Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thoughts on Liiiiiifeeee

Been awhile since you've read my innermost thoughts...besides important conundrums about farting or dying at the barber shop (all in all major issues in the scheme of things). This blog always seems to change in temperament and theme. Kinda like a person! I suppose that makes sense. Sometimes I write for a specific audience and sometimes just for me. Or maybe sometimes that specific audience is just me. How's that for self-centered! Self-centered is really just my initials backwards, so it must be fate that binds us together.

One morsel of knowledge I found out yesterday is that I have worked for the big 3 in mi vida...non-profit, governmental, and for profit/private companies. Did all that by the time I turned 25! Not to mention I've also worked manual labor for my which case he calls me Pancho, speaks to me in Spanish and lets me drink water from the hose. Thanks Pops. He also pays in cash and thinks I'm about as handy as a mannequin. Well...that's what you get when you pay by the hour....just sayin'.

The next step is self-employed/entrepreneur. I keep looking for those postings but can't find 'em anywhere.

Anyway, onto the thoughts that plague the 30+ mile biker on his rides through rural Virginia. Riding a bike is a great way to cure things like cancer, the meaning of life, or indigestion. It can also make you impotent, swallow bugs, and/or paralyzed when you get hit by a car. I'm unsure if there's another experience comparable to cycling. In any case, it does allow you to analyze philosophical meanderings in the kind of depth they warrant. For example I spend an exceedingly large amount of time wondering why a Nobel Peace Prize winner keeps a "Kill List". Or how liberals somehow don't recognize that forcing people to buy private health insurance plans is the greatest corporate handout ever. Or why they don't make a Skittles/Starburst combination pack when you just can't decide. Things like this.

I also get to thinking about relationships. Specifically, you and that significant other of yours who live a sad, exclusive life of mutual dependence, misery, resentment, exasperation and occasional lust that's about as spontaneous and unique as putting socks on in the morning. (SMILE!!) Obviously, that's a lopsided analysis. There are also some negatives that counteract the positive attributes.

Okay, okay, fine. Totally untrue. You all lead wonderful, full lives with your selfless spouse who strives only to please and keep things interesting. That be the nihilistic inclination is to question the paradigm of our relationships.

Recently, someone close to me went through a bad breakup. Breakups are never GOOD (unless it's a death and you had a life insurance policy), but she had it particularly rough. I partially attribute her sorrow to her co-dependence with her boyfriend. She is one of those people who became so wrapped up in her 'other' that she lose sight of who she is. When her relationship came crashing down, and this is almost always gonna happen given a long enough time frame, her entire world imploded.

There's really not a whole lot you can do to help a person in this situation. Generally what happens is they grieve an exorbitant amount and then repeat the same cycle with some new dufus whenever that happens. Truly a cyclical pattern. Instead...they should focus on diversifying their interests and outlets to mitigate any potential burn when a relationship hits its crossroads.

This is why having a goal like a marathon, a triathlon, a novel, or a volunteer group is so crucial. It helps distract and remind us that we're more than just our relationship. It gives us a sense of purpose and individuality. In fact one of the things I recommended to her was to set a goal of running a half-marathon. (She did, although race date was set rather hurriedly).

Moreover, having interests and hobbies attracts others - the quickest remedy to healing a bad breakup (finding someone new). So not only does it insulate us from potential devastation, it's a creative release, often a social endeavor, and makes us more desirable for the next unfortunate bloke who comes our way.

Secondly, and maybe more importantly is the fact that we invest A SIGNIFICANT amount of our emotional and psychological reserves onto our 'other'. We can see how that is problematic when things go sour. On one hand, you should divulge your private details and give your heart openly. On the other, you must remain somewhat guarded so you can actually rebound in the event of a separation. It's a balance to give yourself fully sans inhibition, and protect yourself from a natural course of relationships.

Perhaps one way is to diversify your outlets. You wouldn't bank at just one bank. You wouldn't put all you cash in one wallet, right? For men - having emotional outlets can be even more challenging (especially if they don't have a mother to talk to). But frankly, it's crucial to find alternative friends/relatives/co-workers etc. to bounce some of your steam off of. Or to share a secret or two.

I think it's imbalanced and burdensome to have all your eggs in one basket. Why is it that the person I have sex with is the ONLY one. Or the person I share secrets with is the ONLY one. Maybe for a different post I can expound more on these thoughts, but the paradigm of relationships is unnatural and flawed. To glamorize the canonical relationship as a template of success would be to not witness centuries of contrary evidence (kinda like just-war theory).

I'm not necessarily espousing putting up boundaries between you and your significant other. I think for each their own and each couple knows what's best for them. But it seems it would only augment our relationships to have more options/outlets/interests/hobbies. (except for the lonely tri-widows of course).

Monday, May 28, 2012

WOW...It's HOT

I grew up in the desert. Phoenix, Arizona to be specific. And if you've been to Phoenix in the summer you know what the metal part of your seat belt feels like after sitting in a parking lot all afternoon. Scalding. People have gotten nasty burns from things as bizarre as their steering wheel. You could scramble eggs on the asphalt is the saying. Though it's not all that sanitary so I don't recommend it.

Today felt like one of those days. Granted, East coast version of heat is generally significantly numerically lower than the West, but when you combine the're in for a front-tow ticket to Purgatory. Or, as I like to say, "Just another day in Hell."

