Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Passing of Greatness

On Tuesday, President Gerald Ford passed away at the age of 93. And regardless of personal ideology or views on affairs of the past, the passing of a president is a sorrowful event. In United States history, there have still been fewer than 50 presidents, and each is a national treasure. Though only a person, they are people Americans placed into a position of great responsibility and power.

With the exception of Gerald Ford.

Ford has the distinction of being the only person to serve in the nation's highest office without having ever won a national election. Most people are aware he became president when Richard Nixon left the office after the Watergate scandal. Less well known is that he became vice president when Nixon's elected vice president, Spiro Agnew, left office amidst his own scandals. Ford was nominated and confirmed to the position of vice president in accordance with the US Constitution. Though never elected to the White House, and serving there for less than three years, President Ford did much to heal the country during his term.

President Ford guided the country through the end of the Viet Nam war. He was a welcome change from the secretive and conspiratorial presidency of Richard Nixon. And in a highly controversial move, he started the healing process by pardoning the disgraced former president for the crimes he had committed.

And he was the oldest former president in US history. His unassuming nature carried over to his "former president" status as he supported current presidents regardless of the actions they took. He believed in the office of president, and knew more than most that the president's job is to serve the American people to the best of his ability.

The nation should and will mourn the passing of President Ford. He embodied much about what makes the United States great. He proved that the peaceful transition of power can occur under the worst of circumstances. And he showed that healing and progress are possible when a nation comes together.

Friday, December 22, 2006


Well, the Christmas break is almost here, and there are a few housekeeping items to handle before a few days off.

First and foremost, have a wonderful holiday season. While Nancy and I may debate the reality of a "war on Christmas," I have no problem saying, "Happy Holidays!" The blogosphere is a pretty big place, and I'm sure (hope, at least) you, the readers, represent a fairly diverse set of beliefs. Whatever your beliefs are, enjoy the time with your friends and family, get some rest, and re-energize yourself for the coming year.

As the new year approaches, swing by raceAthlete and see what's new. The newest fully sponsored member of the team going to IM MOO '07 will be selected and announced in the very near future, and you never know when a favorite blogger might be a featured writer. And remember that members can join the raceAthlete forum. It is a wonderful source of information from professional triathletes, age groupers, mechanics, and coaches.

If you are interested in tracking the sponsored raceAthlete team, CycleOps has put up a wonderful page complete with bios, tentative race schedules, and other information.

Finally, remember to get some rest over this break. As triathletes and endurance athletes, we sometimes push ourselves pretty hard. Like a good taper, a bit of rest will go a long way when the serious training starts. And that's as soon as January for some of us.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, joyous everything else, and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Eeet's Aliiiiive!

Look! Look what I have made!

Sometimes, creating monsters is fun. Where I work, I was lonely as an endurance athlete. Sure, there is the manager who is also an Ironman. He has completed several iron distance races during his triathlon career. But work constraints have severely limited his ability to race at this time.

Another co-worker is married to a 9-time (and elite) marathoner. Injuries have put her distance running on hold. They both compete in the Birkebiner cross-country ski race, but not in other endurance events.

Then, last year, some hope bubbled to the surface. A co-worker who previously balked at a 10K race mentioned that he was signed up for a sprint triathlon (which we both wound up racing). He then continued his training and completed his first half-marathon. His race schedule for 2007 mirrors mine, culminating in his longest race yet, the Spirit of Racine half-IM race. We will run the Green Bay Marathon (his first full) and the High Cliff sprint triathlon, as well.

We are also encouraging two other co-workers to race at least the GB half-marathon with us, if not the sprint tri, too. That resulted in an interesting exchange, this morning, beginning with one of them giving the other a Christmas gift in the form of a half-marathon training program. Then, an e-mail exchange that went something like this: (Names changed to protect the not yet registered)

Happy Holidays.........

Bellin Chick, not to put any more pressure on you then what already is, but I am not signing up for this race until you are. So your decision is going to affect two people now.
13 plus miles can we do it??

Merry Christmas...........

That resulted in a reply from my training partner:

Me too, I'm not signing up until you sign up. (Editor's note - "you" being Bellin Chick)

Ahhh, the fun. Like I said, I've created a monster. And hopefully, with more of us involved, we'll be able to bring more people into the fold. There's just something cool about having more and more known faces at events.

Update - The Saga Continues

It appears that the brief exchange above wasn't sufficient. This is betting better than a Greyhound-Nytro exchange.

Bellin Chick felt obligated to fire back by upping the challenge:

K.C. (and the Sunshine Band?)

I know you can do the FULL Marathon. Save yourself $5.00 and sign up before 12/31.

Bellin Chick

To which he responded:

Hey Hey lets not got pushy over there Mrs. I just ran 5 miles on Sunday. I haven't worked out in over a month so I am going to stick to the Half, you on the other hand should take a look at the FULL, you could run with Iron Pol then instead of me.............?

Things could get interesting in January, which is when Bellin Chick has promised a decision.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Okay, SkiRough left a comment complaining about the need for a new song. Well, maybe it was a gentle reminder that a song of the day might get played out after a week or two. And perhaps she made a comment about how appropriate the song was given my prior post. That's somehow less antagonistic and post-worthy.

So, it was off to get a new video for Christmas. Of course, that's also a good opportunity to visit a few of the daily-read type blogs. A short click away and I find, to my horror, that my song of choice is already on another blog. That blog's owner threatened me with bodily harm if I were to copy her by using Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. And we all know that you don't mess with this Athena. Or call her an Amazon. Oh yeah, the bodily harm part might be a bit of an exaggeration. She may have said something more along the lines of, "Hey, it's a free song, go ahead and use it, too." I can't remember, exactly, and reading the e-mail would take WAY too much effort. I know, because I had to read it to get a feel for what she did say.

That left me little recourse but to pull out a recent favorite. I know how annoying it can be to switch from one radio station to the next only to hear the exact same song.

Hopefully, this will earn me the good graces of both Ski and Nytro. It's not good to go into the Christmas season with people trying to convince Santa you are evil and shouldn't even rate a lump of coal. Nytro might be inclined to hand out lumps, but they don't come from a hole in the ground.

Blowin' in the Wind

Well, it's hardly the ides of March, but the only thing I can think is "Et tu, Brute?"

Change is coming, and it is unwelcome by many. First, there was Blogger Beta. They tempted us with "Would you like to switch" links. The benefits of the new version of Blogger were touted. And many took the bait. They switched, only to find out that some beta versions aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Many stood on the sidelines and heeded the warnings cast by those caught in the net thrown by Blogger. The frustrations were easy to see. But the field continues to grow. Those on the sidelines have found themselves caught up in more of the challenges associated with the interaction of the old version and the new version.

Then Blogger made a grandiose announcement. Despite all the known issues, many of which are in the realm of complete mess, the beta testing was being closed down, and the beta was launched as the official Blogger version. And this can mean only one thing. The days of Blogger as we know it are numbered. Soon, those resisting the change, those understandably edgy about converting to a consistently flawed version will have few options. The day is coming when assimilation will begin. To quote the Borg, "Resistance is futile."

The only hope is that Blogger manages to address all of these known issues prior to forcing the change. However, their decision to end beta testing before resolving the known bugs does little to raise those hopes. In fact, much like Microsoft, it appears we will make the switch and attempt to fix things after the fact.

Only time will tell. Change is in the wind, that much we know.

Monday, December 18, 2006

World's Easiest Winners

Um, wait, that didn't come out right...

Okay, in true super-geek fashion, I have identified the winners of the World's Easiest Contest. The Pol family left it up to random chance (in other words, they're all out, with Mrs. Pol wrapping presents for charity and the little ones literally zonked out). So, we went with the random number generator, first to three hits wins.

In first place, proving you don't have to know exactly what's happening to win, is Iron Benny. Benny is the proud new owner of a pair of Fox Cities Triathlon Club sox, a Fuel Belt running visor, and a Gu gel.

In second place, proving that complimenting the contest sponsor just might get the fates on your side, is Comm's. He will also receive a pair of Tri Fox socks and Gu, as well as a Tri Fox water bottle.

Congratulations to the winners. Stay tuned for future contests. It's hard to tell when I might come across things that are suitable for contest prizes (that I'm willing to give up). And with that, Monster Girl woke up screaming, so it's time to play dad, some more.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Baby Blogger

B-Boy here, with a lot of help from daddy, who you know as Iron Pol. I saw daddy working on some pictures of me, and realized they had never been posted on his blog. How can he expect everyone to know how cute I am if he doesn't post pictures. So, I asked him to let you see them.

These are all pictures from the kids' run at the Bellin races in July. Daddy only had a few pictures. They took six pictures of me. Obviously, because I'm cuter. If you look closely, you'll see that I am wearing daddy's Green Bay marathon hat. I may not have completed the marathon, but it sure makes me look good. I wear it because it's cool looking. Daddy wears it to cover up his bald head (ooops, did I say that out loud?).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Some Mornings

Monster Girl was fussy around 3 a.m. Apparently, it was all about the bottle. Like the plant in "Little Shop of Horrors." "Feed me, Seymour." Only the plant is a 12-month old baby girl. And it seems I would be Seymour.

