December 27, 2006

My Favorite Wikipedia Entry...

...and you thought our government was crazy. Check out Sweden.

December 23, 2006

It's A Pain To Be Good

There's good pain and there's bad pain...

The tightness in your legs the day after a fast and fun 15 mile training run = good pain
Stubbing your toe on the bed frame in the middle of the night as you shuffle to the bathroom for a much needed pee = bad pain

The lifeless feeling in your arms as you finish a quality, super-heavy set of bench presses = good pain
Smashing your finger with a hammer while you pretend to be Mr. Macho Builder Guy = bad pain

The searing pain in your quads as you pound the pedals up the steep 7 mile climb = good pain
Washing your face at the bathroom sink and then standing up and slamming the back of your head into the open medicine cabinet door = bad pain

I went to a yoga class yesterday. I'm not a very flexible person. Today, I hurt. Back, hamstrings, quads, arms... basically everythings. It's painful. In a bad way.

But I suppose that's a good thing.

December 22, 2006

Ironman Mount Everest

I have no quads. I mean, I physically have quads - I suppose it would be tough to have a complete set of legs without having quadriceps in there somewhere - it's just that my quads are so gosh darn weak they might as well not be there in the first place.

(Side Note: The word Quadriceps sounds like one heck of a mean dinosaur doesn't it? I never realized that. All of the sudden I feel like I'm in Jurassic Park. Watch out, Johnny! The Quadriceps are going to eat your face!)

What with this weak quad situation, you can imagine the difficulty I have in climbing the Santa Monica steps. Have I told you about the Santa Monica steps? I don't think I have. Maybe we should start there...

The Santa Monica steps are, as you can probably imagine, a set of steps. In Santa Monica. There are about 189 of these so-called steps, give or take none. In the mornings and early evenings you will find a steady flow of people all quietly aligned in single file, hugging the right side of the wall and attentively climbing up and down this unrelentingly steep staircase. The thing is, probably less than 5 of them are actually using the stairs to get somewhere. No, no, these aren't really considered functional stairs that will get you, say, from point A to point B. They are not commuter stairs; they don't lead you anywhere important that you can't get to via a much easier route. They are more the walk-up-and-down type of exercise stairs that pretty much get you from Point A back to Point A. And they do it as painfully as possible.

Sounds silly, doesn't it, these meaningless stair walking shenanigans? I agree. Of course, that doesn't mean I don't participate in the activity. Yes, I am sometimes one of those silly stair walking people, carefully winding my way down the steep concrete descent only to turn around at the bottom for the leg-burning, lung busting climb back up. And once I get to the top, huffing and puffing and coughing out lungs I no longer have, I lift up my eyes to look around and realize that I am in the same exact place from whence I started.

So silly.

Anyway, this morning was one of those stair climbing mornings for me.

There's not a lot to think about while you are climbing the stairs. Your eyes are solidly set on your feet to make sure you don't take a sudden misstep, fall and require an emergency trip to the face repair doctor. Consequently, you don't really make much eye-to-eye contact with the people heading in the opposite direction. It's more like eye-to-toe contact. If you've got a foot fetish, this might be your heaven.

However, what with all of the pain you are experiencing during the climb, it helps to keep your mind occupied on other non-essential matters than the passers-by's feet. This morning, for instance, I was thinking about the show Everest.

(Wait a minute, did I just say "passers-by's feet"?!)

Have you seen Everest? It's an amazing 6-episode show on the Discovery Channel. Actually, the sixth and final episode aired this week, so its over. You lose. Actually, I recommend you TiVo it (I believe they are replaying all episodes over the next week or two) or, better yet, don't be such a cheapskate and get the DVD when it comes out. It is a highly addictive, brilliant insight into what happens on the horrendously difficult climb up the world's tallest mountain.

The show follows a group of climbers in 2005 (the second most deadly year on the mountain, for the record) and documents all the physical and emotional crap they go through. Little did they know when they set out on this expedition that there would be quite a buttload of physical and emotional crap occurring on the mountain that year, not to mention the controversial actions that involve such intriguing cocktail party chatter as climbers freezing to death.

So as I was saying, while I was climbing up these stairs with my legs all a-burning, I started thinking about what these alpiners had to go through to get up Everest. I mean, they've got the fear of death hanging over their heads pretty constantly. They've got enormous strain on their body with even the slightest move. And don't even get me started on the destruction of rational thinking and trying to live on extremely little oxygen. It's crazy stuff for crazy people.

And so that got me to thinking about how people called Catherine and I crazy for wanting to do an Ironman. Us crazy?! Bitch pleeeease! Naturally, I started wondering who is more fit: Ironman athletes or Everest climbers.

I put a full 378 steps of thought into this one and here's what I came up with...

First, I think we need to split "fitness" into two different categories: physical and mental. As we know, both activities, Ironman racing and Everest climbing, rely on a combination of physical and mental strength.

The Physical
The average Ironman athlete trains for about eight months prior to their big race. That is eight months of solid, virtually non-stop daily training. Ironman racing creates some pretty heavy pounding on the body. Physical fitness is the barrier to entry. By the time we triathletes hit that starting line, we're pretty damn physically fit. One can say that we're most likely the fittest we've ever been in our lives.

Alpinists, on the other hand, train for about two years in preparation for climbing Everest. When I first started pondering this I thought, Holy shit, two years?! They must be in wicked good shape. However, I then realized that this two years of alpine training isn't necessarily all focused on the physical. It's not like Ironman training where it's non-stop physical activity. The Everest climbers aren't out there lifting weights and going on hikes every day of the week for two years. Sure, they're training their bodies to walk the distance, but a lot of the training is preparing their bodies for high altitude activity and learning to walk with 50 pounds on your back.

I'm not saying Everest climbers are fat, I'm just saying that when it comes right down to it, Ironman racers are better conditioned. Sooo, on the physical front I'm going to have to give the award to Ironman athletes.

Ironman: 1
Everest: O

The Mental
As many of us know (and many others assume), mental training is a key ingredient in completing an Ironman. Ironman racing is tough. Actually, the last 10-15 miles of Ironman racing is tough. If you don't have the mental strength (on top of the physical fitness we've already established above), you're not going to make it. To paraphrase an Adidas ad from many moons ago, It's exercise for the first 15 miles, after that it's just some sort of sick compulsion fueled by God knows what.

All that said, the mental training required for Ironman racing is but an unpopped kernel in the super-sized bucket of mental popcorn required for successfully climbing Everest. There is so little oxygen up there at the top of the world, the body literally eats itself to survive. It's not pretty. Every step, every thought and every miniscule movement is a struggle when you're up there on the top of the world.

Picture it this way. On your worst day at the world's toughest Ironman, it may take you 30 minutes to stumble through one mile. While on Everest, on the best day, with optimum conditions of 20 below zero, it takes the most proficient climber about two hours to complete one mile. Two hours!?!!!

