Thursday, May 27, 2010

Getting the Most from Your Coach

Normally, I wouldn't re-post something another coach wrote. In this case, I'll make an exception. My friend Gordo wrote a fantastic opinion about getting the most from your coach and the coaching relationship. I have a dear friend of mine who has been with me in my training for some of my greatest Ironman performances. She is an unstoppable force. She is doing Ironman Wisconsin (her first Ironman) later this year. She will make it to the finish line. She may even qualify for Kona.

I'm posting Gordo's write up as is because of the very scary style of her current coach. Don't get me wrong, at this point I just want her to move to ANY coach other than who she is with. Screaming is not a communication style. The "quiet treatment" on either side is not healthy or acceptable in professional coaching. It seems that ANYONE can call themselves a coach. It is another thing to act and perform like one.

So, for my friend, this is for you. Please read it with an open mind. There are a lot of great coaches around here and across the country. Most of us can express our opinion to you without screaming. Additionally, when questions come from you (as they should) a GOOD COACH will answer them as soon as humanly possible via email or telephone if not in person.

So, you hit the bid and have signed up for an Ironman. You are excited and a little scared. You “know” that you have what it takes to finish, but want to get the most of out of the limited time that you have to train. You have significant commitments in your non-tri life, and would like to minimize the disruption on your family and work colleagues. You need some advice to get you through your IM journey, and are thinking that a coach could be the way to go. In short, you are exactly where I was a few years ago.

I have been on both sides of the athlete/coach relationship, and wanted to share some ideas on how to get the most out of your coach. Here are some key things to remember when considering a potential coaching relationship:

You will be trusting your entire season to another person. You should check the coach's credentials, experience and background. Ask for references and speak to current clients. Review sample workout plans, and discuss the coach's approach to building the season.

Communicate your key goals for the season. I have found the best results are achieved by having a limited number of quantitative as well as qualitative goals. Set the goals early in the season, and tailor the year towards achieving them.

There are a lot of coaches out there, and just as many training philosophies. Different strategies work for different folks, and you should make sure that your coach’s training style matches your needs. Particular things to watch for are the approach to intensity, volume and recovery. This is where the variation can be greatest, and will have the most significant impact on your performance (both positively and negatively).

Many coaches offer different levels of service and price points. Make sure that you choose the plan that best fits your needs. If you are looking for frequent interaction, make sure that your coach will be happy with the level of assistance that you require. Make your expectations known in advance, and see what the coach recommends.

If you are paying for individual coaching, make sure you will get an adequate share of mind. Find out how many athletes are currently being coached. Discuss your coach’s other commitments. Be sure that you are confident that your plan will get the focus it deserves. Once again, make your expectations clear in advance.

You are buying your coach’s advice, experience and support. Ask a lot of questions. Understand what lies behind the yearly, monthly and weekly planning. You will become a better athlete if you understand the reasons behind each session. It is also your job to make sure that your coach understands how you are doing. Take advantage of every opportunity to update on your progress. You need to be totally honest. If you were so tired you couldn’t get out of bed, make sure that message gets across. Be totally open and clear with what is happening. I think this is even more important in an on-line relationship because of the lack of visual feedback (tough to hide overtraining at the track, easy on the keyboard). Don’t BS your coach! This is essential when you are tired, injured or not coping. Know when to back off. In my opinion, if your interaction is limited you are not being coached.

Once you have committed, paid your cash, built the season up... do the program. This sounds easy, but in fact, many people second guess their coach and adjust the plan. There should be a reason behind every workout. If you have doubts, ask questions until you are satisfied. You are paying for expert advice, so use it.

Coaches should have the ability to create and enhance the ability of an athlete in their ability to achieve their goals. The power of belief is one of the most powerful forces in life. The best coaches, friends and training partners all share a unified belief in the ability of the athlete. People that do not serve this power of belief are best avoided. In my opinion, creating and enhancing the power of belief is the central role of the coach. It is also the most important attribute for success in ironman distance racing.

Due to their experience, coaches should have the ability to provide the athlete with a structured environment that will enable them to move safely and consistently towards their goals. Structure gives the athlete a feeling of control and confidence – thereby strengthening the power of belief as well as increasing the probability of success.

Two aspects of clarity: (a) coaches should be able to explain goals, sessions, technique and strategies in a clear manner that the athlete can understand; and (b) coaches should strive to remain independent from an athlete’s results, thereby being able to offer the athlete the benefit of an objective opinion.

Coaches should be constantly seeking new training techniques and expanding their knowledge about all aspects of training, nutrition and recovery. The goal of every coach should be to become a mind-body master. Likewise, athletes that want to perform at the highest levels should make it a priority to understand the purpose of each session and to become mind/body masters in their own right. Gaining a clear understanding of a coach’s philosophy will strengthen an athlete’s power of belief.