Just for kicks, B-Boy decided to wake up at about the same time, and had a strong need for daddy to stay with him for a bit. He also picked that time to be THE time he actually wanted to use the blanket we have sitting next to his bed for just those moments. So he was nice and toasty. Me, less so.

Needless to say, a night like that was not conducive to getting up at 4:30 a.m. for training. The call of the bed and warm blankets was strong.

Then again, this is Ironman training. Not the day spa. Some mornings, gremlins come in the shape of a warm bed and soft pillow. Just like any other gremlins, you have to kick them in the head and encourage them to find other stomping grounds. I got up and headed to the YMCA.

I did, however, offer myself a peace token for going against my desire to skip training. Since Monday is a day off and will become my long swim day, I mixed things up a bit, today. After a short swim, I hit the track for a 5K run. The 1000 yards in the pool was Iron Pol slow, but the run was pretty speedy. All the base building through swimming is helping out. I completed the 3.1 mile run in 21m 4s. Just don't tell Coach Mike, as I'm sure this training took my heart rate a bit higher than it should be for IM training.

Then again, some mornings just call for training variety.

Remember to sign up for The World's Easiest Contest by commenting on that post. Only a few days left until the drawing for awesome and, more importantly, free schwag.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Super Short

Anyone with family spread all over the country knows that certain occassions are wonderful opportunities to catch up with those family members. For us, the recent birthday party held for B-Boy and Monster Girl was one such chance. My sister made the trip from the Chicago area with her daughters, despite that day being her wedding anniversary. It means a lot that she went so far out of her way for the few short hours she could spend with us.

One of our discussions during the party led to this post. And the first order of business is to provide an appropriate name for my sister (at least until she has a blog and screen name of her own). Henceforth, she is to be known as Super Short. Now, that isn't because she's short, which she is. Or because she is some kind of superhero, which she is (she is a super mom and super wife, just ask her family).

No, she gets this name because of her views on training and racing. Short. In both training and racing. She is an amazing mom and wife, and training takes a backseat to family. In addition to these vital roles, she is active in the school system her children attend, and works from the home during her "spare" time. She epitomizes the philosophy shared by many (hopefully all) members of raceAthlete in the way she participates in endurance sports.

Super Short is a runner. She runs for general health and to help maintain her weight (and pant's size) where she wants it. And she participates in the occassional 5K race. The way she put it several years ago was, "A 5K doesn't take too much training, their cheap to run, and you're done in half an hour. And you still get a cool t-shirt." She has no desire to run a marathon and sums up my desire to do continue running them with a roll of the eyes. And she figures I'm a bit off my rocker for pursuing Ironman (I believe the exact definition was obsessive).

And she fits in perfectly with the community we are developing at raceAthlete. She is an endurance athlete performing at a level that meets her needs. And while she may not understand it, she accepts my desire to complete at longer distances. Distance doesn't define an athlete, it only provides a means for sorting the races.

If you are a short distance specialist, keep this in mind the next time someone tries to belittle your love of 5K races or sprint triathlons. And if longer races are your game, keep this in mind the next time you are tempted to mock the person who has no desire to attempt your favored distance. We all have our own reasons for what we do, and we are the best judge of what is right for us.

BTW, don't forget to visit the previous post if you haven't already left a comment. There's the opportunity to win free schwag courtesy of Iron Pol and the Fox Cities Triathlon Club.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

World's Easiest

Without distracting from my artful rant about Blogger (see previous post), I want to announce what will certainly be the world's easiest contest, taking place right here at Iron Pol.

There won't be any mind boggling triathlon trivia for which Roman is so well known. You won't be required to figure out insanely personal information reminiscent of Trigreyhound (because I don't want you all cyberstalking me). And there is no requirement that you challenge an Athena (not Amazon) to a feat of strength or financial doom.

Nope, all you have to do is leave a comment. If your e-mail address isn't available through your post, drop me a note. I will have to be able to contact the luck winner(s). The total number of winners will be determined by the number of comments received between now and next Monday. I guarantee at least a first place prize, and will add prize packages as comments increase in groups of 20. The first twenty have one prize. The second group of 20 (or portion thereof) guarantees a second prize package. The third group (or similar portion) generates a third package. I reserve the right to limit the total number of packages to three, or come up with additional prizes as I see fit. Winners will be determined by random drawing performed by the accounting firm of Mrs. Pol and Kids, LLC (not to be confused with a real company).

Some potential prizes include, but are not limited to: A Fuel Belt running visor, Fox Cities Triathlon Club socks complete with the world famous fox, a FCTC water bottle, and Gu gels. All prizes include shipping within the continental US.

Good luck! And remind your friends to play, so there will be more prize packages.

Blogger Beta (New and IMPROVED?) Sucks

Okay, just a bit of a rant here. And an FYI for those of you who have switched to the new and "improved" version of blogger.

Those who are leery of switching to unproven and seemingly unimproved beta launches seem unable to log in and comment on your sites. I can comment on any site that has remained beta free. Those who have switched, I get nice loop where it won't let me log in, won't accept an "Other" comment, and won't even take an anonymous comment.

Very nice. What they're essentially saying is that Blogger no longer talks to Blogger. Genius. It's almost as if the programmers have Microsoft experience.

Grrrrrrr! Sheer genius.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Bar

Triathletes are known for their competitive nature and Type-A personalities. While broad strokes rarely do everyone justice, we must admit that many of us fit the bill. The goal is finding a balance.

While I am keenly aware it is unlikely I'll win any races, I do like to collect data for comparison with future performances. My training log includes times for every training session, and I pay attention to how my performance is tracking. I know what my personal bests are before I step to the starting line of any race.

On the other hand, I am rarely worried about a single "bad" performance. Off days are a factor of life, and it takes more than a slow pace to ruin my day. Just as you won't have a PR every time you enter a race, you won't have a PW (personal worst) every time, either. In any race, find the lessons there are to be learned, and find out how to improve for the next race.

Today, I set one of those bars. As of this morning, I have a rough idea of what I am capable of in an Ironman swim. The initial placement of the bar is at 1 hour 41 minutes. It's not a high bar, so there is plenty of room for improvement. It is, however, far enough off the floor (of 2 hours 20 minutes) that there is also room for a bad day.

And there are a great many factors that must be considered. First, this mornings swim was actually 4400 yards, or 2.5 miles. It was easier than figuring out the laps for 2.4 miles. So, that's 1:41 with an extra 176 yards (about 4 minutes for me). This was done in a pool, and included 179 turns. That will definitely be missing in Louisville. I should also be going with the current in the Ironman, and wearing a wetsuit. I will, however, be in open water with a few thousand others. Those factors might tend to slow me down.

My co-worker has asked several times if I believed I could complete the entire 2.4 mile swim. The response, in the past, has always been, "I think I can." The "think" has been turned into a "know." Of course, as I've also told him, completing the swim is really only a minor detail. Much more important is how easily I can jump on a bike after the swim.

This morning, that would have been VERY difficult. Fortunately, it's December. I guarantee that will change in the next several months.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Start of a Journey

We all know the addage. Every journey begins with the first step. For me, that first step came many years ago. It was the first step out of the doctor's office after finding out there were unexplained shadows in my lungs.

The first leg of the journey took me from a generalist to a pulmonary specialist. After x-rays, upper CT scans, and abdominal CT scans they started throwing around words like non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, surgery, and RIGHT NOW. When doctors start putting those things together, it tends to ruin your weekend.

After surgery to collect samples for biopsies, we had the answer to the question that had been causing sleepless nights for weeks. I had sarcoidosis instead of cancer. And having a friend who was dying from a lifetime of battling sarcoid had little impact on our sense of relief. At least the "here and now" threat was gone.

The next step of the journey started when the pulmonologist asked that I complete 1.5 mile runs a couple times each week to monitor lung function. If it got harder and harder to breathe, we would know there was a problem. What he failed to contemplate was the other problem. Type-A personalities and instructions to run. Four marathons later, we know how that journey is going.

Another step in the journey was taken at the beginning of the year, when I started training for a sprint distance triathlon. Actually, "step" is a bit of a misnomer. "Stroke" is more appropriate as most of the focus of this year has been on swimming. Many of you have been along for every step of this portion of the journey as I went from sprint to Olympic to Ironman aspirations.

Today, it feels like the journey to Iron has officially started. Oh, the training of the past few months has been part of the overall journey, but it just didn't have the feel of being part of the IRONMAN journey. The journey that leads from here and now to Louisville in August. That changed this morning.

