Sunday, May 30, 2010

Victory!

video
No, not my victory, and I'm happily surprised by how much more excited about someone else's victory than my own. Amy won the Rochester Med-City Marathon today with a time of 3:32 on a brutally hot day. The temperature topped out around 90 on the day, and she stayed strong while the others withered. She couldn't have run a more perfect race, letting an early leader go out too fast and choosing instead to run with the woman in 2nd place. The early rabbit folded at 13 miles, and Amy took over the lead with half the race left to run. She and her racing partner worked together for five miles or more, putting more distance between themselves and the chasers. At mile 19 Amy looked beat, walking an aid station. She set off from the station with only about 15 seconds on the second place woman. She then put more than ten minutes into her chief competitor over the last seven miles. That's an astonishing achievement. No, she didn't negative split the race, but she effectively double-split the race by staying strong while everybody else went home. Racing in the heat is hard—it requires patience and a steely attention to detail, which Amy has in spades. Bravo!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fantasy Tri Minute, 5/29

While the firestorm from my last post dies down (331 visitors on one day? going pro has never had that kind of traffic or controversy) I'll get back to my usual dorky/niche-y posting about FantasyTri. There are four races this week, and you only get $50,000 in your budget, so I'm going to pick 8 athletes (one man and woman per race), which means an average of $6250 per pick. The start lists are a little hard to come by, but here's what I've found.

Xterra Italy (European Championships) picks in BOLD

RenataBucher

F
Switzerland

Pro/Elite



Sibylle Matter

F
Switzerland
Pro/Elite



Myriam Guillot

F
France
Pro/Elite



Marion Lorblanchet

F
France
Pro/Elite



Maud Golsteyn
F
Netherlands
Pro/Elite



Claudia Hossmann

F
Switzerland
Pro/Elite



Monica Gabbanelli

F
Italy
Pro/Elite



Sara Tavecchio

F
Italy
Pro/Elite



Melanie McQuaid

F
Canada
Pro/Elite



Claudia Walser

F
Germany
Pro/Elite



Jacqui Slack

F
United Kingdom
Pro/Elite



Ilaria Zavanone

F
Italy
Pro/Elite



Carina Wasle

F
Austria
Pro/Elite



Emma Ruth Smith

F
United Kingdom
Pro/Elite



Darrelle Parker

F
United Kingdom
Pro/Elite



Giuliana Lamastra

F
Italy
Pro/Elite



Franky Batelier
M
France
Pro/Elite



Jim Thijs

M
Belgium
Pro/Elite



Yeray Luxem

M
Belgium
Pro/Elite



Felix Schumann

M
Germany
Pro/Elite



Lars Van Der Eerden

M
Netherlands
Pro/Elite



Olivier Marceau
M
Switzerland
Pro/Elite



Luca Molteni

M
Italy
Pro/Elite



Tom Curtis

M
United Kingdom
Pro/Elite



Graham Wadsworth

M
United Kingdom
Pro/Elite



Homes Llewellyn

M
United Kingdom
Pro/Elite



Jean Marc Cattori

M
Switzerland
Pro/Elite



Fabio Guidelli

M
Italy
Pro/Elite



Carl Pasio

M
South Africa
Pro/Elite



Fabrizio Baralla

M
Italy
Pro/Elite



Alessio Picco

M
Italy
Pro/Elite



Ronny Dietz

M
Germany
Pro/Elite



Ole Vinnergaard

M
Denmark
Pro/Elite



Ricard Calmet Calveras

M
Spain
Pro/Elite



Jens Buder

M
Germany
Pro/Elite



Karel Zadak

M
Czech Republic
Pro/Elite



Gianpietro De Faveri

M
Italy
Pro/Elite



Nico Pfitzenmaier

M
Germany
Pro/Elite



Julian Langer

M
Austria
Pro/Elite



Sam Gardner

M
United Kingdom
Pro/Elite



Lieuwe Boonstra

M
South Africa
Pro/Elite



Nicolas Lebrun

M
France
Pro/Elite



Borja Conde

M
Spain
Pro/Elite

Ironman Brazil

No start list yet for IM Brazil (c'mon WTC!), but I'm picking two-time defending champ Eduardo Sturla ($6700) over longtime vet Oscar Galindez. As for the women, I'm going with two-time IM Champion (last year!) Tereza Macel (a remarkable affordable $5900).

