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!

November 02, 2006

28 Pieces Of Advice For IM Florida Racers

Ironman Florida is two days away. Wow.

I know that two-day-out feeling. I know what all you first time IM-ers are going through. The over-whelming palpitation of fear and excitement. The ferocious rumbling of anticipation and dread. I know that sensation in the pit of your stomach, wondering whether it is butterflies of amazement or tremblings of disaster. Oh, if there were even a way to know the difference.

I know that tomorrow you will be solemn. If you walk through the Ironman village (and do not walk through the village if there is no need to), you will wonder how you got there. Whether you did enough. Whether you are prepared.

You did.
You are.

Your first Ironman is a fantastic voyage. It is the defining crossroads where your biggest dreams meet your darkest nightmares. It is the one day where everything that is good and everything that is bad square off in the ultimate challenge. The classic battle of good and evil. White Spy vs Black Spy.

I have traveled down that road. I know how it feels.

And when you wake up on race morning, you will prepare yourself like you've done time and time before at all those triathlons in your past. There will be anticipation in the air, but it will be more relaxed than you think. And when you stand on the beach amidst the thousands of participants, the thousands of spectators, the hundreds of volunteers, the National Anthem being sung over the loudspeaker, you will look out into the Gulf of Mexico and realize you are standing on the precipice of your future. Your new life hangs before you.

The starting gun will go off. And it will be surreal.
And then you will begin to race your race, the race you've been preparing for all of these months. And you will do it right - you will race your race the way you want to race. You will do it. Because that's what you've been preparing for. And that's what you're ready for.

The hard part is done. Trust me on that one. You don't believe me now, but you will when you are standing on the other side of the finish line. The Ironman is a celebration of what you've already done. It is a celebration of who you've become.

I want to give you advice, simply because I'm drawn to it. Because it helped me. There are 28 pieces of advice I want to impart on you...

First, there are 14 random things I'd tell first time Ironman racers.
And then there are 11 things Ironman racers will tell you before your first race all of which seem true now that I've crossed to the other side.

But all of this boils down to what are arguably the three most important things that got me through my first Ironman. These are them...

1. SLOW and EASY.
Go slower than you think you should. Lots of people will pass you in the first 125 miles of the race. But if you take it slow and steady, maintain a consistent pace, you will be smiling through the last 15 miles and feeling strong while those others are cramped, tired and struggling to walk as they stand crying by the side of the road.

2. EAT and DRINK
You've done the work already. Your body is ready; you are in shape. The only thing standing between you and the finish line is consistent nutrition. Know how much you need to consume each hour, and do it. Nutrition will be your best friend or your worst enemy. It's your choice. Make it your friend.

3. STAY POSITIVE
This is arguably the most important of the three. You will go through a rollercoaster of emotions throughout race day. Through it all, stay positive. In the worst of times, stay positive. When your body is tired, your legs unable to move another step, don't give up. When you get to mile 130 and every atom in your body wants to stop. Don't. Let your mind take you to the finish line. Stay positive and you will get there. The mind controls the body, don't let your body control your mind. Stay positive, and you will be an Ironman with a smile.

I wish nothing but the best of luck and fun to all of you IM Floridians, especially the first timers.
I'll see you on the other side!

J.