Friday, February 27, 2009

Two Punks Gunning for Me

Just when I achieve King of the Mountain triathlon status in the neighborhood along come two punks trying to take down The Man. And one is my very own son. Time to start working harder. I won't be able to stay ahead of 'em much longer.

Neighbor Sam took home the top honors followed by the Boy® in second. This was the second grade track & field day in spring 2008. They were competing in the 300-yd dash.

Coming: My official bike fit at Gear West Triathlon. Here's the current set-up. What will change, I wonder?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

More Snow! Crap!

Had a nice day Wednesday, highs in the 40's, Actually dressed too warmly when I ran outside. Started to smell spring in the air!

Today? Different story. Winter storm warning with six to ten inches of friggin' snow expected. Arizona, anyone?

The snow has started!

Videocast 001: Bismarck Triathlon

Video Description: The maiden voyage of videocasting for the Tundra Transition Zone.

Location: Video highlights from the June 8, 2008 triathlon held in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Duration: 5 minutes, 45 seconds

Date Last Updated: Thur 25 Feb 2009 06:17:47 AM CDT

File Size: 15.7 MB

Super Soaker

When we remodeled our home almost six years ago, I made sure we went Full Monty on the bathroom and installed an air-jet whirlpool tub. I wanted a place of refuge where I could soak away tired muscles.

So it was installed and I expected to be taking long, soaking baths multiple times each week. But, as usual, I continued to find it quicker to take a shower. The bath, complete with mood lights built in, was resigned to be an Army-Navy battlefield for a 8-year old boy.

Now that I'm back into the fill circuit of triathlons and the daily grind of work-outs, I am making time for super soaks. Soaking baths are great on their own, but dosed with a healthy scoop of Epsom salts, they become healing as well.

Epsom salts help draw toxins from the body. They are rich in magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is a common contributing factor in depression and anxiety, and studies show that the high concentrations of magnesium sulfate in Epsom salts are easily absorbed into the bloodstream during a long bath. There's hardly a better remedy for the tired, achy blues.

Epsom salts also make a great all-purpose anti-inflammatory soak for sprains and overexerted muscles. And they are readily available and very much affordable. Walgreen's new Apothecary house brand is available now. These retail for about $3 for a three-pound carton.

Walgreens Epsom salt

For the ladies, there is also a lavender infused product.

I simply dissolve two cups of Epsom salt in my warm (or cold) bath water, settle in and experience the relief. Give it a try. Let me know how it went!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Case of Diminishing Skills

Napoleon Dynamite: Well, nobody's going to go out with *me*!
Pedro: Have you asked anybody yet?
Napoleon Dynamite: No, but who would? I don't even have any good skills.
Pedro: What do you mean?
Napoleon Dynamite: You know, like nunchuk skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills... Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.

My triathlon hobby started in 1989. I had been doing running events since the day I was born (or so it seems), moved up as far as CAT 3 in US Cycling in the mid-80s, and competed in duathlons as early as 1987.

But I was not a swimmer. And that single component held me back from jumping into triathlons. Until an eventful evening in the winter of 1988. I was working pharmacy retail at that time in Bryan, TX. I had just finished another draining twelve hour day and was now vegetating in front of the local cable access channel on my television. I was watching the little weather bar at the bottom of the screen trying to decide if I wanted to do a late night run when an ad suddenly caught my attention. It was from the Bryan-College Station Park & Rec department. They were starting a Polar Bear swim club. Simply put, swim at the outdoor pool logging in a minimum amount of meters each week for 12 consecutive weeks and you got a cool Polar Bear long-sleeved T-shirt and other goodies.

I, of course, laughed at first. In North Dakota, where I grew up, being in a Polar Bear club meant you cut a hole in a frozen lake. You dived in and out quickly and raced to a nearby Finnish sauna. The temperature would usually be below zero.

But this? Swimming outside in a heated pool? When the temp maybe got below forty above. Pshaw! But after sleeping on it, I decided to check it out. The thought of being able to compete in a triathlon had been nagging at me. Now in 12-short weeks I hoped to be able to do just that.

Every day over lunch, adults would show up at the outdoor Bryan pool. We'd change inside the non-heated locker area. Then walk briskly to the pool. Most days the temps were in the 50-degree area. But there were days that it dipped into the thirties with the lightest of snow in the air. Steam rising from the heated water. Swimming laps was so friggin' cool in those conditions! Some days the mist was so thick we could have used a foghorn to keep from running into each other in the lanes.

I started slow and gradually graduated from being able to swim one complete lap to swimming 1500 meters by the end of the Polar Bear session. And I earned my T-shirt! It was now time to do my first triathlon. And I picked a doozie.

I always like to tell people that I once raced against Lance Armstrong. That usually gets their attention. I don't bother to tell them that he whooped my rear-end by 35-minutes in a triathlon.

On May 13, 1989 at Speegleville III Park outside Waco, Texas there was a certain buzz in the air as the athletes were all saying, "watch this kid, he's really something." This tri was a 0.6mi swim, 28mi bike, and 6.5mi run. Lance finished in 1:54:05. His closest competitor finished over 6-minutes back.

All I remember is Lance was finishing up the run as I was coming in off the bike. Here's a image of the race summary. Unfortunately, splits were not available.