Austria 70.3


Men: Michael Weiss (he's fast from his MTB background and he's got a taste for victory after being the first Austrian to win an IM; he's competing on home soil and costs less then $6000)
Women: Erika Csomor (haven't heard a lot from her in the past few years, but she's fast and knows how to win—expensive at $7500)

TriGrandPrix UK

This is a new race, kicking off a two race series of half-iron distance races that will grow to five next year. The other race is in the Basque country of Spain (hills, anyone?). They've attracted quite a field, and I'm going with Paul Ambrose, who got me some points in Florida a few weeks ago. On the girls' side I'm taking...Leanda Cave. Hard to pick against her in this relatively shallow field. She'll be battling Yvonne Van Vlerken for the win, I think.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't go Low! Says Molly Cameron

One of my students is working at Upper Echelon Fitness, which shares space with Portland Bike Studio, an excellent cycling boutique on Portland's East Side. UE Fitness, run by Russell Cree, is a coaching company paired with a fit studio, and my student is mostly assisting with bike fitting. The cool thing about going there today is that Molly Cameron, badass cyclocrossista and vegan, was running her side of the business, the Bike Studio bit. Molly manages to dominate the Northwestern Cyclocross scene while running two bike shops, the aforementioned PBC and the excellent Veloshop on the other side of town. She rides a Ridley and stocks Ridleys in the store, and I saw a chance to ask her something that's been niggling at me for a while.

"What do you think about the lower bottom brackets showing up on 'Cross bikes everywhere these days?" I said.

"Hate 'em," she replied.

"Can I quote you on that?"

"Please do!" she answered.

Here's the deal. 'Cross bikes have been appearing with lower bottom bracket drops. "Bottom bracket drop" is the distance from a horizontal line drawn through your front and rear axles (you're looking at the bike from the side, OK?) to the line, parallel to the ground, that passes through your bottom bracket. Big name builders such as Sacha White and Richard Sachs like bikes with bigger drops (White's Speedvagen lists a BB drop of 70 mm, and Sachs only builds bikes with 80 mm drops—that's lower than most road bikes, mind you). Bottom bracket drop is important in many directions. Here are the rules of thumb: lower the bottom bracket, and you lower the center of gravity, which makes the bike more stable while turning. Raise the bottom bracket, and you get more clearance underneath the bike, which can be a downright safety concern off-road, in criteriums, or on the track (Captain Dondo used to run a high bottom bracket and 165 mm cranks so he could pedal through the corners at crits back in the 70s—he won a lot of races that way). So you've got that consideration. Here's another one, though. Raise the bottom bracket, and the chainstays shorten a little bit, so the bike climbs better. Lower it and the wheelbase stretches a bit, giving you (again) a more stable/smooth ride.

The 'Cross community seems to headed in a low direction (the Focus Mares sports a BB drop of 70 mm; the Habanero Cyclocross goes 8 farther, with a drop of 78 mm!). But the best bikes in the cyclocross world, Ridley Bikes, still boast a very small BB drop—57-61mm throughout the whole range of bikes. Another great (European) bike maker, Stevens, sports drops of 62-70mm throughout its range, which is just low of center for 'cross bikes (a good median is 65 mm, I believe). I'd been thinking that, perhaps, Ridley had fallen behind the times.

"I used to ride low bottom brackets," Molly continued, back at the studio, "and I was always hitting pedals and crashing. I crashed right in front of Sacha at Providence in '06 and was like, 'See!' But he wouldn't change the bottom bracket drop. I thought I just couldn't handle the bike, but then I rode one of these things (she pointed up at one of several Ridleys on the wall) and thought 'Whoa, I can sprint out of any corner on this bike.'"

Molly detailed a whole bunch of good reasons to keep a high bottom bracket, mostly having to do with the type of cornering one does in 'Cross racing. Bikes with low bottom brackets sweep through long turns, like long shallow descents out of the mountains. But you almost never make that kind of turn while racing a 'Cross bike. Most of the turns are hairpin, requiring the rider to almost stop, navigate the turn, and then sprint out of it—that's why your heart rate stays so high in 'Cross. Since you're moving slowly you can't lean the bike over dramatically, which is where your low bottom bracket would come in handy. But with a high bottom bracket you can turn and keep pedaling, which will help you stay upright (you know how motocross riders correct the back end of their bikes? They give the bike some gas, which is the same thing as pedaling). Then, with the turn almost completed, you can sprint out of the corner. With a low bottom bracket you'll probably spend a lot of time whacking your pedals on the ground. That won't kill you, but it'll cost you, and a few half-second a lap, over 6-12 laps, can mean around 30 seconds. 30 seconds is an eternity in 'Cross racing.

