Saturday, December 11, 2010

I'm Training for an Ironman!

If you're training for an Ironman, rest assured there's always someone more maniacal about his training than you. Like this guy. (Or maybe you'll find you're kindred spirits!)


-Erin

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jure Robic: Insomniac, Maniac, Miracle

If there's a limit to what the human body can endure, the late Jure Robic was the one drawing the line.

My article on Jure Robic is out in the December issue of Outside (on newsstands now) and here online.

-Erin

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dear Arizona, WTF? Ironman AZ and other stuff

Dear Arizona,

WTF? I thought we were friends. More than friends--lovers even. I know I left you nine years ago, but I always come back to see how you're doing. To hike and bike your trails. To go out to dinner. To just hang out.

I always defend you when people say you're too hot (there's no such thing!) or that there's no vegetation in the desert (there is, too!) or that you're flat (hello, Flagstaff!). I'm your biggest fan. I love you and will always love you.

So I am hurt that the only two times I have come to compete in Tempe's Ironman, you have raged against me with a tidal wave of dust storms, gale-force winds and now, random patches of torrential rain.

Let's review your misbehaving, shall we?

IMAZ, April 2007. My very first Ironman and my very first marathon. I saved myself for you. And how do you repay me? With a pre-race sand storm that colored my teeth brown and made my mom refuse to let my sandy bum in her car to take me home. Then, on race day, you blew so hard on the bike that if I didn't pedal for a few seconds, I'd stop completely, even on a downhill.

IMAZ, April 2008, November 2008 and 2009. You were gorgeous and seemed so happy. You caressed my friends with curls of sunshine, let the air hang in place and seemed to be a true Ironman fan. I rode my bike out to the Beeline to cheer, happily and without fear of retaliation on your part. Whatever pissed you off in 2007 seemed to have passed.

IMAZ 2010. Sunday. I arrived Wednesday night to a gorgeous Phoenician evening. For three days, you almost made it up to 80 degrees, my favorite temperature. No clouds in the sky. When I arrived, my sinuses were flaring and my lungs were burning, but you helped bring me back to un-couch-ridden life by Saturday, just in time.

Just in time for you to blow me backwards on the bike again. To pelt me with rain. To play mind tricks with my already fragile head. To rain so hard right before I finished the bike that instead of finishing to throngs of people admiring my hot-pink knee socks, I cycled into what looked like the aftermath of an explosion--a deserted intersection with a water bottle slowly rolling across the road.

I read in the paper yesterday that I should be making a list of what I'm thankful for right now. So instead of railing on you any further for Sunday's hissy-fit, I will now praise you for what you did right.

Despite the rain and wind, your temperature was absolute perfection. I was never hot or cold--even in Tempe Town Lake. For that, I cannot thank you enough. I didn't mind the rain because the bike course is not technical, and it was not cold. (The wind, however, was unforgivable. Particularly because you started blowing right at the swim turn around, creating a current that sucked me away from the swim finish.)

Because of your clouds, I did not get sunburned, despite not putting any sunscreen on, except for on my face during the run. Apparently I looked pretty funny. People laughed at me. But I will take un-rubbed in sunscreen any day for a 1:29 Ironman T2.

Monday you were gorgeous again, leading me to believe that you are hell-bent on keeping me from achieving an Ironman personal record here, but that you still love me because you know how much I like warmth and sunshine.

So, Arizona, even though you cried and huffed and puffed about on Sunday, I know you still love me because if there's anything I dislike more than a whomping headwind, it's being cold--and you didn't let me get cold.

It's OK. Don't be shy about it. I still love you, too. And I'll be back. And next time--the third time I do IMAZ--maybe we can work together to create the most spectacular race day ever.

Love your (still) biggest fan,
Erin

Friday, November 12, 2010

Badass Bike Handling Skills

A friend forwarded this rad video. It's like pairs ice skating. Except with two girls, bikes and a bball court. From the 2009 European Junior Championships for Indoor Cycling, apparently.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Sexy Hotness Sleeping Bag

It's not everyday something inanimate like a sleeping bag can make me laugh, but the ALITE "sexy hotness" sleeping bag did just that.

I came across this puffy purple creation today. It lets you walk around in your sleeping bag, zip it to other bags to create one giant bag and is lined with Kama Sutra poses. Hotness is rated to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you're going on a fun camping trip with buddies, it seems like a viable choice. As the company says, "Sexy Hotness is the perfect sleeping bag for making love in the woods."


Maybe I'll give it a try.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Distance Runners Are a Paradox for Insurers

That's the title of my latest NY Times article. Check it out online now or in the paper tomorrow! (Monday, Oct. 25.)

Woo hoo!



Friday, September 24, 2010

Jure Robic Dies in Collision with Car





















I was shocked and upset when a friend from the Race Across America media crew sent me a link this morning to a Slovenian news site that said ultracyclist (and this year's RAAM champion) Jure Robic, was killed today.

I was on this year's RAAM media team, chasing far behind Jure and his crew. I had also just spoken with Jure's friend and crew chief, Matjaz Planinsek on Tuesday.

I didn't know Jure, but the one thing I will remember from our few encounters was his smile. He had a big, bright, child-like mischievous smile that popped up frequently--even a thousand miles into RAAM.

Here's the Outside post.