Did I mention it's hot??? Anyway, hydrate people! Make sure you take in enough fluids and get some salts in you to replenish the sweat. Oddly, your body probably feels bloated and many are reluctant to eat/drink when it gets hotter. I don't know how important eating food is (more than usual that is) but I do think that drinking more H20 and some electrolytes can do more to stave off unwanted heat-related illnesses than you'd think.

The one time I sustained a mini heat-stroke was playing Junior College tennis in Glendale, Arizona. I had three matches that day. It was the state championships. My first match was a singles match against my arch-rival (he and I split the series that year).

He was a better player than me. Certainly more talented with better strokes. But my advantage was my tenacity and I would chase down balls and keep it in play long enough for him to hit it out of frustration. And also I'd stare him down and shout ferociously whenever I won a point. That helped.

Luckily for me, the girls and boys teams (Scottsdale Community College Artichokes...yep the fightin' Artichokes!) coalesced for the final set behind the fence and cheered on raucously after each successful point. It was one of the coolest feelings of my life. It came down to a tie-breaker and the court temperature had to be above 110. I had done track workouts in worse, so I was prepared. But dude I was playing against bonked hard. I think I beat him 7-1 or something in the break.

Winning was it's own form of punishment. It got me to the next round where I played against a kid who swept me during the regular season.

My game plan changed. My energy reserves were somewhat depleted (it was a quick turnaround). I ate only half a banana and a few sips of water in between.

But buoyed from my previous win, I took the first set 6-1. I serve and volleyed impeccably. I knew he was too good to allow it to happen twice....but I tried anyway. He hit some incredible passing shots and stole the next set 7-5. Drat. Final set, I was truly hurting. Temperatures creeped up even hotter. Coach pleaded with me to take a timeout to get some fluids but I wanted to plod on. Undeterred by my shoddy performance and anxious to turn it around.

Big mistake.

Got crushed the final set 6-1. Bleh. Shoulda drank some more fluids.

Had a two hour break and because I was dejected from my loss, I neglected to properly nutr...iate...whatever. You know what I mean.

I was playing with the reigning singles champion of the state, my teammate Kenneth. Kenneth was approximately twice as good as me. And we had beaten this team twice in the regular season. All we had to was stick to the fckin game plan. I.E...let Kenneth hit the ball as much as possible.

Of course the fuckers preyed on me and hit almost every ball to my side of the court. At one point Kenneth dove over just to get a piece of the action. It was pretty funny really.

We split the first two sets, but I was the weakest link on the court and we lost the match. Kenneth was pissed. It wasn't his fault. He coulda beaten those dudes by himself.

Now this is tangentially related to hydrating when it's hot only because afterward (later that night) I got the chills and was extremely dizzy. I met up with the gf and her family for dinner and spent the entire time in the bathroom vomiting/dry heaving. Heat stroke can be one of the worst feelings in the world. It's like when you have the flu or you're shwasted and can't do a thing about it but wait for it to pass (by puking).

So to curb this type of repugnant behavior...hydrate this summer. No need to force the foods...but at least get some salts/electrolytes in your system so you don't bonk...even more important for me now as an endurance athlete.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Places/Situations to Avoid

Here is a link to some REV3 Knoxville Professional Photos. A solid race for me.

1) Having your bangs trimmed the moment an earthquake hits. (Am I the only one who has this irrational fear each time I go to the barber??)

2) Passing a cop car on a single-lane highway. (happened to me in Spokane (pronounced Spoke-Anne for any ignoramuses out there), WA. Was so wrapped up in my convo that I unwittingly passed a 'marked' cop car. Cop thought it was so blatantly egregious he actually laughed before he sodomized me....that last part was a joke...I think??).

3) Speaking of our friendly serve-and-protect assholes...Attending any act of civil disobedience. Undercover cops have been infiltrating protests as protesters enticing/encouraging some to act violently (rarely successful), then beating the shit out of them and justifying the resulting police brutality. Awwww democracy how we love thee :).

4) G-chatting about your boss when your computer freezes and she comes over to examine a report you were supposed to be working on (never happened to me....obviously).

5) Farting in a nightclub the moment the lights come on and the music stops.

5.a) Speaking of bodily functions, peeing in the pool before pushing off the wall...only to have the lady swimming in your lane stop to rest right in the 'warm' spot. Awkward.

5.b) Droppin' a deuce in someone else's house. Just don't do it..shit's weird.

6)  Freeways in the D.C. area between 7AM-8PM. Pretty much stick to driving them only between midnight and 5AM.

6.a) Cutting off/flipping off someone driving 15 under the speed limit...only to have him pull up next to you at the next stoplight.

7) Checking out the ass on the blonde waiting in line at the grocery store...only to find out it's a dude...or your sister. Or she's 12. Dammit just keep your eyes straight ahead.

8) When girlfriend catches you in above offense.

9) Calling in sick, then taking your bike out for a spin right past the office in which you work...not a smart move - definitely don't recommend this one.

10) Describing the dude you're hooking up with to an acquaintance who doesn't know the dude by name. That is...until you flash a pic text you received and the other girl says, "OMG! That's my sister's BF!!" (Yaaaaaa....lots of lessons to be learned here. Never send a face w/ pic text, don't gossip, don't philander....)

11) Attaching the wrong word.doc to your co-workers in an email. Like, the file you saved as "Who in the office deserves to die most". (probably best not to compose this one anyhow...keep it a mental list).

