Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Race Report(s): Halloween Weekend

(Note: I've been trying to upload pictures to this thing all day, but stupid Blogger is being stupid again. Honestly Google, figure it out. I'll get pics up on this post whenever I can, I guess, so check back later!)

Wow, well that was a crazy weekend of a lot of exercise offset by a lot of eating. And there was a beer or two in the mix. Some pumpkin pie too. And apple pie. Good times.

Saturday broke bright and cool for the 10k trail run in Lake Elmo, a tiny community just East of the Twin Cities. I realized while driving there that these were the same roads I rode on some of my long rides this summer, so that was kind of fun. There were just over 200 people running the 10k, but it didn't feel like that many.

The trail run was a lot of fun. Some pretty steep climbs, a lot of grassy trails, a lot of dirt trails, and a few that were almost sandy, the dirt was so fine. I was bundled up in thermal running gear, going sans costume because I'm no fun, I guess, but I think the majority of us were sans costume. I spent most of the race chasing Bumblebee girl and Phantom lady, and see-sawing with Nike Chick.

I'm pretty inexperienced with trail running, so while I tried to look around and enjoy the late October morning in the stupid beautiful park reserve we were in, I was also watching the ground a lot for my next footfall, lest my delicate ankles (from years of high school football and basketball injuries) find themselves unprepared for the terrain. It was a great workout, and having to use so many stabilizing muscles can, I think, only be good for when one returns to road running. The course was in great shape - we haven't had any major rain lately so there was no mud or unwelcome obstacles. The atmosphere, with costume contests and shorter races for families and children, was appropriately friendly, and while some runners were there to race and others there just to enjoy the morning, I think everybody was able to find what they were looking for.

Sidenote: How much do I love - LOVE - seeing little Superman kid or Little Witch girl trapsing around with their parents with numbers pinned to their chests? In this era of childhood obesity and McDonald's birthday parties - nevermind parents who just don't give a damn - I think joining your kids on a short race like that is one of the best demonstrations of Things That Are Right With The World. Huzzah and kudos to you parents involving your kids early and often in a healthy lifestyle. Excellent work.

I had no ambition for the race - just have a solid workout and enjoy myself. I finished in 55:17, so just over a 9:00 minute pace for each mile. I went out too fast and faded in the last mile and a half or so, but that's okay. A 9:00 minute pace is just about as fast as I think I could run a trail run right now, so I feel good about that. It was also fun to actually race - that's something I hope to do more of this year. Ironman, and the races preparing for it, were much more about me and discerning my personal performance relative to what will be required to finish 140.6 miles in 17 hours. It's a different kind of fun to go out there and want to catch people, or chase a certain time. I enjoy that part of competition. So I followed Bumblebee Girl and Phantom Lady within the first mile, and we passed Nike Chick somewhere in mile 2. Bumblebee and Phantom were keeping a pretty brisk pace, so I thought if I could just stay with them into the last mile, I could make a push to pass them in the last half mile. Nike Chick stayed with me all day, finally passing me for good at mile 4 when I stopped to walk through a water station. I started fading after that and couldn't make up the lost time on the three of them, and I think they finished 15 seconds or so ahead of me. Anyway, I had a blast and worked hard, and that's all a person could want in life.

I drove right home, had time to get changed into some fresh thermal gear, and then our friends started coming over to head to the next race, a 5k that's part of a Halloween festival here. We had quite a crew - Mike (as a jailbird), Amy (as a fairy), Susan (as Blueberry Muffin), Patric (in Leisure suit), and Randy (as Uncle Fester) all did the 1 mile run as Todd (as a goofy 70's athlete), Ben (who went as me), Sara (who went as herself, only taller), and I (who went as Ben) ran the 5k. This race was insane. Almost everybody was in costume, and some were hilarious and elaborate. Things you don't see everyday - a fat dude in full-on Spiderman regalia go clomping by. There were pirates, pimps and whores, superheroes, Austin Powers, dogs in Dracula capes - on and on. And there were a TON of people doing the run. The run/walk leads the way for the Halloween parade, which who knew was so huge, but I guess, like, 30,000 people line the streets for this thing and the parade lasted almost 3 hours. That's nuts. Anyway, I hung out and ran with Sara while Ben and Todd stayed ahead of us a bit, and we took it easy and enjoyed ourselves. We had a great time.

