Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010: The good, the bad and the ugly

I am gallantly stealing this blog title from a movie starring Clint Eastwood (I am now going to have to watch the movie). As a year closes, I always like to look back and reflect on how things played out, both positive and negative, to hopefully learn how to make things better for the following year. Even though we cannot control everything that occurs, lessons can always be learned.

Here is how the year played out.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The six-pack

I used to aspire to having six-pack abs. I did crunches until my abs ached. I cut out sugar. I researched the topic as if I was going to write a book. I never did stoop so low as to buying a gadget off an infomercial, but I did think about for just a second.

People who knew of my quest told me it was genetic. This certainly made this effort more futile given that even though my family carries the stubborn gene, the athletic gene and the shopping gene, it does not carry the 6-pack gene.

Eventually I gave up.

And then I got the stomach flu last Sunday.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What should age groupers expect from pros?

I was asked by Nick Rose, via Twitter, to weigh in on a discussion about what age groupers should expect from pros as fans.

This is a very heady topic. Truly, the role of professional triathletes is nebulous. We, of course, are expected to perform at races, but beyond that, what is the role of the professional triathlete?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How to stay busy in the off season

The off-season is finally upon us. Although, is there really an off-season anymore? With big races on the calendar all 12 months, it is tempting to eschew time off to maintain that hard fought fitness and prolong racing.

Having lived in areas with winter for my entire triathlon career, there has always been a natural stopping point to the season. During this time, I like to focus my attention on things that get ignored during the season.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Temecula Turkey Trot

Turkey trots are contested in cities and towns all over the country Thanksgiving weekend. For some reason, people imagine that running a 5k or 10k negates the overindulgence of the Thanksgiving meal; that running in a race somehow wipes the calorie slate clean and the meal is a free for all.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Home for the Holidays

Every family is a veritable cast of zany characters. My family is no different; in fact, I am the most normal person in my family. This year, we gathered at my parent’s house in San Diego to celebrate Thanksgiving. The actors in this play were: my parents, my maternal grandparents, my sister and her family (and their hyper puppy Sophia), and my uncle from China (no, he is not Chinese, he just lives there). Mark was unfortunately absent, as he went East to be with his family.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dr. PainBeGone

In the past year I have seen five surgeons, two sports medicine doctors and one physical medicine doctor. Nothing prepared me for Dr. PainBeGone. The thoracic surgeon insisted I visit the pain clinic for a nerve block, a procedure in which a local anesthetic is injected into the nerve to relieve pain, to better determine the source of my pain. He set up an appointment with Dr. PainBeGone, a pain specialist.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Random Observations

More Doctor Visits
It has been an interesting few weeks, as I continue on my quest to solve the mystery that is my rib injury. I travelled to Colorado Springs to visit the US Olympic Training Center to meet with Dr. Moreau, the medical director. He was incredibly attentive and took the most detailed history I have ever encountered. I spent three hours with him. His compassion to my plight was reassuring; he understood my frustration and how much the pain was affecting not only my competitive life, but my daily life. I left there with the knowledge that surgery to fix some damaged cartilage and a hyper mobile rib was imminent (the latest theory is that I have slipping rib syndrome, you can read about it here).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How to Run a Race

Even though the triathlon season is still going strong, many triathletes are long done. Bikes have been retired and swim suits are molding. It is the time of year to run. The running season is in full swing with marathons and half marathons in cities across the country.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Scary Showers

Yesterday I took a shower after my morning run. This, of course, was not unusual because I shower on a regular basis. The atypical part was that I was home. As I stood under the water, I realized I had not showered at home in weeks; I take all of my showers at the gym. This train of thought led me to reminisce about some of the places I have showered over the years.

Friday, October 1, 2010

EspnW Retreat: The Goodie Bag

I knew when I checked in to The Lodge at Torrey Pines for the EspnW retreat it was going to be a very special weekend. The new logo was emblazoned everywhere in the hotel, including the hotel key and the bathroom mirror.
The hotel key card

Monday, September 27, 2010

Keeping Busy

It has been an interestingly busy few weeks. In some ways, I have felt scattered, with my attention focused on myriad projects. Time usually spent training has now been filled with making dormant ideas come to fruition.

