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How to Participate In Long Course Triathlon

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Happy Friday one and all. I have no excuse for my lack of blog posts – life has consumed me between work and Lake Tahoe training. Next week begins my five week epic grind toward the starting line of the 140.6 race – 17, 18, 19, 19.5, and 20 hour training weeks respectively. Ouch!

This post was originally supposed to make it online the day after Vineman 70.3. Obviously, that didn’t happen but here goes anyway – some of the Do’s and Don’ts of long course racing :-)

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Photo from TriFreaks.

Do:

·         Photo journal your adventures with food along the way preparing for the big shebang.

·         Offer friendly advice to the first timers who have the deer in the headlights eye balls. They just want to be loved :O)

·         Undertrain and over prepare.

·         Check your gear bags a minimum of four times (x4).

·         Ask questions of those around you – it’s not worth making a wrong assumption to avoid looking “foolish.”

·         Thank as many volunteers as you can!

·         Be appreciative of those who are supporting you (whether in person or virtually tracking).

·         Always, always, ALWAYS move forward even if you have to walk or crawl. Going backwards is depressing and a surefire way to crash physically and emotionally.

·         Make a plan. Practice the plan. Implement the plan. Throw the plan away when it goes awry (and it always does in some shape or fashion).

·         Put in the time to do well in your event. To a certain extent, you are the master of your own destiny. Hop on it!

·         Make a checklist that you can print out and physically go over while you’re packing. It makes it so much easier! Skin tight triathlon race kit – check [yikes!]

 
Don’t :

·         Do not EVER wear the shirt from the event priorto actually finishing it. It’s bad luck. It makes you look ridiculous (since you’re surrounded by 2500 people who obviously know you’re doing the same race), and frankly, you haven’t earned it yet. Don’t be “that” guy…

·         Don’t ever brag about past race accomplishments unless someone specifically asks you what you have done.

·         Don’t tell other racers your goal times – they don’t care unless they ask – and really, no one other than you cares either.

·          Don’t assume that because you’ve done a triathlon before that you know what you’re doing. I’ve seen plenty of idiots forget all kinds of “basics” such as water bottles, nutrition, even their wetsuit. Take each long course race like it’s your first.

·         Don’t forget your food and hydration!!

·         Don’t do anything new on race day. ANYTHING. AT ALL! JUST DON’T!!!!

·         Don’t forget to have fun.

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How You Know You’re Getting Old(er)

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I’m just going to pretend that I’ve been consistently writing articles for my blog and that I haven’t been MIA for the better part of two weeks… now, with that disclaimer, Happy Friday!

I consider myself young and vibrant – heck, I’m getting ready for a 70mile race this weekend – but it has been dawning on me over the past months that I’m not quite as young as I think I am. I was chatting on the phone with a friend who I have known the better part of 13 years, and they were saying how crazy it is all their friends are getting pregnant. Agreed, and in addition, it doesn’t help that I’ve been to almost 13 weddings in three years. What the heck people!? Why is everyone doing grown up things at the same time?!

What really did me in was my sentiment surrounding the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I know, I know, how can LOTR make you long for the past and make you feel old? Well, here is exactly how! LOTR was the definitive movie trilogy of my high school career. The Fellowship of the Ring charged onto screens just a few mere months after entering the high school world, and Frodo and company led the charge with great gusto and mind-blowing special effects. This was “back in the day” when we had to wait a WHOLE FREAKING YEAR for the super, ultra-extended, crazy collectible version to be released just a month before the Two Towers was released. Now days, if the movies don’t hit shelves within a month or two, it’s curtains! Between BitTorrent, downloading digital versions of your movies, and needing to have films available on all your crazy mobile devices, we live in a very different media-consuming world.
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What really clued me into this reality is that I put in the official LOTR soundtrack the other day and its thunderous melodies soon found their way throughout my house as I was pretending to clean. Needless to say, the memories came flooding back in a torrent! I am a lover of music, being a trumpeter certainly helps, but I just found myself thinking of the good times that have passed in a blur, and oh so many years ago. The Lord of the Rings captures every emotion known to mankind – joy, sorrow, pain, happiness, melancholy – the list goes on. Tolkien was truly a man ahead of his time to write something to powerful and so influential.

