, but I still felt very fresh and got into T1 feeling great.
T1 for the bikes was set up in a grassy area that was covered with stickers.  Not an ideal T1 at all, but I'm not looking for everything to be perfect.  In my mind, the whole idea of endurance sports is learning to deal with, and overcome adversity.  After getting my shoes on, I picked up my bike and carried it a good 150 yards to the pavement before clipping in.  T1 was also rather muddy and unfortunately for some of my fellow athletes, the mud clogged up their cleats as they tried to clip in.  As I rode out of the fairgrounds, riders were scattered along the roadside trying to knock the mud from their cleats.
For me, the bike course was fantastic (well, up to a point anyway).  I quickly got up to speed and was managing a pace a little over 20 mph.  There were a few gradual risers here and there and the one "hill" was so short that I was up and over the top of it in no time.  I'd heard that the roads in Austin were awful, but I encountered nothing worse than what I typically ride.  A few patches here and there, but again, that's just part of the experience in my opinion.  At around mile 8 I came around a corner and saw two riders prone on the side of the road.  They stared up at the sky and I could see the bright red scrapes on their bodies from road rash.    I crossed myself and said a small prayer for those unfortunate souls as I rode by, reminding myself how quickly a race day can change.  I climbed around the corner and out of sight.
 For the next several miles I kept an eye on my pace, but I continued to feel great so I kept pushing just a tad, telling myself to just take it another five miles at a time.  At forty-five miles, I was right around the two hour mark.  I figured at the pace I was riding, I would be in at around 2:45 total which meant that even with a two hour half-marathon, I would finish the race in about 5:30:00.  And I planned on having a better run than that, so even around a 5:20:00 was possible.  A PR was definitely in the works and  I was having a great time.  Before long we turned onto a busier street.  The road had been converted into three lanes: one for racers, and two for traffic.  It was well marked with cones about every 20-30 yards or so.  I made a mental note to start backing off on the bike a bit so that I could save a little energy for the run.
Just a bit short of the finish line!
I glanced down for a moment to check the speed on my computer, and when I looked up . . . well, that's when my race day changed completely.  Directly in front of me, no more than a yard or two ahead, stood a large, orange cone.  I had only enough time for one thought, and it was that I was going to hit the cone.  I braced myself and hoped that I might hit it with enough speed to somehow knock it over and keep going.  No such luck.  Very quickly I felt the left side of my body slam onto the street very hard.  I used a few choice words as I slid along the ground for a moment.  I managed to right myself and, in a state of shock, move myself off to the side of the road.  Several racers passing by asked if I was okay, and I nodded.  And for a few moments, I hoped that I might really be okay.  Scraped a bit maybe, but still able to ride.  I knew I had some good road rash, but I seemed no worse for things.  A few more bikes whizzed past.  I took stock and decided that maybe I needed to sit down again.  Not a minute  after I sat down, my right angle started stinging.  I looked down and noticed that I must have stuck my foot in an ant-hill.  The little bastards were starting to bite my foot.  You have got to be kidding me!  At this point, I was still in shock I guess, and so I had to really concentrate and figure out what to do.  I hurt quite a bit, but I wasn't sure how much I was injured.  I assessed the scrapes and cuts on my arms and legs.  They were  bad, but I was still able to move them.  Had I hit my head?  I knew I was conscious the whole time, so I seemed okay on that front.  Next I looked at my bike.  The wheels were a little slow to move, but it looked like my chain had come off and that the brake pads might be rubbing. If I put a little pressure on them, I was sure I'd be rolling again.  Then I noticed that my left shoulder really hurt when I moved it.   I reached up and touched just above my chest on the left side.  I felt a large bump where my collarbone usually is, and I knew it shouldn't be there.  Something was broken and my race was over.
Busted Clavicle . . . At times I can feel the two pieces of bone rubbing against one another.
 I tried to figure out what I needed to do next.  I looked back along the course, but I didn't see any police or race volunteers.  It seemed my best bet would be to try and get back to  the fairgrounds.  But how?  Was anyone on the way?  As luck would have it, a gentleman named Salvador (Get this, his name actually means Savior in Spanish) had seen me crash and pulled over.  He asked if I needed help and offered to give me a ride to the emergency room.  After loading my bike into the back of his SUV (his wife and kids piled into the back seat), we set out for the fairgrounds.  It was slow going so after about 4 more miles we came to an intersection with some police.  I had him pull over by the police car and asked if they could get me some assistance.   They directed me to a gas station parking lot and  I thanked Salvador for his help. A few minutes later a pair of Ironman officials pulled up on a motorcycle and after a brief assessment, the ambulance was on its way.  I left the race and a new adventure began!
The paramedics quickly determined that I had indeed broken my clavicle and transported me via ambulance to the Brackenridge Hospital.  I knew that the Ironman team would be contacting Melisa but I was concerned about the message she would get.  Would they just tell her I had crashed and was on my way to the hospital, or did they have more details than that?  I was worried that she would unnecessarily panic having heard I'd crashed my bike.  The paramedic generously loaned me his phone and after a brief game of phone tag, I was able to tell her I was okay (the Ironman officials had told her the same).
Waiting for a lift back to the race!