It happened somewhere during my swim. And it was a long swim. 3520 yards, to be exact. Two miles. Somehow, the 520 extra yards symbolized a change. This is no longer about being a better swimmer. It isn't about doing well in the Spirit of Racine half Ironman. It's ALL about Ironman Louisville. Whatever the difference, TODAY marks the shift from training to Ironman training. Something tells me that nothing between now and August will be quite the same as it was only yesterday.

So, let the journey truly begin. Let the changes that are needed begin now. Let the gremlins bring what they will. I know they're coming, so I welcome them. Each one that is overcome makes me stronger. And in about 260 days, I'll start one more leg of the journey. And understand, they truly are two journeys. One gets you to Ironman. One makes you Ironman.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Team raceAthlete in Mad-Town

September 7-10, 2007 promises to be filled with huge events. First and foremost among them is the Ford Ironman Wisconsin race. As most know, this is the premier event for Team raceAthlete in 2007. It is also the pinnacle event for the sponsored members of the team to showcase the results of the "Train Like a Professional" program.

It also offers an opportunity to show the Team raceAthlete Support Crew in action. Who is on the Team raceAthlete Support Crew, you ask? Why, everyone, of course. All raceAthlete members will provide support in their own way. And those able to get to Madison on race weekend will be able to help directly.

a.maria and I will be putting together details in the next several months. Key among those details will be a listing of who will be there and those capacities they may best be able to fill. Whether volunteers on the course, video/picture crews documenting the race, or any of a list of roles, the support crew will be as much a part of the Team raceAthlete experience as those in the race.

In addition to coordinating race day activities, we will work together to plan "meet and greet" type events. This could include meals, training, or other social events.

If you will be in Madison, whether as a participant or support crew, let either a.maria or me know via e-mail. That will allow us to compile an e-mail list of those interested in planning. We will strive to provide at least one "key" event and several other options for those with tight schedules.

Let's prove that Team raceAthlete provides the best opportunities and the best support in town.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Race Schedule

I need to get a sidebar table set up, but for the time being, here is my almost completely confirmed race schedule for 2007.

May 20 - Green Bay Marathon (half or full?) - "C" or lower race. Running this as a bandit to support co-workers. One is running his first marathon, another (maybe two) running first half-marathon. This is basically a supported training run and the pace will be set by my co-workers.

June 9 - Bellin Run 10K - "A" race for running. Goal is to break 41 minutes and qualify for elite status in 2008.

June 24 - High Cliff Sprint Triathlon - "C" race. Focus on transitions and nutrition.

July 22 - Spirit of Racine Triathlon Half Ironman - "B" race. Improve transitions, finalize nutrition, run IM pace in preparation for Louisville.

August 26 - Ford Ironman Louisville - "A" race. Finish. Under 15 hours is great. Under 13 hours is nothing short of amazing.

This is just about the same number of races completed last year. Obviously, the distances have been ramped up a bit. So, it will be a busy year.

Breaking Three

Yesterday was a momentous occassion in the Pol household. Three years ago, we were blessed with the birth of our son, and we celebrated his birthday with a trip to his favorite restaurant, Red Robin. He had an awesome time, and only opening gifts at home overshadowed dinner.

And apparently we could have gotten away with only one gift, the first one. After opening the tool box set his mom and grandparents took care of, he seemed to forget there were other gifts to open. Luckily, we pushed the issue, because his second gift was a pair of firefighter pajamas, complete with slippers that look like fire trucks. B-Boy went to sleep on the floor next to his bed, with the tool box and slippers prominently displayed on the bed.

This morning, three seemed like a good number, and a good training session was in order after a VERY long night. Monster Girl has taken a dislike to milk, and we spent until the early hours of the morning (1:30 a.m.) trying to get her to eat something that wasn't formula. Tired and moving slowly, I hit the pool with a goal in mind. Three thousand yards in honor of B-Boy's third birthday.

One hour and eleven minutes later, I had 3000 yards under my belt for the first time. It's a major accomplishment for me, and the final thousand yards were promising. Most of those final 100 yards splits were sub 2m20s. Considering that 2m30s was average a few short weeks ago, staying in the 2:20 range for the FINAL 1000 yards of a long swim is encouraging.

It seems there just might be a glimmer of hope for me finishing 2.4 miles in under two hours. And that, my friends, is a true confidence builder.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Odd Places

Sometimes, inspiration can be found in the oddest of spots. The new song is a shining example of that. Poison is far from a favorite of mine, though I will admit that where sappy rock ballads are concerned, they know what they are doing. And this song was used on our tri club's "year in review" video.

Just consider the first lines:

Hearts of fire
Streets of stone
Modern warriors
Saddle iron horses of chrome

Or the last:

Of all the truths and lies
And stories of riders in the sky
They say only the bravest try
Where eagles and angels dare to fly

And for those who raced IM Wisconsin 2006:

Stories told
Two old friends
Of battle scars and lonely bars
And nights the rain wouldn't end

Perhaps there's room for a bit of poison in the pursuit of iron.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Youth Step Up

When the idea of raising funds to sponsor youth in endurance events started taking shape, we hoped to have ten to fifteen 7th-12th graders participate. As we began presenting to the youth organization with whom we launched the program, the response was such that we thought we might have to raise a few hundred dollars extra to fully fund all the youth.

Now, the outcome has far exceeded our wildest dreams. After completing presentations to all grades, we have nearly 50 young ladies and gentlemen signed up. Of course, we assume some of them will be weeded out as the first meetings are held. Even so, with these numbers, if only a third follow through, we will have to find more resources. That we have gone from having this big cash reserve to being strapped for sufficient funding is truly awesome. And having the opportunity to introduce more than a dozen youth to endurance sports is exciting.

The future potential for this program is limited only by our creativity and drive. Over time, the goal is to be able to help youth who might never be able to participate in triathlon and develop in them a lifelong passion for the sport. This could mean nothing more than providing guidance and motivation. For others, it might mean providing coaching, equipment, and entry fees. A program that bridges the gap between cultures, both social and economic, is a perfect fit for triathlon.

Stay tuned for future updates on this amazing grass roots effort. We will form the team and commence training in early 2007. The kids will start racing in May and should have a triathlon under their belts by July. By the end of summer, we'll know how many we have hooked for life.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Waiting in Line

*A rant follows. I'll try to be funny, but it's a rant nonetheless*

Have you ever noticed those people in stores who seem incapable of waiting in line? You know the type. They bounce from line to line trying to find the fastest one. Or they hop in the express "10 items or less" aisle with an entire basket of groceries. For whatever reason, their time is extremely valuable, and apparently often more valuable than anyone else's time.

This is the type of people with whom I've been dealing, all week. It's near the end of the month, and it's approaching the end of a year. Accounting departments around the country are concerned about closing their books. So, they call me. Each MUST have their invoices IMMEDIATELY. And each time, like that person that jumps in front of a line at the store, they expect that the other companies patiently waiting for their invoices should wait even longer.

Oddly enough, this can occassionally be seen in triathlon, as well. While most participants are truly attempting to make way and avoid excessive contact, we have all read the stories of highly competitive individuals who seem to take pleasure in going over or through other racers.

I try to do the opposite. If someone seems to be in a rush, I'll let them go ahead of me. In a race, I almost feel bad when I make contact with another swimmer. I know it freaks me out when someone starts beating on my feet (or head, body, etc). So, I try to stay out of other people's space. Of course, going into Ironman, I know I'll have to overcome this, at least a bit.

Think about this as you go about your day. Do your actions force others to take a back seat? If so, is there anything that can be changed? Everybody's lives are full of important deadlines.

I'll end this rant here. Mostly because there are some accounting departments that will apparently explode if they don't receive my invoices.

And Done!

Thirty days. Thirty posts. Twenty-seven swims. Little Miss Runner Pants and Coach Mike made a good team for keeping me busy. Someone remind me to check next time I start agreeing to 30 day efforts.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

'Cause They're Fast!

Do you remember the excitement of new shoes as a child? The best part about getting a new pair of shoes, whether they were Pro Keds canvass basketball shoes, name brand tennis shoes, or totally off brand beaters was how they improved speed. And don't sit there acting like you were above such nonsense. Everybody knows that new shoes make kids faster. *Note - New shoes don't always make adults faster. We're more concerned with "same speed, less damage."

One weekend, I was allowed to go camping with one of my best friends. His dad, whom we referred to as Stay Puff (yes, that Stay Puff), was shocked to find out that the only shoes I had along were my everyday sneakers. Gruff as he usually was, he was concerned that I might ruin my shoes on the camping trip. So, we made a trip to the local "get everything here" store so we could pick up a pair of shoes that could be destroyed. They were cheapies. We're talking dirt cheap. But that didn't stop me from KNOWING those shoes made me a better, faster runner during that weekend. And I wore them most of the summer for that very reason.

Today, my son carries on the tradition. Any time we get new shoes, he has to run in the store. He will pick out different pairs and run up and down the aisle. Once he has determined which pair make him fastest, he is satisfied. If we buy a second pair of shoes, he will point out that the second pair is for walking. HIS pair is the fast pair.

