Monday, October 30, 2006


Training can only take you so far. Nutrition can only provide a given amount of energy. Preparation can only address known cirumstances.

After that, it takes heart. Near the end of a race, when all else has been exhausted, sometimes heart alone can get you to the finish line. Not always, but sometimes. Belief in yourself that you can make it.

Do you believe?

Friday, October 27, 2006

And a Wake Up

In the Navy, everything is referred to as something and a wake up. As in, "We'll be home from this cruise in 3 and a wake up." Or, "My EAOS (discharge date) is in 10 and a wake up."

Well, for those racing IM Flipper, it's 7 and a wake up. So, it's time to kick up the pace of the music, and give them songs to keep in mind while they race. We will, of course, end with suitably played out "champion" type songs. But for now, it's just upbeat, rhythmic tunes to bring the energy to a new level.

We'll start with something about blue aliens.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Meant To Be

As a junior and senior in high school, I generated a considerable amount of tension with my dad. It wasn't tension over drugs, or girlfriends, or other nefarious type situations (though girlfriends were definitely a topic that caused a few gray hairs). Oddly enough, it this tension centered on the college decision.

Now in many families, such tension would be the result of parents pushing for college and a child pushing for something more relaxed, like living at home for several more years. We were a bit different. In this case, I was totally determined to go to college. My dad felt that the Navy would be more fitting, not to mention more affordable.

My mom, ever the mediator, encouraged me to apply for the United States Naval Academy. that seemed a good option as it would meet both desires. College for me. Naval service for my dad. All was well until the final physical exam, where it was noted that I have perforated ear drums. Fine for the average human. Automatic disqualification from the Naval Academy selection process.

For my dad, it was a sure sign I should be in the Navy. For me, it was one less opportunity for a college education. In the end, I headed off to college without my dad's blessing, or his financial support. My mom stepped up to the plate and worked many long hours in a nursing home to help pay for my tuition and other expenses.

In time, everything imploded, and I wound up leaving school after three semesters. And went to work in the same nursing home where my mom worked. Eventually, the dead end nature of that job became apparent. Of all places, that two year journey led to an enlistment in the US Navy. Some things are just meant to be.

My ten years in the Navy, though far from a dream job, provided a great many experiences that left me a much better person, though physical fitness wasn't one of them. More importantly, it provided multiple options for completing college. I graduated in 2003, the first member of my immediate family to receive a college degree. Some things are meant to be.

During this time, my career as a runner started. Despite the months of training, the lost weight, and the improving fitness, a marathon never happened. When I began work with my current employer, I mentioned to several people that I wanted to complete a marathon in 2003. That never occurred because of a back injury, and my running started to become more an infrequent hobby than a disciplined practice. It may well have become a thing of the past if it weren't for a co-worker who is married to a sub-elite marathoner with nine races under her belt.

He pushed, goaded, taunted, and eventually nearly humiliated me until I signed up for a marathon just to get him off my back. I completed that marathon, and three others since. Some things are meant to be.

So, looking down the long road to Ironman Louisville, I know there are no certainties in life. I have often set a goal only to have reaching it sidetracked by one thing or another. Even so, I am confident I will overcome the obstacles that stand between me and the finish line come 23:59:59 on August 26, 2007. This time, I have the same people providing some of the same motivation. More importantly, I have the support of my wife and children, my co-workers and friends, and the TBC. I am curious about what I can accomplish. I am relentless in the pursuit of my goals. And some things, some things are meant to be.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Growing up, my siblings and I were urged to participate in a variety of activities. Our parents encouraged both physical and academic pursuits, and attempted to set the example by demonstrating what they had done in the past and what they did then. And each of us developed a nature of "try it."

I call it curiousity. Given a new activity, I tend to want to give it a try, and often put my whole heart into learning about it. This "curious" nature has led me into many things in my life.

During my childhood, I participated in organized archery, baseball, football, soccer, cycling, and speed skating. I also learned to water ski and wakeboard, play cricket, and participated in a wide variety of other sports. And while far from world class at any of these, I tried my hardest at each. And I continue to do many of these things, today.

