Saturday, July 29, 2006

Computer vs. Surgeon

"Flight computer, what was the average pace for today's training ride?"

"The average pace was 19.8 miles per hour over a total of 44 miles."

"That seems a bit fast, considering it's tough to keep that pace for 20 miles. Are you sure that's accurate."

"The data is accurate. Here is the readout."

"Okay. What was the maximum speed for the session?"

"Maximum speed was 159.6 miles per hour."

"Woohoo! That's sssmokin'. Wait, did you say 159.6, that can't be right."

"Again, the data is accurate. Here is the maximum speed display."

"Well, you have to trust your indications. I guess I'm faster than I thought."

"Excuse me, but as the Flight Surgeon, I must point out that you would certainly have greatly exceeded VO2 max and started building up lactate long before you hit 160 mph. In fact, if you got anywhere near that, you would build up so much lactic acid that we would have to use crowbars to get you off your bike. And I would also like to point out that this trip was 42 miles, last time."

"Hang on a minute, it was pretty windy out there. That could account for the max speed."

"Considering the houses in the area are still standing, it is safe to say that we didn't experience 140 mph sustained winds."

"Well, maybe I was just spinning that fast."

"Given the current configuration of your bike, you would have to pedal somewhere between 300 and 400 rpm to reach 160 mph, even with the wind. I'm willing to bet either you or the bike fly apart long before that."

"Okay, Dr. Smarty Pants, how do you account for the flight computer's readout?"

"Simple, it's an idiot."

And that is a taste of what goes through my mind when I start having equipment act up. Most likely a result of my wireless computer interacting with the magnetic fields of a local power sub-station, I was a bit less than a mile into my trip, stopped at a light, when my speed started showing really odd things, including this 159.6 mph readout. Supposedly, the computer only reads up to 102 mph. At the same time, though I was less than a mile out, the trip distance showed nearly 3 miles. Not bad for sitting at a traffic control light.

That's alright, it provided lots of interesting "conversations" during the 42 mile ride.

Finally, two pictures of The Pol-R Express. The first is just a long overdue picture of the bike. Mrs. Pol was in the house, so I wasn't able to get myself into the picture. That's okay, because I know how everyone reacts to pictures of pasty white triathletes. The second picture is really for Tri Mama's Tribe. Toddler Pol wanted to get into the picture, so I figured I'd post one for them. Note the pajamas. I'd already completed a 2000 yard swim and 42 mile bike, and he was still wearing a combination of baseball (shorts) and dinosaur pajamas.

Note: Blogger was being a pain and refused to take the last two pictures. I'll try again, later, or put them in the next post.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Rides and Razors

Ever since NancyToby experienced the great chain-ring blowout, I've been a bit obsessive about pre-ride checks of The Pol-R Express. That's partly because The Pol-R Express is the exact same make and model (Felt S25) as Buttercup. In part, it's because it is a good practice to give any bike a once over prior to each ride. Mostly, it's because I've had plenty of my own issues with busted chains and flat tires. This morning, I found my first loose bolts.

It appears one cage on my x-wing bottle holder was getting ready to make a break for freedom. The entire cage was wobbly, and required some expert service. Namely, I had to tighten on of the allen bolts holding the receiver bar and reattach the cage. Disaster averted.

Then, in the process of resetting the computer, I somehow wound up in a set up screen. Then, what is usually one circle on the screen became a circle with another incomplete circle around it. "That's different. I vaguely remember seeing something about circles and wheels in the owner's manual as I skimmed through it." After numerous attempts to return to the status quo, it started getting late if I was going to complete my ride. No biggie. The route is exactly 19 miles, and I have a stopwatch. Well, regardless of what the owner's manual tells me those circles mean, I discovered they mean exactly nothing. Computer showed 19 miles even when I returned.

With that mystery at least rendered pointless, I hit the shower. It was getting late, and Friday has turned into leg shaving day. In keeping with the theme of the day, I somehow pulled the entire razor head off the handle while attempting to remove the blade cover. When reattaching the blade, I noticed the high end plastic piece that holds the blade steady had broken.

That's the kind of thing best found out before ever getting into the shower. Or at least prior to lathering up a leg with shaving cream after showering. This was now, however, a "best" kind of day. "No biggie," I thought, "I have one last razor in the closet." Or so I thought. "That's okay, there's the brand new razor kit we found the other day." In the other bathroom.

Oh well, in for a dime, in for a dollar. After all, everyone's asleep. Too bad there was no razor in the other bathroom. I just hauled my naked, wet, shaving creamed self all over the house and had very little to show for it.

