Shoulder freedom

Since early last year I've been suffering from regular tightness in my right shoulder blade, and the feeling of a dead-arm in the top-quartile of my right arm, almost always while cycling. A run or even a swim would ease it off, staying off the bike for a few days, which often became quite a few days this year would see it vanish.

Earlier this month I went for a 65-mile ride around Boulder. I rode on my trusty Cannondale, which has a completely different saddle, bar and seat post geometry from BR2, my tri-bike. By the end of the ride it was excruciatingly painful.

I was fortunate enough to be able to get and see Austin Bodyworker Founder, and owner, Kate Ripley(*1), who is currently busy getting the new Boulder Bodyworker set-up. I got a daily appointment at 9am wth Kate and she worked away on my shoulder and neck. It was at sometimes painful, other times relaxing, but always deep tissue work.

Kate showed me a before picture that showed me lying on the table, my right shoulder was unintentionally off the table and much more rounded than the left. Back in 2011, I separated my right AC Joint, and dislocated the SC joint; In 2012, I crashed after going back to ride Amy Chow back to the group in a big ride, breaking the collarbone on the same shoulder, so its not surprising that I've ad problems with it.

After the third session, my shoulder and surrounding muscles and tendons felt tender. Thursday evening, while undressing, there was a loud crack and my whole shoulder suddenly felt at ease. During Saturdays race(more to come) the shoulder behaved, and after SUndays shop ride, although feeling tight, it's actualy pretty good.

Lesson of the story, don't put off and injury or ache, there i almost certainly a solution waiting. See a good therapist or chiropractor.

(1) Yes, I'm dating Kate... but I'm still trying to be as objective as possible.

Ironman and the Shark

“Those stupid 13.1 stickers, 26.2 stickers, 70.3. That f**ing M-dot tattoo. They’re missing the point.”

In my post about race entries I said Ironman had "jumped the shark" a reference to the over commercialization of distance races. I couldn't put my finger on the difference between distance racing in the USA, this gets it for me. We used to do random distances, the course was the course, not a distance.

from the article "People shouldn’t be doing flat loops around warehouses in Anytown, Bumblef**k just to rack up 140.6 miles in a day, he said (or something to that effect). They should be running endurance events for the experience—for the unique way they take advantage of their natural surroundings."

That so summed up my feeling about the run at Ironman Arizona. While Ironman Cozumel was a great course, I was just doing it for the distance. Maybe it was me?

By the numbers

I had to fast this morning to get my biometric numbers done, as part of qualifying for next years $975 "Healthy Living" discount off my employer provide medical insurance.

My numbers came out pretty consistent with last year, my Diastolic Blood Pressure was up slightly, my weight down. After they collect the numbers, you are invited to talk to a health coach who takes you through steps that would help get better results.

My coach told me that I'd passed the numbers component of the discount, that my Diastolic number was higher than they'd like, she suggested that as little as three exercise sessions per week, for as little as 30-mins would get that number down.

I sighed and said that I'd be happy if I thought it would, and then listed last weeks work outs.

  • Monday raced Olympic distance triathlon(1500m/25-miles/10k)

  • Tuesday rest day

  • Wednesday easy swim 1000m

  • Thursday 4m trail run with coach

  • Friday Hard swim practice, 2000m

  • Friday Raced 3rd leg of Zilker Relays, 2.5miles

  • Saturday Massage

  • Sunday Raced 5k at PR ace

  • Sunday Ran 6.6 miles slow

I thanked her for her time, collected my result sheet and left before she told me to reduce the salt in my diet and drink less alcohol.

Total Cholestteral: 161, HDL 45, LDL 102, Triglycerides 74 - Ration 3.58
Fasting Glucose: 90
Blood Pressure: 120/88
Weight(Dressed): 205.4
BMI: 27.8
Waist: 35.25
Body Fat: 23.8</div>

Race entry fees pyramid or stepping stone?

