Sunday, December 30, 2007

Jill in ALASKA...

If you ever think you that it's too cold to go for a bike ride, you should check this site out - this girl is amazing!

Back from MA

What a trip! I am back in CA after 6 days (the perfect amount of time) in Massachusetts with my family friends. I have already acclimated back to CA life by a short surfing stint this afternoon :)

Some highlights of the week include:

My trip back home was interesting, which you can read about here. The short summary is that we had an unexpected 4 hour layover in Omaha Nebraska due to a BOMB THREAT against our plane. THAT was definitely unexpected! We eventually landed in Hartford at a brutal 4:45 in the morning. This was the start of a week where I never really got in a sleeping schedule (going to bed at 6am another morning didn't help either!)

I also watched a few episodes from the Sundance Iconoclasts Series. Basically, Sundance takes 2 well known people (I don't like the celebrity term they use) who on the outside don't seem to have anything in common, but once you see them interact, it's quite interesting. I have only seen the Dave Chappelle/Maya Angelou and Laird Hamilton/Eddie Vedder episodes, and although there is a small cheese factor involved, they were quite insightful and interesting. Worth the $2/episode from iTunes.

The triathlete in me for christmas received not one, but TWO, pairs of my fav running shoes - Asics Gel Cumulus VIII. I am quite fortunate for this luxury, and actually think I may dedicate one shoe to racing, and the other for training (after my current GC VIII starts hitting its limit on mileage).

Needless to say, I of course had to take the shoes out for a run. Knowing that I was gonna hafta get out of the house at one point during the week, I packed some warm running clothes. I also knew that local residents of a small new england of east longmeadow would be shocked to see someone running in running tights in 40 degree weather! Well, on my 6 mile jaunt through town, I actually had people slowing down to look at me and most likely wonder what the hell I was doing! And yes, that is snow on the ground! It is also safe to assume that given the temperature, I was moving along at a brisk pace.

The highlight of the week was definitely seeing the 2 new puppies that my dad recently got: Monty, and Blake. They are a lab/something mix (the something is obviously unknown), and the coolest, most well behaved dogs I have ever come across.

I also picked up a mild Sudoku addiction on my sister's Nintendo DS.

The rest of the week was spent relaxing, spending time with the fam, talking up the china study (there were 2 lucky recipients of that book in my family this year), and simply enjoying time off from everything.

The flight back to CA was less eventful than the trip to MA, but it was certainly interesting. Let's just say San Diego is a small town :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas!!

I am heading home to MA soon (under 1+ foot of snow these days) , so I wanted to post a Merry Christmas wish and video from the best band on the planet - The Killers. The video and song are a little weird, but it makes me smile!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2007


Most people bag on LA (including myself), but I have never bagged on the great biking up there!

I went up to Glendale to visit my IMLP compatriot, Mr. Dan Altobello, to do some serious riding. On saturday, we left his place in g-dale, and took off towards the Mt. Wilson Observatory via angeles crest trail.

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It was pretty much straight up from the get go. We finished off the ride by doing some laps around the rose bowl.

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After that, we refueled at a fantastic vegetarianism restaurant aptly named Fatty's. And to think there's no such thing as sarcasm in socal!

Sunday was the day. We headed on over to the Kanan Dume trail, which, and I quote "is the best ride in the Santa Monicas". This ride absolutely rocks. 2 years ago, I rode the west end of it, and it was a blast. Sunday, we road the east end, and somehow, I think it was better than I remembered. I was actually hootin, hollering, yelling during some of the downhill single track sections it was so much fun. It was fantastic! Dan will actually be moving 3 miles from the trailhead in a few weeks, so I am looking forward to biking the whole trail sometime soon.

Needless to say, this weekend confirmed again that mountain biking is guaranteed to kick my ass, just about every time!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Wait, I've signed up for what?

I think its all starting to dawn on me that I signed up for an Ironman.

As I have been slowly getting the engine going since the turkey trot, I have spent a little bit of time looking inside. Looking inside to wonder why someone would do something like this - something so consuming.

Some people pick up triathlon for a new challenge, or a hobby - including myself. But to sign up for an Ironman - thats big time. That's not like signing up for your local sprint. This is 140.6 miles. In it's simplest form, it's roughly 11-12 (or most likely more) hours of continuous exercise. When was the last time you did anything for 11-12 hours? And no, I don't mean sleep off a long night of boozing either.

I had a conversation with my good friend Bassam the other night, and we laughed about his theory of humans being a bored species. I mean seriously, spending how much time and money to do an Ironman? Are we that bored with our lives? We joked that if you could tell what we do now to a human from a couple hundred years ago, or to a animal like a Lion, each would look at you and be like "What the hell are you doing? 140.6 mile triathlon? You're an idiot!". I don't think either would receive an argument back from someone training for an Ironman.

