Friday, December 28, 2007


I've been thinking about buying a new road bike for some time -- probably as far back as October of 2005, a month after I bought my tri bike. For various reasons (all good), I've yet to pull the trigger.

Now, why would I possibly want a third bike?
1) My current road bike is old (like seven years old; that's ancient)
2) With Hannah in Texas, I get pretty bored. Building up a bike on my own would be a good way to pass the time.
3) I like gear as much as the next guy. And why only have two bikes when you can have three?
4) My current road bike is not new.

So there you go, no real good reason, which is why I haven't bought a new bike yet.

All that said, a number of bike "companies" are doing group buys for the holiday season. Basically, that means one of two things: 1) The more people that sign up and pre-order a bike or frame, the lower the price becomes; 2) The company fixes the price at an incredibly low price and advertises it as such.

One of the "companies" is offering a ridiculous deal right now (deal ends December 31!) for a full carbon fiber frame, including shipping. For the last week I've been tempted and tempted again. Today, I had my finger on the "purchase" button.

(Side note: I have "companies" in quotes because what most people don't know is that most bikes today are actually made by only a handful of Asian manufacturers, especially the carbon ones. These American brands then import generic frames and rebadge them with their own labels. I don't have any issue with that per se, especially those made in Taiwan. I'm only suggesting that you keep this in mind if you're going to buy a new bike; you might be able to get a better deal elsewhere on the exact same frame. Marketing!)

Anyway, I stopped myself from taking advantage of the great deal for a few reasons:
1) The $400 frame (awesome deal, trust me on this one) isn't a $400 bike. I'd still need to buy all the parts for it. Right now, money's just a little too tight for that. And Hannah's got a birthday coming up. Oh, and the house.

2) I'm pretty sure the frame is made in China. It's manufactured by a Taiwanese company, but they have two facilities -- one in China. Only their super top end stuff gets made in Taiwan; at $400 there's no way this is super top end. It's not that I think the frame is going to be coated in lead paint, it'll probably be an excellent bike, made by skilled laborers. And I've got plenty of cheap stuff made in China. At this point though, I'm not about to spend money on a luxury from China.

3) I don't really ride my road bike that much anyway. Not enough to warrant three at this point.

4) My current road bike isn't that old, I mean, c'mon, it's only seven years old. I've got t-shirts older than that.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Coming up

I've got my event schedule pretty well worked out for the bulk of 2008... exciting! ...and new! (Just like the Love Boat.)

This might be my fullest competition schedule since college. It helps that I'm not doing a half or full ironman.

January 19 - San Angelo Trail Series 10k -- This is assuming everything works out in Tejas. That said, it wouldn't be a move if I wasn't doing an event the same weekend.
February 2 - San Angelo Trail Series 12k -- Nothing witty to say here, move along.
April 12 - Northface Endurance Challenge - Half Marathon or 50k-- We'll see what shape I'm in by the registration opening on February 2. Good shape means half marathon, great shape means 50k... poor shape means a very slow half marathon.
April 19 - Striders Duathlon (5k/18k/5k) -- Back in San Angelo. I've never done a duathlon. Should be fun. I'm opting for the shorter distance race for two reasons: 1)Hannah and I can sort of do it together, 2)That potential 50k the weekend before.
May 4 - Devilman Sprint Triathlon -- I've done the half in Cedarville, NJ for the past two years. Unlike most other people, I like the race, although I'll be doing the short course this time.
August - Super secret mystery race -- This is the all or nothing race at which I'll be putting all 110% of my eggs in the basket. I'll probably reveal it at the 11th hour. After all, it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. Except in this case, it's actually a sprint.
September 27- Great Eastern Endurance Run 100k -- I don't think I have anything going on that weekend; should work out nicely. I believe Hannah might even be in town.

All told, this could be my lowest cost race season ever. That is, if you ignore the flights to San Angelo to participate in a $10 race.

If anyone wants to join me for one of these, come aboard, we're expecting you.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I went to a party in Hoboken this past Saturday. Now, I'm not what you'd typically consider a party-kinda-guy. Add to that the fact that this party was thrown by a bunch of Lehigh AXP guys -- who graduated high school after I had graduated from college -- and it's no surprise that I left before midnight. Don't get me wrong, it was a nice party and all, and it was good to see some college friends I haven't seen in a while... but it had run it's course for me earlier than most.

Anyway, as I was walking the 13 blocks from the party to the train station to go home, I passed all the bars. Outside of every bar was a gaggle of smokers -- looking like they were epileptic. This was on the night that north Jersey got that sleet and snow. Pretty darn cold. I couldn't fathom the need these people had to feed some addiction that it so rough on the body.

I considered all of this the next morning as I added layer after layer of polypro so that I could do my planned run outside.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Winter of Adventure!

