Sunday, March 21, 2010

Race Result: Nun Run 10K

Location: Victory Sports Complex - Glendale, AZ
Race Sponsor: 4 Peak Racing

Over all results available here. Age Group results available here.

And the Maas men are bringing home some fine hardware from their respective AG podium finishes.

Brian - 5th overall in the 10K (195 total). 1st overall 40-49 (21 total). More later.

The Boy® - He decided to run instead of walk. I didn't know if this young 9-yo could actually do 3.1 miles. But run he did. And in his first 5K race what does he do? He podiums, getting 3rd in the 9-10 Male AG. And finished 90th out of 490 total participants (all ages). Awesome. Simply awesome. And best of all? He wants to do another one.

The Well Kept Wife™ - I would be remiss for not including the significant other. This was a true family event. She did the 5K walk but was chipped as well and thus, garnered an official 240th place. That was good for 37th out of 87 women in her AG. We'll take that. There was mention by the Boy® that perhaps she should try running next time, ahem.

As for me, hey, it was almost ideal conditions. Temp at start time was 59-F. A bit of a stiff breeze which hampered a bit on the course....not so much because of running into the wind but because this was off-road. So we were dealing with some dust.

My target had been 42:33 (6:51 pace) and I ended up with 41:32 (6:41 pace). I took mile splits through the first 3 miles, then as the 10K was a two lap course we ran into traffic. From baby strollers to people walking four abreast it was hard to navigate, let alone see the mile markers. So I was not able to take splits on the 2nd 5K lap.

Mile One - 6:23 pace
Mile Two - 6:41 pace
Mile Three - 6:42 pace
2nd 5K lap - 6:44 pace

I felt great and was happy for the result. My hamstrings had been bothering me the last two weeks but thanks to two massages, icing, heat, rest I had no issues until the last mile when the left hammy started to tighten. I'm happy with the race results considering it was off-road and the heavy traffic on the 2nd lap. You can view the race, via Garmin, here.

And like any first time event, one could say the field was a bit weak. Heck, think my 41:32 would mean squat in a big event? Nope. But I did find it interesting that my 5K split (19:46) would have won the 5K open event, period. So at least all the top dogs were running the 10K.

The awards were handed out shortly after. Here is a short video showing the start of the 10K (I'm the dude wearing a bright neon yellow singlet) and the Maas men getting their awards from the Sisters.

And thanks so much for all those you helped the Maas family raise $381 dollars for the Sisters. They truly appreciated it. Such great spirit in them. They had us laughing out loud several times. And provided some gospel that can give every runner relate to. From 1 Corinthians 9:

Our life is like unto a race.

9:24 Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win.

9:25 Every man who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.

9:26 I therefore run like that, as not uncertainly. I fight like that, as not beating the air,

9:27 but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.

I can tell way I can maintain my projected 6:51 pace for the Fargo half marathon at this point. No way at all. But I have some time. We'll see. I'm not going to adjust my sub 1 hour 30 minute goal just yet!

I highly recommend this race to everyone. There will be a 2nd annual event next year. Please put it on your calendar if you are able to join!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Race Preview: Nun Run 10K

If you are reading this on Friday (March 19th) then I know it will give you great comfort that the Well Kept Wife™, the Boy®, and myself are en route to Scottsdale, Arizona for our spring break. If I have my way....we will not be returning.

On Saturday (March 20), I will be doing a off-road 10K. It is called the Nun Run and you can read all about the event from an earlier blog posting. I'm stoked.

I have not raced in a 10K event since February 19, 1989 when I ran a 35:27 (5:42 per mile pace) in the Straight Shot 10K in Bryan-College Station, Texas. Shout out to good buddy Tim Carroll!

I am not aiming to improve on that time. Those days are long over. It is now twenty-one years later. Some days it is a struggle just to make it up the stairs ;)

I am hoping for a 6:51 per mile pace which would equate to a 42:33 10K time. This is important as my goal for the upcoming Fargo Half Marathon...lofty and insane as it to go sub 1 hour 30 minutes....which is 6:51 pace. If I can't even do that in a 10K, even an off-road event, then I know I might need to rethink that half-marathon goal.

