Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winter Running Tips - Revisited

Chicago has had a fantastic start to winter.  (If you don't like snow and cold temps.)  It was icy in this 'hood this morning and I thought to post some tips on cold weather running. 

This is February in San Diego.

This is February in my area of Chicago.


"If Chicago had weather like San Diego there would be 40 million people living here."  True, but we don't have that kind of weather in Chicago.  Unless you bounce between San Diego and Chicago, well, you better learn to dress for the cold.  Running outside in Chicago isn't as horrible as many would have you believe.  No need to retreat for the "dreadmill" unless you are doing a specific session.  Running in this cold actually lends to several advantages.

Cold doesn't seem to bother these Chicago area runners.

Deal with the Cold
Tony Robbins teaches about starting with your mental state.  If you are saying to yourself, "This is going to suck.  This is going to suck."  Guess what?  You may get done and feel it sucked.  Start off positive.  I run with a fun group.  Regardless of the weather I wake up thinking, "Man, I can't wait to see John and Dean and tell them that joke I heard."  My first 20 mile run was done at -10 F (warmed up to -2 by the time we were done); I've never laughed that hard in my life for that long.  (Thank you Pat and Bill.)  I didn't feel super tired until 18 and then we only had two miles to go.  The thought of warm coffee and bagels kept me going.  Laughing at breakfast and shooting coffee through my nose wasn't in that visualization - but it was fun none the less.

It is what you make it.

This is "spring" in Chicago.  "Hey, its 38 F!  Wow, is it warm!" Tragic.

There is no bad weather, just poor clothing choices and excuses.
Earlier in this blog I told you my first 20 miler was at -10 F. It isn't that hard.  Dress in layers.  Tech clothing is coming down in price and you could always add an old sweatshirt and cheapo windbreaker.  You don't need to be decked out in Craft Wind Stopper head to toe.  That said...  I LOVE the Craft wind gear.  2XU makes a great cycling vest.  Pearl Izumi has some awesome wind stopper jackets and gloves.  Find what works for you and ask for it for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries - whatever.  You'll be glad you have that gear when the first spring rides start out at 40 F or if you go to San Diego and it is "cold" in the morning before Swami's ride.  After a few runs you will be amazed at how "warm" 20 F feels.  

Start a little cold
Dress for temps about 15 degrees warmer than the current and expected outside temperature.  If you are too warm you will sweat a ton and that puts you at a greater risk of hypothermia AND in the end you will feel COLDER for dressing warmer.  I use a glove that allows air to pass through.  Once I've warmed up I really don't notice the cold.  

Warm up 
In spite of being cold at the start, allow your body to warm up.  Don't start off at 6:00/mile pace and slow back to aerobic pace.  Everything is cold.  It's only a few minutes of cold.  Suck it up.

Light up
Leave the cigarettes in the car, that's not what I mean.  I'm amazed at how stupid so many runners are.  My car doesn't have an infrared windshield.  I don't own infrared glasses for night driving.  I don't know you are out running at 6pm in 10 F weather.  Wear a reflective vest.  Get reflective tops, gloves, hats and lights.  I'm partial to the Pulsar lights by RoadID and the headlamp from Petzl.  These might just give you that extra split second to dive off the road when "Happy hour Harry" or "Harriet") heads home. **When I'm out on the road I assume EVERYONE out there a) cannot see me b) is homicidal c) is drunk and high d) has a loaded weapon in the car.**  I live where there are no street lights.  This is mandatory equipment unless you have a death wish.  Lastly, be smart.  Where I live and where my in-laws live there have been coyote attacks.  Don't think that a few hungry coyotes won't try and take you down.  Last spring I had three following me out of the forest preserve.  My easy run turned into a hard cross country run as I hoped a fence and got onto the road ASAP.  They ended their pursuit.  These animals are trying to make it through the winter.  Late December through late February they need food.  My running vest was hanging next to the dog food AND I found a few puppy cookies in the back pocket.   

Addition, the trail by me now has multiple coyote tracks in the mud.  I'm guessing that there is a pack of at least three by the debris on the trail (carcasses of smaller animals/geese and feces).  Sounds like a fun trail huh?  Leave the iPod on the table at home.  It will help you hear the coyotes just off the trail.

Trails, Snowshoes, XC Skis and Soccer Fields
Frozen trails can be just like asphalt and concrete.  Go off roadin'.  I run around flood control "hills" and fields a lot.  It keeps me off the same old streets.  Try snowshoes.  They will get your heart pumping.  I XC ski a lot in the winter.  I live right off of a long trail.  It's wonderful fun and my dog can sniff the bushes at the side of the trail too.  Soccer fields... not just for soccer, but also running across them in the winter will get you strong.

Bring Water, Gel and a Towel
I'm amazed at how many folks don't bring water on a run in the winter.  If GSSI taught me anything, they taught me to always have something to drink and extra in the car.  I normally have extra drinks in the car.  I always have a gel with me.  A nice, big, dry towel in the car afterwards can make you feel a lot better too.

Get Loopy
Instead of running a hard loop like the Home Economist (Fisher Nut) in Barrington, IL - run the out and back first.  If you can handle that a few weeks then go for the full run.  No sense in getting eight miles from the car and realizing you are bonking badly or can't run another step and now will freeze solid as you walk back to the car.

Eat Right 
When you are expending energy to stay warm your bodies immune system will need more fuel to fight illness.  Taking something like Zone Diet's fish oil, vitamin C and CoQ10 will help you stay healthy at a cellular level.  Think this is a joke?  Look at the people around you who eat like crap relative to those who don't.  Who is sick more?  Who has more energy?  Who is happier?  Additionally, there was a recent British study that found taking fish oil helps cure the winter blues.

Lastly, when you run outside in the morning and the sun starts appearing earlier and earlier you will feel better in the spring having toughed out a winter running season in Chicago.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stupid Human Tricks & Workouts

Honest, R rated reading ahead.  You've been warned.

A lot of folks have these last two weeks of the year off (or take them as vacation to travel/be with family). I think its great.  What I'd like to warn you about is being roped into dumb workouts that could end up slowing your progress as an athlete.

1) 100 x 100 on the 100 or any other long, boring set.

This is a swimming workout of 100 yards or 100 meters (depending on your group) where you swim 100 repeats of 100 yards/meters on an interval.  Skip this workout.  

There are many reasons: 1) If you haven't been doing (aka: going) 6,000 - 8,000 yards in a long session for several weeks, you risk injury or strain on your shoulders 2) Long slow distance equals long slow athlete 3) Monotony 4) Mental engagement in the session.  Monotony does not equal Ironman success.

