Athlete Guide

Shopping

I am a man.  Against social norms, I don’t mind shopping, usually. 

image

If I shop by myself, I consider it a training routine for a triathlon transition:  Get in and out as quickly as possible.  On the other hand, if I shop with my wife, it’s an exercise in endurance. 

image

Actually, it’s just a matter of turning a painful experience into something positive. 

BTW,  shopping at Lowe’s and Home Depot is not really shopping.  It’s recreation!

Posted by LG on the run

Great Local Race and Episode 15

New Segment

I’ve never had any questions or comments that could be read on the show until now.  A couple of friends sent in some questions.  I think they felt sorry for me, because I tell people to write me and no one does.  That’s OK,  because in episode 15, I try to answer two questions.  If I get any more questions, I’ll have to create a whole new segment.  Maybe I’ll name it “Mail Call” and introduce it with a drill instructor shouting names and throwing letters.  Or better yet,  I could call it Mail Sack with the intro line being, “Taking a look in LG’s mail sack.”    Maybe not.  Besides I’ve already seen that used.

White Lake

Other than answering a couple of questions in episode 15, I talk about the White Lake Weekend which is coming up September 12th and 13th.

The town of White Lake reminds me of one of those 1960s vacation spots for middle class families.  It just has that small, cabin feeling about it.

There are three races based out of the FFA camp on the west side of the lake for this particular weekend:

a sprint on Sunday and a Half and a International on Saturday.

Swim exit at White Lake
Swim exit for the White Lake races.

If you’re out there either day, look for me.  I’m racing in the Half and the Sprint.

 

 

 

 

Here’s episode 15:

Will Rogers Remembered

80 years ago today, Will Rogers died near Point Barrow Alaska.

Ask someone if they’ve ever heard of Will Rogers and they will probably fire off his most famous quote, “I never met a man I didn’t like.”  But I believe that there are very few people alive today who truly understand that what he did that was so important.

Will Rogers was a cowboy, a humorist, a political commentator, an entertainer, an unofficial diplomat, a syndicated newspaper columnist and the number one box office draw in the years before his death.  His skill with twirling a lariat opened the door to the world of entertainment.  One day during his act, his rope trick failed and he made some off hand comment.  The audience laughed at that comment, whatever it was, so he began talking in his act.  Before long, he was performing in the famous Zigfield Follies.   His fame escalated from there.

For me, one of the things that made Will Rogers such an important figure, was that he spoke to the common person.  I can still hear the recordings of FDR saying, “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”  And he said it in that lofty tone that orators of the day used.   Will never spoke in lofty tones.  He used common words and talked about things that mattered to most Americans.  During the great depression, he made several radio speeches that struck a chord with so many listeners.   And his humor was never mean spirited.

Here’s one of his more famous speeches:

How I met Will Rogers

Of course I never actually met Will Rogers, because he died 29 years before I was born.  I grew up in a town on the California coast called Pacific Palisades where Will had a small ranch and a home for when he was making movies in Hollywood.  That ranch became a state park and I remember going there many times as a child.  I was amazed by the movies of his rope tricks and I knew I had to grow up to be like him.

Through the years since, I have studied his life and his work.  I’ve read books and watched many of his movies.  I’ve collected pictures, and memorabilia.

We Lost A Lot

When we lost Will Rogers, we lost an icon.  We lost a little bit of hope during very turbulent and uncertain times.  We lost the one person who represented this country and its ideals better than anyone else.  As I read the writings of Will Rogers, it’s easy for me to understand why americans everywhere turned to his columns for a bit of humor during a depressing era.  When I watch his movies, I realize why he was the number one box office draw.  He showed americans and the world what it meant to be an american.  He not only lived the american dream, but he embodied it.  And he didn’t do it on the back of cheap labor like the great barons of the 19th century.    He was the cheap labor.  Even when he made so much money, he was never more than the cowboy he started out to be.   He didn’t have much of an education, but he was not uneducated.

Today, the 80th anniversary of his death, I will remember Will Rogers and everything he means to me.

Water in L.A.

It’s been a while since my last blog post.  I was on vacation in California because I heard their drought was terrible so I wanted to see it for myself.   They’re screwed!

Maybe I’m exaggerating, but I didn’t get a sense of urgency from the people I observed.   Specifically, I was in the Los Angeles area.   Why do so many people with money move to that city if water is scarce there?  Maybe it’s because they believe someone will solve the water crisis soon.  I suppose that’s a possibility.  But here’s a little news for everyone living there.  YOU’RE LIVING IN A DESERT.   The only reason so many people were able to move there in the first place is because Mr. Mulholland diverted a lot of water from other parts to the San Fernando Valley.  And some say that he cheated people out of their water rights to get it done.  I don’t know about that, but water is the key factor to population growth: especially in a desert.