Joking aside though, I think signing up for this "race" really made me look inside at WHY I would do such a thing (or other things for that matter). We all have our reasons for doing things, but to voluntarily sign yourself up for something that puts you completely out of your comfort zone and consumes you so much requires a little bit more. It doesn't matter what those reasons are - as long as they are important to you. I know my reasons and motivations for doing IMLP, which I will share with you over the season, but until then, it's safe to say that the "Journey" has started...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

What's different this season?

During that thing called off season that most people don't do enough of, I like to take time and reflect on the past season, and drum up some ideas on what I can do the next season to try to get "better". These are the things that will be different this season:

Overall Diet
Inspired by a lengthy conversation with Jeff, and an eye opening book named "The china study", I have made significant changes to my diet. First and foremost, my meat intake has decreased significantly. Where a lot of people eat meat 2-3 times a day, I have decreased my meat intake to about 2-3 times per week (if that). Secondly, I started eating a lot more fruits and vegetables. Finally, I am simply eating less. This will probably change over the course of the season once the overall volume kicks up, but looking back - I was eating a little too much last season. Having said all that, changing my diet about 3 months ago has me starting this season a full 10lbs lighter than last season - even after only doing a handful of workouts during the off season.

I still anticipate doing yoga once a week (hey, its free at my work), but in addition to that, I plan on 15-20 minutes of stretching 5 times a week. I primarily want to focus on my hips and hip flexors, and also opening up my shoulders quite a bit. Why these in particular? Your hip flexors are support muscles for lifting your leg when running. So, the stronger they become - the least likely they will fatigue (which hopefully will help me during the back half of the marathon at IMLP).

My main purpose for all this stretching is to keep it somewhat limber, since my muscles have a tendency to get tight during the course of the season. I also believe this helps in injury prevention, even if there aren't any scientific studies that support this. You can also bet that the foam roller will be in effect for the next 8 months.

Bike positioning

Even though I was fit on my bike by 3 different people last year, something never felt 100% right. Based on my slowtwitch lurkings and general curiosity, I decided to try riding steep - the way Dan Empfield says tri bikes should be ridden. This, in effect, means pushing my saddle farther forward (as my coworker called it - "The attack angle of your arse"), and maybe decreasing the amount of spacers under my stem. Well, I moved my saddle forward about 3 cm's (pretty much all the way to the stop tick on the rails) in the already flipped forward seat post position, and took out one small spacer from underneath my stem so that I only have one big one left underneath.

The results have been fantastic. Although I still think there are some tweaks to be made to the cockpit, I feel significantly more powerful on the bike - both in the high intensity efforts, and easy base building rides. I did my 20K TT last week in this new position, and I think this was part of the reason why it went so went well.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Triathlon Season #3 has commenced!

Triathlon season #3 is underway! This weekend was the first weekend of training for my third season of triathlon, and the focus is this season is to toe the start line and ultimately finish Ironman Lake Placid on 7/20/08. I am doing this insane triathlon as a deal with my good friend (and inspiration), Jeff Hartnett. As you probably know, Jeff was diagnosed with non-hodgkins Lymphoma back in January 2005, and I told him that once he got better, we would do an Ironman together one day. Well, after not one, but TWO battles with cancer, Jeff is embarking on the journey that is Ironman with a cast of characters that includes myself (tri geek), Dan Altobello (who got me into endurance sports), Erik Lake (xterra stud), Jeff's brother Mike (IMLP veteran), and Kelly Bergkessel (one really fast irongirl).

I did 2 "see where I'm at" workouts this weekend - The thanksgiving day turkey trot 5K (21:58), and a 20K TT (32:54, 22.57 mph). Overall, I was happy with the times, and the amount in which they both HURT is still seared into my head :) As most endurance athletes know, speed is the first thing to go in the off season, and I can most certainly confirm that. I also snuck in a long(ish) ride on saturday morning, and an ocean swim on sunday morning after the TT.

Well, I can say that my focus isn't training just yet, I am just easing into it right now - preparing my body for what is to come. My next posts will include my training strategy, and what's different this year compared to last. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Giving the gift of life

The San Diego Blood Bank comes to ViaSat (where I work) 2x/year, and I typically give blood during those times. 2 years ago I learned how giving blood can affect physical performance while working since really it is anti-doping (TdF rides - take note). But, other than the immediate physical limitations, I feel great afterwards. I almost feel a bit cleansed. Maybe it's a mental thing, maybe it's physical, maybe it's both. But regardless, I feel great afterwards!

I also learned of some partnerships that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has developed. These partnerships allow LLS to get a certain % of the total cost of a purchase, with NO cost to the consumer. So, if you purchase anything on or book travel on, use the following links!