Personally, If I am going to do 10,000 yards - I'd like some thought behind the session.  Trust me.  In college, my coach was all about big volume.  Volume is good to a point.  But then you need to BLAST out of that steady rhythm and funk.  Swimming is a great place to do it, if done wisely.  100 x 100 or 40 x 200 are good sets if used properly and there are intervals that CHALLENGE you mentally as well as physically.

You still want to do 100 x 100 because "you've always done it"?  Fine... try this: 

10x 100 Warm up - 100 swim, 100 back, 100 kick, 100 pull, 100 swim (repeat); no rest into the next set
10x 100 @ 30 sr 100 free, 100 IM (still part of the warm up); no rest into the next set
10x 100 @ 30 sr 100 free, 100 back; no rest into the next set
10x 100 @ 20 sr pull, breathing every 3/5 by 50; no rest into the next set
10x 100 @ 10 sr build each 100
5:00 rest / bathroom
10x 100 @ 40 sr; long and smooth - every 4th lap any stroke but free
10x 100 @ 30 sr; every 3rd lap head up 25
10x 100 @ 20 sr, build each 100
10x 100 @ 10 sr, strong
10x 100 @ 5 sr, all out


20x 100 Warm up @ 15 sec rest (swim, kick, IM, pull, swim)
40x 100 build 100s to fast 1<5 6<10 etc @20 sr
5:00 rest / bathroom
40x 100 - 2 hard, 1 easy @ 10 sr

There... that is a much better (and interesting) 10,000 yards.


2) Going "balls out" during an endurance cycling workout.

I teach a 2 hr computrainer workout on Saturday's.  There are a few guys who are riding TOO HARD. I have spoken to them. I've lowered their wattage.  I've slapped heart rate monitors on them.  They still ride with their ego (euphemism) for their brain. 

Long sessions are just that... your long ENDURANCE session.  Now, if you haven't been used to holding a certain wattage for a 2 hr session, then you should build into that now shouldn't you?  

I swim approximately 3,000 - 5,000 yards before the long computrainer session.  Once looking at my heart rate on the warm up sets, I lower my wattage accordingly so my power AND my heart rate are in the "right zone".  

Make no mistake... I WILL be cracking down on the macho men/women this in January sessions.

3) Running HARD with the long run group.  

Similar to the Saturday computrainer macho men, I see this every long run to.  I do my long run on a different day now thanks to my coach.  (Yes, I have a coach too.  I believe coaches who coach themselves are just like a lawyer who advises him/herself - they have a fool for a client.)

There is a guy who tries to hang with me on my long run.  Now, before the usual people get all excited about what I just said, I'm not exactly setting land speed records.  I'm running my pace for "base building" type workouts.  This clown comes out around the same time EVERY long run and when he gets around me... he surges.  Go for it.  Then he slows down and says, "Come on.  Let's go fast."  (After he takes his iPod out of his ear.  YES... I think iPods are stupid when you are running outside.  If you use one outside... stupid is as stupid does.  That is a blog entry for another day.)  I refuse every time.  "I'm doing a base workout. Have a great run."  I encourage him to go on.  Alone.  

4) Eating because you did _________ workout.

I call this justification eating.  I did a (fill in the blank) workout, therefore, I can eat like a 16 year old.  Those days are gone you dusty old fart.  Trust me, I know.  My waistline resembles lazy eating and NOT workout out.  I don't see many Jenny Craig or WeightWatchers commercials with an ab like mine.  Well... its not that bad.  I have a "five pack".  Unfortunately, I'm three abs short. 

Get your shit together.  Some days it's a bitch and a bummer.  This is what it takes.  No food or drink tastes as good as fast feels.  

No excuses.  

Losers say, "I'll try my best." 
Winners go home and have sex with the Prom Queen / King.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011


In a few days, the gym will be packed.  People will be trying to get "fit".  Looking for the pump.  Or to get into a certain sized swim suit for spring cruises (or at least not look 40+ in their current swim suit.)  It's interesting I think of fitness and racing.  I say how I think about it because who is to say if I am right?  I think I'm right.  You be the judge for yourself.
A long time ago, a former athlete started lifting a lot and got really strong, impressive looking muscle.  He drank protein powders and ate nothing but steamed broccoli and baked chicken.  He was ripped.  Then, a girl he met at the club challenged him to try an aerobics class.  He did it! It was fun.  It nearly killed him.  The next day he decided to run one mile "warm up" before starting his lifting routine.  When he returned to the gym, he was completely shot and could barely finish his lifting routine.  Hmm, he thought.  Maybe I should start swimming in the 20 yard pool again.  The former athlete eventually figured out that being strong does not consittute "fit". 

This went through my head when a good friend (who was always overweight in the "old" days) emailed me saying he had opened a supplement store in another state and that he was lifting and participating in natural bodybuilding competitions.  He is ripped!  I was shocked.  He looked like a head on a picture of Arnold Schwartzeneggar's body.  I asked him if he wanted to go for a short run before lifting (as I was headed to the gym too) and he said, "Oh, I don't do any cardio."  When pressed on this subject, he stated he was worried he'd loose "mass" and his "shock and awe" factor of his size.  We talked about his strength relative to his fitness and it was very interesting.  He can bench 300 lbs. like it is nothing, but he cannot do a set of bench then 10 push-ups and another set of bench.  Interesting.  Same for every muscle group.  So let me get this straight... you can bench 300 lbs., but only if it is in a gym and you haven't done other exercise? 


Any real world exercise is better than a 'gym exercise'.  Think Rocky IV....

Yes, even chores can be a workout.
We talked about cross-fit, triathlon (and other real world events like the Death Race or Urbanthon).  I think races like the "Urbanthon" will become more popular - and quickly.  It won't be about who is fastest or strongest, but who can combine strength and speed in the real world. 

Without getting into my methodology in coaching cycling or triathlon - there are certain sets and types of workouts that need to be done at certain times of the week or in a specific workout.  Missing those sets and their timing hurts your fitness.

In the end, racing is about fitness.  More fit.  More able to handle heat, cold, wind, waves... you name it.  Fit, is more than just lifting a weight or pushing a pedal.  It's about moving mass.  I am not in shape and look like a "gamer" next to my friend.  However, I was able to knock out some impressive bench sets of 15 reps (while doing push ups) as I waited for him to do six reps.  All this AFTER swimming 4,000 yards and then running 6 miles in about 50 minutes at aerobic pace.

