Tuesday, March 31, 2009

We Refuse To Leave

We are contemplating to refuse to check out of the hotel and never go back to The Tundra. Yet another drop dead gorgeous day in Scottsdale.

We slept in today as we were really wiped out by our day in Sedona. We ate a quick power breakfast at the nearby Safeway. We shopped a little in the Kierland Commons before meeting high school friend Mark Publow at Zinc Bistro for a great lunch...outside I may add. Shorts and loafers.

This was followed by another afternoon at the pool. Back to Tommy Bahamas to eat and then The Boy & I head to do some more go kart racing and my wife will enjoy a solitude 'spa' evening.

Hooking up with more high school friends on Weds preceded by a possible trip to the mineral museum.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sedona and More Art

Well this is shaping up to be an expensive trip. After buying two original oils on Day One we invested in a copper sculpture for one of our background gardens. This is a wind sculpture and the movement is calming. Coming in at 6'7 it will be a wonderful outdoor piece.

Sedona is wonderful. Graham & I have decided it is a place to visit but not live. But we will return to hike all the mountain trails we saw while on our Hummer jeep tour. Great stuff.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Need for Speed

Nothing like a good go kart race! Graham and I lapped Mom. Our double car held the lead and had a blast.

Sunday In Scottsdale

Yesterday afternoon I attempted a run in the fantastic weather here in Scottsdale. I had been noticing that I was now able to actually push off from the ball of my left foot while walking. So why not try a run ?

I lasted about three blocks. The Achilles just was not in a proper place. If this is tendonitis it is a severe case. I know some cases of Achilles tendonitis can be a six week course. I'm now at two weeks and counting.

I have been swimming here in the lap (adult pool). They have one lane dedicated to laps. It is wonderful swimming outside. Strange because I'm working out while very white and very, ahem, overweight people lay beached on their chairs wondering what 'that fool is doing' while sipping on their sixteen cocktail before noon.

Our Sunday morning plan is a family hike to the summit of Lookout mountain and then a longer walk on its circumference trail to look at wildlife and flora. Two years ago we did Camelback....even The Boy who was only six. Have a wonderful Sunday wherever you may be.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pool Day Two

Done with the education (NASA) and now all afternoon in the pool. Low 80's and 1 percent humidity....ahhhhhh.

NASA Challenger Center

We are spending part of our Saturday in Peoria at the Challenger learning center. The Boy hopes to work for NASA some day.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Key Lime Martini's

Two years ago we visited Tommy Bahama's cafe in Scottsdale where I sweet talked the waiter into providing me the recipe for their key lime martini. Tonight, the return!

Sitting outiside in March to dine. Doesn't get any better than this.

New Paintings

Two new oils by Pedro Frailie have been added to our collection. We went through over 50 works by Frailie & narrowed to 7 and worked from there. These cell phone pics won't do any justice but we are thrilled to be adding these works to our home.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Arizona Bound

Winter attempted one last strangle hold on us as our spring escape to Scottsdale was under way. As the plane taxied the pilot announced there would be a slight delay to de-ice the plane.

Instead of flying first class as we did to London last August we elected to hold onto those valuable frequent flyer miles and pile into the rear, like tuna into a can of Starkist. And there wasn't one empty seat. Thank goodness for noise canceling ear-phones!

I passed the time listening to Drive By Truckers....Donald Fagen (Kamakiriad)...and classic Bowie (Scary Monsters). I got caught up on new technology via the latest issue of 'Laptop'. And I played lots of mindless Bejeweled.

Tonight we plan to go shopping for some oil paintings in the art district of Scottsdale. No Elvis on black velvet !!! We opt for little known Russian painters and also a up and coming artist out of Spain, Pedro Frailie. Nice way to slow down & ease in vacation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Home for the Next Week

On Thursday afternoon we'll be arriving at the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale for a family spring break.

Today it is 30-degrees with a dusting of snow on the ground. Thursday it'll be in the upper 70's in sunny Arizona. Most of our trip will be enjoyed in the lower 80's. We may elect not to return.