After a bit more digging, I did manage to find extra cartridges for the one razor I could find. My wife's razor. And the way I see it, more than one man has had his razor commandeered for use by his wife/girlfriend/some girl he met earlier that morning in a bar to shave their legs. Turnabout is fair play.

Thankfully, the challenges of the morning didn't carry over to the actual task of shaving my legs. Had I been thinking more clearly, I would have heeded the warning signs, and not put sharp blades so close to my legs and more valuable body parts.

The moral of the story? Avoid reading the blogs of people who ride the same bike as you. I'm sure that, somehow, this is all NancyToby's fault.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

From Flounder to Flipper

There is an interesting drama that unfolds as people pursue their dreams of becoming an Ironman. We all have different reasons for chasing this rabbit, and we all have different fears and challenges as we get closer to race day. As I've become more familiar with those around the triblog community (TBC), one concern continues to crop up.

The swim.

From my perspective, this is odd. The run is a full marathon, tacked on at the end of a VERY long day. A marathon starting at 7 a.m. is tough, and I can only begin to imagine a marathon after the swim and bike. And the bike is a good bit longer than a century. Having completed a century ride many moons back, that is no easy feat. It also comes after a good bit of exercise.

The swim. It's "only" (used in the loosest of terms) 2.4 miles, and is the first task of the day. It comes right after a hopefully good night's sleep, a good pre-race breakfast, and before any other activity. And as many an expert will point out, it is the least physically demanding of the three disciplines. Finally, it occurs in water, which helps prevent overheating.

Oh, wait, there it is. It. Takes. Place. In. Water. That's the big hitch.

Despite all the mental gymnastics to detail why the swim should be the least of our concerns, the swim in any race is the most daunting task, for me. A quick review of many triblogs will confirm that many of us are gravely concerned about the swim portion of our events.

When training for a marathon, 20 miles is the absolute longest training run I complete. I have quickly ratcheted my bike distance up to 70 miles, and have few concerns about completing a century, despite not having done so in ages. And a century is likely the furthest I would ever consider biking in preparation for an Ironman race. Why, then, am I so insistent upon putting in huge yardage in the pool? My next race has a 3/4 mile swim. I have been training with 1, 1.2, and 1.5 mile swims. And I saw nothing odd with Iron Wil completing a 4000 yard swim to train for Ironman Wisconsin.

When this crazy journey started, I felt like a flounder in the water. A co-worker aptly defined it as "swimming like a barge." After several months, I am less awkward and far less concerned with my ability. Still, my pace averages right around 2:30/100 yards, and I have a lot of work to do on breathing. The ultimate goal? To be more like Flipper than a flounder. At some point, I want swimming to be like biking and running. "You want to go how far? I'm in." Instead of, "Are you off your rocker. Drowning isn't on the agenda for the weekend."

Swimming is unnatural for people. We don't have gills, flippers, or a strong desire to chase that worm hanging from that shiny metal object. We like air, solid surfaces, and spaghetti hanging from that shiny metal object. Ironman demands that we manage to overcome our fears, learn to trust in ourselves, and complete a task that most consider insane.

All we have to do is meet Ironman's demands.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Jumbled Mass of Ideas

Some days, posting is easy. A really exciting topic presents itself, a funny thing happened on the way to the pool/running trail/bike route, or some motivational tidbit begs to be shared. And on some days, those thoughts coalesce into an entry that others find truly exceptional.

And then, there are days like today. The ideas are there. What's missing is the words needed to share the ideas. It's a "type three words, delete four others" kind of thing.

Perhaps the best way to start is a quick training recap. Monday was a 2500 yard swim that went quite well. I really need to talk with the author of my training plan and discuss scheduling a 2500 yard swim during the week. That's at the outer limit of my abilities, since I really need to be out of the pool by 6 a.m. to get to work on time. By the time I get into the pool, I usually have about 45-50 minutes to swim. Averaging about 2:30/100yds makes a 2500 swim an hour long affair. Tough to accomplish in 50 minutes. It might just be motivation to swim faster. (By way of explanation, I am the author of my training program)

Today was another bit of brilliant planning. A 10 mile run, with an alarm clock set for 4:30 a.m. This left me in the same sort of situation. Assuming 9 minute miles, getting dressed, equipped, out the door, and finishing a 10 mile run before 6 a.m. would prove difficult. So, a quick bit of math got me to the conclusion that I really needed to run 8 minute miles. Shaving a minute a mile off a mid-week sort of long run is a bit of a stretch, so I split the difference, running 8m 30s miles. That got me home a bit late, but not too late.

The run was a good opportunity to think, as my MP3 player picked this morning as a good time to have a dead battery. I always find it amazing what kind of thoughts wander through my brain during mid to long runs alone. Here's a bit of what goes on inside my head:

- The Olympic tri is only three weeks away, and it's time to verify arrangements for Veeg while she's in town. Note to self-call to make sure friend is still okay with Veeg staying there.