This morning, I felt like a little kid, again. Last night, my order of new Orca Race tri shorts arrived. Made of Aqua Glide fabric, the shorts amazed me when I took my pre-swim shower. The water just beaded up and ran off the shorts. I sat at the edge of the pool dumping handfuls of water on them, and marveled at the hydrodynamic qualities and considering how well the shorts must slip through the water. "Wow," I thought, "I'm going to love these things, 'cause their fast."

And whether actually a function of the shorts or just a placebo effect pushing me to do well, I was faster. I swam 10x100 with a form/speed focus on alternate 100s. On each of the speed intervals, I swam well under two minutes. Given that I rarely go under two even on the very first 100, the performance was unexpected. It seems that some "go fast" items DO work on adults.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Two Seven Oh

A quick glance at the count-down timer for IM Louisville shows 270 and a wake up until race day. For many people, 270 days translates to nine months and represents a fairly significant amount of time. A wedding can be planned in less time. Monster Girl took less time to go from concept to creation (birth). An awful lot can be accomplished in 270 days.

For a triathlete pursuing a first Ironman, 270 is a relatively small number that is only getting smaller. Nine months seems less signficant when you consider the 4-5 months we will be buried in snow. That 270 days for bike training just turned into 120. Given the 6 months it took to go from essentially zero swimming to 1.2 miles, much of the next 9 months will be required to make the jump from 1.2 miles to 2.4 miles. And while 24 weeks is enough to train for a marathon, more is required to train for a marathon that comes after swimming and biking 114.4 miles.

I am confident there is enough time. I am confident in my abilities and those of my coach. One thing I am not is complacent. IM Louisville represents the single greatest individual challenge I've ever undertaken. My coach can provide the guidance. My wife and kids will provide the support. But only I can complete the training and travel the 140.6 miles from start to finish on August 26, 2007. There is no room for complacency.

It's about to get serious around here. Serious training. Serious nutrition. Serious focus. Luckily, through all this seriousness, B-Boy will still be there to let me know I'm a "nutcase."

Which is good.

While I'm sure seriousness will get me somewhere near 140.6 miles, a bit of nuttiness might be required to cover the last little bit.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fire and Ice

Anyone who has seen "With Honors" might recall the movie opens with Monty, played by Brendan Fraser, heading out into the snow for a morning run. His most enjoyable part of the run is when he is able to fly past his college's sculling team, led in their run by Moira (Courtney Blumenthal), one of Monty's roommates.

Two backdrops to the run become integral parts of the movie. The snow on campus leads to Monty slipping, falling, and loosing the only copy of his college thesis. The song, Fire Woman by The Cult is very representative of Moira, the object of Monty's desire.

For those who haven't seen the movie, I strongly recommend it. It is well done, and Joe Pesci is wonderful as Simon Wilder, the worldly wise homeless man who pushes Monty to think for himself. For those who have seen it, here is a reminder of the importance of that simple concept of not blindly following, but sorting out the sensible and the ridiculous.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Monster Girl Version 1.0

One year ago, the entire Pol family was in the hospital. Actually, B-Boy was bouncing between the neighbor's house, my best friend's house, and the hospital. Mrs. Pol and I made an unexpected and early trip to the hospital on the day after Thanksgiving and Monster Girl made her grand entrance. With that sort of an arrival, she is destined to be a day after Thanksgiving shopper.

A lot has changed during Monster Girl's first year in the family. We have adapted to having two children. I have learned about being dad all over again, as boys and girls ARE different. Our schedules have flexed around the demands of the church, the community, and the family.

And I became a triathlete. Oddly, that is all part of the bigger picture. Triathlons have meshed perfectly with my life goal of improving in a four-fold sense. Taken from Luke 2:52, which indicates Jesus increased in strength and wisdom, and in favor with God and man, four-fold living focuses on mental, physical, social, and religious development. Growth in those four areas helps me set a good example for my children.

So good, in fact, that B-Boy woke up from his nap and caught part of the Ironman Austria telecast. And then pleaded with me to let him go "work out" with me. While that entailed him riding in his jogging stroller while I ran, he very much wants to participate in my exercise routine. Hopefully, Monster Girl does the same.

Monster Girl's first year was one of change. Her second year promises more of the same as preparations for Ironman Louisville begin in earnest. We'll have to wait until her second birthday to review the extent of the change.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Swim, Rinse, Repeat

Twenty five days into November and I have 23 swims under my belt. At this point, it seems fair to say there have been some improvements. And despite the naysayers, Mike Ricci of D3 Multisport deserves to have his advice recognized.

Keep in mind that the "30 swims in 30 days" concept stemmed from a simple question. Given a routine of three swims per week, would it make sense to add an additional swim session? Mike's response was that I didn't need to add one, I needed to add four. In other words, I should be swimming every day (he compromised to almost every day, with Sunday being the common exception). I've done everything possible to follow that guidance.

It isn't Mike's goal that I somehow become a world class swimmer. He isn't seeking huge improvements in pace. He simply wants his swimmers to be in better shape when they get out of the water after a given swim distance. The bike and run will go better if the swim didn't wipe you out.

And while I am still fairly pokey, I am seeing improvements. The last two swims provided good data for comparison. Friday is 400s (300 swim, 100 drill) for one hour. The goal is to complete as many sets as possible in that 60 minute time frame. Previously, each swim went over one hour, with 2350 yards completed. Yesterday, I completed the swim in 59m40s. And the distance was 2440 yards. That is an extra 100 yards completed 26 seconds faster than prior swims.

Many other distances are showing improvements, as well. And at the end of the day, it is getting easier to complete the swims, and they are being accomplished in record time. Though overall I am tired, the numbers show improvements.

And as tired as I am, don't be surprised to see this post get edited. I just can't see very straight at the moment.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Look At Those Cars

Headed to the YMCA for my 22nd swim in 24 days, I was struck by a comical thought. Here it was going on 6 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving. Thousands of cars filled the parking lots of stores in my hometown. Most of these people had gotten up hours earlier than normal to hit the stores for the special buys of the first serious holiday shopping day. For them, being out and about at this hour was a special event.

It was special for me, as well. Only, it was special in a different way. Today was a chance to sleep in and still meet my training goals. Hitting the pool at 6 a.m. meant an extra hour of sleep, for me. And I didn't have to fight for parking. I avoided the crush of humanity fighting for that must have gift. In fact, the same group of people were at the pool swimming. And we didn't have to fight with the water aerobics class. They have the week off. Perhaps they were at the stores putting their skills to use in the checkout line.

Days like today show how skewed our priorities can get. Many of those in line long before the 5 a.m. store opening are the same people who question my getting up for 5 a.m. swim sessions. Health and wellness don't rate an early wakeup. Fifty percent off does.

So, many people ran the Christmas triathlon, today. They started with 90 minutes at Wal Mart with a quick transition to Target. After a sprint through that store, they shifted over for the marathon session at the mall, where they hit all the specialty stores. With any amount of luck, they got through without maxing out their credit cards. Many finished after only 6 hours. Others required much more time. And still others are still shopping as I type this.

As for me, I'm headed to bed. While the shopping spree is usually limited to the day after Thanksgiving, early wakeups continue to be routine in training.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Start Early, Finish Late

It has been an interesting Thanksgiving. And the little ones ensured we got an early start to the day.

Monster Girl is fighting some sinus issues, and that was enough to make her fairly grumpy until the very early beginnings of Thanksgiving Day. No sooner had she calmed down and actually fallen asleep than B-Boy was calling for help with a runny nose of his own.

Mrs. Pol and I split duties, with her caring for Monster Girl in bed and me helping B-Boy. Lucky me, I got the floor next to his bed. Every so often, he would wake me up needing a nose wipe. Around 2:30 a.m., that changed, when he woke up (for what I thought was a nose wipe) after having gotten sick.

You have to love him, though. He made things quite easy because the clean up was limited to a pillow case and pajama top. We were back to sleep by 3 a.m. Of course, with him getting sick, all thoughts of making it back to my bed were out the door.

The alarm woke me at 6:20 so I could get to the pool for my swim. That went well, and I was home in time to get the kids ready for church. Early dinner with family and it was back home to get the Christmas lights up. B-Boy is VERY excited about that being done.

Now, both kids are sleeping and it's time to get to bed, myself. While all the maniacs are out trying to catch all the awesome sales, I'll be doing the same thing I did last year. Working out. We will not, however, have the same kind of day we had last year. That is the day that Monster Girl decided to grace our presence just over a month early.

At the end of the day, we have much for which we are thankful. Both kids kept us up all night, but these minor illnesses are nothing compared to the real challenges many parents face. I lost some sleep, last night, but slept on the floor of my house instead of the concrete of a city alleyway. I am tired and sore, but it is the result of decisions I made rather than unavoidable circumstances. Most importantly, I have a wife and two kids who are the most wonderful things in the world. God has blessed our family and for that, we are truly thankful.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gotta Run

Have you ever had one of those training weeks? You know the kind. Everything goes perfect. You feel strong, get enough sleep, meet all your training goals, and make all sorts of improvements. Yeah, that kind.

