Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The XTerra Worlds on Maui are over, with Eneko Llanos ( website) and Melanie McQuaid ( story) taking the top placings. Peter Reid and Heather Fuhr won the prestigious (hey, it should be!) Hawaii/XTerra double, with Heather posting the fastest run on Maui, for which she won a new pair of Saucony kicks, to go with the other hundred pairs she has in her closet (she's sponsored by them). Chris Legh was the run prime winner for the men, great to see him rapidly recovering from the bout with his seemingly chronic GI/pulmonary problem at Kona, and to hear that he is going to give the ultra distance races a pass next year and race at the healthier-for-him half distance (and maybe Xterra?) for the time being.

The upcoming Ironman Florida race in Panama City Beach currently has a whopping 85 pros signed up. That's in addition to nearly 2200 age groupers - not wishing any ill will on anyone but for the safety of everyone on the swim and the open-to-traffic bike course, hopefully a few of those will have bowed out by race day or IMNA is going to have another "world record" mass start on its hands, a dubious distinction to be sure. The pro field size is huge in contrast to Lake Placid where only 39 toed the line, and is approaching the size of Hawaii itself where there were 121 this year. What is it about Florida? For the pros, getting a jump toward a 2004 Hawaii slot is likely to be part of it, with many of their competitors on the couch eating bonbons after racing in Kona. That strategy doesn't necessarily pan out for age groupers as there are plenty of fast folks around to fill the slots, usually in times even quicker than those at the other qualifiers.

Trivia time - the last 6 (six) Ironman World Championships (women) have been won on Cat Cheetah bikes! Here's the web site, with some photos. I don't think it's really fair to say that the bike made all the difference for Lori this year though - she had a very good swim, and of course closed the deal from behind with her awesome run. But being on the bike that she had ridden to her single previous win must have inspired confidence.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

The Keys to Ironman are revealed in a nifty article in of all places National Geographic Adventure magazine, a fairly economical outdoor glossy periodical (quite similar to another of my favorite cereal eating/bathroom break light reading references, Outside Magazine).

OK the article in NG Adventure, previewed here, is not really about Ironman racing per se, but it might as well be. The ostensible topic is Survival in life threatening situations, and the 12 essential components of same, presented ala The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. If you were to attend to these same components when approaching and participating in an Ironman race, you'd be in pretty good shape. The article goes into some detail with examples and to really buy into the analogy it will help to read it all - I'll just itemize the 12 points.

  • Perceive, Believe (avoid denial and paralyzing fear)
  • Stay Calm
  • Think, Analyze, Plan
  • Take Action (in an Ironman race you must continually ponder your options, decide on what to do (even if it's maintain the status quo), AND act on that decision. What do you need to do right now?
  • Celebrate Your Success (allow small victories to boost your mood even if the going is tough)
  • Be a Rescuer, Never a Victim (be the one who has extra salt tablets or a spare tube or some vaseline, not the person who needs same).
  • Enjoy the Survival (Ironman) Journey
  • See the Beauty
  • Surrender (in the survival context, accept that things may not work out - you may die, but don't get hysterical, move on and do what you can. Same for Ironman - yes, you may DNF. Get over it and get back to Thinking and Taking Action.
  • Believe You Will Succeed
  • Do Whatever Is Necessary
  • Never Give Up

    There it is. Simple. In many ways Ironman is a survival situation, but it's an eminently survivable one. So get on out there, Noonan, and be the ball!!

  • Tuesday, October 21, 2003

    Well that Camelbak deal didn't last long did it - I don't think it was my fault though because I doubt anyone actually reads this stuff....anyway, back to triathlon. If you only have time to read a few threads on the various forums today, here are some recommendations: On trinewbies.com , a post of a Florida race plan/checklist and subsequent discussion and tips. On Gordo's site, a post from the man himself on his day spectating in Kona . On slowtwitch , amid all the discussion of Tim's kidney stone and Chris McCormack's failure to dominate, there's a useful little thread on donating blood, including a link from Erik Konarske to a good sportsmed article on the subject.