So... who is more fit?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Viva Las Vegas! 1/2 Marathon Race / Week Report

Wow... what a week.  15 athletes.  Everyone running in different directions like marbles on a cement floor.

The race itself (Rock 'n Roll Marathon and 1/2 Marathon - Las Vegas) was fine.  A bit crowded and a zig zag at the finish were interesting - but at least not lonely.  Fun crowd.

Pre-race I had a brush with greatness.  I got to briefly talk to Meb Keflezighi in the hallway.  Seemed like a very nice man who was genuine.

What went well -
1) Day pre race - had fun.  No stress.
2) Race pacing was solid.  x:xx as per the goal.
3) Found some of my athletes on the course.
4) I ran 19+ miles.  Not all at goal pace - but 13 of them were.  I turned around and went back out to find my athletes and run with them.  I'll take that right now.  My "long" run was 8 miles going in.  (though I did several 8s in a week and a lot of swimming and cycling)  Still... a long way to go before I'm even "awful" at running again.  Next year... I'll meet everyone at a restaurant/bar.
5) Running Vegas at night was FUN!

What I'd change -
1) I'd bring my laptop. Pre-race the RD (in my opinion) didn't give us good enough information regarding the location of gear check and other logistics.  Knowing what to expect now... I'd like a rematch.
2) I'd have all the folks meet the first night we got to Vegas.
3) We'd have team race kits.
4) Arrive earlier.  Too many people squeezing in and out of the race venues.

In all, I'd endorse the Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas 1/2 (not the marathon).  The half was fun and reasonably under control.  The full marathon (unless you are under 3:45 pace) was not a real fun race for many. Crowd movement was a bit of an issue.  A drunk woman ran into me at mile 8 holding her beer.

Post race - more restaurants at the hotels need to be open.  After a shower, it was 10pm and Sunday night (even in Vegas) restaurants were closed.

Decent race that I would do again.

Any takers?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Penn State & Childhood

An Internet "blogger" friend wrote a very good blog about his childhood and how sports and watching sports affects him and his life.  He wrote it so well - I will just post the link.  My dad did his best with my brother and I.  We didn't have much, but we didn't know the difference because our mom and dad cared about us.  In that respect we were very well off.

Lorrie and I don't have children.  We do have many nieces and nephews and friends with kids.  We love kids and bought our house assuming we would have kids.  That won't happen for us.  When we see abused kids it rips out our heart.  Our dog gets more love and attention than a lot of kids - and we treat her like a well cared for dog - not a kid.

I challenge you to read the entire 23 page indictment of Jerry Sandusky here.  At this time 17 victims have come forward; and this thing is still expanding.  Remember... Mr. Sandusky started his "charity" in 1977.  There is a lot more coming out.  My blog and sports junkie friend Pat (who works for DCFS in IL) told me that the AVG pedophile assaults 117 kids.  Mr. Sandusky's situation wasn't average.

If you are still with me, you understand this isn't about winning college football games.

While Mr. Paterno did what was "legally" required the DA in Pennsylvania clearly called him out that he didn't do what was ETHICALLY correct.  Same for the wide receivers coach and "witness".  If you see a 10 year old boy getting assaulted are you going to make a phone call to someone other than 911?  There appears to be a lot of blame to go around and with PSU being a state run university - that puts the state and trustees in the legal line of fire.  This is why Mr. Paterno (and anyone else around) should have been fired.  If the university doesn't fire him - they are accepting his judgement and legally the university is certain to face civil legal action.  This is a risk management move.

When did we stop being human for the sake of "the program"?

We see similar reactions in business.  People protecting bad managers because they are a friend.  A real friend would get them training while hiring or promoting a qualified person.

Go hug your kids.  Talk to them about the types of people they may see.  Explain why they need to be aware of where they are (as much as a kid can).  This is an atrocity that all people should be disgusted at - regardless of which football sweater you wear.

There is more to life than sport.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This 'n That

Very busy getting new athletes up and running.  This time of year is the most exciting as many athletes are dreaming of future finish lines and accomplishments.  This is the time of year we work on form, diet and strength while building that aerobic engine.

Downtown Chicago at 5:15am headed east.
Last weekend I went to Annapolis, MD to attend the celebration of one of my athlete's and friend's wedding.  I've blogged about Ken before.  Ken is one of several clients who have become family.  I've coached Ken since he was in the US Naval Academy.  If you are in his age group you should be nervous - very nervous.  We had a great time.  I got to meet Noelle (now, Ms. Ken) and her family as well as get speak to Ken's family again.  I hadn't seen them since 2005 at Ironman Wisconsin!  It was a very enjoyable weekend.  I even got to run around the US Naval Academy and downtown Annapolis.

A US Navy fly over as part of pre-game festivities.

USNA Football team lining up for an extra point. 
Downtown Annapolis.
The evening was a great time meeting other friends and family of Noelle and Ken.

Upon my return... Greta was ready to play.  I managed to snap this shot just before she hit the camera with her nose.

Triathlon isn't everything in life.  Get out and live it.  "How do you know a triathlete is at a party?"

- Don't worry.  They will find you and tell you.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Early Morning Triathlete Experiences

It strikes me as funny how some people always want to get into a pissing match with you regarding your training (time, distance, power) and groups.  This morning I was running (before masters swim practice) and had an Ironman knit cap on.  To be completely honest - I didn't even remember it said "Ironman".  I grabbed it because it had my two top requirements for a run at 31 F: 1) it was clean 2) it is a warm hat.

It's too damn early...
Out on the trail (remember, it's 4:10 am - even the freakin' coyotes are asleep) a guy runs up to me where the trails merge.  I'm not talkative at 4:10am.  Ever.  Hi.  (I wave.)  I'm doing intervals.  I won't get in your way.  Go ahead.  You ever do Ironman?  Yes.  I'm gonna do Ironman Wisconsin next year.  Cool, fun race. Wanna go with me on this interval?  No thank you, this is an easy run for me.  Come on.  Let's see what you've got.  This is recovery for me.  I need to stick to my plan.  I did a tough session last night.  Oh,  not in shape?  (Now I'm getting pissed.  Get the hell away from me dude.  I want to listen to the wind in the trees and not your yapper at 4am.)  We run all the way back to the parking lot.  He was telling me all about his "master plan" for Ironman and how he knows "so much" about Ironman.  (This came with more and more breaks in his speech.)  We get back to the car and he puts his hands on his head. "That was a hard interval."  I look at my HRM - 137 heart rate at 8:30/mile pace.  Hmm.  He tells me who his coach is (a well known pro who charges about $600/month).  I tell him good luck with his training and before I can close my car door - he is telling me how he is going to qualify for Kona in his first Ironman.  I wish him luck again.  Want to go to breakfast?  Thank you, but I'm going swimming now.  WHAT?! (he exclaims) I'm going to swim with a masters swimming group.  Where do you swim?  Oh, I don't need to swim masters - I swam in HS.  I swim "my" (his words) Olympic distance mile in 28:32.  (This dude looks about 38 and I don't have the heart to tell him it was .9 miles for the OLY.)  I told him that I was a coach and had a lot of athletes in IM Moo last year and if he wanted he could train with us.  Oh, I always stick to my training plan.