Keep those bottom brackets up! I'll be visiting Molly to price a Ridley in the coming months.

Friday, May 21, 2010

FantasyTri Minute 5/21

FantasyTri is up and running, and IM Lanzarote and Xterra Texas are on! My technique of trying to pick 5 athletes just doesn't seem to be working, so I'm going to use this week as a dry run—only three athletes per gender, which should let me pick some real belters. Here's the pro list for IM Lanzarote:

Bert Jammaer Male Belgium Pro
Eneko Llanos Male Spain Pro
Gerrit Schellens Male Belgium Pro
Gregorio Cáceres Morales Male Spain Pro
Stephen Bayliss Male England Pro
HERVE FAURE Male France Pro
Ain-Alar Juhanson Male Estonia Pro
Maik Twelsiek Male Germany Pro
Joseph Spindler Male Germany Pro
Chris Brands Male Netherlands Pro
Patrick Jaberg Male Switzerland Pro
Tuukka Miettinen Male Finland Pro
Nicholas Ward Muñoz Male England Pro
Philip Graves Male England Pro
alvaro velazquez Male Spain Pro
Iñigo Augusto Perez-Nievas Male Spain Pro
Eanna McGrath Male Ireland Pro
Cesar Valera Male Venezuela Pro
Rafael Wyss Male Switzerland Pro
Matja~ Kova? Male Slovenia Pro
Benjamin Rossmann Male Germany Pro
Rob Steegink Male Netherlands Pro
Eneko Elosegui Armendariz Male Spain Pro
Cedric LARGAJOLLI Male France Pro
Jorge Rakos Male Argentina Pro
Kit Stokes Male England Pro
Juha Laitinen Male Finland Pro
Georg Swoboda Male Austria Pro
Peter Schoissengeier Male Austria Pro
Alessandro Valli Male Italy Pro
Werner Ueberbacher Male Italy Pro
Jozef Vrabel Male Slovakia Pro 32
Bella Bayliss Female England Pro
Kathrin Paetzold Female Germany Pro
Hillary Biscay Female United States Pro
Tara Norton Female Canada Pro
Rebecca Preston Female Australia Pro
Irene Kinnegim Female Netherlands Pro
Nicole Woysch Female Germany Pro
Catriona Morrison Female Scotland Pro
Beatrix Blattmann Female Switzerland Pro
Joanna Carritt Female England Pro
Kate Bevilaqua Female Australia Pro
Wenke Kujala Female Germany Pro
Yvette Grice Female England Pro
Heike Priess Female Germany Pro
Kathrin Volz Female Germany Pro
Sarah Schuetz Female Switzerland

I'd take Bert Jammaer (he's won the damn thing twice in a row, he's a new dad, and he only costs $5937)
Eneko Llanos ($6964)
Catriona Morrison ($7450)
Hilary Biscay ($7117)

Total Team for IM Lanzarote: 27468

Start List for Xterra Waco, Men:

USA
- Matt Boobar, Ryan DeCook, Craig Evans, Scott Gall, Trevor Glavin, Brandon Jessop, Will Kelsay, Josiah Middaugh, Branden Rakita, Cody Waite, Seth Wealing
FRANCE
- Nico Lebrun
SOUTH AFRICA
- Grayson Keppler, Conrad Stoltz

Start list for Xterra Waco, Women:

USA - Emma Garrard, Shae Rainer, Brandyn Roark Gray, Sara Tarkington, Tracy Thelen, Shonny Vanlandingham
AUSTRALIA - Christie Sym
CANADA - Christine Jeffrey, Melanie McQuaid
NEW ZEALAND - Jenny Smith
SCOTLAND - Lesley Paterson
SWITZERLAND - Renata Bucher

I'm taking Seth Wealing ($4926) as my stud and Matt Boobar ($1986, VT Represent!) and Grayson Keppler ($250) as my pack fill. On the Womens' side, I'm taking Lesley Patterson ($4585, a second scottish woman!) as my...Studette? That sounds awful. Um, what's a good word for strong woman that doesn't sound terrible, like "Amazon" or "Athena?" Anyway. Then I've got Christie Sym ($250) and Shae Rainer ($250) as my pack fill. There are so few athletes that you should really just fill up on Xterra people, since you know you're going to score.

