Monday, January 26, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Big, Bad, "D" Word...

Last month I was having lunch with Linsey Corbin and a couple of her sponsors in San Diego. The issue of drugs and sport came up, and of course a long-winded conversation followed. Linsey is a big proponent or ramping up testing in triathlon and she remarked that she was pissed she wasn't tested in Kona. Upon hearing that the fifth-place finisher at the sport's biggest race didn't receive even a urine test, I was a little ticked too. Not because I have any suspicions about Linsey herself, but the principle of not testing triathlon's top dogs at triathlon's marquee event is troubling. It makes me think it'd be a little too easy to get away with.

Before I go any further, I'd like it to be known that I don't think drug use runs rampant among triathletes. Triathlon has a much different culture from drug-riddled sports (cycling, track, bodybuilding (not that it's a sport), baseball). It's about the lifestyle as much (or more) as it's about competition and I like to believe MOST triathletes believe in a healthy lifestyle.

Among those at the lunch was Glynn Turquand from XTERRA Wetsuits. He too was shocked to hear of the lack of testing on the Big Island, and decided to do a little research. For the top five women, here's what he found...

1. Chrissie Wellington: Blood and urine test
2. Yvonne Van Vlerken: Urine only
3. Sandra Wallenhorst: Urine only (according to what she told another athlete)
4. Erika Csomor: We don't know yet
5. Linsey Corbin: No tests

Now, drug testing (especially blog tests) are extremely expensive, and until they become cheaper, we'll likely never see the amount of testing needed to ensure the sport is as clean as can be. However, this news has intrigued me, so I'm looking into learn a bit more. Look for more to come on this blog, on and in our mag.

If you've got any triathlon drug testing info you're eager to share, feel free to shoot me an e-mail (

Photos from Pucon, Chile

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Random $hit About Chile

I'm all for popping sleeping pills during trans-continental, red-eye flights. As such, I indulged in a unisom before leaving Dallas for Santiago Chile last night, but it didn't seem to work as advertised. Maybe it was because I had a behemoth of a Chilean sitting next to me, and at one point he actually head-butted me while he was seizuring in his sleep. At any rate, instead of making me tired, the unisom just made me hallucinate for 12 hours. Here's what I observed in my first six hours in Chile, while high on OTC sleeping pills (by the way, I'm here to "cover" Pucon 70.3).

1. Chilean urnals are all really high, which couldn't possibly make any less sense. There's no way to not pee on yourself. It's not like the Chilean people are abnormally tall. In fact, they're quite the opposite. When was the last time you saw a Chilean playing center in the NBA?

2. The American dollar still kicks ass down here. In fact, since I've been too lazy (and high on unisom) to venture to a currency exchange, I've been buying everything with American dollars and the clerks thank me at least a dozen times.

3. The highways are riddled with billboards and yet they're all hand-painted. I can't imagine how long that takes. An East L.A. "tagger" could make a killing down here.

4. More stereotyping: Chilean drivers make British drivers seem passive. Apparently they watch NASCAR in Chile, because these people can bump draft better than Dale Jr.

That's all for now. I'll check in soon. Hopefully after a nap.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Beer Review of the Week: Big Sky Brewing Biere de Noel

A few weeks back, Linsey Corbin was in town for a photo shoot. I heard that her husband worked at a brewery in Montana, so I somewhat-jokingly said that I wouldn't put her in the magazine unless she brought beer. Linsey was already traveling with a bike in tow, so I really didn't expect her to lug some beer down to San Diego as well. However, since I'm somewhat of an alcoholic, at least as far as triathletes go, I was kinda hoping she did. And she did.

Upon her arrival I was handed a giant bottle of limited edition Big Sky Brewing Co. Biere de Noel. Hand-written on the back was "No. 109 of 204", which means this stuff is about as hard to come by as the new Litespeed Blade. I had been meaning to drink it before Christmas (being as it's a Christmas-themed beer and all), but I've been on the road and away from my fridge. So, when I got back to San Diego tonight, I decided a double-pint of really strong brew was in order. The Big Sky Noel boasts almost 9% ABV, which feels like a lot more when you've been drinking on a plane all day...not that I'd ever do that. Basically, if the Grinch had this shit, he wouldn't have been nearly as big of a dick to the poor children of Whoville.

As for the finer details...