Coaches should be open to (and with) their athletes. Athletes should know that they will not be judged by their coaches. This builds trust between coach and athlete, increasing the effectiveness of the relationship.

Coaches must take full responsibility for the programs that they create. Likewise, athletes must take full responsibility for executing the coach’s program to the best of their ability. When doubts arise, coach and athlete should review them together and agree to the overall strategy. This builds trust and strengthens the power of belief.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mental Strategies and Mental Toughness

This is a topic I've been working on for decades. When I was a younger athlete I would compete against EVERYTHING. Imaginary foes while I dug deeper in every rep of every workout. Go to any book store and you see all kinds of books on the psychology of sport.

Getting into the "zone" where time stands still and your mind is quiet is easy to do IF you know how to get there. This is one of the things I'm very good at and teach my athletes of how to tap into the zone while on the largest competitive stages. The zone is best exemplified by times you smash your hand or finger and later you say, "When did I cut myself?" Obviously, you were concentrating on something else and ignored the pain. Ah!

I won't go into full detail on how to get there... you'll just have to sign up for my coaching services to get that information. I will tell you some tips on how to relax mentally though.

1) Don't sweat the time:
Everyone who has raced at least once is worried about a PR. I have a few athletes who expect to PR in EVERY race. This is an unrealistic expectation. Some races are just a dress rehearsal for the BIG RACE later in the year. My question to those athletes is simple, "Do you want to PR here or at your qualifying race/A race?" Leave the personal baggage at the curb! Let GO of the expectations and just go out and execute on race day. Try racing without a watch, HRM or power meter; just once. I know you'll miss the data, but go out and try it. The freedom is awesome.

2) Have a plan on race day:
You should have rehearsed your race day plan SO MANY TIMES that on race day you can do it in your sleep. That's the idea. I'm amazed at how many people try different things on race day. WHY?! My best races are when I start to get hungry or thirsty and it is on the 15 or 30 - when a gel is due or a sip of something is timed. I smile on days like that. I know I'm crushing it.

3) Training on the days you feel like crap:
Doing the long training run/ride/swim when you feel like crap after a big week of training and eating right is the way you build that reserve of mental toughness for handling the "lows" of a triathlon. I tell all my Ironman racers to expect several times during the race when you'd like to throw your bike off the next hill or throw your shoes into a lake and sit down right there. Mental strength comes from those tough days as well as the correct mental talk in your head. MOST athletes DON'T HAVE THAT.

4) Visualization:
Spend time visualizing the race, the course, the experience. The sounds. The smells (good and bad). The feelings (air, water, ice). What you'll do when the proverbial shit hits the fan? What will you do when things go RIGHT? The finish- how will you finish? What will the finish line picture look like? A fist pump? A high five to a racer you just out sprinted?

5) Ego vs. YOU:
No matter what you've done to prepare for the race - you need to believe in yourself. At the end of the day, it's you vs. you. Here's a secret; you always win. Even as a pro, do your best on the day and if you PR and WIN great. IF you should PR and LOSE? CELEBRATE! You got beat, so what? A great example is the 3rd place finish at the Ironman World Championship a few years back of Tjorborn Sinballe - Think he's sad he "lost"? He just PR'd on the biggest stage of triathlon. Enjoy it. Enjoy the ride.

6) Surf the positive energy:
Smile. Encourage others - even if it is only a grunt. Positive works.

Tearing down others does not make you bigger. Build others up. Encourage others. You'll find the sledding easier and it is all mental.

7) Tough:
Tough doesn't mean prison yard death stare. Tough is smiling at your competition when they glare at you. Moving your bike 1/2" when the Team in Training newbie freaks out yelling at you and the guy next to you for "being too close" in transition. Please. Smile anyway.

I think the results you have will be much easier and PRs more fun.

Be great.

Monday, May 24, 2010

FL 70.3 Race Report

Pre-race workouts went well. My trip to St. Anthony's triathlon and the indoor triathlon in March and April had kicked some of the rust off of my triathlon skills. My shoulder, re-built from a pretty bad September bike crash, is starting to emerge stronger than ever. Six days before the race, I went to sleep feeling great and being mostly packed for the race.

I woke to dizziness, weezing, elevated heart rate, sweating, and sinus pain. I picked something up at the Mother's day celebration with our family. The virus swept threw our whole family quickly. Whoever had it had told everyone that "it only lasts a week or so" - #$*%& - never mind that we have elderly aunts and uncles and a cancer patient in our family. I wish that person would have stayed home. Thankfully, my dad (cancer patient) did NOT get sick. Whew!
I tried everything. I even begged for a solution via "Book of Face" (America's great time waster). The only things that seemed to help: garlic - I ate six cloves (really), Niquil & Jack Daniels - shots every night, and fluids.

