Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Letter to My Sciatic Nerve

Dear Mr. Nerve,

I know I pissed you off.
Too much, too soon! you said.
For a month at you I scoffed
Believing you were hambutt, instead.

But that was three months ago
And still you are irritated
I can't even run slow
Without being berated

Can we please work this out
before the season starts?
That gives you one more week to shout
Then we must stop falling apart.

I've iced, and ibuprofened
but you still protest all motion
Even sitting makes you mad
and you make me very sad

You've even called upon immune
so you two can work in tune
to keep me from training at all
but still you won't hear my call

For all of us to work together
despite Stanford's crappy weather
To run, to play, to get my training on
so I can kick ass at collegiate triathlon.

This is the only year we can compete
so I'm begging you to be happy
and drop this mad rage that you're on
so we can race the Treeathlon!

Thank you, and I look forward to your positive response.

Best,

Erin

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hilly Stanford Run Directions (10+ Miles)

Once upon a time, when I could run freely without protest from my sciatic nerve, I used to do this run all of the time, throwing in multiple dish loops to make it take 2 hours. If you're ever around Stanford, you must at least do the dish loop part--it's a rite of passage. On a clear day, you can see from San Francisco, across the bay, and to the mountains south of San Jose. Pretty sweet stuff.

View Xtreme Dish Run in a larger map

P.S. If you've ever beaten an unruly and genuinely pissed-off sciatic nerve, please let me know how, without actually beating it. Or ripping it out with your bare hands. I'm told it's a required body part, unlike an appendix.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ironman Arizona 2009-The Photos

While I was running around shooting video, I shot a bunch of photos, too. Here are some of my favorites from IMAZ '09.



Sunday, January 24, 2010

Beat the Rain with an Animal Bike Saddle Cover

I was locking my bike up outside my apartment when I looked over at the bike next to mine and saw this:

I immediately came down with a case of bike-saddle-cover envy. Big time. I was entirely wrong to attach a plastic grocery bag to my pants before hopping on my rainy Raleigh.

And not only because grocery bags aren't stylish.

I spent an entire hour in the gym on Thursday night with a Vons bag stuck to my butt; I forgot to pull it off before jumping on the elliptical and lifting weights. I have clearly not learned proper rain-commuting etiquette.

For only about 10 euros, I could've avoided the gym gaffe by dressing my bike up with a funny plastic animal.


Vinçon, a design firm based in Barcelona, sells the cover above (also in black, see below), along with this dog cover on their website.

And for riders who think these shouldn't be used by anyone over the age of 10, check out this saddle cover at REI. Not nearly as cute, but it'll get the job done.

Now please, rain, go away!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ironman Arizona 2009--Spousal Competition

When Iron-couple Jim and Meredith Davidson take on IMAZ together, competition takes a back seat to love.

Or does it?

Social Networking Etiquette--Digital PDA

Facebook updates are a fabulous waste of time.

But with the new technology comes new boundary issues that too many people overstep, athletes included.

For example: It is completely unnecessary and a majorly strange for someone who is engaged or married to somebody else to constantly write sweet nothings on their significant other's wall.

If your fiancé / husband has to look at his Facebook page to read you say, "I love you," something is amiss. It's a new era of digital PDA, and yes, it makes your friends want to gag or even vomit just as much as real, in-person PDA. Maybe even more.

Athletes are not immune to overstepping personal boundaries on the internet, either. Frequent daily updates of all of the "awesome" workouts you have accomplished are unnecessary. In fact, how can you sneak in a win over your buddies when you've been posting splits from every track workout and time trial you've been doing leading up to your A race?

If you're not concerned about bombarding your friends with your athleticism, at least consider it from this angle: it's self sabotage.

UNLESS you're a pro. Then please do post absolutely everything you've been doing, eating, etc...throughout the day. We'd all like to be as fast as you are.

In conclusion, it's easy to overstep social boundaries using Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking tools. Posting a love note on your significant other's wall or updating everyone on a rad workout is not an inherently bad thing to do--in moderation.

It's all about the frequency with which you post this stuff.

So before you get your panties in a twist, because you've done one or both of these things, do this little self-test to see if your friends are secretly plotting the demise of your friend/twitter feeds:

Look at your wall. Is almost every update from you, about a workout? If you answer yes, cool it. If not, give yourself a pat on the back an go for a ride.

Now look at your significant other's wall. Is almost every wall post from you? If yes, work on having more face/phone time. If not, give yourself a pat on the back for not needing your friends and family to validate your e-relationship.