- Does Veeg say her name with a hard G (Veeguh), with a Gee sound, (VeeGee), or with a J sound (Veedge)?

- How does Ironman performance compare to Olympic distance performance? How much faster in each discipline will Sarah Reinertsen be, and do I stand a chance of keeping up with her?

- What are the odds that on a single early morning run I would see three separate incidents involving the police, including a CSU truck?

- If the accomodations pre-arranged for Veeg fall through, will it bother her to stay in a house with two small children. She could stay in the basement, away from the noise. Wait, she has kids, so they likely wouldn't bother her, anyway. But she could still stay in the basement, furthest from any noise.

- I should blog about all the random thoughts I have when not wearing my MP3 player. What all have I thought about?

- Do MP3 players inhibit thought?

Of course, I left out the constant math that is going on in the midst of these thoughts. There is pretty much a constant barrage of calculations that occur while I run. They are attempts at determining various things such as average pace, pace needed to achieve a given overall average, pace needed to get home when I need to get home, etc. While many people warn against wearing MP3 players while running, I save my warnings for this. My MP3 player has rarely caused any problems. On the other hand, if I'm in the midst of doing some grand and complex calculation in my head, it's entirely possible for me to miss turns, run into things on the sidewalk, and completely ignore everything going on around me.

Tomorrow, it's back to the pool. Perhaps a good soaking will pry loose some golden nugget of blog wisdom. If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. Sometimes, it's scary being in my head.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


For those who don't happen to belong to a Boy's (or Girl's) Brigade unit, the title probably elicits responses like, "You're what hurts?" Since it is quite likely that covers everybody reading this, MOSAMVBATT is the initials for a way of life.

It means: My own self at my very best, all the time.

As a leader at the Boy's Brigade, this is a value I attempt to instill in the 8th grade groups in my charge each year. A simple statement that speaks volumes. It is something from which we can all benefit.

First, it deals with the one person over whom we have true control. Ourselves. Try as we might, we can only attempt to influence others. Teachers try to help students be great students. But only the student can make themselves excel. Coaches offer suggestions for all of us to be better triathletes. But only we can make ourselves train as needed. Our destinies are our own.

Second, it deals with MY VERY best. Not second best. Not "best until it gets too difficult." Very best. That's MY very best, by the way. So if my best is 3m/100yd in the pool, 14 mph on the bike, and 12 minute miles running, that's good enough. We set ourselves up for failure if we judge ourselves based upon someone else's best. MY best is all anyone (myself included) can ask of me.

Finally, the words "all the time." If you're doing your best some of the time, what about the rest of the time? Are you doing "sort of okay," or "50%,' or "sort of half-assed?" Anything less than all the time leaves lots of time for performing less than 100%.

MOSAMVBATT is the driving force behind my being a marathoner. It is what forced me to become a triathlete, after twelve 8th graders said, "You should do a triathlon." Doing any less would set a poor example for those kids I continually challenge.

One final thought to keep in mind is that MOSAMVBATT is a high bar. While short of perfection, it is the closest thing we can hope to achieve on earth. But we have our whole lives to pursue it. When you have that training session or race that goes "badly," just ask yourself the question. Did I perform at my very best all the time. If you can answer that with an honest, "Yes," then cut yourself some slack. If the honest answer is, "No," then figure out where you need to improve so you can answer "Yes," next time.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Tri-Daddy Humor

Tri-Daddy did some posts that warrant a visit. Stop by for some humorous training pictures.

As the father of a 2 1/2 year old boy and 8 month old girl, I can totally relate.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Well Deserved Rest

Sometimes, training just goes differently than planned. Stormy weather forces distances to be shortened, or scrapped altogether. Heat and humidity make it impossible (okay, really unpleasant in a "not going to happen" sort of way) to complete the planned training. Or family committments call upon the flexibility for which triathletes are known.

And sometimes, everything goes perfectly, all the training is completed, and Sunday night finds us looking forward to Monday, and a much needed day of rest. But it's a good tired. It's the tired of someone who knows they busted their butts over two or three days of tough training.

That is the kind of weekend I am just wrapping up. Knowing the level of training I had scheduled, Friday was pasta dinner at a wonderful local restaurant known for their generous portions. Toddler Pol loved it because we park in the parking garage (first floor, Trimama) and walk (run) the several blocks to the restaurant. There were two minor casualties on the trip. Toddler Pol tripped over his own feet and scraped his elbow. His desire to be held by daddy while NOT having the blood cleaned by mom resulted in several blood stains on my shirt (GB half marathon).