Photo of Jure at the beginning of RAAM 2010 courtesy of Jake North Photography.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Tahoe Sierra 100 Mountain Bike Race-- So F'n Easy

“This is gonna be so f*(#ing easy!” Jimmy says.
It’s just before 6:30 am and we are straddling our mountain bikes behind a couple hundred spandex-clad ultraracers. Me, my husband Jimmy, and our friend A-ron. (Thus named because I’m Erin and he’s Aaron and it gets confusing.)
The sun hasn’t come up over Soda Springs, CA, a tiny ski-town northeast of Lake Tahoe just off of the I-80. My numb hands ache as we wait for the countdown to the start of Tahoe Sierra, a 100-mile mountain bike race with a reported 13,000 feet of climbing that shares part of its route with the Western States 100 ultramarathon.
Somewhere up ahead is my friend Holly, the silent killer. She’s tiny. She’s unassuming. And she’ll kick your ass. If she weren’t so dedicated to performing surgery on mice as part of her graduate mechanical engineering research at Stanford, she’d probably be pro. I am not racing Holly.
The race director, Jimmyboy, mentions something about the race being hard. Something about bears and mountain lions. Then something about loggers and hunters.
“This is gonna be so so f*(#ing easy!” Jimmy repeats the motto he adopted from an adventure race he ran with his college buddies.
“Ha!” grunts the guy next to him.
“Five! Four! Three!” Jimmyboy counts down. “Two! One!” And we’re off, rolling down double track through the twilight. The dust glitters in a cloud that engulfs my face and immediately latches onto my nose.
I re-discovered pink zinc just before the race and thought it would be the perfect nose-cheek protector for an all-day adventure. It smells like a coconutty beach, just like it did in the ‘80s. But after 10 minutes of riding through “moon dust” in a fat-tired peloton, my coconutty pink nose has become a dirt trap.
This must be how healthy, non-smokers get lung cancer, I think as I look at the dude next to me. He’s wearing a surgical mask. The guy just ahead of me has a bandana covering his mouth. I try to hold my breath, but that doesn’t last very long.
We turn a corner to face a short, steep sandy section. People are falling left and right. A few men tiptoe their bikes around the carnage while I ski down on my feet. When I get to the bottom, A-ron and Jimmy are already out of sight.
I’ve only been riding 15 minutes and my legs are sore. I know the boys are infinitely better riders than I am, but I don’t want to be out there alone—something about bears, remember?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Toughest Endurance MTB Race There Is?

The race director for the Tahoe Sierra 100, a 100-mile (actually 92.7 miles this year) mountain bike race has officially freaked me and my crew out.

Coachubby, a friend from LA (A-ron) and a friend from Stanford (Holly) and I were all revved up to do the race this Saturday. We signed up months ago. We dreamed of the scenery, of the single-track, and in A-Ron's case, of the Pop-Tarts. It was going to be an epic day of awesome. Then the race updates started flowing in.

Here are tidbits from updates received on September 3, 4, 5, and 7:
Sept 3:
For all of you that may try to go out and try out the course this weekend. May be a few motos out there, hunters and crazy beer drinking 4 wheel drive people...There was a bit of Eco Terrorist action on the logging operation that was going on up there yesterday.

OK. Not bad. Nothing that's not usually on a mtb course. This is going to rock. It didn't hurt that the email closed with: 

Don't forget that your here to have fun!! We all will be partying after the event at Ice Lakes Lodge so please come by and enjoy the full bar and food here at the lodge as it looks out over Serene lakes.

Party on.

Sept 4:
Saw a Nice big bear out on the trail today. Never saw one person or bike all day.

OK. Bear. Bears live in the forest. Chances are slim the bear will care about me when there will be several other meal options on the trail. 

Great weather. 82 in the high country at 6700 ft.

Rock on. Warm weather is my best friend. Yogi can hibernate while we ride.

Sept 5: 
Just to clear the air about this being a fast race course.
Mohican 100 fast times: 7:33 under 9,000ft of climbing
Lumberjack 100. Fast times 6:33 9,000ft of climbimg
Cream Puff 100 fast times 9:44.00 about 17,500 ft of climbing
High Cascades 100. Fast times about 8:37. 13,000ft of climbing 11,000ft of climbing ( single track)
Leadville 100 ( almost all fire road and out and back) 12,000ft of climbing ( record set by Levi this year 6:15.00)   Roadie course
Break Epic. Fast times 8:31.00
I would say that the 
Tahoe Sierra 100 is a fast course with the fast time of 7:24.00 and about 13,800 ft of climbing depending on your GPS and the course only being 92.7 miles.


Cool. Good riders will finish fast. The climbing surely qualifies this ride for DA status. (Disappearing a**.)

Sept 7:
This is your last chance. 

To what? To bail?

This is a hard 100 mile race. This is not a roadie course. There is rock, dirt, lots of dust in some places, bears, cows, hunters, mt. lions, Big trees, small trees, white torn, buck brush, loggers, miners and a few things I may have forgotten. Oh ya, Mary Jane growers!!

Praying I will not be shot by Elmer Fudd, eaten by Yogi Bear or Simba, or stomped on by Cow. At least if it gets really bad, we can all zen out with the help of the local farmers.

Combine this update with the one from Aug. 16:
Just another heads up there are some cattle in the high country free grazing in the forest. Some of them are very big bulls!! If you run across any of them just yell and they will move. I have seen a few bear moving around in the last two weeks. They're just black bear and will run before you get too close.

And now we have full-on bearanoia. Seriously? They'll run away? As a wise friend once said, you don't have to be fast, just faster than your group. The bear will eat the slacker. There's some motivation.

I never said that this was a easy MTB 100. I just said it was a fast one.

And with that, Coachubby and I will fly out to Tahoe tomorrow to embark on a bear-hunter-mtn. lion-miner-logger riddled race. I slapped a red rear tire on my bike to up the rad factor. Or mask the blood.

This should be epic.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tiffany Carter's 22-Mile Swim for Africa

UPDATE: Tiffany swam 20.5 miles--18 of them without a wetsuit--before an upset stomach, crampy calves and sore lungs cut the swim short. She'll be finishing the last 1.5 miles on Tuesday, the 23rd. As of Friday, the 20th, she had raised $2750 for Kenyan children.

Yea, Tiffany! That's the width of the English Channel crossing at the Straight of Dover! (21 miles)
Tiffany (left) at the end of a 14-mile swim with sister, Michelle. 
There must be some endurance obsession in the Beresini genes.

As I write this, my cousin, Tiffany Carter, is swimming across Lake Tahoe to raise money for children in Kenya.

Her longest swim before taking on the width (or length...depending on how you look at it) of Lake Tahoe was 14 miles and took her seven hours. Averaging two miles-per-hour and accounting for fatigue, Tiffany expects the swim to take about 12 hours. That's an entire Ironman-worth of just swimming.