I was hoping to get in many a run while there. I'll be bringing the running gear along but the left Achilles is still barking and I'm not sure I'll do much more than soak in a Jacuzzi. Oh, I may get in a early morning swim or two in the adult pool and then opt for a massage in the poolside cabanas.

As time permits, I'll send in some Arizona updates for those remaining in the Tundra to slobber over. Hope all your training goes well!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Twenty Years Ago - Texas Revisited/Podcast 007

Audio Description: I go back twenty years to 1989 and revisit with my then training partner, Tim Carroll.

Guests: Tim Carroll

Songs Used: Animal by Def Leppard; Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones

Duration: 32 minutes, 58 seconds

Date Last Updated: Sat 21 Mar 2009 10:17:47 PM CDT

File Size: 32.8 MB

Sherman and Mr. Peabody enter the WABAC machine in 1960 to witness another time and place in history.

For this blog entry we jump in the time machine and portal back to 1989. I am living in the sister cities of Bryan & College Station, Texas. I am single, working retail pharmacy with all its screwy hours, and when I’m not working, I’m working out.

On this particular day I am finishing up a 10-mile run on the outskirts of Bryan. I’m on a lonely stretch of road. Ahead of me, perhaps a half-mile in the distance, I spy another runner.

At this stage in my life I’m 28-years old and in great shape. I pretty much mow down anyone I see running ahead of me, even on training runs. I am certifiably Hyper-Type-A. I start to pick-up the pace.

Something’s not quite right. After about a mile I have made very little progress on the runner ahead of me. He’s still out there. I can now see he is wearing only trunks. I pick up the pace again.

After another mile I’m about 100-yards behind him. I must be huffin’ and puffin’ as the runner slows up and looks over his shoulder. We introduce ourselves, and I explain I’ve been trying to catch him forever. He laughs. Handshakes are exchanged and a friendship is born.

That’s how I met Tim Carroll, a Texas native and carpenter by trade. And so tan that his nickname was Buckwheat. Best of all, he was an even better cyclist than runner, a two-fer-training partner. He was someone I could hook up with either for running, cycling, or the long brick on the weekend followed by a mega-pizza binge.

Twenty years ago when we could train like a monster, eat like Fat Albert, and still get by on little sleep, Tim and I would reel off three- to five-hour workouts. He’d always be pushing me on the bike, and I would push him on the run. There was never any competition between us. We hit the same races and supported each other. We even liked to create new challenges that we would not have done alone, but because we were training partners, we went forward together.

Such as the time in August 1989 when we decided to tackle back-to-back events. The first would be on a Saturday in Palestine where we would compete in a triathlon. We’d then load up after the race and drive to Dallas to compete in the big Coors Light Biathlon series the next day.

So, on a hot and muggy August Friday evening, we loaded the bikes into Tim’s little green pickup. The tunes being played at the time were mainly Def Leppard and the Rolling Stones. Not sure why I recall that fact, other than the Stones had just released a “best of” series. We had some beer, tossing the empties into the back with the bikes. Life was pretty damn good.

The Palestine triathlon was put on by the YMCA. Now this event had a unique twist to it. It was a half mile open water swim followed by a 3.6-mile run then a 15.6 mile bike. The transition from swim to run was, well, a little unorthodox, as we had basically staked claim on the shore via beach towels.

Brian tests the water prior to the Palestine Triathlon.

Transition on the shoreline from swim to run!

I don’t have any official results from this event. Maybe they had been thrown in the back of the truck with the empty beer cans and the bikes. But I did record my finish on the race number: ninth overall, second in the 25-29 age group.

Tim starts to load up the truck.

Brian rehydrates next to his Peugeot road bike.

It was then off to Dallas. We checked into the hotel later that afternoon. I quickly learned there was a masseuse available, as is typical for the big national events. My right calf was in a big knot, and I wanted it worked on. A massage and a few beers later, I was ready for the next day.

Bright, sunny skies greeted us. There were 695 males registered for the biathlon. Note – in those days, Coors Light was the big sponsor of these types of events, and they were called ‘biathlons’, not to be mixed up with the shooting-skiing sport. When people called them ‘duathlons’ we all looked at each other, wondering, “What planet are you from?”