Triathlon Business International (TBI) President Jack Caress has posted the organizations first blog entry. It's about race fees. It's not really a blog in any traditional or technology sense, it's really just a web page and an email address for feedback. A single comment has been posted, there is no comment box, no trackback address, no login etc. It also has a very odd URL - I've no idea if this will change, we'll see.

As an individual member of TBI, I received an email with advance notification of the blog proposal, with a monthly schedule which already had an blog scheduled and a call for other submissions. It will be interesting to see how this develops but the initial format is disappointing. I'd rather post here than send an email with remarks that are never seen again, or that disappear when the next blog takes the same URL.

pyramidIn his "blog" Entriy Fees: The 3rd rail of triathlon for the RD, Jack discusses entry fees and postulates that entry fees for races are great value, and race organizers often under price their races. It's a sweeping characterization, and one I can't agree with. Reading Jacks remarks gave me the impression that the race organizer is the top of the pyramid and that they should reflect the true value of everything the race delivers, as well as the community below them. It's the pinnacle of the sport.

I've never seen it that way, except perhaps as an end point. If you are either trying to race in, or qualify for one of the bg marquee races, Ironman, ITU Worlds, Challenge Roth, Wildflower, Escape from Alcatraz, etc. then maybe the race is a stopping point, but it's not the pinnacle. Other races will follow, more training, more expense.

Race entries in recent times, especially for the big brand and series races, seem to have shot up. I'll acknowledge as a former race organizer and race director, as well as an event volunteer captain at a major national and international races, that at least for Western Europe and the USA, there are now a lot more health and safety requirements than there used to be, and those cost real money. As a former club triathlete, triathlon club chairman, I know that even small races can bring in big money.

Stepping stonesFrom a philosopihical and athlete perspective, I have an entirely different perspective from the one I think Jack was opining. Race entries are stepping stones. Often for new triathletes they are the first stepping stone. If the price is too high, they'll never start.

Single discipline sports, often the ones triathlon is derived from, Running, Swimming, and to some degree cycling, the race is a major component of the cost, but rarely the barrier to entry. Running, swimming and cycling often involve club membership, which can pricey. Triathlon doesn't require, and often doesn't involve clubs. Single discipline athletes have the same structural cost curve, you can certainly run in an old pair of runnig shoes, enter a local 5k, and spend very little on training and race clothing.

However, as soon as you get hooked, start looking at longer running/swimming races, big city marathons/events, specialized shoes and equipment the price starts to rise. The same is true for triathlon, the difference is we are looking at 3x the sports from the get go, much more training time, higher equipment costs, higher coaching costs and on. One of the best break downs of the cost of triathlon is here, where at 2008 prices a budget triathlete will spend as around $7,912.50, and compared to a "big spender" dropping a staggering $34,830.(1.)

No one wants to see race organizers lose money or go broke. Equally competitors don't want a dangerous race. We've seen both of these situations in the past year with the emergance of low quality color runs, and less than safe mud runs and similar. However, race organisers have to accept they are part of an equation, not the pinnacle.

There is a steady, and growing recoginition that the WTC/Ironman has, as they say here, "jumped the shark". The race price has gone up, the local personality of the races has gone; they are staged, move on and re-use everything they can, with some exceptions. Increasingly, I'm seeing people who won't race their races because of the entry price rises, and the declining vaue.

I raced TriRock Austin on Labor day, and at least based on the Cadence Sports results page for the sprint and olympic, finisher numbers are back to what they were in 2008, and some 400 down on 2010 high of 1821 finishers for the Avia Austin Triathlon, all distances. I have my own thoughts on the race value, but despite the free availability before the race of $20 discount code, I heard from a number of people complain about the steep $170 entry fee.

In his blog Jack says "most athletes enter races (including ours) very late, often right before the race itself.  The price was largely irrelevant, no event was charging so much that no one would enter at current pricing ceilings."

That is a relatively new phenomenon, and not true for many races. In the UK, we were used to entering races,even sprints, as soon as registration was available. They were an affordable price, you were gambling very little, races would sell out. You were on the first step, not the top of the pyramd. Certainly races used to sell out more quickly here in Austin TX, so either they are priced to high now; don't deliver the value; or there are too many races or not enough athletes.