I'm having something the exact opposite of that. Oh, Monday went off without a hitch. Then again, I had the day off and that relieves a lot of the pressure. Tuesday? That was just a mess. The swim went well enough. It was the period right after drying off from the shower when things went awry. There's just something so wrong about putting on your underwear and reaching for your pants only to realize you don't actually have pants. Or a shirt. Sure, the shoes and belt are there. But reminiscent of another morning in the not to distant past, the ever important clothes are hanging on the door. At the house.

And this morning. It started poorly enough. After tip-toeing around the house because Mrs. Pol and Monster Girl were asleep on the living room floor (something about a middle of the night scream/eat/play fest), breaking down boxes for recycling pickup ate up time. I got to the YMCA 20 minutes late. After rushing to get ready, hopping into the shower, and heading to the pool deck, a very helpful lifeguard pointed out that the pool was closed.

That's the kind of information one appreciates BEFORE the pre-swim shower.

So, disregarding Roman Mica's Code 45 warning, I dried out the tri shorts, threw my cycling jersey on, grabbed my running shoes, and headed out to catch at least part of the spin class. Of course, running that late, the only portion I was going to catch was the view, as there were no bikes left.

Oh well, there's always a run. With the now very abbreviated time remaining, I opted for some speedwork and ran a quick 5K. That, at least, went well. It took 21 minutes, and that's a good pace, even using the 3 mile distance I will count.

It just makes me wonder. What does Thanksgiving Day hold in store for my training efforts? One thing is certain. I'm thankful for the ability to get out and train, regardless of how goofed up the days get. I once heard a chief in the Navy say, "A bad day at sea is better than any day on shore." I wanted to punch him in the head, and only a proper upbringing and a disdain for the brig held my hand.

But I will say that a bad training day is better than being unable to train.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


For those of you familiar with the site, you might have noticed a minor change at the top of the page. It was long overdue that a new header be put there. The initial transformation that started at the beginning of the year is well underway, and the journey has shifted focus from "become a triathlete" to "become an Ironman."

Mrs. Pol was probably the first to make the call that this would be about more than one summer spent learning to swim enough to complete one short race. Perhaps the title "Iron Pol" was freudian, revealing more about myself than intended. Sometimes, simple statements reveal a great deal about who we are and where we are going.

The original plan was to put the basics together, and have Little Miss Runner Pants make it presentable. She looked at the two versions I sent her and said that she could do little more than recreate them. She did, however, give her two cents worth as to which header to use. I would have expected nothing less.

So, the header is there. I have one final piece to add, but it may take a while to find or create. Until then, I'll go with this.

Please let me know your thoughts. And don't worry about hurting my feelings if you have critical comments. I have no delusions of being an amazing graphic artist or designer. Any constructive comments will be greatly appreciated. And if you just want to tell me how amazing I am, that's fine, too.

Monday, November 20, 2006

All Clear

One day off and one visit to the doctor and my concerns about a possible hernia have been eliminated. The doctor did a quick check and made the definite determination there is no noticeable hernia. Though he offered a visit with the surgeons, he indicated that they would be unlikely to do anything without an obvious problem.

His guess is a pulled muscle in the same general area. Apparently, a pulled stomach muscle can create pains very similar to that of an abdominal hernia. Thanks, WebMD, for failing to mention that in your write-up about stomach pains.

Oh well, better to visit the doctor and get a clean bill of health than to self-diagnose and miss the mark.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


This morning, Mrs. Pol and I became godparents. My best friend's daughter was baptised, and we are honored to have been asked to help out in her christian development. It is a role we both take seriously, and hope to be good guides and role models. Since she is only about 6 months younger than Monster Girl, they will likely be in the same grade in school, so we are likely to see a lot of both their daughters, anyway.

After the baptism and a celebration luncheon, it was on the road for training. Given the timing, I opted for a 10 mile run instead of a swim. Still, that's 17 swims in 19 days. I see minor improvements, already. And I'm assuming this will be much like running and that many of the improvements will come after my body has had time to integrate the lessons learned and recover a bit from the added stress of the greatly increased swim load.

Tomorrow, it's a day off for a visit to the doctor. I've had some sharp pain in my belly button, and want to confirm or rule out an abdominal hernia. If that is the issue, I'll want to resolve it as soon as possible. If it isn't, I'll be interested in what it might be. While I avoid doctors when the likely outcome is "You're sick, go home and rest," I don't hesitate to visit when their expertise is needed.

Either way, I'll have something about which to blog, tomorrow.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Blogger's Cramp

This is something like the third attempt at a witty, useful, or at least cute post. Unfortunately, the haze of being tired is overshadowing the glow of brilliance. A long morning of training was followed by a long morning of shopping and then getting children down for naps.

That gave me time to get some stuff done on the computer, and I figured I better get today's post done, even if it's mundane and pointless. Hey, AJ's rule is quantity, not quality. Who decided to have 30 days of posting the same month Coach Mike has me doing 30 swims in 30 days, anyway? But I refuse to crack before she does!

By the way, please note that we are just over 280 days until IM Louisville. That's only 40 weeks. Somehow, I have a feeling those days are going to fly by. It won't be long and I'll be freaking out over the last few weeks of taper. It's kind of like Christmas...

Only 280 shopping days until Ironman!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Swimulation #2

A while back I touted the idea of swimming with closed eyes. The concept was to simulate open water swims, at least the kind experienced in this neck of the woods. At that point, I figured simulating the inability to see in the water was easier than the chop experienced in the lake.

That was because I was a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday swimmer. Since coach Mike Ricci from D3 Multisports suggested a few more swims, I have been able to experience the joy of also being a Monday, Wednesday, Friday swimmer. Those days, they are quite a bit different.

That's because MWF is when the morning water aerobics class is held. And at this YMCA, there is only one pool, and the water aerobics class feels obligated to take one of the three swim lanes for their class. Apparently, one of the primary goals of a water aerobics session is to generate as much water motion as possible. This is accomplished through various techniques. Running in circles creates minor currents, mostly pushing away from the class (and into the wall). Various forms of jumps and kicks result in chaotic chop that would make the wildest lake proud. Finally, the participants take as much joy in splashing in the water as B-Boy does during his bath.

The end result of all this energy is a lot of odd chop in the pool that makes it challenging to find a good rhythm. Though it won't prepare me for swells, strong currents (minus the wall), and 2500 bodies attempting to swim in the same space, these sessions have helped me deal with open water issues. It is not uncommon to find water where air was expected during a breath. The normal "four strokes, breathe, four strokes" routine often fails, resulting in the need to take a breath two strokes later or on the weak side. And having one lane gone generally leads to 3 or more bodies in one lane.

So, if you're trying to get used to open water swims, find yourself a small pool with a needy water aerobics class. Grab a few friends, start doing laps, and close your eyes to simulate murky water.

What can I say, I'm here to help.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ska AND 80's Tunes

What more could you ask for?

Go Figure. Here We Go, Again.

The excitement of Floyd Landis winning the Tour de France, keeping the yellow jersey in American hands the year after Lance Armstrong retired was quickly marred by reports that the cyclist had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Cycling fans around the country were quick to condemn Floyd's actions, despite his contention he never used banned substances.

While disturbed by the big picture of drugs in sports, I favored a "wait and see" attitude. Landis deserved at least the opportunity to prove his innocence, if he could. And after the situation involving accusations against Lance Armstrong, the World Anti Doping Agency and the French testing labs have tarnished images, as well.

Now, it appears the testing lab is admitting their process has failed, again. While the revelation that samples were mislabeled doesn't automatically exhonerate Landis, it certainly lends credence to the argument that administrative errors resulted in the wrong samples being tested. Incorrect labeling of a sample opens the door to the incorrect labeling of a Tour de France champion as a cheater.

And, once again, we are forced to consider the totality of the evidence. Landis had negative tests throughout the Tour de France, including negative tests after the supposed positives. His record is untarnished with the exception of this one set of samples. WADA and the testing lab have a string of improper accusations later reversed due to incorrect handling of samples or, worse yet, invalid analysis of those samples. In my world, past performance is at least a predictor of future performance.

Yes, Floyd Landis could have banned substances. Yes, he could have cheated. Then again, it is quite possible the testing facility screwed up. And now, the evidence is beginning to show the latter to be likely.

It appears that both Landis and the lab responsible for testing need just a bit more time to prove their cases. I'm still willing to wait. I'd rather they get it right than get it fast. Speed is better on the Tour than in the testing.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


There has been an interesting trend in the past few weeks. In some respects, a disturbing trend. Sort of an oddity in the blogosphere.

It is a trend of people getting uptight, angered, or downright silly with regards to the posts a blogger makes and/or the comments blog visitors leave. I find both reactions odd. It might just be that I have an skewed perspective, but I tend to think others find it odd, as well.

