Saturday, November 28, 2009

Stanford Cycling Makes the Big Time

No, not the team. The random cyclists on campus.

The NY Times has decided that perhaps your everyday campus cyclist was meant to walk. At least that's what I got out of it.

Check it out here.

As someone with 4 bikes and ambitions of owning an entire 3-car garage-sized fleet of bicycles, I wholeheartedly disagree. Seeing people who are not "cyclists" and who will never wear spandex in any color let alone black riding bikes makes me happy. Even if they wobble and I have to do ninja tricks to get to class without being taken out by an iPhone-wielding, cruiser-riding, 18-year old hipster.

At least his tight pants won't get caught in the chain.

The Cure for Iron(man) Deficiency: Covering Ironman

Last Saturday, I put my multimedia skills to the test.

Armed with my dad's Canon EOS Digital Rebel, my Canon ZR10 (yes it's old...and awesome), my dad's tripod, and one spare Lithium Ion battery (yes, all of my equipment magically took the same exact type of battery), I entered Tempe Beach Park around 6am and got crackin' on what would become the greatest of all Ironman tales.

I flashed my media wristband (see below), and entered transition, voyeuristically filming people bodygliding it up, yanking on wetsuits, and doing other strange things that aspiring Ironmen do just before they are herded in to dark, cold water at 6:45am on a Sunday.

I had one goal in mind: to tell a story about normal people doing Ironman. If that sounds ridiculously boring, let me explain. Typical Ironman media involves pro coverage, and coverage of the most inspiring story of overcoming all odds to complete an Ironman. Not to disregard the importance of these stories, because they must be told and deserve to be told, but there are over 2,000 other people competing who aren't pro and have never lost a limb. Or had a sex change and done Ironman both as Sam and as Samantha. (Although if that were to occur, and I don't think it has, I would gladly tell that story.)

Perhaps the predictable coverage has something to do with the fact that although our sport is a huge part of our (triathletes) lives, it isn't a huge part of the general population's life. Therefore, there aren't enough media people to tell the bazillion rad stories that come packaged with an event of this magnitude. So they stick to the pros and the stories of inspiration that always make me cry.

Enter the unpaid grad student.

I don't know if my story of fat boy becomes triathlete, meets girl, trains with girl, marries girl, then does IMAZ with girl will make anyone cry. But who said the amount of tears shed is directly proportional to the informational or entertainment value of a story?

So while the other media people were scrambling to catch the pros coming out of the water, I flashed my wristband and strolled on into the wetsuit stripping area to film my couple getting stripped. Unfortunately, I missed the middle-aged guy who sat down with a poo-eating grin on his face then had his wetsuit torn off to reveal, to the horror of his strippers and glee of the spectators, his shiny tiny thong.

Eventually, my assistant, coachubby, and I worked out a system where he would stand on the lookout for my couple, call me when they were approaching, and then I'd turn on my video camera and chase them around in transition.

Being in the action did something to me. It reignited the Ironman flame. I strayed with ultracycling this year after becoming a little triathletically disillusioned (sports psychology term), but the excitement of the racers, the enthusiasm of the volunteers, and the fun of being at home did something to my brain. I want to go back. And I want to kick ass.

Coachubby and I signed up for 2010 the next day.

See you out there!

And my Ironlove story will come just in time for xmas. I'm taking my computer's death while working on that project as a sign that I should be studying for finals right now instead.

Plus my video camera hooked up to my computer via firewire. My new computer does not have a firewire port. Thank you, Mac. Suggestions on how to resolve this issue are greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rotten Apple

Of all the things that can't handle Ironman, I did not think my computer would be one of them.

I spent 3 days reporting from IMAZ, working on a kick ass multimedia project that I would then use to wow the editors of Outside Magazine who would then pick me as their kick ass online intern, only to have my computer decide it was too much to handle and blow up.

When I woke up this morning, all it would give me was the spool of death. No Final Cut awesomeness. No dragging in of rad photos from Ironman. No copying of rad video clips. Just a rainbow-colored spool of death. It should be a spinning skull and crossbones, not a rainbow. That's just rubbing it in, Mac people.

The Mac geniuses erased my entire hard drive. It was the only way, they said.

The cold I got from staying up for several days straight to report IMAZ came in handy--when my eyes welled up with tears, I had an excuse other than being really, really attached to the virtual world of me that I'd built up on my hard drive over the past 4.5 years.

So now my computer works, but it's like it has Alzheimer's. It looks the same, but it's completely lost its personality. It's like looking at a cold, hard piece of silver metal instead of a reflection of the last 4 years of my life.

