Friday, November 30, 2007

Catholic Marriage Counseling and the Triathlete

Engaged Encounter LogoAt first thought, a getaway up in the mountains of Santa Barbara for you and your fiancé might sound romantic. Heck, that might even be your idea of a perfect honeymoon! But throw in 39 other engaged couples, a priest, a few couples older than your grandparents who will lead the weekend, separate male and female dorms, and psychological warfare, and you have what the Catholic church likes to call: Engaged Encounter.

Being a skeptic, and having watched “License to Wed” twice, I was looking out for subtle signs that the church was trying to tear me and coachancé apart. The first effort to test our relationship came on the drive up. We left LA at about 4:30pm, arrived in Santa Barbara around 7:00pm (when we were supposed to be there), then were faced with this sign on the narrow windy mountain road up to the church: ROAD CLOSED. When the little old lady called me the night before we left to ask if I had any questions, why didn’t she tell me that the only road in all of HER directions was closed? It was a test. I swear.

When we finally arrived, pooped and hungry, two pair of 80 year-old lovers signed us in, then proceeded to get crackin’ on our lessons, because we had 44 hours to pack in every major discussion we could possibly have over our lifetime, and going to bed at 9 was, apparently, a practice only held by young triathletes in their 20s and not 80 year-old marriage nazis who no longer needed beauty rest.

Journals were set on all of our seats—journals that would soon be filled with the key to a long and happy marriage, according to the octogenarians. The first page was titled: Introduction. The first question? Why did I come here this weekend? My answer? Because the Catholic Church said I had to, and I love spending time with my coachancé, and I want to see how many times I can make him cry in one weekend.

That’s right, coachancé is the perfect guy; he is incredibly romantic, and infinitely better at expressing his feelings—especially if they’re mushy—than I. So I made a “Coachancé Boo-Hoo Tally” and kept note of each time I made him cry, and what page in the journals did him in.

Monday, November 26, 2007

2 Ironman Arizonas?

In 2008, IMAZ is on...twice! Race organizers say that the "event is being moved to avoid high winds and warm temperatures that have plagued the first three years of the event, with each race held during April." Putting on two events next year will allow IMAZ to offer qualifying spots for Kona, which would disappear if there weren't a race between April 2008 and November 2009.

What are your thoughts? IMAZ was my first Ironman, so I am pretty bummed it won't continue as one of the early season races. There was something very hardcore about training in December and January, then racing in ridiculous headwinds, that made doing IMAZ extremely satisfying.

I suppose if you're one of those people who want everything to go perfectly, and would prefer a high temperature in the high '60s, the November race will be an ideal option. However, if you're like me, you loose all motivation around Thanksgiving, and would have to anticipate a 5-10lb pre-race weight gain.

Being from AZ, I prefer the warmer temperatures. The wind at last year's race was a definite advantage to those with rock solid mental skills (and ginormous quads). I suppose the possibility of racing 2 IMAZs in one year might make some crazy AZ-loving triathletes try to go for the double (then we can compare their times and try to deduce if the move to November really helped anybody out...not taking into account the possibility that said crazy triathletes could train their butts off and become infinitely faster between April and November...)

I suppose there is only one reason this makes me truly sad. It's like if you finally got to witness a New Orleans Mardi Gras, then a few years later, they moved it to November. Automatically, you get old person syndrome and start to say, "Well, I remember when Mardi Gras was in February!" (Obviously, this could never happen...and Mardi Gras has been going on for a little longer then IMAZ...but hopefully you get my point.)

And one more reason: I like Spring more than Winter/Fall. So as a personal preference, I'd rather go to Phoenix in April.

And one more reason: It's easier to get motivated to train right after I've gorged myself over Xmas and feel an itch to get back to super-triathlete mode than it is to get motivated after having already been training for several moths for other races.

What do you think? IMAZ at the end of November: good or bad?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Xterra World Championships--Halloween Party Pictures

Some pictures from the famed Halloween party for your enjoyment! (Note: the winners, Blades of Glory, got 2 round trip tickets to HI from CA. If only I had brought a costume...wearing a pink scrunchie and calling myself a Spice Girl didn't get me much except some laughter from an Asian boy who then decided his costume of a t-shirt and shorts made him a Spice Boy.)


Conrad Stoltz and lady friend.


Jimmy Archer rocks out.


The Winners! Blades of Glory.


Mr. Xterra, Will Kelsay, and Mr. Xterra, Jamie Whitmore


Dirty Santa aka. Dave "The Big Kahuna" Nicholas


Rocky Horror performers.

Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


XterraWorldsBike(The "Beast")

I usually don’t get nervous before a race. Because, really, what’s there to be nervous about? I’m doing it for fun. I’m not there to win half of my yearly income (in fact, I lost it getting there…OK not half! Close though.) The best I can do is go as fast and as hard as I can, which is exactly what I’m going do, so what’s there to be nervous about? I’m not even thinking about winning because this is the World Championships and my 4th Xterra race ever and I don’t own my own mountain bike. It’s really all for fun. Nothing to be nervous about, right?

What about loosing all of my skin on lava rock!? Blowing a tire on my rental bike—the tires look like they’ve been glued on with years of dirt and grime. I’ll never be able to get them off the rims! (See above photo...although I did wash it...) All right. New focus. New goals:

1. To return with the same amount of skin as I leave T1 with.

2. Go as hard as I can except for in spots where my superhuman awesome strength would run me right off the trail and blow goal 1.

