Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Before we were teammates...

We were teammates.

Peace be with you Zilla. Here's to moving forward.

Your friend,


Over Before It Begins

Note from xt4: As you know, there are 2 of us on Team Two - TZilla and myself. I've received a few emails, so to avoid any confusion - the below is from TZilla. I, xt4, am still becoming Ironman. Okay. Read on for an important message from my man TZ.

This isn’t some earth shattering news or big thing so just bare with me. I'm not sure where to begin but I had an epiphany of sorts last weekend. I've come to the conclusion and am going to give up triathlon. For the time being anyway.

The past four months have been a roller coaster. I've been eating and drinking my way to pure bliss but not without repercussions. For the past few weeks, none of my jeans have been buttoned because of the extra holiday weight I'm carrying around, no lie. I've resorted to wearing dress clothes daily that I've had packed away from my husky days, which now fit comfortably again.

During this roller coaster ride, I seemed to have lost track of life and what makes me happy. I've completely forgotten what "normal" is anymore and haven't felt more lost in a long time, if ever. As much fun as I had these past two years competing, continuing that lifestyle and the expectations I've set for myself have now become unrealistic. Going from one extreme to the other has taken a toll on me. Two a day workouts and eating clean and then transforming into a binge eating, dormant alcoholic in the so called off-season is clearly not working for me as visible by my current self destructive lifestyle.

This all came to a head over the weekend and I've realized that, bottom line....I'm not happy. How am I going to right this ship? I have no clue. It's going to be a one day at a time journey. Twenty minutes on the elliptical machine and some dumbbell curls are going to be a victory in my book. I don't need to run a 10K at such and such a pace after a bike ride to prove to myself or anyone that I can do it. I've proved to myself what I can do and that's enough. For the first time for as long as I can remember, I'm satisfied and content, especially just saying this. I don't need to do a half ironman or a full ironman just to say I've done one, completing a so-called life goal of mine. Would it be cool as all hell to do? Of course, without a doubt. But do I need to do this to be happy or prove anything to anyone or myself? An astounding no, I don't.

I have all the respect in the world for multisport athletes no matter what distance is covered as well as anyone who takes stock in their life and works to maintain a healthy lifestyle no matter what it means to that individual. I'll be XT4's number one fan, backing him no matter what.

I cherish a life and look forward to not worrying about how many calories I've taken in at a meal, what's on the agenda for tomorrow's workout and how I'm going to get it in, not feeling guilty for that extra piece of pizza at the lunch meeting, playing rec softball with my best friends while enjoying some beers after the game in the dead of summer, hitting up DQ for a blizzard without hesitation, throwing my shoulder out giving it my all in a meaningless game of racquetball, riding my bike in the non-aero position and not giving a rat's ass that I'm only going 12 mph and enjoying the day, reading the newspaper on a recumbent exercise bike, going on a trip without having to worry about missing a workout, running for fun (if that's even possible for me) without a HR monitor and embracing my huskiness if that's the by product of all this without a care in the world. If I’m rockin a 38 inch waistline but happy as a clam, perfect!

Now I'm not saying I'm going to sell my bike and all stuff triathlon related on Craig's List and give it up forever. Nor am I saying I will NEVER do any sort of race ever again. I may do a sprint here and there, or a duathlon, some more road races. Who knows. Maybe some day when the time is right, a half or even a full IM is in my cards, I just don’t know. But now? It's not the case. That's the beauty of this decision. I'm happy not doing anything at all if that's what it means. I’ve recently just finally realized, life is too short to continue in this downward spiral. My goal is to find some sort of normalcy and moderation which will hopefully in turn, give me peace and happiness in a healthy, maintainable way.

This is pretty hard and emotional for me to get out because for as long as I can remember, I hate, more than anything, letting people down. And this, admittedly feels like I'm letting people down. So to those that this is the case, I'm sorry. But for once, this time, I'm going to make a decision for me, regardless of what others may think....end of story.

Triathlon does not define my life, I define my life.

As cheesy as this's to health and happiness. I'll see you on the flip side.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A few of my favorite things...

Sometimes you come across something that's so splendid, or makes your training universe that much more enjoyable or efficient or easy, that it's good to share. I'm going to try and do that a little more in this space as I come across them - which, for all the geekery and gadgetry in triathlon, is actually pretty rarely (there's a lot of expensive crap out there.)

First up:

It starts with the iPod Nano:

This is the newest iPod Nano, with video. I have the previous version - or "2G" as it's known in Apple Geekdom (meaning "Second Generation"):

The iPod Nano starts at $149. (Sorry, blogger's going haywire with the images here...)