As of March 17, there were 145 participants in the 10K. Of those, 57 were males. Of those, 15 are in the highly competitive 40-49 AG. Guess I'll need to rely on instincts, guts, and luck to pull out a podium in the AG here.

I hope to provide an update on the results via Twitter on Saturday and do a bigger race update on Sunday. Wish me luck! I just hope I don't encounter a scorpion or rattler on the trail....but I have a feeling I'll be OK.

Note - I am also doing a fundraiser for this event. If you have not yet had a chance to donate, please consider a small donation to help out the Nuns!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Wife Wanted to Hose Me Down Outside (aka The Luce Line is NOT Dry Yet!)

Earlier this week, I got in my first ride outside. It was 59-F, and except for the wind (from the NW at 15 gusting to 20 MPH) it was pleasant. I was just happy to be outside on a bike. Really, really happy.

I had planned to do a 27-mile ride, taking me from my secret lair...connect with the Luce Line....then out to Baker Park. I ended up going just 22-miles. Two reasons for this:

1) The Luce Line is only partially paved. The rest is limestone. We've had a lot of rain and now the temps have everything in full-thaw mode. Scratch the limestone description. It was quick sand. So my pace was greatly reduced. I kept the cadence up but there were times when my speed as hovering around 14 MPH and I felt like I was moving in molasses.
2) The wind was pretty stiff heading out. Yeah, my 'outdoor legs' are not where I'd like them to be....but I had planned to cover 27-miles in 90-minutes and be back in time to meet the Boy® at the school bus stop. I knew at the 45-minute mark I would have to call off the planned 27-miler. I am a good Dad.

Here is the course: Note all images can be viewed larger by clicking on them.

Here is the status of my cleats afterwards.

Side view of the bike.

Over the crankset.

From the back.

And from the front.

Me thinks I'll give the path a little longer to dry out before I attempt that route again! But it was a lot of fun at the same time.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Recommended: IB Relief Ibuprofen Homeopathic Topical Cream

This past Xmas, the Well Kept Wife™ had done her due diligence and visited Gear West Triathlon where she loaded up on various stocking stuffer goodies. Sometimes, stocking stuffers can be hit-or-miss but this time she did hit on something: IB Relief Ibuprofen Homeopathic Topical Cream.

IB-RELIEF is a new and safe daily pain relieving topical cream. It allows for immediate absorption to the site of the pain. This topical cream form offers important advantages over oral pain relievers like Advil. Smaller amounts of the active ingredients may be used as they do not have to be absorbed and passed through the G.I. Tract. It works extremely well on inflammation of tendons, ligaments and joints [sports injuries, sprains, strains and bruises]. Best of all, it is non-greasy, will not stain skin, dries in seconds and is absorbed immediately. And is odorless. I no longer need to smell like a walking infomercial for all things menthol based.

To become effective, it may take 48 to 72 hours as its anti-inflammatory actions are curative. One may apply IB-RELIEF 3 to 4 times a day unless your physician or health care professional advises otherwise. Active Ingredients: Ibuprofen 1x, Arnica Montana 6x. Other Natural Ingredients: Black Currant (Ribes Nigrum) Seed Oil, Borage (Borago officinals) Seed Oil, Virgin Olive Oil, & Lavender Oil.

It is pricey. $19.99 for 2oz tube. I've been using it on my hammies when I feel that certain 'twinge' after a hard workout. My recovery time is greatly improved. And I don't have to worry about burning a hole in my gut by taking oral ibuprofen.

I do recommend this product and would purchase it again. If you have a hard time finding it, I believe it is also known as Bio-Relief Homeopathic Topical Cream and I see it available on Amazon.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dearth of USAT Sanctioned Races in Minnesota

Yeah, I might get some flak for this posting...but you cannot deny it. There is really a dearth of USAT sanctioned races in Minnesota. Come to think of it, there really is a lack of races when compared to other spots in the country.

This it not to say we don't have excellent race directors here in the Tundra. We do. This is not to say we don't have excellent athletes, coaching and competition despite the fact we train wearing Russian fur hats eight months out of the year.

Lets take a look at two of the three Multi-Sport Informational calendar pages from the March issue of Runner Triathlete News out of Texas....where the sky at night is big and bright. Note - click on each image for larger view.

