Friday, July 22, 2011

An interesting two weeks (or how to stick with in on flood duty)

While I love triathlons, I am by no means a professional, which means my real job does have a way of making my training much more difficult. But where there's a will, there's a way. I just completed an eleven day trek on the road, but it was a lot harder that a simple 11 days to stay on track. First off, I mistimed ordering my UltraGen and Optigen HP, so I had no UltraGen and ranout of Optigen during the trip.

Part I of my journey was up in Wilkes Barre, PA. I was covering for the residents at the plant up there. Got up to the plant and it was already steamy hot. Susquehanna is a very cool place for me since I have access to a locker room and showers and more importantly, I are three measured "trails" inside the fence which is very nice since going through the security train when you are sweating like a pig. So for the first day I did 3 outside loops, but the heat was pretty tough. After work I found a nice bike in the health center and rode a tough hour. The second day was similar, but then after my workout, I got a call from the plant and had to go watch a test. That really messed with my sleeping schedule. Day 3 was a grind but I still had a great bike that night. Finally day 4, I knocked out a longer run and took the night off from cycling in order to get some sleep.

Part II started out with a 6:00am flight to Omaha, NE from the Scranton Airport, which meant getting up and departing the hotel at 4:00am. Got a little sleep on the flights arriving in Omaha around noon. From there I headed to Fort Calhoun, NE and that plant. Most people around the counrty may have forgot that the Missouri River has been having severe flooding since June. At the plant it was about 7 feet above flood stage. This made the plant basicaly into several island in the middle of the river. The NRC has had 24/7 onsite coverage since June 6th at the plant and I was going to be the swing shift guy for a week. I did manage to time my visit to coinside with an Excessive heat warning. Each day I got to walk down the flood barriers inside and outside the plant. In 100-108 degree heat and humidity the heat index was upwards of 115 most days. And when the sun went down the bugs came out in force. Plus it was still in the 90s. So I worked from 4:00pm to midnight each night at the plant, and got back to my hotel about 12:45am. The bad part was nothing was open after work so no food.

But on the good side thr Marriot Omaha had a 24 hour Health Center with some really nice equipment. So each night/morning I would go down a ride for an hour at 1:00am (something I never do), and then when I got up in the morning I would go down and run on the treadmill (since it really was too hot to run). Throw in the 2-3 hours rovering on site in full work clothes at the hottest point of the day, and it was a heck of a workout. The last night I decided to do a run at 1:00am since in theory I would do my cycling class when I got back. I also got another great break when I found a Whole Foods grocery store on the way to the plant, so I got Lunch and Dinner at Whole Foods and i certainly ate better that most weeks I spent on the road.

Just to finish things off, I got back to the airport in Scraton after a 5:55am flight out of Omaha find my car and first my remote won't work, then I find out it wasn't the remote, the car battery was dead as a dornail. Called AAA and got a jump, drove 3.5 hours back to the office and boom the car was dead again. Got another jump and got home and brought it to the shop. Wouldn't even turn over again once I got there, so no cycling class.

What a week!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Letting go of my old gear!

Funny how you can get sentamental about selling some old gear. Yes thats why, I found another use for my mighty Specialized Allez Elite. My very first road bike which took me though my first Olympic, HIM, and 4 Ironmans was the only bike at Kona without aerobars (someone said she was mentioned in the Triathlon magazine gear rundown that year). So even though I finally upgraded to a Carbon Fiber TT bike (My Kestrel Talon Tri SL), I found a permenant spot on the computrainer for the Specialized rather than sell her. I love my Kestrel and it has helped me take 15 min of my HIM Bike PR, but my old faithful steed and I have been though alot together.

My first wetsuit; however, found a new home this week. I bought a Blue Seventy Sleeveless wetsuit after my first two HIMS. It always kicked my butt getting it off but it clearly made me faster and accompanied me thru 10 HIMs and 4 Ironmans (Kona was non wetsuit), but this year I upgraded to a TYR Hurricane Cat 5 full suit. But my old wetsuit helped one of the lady's in my office get over some apprehension and complete her first triathlon in June (a wetsuit is a great security blanket to a newbie swimmer so I let her borrow my wetsuit) and on Friday I sold it too her. I am glad my old wetsuit will help another triathlete get into our great sport.

This weekend I also retired my AVIA Rhythms which got me through a hectic half season, with 3 HIMs and an Olympic and 3 races in 8 days. When I retire a pair of shoes I them toss my emergency shoes and religate the retired shoes to that status. So I had to throw out a very well worn pair of Shoes which have my fastest Ironman to their name. Good memories attached to a nasty, stinky, worn out pair of shoes.

But don't even ask about buying my old bike!!!! A bike with a Kona sticker and a total of 4 ironman stickers is priceless!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Marketing to Triathletes.

When I went and got my MBA one of my favorite class was Marketing Management. For most people in the world, you market product by making them cute, catchy, or send the message that this product makes your life easier. This stategy applies to most things including athletic events. How many marathons advertise as being flat and fast or as an ideal Boston Qualifier? Easy, fast, get more for less.

But triathletes are another breed entirely. We seem to respond to the polar opposite strategy. Pain, suffering, pushing the envelope...yeah bring it on!!!

Think about it. What is the image that defines triathlon to most of us. Julie Moss at Kona in 1982 pushing herself way beyond limits most people could even comprehend and even though her body was shutting down, she summounded the strenth to literally crawl across the finish line.

As a 12 year old, I remember watching that moment on ABC Wide World of Sports, not having a clue what a triathlon was but utterly transfixed. To this day I vividly remember two thoughts going through my mind. 1) How could someone push themselves beyond the point where they couldn't even stand and still keep going? That race must be something special. And 2) I wonder if I could ever do that? That was the birth of a dream. 25 years later, I was able to answer that question. Finding out it you have what it takes to push yourself beyond anything you ever thought possible. It was hard as hell, it hurt like heck, but it was one of the most glorious experiences of my life and I would have traded a second of it. Ironically, I finally met Julie Moss at Eagleman this year, and I found myself absolutely speechless.

But that challenge to test ourselfs in the exterme appeals to triathletes more than most groups. I remember listening to a Podcast interview with Heather Golnick who helped design the Rev3 Quazzy HIM course. Here is an triathlete being asked to make a course other triathlete would be excited to race. What did she come up with, only the hardest bike and run course you could make in Conn. When asked about it, she said triathletes love a challenge. And she has proven to be spot on. Rev 3 Quazzy attracts the best and deepest pro field of any race outside Kona, and was completely sold out this in its 3rd year. Why we love a challenge.

Need another example? Look at what happened this year at Rev3 Portland. The Rev3 folks devised an absolutely vicious bike leg and the tri boards were buzzing. But when one of the towns pulled out and forced REV 3 to go thru historic efforts to save the race and get an acceptable venue for the race at the last minute, the buzz on slowtwitch and other boards was full of pissed off triathletes who were REVED up to meet the challenge (and the bar) that Rev 3 had set at Knoxville, Quazzy, and Cedar Point. A flat and fast bike leg just left folks steaming. Why we love a challenge.

Just look at Savageman. The race was voted as the hardest 70.3 race in the world by triathlon magazine. That would scare most folks away, a triathlon uses it as a marketing tool and draws a full capacity 1100 athlete field. We are crazy, and you have to market to the madness!