Rather than raise any hackles by mentioning specific blogs, posts, comments, and individuals, I'll keep it generic. Perhaps if we think about it, we'll realize how silly some of it has become.

First, we have to consider our view of blogs. I like to think of them much like television shows. Some are well liked and viewed by many people. Others are on the "watch it when I can" list. And still others are the type you go out of your way to avoid. And like television, there are far more blogs available than anyone can ever follow on a regular basis.

Sometimes, a good t.v. show goes through a slump. E.R. is like that, for me. I love E.R. and have watched it since the very first episode. Occassionally, there is an obvious case of writer's block, because the show stinks. I've been known to skip weeks at a time when the show is that bad. But I check it out every now and again to see if it's improved. I don't opt to reject an historically good show because of slump.

Despite being a fan, I don't always agree with the message or philosophy being promoted by the show. The producers, directors, and writers all have their own beliefs which influence the show's theme. But I won't go to great lengths to tell them I believe they are screwed up. Given the opportunity, I might ask why they hold their beliefs. I wouldn't necessarily attempt to influence them. And I certainly wouldn't try to use their platform to prove them wrong. I might, however, use mine.

The shows creators, however, must understand that some people will take offense. And sometimes those people will react strongly and negatively. That would be a poor reason to stop producing the show or somehow remove the opportunity for criticism. Along with the good comes the bad.

And like any good television show, the viewer has options. If the show is that distasteful, it can be turned off. I don't appreciate Howard Stern's broadcasts. I believe him to be crass and his shows to be pointless and mundane. So, I don't listen to them. Millions do. He is successful for exactly that reason. But I don't have to listen to him. And he doesn't have to pay any attention to my comments. We both go our separate ways, happy that the other is free to have their thoughts.

As bloggers, we must remember that sometimes our actions will result in comments we neither need nor desire. Our visitors don't always know which is good and which is bad. Likewise, as visitors, we must remember that the blog is not our own. The author is free to provide as little or as much information as they so desire. It is, after all, THEIR space. It is THEIR journal. Take it or leave it.

If you leave it, check back from time to time. You might find your old favorite is back on the track you wish they had never left.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Many people, upon hearing the desire of someone to complete a marathon, respond with a polite, "Wow, I could never do that." When the topic of Ironman triathlons is mentioned, the comments more often reflect the questionable state of mental health of the individual declaring that goal. Yet most endurance athletes find such remarks somewhat humorous.


Because they are comments many of us were prone to making ourselves, in the past. A few short years ago, my response to the subject of running would have been, "Runners get hit by busses." Triathlon, while a cool sport, was for the ultra-fit athlete with zero percent body fat. Normal people would most likely drown attempting such a feat. There was "no way" I could ever compete in endurance events, especially long distance events.

Oddly enough, the biggest roadblock to participating in triathlons or running races is ourselves. And I don't mean in a physical sense. Most of us are more than healthy enough to begin training. And there are way too many examples of challenged athletes competing at the pinnacle of endurance sports. No, the roadblock is far less substantial than a missing limb or dire health concern. It is purely psychological.

It's probably preaching to the choir, but the hardest part of running any endurance event is making the decision to do so. Let's face it, when we are contemplating that next bigger race, signing up is half the battle. The training might be tough, as can the race. But the decision is the hardest part.

Think back to the decision to get involved in endurance sports. For most of us, it wasn't so much a decision as a long, drawn out process. We agonizingly decided to start running, "for our health." Then, we thought that perhaps we'd do a short walk/run for charity. Making the jump to a longer race, such as a 10K or a half-marathon took lots of time, lots of outside motivation, and lots of overcoming fear and trepidation. After signing up, the gremlins set to work immediately, trying to make us question our decision and our ability to succeed.

There is a silver lining, though. It is quite common to see this attitude overcome. My co-worker/training partner (who is in dire need of a name) was discussing his training and race plans, and commented that he did an hour long spin class and decided to follow it up by running 10K. That surprised even him, because it was only 18 months back that he refused to even try and run a 10K race unless someone paid his entry fee. Now, he has completed the 10K race, a sprint triathlon, and a half-marathon.

He is running a half-IM tri with me in 2007, and is considering a marathon. This from the guy who questioned the desire to run, much less race, any distance at all. Attitudes change. Sometimes the most unlikely person becomes the best training partner. Sometimes hidden talents reveal themselves as people try new things and stars are born.

So when people cast the odd sidelong glance about your desire to participate in endurance sports, help them to see the path you took to get there. Reassure them that being a runner doesn't have to mean 26.2 miles any more than being a triathlete means completing 140.6 miles. If those become long term goals, great. If not, there is an entire world of races that take far less time, energy, and committment. And for many, those are the best races to consider.

Who knows. They may one day find themselves being asked the same questions they ask now.

By Special Request

Hot off the request lines, it's Mustard Plug! Good suggestion, Veeg.

*Note: there will be a real post later. I do, however, reserve the right to designate this as my post of the day in keeping with the rules established by some unknown entity and passed along by Little Miss Runner Pants. There is, after all, some substance here. This is a good song, and goes along with the week's theme.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ska Week!

Welcome to Ska Week here at Iron Pol. If you are a fan of ska music, enjoy. If not, give it a listen and you might become one.

In honor of everyone who spent last weekend in the surf and sand of Panama City Beach, Florida, here's surf song from the Planet Smashers.

Header Help

At the risk of posting something as thin as others have posted, I need some help. Help of the creative and artistic type. For this blog.

Notice that header at the top. You know, the boring one with a title and brief description of why I started this blog. BORING! It is something I want to resolve, but just can't seem to fix. Mostly, it's because I'm completely devoid of creative thought when it comes to artistic endeavors. Talking, that I have down. Artsy stuff, nada, zero, zip, zilch.

So, if there is anyone with the ability, inclination, and willingness to help out, please let me know. I have some pictures, and an idea. Now, I just need to figure out how to actually put the pieces together.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Day Off

Somewhere during the training of the last few years, I've lost my mind. That, or my sense of proportion. Today's schedule (and a bit of personal choice) made getting my daily swim completed challenging. Given the "day off," I decided to get a quick run in before dinner.

Twelve miles and a 100 minutes later, I got back home.

Now, that is admittedly a quick run. At an average pace of 8m 9s per mile without seriously pushing myself, this run is a far cry from the 10 minute mile pace of my first half marathon. That it was a spur of the moment thing is even more telling.

Prior to 2000, it took the requirements of being a sailor to get me to run more than 100 yards. In 2000, it took being diagnosed with sarcoidosis and a doctor's request to get me to run 1.5 miles. Today, I ran 12 miles on my day off. And honestly viewed it as a day off. Don't bother telling me. I know. It's twisted and wrong.

I know there's a lawyer or two out there. How about psychologists. I might need help. Too many more changes like that and I'll start seeing Dean Karnazes' 50 marathons in 50 days a perfectly understandable.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Like Christmas in, Um, November

Friday was a good day. The Fox Valley had a decent snowfall and I received a package from UPS. The snow was heavy, wet, and enough to warrant a trip outside to make snowmen. The package was my wetsuit.

Both had to wait until after dinner with Mrs. Pol and the children as well as a visit to my dad's house to help move some furniture. After getting home and winning the bedtime battle, I tested the fit of the wetsuit. While not an expert, it seems to fit very well. It is about as tight as I would want to wear, and Mrs. Pol questioned whether it would actually zip up. I can move my arms in a swimming motion, though it is VERY snug.

Everything I've read indicates that is about what it should be. The tags indicate the neoprene will loosen up in the water, and the tight fit on land will be more reasonable once it is wet. And with the snow falling, testing it in the lake may be a bad idea.

This morning, with snow still on the ground, it was off to the pool for a quick 1500 yard swim, followed by 45 minutes in the spin class. The instructor decided to be funny and simulate the Ironman Florida conditions. In other words, crank up the resistance and start biking. No standing up. No adjusting the resistance. Just bike with heavy tension, imagining a 17 MPH wind in your face. I only got the first half as Mrs. Pol had a committment, and I headed home.

So, with this early Christmas present, I have the major purchases out of the way. A few more minor things and I'm ready for Louisville. Well, that and a bit of training.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Blog Ruling

Okay, so AJ over at Little Miss Runner Pants jumps on a bandwagon about posting daily for 30 days. And then taunts the rest of us to do the same by posting about her new goal. Knowing the competitive nature of triathletes, she HAD to know we would take her up on the challenge.

And there are people agonizing over it. Trigreyhound was nearly in tears over his debilitating injury that prevented him from blogging early in the month. Dozens of bloggers were in Florida for Ironman and faced with limited to zero ability to post. Sure, they completed Ironman, but did they blog 30 days straight? AJ would say, "No, I think not."

And now, she comes across with this gem. Most of the comments are longer than her post. Nineteen words, if we count the "+" and "=" signs. And Flatman and I agree this leaves a bit to be desired in the blog department. So, it's blog ruling time.