160 events in the Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico,Louisiana region. The vast majority of them are USAT sanctioned (as indicated by the © symbol). Wow.

And what great concepts. Take, for instance, this 'staged' event taking place in Arkadelphia, Arkansas April 24-25. The Iron Mountain Family Multisport Weekend consists of a Iron Mountain Sprint Tri (400 Yard Swim/13.5 mile Bike/2.5 mile Run) taking place Saturday afternoon. Then you return Sunday morning to take part in the Iron Mountain Sprint Duathlon (2.5 mile Run/13.5 mile Bike/2.5 mile Run). The two can be done combined or singly. If you do both, you are then eligible for the Iron Mountain Tri/Du Stage Race. Custom Awards will be offered to the fastest combine times for the Tri and Du. Stock medals are offered for individual races.

Neat! But back to my rant.

To be ranked nationally in USAT for the 2010 season you will need to compete and finish two USAT sanctioned duathlons and three USAT sanctioned triathlons. If you live and race in Texas you will have this quota fulfilled by the end of April. Up here the ice hasn't even left the lakes yet.

This is not a rant about the weather, either. I'm fine with it. I know I won't actually retire up here but for the time being living in Minnesota suits me fine. But what I have been getting really upset about....and thus this blog

1) Tell me exactly where there is a concise Minnesota race calendar in which it informs the athlete if the event is USAT sanctioned or not?
2) Why so few USAT sanctioned events, period?

And lets add in another question while we are at it...specific to duathlon. Tell me which Minnesota duathlons are USAT sanctioned? I'm not even sure a Minnesotan can actually get in two USAT sanctioned du's without traveling elsewhere. Yeah, I'm probably wrong. But after a week of contacting numerous race directors to inquire about their events I don't think I'm far from the fact.

Someone out there in Minnesota tri-land must have the knowledge and the time to put together a race calendar similar to what is show above and make sure it states USAT sanctioned availability. That's all I ask. Then I can stop ranting about this like a loony.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Help! I Can't Breathe!

Last year I had two races in which I experienced what could best be described as panic attacks while in the swim portion of the triathlon. One event, the Waconia Tri, ended up being a very short day for me as I DNF. The other, Minneman, I made it out of the water after spending a few minutes on a life guards noodle...but the damage had been done.

In those two cases, I had been wearing a De Soto Liftfoil trisuit. Now, I love this suit. But is is very constrictive across the chest. I experienced no issues in warm-ups....and I get in a good 10-15 minutes of swim warm ups....but in each instance about 150-yards into the swim I found I could not catch my breath. I began to panic and despite my best efforts to calm the little voice inside my head screaming, "you are going to DIE!", I simply had to stop.

Two years ago, I had a similar experience at the Bismarck Triathlon. In that case, I simply rolled onto my back and swam backstroke for 10-15 yards and all was well again. In fact, I came out of the water with the ninth best swim split. In that case not only was I wearing the De Soto but also a QR wetsuit....also constrictive.

So this year, I intend to eliminate all that. I'm not going to wear the DeSoto but opt for a speedsuit that is not so tight across the manly chest. I also invested....and I do mean, a new westuit.

I purchased a De Soto T1 Water Rover.

This wetsuit is a unique TWO-PIECE DESIGN meaning more comfort and less restriction. Because the top and bottom are not attached, changing your stroke is not necessary. De Soto has eliminated the torso-rubber-stretch that causes shoulder restriction, and with it, the fatigue that occurs with traditional one-piece wetsuits. The different models of tops and bottoms are sold as separates so you can customize your fit and your performance needs.

PULLOVERS WITH ZIPPERS: Lightweight, custom-made zippers allow all Pullovers and Vest a more intuitive and faster removal.

LOW NECKLINE: This feature facilitates breathing, eliminating the "first timer's choking sensation," often accompanying one-piece suits. This feature makes it easier to turn your head to breathe and to raise your head to look forward. This also reduces chafing.

BIO-STROKE DESIGN: When lifting your arms, your shoulders rotate forward. A wetsuit should not inhibit this motion. The Bio-Stroke Design pulls the arms forward (resembling a mummy walking) and makes swimming less confining.

CORRECTS YOUR SWIMMING POSITION: The optimized hip flotation further lifts the hips and legs to put the body in the efficient "downhill" swimming position. De Soto was the first wetsuit company to do so.