This race was the typical national standard of a 5K run, 30K bike and 5K run. I toed the line with Kenny Souza at the start….and then watched him fade into the distance as the gun sounded. This was a whole other level of competition.

Souza blew away the field.

Out of 695 males, I finished 91st. This was a rare moment when I did not finish in the top 10% overall and didn’t care one damn bit. In fact, I only came in 32nd overall in the 25-29 age group. As you can see, I had a weak bike leg and a weak second 5K. But I had a blast. And I met a famous Olympian.

With Frank Shorter. Kenny Souza circled off Frank’s left shoulder.

Tim, five years older, finished in 163rd overall and 38th for the 30-34 age group. Like me, he had a weak bike leg and a weak second 5K. The back-to-back events had taken a bit of a toll, but we had met our challenge.

Brian and Tim results.

Back in training and wondering what else we could do that would help burn off some excess testosterone, along came a new challenge. Something called the Charlie Martin Double Dare. It was like this: Drive to Milano, Texas. Run a 10K race. Rest for 30 minutes. Run a 5K race. You could do either solo, but the race organizers were offering up the double dare as well.

Heck, Tim and I thought about it for about 30 seconds and sent in our entries to compete in each.

For this event, I have no records as the promised official results from the race director never materialized. But I do have the hardware.

The Charlie Martin Double Dare trophies.

I finished first in the 25-29 age group for the 10K. I rested and tried to keep loose. I recall that the 5K felt like I was running on rubber chickens, but I finished 4th for the 25-29 age group, finishing only behind three guys who had not done the 10K.

The rest of 1989 went on like this for Tim and me. We were my company’s ‘ringers’ in a corporate 5K in Houston. Tim beat me in a biathlon (yes, duathlon) in Tyler as he was becoming an animal on the bike. In a 5K in Livingston, I won and Tim got runner up in our age groups.

We finished high in a triathlon at Rice University. I recall that race because I tried to save transition time by racing in ‘water socks’ from the pool to the finish line at the end of the run. Last time I did that.

Towards the end of October we decided to try something new again: we’d do a relay. Tim would bike, and I would run. This would be for the Texas State Championships and would attract an elite field of competitors from across Texas. One issue: We needed a swimmer!

I found one right away. Throughout the year I had been swimming at the Bryan outdoor pool. The Parks & Rec department had developed a great program in which the pool was closed except to adult lap swimmers over lunch and in the afternoon. I had struck up many a conversation with one of the lifeguards on how to better my stroke, and so I asked him to join our triathlon relay. Pete Calabrese was in.

Pete stands in front of the person in the all yellow wetsuit.

On November 5, 1989, we went to Lake Conroe. It felt a little like fall out. The water temperature was 65 degrees and Pete had no wetsuit. It was very cold for the swimmers. These are Texas-acclimated residents, and 65 degrees was brisk indeed. Pete swam the 1K distance in just under 14 minutes. He wasn’t done as he had to run over 100 yards to the not-so-nearby transition area to tag off to Tim. And Tim had a monster ride.

Pete races to T1 from the lake.

Tim completes his awesome ride.

Tim rode the 30K course in 45:30 which equated to over a 24-mph average. He was primed for this race. He had been leaving me behind (or struggling badly) on training rides leading up to the event. He had found his niche. He came roaring into T2 mumbling something about a great tailwind and to get my ass moving.

Brian tears out of T2 for the 5K run.

There was no way I was going to let down the super efforts of Pete and Tim, so I went all out. I ran the 5K in a personal best or 16:30, averaging 5:19 per mile. We won the relay division, just a trio of local yokels who put their best effort together at the same time on the same day.

State Champs!

It stands as one of my proudest achievements to this day.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Outside! Whoo-Hoo!

It's sad when you actually cycle outside for the first time in five months and you feel like you are roaring along at an unheard of speed and you take a quick glance at the computer and you're no faster than you were as a five-year old on your first tricycle.

No matter. It was fantastic to be outdoors on the bike today. I wore tri-shorts and a long-sleeved cycle jersey and was very comfy as the outdoor temp was 55-degrees. It was actually a bit too warm!

