Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Out and Backer Vs. Looper

A friend and I are both on Nike+ and so I get to see the GPS immage of his runs on a regular basis.  I also search Strava for bike and run route ideas.  It was while looking at lines on a map that it suddenly occurred to me that not everyone likes to run loop runs and that apparently some people actually run out  and back on purpose.

My friend typically does the same trail everyday and I've even run it with him.  It is a nice trail and in the urban area he lives in, it gives him a chance to see a bit of nature and get away from traffic.  Yet when I see his run route I feel a bit sad for him.

I tend to go out of my way so that at least part of my run isn't an out and back.  I only do an out and back when...

  1. A loop would be a pain to pull off because of traffic, running by open sewage or near a middle school (trust me, stay away from middle schools)
  2. The view or trail is so amazing that it can't be beat
  3. I'm scared of getting lost
So I typically run loops.  I have loops that are 5K, 10K, 8 Mile and 13 miles.  I have a couple 5 mile loops which I really like.  I think one of my super powers is being able to go running, go in a sort of random exploring loop and have it end up being the distance or time that I need.  

If I only did out and backs, I wouldn't need this super power.  And who doesn't want to use their super power.

Yet my superpower does have its limits.  When my girls are on their bikes, I tend to run out and back.  That way I can always make the run shorter than I planned.  Also, I hide stuff along the trail and pick it up on the way home.  They are also really motivated by a destination.  And so we go out and back.  Kind of boring but it works.  

Now my challenge is to introduce them to the power of loops and hopefully they also have a super power that will be discovered as they explore the great world on feet and bike.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Supirior Thoughts on Triathlete Supriority Complex

There are two extremes within the Triathlon Community - "That Guy" and "Jaded Guy".  I used "guy" but that guy can also be a girl.

These two groups are at war and if you read Slowtwitch,com and you will pretty soon be able to identify them in the wild.  Let me warn you, be careful approaching either group in the wild because it may zap not only your time but energy.

As any good scientist (okay, person pretending to be a scientist) it is important to observe not only appearance, and sounds, but behavior and social patterns.  


The easiest way to identify "That Guy" is to first look at what they are wearing.  If they are in a business or social setting most likely they are wearing three or more of the following items:
  • Exercise Sunglasses
  • Compression Socks
  • Garmin or other watch with GPS functions
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Finisher shirt, socks, jacket or hat
  • You may only see the top of the ribbon of their finishers medal if they are wearing a jacket
When you spot "That Guy" training you will also notice the following:
  • Wearing compression socks
  • Wearing race suit
  • When biking will have aero helmet
  • All clothing choices will accentuate the Ironman Tattoo
  • When the pace increases, there is a good chance they will stop for an equipment problem.
  • They will be using about 3 items of technology at any given time.
"That Guy" will liberally sprinkle, "During Ironman...." into nearly every conversation but will tend to omit actual race times.    They refer to professional triathletes using their nicknames. They will also talk about VO2, Watts, and paces without being too specific.


Jaded guy is a bit harder to identify because they are working very hard to appear as normal as possible.  Just like "That Guy" they want people to identify them as "hardcore" but don't want any similarities to the the brands and methods of "That Guy".

You may need to observe them a bit longer but they do the following to mark their identity:
  • Well groomed tan lines - they make sure the lines on the legs, arms and sunglasses are well defined.
  • Jeans, t-shirt and flip flops - one item will be European
  • If they have a race shirt on, it will be from 1987 or earlier.
  • Water bottle on Tri bike will be between the forearms
  • They will be using at least 4 zip ties
  • They always wear bibs when on the bike
  • They will spend a significant amount of time doing subtle stretching
  • They may walk with discomfort due to running in old shoes and riding vintage bikes.
  • They show up to races late, bring minimal gear and push other peoples bikes to the side.
  • They will also be letting out a sort of hissing sound every time "That Guy" walks by.]
  • They will not be wearing a watch, bike computer or logging any of their training.

You probably won't be able to engage Jaded Guy in a conversation but if you overhear them talking with another of their species, you will most likely hear them ridiculing  That Guy, talking about Lance Armstrong, complaining about rolling resistance of tires, and complaining about drafting. 

I notice that depending on the day, I'm kind of both, not necessarily because of choice but because I'm cheap.  I train in shirts that I get at races.  So, on a typical day to the pool, run or bike, I'll have on some sort of race shirt on.  If wearing a hat it will have the IM logo on it.  I use a GPS and use my Iphone to log my running miles.  I will use Strava only when I think I have a chance to win.