SPEED: The T1 Wetsuit has repeatedly been proven to be the fastest on the market. It is made with Yamamoto SCSTM Super Composite Skin, making it flexible, buoyant, and very fast to remove.

De Soto Water Rover Upper Features ($280):

•2mm: The most flexible rubber is found on the entire torso, neck and shoulders. As with all T1 Wetsuits, maximum reach, shoulder flexibility and arm rotation are reached.

•8mm: Found only on the arms from the triceps to the wrists. This thickness creates a larger surface area with which to push water. The thick arms also create an additional level of surface buoyancy during the reach and glide phase of the swim stroke. De Soto is the first to offer this.

•5mm: These special panels on the forearms simplify the donning and removal of the Water Rover. On the forearms, the 5mm to 8mm seam creates a step that becomes a bigger “paddle” with which to push water.

De Soto Water Rover Lower Features ($370):

•2mm: De Soto's most flexible rubber is found on the bibstraps and body, on both front and back, to the crotch.

•2mm: This thin rubber helps keep the body from over-heating in warmer waters.

•5mm: These special panels simplify the donning and removal of the Water Rover.

•5mm: Runs along the back of the leg, from just above the knee, to the bottom of the elliptical leg opening allowing entry and exit from the water as easy any other wetsuit.

•10mm: De Soto put the thickest rubber right where you need the most buoyancy; the outer hips and legs, where the largest muscles and bones in the body are found.

•10mm: Runs all the way down the leg.

I've talked with a lot of people about the merits of this wetsuit. I've read reviews that show it does shave off valuable seconds. I was able to score a 15% discount at Just ask me how, if you are interested.

Now I can't wait to start training in it. So, if you are out nearby Lake Independence in May and see a guy wearing this..its me. Stop by and say 'hello'....if you can catch me!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Crazy? First Half Of Season Possible Schedule

I'm toying with doing seven races over eight weeks for the front half of the upcoming 2010 triathlon season. I'm just not sure yet as I didn't want to do as many races as last year.....yet, this is so tempting.

I know what some of you will say: Enter but treat some of the races as speed training or a B/C event. Well, that's all fine and good. I will admit I have mellowed like fine wine as I now approach my 49th year. However, once the gun goes off my Type-A competitive nature takes over and I leave my guts out there on the course for everyone to salute. So, there are no 'easy' races for me.

Event 1 - May 15 (signed up) - Lakes to Pines Triathlon - 500 yd swim - 14.7 mi bike - 5K run
Event 2 - May 22 (signed up) - Fargo Half Marathon

One week break

Event 3 - June 5 - Grand Forks (Dewey Kvidt Memorial) Duathlon - 3 mi run-15mi bike-3 mi run
Event 4 - June 12 - Liberty Triathlon (USAT) - Oly Tri
Event 5 - June 20 - Bismarck Tri - 500m Swim, 20k Bike, 5k Run
Event 6 - Jun 26 (signed up) - XTERRA Pipestem Creek Off Road Triathlon - Swim 1000 meters, Mountain Bike 13 mi, Trail Run 5 mi
Event 7 - July 3 - MinneMan Sprint Triathlon (USAT) - 0.3 Mile Swim, 13 Mile Bike, 3 Mile Run

So what do y'all think? Go for it and see what happens? Are seven events too much to tackle over a eight week period?

The plus side is I would get in two of the three required USAT sanctioned tri's to qualify for national ranking in 2010. Risks include injury. I'm especially worried about how I will come out of the Fargo Half Marathon. That is the one event where I could 'shut 'er down', especially if I am not on 1 hour 30 minute pace at the 10-mile mark.

So, all you tri-geeks: Yea or Nay?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fundraising: The Nun Run 10K

I am doing my first fund raising effort as part of my upcoming 10K race in Glendale, Arizona on March 20. I am running to help raise funds for the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, a cloistered community of Nuns - who are without a cloister! The event is to help raise funds to build a chapel and monastery in Tonopah, AZ!