Music education didn't suffer for all the outdoor activities, either. At a very young age, my dad bought me an acoustic guitar while deployed overseas. That guitar was eventually replaced with a better guitar and I began lessons. I learned to play that guitar as well as the bass guitar. My mom also required each of her children to learn an instrument in school. For me, it was the french horn. Over time, I also learned to play the trumpet and saxophone (poorly, in both cases). I attempted to learn to play the clarinet, but was just TOO bad at that. Again, I am for from mastering any of these instruments, but my abilities with bass guitar were sufficient for a punk rock band, and I performed on stage at concerts during college.

Curiousity drew me into the theater during junior high. And one could say I was a curiousity in many of my plays. I have played an old man, Igor, an insane priest, and a goofy chamberlain. While rarely the lead role, I always landed roles that demanded strong acting ability.

For the record, it was NOT curiousity that attracted me to debate. I love to debate. I will debate any topic, at any time, taking any position (whether I believe it or not).

A doctor's orders pushed me into running. But it was curiousity about how far I could actually run that led to marathons. The challenge of a group of eighth graders pushed me into triathlons. But it was curiousity that led me to go beyond that first race.

And by participating in these events, I hope to instill in my children the same curiousity that was fostered by my parents. B-Boy and Monster Girl might never become triathletes. They might never run a marathon. But perhaps they'll learn to surf. Maybe they'll pursue basketball or volleyball. Maybe they'll choose track and field. I will try to set the example for them to follow. And perhaps others will gain, as well.

What are you curious about?

Monday, October 23, 2006


In the pursuit of excellence, I have discovered there are many things in life at which I am quite average.

I was an average soccer player during youth soccer league. In many situations, I was among the best players on the team. In others, I barely got onto the field. In the same manner, I was an average football player in high school. I played four years, and spent a great deal of time warming the bench. I could hold my own on the field, but there were many others who were far better.

I spent many years acting in high school and college. My performances helped earn some scholarships, though never enough to cover all the costs of tuition. I was in debate for four years and forensics for one year. My speaking ability got me to state once in those five seasons. I took third.

In the Navy, I advanced quickly through the ranks. I was a good sailor, and a slightly above average electrician. Again, there were many who seemed to live and breath nuclear and electrical fundamentals.

And in marathons and triathlons, I am a middle of the pack participant. Co-workers routinely ask about qualifying for the Boston Marathon or the Kona Ironman Championships. I point out that I'm much more likely to win a mohawk contest (sorry for the visual joke, I'll consider posting pictures, later). I'm fairly average when it comes to these events.

There is one thing that I believe sets me apart from the average person. It is what sets many who toe the line at events such as these. That is dogged relentlessness. It is the drive to complete a task, regardless of skill and ability going in. It is the determination to complete a sprint triathlon despite being unable to complete even a single lap of freestyle swimming. It is the motivation to pursue excellence in any task undertaken, regardless of the likelihood of becoming truly "competitive."

A relentless spirit is what gave me the confidence to complete a half marathon having never trained for it (that, and sheer ignorance that led me to run 13.5 miles to see if I could run 13.1 miles). This same determination led me through 26.2 miles in my first marathon. And it took the same amount of drive to finish a 220 yard swim in my first triathlon. And yes, in many ways, that 220 yard swim was more challenging than the full marathon.

Only time will tell if this force of will can carry me through 140.6 miles in Louisville. It has allowed me, a completely average athlete, to accomplish many tasks I would have though impossible five years ago. And every year, many things previously seen as out of the question become possibilities to be attempted.

What is your "impossible?" Whether a 5K road race, a 200 yard swim, a century ride, or an Ironman triathlon, the task can be achieved. Drive, determination, and relentlessness can assure your success.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Triathlete's Nightmare

I had one doosie of a nightmare, last night. A triathlon nightmare. A Kona nightmare.

