Over The Hump. 3rd Time’s a Charm…or Not

Irvine Lake, Orange County CA.  Tuesday evening mid-summer.  My third visit to the Over The Hump Mountain Bike race series.  Certainly the idea of a mid week early evening mountain bike race series spanning 12 weeks during the summer is a very alluring thought.  What better way to sweat off the trials and tribulations of a tough day in the office?

My third race of the series was the sweet spot, where I had built enough confidence on the course to push the bike hard enough to exceed my technical ability.  Unfortunately, my earlier cautious outings had given me a false sense of security.

Lap 1.  Off to a strong start in the second pack just behind the hard-core leaders who blaze away fast.  Through the first climb I’m feeling strong, hanging with the pack, steep descent, hard right, fast single track, now get ready for a hard right onto the next climb. Just when I thought “I can do this!” BAM!   Front wheel hits the deep sand on the outside of the turn, handlebars twist and down I go.   And right there and then I watch most of my fellow competitors in my age group pass me.  All the hard work to gap them on the climb lost.  Fortunately the only injuries are to my pride and confidence.   Time to put the head down and pedal hard to get back in the race.

Lap 2.  The euphoria and excitement of the start is beginning to be replaced by the nagging thoughts of “how many laps”, “how much further to go? “ Wow my legs seem to be tiring fast today”.  Clearly in my adrenaline rush to overcome the fall I have overcooked myself and I am already starting to suffer.

Lap 3.  I chose to do this, right?  No one forced me?  Hmm!  In fact I paid money for the privilege of suffering like this.  Why?  Wouldn’t I be better off putting in some late nights at work?  Surely that wouldn’t hurt like this?

65 mins later I am done.  68 mins later I am already planning my week around getting back here for the next race.  Clearly I am not smart enough to learn from my pain.  Though hopefully I am smart enough to stay on my bike next week.


Strategy dept. morale day at Equinox gym

That was the subject of an email…  an email that confused me.

The first thought that went through my mind was… it’ll be ok, at least there will be beer. Wrong!

And so it bugged me for days.. how does one build morale without alcohol? Once I got passed that (and still secretly hoping that the day would involve a stop at the bar) I moved onto my next mental stumbling block…

I’ve never been to a gym. Ok, let me rephrase that. I’ve walked through one before, but never actually did the hamster running on a treadmill thing. You see my idea of doing exercise is more like this:

or this:

But I made a conscious decision to go in with an open mind as many cool things can come from an open attitude.

So I took my first ever Yoga class, which was really cool. The stretching and breathing was a great work out and I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although I couldn’t help but wonder how awesome it would be to do this somewhere outside, perhaps in Rishikesh, India.

mmmm, me thinks it’s time to plan the next adventure trip!

Wind Blows: Ironman Boise 70.3

Wow, what a ridiculous race. Examining the profile of this course months in advance, I became so excited to put down a new personal best at the Ironman 70.3 distance. The conditions seemed perfect, a flat lake swim, a bike with less than 1500 feet of climbing and more descent than ascent, and a flat, fast, two loop course for the run. All of this combined with hopefully some good preparation and some good health on race day, and I was hoping to beat my previous 70.3 best of 5 hours and 23 minutes, and hopefully even get near the 5 hour mark.

Well, as you know, in life, and more so in racing, things don’t always go according to plan. Because the sun doesn’t set until 10:00 p.m., Ironman Boise begins at 2:00 p.m. Not being the world’s best morning person, this seems like a concept I could get behind, but when you have all day to think about the race and have to change up your whole race day nutrition program, it doesn’t seem so appealing anymore.

My teammates and I arrived at the Lucky Peak Reservoir outside of Boise at around 12:30 and set up our transition area. 2:00 came quickly and it was time to go get setup at the swim start for our respective start waves. For some reason, my wave, Men 25-29 was the very last wave of the day. So while the pros and other waves began going at 2:00, mine did not begin until 2:45.

Right before my age group was about to enter the water to swim to the start line, the wind began to come up. Nothing major but enough to turn the once glassy water into a choppy and potentially white-capped mess. The gun blasted and I began to swim. Feeling pretty good for the first few hundred meters until my right goggle lens filled up with water and the wind chop from the left rendered me unable to breath to that side. That paired with my less than straight line between the first and second turns yielded a swim time nearly 6 minutes slower than my goal pace. Goal number 1: not met.

Coming out of the water, I ran up the boat ramp into T1 to change into my cycling gear. I made it through the first transition relatively quick and headed out onto the bike.