I flew to Orlando feeling miserable. I slept the entire 2:18 minute flight. Out cold. When we got to the hotel, more sleep. I went outside to sweat a little in the shade. It didn't feel that hot to me; looks like the heat acclimatization work I did paid off too.

The night before the race Lorrie got bit by a Yellow Fly - a nasty bug that inflated her hand over the next few days.

Race morning I woke up and sat on the edge of the bed. As usual, I woke 15 minutes before my alarm and just sat there wondering if I should start. This would be my seventh 1/2 at Walt Disney World (11th race overall), from what I hear, there are only a few of us who have done all of the half ironman races at Disney. I had my transition area set up quickly and was out of transition about 40 minutes before it closed. I hit the "secret" bathroom location, which apparently isn't a secret anymore. There were six people in line. Still better than the other bathrooms which all had LONG lines. Race management eliminated the port-a-lets on the beach this year which was a bummer. Not an issue here. I spoke to the doctor pre-race. He checked my lungs, BP, heart rate and gave me the thumbs up and reassurance that "you could always pull out of the race". I've never DNF'd a race and I didn't want to start here. However, for the first time, DNF sounded wise. I felt like crap.

The swim started very well. I was on the back of the lead group quickly. Even while trying to ease into the race. The race was chippy early. Guys were grabbing ankles, tri-suits, wrists and pulling anything that would give them an edge. I swam right through it all and stayed in the back of the FOP. About halfway to the first buoy I started to cough. The cough turned into heaves - dry heaves - about four or five. I slowed WAY down and the heaving seemed to stop. Now I had lost the FOP swim group and was re-caught by the grabby guys. Great. I swam on the far left, going buoy to buoy once I got back into the swim of things. I had one dude from an earlier wave nearly grab my junk as he flailed away and as I tried to swim threw two guys and a gal I got a handful of arse. I'm not sure if it was the dude or the chick - but it was definitely arse. I think it was the gal based on size of said cheek. Nobody freaked out... we just kept swimming. I "Cadillac-ed" 75% of the swim and went into preservation mode.

Out in 38:21. Slow, but home in in 81st place out of 348 guys in M40-44. Not bad for not swimming most of the winter. I'm looking forward to training more in the water starting the last week of May.

T1 went well. I just jogged on the path and did not pass many people which is normal there. I just got my legs under me and then passed a few people, but was conservative.

The bike started very well. At mile 20 I was at 57:21 on my watch - 20.92 mph. Good start. I was holding back big time on the bike. At mile 40, I was at 1:56:00 which is about 20.69 mph - I hadn't dropped off much and still was holding back a great deal. At mile 45 I started to feel the fatigue and heat. The wind was now in our face and I adjusted pace accordingly. I finished in 2:50:00 (19.8 mph) which wasn't too bad. 199th (not counting the DQs) of 348 - ok... bad. However, I did not draft.

There were a few team time trials going on. As usual, folks from Mexico, Brazil and other southern locations seemed to draft their way through the race. Having the rules in the race packet in Spanish and Portuguese would really help. It was NOT as bad as it had been in other years. There were two HUGE packs closing in on me at about mile 30. As I passed a woman I said, "I wonder when the peleton will catch us?" She said, "Yeah, that sucks." The catch NEVER came. Apparently, there were two MAJOR crashes in both groups. This sent 16 people to the hospital immediately and made the run a parade of bloody and broken runners. I saw one guy running with his arm in a cast and in a sling. I was disappointed when a marshal rode right past the guys drafting in front of me. I did enjoy seeing full penalty tents - a sign that someone was getting penalties. In fact FOUR men in front of me were DQ'd. I don't know what for, but it is HARD to get DQ'd. BTW - the aid stations on the bike were great.

The heat and humidity was normal for Orlando - upper 80s and rising with 77% humidity - I think the day ended at 96 F and 84% humidity. It felt like 100+ to me. I was very concerned about my need for fluids and the illness. I decided to drink like I was in an Ironman. I am a heavy sweater as confirmed by Gatorade Sports Science Institute studies in the heat. I need approximately 36 oz of fluid per hour of exercise. So for a six hour race, roughly 216 oz. of fluid - but you all know that would not be enough because a) I was not acclimatized to the heat b) I was sick. Race day, I drank nine and a half bottles of MotorTabs, Gatorade and water - ON THE BIKE. I did feel great after the bike - 228 oz. of fluid and calories will do that for you. I was determined NOT to go to the medical tent because of hydration stupidity.