The nightmare involved your's truly qualifying for Kona, though I don't know if it was by performance or lottery. Of course, most of you are probably thinking, "How is it a nightmare to qualify for Kona?" And you'd be correct to ask that question.

The actual qualifying wasn't the scary part. Nor was the training. In the dream, I arrived at Kona trained and ready to race. All the excitement of a major event was there. The people, Ironman Village, bikes, everything. Plus, I was in Hawaii, on the big island, there to race with the best triathletes in the world. The event of a lifetime for an average, age-group triathlete.

No, that wasn't what made the whole thing a nightmare. The scary part snuck up on me.

Race day came, and I headed down to the start area. Hundreds of athletes mobbed on the beach, waiting for the start. Tensions were high until, finally, the cannon went off and the race started. Triathletes surged into the surf, with the dolphins taking off into an early lead.

And here, as I moved towards the water, is where this dream took a wicked turn. Heading towards the start of the swim, I realized I had no body markings. I didn't have my race number on my arms. Then, I realized my bike (with one other, God only knows) was sitting in the water near the swim start. Just for clarification, that it was sitting in the water wasn't odd. In the dream, it made sense and provided valuable information.

It was then that I realized I hadn't put together gear bags, either. In fact, my bike didn't have a race number, and my transition area was empty (except for the bike, which somehow moved from the water to T1). No water, no cycling or running gear, no shoes. NOTHING.

And then it started. I began running around trying to figure out how to get my race number. I tried to find people to go get all my gear and bring it to the transition areas. I started trying to figure out how to make up for days of NOT doing all those things one MUST do prior to the gun going off.

I woke up before I figured out how to do just that. So, the image burned into my brain (as I get ready to sign up for IM The Ville) is one of my getting into a race, training, showing up, and then COMPLETELY forgetting that I have to actually check in. Wonderful confidence booster, that.

The mind. What a curious thing.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Two Days

It's less than two days until the next big event in the world of triathlon. It's less than two days until thousands of people step up and push themselves to the limits of their endurance. Less than two days until triathletes give their all in pursuit of an elusive goal.

I will be right there with them. While we may not share the same physical space, we are all brothers and sisters in our effort. We have all trained for this event, and we all have the same dream, to finish. And for those who fall along the way, the pain will be real. Failure at this juncture could haunt us for months.

We must trust in our training. We must believe in ourselves. We must remain confident in our ability to succeed. The prize is worth the struggle.

So, as we step to the line, good luck to everyone who will attempt to register for Ironman Louisville on Saturday.

Oh yeah. The Ironman World Championships will be held on that day, too. Good luck to all participants. I will, however, be otherwise occupied at 2 p.m. central time.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Extra Push

Most triathletes understand the mental aspects of their sport. Racing, particularly at longer distance events, requires a great deal of planning and focus. From training plans set in place months before race day to finding the strength to continue after 135 miles of swimming, biking, and running, triathlons place huge demands on us, mentally.

And those demands continue well after the final race of the season. In fact, the off-season can throw curve-balls requiring even more mental discipline. First, there is the post-race period. Whether on cloud nine from a major success or in the dumps because of a less than desirable outcome, we must transition to the next phase of our training intelligently. Too fast and injury is just around the corner. Too slow and the excess of winter activities can have unintended and undesirable results.

Post season training requires additional mental gymnastics as decisions are made regarding intensity, frequency, and focus of training. Which weak areas deserve extra attention? How can training sessions be completed with fewer daylight hours and two feet of snow on the ground? How much time can be taken off without negatively impacting my plans for next year?

I'm lucky enough to have a few friends working together to answer a few of these questions. We are also striving to generate some variety in our training to break up sometimes monotonous winter workouts. Each of us has at least one major event planned for 2007, and we will be getting together for training on Saturday's during the winter. Though each will work at a pace appropriate to a given program, we will work together. This will provide accountability and motivation, easing the mental drain of off-season training.

It is also a wonderful opportunity to build new friendships. Our group has only loose ties, and several of us have yet to actually meet. Completing together the off-season training and then a half IM program (full, in some cases) will certainly forge friendships that might otherwise never exist.