For the first time in decades, I have no set training schedule. It has been impossible to predict from day to day how I will feel and what I will be able to accomplish training-wise. I wake up with some idea of what I would like to do, and then if my body is feeling capable, I try. Some days, I succeed in completing a workout and others I have to stop early due to lingering discomfort (it appears that there is still some significant scar tissue and resulting compression between some ribs).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An Olympic Memory: 10 Years Later

It is hard to believe that a decade has passed. On September 16, 2000, triathlon made its Olympic debut in Sydney, Australia. The spectacular backdrop of the Sydney Opera House and the sport-crazy Aussies lining the streets made this an event to remember.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Non-Traditional Race Tips

JZ @ IM AZ '05. Flat #1 of 2. No valve extender. Eventually DNFed.
Every season, articles appear in the popular triathlon publications and online proffering a variety of tips related to having your best race ever. These articles offer up tips relating to the weather, nutrition, transition and the swim. How many times have you seen this title, “13 weeks to a sub 13 Ironman”? I have come up with a whole new set of items related to racing. It is not what you think. My tips are how to best DNF your next Ironman. I have DNFed a few Ironman races in my career and know many other athletes who have as well. I have amassed this list from my own arsenal and from the experiences of others I know.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Are You Happy?

What is happiness? It is a subjective emotion that Wikipedia has defined as “a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy.” The other day, while shopping at Safeway with a friend, I asked him if we polled everyone in the store, how many would say they were happy? When I got home, I looked online to determine whether people, in general, are happy. Polls indicate that Americans are 49-81% happy (Who are they polling? That is a huge margin).

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Process vs. The Outcome

I have spent much of the last two weeks reflecting on the last few months. I started the year eager to put 2009 behind me. I was certain that my injuries would heal quickly and I would be back on the race circuit pronto like nothing had happened. I set lofty goals. I wanted a do-over of 2009.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A New Hobby

In the week since Lake Stevens I have trained a total of two hours. It is hard to believe, but that is the utter truth. It has taken 7 days for the acute inflammation and pain to subside and I expect that next week I should be able to execute a light week of training. At this point, though, I do not anticipate racing again this year. The ribs are just not ready for the rigors of the 70.3 distance.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Same S**t, Different Day

Today I raced the Lake Stevens 70.3; I finished with a PW – personal worst. Rather than lament about another race gone wrong  I thought I would share some of the interesting happenings and encounters on race day.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Non-Race Report

It is not often in life that a circumstance occurs testing whether you actually learned from a previous mistake. I have spent much of this year dealing with rib injuries from my bike crash in November. I rashly toed the line at two early season half Ironman races, thinking (hoping) I was ready for the rigors. The results, two DNF’s, were devastating mentally and physically.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Dog World

We have now had Diesel for six weeks. The impact on our lives spans beyond the obvious changes that occur when you are training a young puppy.  Entering the realm of “dog world” has been interesting in ways I could not have predicted.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Feeling Stale?

You never thought this day would happen. The season started with excitement; you couldn’t wait to train.  You promised yourself you wouldn’t miss any workouts. You would race to your capacity. This would be the breakthrough year. Then, one day, you woke up dreading your morning workout. It filtered into the next workout and the next, and soon, you realized you were burnt out.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Art of Discipline

Triathletes are certainly a diligent bunch. Daily schedules are loaded carefully to balance training and life commitments. Seasons are meticulously planned. Workouts are executed with passion and determination. Social events are bypassed for extra sleep. Dessert unordered until after the big race. Yes, we are committed. But, are we disciplined?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Boulder Peak Recap

 Photo: Cliff Grassmick,Boulder Daily Camera
There are two ways the Boulder Peak triathlon could have ended. After not finishing two races this year, it could have been: three strikes, you’re out or third time is a charm.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Canyons around Boulder

My favorite part of summer is the ability to ride to the high country. Options abound to reach the Peak to Peak Highway, the famous (infamous?) road that stretches from Blackhawk to Estes Park. The climbs from the Foothills vary in length and difficulty.  The most popular paved roads, from south to north, are Golden Gate Canyon, Coal Creek Canyon, Boulder Canyon, Left Hand Canyon, St. Vrain Canyon and Highway 36. I have been up or down all of them. Each road offers differing scenery, varying grades, and many options for riding home.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Fitness Fallacy

This article was written with Dr. Phil Skiba, my coach and an extremely nice guy (

 “I don’t want to lose my fitness” is perhaps the most commonly uttered statement by triathletes. I have no actual data to support this, but given the number of times I have heard it (and expressed it myself) I am reasonably confident that it must be true.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ahh, that puppy smell...