A guy... (later this morning)
I'm leaving a business establishment and run into someone I met in triathlon circles I am in.  Guy doesn't recognize me.  No problem - he looks at me and says - I know you from somewhere.  I say I'm "x's" friend.  We met two years ago at his party.  Oh right.  He then asks me if I'm coaching.  Yes I am.  Cool, maybe I'll call you to look at my swim stroke.  I don't swim with a masters group because I'm faster than all of them.  (ALL MASTERS GROUPS!  -->Inner monologue)  Oh, I see.  I'm a better athlete than all these people coming out of "that" club.  Sometimes training on your own is more productive.  I always train alone.  Nobody can hang with me.  I'm a 26 minute swim in an open water mile. (Oh dear Barbara, here we go again.) Solid swim.  I told him about the swim group I am part of.  Oh... I'm faster than everyone there.  (No you aren't... I'm faster than you and in there I'm not the fastest. --> inner monologue again)  Do you do CompuTrainer?  No, I have really high watts and I want to stick to my plan.  (ugh!) I explain how in CompuTrainer classes everyone rides to their FTP.  Oh... well, I'll just go too fast.  Besides, I'm focusing on my running.  Cool.  I run alone because nobody can hold my pace.  (Uh, oh.)  Yeah, I run 9:40s for a 10k - SUSTAINED.  Ah, well done.  You're on the road.  Good luck in your preparation.

OK... I get it.  You're competitive.  Wonderful.  You know what?  Everyone has something to work on.  EVERYONE.  I honestly hope you do great, stay healthy and enjoy the time.  Just don't go around comparing yourself to everyone else - You are a unique person.  (I totally sound like my mom here.)  I coach xx people currently - NOT ONE of them is alike.

Focus on YOUR numbers.  What were YOUR watts per kilogram in the CompuTrainer class last night?  What was your heart rate?  What pace did you hold the 10x 100 freestyle on today @1:30 interval?  What did you hold per mile on your long run? you enjoy your life?  That is the real question.  If you didn't enjoy being out there then it doesn't matter what you did.  How was the camaraderie during and after practice?  Did you look at the weight room floor and have your entire lane sing "Dude Looks like a Lady" when a guy who looks like Fabio meets Lindsay Lohan (with a 3:00 shadow and rumpled shirt from sleeping on the couch) walks by the pool window to flex in the two way mirror?  (really)  How many folks did you high five and encourage today?  Did you laugh in your workout? 

No matter who the athlete is... my conversation is always about improving THEIR number.  They are the ONE focus.  I don't compare them.  How fast can I get this athlete (and their unique challenges) faster, stronger, thinner, more endurance, etc.?

Talk to people (maybe after 6am).  Just leave out the numbers.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Foot Exercises with Greta

Last night I was doing foot exercises as my nightly "pre-hab" routine.  Greta (for reasons known only to "The Great Gretski" and other canines - dogs - to the layperson) attacks my feet when I do these exercises.  Well... not really "attack" but it does get her riled up.  Check out this video.  She keeps bumping my feet as if to say, "come play with me".

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Older I Get

My perspective has changed a great deal since getting into the multisport world.

Beat people.  Workout until exhausted. Race. Race. Race.

Beat people at key races. Workout smarter. Race. Race. Race.

Workout at every opportunity. Races are whenever I say they are and they don't necessarily have a "start and finish" line.

At the end of my CompuTrainer class last night at Village CycleSport we started a good conversation about athletes and their "focus" on themselves and perspective (or lack there of) of importance of various events in training, racing and life.

My philosophy - 
1) You train/race to your ability.  The best you can do given your circumstances in this thing we call life.

2) You keep in mind that every person has their own limits.  The celebration should be on the ability to be healthy enough to be out there versus who is faster/better/stronger.  (Read: there is always someone faster, stronger, smarter than you.  Nobody is perfect.)

3) You are considerate to communities and people in which we race and train.

4) You give back to the sport in volunteering for races/charities and helping those who can never repay you.  (More Than Sport, War on ALS, Cancer, MOvember, CAF - whatever motivates you.)  There is no wrong answer here as long as you contribute to someone other than yourself at least once or twice a year.

5) Stay humble.  You are just a human being like everyone else.  This is something to gain strength from too.  In the end, all living things pay the same debt (death).  Not to be morbid, but having that perspective will change how you communicate to everyone.

6) Stop self pity.  Everyone struggles.  A friend recently told me, "Everyone feels pain.  Suffering is optional."  Make sacrifice your ally.

7) Never compromise your standards and opinions to "win" friends. - Woody Hayes

8) Feel the power of a smile, a friendly wave and some encouragement of others.  The power of attitude  can change your future.

9) Commit to excellence - everyone wants to be associated with people who set and maintain high standards.

Be great - at any age.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy New Year

In the triathlon world (according to me anyway) the year ends in Kona / Maui - Xterra.

Ironman is a spirit.  You don't have to toe a line somewhere to be one.  I know a lot of folks who work very hard and don't workout very much who I would call an Ironman.  Hopefully you guys get what I'm saying.  The single mom who does a 5k or sprint triathlon while raising two kids with a deadbeat dad, working two jobs.  Ironman.  The husband who does an occasional half ironman and works a full time job while maintaining a normal family, house and vacation schedule.  Ironman.  The volunteer who has been at EVERY Ironman - but has never been seen on by most athletes in any given year or ever on NBC.  Ironman.

Get it?  I hope so.

The new (triathlon) year brings new hopes and goals.  Take steps to learn from what you just experienced:

1) Pull your data together and sit down with your coach / friends.  Anyone who will call you on your own bullshit.

- Evaluate your coach
- Evaluate yourself as an athlete (Did you listen to your coach?)

2) Review your diet

3) Get a full physical.