The run at the FL 70.3 sucks. Disney limits race management to fire trail for most of the run. That means 9.8+ miles of hot, humid, no shade, Xterra-like trail where ankles go to break. I started the run with an "elimination" break in T2. I felt instantly better. Clear as well. Outstanding! I ran the first mile and was passing people in spite of what felt like 11 minute miles. I felt like I was jogging in place. Ugh! My back and hamstrings were locking up on mile one. Not a good sign. This was fatigue. It wasn't from the heat. I walked most of mile two. Then ran again. This repeated for the rest of the half marathon. When I could run, I was passing people and moving really well. The rest of the time I tried to pull my act together and run ASAP. No talking except to say "thank you" to volunteers as the aid stations were the best they've ever been. I saw Lorrie at the end of lap two (starting three) and waved that I was fine and that she should get a drink and some shade. At the finish, I tried to run the last 800 meters and I was catching a group of four at the finish. The legs locked up and I just finished. 2:56:30 - 13:29/mile - ouch babe. run rank: 280th of 348; more amazing, I beat someone.

So overall, 6:33:52 228th of 348 (65.5%)in my age group, 1259 of 2017 (62.4%)- Goals were to a) finish b) under 6 hrs. All things considered... I'll take it. As I type this (more than a week later) I am still coughing, wheezing and stuffed up (but better - thanks for asking).

Lessons learned from the race:
a) Swimming can put me up another 20-some places. Even if I swim a very average 31 minutes. I need to swim more.
b) Running, the run comeback has been much slower than I would like to admit. I have addressed this with my coach and I am starting a different training protocol which should make a difference.
c) Cycling was alright, however, I should train the entire winter with the PowerCranks. Power training was good for me, but it was missing some things. This will be addressed.
d) Weight, body weight needs to be much lower. Though I am down 30 some pounds, I am still too heavy to be a serious competitor. Let's be honest. See A and B above for some specifics on how to change this.
e) The strength training I've done this winter DID pay off in a big way. I could FEEL my core working and making a difference in my effort. Scary.

Post race - I must have gone to the bathroom about six times - all clear. Thankfully, the rain held off post race. Monday, it did rain pretty hard, however, Lor and I were napping in order to take advantage of the "extra magic" hours in the Disney parks. We stayed out to 1:30am - and shockingly... so did a lot of little kids. Ouch!

See you next year for FL 70.3 number eight. Thanks to MotorTabs for their great support of my racing!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Goal: Fight the Entire Way

Not racing or training consistently has taken my edge off. Like a dull knife, it takes a lot of effort to cut meat. This weekend's meat is a half ironman (70.3). What I used to race four years ago, I now want to finish and "fight all the way".

In St. A's, I think I watched the heart rate monitor too much (concerned about actually running hard for the entire 10 km - how pathetic is that?) This week there is one goal: fight the whole way. I will wear a watch and record my HR, but more for data purposes versus pacing.

My main concern (once again) is the run. The temps are forecast to get to 94 F along with high dew points/humidity. Heat will be an issue. I'm planning hydration as if I am doing an Ironman. The last two years I believe I was hyponutremic at the finish. Swollen fingers, dizziness and all. I'm breaking the run (mentally) into 13 x 1 and a short sprint. Being sick these last four days hasn't helped my training efforts, but it is too late now.

Regardless of time (which I promise will be VERY slow) I just want to keep the mental part in check. FIGHT the whole way. Regardless of if I am MOP or BOP.

Come home carrying my shield high in victory or being carried ON my shield... dead for trying the entire way. Victory, this week, is defined by FIGHTING the whole way: REGARDLESS OF TIME. I'm not convinced I did that last race. I think I focused too much on heart rate and power versus "letting it fly". Not this week. Not up in here.

Fight on! (cue USC fight song)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Age is Just a Number

This is just a picture I like. I have a large number of different types of flowers... all colors.

If you read Joanna Zieger's blog then you kinda know where I'm going with this.

"I'm not 41, I'm eighteen with 23 years experience." ~ Anonymous

They say that forty is the new thirty. There are claims that you are only as old as you feel. Oh SHIT; I'm 61! Since I haven't been swimming as much I've felt slower, heavier, and older. I'm watching Law and Order at dinner because I know it's on.

I think that training for triathlon is a "fountain of youth" of sorts. You put in "hard" efforts and you get fit and look younger. Ever go to an Ironman and REALLY look around at people's faces? Lots of young looking people. I have friends who are 60+ females who look like they are in their 30s. Males in their 60s who also look 30 something. Guys in their 70s and 80s who look 50 and 60. Sounds like this workout thing isn't for fanatics.