When you entered races early, you'd commit to the training, buy the new shoes, bikes, get the coaching, join clubs, enter B-races, do more training and if you got injured somewhere along the journey, you got injured, what you lost in the entry fee wasn't huge. Jack says "Entry fees are almost always too low", I say not. Entry fees should be low enough not to discourage participation, but in recognition of the race organizer needing to cover their costs; make a profit; produce a safe and enjoyable race, high enough to profit.  It's too bad that shoe manufactures make 2000% markup; bike shops make 100%, and race organizers can't make the same amount of profit.

Race organizers, don't be like Ancient Egypt and end up a decaying pyramid that no longer supports you industry, be the stepping stone that enables an amazing journey.

(1) See also "triathlon is the new golf"
(2) The True Cost of competing in a triathlon - Bloomberg
(3) The magpie in the sky blog has an interesting entry level view on race fees here and triathlon here

  • Current Location: Austin TX
  • Current Music: WDST - Don't let her get away

New and best shoe build-up so far

New ShoesI got my latest shoe build-up from Independence Prosthetics and Orthotics this week, and this time Mark has really done an amazing job, the shoe is almost a work of art. It's using the same K-Swiss Mens K-Ona S in size-12 that I'm currently running with but an ounce lighter than the current one and the finish is really first class.

I've not run in it yet, and as much as I'm tempted to use it for Mondays Tri-Rock Austin race, I won't. I'll put some more mileage into my current shoes before switching them to training only and use the new pair for racing.

The built-up shoe weighs in at 1lb 1oz, or 482 grams, which 6 ounces heavier than the original and left shoe. That's truly amazing from the original, stiff, build-up that Hangar did, and the progression from the Bill Stone, Paul Carrozza shoes, and the Wongstar designs.
P8284983Of course, the problem I have now is that the K-Swiss K-Ona shoes originally debuted in 2009 and are no longer available. I've searched online pretty much everywhere, including many foreign language websites and can't find a Mens Size-12 anywhere. So that means it's back to the drawing board for shoes.

Unless you have a contact at K-Swiss who might have some ideas, or be willing to provide a shoe or shoes for Mark to experiment with?

Lightweight components - Not so much

I've long been a grumpy old man when it come to the endless march to lightweight, thin components for bikes. I can often be heard to say "if I wanted to save the weight, I'd just skip breakfast".

This was especially true when it came to picking the frame for BR2, people were surprised I didn't go for a modern style carbon rocket. Early on I broke two 2008 Alpha-Q lightweight carbon steerer tubes carbon forks on BR2. Then this year has compounded my belief. Here is what I've broken this year, without crashing on Little Red, my 4-year old Guru Praemio.

  • Two Zipp101 rear hubs made of alloy

  • 2009 Ultegra shifters, the left shifter had been malfunctioning for a year or so, then a couple of weeks back the right shifter just didn't.

I got the bike back with a new Ultegra shifters, put my winter wheel set on the bike as my new wheel build to replace the 101 wasn't ready, got on the bike to ride to the shop ride start and this happened.... Yep, gotta love lightweight components.


P is for Pflugerville, Puncture and another Puncture

In keeping with my re-invigorated triathlon reports, here is my race report from todays Jacks Generic Triathlon. I had to finished the intermediate distance to continue in the Textas Tri series, at one point today, this was seriously in doubt.

1407166940013-2014-JacksGeneric-099[1]It was a time trial start, which again meat settling into the swim pretty quickly, although by the 2nd lap, the course was packed with the sprint race and the women from the Intermediate. I was a bit slower than I expected, but a reasonable 22:15 for the 2x lap, 1000m.

I always have a quick transition at Pville, and today was no exception, I was out in 1:30. I had my feet in the shoes and pushing on before the first turn. I settled in well and was cranking out 22MPH+ Just before the left turn on Engleman, my front tire blew out.