I have a great bike and really expensive bike shoes that I bought on Craigslist.  I'd love to have a power meeter and have thought about wearing my HR monitor at night to see what my heart rate dips to.

Yet I also prefer independent and smaller races and try to keep things simple.  I don't have a tattoo and don't plan on getting one.  I try not to talk about triathlon with random people.

One thing that I do believe is that triathlon has room for all sorts of people and I hope more people get involved.

I recently was reminded about the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE) which deals with how we explain others behavior and our own behavior.  When we evaluate our own behavior we tend to accept situational or environmental explanations.  For example, when I miss a day of training, I will attribute it to having a lot of work, family needs and lack of sleep.  When another person misses their training, I will tend to blame their behavior on character and personality.  So they are lazy, unmotivated, ignorant, or just plain stupid.

The good thing about knowing the the FAE is that I can be a bit more forgiving to people that are toward the polar extremes on the GUY continuum (wow that sounds fancy).

I was tested in this area as a beginner triathlon class came to the pool during my swim this morning.  One of the guys was wearing a one piece tri suit and another was wearing board shorts.  I immediately felt superior and wished I could point them out to another cynical person but no one was around.  I left the pool and sat in the steam room for a few minutes and the FAE came to mind, I guess I just don't know why they are doing what they are doing and I'd probably benefit from giving the benefit of doubt rather than treating them poorly.

I'm better off if I don't judge.  At least races bring us together for a short time.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When Non Important Numbers Still Matter

I'm one of those people that like number patterns or significant changes in numbers.  My wife is the same way and we have pictures of our cars when they hit 100,000 miles.  Certain bithdays and anniversaries seem more important than others because of how the numbers line up or that I hit a new decade.  When I reach 42 years this year it will be significant because I will have spent as many years dating/married to my wife as I did before we met.

So tonight on a whim I looked at my Nike+ account and noticed that I hit my 300th run recorded on  I kind of took a pause and was kind had a bit of a party in my mind that I was still under an 8:00 minute mile average and that on average I run further than 5 miles.

300 runs
1612 Miles
5.3 Mile average distance
7:59 Average pace

Yet this number really isn't a milestone or significant, it doesn't capture all my runs, even this year.  It doesn't even capture my races since I don't carry my phone on those.  It just isn't that big of a deal.

But this sort of number still matters to me.  I'm not sure why but it does.  It seems like I accomplished something.  That I ran a bunch and my speed was pretty good and that I'm not running little short runs.  I feel stronger from looking at that number and so, I guess it still does matter to me.

What sort of irrelevant numbers have you celebrated recently?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Shirt Free Club

I was that guy in high school and college that would always hope for "shirts" rather than "skins" when playing sports.  It wasn't that I was prude, I'm just svelte, okay skinny, and didn't need to prove that I didn't have chest hair.

Yet I spent hours without a shirt because I worked at summer camps and was the Waterfront Director for years.  I spent my summers wearing a swim suit and no shirt and will have skin cancer as my proof. 

I'm fine in the pool or beach without a shirt but out in "public" just isn't my style. 

So, this week I was running and had even looked at the weather when choosing shorts and long sleeve top.  I headed out on my run and was surprised by two things, first it was sunny and second it was warm.  These are things that shock us in the Pacific North West.  I instantly regretted not wearing sunglasses and about seven minutes later, I regretted wearing a long sleeve top.  For the next mile, I tried to push sleeves up and get comfortable but eventually I gave up.

In a move that would have been more fun to watch than do, while still running, I took off my top, forgot to take off my headphones, tangled everything, untangled things, tied the shirt around my waist, tangled my headphones, and eventually recovered and kept running.

The good news, it felt great.  Nice and cool and I felt like a vitamin D magnet.  The bad news, I wasn't preoccupied with being perceived as skinny. 

The good news is that now that I'm in my forties, I care but not that much.  I'm more focused on my comfort than that of strangers and so I'll wear things I'd never wear as a teen. 

I don't think I'll make it a habit to run without a shirt, or to start mowing the lawn without a shirt, or barbequing without a shirt or all the other things the the Shirt Free Club does.  Yet, I think I'm one step closer to becoming a member.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Perspective Changes - the Multi Purpose Trail

I use muli-purpose trails (MPT) mostly for running but occasionally for biking.  The past week my girls learned to ride without training wheels and so we've found a whole new freedom and the MPT have been a perfect way to get some miles in for them on their little bikes and for me running. 