Imagine that. Imagine what excruciating pain you must go through, what patience and will-power you must have, for it to take two hours to hike one mile. Yeah, Ironman is tough. But it ain't no Everest.

In Ironman, if you get tired or hurt, you walk, you lay down or you stop. Get hurt in Everest? You've got two options: somehow, someway carry your sorry ass down the mountain through the painful 18 hour day.... or die. And dying isn't a good option. It's pretty simple.

So when it comes to mental capacity, I'd have to say the Everest climbers smoke us. We're crazy. They're crazier.

Ironman: 1
Everest: 1

So who is more fit? I don't know.... you tell me.

December 13, 2006

I'm Back. Call The Doctor.

It was the Italian sub last night. And the potato chips. No, I take that back... it was the M&M McFlurry. That's what put me over the edge. Come to think of it, I was already dangling on the edge before my spoon even dipped into the sweet McWonder of the McFlurry. Yeah, it must've been the Italian sub.

As you probably know by now, I haven't exercised much in the past three or four weeks. Thanks to the sickness that doesn't want to let go, I've been feeling very run down and not overly excited to strain my immunity system with some over-exertion.

Throughout the past week I tried a couple of visits to the gym. On both visits I did about 20 minutes of incredibly light pedaling on the stationary bike at which point I felt so feverish that I decided to just do a little stretching and call it quits.

My immunity system and I have an understanding: it doesn't want to kill me, and I don't want to die.

It would be a lie to say that I've been eating healthily lately. A big fat juicy lie, with mayo, mustard, pickles, a big hefty dollop of cheese and a side of well-done steak fries. Oh, and ketchup for the fries.

Truth be told, the salad and soup I've been having for lunch is quickly negated by, say, the large pizza I have for dinner. And though I try to convince myself that I am healthy, there's a point where consuming a pound of grapes, a bag of Sun Chips, a Clif bar and a few handfuls of granola all within the few hours between lunch and dinner just ain't healthy anymore. Especially when there is no exercise involved.

Here's the kicker to all of this. I have, by the mere luck of the draw, been born with a very high metabolism. I don't really get fat. Yes, it's true. It would probably take more food than my stomach can handle for me to get fat. I know, I know... you don't like me now, do you?

Don't hate the player, hate the game.

I don't think it is possible for members of my immediate family to grow a beer gut. I used to joke about growing a stomach that would also act as a resting place for my drink but, alas, my stomach just isn't made to be any type of furniture - neither a table nor a washboard.

Don't get me wrong, though, it does get a bit squishy down there. In the same way I can't grow a good ole fashioned gut, the term "washboard stomach" will never be applied to me, unless of course you're talking about the rinse and jiggle cycle. I have abs - I must - it's just that I've never seen them.

So with all this eating I'm doing, my belly is getting increasingly more squishy. And my stomach is getting increasingly more full. And there comes a point where I just can't possibly squeeze in another piece of food, no matter how healthy I believe it to be. I literally fill up. Like a gas tank that will eventually just overflow, I can fit no more food in my over-expanded stomach.

Once I reach this point of saturation, I will lose my desire to eat for days on end. Logically I recognize that I must eat...you know, to stay alive. It's just that I don't want to eat. So when a sliver of hunger creeps from the confines of my brain, I snack on wee bits of salad, soup, fruit or other similarly healthy morsels.

But that is not enough during these moments of fullitude. I need exercise. I am compelled to exercise. I MUST exercise.

That point of complete and utter food saturation occurred last night at the Clippers basketball game, just as I was biting into the Italian sub. By the time I finished that and somehow crammed most of a McFlurry into my face, I had had enough food for one year. I'm done. Enough. I'm out.

So this morning I decided to make a change. I went for a run. Even if I just did a couple of miles, I told myself, at least it will make me feel better.

The moment I woke up, I eagerly threw on my shorts, strapped on my running shoes and headed out the door for a slow, easy jog. And guess what? It felt great. I was gloing slowly, but I was smiling. The air was crisp, the leaves a flurry of red and orange - it almost felt like autumn. I love running in autumn. Even though the closest thing to autumn in Los Angeles is winter. Still, its the thought of autumn that gets me going.

After I got about a half mile into the run, my lack of exercise over the past month started kicking in. And that Italian sub from last night started fighting back. Don't even get me started on the McFlurry.

I began huffing a little and puffing some more. But I still relished in the fact that I was out here running. Finally, I was exercising. I was burning off some of this damn food.

Then as I passed the mile mark and took a right turn onto the back side of this 3 mile loop, it all went to hell. In one step I got a piercing, brilliantly painful spasm in my back. I stopped immediately. I stretched the back a little, took a couple of breaths to relax. Then I started running again.

Three steps later and the spasm pierced even harder. SHIT, I yelled aloud, not realizing the amount of bejeesus I scared out of the little old lady and her mangy little dog.

This wasn't going to work, I thought in utter frustration. Damn. Damn. Damn.

I stopped on the sidewalk and stood still for awhile as I waited for the pain to dissipate. When the piercing subsided to a slight twinge, I began the long slow walk back home. After about one block of walking, the pain in my back reappeared with a vengence. Within seconds it shot down my leg, streaming a vine of agony through the hip, down the hamstring, into the IT and towards the knee.

Yeah, I thought, this sucks. Maybe I ate so much it threw out my back. Maybe that McFlurry is pushing too hard on my McSpine.

I stopped and rested again. When the grimace left my face, I had a long, slow hobble all the way back home.
And that was my run.

Now, I suppose, I need to call the chiropractor. Welcome to training season 2007.

December 12, 2006

What Would Spudgy Do?

This being sick nonsense has got me feeling so run down. Just like Spudgy, but perhaps not nearly as cute.



Thanks to Catherine and the folks at Cute Overload for sharing Spudgy with us.
Spudgy makes me happy.

December 09, 2006

Total Drowning vs Total Immersion, Part Deux: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Swimmer

I'm becoming more efficient as I get older. Believe it or not, I have actually started sending out birthday cards to people before their birthdays occur. This is a new thing for me. I even plan out holiday present purchases weeks before Christmas even arrives. I know, I can barely believe it myself.

But perhaps the greatest sign of my new-found efficiency is that I am no longer getting the flu in the middle of my triathlon training. No, no, I've upgraded my attitude. Now I am getting the flu in early December, during the off-season. Let me tell you, it makes life so much easier. Had I known this before, I would've spent the past decade of Decembers with the flu rather than procrastinating the whole thing until February or March like I've done in the past. I guess one learns the important things in life as one ages.

Right now I'm finishing up week two of sickness - or, rather, what's left of it. I had the flu and its sniffle-inducing, cough-laden remnants for a little over one week. Since that time, it's just been lingering around and taunting me in a Bart Simpson kind of way. Ouch. Quit it. Ouch. Quit it.

But you know what? It's December so, really, what do I care.