As you plan for the off-season and next year's races, remember to consider alternatives to the same old routine. Triathlons often take us out of our comfort zones. If we are going to "train like we race," then training must sometimes do the same.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

CycleOps Mag+

Though poking fun at Bolder and Nytro is good for a laugh, it's time for some serious product feedback. Today, we're talking about the CycleOps Mag+ trainer.

The decision to purchase this little beauty was made after getting started on off-season and Ironman training programs. Though swimming will be the primary focus of this winter's training, the 24-week training program for IM Louiseville will begin in March. Even if it is decent enough here in Wisconsin for outdoor cycling then, there is little hope of getting The Pol-R Express outside much before that.

So, it was off to the LBS for what turned out to be an awesome deal. I managed to leave with a fully assembled trainer and front wheel block for $179.53, a savings of $0.46 off the list price of the trainer alone. Mrs. Pol can still outsave me any day, but I felt good with this purchase.

Off course, as with any new bike toys, it had to be put to immediate use. With the wife off doing good deeds and both kids napping (see, miracles still happen), I was able to throw the bike onto the trainer, pop in a good movie (neither SIMAAM or The Burbs), and get some training done.

Putting the bike on the trainer was a piece of cake. While it will take some time for Mrs. Pol to get comfortable with it, the process is far easier than changing a tire, and involves only removing the rear skewer and replacing it with the supplied (sturdier) trainer skewer. A quick adjustment to get the roller in contact with the wheel and attaching the remote was all that remained before I was riding.

The trainer is loud enough to require turning the volume up on the television, though quiet enough to use with napping kids. Using some form of entertainment (or the supplied CTS Time Trial Power Intervals DVD) will only be an option if my wife is around to hear the children crying.

Use of the remote is simple. It looks like a shifter lever and fine tunes the pressure on the wheel. It provides less adjustment than I might have hoped, and I found myself using the bike to determine work load. As I become more comfortable with adjusting the tension prior to starting, it may become more effective. Regardless, there was a noticeable change when using the remote to change from the minimum to maximum tension.

All in all, I am very pleased with this new trainer. It seems to be a good compromise between a truly cheap trainer and the more expensive fluid trainers. It will certainly help me to keep up with bike training and allow me to be more flexible with my schedule. Those long sessions that would otherwise require a visit to the YMCA after work can be accomplished in the very early hours of the morning, at home, with whatever entertainment I desire. The $179 will return many dividends, all of which will be put on deposit as I train for IM Louiseville. Now all I have to do is actually get registered.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Bold Ropes Me In

Somehow, as an innocent victim, I have been dragged into a bet between Bolder and Nytro. Apparently, when Bolder asks you to vote by comment, you should watch yourself, as you never know what the outcome might be, or what might be required as a result.

And while I consider myself an innocent bystander, and completely without obligation in this matter, I don't want to be seen as somebody who will bail on a situation when the going gets rough. So, here you go, Bold. I hope you're happy. And just to show how good a sport I am, I have included a real picture of my ass, as well as a caricature. Feel free to comment on how small my ass is.

And, please, don't mock my caricature ass too badly. Remember, they're supposed to look funny.

Finally, thanks to Flickr for being useful for actually putting pictures on blogs. Blogger was being painful, again, and my other picture storage areas were less than helpful. They ask that a link be added when pointing back at their files, and I felt a bit more thanks was in order. It was very easy to set up and start using (all of about 10 seconds).

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Ignorance is Bliss

Living in Wisconsin, biking outdoors during the winter months is essentially impossible. I say essentially, because I do know a few cycling enthusiasts (pronounced "crackpots") who bike year round. Two concerns come to mind, from my perspective. Warmth and safety. Some drivers seem quite incapable of avoiding cyclists in the best of conditions. I'd rather not put their skills to the test on icy roads during a snowstorm. Having my body and bike leveled by a car would be counterproductive to Ironman training.