Expedia Travel:

Monday, October 29, 2007

SOMA Triathlon - Tempe, AZ

After a tough week of wildfires in San Diego, I made the last minute decision (at about 9pm Friday night) to head to Tempe, AZ this weekend with Marty and Jay to watch Jay do the SOMA 1/2 Iron Triathlon. Jay was using this as a course preview for IMAZ and to get used to racing at a longer distance.

Since I wasn't racing, that meant that I was resident photographer. Here are some pics I took...

Race Morning Pre-Swim Start

Water Level Action Capture

By far, my favorite picture (oh, it's someone nearing the finish of the swim)

Rounding the final buoy

Some dude who looked fast

Jay on his bike

Good for this guy for doing a triathlon!


The inevitable peloton of a 2 race (there was an olympic tri too) on a 3 loop bike course:

a really cool yellow bike

Looking through a street scene

Someone really happy to be almost done with the bike

Jay, halfway through his run (walk), saying "F%&k it, I am jumping in the water to cool off before tackling the second half of the run (walk)" Gurujan Dourson would be so proud

A "race official" to check and see if Jay was OK

Stretch it out Jay


All pics

Big ups to Jay for finishing his first half ironman!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Random thoughts on the off season so far and IMHI.

I think I am officially recovered from the triathlon season, both mentally and physically, but that doesn't mean I am ready to get back into training full swing just yet.

After my first season, I definitely enjoyed a "f$%k training, I am gonna eat and drink whatever I want, whenever I want, and working out is just simply going to take a back seat." I was a little tired after my first season, and certainly enjoyed doing nothing but surfing, not being stressed at work, and getting drunk and eating dirty buffalo wings on random wednesday nights. By the time lavaman started up, I gained about 5-10 lbs (which meant my moobs were accentuated, which jay and paul are always a fan of), and was ready to get things back in order.

Things have a tendency to change from one year to the next.

Since Vineman, I have been working my ass off, stressing quite a bit, haven't got drunk since who knows (although, I have been drinking more often recently, just a lot less per sitting - and it doesn't take nearly as much as it used to), barely eat meat, and I have actually lost 7-8 lbs since the season ended.

The good news is my job is in much better alignment with career aspirations - just ramping up to the workload is taking some time. My body is also fully recovering - an aspect most athletes lose sight of. Realistically, resting is the best thing to get stronger - so let's just say I am gonna milk that statement for all it's worth! :)

After Vineman, I thought about continuing and doing LA Tri. But one weekend, a bunch of friends and I went camping up in Sequoia, and that was a pretty significant weekend of change for me. First, I realized that I just didn't want to do LA Tri - mainly because I was tired from training, and because I wanted to focus on work. I was promoted back in the spring, and things were started to kick into overdrive. Second, I had a long conversation with Jeff about nutrition, diet, cancer, health, the american diet, and the china study. Our conversation pretty much changed my perspective on food intake - hence the weight loss. I am certainly not full vegetarian or vegan, but animal products are used very sparingly (asking me to give up cheese is like asking Macca to give up his IM title he won on saturday!).

Speaking of, I did happen to watch the majority of the Ironman on the 'net on saturday (on my girlfriends birthday no less - I dont know how I pulled that off!!!!), and def gotta give props to Macca, and especially to Craig Alexander. I always thought Macca was gonna take it this year, but I don't think Craig Alexander got the props he deserved. I have always been a Crowie fan - he is the consummate professional - shows up on race day, doesn't talk trash or get caught up in the media/hype, and rips the field apart as if they didn't exist. This was his second IM ever, and first time in HI. Although he can rip 70.3's in his sleep now, he put on an absolute great race on the big show. Good on ya mate!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Life can be lived without a car!

I got the Max back, and here is the three week tally from living life without a car (yes, it can be done!!!):

Home to Work (one way): 14 miles

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  • 2 days: Amount of time it took me to get used to riding my road bike after riding a tri bike for 8 months
  • 2 people who offered to let me use an extra car they have that is not in use
  • 2 people who I said "thank you very much, but I am gonna tough it out" to
  • 4 days worked from home
  • 9 days doing the full round trip
  • 2 days doing one way (took train or got a ride for the other way)
  • 168 miles ridden
  • 3 pounds of body weight lost (apx)
  • 1.5: # of times almost being hit by a car (1 was really close, another was kinda close)
  • $135 saved in gas (apx)
  • 3 flat tires (consecutive days)
  • 2 chunks of embedded glass in my tire
  • 9 sunsets viewed from my bike overlooking the pacific
  • 2 sunrises viewed from my bike
  • 2 cold mornings
  • 1 morning where I actually wore gloves
  • 4 mornings of off shores winds that made for a cold right side of my face, but if there was more surf, would have been a near perfect morning for surfing
  • 3 people who complimented me on my bike (1 while driving)
  • 3 days of sore "sit bones" getting used to the Selle SMP saddle
  • 1 evening where I actually ran afterwards to turn the commute into a full out brick session
  • 1 morning where an old guy on a MTB sucked wheel for apx 6 miles and could actually hang
  • 1 morning where myself and other riders rode 4 deep and cranked up the coast
  • 7 afternoons of riding slower in the stretch between Swami's and Cardiff to look at the hot chics running
  • 3 people at work who thought I was crazy for riding my bike to/from work everyday
  • 1 who still talks about it
  • 1 night where I accepted a ride home so that we could go drink beer and eat tacos
  • 1 sighting of Michellie Jones training for Ironman Kona
  • 0 things left in my cabinet and fridge from barely going grocery shopping!