Get out there and play! The race just opened up but you've got to get your picks in before racing starts in Lanzarote!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Integrity

I've been thinking about integrity a lot, recently: my integrity, the integrity of my students, the integrity of my athletic ambitions, the integrity of my artistic ambitions, the integrity of my professional and life ambitions, the integrity of the people around me.

Integrity has to do with the alignment of all the parts of your being. Here's an example. Some students at my school made some bad decisions recently. No big deal, really—they're high school students and no one ended up hurt (no blood, no foul, right?). When the story started to leak out, though, they conspired among themselves to protect each other. Their desire to tell the truth was out of integrity with the urge to protect their friends. This is a perfectly understandable situation, especially if you are, say, seventeen and thinking about what a suspension might look like on your college applications. The big issue, however, is that their conscience wanted to do one thing while their ego wanted them to do something else—two different directions=impossible to act with integrity. Integrity loathes multitasking.

I am out of integrity with some aspects of my life. This being a somewhat light athletic blog, I will spare you the nitty-gritty of my personal existence, if it can be separated at all from my athletic existence. We'll start with some basic ones.
  • My core strength is out of integrity with my athletic ambitions. Despite knowing how important core strength is I continue to neglect it, thinking "It's only a half-hour of work...how important could it be? I'm training 25 hours a week, what will 2 sessions of strength work do for me? My core strength and my athletic ambitions are out of integrity.
  • My weight is out of integrity with my athletic ambitions. I told Cliff, yesterday, that I'll get down to 175 by Boise 70.3. That's six pounds in three-and-a-half weeks. I've said I'll lose that weight for years, now. What part of me wants me not to be successful? I've been too light before, and I don't want to go back there, but a sensible leanness will only make me faster.
  • My misgivings about the sport are out of integrity with my athletic ambitions. I hesitate to identify as a triathlete, or as a professional athlete. These things seem to be frivolous or narcissistic to people I've met before, and I've taken those things on. So when I'm training one part of my brain thinks "This is amazing—I don't ever want to do anything else. I am the luckiest man on the planet." The other part of my brain is saying: "You'll never be good enough. You're just doing this to keep the demons at bay. You're doing this because you're horribly self-centered."
Having a lack of integrity can be exhausting, even if your lack of integrity is only hurting yourself. As the best boss I've ever had once said: "When you are dishonest you get warts on your soul and those warts do not go away." I see being out of integrity with one's self as dishonesty, even if it's something like being dishonest about your commitment to get one's strength workouts done.

Whew. Heavy! Sorry, folks. We'll return with light entertainment on Friday, for the FantasyTri update!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Legitimate

No, I couldn't re-tilt the photo at left, so excuse the oddity. TJ Tollakson came in 7th yesterday, making him my best placed male FantasyTri athlete (I swerved at the last minute and benched eventual 4th place finisher Richie Cunningham for no-show Leon Griffin—didn't I say his website didn't say anything about Florida 70.3? Shucks). For a while during the race I thought I'd made a canny decision, picking the only $4100 Tollakson for my team, since he came off the bike almost 7 minutes in front, after a bike split that distanced the pack by almost 10 minutes. He got around in under 2 hours, which is rare air for 56 miles on your own. TJ's effort would place him in the ballpark of professional cyclists competing in long time trials. Toss in the fact that the Florida 70.3 bike course is by no means a straightforward affair: it isn't pancake flat and swoops and curves out in the orchards beyond Orlando.

TJ put in the effort to win his way on Sunday, for which I admire him. After a disappointing race in Galveston where he bided his time, it seems he decided to go back to his trump card, the bike. As playing that card often does, he paid for his gamble by blowing up in the Disneyworld heat. Still, he played it. As an athlete whose strong suit is also the bike (can I really say that any more? I feel more and more middle of the pack these days on the bike) I admire the gamble Tollakson made. On a few days in triathlon the cyclists have their days: Normann's had two, TJ's had one at Eagleman, Jordan's had a bunch until he showed us that, actually, he's a pretty damn solid runner, too. Triathlon is drifting towards a conservative style of racing: sit in the pack on the swim, sit in the line on the bike, save it for the run, so it's nice to see someone still making triathlon about his individual strength.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fantasy Tri Minute 5/13—Men.