I have barely done any form of exercise in at least twelve days, not counting the multi-treks to the bathroom every evening to periodically rid my body of the over-stock of Vitamin C. Oh, and about echinacea? I'm over the hype. It doesn't work. I'll take Tylenol Cold and Flu, thank you very much. Bring on the chemicals.

As far as swimming, well, it's been over two weeks since I've even dipped my toe in the pool. Of course, earlier this week was the last session of the swim clinic that Catherine and I had been taking. You know, the Total Immersion event I mentioned awhile back. Remember?

If it were just a regular session, we probably wouldn't hesitate to skip it and wallow in our sniffling, runny nose, stuffy head, feverishness. But, alas, this swim session included another round of video taping so we could see the difference in our stroke from the first clinic until now. At least that was the goal.

So, needless to say, Catherine and I squished ourselves into our swimsuits and ventured out into the cold air and chilling water of the pool. We struggled through the workout, battling shivers and coughs and aching bones. We got ourselves video taped and then rushed off to the comfort of a warm shower.

Before I tell you the results of it all, let me remind you that when the clinic started I had promised to you that I would go in with an open mind. I had committed to six weeks of trying Total Immersion to see if it worked out. When all was said and done, I would assess the situation and give you my honest feedback. Well, it's done so I will say.

All in all, there is very little difference between my "before" and "after" videos. Sure my head is a little more submerged in the water. And yes my thumb isn't dragging as much. But is that worth the money and the six weeks? I doubt it.

Here's the thing, though. I think I understand what they were trying to teach me. I think I get it. And after having watched the video, I can see how Total Immersion could possibly make somebody a better swimmer. I suppose it just seems really difficult to make that much of an impression in only six lessons.

Honestly, at this point I feel like my form is worse than it was before I started. I'm flailing in the water. I am trying so hard to keep track of the million little pieces that they've told me to focus on, that I can't keep track of anything at all. Head down, arms out, hands straight, butt up, chest out, hand bent, elbow up.... for god sakes, I just want to swim!!

Before I took these lessons, swimming was somewhat mindless. I got in the water and it either felt like it was working or it didn't. Now, however, swimming has become more like golf - the more you know, the harder it becomes.

In fact, I kinda feel a bit like Tiger Woods, but not quite as talented. A couple of years ago, despite the fact that Tiger had been playing very well, he decided to change his stroke. Everybody thought he was crazy. In fact, for a year or two while he was changing the stroke, his playing was not nearly as good as it had been before. It was like he screwed everything up. It seemed to be a classic case of "if it ain't broke, why you trying to fix it, you buffoon." But he kept his faith, that Tiger, and he kept tweaking the stroke. Lo and behold, we get to this year and he's playing better than he ever has.

My swimming was just fine before I took this clinic. I was consistently finishing in the top 20-30% overall in the swim leg of the races. Right now, however, after taking six weeks of Total Immersion, my stroke has dropped to such a level of complete crap that I feel like I'm swimming worse than I was before.

But you know what? I'm keeping my faith. Cause I think I get it. And I have a funny feeling that this Total Immersion technique is actually going to help me. I'm not sure how, but I think it will. And I've got a little birdie on my shoulder who is telling me that if I keep working on the drills and practicing this form that somewhere down the road I will actually be a better swimmer than I have ever been. Somehow, someway, I will become more efficient in the pool.

As I said before, I am getting more efficient as I get older. Eventually it's gotta rub off on my swimming. So right now, I'm going to be a Tiger.

December 06, 2006

What The Ho?!

OK, let's play a quick game of word association. I'll say a word and you blurt out the first thing that comes to mind... ready? Here we go...

Santa Claus

If you said "anarchy", have I got an organization for you. Every holiday season brings birth to the crazy mischief makers that define themselves by Santarchy. Here's the jist of it all: hundreds of people in different cities dress up in Santa Claus outfits on specific days, meet at pre-determined locations, then go out on the town and commit a bit of Santa mischief.

I suppose it's a holiday time release for all those people who miss the days of yore when they could safely stalk the streets of Halloween with cartons of eggs and rolls of toilet paper. Or perhaps it's just a society of Trans-Santa-ites, those sexually peculiar souls who get their jollies out of dressing up like fat old men. Either way, they've got a pretty good slogan, it being: No force on earth can stop one hundred Santas.

Granted, it's no Hash House Harriers slogan ("A drinking club with a running problem"), but it'll do. In the meantime, if you are walking down a dark alleyway one of these days and suddenly see a mass of Santa Clauses coming at you, you're not hallucinating. Put down the drink and rump-a-bum-bum yourself out of there as quickly as you can go before you find yourself getting slammed with a surprising bit of Noel in your Jingle Bells.

December 04, 2006

Be Careful Where You Breathe

I'm sitting here typing on the computer, minding my own business.
The little flea is flying around, minding it's own business.
We have our own businesses, and we do not need to bother each other.

But the little flea is curious.
The little flea flies towards me and starts getting up in my business.
It comes toward my face.
I swoosh my hand and scare him away.

But the little flea has heart. He does not give up so easily.
He comes towards me again. Gets up in my face. Gets in front of my mouth. Below my nose.
I startle. I sniffle.
The little flea is suddenly sucked up into my nose.

I react. I'm freaked. I don't like insects in my nose.
I don't think, I just react. I sniff harder.
Bad move.
I can feel the little flea leave my nose and drop in my throat.

I swallow.
And now there is one less little flea in this world.
And one disgusted computer typing person.

December 01, 2006

Going Postal: The Joys Of Christmas Shopping

There are 23 shopping days until Christmas, 24 shopping days until Kwanzaa, and, for our Jewish friends, a stunningly short 15 shopping days until Chanukah.

Last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, was apparently the busiest shopping day of the year so, arguably, it should be all downhill from here on in, right? Yeah... sure.

The fact of the matter is that December is the single worst time of the year to go shopping unless, of course, you get your giggles out of stupid drivers, slow traffic, over-crowded stores and rude people bumping into you at every move. All of the sudden I'm starting to really admire the porcupine. Yet despite the many hours of Animal Planet Catherine and I have watched over the past weeks, I have yet to grow quills so, instead, I'm thinking of just becoming enochlophobic.

I dread having to go out shopping in Los Angeles during the holiday season. As if the traffic isn't bad enough during the rest of the year, it morphs into a non-stop Road Rage Revue during December. I'm angry before I even park the car at the damn mall.

Fortunately, over the years I've managed to develop methods to slightly avoid the holiday shopping anxiety. The first is catalog shopping. As a very tactile person, I'm not a huge catalog shopping fan, but I make the effort during the holiday season. Mysteriously, I seem to have found myself on many a catalog mailing list. As a result, it is not uncommon for me to pick up the mail on any given day in December and have ten to fifteen catalogs waiting for me.