I've been easing back into more consistent workouts with my eye on a bike tour at the end of the year. An 860-mile long bike tour.

Act your age? No thank you.

Male Celebrities turning 40 this year:
Shawn Wayans, Paul Rudd, Ice Cube, Christian Slater, Matthew Perry, Matthew McConaughey, Rick Fox

Friday, May 7, 2010

Local Distracted Driver Convicted of Reckless Homicide

As a cyclist, every year I see cyclists versus auto crashes. I see crazy driving. I see drunk or intoxicated driving (at all hours of the day). Our neighbor is a judge. He told me that at ANY TIME DURING THE DAY 3:10 drivers so are intoxicated on something that they cannot speak their own name. That number goes up to 7:10 between 11pm and 4:45am. Think about that on the way to your next race. Lastly, I see "distracted driving".

Locally, I see people defying the new IL law that you MUST have an earpiece or bluetooth to use your phone. Yesterday, I saw a 20-something on Facebook while I waited to cross the street as she sat at a fresh green light. Where does it end?

A year ago, a 59 year old Lake Zurich woman out riding her motorcycle was murdered when she was rear-ended by a woman PAINTING HER NAILS AND DRIVING. Last week an intersection camera caught a semi-trailer driver using a magnifying glass while looking at his mobile phone AND DRIVING his semi at 45 mph.

Cyclists are guilty of this too. My last ride I saw a woman on the phone with one hand in the AEROBARS the other on her phone.

Too many motorcyclists, cyclists and drivers (read: PEOPLE) have lost money, time or their lives to distracted driving.

Lora Hunt should get the full five years. Unfortunately, that is the maximum the law allows. Open for the judge in sentencing, revoking her drivers license... for LIFE.


From Chicago

Woman guilty in fatal 'nail polish' crash

Victim's family promises to raise awareness of distracted driving

May 06, 2010|By Ruth Fuller, Special to the Tribune

Had Lora Hunt been eating a sandwich or dialing her cell phone instead of polishing her nails when she struck and killed a motorcyclist, she would not now stand convicted of reckless homicide, her lawyer contends.

But prosecutor Mike Mermel said there's a big difference between polishing nails and other forms of distracted driving.

"It is not the same as biting a sandwich … it's a voluntary disablement," he said. "She might as well have been in the back seat making a sandwich."

A Lake County jury of eight women and four men apparently agreed. After deliberating 3 1/2 hours Thursday, they found that Hunt, 49, of Morris was criminally reckless in the crash near Lake Zurich that killed 56-year-old Anita Zaffke on May 2, 2009.

"There's no question that she drove her vehicle in a grossly negligent manner," said Mermel, an assistant state's attorney. "The jury returned an appropriate verdict under the circumstances of this case."

Hunt, who sat without emotion while the verdict was read, left the courtroom in tears, surrounded by her family and supporters.

"Lora deeply grieves for what happened," said her attorney, Jeff Tomczak. "Her words after the verdict was read were, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.'"

Tomczak said that in his 25 years of practicing law he has never had a more remorseful client.

"If she could, she would give herself up for Anita Zaffke," he said.

Hunt, whose sentencing date hasn't been set, could receive anything from probation to 5 years in prison.

Family members of the Lake Zurich woman who died in the crash said they will not celebrate the verdict but will use it as an opportunity to make more people aware of the dangers of distracted driving.

Zaffke's son, Gregory Zaffke II, started an activist group called the Black Nail Brigade after the crash. He has been painting the fingernails on one hand black in memory of his mother and as a way to start conversations about distracted driving.

"There are no winners today," he said. "There is no celebration, or happiness."

Zaffke of Wauconda said he was pleased with the verdict but it wouldn't change the fact his mother's future was taken from her.

"Even with the maximum sentence imposed, Lora Hunt's family will still have plenty of time to spend with her," he said. "I will never see or talk to her again, never get a hug. I will likely spend more time of my life without my mother than I did with her."

During his closing argument, Tomczak said Hunt admitted that painting her nails while driving was a "stupid, stupid thing." But he contended authorities were trying to make an example of Hunt because she is a woman.

"I do believe it is the underlying act of painting the nails that was the impetus for the charge," he said. "I haven't seen a reckless homicide charge for dialing a cell phone."

Tomczak tried to convince the jury there's a difference between being distracted and being criminally reckless.

"Consider the concept of paying full attention, then think about the concept of distraction," he said. "Can you think of anything in between? Rear-end accidents happen because people are distracted. … (To convict) you would have to decide that Mrs. Hunt got into that car and said, 'You know what, I don't care. I'm getting these nails done and I don't care if I hurt someone.' "

During testimony Wednesday, Hunt tearfully recounted how on the day of the crash she hadn't had a chance to clean up before a planned dinner date with her daughter.