Only one race this coming weekend, but the field listed for Florida 70.3 is an interesting one. Here are the two start lists (separated by gender—why can't WTC do at least that for its website users?).

Men

Rich Allen—Racing, on the comeback trail, 14th at Knoxville and St. Anthony's. Longshot to get you points. Bargain at $2133, though.
Paul Ambrose—Racing, another relative bargain at just over $5000. He's a steady performer at 70.3 distance. He's probably a good choice.
Dirk Bockel—Racing, but expensive at $7100.
Daniel Bretscher—Not sure if he's racing; website didn't say, but he's cheap at $3900 or so. Probably a good pick.
Mike Caiazzo (NOT RACING)
Andres Castillo Latorre—He's got similar results to me, but only costs $250. If you're looking for a longshot but with some value, he might not be bad (I beat him by a couple of places in Austin last year).
Richie Cunningham—Racing. Richie's expensive, but he'll usually get inside the top five. He's a good stallion to pick for your stable. I'm going to play him this weekend.
Scott Duffy—Couldn't figure out who this person is. Nor does he have a FantasyTri listing.
Stephen Dyke—Canadian bloke, it seems. A few north-of-the-border results. Cheap.
Paul Fritzsche—Paul is just a great guy and a super-strong cyclist. His blog says he's competing, but I think this field might just be too strong for him to get into the top ten. He's good value, though, at just under $3000.
Ryan Giuliano—Part of the US Pro Tri team. Looks like a young pro. No FT listing.
Leon Griffin—Leon is a stud, but his website doesn't mention Florida...
Andrew Hodges—Website mentions nothing about Florida...I got burned by playing Andrew a few weeks ago, so I'm gonna steer clear.
David Kahn—Second year pro. No listing on FT or on his blog.
Stephen Kilshaw—Won Shawnigan Lake 1/2 IM last year, and he's only $25o. Could be a good sleeper.
Greg Kopecky—Also only $250. Young, though.
Reinaldo Oliveira—A few results. Probably pack-fill.
Kyle Pawlaczyk—13th at New Orleans 70.3. Might get you some points if you can spell his name. Only $250.
Bryan Rhodes—His website doesn't mention Florida. Coming back from injury. A little expensive, especially since we're not sure he's competing.
Daniel Schmoll—Who?
TJ Tollakson—Buy! Buy! Pretty cheap. Hungry. Fit. Only $4100.
Nicholas Vandam—Young ITU pro. Florida 70.3 is probably a little too hilly on the bike for him right now.
Matt White—His blog doesn't say anything. Sounds like he's going back to Boulder to get ready for CdA.
Maxim Kriat—Long course guy, had some success. Cheap. You might think about it. Only $2400.
Alun Woodward—I don't know who this is, but he's expensive ($5500). ITU guy?
Viktor ZyemtsevStill classy after all these years. Won Louisville last year and just came in 10th at St. Anthony's. Not too expensive ($4700) and likely to get you some points.

Here's my team:

Cunningham, Tollakson, Ambrose, Pawlaczyk, Kilshaw.

Here's the women's start list. I'll do them tomorrow.

Women

Leanda Cave
Florence Chretien
Jacqui Gordon
Lisa Huetthaler
Heather Jackson
Tamara Kozulina
Nina Kraft
Heather Leiggi
Emma-Kate Lidbury
Kim Loeffler
Sara McLarty
Kate Pallardy
Ayesha Rollinson
Daniela Saemmler
David Sharratt
Amanda Stevens
Danielle Sullivan
Pip Taylor
Magali Tisseyre
Kelly Williamson


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Strength

I'm not as despondent as I was about racing last week. 8 days of recovery and then a good first day back will alleviate the darkest doubts, although I've now come full circle and deeply regret dropping out of Ironman St. George. It was such a hard race, and I could have finished it—there is beauty in finishing any Ironman. I was just feeling a bit overconfident and poncy about the whole thing. You have to race the whole time—nothing gets handed to you, especially in long-distance racing.