I grew up in a desert.  I still have water conservation habits even though I now live in North Carolina.  I’m sensitive to wasted water.   When I moved to Mesa, Arizona, I was appalled by all the residential communities with lakes and fountains. I don’t remember seeing much of that in Tucson.  Water in the desert is a symbol of wealth and status so it gets flaunted.  I’ve been told that less water is consumed by five families living on an acre of land than growing cotton on that same acre, but that doesn’t negate the facts that water is scarce in the desert and more people keep moving to the desert.

I talked to one person the other day who believes the film industry is leaving Hollywood (for tax reasons) and won’t come back because of the scarcity of water even though the state legislature is considering changing tax laws to favor the film industry.   That’s hard to believe, simply because so many people are still investing in Southern California.  From what I saw while I was on vacation, there is plenty of life left in Southern California.  So much life that the freeways are overflowing with it!   But that’s another matter for another blog entry.

For now, I just hope everyone in the L.A. area sets their mind toward water conservation.

Training for Life

Life is an endurance event.  Training for triathlon is training for life.

I believe that.  Not because I’m a cheerleader for triathlon.  I believe that, because  there are a lot of similarities between the suffering of life and the suffering of endurance athletics.  I read a Buddhist commentary somewhere that says to live is to suffer and that ignorance of our true nature is the cause of all that suffering.

So let’s look at a few of the similarities between life and endurance sport:

  • In life, as in triathlon, sometimes you get bored and just have to endure until the boredom subsides.
  • Having friends makes life easier, but they can’t live your life for you and you have to make your own decisions.  Racing with/against friends is fun, but you are judged on your own performance.
  • The body begins to break down and become very painful later in life: The body begins to break down and become very painful at mile 18 of a marathon (especially as part of an Ironman).

Dealing With Boredom

Chrissie Wellington, the great triathlon champion, said that to teach yourself to endure boredom, you have to endure boredom.  There’s a lot of truth in that.  I’ve worked myself up to riding my bike for three hours in doors on the training stand.  This has forced me to focus on my cycling form and my surroundings.   As a result, I don’t get bored so much during mundane activities such as:

  • sitting in a theater waiting for a movie to start
  • waiting in line at the grocery store
  • waiting to see the doctor
  • traveling across the country

Racing With Friends

I’m a social person.  I like being around friends.  But I know that my friends can’t do everything for me.  I have to be responsible for myself and make my own decisions.  It’s the same with most endurance sports including triathlon.  Even in a draft legal race where you can slipstream behind your opponents you are on your own.  No one is there to make sure you succeed more than you.  Every now and then, you might get a bit of assistance from another athlete if, for example, you get a flat tire.   But the race strategy is entirely up to each athlete: no teamwork.

OK. OK.  So there are relay teams in some triathlon events, but let’s just stick to the individuals for the sake of conversation.

Getting a Taste of Old Age

I’m not sure how old you have to be to be considered “old,” but a lot of what I hear from folks over 75 is similar to what I feel after a tough workout or race.  In fact, I feel like my body is falling apart in the middle of most races.  And at that point, it becomes a mental test of endurance.  Each athlete has a decision to make when the struggle becomes very painful: QUIT or CONTINUE.   I’m sure most people don’t feel they have that same choice about old age.  And the pain of old age is continuous as where an athlete might recover from the pain of physical exertion .

But it seems to me that there is a high probability of infirmity and pain in my old age.  I can take a spiritual approach to dealing with the pain and try to understand the true nature of pain and realize that pain is not separate from me, etc.

Or I can curse G-d, my parents, my children, my doctors, etc for letting me get so old.

Or I can load up on pain killers.  That might be fun for a little while, but I don’t care for drugs and the degenerative effects they can have if they are abused which I might just do if that’s my only alternative.

If I’m lucky, maybe I can turn the pain of old age into a comedy routine.  Groucho Marx used to say some funny things about getting old even though he was miserable.

I’m not sure which I will actually end up doing, but I’m going to plan for the spiritual approach which means I have to practice.  And what better way to practice suffering than to suffer?  This is just my own idea.  I’m not sure if it has any merit for anyone else, but from my experience, this is what pushing limits is about.  There have been times when I’ve pushed myself beyond established limits and I’ve realized a fundamental change in my life. In those instances my world becomes a bit bigger and things that I was afraid of tend to be less scary: including some suffering.

Not Too Much

Obviously, all this suffering nonsense can be overdone.   If I push myself too hard, I can break.  And I definitely don’t want that.  But I have become less fearful of aches and pains because, through endurance sports, I know what I can accomplish if I just reach a bit farther than my body advises.  And the next time I reach, it will likely be even farther.