We all headed back to our place after the race and feasted on chili, chips & dip, cornbread, veggies, beer - a little bit of everything. It was awesome.

Sunday my buddies came over and we played the 9th Annual Weener Bowl - a Halloween weekend football game that gotten more fun as we've gotten older, even as we've all slowed a step or three. We had a great time, my team won (thanks in part to my FIVE interceptions, two run back for touchdowns, canagettahellyeah), and nobody was injured, which is always good. Afterwards we loaded up on pizza and more beer while we watched some (horribly lopsided and boring) football on TV and amused ourselves with the sudden onslaught of babies my friends have all had lately, crawling about my floors.

All tolled I'm pretty sure I took in more calories than I burned, but it was good times with good friends, and that's the stuff of life. So says I.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Race Week (x2)!

The first post-Ironman Race Week! It's nothing epic, mind you, but hey - a race is a race. Still exciting. Still with that aura of anticipation surrounding it. And for somebody out there it'll be their first race ever. Becoming 5k. That's pretty cool.

A double-header on tap for this Saturday, and that'll be an adventure in itself. The first is The Great Pumpkin Chase, a 10k trail run. That one I'll actually "race", though that's defined as "run strong". I'm lifting weights, I'm still in post-Ironman recovery form, and I've not topped 6 miles yet for my marathon training in January (I think I'm a bit behind with that...), so I'm not in a how-fast-can-I-go kind of way. So the 10k will give me some indication of where my fitness is. It's a trail run, which I'm looking forward to because A - I've never intentionally done a trail run, so the two times I've suddenly encountered them (once in a Duathlon and this summer in a freakin' Half Ironman - seriously, what kind of sadism is at work there?) I've had less-than-optimum attitudes. And 2 - I think I'd like to do more trail running; good all around exercise, great for tri-training, and I'd love to embark on X-Terra sometime in the next few years. Anyway, I intend to explore it and enjoy it this weekend and see how it goes. No time plans, no pace plans, just run strong and have a good time.

Immediately following is the Gray Ghost 5k run/1mile walk that I'm doing with a whole gaggle of friends. That will be pretty cool. No strategies for that one at all - just enjoy the time with friends and gawk at crazies running in costumes. I'll hang with whatever pace people want to go at, including just walking the thing if that turns out to be the plan. It'll just be fun to enjoy the day, I think.

Sunday, then, is the annual football game with my buddies, and I should be well warmed up for that one with the miles put in on Saturday. Looks to be a good and fun weekend, and I'm looking forward to it.

Some Miscellany:
Normann won Ironman again! Crazy!

The on-course temperature when I checked the online broadcast was in the low 120 degrees. Whaaaaat???

How great was Paul Lieto's coverage of Ironman over at Trifuel.com. And how cool that his brother Chris was a top 10 finisher!?!?

Seriously. Is the new Trek Equinox TTX not the sexist thing you have ever, ever seen? Good night that's hot.

Did IMLOU (or whatever we're calling it) sell out? Anybody heard?

Some buddies and I are going to see the new triathlon documentary What It Takes coming to the Cities on November 9th. I'm really looking forward to it - I'll of course keep you posted -

Speaking of movies and keeping you posted, I'm presently uploading all the rest of the Becoming Ironman movie - 12 movies in all (!) over at Transition3.com. Just click on the "videos" link and you'll see them all nicely arranged in order - a bit more sensible than trying to present them in any kind of fashion strictly through the blog. Transition3 is a new thing I've been working on that we'll talk more about later, but for now I hope you'll enjoy the videos, and maybe say hello or throw your two cents in elsewhere on the site.

