Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Well I spent Thanksgiving in varying degrees of a sick stupor. I started developing a cold last Tuesday, and it got worse and worse and worse throughout the weekend. By Monday of this week I was in really bad shape. Today's the first day I feel back among the living, but I still have little energy. It sucks. Plus I'm bad at being sick. I don't know who's good at it, but I'm bad at it.

So. I was planning a 5k this weekend, but alas, no. I was planning a December 4th (Monday) launch date for the 2007 season - alas, no. Or maybe not, I dunno, we'll see. I'll have to stop hacking by then.

Sigh. This sucks.

Everybody else is doing cool things. I'm reading your blogs. All the cool kids are running cool races and swimming and doing what triathletes do. I'm working late nights. And being sick. I feel like such a tool.

Okay well. So much work to do, but I'm not presently fortified for late nights, so I'm going to call it a day and hope tomorrow is a bit better. I hope everybody had a great holiday and that you're all doing cool things, that I may live vicariously.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Well, a few things to know and share. Haven't checked in for a bit, so here's something before I head out the door for Thanksgiving travels:

1. I am really, really busy at work. I seem to always be this time of year - companies try and cram what they couldn't get to earlier in the year into just before year's end, and they want to satisfy their '06 budgets. The last 3 years, my Nov 1 to Christmas has been hysterical. This year seems no exception.

2. Because of said workload, I've decided to forgo the January marathon in Arizona that I'd been planning on. Yeah, I'm a bit heartbroken about it. But I maneuvered a lot of projects and deadlines around late this summer so as to feel distraction-free leading into Ironman. I put off a lot of Sunday work for long rides. So now, I figure, it's time to return the favor. My business has to come first for awhile, and I'll get into serious training for a May marathon come January. So be it. In the meantime, I'm just working out when I can. Not as assertive or aggressive as I'd like my offseason to be, but hey.

3. I'm sick. I haven't been sick in 3 years, and I was once well known for my staggering bouts with illness. I attribute this sickness 100% to my decline in mileage, period. That pisses me off. So I'm punching through some kind of cold here, or something. Feverish, zero energy, that sort of thing.

4. I got a new car - a Dodge Nitro. It's friggin' dope as hell. Making it more dope are the chrome Ironman and M-DOT decals I have placed about the car. I'll post pictures when I can.

5. I'm headed back to the Scene of the Time for Thanksgiving - back to Team Headquarters in Madison. Can't wait to see my family again, and maybe if I have some time I'll drive out the Roller Coaster, or the Finish Line, and kick some leaves a bit. I'm looking forward to it. I'll bring my camera.

6. A la TriSaraTops:

I'm thankful for this year, this 2006, which has been without question my Greatest Year since.

I'm thankful for this body, which I finally do treat as a Temple, which 32 years into the limited warranty is performing better than ever.

I'm thankful for summertime, and the smell of race day morning, and the way the sun shines at around 6:45am as I'm setting up Transition.

I'm thankful for the way my lungs burn a bit when I'm getting back into shape, when the muscle fibers are awakened and resume a familiar routine.

I'm thankful for those days late in the summer when I'm in stupid, stupid shape. When I could go forever and ever and ever.

I'm thankful for Ironman, and for all its meant to my life. So much more than a race, so much more than one day. It was a catalyst that brought me closer to my friends and family. It was an Event. One Of Those Things. I can point to relationships with my mother, Grandpa, cousin, sister-in-law, friends, wife, uncle - honestly, the list does not reach completion - that Ironman has directly or indirectly influenced for the better.

I'm thankful for Jackie, who thinks running with me (or sitting near me, or sleeping alongside, or whatever) is The Greatest Thing. I'm thankful for such unabashed admiration, and hope he understands how acutely its shared.

I'm thankful for everything on the next page, in the next chapters.

I'm thankful for all of you I've gotten to know, who's journeys coincide in whatever way with my own, even once in awhile intersecting, and from whom I've learned about a great deal more than triathlon.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody - thanks for everything -

Friday, November 10, 2006

What It Took

Ack and thpt. Last night Todd and I cruised downtown (well, actually, to Uptown) to the Lagoon Theatre where the documentary What It Takes is showing - one of a handful of theatres in the country, and for one night only. It's available now on DVD, but a movie screening would definitely be the place to be. I've looked forward to it for weeks, and kind of measured my whole day by it - only seven more hours!, that sort of thing. I was in the mood for nothing else last night than to kick back with some bad-for-you movie snacks and watch some of the elite Jedi of the sport make their way through life and training to Kona 2005.

And the damn thing's sold out.

What!?! Ah crap.