Waco Triathlon Results – click on image for larger view

I did the swim in 25:07 (2:23 pace per 100 yards, remember this was my first ever effort); the bike in 1:20 (20.9 mph avg); and the run in 41:18 (6:21 pace). I was hooked.

I continued to compete in triathlons for a number of years. Even continuing when I made the move from Texas to Minnesota. My last event, before my...ahem...15-year retirement was in 1993 at the Turtleman Triathlon in Shoreview, MN.

Turtleman – click on image for larger view

Then came marriage, focus on career, international travel, and a baby. In a blink of an eye, 15-years went whooshing by.

In the fall of 2007, I was fighting bad health. Something had hit me a year before and I couldn't shake it. Poor sleep, irritable bowel, constant fatigue, depression. All the signs of living for the moment and burning the candle at both ends. My mantra had been, "Don't tell me I'm burning the candle at both ends. Tell me where to get more wax!"

I went through a myriad of medical testing locally. Everything always came back normal. I spent much of the summer of 2007 at the acclaimed Mayo Clinic. At first, they were stumped as well. Then, a break.

My wife's best friend from high school had attended a dinner party in New York. She met a nice young lady and somehow the subject of my health had come up. Seems the young lady's father was one of the lead GI-doctors at Mayo. He was the guy patients were sent to when no one else could figure it out.

The daughter phoned her father. The father, vacationing in France, called me and told me to contact his assistant as he would be back in the states within a week. A week later I was sitting face-to-face with him when he asked, "Has anyone tested your testosterone levels yet?"

We tested the same day. Normal total serum testosterone levels for a person of my age are 600 - 900 ng/dL. Mine? 70 ng/dL. Finally, an abnormal test!

Further testing eliminated all the nasty causes. Be it pituitary tumor, hypothalamus issues, adrenal tumors....all negative. So I was stuck with an unexplained low testosterone level. There was some talk on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

I was put on testosterone replacement therapy. And I started to get more energy back. But I was still tired. Still sluggish. Still down in the dumps. So, what does a person do in that case? What would any sane person do when they are fighting fatigue and low-energy? As I sat staring out the window one particular depressing day, I decided to start training again.

I could only run a mile at first. Could only swim one length of the pool. My bike was snail slow, barely sustaining 14 mph pace. It took time. But I got back into shape. I had a good 2008 season, placing in the top three overall in three of the six events I entered and won my age group (45-49) in four of those six events. I look for even better results in 2009.

Well, that was a long lead up to the topic of this blog entry. What have I noticed on my return to triathlon? What skills have I lost never to regain again? I put some thought to this.

  1. I ain't as fast as I used to be: Really, that only holds true in running. My 5K's used to be in the mid-16's. Now I am struggling to get under 20-minutes. Yeah, I'm 48 but I see plenty of guys in my age group running in the 18-minute range..even faster. I know I should be one of those guys. And it frustrates the hell out of me. On the flip, my bike is as fast as ever probably due to better gear. My current bike, a Cervélo P3, is feather light compared to my racing bikes of yore. And my swimming has never been better or more comfortable. But overall, the speed just isn't there any longer.
  2. It takes longer to recover: Use to be I could race twice on a weekend. Hell, I even recall a day in Milano, Texas where I ran a Double Dare. I ran in the 10K race, winning it. I got a 15-minute rest then ran the 5K race, placing fourth overall losing only to those who were running the 5K only. Now? During the 2008 season it took as long as two weeks for me to recover. Certainly, most of that was due to the health issue and it being my first year back. I've been in three running events so far in '09 and have recovered fully (no aches, etc) in two days. But still, it can take me a long-long-long-long time to be able to function when first getting out of bed each morning. There is no immediate, "Hello day! How are you! Lets go run a 10-miler!"
  3. I have to work harder on stretching: I hate stretching. No, I abhor stretching. I look at it is thirty to sixty minutes wasted when I could be practicing one of the three disciplines. So, considering that I now incorporate stretching, yoga, and dynamic core exercises into my workout tells you that without it, I be suffering greatly. The days of having muscles and tendons immediately respond to great exertion without kicking up a fuss are long gone.

What about the flip side, though? Why have I still been able to compete and continue to achieve my one constant target - finish in the top 10% overall in each race?

Simple, experience. I know what's ahead of me in each race. I don't get nervous or tighten up or start to hyperventilate like so many of the young, inexperienced bucks do. You know the ones - you can see it in their pre-race motions. In their eyes. In the way they come up to the starting line. You know they are going to go off like a rocket and at some point during the event, you will pass them in the middle of a unrecoverable bonk.

Not in a mean sort of way, but it brings me great joy to pass a person half my age and see the look of astonishment on their face when a grey-haired, white-whiskered, pot-bellied old fuddy-duddy passes them.

I know how to pace myself. I can set off at a certain swim or run pace in my head. Wanna stay on target for a 6:30 per mile run? Just jump behind me. Wanna know how to play the wind, the next big hill, the time to hit the big cog or the little one during a bike? All second nature to me. Think experience doesn't matter in a tri? Ask Scott Tinley or Dave Scott. All were competing at high levels well past when most people thought they could.

At your next event, take a look at the overall results. Which age group puts in the highest percentage of the top finishes? Is it the 20-24 or 25-29 age group like you think it would be? Often times, it is not. It is the 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, and even the 45-49 age group that is competing for the top honors. Triathlon is truly a sport of experience matters.