OK.  Let’s see how these words hold up in 25 years when I’m  a bit older.  If I’m still doing triathlon at that time, it probably means I decided on the drugs!

Challenge Roth Is Quite the Challenge.

The Real Competition

I’m not bitter… anymore.  At first, I felt a bit cheated, but now I’m OK.

Last week was the opening of internet registration for the Challenge Roth 2016 triathlon.  I’ve talked about this race before.  It’s a doozy:  200,000 spectators.   If you’ve ever watched a triathlon from the sidelines, you know that triathlon is NOT a spectator sport.  But the folks of Roth, Germany and the surrounding villages come out for this race like no other.

But First You Have to Register

The registration process is not too complicated.  They take 1000 registration applications on site the day after the race.  I wasn’t there, so I couldn’t do that.  I had to wait for July 20th 2015 to come around so I could take part in the internet registration.  I think they take 2500 applications at that time.   I’m sure there’s also some behind-the-scenes registration deals going on for corporate sponsors and businesses and palm greasers.  Then there’s another internet registration party in December for any openings that weren’t filled to that point.

The Starting Line Before the Starting Line

So there I was on Monday morning, ready to register for Challenge Roth 2016.  It was 3:55am.  The process was to begin promptly at 4:00am.  Why 4:00am?  Good question.  The people who run the show are located in Roth, Germany.  They decided to open the process at 10:00am CET which is 4:00am EDT.   But I was wide awake and ready.  With one hand on the track pad and one hand on the keyboard I felt like I was in the pole position for this race.

2500 applications seems like a lot, but it really isn’t.  I don’t know what the exact demand is for this race, but the 2015 race sold out in a matter of minutes: three, I think.

As soon as my network connected smartphone clock said 3:58, I was refreshing my browser screen to see if they had opened registration a bit early.  No such luck, so I kept refreshing it until finally, at exactly 4:00am, I got an entry form.  I filled it out as fast as I could:

  • Name
  • Birthdate
  • Country of residence
  • Email
  • Email again
  • Checkbox for who knows what disclaimer I agreed to

SUBMIT!

ERROR!  I messed up the date.  Why do us Yanks use month-day-year format?  I hate that.  It makes no sense, but that’s what I’m conditioned to do, so that’s what I did.  The Euros use day-month-year which makes much more sense to me.  I should have known that.  So I made the correction and resubmitted.  I didn’t have to wait long for the response.

Sorry. There are no more available spots for the 2016 Challenge Roth…

I’m paraphrasing there, but the meaning is perfectly clear:  I GOT IN just in time.  All I had to do was wait for my confirmation email and then… wait a minute.  For a brief second I was in denial.  I came to my senses and realized that I missed out.

Damn! That Was Fast

I lost this competition to just get to the competition.  The clock said 4:01am.  What the…?  In less than a minute, I went from extreme excitement to total despair.   That’s the emotional equivalent of jumping off a cliff.  At first you have a beautiful view of the world, then you see nothing but dirt (if you’re alive enough to see it).

Keep Looking Ahead

Sure, I was bummed.  I was even upset.  But that didn’t last long, because you have to keep looking ahead.  There’s always another race and there’s always another year.    In fact, there’s still a chance that I could get in to Challenge Roth 2016 in the December internet registration.

And…  I feel the makings of a TriRiot episode here.

What’s Your Excuse?

I missed a workout a while ago and…  Actually, I’ve missed quite a few scheduled workouts.  As a result, I started thinking about a typical excuse for missing such an activity.   As it turns out, there seem to be very few times when missing a workout is due to something extraordinary.  Usually, life just gets in the way.

Here’s the latest episode of TriRiot: Excuses.

Medical Technology

The Miracle of Modern Medical Technology

 Who’s Your Doctor?

As an amateur endurance athlete, I get my share of injuries. But I rarely run to my doctor unless something has been bothering me for a long time: several months or more. After Ironman Augusta last year, I thought I broke something in my right foot. You should have seen me hobbling across the finish line. I was in bad shape. I didn’t run for almost 6 months after that. I don’t really have a point with that story, because what I really want to talk about is the importance of patient doctor relationships.

I did see my doctor about my foot. I’m one of the lucky ones. My GP is a great guy. He spends time talking to me when I visit him. He looks me in the eye and asks the hard questions. On the other hand, I’ve been to specialists who are very different.  I’ve had conversations with the backs of doctors’ heads.  They mumble questions at me while they type into their computers.  That’s just so annoying.  And I’ve heard from friends that that’s quite typical.