More to come, as always. Until then, stay cool like the tenth of September everybody -

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Becoming Ironman Part 3: The Team

Well, since it's been two weeks I thought I'd throw in Part 3 as well. A Chapter for the Team.

If you haven't watched Parts 1 and 2 yet, do that first. Part 2 is the post just previous to this one, and has a link to Part 1 in it, or just scroll down a bit.

I realize you won't know who these people are, and I get that watching other peoples' home videos is kind of a lame way to spend some time. I know you can't know these people from a video, or an introduction, or through some of their frequent comments on the blog or my mentioning them. I know you don't know them.

But probably your life would be richer if you did.

By way of introduction, this is The Team. This is the army that descended on Madison in the days before Ironman and put together a race day strategy with military precision. These are the people who have been with me through more than Ironman could ever dish out. When I think M-Dot, you better believe I think of this crew. When I see this thing emblazoned now on my left shoulder, you better believe what it represents.

You'll be spending a lot of time with them for the rest of the video, so though they be strangers to you, I hope you enjoy the glimpse you get here of the people that got me across. I hope you enjoy getting to know a bit about them each and all.

Becoming Ironman Part 3: The Team

They were there. A long, long time ago, they were there. Hell, before I was here, they were there. When it was raising a son that would be my father, they were there.

When it was childish laughter, amusing adolescence, teenage angst and confusion. Abundant happiness and stupid, glorious joy. Summer days and football games and the Williston Coyotes and the Rapid City Thrillers. They were there.

When it was falling in love with their daughter, they were there. Starting my first job. Getting married. Falling down, getting up, and falling down again. They were there.

They were there when the tears tore and the world broke and God made a mistake. They were there when all hope. was lost.

They were.

You have to understand that its not their screams and cheers at even the least significant weekend triathlon during the Becoming that made us a Team. We've just been through so much is the thing.

And now, they were here. An arsenal. An army. They drove across the road, or twenty hours. They came, some of them not entirely aware yet just what for, but wanting to find out.

They spent their vacation time, they drove overnight, they carpooled. Whatever it took to get here.

They came to do heavy lifting. Not just to witness, but get into the filth of, the depth of, the thick of this thing. They were accustomed to the burden (it's been a long haul back to life), but this time was different. They came, shoulder to shoulder, for one last push out of the ruins. They came for the celebration afterwards. For the dawn. They came for the final forging of the Iron that they believed, long before I did, might exist within this Man.

Do you know, completely lacking dramatic effect, I owe them my life. They and those they represented who couldn't make the trip to Madison, but who stood by computers, sat on telephones, sent cards and wrote emails and sent seven minute hugs.

That was my Ironman. This was my Team. These are my Friends. This is what it came down to. Because 140.6 miles, the last of so so many traveled, is too far to go alone.

Becoming Ironman Part 2: The Road to Ironman

And we're back. The Team (Minneapolis version) and I enjoyed the video and reunion last weekend, and the rest of the Team has received their DVDs and, far as I know, been able to enjoy the Becoming. It's been a blast watching it with everybody and reliving it, and humbling to receive the encouragement you all provided from Part 1. The Story has only just begun.

If you haven't watched Part 1 yet, please do that now. You can also just scroll down a bit to find it. You'll enjoy this most, I think, if you watch the episodes in order.

A few notes on this one - the rain and cold the day of Ironman actually infiltrated the video camera and some of its tapes - no worries, but you'll note a few jerky spots on this video. Shouldn't affect your viewing experience at all, and sometimes it even looks like a kind of crazy effect. Anyway. Also pay special attention for me & Jackie's ode to our favorite TV show ever, Miami Vice. Heh heh.

Becoming Ironman Part 2: The Road to Ironman

By the time Ironman week actually rolls around, when you actually get to pack up your things and finally leave the house, its pretty momentous. The work, the time, the long hours - they're behind you now, and things start getting very real, very fast. It feels really good to be finally doing something instead of constantly talking or thinking about it, and that first moment walking into Ironman Village...there are joys and emotions there that go untapped anywhere else in existence. I have goosebumps and wet eyes recalling it right now.

