Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I can be stubborn. I don't give up easily. That certainly wouldn't be consistent with a triathlete, especially one who has finished two IMs. I've only quit one sport in my life. Freshman HS baseball. Let's face it- swimmers aren't coordinated, and don't excel at ball sports. Baseball is the antithesis of swimming. It's all about coordination, and often has nothing to do with conditioning. What kind of sport has it's players sprint just a few times over the course of a three hour game? A sport where George Scott, Mo Vaughan, David Ortiz, David Wells can excel...is it a real sport?

I've skied my whole life, and am pretty good at it. Two winters ago, my downhill skis delaminated. I tried to get them fixed three times, but they wouldn't hold. So a friend suggested at a party (drinking may have affected my judgement) that I give snowboarding a try. Our sons, who are good friends, both do it, and he picked it up the previous winter and loved it. The simplicity, lower cost and adventure were appealing. I also thought it would be a good bonding experience with Nick. So on December 26 2008, I took a lesson. I stayed on the bunny hill with the magic carpet. Traverse hill, sit down, flip the board over, traverse, repeat, repeat. The last run before lunch, I took the beginner's chair up for a longer run, and did fairly well. So I went into lunch full of confidence and pronounced, "We're going up!" Holy shit, was I wrong. To make a long story short, the next morning I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck.

Numerous people told me it takes three days for snowboarding to click. So I went up to Sunday River with Nick and friend and rented a board again. It went a bit better, barely, but well enough for me to come home and buy my very own board & boots. Cool. I'm a shredder. Then towards the end of the next day, this time at Sugarloaf, it clicked. I got it.

Fast forward to Saddleback in March, where I has a slow-speed crash, forcing my elbow into my ribs, cracking one or more. That was the end of my season, and caused a serious dent in my training schedule.

This past Sunday was our first day of the season. I was a little nervous starting out, hoping I didn't forget it all. I actually thought about starting on the magic carpet, but went with Ed (the same guy who suggested I get into this GD sport in the first place) and his other son up the lower chair. I started nice and easy, slowly regaining form and confidence. It was going really well, and was fun.

Around 1:30, we went up the Barker Chair to the top, and headed for an intermediate trail. The first half is a narrow trail, and the covering was thin. I was ever so slightly out of control, nothing ridiculous, had my back facing downhill, caught my downhill edge, and went down very hard. In hindsight, I think I started my turn too soon because of the width of the trail. I hit hard just above my tailbone, about belt level, then whipped down to the ground, with my head hitting really hard. If I didn't have a helmet on, I'd be somewhere between badly hurt and dead. I instantly knew I'd pay for this. After lying there for a minute or two, I tried to get up and move to the side. My right elbow wouldn't support my weight. Shit, that hurts. I moved to the side, and tried to gather myself. I didn't think I had a concussion or that anything was broken, so we slowly headed down. I figured I would see how everything progressed before I headed out again. The pain all over got worse, and I got pissed.

Yesterday, the day after the fall, I was on the road for work. I could barely turn the key in the ignition or move the gearshift. I tried to swim today, but only lasted for 50 yds. of swimming and 300 yds of kicking. Shit, shit, shit. I was on a streak of 13 weeks in a row of a minimum of 10,000 yds/wk, and was swimming really well. There goes the streak. The good news is I ran 4.5 this morning and was fine.

So back to the title of this post....I QUIT. I'm going to sell the snowboard & boots and buy some skis. I have good boots and bindings, so I shouldn't have to empty the bank. Now I'll be able to do an entire mountain, be more aggressive (within reason), and have more fun.

The next two weeks are a bit lighter for training due to family schedules, then it's into 5 weeks before the Cape Midwinter 10 mi roadrace. I'm really looking forward to mixing it up again.

Friday, December 4, 2009


The mornings are now pitch dark when I hit the road. I need the reflective vest and headlamp. It's also colder, so I have a couple of light layers and a hat. This is just the start- it's going to get really really cold soon, and I won't see any daylight for these runs until at least March. It's a small, cold, occasionally numbing, uncomfortable world, and I'm slow. It isn't a whole lot of fun, but the only reasons I don't hit the road as scheduled is if it's below 10 degrees or there's snow or ice on the road.