"I messed up my fingers gardening with the kids, and I remembered I had the polish in my purse," Hunt said. "I thought, 'I can do it quick and I can do it with both hands on the wheel and I can stay on the road.' So I got the polish out."

Hunt said she only applied a couple strokes before putting the brush back into the bottle. As she approached the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and Old McHenry Road, the light turned to yellow, she said, adding she was looking at the light and didn't see Zaffke's motorcycle before rear-ending it.

But Mermel said crash scene photographs showing streaks of dark red polish splattered around the car's interior were proof that Hunt was still polishing her nails when she hit Zaffke.

"We do know she was still polishing her nails because of the mass and copious quantities of nail polish," Mermel said.

Hunt is due back in court June 15 for a status hearing before sentencing.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

10 Years of Marriage Understanding: Happy Anniversary!

Today is our 10th wedding anniversary. (Feels like two.)

My wife and I met when our friend Kim INSISTED that we speak on the phone. I'll never forget that Kim came into my office one day (around lunch time) and said, "My friend Lorrie is on the phone. Speak to her." As Kim walked out of my office she said, "When you get married, I get to be in the wedding." She was. Thanks Kim-bro.

Lorrie is... how to say this... understanding and flexible. As am I. Our first wedding anniversary I booked a race in St. Croix - ON THE DAY OF OUR 1st ANNIVERSARY. Oops! I honestly thought race day was different for some reason. That's not the best part. Tim Hola and Andrew Kendzior were going to race in St. Croix too. Lorrie had to return to Chicago for work. Andrew came down a few days early to the island and we just hung out. It was a great time. Andrew and Tim were going to split a room at the "King Camanche Hotel". We met Tim on Friday after a swim in the bay. Andrew asked Tim, "How's the room?" Tim, "A little rough."

Tim is the kinda guy who goes camping in 40 F weather with a t-shirt and a vest. This made Andrew understandably nervous. Andrew goes into the hotel room and turns out like he saw a ghost, slowly saying, "I... I cannot stay here. You... you cannot allow Tim to stay here. Go take a look." The room was horrible. Imagine Cabrini Green (a terrible Chicago housing project); cigarette burn holes in the sheets, exposed wiring, peeling paint, broken tile, broken mirror, roaches. Other than that... nice. Tim knew it was our anniversary and said, "I'll just stay here. It's fine." I said, "Grab your stuff. We're going to my hotel. Lorrie will understand." I took a picture of the roach nest that Tim evicted from the hotel for extra evidence. Just as I did that a really large crab came out of a hole and started eating the roaches as fast as it could. That crab is probably 400 lbs. today.

As a non-athlete, have you ever shared a hotel room with three nervous triathletes before a Kona qualifier who are eating cheese (Tim anyway), shaving legs and have pre-race gas?

Lorrie was a good sport. The night before the race, we are all trying to get some rest. Nikki (now Tim's wife) calls from Carlsbad, CA). California is a full four hours behind St. Croix. She called at 6pm. 10pm in STX. Andrew and I almost hit the ceiling when the phone rang. Tim was out cold. "Hi, Bob. It's Nikki. Is Tim there?" "Hi Nikki. Tim's right here. Tim. TIM! It's Nikki for you." Here is where the fun starts.
Tim is sleep walking. He takes the phone and doesn't say anything for about a minute. Then, "uh, huh". Another minute. "Why don't you keep me up all night." 30 seconds "OK, love you tomorrow." Goes back to bed. To this day, Tim has no recollection of the phone conversation. Nikki, Andrew, Lorrie and I all remember it very well. The three of us were freaking out thinking Tim and Nikki were "on the rocks". Nope. Tim was still asleep and Nikki knew it. Later she told me that she told Tim she "saw a purple monster on the beach today" and that's when Tim said, "uh, huh".

In Kona, my meltdown came AFTER the final timing mat. So information told Lorrie and my brother Michael, "He should be here around 10:25 -10:45. Looks like he is running well." I was... until it took me 1 hr 7 minutes to go from mile 19 to mile 20. (I had run the first 19 in 2:20 or something like that.) The final 10km took me a just under 2 hours. Yep, I was tearing it up. Lorrie got nervous and then dehydrated. She had to sit down and then missed me finishing in Kona.

Mutual respect for each other is the key.