But there's work to do. Registration. A final swim. A final systems check, to make sure the Machine is ready for flight. Transition bags to pack, a flight deck to fill up. You seek quiet time, but you can't rest. You've waited for this moment all your life...and how many people can say that about anything? Finally, ultimately, you pack things up with irrational tenderness, you bring them to the Village, and you have nothing more to do but wait. For Ironman.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Boys of Summer

The high school baseball field is directly behind my house, separated by a fence. In the summertime, when they play games or have practice, we can sit on the deck in our backyard and listen to them play. Occasionally a foul ball will tip back and up, over the the high fence that surrounds the field and into our yard, Jackson the Irondog thinking it a gift from the dog-toy gods to reward his stellar behavior.

Yesterday I was upstairs and looked out one of the back windows, and noticed one of the coaches unlocking the fence. He's a man in his 60's at least, and a volunteer. But he's always first to the field before practice, and the last to leave. The kids seem to respect him immensely. During games he's often the third base coach. Before we built the fence he'd always have an ear scratch for Jack and JoJo. He seems like a decent guy.

I thought it was an odd thing, him unlocking the field, in the middle of October (the high school boys' season ending in late spring). He moved slowly, taking his time. He looked around at the field, at the bullpen outside the field, at the curves of the fence as it traveled down to left field. He moved like a man trying to memorize everything around him.

When he finally went inside, he stopped and just looked around. Taking it all in, like one would when he's finally crested a mountaintop. For a solid minute, I don't think he moved more than his head as he surveyed the field. Then he knelt down and smoothed his hand over the plush green grass. He picked a few blades up and inspected them, putting one in his mouth. I watched him as he slowly got up and went to the pitcher's mound, having a look around him at the infield and the far fences of the outfield, then turning to face home plate, which is covered with tarps now in preparation for the winter. He stood for several moments, staring down home plate, and I imagined maybe he was staring down hitters from years ago, when his limbs were more nimble and his body less aching. It was clear that his respect for the field, and for the game it's played on, runs thick through his blood.

Eventually he walked into each dugout, cleaning up a bit of trash as he went (done with tenderness, as one might pick a speck out of his wife's hair), and eventually he made his way back outside the fence, locking the gate again behind him before slowly getting into his car and driving off. He was maybe there for 15 minutes.

I know what he was doing. He was saying goodbye. Or at least, "sleep well". We all do it up here in Minnesota. All of us have something, a proverbial baseball field, that in itself represents just about everything we find right in the world. And except for the die-hard snowmobilers who wait all year for snow, I think probably for most of us that thing lives mostly in the summertime.

This time of year, if you look closely, you can see it all around you. The man and his kids pulling in the dock at the cabin, then standing together on the shore and looking out at the lake, their minds tracing back to when they put it in last May, and the late nights on the beach, or waking up early to go fishing, or the 4th of July on the dock, and the many barbecues...now all gone for another winter.

The high school football season is winding down, and gone will be the insanely hot August two-a-days, the smell of freshly cut grass, the delirious echos of the crowds, the crisp air of twilight as the game gets underway, the familiar shadows cast by so many bright lights.

The shadows are long on the golf courses, the golfers in long sleeves now as they hope this round doesn't prove to be the last of the season. The mosquitos no longer buzz around them, they can't stay out anymore until the very edge of dusk, there is no certainty of next week's 9 holes with friends.

Just last weekend Amy and I put the deck away, packing up all her ornaments and candles, rolling up the rug, storing it and the little tables up in the garage for another winter. This weekend she strolled around her gardens as she always does, but this time spent the time pulling out and tossing all the dead things; the lush, vibrant explosions of life that she so carefully nurtured now dormant again. And like all of us do in whatever way, when done she brushed off her hands, put them on her hips, and gazed around the yard with an exhale, recalling her springtime excitement in planting, the buzz of bees visiting in July, the hopelessly green days of August.