So far we have sampled three trails and during each trip, I've kind of lost it.  The main reason is that people seem oblivious to other people when on the trial.  When I'm by myself, I kind of blow off people who are walking on one side while their god is on the other.  I'm used to big gaggles of people who walk in the center of the trail. I'm not surprised by the people who walk on the wrong side of the trail and require everyone to go around them. 

But when I have my girls with me, I kind of go into papa bear mode when people do things that cause risk to my girls.

Three cenarios.

1.  They are riding along and three bikers approach and make all sorts of comments about how cute the girls are as both groups get nearer.  My girls are riding single file on the right.  They are riding three accross.  My girls ride as close to the edge as possible, but when the front girl isn't sure she can squeze through she panics and hits her breaks, the second girl crashes into her and the girls are in a heap.  Meanwhile the group keeps riding three across with concerned looks on their faces.  As I'm untangling 5 year old girls, I shout at the riders to ride single file when approaching other riders, especially if they are kids.  No response, just keep riding.

2.  Two cyclists are riding in aero side by side on the MPT that runs along a quiet country road.  Most cyclists ride on the road but these ladies were blasting down the trail and passed without warning which startled one girl and sent her into the grass.  Sure my girls need to learn to not crash when startled, but going over 20 MPH on a MPT is a bit extreme.  Once again, I shouted at them.  What baffled me is that about 20 minutes later we met again on their return journey.  This time I saw them coming and the girls weren't surprised but they still road by in aero two across on a 8 ft trail.  Once again, yelling dad.

Okay, I know I'm not the trail police and really don't want to be.  I need to work on making sure my girls have bike skills to ride around other people which I think we have but wow, I wish people would think about others a bit more.

Any ideas on what I can do to keep from loosing it on these outings with the girls?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pacing Help on the Run - My girls

I tried to multi-task today.  Spend time with the my girls and get a run in.  There is a nice wide multi-purpose trail near our house which I thought would be perfect for me to get a run in, hang out with the girls, and get them outside and active.

They are doing great on the bikes but are still using training wheels which at this point are causing some problems and need to come off, but that will be another post.  I think I will hold off on clipless pedals until the trainers are off.

I'm not sure what I was thinking but for some reason I thought I could go out and run a typical pace and  that I probably would need to step things up a bit to keep up.  I was about a mile into my run when it finally hit me, riding a single speed with 12" tires is a lot of work.  I typically run between 7:30 and 8 minute mile pace which is 7.5 - 8 miles per hour.  

So I let them pace me to a 11:30 pace which was fine because I  had to sprint to pick up my younger girl when she raced off the path into the deep grass.  I was amazed to see her ride it out and land on her feet.

So my pace was slow.  At mile 1.25 we stopped at a park for 20 minutes and played on the swings and monkey bars and then we turned around and went back to the car.  

I really enjoyed the run and even though it wasn't what I'd like for my workout, I'm impressed with what their little legs did and the "cross fit" workout they threw in the middle, and the triathlon talk we had on the way home.

I think I should let my girls pace my life more often.  I need to slow down and focus on what is important.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Okay, I'm spoiled a bit

You know how it feels to suddenly have a great weight lifted off your back.   I love that feeling of finally reaching camp when backpacking and how bouncy I feel for the first ten minutes.

I've had several runs lately that give me that amazing feeling.

The first was last week at Huntington Beach and it felt like summer.  I've been running in the rain and under 60 degree temps which isn't bad but running at 75 just felt awesome.  The breeze from the ocean was perfect and there was a relaxed lazy feel to the run.

I took this picture at the turn around.

Can it get better than this?
The second run was last week near Portland.  No picture, but Mt. Hood seemed close and was perfect white.  No wind and running along the Columbia River was crowded but people just seemed happy.

The final run was in Idaho.  I made my way up the gravel road with fields on both sides full of Elk.  A few elk ran along side and I ran over a mile with elk all around me.

There are times in which I really have to push myself to get out and run.  Travel and work have made my life a challenge lately but wow, I'm really spoiled.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I wish that could be me

I was in the car for several hours on Monday driving through the Columbia Gorge which is an amazing drive. I was traveling for work but had my family with me which was great, except I knew I couldn't sneak in a run.  Yes, we were going on a short hike which I was excited about but I kept thinking about the missed run.