Fullscreen capture 832014 93205 PMConveniently there was a volunteer truck on the corner, I was off the bike and had the wheel off, the tube replaced and CO2, in abut 3-mins. Psssssstttt. It went straight back down. I took the tube out and it had a big hole right by the valve. I stripped the tube and went for the other one. No CO2... No Pump...

I stood there frustrated, sorted through my stuff again, nope, no 2nd CO2. I briefly considered running back, it was 4-miles. I considered maybe running the 2nd loop, why? I stood there wheel in hand, desperate, my tri series was over. A woman not racing came from the left, riding a commuter bike, I shouted "Pump? > She rode by, turned and came back, she had CO2. I gassed the tube, while going through it I told her how she could get a replacement and thanked her again and rode off.

I checked my Garmin data tonight, I wasted 10-mins in total. I set off as fast as I could, I started picking off people, passed at least two from my age group including Ralph. The 2nd lap went well, but I knew I was behind because I was mostly passing women. Dismount done, and after a false start leaving transition from the wrong exit.

It took me a full 2-miles before it really felt like I was running, I managed to run except the aid stations, and into the 2nd lap. I started to remember how hard a half was going to be that was essentially double distance of todays race. I turned the last corner and got passed by a guy in my age group, because of the Time Trial start it was hard to know if he was ahead or behind me, I tried to catch him, but no beuno.


Swim, 1000m: 22:15, 4/7, 93/275
T1: 1:30 1/7
Bike, 25.8 Miles: 1:27:54, 4/7, 182/275
T2: 1:23 3/7
Run, 6-miles: 1:02:57, 6/7, 213/275
Total:  2:56:01 5/7, 135/168, 186/275

Mid-season catch-up

I guess about now marks the middle of the year for my race season, and I'm way behind as always these days of journaling my races and training. That's a shame, I often find myself using google to go back and look up triathlon related stuff, results etc. directly on my triman livejournal aka blog.

This year I've been focusing on going back to short course, working much harder than I have in probably 10-years on my running with the help of Austin Distance Challenge winner, and Trail Roots founder, Erik Stanley. For the first time, I set out to complete all the races in the Texas Tri Series. I've entered on and off since the series started in 2007, I made the 2008 Finishers party by the fact I volunteered a couple of the races but other than that, have been focused on long course racing or leading the Jack and Adams Sunday shop ride.

To be honest, as the master of over expectation, I really hoped to win my age group at the Tri series this year, I made that boast to a number of my peers, including Ralph Stanley who is racing the tri series this year precisely because I am trying to win it :) I also discussed with Doug, Gary and others.

As it turns out, for my age group the tri series is becoming a war of attrition. After the Rookie there were 21 in the Age group results; after Lake Pflugerville Tri, 12; and after the mot recent race, The Couples Triathlon, there are now 6, of which I'm 5th.

I have a tale to tell on how I lost about 4-mins, maybe more at the Rookie; how my bike just didn't come together at Lake P'ville, but I have no excuse for this years Couples Triathlon which was my fastest since I first raced it in 2007. So, it turns out I'm just not fast enough.

Still as we head into Jacks Generic Triathlon I'm feeling great and hopeful I'll be able to claw back at least a few seconds on the swim and bike, and hold my own on the run. Last year I won my age group at the Sprint distance, this year for the Tri series I have to compete in the intermediate distance, which is 1000m swim, 25.8 mile bike, and a 6-mile run.  We are back at Lake P'ville but doing two laps of the course in reverse this time.

Next up, well after Jacks Generic, it's the next round of the Pure Austin Splash and Dash

Pro's and Ironman

There has been an interesting exchange been the @TheRealStarky and @_Dark_Mark the "evil" minds behind the Ironman Lake Placid gofundme, which is now over $6000 and, highly respected pro triathlete Jordan Rapp @rappstar over on twitter.

Which was mostly rapped up with this tweet

Since none of them follow me on twitter, and I have my twitter id protected, there was little point trying to respond on ROI there.