For me, of course, it's the game. Ol' Blue came indoors last night from the garage. Gone are the endless rides through the meadows of Minnesota, listening to the buzz and chirps as the road winds ahead. The corn that I watched grow is now brown and dead again, the quintessential image of fall. The leaves I watched bud and become during my runs are now almost gone from their limbs. When I run now there's that cold-weather burn in the back of my throat, and if I leave the house too late it's dark when I return, and it takes me three times as long to leave the house as I get dressed for cold weather.

Of course, there's work to do, and the winter months will be filled with training. Weights, water, spinning, treadmills when the cold is unbearable (and it will get unbearable). Strategies will continue, preparations and designs for that elusive, far away, hypothetical "next season". These things begin and these other things end.

But still, it feels to me mostly like waiting. In my heart, in my soul. And it makes me quite sad, actually. Waiting for those first brisk spring mornings when I have to shed my sleeves three miles into the run. For those evenings when I'm still on my bike at 8:00. For that first real race of the year, when the sun is not quite up yet for bodymarking, and I have to pick the wet blades of grass off my bike tires as I wheel it into transition. For those workouts when I have to towel off before getting back into my car, when a cold Gatorade is an absurd blessing, when one can't but breathe the words, "Man it's hot out here." Those are the Days of the Game for me. And I await them now again, another season over. Another Season over.

Last night Jackson walked lazily over to the couch where I was sitting, circled around two or three times, and with a deep sigh lay down, sprawled out and long. Soon enough I saw his legs begin twitching, and then his feet were moving too as he whimpered and yelped the sleepy, growly noises of a contented dog having The Best Dream Ever. I know where he was. I know how the air smells, and how the leaves glimmer as the breeze shakes them. I know how the world reflects off of puddles as the sunshine returns after a brief warm shower. I know the sounds of children, free at last from their school schedules, as they screech and play while I run by. I know how the fields around us grow and grow and grow, so that I have to stand on my pedals to see what's coming at country intersections. I know how the lake turns orange, then crimson as it finally swallows the sun after an evening swim to cool down after such a hot run.

I know the stuff of his dreams this time of year, as they are the stuff of mine. I hope his was a good one, and that he ran free and fast and forever. And I hope I was there with him.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Game On.

I wear a blue rubberband on my wrist.  I've told you about this before.  For Ironman, we (the Team and I) translated it into a blue Livestrong-ish Becoming Ironman wristband.  But normally it's just a plain old blue rubberband.  It lasts about a month on my wrist before it breaks or falls off.  I have a bag of, like, a thousand of them or something.

I started wearing it in 2004, after my first open-water swim when I, totally green and utterly unsuspecting and unprepared, found myself in the middle of my first washing machine on the swim.  It was horrifying, and I nearly had a panic attack in the water.  I came very close to just pulling up and quitting.  I managed to survive it, but afterwards found myself experiencing the most odd fear response when I got back in the pool - my body immediatley siezed up, afraid of the water.  So, I started wearing a blue rubberband.  Something I could see underneath the water and focus on.  Something I could kind of meditate on to relax my mind.

That's the backstory, but in time the rubberband just kind of came to represent to me: I Am A Triathlete.  Wearing it year-round gave me a kind of peace of mind that in the cold snowy winter, summer was inevitable.  I could look at it on the stationary trainer and be reminded that I'd ride again when the snow cleared.  And, I could see it on my wrist when passing a Krispy Kreme and have a tangible reminder for why I will not stop. I made up a goofy acronym for it - "Be Loose Under Extremes", and would give it a glance on tough century rides, or hot 15k runs, or the many Half Irons that were going to hell in a hand grenade.  Kind of silly, I know.  Kind of a crutch, I know.  But I am in some ways a very literal thinker, and I find that it helps me to have a switch to turn on. Something like - when the rubberband is around my wrist, I'm in the game. I'm in training. I'm at work. Also something tangible that I carry with me, so that the next time I'm faced with an extreme, I can recall the last time. And if I got through that, I'll get through this.