Monday, October 01, 2007

One Less Car

There is going to be one less car on the road between now and Oct. 12th. I was in a car accident on Friday, Sept 21st while traveling to work in the morning. The good news is that I am fine. The Max is a little banged up, and is in the shop for repairs. I thought I had car renter's insurance on my policy, but apparently I don't. I do have a job that requires me to be there everyday, so I am now relegated to either taking the train and/or riding my bike to/from work everyday.

Overall, it's kinda nice! It's a little bit of a rough start to be on a bike saddle 20 minutes after waking up in the morning, but it's nice riding with the sunrise, and also riding home along the coast at sunset. I think that once I get my car back, I am still gonna ride my bike to/from work 1x/week until it starts getting pretty cold out.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Cross Training!

I love cross training!

Well, hmmm, cross training, anyways, is a term that triathlete's use to say they did workouts that can benefit their triathlon training. Seeing as though I am not training for a triathlon anymore...

I love mountain biking and orienteering!

Last weekend, I went up to the small town of Downieville, CA. Where is Downieville you ask?

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2 hours northeast of sac-town, and 1 hour northwest of lake tahoe. Downieville used to be a mining town, but now is a town that has 4 places of business (gas station, general store, and 2 others), tons of camping spots, and never ending mountain bike trails! So, the town exists for one reason: mountain biking! I rolled up w/ Dan, and we met up with Jeff and his (nationally ranked) Berkeley Mountain Bike team. It was a great time, but I definitely learned that it can be challenging descending ~6000ft in elevation on a hard tail mountain bike. It pretty much defined a full body workout - my shoulders are triceps were still a little sore 4 days after riding. Damn.

This weekend, I did an orienteering event in Balboa park with the San Diego Orienteering club. Orienteering events are always boatloads of fun (cheap too!). It definitely helped knowing the park as I was able to easily get to each of the points without much navigational issues. However, technology deceived me today. It looks like the SDO club caught up with the rest of the world and decided to buy electronic recorders at each of the check points. You basically swipe your electronic fob against each of the sensors, you hear a beep, which records that you were indeed there, and then you move onto the next one. Well, I thought I had all them covered, but at the finish when they downloaded all the data - apparently #2 (out of 12) was missing, so I got a DNF. Major bummer - especially since I would have come in second place in the individual medium course!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Off Season!!!!

I recently just started training for ... nothing!

It's kinda nice honestly. I am a major abundance of free time. I actually see my girlfriend more than every once in a while, I am not constantly eating (well, kind of), I am able to focus on work quite a bit more (which is a good thing), and I am never worrying about if I got in a specific workout for the week in.

My "Off season" will consist of some "cross training" in the form of lots of yoga (for flexibility and core strength), strengthening my hip flexors, some light weight workouts (maintain some strength), quite a bit of volleyball, a fair amount of surfing, as much camping as I can fit in, and a very generous amount of laziness, and probably having a beer or two or...

The justification is easy since taking time off helps you come back stronger, right? :)

It's definitely time to focus on some other goals I have lined up for this fall, and early winter. The blog will get updated from time to time, but nothing like it was leading up to lavaman and vineman.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


That's my confirmation number for signing up for Ironman Lake Placid 2008!

Officially, that's my next race. I have decided not to do LA Tri this september, but I still may sign up for Mission Bay Tri as a fun race - with the emphasis on "fun" - can't disclose too many details yet :)

But back to the big news, I have signed up for the Ironman Journey.

A few years ago, when Jeff Hartnett was battling his lymphoma for the first time, I made a deal with him that if he got better, that we'd do an Ironman together. Well, Jeff is certainly well on his way to recovery, and I needed to hold up my end of the bargain. Jeff has wanted to do this race for some time now since he is from the upstate new york region. Myself, I have plenty of family and friends from the northeast that I'd really like to see come up and witness the race. A "race" - whatever I can consider "racing" a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. I think it's more of an "event" than a "race", but those are just opinionated formalities anyways!

I haven't really sorted my thoughts about this just yet, but I know it's gonna be an incredible. From the training to the event, it's going to be a journey - that's for sure. Not to mention that there is about 8 or so of us that are doing it (we are all friends with Jeff, but don't all know one another) from all over the country, so it will be cool to keep tabs with everyone during their training. The wheels are already in motion to have a "training camp" weekend in San Diego. Hey, if you are gonna live in the best year round climate for training, you might as well host a weekend with a bunch of people who you are going to do the race with.