OK, enough philosophizing for now. One of the things I need to address is my core and stability work. If I only suspected they needed work last week, my worst fears have been confirmed by one strength session with zen guru physiotherapist/triathlete/coach/counselor Chris Ramsey (whose name I have finally spelled correctly). Chris is a veteran of many Ironman races, pulling off a 9:10 in his career, which is nothing at all at which to sniff. Chris agreed to help me with my strength issues, and we met in the beautiful (beautiful to an athlete) gym at Portland Center for Athletic Excellence (which has the somewhat head-tilting acronym PACE to go with its name)—if you haven't been to PACE, you should go sometime. They gym floor is old-school astroturf, and there is a skull with crossed battleaxes on the wall, grinning at you through the unmistakable circle of chainring. Think Rocky crossed with Breaking Away and you're pretty much there. Don't laugh, though; there are several Stars-and-Bars jerseys on the wall and—be still, breath—a medium blue jersey enlivened by rainbow stripes. There are Olympic weight racks and buckets of foam rollers. Kettleballs and stability balls. It smells of chamois cream and chalk. That is, to anyone who loves sport, it is the most beautiful place in the world.

OK, enough overblown prose. Here's what Chris did to me:

Pushups on a stability ball ("the point isn't doing pushups," Chris said. "The point is holding your core in the right place while you do pushups. You've got strong arms. You can muscle out some pushups. But do you see that your hips are sagging? That means you're not working what you're trying to work. Do them from your knees.") Doing pushups from one's knees is a humbling thing. We all knew what we thought of the guys on our soccer teams long ago who did pushups from their knees. Sigh. I was able to do two sets of six before throwing in the towel.

Pullups from Olympic Rings: as cool as this sounds, this is actually a modified row exercise. You grab the rings and take about six steps backwards, so the rings' strap to the ceiling forms the hypoteneuse of a right triangle. You lean back so your arms are straight, and then you pull yourself forward, "keeping your elbows straight!" If you do this, you'll feel quite a burn between your shoulder-blades. As with the pushups, you've got to keep yourself plank straight.

Side Planks: pretty obvious, right? Still painful.

Standing Hip Abduction: Let me just say directly that I hate these. Here are Chris's directions:

1) Lift one foot off the floor (slight bend in the leg you’re standing on)
2) Lift the “up” leg out to the side
3) Slowly lower back to the start but keep the foot up in the air

Done correctly, this really, really hurts both sides of your hips. If you have "The hips of a fifteen year-old-girl, as I appear to do, this exercise really hurts.

Squats: I managed 2x12 reps at, oh, 65 pounds. I used to squat hundreds of pounds when I used to play soccer. Sigh.

Standing/Squatting Jump-Thingies: Here's how you do these.

1) Stand with knees bent, as if you're about to sit down on the toilet
2) Raise your arms in front of you, pointing straight out (unlike sitting down on the toilet)
3) Hop quickly for thirty seconds, landing "lightly" ("try not to make any sound when you land) so your quads soak up the contact. Don't aim for height. Aim for quality and speed.

Mountain Climbers: I basically couldn't do these, but Chris says the most important thing (for when I can actually do them) is not to touch one's toes to the ground at the top of the motion. Keep them in the air. It's harder.

Plyometrics: I did so many of these back in my goalkeeping days that it seems totally unfair to be doing plyos again. We did use those cool rope-ladder thingies that you see NFL players using on Nike ads on TV, the ones where each bead of sweat has been placed and lovingly photographed.

Combination Pushup-Walking with Superman: Say what? It's almost impossible.

OK, that's all for my running update for this week. Stay tuned for the Fantasy Tri minute on Friday.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Once [Never] A Runner?

I come back to John Parker Jr's running classic about once a year, mostly to remind myself that athletic success often comes with a steep price tag. You only have to read the scene in which Bruce Denton puts Quenton Cassidy through the following workout to discover if you even want to try to pay the price (actually paying the price, well, that takes even more guts).

3x(20x400 m @ race pace (55 sec/quarter) w/100 m jog between quarters and 400 m jog after every five quarters).

That's a simple equation, but for a runner of Cassidy's caliber (that's Jim Ryun or Steve Prefontaine or Adam Goucher) you're talking 15 miles at sub 4:00/mile pace with only the barest of recoveries. The whole workout works out to 19.25 miles, a brutal amount of work to be done on the track.