I strapped onto the ol' Cannondale Bad Boy, opting to leave the tri-bike indoors until the snow is completely gone and the roads cleared of grime and grit. I went for a 90-minute ride and headed for my favorite ride to the Baker Park area west of Plymouth. It was a nice 27 mile ride. It was simply nice to stretch the legs and be outside. To reach this area, I have to ride a small segment of limestone trail, which was a bit on the muddy side. So it took me a while to hose down the bike and clean off the shoes afterwards!

The ol' left Achilles only ached if I left the saddle so I just stayed seated when climbing. The quads were burning at times but all in all, I came into the spring in pretty decent bike shape. Just need to add on some decent miles and some hills in the next 30 to 60 days and I should be ahead of last year's pace.

And I can't wait to get back out Sunday. As long as the weather stays decent.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Go Bison!

You are invited to join my online NCAA March Madness bracket group! To accept this invitation and join the group, click the link below (or cut and paste the link into your browser's address bar). You'll be asked to enter the group's password before you can join. The group password is included below.


Our Group password is: NDSU. Yes, the mighty North Dakota State Bison are in this year as the Summit League champions!

Scoring System:

This will be a 'add seed' scoring system. The seed of the winning team is added to the correct pick total. Ex. If the 12th seed wins and your weight is 1, then 13 points would be credited for the Win. Weights are as follows -
Rd 1 - 1
Rd 2 - 2
Rd 3 - 4
Rd 4 - 8
Semi's - 16
Finals - 32

We will use the final game's total score as a tiebreaker. Good luck!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The State of the Achilles - Held Hostage Day 12

Two songs came to mind when I got up Sunday morning and felt the left Achilles.

Artist: R.L. Burnside
Song: It's Bad You Know
Lyric Sample:

She asked me why?
Why I liked this song.
So I just went ahead and told her...
It's bad you know.
What the lyrics should be:

She asked me why?
Why I'm not running today.
So I just went ahead and told her...
It's bad you know.
Artist: Blondie
Song: Rip Her to Shreds
Listen: Give a listen.

Lyric Sample:

Yeah, she's so dull, come on rip her to shreds.
She's so dull, come on rip her to shreds.
What the lyrics should be:

Yeah, I ran so hard, I ripped my Achilles to shreds.
I ran so hard, I ripped my Achilles to shreds.
Listen to a little of each song. Other song suggestions?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Guinness, Harp, & a 5K (Updated with Recap)

Pre-race report for the 100% Irish For a Day 5K run.

At 6am it was a balmy 22-degrees. It is expected to be closing in on a sweltering 26-degrees by the time the event starts at 9am. Should I go short-sleeve or stick with long-sleeve?

Just for the hell of it, I checked the local temperature for Scottsdale, where I & the family will be vacationing in twelve days time. It's 54-degrees there. That would have been lovely for this event.

Well, the left Achilles is still sore. We'll see what happens. If nothing else I have the post race Beer Party to look forward to. Each eligible participant will receive one free 10oz Finnegan's Beer. I may even purchase additional beer for $3 each. The Beer Party begins at approx. 9:45. Somehow, that doesn't seem real appetizing at the moment.

After this race, I will have six weeks to get ready...and hopefully be injury free...for the start of the real season. The Winter Begone Duathlon actually falls on my 48th birthday this year. To say I am targeting that race is an understatement.

Time for a pint. Guinness, It's not just for breakfast anymore...


Well, that was pathetic. I guess for putting in a total of 8 miles in the last two weeks I should be happier. But still. This is getting disheartening.

Mile 1: Went out at 6:23. Perfect. Just where I wanted to be. Achilles was moaning but not barking. I was feeling like I could crack sub 20-min 5K which is what I should be doing. In my sleep. Without even trying. Kudo's to the race director who came up right before the start and told the guy pushing a double-wide baby stroller to get to the back and 'don't even think about" toeing the line with the front-runners. Christ Almighty, some people don't have a clue.