- The whole shebang; EKG, running stress test, blood work, blood pressure, prostate/breast exam - TOP TO TAIL

4) Identify areas for improvement (I call these 'deltas'.) What would you change if you could go back and do things differently?

5) What did you do well?  (Really well - triathlon magazine type stuff.)

6) Celebrate

- Take time to celebrate the year with your family and supporters
- Eat bad food (once or twice)
- Take a vacation that doesn't involve a training camp or race

7) Set new SMART goals and submit them to your "team".

- I hate the word "team" but I concede that it does apply

8) Get back to work.

- I read a lot about "Ironman blues" and other mamby pamby crap.  Get a goal and start working on it

Next year is here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

2011 Kona Wrap-Up

2011 was my fourth Ironman Triathlon World Championship that I was asked to marshal.  This was my sixth time to Kona for the Ironman. 2000 when I raced.  2005 when I had several (three) athletes racing - I was a volunteer on the pier and as a bike catcher.  (I'm all over the video of the race.) 2008-2011 I've been a race official.  I extended my time in Kona by a few days in order to visit with some Hawaiian friends (still managed to miss some) and get a few days of "vacation".

I flew out on Tuesday so I'd be able to be in town on Wednesday.  I flew ORD to LAX and had a long 5 hour layover.  I found some decent sushi in the LAX airport and it turned out to be right by my gate.  I was able to charge up my phone and computer and met up with Ed and Candy (marshals from Galveston, Texas).  The flight to Kona was with a couple of Ironman legends that aren't in many books.  I don't think I said more than eight words the entire flight to Kona.  I just listened to their stories.

On arrival into Kona I felt at home.  I love the experience of being around the race.  I consider it a privilege to be trusted as a marshal such an important race in the triathlon world.  As a coach (although, I didn't have any athletes in this race) it is an important week to be in Kona.  There are many things to learn by watching and paying attention to detail.  Kona is significant and seems to get bigger every year.  It seems that more and more people in the business of triathlon understand that Kona is significant and the leaders of the sport are all there.  You cannot move in Kona without bumping into a triathlon legend and no matter who you are - there is always someone more fit than you.  People I talked to: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, Natasha Badmann, Heather Fuhr - Ironman Champions all.  Cowman, Tom Knoll, Bob Babbitt, Jimmy Riccitello, Mike Reilly, Tom Ziebart, Andrew Messick (CEO of Ironman), Ken Glah, Virginia Tinley, Tony Kannan, Tara Costa, Scott Rigsby, Rajesh Durbal, Bob & Maryann Blais, Troy Jacobson, Tim & Tony DeBoom, Cam Brown, Timo Bracht, Chris McCormick, Missy LaStrange, Richard Hill and others.  

As much as I try to be a leader in my community in triathlon, I'm just another guy in Kona.  Every person involved in Kona is serious enough to be there on race day.  That is serious commitment.  Every person is a leader in their community in some way or form.  Honestly, I think we are all leaders in the sport of triathlon.  We represent the sport to folks who don't know about triathlon.  What is interesting is who thinks that they are a leader and have the attitude that their "shit don't stink"versus those who try to lead by helping others.  Those who work on educating people about the sport.  Others showing folks that you don't necessarily need to do an Ironman (or win anything) to be a leader.  You can be a leader by helping people who have no chance of ever "repaying" you.  Even someone who may never meet you or know you were there.  You can be a leader by encouraging folks at your local gym.  A simple "You can do it" goes a long way.  After all, negative people who tell you you suck or aren't good are never in shortage.  It's the random person who tell you to "hang on" in a spin class or encourages you in the weight room that make the difference.  You don't have to be in Kona.  Aloha lives in many people.

 Some of the Ironman folks give me a bit of props for doing things with charity (ALS, Cancer, CAF), trying to bring better marshaling and education around marshaling to athletes in our area as well as offering quality coaching for good rates.  I won't go into who said what to me, but I'm very proud to have earned their respect.  It has nothing to do with my athletic ability - but who I am.  If I've learned one thing in my time on Earth - I know I can make a difference if I use my talents and abilities wisely.  I got "big timed" by a few people too.  "Big timed" means folks who talk to you or friend you when you can help them but ignore you when other "big" people are around.  It was disappointing, but never unexpected.  I'm usually good at predicting who is going to "out credential" me or "big time" me or me and Jay. 

If your happiness depends on your pleasing other people, you are going to be one unhappy person.

Wednesday, I went for a six mile run along Ali'i Drive.  It is extremely hot.  I love it.  On the run I saw a lot of folks who were in the race going extremely hard.  Every year you see "panic training" - people doing extra workouts in Kona because they don't feel fit enough; and, workouts that are way too hard.

Thursday was a full day of fishing with Glen, Ed and the boys.  We got into a school of Aku tuna which we then turned into bait for marlin.  We had a nibble from what we think was a marlin, but the hook never set.  I was next and hooked a 7' ~200 lbs. bronze whaler shark.  It took about 30 minutes to bring her in and then release her.  What was it like?  Put your car in neutral about 400 meters away and try and pull it in.  Every 10 seconds or so have the person in the car hit the brakes and when you get 15' from the boat... put the car in gear and go out another 400 meters.  I was soaked in sweat and every muscle in my body was completely exhausted.

Friday was a meetings and preparation for race day.  We went to breakfast and it took 45 minutes to get take out; so we were a few minutes late to our first meeting.  At 12:30pm, we went down and helped with bike check in as it seemed a lot of athletes had questions.  We started informally asking questions and soon everyone was asking questions.  I think we helped because there was no line to wait for bike check in which is normal.  This seemed to help reduce the stress a great deal.

Saturday wake up was at 5am.  Even as a marshal, I find I wake up at 3:30, 3:45, 4:15 and just watch the minutes roll by.  Got a shower.  Breakfast and off.  Arrived 15 minutes early at our staging area and now we wait.  There is very little chance of seeing the swim start in person, so the best way is to listen for the cannon as soon as the helicopters appear.  My regular motorcycle pilot (Ken) wasn't in Kona this year due to work.  It's been a tough year for everyone.  I did get lucky in getting an experienced rider and cool guy Deek.  He was great!