My goal is to raise $250 for the cause. You can donate on-line at this link. I have tested the link and it is secure. You are able to use Visa Debit, Visa, Mastercard, or American Express.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Commuter Dreams

A Portland bike commuter and dedicated Tour De France fan gets up early to watch the TDF live, but as the stage ends he realizes he is going to be late to work. His exciting "race" to work is narrated by Tour de France TV commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I Feel Sanctified

USA Triathlon has always had a rankings engine so triathletes can find out where they stack up against others in the their age group in the United States.

The rankings have been a valuable benefit for USAT members for several years. The system uses a mathematical formula to rank athletes according to their performances at USAT sanctioned events throughout the year, with the final year-end rankings determining All-America and Honorable Mention honors.

See the rankings engine in action at

An athlete must be an annual member by December 31 in order to qualify for that year’s final rankings. In addition to membership, one must have competed in three USAT sanctioned triathlons to qualify for the final rankings. Other disciplines such as duathlon, aquathlon, and off-road are available and only require completion of two USAT sanctioned events.

Last year I competed in two USAT sanctioned triathlons and one USAT sanctioned duathlon so I fell short of getting an official ranking. This year, I'd like to change that. Not only that, I'd like to try and qualify for XTERRA ranking as well.

For XTERRA, one can enter as many races as they want. Your best four (4) finishes count. You must compete in at least one (1) race in your XTERRA Region of Residence and count at least two (2) races in your XTERRA Region Of Residence. Athletes do not have to qualify to participate in XTERRA Regional Championship Series races. Example: John finishes 2nd in one regional race. He gets injured and cannot compete in another regional race. He can simply count a zero for his second regional race and use his one regional finish and any other two finishes for your final ranking.

So, this is where I need your help. What are the sanctioned races out there that will allow me to complete my goal of completing three triathlons, two duathlons, and three XTERRA sanctioned events? They must also fit my current race calendar availability as follows:

May 15 (signed up, not USAT) - Lakes to Pines Triathlon - 500 yd swim - 14.7 mi bike - 5K run
May 22 (signed up) - Fargo Half Marathon
June 5 (does not appear to be sanctioned) - Grand Forks Duathlon - 3 mi run-15mi bike-3 mi run
June 20 (does not appear to be sanctioned) - Bismarck Tri - 500m Swim, 20k Bike, 5k Run
Jun 26 (signed up, sanctioned) - XTERRA Pipestem Creek Off Road Triathlon - Swim 1000 meters, Mountain Bike 13 mi, Trail Run 5 mi
Aug 22 (does not appear to be sanctioned) - Mandan Triathlon - Swim 500 meters - Bike 13 mi - Run 3.1 mi
Aug 28 (sanctioned) - Maple Grove Triathlon - Sprint or Oly

So, let's start with the duathlon calendar. I just need two races. Possibilities:

Saturday, May 01, 2010: Falls Duathlon
Cannon Falls, Minnesota Hannah's Bend Park
USAT sanctioned status unknown. AG is 40-49, not five year.

Sunday, September 12, 2010: Treadman Duathlon
Pine Island, Minnesota The park at Center Drive & 1st Ave NE
USAT sanctioned status unknown. AG is 40-49, not five year.

Saturday, September 25, 2010: Cannon Wells Duathlon
Faribault, Minnesota Shager Park on Cannon Lake

USAT sanctioned status unknown. AG is 40-49, not five year.

Can anyone verify if these du's listed above are USAT sanctioned? I could certainly be able to fit the Falls Du into my early season calendar along with one of the du's in September. Otherwise, going south to late season warmer climes such as Texas could be possible.

Onto the triathlon calendar. I need three races. Possibilities:

Saturday, July 3, 2010: MinneMan Triathlon
USAT sanctioned

Sunday, July 25, 2010: Chisago Lakes Triathlon - (Half + Sprint)
Chisago Lakes, Minnesota Paradise Park
USAT sanctioned

Sunday, August 01, 2010: Waseca Triathlon
Waseca, Minnesota Clear Lake Park
USAT sanctioned status unknown, but I know it was last year. AG is 40-49, not five year.

Saturday, Aug 28, 2010: Maple Grove Triathlon - Sprint or Oly
USAT sanctioned

These are possible and can fit into my current calendar. But I will have to make a decision fast as some of these fill up quickly. Otherwise, I fit in what I can and again look south if need be.