Saturday was scheduled for a long bike. Seventy miles, with a target pace somewhere around 17 mph. Starting out just after 5 a.m. helped me avoid the heat of the day, and there was little to no wind. It was a beautiful day, and I complete the trip in 3hrs 45m, for an average pace of 18.7 mph. Since I still felt strong at the end, it was a successful training ride.

My LSD run was scheduled for Sunday, a shorter 12 miles on this step back week. Done later in the day, the temps ranged from 77F (Weather Channel) to 85F (banks). I'm unsure of where The Weather Channel was getting their information, but most people weren't in air conditioning while outside. I think the banks were closer to accurate. Still, there was a slight breeze, and the humidity was lower, so it wasn't too bad. That trip took 1hr 49m for an average pace of 8:59 per mile. I'll take that for a long run, though I'm not yet comfortable about maintaining that pace for the full 26.2 miles. That is what is required to run a four hour marathon (with a bit of buffer).

Finally, some very important news. Veeg crushed her competition in the friendly throwdown at the Racine Triathlon, this weekend. She had another great experience completing the sprint distance race in 1:41:27. Most importantly, she improved both her bike and run portions. Stop by and congratulate her on the awesome performance.

Bolder also set a PR when he completed his first Olympic distance triathlon. In addition to the strong showing, he picked up some awesome giveaways at the expo. Stop by and congratulate him, and check out the cool swag they give away in the triathlon capital.

Friday, July 21, 2006


For all who dream of becoming champions in their own races, this weekend, the new video.

I oopsed by way into this video, and found it so hilarious it just had to be posted.

Have a great weekend, whether racing, training, or resting.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Staying In Bed

As many are aware, I'm a big fan of taking the odd training day off, if the rest is needed. Injuries, fatigue, and family obligations are a few of the various items that might warrant missing a session. Wednesday was one of those days, for me. After a late night, Tuesday, I knew that a 4:30 wakeup wasn't in the cards.

That change provided the opportunity to mix things up a bit by switching Thursday's swim into a bike and Friday's bike into a run. A swim/bike brick on Saturday and a bike/run brick on Sunday would round out the week.

Sometimes, Mother Nature has other plans. Today, it was a thunderstorm that lasted most of the night. By 4:15, the rain had stopped, but the thunder and lightning continued with gusto. Apparently, swimming was more important than biking. That's okay, unshift plans, and go back to Plan A.

At the pool, all the makings of a good swim were there. Only a few people in the lanes, and the water, for once, was cool (this YMCA seems to favor warmer water in the pool). I hadn't planned on swimming, so I decided to just do a long swim with the 45 minutes left before I had to head to work. Somewhere around 500 yards, my right ear plug started to leak. And for anyone with perforated ear-drums, that is a hassle.

Side Bar: Iron Pol was born with a cleft palate, and dealt with numerous ear infections as a youth and young adult. The repeated use of tubes to clear infections resulted in perforated ear drums, and the tendency for the ear drums to rupture. As a result, any water in the outer ear has a direct path to the inner ear. So, plugs are worn to keep the water out.

I hopped out of the pool to adjust the ear plugs, which resolved any questions I had about the swim. In other words, the leak became a "why am I even wearing these things" rush of water into the ear. At that point, I gave up and figured I may as well get an early start to the work day.

Apparently, I should have stayed in bed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Who Are You Racing?

It has been said a time or three (thousand) that triathletes are highly competetive. And they tend to be overachievers, as well. Does anyone know what would make people say things like that?

Some would say that competition isn't a good thing. All around the country, there are moves to eliminate any hint of competition from our children because it might damage their self-image if they "lose." So attempts are made at evaluating without ranking. It makes you wonder why so many people get involved in activities such as marathons and triathlons, knowing full well they have no hope of "winning." Are we all somehow damaging our self images by placing anywhere from last to "far from first."

Perhaps, self-image is about much more than "winning" in the "first place" sense. Or, perhaps, we are racing someone besides the other people in the event.

Most likely, it is a little bit of both, for many of us. After all, how many non-athletes became runners (or triathletes) and improved their health in the process. Is their self-image worse because they are mid-pack runners? Tell John "The Penguin" Bingham that he is somehow less of a person because he doesn't "win." He'd probably tell you where to waddle your little behind. Or tell Sarah Reinertson her self-image is worse off after competing in an Ironman triathlon. If you're lucky, she'll kick you with her right leg. If she really takes offense, she'll clobber you with her left leg. Perhaps you'd care to tell Dick and Rick Hoyt that racing is pointless, since Dick will never "win" a race pushing Rick.