Growing up we had a hamster whose name escapes me, a parakeet named Petey and a cockatiel named Raquette (in honor of Raquette Lake, NY not because he made a lot of noise). None of these animals was particularly memorable, except for the mess of seeds underneath and around their cages. In fact, my most distinct association with the birds was my father’s tireless and unsuccessful quest to teach them to speak. His patience was admirable, especially since the pay off was nil.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Triathlon Words That Should Be, Triglets Part 1

Do you remember Sniglets? They are words that don’t appear in the dictionary but should. Sniglets originated in the 80’s with the HBO series Not Necessarily the News. Triathlon has its own vernacular with words like “bricks” and “bonking” being tossed around, Triglets. I have come up with some of my own Triglets.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Diagnosis

I am a scientist. As a scientist, I thrive on answers to problems, and when one is not available, I am uncomfortable until one is found.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Triathlete Quirks

Triathletes are a unique bunch. Despite our varying backgrounds, we have many similarities. We are more comfortable in Speedos and Spandex than slacks and sundresses. We break out into a sweat if we have not broken out into a sweat. I have been in the sport for fifteen years, and in that time I have witnessed some key triathlete quirks.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Queen Bee

Yesterday I had a lesson in apiology, the study of bees. My education began last night with a knock on my front door at 7:30. A gentleman from the neighborhood, Tom, informed me that there was a swarm of bees in our backyard. We have had hives in the past, but a swarm was something entirely new.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Making up for lost time (Pssst. You can’t)

It was pointed out by my father that many of my posts deal with injury and illness. I explained that the original intention of this blog was to chronicle my story of healing from the crash in November. My purpose was two-fold; writing about the aftermath of a serious incident would serve as an outlet for me as I convalesce and hopefully my ruminations would help others faced with difficulty.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

These are a few of my (not) favorite things

 Triathlon interviews generally ask the same questions.  How did you get started in the sport? (I swam first) What is your strongest event? (Depends on the day) Beyond the typical sport-related inquiries, are the questions dealing with favorites. What is your favorite food? (Buffalo burger) What is your favorite type of music? (Classic rock, 80’s) What is your favorite way to spend free time (Blogging, of course) How come nobody ever asks about dislikes? I am conducting an interview with myself about the atypical.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Estes Park, Finally

Today we rode up to Estes Park for the first time this year. The weather has been abominable this spring, meaning rides to the high country have been limited. Estes Park is one of my favorite rides; it is the combination of the challenging terrain and the breathtaking views.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lane Rage

I have been a Masters swimmer for more than 15 years. I have joined workouts all over the world. I have interacted with all kinds of adult swimmers. The one common thread, the very thing I have witnessed time and again, is lane rage. Swimmers unfamiliar with the etiquette of the pool frustrate those that have more knowledge of how to keep a proper flow. To be fair, though, I often see seasoned swimmers breaking cardinal rules rendering them pool pariahs. In an effort to allay tension and confusion, I have compiled a list of Do’s and Dont's for those swimming in a Masters setting.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Triathletes as Tightrope Walkers

I had a conversation today with my friend that I wrote about a few weeks ago who has been suffering from the effects of chronic overtraining (you can read about it here). He asked me how he could be so irresponsible to allow himself to keep pushing day after day, knowing he was training beyond his limits but still convinced he was not doing enough.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Is Age Just a Number?

