Sunday, July 27, 2008

Starting from scratch...

People do this sport for a number of different reasons. Some get into triathlon as a means to deal with a mid-life crisis, under the impression that it's cheaper than buying a Porsche. It isn't. Some grow tired of the fact that they haven't seen their feet in years because of the "muffin top" obscuring their view. Hell, I've even heard of triathletes who buy a bike just to have an excuse to ride alongside a girl they've been after for a while. Others, like me, start down the road to multisport addiction because of some unquantifiable competitive drive. We're the types with that "if you're gonna do something, do it all out" mentality.

I grew up as a swimmer and for about a decade it was all that mattered. I transferred that same drive to triathlon and I've fared pretty well in six years of doing this sport. In 2006 I race three Ironman events and I would've done more had I had more time (and money). Two years later, the thought of doing an Ironman makes me cringe. It's not so much the race itself, but the preparation. I have no desire to slog through a six-hour ride every Saturday and then follow it up with a mind-numbing three hour run on Sunday. Quite honestly, I'd rather just spend a few hours jumping creeks on my mountain bike and then spend the rest of the day lounging around with my girlfriend and drinking beers with my friends. And I'm not ashamed of that. I think a more balanced approach to sport will ultimately make me a better triathlete.

With that in mind, I'm starting over. The mammoth drops in my triathlon times have plateaued and I know that the only way to get faster is to change my approach. There's something seriously wrong when your bike and run splits at Ironman are nearly equal. Because of that, it's time to become a runner for the next year (give or take a few months). There's no doubt that I'll miss racing. I love the nerves of race morning, the meticulous race prep and the way that a shitty beer can taste great at the finish line. But I know that it'll all pay off -- be it one year down the road or ten. And if not -- at least I gave it a go. Time to go for a run.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I'm pulling a "Favre"

It is with great anticipation, and no regret, that I am formally announcing my retirement from the sport of triathlon. After careful consideration, I have decided that retiring from this sport is the only way that I can eventually become good at this sport. You're probably confused, so let me explain.

I have been a triathlete for six years and for all of those six years, I've believed that the three sports of a triathlon are swim, bike and suffer. I have swim times that most pros would kill for and I routinely post one of the fastest amateur bike splits at every race I go to (as long as the course if flat). While my opening two legs ought to set me up for a damn-near pro-level finishing time, they don't -- I run like the fat kid in gym class and it's time to change that.

Next Sunday, I'll be racing Vineman 70.3 and that will be my "swan song", if you will, until Spring of 2009. For the past few months, I've been fooling myself into believing that racing both the 70.3 and XTERRA world championships would make 2008 my most memorable season to date, but there's a problem--I don't care about merely participating in these events. Just making it to these two races isn't enough for me. So, instead of spending the rest of the summer and fall training for triathlon, I'll become a runner for the next eight months.

Here's why it makes sense:

I have the "honor" of being the only person I know who has gone exactly two hours in an Olympic-distance race while still running over 40 minutes. At Ironman Florida last year, I came off the bike ahead of more than half of the men's pro field, only to follow that up with a pathetic 4:30 marathon.

After Vineman, I will begin a build-up to the point that I can run eight times per week (yes, that means a few two-a-days) and I'll use the weekends to recover (easy bike on Saturday, long swim on Sunday).

Will it work? I have no idea. But, I don't want to just participate through the rest of my triathlon "career". I want to know just how good I can be at this sport and this is the only way to find out.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

F You United Airlines (and Delta and American and...)

I know everyone and their mother is bitching about the airlines these days and while I'm usually willing to cut them some slack (given the fact that our economy, ummm, well, sucks), this past week has set me off.

In the past five days I've been on three flights with my bike in tow each time. The cost of lugging my Madone around with me is about equal to the price of shipping a John Deere combine to Malaysia. I'm down 300 bucks as a result of wanting to keep my fitness up while I'm on the road. Any airline will attribute the price hike to rising jet fuel prices, but come on, my ride weighs less than a baby stroller.

With the box and all my gear, I'm adding 39 pounds of extra weight to a plane that weighs 306,550 pounds (thank you Wikipedia). I weigh 168 pounds. My self plus the weight of my bike box still weighs less than the dude who has to put his armrest up so his belly roll can make his neighbor extremely uncomfortable.

I think the only way to solve my frustration (and that of every other traveling cyclist/triathlete on the planet) is to base airline fees on the total weight of a passenger and their shit. It may even fix America's obesity epidemic at the same time. Can you think of anything more humiliating than having to get weighed at check-in? I'm starting a petition -- if you want in, let me know.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Beer review of the week: Grizzly Bear Doppelbock

Ahhhhh Doppelbock -- the tequila of beer. Drink one without cringing and you'll instantly validate your manhood. If you're a lady who happens to be tossing one back, decent men will think you're an alcoholic, but truckers will find you incredibly attractive. Doppelbock is like a strong Porter on HGH. It's the only beer strong enough to get Chuck Norris drunk (I can't verify that, but I have it on good authority).

I drink a lot of beer, but I hadn't had a Doppelbock in almost three years until this past weekend. My abstinence from Doppelbock came about after trying Doppelbock for the first time (the Sam Adams variety). It was simply too much for me. I was young, cocky and I thought I could handle a six pack. Now I'm older, wiser and even though I'm smaller than I was then, I consider myself more of a man.

I took a training trip up to Big Bear Lake, Calif. this weekend and decided to kick the "training" off in style by immediately heading to Big Bear's local brewery upon my arrival (Big Bear Mountain Brewery, located on Big Bear Blvd). They have six homemade brews, but I was instantly drawn toward the Doppelbock. The chalkboard said it has 11.8 percent alcohol and I've learned from experience that high altitude and high alcohol is a fantastic combo. After only two, my BAC was well within the "don't even think about driving" range, but I did take a minute to jot down a few notes. By the way, I was staying about 45 feet from the brewery, so I was able to walk back to our cabin.

Calories: 1/2* Doppelbock is quite possibly the worst beer on the planet for you (if you're trying to stay lean). Each 12 ounce pour packs about 245 calories -- four times that of the last beer I reviewed. That being said, it boasts four times the alcohol of uber-light beers, so in my opinion, it's a wash.

Antioxidants: *** Like stouts, porters and other dark beers, Doppelbock has as many antioxidants as a glass of vino.

Refreshment: 1/2* Doppelbock is about as refreshing as milk. It's certainly not ideal for a hot summer's day and it's meant to be enjoyed in the winter (the extra alcohol keep you feeling warm, but actually lowers your body temp).

Taste: ** Sure, my taste buds have matured a bit since college, but I'm still not manly enough to drink Doppelbock on a regular basis. However, if you're a fan of porters, it's a good change of pace (and a great way to get drunk).