I think in all of these cases, and many, many more, the people racing CAN'T lose. They win every time the step up to the starting line. They win as they lose excess weight as a result of their training. They win as they overcome various addictions (gaining one or two quite healthier addictions). They win as they accomplish goals most consider unattainable.

After all, in the end we are really racing ourselves. We challenge ourselves to accomplish a given set of tasks. As one goal is met, we set other, more difficult challenges. First, we want to finish. And we bask in the glory of success. Then, we realize glory is short lived, because we could have done better. We could certainly set a PR if we race, again, right? Or could we have gone longer? There's always a longer race in available somewhere in the near future.

As highly competitive, overachieving triathletes, we need to keep a few things in focus. First, we are always racing. There is always some goal to be accomplished, a podium to be reached. Second, and more importantly, the only way to lose is to fail to try. Once the decision is made to "go for it," the first victory is won. After that, we win every time we achieve another goal.

Go. Race. And remember, you're all winners.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Congratulations to Roman Mica - Two Time Ironman

Roman Mica completed his second Ironman distance triathlon in Klagenfurt, Austria. He finished with the following times:

Swim - 1h 10m 24s (I consider that blazing fast)

Bike - 6h 48m 28s (while slower than TDF pace, this is also fast for us mortals)

Run - 5:34:29 (a pace many marathoners would be proud of, without the swim and bike beforehand)

His total time, with transitions, was 13:45:49, a very admirable time, and quite a showing over his first attempt. If you are interested in the stories about that race, please click the banner on the right, and you can purchase his book "My Training Starts Tomorrow." I bought and read the book, and do recommend it. It has the same humor he shows on his blog, and you can read it in bed without annoying the spouse.

Congratulations, Roman, on an excellent showing. As Bolder would say, Roman truly represented on the course, today.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Flying Pelotons

Thanks to the Tour de France, many non-cyclists are familiar with pelotons. While they might prefer to avoid biking in the midst of 100 other cyclists, they marvel at the ease with which Tour riders navigate the course together. And boy do those pelotons fly. But this post isn't about that.

It's about the marvel of the flying pelotons through which cyclists in this area must ride during a good portion of the summer. It's all thanks to a comparatively small lake called Winnebago. Now, for those born in the Fox Valley of Wisconsin (Neenah, Menasha, Appleton, through Oshkosh, down to Fon du Lac), Lake Winnebago is fairly sizable. Going around the lake is a good way to accomplish a century ride. But compared with the Great Lakes, Winnebago is more of a puddle, a mere swelling of the Fox River.

Winnebago is, however, very effective as a breeding and proving ground for lake flies. If you've never had the privelege of being around a body of water infested with the red worms that develop into lake flies, consider yourself lucky. Any cyclist venturing too near the lake might do well to take along a snorkel. An open mouth courts disaster if you happen to pass through a flying peloton.

This morning was a beautiful time for a ride. It was about 65F, with no real wind, and just a bit too much humidity. Apparently, this is also perfect conditions for the lake flies. It's warm enough for them to be out. The lack of wind allows them to frolic around the roadways, just waiting for passing cyclists. And the humidity we dislike is like a well deserved sauna for the short lived flies.

It was into this minefield of bugs that I headed. Oh, it wasn't on purpose, mind you. My misguided mind failed to consider their presence. Well, at least until about the fifth mile of my ride. That was when I hit the road that runs fairly close to the lake. It was impossible to ignore them, at that point. Like I said, just breathing while cycling through lake fly territory is an open invitation to a sudden choking fit while passing through a swarm. It was suddenly like I was swimming (with the breathing pattern in reverse). Deep breath in through the nose, exhale quickly through the mouth, hopefully keeping all flying miscreants out of the oral or nasal cavities.

The signs of poor breathing technique are unmistakable. The sudden hacking and coughing as the kamikaze bug hits its target. The victim attempting to get said attacker out of their mouth, generally by spitting anything and everything out of their mouth (hopefully, they are not in a true peloton of bikers). And the worst case scenario, a direct hit on the windpipe.

That can lead to a truly adventurous scene as the biker is thrown into spasms designed to dislodge a bug from the windpipe. Breathing, while still possible, becomes undesirable. It's better to turn blue, fall over, and continue trying to get the bug out then to breathe a lake fly.

This is what I drove into, this morning. And one thought kept popping into my head. Michael Jackson wouldn't have this problem. His little masks (you know, the ones we all think are so silly) would work wonders against marauding lake flies. He would be able to breeze through the assault while other cyclists are diving for cover.