It's not the water we are drinking. Despite our diminishing skills, our experience continues to get us through. And I have a feeling that we're going to continue to see that paradigm move even further out and start seeing some incredibly fast times from the 50's, 60's and 70's aged triathletes.

And that should be an inspiration to all of us.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Podcast 005: Achilles & Hamstrings

Audio Description: How to deal with and rehabilitate Achilles and/or hamstring injuries with a nod to calf injuries.

Material Source: Running Well by Sam Murphy & Sarah Conners

Songs Used: Duck Dodgers Theme Song by Tom Jones; Collarbone by Fujiya And Miyagi

Duration: 34 minutes, 21 seconds

Date Last Updated: Fri 20 Feb 2009 10:17:47 PM CDT

File Size: 32.2 MB

Stretching Exercises referred to in Podcast 005:

Email Brian

Note - Click on photo for larger view

Hamstring Stretch

Prone Kicks

The Bridge

The Lunge

Eccentric Calf Strengthening

Calf Stretch

The Stick: I use the stick prior to my running and cycling workouts. Sort of like having a quick massage session. It helps me through such things as trigger point pain, muscle strain and DOMS. Time needed, 5-10 minutes a day.

The Pro Foam Roller: More than any other product, this roller has helped my IT bands. I have been using on the quads when those post-event DOMS issues seem to creep into the quad region. It works!

Live Blog: Tour of California Stage 7

Thanks much to everyone who joined the maiden voyage of the Tundra Transition Zone Live Blogging feature. Thanks to the great folks at ScribbleLive for creating such a easy live blogging platform.

For those who could not join, I'm sure I'll be doing this again in the future. Here's what we did this time around.

Date - Saturday, Feb. 21
Event - Tour of California: Stage 7, Santa Clarita to Pasadena
Time - 2PM PST /3PM MST/4 PM CST/5PM EST is the start of live coverage of this stage.
Duration:120 minutes

This was a chance for everyone to meet in one place and comment on Stage 7 of the TOC....LIVE! While everyone was watching this stage on Versus, we were able to comment live with all our fellow tri-geeks.

We also followed the live Twitters of Lance Armstrong, Neil Road, and CyclingFans who were on location racing or covering the event. Lance does a fantastic job keeping his Twitters up-to-date along with personal photos.

Recap can be seen here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Import Flight

And after visiting the swim club....what else to do besides a four beer import flight? Already lost time to bike so might as well lift some small weights :)

Swim Team

Our search for a good swim team for The Boy® continues with a visit to the Mach 3 Flyers. This club is the real deal and is a traveling swim team.

It is anyones guess if he'll actually concur and want to join/try out. Now nearing age 9 his mood changes daily. And we aren't going to push a decision. The Boy® suffered through three years of Irish dance because he thought we would not like it if he quit. Lesson learned.

Quick Hit: More on Armstrong

On Tuesday I wrote about the unfortunate event in which Lance Armstrong's custom time-trial bike was stolen from the Team Astana truck during the night before Stage 1of the Tour of California. This was after Saturday's prologue of the TOC, in which Armstrong finshed 10th overall covering the 3.9km course in 04:37.17 which equates to 31.19 MPH on the bike. Not bad for an old fuddy duddy like moi.

One of the last photos of the stolen bike in action. Click on photo for larger view

So, how does he do it? Well, the legs. The quads are most certainly dynamic. But the calves aren't looking to shabby.

Calves that would make Schwarzenegger Proud. Click on photo for larger view

It's been cold and rainy for the TOC so far. And with all aging athletes, the weather has not been friendly to Lance. Here's a taste of his recent Twitters:

lancearmstrong Random thought: The Tour of California should be in late April. Better weather, can get into the sierras, final tour of italy tune up, etc.
6:39 PM Feb 16th from TwitterBerry

lancearmstrong Hitting the sack early tonight. 2 days in the pouring rain has worn my old @$$ out. Good night to you all.
about 22 hours ago from TwitterBerry

lancearmstrong Getting moving here in san jose. 10 hrs of sleep! Guess what? It's raining out... Days like this it's better to have the lead/yellow jersey.
about 11 hours ago from TwitterBerry

lancearmstrong Done with stage 3. Another wet/nasty one. Made it home (to the finish) in one piece after some sketchy circuits. Btw, sierra road is steep!
about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Sometime yet this week, I will write up a blog entry on aging triathletes and diminishing skills. Of course, the savviness that comes with old age can also make up for those diminishing skills. In any event, it should be an interesting read. Until then, happy training!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lance's Time Trial Bike Stolen

SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Lance Armstrong's time-trial bike was stolen from the Team Astana truck during the night before Stage 1 of the Tour of California.

Armstrong rode the bike to a 10th-place finish Saturday in Sacramento during the Tour prologue. The race is his first competitive appearance in his native country since the seven-time Tour de France winner began his cycling comeback last month.

A few hours after the time trial, someone removed four bikes from the Astana truck outside the team hotel in Sacramento. Armstrong's time-trial bike, which was closest to the door because he was delayed by a post-race trip to doping control, was taken along with race bikes belonging to Astana teammates Steve Morabito, Yaroslav Popovych and Janez Brajkovic.

Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens confirmed the theft to The Associated Press after it was reported by Armstrong himself on his Twitter feed. Armstrong later posted a picture of the bike, which has distinctive yellow-and-black wheels and the logo of his Livestrong foundation.

