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.