Mile 2: As the Irish (Father Ted rules!) say when upset, "Arse and Feck." Put in a 7:09 split here. Couple of reasons. One, the road was getting hit by sunlight and the temperature was right at freezing. So the moisture was starting its ugly freeze-thaw cycle. There was no traction. The best we could do was either slip-and-slide in the middle of the road or, as I did, move to the left shoulder and run on the grit and hope for the best. Second, the ten-miler racers had left 5-minutes before us. And now we were having to play dodge 'em with the weekend warriors who were out for there recreational jog which is more like a friendly conversational fast walk. And they were shoulder to shoulder. During a downhill portion that was especially icy, one person went all Genghis Khan and took out a few people like a bowling ball. So, I had hoped to pass the 2-mile mark at 13-minutes and fell short at 13:32 due to poor road conditions and heavy traffic. Jeez! That sounds familiar!

Mile 3: With the leisure suit types mainly out of the way, I was able to pick it back up and did mile three in 6:29. Any chance for a sub-20 was already out the door and the left Achilles was now an issue. My running gait was now a goofy looking land on the toe for the right foot and then flat-footed for the left. I decided not to push it into the finish and just floated in best I could.

Unofficial time: 21:03

Kudo's to Team Ortho & Marathon Sports for yet another great event! It was nice to finally meet Mr. John Larson, a truly great race director. I don't know where he finds the time.

As stated previously, I have six weeks until my next event. I have to get this Achilles issue taken care of and at this point, I am considering taking the next week completely off from running. I'll lose valuable mileage. And the weather next week is suppose to be in the upper 40's & lower 50's. Which would have been nice to enjoy. For sure, I'm taking the rest of the weekend off from running. Maybe things will look better on Monday.

Where's the beer?

Friday, March 13, 2009

PT Time

You know you're at the right sports physical therapist when you see the tri-suit of a national ranked triathlete.

The left Achilles is improving. For the 5K Saturday we decided to support with a Bauerfeind Achilles support. We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Can't Get Fired Up

The temp when I decided to open my eyes was minus four. Its now up to minus one. Fresh blanket of snow over a crusty layer of ice.

I am so tired of this. In some ways not having an option of working outside is worse than having an injury. Truly a downer.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon: Plymouth, Minnesota/Videocast 003

Video Description for people following on iTunes: Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon. Photo slideshow from swim portion.

Location: Plymouth, Minnesota

Duration: 1 minutes, 06 seconds

Date Last Updated: Sun 08 Mar 2009 02:17:47 PM CDT

File Size: 3.04 MB

On March 8, I kicked off my official triathlon season. You might wonder how the heck that would be possible in the Tundra of Minnesota with snow still on the ground and more on the way.

My fitness club, Lifetime Fitness, located in Plymouth hosted a indoor triathlon. It was great. I treated it as a C-event meaning I was just using it as a builder & speed workout as I get into shape for the upcoming season. Here's a little more on how this event was run.

Concept: The Indoor Triathlon is based on time (60 minutes of racing for each competitor) unlike an outdoor triathlon based on distance. Participants are allowed times for safe transition between race legs. Transitions don’t count toward the 60 minutes of racing time.
  • 10-minute swim in lap pool
  • 10-minute transition (swim to bike)
  • 30-minute bike in cycle fitness studio
  • 5-minute transition (bike to run)
  • 20-minute treadmill run

Scoring: The Indoor Triathlon is based on time rather than distance - meaning you receive points for going further in a specific period of time, not going faster over a fixed distance. Participants are graded on a curve. The furthest distance in each category gets the most points (actual number is based on total participants), the shortest receives 1 point, and your "score" for the discipline is based on the points you achieve. All three disciplines count equally toward your final score. Volunteers will record the distances of each participant in each event and tabulate the final score.

Neat, huh?

The closer the event came, I started to make myself crazy. I had just lost four days of training due to a business trip. I had worked hard on my swim all winter. Would it show in the pool this early in the season? I've been experimenting with new nutritional supplements. How would I hold up? I decided that even though my right hamstring had been coming along nicely from the tear experienced on February 1, it might be best to wear the neoprene sleeve on the ham. If nothing else, to help me psychologically.

So, ultimately I slept poorly.

I got out of bed (actually the couch) more than three hours prior to the event. I ate a Hammer Energy bar(Cashew Coconut Chocolate Chip) and had a glass of Perpetuem (Caffe Latte) and then turned on the coffee maker. During this time I checked my gear which I had packed the night before and started to do some easy stretches.