I remember with fondness gathering at the movie theater with all of my buddies to see what the next 3.5 hour epic would unveil for our young, creative minds (note: naturally we had all read the books before the movies had come out – please!). It was definitely one of the high points of my teen years…

Enough reminiscing! So I’m thrust back into reality, thinking that “kids these days” don’t even realize how different a measly ten years can wait. I never upgraded to the Bluray LOTR collection, and really don’t plan on doing so. The fact that I can’t watch those movies on my phone or PC at my beck and call probably terrifies some of the teeny boppers, let alone the fact that people weren’t texting in the movie theater when the Great Saga was unleashed upon the world. That’s right, TEXTING WAS NOT REALLY A THING IN 2001! Regardless, it was fun to think about where I’ve come since then, and how I’ve grown as a guy (man still sounds so … grown up). I have no doubt there are great and glorious times ahead, and I look forward to them but that doesn’t prevent me from pining from the days of yesteryear. I miss many of my friends, I miss outdoor swim practice in the Vegas heat, and I miss the good times of the early 2000’s. I don’t, however, miss living at home :P

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The irony in all of this is that my friends and I swore to never get old and yet here we are… I’m going to spend my weekend doing “young things” and I hope you all do as well. It’s glorious weather out there!

 

 

A Year Since IRONMAN

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Happy Tuesday. To those who know me, you know how seriously I take my hobbies. I’m an avid dog person, a consumer of healthy and tasty foods, casual photographer, and a triathlete. I’m also a futurist and a learner. Precisely one year ago, I was recovering (read: nursing my entire body) from one of my long-time dreams to complete an IRONMAN. I was accompanied by friends and family to the longest race I have ever done in my life, and now suddenly I find myself 365 days later reflecting back on what was an insane year. I had scarcely gotten my MBA (May ’13) before setting off for Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for the 140.6 mile race that would test my sanity and my will to press on.

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It has been an exciting year and a trying one. A year packed to the brim with adventures and fun, and an unusual share of the tough times too. I often dwell on the moments that tried and tested me the most, and of course an 11 hour race comes to mind, but it is truly the actions, the schedules, and the commitments that we make the other 364 days of the year that shape us into who we are. Who/what we pencil in is the determinant of the type of person that we are.

A year is a fascinating amount of time. A year is a container for 12 unique and individual months, four quarters, 52 weeks, 525,600 minutes, annual holidays, and the ebb and flow of a calendar in sync with the whirl and hum of the corporate world. It contains seasonal activities (racing), and we all have certain expectations of our calendars and the weather. It also is filled with the goals that we establish for ourselves, spontaneous trips, unplanned adventures with friends, joys and sorrows, and all of life’s other great curveballs. We have times when we can build expectations from past experiences, and others when we are flying blind by the seat of our pants. The forks in the road can only be navigated as we see fit, with each presenting its own challenge or surprises.

I look back on the previous year and think about what I was doing last summer, last spring, even towards the winter of 2012 when IRONMAN training truly began. What a large change to go from a grad student to an ultra-endurance adventurer, from an employee at the University of Nevada to working in private industry workers’ comp insurance. Who would’ve predicted? Certainly not I. Relationships with family and friends have changed greatly, and my loyal fuzz and partner in crime has become an integral piece of my life. I can’t help but wonder what this next chapter will hold. IRONMAN Lake Tahoe is rapidly approaching (three months from the 21st), and my international trips await! As difficult as it is, it’s critical to enjoy something about each and every day. As I get older, and just for the record I don’t feel “old,” I really notice how brief a day, a long weekend, or even a year is. I have friends coming up on multi-year anniversaries, popping out children, moving all over the world. Even my parent’s friends are experiencing life changes… Again, change is always in the air.

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A year gives you plenty of ample opportunities for dwelling on experiences and planning ones for the future. It is often within the quiet solace of my comfy armchair that I plan out the greatest of my adventures and dreams. Take the time to think big, and the big thinking will reward you greatly. Happy hunting.

There’s No Crying in Triathlon

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My dear friends: happy Tuesday! Fear not, summer has arrived in true Reno fashion with a healthy dose of I-Don’t-Know-What-The-Weather-Will-Be-Like-Tomorrow! I swear I got roasted all weekend only to be treated to cool, 60 degree weather during my 9 mile run early in the AM.