12) Passing a couple of roadies while biking and snarkily saying, "See ya suckas" only to realize they were taking a break and zoom past you with ease 1/2 mile later (Don't look at me...I woulda said "Peace out bitches!")

13) Talking to yourself in front of the mirror in a bathroom...only to realize someone was in the far stall and he comes over to wash his hands...not much you can do here...just keep talking.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mighty Mud Mania

Mud and Sparta races have caught on about as fast as Crossfit. I've been reluctant to dive in because it's scaaarrrrryyyyyyyyyy. But on Sunday I sucked it up, put my game face on, and traveled down to Bum Fuck Nowhereville, Maryland with 25,000 other white trash zombies (and attorneys and other easily duped youngings) to climb obstacles, brave fire pits, and climb under mud pits with barb wire hovering inches above our heads.

Sanitary? As Sarah Palin would say, "You betcha!" (In fact I think I saw here there...her type of folk..)

First thing I noticed as we arrived at the 'race site' was holy shit...THIS many people signed up for THIS! Lines of cars jammed the highway creating a frustrating traffic jam that took about 20 minutes to maneuver. We meandered through some uncut grassy fields where they charged us $10 to park. I thought this was rather amusing and compounded the irony of WE REGISTERED FOR THIS?!?! As novices to the mud-infused theme park, we didn't know what to wear/bring so we erred on the side of the ascetic and were planning on leaving everything at race site.

Don't worry...we brought a change of clothes.

I elected to wear my 'Obama '08 campaign shirt. You know, the one I wore back in 2007 when I believed in democracy, change, and liberal policies. Ahhhh, to be young again. Funny enough, as we meet up with folks who'd be joining us in the torture the first thing they say is, "You're gonna wear THAT shirt?? It's gonna get ruined!"

YAY I replied. That's the point I added.

The liberal folk were nonplussed to say the least (probably making the typical assumption that I was some whacky Romney supporter), but I didn't bother to lecture them on the merits of anarchy. For another venue perhaps.

One of the initial things I noticed was burly men holding hoses carrying large amounts of water blasting half naked folks. It was somewhat frightening as it elicited an eery reminder of Civil Rights era America (the black people one) or a decade or two before, WWII. Astoundingly, this thought didn't dissipate as the very next thing I saw was a GIGANTIC pile of shoes.

Holy mother of Holocaust. As someone with a Jewish last name and background, I practically made a U-turn right then and there. This was like a volunteer concentration camp. But I was coaxed into staying because The National Guard was recruiting the bottom of the barrel blokes, overweight white rednecks were beaming with joy and booze, and a fire pit in the distance with booming smoke, while some rabid man screamed into a microphone quelled my fears. Yes, that's what greeted me on race site.

Undeterred by the frightening show, I plodded on, something about 'well, i already paid for it so might as well do it' repeating in my mind. #jewishproblems

Enough of the pre-race pizzaz, onto the course itself.

We meandered through rural Maryland, hilly terrain with various obstacles, mudpits, logs, and barbed wire impeding our progress. The first half mile was relatively easy, just a few minor hurdles of giant tree trunks or pools of mud to run through. Near the one mile marker, the obstacles began. As a hunky half-diety of a man (self-proclaimed), I had no trouble with the puny constructs. The fairer sex would find the events more challenging as their lack of height inhibited their ability to make the large gaps in ladder steps or their lack of upper-body strength made it far more difficult to conquer some of the obstacles. But that's enough misogyny for one paragraph. P.S. Women suck. jk :).

Moving on...the course wrapped around some winding hills and probably the highlight was a long hill covered in a tarp that was used as a waterslide. My fat ass nearly got stuck going down but I managed to make it down into the sitting warm pool of unsafe water below.

Sidenote: Running in nasty old tennis shoes is one completely drenched running shoes uphill covered in mud...well that's a bit of a challenge.

After successfully passing a group of guys in shirts and ties (awesome attire selection dudes) we plunged into the endless final mudpit abyss. Well first, we hopped over three piles of fire and unfortunately, no one ate it. Bummer.

The final mudpit was one of the nastiest things I've ever encountered. Worse than that time I sharted in my shorts and had to walk home from Dupont Circle.

Barb wire hung above our heads and 3 feet deep of mud was between us and the finish line (about 100 feet away). Ugh. Reid (from previous posts) busted out a freestyle technique that woulda made Michael Phelps blush. He OWNED that mud pit. I swear, it was one of the most impressive feats I've witnessed at a white-trash, holocaust replica, beer drinkin' military totin venue I e'er seen. You betcha.

I took exceedingly longer as my swimming for some reason sucks right now (no triathlon venting though...I promised myself). Swimming through mud with no leverage underneath was not easy. I moved about 1/2 foot per second.

Finally I managed to squirm through (hurray for finishing!) and stood in line to get 'hosed down'.

Brrrrrrr. Water=cold. However, I must say, it felt pretty damn good to get the 8+ pounds of mud off of me. Afterward we rewarded with a free beer and went to a local diner for a late breakfast.

I had a vegetarian omelete, home fries, and an english muffin. And whatever anyone else didn't finish. I was starved.

Then, we passed by Rita's (custard and frozen ice). So obviously I stopped for lissert (lunch dessert). All in all, we had a blast.