    As to Ironman itself - the Internet coverage had good footage from time to time, along with some pretty steady banter from Bob Babbitt and Paul Huddle accompanied by Welchie and Nicole DeBoom. Vague rumors have the coverage going to OLN TV, US broadcast home of the Tour de France, perhaps as soon as next year, but if not hopefully they'll attempt the Internet coverage again.

    Apparently as part of this year's multimedia extravaganza, athletes can buy a race DVD which includes some footage of themselves when they cross various timing mats, haven't confirmed that though. Which reminds me, hey, if you ever go to the big dance, do your video Athlete Greeting! I can't believe how many people don't bother -trust me, more people than you think are interested and would like to see your smiling albeit slightly nervous mug and hear your voice online as the race approaches.

    Finally, the coolest schwag news from this year's 25th Anniversary race - all finishers received a reproduction of the welded iron nut-head trophy that John Collins gave to the original finishers in 1978. Speaking of 1978 - the first ever winner, Gordon Haller, got some ink in USA Today recently. He raced this year, and finished in 14:19. Unfortunately, he didn't do an athlete greeting.

    Monday, October 20, 2003

    The Deal of the Day at reioutlet.com is a road-cycling oriented Camelbak for less than half price. Sweet.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2003

    Swim, Bike, Run just once each not enough for you? I know most triathletes can take or leave swimming, but some actually do enjoy it, and if you're in that category, as well as being a fan of trail running, self sufficiency (as in carrying your runners with you while you swim), and adventurous events in general, this Cool Race of the Day is for you: The Survivial of the Shawangunks in upstate New York, a bike/run/swim/run/swim/run/swim/run. Not entirely self sufficient as you need a crew to handle your bike in T1, but for T2 through T6 you are on your own (as far as equipment - there are a few aid stations).

    The format is not unlike that of the original Mission Bay Triathlons on Fiesta Island in San Diego, which predated the Ironman, but the SOS certainly has quite a bit more vertical. Those early multi-leg races were put on by members of the still vibrant San Diego Track Club, and are not to be confused with the current Mission Bay Tri held on a different part of the bay (just last week in fact, and won by a presumably tuning-for-Kona Mika Luoto).

    These days the formal events on Fiesta Island are standalone bike time trials (browsing the results you'll find names like Michellie Jones and Heather Fuhr), and a few running races, along with various training sessions and practice races including some for the Triathlon Club of San Diego .

    In addition to being the birthplace of modern triathlon, Fiesta Island is probably most famous for being the site of the OMBAC Over the Line World Championships, a softball sport that ironically involves no running.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2003

    Race week coverage in Kona is underway, with journal entries on the Multisports.com news page , a dedicated page at XTRI.com, and a promise of pre-race material starting today at Traithlete Magazine . Of course there continue to be new features at Ironmanlive.com .

    Here's a nifty Ali'i Drive webcam - you can click it to go all the way to the site that provides it, or refresh it here (20 second cycle) - the camera is in front of the popular Lava Java coffee shop, and you are sure to see any number of Ironman athletes walking, running, or cycling by. You might catch a glimpse of Jurgen hanging out, and if you time it just right you should be able to catch the Underpants Run ( story , story ) going by on Thursday morning sometime after 8am Hawaii time:

    Monday, October 13, 2003

    Badwater Report - no, not the infamous ultramarathon run in death valley - bad water as in nasty liquid. Remember the Leptospirosis catastrophe at the Springfield Ironhorse? Athletes put out of action for a year or more, never to be the same again. Even a misdiagnosis resulting in unnecessary organ removal (no, not waking up in a bathtub full of ice with a noted taped to your chest that says call 911 because your kidney is gone).