I cry for her shoulders.

And get this: she's not wearing a wetsuit.

"I'll have my wetsuit (a long john suit) on the boat," Tiff told me yesterday, "just to make my mom happy, but I don't want to wear it." (Tiff said she hasn't looked at the water temperature the entire time she's been training. But I did. On the North side, temps on Wednesday ranged between 64 and 76 degrees. On the South side, they're between 65 and 67. Holy wetsuitless coldness.)

Tiffany got the idea for the swim after her older sister, Sophia, visited Kenya and came back with stories about the kids there living in poverty, but didn't have to; the kids could go to school and eat for an entire year for only $50-100 per child.

Tiffany wanted to help. She knew only one other native Lake Tahoe woman had ever completed the swim, and decided she'd go for it. She's been swimming since middle school and wanted to take on the Lake.

It was hard for her to find people to train with, though, as most people who came along would poop out around two miles. Her friend, Howie, got cold and bailed about that far into a 10-mile training swim.  He found a nice family on shore who wrapped him up, gave him warm food, and drove him back to his car.

So Tiffany recruited her younger sister, Michelle, to kayak along with her on her training swims. But it hasn't been all sisterly love out on the lake.

"I thought, 'Oh yea, we're sisters, it's gonna be great! We're gonna giggle and laugh...' but we'll be in the middle of the lake and she'll get so crabby sometimes and threaten to leave me," Tiffany said.

So is it going to be different today? On the big day?

She'll have a large crew including both of her parents, her sister, and other kayakers to help out. The local radio station is keeping people up-to-date on Tiffany's whereabouts. You can listen to the live broadcast here.

Tiffany's most nervous about not making it. And of Tahoe Tessie, Lake Tahoe's version of the Loch Ness monster. She put glow sticks on the bottom of the kayaks for the dark start this morning and was worried they'd attract some kind of mythical Tiffany-eating fish.

She'll be slurping mashed-up sweet potatoes and noshing on Clif Bars to fuel the swim.

As of yesterday, Tiffany had raised $957 out of her goal of $2,000. Donate to her swim here--she'll be taking donations for at least another week. No amount is too small! (OK, try to make it at least a buck.)

Visit Tiffany's Swim for Africa site.
Listen to the Quick Time radio broadcast.

Go Tiffany!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mountain Biking Mania-When Your Brain Turns to Mush

I can't be the only person who does this.

Yesterday, about seven hours into a big-ass ride straight up and down and around the Santa Fe ski mountain, I had a conversation with myself. About table runners.

Maybe it was my brain's way of ignoring the cliff to one side of the loose single-track descent coachubby and I were pussyfooting down. Or about how that would be the perfect place for a mountain lion to take me out.

The conversation went something like this:
Me: What the f are table runners for?
Me: What do you mean what the f are table runners for? Watch your language.
Me: And why the f are they called table runners? They don't move.
Me: They tie the room together.
Me: Thank you, Erin Lebowski.
Me: It's just decoration. Why do people decorate? Because it gives their home a feeling of security and warmth.
Me: Table runners to do not give people a feeling of security and warmth. They're essentially pointless.
Me: Then why did you put one on the table when you had people over for dinner last night?
Me: I didn't, coachubby did. And it wasn't a table runner, it was a repurposed scarf. Why don't they call them table scarves? That's more appropriate. Scarves don't move.
Me: Why are you bashing household decorations?
Me: I'm not bashing, I'm asking an honest question.
Me: What?
Me: What the f are table runners for?

A few more rocky patches and near off-cliff endos, and I was back on the road.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Welcome to the Gym, Would You Like a Cigarette?

I hauled my bum straight from work to the Santa Fe rec center to get my swim on, and parked next to this car:

One cigarette per rep?


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Outside Magazine Is Pretty Freakin' Cool

Yo! My blogging efforts have recently been hijacked by Outside Magazine's blog. This week, I got to speak with my fifth grade teacher, who happens to be one of the world's most inspirational people, Erik Weihenmayer, 19-year old professional surfer, Sage Erickson, and one of the stars of a new surf movie, Chris Christenson.

It's been rad.

And when I'm not at Outside, I'm outside, training for the Tahoe-Sierra 100-mile mountain bike race, and Ironman Arizona--with 2 bum hamstrings and a pissed-off rotator cuff. I met a spiritual healer while searching for a place in Santa Fe, but thought she was a little off her rocker. Maybe I should give her a shot...IM will be hard to finish with no run or swim training...


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Getting To New Mexico: Apartment Armageddon

Long time, no write! Sorry!

I've moved to Santa Fe to intern at Outside Magazine and am currently sitting on a kitchen table I found on Craigslist that is covered in crusty paint droplets that is sitting atop a concrete floor that echoes throughout the place I found that has nothing in it besides me, a bed, and Gally (cat) because the movers don't come until Monday and coachubby works in Los Angeles every other week.

But let's back that up.

Act 1: Hermosa Beach, 3 weeks ago

I return from covering RAAM. My flight gets in late at night. Let's say 10pm. I go to bed around midnight ready to make up for 2 weeks worth of a zombie-like existence living in the back of a minivan filled with 3 boys (make that 2 men and one grandpa) chasing cyclists across the back roads of the United States.
(Me and the Media 2 RAAM men: Photog Jake North, Videog Brenden Martin, and driver Chuck Anderson. Photo by Jake North...even though he's in it.)

At some ungodly hour--before 10am--I find myself in the middle of a demolition. People are pounding on the roof. They're jackhammering the floor. Apparently, the crap apartment coachubby lived in all year while I was at school was sold to a new owner who decided to completely renovate--with the renters still inside. This can't be legal.

I am pissed. I have a story to write. I can't think. Gally is petrified. I go for a bike ride.

When I return, the front door is wide open and some electricians are standing outside.