Though I usually throw the catalogs directly in the trash throughout the year, during December I pile them all up in a corner until it is a mound teetering on collapse. At that point, I grab a pen, sit on the couch and over a period of days scroll through each of the catalogs, circling items and ripping out pages that might make meaningful gifts. What I'm left with are about fifty torn pages of gifts I can easily buy online.

My second means of avoiding Holiday Homicide is the gift closet. I thought this was a brilliant idea when I started it. You see, I kind of do my holiday shopping throughout the entire year. If I see a gift that might be good for somebody, I buy it and toss it into the gift closet. Right now I must have a good 40 or 50 gifts in there - some earmarked for certain individuals, others generic go-to gifts.

So why am I complaining? Because inevitably I will not have the right gift for each person. I'll flip through all the random catalog pages time and again, then stand staring into my gift closet like the empty refrigerator, continuing to open it over and over, desperately hoping the food I want will mysteriously appear. Those magical gifts never appear though. Just like the fact that I have 200 channels on my television, but never anything to watch. Want me to do another comparison? OK, how about this... Looking in my gift closet is like going to the Cheesecake Factory, the menu is so crowded with everything one could ever want to eat that I can't find anything I'm hungry for.

So what happens? I go to the stores. And I cruise the aisles. And I finally settle on some stupid, somewhat meaningless gift. And as I wait in the absurdly long line to pay for it, staring at the person on the cell phone in front of me who is ignoring the fact that it's her turn to pay, I try to keep my cool. Maybe I even sing Jingle Bells to myself. Or hum a few ba-rump-ba-bum-bums. I love that song. And maybe between the frustrations, I can sneak out a smile, wish a couple of "Merry Christmases" and squeak a little holiday cheer out of the event without wanting to choke too many people. And if all goes right, perhaps when I look in my gift closet next year, it will have all the perfect presents waiting for my loved ones.

Excuse me now, I need to grab my semi-automatic and get to some serious holiday shopping.

November 29, 2006

The Great Triathlete, Houdini

I've been reading a book about Houdini. It's called Houdini!!! I know, I thought it was a catchy title too.

Did you know that Houdini was an accomplished swimmer, bicyclist and runner? Houdini participated in all three sports to keep in shape throughout his life (though less so with the bicycling as he got wealthier and discovered more interesting things like flying planes and massaging his ego.) Over 80 years before the first triathlon ever took place, Houdini was clearly ahead of his time.

And he was no middle-of-the-packer, this Houdini character. He even won a medal or two in running races. Even more impressive was the fact that he could hold his breath while totally immersed underwater for over 3 minutes. As for me, I can barely hold my breath for three strokes in the pool, much less handcuffed, tied up and put on stage.

Houdini used to practice his water-submersion breath-holding schtick in the bathtub at his home. Each day he'd make the water colder and colder so his body would get used to all the temperatures. You see, sometimes he'd do his little escape artist tomfoolery in the icy cold rivers of America, and what better way to practice than in an icy bathtub. Rumor has it he once got his bathtub water down to a bone-chilling 35 degrees.

Imagine sitting in a tub full of 35 degree water, dipping your head under the surface and holding your breath for a few minutes. I get a headache just from eating TCBY.


You know what, I thought I had a point to make here.
Apparently I was wrong.

November 27, 2006

Another Filling Thanksglutton

It was quite a Thanksglutton this year. Another interminable ingurtitation of fat-producing fodder and fowl. It mattered little that my stomach was full. I assumed it could grow larger. The stomach will morph to the magnitude of its contents. Right?

I felt a wee empty hole down there. Quickly, I must fill it with another helping of stuffing. Ease it down the wind pipe with a slather of cranberry sauce.

And if I shift my butt in the chair just so, the rattling will create a tiny pocket of air in my gut that can be padded with pumpkin pie. Just a small slice. No, no.... not that small. A little bigger, please.

And now, I take a great big breath - inhale as if I were going to swim the entire pool length in one fell swoop - and if I time it all correctly, if I have finally mastered my eating technique, I could cram down a slice of pecan pie on the exhale. It'll be settled in my stomach before I even need to take another breath.

Today is finally Monday after a long-glorious weekend. The eating is over. The post-Turkey resolution has kicked in. Must get in shape for the Christmas eating season, which is just around the corner. I can practically smell the gingerbread cookies baking in the oven.

I need to go for a run. A swim. A long, hilly bike ride. I need to lift and build the muscle. To crunch until I my abs beg for mercy (or until I can actually feel some semblance of abs somewhere under there). But, alas, I have the flu. Fever. Periodic chills. Sweats. Overstuffed nose. I am delirious in a post-NyQuil haze. Echinacea is oozing out my pores.

'Tis the season.
[sniff][sniff][achoo!]

November 23, 2006

Triathlon Has Eaten Up Thanksgiving

I'm sure you've heard all the rage about the Turducken. Not that the Turducken is a new concept. In fact, the concept of stuffing a whole animal into another animal is apparently a French thing dating back to the middle ages. Though, if I were a betting man, I'd say the French probably stole the concept from the Italians, like they did with most of those Middle Age-era food "discoveries."

Paul Prudhomme (who, incidentally, is one of my favorite cajun chefs) has been credited with creating the actual concept of the Turducken and apparently making it a cajun delicacy. For those of you not familiar with the wonder of the Turducken, it is a real thing, unlike the Jackalope and Santa Claus. A Turducken is a deboned turkey stuffed with a deboned duck stuffed with a deboned chicken.

Three animals in one. Which reminds me of a sport that is three sports in one.

I wonder if Paul Prudhomme was a triathlete.


Happy Thanksgiving.
Eat lots.
Rest.
Eat more.

November 22, 2006

Tuesdays With Joe

Carpe Josiah Messius: Seize The Sloppy Joe

I loved Tuesday's when I was a kid. Tuesday, you see, was Sloppy Joe day at school. I remember sitting in my classes on Tuesday mornings, staring impatiently at the clock and feeling desperate, as if time had stood still. I'd count the seemingly endless minutes until the end of class. With only seconds to go before the class finished, my books were already closed, my legs twisted out from under my desk in anticipation until, finally, the sweet chime of the lunch bell would awaken the hunger-driven butterflies in my stomach.

Before the sounds of the ringing bell even finished echoing off the walls, I'd be walk-running to the lunch room, a little more oomph in my step than the day before while trying not to come across as too much of a geek. I desperately wanted to be as close to the front of the lunch line as possible. I desperately wanted to sink my teeth into a hot, fresh Sloppy Joe.

My mouth would water in anticipation as I stood in line, tray in hand, watching the hair-netted cafeteria workers in front of me scoop up the steaming, sweet smelling "joe" onto the soft, yellow hamburger buns. I wanted to be up front, I wanted to eat. I silently tried to move the line faster, to get me to the front. Go, I'd whisper to myself. Move. Faster. Faster!