"I'm not 40, I'm eighteen with 22 years experience." ~ Anonymous
They say that forty is the new thirty. There are claims that you are only as old as you feel. On Monday The New York Times declared that the middle aged brain (40-65 years) is actually better at problem solving and inductive reasoning than younger brains.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why Fantasy Prevailed: A Dose of Reality

Pain is a nebulous concept; it differs from person to person, can last an hour or years, and it is so hard to quantify. In December, I wrote about my experience with pain directly following the crash. What I did not anticipate was the transformation from an acute pain to chronic pain.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fantasy vs. Reality

Yesterday’s race did not unfold as planned. Who really ever plans not to finish? But, if I am being honest with myself and to you, the outcome was not entirely surprising. I have been battling lingering rib issues since the crash in November. The exact nature of the problem is still to be determined, but my rib cage is rotated and is therefore protruding and perhaps pressing on my diaphragm. I have not ignored this and have been seeking continued treatment. Biking and swimming have been going quite well with running lagging behind due to the breathing difficulties the ribs have caused. However, I have had to make changes to my bike position to accommodate my ribs.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Packing Anxiety

We all have pre-race rituals. Some border on strange, while others are superstitions. Mine: I pack my bags the Sunday before I leave. That means, yesterday, I was packed (except for my bike) for my Friday departure for Galveston.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Princess and the Pea Syndrome

On my 10th birthday my grandparents presented me with a gift that I found offensive even though it uncannily captured one my exasperating personality traits. Picture this. A tiny bed with 4 tiny mattresses and underneath the mattresses is a pea; tucked into this bed is a tiny doll with a tiny pillow and a tiny blanket with “Joanna” delicately embroidered onto it.  How insulting, thought my 10 year old self, where is the humor in this? Could they really insinuate that I was the Princess and the Pea? As the years have passed, I have come to appreciate the symbolism of this offering and refer to it nostalgically (it still resides in my San Diego bedroom).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lessons from Golf

Triathlon on TV. That statement is contradictory. Twice a year triathlon hits the big time and can be viewed on NBC. Repeats of various Kona races are shown on Universal Sports and here and there a race shows up on Vs. The claim: triathlon is not spectator friendly and people do not have the attention span to sit through races that last as long as an Ironman (or even a 70.3). I believe that claim is erroneous. I, along with millions of Americans, watched the final round of the Masters Golf tournament. Golf, seriously?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It's Not Psychological!!

Over the last few weeks, I have been conversing with a friend (also a professional triathlete) about the difficulties he has been experiencing in his training. He had stagnated. His solution: train even harder. The daily floggings coupled with poor nutrition took its toll not only in performance, but in health. His new coach recognized this and set about undoing the damage. Doctors were consulted and the results revealed some significant issues that would need time and patience to overcome. His reaction was one of relief. Not the relief you would expect, though. His relief was not that there was a solution to his issues. His relief was that what he feeling was not in his head and he could justify his training lull to himself and those around him.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

8 Minutes and Counting

I woke up at my normal time today, 6:15. I was full of hope and energy for a solid training day. The forecast was WINDY, which meant the trees would be bent over and with swirling dust clouds everywhere, and the occasional tumbleweed somersaulting across the road. I decided that I would run long at Magnolia Road, a popular place to run that starts at 8000 feet and goes up from there, and save my long ride for Sunday.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The other day I came home from a hard ride and immediately scarfed down some food and took a shower. I executed these tasks in a hurry.  My next mission was crucial to my well being. It was nap time. I am a serial napper (I don’t nap daily, although I wish I could) and I take this assignment seriously. I do not take fake naps by turning on the TV and lying down on the couch (people that nap that way have nap denial). No, I dress for the occasion in my jammies, crawl into bed, and pull the covers over tightly. Usually I set an alarm, but from time to time when nothing is pressing, I sleep until my eyes open naturally.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Heavy Breathing

Do you experience wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and excessive chest congestion and tightness during or after exercise? If so, you may have exercise induced asthma (EIA). I have had a formal diagnosis of EIA since 1993. As a swimmer, the asthma episodes were sporadic and explained away as working really hard. Once I started running, it was quickly apparent that something was amiss. I remember early in my running career huffing up a steep hill and being greeted with freshly cut grass at the top. I was hunched over, scared and unable to breath. Thus began my education, frustration, and sometimes denial about EIA. Daily medications remind me that EIA is serious; workouts are sometimes hampered and I have dropped out of numerous races.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sick Day