The next few hours were what you'd expect.  Visits from doctors, student doctors, liaisons, nurses, more doctors.  I got to listen to all of the other sick and injured folks behind the curtains around me.  I went for x-rays and nearly passed out.  Not so much from the pain as from the fact that I'd already burned through a couple thousand calories and I was starting to feel a bit puny.  A bit of powerade and some animal crackers fixed that.  Then, a few hours later, I was discharged with a couple of bottles of medicine, a sling for my arm, and a picture of my collarbone.  As it turns out, I wasn't the only athlete making a stop at the hospital.  Another racer had gone down with an identical injury and lacking a ride back to his car at the fairgrounds, we wound up giving him a ride.  We must have made quite a pair rolling up to the fairgrounds with our slings and bloodied arms and legs.

Misery loves Company!
That evening I still managed to enjoy a delicious Texas BBQ at Stubb's.  Some great food for sure!  Even though I hadn't finished, I still felt that I deserved the beers, the ribs, and the brownie sundae for dessert.
I won't kid you and say that the ride from Austin back to Colorado wasn't sheer hell.  It was.  I drove as far as Amarillo before I completely needed my medicine.  The next day wasn't much better.  Now that nearly a week has passed, I'm doing much better and the pain, while still there, improves a little each day.  At any rate, it's the off-season, which means that I'll be taking a break.  But, I'll starting plotting my next adventures before too long.  I can say with certainty that a 70.3 will happen again next year.  I need a shot at redemption after all!
Contemplating my next move!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Official 2013 Austin 70.3 Race Plan

In one week I will find myself in Austin, Texas preparing for my second triathlon of the year, and my first WTC event.  Most years my season has been over for at least two months, but this year I've done a lot of my training after the school year has started.  Its been a challenge to do frequent training during the week given the time spent at work, family events, etc.  On top of that, we are definitely into Fall , so the change in temperatures and shorter days have also had an impact.  Most of my major workouts take place on the weekend and these haven't changed much.  Despite these challenges my training volume is certainly much higher than it has ever been at this time of year.   I feel prepared for the event next weekend.  I'm certainly hoping to better my time from HITS Sterling over a year ago.  The charts below compare my training in the 7 weeks before HITS (a late July event) and Austin (October 27).