From the staging area for marshals, Jimmy Riccitello had me sending out marshals at intervals and we could tell it was going to be a busy day.  In all, we penalized about 10% of the field - so we certainly made a difference in making the race more fair for everyone.  It may seem like a lot, but it really isn't.  One other ref had 28 penalties.  We were in the bulk of the field.  This field is really fast and nobody wants to let anyone go in the early stages of the race.  I wrote 22 penalties for drafting, 2 for blocking and 2 for position (one for an acquaintance of mine who was riding in the middle of the road not passing anyone).  I don't think he recognized me when I penalized him - he was that out of it.  It may seem mean to even penalize my 'friends', but my view is that there are no warnings and no breaks for anyone.  Fair is fair.  A penalty is the same for everyone.  Once I look that it is a call - it's a call.  I don't' even look at the race number or athlete to see if I know him or her.  It wouldn't matter.  Fair and impartial are a must.  When I race - that's what I want from the officials.  Just let me race a fair race.  I hope others feel the same way.

At the end of the day I was given a motor scooter to ensure that everyone was legal on the course.  They were.  I came across Tara Costa and she was out there talking to everyone and encouraging people with all the power she could muster.  Then I saw Rajesh who was out of it, but any triple amputee who finishes Ironman Hawaii in 13 hours and change is one tough dude (to put it mildly).  Then I saw Scott Rigsby a double amputee.  He looked great.  Tara, Scott and Rajesh are very genuine people.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet them.  Hey, it's Kona... you never know who you'll meet or run into.

At the turn around in the Energy Lab is a "cheater mat" - a timing mat that records all competitors at the farthest point out on the run.  Those folks are out there all day and well into the night.  The atmosphere of ohana is palpable.  Jay and I were out there and asked if they were ok or needed anything.  I couldn't  blink before Richard, Maria and their friends had a homemade pork chorizo tacos with fresh cilantro and an ice cold Pepsi in my hands.  It was amazing!  We stayed with them and talked about how awesome Ironman is, family, Hawaiian culture and life and our lives on the mainland.  If I am racing or marshaling - I will make it a point to see them every year I am in Kona.  These folks are amazing.  Their kids were great, young examples.  I'll look forward to hearing about their life experience as they grow up.  Maybe it's corny, but suspend your cynicism for a few minutes.  What an experience!

We returned the scooters back to the hotel and Ironman race operations.  Then we went to the finish line and a bit past the finish line - out by the church.  To cheer for finishing athletes and remind them to smile, soak it in, zip up their team kit for their picture at the FINISH LINE.  We got a lot of smiles.  The last minutes of Ironman were awesome.  The 80+ men's race had the top three finish within minutes and at times they were all running together!  I hope to be chewing solid food and going to the bathroom by myself at 80.  Doing an Ironman is simply incredible.  The last finisher missed the cut off by 4 seconds.  4. Lousy. Seconds.  There was an audible AWWW NO! at the finish line.  Next year.

Sunday I was able to hang with David and Sarah Fix, Scott Guilfoil and others at the banquet.  I hadn't been to an Ironman awards banquet since 2005 and a Kona dinner since 2000.  It's even more professional than it was back then.  Really well done.  We didn't get into the KSWISS after party - our "connections" didn't have extra invites - so we just went back to Humpy's and had a beer and talked.  It turned out to be great; talked to folks from AUS, SUI, GER, CAN, MEX, JPN, and USA.  Very fun and relaxed.  Prior to the dinner I got to meet Molly, Jeff, Nigel and Shirley at Humpy's - a bar/restaurant on Ali'i Drive.  Watching NFL football at 7am is odd.  Watching Sunday night football at 2pm is bizarre.

The flight home was pretty awesome too.  I met a very cool couple from Toronto who's father/father-in-law did Ironman.  They had never seen the race until this year.  A lot of friends were on the flight.  Some marshals from Australia too.  Get this... they flew Kona to San Francisco to Sydney.  UGH!  Suddenly my connection from KOA to SFO to ORD wasn't bad at all.  One of the German officials was on the plane too.  No names mentioned... but he was quite hung over.  His girlfriend won her age group.  Hey, sounds reasonable to me.  I hope we keep in touch - he is a riot!  I love the German sense of humor and hard core attitude.  When the Aussies and Germans drink - just stand back and watch because we are all amateurs by comparison.  Then in SFO, I was speaking to Bob Scott - 81 year old from Naperville.

Going to Kona is always a reward for good work.  I hope to be able to go back as an athlete, but it may take a lottery slot to get me back.  I'll hope to continue to go as an official and volunteer as often as I can.  It is inspiring and good for the soul.  Just leave any bitterness and sarcasm at the airplane door.

Mahalo, A hui hou kakou

Monday, October 3, 2011

CompuTrainer Sessions Start SUNDAY at Village

Hi folks -

It's that time of year again.  The CompuTrainer Classes at Village start on Sunday.  This winter - I'll be teaching on Thursday night, Saturday morning (special 2 hr endurance session designed for Ironman type athletes) and Sunday morning.

Last year, my classes sold out for the year very quickly.  Don't be left out.

CompuTrainer Class Details - 2011 with errors (I'm a Cat 2 USAT ref.)

Why Do We Go Crazy for Kona?

I've seen a lot of 'haters' on different websites going after celebrity slots and lottery slots.  This is all I have to say - Triathlon - and especially Ironman Triathlon - is considered a "fringe sport".  While those of us who do it are keen on every nuance of the sport - most people have no idea how far the damn race is.  So, in my opinion, if you can let a former pro baseball player in and it brings more press and awareness to the event- DO IT.  If a reality TV show star brings an audience to your sport - DO IT.  The people and sponsorship dollars they bring in pay the bills.  I think it makes a lot of sense.  This begs another question.  If YOU owned Ironman and had to get the general public interested in your sport - how would you do it?

Off the table as options (because they are already done):
1) let the everyman in via Lottery
2) let celebrities (of all sorts) in via "celebrity slots"

OK... GO!

I am cross posting something from my friend Steve Fleck.  Fleck is a Canadian and owner of Nineteen Wetsuits.  Great guy who keeps it real.

Why do we go crazy for Kona?

What is it about this one race? Why do young and old, vets and newbies become transfixed and obsessed by this one race in the sport of triathlon? What is the attraction?

Despite the spread of Ironman races around the world, this is the one Ironman that everyone wants to do.

It's the race that we all seem to want to talk about. It's the race that we all want to handicap and speculate about.

Why is that? 

Comments here or at the blog are welcome.


Steve Fleck

Friday, September 30, 2011

How to Not be a Dork in Kona: The Rules

Kona is the big dance.  The show.  The grand daddy of 'em all.  The Super Bowl of triathlon.  Pick your analogy they all pale in comparison to the race and week(s) leading up to the race itself.  If you are a triathlete, I hope that one day you get to race in Kona.  It is amazing.  As awesome as the recap show is on NBC television - it is one tenth of what goes on during the week and a snapshot of the day.