Finally I'd be there, my legs nearly twitching from the nervous excitement as the netted woman handed the white plate over the counter to me. I'd place it down on my tray and gaze with glowing joy at the meat-filled bun sloppily spreading savory happiness over the clean white plate. I rushed to the closest table, eager to sink my teeth into heaven's treat.

I loved the Sloppy Joe.

Shortly after middle school, the Sloppy Joe seemed to fade away from my diet, taking a back seat in place of more familiar lunch time fare. The bologna sandwich. Hamburger and fries. Grilled cheese. The standards. At just about the same point in life, Tuesday's also tended to lose their appeal.

Coincidence? I don't think so.

So I've decided to try and live my life like those long lost Tuesdays.
Carpe Josiah Messius.

November 21, 2006

Meaningless Things I've Wanted To Share

Actual names of people that attended Jury Duty with me:
* Grace Kelly
* Adolf Gunther


Things I've seen that you'd only see in Los Angeles:
* Homeless man with his own website

* A guy snoring so loudly in the movie theatre that the entire theatre could hear him and despite many people yelling "wake him up!" nobody would wake him, even the movie theatre manager looked at him and walked out of the theatre.

* People taking their dogs for a walk in doggie strollers - they look exactly like strollers for toddlers, but they are made to fit a dog on top.

* People walking two dogs in a double doggie stroller

* Two Middle Eastern women on the eliptical machines at the gym, one in full camouflage clothing (long pants, long sleeve shirt) and talking nonstop in some arabic language that has lots of cchhh's and other similarly throat clearing gutteral sounds... All I could hear was blach blach blach police officer blach blach blach resisting arrest. Meanwhile, the yapping woman in camouflage is going so friggin slowly on the eliptical machine that every five seconds the machine lets out a very loud "BEEEEP!" and the display says "Paused" because she isn't even going fast enough to register movement and then five seconds after that it lets out another equally annoying "BLEEEEP!" and starts the timer up again and it does this back and forth "BEEEP!", "BLEEEP!", "BEEP!", "BLEEEP!" and on and on again for what seems like fifteen minutes but Ms Camouflage isn't paying an ounce of attention to any of this because she won't shut up about whatever she is yammering away on, all the while pointing down at the swimmers in the pool below us while she utters the random nonsense about "police," "resisting arrest," and other similarly concerning words that I can't quite pick out and probably rather not understand. Oh, and she smells really badly.

November 18, 2006

The Beauty And The Bilk. Did I Say Bilk? I Meant Bike.

I went for a wonderful mountain bike ride this morning.

I pedaled my way up a long, incessantly uphill climb on a local fireroad until I reached the very peak of the Santa Monica Mountains. As I stood at the top, I glanced to my right and gazed down at the great expanse of the San Gabriel Valley, houses and stores crammed like jailed sardines, shoulder to shoulder under a blanket of smog, bridled up against the looming mountains in the distance that stood like watchtowers over the valley's prisoners.

I looked to my left and my eyes followed the maze of Los Angeles, spires of the city bursting up like the begging hands of the hungry, dramatically emerging from the flat expanse of a perpetual sea of houses falling over the horizon. All of this came to an abrupt end at the edge of the Pacific. Oh how I wish I could reach out and lift this massive blanket of water and throw it down upon the city; to clean the world of the dirt and grime and filth and crime and hate that befalls upon us.

I took a left hand turn and started a rapid, jarring descent down the single track, hugging the edge of the mountain as I bounced and slipped towards the base. It is a long and fast trail marked by loose rock, hairpin turns and hidden drop-offs. There is a level of trust that is required in this type of mountain biking. Trust in yourself and in a higher power. You must trust that whatever awaits you around the next turn will not rip your head off your shoulders, or send you sailing and flailing over the handlebars like Wile E. Coyote's Acme Catapult Contraption.

And when I finished my ride, I came back here and wrote a long, heartfelt diatribe about trusting in the world and believing in ourselves and how just a modicum of trust can create an abundance of happiness.

But then I read all that I had written and realized it came across as a load of crap. So I erased it and decided instead to type out this pretentious, grotesque piece of literary piffle just so that I can say for once in my life that I correctly used the word piffle in a sentence.

November 16, 2006

November 15, 2006

I Had A Dream...

I had kind of a weird dream last night. Maybe you can figure it out for me...

I was at a park which looked curiously like the park in Long Beach that hosts the CSULB Backwards Triathlon (one of the first triathlons I ever raced). In my dream I was competing in some half-Ironman distance national championship race. But it wasn't the 70.3 championships with all it's fanfare - it seemed more like a smaller, more modest regional national championship race.

I know, I know, Regional National Championship doesn't even make sense. I told you this was weird.

By the time the dream registered in my brain, I was completing my race registration and was told that there are "7 or 8" people in my age group and that I'm expected to come in "7th or 8th". That seemed fairly reasonable to me, understanding that all the people racing 1/2 IM at this level are much faster than me.

Next thing I know, I had apparently finished the race and was back at the registration area (curiously in the same clothes I started with and with not a drop of sweat or an ounce of tiredness in my body). I was at the same registration table checking on my finishing slot. "You came in 1st or 2nd," the race volunteer said as he started writing down my time. I looked at the paper as he wrote "6:5 " I don't know if I finished in 6:50, 6:59, or somewhere in between. I was curious, but it didn't seem to matter to much. It didn't even seem to register that this was more than an hour slower than my usual 1/2 IM time.

"What?" I repeated in a way that indicated one part disbelief and one part bad hearing.

"You came in 1st or 2nd," he said again as he handed the results to the Race Director.

And here's where it starts to get weird...

The Race Director was Arnold Schwarzenegger. So I'm walking through the park with Arnie and I keep saying "Does this mean I qualified?" followed by "Did I qualify?" All the while thinking that I've qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona due to this 1st or 2nd place finish.

"I don't know," Arnold replied. And when he spoke, he didn't have his regular, crazed German accent. He talked just like a regular Californian would, as if that's how we've always known him to speak. "We have to go ask Chris McCormack," he said.

"Does this mean I qualified? Did I qualify?" I repeated. "We need to find Maca," I threw in for good measure in a way that didn't seem as Rainman-like as it appears right here.

There we were, Schwarzenegger and I strolling down the park post-race, looking for Chris McCormack. As we walked I wondered if I finally got myself into Kona, by accident nonetheless.

Before I could even get excited about qualifying, I yelled... "Where's Maca!?!"

That's when I woke up.

November 14, 2006

Salvation And Savings And Misplaced Reason

I reached into my closet this morning to grab a pair of sneakers and suddenly realized how many flippin shoes I own. I'm no Imelda Marcos by any means, but there's definitely a few pairs too many for someone who has only two feet.