We were just driving past the parking lot at the trail head for Beacon Rock and there was a runner headed out on a run to the top.  Full running gear and setting a nice and determined pace.  I was instantly jealous.

For those of you who don't live in the area, Beacon Rock is a huge monolith with a really fun trail to the top.  This runner was going to climb, suffer, truly understand "the burn" and feel a huge sense of accomplishment.  This isn't the kind of run to do if you are focused on keeping a fast average but is a great run for Strava (there currently aren't any records!).

I know most people wouldn't want to run with so many switch backs but it is really steep and the turns feel like rest. 

So while we drove by, someone got an awesome workout and I now have a plan for my next trip. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

I'm Effortlessly Gross

Those of you that have followed the blog for some time will know that one of my conundrums in life and have posted on is snot rockets and when I should teach my girls this amazing skill.  I still haven't taught them, mostly because I like being married, and I haven't spent much time thinking about it. 

One of my super powers is that I can do some really annoying or disgusting things subconsciously. I click pens, pop my gum, crack my wrists (not knuckles but wrists) and a whole host of things that my other people have told me that I do but I don't realize that I'm doing it.

Today I was running on my local trail that goes in front of a restaurant.  This restaurant is located precisely so people can spend money on food and drinks and have a nice view of the Columbia river.  The multipurpose trail is the only thing between the civilized patrons and the river.

I tend to stare toward the restaurant was I run by because I like food and there are some windows in which I can see my reflection and I like to see what I look like when I run.

Today as I ran by looking hungry and trying to see if I look manly in my running tights, I caught my reflection as I launched a snot rocket.  I disgusted myself and I can only imagine how the people in the restaurant felt.

I effortlessly was gross.  Now I'm a bit paranoid because I wonder what other things I've learned to do from triathlon that is really gross.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Buckle - Why Am I So Motivated By It?

If I finish the LeadmanTri 250 in under 11 hours I will get a shinny belt buckle.

For some reason this is providing a bunch of motivation for me right now.

Here is the coveted item:

Here is what I think I have to do to "Earn with guts" the buckle.

5K Swim (3.1 miles for those in USA) - 1:23:20
T1 - 4:00 Minutes
200K Bike (138 miles for...) - 8:07:59
T2 - 4 Minutes
20K Run (13.64 miles) - 1:46:51

Total Time - 10:59:03

So here is the pacing
Swim - 1:40
Bike - 18 MPH
Run:  7:50

Wow, it will take guts, luck and some work.

I waffle between thinking maybe, no, yes and I'll try, maybe not.

But I really want the buckle and I don't want to compete in rodeo which is really the only other way to get a cool buckle so I'm going to go for it!

Any ideas on going faster?  Help!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Difficult Conversation...but the Dream is Alive

Last night my wife and I tried teach my girls about Dr. Martin Luther Kind Jr. and what he was committed to.  I owe a lot to him and others who gave so much so that skin color would not be a separator of people.

Our family is made up of different skin colors and would not be possible without the his "Dream" and others that worked to bring more fairness and equality.  Both my girls were born in China and they even have different pigmentation but in heart we are a family.

The conversation was going well as we shared about his dream in which kids play together and we can be friends with everyone.  It was at this point that one of the girls asked, "What happened to him?"

A long pause as I waited for my wife to take it and she waited for me.

"Well honey, someone didn't like what Dr. King was saying so they killed him?"

So, it was a difficult conversation because a person died because he loved.  Yet as we continued to answer questions and share about Dr. King, his dream was well and alive in our family.

Similar conversation in your family?  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


First thing first, I really like  I'm there nearly every day doing a bit of reading and occasionally posting.  I'm cbrave which is kind of stupid user name but I couldn't put in "Chuck the Brave" and I hope that people at least see that I'm brave when I take on challenging races.

So, why I'm sharing all this rambling is that I've noticed that people really want to find out how to make a breakthrough.  Swimming, biking or running is proving to be much harder to do and the person wants to know the secret to becoming fast.

I've often looked for the secret and I've posted quite a few times on breakthrough discoveries for me.  So here are my breakthrough moments.

1.  From swimming that was tiring to swimming that was easier.  The main key was to lower my hand in the glide phase.  I have drawn an amazing picture and included it below (I nearly failed art so have patience).  This "magically" pulled my hips up and made it easier to swim.