And that is why I was laughing for the last 10 miles of my ride. Images of Michael Jackson leading a stage of the Tour de France, not because of any biking skill, just because of that silly mask. And you know what, it's just as hard to bike while laughing your head off as it is to bike through pelotons of flying bugs.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Racing Inspiration

It appears we will be racing with the stars at the Oshkosh Area Triathlon on August 13. In this case, it will be a shining star of inspiration for fledgling triathletes. And as a member of the Fox Cities Triathlon Club, opportunities for rubbing elbows will be plenty.

I just learned that Sarah Reinertsen will be in town for the race. For those unfamiliar with Sarah, she is the first above the knee amputee to become an Ironman. And she did it amazing fashion, completing the race at Kona. In addition to her website, she has a blog you can visit.

In addition to running the race, Sarah will be spending time with local triathletes. We have the opportunity to do a training run with her on Friday. On Saturday, she will be the featured speaker at the pre-race pasta dinner. On Sunday, she will see how badly she can kick my butt, with either leg.

One of the cooler factors of triathlons, mentioned frequently by others, is the ability to spend time with some of the most elite and most famous participants in the sport. And while there may be others with more experience, spending time with a young lady who has so much heart and dedication is bound to have a hugely positive impact on my triathlon efforts.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Early Start

The goal of the morning was to get a 10 mile run in prior to work. Allowing for various conditions slowing me down, I set the alarm for 4:20 a.m. That would give me 10 minutes to get dressed, stretched, and out the door, and an hour and a half for the run.

And don't go fretting about the 4:20 wake-up, that's only 10 minutes earlier than normal. No, if there's any fretting going on, it should be about Baby Pol choosing today as the day she decides NOT to sleep through the night. She announced her desire for food at 3:15 a.m. And she announced it with passion. Somehow, Mrs. Pol was too out of it to note that I was not, in fact, feeding her, and promptly went back to bed, leaving me holding the bag (well, baby). I think that has something to do with the fact that she was still awake at 12:30 a.m. when I made a short trip from the bedroom.

So, here it was pushing 3:30, and I'm feeding Baby Pol. There were two distinctly good things about her, this morning. First, she ate well with little fussing and fighting. Second, she went back to sleep immediately after she was finished with her bottle. The distinctly bad part was that she finished and was back asleep about 4:05.

Now, I like sleep as much as the next person, and if I'm actually in bed and wake up 3 minutes before my alarm, I'll go back to sleep. But when I'm fully awake from caring for an apparently starving 7 month old, it's pointless getting back into bed for 15 minutes. So, my 10 minute mad dash to dress, stretch, and get out the door turned into a more leisurely 25 minutes to do the same and still leave a bit earlier.

Somehow, my mind doesn't appreciate the benefits of an early start, when the "late" start is still in the dark of the morning.

The excitement continued upon my return (1h26m for 10.1 miles, 8:35 pace). Toddler Pol charged out of his bedroom, excited to show me something vitally important. He had to show me how he "falls" out of his bed, now. It seems he is still a bit miffed about my removing the side rail from his bed (which is largely due to the fact that he considers it a "ladder" to be climbed over). He was determined to prove to me that he is now at great risk of falling (6 inches) to his death, or at least severe injury. It was quite dramatic. And enough to wake up Mrs. and Baby Pol. At least I wasn't the only one getting hauled out of bed early.

Ahhh, the life in the Pol household.

Note the change of songs. The trivia question surrounding this song... What is its claim to fame?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Hot and Cold

After a totally acceptable finish to the World Cup (sorry for those rooting for France), it was time for a good training run. The first order of business on any day where heat might be a factor is to check the thermometer. "Hmmm, that's an awful lot of red I see. Red near the three digit mark is bad. 97F. That's not so good." Long training runs that start late in the afternoon always seem to have the potential to suck.

Having just read a good article on the dangers of hot weather running, and precautions we should take, I started getting ready. The lightest technical gear available was donned. And the normal 20 oz water bottle was replaced with a slightly bigger bottle of Gatorade. As an added safety measure, some cash and the cell phone would make this trip. Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, MP3 player, and it's out the door.

Toddler Pol was outside, playing T-Ball, and promptly decided he wanted to go train with daddy. Explaining that this was a long run, likely to take a couple hours did little to sway him. Offering to play T-Ball with him upon my return was insufficient as a bribe. He wanted to go running. So, change of plans.

The 12.1 mile loop would have to wait. Out came the jogging stroller and off went the MP3 player. The one blessing is that these little delays had taken the 15 minutes Mother Nature needed to do a 180 degree shift in weather. The temperature dropped nearly 20 degrees and it looked like rain. Once Toddler Pol was strapped into the stroller, we headed out on the 3.3 mile loop. Much as it was screwing with my plans, it's a blast running with my son. He likes to "race," which he always seems to win. He likes to "share" sports drink with me (which means he drinks my Gatorade). And he likes to ask questions like, "Where's our house?" And, "Why are you sweating, Daddy?"