There is an assortment of Asics Gel Kayano's that seem to be multiplying on their own like some sort of unimaginative quip that involves furry little bunny rabbits and Viagra. In fact, there are so many shoes, they don't all fit nice and orderly on the floor or in the shoe organizer like they are supposed to. To make matters more frustrating, they are all of very similar design and are covered in just about the same amount of soil and grime so that when I reach for my running shoes it takes a bit of picking and plucking to determine which are the old ones and which the current. Suffice to say, I've grabbed two different shoes more than one time in my sordid and borderline-nerdy past.

I really need to throw away the older running shoes. Last week while I was putting together yet another bag of clothing for the Salvation Army, I picked up a retired pair of Asics and put them in the bag without even a single seconds thought. Yet as I reached back down into my closet to grab another pair of worn-out sneaks, I paused.

I stood up and stared at that bag of charity clothing with the sneakers laying innocently on top. An unexpected sadness coursed through my veins. A few minutes before the tears began to form, I slowly snatched the running shoes out of the bag and placed them back on my closet floor as I felt my anxiety wash away.

Those were the running shoes that got me through Ironman Lake Placid, I thought as I stared affectionately at the sole-worn sneakers. Those were the shoes that lived my dream. How could I just toss my dream so carelessly into a garbage bag? How could I possibly throw away those memories?

I've thought of getting the shoes bronzed with a little plaque made to commemorate my Ironman experience. Road Runner Sports used to offer that service, which I thought was a great idea when I first learned about it. Apparently I'm the only one who thought it was a great idea because they've since discontinued the offer and now the only thing I found through my google search was a baby shoe bronzing company, which doesn't really help me much.

When I told Catherine about the bronzing idea she looked at me like I was crazy.

You're crazy, she said.

So what are you going to do with the bronzed shoes? she continued. Put them on the fireside hearth that you don't have?

I thought about that for a second. I'll put them on my entertainment center, I said in as quick a rebuttal as I could procure. No wait, that's kind of geeky. Is that geeky? Yeah, that's geeky. Umm... I guess I'd keep it in my closet. Probably where the shoes are now. OK, you win. No bronzing.

She always seems to be the voice of reason. Which I suppose makes me the voice of....um... what's the opposite of reason?

Speaking of the opposite of reason, Catherine and I went out for a nice leisurely bike ride the other day. It was a relaxing jaunt up the California coast for about 35 miles. Mid-way through the ride my watch let out a great big beep. Catherine looked over at me. Time to take your endurolytes? she asked, knowing that I set a twenty minute timer on my watch to remind me about my nutritional needs during Ironman. I have yet to change the settings despite the fact that Ironman is nearly four months into the history books.

Nope, I said casually. Just ran out of memory on the watch.

As we continued riding, I thought about the 13 hours 22 minutes and 46 seconds of activity that is locked into my watch. This, of course, is the watch I wore during Ironman. It is the watch that holds my final Ironman time and all the miscellaneous information that comes along with it: heart rates and cadences, altitudes and average speeds. I could erase the information. It's not like I will forget it. Even if I did, there are enough miscellaneous pieces of paper in my pile of files that have my finishing time on it.

Truth be told, with the 13 hours locked into the watch, I have only a few hours of storage left to record new workouts. Eventually when I start my regular training again I will need more storage space to monitor my training activities. I will be forced to erase my Ironman time from the watch. I will be forced to erase my dreams.

How sad.
I suppose I could just buy another watch.

Maybe I'll get this one bronzed.

November 12, 2006

The Ice Pack And The Couch

I am laying on the couch as I write this. I am laying here with a big bag of ice on my calf. The ice is really cold, as ice tends to be - it is so cold that it hurt my leg for the first few minutes of impact. Which I suppose is ironic in some remote way since I put the ice on my calf because I was having calf pain in the first place. At this point, though, my calf is so numb I can't feel a darn thing anyway, so I suppose none of it matters.

When I stand up to bring the ice pack back to the kitchen and into the freezer, I know my leg will feel wierd. It will probably even feel like it hurts more than it did before. That's what ice does to me. I'm guessing it is because the cold contracts my muscles so it makes it more painful to walk. That sounds reasonable enough. Wait a minute, does cold contract muscles? I have no idea. It sounds good though, let's run with it.

I am smack dab in the middle of the off-season right now and so I like to think that this is an off-season injury that will get better by the time the regular season approaches and never show it's painful face again until the new season has been laid to rest. It all started with my slow four mile run last Sunday. I got a pain in my calf about 2 blocks from the finish, so I stopped and walked it in. Two days later, I went out for another slow morning run. It was less than a quarter mile before my calf decided to fight back. I stopped immediately and walked the two blocks back home.

Now it hurts to even walk. I can massage it a little, but it hurts to the touch. From the feel of it, I won't be running anytime soon. Say goodbye to the planned Turkey Trot. And I suppose I'll just be a spectator for the annual Christmas 10k run this year. I really want to do a Christmas morning run. I love Christmas morning runs. I sure hope I heal by then.

The good thing though is that I'm not as stressed about this injury as I get about injuries during the racing season. I suppose I should be more stressed about it to make sure I'm diligent in the healing process but, frankly, I more than happy just to sit on the couch, write, read and relax.

Better yet, perhaps I'll start my online christmas shopping a little early. So.... whattaya want?

November 09, 2006

My Cousin Edithe

My cousin Edithe died a few weeks ago. (Yes, Edithe with two E's. Old skool. That's how we do it in my family - that's the way we roll.)

You don't have to send your condolences...it's OK. The truth is, I didn't really know her. And when I say that I didn't really know her, I don't mean that she was overly introverted or insensitive to her relatives. I mean that I honestly didn't know who the hell she was. In fact, I didn't even know she was my cousin until her obituary appeared in the New York Times this past week. My father saw it and sent me an e-mail telling me she was my cousin.

I harumphed. I thought that was the best response I could elicit.

A feeling of excitement in discovering she was my cousin seemed a bit too insensitive considering the situation, what with her demise and all. On the other hand, indifference didn't seem quite appropriate either. After all, she is family and she did die. A good solid harumph seemed like an equitable middle ground: acknowledging while not being disrespectful, interested while not being contemptuous.

Edithe apparently had a big impact on the world. If one were to believe the New York Times, she had a great influence on the bedside manner and professional attitude of today's physicians and she changed the way doctors are licensed.

I'm going to guess that the last two doctors I went to for my annual physicals weren't big fans of my good cousin Edithe. They were misanthropic misdiagnosing twits with the bedside manners of an ADD sloth. I stopped going to each of them after one visit. My current doctor, on the other hand, is clearly respectful of my good ole cuz Edithe. He is very friendly, insightful, courteous and caring. He's been my doctor for about 8 years now.

Which leads me to the Shell gas station. (This is going to make a lot of sense in a few seconds. Stick with it, wouldya.)

This past Saturday, after Catherine and I finished our swim clinic we headed out to have a nice weekend dinner. With the gas tank a wee bit parched, we had to make a quick pitstop at the Shell station on the way to dinner. I pulled into the very crowded station to see that only one pump was currently available. I drove in front of the pump only to remember that my tank was on the other side of the car. Needless to say, I pulled the car out and turned it around. As I was backing the car into the pump area, a big white SUV pulled up behind me out of nowhere and jammed it's front end into the pump zone, not letting me back up. What the FUCK?!