Once on the bike, it was apparent that the wind had come way up. This ride was going to be tough. I would guess that the winds were consistently 35 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph. 15 or so miles into the bike, I saw my wife Elise (who had started in a previous wave) pulled over on the side of the road with a flat tire. Knowing that I would probably have to sleep outside for a month if I didn’t stop, I pulled over to help. She had already done most of the work so I didn’t have to stop for too long and I was happy to get Elise back into the race. I ended up finishing the bike in just over three hours, nearly 30 minutes slower than my anticipated time.

I moved through T2 quickly and hit the streets of downtown Boise for the 13.1 mile run. My legs were pretty spent from pushing hard into the wind on the bike so I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel on my feet and sure enough, the first couple of miles were very tough. The run course was a mostly flat two loop course that ran mostly along side the Boise river that runs right through the center of town. I wasn’t too pleased with my first 5 miles but after that, I found my second wind, picked up my pace and began to feel pretty good. On the second lap, I tried a new tactic to get myself feeling good… I started complimenting people. Sounds weird, right? Well, I started telling people that their running form looked good, complimented their shoes, their compression socks, their calf muscles, whatever I noticed, I was complimenting, I was even telling the hot older age grouper women that they must have had the wrong age written on their calf, “because you don’t look a day over 30.” At some point I started speeding up just so I could pass more people so I could compliment them. It was a strange tactic but it worked for me that day, and who knows, maybe it helped those that I passed go a little faster too.

I finally crossed the finish line with a run time of 1:59 and a total time of 5:48:06 . It wasn’t the best race I’ve ever had but it certainly was a good learning experience and will hopefully make me a better, more experienced racer in the future.

Counting Calories

It would appear that we have returned to following our good friend the calorie.  Gone are the days of carb counting and fat checking (well at least that is what I am seeing).  I have been tracking my calories on an iPhone app called LOSE IT.  I love it.  I have learned a shocking amount about what it is I shove in my mouth with reckless abandon.  I was the guy that would feast on almonds because they are “healthy” and yes they are in fact very healthy when consumed in moderation.  Moderation, what a nasty little word.  It’s true, it wasn’t uncommon for me to sit with a bag of almonds and devour 1000 calories in 30 minute (and in case you are wondering, that is too many calories unless you happen to be training for an upcoming Ironman such as Mark or Skylar).

A few other nasty surprises showed up in the form of calories from alcohol.  Good lord, I was adding 1000’s of additional calories a week to my diet.  Did you know that an ounce of gin has 107 calories. AN OUNCE.

The best part of this experience is that it has shown me how much I should be eating.  I still eat the fun stuff and cocktails still play a wonderful role in my life, but I am now able to look at the entire picture of my eating day with a better understanding of what i am doing.

Happy Eating


A Recounting of the LB Triathlon Experience

I’ve learned that the easiest part of doing a triathlon is signing up for the triathlon.  At that point, time is on your side; the calendar promises a glut of training days waiting patiently ahead of you. You tell yourself, “I have time…I will get to the pool. I will run. I will bike.”

Easier said than done. In the end, some of Team Saatchi took advantage of these precious training days and some of us did not (names omitted to protect the lazy).

Cut to dawn on race day. 450 athletes anxiously fidget as they wait in line for 10 porta potties. Hearts race, and minds struggle to remember exactly who talked them into doing a triathlon. A voice over the loudspeaker notifies competitors to get to the start line.

Anxiety turns to fear.

I run from the bathrooms and into the transition area – panic consumes me as I face a sea of bicycles.  I race in circles trying to find my equipment.  I find it.  No more excuses. It’s time.

I stand at the start line, shivering in the dark as waves of swimmers pile into the water in front of me.  I can do this.  We can do this. We feel like a team and frighteningly lonely all at the same time.

I thrash my way through the swim and make it safely back to dry land, only to discover what looks like a sandy five-mile run separates me and my bike. I hate the bike. The overpass that always seemed flat in my car may as well be Everest on a bike.  Oh, and what better way to finish a 12 mile bike ride than with a 3 mile run.

As I approach the finish line, I hear the roar of the Saatchi crowd on the sidelines cheering me on (please note that they were able to stand on the sidelines and cheer me on because I was in fact last, yes last, of the Saatchi team to finish. They had dried off, had a snack and I was still running).  But I finished.  We all finished.  And team Saatchi kicked some ass.  And while simply finishing was the real objective, we do have one member of Team Saatchi that took it to the extreme and managed to finish first – Daniel Brienza was the winner of the Long Beach Triathlon (he celebrated by going running later that day, I had 7 cocktails).