With Hannah in Texas, all I could see ahead of me for the coming months was a grim, grey, godforsaken (well, not really, but it was a "g-word" that's a synonym for "lonely") winter.

But all that changed when I hit upon what's getting me down (aside from the obvious Hannah being in Texas) -- I get bored in the winter. So, to remedy that, I've decided to get out of town.

Every weekend that I'm not flying down to Texas, I plan to get outside. Some weekends that might just mean some trail runs or hikes somewhere in NJ (provided there's no snow). But if there is snow... man, I've got some plans that are just downright exciting. If Hannah can drive three hours to Austin to go to Macy's when she's bored, I can drive two hours to PA or NY to revel in some wintery goodness.

I mean, I've got most of the clothing that will get me through. And I'll be able to put those packs to good use. The only things I'm short are a few fun items, and some impenetrable gloves (yay for Christmas!).

I've turned around my entire mood about this coming winter. That's a good thing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Our serious cat

We have a very serious cat. And with Hannah in Texas, he's only become more serious. He used to tolerate my early morning wakeups when I would get up, feed him, and ride my bike on the trainer because he would then go back to bed with Hannah. Now, while he's still pleased that I wake up and feed him, I usually leave to go run or go to the gym.

Thus, he's left by himself to ponder the plight of the moral industrialist in today's litigious society. He'd do that anyway, but now he doesn't have anyone to scratch his back while he thinks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

We went to Austin a month ago, but whatever. We saw some things, learned about Texas history and went to a Christmas craft fair -- and had a great time (oooh, the irony).

We also went to the longest "continuously running" outdoor artists market in the US. There was one tent set up, I'm not even sure it was a vendor/artist. I am now suspect of anything in any guidebook.

Oh, and Hannah almost got gored by a giant longhorn.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I don't bake

I can cook. I can sort of grill. But I can't bake.

For example:

This was my attempt at making cranberry-apple bread for my department's Thanksgiving potluck a few weeks ago. I ended up making mashed potatoes with parsnips.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Darn you laundry... made me miss the most obscure question ever on Jeopardy!

And the contestant got it right!

I feel all special now, since I've spoken with the guy (via e-mail and his web forum and all). Of course, everyone on his website ( is all abuzz too.

It's the bizarre little things in life that make you happy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Me and the Weather

I don't get it. Not that I desperately want it to get consistently really freaking cold (CRFC), but the weather here in NJ is all over the place.

Basically, I think it's somehow karmically connected to days I go out to run. For the last three weeks (or more), every time I've had a run, it's been in the mid-50's or higher. And I've been running a decent amount (at least every Tuesday, Thursday and one day during the weekend). While normally I'd be thrilled to run in shorts in late November, the problem is, based on the previous day's exposure to the weather, I convince myself at 5 a.m. that I should be getting all polypro-ed up. As soon as I step outside though, it's like a sauna. So, while I appreciate God or whoever trying to help me out with the weather on my running days, I'm clearly out of sync.

I swear, this is every time I go outside to run. At the 8k I ran on Thanksgiving -- PR by the way ;) -- I ran in shorts and a t-shirt. Yesterday, RFC (but not yet CRFC). Today... I could have been in shorts and a t-shirt again. The projection for tomorrow is freezing.

Yeesh, it's no wonder everyone in my office is sick.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I say it's okay to burn some bridges, otherwise, the people on the other side might be able to come over to you.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Returnin' to Bergen

With Hannah in Texas, we've said goodbye to our very nice, very happy, first (condo/town)house.

***Imagine a picture of our very nice, very happy, first (condo/town)house here. Until Verizon gets my DSL straightened out, there won't be any pictures.***

I'm temporarily moving back to my favorite little county in NJ - Bergen. What I suppose is more amusing is that I'm moving back to the exact same apartment Hannah and I used to live in. No, it hasn't been vacant for two years; it's just chance.

So why is Bergen county my favorite county? You'd think it would be Essex (you know, the county I grew up in), right? Essex probably would have my heart, seeing as how it's followed me around for both of my ironmans (IMWI runs through Verona, WI; Lake Placid is in Essex County, NY), if not for the fact that I had my car stolen while living there. Boo Newark, you blew it for Essex County.

So, what do I like about Bergen County? Not too much actually. It's congested, it's not inexpensive, and some of its towns have wacky blue laws. But, Bergen County is where:
-I was living when I first met Hannah
-I was living and rowing when I won at Canadian Henley
-I was living when I met most of my post-college friends
-Hannah and I had our first apartment together (see above)
-They're building a monster of a mall, that includes a giant, indoor downhill ski run -- with any luck, I'll be gone again by the time they finish it, but it looks pretty impressive in a grotesque-Great-Wall-of-China kind of way.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


In going through and packing up all our stuff for the move, it's becoming glaringly apparent that I like two things: footwear and bags. Luckily, as I'm a dude, this has manifested itself in the socially acceptable accumulation of running shoes and backpacks.