No Expensive Acronyms

I got lucky with my foot.  I saw a podiatrist who has great patient skills.  We didn’t waste time or money with X-rays, PET scans, MRI’s and other expensive acronyms.  We talked.  He examined and we both agreed on what to do.  Total cost: $25 copay and $5 worth of cushions for my shoes.  That was over a month ago and I have no complaints.  I’ve been running regularly since.   Of course, I could get a bit more fancy with a custom orthotic inserts for the shoes.  Maybe later.  By the way.  The podiatrists name is Edwin Martin.  That’s right: Doc Martin.  He’s in Wilmington, NC and if you need a podiatrist, look him up.

The Value of Listening

I’ve been reading more and more about how our medical system is so overpriced.  I’ve also been reading about how so few doctors actually know their patients.  And, how many patients actually get to see a doctor?  Most visits nowadays seem to be with PA’s or nurses.  I got scoped up the exit a few months ago (colonoscopy).  The place seemed like a factory with timetables, schedules and deadlines.  People were friendly, but I didn’t get the sense that anyone really cared about who I was.   Maybe I’m being insecure about this.  Maybe I just want to be loved and appreciated for who I am and not treated like a number.  Or maybe I just want to know who’s poking me in the a$$.  It’s all so cold (literally and figuratively) and systematic.  I guess that’s the way it has to be for some medical services.

On the other hand, Malcom Gladwell wrote about the incidences of malpractice law suits.  After looking at some data (I don’t remember how much or what quality) he concluded that patients were NOT likely to sue a doctor if the doctor had treated the patient with dignity and respect.  In other words, the patients who didn’t bring suit against their doctors felt like they had been heard.  It didn’t matter the severity of the problem that might have brought on the law suit.

Modern Medicine

If a medical practice has to be like an assembly line, so be it.  But a general practitioner should know his patients and they should know their doctor in return.  They don’t have to train and race together as I do with mine.  But they should have a relationship.  And the better the relationship, the healthier everyone will be.

Now, let’s hold hands and sing cumbya.  No not really.  But I do believe that a good balance of people skills with theory is much better than sending everyone off for more tests just because of law suit fears.

Choosing a Race

My Inner Conflict

I often struggle with choosing which races I want to enter.   There are so many good ones out there that it’s a difficult task.  I like the small, local races because I know a lot of people there.  I like the big super races like Ironman, becuase of the energy and excitement.  I also like traveling somewhere interesting for a race.   And… I like an inexpensive race.

The number of races from which to choose seems to have grown dramatically in the last several years.  Race companies are merging one year and splitting off the next.  It’s hard to tell who’s producing what race, and that doesn’t help my anxiety about choosing a race.

The Importance of Advanced Planning

If I haven’t planned out my race schedule a year in advance, then I’m likely to have a poor training year and choose races somewhat randomly.  I need that focus to sharpen my mind and my skills.

Back in the fall of 2014, I planned on entering the Trona 308.  That would have been a 308 mile bike race in California from Santa Clarita to Trona and back held in May of 2015.  I was excited for it, but the race was canceled.  I completely lost my focus after that, because I didn’t have a “plan B.”

The thought of doing Savageman again has been in the back of my mind, but I just haven’t decided to sign up for it yet.  Also, I’m not on top of the game with my training.

Actually Choosing A Race

I was thinking about why I’ve only signed up for a handful of smaller races this year and not an Ironman or destination race.

  • First of all, the races I’ve signed up for have been free.  Because I’m on the PPD B2B committee, I get 5 free races in the SC/NC Setup Events Schedule.
  • And second.  This is the biggest reason.  My racing partners are taking this year for some much needed rest.  I can’t blame them.  We raced hard in 2012, 2013 and 2014.   If I were smart, I would follow their lead.
    • I’m not smart.

The main deciding factor for doing a big/special race is people.   I want to race with friends.   That’s why I’m hoping others will join me in signing up for Challenge Roth 2016.  And that’s why I haven’t committed yet to Savageman 2015… yet.

Worth Breaking the Rules

There are, however, some races worth breaking the rules and I’ve already mentioned two of them.  Some races sound so challenging or inviting that I’ll go alone.  Not completely alone.  Family will likely accompany me.  These are a few of the rule breakers:

  1. Challenge Roth: I love spectators and volunteers.  There are 200,000 spectators at this race.  Also, this race is legendary.
  2. Savageman 70:  This race has been called the toughest triathlon in North America.  That’s a challenge I have to meet head on and win.  Also, I need to redeem myself from the DNF in 2013.
  3. Malibu Triathlon:  This one is near the town of my birth.  I want to go there and kick ass so I can march around town with my medal and show all the people there that I’m not the piss ant little kid that got beat up at school.   Of course, if I actually did that, I would get beat up.