Things have already started as some pros arrive earlier and earlier to adjust to the heat as best that they can.  It seems that this is now an age group thing too.  I know one guy who has been in Kona since September 9th and he is from Germany.  Kona is a bit different than your standard Ironman.  Knowing that going in is something to consider.

Rule #1 - Don't judge a book by it's cover.

When you get off the plane, you will see tons of people and everyone will seem to be in shape.  You cannot know how much someone trained or is "all there" mentally.  You will just see the physical appearance of people.  Three years ago - EVERYONE in Kona looked like they needed a cheeseburger.  Thin was in.  Times were a lot slower.  If you are racing, I promise you this... a) you will beat someone who is "more ripped" than you on race day, b) a grandmotherly type WILL pass you somewhere on the course and will not even be breathing hard.  In 2000, I was in a "drag race" with the women's 55-59 champion.

Rule #2 - Respect the Hawaiian people and the island.

The Hawaiian people are allowing this race on their home.  They are good people and amazingly kind if you aren't a jerk.  Say "Aloha" and "Mahalo" (thank you) when you are in a restaurant and on the street.  I am blessed to call several native families ohana (family).  I helped a Hawaiian guy who had a tire blow out on the Queen K once and it turned out he was a police officer who had his phone go dead.  That year (2005) I was a volunteer and he got me through to the family area to see one of my athletes (Cedrick Dujon) finish.  When another policeman said, "Who is that?" (pointing at me) My friend said, "It's my cousin.  Can't you see the family resemblance man?  He's alright.  Let him in."  I am looking forward to catching up with him and his family next week.

The island... where to begin.  The big island of Hawaii is the most amazing place on Earth in my opinion.  The tropical water with green, pink, black, white, and red sands.  Lava pouring into the ocean - DAILY.  A mountain larger than Everest (when measured from the ocean floor).  Dolphins, turtles, rays.  Appreciate the place... there aren't many like it on this planet.  It is so amazing, that even the hardest non-believer comes home believing in God.  It is a spiritual place.

Speaking of...  Madame Pele is the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes and fire, and Ku, god of war.  Madame Pele is one bad-ass, touchy deity.  Placate her and everything should be cool.  Piss her off - and you are in for a long string of bad luck.  How else would you explain miles of homes being devoured by lava and only ONE being spared when Uncle Charlie (a native Hawaiian religion deacon of sorts) says a prayer on the roof of the home and lava starts moving the other way?  **More about him in a moment.**

Legend says that Pele rules over everything hot on the Big Island.  Fire, volcanoes and the leeward side of the island.  Pele worship is alive and well near the active craters where lava is one of those "uninsurable" risks.  Pele is said to appear as a beautiful young woman on the volcanoes.  Down the slope, away from her home - she is said to appear as an old woman with flowing white hair, dressed in white and often accompanied by a small white dog.  If you see such a woman, it is custom to offer her a ride and water if you have any.  If you see either hitchhiking on Highway 11 as you approach the national park, you are advised to give her a lift...and anyone who has seen the Brady Bunch knows that you should never take any lava rocks from Hawaii.

Madame Pele is said to have a taste for gin.  On race day, or in race coverage, take notice of the lava pyramids adorned with leis, offerings in ti leaves, anthuriums and ho'okupu.  If you want to be more to the point, a couple of bottles of Tanqueray poured over your lava pyramid and a prayer should do the trick.  Building a lava pyramid is common practice of racers.  BE ADVISED THAT LAVA IS SHARP AND WILL CUT YOU DEEPLY HANDLE IT WITH CARE.

Subsection A, Rule #2 - if Uncle Charlie asks to drink with you - you drink.

My friend brought me to meet this living legend at 9am on a Monday.  Uncle Charlie, upon meeting me, stood up and announced that we were going to have a drink.  I was informed that this was a tremendous honor and drank whatever he gave me.  My wife wound up driving us back to the hotel.  I was hammered, but at least it was 3pm in Chicago.

Rule #3 - Pro athletes, seals and turtles - leave them alone.

Imagine if during the most important week of your work year you had people everywhere asking you for your time, autograph and picture?  Early in the week - no problem.  As you get closer to the race... give these folks their space.  Their faces are 100% game face by Thursday.

Turtles and coral - while they look pretty and strong - they are both fragile.  Admire them from a distance.  The Honu turtles are an endangered species.  Hawaiian monk seals are known to be aggressive from time to time.  Leave them alone.

Make sure the only thing you leave behind are foot prints in the sand.  If you see garbage or plastic in the water, remove it and throw it away or into a recycling bin.

Rule # 4 - Prepare and expect the worst.

In 2000 and 2001 there was a 8' sea swell, high temperatures and category one hurricane force winds - ideal for a triathlon right?  In Kona they won't cancel the swim for white cap waves.  You better be ready.  Well... if you are here, it probably won't bother you that much.  In 2006, there was crazy heat (137 F heat index) with a STRONG thunderstorm in the early evening.  Expect HARSH weather conditions.  Anything easier is a blessing.

**Best race to simulate Kona conditions?  Buffalo Springs Lake Ironman 70.3 in late June. Lubbock, TX

Rule #5 - Lighten up Francis.  You may never be here again.

While this is all that it is cracked up to be, don't be a jerk.  After the race you'll have to go back to work and 99% of the world's population still won't be exactly sure how far that Ironman is.  Keep it in perspective.

Changing Seasons

Took half a day off yesterday and went fishing near my house.  Took Greta for an extra long walk and dodged some rain.  Kept thinking how the weather will be dramatically different next week.  Current temps hovering around 48 F.

I'm very excited about next weekend.  What we do as marshals has to be taken very seriously.  No two years are alike.  Triathlon is very different from when I first started.  The personal challenge isn't to beat any person, but to get myself in condition.  Perhaps if I am fortunate enough to get to the FOP again I will have some rivalries that mean something.  For most of us - the most important rivalry is with the clock.

I'll be blogging about what I see, hear and experience.  I consider it a privilege to be a part of the Ironman World Championship - yes, even as a marshal.  This will be my sixth time at the "big dance" of triathlon.  Pale by many in comparison (I realize) but every trip I learn more, meet more people and see new things.  Only in Kona can this be experienced.

Good luck to my amateur friends who are competing.  You earned it.  Now enjoy the opportunity (if not the pain) that you have before you.  Don't break a rule, because friend or not - I will tag you with a penalty.  THAT is my job.  A true friend (like the ones going) understand that.