Lance's Missing TT Bike

"There is only one like it in the world therefore hard to pawn it off. Reward being offered," Armstrong wrote before jumping on his race bike for the 107-mile ride from Davis to Santa Rosa through a steady rainstorm.

Team Astana manager Johan Bruyneel also mentioned the thefts on his Twitter feed before he began following his riders. The racers all have backup bikes, and two-time defending Tour champion Levi Leipheimer's bike wasn't stolen.

Armstrong won't need his time-trial bike again until Friday in Solvang, where the race holds its second time trial. That segment is crucial to Astana's hopes of winning the overall team title.

For those who don't Twitter, you can follow mine (notice the Twitter badge on the right navigation bar). But then my Twitters aren't as exciting as a Biking God. I have been following Lance's: Here are his recent Twitters:

Already up. Have an 8:30 start today. Yikes. Going to be some tired boys today.
5 minutes ago from TwitterBerry

Thanks to everyone that came out today and cheered us all on even in these conditions. We all appreciate it. Good night.
about 7 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Just caught up with my step bro Mike and his family. Great seeing them.
about 9 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Reply - "I was at In and Out Burger". What?? He ordered a double-double (xtra onions), fries, coke, and a strawberry shake. Wow.
about 11 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Getting massage and Horner comes in. He's just back from the race. Johan and I were like, "where have u been?".
about 11 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Staying at an amazing place here in Sausalito. Helps to take the sting off of today's stage.
about 11 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Had lots of ?'s re: the status of the stolen bikes. Still no sign of them.
about 12 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Holy hell. That was terrible. Maybe one of the toughest days I've had on a bike, purely based on the conditions. I'm still freezing.
about 13 hours ago from TwitterBerry - A pic of the stolen tt bike. There is only one like it in the world therefore hard to pawn it off.
about 21 hours ago from TwitPic

Whoa!! They just came to my room and said our truck was broken into and someone stole my time trial bike! Wtf?!? APB out to the twitterati.
about 22 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Note - If you were curious about the open water buoy roll move I spoke of last week in this earlier blog entry, the YouTube video has been located. Give it a look!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Finding USAT Sanctioned Races in Minnesota

Those who are USAT (USA Triathlon) members often schedule their races on order to qualify be included in the annual rankings. You must have competed in a minimum of three USAT sanctioned triathlons or USAT sanctioned two duathlons in order to qualify. If you live in California, Arizona, or Texas you will have achieved this by, oh say, May. If you live in Minnesota, it can be more of a struggle.

To wit, let's take a look at the Minnesota USAT sanctioned duathlon schedule for 2009. Again, all you have to do is compete in two USAT sanctioned duathlons and you will receive a 2009 ranking from USAT.

  1. 4/26/2009 2nd Annual Winter Begone! Duathlon in Oronoco, MN
  2. 9/27/2009 AFLAC Iron Girl Bloomington Duathlon in Bloomington, MN
So, I compete in the race on 4/26...then have a sex change operation to meet my required minimum! Not!

Luckily, I inquired with race director Bill Nevala on the possible status for the Treadman Duathlon. Would it be USAT sanctioned? I heard back from Bill just a few hours after e-mailing him.

Hi Brian,

Yes, the Treadman will be USAT Sanctioned. All of our events this year are USAT Sanctioned. I am finalizing the course and venue for 2009 on the Treadman. The event is going to be a little different this year, much bigger than in past years.


Bill Nevala
CEO, WIN MultiSport Events, LLC
USAT Certified Race Director & Official
Great! So, for you Minnesota USAT duathletes just sign up and compete in the following two du's....and you'll be ranked for USAT for 2009.

  1. 4/26/2009 2nd Annual Winter Begone! Duathlon Oronoco, MN
  2. 9/5/2009 Treadman Duathlon

For USAT sanctioned triathlons, the task of competing in three events is not so daunting. Here's the list of USAT sanctioned tri's to date:

  1. 5/16/2009 25th Annual TRF MeritCare Triathlon Thief River Falls, MN - I'm signed up for the Lakes to Pines Tri in Park Rapids
  2. 6/13/2009 Liberty Triathlon Maple Plain, MN - I'm signed up (6/14) for the Bismarck Triathlon
  3. 6/14/2009 Trinona Winona, MN - I'm signed up for the Bismarck Triathlon
  4. 6/28/2009 2nd Annual Rochesterfest Triathlon Rochester, MN - Doing Lake Waconia
  5. 6/28/2009 Lake Waconia Triathlon Waconia, MN - This will be my first USAT sanctioned 2009 event
  6. 7/4/2009 MinneMan Sprint 2009 Oak Grove, MN - This will be my second USAT sanctioned 2009 event
  7. 7/11/2009 Life Time Fitness Triathlon Minneapolis, MN - $140 when I can do another USAT for $70 or less!?!
  8. 7/11/2009 Timberman Tri 2009 Grand Rapids, MN - REGISTRATION IS CLOSED AS OF 1/14/2009
  9. 8/2/2009 2009 Waseca Triathlon Waseca, MN - This will be my third USAT sanctioned 2009 event. Plus, this is an interesting 1/3 IM concept: Swim 1 mile, Bike 34 miles, Run 9 miles

So, between personal events, conflict with other events (that are really great and why I go back despite not being USAT sanctioned) is possible to find three races from which you can acheive a USAT triathlon ranking. But it ain't easy.