Just over 25 minutes later, we were back at the house. Mrs. Pol was there to take Toddler Pol and replenish my bottle. After putting the MP3 player on, it was back onto the road. The next mile was a debate over "Left at the light" or "Straight at the light." There was 2.2 miles riding on the decision. Left, and the extra 2.2 miles, won out.

That choice put me in the driver's seat for a total of 15.4 miles of running. Had the temperature stayed above 90F, there's no way I would have taken that route. Cooler weather makes for bolder moves.

It was a good run, with an average pace of 9:01 per mile. That, it seems, was just a bit too fast. Around the 13 mile point, my legs were ready to pull some sort of odd yoga maneuver and challenge my head to three rounds of Ultimate Fighting. Apparently, I spent a bit too much time anaerobic and the lactic acid was starting to build up. If I had gone straight, the run would have been over just BEFORE the 13 mile point, and my legs wouldn't have been dealing with that issue. They knew who to blame.

It was, however, a great run in terms of getting ready for the Fox Cities Marathon. Juggling the training for an Olympic distance triathlon that is four weeks prior to a full marathon is tricky. I suspect I will pay a price in September. So, I'm trying to minimize that with some good long runs, now.

And now, it's off to bed. There's 2000 yards in the pool with my name all over them for the morning. And if I get there early enough, it just might be 2500. After all, the weather in the pool always seems to be relatively cool.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Tearing Up Danskin

It's late, and aspiring triathletes should be in bed. But the events of the day demand a quick post.

Veeg tore up Danskin, putting in a respectable swim, an awesome bike, and a great run. She has the short version posted, and you can check back for the more detailed report.

Awesome job to Veeg. Stop by and congratulate her. And then get ready for her to stomp all over poor Iron Pol when we race Oshkosh.

*Note - Just to remove some of the confusion, Veeg (not myself) ran the Danskin race. While I have a great many triathlon toys, I'm not really equipped for a Danskin event. Or perhaps Bolder is just being playful and complimenting my shaving skills?

Friday, July 07, 2006


Forty-one. That's the long route I laid out this past week. It's also the longest ride I've completed in the past two decades. In fact, it's 14 miles longer than my next longest ride (in recent history).

So, there was some amount of pain involved when I hit the 41 mile mark, this morning, knowing there was another 17 miles until the end of my ride. For the record, most of that pain was in my butt. And we're talking big "monkey butt," as Roman Mica likes to call it. And the way my hinder felt after the ride, Baboon Butt might be more appropriate.

The training goal for the day was 58 miles, as determined by the distance from home to my office and back. It might be sick to bike to work on a vacation day, but the route is convenient, and it gave me the opportunity to show of The Pol-R Express to a few co-workers. At the beginning of the ride, 58 didn't seem like too big a number.

The ride out was great. There was absolutely no wind, and the trip is just a bit more downhill than up. My average pace for the first 29 miles was exactly 20 mph. That isn't up to Tour de France standards, but I was happy with it.

The ride back was also pretty nice. Well, except for the more uphill than down part. And the headwind that had developed. Luckily, it was only a slight breeze. The challenging part was when I hit the 41 mile point, and started considering the 17 miles that remained.

The number of times I have biked over 50 miles can easily be counted on two hands. And the second hand will still have plenty of fingers left over for other tasks. I did a century when I was a teenager. I biked to and from our church's tree farm (which may actually be just under 50 miles, I don't remember). And I lost my mind and wound up biking nearly 80 miles on my own, with no water bottle, on my Huffy Strider, wearing a football half-shirt. That one left some interesting sunburns.

So, here it is, 20 years later, and I'm doing another long ride. I'm better prepared, with water bottles, energy bars and gels, a helmet, and a shirt that covers ALL of my back. I have spare tires, CO2 and pump, and a cell phone, if all else fails. Even so, the idea of having another 17 miles to go was mind numbing. And yes, Roman, there is a numb monkey butt, too.

But I long ago learned to stuff gremlins where they belong. In this instance, I rolled them under the wheels of The Pol-R Express. And I just kept spinning, just kept spinning... Even if spinning sometimes required me to shift into some way low gears.

And I made it home with no big issues. Tired legs and one major sore butt, yes. But I'm sure I could have gone another bunch of miles if needed. The overall average pace was 18.7 mph. That says volumes for how challenging I found the return trip.