"This yer apartment?" they ask.
"No, but I'm staying here and I'm going to take a shower," I say.
"Well we're doing some electrical work..."
"You know we have a cat!?" I say, realizing the open door.
I slam the door shut and start the hunt for Gally. He's not under the couch--why would he be, they're drilling the ground where the couch is (2nd floor apt.). We have boxes everywhere for the move to Santa Fe. I look in and around all of them.

No Gally.

Craptastic!

"Coachubby!" I cry into the phone. "I went for a PV loop and came home and these men were outside and the door was open and I can't find Gaaaaallllllyyyyyyy wahhhhh!"

"I'll come home," says the best husband in the world.

Coachubby returns to the beach bungalow from hell and searches for the fuzzball. No fuzzball.

I indirectly cuss out the workers by telling my mom on the phone a few feet away from them how stupid they are and couldn't they have just waited one freaking day because we're moving T-O-M-O-R-R-O-W. (Insert a few choice vocab words here and there for accuracy.)

Coachubby goes down more calmly to speak with the electrical men. Meanwhile I go back inside knowing my Gally cat is the most scaredy cat in the world and wouldn't have run out the front door. He's hiding somewhere, I know it.

I look under the covers on the bed. I lift up the mattress. I look in the closet, behind the couch, in cupboards. Finally, I kneel down beneath the bed (which was elevated a good 3 feet off of the ground so all of our junk could live beneath it) and start patting the box springs.

By hand thuds against a warm bump. I find Gally.

Kitty was apparently planning for beach bungalow armageddon by clawing away at the box springs in secrecy, creating an entry point, so he could securely hang in privacy from whatever that thin fabric is that's on the bottom of box springs.

I must now face the workers outside who told me they didn't see a cat run out and they're right and I was wrong but I'm still angry and just want to freaking sleep and take a shower but I can't because the bathroom has a skylight and there are strange men on the roof looking in.

And tomorrow, we're supposed to pack up and move to Santa Fe. In a car. Another 800-mile road trip. I just drove 3,000 miles I don't want to be in a car ever again just kill me now.

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Update on RAAM Cyclist Diego Ballesteros

Spanish RAAM team Coanfi Desafio Aspanoa has maintained a blog updating the status of Diego Ballesteros, who was struck by a car outside of Wichita, Kansas during the race.

Yesterday's post stated that Ballesteros' girlfriend, Ana, had flown in to be with him and that his condition is improving day by day.

You can read the Spanish blog translated by Google here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Michele Santilhano gets a RAAM finish line surprise!

When 3rd-place female RAAM solo racer, Michele Santilhano, crossed the finish line at City Dock in Annapolis, MD on Monday, she might've been expecting a little celebration. Maybe George Thomas would announce her finish, get her up on stage and ask some questions. Maybe her crew would hug her. Bystanders would take photos and the finish line crew would cheer her through the chute.

But she wasn't expecting to see her sister, Wendy Santilhano, who flew in from South Africa to surprise Michele.

When Michele saw her sister, tears welled up in her eyes. She had her sister and her crew join her on stage to share the glory of her accomplishment. "It's an awesome nation," Michele said.

Crew member, Pia Christensen, said the crew laughed so much on this trip. Then she did what she dubbed the "Michele dance," showing the hand movements Michele would do on the bike to alert crew members to her needs and mental status.

As an added plus, Christensen and another of Michele's crew members, Chris States, are getting married on Saturday in the San Francisco area.

There was lots of love going around on the Santilhano team!
Michele at the finish line.

Michele and sister Wendy.
Pia, Michele and Wendy
Pia and Chris States

Sunday, June 20, 2010

RAAM's Leading Lady: Barbara Buatois est Magnifique!

And the women's solo winner is...Barbara Buatois!

Hailing from just outside of Paris, the bicycle world speed record holder added two new records to her name this morning. When Buatois rolled across the RAAM finish line in Annapolis, she became the first French woman and the first woman riding a recumbent to finish RAAM.

Buatois, 33, returned to the finish line early in the afternoon to peruse the RAAM store. She had a ready smile despite a red-hot, flaky sunburn.

She said yesterday was the hardest part of the race for her. The mountains coming in toward the finish were the most difficult with the heat and the ups and downs. And yesterday she got tendoinitis in her left ankle, but that was her only real injury.

"There's a great ambiance within my team," she said in French. Her team included her husband, and her mother-in-law. "We laugh a lot," she said, and her team is always there for her.

Next up for the ultra star? The 600 kilometer Bordeaux-Paris race is on her calendar in six days! (That's another 372 miles.)

Barbara

(Buatois at the finish.)

IMG_0798

IMG_0800

Saturday, June 19, 2010

RAAM Road Rules Episode 1: McLovin

Is a McDonald's by any other name just as bad for you?
What happens when you put 4 perfect strangers in a minivan for 12 days straight and tell them to chase after cyclists?




Thursday, June 17, 2010

Team Bandwidth.com's Rockstar Ride

Team Bandwidth.com may be RAAM rookies, but they know a thing or two about traveling in style. "Three attorneys and a business guy" make up the team, said crewmember Lora Payne. They weren't taking any chances with their safety--or their comfort. Bandwidth.com's bus came with two professional drivers and a whole lot of leopard print! Check it out:





(Please excuse my extreme on-camera dorkiness.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How Not to Buy a Car on eBay: The Dexmobile

Figuring out RAAM transportation is a huge undertaking for riders and crew. Will they have an RV? How many support vehicles? Who will drive? Team Bandwidth.com hired a tour bus that looks like it was made over on "Pimp My Ride" with cheetah-print accents on the interior walls.

Dex Tooke took a different approach. Gearing up for RAAM last november, Tooke searched eBay for an official race RV. When he found one (for a rumored $9,500), it seemed like a smokin' deal. Turns out it was...literally.

Welcome to the Dexmobile!




RAAM Racer Diego Ballesteros Struck by Car

Diego Ballesteros of Spanish team Coanfi Desafio Aspanoa was struck by a car this morning near Maize, Kansas and is in critical condition, local news station KAKE reports. The 36-year old Spaniard is a part of a 4-man team. When he's not racing, he is a lawyer and teacher.