This week my daily routine was thrown off by illness. Not only did I miss workouts, but I neglected other tasks, such as work, laundry and errands, as I lay about nursing my throbbing sinuses. I didn’t leave my house for over two days. Here is what Wednesday looked like:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tough Decisions

What is even harder than the actual training for an event? Did you guess that it is showing up to the start line healthy and uninjured? Before every Olympics headlines abound with tales of athletes unable to compete due an assortment of injuries. Who can forget Deena Kastor pulling out of the Beijing marathon at 5K unable to even walk (she must have known that something wasn’t right before she started)? The travails of Paula Radcliffe were chronicled for months prior to Beijing, her health in question and her valiant effort during competition showed her utter determination. Year after year, the sports websites run stories about injured and ailing athletes and the speculation about whether they will recover in time for the big day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Climb Every Mountain

When I moved from Chicago to Baltimore I was confronted with a major topographical challenge: hills. I spent the first 18 months of my cycling career doing laps along the flat path that parallels Lake Michigan. I only needed two gears, one for the headwind and one for the tailwind. Baltimore, on the other hand, offered terrain which required every gear on my bike. Rides ranged from slightly hilly to very hilly with steep, quad busting grades. The hills were generally short; it was the sheer number on every ride that presented the challenge. I was grossly unprepared for this type of riding, but I ardently chased my new friends up the hills hoping that one day I could ride the hills as fast as they did. It took me many years and a Power Tap to realize that the Kamikaze style of climbing, while ego boosting, is not the most efficient method to approach hills, especially when there is a run off the bike.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Flipside

My last post and many of the posts preceding it lauded exercise. In order to restore some balance to the universe, or at least to the blogosphere, I have come up with some things I find objectionable about swimming, biking and running.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Are You An Exercise Addict? Take A Quiz to Find Out.

My work at the University of Colorado entails finding causes for drug addiction and other drug use behaviors. I am in the process of writing a grant and in the course of my research I happened upon an article dealing with another type of addiction, exercise addiction. I eagerly read the article to determine if my self-diagnosed exercise addiction is indeed a clinical condition. Of course, it is easy to explain away the hours of exercise as “training” for the next big event, but, truly, wouldn’t I be out there logging miles anyway?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Peek Behind the Scenes

When 4x-Olympian Sheila Taormina competed in her first drafting race, she came out of the water with a huge lead. She ran to the bike transition, slipped on helmet and shoes and ran for the mount line. Partway there, she looked down and realized she had picked up the wrong bike and gear. How embarrassing. Here are some of the crazy things I have done, seen or heard.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Most Memorable Training

Spring was in the air this weekend. Cool mornings gave way to warm afternoons, the sun shone brightly and to make things even better, the wind was calm. It seemed that everybody in Boulder was out on their bike on Saturday. Where were they on those crisper days when we had to dodge snow and ice? I guess they stayed home, but they were the people we saw weaving from tiredness and lack of fitness. The opportunity to train on regular routes was irresistible, so we did our long ride to Masonville and headed up the mountain to Magnolia road (a run made famous by the book Running with the Buffaloes). Over the years, in the many places I have trained and raced, I discovered rides, runs and swims that no matter how often I do them, I am still happy to get out there and experience them again and again.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What's Your Favorite Sport?

Given that there are three main components to triathlon, it is only natural that people wonder which sport I like best. I often answer sarcastically, “Whichever feels the best on the day.” Truthfully, and perhaps why I have been in the sport for so long, I relish all three sports equally, but for different reasons. Swimming comes the most naturally, but biking and running are sports whose skills I have eagerly spent time mastering.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Nothing is worse at the end of a long trip than getting on a plane to travel back home. Teleporting or clicking the ruby slippers three times has always been a fantasy. It’s 2010 for goodness sake, why can’t we do this yet? As I snake through the line with my luggage bogging me down, I hope the check in attendant won’t weigh my bike case and I optimistically imagine the extra fee might be waived this time. All the while, I am eagerly anticipating my return home.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fast Friday