The changing of seasons is, without a doubt, the most refreshing and yet oft complained about time of year in northern Nevada. According to someone, it’s always too hot or too cold, the rain sucks, or we don’t have enough clouds, etc. We often jump from winter to summer, only to return to spring at an odd time for a week or two before plunging into a scorcher the latter half of July and August. It’s a vicious cycle, but the unusual weather patterns provide plenty of refreshment for those, like myself, who are inclined to be outdoors soaking up the vitamin D in a sponge-like manner.

The joy of this time of year is my workout routine is practically carved into stone, with very little surprises along the way. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday – swim, swim, swim. Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday – bike, bike, bike. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday – run, run, run.

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Perhaps one of my favorite things about spending hour after hour in the bike saddle is just the stellar conversations you can have with yourself. Nothing is better than a dialogue where no one can interrupt, argue, derail your train of thought, or even just interject their completely unrelated and somewhat witless observations on the universe. Oh, how the lack of common sense kills me inside… regardless, I digress.

It was on my way to the top of Brockway Summit, a rather crushing, demoralizing, and overall pain-induced blitz to the top of a 25 minute climb (to 7200 feet) that involves grinding quads and crackling hamstrings, that I had a great epiphany about what it is that triathletes don’t do. There is no crying in triathlon! I don’t mean the physical act of your tear ducts firing off silvery beads onto your cheeks, but I’m referring to complaining, whining, moaning, telling everyone life isn’t fair, etc.  When the thousands of athletes get to that start line, everything is fair game. Everyone knows how much hard work they did (or didn’t) do in order to prepare, and no one freaking cares if you feel unprepared. You better figure it out! It’s a solo event and you need to rise to the occasion.

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Triathletes are notorious for swimming, biking, running, training, eating, occasionally sleeping, hurling, spitting, hacking, bleeding, hurting, persevering, rejoicing, limping, indulging, weighing, dropping, cajoling, and overall just adventuring in the grandest of fashion. They aren’t however, known for crying like little girls or complaining that the world owes them something. They set off to carve their own destiny and do so in between epic failures of a glorious nature, making mistakes, erring on the side of the road less traveled, and by pushing their limits well beyond breaking point. Basically, they’re just messed in the head!

In the business world, those who rise above the rest are the ones who aren’t afraid to take one in the chin, end up with a mouthful of dirt, or just deal with the minutia in order to provide great successes on the fun and important projects. You are much better served to be known as someone who will at least take a stab at tasks well beyond your comfort zone (aka skillset) then someone who slinks away from the unfamiliar. Give me 10 of the first, and zero of the latter and you will see stellar results.

In all of our comings and goings, make sure to rise to any and all occasions, even ones that you may have to unearth yourself. Be adventurous, climb mountains, try a different path to success, and never, ever cry that life is unfair.

Operation Overlord: 70 Years Later

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Today, ladies and gentlemen, is not just any ordinary Friday. Today marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, aka Operation Overlord, or the primary turning point of World War 2 where the Allies invaded France and setup the initial thrust that would eventually cripple the Germans and end the war in Europe in 1945.

Without being overly dramatic, that day changed your life, the lives of our parents, the lives of their parents, and the lives of many untold others on that bleak, cold morning when the Higgins boats crashed onto the shore at 6:30 AM. The primary language of many western countries could very well be German, and the map of Europe may look very different if not for that day in June. It’s a great tragedy that this day doesn’t get more remembrance, especially as the veterans from World War 2 are quietly slipping away with old age into the embrace of history. Those men and women, and the memories they keep are precious treasures of history that can never be recovered once they are gone, and those tales, stories, and photos should be treasured by each generation to come.

I have always been fascinated by World War 2, and my coffee table is lined with thick books, fiction and non-fiction alike, that discuss everything from the great battles, to the heroics of commando units, all the way up the chain of command to Eisenhower. It was a great time in history, not because the world was buried in tyranny, the Jews were being persecuted, or the German and Japanese armies were pursuing world domination, but because people were forced to stand up on a global level for what was right. In whole, it required incredible, almost unbelievable sacrifice from every single person during this brutal time, as whole countries were turned upside down as they were swallowed by the fiery jaws of many war machines.

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I cannot relate to the sacrifices of the “average Joe” in the early 1940’s, and frankly, I can honestly say that my generation would be too soft to handle a situation such as that. So many people complain when movie ticket prices go up, Starbucks runs out of coffee, or your commute to your plush job at a desk where we wither away for hour after seated hour, that we almost think nothing of it. I honestly don’t think we could rise to the occasion requiring Meatless Mondays, sending our best and brightest out to die in the first 12 seconds of the Normandy invasion (note: look up how many graduates from Harvard or Yale were involved in D-Day), or have the courage to stand up in the face of despair.

