Friday, February 27, 2009

Just HAD to post these pics of Lance

I am obviously a huge cycling fan, and with that, a huge Lance fan as well. These pics were sent to me by Katie Hemenway from this year's Tour of California. I watched every stage of this year's race and loved it all. The fans that were there rivaled those of the Tour de France. I remember seeing this guy on one of the stages and was not too sure what he was trying to say with his dual tipped syringe. I was curious as to what message he was trying to deliver. Regardless, I think Lance's message was delivered better.

Notice Lance with the yellow/black helmet

Lance grabbing the guy's shoulder. Since the guy is running his spandex ass off on the edge of the road, covered in snow, his balance has got to be sub par. Notice that he has his cell phone clenched in his other hand.

Lance tosses him into the ditch like the prissy boy he is (I would suspect he goes by the name "anonymous"). The fall must have been hilarious to watch since he had his prop in one hand and his phone in the other. Lance is not in this picture because he is behind the Astana ride with the blue arm warmers. You can see Chris Horner (Astana) laughing a few riders back and a guy from Saxo (in white jersey at end of pic) laughing as well.

This picture is pretty tame since this could have resulted in a crash since he sluffed so much snow on to the road from the bank. But I would imagine that if he were to have caused a riders to go down, the subsequent pummeling that he would have received would have added to another great series of photos.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Emma’s First Ride of the Year

Once again, Emma ceases to amaze me. After 2 days of alpine skiing at Schweitzer, and skiing the steeps, the ice, the powder, and trees, she comes home and wants to ride her bike on the trainer. Oh, it gets better…she wants to do it while watching the Tour of California. Are you kidding? Are there cameras around watching me? Is this a joke someone is playing on ME? It just brings a tear to my eye.
So I got one of the trainers from the basement and her 50lb bike from the garage. While doing this Emma was getting on her cycling gear and her nutrition for the ride (e.g. a waterbottle). I got her bike set up on the trainer, with many books stacked under the front wheel to bring it level with the rear wheel. I don’t think they really make indoor trainers for bikes this size. Just don’t think there is a huge market for them. Once set up, off she went.

She rode for about 15-20 minutes at a variety of intensities…set by her of course. She did want me to tell her when 2 minutes were up because she wanted to do some ‘fast pedals’ and then wanted to do some lower cadence tempo intervals. I am not making this up…these are HER words. You can verify this with Jessi. She was holding back the laughter. Again, laughter in amazement.

This, again, shows me that kids model what they see their parents do, and the people their parents associate with. I know that many of your eyebrows just went up as the rolladex in your mind is scrolling through all your friends that may not necessarily be ‘good influences’ on your children. Don’t worry, Emma has those too. But it’s always a relief when she reflects on ‘good choices’ and choices that kids her age, and adults, make that are not necessarily good ones. That’s pretty rewarding.
Emma is the benefactor of many people’s love…friends and family alike. We know that we are fortunate to have such a great support system for her. And obviously so is she.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ironman To Charge Professionals...BIG change.

I was forwarded this link HERE to the recent changes in the professional/elite policy regarding entries into North America IM events. Currently, as an amateur, my response was, ‘Big deal, we all have to pay.” But as I ponder this more deeply, I scratch my head. I know they were probably not made in haste, but just curious as to why they were made.

Here are my primary concerns:
1. Pro/Elite fields will diminish in size. Many pro athletes register in hopes of having a ‘good day.’ Some do, some don’t. So when you look at a race like IM Cda, a pro field will be much smaller. As a result, I think it will be less exciting for the spectators and amateurs alike and will ultimately decrease the interest in the ‘race’ itself. I support the decision in giving a complementary entry to those that were in the top 3 from the prior year. I think all races should do that.