While having my cup of Joe, I went through each element of the race in my mind to review my goals and to think about the event. I find this helps calm me so that when I actually get to the event everything goes like clockwork.

I arrived at the club about 45-minutes before my wave was set to take off and checked in. My usual nervous pee wasn't too bad today so I only visited the urinal four times! What until you are in your late forties like me!

I was in Wave Seven so I had time to watch the swim process with Wave Six as far as how they would start and end. Simple whistle to start, voice-command to give a one-minute warning, and whistle to signal the ten minutes are up.

Note - Complying with Lifetime policies, no video is allowed to be taken inside the facility. My wife was able to take some photos of the swim event, so that is the only media you will see here.

The Swim

  • Goal - 22-24 lengths of the pool (25-meters)
  • Result - 25 lengths. 50-meter yard splits were 41, 43, 46, 47, 49, 50, 50, 50, 50, 50, 50, 49, 50-seconds. I set a 500-meter yard PR at 8:02. Great start. My winter swimming program was showing results.
  • Masters placing - 2nd
  • Overall placing - 8th

High-Definition YouTube Photo Slideshow of the Swim

The Bike

  • Goal - This was a tough goal to set. A pre-calibrated flywheel would rack up mileage depending on cadence. Based off last year's results where the upper Spin Dogs of War had mustered over 17-miles in thirty minutes, I set my goal for 16-miles. After all, I'm more of a power-watts kind of cyclist than someone who simply spins fast.
  • Result - 16 miles. I simply spun hard for 25 minutes and then sort of shut it down and coasted in order to save my legs for the run. It was sort of a frustrating portion for me as all I wanted to do was kick it into the baby cog and start churning some power. Instead, I was simply spinning against very little tension.
  • Masters placing - 2nd
  • Overall placing - 9th

The Run

  • Goal - This was simply going to be a 'Katy Bar the Door' type of effort. My goal was north of three miles in 20-minutes.
  • Result - 3.02 miles. I went out fast setting the treadmill at 9.2. This was equal to running 6:30ish a mile. I held this pace for twelve minutes and then my left Achilles started to ache a bit. Yeah, I know. I just healed the right Achilles and now the left has been acting up a bit...but I'm getting treatment and I'll be OK. I backed off a bit for the next seven minutes and then picked it up again in the last sixty seconds. I made my goal easily even after essentially shutting 'er down a little over midway through.
  • Masters placing - 1st
  • Overall placing - 5th

Goal - I simply wanted to hit my individual goals. There was no 'win at any cost' objective here with this C-race. I was extremely satisfied about my swim which will give me confidence going into the outdoor triathlon season. I'm sure my buddies at the Tri-Talk Forums will give me grief for basically shutting it down and coasting it in at the end of the bike and run but that's what friends are for!

Male Overall Placing (Open and Masters) - 5th overall
Male Masters (40 and up) Placing - 1st overall

So, my first victory of the season. Nice little C-event!

Other Locals

Congrats to David Don Schmeichel who finished second overall at the Coon Rapids event. David Don is the oldest son (here I thought it was younger son David!) of Russ Schmeichel, my high school Cross Country/Track & Field coach that I mentioned in the 24-Hour Relay blog entry.

David's Don's Numbers
  • Swim - 30 lengths
  • Bike - 17.7 mi
  • Run - 2.91 mi

And then David Don came back and also did Plymouth where he took second overall again!

  • Swim - 33.5 lengths
  • Bike - 18 mi
  • Run - 2.9 mi

I'll have to give his dad grief for letting a 48-year old beat his youngin' on the run!

Jon Borscheid, of Borsch In Training, completed his first triathlon at the Eagan location. Congrats to Jon!

Jon's Numbers

  • Swim - 14 lengths
  • Bike - 15.2 mi
  • Run - 2.01 mi

Nice job you guys!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Podcast 006: Flats as Trainers?

Audio Description: Going minimalist with your training shoe will actually prevent injury. Trade in your heavy trainer for a racing flat!

Material Source: Triathlon, April 2009, StarTribune, German ultra magazine Spiridon, SportScience.