Now add the Nike + kit. This is a $30 little receiver and transmitter - the receiver goes into the dock connector on the bottom of the iPod, and the transmitter you can put on your shoe - you've probably seen these around. With this combined gadgetry, you can track mileage, pace, time, etc. through you Nano, and then use the Nike + website to track your data - you remember some of us used this last year to have "virtual" races or workouts together. Which is really cool, and probably I'll do that again this winter if anybody's interested, but I found that I really like having my Garmin 305 with me, as it's the consistent feedback monitor I have year round; so I know how fast 5 miles feels in January or July. The Nano, while pretty decent, was never as accurate as I'd have liked for actual monitoring of my workouts long-term. But, with the Nike + kit, you have that little receiver, which is the necessity for what I really want to talk about - the Nike Amp iPod remote:

I have the black one, and got it from for $80, I think. It's an extremely useful wrist gadget that has an interesting interface for a normal everyday watch (the "watch" is hidden underneath the stylish black band - it really just looks like a bracelet most of the time - until you press a button. It's actually become my daily watch, as well), but has a really low-profile control panel on it too to control the iPod. When I got this, training with my iPod really became second nature - until this point, I had the iPod on an arm band, which was well enough, but changing the song or heaven forbid the volume was always a hassle, especially in winter with running gloves on. With the Amp, the watch talks to the receiver plugged into the iPod, and I can control volume and back/next track right from the watch, with buttons easy enough to manage even with running gloves on. Very, very cool. Timex has recently come out with their own version of this, called iControl, which is probably even more useful - it's an actual standard Ironman watch, with all the usual functions, plus the ability to remotely control the iPod. I think that's about $90 or so.

The only problem now as been headphones, which finding a pair that fits well and doesn't fall out when ears get sweaty, and which stay in place, and which sound good, etc. etc. is an adventure in its own right. But come winter, trying to cram headphones underneath a stocking hat or ear warmers has never been comfortable at all. Problem solved: For Christmas, Amy gave me this:

Cleverly (or unfortunately) called the "Hatphone", it's a Nike hat with a built in pocket for your iPod, with built in headphones and a cable that connects easily to your iPod's headphone jack. The whole ensemble stays easily contained, and best of all are the earphones that are absorbed into the lining of the hat, so there's no hat ramming earbuds into your ears. I ran with it today and it was toasty and sounded very good, to my surprise - you can kind of finagle the headphones inside the hat to be where you want them in relationship to your ears. Brilliant! I think this was about $60 - which is a hella lot for a hat with headphones built in, no matter how much I enjoy it.

Right, so I know that added up, the whole shebang is approaching $350, which is crazy. But I like to think it's a little more piecemeal than that - where your Garmin, for instance, has really one and only one use - to be along on the bike or while running, the iPod and the watch are certainly multi-purpose. Plus, a lot of us already have iPods. A lot of us will have cause to get a new running watch sometimes - could just as easily make it the iControl from Timex. The hat really isn't a whole lot more expensive than any other functional high-tech piece of outerwear (but it's still just a hat...). The cost is easier to absorb, and justify, if seen in pieces, I think, rather than as a single "this will make running in the winter more endurable" kind of cost.

So - if tunes are an important part of your training, and especially if you already have an iPod Nano or are in the market for one, consider all the pieces you can add onto it bit by bit. I've built up this collection of gadgetry over time, and have finally found an easy, seamless way to deal with tunes hassle free for winter running. Now if only they'd come up with an iPod attachment that cut my 5k pace down under 7 minutes...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Does shoveling snow count?

Well, I'm back. Miss me? Bah, don't lie, you didn't even know I was gone. Too busy reading about Steve's lil' soldier, I'm sure. Anyway, I took some time away from the game after the Thanksgiving Berbee Derby. This meant not only going lax on workouts, but limiting my interactions with the blogosphere. It was kind a proactive exile - I'm finding since after the injury last spring that if I take a bit of time away here and there - just, once every few months, it keeps me fresher, more interested, healthier. So.