If I were a girl, my closet would probably look like, well... Hannah's. So hey, there's something else we have in common.

I don't really know when this started, and as much as I'd like to blame Hannah for corrupting me, it's not her fault. I think it's just coincidence. Before we met, the two sports I regularly participated in either didn't require footwear or you didn't supply your own.

Once I moved to triathlon, the doors were wide open.

I don't honestly believe I have too many of anything; the problem is I never seem to get rid of any of it. I tell myself I'll use the old sneakers for lawn-mowing. Of course, we don't have a lawn, and by the time we do, I'll have moved on to at least one new pair of running shoes.

I think I'm emotionally invested in all of this stuff, which is probably the real reason I haven't thrown any of it out yet. The few things I have thrown out were after a long back and forth of placing in and removing from the trash.

Luckily, the running shoes I currently love are ridiculously inexpensive. As for backpacks, ummm... at least some of them were free.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Aim Small

Following up the last post about pointing in the right direction, I can also share that I'm going to have a much narrower focus this year -- at least, as far as my athletic goals are concerned. IM is big, way too big, for me to comprehend any time soon.

Actually, truth be told, I have a pretty narrow focus about anything that matters to me. For example, I have a very specific financial objective, and (almost) everything I do supports that. What's nice is that, even if I blow it, I'll still be way ahead of the curve. I'm following the saying, regrettably popularized by Mel Gibson in "The Patriot," "Aim small, miss small." Logically, the second part follows, "Aim big, miss big."

As in just about everything I do well, the only way it's going to work is with a narrow focus. Anything that falls outside my goals is extraneous.

So, as far as sports go this year, I'm going to be going after one event, and it's a little event at that. Everything else is either a building block to that little (but important to me) event, or it means I got off track.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I'm still not going to say exactly where I'm going athletics-wise, but I'll point in the general direction... that way (man, I am so funny).

Over the last year I've read a bunch of books about endurance sports training. Interestingly, two of them (Swim Coaching Bible and Daniels' Running Formula) focus on training youth athletes. The important message was not to start with too much -- volume, intensity, specificity, etc.

I have this buddy who, seemingly on a whim, ramped up from zero to marathon training a little over a year ago. He's also got an ongoing, consistent string of injuries.

My take away here is that actual age doesn't reflect "athletic age" (I didn't make that term up, I swear -- sports scientists much smarter than me have been using it for years). The problem with so many "non-youth" athletes that start as masters or return to sports after a long lay-off is that they want to go after the big events (marathons, Ironman tris, century bike rides), despite being effectively "infants." Jumping straight into marathon training works for a lot of people, I'm not going to deny that -- and if it makes them happy, that's great. But if you're constantly injured, I'd wager your body isn't ready for the training stress.

So what does that say about me? I've been pretty lucky over the years, injury wise. A likely reason is my athletic age is probably pretty close to my actual age -- I've been swimming, or rowing, most of my life.

That said, I do have some recurring injuries related to my achilles, likely because my "impact sports" athletic age has me still in diapers. Those problems have only come about since I've been training for the long stuff, so, the direction I'm pointing right now --> no long stuff until I get this worked out.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Listen to me

...Unless you're faster than me, in which case, I have nothing of value to offer you.

...But if you're faster than me, and injured, there be a small bit of value in what I'm saying.

...If you're slower than me, you might only be slower because you listen to too many people. Stop reading so many magazines and ignore the forums. You should add "don't listen to me" to that list as well (other than following the advice in my previous sentence).

...If you're slower than me, and injured, man... that just sucks. Go see a doctor. Don't worry about an ironman; worry about being able to walk when you're 50. Then worry about running a 5k without getting injured again.

...If you're about my speed, listen to everything I say: read all the magazines, follow every piece of advice on the internet forums, ignore your doctors and spend as much time as possible researching and then purchasing the best gear imaginable (like this or this).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My brother and his friends

So, JNM, the most artistically talented of my brothers, has gotten himself connected with a whole crew of folks just as creative, and just as car-azy as him. I don't think he even needed the interwebs to find them, they just all gravitated towards each other.

He's part of a new show, that, even if it just turns out to be a gimic, should prove to be wildly entertaining. I fully expect it to be awesome and not gimic-ey.

The title alone is clever enough to warrant a viewing. Go see it.

On the off chance someone my brother doesn't know is reading this blog and doesn't already know where to buy tickets, click here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I'm not a beach person

I've confirmed that I am not a "beach vacation" kind of guy. I think it has something to do with the idea of paying money to sit around that doesn't appeal to me (clearly, I'd rather pay money to get all lycra-ed up and run around in a circle).