But enough with the depressing stuff. In complete and total fictional honor of this momentous and lasting day, I put together the list of my three favorite D-Day movies. Granted, Hollywood botches fact from fiction so often, but these movies still have a great place in my heart, and are a wonderful addition to any movie buff’s collection:

1.       The Longest Day – John Wayne and a killer cast plow through three hours of German warfare covering various scenarios from the beaches to the small French quarter towns. It’s a classic (black and white) but is worthwhile of enjoyment. There is no glory in war, but the Longest Day conveys the camaraderie and sacrifice required of those who were there.

2.       Saving Private Ryan – Only those of you living in rocks, caves, or other assorted tundra residences (Hobbits?) would have missed Steven Spielberg’s thunderous depiction of June 6, 1944. The first 20 minutes is enough to blow you away, and Tom Hanks leads his rugged crew of GIs through peril and danger to rescue a very young looking Matt Damon. Then again, I guess 1998 was a reaaaaally long time ago. Is this movie a class yet? Yikes…

3.       Band of Brothers – although technically not a “movie,” this miniseries is right up there with Saving Private Ryan in capturing the grit, dirt, and gunpowder in the eyes action and drama of World War 2. This unique tale starts with a roaring explosion onto the D-day beaches, and follows the band through the entirety of the war to V-J Day. Again, another can’t miss.

In the days of the internet, it is so easy to do your homework on a subject, to research fascinating videos and other multimedia presentations, and to pull in exponentially more information on a topic than was previously available. I encourage you to spend some time this weekend doing some digging. Find out some great things about what really happened on those beaches, look through the list of those who gave their lives, or just simply appreciate the fact that those who died did so selflessly for a greater purpose far beyond our understanding. We owe them far more than our gratitude.

Happy Friday everyone!

Picture credit.

 

4 Things I Learned From My Dog This Weekend

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Mine was spent not doing much of anything – and actually I think I spent more time overall sitting in my bike saddle then I did in my home, which I suppose is OK in the long run. A BBQ didn’t happen, but a picnic and hike were somehow included, which were great, and as it turns out these events were a great source of education for me thanks in no small part to my ridiculously furry partner in crime. Having had a dog for over a year, it certainly makes me appreciate how fun and awesome they are. I truly am the highlight of her day, which is slightly ironic seeing how tired I am when I get home, but it’s a riot coming through the door only to head off for adventures involving prolific tennis balls and toilsome hunts for poultry. Oh, the life of an indoor dog…

My dog must be a patient creature (read: person) for her to lounge in her cage all day, anxiously awaiting the creaking door handle that signifies that freedom is nearly within her grasp. I often find myself musing about her daily routine, because frankly, I’m not around for 80% of it!

What does she contemplate while confined behind those steel bars of trapping? Does she process the weekend? Analyze what item on my Netflix queue would best be served to watch that evening? Debate who shot first, Han or Greedo? Or does she simply think about the next bowl of dry food to get her through the day? For any dog owners out there, you know how crazy and almost human like dogs can be, and it’s a fascinating phenomenon to watch. They know when you’re pissed off or super happy, are always more than willing to eat your leftovers, but at the same time they are tickled to death to share the foot of your bed or even keep your feet warm as you doze off into a sorely needed power nap.

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Man’s best friend is loyal to a T, full of vibrancy and excessive amounts of energy, and always willing and waiting to accompany you to the ends of the Earth, assuming adequate treats are provided along the way.  For those traits, I am eternally grateful, especially as I watched my loyal companion peruse the surrounding desert landscape with all the tact and tenderness of a raging rhinoceros. Lizards, steep cliffs, and dry conditions were no match for the 35 pound Beast of Exploration! And it was during our little trek that it was revealed to me how much dogs know and how much we should learn from them.

Instinct – Dogs know what they know and they sure as heck know what they don’t know. For some reason, they are just wired with sharper senses, a keen ability for understanding their surroundings, and a care free attitude that lets them run with the wind without fear of bills, getting groceries, or going to work. They trust their instincts to get them through, whether it’s dealing with the first sign of danger or dashing after a rapidly moving object, and we should take a page from their book and trust our instincts too. Granted, we don’t always have the best radar, but for me at least, far more often than not my instincts ring true.