Livin' the dream.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fan Interference

The recent craziness in Philadelphia with two idiots running on the field and interfering with the game got me thinking about triathlons, Ironman, and marathons and risk management. One thing for sure, I blame the parents. My dad always told my brother and I, "If you ever get into trouble at school or with the police, the punishment you get from them will pale in comparison to what you get from me." Understood. Say no more. He meant "indentured servitude" when under punishment in the Mitera house. For something like this... I think we probably would have cut the lawn with nail clippers one blade of grass at a time on our knees. Let's hope that the courts are harder on this guy and another idiot who ran on the field last night. Taze them all. Then put them in stocks in front of the stadium to be taunted by over-served fans.

In football, we don't see this as often as the men on the field are HUGE and in pads. I forget who did it, but during a Monday Night Football game a linebacker knocked out an idiot on the field with a great clothes line. When questioned about it he said, "He shouldn't have been on the field." (and grunted)

On a tangent, one thing for sure, BP is learning (or should be) regarding risk management. How do you work in oil exploration and NOT have an IMMEDIATE response for HAZMAT situations? We have them on our roads. Why not on our (the World's) oceans? Current planning is like throwing a deck chair off the Titanic. My hope is that BP as an "ethical corporation" (according to their documents) will pay for the clean up.* (Recent revalations have shown that means $75M according to their insurance and the law. A far cry from the full bill, but I digress.)

Ironman (WTC) took a HUGE step forward when they banned family and friends from crossing the finish line with athletes. I am a huge fan of what WTC did. They offered the fans entry BEHIND the finish line so family could present the medal to their family. It is actually better (in my opinion) than "crossing the line" with the family.

I encourage ALL Kokua athletes to race HARD all the way to and THROUGH the finish line. At Ironman Canada (2001) I crossed the finish at 11:07:00 but magically my race "official time" was 11:07:11. Huh? The timing mat was in the BACK of the finish area. It didn't matter regarding a possible Kona slot, but what if it did? I crossed the line. Took three steps and stopped. The guy behind me went right through to the finish area exit while I gasped for air. He was credited with a faster time. Even with the roll down, we missed Kona, but think about the what if situation.
In 2004, at Ironman Wisconsin, one of my athletes qualified in 5th place because she ran to the line. My athlete here is Nicole. Nicole and Jodi were side by side coming to the finish. Jodi reached to grab her child to run through the finish with her. Nicole's brother Jeff (also a client of mine), her husband and I are screaming at her to SPRINT! Jodi hears us over the crowd and now is racing Nicole who wasn't blowing kisses to the crowd quite yet. The initial results show Nicole NOT going to Kona. Tuesday after the race. Nicole got a call from Ironman officials as one of the gals in front of her was DQ'd for having her husband run with her during the marathon. Apparently a group who she isn't friends with sent pictures to officials and got her DQ'd. The beneficiary? Nicole, who went to Kona the following year.

Can you imagine training that hard, racing all day, and then allowing someone to take Kona from you because YOU didn't race?


World Triathlon Corporation will implement a new finish line policy for all do domestic Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events. Beginning with Ironman 70.3 California, friends and/or family members will no longer be permitted to cross the finish line or enter the finish chute with participating athletes.
This is GREAT! The reason is people ARE racing to the finish. Another? Well, how about shaken baby syndrome? Every year before this ban we watched infants bouncing around while some racers sprinted by. My personal favorite happened in Kona. A grandmother with a walker (I'm not kidding) tried to keep up with her son across the line. Large purse, walker, and enormous bottle of water in tow. She stumbled and nearly fell right in front of a sprint to the line by the M50-54 race for the WIN in Kona. What if she fell? What if she interfered with the guys racing to win their age group in Kona? What if she broke her hip? What if she fell into her grandson and broke his arm?

Safety is paramount at all Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events. Allowing non-participants to cross the finish line compromises event security, serves as a distraction to other finishers and disrupts our secure finish line operations. Family and friends are encouraged to reunite with their athlete in the photo/post-race area just beyond the finish line,” said Steve Meckfessel, Ironman’s Chief Operating Officer.
In response to ongoing athlete feedback, Ironman has chosen to adopt this policy to ensure the safety of all participants, volunteers and fans. As with other sporting events, Ironman strives to provide a competitive and memorable event, one that allows all parties to enjoy the entire Ironman Experience. This policy will allow each competitor adequate time to celebrate their accomplishment without interfering with other finishers. Athletes who choose not to respect the new policy will receive an automatic disqualification (DQ).
What if someone interfered? These courses are all open. Leaders get an escort with a mountain biker (usually a volunteer). Should this person be armed with pepper spray? Should we use a police officer? Maybe.