We did have a good time in St. Thomas overall though. The best days were spent snorkeling or hiking (in St. John).

The day we went hiking was probably my favorite, despite it being a little frustrating. Because of our less-than-attentive bus driver, we didn't stop at the trailhead we were supposed to, and instead hiked a significantly more challenging -- and significantly less traveled/marked -- trail to join back up with the originally planned trail. We got a little lost, got a lot hot and got even more sweaty. I had a blast, but I think Hannah was a bit cranky. It didn't help that she was dealing with the ridiculous sunburn she received the day before.

The snorkeling was really cool too. Aside from one incident where I almost swam into a jellyfish, we didn't see any big or scary sea life, just lots of smaller, happy (I'm assuming) fish that were content to let you swim around with them.

We encountered some other wildlife, none considerate enough to pose for photos. So you get some of the dregs from the digital camera:

Wacky albino crab (not its technical name)

Attack of the lazy iguanas. These guys were all on the cliff outside the condo we stayed in. Easily a couple dozen.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How the weekend went

So I'm back from Texas (well, three days ago anyway).

Hannah and I ran in a 5k hosted by the local running club, proceeds went to Habitat for Humanity.

Interesting occurrences:
-I think about 50 people ran. That might be the smallest event I've ever competed in. I did not come close to winning.

-Hannah came in third woman overall.

-The entry fee was $10 each. Hannah had mailed the check and entry forms in a week or so earlier, yet they didn't have us registered on race day. The organizer said it was probably because nobody bothered to check the mailbox in the past week. So they took us at our word and let us race. We'll see if that check ever clears.

-As I mentioned, total entry fees for us were $20. They gave out door prizes after the awards. Between us, we won two free dinners at a local Mexican restaurant, plus $10 off at another restaurant. So, somehow, we came out ahead in all this (especially if they never cash that check!).

So, the upshot is we plan to race in more tiny Texas races, as odds are we'll probably end up breaking even.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

San Angelos Number Two

I'm heading down to see Hannah again tonight (well, tomorrow. Tonight I fly to Dallas). Maybe this time I'll take a picture or two. Maybe.

We're both signed up for a local 5k. Then Hannah's going to wrestle a longhorn. She's preparing for when the rodeo comes through, in hopes they'll offer her a job. None of this corporate stuff anymore. I'm planning to apply to drive the rodeo clown car.

...wait, what? ...They have cars!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Confirming what I know

This WAS likely going to be my greatest post ever, but, as luck would have it, when I pressed "save," Blogger actually interpreted that to mean "don't save... and in fact, delete what you saved the last time you pressed 'save'... no, wait, on second thought, make that delete everything but your first sentence."

So you only get my frustrated second attempt, which means shorter and less amusing.

The Skylands Sprint went about as good as could be expected. Some observations:
-People don't know how to swim straight (or I don't, but I'm people, so my statement still counts).
-Northwestern NJ is really hilly. I think the bike course had 50,000 ft. of vertical gain... at once. Some people were walking their bikes up one of the hills. I did not, but I was in danger of falling over at one point.

This race confirmed what I've known for a while: I can't compete on athletic talent alone, since I don't have any talent. My only shot at being competitive is to be at the peak of my fitness.

A comparison: I was racked next to a guy who was also at Ironman Lake Placid. He too hadn't done anything since that race. Before the race, we joked that this might be an unpleasant day.

He came in second in our age group (just outside of first), and somewhere in top 25 overall. My best possible placing on the day was likely to be third in the AG. Ultimately, I was racing for fourth. I finished fifth and 101st overall.

So there you go.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Idiocy or just plain old stupidity?

On a whim, I signed up for the Skylands Sprint Triathlon last night. The race is this Sunday in Clinton, NJ (about 45 minutes away).

I was stuck between dropping into one of many (relatively) local 5ks or signing up for this tri. I was leaning to the 5k option, using the logic of, "there's something to be said for just showing up in shorts and a t-shirt and not having to lug all the extra crap."

Interestingly, Hannah had an opposing opinion: "You can do a 5k almost any time. There's not many triathons you can just sign up for a few days out." Coupled with the fact that this would be the first time I could sleep in my own bed before a multisport event, the tri won out.

Now, of course, I haven't really done anything since Lake Placid. The majority of my activity has been the 40 minute roundtrip walk to/from the train station every day. My bike still has my IMLP race number on it. My wetsuit is still rolled up in a ball in the garbage bag I threw it in for the drive home from the Adirondacks. My race water bottles are on the bike frame and still have the leftover drink mix from July 22 (oh, I kid... I washed them out this morning).

So, I'm not sure if I'm an idiot for signing up for this, or just mildly stupid. One thing I'm sure of is that I'll have fun. Hey, worst case, I'm confident I can walk the 5k.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Where am I going?