If you're planning to participate in other triathlons throughout the summer you may want check how many of them are USAT sanctioned. A one day USAT membership is $10, while an Annual USAT Membership is $39. Depending on how many USAT Triathlons you enter, it may be more economical to purchase the USAT Annual Membership.

If you reside in Minnesota, please encourage your race directors to consider making their events USAT sanctioned. The more we have to choose from, the easier it will be for all of us to make the minimum race requirements. And the more times we can race beyond the minimum, the easier it is to 'throw out' that one race where you might have "Blow'd up good, blow'd up real good!"

If you know of any other USAT sanctioned events for the Minnesota region, leave a comment below!

    Sunday, February 15, 2009

    Podcast 004: Worst Transition Memory

    Audio Description: I got the idea for this podcast from the latest Triathlon Life magazine issue where they asked, "What's the longest time you've spent in transition and why?"

    Here's the dilly-o: I gave people the opportunity to leave a voice-mail recording of their Worst Transition Memory. This podcast shares those memories.

    Material Source: Triathlon Life, Vol. 12, Issue 1

    Guests: Patrick Allen (aka 'TriPKP' from Tri-Talk Forums); David Warden (Tri-Talk Founder)

    Songs Used: Fit But You Know It by The Streets; Cold Beverage by G. Love And Special Sauce

    Duration: 12 minutes, 15 seconds

    Date Last Updated: Fri 13 Feb 2009 10:17:47 PM CDT

    File Size: 11.5 MB

    Based off my worst transition memory on the podcast here is a guide on how to keep your bikes shoes properly aligned and ready to slip into out of T1. Also, came across a great suggestion to quicken your foot insertion by using Body Glide along the rear of the bike shoes and running shoes to facilitate your heel's entry into the shoes....a real 'well DUH!' moment for me as it makes perfect sense.

    Putting your feet in your shoes while simultaneously cruising down the bike course at 20 mph will definitely get you a faster transition time than those less astute athletes sitting on the ground pulling their shoes on before they even mount.

    Set your bike up in the transition area with your shoes attached to the pedals and rubber bands looped between the heels of your shoe and the bike frame holding them horizontal. When you leave the first transition area, pedal with your feet on top of your shoes. Once you’ve gained some speed, start coasting, slip your feet into your shoes, and fasten the straps. (Keep your eyes ahead on the road, not down on your feet.) Make sure to snap the rubber bands if they don’t break automatically. On your return to the transition area, reach down and unfasten your shoes and slip your feet out before you reach the second transition. Enter the transition area with bare feet.

    To date, I have been unable to locate the YouTube video which showed a swimmer effortlessly executing a 'roll turn' to save time when navigating around a buoy. But here is a text description. For this example, assume a right turn.

    Approach the buoy so that it is right next to you. When it is next to you, pull with your right arm and spin onto your back by dropping your right shoulder underwater and your left shoulder over the water. Twist a little bit so that you've turned close to 90 degrees. Your left arm should be extended when this spin is done. Immediately do a backstroke pull with the left arm, and spin onto your front, twisting a little bit so that you've turned close to 90 degrees more. Each pull and twist gets you around the buoy about 1/4 turn. The final freestyle pull with your right arm is accompanied by a little more twist around the buoy.

    You are now on your front, having executed a 180 degree turn with 2-3 strokes and no stopping.

    Update (2/16/2009)

    Here is the YouTube of the open water roll. Thanks much to Patrick for locating this! As Patrick wrote on Tri-Talk Forums:

    The video is from the Collegiate Olympic race at WildFlower in 2007. The move I'm talking about is 3:54-3:56 in, right as John Daltz, the leader of the race at the point, rounds a corner. It's very difficult to see what he does, I did a double take the first time I saw it.

    Basically, (for a right hand turn) he places his right arm in the water for the pull, flips on his back, does a single stroke of backstroke (with his left arm), then continues the roll to finish on his stomach again, regains his right arm and continues to swim.

    I used this technique in an open water swim this past week, and I have to say I like it a lot. Not only can I make the turns tighter, but it's easier on my chest and abs, which prefer I swim in a straight line rather than try to make tight 90 degree turns. Not only that, the manuever allows you to take two or three quick breaths while you're on your back without any real time loss.

    Maybe you guys have heard of this move before, but it totally blew me away. I just figured it was my duty as a tri-talker to pass it along to the rest of my self-coached brothers!

    I have to agree with Patrick. I have been using this move since mid-season in 2008 and love it. Give it a whirl!

    Saturday, February 14, 2009

    Post Race Mobile Blog

    Made it around Lake Harriet in a death defying 22:16 unofficially. Splits at 1M - 6:58 at 2M - 7:26. The ham was OK until about the 2K where it started to be a bit bothersome. So I backed off and was happy to finish. Yeah it was very very very slow. But at least I did not blow the ham completely.

    Ice awaits most certainly. I may bike later today to keep everything loose. We'll see.

    Happy Valentines Day to you and yours!

    Race Day Pre Report

    Lake Harriet Valentines 5K and it is 11 above...whoohoo. Hoping the neoprene sleeve allows me to finish. No goal other than that.

    Friday, February 13, 2009

    Get Thou Early To Bed

    When I was a younger man it didn't matter when I got to bed the night before a race. I was just too excited & nervous. Now approaching 48 it is important. So here it is 10:45 & I'm still up! Still nervous & still excited even though I officially am taking it 'easy' tomorrow.