Songs Used: Collarbone by Fujiya And Miyagi; Lose Yourself by Eminem

Duration: 22 minutes, 44 seconds

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

File Size: 21.3 MB

Shoes Discussed

Vibram USA Inc. FiveFingers
Touted as the first footwear to offer "the sensation of going barefoot with the protection and security of a sole," Vibram's FiveFingers shoe-gloves have toe slots, stretchy synthetic uppers and thin rubber soles. $70 and up.

Rubber lugs extend a quarter-inch from the base of the forefoot region on these high-end runners. The design attempts to promote an efficient and natural technique, minimizing heel-striking and increasing speed. $155 and up.

Inov-8 applies a barefoot philosophy to trail runners, reducing padding in many models to sell shoes with a low-profile midsole and mesh uppers that offer only mediocre protection. The result? Natural foot flex on the trail in shoes that weigh half as much as the competition. Model F-Lite 230, $90.

Deep grooves in the sole grant these Nikes the flexibility to move naturally with your foot and "activate" foot muscles, according to the company. Nike sells three "levels" of Free shoes, letting you pick a padded version on down to a minimalist racing flat. $60 and up.

Nike Lunaracer+
The Nike Lunaracer+ Men's Running Shoe is the answer for the fleet-footed runner who wants it all—a light-as-a-feather, low-profile shoe with inherent stability and remarkably plush cushioning. Nike+ enabled for instant workout feedback when used with either a Nike+ SportBand or an iPod® nano and Nike + iPod Sport Kit. Highly breathable upper with Flywire for ultra-lightweight support and comfort. $100.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

More Perks for Exec's

OK, maybe I'm way off base here and missing something but World Triathlon Corporation, owner of the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 brands, announced the launch of the Ironman Executive Challenge XC. The program targets top-level executives and provides its members with the opportunity to compete at the following sold-out events in 2009: Ford Ironman Coeur dAlene, Frankfurter Sparkasse Ironman Germany, Ford Ironman Lake Placid, Ford Ironman Louisville, Ford Ironman World Championship (by qualification only) and Ford Ironman Arizona.

The mission of the Ironman Executive Challenge (XC) is:
"To provide the ultimate Ironman experience for the world's top business leaders."
I will now enter my Dana Carvey 'Grumpy Old Man' persona, the embittered old man figure with white hair, glasses, and a sour sneer.

In my day, we didn't have fancy ways to bypass sold out triathlon events just because you had money coming out your ass. We trained hard by running over rusty nails and big bags of broken glass! If you wanted to do a wind-trainer exercise on your bike, you had to step outside in the middle of a hurricane! You would get your workout in, but you would also get a sharp piece of wood driven clean through your skull--'Look, I'm a human head kebab!'--that's the way it was and we liked it, we loved it!

So, during a period when most of America is revolting against the the degree of the executive banking worlds’ brazen audacity to take bonuses comes another perk for the people who dwell at the top of the builing. At a time when the normal American Joe is putting heat on every board of directors to step up to the plate and prevent wasteful expenditures of corporate funds on outsized executive bonuses and other perks comes a benefit that really hits home to triathletes.

And this one makes me mad as hell.

Now, it's been a long day of traveling and meetings so if I misread this story and its intent, I'm sure some good soldier will point it out to me. But I sort of think WTC really timed this annoucement very, very badly.

Monday, March 2, 2009

My Retül Bike Fit/Videocast 002

Video Description: My Retül bike fit at Gear West Triathlon in Long Lake Minnesota.

Location: Gear West, Long Lake Minnesota

Duration: 0 minutes, 47 seconds

Date Last Updated: Mon 02 Mar 2009 09:17:47 PM CDT

File Size: 13.7 KB

This past Saturday (2/28/2009), I took the next step to try and get every single breath of speed out of my bike for the 2009 season. On a cold morning (5 above) with a fresh blanket of snow on the ground I loaded up the Cervélo and headed to Gear West as I had scheduled a bike fit using Retül technology.

The entire staff at Gear West have been great since I made the investment in the Cervélo back in the fall of 2007. They have built a national following due to their customer service, customer support, and heck...these guys race and train locally as well. I've run across them working out at the same places that I haunt. The connection is there.