With a week to race time, I will start tapering.  I have a couple of weekend workouts planned but they will be mostly low intensity.  Saturday will be a 6-8 mile run.  I'll probably throw in a "race pace" mile or two, but I'll mostly be running at a slower pace, just trying to stay loose.  Sunday afternoon it looks like warmer weather will prevail so I'm planning on heading out to the test track for one last ride on my boy "Blue."  I don't plan on riding more than about 30 miles, and I'll be shooting for a ride near race pace.  Last weekend I acquired a "pointy helmet" off of e-bay for about $30, so I want to try it out before the race to be sure it is comfortable enough and there are no concerns.  As the old adage goes "Nothing new on race day."
Note: The graphics only add .000222dbu's* of drag (dbu- douchebag units)
Given that the race is only a week away, here's the plan:
Race week preparations:  There's a lot to do here.  Everything from getting the car cleaned up, to booking a room for the night we are traveling, to making sure that I have a variety of gear for different conditions.  The last thing I want to be doing while in Austin is shopping for things that I've forgotten.  Right now the weather forecast for next weekend looks quite warm with a high of 79 on Sunday.  There's a lot of time between now and then however, so things could certainly change one way or the other.  Still, barring a surprise cold front, it looks like the safe bet is probably on the weather being warmer rather than cooler.
  • Ride 30-34 miles in "triathlon" mode aiming for some of the ride at estimated race pace (19-20 mph).
  • Begin gathering bike items in a central location to make packing easier.
  • Formulate menu of "healthy" eating for the next several days. (done)
  • Vacuum and clean inside of car
  • Gather Run items including shoes, visor, hat, arm warmers, gloves, socks, extra socks, etc.
  • Book Hotel Room for overnight on Thursday
  • Swim Tuesday morning: 800-1000 meters with emphasis on quick turnover of arms, high elbows, and sighting.  Nice, easy pace with a few fast ones thrown in here and there.
  • Gather swim items including extra cap, wet suit, garbage bag (for storage), goggles, anti-fog, transition towels, etc.
  • Check to make sure all items for trip are clean.
  • Complete any last minute shopping/ nutrition items.
  • Clean bike and pack bike items including tools, extra cleats, pump, lubricants, tire patching items, extra tubes, helmets, shoes, sunglasses, gloves, water bottles. nutrition, etc.
  • Fuel vehicle
  • Pack "civilian" clothes for trip
  • I pod, Chargers, etc. are ready
  • Pack Vehicle (depart by 4:15 p.m.)
Race Weekend: With any luck we'll arrive at the Lakeway resort by about midday on Friday (looks to be about a 12 hour trip from here to Austin).  Check-in isn't until the afternoon, but I'm hoping we'll be able to get in a little sooner if the rooms are ready.  A nice lunch will be in order, and if weather permits, perhaps a dip in the pool.  Relaxing will certainly be important after the long drive from Pueblo.  I'm guessing that Saturday will be mostly devoted to getting the bikes to check-in, packet pickup and maybe even checking out the first few miles of the bike course as well.

The Race:  Since this will be my second and last race of the season, I'd like to turn in as good of a performance as possible.  The sunset triathlon at the end of August gave me some idea of where I'm at, but since then, I've definitely put some more miles in and tried to build up my endurance a bit without sacrificing a few speed workouts.  At this point, I feel like I have a decent idea of how I might do in each discipline.  The trick will be putting them all together.  I like to have several possible scenarios in mind as this allows me to adjust my goals depending on course conditions and my performance throughout the event .  At HITS, the scorching weather wound up having a huge impact on my overall time, so only an "average" performance comes close to that.  In the last 15 months, I've really tried to increase my overall "base" so I feel like I should be a bit more comfortable going faster for a little longer.

Transition One
Transition Two
  For example,  it would be great to average 24 mph on the bike,  but I know that even when I've hammered out a 20 mile time trial, about the fastest I've been is 22.1 mph. As a result, I've set my times on the bike a bit lower, taking into account that I will still have to run off the bike.  Same thing with the run.  I'm not going to list an epic time that I would have trouble running as a standalone half marathon (my PB is around 1:36-1:37), let alone in the middle of a half ironman. In this case, an EPIC time would be around 8 minutes/ mile or a 1:45.