Teammate Cesar Velilla said in his racer bio that he found out about Race Across America four years ago and was excited to race as a team. "The reason that definitely pushed us to take part in this was the possibility to help other people and "give" our effort in the name of ASPANOA," wrote Velilla, "a local organization where parents of children with cancer join together and try to give them a solution and a better quality of life during the treatment."

(Ballesteros)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Stanford Graduation in Kansas

My grad school graduation was on Sunday, so the men of RAAM's Media 2 van (who kidnapped me from the Media HQ van) held a ceremony for me in Ulysses, Kansas. It might have been as awesome as the real thing...
I'm still blogging for RAAM here. The race ends on Monday!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I'm Covering Race Across America!

Hi hot endurance athletes! It's been way too long.
I am currently a part of the media team at Race Across America. I'll be updating the RAAM website regularly on both the main page and the Headquarters blog. And you can follow me on RAAM's facebook/twitter updates.

It was a little bit of a rough start--my boss thought I was drunk on the first night (last night) because I was being me. Apparently I give off a drunken vibe.

It'll only get worse as the sleep deprivation goes on, so buckle up and get ready for some rad (drunken...not!) posts on the RAAM site.

I take off from Oceanside on Thursday to chase the cyclists to Annapolis, MD.

My grad school graduation is on Sunday. I brought a tassel and will pin it to my head for the day.

Rock on party people.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bay 2 Breakers 2010--Happy 60th Birthday, Dad!

What better way to celebrate dad's big 6-0 than by making him run 7 miles through San Francisco with me and a bunch of naked people while brother and coachubby drunkenly waddle behind and mom documents the experience--and the full-frontal nudity?

That's what I thought. There is no better way.

And so, here's Bay 2 Breakers (minus a lot of the full-frontal...you can thank me later).




Tour of California 2010--Stage 3 Photos & Video

Tour organizers moved the Tour to May to avoid the craptastic weather February brought last year. But while it may have seemed like their idea panned out-- the California coast was reportedly sunny this morning--Tour riders met a freezing, wet cloud of evil as they rode up Tunitas Creek to the KOM this afternoon. And so were spectators. But we still went out in full force, climbing King's Mtn. then ditching our bikes and huddling in sweaty, misty-wet groups of bouncing body-heat generating spandexified cyclophiles.

Creepy wet descents!

Here are some photos from the KOM, and the intersection of 84 and Skyline in Woodside, CA. The first few KOM photos are of a smartypants who followed a lead vehicle over the line, earning his 10 seconds of fame.

And a little video.



The peloton:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ironman St. George--Funky

The inaugural Ironman St. George is this Saturday. The already brutal event currently has a weather forecast of possible rain.

Curious to see what my fit friends have gotten themselves into, I went to IM St. George's official site.

I was greeted by this interesting header:

The mesas of Utah have arms and legs! Run for your life before they run over to your general vicinity and sit on you!

It reminds me of Monty Python cartoons where things like clouds have arms and legs.

So, IM St. Georgers, when you need to dig deeper and run a little harder, imagine one of the mesas of Utah is running after you. Because, according to the WTC, it could happen. They have pictures to prove it.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Stanford Tri Does Collegiate Nationals: Foaming Crotch and Other Puketastic Stories

(Note: All events below are subject to inaccuracy due to Lubbockian Water Illness. John K. did not provide access to his brain, therefore all John K. thoughts are assumptions. But probably true.)

Wednesday, April 14
: John K. (full name will not be disclosed so prospective employers will not associate JK with this event) merrily packs up his brand new Cervelo tri bike for collegiate nationals. He tosses his bike assembly and cleaning supplies into his bike box with his tri uniform and other race items.

He is ready to kick butt.

Thursday, April 15: Stanford's tri team meets at 7am to fly to Lubbock, TX, where incontinent clouds have decided to gather, freezing over and flooding the place. After being held over in Las Vegas for an hour--where Stanford tri was not allowed to deplane, and therefore lost no money--the team finally arrived at what could possibly be called hell on earth. "It's never like this here!" exclaims one of the incredibly nice Lubbockians at the front desk of the hotel. "This just started right before you came!"

Fabulous.

John K. enters one of two "men's" rooms with other members of Stanford's tri team. He unpacks his bike bag, eager to see if anything has scratched his new baby in any way. Dawn dish soap has leaked all over his stuff.

It smells infinitely better than the water from the sink. He lets it slide.

Friday, April 16: John K. witnesses the land of a thousand lakes: Lubbock, TX. Except these lakes aren't in lake-ish locations. Instead, many of them have decided to take up residence in the middle of major roadways--roadways that each have at least 3 names, all of which are correct, only one of which is usually noted at a time on a street sign, and is usually not the name mapquest chose to indicate.

As he peers through a Dodge Caravan window--one of three Caravans in Stanford's very intimidating fleet--he tries to make out the bike course while the windshield wipers fight a loosing battle against the torrential rain.


"OK, so this is where you have a headwind," explains Coach Bruce. John K. looks at a lone tree, bent over in submission to the wicked wind. The Dodge slows to make its way through another lake. "This race could be made into just a swim!" thinks John K., a former collegiate swimmer. He is psyched.

John K. later finds out that night that race officials might force him to dismount his bike at lake crossings to wade through in his bike shoes. Should the lakes dissipate, competitors in later waves will also be forced to dismount, and walk to the other side of where the lake used to be.

John K. goes to bed, with visions of whooping Navy in his head, particularly after reading this article about what wussy, reclusive jerks the Navy team seems to be. "We really don't like interacting with the other teams," said Tyler Sharp, captain of the Navy's men's team. Well the other teams don't like you either, Mr. Sharp. John K. is going to whoop you.

Saturday, April 17: John K. wakes up just before the alarm goes off at 5:30am. He looks out the window. It is still raining. "Holy goodness, how did the clouds get so overhydrated?" he thinks. He puts on his Stanford Tri uniform, then 7 other layers, and heads out into the dark cold.