Finally, XTERRA. I am already signed up for one event which is not in my region of residence. Weird that North Dakota is not in the same region as Minnesota but there you go.

Mid West: (MW) = Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio,
Mountain: (MT) = Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah,

So, I need to find two (?) events in the Mid West region and find one last event nationally. Possibilities:

8/1/10 XTERRA Sugar Bottom, North Liberty IA, USA
1500m swim - a slightly crooked out and back
22km bike - pure single track goodness on the south half of the trails
10km run - equally pure and challenging single track on the north half of the trails

8/1/10 XTERRA Forest Drive, Aberdeen SD, USA
The Race Consists of a 1100 meter swim, 14 mile mountain bike and 4.5 mile trail run

8/14/10 XTERRA B.O.L.T., Lincoln, NE, USA
The Course consists of a 1000m swim, 21k mountain bike and an 8k trail run. But they specify no cross or hybrid bikes and not sure what that means. I plan to use the Cannondale Bad Boy which I think is OK.

Getting ranked for XTERRA would seem to not be very possible at this point. We'll see how that falls out. I may be content to do the one, my first, this year and see what 2011 may bring.

If you have a fav USAT sanctioned race that you think I should consider, please leave a comment and let me (and others) know. All suggestions welcome!

Note - Gear West put together a handy race calendar. It includes all races within a couple hundred mile radius of the Twin Cities.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

North Indian-Style Spinach Chicken

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Yield: Serves 4

3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 large onion, chopped
8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, quartered
2-in. piece fresh ginger
4 large garlic cloves
2 teaspoons each ground coriander and cumin
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds boned, skinned chicken thighs, cut into 1-in. chunks
1 cup diced canned tomatoes
1 pound baby spinach
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. In a 6- to 8-qt. pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add fenugreek seeds; sizzle 2 seconds, then stir in onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, mince ginger and garlic.

2. Add ginger, garlic, turmeric, cayenne, coriander, cumin, and salt to pot; sizzle a few seconds. Add chicken and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes, or until no longer pink on the outside. Add tomatoes and simmer, covered, 8 minutes.

3. Stir in spinach and simmer, covered, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, chop enough cilantro leaves and tender stems to yield 1 cup. Stir into pot, along with lemon juice. Serve with cooked rice.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 565 (59% from fat)
Protein: 35g
Fat: 37g (sat 8.3)
Carbohydrate: 25g
Fiber: 7.9g
Sodium: 1384mg
Cholesterol: 143mg

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Bitchin' Camaro

I ran over my neighbors
Now it's in all the papers.
My folks bought me a BITCHIN CAMARO with no insurance to match;
So if you happen to run me down, please don't leave a scratch.
I ran over some old lady one night at the county fair;
And I didn't get arrested, because my dad's the mayor.
Doughnuts on your lawn
Tony Orlando and Dawn
When I drive past the kids, they all spit and cuss,
Because I've got a BITCHIN CAMARO and they have to ride the bus.
So you'd better get out of my way, when I run through your yard;
Because I've got a BITCHIN CAMARO;
And an Exxon credit card.
Hey, man where ya headed?
I drive on unleaded.

by The Dead Milkmen

The first new car I ever bought with my hard earned cash was a 1984 bitchin' Z28 Camaro with glass T-tops. I had dreamt about that car from the time I first strapped on a helmet at age four and sat in my Dad's sprint car (see photo below). He was the North Dakota Class sprint car champion at the time. You might say I was born into speed.

So, why am I writing about a Z28 Camaro? Last week I spoke with Gear West Triathlon's Curt Wood to inquire if he had any road bike in stock in the 51cm size range. He did some searching and had a model he suggested for me. One day later I was in the store, sat on the know that feeling when you try something on and you know IMMEDIATELY it is perfect...about five seconds was all it took to know this would be the fourth bike in my stable.

The bike is the Felt Racing Z25. Now you see the Z-connection. This bike will be known as the Bitchin' Camaro.

On one hand you want relaxed comfort, on the other you want blazing speed. Put your hands together for Felt's phenomenal Z25. This swift steed boasts a feathery ultra-high-modulus carbon frame and fork built with forgiving angles that deliver a more upright riding position for excellent comfort. Plus, the top-notch specs include Mavic Ksyrium wheels for easy-rolling speed, a compact crankset for flattening the hills as well as SRAM's innovative Red components for premium shifting and braking.