The thing is, you must be willing to go that deep if you actually care about winning in your sport. As I came off the bike on Saturday I felt a lot of things, rust being the predominant sensation. But more unsettling than forgetting that, in a race, you have to be prepared to work hard (how did I lose sight of that one?) was the sense that I just didn't know how to run.

I've run a lot over the past ten years. I remember the run that may have kicked off Chris Bagg's modern era of running. I had on a pair of yellow New Balance 1026s, which felt like beautiful slippers. I was a senior in college, living in a bizarre house off campus above an actress and a poli sci major named Vindhyia. I cruised out for a run on Vassar's Farm and came back feeling cracked open, as if breathing for the first time (I'd run before, but not with the same sense of timeliness and freedom). The awful year in D.C. followed, and my first marathon, and then countless half-marathons, triathlons, cycling races, open water swims, etc, etc...

But I don't think I know how to run.

You've seen people who know how to run. They run the way the Flintstones characters ran: an upper body held motionless, while legs turn in a blur below. No matter the terrain they flow up and over it, their shoes making no more than light scuff, scuff, scuff, scuff on the ground. Looking at the pictures from St. George, I see someone deeply afflicted by gravity, earthbound and irrevocably attached to the pavement. My face has none of a true runner's serenity.

I neglect a lot of the things that might make me a better runner: drills, cadence, core strength. I'm embarking, though, on a quest to become a true runner. That means losing some weight and building some strength. Look to these pages in the coming weeks to see how it's going. I'll try to keep you updated on my process.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

IM St. George

IM St. George was this past Saturday, and I didn't finish. I could have trotted home in a 3:40—4:00 marathon, but I think that would have thrashed me for the next four weeks. Here's the email I sent to Cliff debriefing the race:

OK, I'm pretty disappointed, but here's my post-mortem on the race.

Swim: bright point of the day, actually. I made the second group, which was one of my goals going in. Luke Bell was way out in front (49 minutes), then there was a small group of 8 that contained Hoffman, Macdonald, Kotsegarov, Lieto, etc...I was in the second group that came in at 54:30, about three minutes back. Certainly within striking distance, since Michael Weiss and I came out of the water together.

Bike: too patient, I think. Averaging 246 watts for 112 is just way too low, I think. The wind was fierce, and I really, really don't go uphill very well if I'm being careful. I just felt like I shouldn't push too hard and I ended up putting in a 5:15 split. Feeling like one of the stronger cyclists out there, I think that's a pretty abysmal time. I felt like I was missing a gear in back, because I'd ride at, like, 95 RPM and shift up, but then not be able to turn over that higher gear (around 80 RPM). I'm pissed I rode just so far off the pace. I couldn't really go with anyone that passed me, and I was annoyed that anyone passed me at all.

Run: ugh. Within seconds of starting the run I knew I just didn't have it. My legs felt fine (after the first few hundred meters), but I just didn't...believe. My lungs felt pretty good, but I just couldn't get my legs turning. Then the hills and the wind took the rest out of me. I could have staggered home in 4:00 or so, but I didn't want to destroy my legs for the next month and post a 10+hour IM. I felt fit, but the body just wasn't ready. I feel like a car in which the engine is strong and the frame is decrepit and weak.

I'm frustrated, but I only have myself to blame. I do all the big picture training (putting in hours, working the intervals, etc...) but I'm terrible about strength training and run form. Here are a few areas I have to improve in:

Strength: I never do strength training. Part of it is not knowing what to do (so much information, so much of it conflicting) and part of it is habit/time. I'm not used to doing strength training and so I don't make it a regular part of my schedule. The guy who was working on my Achilles did some resistance tests and said: "You have the hip strength of a 15 year old girl."

Form: my form is poor. Running cadence is usually around 85-87, which I understand is just too low to run efficiently. I don't know what drills to do to improve this.

Weight: I'm too big. I look at the guys I race against and there is a definite difference. I think I could probably lose about 8-10 pounds safely. I don't have good resources about figuring out body fat, so I neglect keeping track of that.

Belief: I don't have any faith in myself as a runner. I don't feel like a runner, I don't think like a runner. When I'm on the bike I think "OK, who'm I gonna get next?" On the run I think "How far back is the guy behind me. Sigh. How many spaces will I give up on this run?"

I would really, really like to address this. If possible I'd like to go to Boise and be competitive (June 12) and then get on the podium at Pac Crest (June 26).

Frustrated, but ready to get working.

Chris