It looks like it did in 2005.

Photos- gone. Music-gone. Every file from this quarter of school- gone. Most of the programs I use- gone. Some of it is backed up, but not all.

I have finals in a week.

If I didn't have to complete this quarter with this computer, I would bunny hop on it with all 4 of my bikes until it became a pile of computer mush that I would then feed to a metal grinder. Then I would scatter its computer ashes somewhere computers hate to be. Like in water. Deep, cold water.

But for now, my rotten Apple is letting me write this blog. So for that, I must be thankful.

It is Thanksgiving, after all.

I am also thankful that all of the photos and video from IMAZ still live on a backup hard drive and tapes, respectively.

It's strange to become so attached to a machine. I saw my computer as something with a unique personality--as a reflection of me. I suppose this is a weird thing only the generations that grew up with computers experience.

So thank you, rotten Apple, for dying today so I'd realize that I am not the sum of my virtual components.

But I'd still like them back. Just 'cuz.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Xterra Budget Bonks--Regional Champs Must Pay for Prizes

In all the news about triathlon's growth--even during the recession!--it's hard to believe that maybe, just maybe, some of the race production companies, even the big ones, are actually hurting.

Earlier this year, Xterra announced it was moving the USA Championship, which was held in Incline Village, NV the past 8 years, to Ogden, UT. It was a slap in the face to SoCal Xterra lovers who also lost every race within a 5 hour radius of Los Angeles, including Xterra Temecula, a Worlds and Nationals qualifier.

The reason for the move: The Nevada Commission on Tourism cut their budget, and couldn't help out with Xterra. They previously helped fund the event, the marketing, and the 1-hour tv show of the event.

Recently, Regional Champions have become aware of Xterra's financial woes. If you were a regional champ this year, you might have gotten an email that looks like this:

Aloha Regional Champ! Congratulations on spending all of your money on racing the Xterra circuit this year, pouring your all into training, and kicking ass. (I'm paraphrasing...or something like that...) You've joined an exclusive club, and earned the right to wear an Xterra Regional Champ jersey. You want it? 60 bucks and its yours.

OK, so it wasn't written exactly like that, but that's the gist of it. Xterra couldn't secure sponsorship for the prize this year.

Before getting ticked at Xterra for doing this, we must remember that many other races do the same thing. You must earn the jersey, of course, but if you want it, you must pay. A lot of ultracycling events are like this (like Planet Ultra's Triple Crown jersey).

Xterra, however, raised the bar on itself, providing world-class events all over the place over the past several years, with excellent (free!) prizes. So we expect more from them.

What do you think. Should Xterra have found a way to give Region Champs their jersey's free of charge, or is charging totally OK?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

All Systems Pissed

Perhaps it was my decision to do an Ironman-style workout weekend last Saturday and Sunday--without any buildup--that led to my demise.

3 people joined me on a grand cycling loop from Stanford to the ocean and back last Saturday, totaling 70ish miles. I sent out an email to the Stanford Tri Team, and got lucky--the people who came were all excellent cyclists who proceeded to kick my bum.

In my mind, of course, I had excuses for my sluggishness: I just ran my first track workout of the last half a year on Friday, after doing a 1000 meter time trial in the pool, my first swim in a month.

Sufficiently fried Saturday night, I did not sleep. I'm not sure why. You'd think a few days like that would knock a girl out. I then woke up Sunday morning to go with two highly esteemed tri-team members to Castro Valley to run a 17-mile trail run.

Yes, I was prepared to do that--I'm training for the California International Marathon on Dec. 6. No, I wasn't prepared to do that within several hours of leg bashing in the pool, on the track, and all over the South Bay.

I'm in debt to the creators of Red Bull.

Here's the kicker: My legs are still pissed. In normal Ironman-training mode, this would not happen. I would recover. But in sleep-must-go-because-I'm-doing-super-cool-stuff-for-school-that-is-more-important-than-anything-else-but-I-will-not-cut-out-training-anyway mode, my body has imposed a 10-minute mile minimum on my legs.

This speed will not get me to Boston.

I now, however, have a much greater respect for the corporate bigwigs who do Ironman--fast. They are far more important and busy than I ever was while I was training for an Ironman, yet somehow manage to get their training in, then run a Boston-worthy marathon time to cap of their IM.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Javelina Jundred

What better way to celebrate Jalloween than by running 100 miles...straight.
In circles.
In the desert.

Check it:

P.S. It's supposed to be black to start. It's art.