    Orange is the Color of My Revolution

    I was at Marathon Sports this afternoon to pick up my race packet for the Valentine's Day 5K at Lake Harriet in MPLS on Saturday.

    Of course, I did some shopping. I had been looking for a lightweight training jacket for my runs now that spring is knock-knock-knocking on our door. What I found was perfect. I knew it from the moment I saw it

    Introducing the Nike Clima-FIT Convertible Men's Running Jacket featuring weather-resistant technology. This baby has:

    • Clima-FIT fabric to help protect you from wind and rain
    • Full-zip with reflective strip
    • Mock-neck
    • Removable sleeves
    • Contrast panels at chest and sides
    • Zipped side pockets
    • VELCRO ® brand fastener at cuffs
    • Vented back
    • Interior drawcord at hem
    • Swoosh design trademark at left chest
    • Fabric: Clima-FIT 100% polyester

    The removable sleeves feature is ultra-cool. The orange color was a bonus. I have been racing in orange since last year. And guess what? The orange color has been discontinued by Nike but they have other colors in case you are interested. If orange is more for you, Marathon Sports has some left.

    Tomorrow I plan to post some live mobile blog updates from the race. The goal will be to just finish without causing any more harm to the right ham. I will be wearing this neoprene sleeve and hoping for the best. Just a smooth 'jog' around the lake with a few hundred (thousand?) other runners.

    You Know You're a Triathlete When....

    When asked, how old you are you answer 20-24.

    Your first thought when you wake up is how high your rest HR is.

    You go for a run even though there's a thunderstorm and you enjoy being wet and dirty.

    You go for a 5 km cooldown run after a 5 km race just so that you can call it a training session.

    You consider work, regeneration time between training sessions.

    You spend your 2 weeks annual vacation at a training camp.

    You know inside out how much Protein each energy bar has.

    In the summer your legs are smoother than your girlfriend's.

    In the winter your legs are still smoother than your girlfriend’s.

    You need a picture for a job application and you only have race pictures.

    That charming "cologne" you wear to work is chlorine.

    You take more showers in a locker room than at home.

    You think there are only two seasons during the year, racing and off.

    You spend 7 days going to 8 stores in 4 towns before buying a pair of running shoes but you take 1 afternoon to go to 1 car dealership and walk out with a new car 4 hours later.

    When asked to mow the lawn in 90 degree heat, you say that its too hot to do that (and you mean it) and then an hour later you go on a century ride because its so nice out.

    You tell your co-workers that you are going to "do a long brick" on Saturday and just expect that they know what you are talking about.

    You have a $4000 bike strapped on top of your $2000 car.

    Your living room has the "swim pile" and the "bike pile" and the "run pile" and the "weight room pile" and you pick and choose kind of like a cafeteria on your way out the door.

    Your 8 year old comes home with the school record for the mile and says, he took it out in a nice pace he could hold.....everyone else died.

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    The Twenty Four Hour Relay

    Note - All photos can be viewed larger by clicking on the thumbnail image. Also, thanks to Shane, my blogging mentor, at the Greet Machine for help on the image html code.

    Back Row r-l, Steve Braunberger, Ken Aune, Tim DaBill, Eric Olson, Robert Wilson. Front Row r-l, Tom Ohe, Lenny Beard, Brian Maas, Lee Erickson, Larry Wilson

    It was cross country teammate Larry Wilson's idea. Larry was an odd duck, you must understand. He went through of all high school without missing a single day of running. Remember, this was North Dakota in the late 1970's. Back then winters meant a global ice age and often the temperature would find us bundling up to protect against wind chills of minus 60 below.

    One winter day, the wind was howling so fiercely that Larry and I decided the best approach would be to hitch a ride out of town so we could run with the wind. As I recall, the temperature with wind-chill was minus 45.

    We had learned from our coach, Russ Schmeichel, that during the summer you ran with the wind to start and against to finish. You did the opposite in winter. Schmeichel knew his stuff, both as a runner and a coach. He still holds the Jamestown College indoor track records for the 600 and 800 meter runs. Both were set in 1969.

    He was NDHSCA Coach of the Year four times (1977-1978, 1988-1989, 1990-1991, and 1991-1992). In 1998, Schmeichel received the Special Achievement Award from the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. It is the association's highest honor. Schmeichel had built a cross country dynasty at Jamestown High School during his tenure.

    In 24 seasons as head coach, Schmeichel led the Jamestown Blue Jays to 17 state championships. During my high school career, we won back-to-back titles. While other cross country teams would arrive at the meets in a small bus carrying perhaps 10 runners, the Blue Jays would show up in two full-sized buses with over 70 runners.

    My favorite race memory had to be the Teddy Roosevelt Meet in Medora, North Dakota. The 7-8th grade team won. The 9th grade team won. The girls’ team won. The Reserves team won (I placed 4th, the Blue Jays finished seven runners in the top 10). Then the varsity won. The Blue Jays had swept all five divisions.

    The Junior Varsity team took the first six places.

    Fourth place trophy 1978 Junior Varsity

    But back to Larry and me. It was cold. We wanted to run but to try and be smart about it. So we ran a few miles to the north-bound area of Highway 281 and got a ride in a semi. We asked the driver to take us five miles out of town. We jumped out and started the run back into Jamestown. Shortly into the run, the wind shifted. It was now coming at our right side. We had three miles to go.