Yeah, so we get all the way there, chattering about the movie and Ironman and triathlon and getting all geeked up, and as we're walking to the theatre Todd was wondering if it would be packed, and I doubted it - I have no idea why I doubted it - and even though we arrived 20 minutes early, we were greeted with a sign that it was sold out. Dammit dammit dammit. I guess I totally underestimated its popularity, or the presence of the tri community around here and its interest, or something - none of which makes any sense at all, and was mostly me being stupid. Should've gone yesterday afternoon and picked up tickets, I guess. Or something.

So anyway, that's my story about The Movie That Wasn't. I'll have to pick it up on DVD and host a movie night or something.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

In case it matters...

"...the hardest physical thing I have ever done."

Even harder than his worst days on the tour!!?!?!

And this is the madness in which we thrive. What a crazy, beautiful world.

Well done Lance, and welcome!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Things to Know and Share

So let's talk about something else, yes? Let's get back into what the hell's been happening outside the philosophical.

So I've gained 6 pounds since Ironman. During last year's offseason I gained about 18, so hey. I'll consider it a good thing. I feel like a glumpy sloth, but I think it's just in my head. It's weird not riding the bike for umpteen hours a day, and those are some 5000 calories or something I'm not burning. So anyway. I'm not too worried about it - if I can stay right around here for tri season, I'll be happy. Better, if I can start the season ready to gain fitness, instead of lose weight, that would be smashing.

I haven't been swimming since Ironman at all. I don't think it's a bad thing. The thing is - and I'm happy to be enlightened here if anybody as another viewpoint - is that you just don't spend enough time in the water during a race to spend forever training in it. If I work my ass off, I'll maybe improve by...2 minutes? 3? I think I'm better off increasing efficiency on the bike, or becoming a stronger, faster runner, than to spend the time required for those kinds of gains in the water. That's not laziness or anything, it's just how I think I can be most productive. So I tend to do "just enough" in the water - enough to use my muscles efficiently, not get out feeling thrashed, and ready for what's next. I'm consistently middle-of-the-pack in the water, and I'm okay with that. So I'll start swimming in January, like I usually do. 'zat stupid, you think? I dunno.

I have a new favorite thing, which is a total surprise to me, and that's the iPod. No no, I've had an iPod since 3G (which, you have to be a geek to know what that means, but it means for several years now), and that's long since been a favorite thing, but I've never trained with it (unless I'm on the treadmill or lifting weights), and training with it is a new favorite thing. I found, when I used a SwiMP3 player in the water last spring, that the workouts were infinitely more fun and, I think, productive. I'm committed to spending as little time as possible on the treadmill this winter, so I thought I'd throw some tunes in to see how that works for me - up to this point I've never trained with music, because I don't race with music, so there you go. Anyway, I downloaded one of the Nike+ songs from iTunes - the one by The Chemical Method. It's 45 minutes of continuous music. It's kind of electronica, which normally isn't my thing at all, but wow. I love it on the run. I found myself going much faster, working harder, and having more fun. I have lots of music to choose from to make my own mixes, which of course I do, but it was fun having a continuous mix to just keep going, uninterrupted, and also it's fun to have some new music in the headphones for a run, or at least something I haven't heard a billion times before. Anyway, I'm into it. Anybody else train with the iPod? Any suggestions or anything?

Best excerpt from a book I'm reading right now:
"You see I have very little left to lose," he said.
"Everyone always thinks that," commented Colonel Aspiche, "until that little bit is taken away - and feels like the whole of the world."
Chang said nothing, resenting bitterly the slightest glimmer of actual insight coming from the Colonel.

Three blogs you should check out if you haven't, but probably if you've spent any time here you have: Triteacher's and TriSaraTops's. Just the right mix of personal stuff to give one an appreciable glimpse of the being behind the blog , mixed with great triathlon anecdotes, thoughts, ideas and strategies. All this with no drama. Bookmark 'em. Also, if you're in the mood for something outside triathlon, et. al., Pharmie's husband Steve is an increasingly accomplished photographer. It's kind of fun to follow somebody else's passions as he speaks in a different language, albeit the same vernacular, as we do. And his photography really is excellent. Plus, he's in training for Ironman Wisconsin. Anyway, check him out.

Oh, and Bolder in Boulder has a great post lately, in his final days before IMFL. Man if that don't take you back to the first days of September. Awesome. My heartfelt best to everybody in Florida this weekend who is becoming Ironman.

Work has been insane. Just totally nuts. Which, as an entrepreneur, is a good thing and certainly beats the alternative. It's caused a few glitches in the workout schedule, but nothing I haven't been able to live with.