2. With the economy the way it is, I really doubt that the professional/elite athlete will pay the entry fee to do a race that they think they might ‘have a shot at.’ So rather than doing 2 or 3, they will maybe do 1. Most of these athletes are on a shoestring budget, and entry fees for IM races are huge ($500+). By doing this, they are truly turning this into an elitist sport and not affording blooming and struggling athletes the opportunity to race in such events. We have provided homestays for multiple pro/elite athletes (Tom Soderdahl, Tiina Bowman) in the past years and know that this is a tough sport and expensive.

Since they have not stated, or I have not read, why they have increased the fee, the following are just shots in the dark for solutions. But I would suspect that it comes down to a couple things. One being that people are just signing up at the last minute and are really not ‘prepared’ to race and creates headache and ultimately costs you money. Two is that it might be that they are losing too much money per athlete. Even though their entry is waived, it still costs IM money for them to race. Someone has to cover it.

1. Charge a reduced fee. I feel by doing this it would discourage those that would just sign up because they can. This would show some kind of investment on their part. Say like $100-$200.

2. If a pro/elite athlete does not finish a certain number of IM events that they registered for as an elite/pro, then they will be required to pay the full entry in the next event they register for. This way it would deter athletes from registering and then dropping out of the run because they are out of the prize money. I know this was a topic on a recent podcast.

There is no doubt they put on great races and truly have marketed the brand, and triathlon, well. I have paid for many IM entry fees and have never regretted it. Even last year when I registered for IM Cda and ended up racing Oly races instead. It was a donation to triathlon :). But I am not a professional triathlete, I am a teacher. The decision they are making I simply don’t truly understand and I think it penalizes athletes that are struggling as it is. I don’t know how that helps to promote triathlon or IM.

Feel free to contact Heather Fuhr regarding this (heather@ironman.com). I emailed her my concerns and she was very gracious in receiving them and passed them on to management. Take a look at the link above. And if you feel like it, email Heather. I really think that this hurts some great blooming athletes out there.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Little Valentine Du

Last weekend we were able to drive a few miles across the state of Washington and get in our first duathlon, and race, of the season. There is a guy over in Olympia that puts on a bunch of races throughout the year. They are normally very casual and pretty much everyone gets something. Never money though. This race would not disappoint.

6 of us piled into the Excursion at 5:30pm on Saturday and made the 4.5 hour pilgrimage. The drive was easy and pretty uneventful. When Emma is awake it means we watch a lot of “princess" movies if we are interested in actually watching them. But normally she just puts on the infrared headsets and we have some ‘adult’ conversations. We arrived a about 11:00 pm after a couple stops and “redirections.”

We woke up to share in the luxurious continental breakfast that is always served by such deluxe hotels as the ones we choose to pile 6 people in to. Since the race was not until 2:30pm, it created a little bit of a challenge in terms of what to eat and when. But ya know, who cares. It’s a short duathlon and it’s all for fun. Aren’t they all?

We arrived at the race and it seemed like it was bumper to bumper trying to get a parking spot. There was a marathon and ½ marathon going on which had already started. I later found out that there were about 400 athletes there that day. We found a spot and got out of the car in the 44 degree air. Initially it felt great. But after about 20 minutes we found ourselves bundled back up in the car.

With about 40 minutes to go, I thought it would be prudent to start getting things together. No matter how casual you make it, you still need to make it to the start line on time. I switched my wheels and changed into some clothes that I could ride in, and went to the transition area. I have to say that I really do not enjoy duathlons…actually really don’t like them. But there are aspects about them I do like. For example, transitions. Helmet and shoes. That’s all you really need. So I got a spot and set everything up. I went for a short ride to make sure I still knew how to ride a bike since I had not ridden one outside since November. But it seems to come back to you. I can’t say that I ever feel ‘good’ on race day. Whenever I go and warm up I feel tired, legs feel slow, or as Norman would say, “I have no powah!” I actually smiled this time knowing that I was fine, this was just something that I experience.