Projected start of IMLP training: 1/1/08

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Solana Beach Tri

I am a little late in posting these since the Solana Beach World Championship sprint Tri was the weekend after Vineman, but better late than never right!?

The 400m swim

Luke Walton, a la eye of the tiger, enjoying the brutal ascent from the swim finish...

Mikey V being shy for the camera...

Ryan Levinson...

Onto the bike...

Mike Kocin, a co-worker, and a man double my age who could doubly kick my butt in any race...

Breakaway Coaches...

Madd Marty finishing the bike and about to blaze through transition...

Kassie, who obviously has taste in the color of bike she chose, about ready to take over some poor soul on a MTB...

This next section is a special section devoted to Dave Wilcox. Dave was one of our assistant coaches of lavaman, a 5x Ironman Triathlete and he was doing his first sprint of his triathlon life. Him and I always seem to give each other shit often, so without further adieu...

Dave, coming out of the swim, proving that Ironman triathletes can indeed take off their wetsuits by themselves without the help of peelers...

Dave, obviously drafting... (side note, I actually yelled at Dave to stop drafting when he passed me, and the guy who Dave was drafted off of yelled "YEAH!" in agreement. It was by far the best part of the race).

Dave, your seat is too high...

Wilcox again, drafting, again (while getting heckled from Paul and I)...

(in Dave's defense, its a 2 loop 9 mile bike course that had 1000+ triathletes signed up. Drafting was inevitable)

and Dave, enjoying the full throttle/red line/go go go 5K run!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Double Peak Drive

I brought my bike into work today so that I could sneak in a hard ride during lunch hour. Rather than doing the usual ride to oceanside pier and back, I sent an email to the biking group to see if anyone wanted to do a ride, preferably with hills. One soul, Doug Poorman, a seasoned athlete, responded that he'd ride with me, and that we would do the double peak via el fuerte loop.

We started our ride, and Doug asked me with a shit eatin' grin if I had ever done this ride. I informed him that I hadn't, and his shit eatin grin just got a little bit bigger. We made our way down down into San Elijo Hills town center, passed through town, and started out ascent up San Elijo Rd north. I could see up ahead that there was nothing but ascending to be had.

My curiosity peaked (no pun). I wondered what Doug had in store for me. So far, I was comparing the hill to Torrey Pines. As we continued, the hill started to seem longer than Torrey Pines, and started to get a little bit steeper. Not as steep as the inside of TP, but enough to get your attention. Up and up we went. We finally got to a point where I said to Doug "I think I know which way we are gonna go." I figured it out by basically looking up.

Ask for hills, and you get hills.

We made our turn and the grade seemed to double. It was probably into the double digits by now. I wasn't out of the saddle ... yet. We made our way around another turn, and the grade kept on increasing. I thought I could see the top, but that took the focus from what was right in front of me. I started climbing out of the saddle. My speed dropped considerably. My ears actually popped at one point. I looked down, and I was moving at 4.4mph in my easiest gear at 95% max HR.

This is when I knew the climb was epic.

After we summited, we enjoyed a laugh or two about the climb, and I must say, the view from on top of Double Peak Drive was comparable to the view on top of Iron Mountain - absolutely beautiful. 360 degree view of North County. Obviously, the view wasn't the only similarity to Iron Mountain, the workload getting was just about the same as well.

It was one of those climbs/workouts that as soon as I got back to my desk, the first thing I did was email a bunch of people I thought would be interested in this climb, and you said "YOU NEED TO DO THIS!"

Stats for "The climb"
* 900+ ft in elevation gain over 2.5 miles
* 500ft in elevation gain in 1.1 miles.

Gotta love "lunch" hour!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Perfect Food: Bagels

I love Bagels.

I eat one almost everyday. I have been eating a bagel nearly everyday for at least the past year, if not more.

They are, in essence, the perfect food. Let me explain...

You can put cream cheese on it and have it for breakfast. It is also the ultimate sidekick to a cup of coffee.

You can put lunch meat on it and have it as a lunch sandwich, with quite a bit more flavor than just bread.

Throw some peanut butter and honey on it, and you have one hell of a power snack.

You could even make a Pizza Bagel for dinner!
Not to mention, it is packed with carbs, has a generous amount of sodium and protein, with a sprinkle of fat. Basically, the ultimate food for triathletes. I mean, seriously, there really isn't a more versatile food out there.

Even Jaybuddy wrote an article on the Bagel Vs. The Donut (guess who won!)

I have approached the point in which I am getting sick of eating the same types of bagels that I have buying for the past year or so. I felt that I needed help - not because I am addicted (that is debatable), but because I need recommendations for new venues to buy good bagels.