Now look at your wall again. If you passed tests #1 and #2, but your wall is covered in posts from your significant other, it's time to have a talk. Yeah, one of those talks. Even in the digital era, if your sig. other has trouble verbally expressing him/herself, cards--real, physical cards--are a far more romantic way to go.

Capisce? Va bene.

P.S. Want to read about a major digital boundary violation committed by thousands of people getting divorced? Check out this Salon.com article.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Competitor Group, Owner of Triathlete Magazine, Gets a Personnel Overhaul

As Slowtwitch.com reported, Competitor Group Inc., owners of Triathlete, Inside Triathlon, VeloNews,and Competitor magazines, got a new head honcho.

Competitor Group nabbed Andrew Hersam, former publisher for Runner's World Media Group, as Competitor Group's new Executive VP of Media, overseeing the four magazines.

Which is cool.

But his coming seemed to be perfectly timed with the goings of several long-time Triathlete Magazine staffers, including publisher, John Duke, editor Jay Prasuhn, who will be starting his own triathlon magazine called TRI, photographer John Segesta, and VP of Sales and Marketing Sean Watkins.

Slowtwitch hinted at the oddity of this phemenon at the end of this article, but no one seems to be talking about it, as Slowtwitch hasn't posted any news since the 11th.

So, in the interest of juicy tri-related gossip, what happened!?

It can't be a BO problem. Competitor is a company made up of sweaty endurance athletes. BO cannot bother such people.

UPDATE (1/15/10): Slowtwitch's Timothy Carlson spoke with Duke. In this interview, Duke explains how he nurtured Triathlete Mag into the success that it is today. It also explains that Duke's leadership style clashed with the new corporate configuration of Triathlete et al. as Competitor Group, Inc.

I only met Duke briefly a year ago, but I'd agree with Carlson's assessment of Duke's personality: Duke comes on strong and intimidating, but it's clear from talking with him for a few minutes (or anyone who knows him) that he's a sweetie on the inside.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Using Denture Cleaner to Rid Cycling Bottles of Nasty Mold

I admit it. I once had a water bottle that looked like it could've spawned mutant sea-life inside, but I couldn't see the creatures through all of the mold.

That's what happens if you leave Gatorade or (especially) CarboPro in your bottle post-ride. But if your ride was 18 hours long (or, you know, spinning at the gym), sometimes you just don't feel like cleaning when you get home. Cue the spawning of mutant bottlefish.

However, there is a cure for your disgusting piece of plastic other than being wasteful, throwing it out, and buying a new one. Or waiting for the next race that hands out water bottles in their goody bag.

The answer to all of your problems is in this little pill:


















If you ever had retainers, you probably encountered the miracle that is denture cleaner. Drop one pill in, let it fizz. In the case of Efferdent, it'll turn clear when its done cleaning. (At least its supposed to...in my experiment, the water still looked blue...maybe the bottle was just that bad.)



(Turns blue. Nasty stuff rises to top.)

Then dump the stuff out and rinse. All the algae and grime and fuzz and stuff in your bottle will scrub off easily now, if
it didn't already jump ship at the sight of the Efferdent tablet.

Voilà. Like-new bottle.

So the next time your spouse or training partner gets on your case for your inability to rinse your bottles after every ride, whip out your denture cleaner and tell him/her you've got it covered.

Then laugh when they start staring curiously at your teeth.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Doctor who Assaulted Cyclists with his Car gets 5 Years in Prison

Finally, some justice in the highly publicized case of Christopher Thompson, a former ER doctor who slammed on his brakes in front of two cyclists in July, 2008.

He gets 5 years in prison.

There are many cyclists who think he should be put on a bike, shoved down a hill, then have a car screech to a halt in front of him. Or have his nose and teeth shattered, like Ron Peterson did. (Don't look at that link if you're sensitive, or just ate.)

But as the bumper sticker says, "A nose for a nose makes the whole world stuffy."

Wait, that's not it...

The verdict is a semi-win for bike advocates in Los Angeles. According to the LA Times Blog, LA Now, "Judge Scott T. Millington called the case a 'wake-up call' to motorists and cyclists and urged local government to provide riders with more bike lanes."

Will local government listen?

Triathlon Terms / Jargon For the Uninitiated

If you are new to the sport, or want to make it through this blog with your head on straight, there are some terms you need to know. And you should want to know them, because letting them slip at random in front of your non-tri-knowledgable buddies will make you seem infinitely cool.