I've been reading a lot about aging in general and aging athletes. I haven't necessarily sought the content out, it just seems to be everywhere today.

Maybe it's because of all these people getting old. I'm sure it ties into every financial services company aggressively going after the Baby Boomers.

In any event, I've been thinking about both my long-term athletic goals and my long-term health. I've pretty much decided on that athletic goal, but I'll keep that to myself for awhile (even more to myself than this blog anyway). I can say that my long-term health is tied into the goal, or, rather, the goal is tied into my long-term health (oooh... lame crypticosity).

A lot of people I know are hobbling around on worn down body parts (and some of these people aren't that old). I'm going to try to avoid that as best I can. I've got a few of my own niggling physical problems to deal with and I'll be addressing those immediately (I actually started a few weeks back).

Tomorrow I do my first Maximum Aerobic Pace (MAP) run test. The plan is start from zero and raise fitness over the next plentysix months. At some point I'll share where I'm going with all this.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Ironman Lake Placid - Part 3: The Sequel Part II

I had two objectives by changing into running gear:
1) Have nice, new, ungrossified clothes to put on.
2) Give myself something to focus on (changing), so that I could get in and out of the change tent and not get stuck to the nice, comfortable, hard plastic, folding chair.

That plan worked on both fronts, so I was quickly off on the run.

...or rather, off on the walk. My marathon "race" plan was actually to run 10 minutes and power walk 45 seconds, starting with a walk to get myself used to moving again. Naturally, all the spectators were yelling at me to go (since it was just the start of the marathon), but I smiled and waved and stuck with my walk. A few minutes into my first run, I passed everyone that I had left transition with, never to see them again.

My little run/walk strategy worked great. I stuck to it except for a few aid stations and the last two hills back into town. Very few people passed me, but I got to get through a bunch of people, some of whom I'm sure where annoyed that I'd run past them, then they'd pass me when I walked, then I'd pass them back when I ran again.

I had a nice conversation with one of the pass/repassers about my awesome ugly shoes (Vitruvian Running -- $60!). Exchanged stupid jokes with other runners, none of which were funny, but we all politely laughed. That's mostly what I remember.

I never hit "the wall;" I just gradually slowed down (10-minute miles on the first loop, 11-minute miles on the second). Mostly that's a result of my (lacking) run fitness. However, I maximized the fitness I had and ran to my full potential (on the day).

Moving through lap two (somewhere around mile 15). Luckily this is a downhill, so I still look like I'm moving at a decent clip.

Coming in to the finish. Hey, did you know that Ironman is sponsored by Ford?

No, really, I'm serious.

I swear, it really is. I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.

So, that's that. I executed the race exactly as I had hoped, and came up with an almost 40-minute PR, almost all of which occured on the run. You can't ask for a much better day than that.

Here's my support entourage/family post-race (minus Robin and Bob). It was great to have everyone there.

Well, at least JNM looks good. And maybe my dad.

Ironman Lake Placid -- Part II: This Time It's Impersonal

I don't have too much to say about the bike section. It's long. It's hard. It's quite scenic. A lot of people think they're faster than they really are.

I had traveled to LP in early June to ride the course and got myself walloped. After that experience, my entire goal was to train to ride conservatively and set myself up for the marathon. So, it was all business (slow, slow business). I executed my (slow) race plan flawlessly, so flawlessly (slow) in fact that I rode within 11 seconds of my (slow) Wisconsin bike time from '05 (that's a 6:57 for those of you keeping track).

While you might think I was slow, I was happy with my overall bike performance. The only low point was into a wicked headwind on the downhill and flattest parts of the course (naturally). I typically don't do well in headwinds, and this was no exception. Here's me trying to be as aero as possible and hoping the headwind will be a tailwind on the climb back to town (try not to be blinded by the pasty white skin).

Well, I don't know if there was a tailwind into town or not, but clearly I paced myself well, because I rode the back climb only three minutes slower than the first lap. It was probably the first time in any triathlon I've done where I passed a bunch of people on the bike. Of course, none of us were moving that fast, but it was nice to be the demoralizer instead of the demoralizee for once.

T2 was a complete wardrobe change -- new shorts, shirt and socks. I kept telling the volunteer in the change tent that I was going to change everything and that, while appreciated, I didn't need his help, but he seemed intent on helping me put on my race belt. It wasn't until I dropped trou that he realized he might want to back off a little. Awkward.

Then I got glopped with sunscreen by another helpful volunteer (who I did not get nude for) and I was off on the run.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ironman Lake Placid - Part: the First

Finally, the moment all (none) of you have been waiting for... my IMLP race recap!