Is there a better group of people to consult with than the Triathlon Club of San Diego? I posted the question on our yahoo group site and within minutes, the responses flowed in.
  • One person started her response with: "OMG, someone who feels the same way about bagels as I do!!!"
  • Another signed his response: "Cheers from the bagel fans"
  • 2 people used the term "The bomb!" to describe their recommendation
  • One hungry fellow stated the following after his recommendation: "i think im gonna go get some now because they sound delicious"
  • Another responder finished with signing: "Powered by Bagels"
  • Another fellow bagel fanatic started her response: "WOW, LOVE THIS BAGEL DISCUSSION!"
  • One respndent had excellent use of the word "versatile" in her description of a sesame seed bagel, adding: "getting hungry just thinking about it!" and closed with a friendly reminder: "Remember, they are bagels, you can't really lose!". This person and I are obviously on the same page!
  • One even educated me on the "complex chemical mix that is always changing" and how to prevent staleness of bagels.

Another key response was to purchase bagels from a bagel shop, put them in a freezer bag, and freeze them. This will help prevent the staleness, and when I am ready to have one, all I have to do is put it in the toaster, and its almost as good as fresh. One gentleman noted: "We buy them by the dozen and freeze what we cannot force down instantly".

These are obviously my type of people!

I was also provided with numerous places to purchase these morsels of heaven.

  • Garden State Bagels in Encinitas (El Camino and Encinitas Blvd)
  • (San Diego, Ramona and San Marcos)
  • Einstein Bagels was a very popular response, and their bagels can even be purchased at Costco
  • Trader Joe's Sprouted Wheat Bagels
  • A strong recommendation for Bruegger's since their bagels are made from scratch on site (apparently einstein's uses frozen dough)
  • "Top of the Bagel", which is located in Solana Beach and Carlsbad.
  • Big City Bagels in Hillcrest - (A phenomenal daily sale: 13 bagels and 2 tubs of cream cheese for $9.95. I think that is really tough to beat!)

There you have it - straight from the most reliable sources in San Diego!

Thank you all for your responses, and your inspiration to blog about bagels!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Vineman 70.3 Race Report

Woof. What a race.

1.2 Mile Swim, 56 Mile Bike, 13.1 Mile Run. 70.3 Miles.

5 Hours 29 Minutes 32 Seconds

Here's the splits:

Swim: 36:13 (A little slower than I'd like, but I think the time is incorrect)
Bike: 2:45:22 [20+mph] (A little faster than I'd like, even w/ a flat!)
Run: 2:03:25 [9:24 min/mi pace] (A bit slower than I'd like)

Total Time: I wanted a sub 5:30, so overall, I was happy!

I woke up sans alarm at 4:30am, and was ready to go within minutes. For some unknown reason, even after only 5 hours of sleep, and after my second night of camping, I had major adrenaline, and I was pumped. Alana, Nelson, Katie and fellow Vinemen Paul Jesse, Damian Esparza and Matt ?? were staying at Inn at the willows, which happened to be .5 miles from the race start, which made for a very short commute to the transition area. Even though I would have loved a bed to sleep in, staying this close to the race can't be beat! Paul and I made our way down to TA at abotu 6:05, with our swim wave starting at 6:54am.

The weather conditions were great in the low/mid 60's with fog surrounding the area. Coupled with redwood trees on both sides of the russian river, it made for a great swim start!


The water was as calm as can be for the swim start. No butterflies or nerves or anything, which is always nice since this is when triathletes usually start getting nervous. Honestly, the swim start is so beautiful, its one of those "Man am I lucky to be here or what" type of mentalities. After a brief warm up and mental clarity, the gun went off, and the M29 and under were on our way. Fortunately, I didn't experience any of the human blender from San Diego International, and had no traffic issues getting through the mass of people.

This was the view from shore:

and from up above (from a later swim wave):

The swim wasn't particularly challenging, except for the distance. I personally don't like long swims, but I did get over really quickly. One very funny thing to note about the swim is at one point I actually did swam into a bush.

Yes, a bush.

I was swimming a little too close to shore, and when I went to take a stroke, I caught the branch of a low hanging bush. I laughed it off, looked up, and realized that the guy in front of did the same exact thing! One thing I know I need to work on (am I still saying this) is swimming in a straight line. The swim course is 1900m, but I know I did 2000m (+?)!

This is me charging the swim exit and happy to be out of the water!

What a convoluted mess. The bike racks were very close to one another, and there was only room for one person in the row going in or out. Fortunately, my bike was right near an exit, so I had minimal problems getting out, although Paul Jesse did have some issues w/ his bike, and nearly took out an entire rack. The greatest part is that he was called out by the announcer at the time: "Here's 454, Paul Jesse, who can prove that if you can't get your bike out safely, you might as well take out the entire rack!"

The Vineman website says "The bike course is simply a great course", and I can confirm that. It was 56 miles of beauty going through the rolling hills and flats of Sonoma County's wine country, passing numerous vineyards, with great views of the hills in the distance.