I waited for him to move back because - clearly - I was already here and just turning the car around. Instead of moving back, he jammed his car forward like he was going to ram me out of the way. I couldn't believe this. I was ready to have a nice quiet evening with my woman, and here's a guy that's clearly got a jalapeno stuck up his ass and it's boiling his brain. I sat there in shock wondering if this guy was real while Catherine stuck her head out the window and looked quizzically at the seemingly insane gentleman.

I realized that I had two options. Option One was to get out of the car and start yelling and screaming at this guy, thereby raising my blood-pressure, boiling my anger and potentially ruining my evening, just so that I can use the pump before him. Option Two was to stay calm and drive the 50 feet across the street and get gas at the empty Chevron station (gas prices were the same at both locations). Life is too short for Option One, I told myself, and moved the car over to the Chevron.

I had a lovely night and didn't think about the self-consumed idiot in the SUV again until right now, reflecting on the sad and sudden demise of my dearly beloved cousin Edithe.

Edithe made rules for doctor's to obey so that only the best, most honest and most qualified were licensed to practice. Seems like a good thing for society. In fact, call me crazy, but shouldn't we all strive to be the best, most honest person we can be?

The sad reality is that we are all human, some with much kinder temperments than others. Rules help keep the bad people in line. But in a so-called free society such as ours, we don't make rules to ensure that we are nice to each other in everyday life, aside from the basic stuff like, you know, no shooting each other in the face. Being nice in regular life is not goverened, it has to happen organically. Unfortunately, too many times people go out of their way to be mean, just like my rambunctions, ingrate of a friend at the Shell station.

This thought process leads us directly to triathlon and one of the great things I have found in the sport. As we all know, triathlon is more than just a race, it is oftentimes a caring and supportive community. I've spent a bit of time this week reading all of the race reports from Ironman Florida and the numerous comments attached to each persons blog. The reports and comments are the same, jam-packed with camaraderie, fraternization, encouragement and enthusiasm. Even those that didn't make it to the finish line are still hopeful, contemplative and accepting of the gracious support being rained down on them.

We are a competitive group, us crazy triathletes. Yet somehow most of us manage to look beyond our competitive selfishness and provide support for our fellow athletes, especially the ones in need. I'd like to say that we're a model for other athletes, but we're not. If you're not involved in triathlon, you don't really get to see the community. Unless you participate in a race or spectate an Ironman, you don't know what it's like on the course. You would just think that we are masochistic fools.

So maybe we consider this whole kindness, camaraderie schtick as our little secret. We are secretly friendly, supportive and encouraging of other people. And maybe if we took that positive attitude and transposed it into our regular lives, perhaps that would make our little world a wee bit better and less stressful place. And maybe we wouldn't cut in front of each other at the Shell gas station.

It's not necessarily about changing the entire world, it's about changing our own individual attitudes when all the chemicals in our body drive us to strangle somebody. When everything in our power wants to ram the car in reverse and smash into the white SUV, we need to select Option Two.

I suppose if there's an important life lesson in triathlon, that might be it.
I only wish Edithe were here to see it all.

November 08, 2006

Triathawhat? Part Deux - or - Take My Bike...Please

A few moons ago I wrote a piece called Triathawhat? in which I blathered on about the fact that Triathlon hasn't gotten any respect in the past. You remember that, right? I brought to your attention that ABC, during their airing of the 1989 Ironman World Championships, actually spelled the word Triathlon incorrectly, adding an "a" and making it Triathalon. And that Microsoft Word has yet to include the word "triathlon" in their dictionary, so when you spell-check your document it has no friggin clue what the word even means. Is this ringing any bells? McFlyyyyy... is there anybody in there?!

But, I implied, there is hope. We are merely in the infancy stage of triathlon's growth and as more people start participating and more media starts covering the events, perhaps we won't be trod upon like a discarded McDonald's hot apple pie holder.

Well, never mind.

I take back that part about hope. If there is any hope remaining, it is just a fading match at the the far end of the Chunnel.

Yes, it's true, ABC finally figured out how to spell Triathlon and we can only assume that NBC's coverage of the 2006 Ironman World Championships will run through some sort of spell check before it makes it onto our televisions. But, alas, I was watching the coverage of Ironman Coeur d'Alene last weekend on Versus (formerly OLN) and just when we've finally trained the BC companies properly, now another network comes around and piddles on our carpet.

As far as I noticed, Versus spelled the name of the sport correctly. Which is nice. It was when they were interviewing pro-racer Sian Welch that the spelling went a bit kerfloowie. If you pay attention, you'll see they listed Sian's hometown as Enchinitas, California.

Not Encinitas.
Enchinitas.

I'll freely admit, I'm a stickler for typos. But the truth of the matter is that, aside from the frantic typing for the hearing impaired during live broadcasts, you don't see many typing errors on television shows. Sure, slightly misspelling the name of a town is not a crime, but this one kinda irks me.

First of all, Sian is a respected pro-racer who, for better or worse, gained increased notoriety as part of 1982's "Crawl Of The Century" in Kona and is the wife of perennial favorite, Greg Welch. So on that level, let's have a little bit of respect for her, please. Secondly, and more importantly, Southern California is the birthing place of triathlon. San Diego is the sports most active region. Encinitas is, arguabally, the epicenter of all things multi-sport. If you did a Superman-like fly around of the world and got us to spin back in time, you will see how the forest of triathlon was spawned by a seed in Encinitas. Spelling the name of the town incorrectly when interviewing Sian is like spelling Bronx incorrectly when interviewing Derek Jeter.

Truth be told, I wasn't going to mention anything about this. Really, I was just going to let it all fall by the wayside, knowing that eventually my blood would come down from it's boil and I could go on living my life as a normal human being. Then, of course, I read the newspaper.