So, it was off to the LBS, today. By way of the barber shop. Since my regular barber is putting in fewer hours (pronounced "getting old"), I'm unable to make consistent visits. That means submitting myself to the less desirable ministrations of the "chain" hair cuttery. Today's decision was made by the relative proximity of that shop to a sporting goods store that carries bike equipment.

That store did have the CycleOps Mag+ trainer I was seeking, and getting it there would save me a trip to my main LBS. Only two issues. First, no accessories, and my wife wanted the adaptor for other bikes. Second, no discount. While I was unsure if the other store would give a discount, I at least wanted to find the other components needed.

A quick trip over to my main source for all things bike, and a bit of help proved very beneficial. First, they discussed the bikes we would be using on the trainer, and determined we wouldn't need any extra components. They also had the supports for the front wheel, and assembled the trainer at no cost. And they DID apply a discount (for my tri club). That resulted in the total cost of the trainer, assembly, and wheel support being less than the cost of the actual trainer. And to top it off, CycleOps has been throwing a CTS time trial power intervals DVD in with each trainer.

I am now READY for winter. Mrs. Pol is excited, and I heard the words any cycling enthusiast loves to hear. "Why don't we just store the bikes in the basement." Nirvana.

Well, there's a trainer sitting next to me, and a bike just begging to test it out...

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Sloth Pol

No, your eyes didn't deceive you. No, it wasn't a typo. There wasn no sudden dyslexic confusion of "l" and "u" in the title. The Sloth Pol is currently located in the Fox Valley of Wisconsin.

After a long season of training and racing, I scheduled two weeks of complete rest and two weeks of active recovery. The complete rest was somewhat inaccurate, as I ran twice (6.5 mile runs) and kept up my three weekly swims. This past week, supposedly the first week of active recovery, I suddenly found myself taking the days off that should have come the first week after the marathon. This week, I was a Sloth Pol.

Not too fear, though. Next week is the final recovery week before two events. First is the start of off-season training for the Spirit of Racine Triathlon half-Ironman race. A group of us will be meeting each Saturday for organized training, including monthly "races" to gauge progress. Our goal is to motivate each other during difficult winter training periods, and use our strengths to improve another's weakness.

Second is registration for IM Louisville. Despite the lack of a race website or details of the course, I will be fighting for a spot in that race. Assuming success, I will have a lot of training to complete before August of next year. I am considering training plans, and may even break down and pony up the cash to purchase a program.

The planning for my first triathlons consisted primarily of learning to swim and buying a bike. Half and full Ironman races will require additional purchases and a great deal more planning. A wetsuit and indoor bike trainer are the top equipment needs. The planning required is mind-boggling, and I haven't even successfully registered. Nutrition, training plans, lodging, transportation to the race, coordinating with other bloggers participating, etc. It is no wonder triathletes are seen as some of the most organized people in the world.

One thing is quite certain, though. This is probably ENTIRELY too early to get concerned about some aspects of the race. Maybe I'll wait until the clock goes under 200 days to start worrying.

How odd does that sound to everyone who just watched their countdowns go under 20 days?

By the way, any suggestions regarding trainers will be greatly appreciated. The current leader is the CycleOps Mag+ trainer. As I've got zero experience with trainers, I really can use the input.

Sloth Pol's days are numbered. Soon, the journey towards truly earning the title "Iron Pol" begins in earnest. It promises to be an exciting winter and spring.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Sometimes you read a post that just warrants some comment love. Roman tracked down one of those and posted it at raceAthlete. So, many of you may have already seen it. Some of you might have missed it. As a show of support for those who take responsibility for themselves and struggle mightily to achieve their goals, I'm providing one more path to reach this post.

Without taking too much away from either of them, you can see this inspiring report by going here. And you can visit Duane's site here.

His blog has also been added to my list of links to follow, so we can follow his journey from start to finish. I hope the TBC will show their support and provide the congratulations and continued support that will be needed to go from couch potato to triathlete to half-IM triathlete. And who knows, perhaps Ironman, which is a stated goal of Duane's.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pass the Torch

A campfire standard and Christian hymn starts with the phrase, "It only takes a spark, to get a fire going." This is so true, and tonight, it will be a blowtorch instead of a spark.