    Similar problems happen all the time - a recent article in the San Diego Reader points out that a popular swim venue in Mission Bay is built on a toxic dump . The swim at the biggest triathlon in the world, Chicago, was almost cancelled due to water quality issues. The New York Triathlon swim WAS cancelled! Other stories abound this summer - Timberman triathlon swim cancelled, By the Beach Triathlon becomes a duathlon and on and on.

    What to do? Join the Surfrider Foundation - it's not just for shaggy haired shredders, it's for anyone who loves and enjoys the water. Don't wash your car in your driveway. Stay after your city council to maintain an effective sewage and storm drain system. We wouldn't presume to go so far as to arbitrarily say fight all development in your town, but it should be done responsibly with mitigation for the inevitable increase in runoff and decrease in the filtering and diversionary effects of open space. Triathlon swimming is hard enough without having to race in full scuba gear, but that's the direction a lot of sites are heading if we don't do something. Do you drink a lot of bottled water because your tap water sucks? Yeah, me too. What does that tell you about the health of your water table, lakes, rivers, streams?

    Friday, October 10, 2003

    News Flash - Tim DeBoom walking aid stations!...But probably not this October. Have a look at this vintage race report from 10 years ago, back when the author Lance Muzslay and Tim DeBoom were both up and coming elite age-groupers. Lance went on to very impressive age group feats at Kona, and has since turned pro. Tim too...but obviously he has paid his dues in the trenches (the trenches being The Pit and The Energy Lab). By the way in our summary/preview post below Tim's web site was omitted at first, because it didn't appear to exist, but it's there now, and you can also reach it here . While you're at it, why not pay a visit to his wife Nicole and brother Tony.

    It pays to keep an eye on the "deal of the day" at the REI Outlet site , because sometimes they have cycling, running or other multisport related items at great discounts (once got a Blackburn wind trainer for $100). Today's deal is not really triathlon related...or is it? These cozy fuzzy-boots are just the thing for those chilly mornings on your way to the pool. I've got a similar pair (Uggs) and they are definitely my pre-swim boots more so than apres-ski boots.

    Just the other night I saw the Seinfeld rerun where Elaine is trying to come up with a Peterman Catalogue description for a similar product...""Oh, I'm exhausted. I've been on this street a thousand times. It's never looked so strange. The faces ... so cold. In the distance a child is crying ... fatherless ... a bastard child, perhaps. My back aches, my heart aches, but my feet ... my feet are resilient! Thank God I took off my heels and put on my Himalayan walking shoes!" . I don't think she was on the way to the pool though.

    Speaking of having a cup of hot tea after a sinus-thrashing backstroke heavy masters session, as I am right now, that very same episode was actually mostly about the New York City Marathon and Jean Paul the runner who overslept because Kramer killed the power to the alarm clocks with his supercharged hot tub, but still made the start only to have Kramer inadvertently hand him hot tea instead of cold water at an aid station. Oh the humanity.

    The Seinfeld trilogy of triathlon: Swim: Kramer training in the East River (isn't there also one with Jerry swimming laps, Newman cannonballs him, some goggle confusion etc?). Bike: Elaine's beloved tasseled Sting-Ray which ends up with Kramer and then Newman. Run: Jean Paul's marathon woes.

    Thursday, October 09, 2003

    Cool race of the day - the Catalina Island Triathlon. Races are getting ridiculously expensive, and this one is no exception especially considering that it's just a sprint, but it has the redeeming feature that it is held in a semi-exotic location, a pretty little island off the Pacific coast. The swim is held in crystal clear water (it is a harbor so there is slight potential for some powerboat-spew, but generally it is very nice). The bike course is a nifty, hilly 3-loop affair that goes past the former Wrigley Mansion (yeah, Wrigley as in gum). Using a mountain bike with high pressure slicks is not a bad idea from a gearing and handling point of view, although a road or tri bike is fine too, just leave the corn-cob cluster at home...you won't spend a whole lot of time in the aerobars but if you are gunning for hardware there is a short section along the waterfront where they can be used. Even the run through town and up past a little golf course has a very Mediterranean feel to it.