Would I do it again....probably - maybe if it included more arduous obstacles and a higher likelihood of potential death. It's one thing to fear for your life due to the anti-semites, and quite another to do so based on clinging to a rope 50 feet above fire....maybe Spartan races is where I'm headed next???

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Some shots of Good ol' Knoxville, TN. Very cool place. Well hot actually, but you know what I mean.

About 1000ft. above sea level.
Ar arch near Market Square.
Women's rights in Tennessee?!?! WTF?
Gay Street. Which I called 'Fag' (it's okay to make fun of gays now since Obama says they're equal)
Quiet ol' place.
They get something like 140,000 fans for football games. Fucking insane. Wouldn't get that many people for Christ Round 2 (when is that btw...)
The front of Neyland Stadium. Right near the parking garage of Transition.
Great shot from the bridge. We swam right by that in the James River.
Opposite side of James River.

World's Fair Park. Near the finish! This is facing down towards the stadium/waterfront. Behind is finish line (uphill).
Fresh lime juice?! you really have to ask???
Pre-race fiesta. Mexican food in honor of Cinco de Mayo (which is Mexican for FUCK YA AMIGO!)
Moments before Bodemeister got his ass whupped. And plate contained food.
Mariachi(s) can be white??? Only in TN.
 Vol Fever!!! B/C I'm me, I went on to ask the lady at the front what color the Volunteers were. And where I could find a shirt (if any place in the city).
 Matty Reed. Dude is a GIANT. Gotta be at least 6'5". Walked by him a few times and he was sizing me up for sure. I sensed fear in his eyes. He didn't win this year.
 Men get posters for their transition racks. Dope shit. Asked the lady where mine was....she said, oh honey, you're not a professional. Nearly stole Yoder's poster on my way out.
 Women get 'em too! Womens lib is alive and kickin' in TN.
 Greg Bennett consoling the first loser Cameron Dye (creepiest looking dude ever). Reminds me of IT clown.
 Top 2 women...Kelly Williamson and Lauren Goss. Goss = yummy.
 Accosting Ryan...he's like please get the fuck off me, dude.
 Shots of Caroline, Reid and Jay in exiting the swim.
 You can see the tiny boat she lies in.
 Jay, Reid and Caroline finishing.
 Awesome stuff.
 Great pic. Inspiring. That'd be Reid who swam at UNC. Helluva family.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Moving on Monday

Can't say I'm not a wee bit exhausted after the past few weeks. In fact, woke up this morning (and part of last night) with a sore throat. And no, it's not from yelling at the TV watching the Miami Heat potentially squander home court advantage in the playoffs. They didn't, thankfully.

I raced yet again this weekend making it three consecutive weekends. All in all, I'm happy with each of the races. I've come into them with a healthy attitude, consistent training and the results are on par with my fitness level. I was thinking of writing another race recap for the one on Saturday, but I assume you guys are a little burnt out on reading 'em and I'm a bit burnt out on writing 'em. They can be a bit monotonous to read I'm sure.

I will try and post some photos/race stats so you can peep those at your leisure.

I did snag 5th overall out of 800 some odd men and another 800 some odd women...and saw the pace motorcycle again for much of the race. It's super cool to be in the first wave - of that I am sure.

Couple a things.

1) Got my GPA for this semester - 3.7. Only 12 credits shy of attaining my M.A. I was going to take a summer class but with the China trip looming I think I'll wait 'til Fall.

2) Boss at work wants me to start coming in 3x per week instead of 2. Sucks. It really only affects my swimming as I can swim at my lunch hour when I telework - but not in the office. Will have to find a way to sneak an extra swim session in there. Speaking of..part of the reason is to take on more responsibility...which generally leads to higher pay. So I think. I have my annual review soon, and am hoping to get a significant raise...we shall see.

3) CHINA. Pops booked a room for the three of us in Hong Kong at one of the most spectacular hotels in the city. So lucky, and stoked. To top it off, it has an outdoor 50 meter pool! #awesome. Oh, and also a 400m track. I'm trying to recruit a couple of friends to meet me while I'm in looks promising thus far! I'll be departing the states July 25 and returning August 19th. That's almost an ENTIRE MONTH. SOOO happy. Think about it everyday actually. Much of my readership (whether temporary or permanent) I've acquired through my traveling posts throughout the years, so be on the lookout for some coming your way shortly. The first 4 days will be spent in HK and the remainder will be cycling through China ending at Beijing.

4) Speaking of cultural whereabouts...this past weekend was Euroweek at the Embassy's. Missed the 'world week' the week before because of Knoxville, but I hustled down almost immediately after the race on Saturday to partake on the fun. It was fucking cool. For those unfamiliar D.C. is host to the embassy's, in fact I live just off the 'Embassy Row', Massachussets Avenue. If you live in D.C. you're used to seeing them and get to know the architecture of the consulates/embassies/residences. But rarely do you get a chance to go inside. So Saturday thousands of tourists and locals alike crammed Mass Ave, to visit 'em. We saw Slovenia (perhaps my favorite of the day), Italy, Ireland (saw some excellent dancing and tasted some delectable cheese), an aggregate muslim nation one (oddball of the group), Netherlands, Denmark (very into the environment), and Latvia. Obviously, my legs were fatigued after not sleeping the night before (4:30 AM wake up call), racing, standing for 2 hours waiting for the awards ceremony, perusing the Amish Market in Annapolis (an absolute must), followed by 3.5 hours of walking and standing in lines.