Tonight, we give the first presentation aimed at motivating young kids to try endurance sports. Whether it's biking, running, or triathlon, we want to generate interest and excitement. If all goes well, I will have to balance Ironman training with coaching a group of 6-12 graders for various endurance events.

The cost is worth the return. In a day and age where so many target junk food to fight obesity, I want to resort to an age tested method. Rather than control intake, I want to boost consumption. Rather than have a bunch of couch potatoes (with nicely controlled diets), I want to mentor a group of maniacs who have to eat to fuel their exercise. Next year, I want to have a group of kids who can stand on the stage and tell others how awesome it is to complete a road race or triathlon.

Mostly, I hope to instill in at least a few of these young men and women the discipline to struggle towards a goal they view as worthwhile. Every one of us works hard to reach our goals. Whether it's an Ironman triathlon or a 5K walk, it takes effort to succeed.

The better our kids understand that, the better people they will become.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Lottery Un-News

Apparently Ironman North America caught wind of a certain triathlete's plans to use the IM MOO lottery spots as a backup to the IM Louiseville backup and will be thwarting some carefully laid plans. IM Able has once again broke the story with some obviously inside and seemingly fickle sources:

BOULDER, Colo.-Due to unforeseen circumstances, the lottery scheduled to open today for spots for the 2007 Subaru Ironman Canada and the 2007 Ford Ironman Wisconsin Triathlon have both been cancelled. Athletes who have registered for the lotteries will have their fees credited back to their credit card.

Ironman North America apologizes for any confusion. Qualifying spots are available for both events for those still interested in racing at Subaru Ironman Canada or at Ford Ironman Wisconsin, For a complete list of qualifiers, log onto

Now, to be quite honest, there didn't seem to be much confusion. Things were moving along nicely. Only the sudden and drastic reversal of their announcement caused any confusion. Apparently enough confusion that there are actually fees to be refunded.

My question is this. Exactly what unforeseen circumstances could result in such a reversal? Madison suddenly vanishing? Lake Monona mysteriously shrinking in its capacity to hold swimmers? The parking ramp at Monona Terrace being declared safe for exactly 100 fewer bikes?

It all seems quite odd, to me. Things could get interesting if the WTC opts to start taking ownership of more IM races in the United States.

Lottery News

Thanks to IM Able for this news:

Boulder, CO - Ironman North America is pleased to announce that there will be additional entry opportunities for the 2007 Subaru Ironman Canada and Ford Ironman Wisconsin events by way of a lottery.

Each event will have 100 general entry spots available via the lottery. Lottery entry will be available through the individual race sites and administered through

Entry to the lottery is $20 US for each event. This fee is non-refundable; however, those athletes selected via the lottery will have this amount credited towards their entry fee.
The lottery will open for both events on Tuesday, October 10th and will close on Tuesday,

October 31st.

The selected athletes will be notified by email, on Friday, November 3rd. Please log onto to register for the Subaru Ironman Canada lottery and log onto for the Ford Ironman Wisconsin lottery.Subaru Ironman Canada will be held for the 25th time on Sunday, August 26, 2007 in Penticton. BC and Ford Ironman Wisconsin will take place for the sixth time on Sunday, September 9, 2007 in Madison, WI.

This will be the secondary backup plan. I am planning on success registering for IM Louiseville. Should that applecart be upset...

Monday, October 09, 2006

IM Nicknames

Apparently, my reference to the newly minted Ironman Louisville as IM The Ville has opened a post can of worms. At least one reader searching for "The Ville" came up with IM France, and started wondering if I was somehow headed there. If you search for Ironman and Ville, that is apparently the most common result.

That raises an interesting question. As a resident of Wisconsin, hearing references to IM MOO is common. In fact, it seems most people know Ironman Wisconsin as IM MOO. Perhaps it is an easy connection. That, and the desire for cow prints on jerseys. Or perhaps it is simply a Wisconsin thing.