3. Run fast.

4. This should have been a goal before arriving: learn how to fix a stupid flat-FAST!

OK I’m not nervous anymore. My skin-protecting goal may make me a ginormous wuss on the mountain bike, but I’ll be thanking myself when I don’t look like a patchwork person in my wedding photos.

Xterra races start at a perfectly practical 9am. The World Championships was no different. I awoke calmly at 6:30am, slathered myself in sunscreen, made my “skinny Elvis” breakfast and jumped in the minivan with Coachancé for the bazillionth ride down the 5 mile stretch of windy road that passes all of the gorgeous resorts in Makena. Our 7:15 arrival time put us far ahead of most competitors, and I got a killer spot on the end of the rack.

(Note to self: arriving at 7:15am to an Xterra race qualifies you as somewhat of an anal retentive geek, as most of the pros and the people who would soon be bombing by me on the bike got there at a cool 8:40am. It’s true. I watched Jimmy Archer and Will Kelsay waltz in like they just happened to be in the area with their mountain bikes and thought they’d maybe get in a race before going to chill on the beach with their buds.)

After body marking, (Body Marker: Are you wearing sunscreen? Me: No. Me In My Head: She must think I have really oily skin…oh well.) Coachancé went off to warm up. I figured I’d be getting plenty warm on this sunny, humid (well, to someone from the West coast), day with a high of about 85. It would be perfect. So I stretched and sat under a tree until spotting Coachancé and deciding I should try swimming with my top tucked into my shorts since that was the plan and I had never done it before. This was not a wetsuit legal race because the water around Maui was perfectly calibrated by the island Gods to lure people into it in the least amount of clothing possible. (i.e. like 78 degrees)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Importance of Your "Off Season"

I received an email recently from a local coaching company touting how they don't believe in an "off season". This time of the year is "Pre-Season" not "Off-Season" they say. Improve your "limiter". It seems to me they've replaced sound coaching advice with company fiscal goals. (I also don't believe in the term "limiter"!)

An "off season" is absolutely necessary to prevent burn out, and provide a mental and physical break from what may have been 9+ months of racing for you. If you're a true exerciseaholic triathlete, as most of us are, you are not going to sit around and get fat in your off season. You will continue what coaches like to refer to as "active recovery".

Before you even think about going hiking or finally giving your slower friends a chance to go on a ride with you for fun, think about this: take a week or two off completely. Fix the leaky sink your spouse has been bugging you about for ages. Take your kids to the park (heck, if you chase them around, you'll even be doing some "active recovery" then!) Don't worry or think about "training". Just enjoy your life without it for a few weeks. Sleep in. Bake cookies. Enjoy the holidays.

Then, when you get the itch to do something, do whatever the heck you want. When I feel like getting my heart rate up just for the endorphin rush, I like to go do the elliptical at the gym. That way, I can read trashy magazines and/or watch E! on the gym tv and get in an hour long workout. Or I'll go to one of my gym's spinning classes and zone out to someone else's blaring tunes (I'll try to figure out which classes have younger instructors so I won't be stuck listening to oldies for an hour...but maybe you like that kind of music!)

My point is this: yes, you may be jazzed from your last competition. You know you can do better and want to do anything and everything you can to shave a few minutes off of your bike (new P3 this year, anyone?) or a few minutes off of your run & swim (massively expensive coach, anyone?). That's cool. But I swear you'll run yourself into the ground and into the poor house if you heed these coaching companies' "THERE'S NO OFF SEASON!" emails. (Translation: our business gets sluggish in the winter months, so we're going to guilt you into paying us now to make you faster!)

Go hiking. Learn how to surf. Go skiing. Showshoeing! XC skiing! You're a triathlete. You're an active person who loves to challenge him/herself outdoors. Try something new for no rhyme or reason. You may even gain some strength in muscles you don't typically use in your habitual tri training and return more fit than ever. Don't worry about gaining a little weight. Have you ever seen how fat some of those Tour de France guys get in their off season?

Everything in moderation. Check out the movie "Surf's Up". When you're not having fun anymore, you're doing something wrong (a surfing penguin even figured that one out). Taking no time off now because a coaching company has magically decided that a day after your last competition it's "Pre-Season" could be the straw that breaks your achey back.





How'd I do? Here's a hint:

World Champ

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Xterra World Championships--Island Observations


In a convenient twist of fate, my uncle works for Pleasant Holidays, a travel company specializing in Hawaiian vacations. He hooked us up with a sweet hotel room about 5 miles down the road from the race in Kihei. On the short drive across the island, we managed to locate a Safeway, a Cold Stone (coachancé’s lifeline) and a Subway. Not to mention several Starbucks and a Denny’s. For some reason, even though Hawaii is an American state, I hadn’t considered it’d be overrun by mega businesses like the mainland. Somehow the Borders placard and the Outback Steakhouse neon sign looked out of place against the backdrop of a gorgeous clear blue ocean, lush vegetation, and an ominous volcano. No worries, though. It’s easy to get lost in one of the gorgeous mega resorts along the coast and realize that despite the many people holding Starbucks cups, you’re truly in a mystical and exotic locale.

We walked along the coast to stumble upon a very nice restaurant and loaded up on sushi and seafood and rice. Little did we know that would be the first of many Mahi Mahi meals to come. No complaints here!