In the my finishing picture from the 2006 FL 70.3. Notice anything missing? Like me?! The guy in front of me jogged across the line with his daughters as I out sprinted three men (look to the left of his shoulder in the picture). I am behind the girl on the right. This was 2006 FL 70.3. We were racing to qualify for Clearwater. The three of us did (via roll down - nobody wanted to go to Clearwater that first year in FL, now it takes a 4:30 to qualify.) I went to the left and gasped for air against the fence and caught a nasty look from 2XU guy. The other guys got a tongue lashing from him right before he got yelled at from an official right in front of his daughters.

Remember these examples?

Fan getting run over by a media moto.

Death of a spectator trying to cross at the wrong moment.

Same kilted man disrupted '03 auto race

ATHENS, Greece -- A defrocked Irish priest bolted from the crowd and grabbed the marathon leader about three miles from the finish Sunday. The Brazilian runner wound up with the bronze -- and a special award for sportsmanship -- and the former priest was arrested.
Cornelius Horan
Cornelius Horan also interrupted the British Grand Prix, and he tried to disrupt Wimbledon.
Cornelius Horan, 57, was wearing a green beret, a red kilt and knee-high green socks when he attacked Brazilian runner Vanderlei de Lima, knocking him into the crowd. De Lima was able to recover and finish, but was passed by two runners about a mile after the incident.
"I was scared, because I didn't know what could happen to me, whether he was armed with a knife, a revolver or something and whether he was going to kill me," de Lima said.
"I don't know if I would have won, but things would have been different," he said. "After that, it was hard to get my rhythm back. It really distracted me."
Horan received a one-year suspended sentence Monday and was fined $3,600.
"This means he will probably do this again and get killed, as in Formula One, or kill someone," de Lima said.
Athens police sources identified the intruder as Horan, who has been barred from practicing as a priest for the past decade. He once published a book called "A Glorious New World Very Soon To Come" that predicted the world was about to end.
The attacker Sunday night had a piece of paper attached to his back bearing the message: "The Grand Prix Priest Israel Fulfillment of Prophecy Says the Bible."
In July 2003, Horan, in a costume similar to Sunday's, ran onto the track at the British Grand Prix in the middle of the race and stayed there for more than 20 seconds, forcing Formula One racers traveling at more than 200 mph to swerve around him. He was carrying a sign that said: "Read the Bible -- the Bible is always right."
British authorities said Horan also attempted a protest on Wimbledon's Center Court during a rain break, and tried to disrupt cricket and rugby matches.
On Sunday, Horan jumped from the crowd, ran across the street and grabbed de Lima. A policeman following the leader on a bicycle jumped off and helped free the Brazilian.
De Lima, whose lead had been slowly shrinking, was able to get back into the race. But he lost several seconds as a result of the attack, and eventually was overtaken by Stefano Baldini of Italy and Mebrahtom Keflezighi of the United States. De Lima finished third.
The Brazilian track federation protested the result and sought a duplicate gold medal for de Lima, but while the jurors expressed sympathy, they said they couldn't change the result. Brazil said it would appeal to sports' international arbitration panel.
"I'm not going to cry forever about the incident, although it broke my concentration," de Lima said, "but I managed to finish and the bronze medal in such a difficult marathon is also a great achievement."
The International Olympic Committee said it would present de Lima with its Pierre de Coubertin medal in recognition of his "exceptional demonstration of fair play and Olympic values."
"I think the Olympic spirit prevailed and I prevailed. I was able to show that determination wins races," de Lima said after receiving his bronze medal at the Olympics' closing ceremony.
"What prevailed here was the Olympic spirit. Never mind the result of the appeal. I'm very happy to have won this medal."
When the incident occurred, dozens of flag-waving Brazilian fans at the stadium that marked the marathon's end were watching the front-runners on a giant screen. They suddenly went silent and the huge crowd gasped.
The police sources said Horan arrived in Athens just before dawn Sunday aboard a British Airways flight.
Horan was to be taken to a prosecutor on Monday, the sources said. It was unclear whether he would be charged or remanded for psychiatric evaluation.
On Aug. 16, a Canadian man wearing tights and a tutu jumped into the Olympic diving pool after a competition. He was convicted of interrupting the games and sentenced to five months in prison, although he remains free pending appeal. by The Associated Press
How about in tennis?
Most tennis fans must be familiar with Steffi Graf, a legend of Women's tennis. She once won 22 Grand Slams (Women's Singles) and 1 Grand Slam (Women's Doubles). Those who know Steffi Graf must also know Monica Seles. In 1993, Monica Seles was stabbed in the back during a match in Hamburg, Germany. It is said that the assassinator was a fan for Graf. Frightened by this, Seles hadn't appeared on the tennis court for two years. In the second half of 1995, she came back. In 1996, she won her nineth Grand Slam in Australia.
In triathlon, I think we need to be prepared for anything. The race isn't over until you cross the line.