So, why a road bike? Let me explain. The current stable:

Bike One: a 1984 Specialized mountain bike. Weight, about 198-lbs. Uses - cycling to the video-game store with The Boy®. Currently on loan to Niece Number Two at local college.

Bike Two: Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra. The work-horse. Don't let this bike fool you. It's fast. Cycling out at Baker Park I often get road bikies attention passing them whilst riding the Bad Boy. Has been my daily training bike. Future now holds upgrading the tires to Fats in prep for upcoming XTERRA race. Special note - wondering what a XTERRA course looks like? Click here.

Bike Three: Cervélo P3. Pornography for the soul.

You know how men try to justify why they need a certain new toy to their wives? Well, when I explained this one to the Well Kept Wife™ my reasoning was one that I actually believed in as well. Look at the frame shape of the Cannondale...the straight flatbar. Look at the frame shape of the Cervélo and the aerobar.

During a typical training week I would use the Cannondale for the majority of the miles. I simply did not want to take the Cervélo out on the local roads with their potholes, rail road tracks, limestone paths, and other things Mother Nature can and will throw in your way. I would take the Cervélo out once or twice to the open roads of Baker Park and do my speed workouts but my body, especially hips and calves, would struggle with the different body position due to the change in frame.

With a road bike, I figure that transition will be more fluid. Less severe. Easier on the old body. I do think it makes sense. We'll see how the spring goes when I finally get out there to start pounding away on the pedals.

And besides, it is a Z. How can I go wrong with that?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Parmesan Toasts with Asparagus, Prosciutto, and Eggs

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 2

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 asparagus spears, ends trimmed
1 fresh rosemary sprig, about 3 in. long
2 slices crusty bread such as ciabatta, sliced 1 in. thick
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
4 thin slices (2 oz.) prosciutto
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add asparagus and sauté until tender when pierced, about 5 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a plate. Add remaining oil and rosemary to pan. Cook rosemary until oil is hot, about 2 minutes, then discard the herb.

2. Put bread slices in pan and toast in oil, turning once, about 1 minute. Sprinkle about 2 tbsp. parmesan onto each piece of bread and cook until cheese starts to melt and bread starts to brown slightly, about 2 minutes. Transfer bread to plates.

3. Reduce heat to medium and in the same pan, gently fry both eggs to your liking. Top each piece of bread with 2 prosciutto slices and half the asparagus. Set an egg on top of each and sprinkle servings with salt and pepper. I prefer a special spice I call Arizona Chipotle.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 456 (51% from fat)
Protein: 27g
Fat: 26g (sat 6.7)
Carbohydrate: 30g
Fiber: 2.1g
Sodium: 1661mg
Cholesterol: 237mg

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What's the Catch?

Last week I was still suffering from a head cold so I dropped The Boy® off at swim team and headed to the steam room. Before doing that I had a few minutes to speak with Coach Suzanne, the headmistress of the Plymouth Swim Team. I was admiring a young (20ish) swimmer in the pool who was easily...even lazily...turning 50-yd laps at probably under 30-secs. The conversation went like this:

Brian: Look at how easily he is turning laps. It is like he is not even trying. Just effortless. Its fun just to watch him.
CS: He's a champion swimmer and has been swimming for decades.
Brian: Yeah, but look at his stroke. He has one stroke for my every three.
CS: Yep, your catch sucks.
Brian: My what now?
CS: I've watched you. You need to work on your catch.
Brian: What do I need?

The rest, as they say, is history. Within all Type-A triathletes...I had gone and purchased the necessary equipment that would soon have me not only swimming like Michael Phelps but have the worlds attention as the next up-and-coming challenge to the Big Boys at Kona. In fact, you can probably compare most triathletes to those nervous little dogs...who know the ones.

I headed to the best swim shop this side of the Mississippi river, Pure Blue Swim. The store is exactly 1.74 miles from the Maas Mansion. Four minute drive. I've spent more money here this year than at any other store save Gear West Triathlon.

I walked out with two new toys.