When he arrives at nationals, he realizes that he must wade through a lake to get his bike and gear to the transition area. Then he hears something horrible: the swim has been cut in 1/3! John K. is sad. He is a kick ass swimmer. As are several other men on Stanford's team. His teammate Erin is also sad. She has not been running at all and her only chance of getting ahead of her other teammates is to swim like she stole her wetsuit.

John K. can take the cold. The Stanford ladies decide it's freaking devilishly cold and outfit themselves with Wal-Mart bags. Coach Gina told them the bags would act as a wind-breaker and help keep the heat in on the bike. The ladies look classy with the plastic bags peeking out from under their tri-tops.

Coach Gina is a genius.

John K. finishes the 500 meter swim like he swatted at the water and it parted for him. Then he happily jumps on his new steed and heads out into the wind. It does not rain on him. He tucks in aero even though gale force winds try to toss him from the side. He is astonished to see Stanford's top woman walking her bike--2 flats! Oh no! John K. must win it for everyone now. He soldiers on.

He blasts through T2 and out onto the modified run course--2 laps of the sprint course instead of one out and back. The race director decided to do this to keep runners from having to run through one of the newly formed Lubbockian lakes. But in doing so, he added 1/2 a mile to the run.

John K.'s teammate Erin is pissed. "Is this a single out and back?" she asks Coach Bruce as she nears the end of the first out and back. It feels like she has been running forever. "No, double!" yells Bruce. Erin wants to smash something.

But John K. is having the run of his life. It feels great. And smells unusually clean. The smell seems to be wafting from his crotch. He looks down to see a mountain of foam forming in that region. "Oh my goodness!" he says to himself as he tries to inconspicuously wipe it off and toss it to his side. "I hope nobody saw that!"

Coach Gina saw that. She didn't want to think about what the white foam around John K.'s crotch could possibly be. "Just look at his face and cheer," she said to herself.

The foam will not stop. As soon as John K. wipes away some bubbles, new ones form, amusing his competitors and confusing spectators. John K. is relieved there is no race photographer. Nobody in Lubbock really wanted to go outside today--the only people outside are the crazy, spandex-clad, crotchal-foaming triathletes like John K.

John K. crosses the finish line and is elated. He kicked ass. He prevailed against the worst conditions known to triathletekind. He can now find his transition bag and take off the foaming pants before the rest of his team ever gets to see the foaming crotch phenomenon.

John K. later finds out that Stanford's top female double flatted. And that one of his teammates accidentally placed his bag--complete with ID--in a look-alike Dodge Caravan headed for AZ. And that that teammate must get interrogated by airport security to get on the plane back to San Jose. And that his female double-flatted teammate lost her plane ticket.

And that 1/2 of his team will come down with exploding puke within the next 24 hours, presumably from swimming through Lubbockian swamp water. Or from drinking it from the hotel tap.

But, John K. thinks to himself, it was the awesomest weekend ever. His team placed 8th overall in the nation despite the evil weather, his foaming crotch, and the loss of his team's top female competitor.

His Stanford teammates are the best he could ever have dreamed of, even though he knows they spent all of Saturday night betting how much meat he would consume at a TX bbq.

Plus, he got a supercool race t-shirt. (Ladies' shirt below.)

John K. goes back to the farm happy and fulfilled. And excited that collegiate nationals will never again be held in Lubbock, TX.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Stanford Tri Survives Collegiate Nationals

It was freaking freezing, but we're all still alive and in various stages of thawing out.

Here are some photos, race report to come when my brain thaws:
All smiles before heading back to the hotel après race.

Jamie models the latest in post-race warming tri fashion.

An entire hallway full of disassembled bikes.
The people who somehow got a room between us all love us.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Photos from Collegiate National Triathlon Championship

FLOODING!


Traveling in style.

Yeah pasta!

Team "whiskey tangos." Bike name on front.


Representin' on the back.


Collegiate National Triathlon: FREAKING RAIN

It finally stopped raining in the Bay Area on Wednesday. Cyclists and triathletes were elated. Then 14 members of Stanford's Triathlon team jumped on a flight to Texas where it has nonstop poured since we arrived last evening. The only sunny-looking thing was the Clemson team who walked into the lobby in hot-orange overalls with nothing underneath (except sports bras for the girls). Hot.
(Trainers on a plane! It took a while to explain to TSA that they were not hot-green weapons.)

Lubbock does not have a drainage system which makes this rain adventure even more exciting. We drove through several lakes to get to the race start, which was originally the only lake nearby.

Columbia's tri-team is down the hall from us at the Overton Hotel--a fact I learned while doing a hallway warm-up run. The 10th floor is long enough to make a few laps count as a shake-out pre-race run.

We've also set up "dueling trainers"--2 Kinetic trainers facing each other--in the hall. It smells like bathroom out there. Despite the stench, sweat, and large amount of practically naked college kids milling in the hallway, the hotel manager didn't say a word while we did our trainer rides. In fact, Garrett walked out of his bedroom in his tightie-blackies, and asked the business suit-wearing manager if he had a master key so Garrett could get into the other boys' room.

Triathletes are awkward like that.

Dinner is at 6:30 tonight. Race starts at 9am tomorrow (I'll be going off around 9:30.) Do an anti-rain dance for us!

You can follow me on Twitter for more current Nationals weekend updates: eberesini

Links:
Lubbock weather forecast (right now: rain, high 54 tomorrow)


Dueling trainers!


Yep! We're in Texas!

Friday, April 9, 2010

AT&T Doesn't Want You to Marry Outside Your Area Code

Maybe they're conspiring with your mother-in-law to get you to stay in the same city where your husband got his first cell phone at the age of 16. (OK, nowadays, 8?) AT&T is way behind the times when it comes to family plans.

A few months ago, coachubby and I decided to take that final step into coupledom: getting joint phone accounts. A family plan, if you will. (More accurate: couple plan.)