I drove up to Lake Placid the Thursday before the race. Had I been thinking, I would have taken pictures of the constant downpour, which was more than a little unsettling. I had prepared myself for the likelihood that it would be warm; or rainy and warm; or cold at first, then warm; or cold, then rainy, then warm. However, it hadn't ever occurred to me that it would rainy and cold only. So, in a mild panic, I had Hannah bring up three different long sleeve shirts when she came on Saturday with RDM and JNM, none of which I ended up using (the day ended up cold, then warm... whew).

There was a minor incident with Johnny Law that kept my vast fan base from arriving as originally planned, but it worked out in the end.

Race day got off to a (cold) start with some aimless wandering around. Here's everyone (minus photographer RDM and my uncle) after I dropped off my special needs bags. I had seen them from a decent ways off and was waving to get there attention, but it wasn't until we were right on top of each other that they noticed me. I'll be honest, I was a little unsure of their spectator skills at this point, as the race hadn't even started yet and they couldn't identify me (don't worry, they did fine).

I got myself (wet)suited up and headed out to the start.

After splashing around trying to stay warm for 30 minutes or so, we got rolling with the start canon. I had lined up in the second or third row back, right in the middle of the start line. I might as well have started in the very front, because I got pummeled like never before. I don't think I was so much swimming as much as climbing on top of people for the entire swim. It was the first race I've ever done that I thought about that old Clif Bar commercial.

I wasn't too happy and chose to walk the section on the beach between the two loops. Here's me taking my time amidst others not taking their time (I'm in the middle with red shoulders, you know, the one with the white cap and goggles).

The second loop was only marginally more pleasant than the first. I finished in just under 1:01, with about two minutes difference between the laps.

After the swim I had trouble getting out of my wetsuit sleeves (I wore a somewhat unique two-piece suit), then had trouble getting into my arm warmers in T1. Slow going, but it was worth it to be warm enough for the first part of the bike.

As much as I would like to pretend I was being all cool and giving a thumbs up here before getting my bike, that wasn't the case.

Friday, August 24, 2007


According to my friend Ed, Hannah's living in a fictional California city from Demolition Man. I'm going down to visit this weekend, so if I run into a crazed Wesley Snipes or a knitting Sylvester Stallone, I'll be sure to take a picture.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Big Goal

I'm going to go under 12 hours in an Ironman.

Now, that's not a huge deal to many people in the sport, but it represents a significant breakthrough for me. I'll need a sub-4:15 marathon, sub-6:30 bike and sub-hour swim. That also gives me 15 minutes for transitions.

Winning means sub-12. Losing means not sub-12. This is the first time in a while I've had such a quantitative goal.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I'm waiting for RDMs photos before I post my witty race report for Lake Placid. Otherwise, you'd get Hannah's pictures from the race. While good, they're not the best for the web, if only because she takes a bunch of shots of me getting closer and closer, then nothing when she puts the camera down to wave, then pictures of my back.

So you get little faraway Nick --> slightly bigger faraway Nick --> Nick's backside --> slightly smaller Nick's backside. I appreciate the waving and cheering more anyway.

RDM on the other hand is all business. I don't remember seeing his face on race day.

He's in Dallas right now, but I hope to get the pictures this weekend.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Why I think I've been happy with almost all of my triathlon results over the last few years: I've become more self-aware. Basically, that means I race to my fitness level.

It's easier to do that in long course events because it's such a long day. If I tried to "race" the 11-hour guys, I'd blow up by the halfway point (or sooner, since I'd be drilling it on the bike -- my weakest event). In short course stuff (for me, that's my youth swimming, all my rowing and various short triathlons) it's harder to moderate effort, since you have to go from the start if you want to win (or get a PR).

My last four long distance tris (Devilman '06 and '07, Musselman '06 and IMLP) were all successes (to me), despite not always resulting in PRs. Mainly that's because I was looking to raise my fitness over two years and have a breakthrough at Lake Placid -- I wasn't overly concerned with my times, so long as I executed effectively.

I'm spending some time thinking about a new long-term athletic goal. Likely it will be another IM in two or more years. I think it will take that long to address my various limiters and raise my fitness to a level that can allow me to reach another breakthrough, without compromising on everything else I need to focus on.

I'm also working on incorporating that self-awareness into the rest of my life. I think I'm doing okay with it, but there's always more room to improve.

Okaaayyyy... enough personal introspection in a public forum. Back to self-deprecating race summaries in the next post!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Official Lake Placid Photos

Official race photos are up. Some pretty good, some not so flattering. I'll get my race summary up sometime in the next week. Good day!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

2007 Early Races

I did a couple of events this year leading up to Lake Placid. Naturally, I have no pictures from the NJ Devilman Half, the only distance race I've done more than once. So, you'll just have to take my word for it that I showed up again.

Devilman was a windy one this year. In '06 I PRed at the distance. This year... I did not. Although I had my fastest run ever. So that's something (a faster run, in fact).