Doing my bike fit was Curt Wood and from the minute I stepped foot in the door he was ready to go. Two hours went by very fast. Let's talk about Retül to develop a base of understanding for those not familiar with it.

Retül optimizes the biomechanics of the rider while taking into consideration why people choose to get a bike fit:

  • Performance
  • Comfort
  • Injury prevention

Gear West is on an exclusive list of bike fitters who have invested in this dynamic, 3 dimensional biomechanical measuring system. Retül does not use formulas to tell the fitter what adjustments need to be made, but instead gives the most accurate information available so the fitter can make the adjustments he/she feels necessary.

It is still the experience and knowledge of the fitter which will get you in your ideal position. Retül takes 3D measurements via infrared markers on the cyclist while cycling. The measurements are accurate to less than 1mm and are taken while the cyclist is actually spinning as opposed to a static measurement. These dynamic 3D measurements also provide data to the fitter which validates the changes the fitter has made during the fitting process.

When you are finished you will have ultra precise measurements of your position. This will allow you to duplicate this position in the future, as well as a baseline for any future changes that are made to your position.

My current setup, as pictured below, was comfortable. Yet, I felt as if I could get into a better aerodynamic position on the bike. And that was the main goal of my bike fit: Get aero while maintaining pedal stroke efficiency and mechanics.

After getting my markers attached to various areas on my shoe, ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, and wrist we were ready for the first run of data. I held a steady cadence of 90 RPM's for twenty seconds and we reviewed the first set of data.

First Run – click on image for larger view

Right away we took note of the 24-degree back angle. We had to get that down. Curt liked the numbers coming back on my hip & knee angles and was very pleased with my knee travel. In short, I had a efficient stroke and we didn't want to hinder that while trying to get the best aero position up top.

The decision was made to raise the saddle 1 cm and bring down the handle-bar stem 1 cm. We then ran another test.

Second Run – click on image for larger view

Even with just a slight adjustment totalling 2 cm's, I immediately felt a bit more comfy & powerful on the bike. Talk about blowing your mind. Two lousy centimeters had reduced my back angle from 24-degrees to 22-degrees. To top it off, there was virtually no change to ankle, knee, or hip readouts. My knee tracing was a bit more wobbly but very, very minor.

The back angle was still not in acceptable range for Curt, so we added another 1-cm to the saddle and reduced the handle-bar stem by another 1-cm. Time for run number three.

Third Run – click on image for larger view

The back angle was now down at 20-degrees and where Curt wanted it. It felt good to me as well. But the saddle seemed just a touch too high. The knee angle extension was starting to drift. The hips didn't feel as comfortable to me and I could tell my right leg, which is shorter than my left, was struggling.

We left the handle-bar stem alone and lowered the saddle 1/2 cm. Again, just 1/2 cm. We ran anothe data set.

Final Run – click on image for larger view

It felt perfect. And best of all, my back angle remained at 20-degrees. We achieved the best ankle range of all the runs at 34-degrees. The knee traveled a bit more in this run but then I ran at a higher RPM, ninety-three, than I had in the previous. Probably as I was now getting warmed up and starting to feel good in the saddle!

So from first run to final (from the left side) we:

  • Bettered my back angle from 24 to 22-degrees
  • Bettered my ankle range from 32 to 34-degrees
  • Kept my knee travel from changing from the increase in saddle height

We then reversed and did the right side. I had mentioned to Curt that I was pretty sure my right leg was shorter. We're not talking inches here, just enough to throw a person off and lead to some mechanic issues. Long story short, we added a shim underneath my right shoe cleat and right away the difference could be felt. My right knee was not acting like my left!

Curt suggested that I ride with the single cleat shim for a few weeks and then return and possibly add another one. He didn't want to add too much too quick as to hurt my mechanics. But even with one shim, I felt much more balanced.

At the end, my bike was 'created' on the Retül system by using a tracing tool that fed directly into the computer. Those measurements can be seen here.

Final Bike Setup for Future Reference– click on image for larger view

Photos and Video

After Fit - click on image for larger view

I'll be traveling on company business through Thursday and not able to respond to any comments or questions in a timely fashion. All the same, any questions on this bike just leave a comment and I will respond. Or you can e-mail me.