Does AJ owe us an extra special post to make up for the serious lack of blog worthiness of this post? Or does she get a pass because it was the day before a three-day weekend? Will it even matter, as we don't know if she will survive the topic of said post and actually get something posted, today.

Is it merely a numbers game, or does quality count? (Remember, this is A.Maria, so it's more fun if we hold her feet to the fire, transgression or not).

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Participation in Ironman requires a great deal of training and preparation. It is not without risk. Sadly, one athlete in Florida ended his journey on race day.

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — A Montana resident who had to be rescued from the Gulf of Mexico while swimming part of the Ford Ironman Florida has died, authorities said.
Barney Rice, 35, died Tuesday night according to Bay County Medical Center records. The cause of death was not immediately clear but an autopsy will be performed, officials said.
Rice was at about the 1.8 mile mark of a 2.4 mile swim on Saturday when other triathletes flagged down officials, according to a police report. Rescue divers who responded found Rice unconscious and not breathing but emergency officials were able to get a pulse en route to a hospital, the report said.

Ironman spokeswoman Helen Manning told The News Herald of Panama City that Ironman North America and Ironman Florida had no immediate comment on Rice's death but will release a statement in the coming week. An after-hours call placed to Ironman North America by The Associated Press was not immediately returned.

Rice owned a car and boat dealership in Kalispell, Mont., according to the paper.

Keep any family Barney may have in your thoughts and prayers.

Finisher Videos

For those who tracked the athletes during IM Florida, you now have the opportunity to see them cross the finish line. It takes a bit of patience, and the time clock is a bit difficult to read, but the finish videos are posted.

If you go here, you will find each of the links to the participant's tracking page. There is a "Watch Me Finish" link, there. Though being there would have been more fun, the video allows us to share in the excitement of the day.

And if you have your own first IM distance race coming up in the near future, stop by and read the race reports of those who were in Florida. There are lots of useful bits of information out there.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Roll the Odometer

Once upon a time, cars came with odometers that rolled at 99,999 miles. Newer vehicles, generally expected to cover more miles in their lifetime, have the extra place that allows them to show 100,000 miles (and would require a million miles to roll over). Even without the rollover, hitting 100,000 miles on a car is something most drivers like to watch when it happens.

100,000 of anything is a lot. A city of 100,000 people can hardly be called a small town. Collect 100,000 pennies, and people in your life might wonder at the 30 gallon trash cans filled with coins. And driving 100,000 miles takes several years for the average American.

Today, I achieved my own 100,000. With my 2000 yard swim, this morning, I completed just over 101, 000 yards since I began tracking my workouts. Though low by some standards, this is just over 57 miles in the water, and a huge accomplishment for someone who could barely swim 200 yards in February.

Now, the real question. Am I an old model that rolls the odometer at 100,000? Or am I a new model that has the extra digit? A million yards will take a bit longer to achieve.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Growth Potential

When getting involved in things, I tend to go one of two ways. Either excitement tapers off and that given project/goal just vanishes into the ether, or I take that project to its limits. That tendency is readily apparent in my endurance sport participation.

I run marathons because a doctor asked me to run 1.5 miles a couple times a week. Somewhere in my head, it made perfect sense that if I was going to run a few miles each week, I may as well run a marathon. And if I'm going to run one marathon, I may as well try and run 1o (I haven't made the leap to 50 state marathoner. Yet.).

I became a triathlete because some 8th graders challenged me to complete one. And yes, it makes perfect sense to me that completing ONE triathlon turned into a registration for Ironman Louisville. If I'm going to do triathlons, why not go for the gusto.

And now, it appears this is the direction our youth athlete project is headed. Our initial goal of working with perhaps 10-15 young men and women is likely to get totally outdone. With three grades left to address, we have 25 youth who have expressed interest in the program. If we have a similar response in the other grades, and only 50% follow-through, we'll have nearly double the kids we can finance. So, it's off to find more financing.

And the potential to explode developed at our triathlon club meeting. No sooner had we mentioned the project than we had a member mention that she was working with a local tribal community (unsure which nation, Oneida, Menominee???) to generate interest in triathlons amongst the Native American youth.

Being me, this is hugely exciting. It introduces an aspect none of us had even considered. The opportunity to build a team of youth that bridges cultural gaps goes way beyond our initial thinking. And, of course, it presents the chance to go WAY overboard with another project.

But they're kids. And for me, there is no such thing as "too much" when it comes to offering exciting new opportunities for kids to learn and grow. So, let's see just how carried away I can get with this project.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bottle the Energy

Ironman weekends are full of energy. There is the energy of Ironman Village. Thousands of people all there for the excitement of an Ironman race. There is the energy from the race itself. Thousands of athletes navigating their way from start to finish and thousands of spectators cheering them on. And there is the energy of the finish line, where athletes physically and emotionally wiped from the long race find the strength to break the tape, often carrying their kids with them.

For those in the race, that energy can carry them through difficult times on the course. And it can keep them awake long after an outsider would believe they should have passed out from exhaustion. For those watching, it can keep them awake until late in the night as they wait for the final time for those whom they are monitoring to be shown. It also generates excitement for registration for next year's race to open.

For some, though, the energy is anti-climactic. I know that because it is exactly that for me. The excitement is there. Many bloggers I have come to see as friends competed in Florida on Saturday, and they all did well. Many others whose blogs I read were there, as well. I am excited for their accomplishments. But there is still the anti-climactic part.

As they finish this part of their journey and bask in the glow of their accomplishment, I am still more than 290 days away from the start of IM Louisville. And I seriously doubt I will be able to sustain this energy for the next 9 months. It's sort of like the stores that are putting Christmas stuff out, already. I love the excitement of Christmas. But I can't carry it for 60 days. It's good for maybe 20 days.

The good news is that there is no need to invent a means to bottle the excitement of an Ironman race. There will be other races on other weekends. And, soon enough, it will be MY weekend and MY excitement. The best thing is that there is no limit to the excitement, and IM Florida has shown that a big group of bloggers makes race day that much better. How many bloggers will be in Louisville?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Longest Yards

After six days of November, it is easy to see what Mike Ricci of D3 Multisports refers to as "high volume" swimming. This past week was definitely high volume, from an Iron Pol viewpoint.

As mentioned previously, Mike's plan is for me to complete 30 swims in 30 days. In addition to that guidance, Mike gave me a general routine to follow. As closely as possible, I did that, this week.

To date, this year, I have completed just over 96,000 yards of swimming. Of that, 9500 yards were completed in the past six days. So, 10% of my swimming this year was completed in about 2% of available days. The most intense training month was July, with 17369 yards in preparation for the Olympic distance triathlon in August. That will pale in comparison to November.

That makes it easy to say why Mike is so confident that I will be a much better swimmer in December than I was in October. It also makes it easy to see why he is confident that it would take months to achieve the same results.

With Ironman approaching in less than 300 days, and Mike providing the motivation and guidance for me to put in solid training in the pool, I added one weapon to my arsenal. In honor of what will be the new and improved swimming abilities, I picked up this beauty.
It should help me when it comes to those open water swims. And if the figures I have seen regarding time improvements using a wetsuit are even close to accurate, it will save me quite a bit of time in the water.
Best of all is that it is one better than I originally planned on purchasing. On sale, it was only $15 more than the Orca Evo I planned on buying. It made sense to go with the better wetsuit for that minor a price difference.
There are 24 days left in November. That means 24 more swims, barring any challenges getting to the pool. That gives me 24 more days to get ready for when the real training starts, and Mike's progressively more challenging sessions begin. In the end, it will make me stronger, more confident, and better prepared for a 2.4 mile swim in the Ohio River.
Swim training, anyone?

Nancy News

Nancy Toby, the final member of the Tri Blog Alliance being tracked here made the command decision to call it a day after completing about 1/2 of the marathon portion of the race. Pushing the upper limits of her endurance, she knew that finishing before midnight was unlikely, and finishing at all was questionable.

So, Nancy completed 127.1 miles in just about 13 hours of racing. She achieved those targets she set for herself on the swim and bike. She was maintaining her expected pace on the run, and deserves a huge congratulations for doing what she did on her own, under the conditions she faced. Stop by and give her the congratulations she has earned.

Awesome Job, Nancinator!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Then There Was One

It has been a huge day for the TBC. Particularly for members of the Tri Blog Alliance. At this point, with a single exception, they have all completed the journey to finish their first Ironman race. And with any luck, Nancy will complete the race before I complete this post. She was on track to complete the course around the 16 hour point.

So, there are some celebrations in order.

Tri Mama
Tri Daddy
Tri Geek Kahuna
Robo Stu
Tri Boomer
You have accomplished a task few ever even consider attempting. And you shared in the entire journey with the rest of the TBC. For this, we thank you. Now, enjoy some well deserved rest. We anxiously await your race reports, and will understand if it takes a bit for them to be posted.
Awesome job!