Fearless – The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, and my dog is either too smart or too dumb to fear anything. Oh look, that rattlesnake looks cute, let’s have a sniff. Or, I wonder how close to the edge of the cliff I can come before falling in. Better yet, and my favorite, how fast can I try running under the spikey, barbed fence without lopping off my head in chase of fresh rabbit stew?

Forgive – I admit it, this lesson was not one I am thrilled about learning. However, it is a lesson that is still important. Besides bathing, having her nails clipped is my dog’s absolutely most hated activity and so we experience that wondrous occasion as little as possible. Turns out, I sliced off way too much of her nail resulting in a rather bloody mess. I’m not sure who was more surprised – the dog, flesh wounded and confused, or the owner, shocked and panicky.

Take a Nap – I swear, the only thing my dog does better than wreak havoc out in the untamed wilderness is sleep more often than I do. She has no qualms with passing out on the sun-warmed carpet or collapsing onto the corner of my bed while I fold laundry. She simply does what is needed to sustain those crazy high energy levels. I fully appreciate the value of a great power nap and fully plan to embrace that several more times this week after work.

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Dogs are our best friend and not only that, but they are far smarter and more astute than we give them credit for. For me, I’m glad I got some great bonding time with mine over the weekend. Now, if only she could bike the 160 miles that I did and we would have a truly great relationship. Happy Wednesday!

Lions, and Tigers, and Flaming Bunnies … Oh My!

Ah, the end of May always brings out the craziest event in northern Nevada… the Reno Tahoe Odyssey! The grand 178 mile running race that leaves from Reno, arcs through a substantial portion of Tahoe, blasts through Carson and Virginia City, and ends up in my backyard. Truly, the finish line is 300 feet away from my screen door.

250 teams filled with a dozen insane, strangely clad athletes, some who are fast and speedy and others who are just, well, present. It is truly one of the greatest teambuilding events I’ve ever participated in and now I’m going on my third year. There is something great about circling one of the most beautiful places on the planet packed into a van with your sweating, stinky, incredibly tired teammates who trade off on runs that vary in length from 5k to 7 miles with degrees of difficult ranging from mild to extreme!

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This year, our team is the Flaming Bunnies of Doom. For all of you other RTO teams out there, beware! Death awaits you with nasty, pointy teeth! I think this event is particularly fun for me because as a triathlete, I don’t really get to race for “fun.” As I’ve told many times before, I just have an incredibly difficult time going for a swim at the lake for fun. I just can’t do it. And so this event gives me a chance to let loose and just enjoy my teammates and the experience, and not focus so much on a finishing time or breaking records…  

The Odyssey is about pushing limits, bonding with old (or new) friends, and encouraging each other as the delusions and lack of sleep wear you down. It’s about enjoying beautiful scenery while promoting active living, and frankly, it’s just a blast. There’s nothing quite like passing out on Saturday afternoon after being in a van 27, 28, even 29 hours. It’s exhausting and a riot all combined into one!

Moving on to my other random thought of the day, I haven’t been very good about keeping up with my blog lately, and it’s not for lack of inspiration, or at least I hope not. Perhaps my biweekly blogging is coming to an end for reasons outside my control. Shockingly, I’d forgotten how much work it takes to come up with articles that people enjoy reading. I could blabber on for hours on end but if it isn’t worthwhile and engaging then why bother?  IRONMAN is taking its fair share of my time in addition to many, many other responsibilities, I’m swamped. I hope that this time in the RTO will help me reground myself and figure out my baseline all over. I have four months until IRONMAN Tahoe so it is time for me to get it together… I promised myself I would have a better plan for maintaining my sanity by June 1. Wishful thinking perhaps.

Ever since St. George, I’ve been a bit disoriented. Any 70 mile race will take it out of you but pile on an insane increase in work responsibilities, heat stroke, plus an ill-timed cold and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. I’m finally reestablishing myself and my routine, and hope to use the holiday weekend (finally right!?) and the RTO to get back onto my A game.

Since it took me forever to get to this point, the takeaway for today is this… Explore new opportunities. Always dive in head first, especially into the unknown. Embrace life to fullest. Stay loyal to yourself and those around you. Listen to yourself – you may be pleasantly surprised how much you can figure out when it’s quiet.

Your soul will thank you. 

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