I went without the rubberband for about a month after Ironman, and my lifestyle relaxed accordingly.

It went back on about a week ago.

2007: The Year of the PR
In Which Our Hero Becomes Bigger, Faster, Stronger

It begins with the P.F. Chang's Rock N' Roll Arizona Marathon on January 14th. I'll spend the next 3 months in training for that, which will constitute a lot of my base training for the coming year. I won't be out for a PR at that race - Amy and I are headed to New Mexico that weekend, so I'm working the race into that. It'll be a goal race around which I can have a strong and focused winter, but I'll approach my training and racing of it with low heartrates and quality endurance-building. I'm happy to have a January marathon to look forward to, and glad to have found this one that works with plans we were already making and the M.L. King holiday that Monday. (I was considering the Disneyworld Marathon the week before instead, but this one works better with the rest of our lives. Maybe '08 for that one). In training for this race I intend to do a number of small fun-runs with friends and other short, local races. Hopefully something on the calendar each month, which will hopefully help those months go more quickly. I'll also be hitting the weights hard this winter. The goal is to be in-shape and ready to kick ass on the tri training season come February 1.

After the marathon, I'm back in the pool and on the indoor trainer. I'll spend limited time - once or twice on week - on the bike and in the pool until then. I'll continue doing fun-runs whenever I can. The weights stop on March 1.

The first triathlon of the year will, as usual, be the Chain of Lakes triathlon the first weekend in May, a shorter-than-average sprint. This will be my first attempt at a P.R., which may be a challenge considering that I had a pretty fast time last year. This is a "C" race, though - just the first tri of the season to work out the kinks and cobwebs.

Next comes another Marathon. Hell yes. I'll be heading back to the homeland to run the Fargo Marathon on May 19th, in North Dakota. Here, we're shooting for a P.R. This will be a "B" race, but I should be able to execute a better-than-before time on this race, as I've certainly never lit it up when it comes to the marathon. Hopefully some friends and family can come out for this one, we'll see.

Things get serious on June 10th when I return to the Liberty Triathlon Half Iron, seeking revenge on a poor performance last year (and the 3 mile detour, courtesy of some volunteer confusion). I intend to obliterate last year's time. I intend to set a Personal Record of epic proportions. By this time I should be a stupid strong runner, and for the love of Earl I am, after all, an Ironman. Time to rip this course up. This one has a big, blinking "A" next to it on the calendar.

The next weekend I'd like to head back to Wisconsin to race the Triterium Olympic distance race. I did this race in '05, and my Wisconsin family was all out there to cheer me on. It was a blast. But it's Amy's birthday weekend, so we'll see how that pans out. Possibly I'd just do the sprint there, instead, or it might be more than my lifestyle would allow. So this one has an asterisk next to it for now.

July 14th I'm back at the Lifetime Fitness triathlon in Minneapolis, doing the Olympic distance (provided the race directors don't wuss out again if it's a shade warm outside). This will be another "A" race, with all intentions of crushing my Olympic distance P.R. This will be my fourth time at this race, so I intend to rip it up.

The first phase of the season ends with the grand-daddy A race of the season, the Chicago Triathlon Triple Challenge. A super-sprint on Saturday the 25th, followed on Sunday by a Sprint course at 6am, and THEN coming into the finish line only to get back out on the Olympic course. Oh hell yes. 1.63 total miles in the water, 44.67 on the bike and 10.85 on the run. That sounds like a kickass good time.

After August - well, then we'll see. I'd like to volunteer at Ironman Wisconsin. I'd like another triathlon or two. I'd like to finish the year with another marathon. We'll see what the future holds for all of the above. Oh, and all of the above is subject to change, but you get the gist.