Finally sat down to watch the kids dance in front of the Irish embassy and had a difficult time standing back up. Fortunately was lured by free samples of food from other nations. In all honesty if you ever have the chance to do this...DO IT! I wish I had gotten their earlier and seen all of them. One of the coolest perks of living in D.C. for sure.

5) Other than that, life is busy as usual. Work has become more challenging (they realize I'm not as dumb as I look apparently). I booked a hotel for one night in Philly in June (don't have the funds to do the 2-night like Knoxville). Have to visit the Chinese Embassy soon to get our VISAS (140 bucks each for anyone keeping score). My roommate is moving out at the end of this week. Bittersweet, she's been an awesome roommate, and who knows who will replace her. This weekend is ANOTHER race. Cept this time it's a mud-fun run. Totally different to the anxiety/high effort stuff I've been doing and much needed. Nice to not have a race to stress me out! Probably missing some other obvious things but I'm run down at the moment feeling sick. Shoot me a comment if I missed anything.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rev3 Knoxville Race Recap Part 2

I hope to follow this post up with a Part 3 (I know, I know, mouth meet gun) but that one will have limited text and will tell the story via photos. Until then, you will have to suffer through race day morning with me by reading. Old. School.

Alarm was set for 5:45 and I woke up on my own at 5:40. I don't know why, but I took this as a good sign as my body was in-sync for what I was asking it to do. I quickly downed a fiber bar (2 hours pre race) and hoped it would kickstart the metabolism. I hopped in the shower (like I do every morning, helps me wake up) and put my trishorts on. Not many peeps only wear tri shorts during the race, but I like the feel and don't waste time putting on a singlet for the bike/run. Tucked my swim cap in my shorts, put the goggles around my neck (a tip for any newbies reading so you always have them in the panic before the swim). Put my wetsuit over my shoulder and clutched my bodyglide. I was ready to go.

I was to be dropped off at transition (a parking garage) and gave myself 30 minutes. It's not a lot of time, but all I really had to do was turn my Garmin on and pump up my tires. Simple stuff.

Unfortunately, we hit some road blocks (unrelated to race day events) and my irascible side came out. DAMMIT! WE'RE NOT GONNA MAKE IT! AWWWW FUCK! YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME! That lasted about 5 minutes until we found an alternative route and I had my 26 minutes to do my thang.

Thankfully, tons of competitors had pumps and some dude nearby let me borrow his. I like my tires filled to capacity. Perhaps I'm pushing the limits here (as I do the same thing with my car tires), but I think it's a smoother/faster ride. Set up my helmet, visualized the exits, and got out with just a few minutes to spare.

I was one of the first ones in my wave to jump in. It was a treading start, which means you tread for 3-5 minutes before the gun goes off. It's the way a lot of races are done..and certainly not my fav. Since I didn't have any concrete goals for this race (and like I wrote about yesterday I was just happy to be out there) I wanted to crush the swim. I lined up at the very front..perfect position.


Most of my races I've been able to circumvent the mayhem either by distancing myself or immediately drafting off someone else. Not this time. Our wave was vicious. I was getting hit on both sides of my body. I tried to breathe more but got knocked in the head. I basically panicked. I stopped my smooth stroke and kept my head above water to catch my breath. My heart rate was pulsing like a hummingbird's wings. I swallowed some water. And then...I did the strangest thing I thought I would never do...

I swam backstroke. I NEVER swim backstroke...usually only 200 meters or so on my swim days just to loosen up. But I busted it out. I figured it would allow my mouth to breathe uninhibited and calm my pulse enough to flip back over and get the job done.

Eh. It sorta worked. I was fairly embarrassed at having to result to this (we're talking about the 200yard mark at this point). I was watching all the green caps (my wave) stare at me puzzled. I was looking backwards and they were looking up at me. It was odd, but somewhat fruitful as the sun was glaring behind me and sighting was REALLY hard anyway. So I just stayed with the green pack and let them sight for me.

My HR still too high, I made the turn for the out and back (1000 meters remaining) and wanted to start my freestyle. But I waited...just another 50 meters. I thought of Caroline and Reid and Jay. I reminded myself that I am strong and this swim is a cake walk for me. It's all downstream now.

Fuck this...time to kick it into gear. I flipped over and took off. Zoom. I was passing green caps with ease. 400m later I was passing mostly red caps (the previous wave) while a few greens remained comfortable ahead. I never swam a 1000m that fast. I felt invigorated. The race started for me then. I knew I had lost at least a couple minutes based on my silly backstroke so I figured I needed a strong bike split to get me back in contention.

Exited the swim and hustled over to T1 (a 1/4 mile away). Tons of fans cheering loudly so that was a real boost. Was happy to be on land and was feeling strong.

Busted out of transition and quickly clipped into my cleats. Some dude was riding on the far left (you can't legally pass on the right) slowing me down. But it was so early I felt stupid passing him. Finally after he continued to ride on the left I shouted, "on your left" and he moved about an inch. Whatever. Flew by him and never looked back. I started my Garmin, but the GPS didn't work (most likely cuz it was in a covered garage). Whatever, it would kick in soon enough (4 minutes later actually). The beginning is flat until you reach the tough hills of suburbia. Time to CRAAAAANNNKKKK!

