Greg liked Wildflower

Wildflower Time Again!

The Ironteam season is coming along nicely and this weekend is going to be a big one:  A half-Ironman practice race down at Lake San Antonio, which is the site of the Wildflower triathlons every year.   Many of us on the team will be doing the half-Ironman race at Wildflower this year as a practice race for Ironman Tahoe, so this weekend is like a practice-for-the-practice-for-the-real-race.   Very meta...

Wildflower holds a special place in my heart and it's the only race I do every year, without fail.  My interest in triathlons has wavered over the years but I always do Wildflower.   I started volunteering for the race in 1996 and after two years of that I was hooked and I had to try competing.   I've competed every year for the last 15 years, doing the sprint course once, the Olympic course 11 times, and the half Ironman 3 times.   I still volunteer every year.

The last time I did the half Ironman distance was in 2003, and my times were usually around 7:30.  (seven and a half hours, which was 45 minutes swimming, 3:50 biking, and about 3:00 running)  My shoulder is not is full race form for swimming this weekend but I'm hoping that by the time the real event comes around in May I'll be able to match or even beat my times from 10 years ago.   I'm 10 years older but I'm WAY better trained than I ever was!

They say "Plan the race and then race the plan".  The key points of my plan for this weekend are:

  • Swim easy.   Don't aggravate the shoulder.  Does my new-to-me (heavily used) wetsuit fit well enough?   Will it last until Tahoe?
  • Bike smart.  Aim for 80% - 85% of Functional Threshold Power, just like the book says.  Test out the new bike/gears on Nasty Grade.
  • Run/Walk strong.  I've never felt comfortable with my run at Wildflower and I'm in better run shape than ever before.  Test the 6 minute/ 1 minute run/walk strategy.
  • Eat and hydrate.  A lot.   Nice thing about Wildflower is you can pee wherever you want.  :-)
  • Collect Data.   Collect power/heartrate/pacing data for the bike and run.   Real Wildflower is only 7 weeks away.
  • Take In The View.  Visit the lawn at the Visitor's Center and catch at least one sunrise and sunset each.   Because I do it every year.

Greg liked Wildflower

Wildflower is extra-special to me this year because there's a strong Team In Training tie-in for me, because of my honoree, Greg Junell.

Back in 2002 I was living the dream in San Luis Obispo - beautiful town, beautiful people, perfect training conditions, at the top of my form in my late 20's.   I got to see Greg on a regular basis and he was pretty heavily into massage therapy.  His partner Dorene is a massage therapist too, and they were part of the volunteer massage team that went to Wildflower to rub down athletes before and after their races.

After my half-Ironman I paid my $20 and waited specifically for Greg to be available and lay down for a great 20 minute recovery massage.  Half way through Dorene saw me there and so she joined in for a few minutes and I got the elusive four-handed massage for a while.

Those of you who knew Greg know that a massage from Greg isn't just about flushing toxins out of muscles and soothing sore legs - When Greg gets into a massage it's about connecting your energy with his and really experiencing recovery at a a deeper level.  On this beautiful afternoon on the grass in the festival area, in the middle of everything that makes Wildflower such an interesting little temporary community, I got one of the best recovery massages of my life.

I talked to Greg later about what he thought about his Wildflower experience and he was really thrilled about it.  He was affected by the same things I was 15 years ago - the huge gathering of healthy, fit, like-minded people focusing all their energy on something positive for the weekend.   This was before smartphones and 3G and wireless Internet, so Wildflower was really a way to get away from your normal life for a few days, go camping, and immerse yourself in the lifestyle.   You could go the whole weekend without seeing anyone smoking, or being negative, or talking about politics, or over-commercialized sports, etc.  It was a weekend of pure existential triathlon bliss.

Greg was stoked by that, and I was stoked by it too.  We all had a great time and no matter how many times I do Wildflower I'll always have that memory of that afternoon and that conversation afterward.  Greg liked Wildflower and I like Wildflower too.

Kona Ironman on TV today

Sorry for the late notice about this, but the annual NBC coverage of Ironman from Kona airs this afternoon on NBC. (Check local listings, as they say.) The show is 2 hours instead of 1.5 hours this year because NBC thought that Lance Armstrong was going to be racing back when they scheduled this.  Doing the TV show in October instead of later in the year was also because they thought Lance was going to be racing.  Of course, after his doping problems he wasn't part of the race but we still get the longer, more timely tv show because of him.