    Suffice to say that Larry and I did complete the run. We showed up for school the next day. But we each had a right ear the size of Delaware. A bright red, excruciatingly painful right ear. But that's how hard-core we were.

    This same Larry had a bright idea one summer day in 1980. Larry was also the one who read Runner's World like it was some kind of damn bible and then held a mass and preached from the pulpit to us after each new issue. There was a new challenge for us. Something called a 24-hour relay. Larry had decided he would assemble a team of 10 runners at the local track. Each runner would then run one mile, hard, and pass a baton to the next runner. That would leave each runner a 'nine-runner' rest period before his turn was up again. We'd do it for 24 hours. Our goal: to set a new North Dakota state record.

    Larry planned it all out. We'd run on the college track at Taylor Stadium (Jamestown, North Dakota). He picked out the crème de la crème from available local runners. Larry had asked the assistant high school cross-country coach, Jim Stage, to be on the team. Larry recalls, "I later learned that he thought we couldn't do it and bailed out." The thing we all recall about Coach Stage was that he was a fore-strike runner....always on his toes. And fast as hell. He had also had quite the party life in college and always talked about 'horking up a bit of black lung' from his smoking days. Especially when we, as Tim Dabill recalls, "were chatting up a storm on a 12-mile run turned 16 on a Schmeichel miscalculation."

    There was also a senior wannabe, Joe Bennett, who Larry would have loved to have had on the team. But Joe was on a family vacation in Montana and not available.

    No matter, the team was put together anyway. It was quite a heady list. The core of the team were members of the '77 & '78 North Dakota state XC championship teams.

    State Meet Results from Jamestown Sun

    State Meet Rehash from Jamestown Sun

    State Meet Rehash from Jamestown Sun

    Brad Braunberger: 1981 Men's Outdoor Track & Field All-American; 3,000-Meter Steeplechase National Champion (Division III - 1982). His 8:52.95 in the steeple ranks as 10th fastest all-time. He was also runner-up in the '78 state championship XC meet.

    Eric Olson, Robert Wilson, Lenny Beard: The core of the Jamestown College cross country and track teams.

    Lee Erickson, Ken Aune, Tim DaBill, Tom Ohe, Brian Maas, & Larry Wilson: In 1980, this core was one year removed from a second straight state cross country high school title in which Erickson had finished 47th, Aune 41st, Joe Bennett in 5th, and DaBill in 3rd. Maas had been named Hardest Worker in '78 and Ohe had “most miles in a week” for the '77 season at 107 miles and had the biggest full heel blister ever known to man to prove it. Maas surpassed that mark in '78 running 119 miles in one week and 770 miles for the XC season.

    Jamestown Sun, June 7, 1980

    Larry was also finding local sponsorships. Ken recalls, "Paul Lunde from Goodroad Sports donated some sweat socks. Pavement Pounders, I believe." The local crowd was starting to buzz.

    A few days before the scheduled event....disaster. Brad would not be able to run. Larry did not have to look far for a tenth runner. Instead of the younger Braunberger, the team would have the older son. Steve Braunberger was brought in. At the time, one could argue that Steve was the faster runner.

    The day of the event came. Larry recalls, "The day was really windy and some people wanted to postpone. I thought if we did that, we would never get everyone organized to try it again, so we went for it that day."

    So at 1 p.m., the race for the record began. We decided to call ourselves the Ernest Hogg Track Club, an idea floated by Ken and agreed upon by the team.

    Lenny Beard

    The order of the runners would be:
    1. Lenny Beard
    2. Eric Olson
    3. Robert Wilson
    4. Tim DaBill
    5. Steve Braunberger
    6. Ken Aune
    7. Larry Wilson
    8. Lee Erickson
    9. Tom Ohe
    10. Brian Maas

    It was very windy. But the advantage of a 400-meter outdoor track is that you are only facing the wind on one stretch. On this day, that meant we had to bear down on the back-stretch. And we got a little help.

    We had groupies in those days. Chicks, to be more exact. Our all-powerful state championship cross country teams had more 'pull' with the girls than the football team. And they came to help.

    On the backstretch there was now a steady rotation of girls serving as wind rabbits. They ran in front from corner two to corner three and aided each runner in blocking the wind. Oh, we remember the names all right. I just choose not to list them here out of respect. You see, it was like running for 100-meters behind the likes of Jennifer Lopez. It was hard to focus on the task at hand. We had to work on safely getting the baton from runner to runner!

    Tom Ohe hands the baton to Brian Maas

    The day wore on and the wind began to die, thankfully so. By Saturday evening, the difficulty of the task had yet to set in and spirits were still high. Had the wind held, it may have been a different story.

    Brian Maas & Lee Erickson during a lighter moment

    Brian Maas late afternoon on the first day

    As dusk came, we decided to pitch a tent so we would have a place to change and grab 40 winks. And then the sun finally dropped out of sight and darkness set in.

    The infamous tent

    We resorted to flashlights to light the corners as we ran, but I recall it was fairly bright out that night, and darkness was not a big deal except for corner three. And we had the music.....sweet, sweet late 70's keep us focused and going. Yeah, we may not have had iPods yet, but we did have 8-track, cassette, reel-to-reel and speakers. And we had it blaring.