I was flying. I quickly passed about 10 riders. I had to remind myself that this is a challenging course and my first Olympic race (25 miles) of the year. My previous speed races have been less than 12 miles. But I felt good so I kept up the pace.

5-6 miles in, a pack started to form. I had no idea what place I was in (exacerbated by the early wave times). I was peeking at the calves of riders as I rode to check for my AG. Our pack of 5 started and finished the first hill together with me riding at the front for most of it. At the descent a few guys passed me and I would pass them back on the next roller. At about 11 miles it was down to 3 of us.

One of the dudes was 34 and he finally says as he zooms by me on a downhill 'back and forth...back and forth'...little did he know the toughest climb of the day was approaching. Time for him to get lost.

Around this point I made the 1/2 way turn and saw Ryan McGrath on my tail. What?! How the fuck am I ahead of him I wondered. He musta had a rough swim too. His bike technique looked stellar however, and it appeared he was putting time into me. (I had what I guessed was 35 seconds at that point).

I turned on the jets on the hill and refused to look back for chasers. The descent afterward was amazing and I was sure backandforth dude would come cranking by. But he didn't. I was solo. So solo that I could see no one ahead and no one behind. No mans land as I call it.

A few miles later I looked again and it looked like Ryan had passed the other two I was riding with and was about 15-20 seconds behind. The flats were coming up back to transition so I pushed hard trying not to be caught. The cheers were raucous. As I said, no one ahead, no one behind so everyone was cheering for me. An incredible feeling. Had another successful dismount and ran into rack my bike.

First things first, my back was about the same as it usually is. Painful, but still allows me to run (as long as I don't stride out too far). I started my Garmin and was happy to see the pace sub 7 min/mile. It was slightly downhill the first two miles which is PERFECT after you bike. I think it should be standard for all courses :).

It was hot. Sun was beaming down and humidity was blanketing me. Luckily, there were MANY aid stations and I took a sip or two of water at each station and dumped the rest over my head. Was just what I needed. I figured Ryan would zoom by within the first mile or two, so I kept the pace around 6:15 to avoid that as long as possible. Still in no mans land, at the turnaround (mile 2.75) I passed the first (out of two) guys I would pass on the run. I checked the form of the guys gaining on me and most looked really strong. Fuck. Hope they don't catch me. Ryan was about 20 seconds back and I knew my lead was evaporating.

But I felt good. My pace slowed about 15-25 seconds the second half (slightly uphill), but I wasn't near bonk level. Two to three guys passed me around mile 4 and I reeled one more in at mile 5. Tried to pick up the pace, but it was an awkward time to do so, because it became tedious with a lot of turns and the ascent picking up. Took one last look back at mile 6 to see if I had anyone salivating over me and I didn't. Sweet. Coasted to the finish line and extended my arms above my head in elation. I turned my head back at the finish and Ryan was right there..just a few seconds behind me.

I congratulated him and tried to stop him but he gave me the 'okay, dude..get the fuck offa me' look so I said, "It's Conor, dude." Ohhhhhh. shit he said. What's up man. And that's how we met. (Really cool dude, and his girlfriend Allysa finished 3rd overall in the 1/2 Ironman!!!). He'd beat me on 99 days out of 100, but I felt particularly strong so I'll take what I can get!

The post race times were bungled for some reason. They had mat problems so I'm having a little trouble getting my splits. Here's what thay have...they have mostly everything except for my bike split. I hope they can fix this, b/c I'd like to know what speed I held compared to the other riders. Astonished at my swim time, but I pushed SUPER HARD for 1000m so that had something to do with it.

Athlete Information

Name:Conor ShapiroPenalty:00:00
Bib #:275
Home town:Washington DC - USA
Division:25-29 Male
Wave:Men 25-29, 30-34, 35-39


LocationArrival TimeTotal TimeSplitPlaceTime Behind Leader
Swim Finish5/6/2012 8:11:49 AM00:21:24.4530.90 mi21:2401:29 /100m4 / 3630 / 41226 / 29112 / 13501:2205:0505:0505:05


LocationArrival TimeTotal TimeSplitPlaceTime Behind Leader
Bike Start5/6/2012 8:15:43 AM00:25:18.2260.00 mi00:000.00 mph5 / 3627 / 41226 / 29112 / 13502:0943:2843:2803:17
Bike Split 15/6/2012 8:51:20 AM01:00:55.15012.80 mi35:3721.56 mph4 / 3622 / 41222 / 29111 / 13504:0404:3504:3504:07


LocationArrival TimeTotal TimeSplitPlaceTime Behind Leader
Run Start5/6/2012 9:22:32 AM01:32:07.0430.00 mi00:0000:00 /mi6 / 3625 / 41220 / 29113 / 1351:07:491:10:201:10:201:07:49
Run Split 15/6/2012 9:39:38 AM01:49:13.4562.74 mi17:0606:15 /mi4 / 3619 / 41219 / 29110 / 13508:4808:4808:4808:48
Run Finish5/6/2012 10:03:03 AM02:12:38.5203.46 mi23:2506:46 /mi4 / 3619 / 41219 / 29112 / 13513:0113:0113:0113:01

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rev3 Knoxville Race Recap Part One

Soooooooo much to type, it's been a tad overwhelming to get the ball rolling. Perhaps breaking the race weekend up into two parts will make it more manageable. And let's face it...more readable.