After riding I rolled back into my spot and cleared everything out. I took some final sips of an illegal concoction…the same one Lance uses I think, and then was headed for the start line. I normally am nervous and need to pee, just like everyone else. But normally it’s not bad and I just race anyway. But this time I felt like I really needed to take care of this. So I ran off in the bushes and found a large tree to take cover behind. As I stood there I thought about them actually starting while I was back there. I was trying to listen, but there were too many people. Then I started to think about being able to make up the difference if they did? Could I make up that 100 yards of the entire race course? Made me think. But I was done. Ahhh…much better. As I was running back to the finish I heard Mark yell for me as if they were going to start…and they were. I have missed the start of a race before because I was changing shoes in the car. Ironically it was a duathlon and Mark was at that one too.

The race took off and I was not really “in the front.” I was about 12 back. I had not even started to breathe hard at all but I knew all this would catch up soon. I eventually made my way to more of the front and then we made the turn to come back. The course was not measured totally right, but I felt like I was running okay. Hopefully faster than a than an 12 minute mile. I came into T1 in 2nd and left in first. Once on the bike I feel a lot more comfortable. Not that I was going fast, but just more comfortable. The course was an honest course. Rolling terrain that was never steep enough to be spun out, or turn into a climber’s race. Since I warmed up on the course, I knew there was a slight headwind going out and that would mean a little faster coming back. Throughout the ride I was reminded about how different it is to ride outside versus inside. Though I was trying to ride steady, I kept finding myself switching cadences which was new for me. When I am on the trainer, I find a wattage to ride at and then maintain the exact same cadence for the ride. With all the rollers my cadence would change and I would wonder if I needed to shift or what. The legs would burn, so I would ease up a bit, and then increase effort, then ease up.

I ended up passing a few signs for the run races that were going on which always made me think that it might be the turnaround…nope. Then after a bit I came to a spot on the road where there were many chalk marks indicating a turn. So I turned. These guys looked at me a little perplexed and I asked if this was the turnaround. Fortunately they knew where it was and said no, it’s down that road. So I had to turn around and get back on the main road and get going again. Probably lost about 20 seconds? Once back on the road it was not far to the turnaround. As I approached it, the lady came out to the middle of the road and said, “Turn somewhere around here.” ‘Somewhere?’ Really? You are being that specific? So I turned around, said thank you, and started heading back. I took a split to see how far up I was. I knew I lost a little time, but I should still have a little gap. I looked at my watch as the two guys behind me went flying by. It felt like there was a slight tailwind so it would be fast going back. And as a result, not as much of time gains. I was able to see Jessi, Matt and Mark on the way back and it was fun to see them out there too. Now it was all about getting to T2 first.

I got into T2 and was off running again. I could hear Emma cheering. Her little voice is so cute. In the first couple minutes I felt horrible, but after that things seemed to settle in. I saw the guys behind me coming in on the bike but knew I had a big enough gap at that point. I rounded the turnaround and was heading back. I saw 2nd and 3rd very close to one another behind me. I came into the finish and was happy it was over and excited to see the data from the bike and run splits to use for future training. I was able to see Jessi, Matt and Mark too and cheer them on. I actually was able to run with Jessi which was fun. I knew she was running hard because it took me quite bit to catch up with her. She ran strong on both runs and had a great bike…as usual. She ended up crossing first for women. But like me, it really wasn’t about the pacing, it was about the data afterwards. We hung out for a bit and headed out. I think all of us were pretty hungry and we had quite a drive ahead of us.

BUT since it was Sunday, that means it is Sunday Sweet Day... for me anyway. The one day a week that I indulge in sweets. The rest of the week I don’t eat any (sweets as in cup cakes, cookies, candy bars, pop, etc.). So in a matter of a few hours I was able to consume an Oreo cookie milkshake, 2 Pepsis, a 12oz Red Bull, 3 raspberry filled powdered doughnuts, one large pink cookie, a Tollhouse ice ream cookie, a large bottle of Gatorade, and a bag of Smartfood. Mmm…I am looking forward to Sunday right now :) I got to bed at 2:00am and was up again at 7:00am to start another wonderful Monday.

I am pretty excited to think that it is the 2nd week in February and I have one race in. Pretty cool.