A look at the IM Tahoe course

Here's a short video that describes the course for Ironman Tahoe: Ironman Lake Tahoe course

The first minute or so is pretty cheesy but the real info starts at 1:18.

Update:  The run course has since been changed to be two loops, each going only half the distance.   This means all the running will be on the Truckee River bike trail and the run course won't actually reach the lake.   I guess they did this because it's much cheaper to run the race without closing parts of the main loop road but it's going to make for a very crowded bike path.

Let’s do an Ironman!

Mark your calendars for Sunday, September 22nd, 2013.   That is the date of Ironman Lake Tahoe and the culmination of my 14 month effort to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society while getting myself back in top shape. I've participated in the Wildflower Triathlons for about 15 years now, completing the long course (half Ironman distance three times, 10 years ago) and the Olympic distance each year since then.  I was never into organized sports as a kid but I had a blast on the Cal Poly Triathlon Team as a grad student and I've been missing that level of camaraderie in sports ever since.

Although I've been coasting through the Olympic distance race at Wildflower for the last few years, I got some sort of new inspiration this May and I decided to step it up a level and get back to the long course.  I knew this would require some level of actual training, as opposed to simply riding my bike and jogging occasionally.

The same weekend I was having a blast at Wildflower my friend Greg entered the hospital for his third battle against cancer over the last 5 years.   It's August now and lymphoma is taking a heavy toll on him.   He's not out of the woods by any means and visiting him last month really drove home how difficult this has been for him.   His very survival depends on a huge network of support services, and the treatments he's received are the results of billions of dollars of research and development and years of hard work on cures for lymphoma.  Looking back on the impact Greg has had on me over the last 20 years drove me to figure out some way to help.

These two things are now interrelated.  By joining the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team In Training organization I will be committing myself to raising thousands of dollars for LLS to search for a cure as well as offer support services to those with blood cancer and their families.  Over the same 14 month period I will be getting into the best shape of my life, in order to complete one of the hardest events in sports.

Team In Training offers a unique proposition.  In exchange for a fundraising commitment to LLS they offer a full-throttle 10 month long training regimen, including workout with coaches, practice races, skill improvement clinics, etc.  There will be a group of about 40 of us from various backgrounds that will train together for an Ironman.  We will be together for 10 - 15 hours a week for most of next year.  This will be like some combination of Cal Poly's triathlon team, boot camp, and a reality show.

Obviously this is going to be a huge undertaking, on both physically and on the fundraising front.  The Family and I have had many discussions about this over the last month and we are behind this effort 100%.   I don't generally ask for too much from others but this will require a large amount of support from lots of different people.   From my family I'm asking for a huge time commitment in order to train.   From my friends and associates I'm asking for the financial backing to reach my fundraising goals.  My official webpage with Team In Training is here, where you can monitor my fundraising progress or make a donation.

Regardless of whether I'm able to complete the race next September, this is going to be a blast.

Triathlon consumes my brain

[Edit: to find out why I was so consumed by triathlon thoughts when I wrote this post, see my next post to find out what the result of all this thinking was.] This post marks a change for me - a post that has nothing to do with photography.   It turns out that as things change in my life the photography ebbs and flows.   This has been a serious year of ebbing for me.  In place of photography I've been dealing with home remodeling, raising a kid, and trying to be good to myself, all while stepping it up at work a bit.   The photography has taken a back seat but I'm not too broken up about that yet.

Ever since Wildflower (early May) I've been thinking about triathlon all the time.   Over the years I've gone through phases of seriousness and lack-of-seriousness but this seems to be a big period of seriousness.   The family and I have been talking about what sort of commitment it would take to move back to the longer distance race at Wildflower next year.

Over the years I've attempted various training routines including moderate training, t-shirt training, and no training; but this year I'm considering something novel:  actual sustained training.   Like, planning workouts, logging them sticking to them, etc.   I seem to get slightly slower every year that goes by so if I'm going to step it up, sooner is probably better than later.

Perhaps next year will be a big year for me, which means this year needs to lay a string base.