Okay well would you believe this post took me all day to write? A bit here, a bit there. Insane, this schedule I'm keeping.

So anyway, that's what I've been up to. What's new whichu?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A funny thing happened on the way to 5k...

Today some Finisher apparel that I'd purchased in the 10 days after Ironman arrived. First off - some tasty gear, let me tell you. I got a Soft Shell Jacket and a fleece vest. Before Ironman I'd owned exactly one fleece vest, about 5 years ago. Now I own two, and I find them pleasing. This one is black with the Ironman Wisconsin logo stuff on the front and FINISHER with the distances on the back. The jacket is really killer, a great winter running jacket. Same kind of embroidery, performance fleece inside, wind and water resistant on the outer shell and breathable throughout. Even without the Ironman stuff it's a really great workout jacket. With the Ironman stuff...well. It's a Finisher's jacket.

I headed out for 5k today, and wore the jacket to test it against the Elements. Today was a bonafide cold ass day. Nasty, biting wind and temps just around 30 degrees. Happy to report the jacket was awesome.

Anyway, this isn't really about the jacket at all, but now you have the necessary prologue. I was conscious as I headed out on the run that the word FINISHER was struck across my back. That the cars going by would no doubt see it, and though the distances embroidered underneath it are probably too small to be read from their distances, they'd know I was a FINISHER of something as they scanned the rest of the world they were driving by. I got to thinking what that meant. To me. To the world.

I was telling Amy's mom the other day that Ironman is not the most difficult thing I've done. It's not the most meaningful, it's not the most painful, it's not the most grueling. Nor is it the most rewarding, the most beautiful, the most remarkable. But Ironman, for me, represented all those things. It made tangible and practical my sleepless nights, my teeth-gnashing grief, my devastated heart. It made touchable my gratitude for my life and its inhabitants, my existence on this other side of despair, the refining of a belief system. The race, which was the capstone to a thousand miles before it that were no less part of Ironman, was a singular hallmark for this part of my life. It's a literal bookmark between what came before and the pages not yet turned.

There are major events in life. Things that wound us, or bind us, or build us. Things that make us. Things that, once experienced, leave us changed in its wake, or its wreckage. Places where, when we come out of them, we can honestly say, "I can never be who I used to be, ever again."

Ironman is such a thing for me. And you have to realize that it is with versed perspective that I can tell you that. There is nothing left about me that's naive. And I can tell you this now sobered from the drunken delirium that we all feel in the days immediately after the race. I can tell you that the man who shrugs his arms into the FINISHER emblazoned cloak was once one who couldn't even lift his shoulders for the effort. This is a truth. This is how it is.

As it turns out, it's not just a race. At least, it wasn't for me...and hell, it isn't for anybody. Even the professionals out there who've long since exhausted the metaphors are dueling something much baser than each other. It wasn't life and death - I've been there before. It wasn't the end of the world - I've stood on that edge too. But what you must understand is that it took going through there, to get to here. It took knowing the limits of that darkness to overcome them, and Ironman is where I made that stand. Maybe I could have made it elsewhere. Maybe I could have drawn that line on a beach somewhere, or on a road trip, or climbing a mountain, and said finally, "Ghosts, I'll be haunted no more." But I don't think so. This kind of catharsis, this kind of purging, this kind of awakening...it's rooted in cultures much older than this where at some point a person goes out into his wilderness, looks into his soul, and faces himself. And in that process, he is not meant to come back unchanged.

I don't think about my workouts when I think of Ironman. I don't think of it as the culmination of an insane dedication to fitness. The things that physically get you through the race, and which are such a focus for the year or more before the race, they are secondary in my heart and mind when I think of Ironman. When I think of Ironman, I think of the choice to go out last April in numbing 40 degree temperatures, relentless rain and 30mph winds. I don't think of the ride as much, but the choice I made to ride. I think of arguing with my body to get through 3 final, painful miles on the cusp of a snowstorm last March. I can recall very few swim workouts. But I can remember getting up at 5am to go swim. I can't tell you how many miles I ran when I was on vacation. But I can tell you that I ran while I was on vacation. These were the ingredients to Becoming Ironman. Finding within myself some level of discipline and dedication where before there was none, or at least not this kind. Choosing the difficult road. Choosing in fact to abandon the road and just run like hell through the wild. It turns out it wasn't so much the doing, as the choosing to do. And friends, that is indeed what separates some from most.

So with that in mind, as I wrapped up my 3 miles, I considered that FINISHER is really a celebrated term for the descriptor of all champions: BEGINNER. He who chooses to begin the race, whatever that race is in his life. To say finally, simply, "No more. Now I go," and do something extraordinary.