As for the bike, it's in our back garage on a trainer, next to a workbench, with a fan and TV. Soon enough I'll need the portable heater on full blast so that the temp goes from a toe-numbing 38 to a balmy 45 by the time the ride ends. So while I have the TV and music as a distraction, I wouldn't exactly call it paradise.

I get out there and put in the time and miles. And miles and miles. Why? Why do I do this? This past Tuesday, I went out for my scheduled run at 5:40. About a quarter mile into the run, I get to a place that's wide open fields. In the western sky, an incredible, enormous full moon was setting. Just a few wisps of clouds added depth to the picture. It was one of those moons you feel like you can reach out and touch. It was beautiful.

On that day, for that run, that was my motivation. And it got me thinking about all of the various sources of motivation that push us.

1. The event. The "A" race that although it's months and months away, you can't stop thinking about it. It's always there. Everything you do- or don't do- you think about how it will impact your race. For me, last year it was the USAT Nationals. I missed qualifying for Team USA by a measly 45 seconds the year before, so I wanted it BAD. I wanted to be a NOAD. This year, it's Worlds.

2. The competition. When you put two competitors next to each other, they will want to crush the other. You dissect race splits to see where you did well compared to them and where there's room for improvement. You become very aware of everything when you're around them, even if it isn't at a race. OK, it sounds a bit psycho and self-centered, I know. Locally, I have several folks who are in my vicinity, and I want to beat them every time. I don't want to show up for even a "C" race and let them finish in front of me. And seeing good results from races I don't go to revs me up. It makes me think they are going to be even better next year. Which means training and racing even harder than last year. Seeing Jeff F's pictures from ITU Long Distance Worlds got to me. Seeing the Thanksgiving Day 4 mi results for Jeff and Rob F got to me. Reading Bob T's new blog got to me. He has no idea he just handed me some race time- thanks, Bob. Keep it coming guys, you're stoking the fire.

3. Sights. Scenery can be invigorating. The full moon, a rising sun, and great scenery can push me. One of my favorite roads is Flying Point Rd. in Freeport. It's beautiful there.

4. Challenges. I'm a fan of Rocky. I love a challenge. Hill repeats on the bike and run, track intervals, or really long, punishing tempo rides are exhausting, but it feels great to get through them. Some of my most memorable sails were solo efforts in Penobscott Bay in our 18 foot sloop in 25 knots. I wasn't quite sure if I'd make it back, or if the boat would stay in one piece. But I made it back and couldn't wait to do it again.

5. Music. My shuffle is my friend. It's loaded with songs that keep me going- Rocky theme songs, lots of stuff from the 80s, and a smattering of other stuff that's either upbeat or has some special meaning to me.

6. Anger. This one is pretty rare, but when I get pissed at someone and can't get it out of my mind, I take out my frustrations on the road.

7. The Feeling. Rolling out of bed, sore from head to toe feels good. I know I've worked when I feel like that. And I know I'm headed in the right direction. Then I can't wait to get out and do it again.

8. The Family. I'll never forget talking with Nick on the phone after Nationals this year when he said, "We're proud of you." I want my family to think well of me. I want my kids to look up to me, which might help drive them to accomplishments later in life.

9. Clothes. Fast clothes may not make a huge difference in themselves, but if I'm going to wear a fast uniform, I better not disappoint. Pulling on the USA uniform will be the ultimate rush.

10. Data. The powermeter doesn't lie, and shows exactly where you stand compared to last week, month or year. For the run, the Garmin does the same thing. All of this data goes into WKO+. It's very easy to pick out previous peaks and attempt to better them. A classic for me is an FTP test on the bike. That's basically a stair-step, drop-dead bike set.

11. The perfect race- the love of the sport. I want to be able to look in the mirror and know I did everything I could to go fast. There are so many components to a good race that there's always something to work on. But as for physical effort, I know if I did what I was capable of. And it really bugs me when I didn't reach my potential.

Now I sit here imagining a race where I have on the USA uniform, my family is there, I push and push my limits, the powertap is silently screaming my output, well-known, tough competition is all around me, the course is in a great location, music is blaring, and there's a lot on the line. Whoa. I guess that's why we have power meters and heart rate monitors to keep us under control.

Gotta go get ready for tomorrow's run in the dark. Gonna kick some ass.

What's your motivation?