But, I'm back now, and gone are the days of "just doing enough to not get fat". Officially back in training, with structure and a plan and the whole bit. Had a great 3 mile run on Monday evening - I really love running in winter. If it's too cold so my face hurts, then no, but I mean if it's a sensible temperature and not sleeting and all of that, I'm really refreshed running in winter. I think it's a lot of fun. That said, all it's done here for the last week is snow. Like, seriously. We've got feet of snow outside. I've fired up my snowblower 4 times this week. Not exaggerating. So on the end of each sidewalk on the block, there are these huge mounds of snow, higher than waist high. They have a rule in this little town that everybody's responsible for clearing their own sidewalks, so generally the sidewalks are clear and then one sidewalk approach to the street is clear - that approach was usually turning 90 degrees away from my path of travel. At first I'd make that short turn to get on the street, then back on the next sidewalk, but it was getting to be a hassle so I thought it'd be in the spirit of things to just dive over the snow piles, leaping up them and then hurdling off like I'm a runningback flying over tacklers. A wonder I didn't slip on my ass, but it went well and I had fun, and told myself there was some advantage to my core or something in leaping around in the snow.

Yesterday I was planning on doing some mountain biking around town - yet another snowstorm would have made for an entertaining ride for sure - but after snowblowing my driveway, then my Grandpa's, then my aunt's (they're all in Florida on vacation), it was 2 hours later and the window was really lost. Maybe today.

A few thoughts:

- It is cool to have a white Christmas. I'm not usually into snow, but this isn't bothering me at all. I'm enjoying it. Makes the world feel fresher or something.

- I realize now - and people in Minneapolis will get what I mean here - that Minneapolis does, in fact, have an abnormal and hysterical fascination with snowstorms. Specifically the media and meteorologists. When snow is on the way in Minneapolis, they go nuts. Interrupting programming, flashing big headlines, leaving sports radio to talk about the weather. So that if you're, say, downtown, all anybody can talk about is when they're leaving work to avoid the big snow storm. Or changing weekend plans to beat the snow storm. Or stocking up on life's essentials at the grocery store lest their doors freeze shut for a week because there's a big snow storm coming. I think I thought it was like that everywhere, but near as I can tell, Madison just kind of takes in in stride. Sure it's talked about, there's a headline, but it's rational. "Hey, snow is coming. Plan ahead. Next topic."

- I bought a pair of inexpensive New Balance trail runners, because they didn't have Asics in my size and I wasn't going to spend a week and a fortune looking for trail shoes. I bought them for snow running. The jury's still out. So far I'm not moved to tears or anything.

- If ever there was a season to try cross country skiing, this might be it.

- In my real life, Polaris (the snowmobile company) is one of my clients. Last year in January we were doing a video shoot, and the earth was pretty brown, and a woman and I were talking about sales are so down, and have been for a few years, and she said that really, if we don't get snow by Christmas, people don't so much buy snowmobiles. Anyway, I've been thinking - business must be booming. Good for them.

- The blog is boring. I mean, Todd's pretty hilarious, but I've become really boring. Back when Ironman was this high-drama metaphor and this vehicle for which I was overcoming all kind of odds and obstacles, I had poignant, meaningful internal discussion and it came out in the blog. Now that I have such peace of mind and my world is so well situated, the posts are all just about the stuff of triathlon. Like this post. Do you really care that I like running in snow? Of course not. I think I'm not a strong enough writer to make my non-triathlon posts interesting, or I'm not funny enough to make them entertaining, or adventurous enough where I'm trying a new cool thing every other day, or my self-imposed rule of generally avoiding discussion of my real life keeps my content maybe a little too limited. (It occurs to me that it might seem I'm fishing for validation. I'm not, just talking here.) Which makes me wonder, lately, what really is the point, and lifespan, of a blog. I'm not asking because I'm considering shutting it off or anything, I just wonder. Who cares, y'know? That said, you guys are all still writing interesting things. Maybe it's just me, then.

- I don't want to get into a big thing here, because in my experience there are a limited number of things you just avoid talking about in public forum, because people get downright ugly. Politics is one of those things. Mac vs. Windows is another of those things. And, being from Minnesota, Packers vs. Vikings is another of those things. Now I live in Packer nation, on this lone Vikings island. Sigh. Between "regional broadcasts" that inevitably involve the Packers or the Bears, I hardly ever see them on TV, and have more than once been relegated to my driveway to listen to the game on Sirius radio, alone in my car for 3 hours. But, my Vikings are - for once - not pretenders, and have somehow become honest-to-god good at football. I don't know how this happened, but I know enough not to wonder, just bask in its glow. My point - and I'm not talking any trash here, just making an objective statement - the Vikings will have something to say to both the Packers and the Cowboys about playoff success. Not saying they'll beat either team (the Packers killed the Vikings 35-0 last time). Just saying, they can't be overlooked.

- See what I mean? Who cares what I think about football? Bah.

Alright well, I'm boring myself over here, so I'll close up. Frequent pointless posts to come, as Becoming Ironman is again underway.

Monday, December 10, 2007