TYR Mentor Paddle - $20.99

TYR's Mentor Paddles is perfect for swimmers of all levels, from fitness swimmers to triathletes. This evolutionary, technical paddle is designed to build strength without losing feel and catches water quicker on entry phase of the stroke that traditional paddles. Constructed of lightweight PVC foam for added flex. "Alluvial wing" design of the TYR Mentor Paddle helps reduce shoulder stress. Convex palm dome fits natural swimming hand position. Wrist strap placement aids in proper stroke recovery. Multi-hole strap design for custom centering on hand. Extra strap tubing included.

The sizes are colored coded. I got the red which is for older high school males, Sr. National females, mid-level masters, and triathletes.

Finis Forearm Fulcrum - $19.99

Improve your stroke efficiency and technique. The Forearm Fulcrum holds the hand, wrist and elbow to position the forearm optimally. Comprised of two closed section, the process of placing the hand through the sections creates an ideal elbow-wrist angle. This positioning of the forearm creates the most efficient application of propulsive force. Can be used by swimmers of all levels to improve stroke technique and has applications for all four competitive strokes.

Despite the head cold, I was in the water the next night. I did a 500-yd warm up with the paddles. Felt weird, but I could immediately start to feel the position of my stroke to optimize the most catch. I then did another 500-yds using the fulcrum in conjunction with a pull float. Again, it felt weird but this tool was helping me realize the importance of catching the water not only with the hand but the whole forearm. I was also learning how to position the elbow and finish the stroke by the hip.

I'm no swimmer. I'm self taught. I would rank myself 50th percentile in my age group but can often surprise myself such as in 2008 when I was 9th out of the water at the Bismarck Sprint Triathlon and again in 2009 when I was second out of the pool at at the Dickinson Triathlon. The later setting my 500-yd PR at 7:36.

But when I go hard, I would be drained. So I already knew my stroke was not efficient. Maybe improving the catch won't necessarily make me faster but if it can make me more efficient, and thus save energy, it will make me stronger for the bike and the run.

So back to the pool. After the two 500-yd trials using the equipment I decide to do a hard 100-yds. When I turn hard 100-yds at practice my time is usually in the low 1:30's. And I'm breathing hard. On this night, I concentrated on what the tools had taught me just minutes before. I imagined myself placing my arms over the top of a big ol' beach ball and grabbing that water.

I turned a 1:36. And it was laughingly easy. I wasn't even winded. Incredible to have that result after one session. Now I'm stoked to work those drills even more and see what it can bring me over an entire 500-yds and 1000-yds. Should be fun to see the progress.

I explained this to Coach Suzanne after she asked me how it went...feeling like I should also be writing her a check at the same time....and was told to next start counting my strokes.

Coaches are never satisfied, are they?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Totals: Month Ending February 2010

Not a bad February except that I didn't hit some of my mileage goals due to illness and heavy workload at the Real Job. Highlights were a 14-hour workout week the week of Feb 14 and the better than expected time at the Hamel 5K.

Also a highlight was getting 'My Story' published on USAT official web site. In fact, it is lead story on today's (3/1/2010) home page.

Numbers for February, 2010. All per Garmin expect where noted.

February 2010 Total Numbers
Total Workout Hours: 30:00.17
Swim Miles - 12.84
Bike Miles - 159.21
Run Miles - 90.77 (8:18 per mile avg)

compare to last year

February 2009 Total Numbers
Swim Miles - 9.91
Bike Miles - 224.55
Run Miles - 51.21 (Nike Plus)

Last Month - January 2010 Total Numbers
Total Workout Hours: 28:01.11
Swim Miles - 11.42
Bike Miles - 202.43
Run Miles - 64.23

In looking ahead to March, I hope to keep my mileage up even though I will miss some days due to business travel. In looking back to last year, I was out riding on the road on March 21. I just hope I can get out with the bike in March again this year and start racking up the mileage.

We'll be in Arizona from March 19-26 and I will be running a 10K on March 20...the first day of spring! The run is on unpaved trail so I'm looking forward to see what I can do with about 20-lbs less clothing.

Question for the locals - Best outdoor track to get in some repeats? Robbinsdale is closest for me but is always locked up and I hate jumping the fence. Anyone know of a local outdoor track that has public hours? Wayzata? Osseo? Does anyone meet as a group to do repeats (200, 400's, 800's, etc)?