    Ken remembers, "I brought my cassette player from home and hooked it up in the old press box. All I really had was Chicago..."Feelin' Stronger Every Day" went over well, whereas "Colour My World" almost sent Lenny on a killing spree.

    I recall songs from the Donna Summer "Hot Stuff" album. My favorite at 4 a.m. Sunday morning was "Dim All the Lights".

    Taylor Stadium is within ear-shot of a local neighborhood. So the inevitable happened. Somebody called the cops about the 'noise' and they showed up. Larry recounts what happened:

    "The cops came. They talked to me and said, 'We are here to tell you to turn down the music, but we don't care if you do or not. So if anyone asks, we told you. That way we won't get in trouble.' I thanked them, they left and told me 'good luck'.”

    The night really started to drag and eventually a few guys started to break down. Tim and Ken were having a tough time of it. Ken recalls, "I ran out of steam during the night and considered quitting. Steve Braunberger convinced me to stay and just slow down. I am grateful for that."

    Eventually, the old, grizzled vets started to encourage the young dogs. It was Lenny, Eric, Robert and Steve who told us to dig deep and to keep going. But there was a lot of groaning.

    The other depressing sound: the unzipping of the tent. Slowly, a runner would crawl out and stand, quadriceps aching, wincing with stiffness. Fifteen hours into the event...4 a.m....and running yet another leg seemed impossible. A slow warm-up was like rocking a car out of deep snow.

    But at the exchange zone, there’s cheering and waving as the approaching runner came into view. There are smiles as the baton is given over, and suddenly, there’s joy: this effort, this drama is still going and the energy is renewed.

    And best of all, the sun did come up the next morning. Just having the sunrise was like a B-12 shot in the butt and invigorated everyone.

    Eric Olson awaits his turn as Ken Aune and Tim DaBill sleep

    Brian Maas early morning on the second day

    Our fastest splits, as memory serves up were in the low 5:00's. Our slowest was just under six minutes a mile. Some of the fastest splits came within the very last legs as the crowd at the track began to fill up the stadium.

    The crowd on the final day

    Lenny started running sub-5's again. Eric and Robert were running 5:11, 5:06. Tim ran a 5:11 when the record was broken. Steve, the last-minute replacement, ran a 4:47 at 11 p.m. Ken came back down to 5:40's. Larry, the Pacing Guru, ran a 5:38 for his first split and a 5:38 for his last. Lee's last lap, a 5:22, was his fourth-fastest split. Tom, like Larry, was also consistently running 5:40's for his first and last laps. Yours truly cooked a 5:18 on the energy from the crowd who came to their feet for each runner.

    We ended up setting the North Dakota state record at 263 miles and change. That was a group 5:27 per mile pace over 24 hours. But even that came with controversy and a challenge before our record officially stood. More on that in a bit.

    Robert Wilson - the man who made the measurement

    I lost 12 pounds during the effort. I fell asleep at the movies later that night. I ached for days. But we 10 were all walking in proud agony. Even today there is a swelling of emotion to go along with the memory of fatigue, accomplishment and camaraderie - the memories runners hold on to.

    The next day, we had a huge spread in the Jamestown Sun to announce the achievement.

    Jamestown Sun, June 9, 1980

    And that's when the controversy started. It seems Runner’s World didn't have the most recent record. Apparently, another North Dakota runners club out of Bismarck had run 263 miles, 1,630 yards in July, 1972. We knew we had run 263 miles and change. But what of the yardage?

    Jamestown Sun, June 10, 1980

    A week later, Robert Wilson went to Taylor Stadium with a steel tape measure. Tim recalls, "When I went past the three-quarter mile mark during one of my last legs, we were, according to Larry, miles ahead of the Bismarck group record (the one we all thought we needed to break). A number of our team told me to just 'stop' but I was feeling decent enough to run it out. Everyone else decided to carry on as well."

    Larry remembers, "I was the one who told Tim to stop at the three-quarter mile mark to make it easy for me to calculate the total distance. Good thing Tim is a prideful and competitive person and went the ‘full monty’, because that set the stage for breaking the record."

    Per the official measurement, the Ernest Hogg Track Club had run 263 miles, 1,664 yards eclipsing the state mark by 34 yards.


    Jamestown Sun, June 11, 1980

    This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime events that one doesn't readily forget. It becomes the stuff of legend. Heck, when first starting to do research for this article, I was certain that we had all been running 4:30's per mile. Funny that as we age, the epic events take on more meaning.

    What I enjoyed most was the team. You really got to know each other. Memories of running, no sleep, less than perfect food, the smelly tent, the wind on the backstretch - those all fade. What remained is the friendship.

    The Splits by Runner

    Team Splits, Page One

    Team Splits, Page Two

    Ten-Year Anniversary Announcement in Jamestown Sun

    Jamestown Sun, June 8, 1990

    Podcast Information

    Audio Description: An audio telling of the 24-hour relay story.

    Material Source: Larry Wilson, Ken Aune, Tom Ohe, Tim DaBill, & Lee Erickson

    Songs Used: Old Days by Chicago; Colour My World by Chicago; Dim All the Lights by Donna Summer; Take the Long Way Home by Supertramp; Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen; Couldn't Get It Right by the Climax Blues Band; Flip, Flop & Fly by the Blues Brothers; Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) by Styx

    Duration: 20 minutes, 21 seconds

    Date Last Updated: Fri 06 Feb 2009 10:17:47 PM CDT

    File Size: 19.1 MB