I was lucky this year to have some wonderful race support — usually I’m on my own. It was a real joy to see my cousins Jen and Mac (on my right) and their friends, along with my friend Bud (on my left), who took and posted lots of photos and collected my gear for me.
It’s funny how time can pass in the blink of an eye, yet also move at a snail’s pace, both at the same time. This was one of my thoughts at mile 22 on the run course for Ironman Texas. While I had been on the course for nearly 13 hours, suddenly, and strangely surprisingly, it would all be over in 4 miles. The months of training, planning, and anxiety. I considered slowing down to make it last longer. It reminded me of those meticulously set up chains of dominos — weeks or months to set up, and seconds to topple. Continue reading
What’s that, you say? Ironman Texas isn’t for three weeks and you’re already writing a race report?
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks shuttling between an emotion salad of ‘excited’ and ‘sheer panic’ thinking about this race. But this weekend, I seem to have moved passed the ‘panic’ phase with a realization: I’ve been training for seven months for my first full-distance triathlon, while the race itself is one day. Just one day! So in essence, my ‘Ironman’ has been 99% training for an Ironman. The race itself, at this point to me, is almost an afterthought (well no — but you see my point). Continue reading
I’ve been thinking about the season wrap-up I wanted to write. I’d planned to talk about my gains in cycling, my transition to using more data and power, and late-season improvements in my running, all trying to get back to my peak performances from 2013. This isn’t that story.
When mentoring new triathletes, I talk a lot about transition–the moments in triathlon when you switch from swimming to cycling (T1) and from cycling to running (T2). In a race, your transition time is part of your total time, but you aren’t making progress–you’re setting up for the next discipline. A common mistake is lingering in the transition area, fussing with socks, fiddling with footwear, while others speed ahead, focused on the next discipline. During a poor transition, you lose focus and time.
I tell new triathletes that your transition starts well before you find your bike rack. A well executed transition starts with practice and routine, knowing where your items are, not bringing the kitchen sink, and about thinking through your transition plan well before a race. In the last few meters of the swim, I start running through my transition routine. Wetsuit off, swim cap and goggle lodged in the sleeve; tossed under bike. Helmet on and fastened, bike shoes on, grab bike and go. In the last quarter mile of the bike course, I do the same, mentally rehearsing my transition process, then executing efficiently. I often ‘win’ transition based on my confidence, hustle and no guesswork.
At the end of 2017, I find myself in a different sort of transition, ending the year without a job, a bit stuck deciding what direction to take, and second-guessing myself almost hourly. It’s the exact opposite of how I execute my triathlon transitions. In a race, I’m completely confident on my transitions. In my life, not so much.
Finding myself with very possibly fewer sunrises in front of me than behind me, it’s odd to find myself floundering. But today, laid up with bronchitis that’s gone on for a week, unable to train, I’m trying to make peace with transition. Without transitions, there’s no triathlon, no finish line, no victory. Without change, there’s no growth. And while I might find myself in a weird transition right now, it’s a matter of finding my gear, trusting my training, and getting on with it.
I just spent a week in Havana, there for the Havana Triathlon (read my race report here). There’s still a lot that’s confusing about travel to Cuba for Americans, and there were quite a few little insights I wish I’d known before I traveled there.
This is by no means comprehensive; it’s simply tidbits that others might find helpful.
Remember the Rio Olympics? How the whole two years leading up to it was a total shit show? The arenas weren’t ready, the athlete housing didn’t have running water, crime was rampant, human sewage polluted the open-water swimming and rowing venues, and remember Zika? And then suddenly, it all sort of came together and was by most accounts pretty successful and seamless.
That’s the Havana Triathlon in a nutshell.
I’m talking about the race here. Read my travel-to-Cuba crash course here.
I’m not a tour group person. In my view, it’s no longer ‘your’ vacation. Rather, you’re stuck with endless compromises, usually to satisfy the grumblers, or the least physically able people in the group. The paradox? It’s really, really hard to tour Kenya without a group, unless you are a person of endless means. Alas, I am not.
This year, I had decided it was finally the year I’d travel to Kenya, but I just didn’t want to be stuck in a safari vehicle with yuppies and their kids, elderly people on a bucket list trip, or honeymooners. I found a few trips geared to young backpackers, and a couple more that offered less expensive camping trips (in an actual tent, not glamping). But even with those trips, the majority of your time in Kenya would be spent driving around in a truck hoping to see animals.
As an active person, I just didn’t think that sitting in a truck for hours on end was what I wanted. But I still wanted to go to Kenya.
Race Report: Vermont City Marathon
I’ve wanted to run this race for awhile now; I’ve always heard good things about its organization, and Burlington is just a nice little town perched on Lake Champlain surrounded by the Green Mountains.
The risk, of course, with a May 29 marathon is that the weather can literally be anything. “Typically” it’s about 68 degrees on race day, but it’s snowed before, and it had been 80 degrees before.
I’m just going to admit it — this year’s weather was my fault. After the Pittsburgh Marathon four weeks ago, during which it rained for the entire first half, I said to myself at the finish “anything but rain for the next one.” So I guess I got my wish.
Months before, the sleeping dragon, Eagleman 70.3 appeared not as the majestic bird of prey, but rather a placid feathered sparrow, calmly beckoning our siren trio to the lush marshes of Maryland.
But as our good and true party of three departed the cool atmosphere of modernity that is the Comfort Inn Cambridge, we stepped headlong into the tropical ether and dank, hazy sunrise muttering a collective, “well, shit.” Still as a stalking kestrel awaiting the timid dormouse, the sun’s orb clung to the last vestige of the horizon, ready to attack with the fierce intensity of the Roman fire god Vulcan. Continue reading