    Here's the race web site - for those of you on the west coast who are looking for one last race before we get socked in by all that winter weather (oh...wait...we don't have winter -sorry), it's a fun way to end the year. I haven't done the race since about 1997 but I have fond memories of it, including being taken in by some friendly and generous fellow triathletes with a hotel room when they heard I was going to camp alone. Which isn't to say overnighting at the campground in Avalon is a bad idea, I've even done that before catching the race morning boat for the Catalina Marathon and it worked out fine (you can also camp at Two Harbors for that race). By the way the marathon is put on by the same folks and it's another must-do event for those of you who tend toward eclectic adventure in your multisport endeavors.

    Anyway, the early registration deadline is coming up mid-October so if a pocket-sized destination race appeals, get on it. Take your friends/family, do some snorkeling, have a nice seafood dinner, and bring home some salt water taffy to your landlocked coworkers.

    Wednesday, October 08, 2003

    It's generally accepted that coached or at least somewhat structured "masters swimming" (which really just means people 18 and over, not "experts") is a great venue for triathletes to improve their swim skills and endurance. It's also often a very social atmosphere - it's a lot easier to get up at oh dark thirty to go swim if you know some friends are going to be there. But where do you find a masters swim workout? Easy - check out the USMS (United States Masters Swimming) places to swim web page for sites in your town. The page is also a great resource if you are traveling and looking for a workout on the road. Most programs have swimmers of all levels - if you are unsure, just call the coach and ask. Same holds true for when you arrive at a workout - if you don't know what to do or the session format or terminology is confusing, just ask someone for help, most participants, whether pure swimmers or trigeeks, will be happy to share their wisdom with you, and a coach worth sticking with will put in a little effort to help you get off on the right foot.

    Tuesday, October 07, 2003

    The Bikers - We stopped at the Sugar Shack for a big breakfast in the middle of a long ride this weekend, and were seated by a veteran waitress at this popular cyclist destination, but then served by a gal who was new on the job. After some whispered instructions from the former, our waitress looked around at all the tables for a minute, then came over and topped up our already empty water glasses and left the pitcher - excellent! I then overheard her at the waitress station telling the veteran "When you said 'the bikers are going to need a lot of water', I thought you meant BIKERS, like Harley Davidsons, and that maybe you figured they had been out drinking all night and were really hungover and thirsty, but you meant bicycle bikers!!". Hilarous. She was a bit nonplussed when she asked how far we were riding and we said 100 miles.

    Which brings us to The Bikers in the upcoming Hawaii Ironman - ever since the days of uber swimmer/biker Wolfgang Dittrich, and really even going back to the cycling-driven win of John Howard there have been a few people willing to take it out hard on the bike. And every year the question is asked - will it pay off? And usually answered, by a runner...no, it won't. Could this year be different? We can be pretty sure that Jurgen Zack, Thomas Hellriegel, Steve Larsen, and last year's cratering virgin run leader Chris McCormack (who do I think can win it all this year) will give it a go and try to find out.

    Other strong cyclists who might choose to (try to) go with the frontrunners include Chris Lieto, Normann Stadler, Lothar Leder (if he can keep out of the penalty box), and of course the potentially devastatingly balanced, but seemingly fragile returning prodigal son, Luc Van Lierde. It's also possible, but not likely, that Peter Reid will try to go with McCormack and the Germans instead of hanging back at the calculated pace of two time defending champ Tim DeBoom, particularly if he buys into McCormack's assertion that his problem last year was simply (as if any Ironman difficulty can be passed off as simple) electrolytes.

    Monday, October 06, 2003

    Speaking of USAT and the Nationals - Lew Kidder has a great post on the slowtwitch forum about criteria that should hold for a Nationals venue/race organization. If the same shortcomings bother you, don't just nod your head or preach to the choir by voicing agreement with Lew on slowtwitch - pull up some contact info from that nifty new USAT home page and let the powers that be know how you feel. As Empfield points out in the above referenced thread, it's our money in the bank and the future of our sport that is at stake - speak up!