So...wow, that's a lot of racing! Yes, yes it is. But I'm really excited about that. I've never had an intelligently trained, full season before. In 2004, I was totally clueless and knew nothing of base training, nevermind technique in the water, on the bike, and during the run. And the past 2 seasons have been spent training for and around Ironman, so naturally I limited my long-course running. This past summer I only did a handful of races, and none between the middle of July until Ironman because I was in the meat of my long training sessions and actually couldn't afford to skip a century ride in order to go race. In short - Ironman dictated what I would and wouldn't do, so I raced according to the goal, more than just for the experience or joy of it. So this season is all about having fun. Doing lots of races, short and a few long. Seeing what I'm capable of with those distances and that kind of training. Setting goals that won't require 5 hours on the bike every weekend, or 2 miles in the pool.

And I have to say, on paper - it looks pretty damn exciting to me. I'm really looking forward to the '07 season. So yeah, the rubberband is on. It's time to go back to work.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Idle contents of a restless mind...

Tim DeBoom is out at the Ironman World Championships at Kona. So no DeBoom, and no Peter Reid. That's insane. That's like. The Lakers and Celtics minus Magic and Bird.

There's a new Ironman race out there - Ironman Louisville Kentucky. There's some talk here and there about Ironman oversaturation. That perhaps there will be "too many" Ironman races out there, and that their increasing availability will somehow make becoming Ironman less meaningful. Whatever, I'll let other people dissect the politics of things, but I didn't become Ironman in relationship to anybody else on this planet. I did it for me. I say the more the merrier. Adding more races sure as hell doesn't make it any easier of a race. And besides that, the Ironman business model is freakshow brilliant. Can't fault 'em for doing business, so says I.

Jackson the Irondog had a horrible week last week - an abscessed tooth that caused the right side of his head to swell and put him in so much pain that he was utterly transformed into some other dog. He had surgery on Friday, and is by now feeling so much better. The swelling is almost entirely gone, and he's back to his old crazy self. I am incapable of toughing it out when my dog is in pain. It absolutely breaks my heart. And I swear to God, he and have some Elliot & ET psychic connection. No lie. So when he's in that much pain, I don't just empathize. It affects me, man.

I have, in some sort of delusional neurosis, allowed myself the "reward" of fast-food this last month. But yesterday I sat in a Wendy's with my friend Mike, and I looked at my spicy chicken sandwich and finally told him - this is stupid. I'm insulted by fast food. I'm insulted by the industry, and offended that it exists. I'm a hypocrite for being here, and that ends now. Mike agreed, and condemned its convenience. We agreed that we would rather be inconvenienced, and Mike pointed out that you appreciate that much more what you'd taken 2 minutes to prepare yourself. I pointed out that I spent a year of my life neutralized from this poison and never found myself so inconvenienced that I couldn't survive. I acknowledged that I was eating it because it tastes good. And then we agreed that really...it doesn't taste that good. So - to hell with McDonald's and it brethren. It was a poignant moment of brilliant disgust with myself.

I've been surprised and humbled by everyone's responses to the video. Once again, I'm just honored to be part of a community with you people. Inspired that we can inspire one another. You kickass.

And I think you're going to really, really enjoy the rest of the video.

The Twins lost in the first round of the playoffs. Huge bummer, albeit a familiar one. It just felt like they'd do something in the postseason this year. Sigh. Consolation: The Yankees also lost.

More coming soon then, back on the triathlon track. Meanwhile, go share this with someone you love.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sneak Peak...

So I've mentioned that I'd have video to share of Becoming Ironman, and that I'd been working on something for the last few weeks. Well it's finally finished, and I'm excited to share it with you.