Decided to drive down early Friday morning to my 'local' race. Ummmm....just a hindsight thought quickly - I need to remember to check just how far away these 'local' races are. (see - glance at a fucking map for one) Knoxville, TN ain't exactly metropolitan D.C. Who knew? My partner-in-crime apparently did, scoffing at my surprise each time I asked, "Are we there yettttttttt?!" "Gosh, can't believe we're stiillllll not there." "This is getting a lil' ridiculous". Which elicited many an eyeroll.

I was looking forward to the trip for a variety of reasons. First, my buddy Doran over at his blog is an alumnus of Virginia Tech. He loves VT, and I've always wanted to check out Blacksburg. Coincidentally, approximately halfway through we'd pass right by it. It's only a 7 mile jaunt off the highway so I texted him for some restaurant recommendations and found an excellent Mexican taco joint. (thanks dude!) VT's campus far surpassed my expectations. It was architecturally unique, hilly and impeccably manicured, it was spread out and green and EVERYONE was outside jogging/biking/studying. There was the quintessential college row of unique bars/lunch spots. Parking was 30 minutes per quarter (heck yes). It reminded me a lot of UC-Boulder (where my baby bro attends). Spectacular really. Definitely wish I had more time to explore...but still had 3-4 hours remaining on the drive.

Back on the road - the entire drive took about 8 hours. We hit a major snag right outside of Knoxville that impeded our progress (head-on collision that took out 150 yards of guard-rail). But finally we arrived at the hotel around 5PM. Since I couldn't exercise early in the morning, I needed to get in my last run pre-race. I've been doing a staple 1-2 mile warm-up followed by 1-2 miles at race pace followed by a cool down. 1 to 2 days out, I've found this is a good way for me to focus/prepare. Was kinda fun to be around all the incoming triathletes with all their snazzy gear. Good vibes. Plus, the pros were in town so I was on the lookout for them.

After my run came the second event I was highly anticipating...Reid's sister's party/fundraiser. Reid, is a former co-worker of my parner-in-crime. He (like her) is also an attorney practicing near D.C. but he grew up 5 miles from downtown Knoxville. His sister, Caroline, was involved in a devastating car crash 5 years ago where she suffered a traumatic brain injury. The (Owen) family holds this party each year before the traithlon. Not knowing what to expect (thought it'd be just a few people at a BBQ) we drove down to their house.

Whoa! Talk about southern hospitality. The Owen family hosted the party outside a giant mansion literally right off the waterfront. The weather was 70 degrees and sunny. The event was catered by some authentic Tennesseean BBQ place...and despite my vegetarian inclinations, I indulged. A-mazing. Wow. Some of the best food I've had. There were approx. 200 people in attendence. I took my food down to the dock and watched the geese swoop a foot above the water and sing. It was lovely. After consuming my second slice of key lime pie, (and heading back for a third) and admiring the sunset sparkle off the water..we headed up for a video presentation.

We watched a 20 minute documentary about Caroline's recovery and their family's resilience post-accident. It was one of the most profound, evocative things I've experienced. I choked up (to put it mildly). Their family showed an unrivaled capacity for love, affection, strength, and encouragement. I had the great pleasure of meeting Caroline (and Reid, her brother Jay, and her father, an M.D.). The website can be found here. Such an invaluable experience. If I did nothing else and drove down solely for that video/party...the trip would've been well worth it. It is something I will cherish the rest of my life. Really a tremendously enriching experience.

Reid and Jay pull Caroline in the swim during the triathlon shortly after the pros go off (as she dangles her feet and kicks on a small boat). They usually take her along on the bike in some sort of contraption but this year the piece was broken. They did push her on the run however. More on this in Part 2.

That night, leaving the house with the pitch black sky and the glowing white stars I had such a 'spiritual' experience. I don't believe in God. I don't believe in souls. I don't believe in angels or ghosts. I don't believe in any religion. But that moment was the closest I've come to empathizing with those who 'feel something supernatural' happen to them. It was chillingly fascinating. My entire perspective on the race changed. Instead of focusing on my back ailment, my time, the hills, the competition, the typical pre-race stress. I decided to just smile flippantly and enjoy the opportunity I've been given. I want to perform at the best of my abilities..always. But that's not always WHY I compete. My attitude got an extreme makeover. I stopped focusing on me-me-me, and tried to enjoy the atmosphere, the new environment, and appreciate the sport and my fellow competitiors.

The next morning I went to packet pick-up and to get in the water for a practice swim. Rev3 puts on quite a show. They had fun events all day, including an urban challenge, kids run, pro Q+A session (I really enjoyed), tons of great sponsorship tents, free ART sessions (I did, twice), amongst many others. Far and away the most expansive expo/pre-race event I've been a part of. I took my bike to mechanical (it's waaaayyy overdue for a tuneup...but can't afford it presently). The guy took a few looks and says, man, this needs a lotta work. Thankfully, he spent 20 minutes on it but suggested I get some things taken care of imminently. He said it should be okay for race day. Sweet.

Brought my bike to transition (had to be racked on Saturday) walking through the famous World's Fair Park (where the race would finish). The Rev3 folks were dope. There were tons of 'em in recognizable blue shirts and answered all the questions I asked. I had some transition inquiries and the lady says, "You've never raced a Rev3 before have you?" No. "Well, welcome. You're in for a totally unique experience. Our answer is almost always YES! Or of course you can do that! We're here to make your life easier." I was feeling light and happy. Everyone was so helpful and kind. It was less about avoiding penalties, more about cest la vie. The pros had posters by their racks and I snapped a few pics (coming). Very cool. I also had my name and plenty of space at my assigned transition spot. It was located in a covered garage which was relaxing and cool.