(Note: There are a gazillion tri-terms to choose from. These are the fun ones.)

Let's start off easy. There are a lot of terms that describe the extent to which a triathlete feels like crud.

A brick (n.) is a bike-then-run workout. It is named thusly because that's what your legs feel like when you run after you bike. Triathletes love bricks.
ex: You: I just went swimming easy this morning 'cuz I have a huge brick planned tomorrow.
Your friend: Woah.

You hit the wall (v.t./n.) when you have nothing left. You gave it everything and you can't make yourself go any harder. Like running into a wall. There's nowhere left
to go. And it hurts.
ex: You: Man, I hit the wall at the end and Carlos kicked it in to the finish ahead of me.
Your friend: Carlos beat you? You wuss.

Maybe you hit the wall because you were about to bonk. You bonk (v.i.) when you screw up your nutrition and your body is eating itself to try to keep you going. Or it will start eating you if you don't eat something, like pure sugar. Avoid the bonk (n.).
ex: You: Man, I just totally bonked and limped home.
Your friend: I know, you were sucking my wheel all the way back and never took a pull. You jerk.

Time for some cycling terminology:

Wheel sucking (n/v) the art of riding with only centimeters between you and the person in front of you.
To take a pull (v.) to ride at the front of the peloton so the people behind you can draft off of you.
To draft (v.) to follow closely behind another cyclist(s) so they block the wind and do all of the work for you. The faster you go, the more you energy you save by making someone else pull you. That's why drafting is illegal in most amateur triathlons. Every triathlete for his/herself!
Peloton (n.) a large group of cyclists.
Tri-ton (n.) a large group of cyclists with aero bars.
Aero bars (n.) those funny things that stick out of some people's bikes where normal handlebars used to be so the rider can (comfortably) crouch down in a more aerodynamic position, thereby looking mean and fierce and letting the rider go all aggro if s/he wants.
Aggro (adv/adj) aggressive. You can go aggro. Or you can be aggro. Or some jerk in your
peloton can go all aggro on you and push you till you puke. In which case, if you can keep up for a few seconds an get alongside him, you can snot on him.
To snot (v.) the art of snot rocketing while on the bike. Cycling makes everyone have a runny nose. It's physics. Place your hand on nostril opposite the snot-loaded one, and blow.
ex: You: Dang it! I just snot on myself!
Your friend: Gross! You gotta work on that.
Your friend then proceeds to snot on you, and in trying to avoid the gelatinous projectile, you swerve and hit something, tacoing your wheel.
To taco a wheel (v/adj.) to whack something in such a manner that you bend your wheel in the shape of a taco. Your wheel is now tacoed.
Neapolitan tan (n.) what happens when you wear 2-3 different length bike shorts on separate rides and wind up with a progressive tan up your thigh. Like the shade gradation of Neapolitan ice cream.

T1 (n.) transition #1. Where you go to switch from swim to bike.
T2 (n.) transition #2. Where you go to switch from bike to run.
T3 (n.) transition #3. Where you go to switch from run to massage or food. This term is not as well-knwn as T1 and T2, but is equally as important.

Transition area (n.) where your stuff hangs out and waits for you while you're doing other things. Sometimes, they're in two places. At an Ironman, your stuff is in bags and thousands of volunteers grab it for you, help you change, put sunscreen on you and hand you your bike. It's like being a tri-celibrity.

Ironman (n.) a triathlon of this exact distance: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run. AKA an event that you do so you can brag for the rest of your life, and develop an entire wardrobe based on a corporate symbol: the M-Dot. Maybe even get some tattoos. (See below.)

70.3 or Half Ironman (n.) exactly half the distance of an Ironman (140.6). The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) owns the Ironman and 70.3 names, so if you see a race that's called an Iron-distance triathlon, or a half-iron distance triathlon, it's 'cuz they'd get sued to call it an Ironman. Only official Ironman-distance races can qualify a triathlete for Kona.

Kona. (You know, the city in Hawaii?) The place every triathlete dreams of going. The holy grail of Ironman racing. It's where the Ironman started, and where you can't race unless you qualify by finishing another Ironman at the very tipity top of your age group. (Or you get a media slot, or win in a lottery.)

Olympic distance triathlon: the distance that was used in this year's olympics. This is the exact distance for any triathlon labeled "olympic distance": 1500 meter swim, 40K bike, 10K run.

Sprint triathlon: any combo of swim-bike-run at a shorter distance than an olympic distance tri.