Being frugal, we tried T-Mobile. Within minutes, my AT&T number was "ported" over to T-Mobile. Ta-dah! Instant crappy coverage. I lasted through one week of having T-Mobile drop my important reporting calls before I convinced coachubby AT&T was the way to go. (That way, some day, when I'm not a student, I could easily switch over to a fancy schmancy iPhone.)

"Since you just left, we consider you a win-back!" said the sales lady while Coachubby and I watched Olympic cross country ski racing on the store's flatscreen.

Sweet. Activation fee deactivated.

"Would you like to keep your numbers?"
"Yes indeed," I said.
"Ok, write them down for me so I can port them over."
I begin to write: 480-
Coachubby begins to write: 765-
"Uh oh," says the lady.
"What-oh," says I.
"You have different area codes."
"That's right. Mine's from Phoenix, his is from Indiana. We don't want to change our numbers."
"That'll put you in two different billing categories. I can't put you on the same plan."
"Are you kidding? We're together on T-Mobile right now. They did it within minutes. AT&T is way better than T-Mobile, right?"
Lady vanishes.

Coachubby and I watch more olympics. Way better than watching it on my computer. Or on an iPhone. Not that I would know.

Lady returns.

"One of you would have to switch your number because you have to be in the same billing area."
"Not it," says I.
"Hey!" says coachubby.
"OK, then, it's off to Verizon!" says I, like one of those really annoying customers who thinks the salesperson cares whether I buy her plan or not--and who thinks she has any power to change AT&T's entire archaic billing structure while I sit and watch the Olympics for half an hour.

Coachubby and I go to a Verizon store, and 10 minutes later, have new phones and the numbers we've had since college. (Believe it or not, padre still has my cell phone from high school, which looks more like a fashionable defense mechanism than an electronic device. Remember clip-on phone covers that match your clothes? Padre has a butterfly phone.)

I'm going to guess that Verizon and T-Mobile bill according to the zipcode where the bill is sent, not according to phone number. Nobody changes their number when they move anymore. That is an ancient practice only remembered by a generation that I am not a part of.

So get a move on, AT&T! Because someday, when I decide I want to be able to scan barcodes with my phone and figure out what's playing on the radio in seconds, I might need to switch to your network.

Or get a Google phone.

That's right. That's a customer threat that you should listen to, because I'm not the only one making it--people have been ticked off about your anti-family plan since 2008. And 2009.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Don't Tell Sportswriter Joan Ryan She Can't

...because she will. In fact, she became a sportswriter because people told her she shouldn't. Take that, haters!

In 1985, 25-year old Joan Ryan walked into the locker room of the Birmingham Stallions, a franchise in the now-defunct United States Football League. Ryan was not looking for a boyfriend. Or trouble. Or a peek at the male athlete anatomy. She was looking for answers from star-player Joe Cribbs so she could file a game story for the Orlando Sentinel on time.

Ryan pushed open the locker room door and walked in, focused on finding Cribbs. Everything stopped as all eyes turned to Ryan, just over 5-feet tall, standing in the entry in a skirt with her notebook in hand.

She turned to a player who was cutting tape off his ankle with a long-handled razor.

“Where’s Joe Cribbs’ locker?” Ryan asked, her face heating up with anxiety.

No response. All she could hear were players’ taunts and jokes made at her expense.

She turned to other players, asking the same question.

No response. Instead, Ryan felt something on her leg. She turned to see the handle of the razor making its way up her calf to the hem of her skirt.

Ryan yelled at the player, and whirled around to see several players—and a man in a red sweater—watching, laughing.

Still fuming about the incident the next day, Ryan went through the Stallions’ media guide and identified the man in the red sweater; he was the Stallions’ president, Jerry Sklar.

“I said to myself, ‘These people really don’t want me to be writing sports,’” Ryan said. “’Theyreally don’t want me here.’ And so that was the moment I decided I really wanted to be a sportswriter.”

***

The third of six kids—three boys, three girls—Ryan was born in the Bronx, New York, then lived in New Jersey until her family moved to South Florida when she was 12.

“I was introverted,” Ryan said, “but I was extremely competitive.”

Her mother worked at Entenmann’s Bakery as a cashier. Her father, Bob, was an air conditioning draftsman, and his daughters’ softball coach.

Bob remembers Ryan loved to read, but she was also “a great line-drive hitter.

When Ryan was about 13 years old, she played a softball game at a family reunion in New Jersey. The teams were Bob’s family versus his wife’s family.

“One of the guys there was a blowhard kind of guy who thought he was pretty good,” Bob said. “Joan was plying the field, and this guy hits a wicked line-drive to left field. Joan sticks up her glove and catches the ball, and this guy couldn’t believe it—his mouth dropped to the ground.”

Ryan said the best advice she ever got was from her father, when he was coaching her in softball.

“He always told my sisters and me, ‘When you step on that field, it doesn’t matter how good you are. You have to convince yourself that you’re the best player on the field,’” Ryan said.

She used this strategy when she began her job as the first woman in the Orlando Sentinel’s sports department in 1982. She would need the confidence—even if she were faking it—to help her overcome the “painful introversion,” Ryan said, that kept her behind the editing desk throughout college and the beginning of her career in journalism.

“I’d be sitting in the press box or ringside with the giants of sports journalism, and I could convince myself for that period of time during the game that I was as good as any of them,” Ryan said.

***

Ryan, one of only two members of her family to attend college, graduated from the University of Florida in 1981 and immediately went to work at the Orlando Sentinel as a copy editor.

“I loved it. It was like getting a window to the world in that I knew what was going on and was the first to find out all this stuff,” she said.

But she realized in order to move up at the Sentinel, she would have to become a reporter. She thought the sports section would be a fun place to work, and wasn’t aware that no other woman had worked there before.

Bit by bit, she said, the sports department gave her small stories while she worked as an editor. Bit by bit, she worked at overcoming her own introversion so she could report more effectively. “I found it’s way more fun outside the office,” she said. “I realized that the notebook was my passport—all of the sudden, with that notebook in my hand, I could ask anybody anything and they’d answer me.”