But challenge is what this is all about. If it were truly easy, it's quite likely that I wouldn't be doing it. That it is extremely difficult, often appearing nearly impossible is what draws people to triathlon. If we have to deal with a bit of monkey butt along the way, so be it.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Power of Anxiety

Have you ever noticed how anxiety level tends to be inversely proportional to days left until race day? (That's a geek's way of saying we get anxious as race day approaches)

For many, anxiety seems to be the enemy. Little gremlins start popping up all over the place. We dwell on training mistakes and different ways in which we can "blow up" during the race. We can't seem to sleep. We want to go through our gear "one more time" to find that vital item that has been forgotten. Most significantly, we question our ability to live up to our own expectations, whether that is "finish" or "win" or "PR."

As a former mountain climber and rapeller, I view anxiety through a slightly different prism. Anxiety is that small inside voice, the one bordering on fear, that keeps me honest and keeps me safe. On the mountain, there was always that bit of fear that made you double check every rope and every knot. And there's a bit of anxiety when registering for a race. That anxiety makes sure I'm honest about my abilities and training schedule. Anxiety keeps things in perspective, so gremlins are kept at bay. It helps ensure all of my gear is ready to go, because it's been checked "one more time." And anxiety helps me remember that expectations are just that. Finish the race. Have fun. Achieve goals. In that order. Anxiety helps keep the horse in front of the cart.

And anxiety is a pre-race thing. No matter how many races I've completed, anxiety is there with me at the beginning of the next one. But anxiety seems unable to cross that line in the sand that marks the start of a race. When the gun goes off, there are other things to occupy my mind.

In a triathlon, there is no room for anxiety when I hit the water. The struggle for survival takes center stage. And those who have seen me in the open water know that struggle is real. But anxiety can't survive in a head that is focusing all attention on "stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe." (Yes, I'm a single side breather). The anxiety is replaced by a calm born of fear. Again, that fear keeps me safe. Because it forces me to focus on doing everything as properly as I can, and failing that, to find a comfortable and safe position in which to regain my composure and form.

Anxiety is with us every step of the way as we train for endurance races. It is with us right up to the starting line. But anxiety is like a couch potato. It isn't going the distance. In fact, it isn't crossing the start line.

There is one facing a bit of anxiety, this week. That is Veeg, as she approaches the Danskin Women's Triathlon in Wisconsin. She has done the training. She understands her strengths and her weaknesses. Stop by her site and lend your support as she prepares for this race. I know she'll do great, because she's getting ready to kick my butt in Oshkosh come August 13.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fourth and Counting

So, what do the Fourth of July and triathlons have in common? Let me tell you. It's bricks. Independence Day (okay, let's be real here, it's more like Independence Month) is filled with people burning through the many bricks of fireworks in their possession. It's been going on around here for weeks. The slow crescendo of detonations that builds to the climax on July 4th. Then, as July continues, the occassional report identifies another individual who either located some long lost stash or has incredible willpower to have held on to a few items for later use.

The long weekend provides opportunity for triathletes to work through a few bricks of their own. Family plans called for a bit of adjustment to the training schedules, and I used those changes to get through a swim/bike brick on Saturday and a bike/run brick on Tuesday. Sunday, normally used for long runs, was a rest day so we could have family friends over for a cookout. And Monday was a long (1.2 mile) swim since the YMCA was closed Tuesday.

Both bricks went well. On Saturday, it was 1.2 miles swimming with a 41 mile bike. I put together a new bike route that works out to be a long, shallow triangle. As luck would have it, the wind was blowing across that triangle, so it was 36 miles of cross-wind. That was only topped by Tuesday, with the same cross wind, only the remaining 5 was into the wind, rather than a tailwind. The route includes a decent two mile climb that somehow never results in a good downhill. Oh well, nobody really needs to train for down. It's up that takes all the preparation.

Finishing this holiday weekend puts me less than six weeks away from the Olympic distance triathlon. There is still a lot of open water time needed. I am, however, hoping that the extended distances in the pool will help. Only time will tell. The bike and the run aren't too big a concern. I do hope to get one 50 mile bike/10 mile run brick completed prior to the race. I'm slowly building up the bike and run mileage while trying to gain confidence in the water.

And while I haven't had a definite committment, it appears that Veeg has held up her end of the challenge and signed up for the same Olympic distance triathlon that I am running. It will also be her first time racing that distance, and she is starting to cover the same swim distances. Stop by her site and share whatever helpful hints you have. It will be wonderful getting to meet another member of the blog force, and knowing more people helps boost morale and confidence.

Six weeks. It's a short time, and things are getting serious. Between work, family, and training, just about every spare moment I have is taken. So, forgive me if the posts are a bit sparse for a while. You'll know I'm there by the comments I do manage to post.

And, just for Veeg, here is Silent Lucidity by Queensryche.