Are we the only ones to have this type of nickname for our Ironman event? After all, who ever heard of IM Lava. And let's face it, participants in Hawaii know ALL about lava. Then again, the Ironman World Championship doesn't even have IM placed in front of it. Just mention Kona to any triathlete, and they know the topic.

How about IM Florida. Has anyone ever heard of IM Mickey? Or IM Retired? Or IM Sandbar? Is IM Arizona known as IM Cactus? Is there an IM Resort Town? (I wanted to go with IM Middle of Nowhere for Couer d'Alene, but a quick review of their visitor's guide proves that to be untrue)

So, what other nicknames are out there? Do they exist, or must we conclude that Wisconsinites truly do relate cows to everything?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Try Tri Again

It was another late night. There was much to discuss in the Pol household. And much to consider.

Given the energy I directed towards IMNA with regards to the rapid sellout of IM Wisconsin 2007 and the call for additional races, it would be somewhat hypocritical if I failed to at least attempt to register for IM The Ville (Thanks George, for that one).

So, on Saturday, October 21st at 2 p.m. CST, I will be sitting somewhere with multiple computers and a high speed connection, logged in and ready to go. Consider this another one of those declarations of intent favored by Bolder.

The Spirit of Racine half-IM race may soon move from an "A" race to a B/training race.

Let the countdown begin...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Stop the Insanity

Here's a recipe for creating an insane triathlete:

Take one first season triathlete and add substantial training. This will produce a former marathoner who can successfully swim at least a mile, bike at least 75 miles, and run 26.2 miles.

Add the vision of one man who is both author and Ironman, blogger and businessman, friend and mentor. The introduction of his plans for IM Wisconsin 2007 and a fledgling team of endurance athletes provides the catalyst to discussion, planning, and tension.

To this mix, add one registration that closes in under one hour. The thrill of making a leap of faith and going on a journey with so many friends (most of whom have never been met) ensures the contents are well shaken.

Allow frustration at being unable to register for IM MOO '07 to settle in, and allow that triathlete to again revise plans and move on. There is a half-Ironman race that is begging for participants, and other years for that IM race.

Once the triathlete has settled into the mindset of "half IM, support team at IM WI 2007, and sign up for 2008." Any remaining tensions are relieved by ranting about the need for additional races in the Ford Ironman series.

Wait several weeks for a response to the rant (and a prompt response it was, I'll gladly take suggestions for my next rant directed their way).

This will result in at least one triathlete going out of his head. He must now go through the same process already endured, with the added noise of having a half-Ironman five weeks prior to the announced August 26 race day.

Stay tuned for what is sure to be my head exploding...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Always Room for One More Thing

The youth organization with which I volunteer, The Boys and Girls Brigade, has always struggled with shrinking enrollment as each group progresses through the years. Each year, a significant number of six graders enroll in the program for their first year. By eighth grade, several groups have been combined, and each group has usually lost several members. By the junior and senior years, only a handful of young leaders will remain.

The most common excuse given for "dropping out" of the program is excessive demands on time. Homework, extracurricular activities, other organizations, etc will be cited as the reason for leaving the Brigade. But a quick review of the remaining youth almost always identifies at least one valedictorian, many straight A students, student body leaders, and sports stars. Many of those completing all six years hold down jobs along with the extracurricular activities in which they participate. These young leaders have figured out how to balance a great many things in their lives.

This is a skill that will serve them well in the future. As adults, there is always one more demand on available time. I am constantly amazed at two things. First, just how many new demands can be made on our time. Even more amazing is the way in which many people manage to take on those demands.

Years ago, when a certain pulmonary doctor asked that I run a few miles each week, I seriously questioned how that could be squeezed into an already tight schedule. After all, work and school took up most of my time. It was a health issue, though, so I found time to run a mile or two each week. Eventually, that turned into 6.5 miles three times a week.