Race Focus:  There are some key things to remember in order to execute and achieve a race that is somewhere between "good" and "epic."  Unlike a sprint or an olympic distance triathlon where you pretty much go all out from the beginning, the half-ironman requires a steady release of effort/ exertion over several hours. A key to success is not getting "caught up in the moment," and remembering that the race will play out over the course of several hours.  This will be particularly important at the onset of the swim, bike, and run, where it can be easy to go out too fast.  Having a feel for how fast/ slow you are racing is key to keeping things in check.
Without a doubt, Austin will be the biggest race I've done by a factor of about 4 or 5 times.  I don't really know a way to prepare for that fact, other than to recognize that there will be more people than ever, and you'll have to negotiate that as best as possible.
Nutrition is sometimes considered the "fourth discipline" in triathlon and many athletes spend a great deal of time figuring out a nutrition plan that works for them.  I've always sought to work on a nutrition plan that is versatile.  In other words, I hope to have a strong enough stomach that I can take advantage of whatever nutrition is available, and be flexible enough to try something different if necessary.  The simpler, the better is my motto.  At HITS Sterling I struggled a bit with nutrition and had a few moments of nausea on the bike.  When I hit the run I wound up discovering "Coke" as a great way to settle the stomach and gain some energy back.  Last winter while ultra training, I worked on building my aerobic/ metabolic efficiency (I won't go into great detail but I got much better at converting stored fat to energy instead of glycogen)  which seems to reduce the amount of nutrition I need during races. I will still need to use a combination of energy drinks and gels given the length of the event.  I plan on taking on a few more gels during the bike ride to see if that will help maintain my energy level once I hit the run.
Staying as  "hydrated" and "cool" as possible are the final keys to a successful race.  Although the race is taking place at the end of October, the forecast looks fairly warm, and high humidity will be a new factor to take into account.  No doubt that a hot race will impact performance, so the only thing to do will to be to keep keep trying.
The Swim:  In the pool, I've had a great year of swimming.  This past month I've hit the pool a couple of times a week and I've  been able to be a bit faster over longer sets.  However, there's a big difference between swimming laps in a pool and doing 1.2 miles in an OWS.  During the summer the closest OWS are about 2 hours from home and as a result, I've only done two OWS this year.  I'm not going to worry about having a PR on the swim.  My goal will be to have a decent swim and to come out of the water feeling like I have a lot of energy left for the ride.  From the start I'm going to focus on a steady swim, trying to stay relaxed, breathe regularly and fall into a steady rhythm.  The swim is done in a counter clockwise direction which is also my preference as I seem to have an easier time sighting and staying on course.

The Bike:  I've put more work into the bike this year than ever before.  Not just in terms of miles ridden, but also in terms of challenging myself to push through and ride more aggressively.  I hope that these efforts will pay off in Austin.  At HITS Sterling I averaged 18.1 mph on my road bike.  At the Sunset Triathlon I averaged 21.2 mph on the tri bike.  Next weekend I hope to be somewhere between the two with an average somewhere between 19-20 mph.  At that pace, I should be able to ride a little under three hours and still have energy left for a decent run.

The Run: The run course at Austin consists of three laps each of which must be around 4.6 miles.  At a pace somewhere between 8:30-8:45/ mile, I should complete each lap in 36-38 minutes to have a "great" race.  The biggest factors could be the heat/humidity and how tired I am after the swim and bike portions.  I plan on starting slightly slower than my planned pace during the first mile just to get acclimated.  If I feel strong after the first two laps, I give myself permission to open it up on the last lap and see what I can do.  Don't want to be leaving anything out on the course.  I'm excited to experience the finish which actually takes place indoors.

Transitions: There are separate T1/T2 areas for this event which will be quite interesting.  That said, the basic process will be the same for each:
T1: Enter with wetsuit halfway off and goggles/ cap tucked in sleeve.  Quickly step out of suit by stepping on the top of the suit and pulling legs off.  Shoes on (socks if it's a chilly day). Helmet on, sunglasses on, and bike maintenance kit (these are in the helmet) stowed in pocket.   Head out to bike course.
T2: Rack bike.  Slip out of shoes just before dismount.  Helmet off and on bars (place bike maintenance inside of helmet).  Socks and Shoes on.  Helmet on and grab race belt. Pause to make sure I have everything.  If it's hot, use a water bottle to start cooling.

It has been nearly a year since I signed up for this race and so it's hard to believe it is now only a week away.  Should be a great way to wind up the season.