I was dismayed when I walked onto the pool deck yesterday and the coach announced it was "Fast Friday." This is the kind of workout I typically despise – 100 meter sprints with lots of rest. The object, of course, is to go all out on all of them (I have always had a problem with the term all out. If you go all out on the first one, you shouldn't have anything left for the rest of the set). For as long as I have been a swimmer, sprint workouts have been my Achilles heel. The lactate builds quickly with my arms and legs burning in protest at the effort and sometimes I barely eke out times faster than a longer set on shorter rest. It is ridiculous that a set of 10x100 with some hard 50’s kick interspersed is more tedious and painful than a set of 3x1000, but for my metronome style, it is. When the workout was over, satisfied with my performance and the gains that it will bestow, I thought about the importance of doing workouts that take us so far out of our comfort zone.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Engage Your Lats

Over the weekend I spent an afternoon at a swim meet. My niece and nephew, Jamie and Max, have been swimming for five years; they started with the requisite swim lessons and progressed to the team atmosphere. They were entered in swim meets quickly; my nephew, a tiny six year old, was dwarfed by the 8 year olds in his age group rendering him somewhat of a team mascot. I have followed their progress in person and on video and am amazed that despite the time improvements, countless laps, and supposed instruction, their technique is still deficient. I am not picking on them, though, as this phenomenon is seemingly widespread. Most of the kids I watched had terrible starts and turns and egregious flaws in their strokes, even discounting the kids who were obvious beginners. The fundamentals need constant work, but the rush to increase yardage or perhaps because there are too many kids in the pool, the task of perfecting stroke mechanics is relegated to the back burner until it is all but forgotten or it is too late.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Questions from Tim, Part 2

Several weeks ago I posted answers to questions posed by triathlon writer and photographer extraordinaire Tim Carlson. Here are some more off the wall questions.

What annoys you? 
I feel very strongly that people should wear a helmet when riding their bike. I simply cannot understand riding without one. The protection that a helmet provides is unequivocal, so when I see anyone speeding down the road without one, particularly my friends, I become irritated and frustrated. Usually, this is because I have scolded them many times before about this dangerous habit. I realize that I sound like a broken record and a nag, and wearing a helmet is a personal choice, but it is only because I care.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Prophecy

Silly me. Naturally, I presumed that regaining my swim form would be the most difficult aspect of my recovery from crashing and subsequent collar bone surgery. It turns out that learning how to swim again was the easy part. It’s like this. I was bothered by a relentless back injury from 2001-2004. I was rescued from retirement and a lifetime of pain by the outstanding people at the National Training Center in Clermont, FL (none of whom are there anymore). Upon my release from their care, they offered me this warning: as long as you keep up with your exercises, you should remain pain free, just don’t crash.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Westward Ho!

These last few days I have been making preparations for my annual training trip to San Diego. I will leave the frozen, brown tundra that is Boulder for warmer, greener California. I will exchange the mountains for the ocean and the monotony of indoor training with dodging cars and navigating street lights. San Diego, where I grew up, has served as a winter refuge since my college days (my first visit back from Providence, I stepped off the plane pasty from several months on the East Coast. My California tan sucked off my skin was cause for mockery amongst family and friends). I have taken winter excursions to Tucson, Clermont and Palm Springs. But without a doubt, despite my ambivalence towards San Diego, with its brilliant blue skies and welcoming beaches tempered by urban sprawl and exasperating traffic, it is home and I always look forward to returning.

Monday, February 8, 2010

How to Run Downhill

I raced the St. Croix triathlon for the first time in 1999. I started the run neck and neck with the legendary Karen Smyers. She pulled away on the first downhill and I was never able to bridge that gap and lost the race by 40 seconds. It wasn’t until after the 2000 Olympic Marathon trials, 10 months later that I took downhill running seriously, though. A masochist designed that painful course, with undulated hills comprising the last 16 miles leading to a downhill finish. My quads quivered, protesting with every step, until at last I crossed the finish line and lay down on a cot unable to move for an hour. The soreness lasted for days and I decided, with the St. Croix triathlon looming just 2 months away, to make downhill running part of my training.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Movies on TV

What is it about movies shown on TV that entrance us, even if it is bad or we have seen it over and over? This crazy phenomenon usually occurs on a weekend afternoon or late at night when, inevitably, there is a pressing task needing attention or the bed is awaiting warm and inviting. After flipping through the channels, frustrated by lack of good programming, suddenly you happen upon a movie that catches your eye. Perhaps you have seen it a handful of times or one of the actors is a favorite, maybe the dialogue caused your ears to perk up. You stop to watch for a few moments.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Questions From Tim, Part 1