Jan McAdoo met Ryan while McAdoo was also working for the Sentinel, in the online news department. McAdoo was going through a break up with a boyfriend when a Sentinel colleague suggested she move in with Ryan, who was looking for a roommate.

On Dec. 1, 1983, McAdoo moved in with Ryan. They have remained friends to this day.

McAdoo remembered Ryan’s 1985 struggles with the Stallions, because the locker room episode was highly publicized after Ryan wrote a story about it for the Sentinel.

The publication of the locker room episode “was a turning point for women in sports reporting. She was becoming part of the players’ world, breaching that invisible line of ‘You don’t cross here if you’re a woman.’”

Ryan said that “99.9 percent of the reader responses, both men and women, were ‘You slut! What were you doing in the locker room anyway? If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!’”

But, McAdoo said, Joan “didn’t get intimidated, she stuck with it.” The buzz surrounding Ryan’s article was “pretty exciting,” she said. The phone in their shared home was “ringing off the hook—she must’ve done 20-30 interviews for radio stations.”

Later that year, Ryan moved to San Francisco to become a full-time sports columnist for the San Francisco Examiner.

***

Barry Tompkins was covering Wimbledon in London as a sportscaster in the mid-1980s when he knew he was going to marry Ryan.

She walked into a London restaurant to meet him, after they had dated on and off for several months whenever he was in San Francisco.

“It was just one of those magic moments,” Tompkins said. “She’s independent and really smart. I just love the way she handles people and treats people—she’s just a really good person.”

It’s this goodness, friends and colleagues say, that makes her an effective reporter.

Ann Killion met Ryan while Killion was working at a public relations firm in San Francisco. Killion, now an award-winning sportswriter herself, counts Ryan as one of her inspirations for getting into the business.

Ryan is “very personable, she’s super-smart. She’s the way all good reporters should be: very detail-oriented. She gets to know people and they like her and that’s why they end up telling her what she wants to know. She has a very personable style,” Killion said.

McAdoo described Ryan’s reporting style a little differently.

“She’s a pain in the ass,” said McAdoo. “She asks the same question 14 different ways. She’s intense, and that’s why she’s so good. She makes people comfortable and is a good listener.”

When Ryan and Tompkins adopted a son in 1990, Ryan knew it was time to plan her exit from the full-time newspaper business.

“I always knew I wanted to be a mom,” Ryan said. “I knew I was giving up something, but I was happy to.”

Ryan traded daily newspaper work for motherhood, and soon found herself reluctantly thrown into the world of book writing.

***

“If I ever decide to write a book again, lock me in a room until I get over it,” Ryan said to Tompkins in the early 1990s, while she was working on a book about women in Olympic figure skating and gymnastics.

A literary agent had approached Ryan following the publication of a series of articles Ryan wrote for the Examiner about young women in Olympic sports.

Ryan said she was coerced into writing a book proposal—she did not really want to write a book. Once she started getting rejections, however, she decided she really wanted to write the book.

The book, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters, came out in 2005 to critical acclaim. Sports Illustrated named it one of the Top 100 Sports Books of All Time.

“I lived in fear that I had made some factual error” in the book, Ryan said, since she had not played either sport. One of her proudest accomplishments as a journalist, Ryan said, is there weren’t any factual errors in the book.

When Ryan covered gymnastics at the 1996 Olympics for the San Francisco Chronicle, she found out people on the gymnastics circuit referred to her exposé of elite gymnastics as “the book.”

“I was like the devil in gymnastics circles,” Ryan said. But she knew she was right to publish the book, because former gymnasts would come up to her during her book tour and say, “Finally, somebody told our story.”

***

“I haven’t written sports for over 10 years,” Ryan says while she sips a cappuccino in a quiet back room at Perry’s on Union Street in San Francisco, one of her and Tompkin’s favorite restaurants. Her hot pink nails and cropped red hair blaze against her black ensemble.

It has been 15 years since she published Little Girls, and 12 years since she published Shooting from the Outside, a book she co-authored with Stanford women’s basketball coach, Tara VanDerveer.

But Ryan never stopped writing. She recently published a book about her family’s struggles after her son suffered massive head trauma from a skateboarding accident.

And sports have never been cut completely out of her life.

“Somehow we always go back to what we’re good at, and what we’re comfortable with,” said McAdoo. For Ryan, that is sports.

Ryan currently works for the San Francisco Giants as a media consultant, and if the rumors are true, she will soon start working on a book about baseball.

“I always consider her a sportswriter first,” said McAdoo. “When I think of Joan, I think of sports.”

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Gunshot Detection Technology Triggers Controversy

Everything you ever wanted to know about Big Brother watching you...or at least your discharges...

Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!

A computer screen lights up with red dots showing where shots were just fired in East Palo Alto, Calif. A police dispatcher sees where the incident occurred and listens to the sound of the shots to rule out false alarms, like backfiring motorcycles or firecrackers. Then the dispatcher calls squad cars to the scene.

This is ShotSpotter’s acoustic gunshot detection and location technology in action. ShotSpotter’s main competitor, Safety Dynamics, invented a system that works differently, but with the same goal: to alert public safety officials to the location of a crime involving firearms within seconds of the discharge.

The systems themselves, however, have created political and cultural controversy among law enforcement officials and members of the public, who believe the cost of the systems outweighs the benefit, that the systems’ existence raises privacy concerns, and that the systems’ accuracy is questionable.

COST

Founded in 1995 in Mountain View, Calif., ShotSpotter bases its technology on acoustic data similar to that used by geologists to locate earthquakes. A minimum of three acoustic sensors is placed on poles and rooftops in a high-crime area. When a shot goes off, the sensors send data to a computer that determines through triangulation, or how loud the shot sounded to each sensor, where the shot came from. The ShotSpotter system costs $300,000 per square mile covered, plus a flat annual maintenance, update, and retraining fee of 15 percent of the purchase price.

“That kind of money could be better spent on hiring more police officers,” said Dr. Tom Nolan, associate professor of criminal justice at Boston University, and 27-year veteran of the Boston Police Department.

CLICK HERE to read more.