I also joined in a half ironman relay with Phil (Hannah's dad) and Dan, a guy I know from work. I swam (quelle surprise).

Apparently late May in Harriman State Park in NY is really freaking miserable. I wore my full wetsuit (as opposed to the sleeveless) for the first time ever. I believe I had the warmest leg of the race.

Relays were in the second wave, along with most of the women and older men. I was one of the few people charging from the start horn, along with one other guy who I overheard telling someone else that he was in a relay. So, my plan was to hang with this guy.

That lasted about 200m. I'm a fairly fast swimmer (in the age group triathlon world), but this guy was unreal. It was taking everything I had to hang on his feet, so I downshifted to a more reasonable effort and swam solo the rest of the way. No drafting for Nick.

At some point during the swim, it started to rain, but I didn't notice until I came out of the water (2nd in the wave, 6th overall, there's something!). I ran to transition and handed off the timing chip to Dan (our cyclist), who was wearing every piece of clothing he owned. I then went to the bathroom to change and lose my breakfast and then had a long sit in the car, broken up by short trips to the bike course to cheer Dan on (it was a four loop course). I think about half the field dropped out on the bike, many of whom assumed that they would be okay in a tri singlet in sub-50 degree temperatures with rain and wind. Ahhh triathletes, we're a vain, stupid bunch.

Dan didn't drop out, what with some intelligence and clothes and all.

After the bike, Dan and Phil exchanged the chip and Phil was off. Hannah and I sat in the car again. Dan changed and tried to get warm in his own car.

It actually stopped raining for the run portion and Phil came back shirtless. At first I thought it was a result of the madness you hear climbers getting when they get lost on Everest. You know, when they go hypothermic and actually think they're overheating, so they take off all their clothes and end up freezing to death. I'm serious, I didn't make that up.

In any event, Phil was actually just hot.

We had a good race overall and finished fourth. First place had the fastest time of the day (uber swimmer was on that team) and beat us by over an hour.

It was nice to only have to bring a speedo, wetsuit and goggles to a race, instead of all the gear you need for a full event. However, the key lesson I learned is that while small long distance triathlons are fun to do, they are boooooring to watch. I think I'll throw Hannah a bone and only do short distance races next year (see I do care).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

These people looked deep within my soul and assigned me a number based on the order in which I joined

That's the second time I've used that quote, the first is from IMWI in 2005. So what does that mean? It means I have a race number for Ironman Lake Placid: 279. There are 130 guys in my age group. I will be racing none of them (until the last few miles if there are any still around).

Monday, July 09, 2007

2006 Races - Musselman Half

I raced two long races in 2006 – both half ironmans (ironmen?). My plan was to take two years to build up to another IM in 2007.

Naturally, I can only find pictures from what was supposed to be my “A” race for the year, not the first one (at which I performed much better) -- Musselman in Geneva, NY. Thank RDM for taking these.

Since the IMWI posts were so long, I’ll keep this brief. Hannah and my brother came up to watch. Basically, I was having a really good race, right up until about mile 40 on the bike. I was actually passing people on the bike AND not too many folks were passing me. It looked like I might do really well (relative to past performance).

In fact, I remember thinking that exact thing right before I crashed. The crash was pretty bad, but not as bad as it could have been. I was banged up but nothing was broken. My bike was banged up but nothing was broken. I thought my race was over and while waiting for the neutral race support van to come by, I figured I’d have a go at trying to get my bike working again. After about 20 minutes, everything was somewhat functional, the van hadn’t come by yet and I was only 16 miles from the bike finish, so I rode in.

Coming into transition, it occurred to me that I was pretty lucky that I hadn’t broken anything and I had done a decent amount of work to get fit for the race, so why not go out for the run and see what happens.

I came across RDM and Hannah a mile or so outside of transition. Here I am pointing out my various bloody parts.

And here's me applauding for some reason. Yay!

RDM likes to take pictures of old people on benches. I don't know why.
Old people.

Old people.

Ahhh! Runner!

Old people.

I ended the day with an okay run, some road rash, some cuts and a nasty hematoma on my inner left leg that made walking a real pain for about a month. On the plus side, I got to treat myself to a sharp looking new helmet. If you're in the mood for grossness, here's a picture of the hematoma two days after the race.

IMWI '05 part 2

Two years later, all I really remember about the bike ride was that it was hot, I was really glad I had put extra sunscreen and chamois crème in my special needs bag for the halfway point, it was hot, I hated my bike, I hated Wisconsin, wondering how I was going to run 26.2 miles, it was hot, and being really, really glad to get off the bike, marathon or not.

I had a nice sit (a la Tupper Lake ’04) in transition. Lots of naked and nearly naked dudes in there, so no framed picture this time.