The Noel definitely is not short on flavor notes. If your palate is only used to Natty, Keystone and Icehouse (AKA, you're a college student), it may be a little much. It's a Belgian Dark Ale, which means two things: It's robust and it gets you lit. True to its Belgian heritage, the Noel is loaded with spice, but low in bitterness. The tame bitterness means it finishes smooth, but the strong notes of bourbon, oak and smoke linger in the palate.

And as for the ratings...

Calories: * I can't give you an exact calorie count, but if you're looking to get ripped during the off-season, this shouldn't be your brew of choice.

Antioxidants: *** Belgian Dark Ales are some of the most antioxidant rich beers on earth, so it's ideal to drink immediately after a hard long as you plan on doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the day.

Refreshment: 1/2 * This is not meant to be a refreshing beer by any stretch. It's meant to be sipped slowly while you're sitting next to the fire and trying to get buzzed enough to deal with your in-laws.

Taste: *** I probably wouldn't give the Noel three stars if I were drinking it on a sweltering summer day in the Everglades, but the uber-spicy flavor is perfect this time of the year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

On Simon and Chrissie...

I have to admit I was a bit stunned when I heard Chrissie had left Camp Cliff to train under the recently-retired Simon Lessing. I've heard a lot of talk since this news broke--everything from, "Her career is doomed", to, "She'll beat Crowie at Kona next year." OK, maybe that's a bit embellished. My take? Chrissie will set a new course record in Kona next year and go on to win as many more titles as she seems fit (which I'm guessing is about three). Here's why:

Sutto (Brett Sutton) remarked on more than one occasion that the hardest part of his job (with regards to Chrissie) was keeping her from overcooking herself. I think Simon is just the guy for this job.

Last spring, I was e-mailing with Simon regarding my own training. I noted that I was injury prone, but was still trying to get my run mileage up to around 50 per week. He thought this sounded fine, but that I should do it by upping my frequency instead of the mileage of my long runs. I dug up his e-mail and this is what he had to say with regards to my personal training:

"Keep your long runs at a maximum of two hours. Beyond that, you're going to do more damage than good. I typically run for 20 miles or two hours; whichever comes first."

I reminded him that I would never be able to run 20 miles in two hours, but I gave his ideas a try. That e-mail was from March 5th, and I haven't run more than two hours since then. I figured I better listen to a guy who has five ITU world titles to his credit. I'm running faster than ever and have been [relatively] injury free all year. The guy knows his stuff.

So how does this apply to Chrissie? Endurance definitely isn't her problem. If you've ever seen Chrissie at the end of an Ironman, you know that 140.6 miles ain't much for her. There are only two things that can stop her from winning four or five more world titles: 1) Injury; and 2) Losing speed as she gets older.

I think Simon's less-but-just-enough method (if that's indeed how he trains Chrissie) is ideal for her. And, if she incorporates a bit more speed training than she has in the past, who knows how low that Kona record can go.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Triathlon is a Sport of Losers and Quitters

"Triathlon is a sport of losers and quitters". Those aren't my words. A college buddy of mine -- and one of the only people who reads this blog -- said that to me a while back. Actually, he sent it to me in a Facebook note, but I still got the point.

As someone who makes their living off of multisport, you may think I had a problem with his remark, but I could see what he was getting at. Triathlon is largely a participatory sport. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, that's one of the great things about this sport. It's not exclusive. We're not elitists (for the most part).

All that being said, triathlon is a bit of a fall-back sport. No one wants to be a great triathlete when they're 11-years old. Go to your local track or pool and you'll see dozens of young kids damn-near killing themselves to be the next Ryan Hall or Michael Phelps. It's only once they realize that winning eight gold medals ain't so easy that they think, "Mmmmm. Maybe I should give triathlon I try. I already know how to do A and B, now I just need to learn how to do C."

It's cool, but it also sucks. The means by which people gravitate toward our sport is somewhat different from others (recreational cycling and marathoning excluded). Kids aren't groomed to be triathletes; they're groomed to be kick ass runners and swimmers (and more rarely, cyclists).

A few months ago I was in Clermont, Fla., working on a travel story. I met with Alec Rukosuev, who is the head swim coach at the National Training Center in Clermont. As the -ev suffix in his last name implies, he originally hails from Russia. He, and many of his cohorts, grew up as triathletes. It's not entirely uncommon for kids in Europe and Oceania to do this, and consequently, it's not entirely uncommon for athletes from Europe and Oceania to smoke Americans at races around the globe.

So, if you're a parent, think about signing your kid up for an IronKid instead of Pee Wee football team. If the kid likes it, he or she might win Kona one day. If they don't like it, buy them the damn football pads and stop taking my advice.