Los Angeles is one of the cities making a bid for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games. The LA Times, being the obedient local paper, has daily updates on the city's progress towards planning for this bid. Today the paper featured a very large map with a detailed outline of all the locations that would house each of the numerous Olympic events. Here's what they said:

1. Mountain biking (Griffith Park)*
2. Soccer (Rose Bowl)
3. Equestrian (Santa Anita Park)
4. Volleyball (UCLA Pauley Pavilion)
5. Rhythmic gymnastics (Gersten Pavilion)
6. Track and field (L.A. Memorial Coliseum)
7. Weightlifting (Nokia Theater)
8. Boxing (USC Galen Center)
9. Artistic gymnastics (Staples Center)
10. Field hockey (East Los Angeles College)
11. White-water kayak (Raging Waters, San Dimas)*
12. Shooting (L.A. County Fairplex, Pomona)*
13. Modern pentathlon (L.A. County Fairplex, Pomona)*
14. Soccer (Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas)
15. Volleyball (The Forum)
16. Archery (Home Depot Center, Carson)
17. Tennis (Home Depot Center)
18. Track cycling (Home Depot Center)
19. Soccer (Home Depot Center)
20. Team handball (Pyramid of Long Beach)
21. Judo (Long Beach Arena)
22. Swimming (Long Beach Swim Complex)*
23. Beach volleyball (Long Beach Volleyball Complex)*
24. Fencing (Long Beach Convention Center)
25. Synchronized swimming (Long Beach Swim Complex)*
26. Water Polo (Long Beach Swim Complex)*
27. Taekwondo (Long Beach Convention Center)
28. Diving (Belmont Plaza Pool)*
29. Sailing (Long Beach Marina)
30. Rowing (Long Beach Marine Stadium)
31. Canoe/kayak (Long Beach Marine Stadium)
32. Basketball (Honda Center, Anaheim)
33. Table tennis (Anaheim Convention Center)
34. Wrestling (Anaheim Convention Center)
35. Basketball (Anaheim Arena)
36. Badminton (Bren Events Center, Irvine)
37. Equestrian three-day-event (San Juan Capistrano)
38. Soccer (Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego)

I've gotta admit, I kinda scratched my head at the suggestion of having the white-water kayaking events at Raging Waters Fun Park. I thought that was kinda like having the Mountain Biking events on Space Mountain at Disneyland. That said, I didn't even realize that Mountain Biking was an Olympic event in the first place. Same thing with Taekwondo and Team Handball - when did they hit the Olympic arena? And don't even get me started on Badminton or I may shuttlecock myself to death.

My point being, guess what's missing from the list? RIGHT! Triathlon. They've listed detailed venues for 38 sports, including aforementioned ridiculously non-Olympic level sports like Badminton and Team Handball, but have neglected to even mention triathlon. Not even an "oh, by the way" or a "sports still considering location". They just plum forgot about the sport entirely.

Here we are in Los Angeles, home to one of the largest triathlon clubs in the country and just a couple of months past another successful running of the Los Angeles Triathlon, which plays host to a whole busload of professional racers and Olympic hopefuls. But nooooooo, are we even part of the Olympic planning? It makes me sick - not literally, but definitely figuratively. Even symbolically. I'm figuratively and symbolically sick at the fact that nobody seems to care about triathlon. They treat us like chopped liver. And though I don't really know how chopped liver is treated, I can only imagine it isn't good.

Triathlon, it seems, is the Rodney Dangerfield of sports. No matter what we do, we just don't get no respect.

Take my bike... please.

November 05, 2006

Some Critical Post-Ironman Recovery Advice From An Idiot Who Didn't Follow It

I open my arms, raise my eyebrows, stretch my mouth from ear to ear and roar a hardy CONGRATULATIONS to all you Ironman Floridians. You did it. You got yourself to the starting line. I hear it was a pretty challenging day out there, so you may have even gotten yourself to the finish. Either way, you are an Ironman!! (...and I can only hope that they yelled those words for you when you crossed the finish line. "You Are an Ironman!!" They are very special words and a defining moment that provides closure to such an emotional accomplishment. Truth be told, they didn't say them for me when I crossed the finish line at Ironman USA. They didn't say them for Catherine either. I played the video over again and again and they definitely did not yell You Are An Ironman for either of us. Not even close. Not that I'm bitter or anything. I mean, I only dreamed of hearing those words for 15 years. No really, it's OK.)

Whether they said those words or not, you put in the training and gave it your best throughout the day. You are an Ironman and nobody can ever take that away from you. Go ahead, make that appointment for the tattoo.

So now that you have an extra 15-20 hours available in your week, whatcha gonna do? Eat? Probably. Sleep? I doubt it. Exercise? You'll most likely want to do that soon enough.

So let me do you a favor and give you some Post-Ironman Recovery advice. And take this from somebody that didn't follow this advice and didn't end up recovering until three long, grueling, painfully demeaning months after his Ironman. You don't want to do what I did for Ironman recovery. Which basically consisted of sitting around for a week or two and then going out on some slow runs and easy bike rides. But with the legs were feeling so strong, those easy bike rides quickly turned into uphill surges and all out sprints, and those slow runs turned into 8 milers with quarter mile pick-ups. Hell, I was an Ironman and I wanted everybody to see how fit I was.

It kinda backfired.
Don't be an idiot like me.

So let me give you the best Post-Ironman Recovery advice I can find, courtesy of UltraFit.com and Patrick McCrann (don't know him personally, but gotta give the props to the person who wrote this). (For the record, Catherine found this article a couple of months after we finished Ironman and we both wished we would've read it a lot sooner...)

Here goes... Take notes...

***************

Most folks emerge from the race relatively unscathed; some even feel good enough to train within a day or two! Despite how you feel, it's important to allow your body to completely recover in order to reap the full benefits of the race. Here's what happened to you on race day, how it happened and how you can ensure full recovery.

The vast majority of folks race an Ironman at an endurance pace (primarily Friel Zone 2) with minimal intensity. Combine this relatively lower intensity/effort with plenty of opportunities to eat and drink, and the body actually holds up pretty well. For most, the biggest challenge on race day is a mental, not a physiological, one. So the days after the race come and go, and you feel pretty good. If you have ever run a stand-alone marathon, you know what I mean when I say that the post-race effects of that "harder" running are much worse than those of the Ironman.

I recommend the following post-Ironman recovery protocols. In addition to the general outline below, athletes should consider a massage (or two) and a serious investment in a yoga or similar flexibility program for that first post-Ironman month.

Week One: As the initial days pass, you actually feel better. You are psyched about your Ironman finish and excited about the future. Maybe you even signed up for next year's race. Whatever is on your mind, chances are -- exercise isn't. And that's a good thing. Your biggest workout right now should be some quality walking with one or two very short swims.

Weeks Two and Three: This is the Honeymoon Phase, where you feel good enough to work out, but really shouldn't. If you actually push yourself here, you'll find that after 45 minutes to an hour, you simply run out of power. Your heart rate will drop and no amount of food or coffee will revive you. Exercise in this period should be no longer than an hour and should be done at a very light intensity. Overdoing it here can really set you back later in your year. Extended swims and light cycling should compose the majority of your program.

Week Four and Beyond: This is the Transition Phase. If you have been recovering well and have felt good enough to include some consistent aerobic activity, then you could be ready to transition back to your regular training. A key test to see if you have made the transition is a 90 to 120-minute ride with some intensity/intervals. If you are able to hold a solid effort/wattage on multiple intervals, and you are able to recover the next day with no minimal aftereffects, then you are back. Some lighter running can also be included at this time.

Managing your recovery post-Ironman is almost as critical as preparing for the event itself. Be sure to take the time and savor what you have accomplished...the pool and the roads will still be there when you are ready to make your comeback!