Right around the 10 mile marker, as I was going up a hill, a small group of cyclists formed while doing the ascent. I was quick to realize that it was turning into an 8 person draft pack, and saw up ahead that it was going to be flat, which meant that people were most likely going to continue drafting. As we crested, I started to hear a motorcycle engine from behind me. Realizing it was probably a race official scouring the course for people drafting, I quickly backed off from the pack. As the motorcycle passed it, I realized that the guy on the back seat was my TNT Coach GURUJAN DOURSON, and I also realized that he was back to his "penalty dourson" ways. I opted not to say Hi to him to avoid any conflicts with preferential treatment. About a minute later, he pulled up along side of a woman, held out a red card, and started lecturing her about drafting.

Fast Forward to the morning after the race for a second.

A bunch of us from the campsite got up and strolled into town to get some breakfast, and low and behold, Gurujan and Ali were there. As we were exchanging stories from the race, I mentioned that I was right behind him when he gave the drafting penalty, and then Gurujan started into one his stories.

He said that as he was coming up to the pack, he saw this one guy on a bike that was really pushing the limits of drafting distances and times. He said that his person was pushing him to limit of "Referree Rage" (which, in true Gurujan fashion, gave a detailed shpeel on "ref rage"), and because this person must have either really knew the rules of drafting, was coached really well, or was really lucky, and it was driving him nuts!

Then Gurujan goes "I pulled up along side him and IT WAS YOU DENNER!"

Needless to say, the entire group bursted out into laughter!

Ok, back to the race.

The bike didn't start off to well for the first hour or so. I had some minor to major lower back discomfort that I never had before. It was starting to stress me out to the point where I wondered if I was even going to be able to finish the bike. I took some additional salt tabs, and gave my back a really good stretch on a downhill, and thankfully that helped me out quite a bit.

The ride between mile 15 and 45 went really well. It was the flatter portion of the course, and I felt really good, and started to pick up the pace. The beautiful scenery also helped w/ the motivation. I was moving along at a pretty fast clip, and finally caught Paul Jesse right at about the halfway point. He passed me again about 5 miles later, and mentioned that he thought he just got his first drafting penalty. All the sudden he slowed down immediately. I quickly grew frustrated with him and yelled out "if you're gonna pass me, pass me Jesse!" He wasn't picking it up, so I got out of the saddle, and hammered past him. Shortly after I passed him, who else but Gurujan passed me again on the motorcycle and says "Great pass on him Denner!". Of course that made me feel extra good since Gurujan coached both Paul and I :)

I started to realize at about 2:15 into the bike that I was probably pushing the pace a little too hard. It was hard for me to slow down since I did feel great. Everything felt dialed in, but I had this one thing in the back of my hand saying that I had probably gone to hard.

Then mile 54 hit. We were crossing a bridge over the 101, and the road quality was pretty bad. Right as I crossed the bridge, I heard "PPPPPPPSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

uh oh. I had a flat.

I had a flat on a tubular tire. On Marty Taylor's 808R tubular tire.

Unforuntately, I don't know how to change tubular tires (Dave Wilcox - you are a bad omen).

I quickly pulled over, got off the course, and inspected. Even though Marty's tire had the Tufo sealant in it, there was two gnarly holes in the tire, and there was no way that the sealant could have fixed those things. I started developing the "Oh Crap what do I do?" phase. Paul passed me, asked what happened, and then yelled that I should ride it in. I decided that 2 miles out, it would be easier to just ride it in without having to change it, so I did just that. So, in order to keep weight off the rear wheel so I wouldn't damage the rim, I pedaled out of the saddle for the last 2 miles. Let me tell you, this was not fun. Although there was one quite funny thing about it: I actually passed some guy with my flat!!!! Unfortunately, pedaling out of the saddle just made my quads more fatigued than they already were.

Fast Forward to Tuesday: I spoke with the guy who changed the tire on Marty's wheel, and he said that it was better that I didn't try to change the tire since the spare that I had him put on Marty's wheel wasn't stretched properly. This would have made for a very difficult if not impossible tire change, which would have sent my frustrations through the roof!

I approached transition, and knew the that the half marathon was going to be interesting.

In and out, no messing around

Are you familiar with the term "When the wheels come off"?

I guess since I didn't take the wheel off to change the tire during the bike, so some wheels had to come off, and those wheels were my legs.

Take a 56 mile bike ride that I pushed a little too hard + Flat Tire + Hot Conditions (high 80's/low 90's, and minimal shade) + Hilly course = one brutal half marathon!

I tried not letting the flat get to me. I left T2 saying to myself "I can let it bother me, or I won't. People are tested not when things go right, but when they go wrong. Deal with it, and do the best you can do."