Quick recap: I'd thought I'd take some of the photos and video that the Team shot at Ironman and throw it together in some kind of DVD scrapbook. When I got to perusing the many things they came up with, though, it was pretty exciting to literally see the story unfold. And that was the other thing - like most athletes out there (at least first timers?), my day felt like a pretty epic story. It had a plot. Cast of characters. Climaxes. That sort of thing. As I watched some of the television footage from Ironman Wisconsin, it sort of completed the picture for me. Without any real plan or intention, the video kind of took on a life of its own, and now consists of 9 "chapters" (some shorter than others) and a total running time of just over an hour. It's a fun recap and scrapbook for the race and all its elements for me. It's something I - and hopefully the Team - can put it in ten years and still really enjoy, but it was also important that I create it in such a way so that my friends and family who weren't in Wisconsin could get some kind of grasp on just what this thing is, and how big, and how amazing. I of course can't possibly capture that, but I tried to at least allude to it. So anway, it's pretty self-centric, naturally. Somehow I feel like saying that, a bit apologetically. But hopefully it's also just about Ironman, and how much bigger the day was than me, and how much the Team was a part of things. Hopefully any one of you could watch it and really enjoy it while also getting a sense for what my race was like, one in a cast of 2500. Hopefully the Team will watch it and relive everything again, like I have and do when I watch it.

By the way, Team - you're getting your DVD at an upcoming party, and/or I'll be mailing it to you.

A few final general notes: I've borrowed some footage throughout the movie from the FSN/OLN broadcast of Ironman Wisconsin, as well as last years NBC broadcast of the World Championships in Kona. You'll see some of that here in the Prologue, and I know some of you will be familiar with it.

I'll wait to post any more chapters until after the Team has all received their DVDs - in about 2 weeks or so. For now I thought it would be fun to share the first chapter with you. I'll share subsequent chapters probably once a week or so in the weeks to come, so stay tuned.

Becoming Ironman Part 1: The Prologue

Becoming Ironman started, essentially, sometime in the fall of 2003 when I stumbled through my first mile, teetered along on my first bike ride (wherein I promptly got my first flat...after falling down twice because I didn't know how to unclip from my pedals...) and sloshed my way through 25 yards of wet, breathless hell in the pool. This in training for my first "A" race (I didn't know what the term meant then) - the 2004 Lifetime Fitness Triathlon, Olympic distance. In my heart, I began training for Ironman that day, in the moments before that race. The following seasons saw my first 10 mile race, 3 Half Ironman races (none of them spectacular), several Sprint and Olympic distance races, and a marathon - all in preparation for IMWI '06. The Prologue begins the adventure of Becoming Ironman by glimpsing what is to come, and what it took to get there.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Spectator Report: Twin Cities Marathon

Well it's not actually a "report" - I'm not going to give you the details on what I had for breakfast (a bagel) or how many calories I consumed during the race (none, actually, save for some triscuits...) or how I handled the heat (not well! I checked the damn weather that morning and it said a high of 63, so I was in jeans and long sleeves...it got up to 84! Seriously, WHAT IS THE DEAL with the idiots not forecasting weather for THE SAME DAY?)

So weird to be on that side of racing - I'd never just gone to a race before. In 2004 I ran the Twin Cities 10 mile and then positioned myself to watch some friends do the marathon which started an hour or so after my race started, but that's not the same as spending your day in full-on spectator mode. Cripes, I think it's less stressful running the race! So much "Okay! Now we go here!" and checking maps and watching clocks and figuring out your runners' paces and if you'll get there on time and where to park and sheesh. Crazy. And then you get to whatever mile is next and you...wait. You clap and encourage, but really you crane your head looking for something familiar in this sea of bouncing bodies so that your runner isn't directly in front of you before you even realize it (happened twice). Just crazy. It made me appreciate that much more all the time and energy my friends and family spend coming to watch me race some rinky dink local thing, nevermind a tour de force like Ironman. I had no idea watching was that hard. Seriously. Spectators are definitely the unsung heroes in what we do.

And for the record, watching sure made me want to be racing.

Anyway, congratulations to everybody who ran and raced - especially to Pete, Amy's friend Marcia, and Pharmie. Kickass all around.

I've had a great last few days of ponderance - with a lot of help from all of you who had some great ideas and philosophies - and have bounced a few ideas off of Amy and some friends. We'll see what develops, but a plan is in the making, and for now that's enough. Crisis averted, I think. I'll share things with you when they become more definitive.

And now, I'm off for an overdue reunion (since Ironman!) with my good friend Ol' Blue. More to come -