Now here’s the big reveal about the “fast” training guys. Some of them genuinely are fast – they put in the work in practice, and rock up on game day. A lot of the other “fast” guys do the big training, kicking ass all year long, and totally blow on race day. I think it’s because those pseudo-fast guys can't handle letting the real fast guys ride away from them.

I have an ego, I’m not blind to that. When it comes to sports though, I’d like to think I keep it in check. I think it has something to do with routinely getting beaten by girls daily when I was an age group swimmer.

I have two talents in triathlon (interestingly enough, both derived from my swimming days):
1) I’m a faster swimmer than 90% of the field
2) I can go slow for a long time.

In Tupper Lake the year before, I was continuously passed throughout the entire day after the swim. In Wisconsin, I actually got to do some passing.

Another cool thing about Ironman – it’s a mass start, so if you’re in front of someone when you cross the line, you beat them. So I got to pass about 400 people that went too hard on the bike. Granted, some of those folks had honest problems with the heat that they couldn’t have prepared for, but not most of them.

See, I'm starting to pass people here.

The dude on the right is realizing I'm passing him, and is likely thinking to himself, "man, I wish I had rode a little slower, then I wouldn't be getting passed by this guy." (That, or he has an artificial knee or something.)

I didn’t have a fast marathon. At just under 5:10, that’s almost 12-minute miles. You’d be right to figure I didn’t even run the whole thing. And the bits I was running in the last half were more of a shuffle.

My personal belief is anyone can complete an Ironman with a moderate amount of training. You just have to know your fitness and race to it. (And be prepared to run past guys with weird pirate banners. Seriously, I think he was a course marshall -- that would be the "no parrots allowed on course" flag.)

Overall, it was a great experience. I don’t remember much about the finish, except I was not hungry at all for about 30 minutes, then I was very hungry. It also was somewhat anticlimactic; I didn’t realized I had moved back up through the field so much on the run, so I wasn’t really pumped at the finish.

I think I might have said I never want to do another one too, I’m not sure.

Retrospective - Ironman Wisconsin '05 (Part 1)

I decided to sign up for Ironman Wisconsin after talking to my friend Mark (from my Nereid rowing days). He had moved out a few weeks before the 2004 race and we ended up goading each other into signing up (“I’ll do it if you do!”). That’s what I tell people anyhow. In retrospect, I think I was looking for an excuse to sign up. I think Mark was just looking for something to kill some time (it is Wisconsin after all).

So, I spent the year “training.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned about ultra-endurance sports, it’s that there’s always somebody else doing a heck of a lot more than you (actually, that’s probably true for pretty much all sports).

For example, my biggest week was 10.5 hours of total training, about five or six weeks out from race day. Most weeks were about six to seven hours. There are a lot of folks that complete my average monthly totals in a week. Those are the people that are commonly referred to as “fast.” Unfortunately for a large group of the “fast” people, that much training doesn’t always equal a decent performance on race day (oooh, foreshadowing).

So, off I went to Wisconsin with my 15.5 average-monthly-hour fitness in the bank, knowing that I hadn’t done anywhere near as much training as I could have done, but knowing that I had done the training that I did do (oooh, philosophical).

I flew out a few days before the race. My parents flew out. Hannah flew out (from San Diego I think). I hung out with my friend Mark. Had a good time. Got exceptionally anxious. And it was time for the race.

Everything about the Ironman is big. You pay a lot of money and you get treated like you paid a lot of money. So that’s pretty cool. The transition area is in the Monona Terrace, quite possibly one of the coolest looking hotels I’ve seen in a city. Here’s the bike corral the day before the race (you drop off your bike a day in advance). Lots of very, very expensive bikes here (and at least one not-so-expensive, but very well-liked bike). Mark and I estimated at least $5 million of equipment. They had it gated. And I assume there was a security guard somewhere.

The swim is the crazy mass start that you’ve seen on TV. I don’t remember much about it, except that you go straight for a while, turn left, turn left, go straight, turn left, turn left and then do it all again. The swim is in the lake parallel to the Terrace, and the hotel is so big that you swim next to it for at least 2.4 miles. It’s a little demoralizing because it feels like you’re not going anywhere.

After that, it was off to transition and the long, slow, hot bike ride (I remember it being 137 degrees that day). A unique (to me) demoralizing factor of my previous swimming background is that more or less the entire field passes me on the bike leg at races. So, I finished 108 in the swim, and then 1113 on the bike. That’s a lot of those “fast” people coming past me (and some not-so-fast -- but definitely faster than me -- people). Actually, it wasn’t so bad. At Tupper Lake the previous year, I was second out of the water in the first wave and had experienced the train of passers, so I was expecting the parade to come by.

It may appear that I'm faster than all of these other folks (I'm the one in front in yellow). However, if a picture was taken 10 seconds later, they'd all be a mile up the road, while I would only be reaching the post with the yellow banner.