I then looked at my watch and said "All I have to do is run a 2 hour half marathon, and I can easily meet my goal of going sub 5:30".

And then I realized All I had to do was run a 2 hour half marathon... as if it was easy.

I started the run according to plan - start off at a really easy pace, and gradually build. The first few miles were flat which allowed me to fall into a pace. I started hitting the first few hills, and opted to walk a few so that I wouldn't be too fatigued for the second half, which is when I planned on picking up the pace to finish strong, which I always try to do.

What are those white things on my arms you ask?

One thing I did do to try and prevent the heat from really getting to me was buying the DeSoto Skin Cooler Jersey and DeSoto arm coolers. Apparently the material helped keep you cool, and as weird as it looks to wear these arm coolers, I figured I'd give them a try. One thing that I really liked about the arm coolers was that I could put ice IN them, right on my wrists. I have heard that keeping ice on your wrists helps cool you down since it is a major blood pathway (not sure if it's true or not), but I was willing to try anything. Another thing about the skin cooler stuff is that it works really well if there is a little bit of wind, and if they are wet.

I eventually made the turn at mile 4 into what I call the hills from hell. You make the turn, and you see a few hills, but the hills don't go up and down. They go up and only halfway down, and then there is another hill right after it that does the same thing. There was 4 of them. Ugh. This is what they look like from the top:

What was motivating is I finally saw someone I knew on the course (Luke Walton), but up ahead apx. 20 seconds was Paul Jesse (that is one nice thing about all those breakaway training jerseys they wear - you can always spot them on the course). I knew I could reel him in. After making it through the hills from hell, I caught him at about the halfway point in the run (a reoccuring theme it seems between Paul and I). We commiserated over the heat and brutal hills, and knew the either of us really wasn't enjoying the run. For the next few miles, we would walk aid stations, and go back and forth from someone leading to someone falling back. By this time, I felt some nutrition from the bike just sitting at the top of my stomach, and I would have done anything to get it out of there b/c I was close to getting a side stitch/cramp. I tried some cola at the aid station to try and burp it up, but it wasn't working.

At about the 9 mile marker, I finally decided to pick up the pace, and see if he could follow. He answered by picking it up as well. This went on for about half a mile, and then all the fatigue started setting in. He picked it up, and I couldn't answer. I wasn't that worried because I have caught him a number of times, and thought that if I can keep under control, I can pick it up at the end. I started walking a little more than just aid stations and tough hills. I remembered Marty's mantra of "Shut up body and legs, deal with the pain, we need to push through the pain!

Unfortunately, my body and legs were yelling louder, and they were winning the battle.

The next 3 miles were slow. My legs were very fatigued. It didn't hurt to run, I just couldn't pick up my legs enough to get a fast pace going. I knew from this point out, it was survival to get the 5:30 mark. I knew I could do it, but I knew it was gonna be close.

I endured the last 3 miles as best I could, and finished in 5:29:32 - 28 seconds to spare.

One funny thing to note is that as I was coming down the finish chute, the race announcer said "Here comes Ryan Denner, wearing tube socks on his arms!" (I knew it was only a matter of time before my fashion statement was made public to everyone :)

The Aftermath
Alana and Nelson came over to congratulate me, but I could barely speak. I motioned over to the powerbar tent so that I could be in the shade. I immediately sat down, and couldn't really speak for about 5-10 minutes.

Alana always likes to take pictures of me immediately after a race, which aren't very attractive, but do provide some entertainment value for you:

Hmm, what did I just do?

Oh! Make the pain go away!

Smile for the camera!

The Day After
The day after can be summed up in one sentence: I have never been more sore in my entire life. My legs were in a world of hurt. I couldn't take steps longer than about a foot. Stairs were a major challenge. Going down them was twice as bad. Getting out of the car required more arm strength than leg strength to keep me upright! Alana and I made the 10 hour drive from Sonoma to San Diego, and it was finally nice to sleep in a BED!

What I do it again? In a heartbeat - especially this race.

The course was absolutely beautiful (especially the bike course), the volunteers were great, I had good friends both doing the race and cheering me on. Although this race wasn't as "epic" as lavaman, I put a lot of time into training for this race, and have a sense of accomplishment like no other.

I am gonna take a few days or a week off and rest and re-focus on some other things, and not sure if I am going to do LA Tri in September or not.

Until then, I will be learning how to change a tubular tire, and spreading the word of arm coolers (unless you are my competition)!

A HUGE THANKS to all who came up and supported and cheered, and a big thanks to Nelson "Yangsta" Yang for "making everything happen!".

Here are some more pics from the trip:

Our Support Crew

Damian looking way too happy after the race

Or maybe Delerious is a better way to put it

Ginger looking very happy after her "catered workout"

Some dude ducking for cover from the hot sun

The theme of the ride home: a blur

Redwood trees

Northern california coast

Thanks for reading!

Actual Race pics to come soon!