Lastly, I am really excited to watch the CAF guys.  Scott Rigsby and Rajesh Durbal.  Scott lost both legs in an accident when he was dragged behind a truck and lost both legs.  Rajesh was born with some issues that caused amputation of his legs and one arm.  BOTH... will beat "QUALIFIERS who earned it" who have two arms and two legs.  Last year, Raj swam 1:17 with one arm.  He's in better shape this year...  1:17 - one arm and no legs.

Triathlon's post season is here.  It's time.

See the beauty if the opportunity that life is presenting to you.

I missed the HUGE buck behind this tree, but centered the tree in the frame.

A fine largemouth bass on this early morning trip to the river.  15.5", ~ 2.7 lbs.. No fish were harmed in this photo.

Looks like someone sprayed the top of the trees with red paint.
Rain moving through.

Sun is back.
We must take time to stop and smell the daisies. 
Most bright rainbow I've seen in a very long time.

My office mate and I are constantly playing tug of war.
Tired puppy - think long run tired.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Since When...

I'm back in town again.  Feels nice to wash my dishes.  Speak to my wife in person and not over FaceTime or Sykpe.  To walk, brush and feed my dog.  She's pretty stoked about it too.  Greta has been sleeping on my feet every night since my return.  During the day, she seems to spend time between Lorrie and I in our respective offices in the house (Lorrie prefers the downstairs "study" and I prefer the upstairs headquarters.)

I got to see my chiropractor.  Dr. Crunch as he is known in our house (actually a misnomer because he isn't one of those adjustment happy stereotypical chiros.)  Dr. Crunch is known for his brutal honesty, root cause analysis and fixes.  I think my past athletic success is directly due to his unique exercises targeting the smallest of muscle imbalances.  His balance of eastern and western medicine has really gotten me back in the game.  

Dr. Crunch is from New York.  His practice is in Oak Brook.  That means for me to see him it is a 1-1.25 hour drive one way.  So when I go there - it is because whatever he does works.  He has fixed virtually every joint in my body and throw in my back for good measure.  My last trip gave me the wake up call I was needing. 

"Bob, I've known you for 10 years.  Since when do you take three days off in a week during the season?"  He wasn't done.  "How much do you weigh?  Is this the fattest I've ever seen you?"  Yes it is.  Thanks for noticing.  "When the hell are you going to make a difference in this weight?  I want to see you before Kona and I want four pounds off you."  We then proceeded to review my workouts for the next two weeks and plan my diet accordingly.  Two pounds down.  Two to go.  "Since when are you a fat ass?"  Jeeze, its one thing to point it out and another to wallow in it.  "This is bullshit.  You need to get back to being competitive."  
Even Greta got in on the intervention. (Thanks for the deal on the sweet all weather jersey David.)
Cannot argue with a word he said.  Since when do I stay up since 10:30pm?  Miss workouts?  Forget how to upload my watch?  

So, I've had my off season.  It's lasted about five years.  Five years of putting everything in front of the workout schedule.  It's time to get back.  It started today.  I booked myself into my own CompuTrainer classes.  I'm teaching AND riding - ALL of the sessions.  I'm swimming masters again.  I'm running again.  The results will take time.  

The next "since when" will be  a bit different.

Monday, September 26, 2011

ITU Marshaling and the USAT Elite Nationals - Buffalo, NY

Friday I flew out to Buffalo, NY to get my first ITU marshal experience.  The planes flying out of Chicago were packed with New England Patriot fans; didn't know so many lived in Chicago.  What's interesting is a nickel had gotten caught in my jeans pocket and I got the TSA pat down.  When I turned my pockets inside out the nickel came flying out.  So yeah... something that small was found.  GOOD!  Got to the hotel about 9:30pm and caught up with my roommate Graham Wilson.

Saturday was an early start.  Up at 5:00 eastern time - my normal wake up time on a work day at home - we were in the car by 6 after another briefing on the ITU expectations and some breakfast.  We prepped for the elite women's race and before you know it the gals were checking in.  We were checking bikes to make sure that they were legal with UCI and ITU standards.  Another person was taking pictures of the front and back of the uniforms of the gals.  (This was kind of creepy.  An older guy taking pictures of women in a tent of their front and back sides- a ITU uniform check for the placement and correctness of the triathlon uniforms.  I thought a female should have been taking those shots.)  The USAT folks came in and asked me to start getting birthdays for the women who were 23 and under.  I felt really old when the first gal told me her birthday was 12/9/1991.  That is the day I graduated from college.  This person could be my daughter.  Damn... I'm getting old.

The race went well.  I called a penalty on #2 (later learned it was Laura Bennett) for mounting before the bike mount line.  She was clearly 3-4 meters behind the line.  She was even out of the camera shot that we take for each area in ITU.  4-5 pedal strokes on the bike before the line.  That is a :15 second penalty.  Laura kept going and ultimately served her penalty on the last lap of the run.  She won the race by 6 seconds.

The men's race was a little later and a bit larger.  In the video that Mary did check out how much the dock is leaning.  The race was a bit less dramatic with Hunter Kemper winning by a wide margin.

All the athletes at this race were true pros.  Those who were penalized or DSQ (that's ITU for DQ'd) were very professional.  It was a really great format for racing.  I think the US amateur athletes could learn a lot from watching ITU professional athlete behavior.  No crying or bitching about a penalty.  Take it and move on.  (The coaches can appeal/bitch up a storm.  If they protest a call $50 for the officials to review it.  If an athlete complains about a penalty - the clock doesn't start until they stop bitching.  I kinda like that.)

Went out for wings and ITU talk (when in Buffalo - try the wings) Saturday.

Sunday was another review of the ITU methodology and philosophy.  Then lunch with my USAT bosses before jumping back on a plan to Chicago.  On my plane was Andy Potts' coach.  Had a conversation with him and then we were off.

On the taxiway into Chicago, some guys from Buffalo who were headed to Las Vegas and had a tight connection got up out of their seats seconds after we landed and started walking toward the cockpit.  The flight attendant pinned them into the kitchen area.  We were about 15 minutes behind schedule due to the rain and winds aloft.  Then the karma train came to visit... the jet bridge was malfunctioning and EVERYONE had to wait another 5 minutes.  The Vegas people made their flight, but it was fun seeing some self centered jerk offs have to wait.  My only hope would be for them to get a fine too.

Here is the video Mary shot and some shots I put together.

Something about the clouds reflecting off the water that is awesome.

Hello Winnetka!

Chicago in the distance.

Happy puppy!  48 hrs away was very tough on her.  PS: Lorrie was glad to see me too.