Tim Carlson has been involved in the sport of triathlon as a writer, photographer, cheerleader and general aficionado for more years than I can count. When I told him about my blog he was very supportive and emailed me an extensive list of questions. Ten of them showed up on Slowtwtich  and due to the positive feedback from that interview every few weeks I will post an article entitled “Questions from Tim”.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

An Ode to Coffee

I am a coffee aficionado. I am not one of those people you see drinking copious amounts of coffee all day, and I don’t order a Venti from Starbucks with 6 shots of espresso or super sweet faux coffee drinks. I savor one cup in the morning and rarely drink anything but decaf after 2 pm as it will keep me awake until the next day. That one cup is extremely important, though. It must have the right aroma, be of the correct strength, and flavored with the proper coffee condiments (no sweeteners with a splash of soy milk, a dash of nutmeg if it is a latte).Generally, I brew coffee at home with carefully chosen beans that I grind that morning. I have a ritual of sitting down with a coffee and tackling the New York Times crossword, or in this case drinking coffee while writing about its attributes.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's Like Riding a Bike

I grew up in San Diego. Our house was (actually, is, my parents still live there) situated at the bottom of a very steep hill that was connected to other very steep hills (hill repeat Heaven now, but a terrible grind at the end of a long ride). My father did his due diligence and taught my sister and I how to ride a bike, but the topography of our neighborhood and the amount of time spent swimming left little time for riding.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Inconveniences, Injuries and Illnesses

Injury is a dirty word in athletics (too bad it isn’t four letters). The connotation of time off, rehabilitation, searching for a diagnosis, or even the threat of ending a career is enough to make anyone recoil in horror at even the slightest niggle. I have been fully vested in athletics since my 7th birthday, so I am intimately familiar with injuries of varying severity on multiple body parts and illnesses both common and strange (have you heard of Ehrlichiosis? Well, I had it in 2003).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mental Healing

In the weeks since my shoulder surgery I have been fortunate to have the support from friends, acquaintances and well-wishers. The questions asked follow similar themes. How do you feel? Much better, although the hardware is a nuisance. Are you able to workout? Thankfully, yes. Can you swim? Yes, I am even back at Masters. How is the scar? It looks amazing, my surgeon trained with a plastic surgeon in LA where ugly scars are forbidden. Do you need a doctor’s note to pass through security at the airport?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Another Season

Yesterday afternoon I chatted with Coach Phil about the upcoming season. A race schedule was requested by sponsors and so it was time to concretely map out a plan for the year. Usually, this task is completed much earlier and with more enthusiasm. But, as I explained just that morning to a friend during a run, underneath the eagerness for the approaching season, I am quite nervous and apprehensive about racing again. Up until the moment I amassed a schedule, the season was a theory and training was for “health”.

Monday, January 11, 2010

High Energy

I have an affliction that was at its worst when I was in school, but still hangs around, even all these years later, despite efforts to shed the disease. This condition is prevalent in the population, although it is often misdiagnosed and overmedicated. The formal name is Ants in My Pants, or AMP. The best medicine, of course, is copious amounts of exercise.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Is It Almost Summer?

I am not one to complain about the weather (insert laugh track here), but now I must come forward and whine. Why is it so cold and snowy? I was duped. The first several winters we lived in Boulder, the weather was favorable, consisting of moderate temperatures and little precipitation. In 2009 I silently endured the horrible weather (ok, I was somewhat vocal about my displeasure) and I presumed that I was overreacting. Then, I read a piece in the Daily Camera vindicating my thoughts; 2009 was one of the coldest and wettest years documented.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

First Time for Everything

Embarking on a new sport is often viewed with trepidation. There is no way of predicting how the body will react, whether this new sport will evoke enjoyment or loathing, or if there is potential to excel. My initial rocky relationship with running evolved over time into one of respect and enjoyment. I hated running. It was hard. It made me sore. And, my water logged body was not prepared for a sport that required coordination, gravity, and heavy breathing.