Xterra: an off-road triathlon. They can be all different distances, but most championship races have a 1500 meter swim, about a 20 mile bike, and a 10K run. Just like the Ironman World Championship are in Kona, the Xterra World Championship is in Maui. Unlike Ironman, if you commit a long time in advance to the Maui race, you can race it without having to be the best in the world. ALthough the best in the world will be there, and they will crush you.

USAT: USA Triathlon. The governing body of triathlon racing in the United States.

So now the next time someone says to you: "Dude, I did a brick yesterday morning but I still did the 70.3 today and I went all aggro and hit the wall." You can nod your head in understanding. And not in an eyebrow-raising way as if to say, "Riiiiight. Sure you did."

I think that's enough for now. Let me know if I missed anything! More terms to come: dolphining, chain suck, DNF, mashing, and lube.




Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Collegiate Triathlon Begins

This quarter marks the beginning of the collegiate triathlon season. I will be covering sports and outdoor adventures from the collegiate angle.

Get ready for some (mostly) non-varsity action, where athletes don't get scholarships to train like pros, but they do it anyway. Sort of.

Just like age-groupers.

Coming up: Injuries that survived the off-season despite great effort to heal, and what to do about them. The self-pity party can only last so long. Look! It's over!


Becoming a Trekkie

A few days after Christmas, I watched the new Star Trek movie with coachubby and our parents. Inspired by J.J. Abrams' camera shaking and directing techniques, we created our own short films.

Et voici, les films:

Heavenly Earthquake
Starring: Me & Coachubby's Mom & Dad

video

Lurch
Starring: Me, Little Bro, Mom, Dad, Coachubby's Dad


video

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Original Pain in the Ass

"Turns out this lady was freaky-deaky and hurt her back on a sex swing," says the 5'6", 32-year old, short brown-haired dude who pulled my pants down and was jabbing his thumbs into my butt.

Let's back this up a bit.

I went to physical therapy every day before Christmas with one goal in mind: to fix the pain in my ass.

My left butt started hurting November 6th. By mid-December it still hurt, and stopped me from running the California International Marathon. I was not pleased. The pain in my ass was becoming a true pain in the ass. Something had to be done.

And so for four days straight, I walked over to PT to have my pants pulled down by a brown-haired, lawyer-wannabe-turned physical therapist/bar mitzvah DJ, then have my left bum manipulated, stretched, stimulated with tingly pads, and iced.

Merry Christmas to my butt.

In order to decrease the awkwardness of the situation that broken butt syndrome (aka piriformis syndrome) creates, I tried to chat up Dr. DJ. Maybe it would keep his eyes off of the, um, prize.

"What's the most common injury that you see here?" I asked.
"Oh, usually a lot of lower back pain."
"Do you get a lot of older people with that problem?" It seemed like a logical question. One that would conjure up images of his grandma and keep his eyes off of my left butt cheek.
"Well, this one woman came in when I was an intern."
"Uh huh." Good. Grandma stories. It's working.
"And she told me she was having intense back pain."
"Uh huh." Maybe she hurt it picking up the dog or something.
"So I had to ask her how she did it to get an idea of what I'd do to treat it."
"That makes sense."
"Then she blushed and got all embarrassed."
"Oh God!" I scream.
"You don't even know what happens next!"
"No! Freaking-A! That hurts!" He found the evil spot.
"Oh. Well, it's supposed to hurt."
"OK, continue."
"She tells me she did it having sex."
Holy Lord this is awkward.
"So I go to tell my attending, since I have to ask permission before doing anything since I'm just an intern. He says I have to get more detail so we know how to treat her."

He squeezes out more lotion and jabs his thumbs into my butt. Coachubby is gonna love this story.

"Uh huh."
"So I have her write it down on the treatment form. Turns out this lady was freaky-deaky and hurt her back on a sex swing."
"No way!" I start fiddling with my wedding ring.
"So after she left, we took her name off of the form, and framed it and put it up on the wall."
"Ha. That's...funny," I say.

Dr. DJ pulls my my pants back up over my left butt and begins to stretch my hamstring. That innocent stretch never seemed so awkward. It was a relief when he had his young, blond sidekick take me to the "stim machine", where he wiped my bum down with alcohol and stuck pads onto it.

Maybe it was all done in that order to make "bum stimulation" not seem as embarassing.

Either way, lesson learned: Do not injure your bum. Fixing it is awkward. And a pain in the ass.