    Tiny Tech Tip - when you mount (clincher) tires, orient them exactly the same way every time...the correct way is to have the tire label aligned with the valve stem, and on the right side of wheel (by the way, your quick release levers should always be on the left side of both wheels).

    Why? Because when (not if) you get a flat, particularly from a small piece of persistent debris such as a glass shard, a steel belted radial wire fragement, or the tip of a thorn, any of which may remain embedded in the tire to cause further punctures, you need to be able to find the section of tire that corresponds to the hole in your tube. If the tire has a consistent orientation to the valve stem, then when you put some air in the (removed) tube to find the hole, as long as you have kept the left/right orientation of the tube, you can more easily find the offending debris or confirm that there is nothing there (it's a bit safer than running your unprotected finger all around the inner surface of the tire). Sure, the same thing can usually be accomplished by just assuming the tire hasn't moved around the rim, but sometimes it slips a bit, sometimes you remove the whole tire when removing the tube, etc. so why not have a secure reference point?

    The other reason to have your labels aligned? It looks cool - like you know what you are doing. Who would you rather ride close to into a tricky corner on a training ride, someone who has properly installed and inflated tires and quick releases, or a potential squirrel with everything upside down and backwards and maybe worse? Yeah, on the one hand it's just cosmetics, like a chainring mark on the leg, and it's not like we need more anal type-A control freak behavior in the sport, but in this case a little care for your equipment can actually pay dividends.

    Here's a link to Jim Langley's awesome site with tips on bike maintenance.

    USAT (USA Triathlon) has recently updated their web site . Among other useful features, you can check your membership status , find a local triathlon club in this comprehensive list of clubs, or spend a few minutes refreshing your knowledge of the competitive rules, something we all should do from time to time considering the number of penalties issued at the recent Age Group Nationals. Hey, get off my wheel!!!

    Sunday, October 05, 2003

    USAT Age Group Nationals - Congratulations to overall winners Sabine Bildstein and John Reback - here's a direct link to the Age Group nationals results. Here's a web page about Sabine and a page with a bit about John. John is the brother of elite ITU triathlete Laura Reback.

    Saturday, October 04, 2003

    Bob Mionske, the VeloNews/Inside Tri legal columnist, has written a very informative piece on the latest Clear Channel shock jock anti-cyclist brouhaha. The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) currently has an article on this subject on their home page as well.

    The USAT age group national championships are being held today in Shreveport, LA. Visit the event web site and check back later for the results. This race is a qualifier for the 2004 World Championships on Madeira Island in Portugal. Good luck to our friends and all others who are participating.

    The Ironman World Championships in Hawaii are coming up on October 18th. Last year's top 10 men and women with links to their web sites where available:
    1Natascha Badmann SUI9:07:54 SITE SITE
    2Nina Kraft GER9:14:24 SITE
    3Lori Bowden CAN9:22:27 SITE
    4Heather Fuhr CAN9:29:58 SITE
    5Fernanda Keller BRA9:31:38 SITE
    6Lisa Bentley CAN9:34:19 SITE
    7Kate Allen AST9:38:40 Article
    8Karin Thuerig SUI9:42:08 SITE
    9Sibylle Matter SUI9:42:51 SITE
    10Joanna Lawn NZL9:42:57 Article

    1Tim DeBoom USA8:29:56SITE
    2Peter Reid CAN8:33:06 SITE
    3Cameron Brown NZL8:35:34 SITE
    4Thomas Hellriegel GER8:36:59 SITE
    5Alexander Taubert GER8:38:58
    6Francois Chabaud FRA8:40:39
    7Markus Forster GER8:44:28
    8Mika Luoto FIN8:45:45 SITE
    9Cameron Widoff USA8:45:53 SITE
    10Olaf Sabatschus GER8:46:18 SITE

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