Over the years, the schedule that was "stretched to the max" by school, work, and running has managed to fit into the mix two children, increased demands at work, leadership within the church (including occassional preaching), Sunday school teacher, Brigade leader, and triathlon training. Hmmmmm. Since time is constant, something else must have given.

And now, as I move from short course triathlons to half Ironman and, soon enough, full Ironman distance, new opportunities are appearing. The youth endurance team we are putting together will require both administrative time and training time (with the kids). Getting to the various races the kids enter will be vital to show support. The co-worker who will be doing the half IM race with me has been busy putting together a team plan for both co-workers and outside friends. Oddly enough, he "nominated" (drafted, blindsided, saddled, stuck) me to be the "president" of the little group.

Somehow, all these additional tasks don't come as a burden. They are welcomed because they are all aimed at improving myself, my friends and soon-to-be-friends, and the community.

Anyone who believes Ironman is only about health and physical activity misses the bigger picture. I know I did. There is so much more to be given and gained on the journey than 140.6 miles on race day.

Monday, October 02, 2006

You've GOT To Be Kidding

A quick review of my sidebar training stats shows a fairly busy year. Year to date, I've travelled more than 1400 miles under my own power. That includes three running races (10K, half marathon, full marathon) and three triathlons (short sprint, Olympic, longer sprint). It includes learning to swim, getting back onto the bike, speedwork to achieve my sub-4-hour marathon, and my inaugural triathlon season.

And it includes no injuries. There were occassional twinges that caused concern. Some heel pain even warranted a mention during my annual physical. But no physical malady resulted in lost or reduced training. It was a good year and race results improved as a result.

The race season over, I've been taking a couple weeks off from serious training, preparing for an off-season aimed at discipline specific improvement (can you say "swimming"). Saturday morning, I decided to go for a long, straight swim, something I haven't done for some time. In fact, I wanted to go at least 4000 yards.

That goal was totally destroyed by the YMCA, which decided that closing the pool (for 12 water aerobics students) right in the middle of morning lap swim was a good idea. Quite angry about the whole ordeal, I headed home and decided to put some of the energy to good use working in the nursery. B-Boy and Monster Girl have a lot of fun tearing the place apart, and I wanted to do some serious cleaning.

So, with the kids safely occupied in the living room, I got started. It was almost like a scene from Clean Sweep. Everything being moved out and reorganized, furniture being rearranged, and the room being thoroughly cleaned (including steam cleaning the carpets).

And somewhere in the process, my mother was proven wrong. Cleaning CAN kill you (well, at least hurt you). I'm not entirely sure how, but I walked into that room perfectly healthy. I limped out with a pulled hamstring. And my only thought was, "You've GOT to be kidding me." The irony of going an entire (and dare I say much more active) race season without injury only to get hurt doing housework is impossible to miss.

I will, however, accept it with grace. It couldn't have happened at a better time. I'm theoretically in a "no-training" period, with a two-week cross train period to follow. Serious off-season training won't start until October 24th, and that will have a heavy emphasis on swimming.

But watch out for those domestic tasks. Your mother's admonitions that a little housework never hurt anybody have just been proven wrong. Clean safe!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Veeg Goes the Distance

As a not-yet fully Iron "Iron Pol," it is sometimes difficult to "welcome" people to the rank of Ironman. There will always be congratulations given, and admiration of a job well done, but something is missing. It is difficult to accept people into a group to which you don't belong.

Marathons, however, are another story. My own accomplishments, while exciting, are far less remarkable, as they are simply repeating a process already done in the past. But when another individual achieves marathon status, there's cause to celebrate.

Today was one of those days. Veeg went the distance and joined the rank of marathoner. I won't steal too much of her thunder, so you'll have to hit her site to read the race report. She currently has the "I did it" version posted. I'm sure she'll follow her normal practice and get more details on her blog in the coming days.

A very tiny percentage of Americans ever join the ranks for marathoner. Stop by her site and leave a comment congratulating her on her accomplishments. She deserves it for finishing a marathon, and she deserves it for the stellar performance she gave.

Congratulations, Veeg! You did it!