Bold Lives Boldly


Congratulations to Bolder!
He is now off the course having completed his first Ironman distance race in just over 11 hours. Stupendous job!
He did well in the swim, totally rocked the bike, and ran one awesome marathon given the previous efforts of the day.
Nearly everyone else has passed the half-marathon point and seems to be doing well. Nancy's status has not shown her past the half-way point, and I am focusing most of my positive thoughts in her direction. She needs to have 13 miles under her belt by now, or she will have to push the pace to make the midnight cutoff. She has done amazingly well, so let's keep the good vibes headed to her.

Run, Bloggers, Run

Everyone is off the bike and on the run course.

Comm finished the bike in 6:55. Nancy came through in 7:29, averaging nearly 15 mph, which I know will make her proud. And Tri Mama finished in just over 7 hours.

That means this section of the Tri Blog Alliance is putting the final 26.2 miles in the bag.

In other news, Bolder crossed the half-marathon time check in just under 2:07, and amazing pace for the end of a long day.

Just over 5 1/2 hours left to race. Keep pushing the positive vibes. It appears everyone had more than enough time, even if we use their worst case marathon times. Finger crossing time.

Bike Updates

The swim a distant memory, people are starting to complete the bike leg of the race.

Tri Daddy completed the bike leg in 6:49:25 (the seconds are important, here)

Kahuna completed the bike leg in 6:49:29. Tri Daddy and Kahuna finished the swim within 2 minutes of each other, and biked the same pace, almost to the second.

Robo Stu tore up the bike course, completing it in 6:05, proving it just might be "all about the bike." That more than made up the time lost to Tri Daddy and Kahuna on the swim.

Tri Boomer continues to hold out, and everyone should continue to pray for him. His lung issues haven't slowed him down, and he was off the bike in 6:53.

And Bold, oh Bolder. He showed everyone what training at altitude can do and how a mountain pass rider can blow away a flat course. He CRUSHED the bike course, completing it in 5:43.

Comm, Nancy, and Tri Mama were still on the bike course as of this post (not quite 5 p.m. on the east coast).

IM Flipper Updates

In case you don't know names, or aren't sure where to find numbers, here are links to various individual update pages.

Comm - Out of the water in about 1:54

Nancy Toby - Nipping at Comm's heels, out of the water in 1:57

Tri Mama - Dolphin fast, out of the water in 1:26

Tri Daddy - Freakin' Flipper, 1:08 and he's running to T1

Kahuna - Flipper's speedy cousin, he was making the wake for Tri Daddy, swim time 1:06

Robo Stu - Right in the Tri Blog Alliance pack, 1:31 swim time

Tri Boomer - Pneumonia, we don't need no stinkin' pneumonia, out of the water in 1:19

And finally, last but not least...

Bold - Makes his first withdrawal from the bank of Ironman and gets out of the water in 1:27

That's the status of everyone I know is there. Everyone is out of the water and on the bike. Bike splits may be coming in soon, as they would have been on the bike for no less than 6.5 hours at this point, some for nearly 7.5 hours.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Something's Missing

Long before Ironman became a distant hope, triathlon changed my life. Prior to triathlon, I was an afternoon trainer. I ran after work, often taking B-Boy with me in his jogging stroller. I swam after the sun came up, and biked after that. Except for truly long distances, Sunday's LSD runs were completed after church.

Then, triathlon entered the picture. Triathlon calls for swimming. And swimming requires a pool. (To cover the objections early, I know, California and Florida have nice, year round ocean swimming. Getting into Lake Winnebago from about December-March requires either scuba gear and a dry suit or a chain saw and a lobotomy.)

Suddenly, I was a morning trainer. Whether in the pool, on the bike, or on the road, most of my training moved to the pre-dawn darkness. It has its benefits. With most of my training completed before the sun comes up, I have more time in the evenings for B-Boy and Monster Girl. Mrs. Pol is able to do things outside the house, as I'm home to watch the kids. And those things that need to be accomplished actually get done.

There is, however, a down side. Training in the morning requires careful planning. Meals for work must be bagged and ready to go. Training clothes must be laid out the night before. And work clothes must be in the duffle bag, along with all the toiletries.

Herein lies the challenge. I've been known to leave important items at home. I forgot my underwear, which led to a change in training from run to swim, allowing me to wear my jogging shorts under my work clothes. I forgot my belt, resulting in a new belt being purchased no the way to the office. And I left my entire wardrobe hanging on the door at the house, requiring me to run all the way home and pick them up.

So, I've gotten good at laying everything out. Last night, everything was in place except blue jeans (casual day). A quick check of the laundry yielded not one but two pair of clean jeans from which to choose. Black Polo Ass'n carpenter jeans or dark blue regular jeans. As the Polo jeans have a small tear in one of the pockets, I choose the regular jeans.

And that, my friends, is where I went wrong. It wasn't until putting things in my locker at the gym that I realized my mistake. Yes, the black jeans may have had a tear in them. Yes, the blue jeans were nicer looking. Then again, my wife's jeans are sized and cut such that they aren't that flattering to my figure.

Yes, I once again managed to get to the gym without a crucial article of clothing. And sweatpants are a bit TOO casual. Given a swim scheduled for one hour, going home wasn't going to work. Oh well, that's why Wal-Mart is open 24 hours. So, after a good mile swim, I headed over and bought some new jeans. And since they had work khakis on clearance, I bought a pair of those, too.

One of these days, I'm going to figure out that something is missing BEFORE I head to the gym. Either that, or I'm going to seriously consider answering Mrs. Pol's question about how much an Endless Pool costs.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Nobody at the start of Ironman Florida is the same person they were a year ago. And nobody will be the same when they leave, regardless of how the day ends for them.

The day will change everyone.

Loaded Deck

The excitement of an upcoming Ironman race is building. And for the TBC, it is evident how close to race day we have come. It is evident because many of our daily reads are now silent. They are silent because the caretakers are headed towards or already in Florida.

Links that end up on my page are there because the site somehow hits home with me. Perhaps it's someone I have met or spoken to on the phone. Many are people I feel are on a journey I want to follow to its conclusion. Others just crack me up. It is only coincidence if common threads begin to show.

And this week, one of those threads is patently obvious. Many of the bloggers listed on this page are toeing the line in Florida. In alphabetical order, they are:

Bolder - our Canadian transplant and original "start from scratch" triathlete.

Comm - A brave man. After all, who else would refer to Nytro as an Amazon?

Nancy Toby - Stay at home mom who, figuring raising kids just isn't enough challenge, decides to train for an Ironman race. And she lives in Virginia.

TriBoomer - He is completing an arduous season of triathlons to raise funds for cancer research. Keep him in your special prayers as he races as doctors are concerned about pneumonia.

TriDaddy - A former Marine and now an endurance magazine editor. Check his site out for hilarious training tips.

Tri-Geek Kahuna - One half of the Get Your Geek On podcast team, and possibly the only triathlete who refers to himself in the third person AND is referred to by professionals by his screen name.

Tri-Mama - The leader of The Tribe, and half of one of the friendliest tri-couples with whom I've been in contact. And that's a very high bar, as every blogging triathlete I've met has been totally amazing.

So, that's the cast from this blog alone. There are many more out there. Keep them all in your thoughts and prayers, this week. To the best of my knowledge, every one of them is a first timer on the Ironman playing field.

Best of luck to all of you! We'll see you at the finish line and eagerly await your race reports.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Beware of What You Wish

The decision to register for IM Louisville was an easy one. All of the mental gymnastics over the ability to train for and complete an IM distance race had been completed prior to the attempted registration for IM Wisconsin. Confident in my abilities, registering for SOME Ironman race was a given.

Though confident of my ability to develop some type of training plan that would allow me to complete the race in Louisville, I listened to the advice of others and took up an opportunity to be coached by Mike Ricci of D3 Multisports in Boulder, Colorado. And while the official training has yet to begin, Mike has been providing tons of useful information through the Race Athlete Performance Network forum. Sometimes, when you ask a question, you get exactly what you wanted. An answer. Occassionally, the answer just catches you off guard.

So, when I pointed out my weakness in swimming and inquired if it might be a good idea to add a fourth swim session each week, Mike was quick to respond. His answer? If I am currently completing three good swims each week, I do not need to add a fourth session.

That's because I need to add FOUR additional sessions. In case the math eludes anyone, that would be seven swim sessions each week. As in one each day.

Without putting too many words in Mike's mouth, the reasoning goes something like this. Swimming daily during the off season will generate gains in one month that might normally take three or even four months swimming three times a week. It provides more time in the water, so more time for improving form and efficiency.

While the answer wasn't quite what was expected, I hit the pool, today, on the first of a target 30 swims in November. There were a few faces shocked to see me there, as they know I am a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday swimmer. Well, for at least a few weeks, I'm a Monday-Sunday swimmer.

The suggestion have professional coaching would be meaningless if the discipline to hear, understand, and follow their guidance was missing.