Had to hurry to make the practice swim cut-off (2PM). Reid, an ex-UNC collegiate swimmer (once swam the mile in 15:xx) was going to warm up with me. Ummm, I'm decent in the water but I ain't that fast. Luckily for me, Reid's fitness is not what it once was and while his technique is meticulous, I drafted off him for 700 yards or so, he kept the pace slow for me :). I swam a bit more on my own to get comfortable in the 66 degree water. I wasn't wearing my wetsuit which I would the next morning. Wanted to keep it dry. Water felt nice and refreshing.

A tad earlier that morning I waltzed through Market Square, a popular shopping block, and sampled some organic foods from the farmer's market. I had THE BEST cookie I ever had in my life. As a cookie aficiando, that's saying something. Tons of local fresh produce, cheeses, meats, and dishes to try.

The rest of the afternoon was easy. It was Cinco de Mayo! And Market Square was blocked off. I had a tequila shot and some pretty tasty Mexican food and watched my horse (Bodemeister) lose the Kentucky Derby. Listened to some mariachi band, walked around Gay Street (parallel to Market Square a block over) where they have another cool district of clubs/restuarants/shops. Then, off to find some fiber for tomorrow morning and call it a night...

Coming up....Race DAY!!!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fun (well you be the judge of that) Facts Friday

Almost just typed Fuck You Friday...kinda representative of the mood I'm in.

***Editor's Note Update*** Just realized it isn't even Friday haha...but tomorrow is the drive to Knoxville!

Didn't sleep very well, paper (due tonight by midnight) still needs alotta work, back randomly tightened up again after feeling awesome for about a week, traffic was the worst it's ever been - 15 minutes to go one block...I timed it. Only plus side is that I have XM radio. You, XM, are a savior.

1) As I'm driving...well stalled to work today, I was listening to a morning show talk about Ashley Madison. It was laughable to listen to the hosts and guests decry the forum. What's more maddening is people phoned in saying how their own/or their friends relationships were ruined because of the site. What a joke. If people are gonna have fidelity issues...they're gonna have fidelity issues. Your relationship didn't fail BECAUSE of Ashley Madison. People and their monogamy in this country - it's just whacky. I've written extensively on this in the past but still 'blows' my mind to see how sexually repressive people are.

2) Democracy sucks. It does. We've all been lead to believe that it's this beacon of freedom and hope. It's not. Almost all democracies are nothing more than corrupt oligarchies. Freedom is quite obviously not necessarily analogous with democracy. Your predicatable reply is probably something like, 'easy for you to say' or 'what would you prefer..dictatorship?' Um, no. We do not face a dichotomy. That false choice is reminiscent of the red/blue divide. For example, my baby bro said the other day, 'Man, you dog Obama a lot...Bush was better?' NO! By saying Obama is awful does not make Bush half decent.  (By the way...I'm still unsure if NO was the right answer). They're both awful. Democracy can potentially screw over 49.99% of the population. Granted, based on our experiences..we know it's closer to 95%. Nobody can best represent you more than YOU. Everytime someone touts democracy as some pinnacle of human achievement...they've been duped. You know when I'm in favor of democracy...when it's just me. Any formal institution of power is inherently problematic, including our personal favorite...democracy.

3) Leadership is also a bogus virtue. Think about there anything more oxymoronic than leadership convention/leadership group? My roommate is in a 'leadership program' at AU. What a joke. Leaders are lauded and supposedly groomed to...what...lead! Hooray! Is there anything more patronizing than that? Talk about grating. The person who should lead you is yourself. For those who respond - the world needs it doesn't. That's bullshit. Innovators, sure. Entrepreneurs, definitely. But 'leader' implies other people will follow you. In fact, I'd say that's one of THE PRIMARY CULPRITS of our society. Celebrity obsession, illusions that our political representatives give a shit about us, RELIGION, and people taught to have others think for them. Obedience is ingrained at such an early age it's nearly impossible to see through the handicap it places on us our entire lives. Leadership may reflect a personal attribute, but any righteous person would shun the label or urge to LEAD (like those who rejected the notion of killing Jews or owning slaves even though they could). Kinda like Brian in that Monty Python movie. Those who 'hold power' and don't exercise it over others are impressive in my book.

4) You can't be pro-peace and Pro-Obama. You just can't. Unless your ignorance on foreign (and even domestic) issues is so significant that you've marginalized yourself entirely. I've seen one too many War Is Not the Answer bumper stickers next to Obama 2012. This would be like wearing a shirt I'm with stupid with an arrow pointing directly up at your face. Or maybe a shirt that simply says I'm stupid. That'd be more direct. In which case...thanks for your honesty. It's refreshing. I've also seen photos of the Obama family DIRECTLY next to an ACLU membership card. I'm serious. You couldn't make this shit up.

5) I'm not as bitter as I sound. I'm just extremely disappointed in our society. Thankfully I found a sport like triathlon to distract me from the more pressing 'quasi' intellectual issues of our time. Because let's face hope in others has long since dissipated. At least I continue to challenge myself physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Perhaps it's selfish but it's honest.