2.  No blisters - listened to the shoe sales person and bought a pair of shoes that were 1 size too big and then I wore them laced loose enough to slip on.  No more blisters, even with new shoes on long runs.

3.  Less pool smell - Shower (remember to keep your swim suit on) on the deck and then get in the steam sauna for 5 minutes after your swim.  Then shower as normal.  I find that I don't smell poolly as much.

Finally, breakthrough seem to happen after a bunch of training and racing.  Asking for help brings some and making mistakes bring others.

I hope anyone who is reading and looking for a magic training bullet will maybe focus less on finding the magic cure and spend a bit more time training and enjoying our sport.  The breakthroughs I enjoy the most are realizing that I've just done something that I could never do before and I was so busy enjoying the swim/bike/run that I didn't notice it.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Didn't Miss Training Today

I was supposed to train today but I didn't.  It would have required me to get out of bed and run in the cold and ride a bit on the trainer but instead I stayed in bed and waited to hear my little girl's dolly and wish her "Happy Gotcha Day".

Three years ago we were in China and our family became complete.

It still amazes me how naturally our family of three became four.  A little over a year before we had been in China adopting our first daughter and now we were back, with new fears but also really excited.  Three years is a long time but our fears fadded quickly as we met this amazing girl with a very happy and healthy heart.

So today, I didn't run or ride, I didn't go to work and I avoided daily business.   We spent the day as a family and it was great.  Donuts during breakfast and then a mad scramble to get all our winter stuff out and then we went to the mountains and played in the snow.

The girls snowshoed for the first time, we taboganed and we laughed alot.  It was a magical day of feeling very very lucky.

A nice family supper and a few more stories and snuggles and a deep contentment and joy that is hard to capture in words.

So no, I didn't train today but I didn't miss it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Danger of Teaching Them to Read and Write

My 5 year old is reading and writing.  Two things about that scare me.  First, she is spelling words the same way I do.  This is great for my ego since she is proving that words should be spell foneticaly.  This is bad for my ego since I am discovering that I spell like a 5 year old and it is cute for her but not so much for me.

Second, she is writing things that potentially make me look bad.

Yesterday's paper had a bunch of words but the first was "DAM" and the second was "CAT"

Now, as a person that has owned a cat, I could easily see that that phrase could be common enough for the kids to want to write it down.  But we don't own a cat and I try not to swear.  I now am wondering what my wife says when I'm not around.  I think her teachers assume we have a cat and that I need to watch my mouth.

My other fear is that my daughter starts to tell people about my races.  That she somehow mis-respresents things. 

So, just to make things clear.

1.  I don't swim a zig zag and bump into people.
2.  I don't try to take the wrong bike out of transition.
3.  I didn't leave my helmet on going into the run.
4.  I didn't walk the whole race.
5.  I didn't cry like a baby at the finish line.

Well, I hope that clears things up.  Let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas to protect my reputation.

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Pain Cave now is a Pain Corner

My family hasn't ventured into the basement much.  We did set up some of the kids stuff but the main thing down there is a bunch of boxes, scattered tools, washer and dryer and what I considered my domain, my Pain Cave. 

Yes, the plan was to use the space for more than me, but yesterday the space was transformed from "me" to "ours". 

Girls now have carpet, play house, basketball hoop and a bunch of stuff they can throw around.

My wife has an area for crafts and sewing.  I also have her bike on the trainer for the winter.

So I have a coner, I guess that is more than most men have.  And I really don't mind.  Last night I finshed up an hour on the trainer and was heading upstairs and it was good to see my familiy's stuff.  To realize that I have my life and they have theirs and somehow we are making it all work togheter.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Accepting The Pain

I'm currently finishing up Chris McCormack's book "I'm Here to Win".  I've had it for a while and quit reading it because I didn't relate that much to the dueling and tactics he was talking about.  Yet I picked it up and started reading again and liked what he said about pain.

He knew pain would show up and when it came, he greated it like an old friend and kept going.

I like triathlon but the start of a race is my time of acceptance.  I know that at some point I will suffer and I accept it. 

My race for 2013 will be LeadmanTri 250.  I'm not worried about the race based on how hard it may be, I just know that I want to race faster than I've done in the past and I know that it will be painful.

I know I can do IM distance being undertrained and if I go slow enough, I can avoid a lot of pain, but I don't want to go slow.  That means training that hurts and racing that hurts more.

I accept.  I look forward to quite a few meetings with pain this year, and will treat the relationship with respect and determination.