Focusing purely on the value the pro's bring at race time, misses the whole point. Sure, long established races would likely be fine, but try starting new races without pro's. It's not clear if some of the races in large urban, populted areas would survive without them. Many communities are on the edge in respect to the disruption Ironman distance races bring to town, especially the WTC races which come with heavy demands for road closures and financial payments, often between $100,000 and $200,000 from the city to the WTC. I've been in race planing meetings with civic leaders, police ad safety.

If you don't think Pro's have a value, try running a race without them, no pro field, no KPRs, no prize money, just age groups, not even an open wave. The race directors don’t have anything to say to the cities without pro’s that’s why the new races are often championship races… the discussion might go like this

Race Directror(not WTC): we are going to need the 112-mile bike course mostly shutdown for 8-hours, and the main footpaths through town will be inaccessible.
Local Mayor and Police chief: what for?
Race Director(not WTC): We are going to have an Ironman race for about 150-200 fast age groupers and a bunch of lifestyle athletes in lycra, the whole race lasts 16-hours and you have to pay us $200k for this…

Local Mayor and Police chief: Are you serious, all that disruption for local residents, all the detours; all the local business impact?
Race Director(not WTC): Yeah, but the WTC will make a sizable donation to local charities, in the region of $100k, all you need to do is get 800 or so people to volunteer, and they will be positive and get the rest of the community involved
Local Mayor and Police chief: Surely, that isn't even minimum wage? There is no way I am can sell this to the community…

Race Director(not WTC): Well how about we add a pro field, I’ll bring in a couple of big names and a bunch of people desperate for to qualify for Ironman Hawaii?
Local Mayor and Police chief: Whats Ironman Hawaii?
Race Director(not WTC): OK, look, how about we make this new race the North America Ironman Championship, think of the prestige for the Town!
Local Mayor and Police chief: Now that sounds like something we could do, how do we start…
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Couples Triathlon: winner, winner

I've been racing the Couples Triathlon out at Decker Lake most years, since 2007, when I raced with my livejournal friend anetmarie. This year though, instead of racing in the "Friends" category, for the first time I got to race "More than Friends" with Kate.

10557258_10152267923696158_8643549575734241867_n My prior Couples race times, over exactly the same course were:
2007: 1:27 with anetmarie
2008: 1:24 Apparently solo
2010: 1:24 with Shellie Orishiba
2011: 1:26 with Tammy Metzger
2014: 1:21:35 with Kate Ripley

So it was my fastest ever. The start was, for the first time I can remember, a time trial start. You can see Kate and I starting in the LJ banner above, Kate laughing as I went racing off. I know Kate was concerned about the 800m open water swim, but equally knew she'd do fine on the bike, and neither of us are fans of the 5k course at Walter E Long Park, which includes the big downhill, followed by coming back up, all off road.

divestartFor me, the time trial start allowed me to settle into my swim quickly after a pretty decent start, captured by Kreutz photography here. Including dolphin dives. I was out of the water in 14:57, not a great time, but reflective of the amount of swim training I've done.

Up in the hill and out through T1 in 1:47; bike mount and the bike went great, I got passed by three faster people heading along the back of the lake, when I rounded corner, they were all on the floor, or off their bikes, I guess someone went into the sharp corner too fast, and took the others down?

finishBack into the park dismount went fine, Kates' bike had gone which meant she'd survived the swim and before I knew it I was on the run. I'd been working a more tempo pace rather than flat out. The run down the hill was, as predicted cautious, and coming back up the hill slow. I finished strong and pretty much headed over to transition.

In transition, I was delighted to see Kate's bike was back, and so I ran back out on to the run course in reverse direction. I got to the top of the hill, and sat down. Almost as soon as I sat down, I spotted Kate coming back up the hill, I jogged over and ran back in with her.

My splits for the race were:
Swim: 14:57 238/652
T1: 1:47
Bike: 34:24 129/652
T2: 0:58
Run: 29:27 302/652
Total time: 1:21:35 132nd Male, 193/652 overall.

My data from the race is on here.

finish3After the race Kate and I packed up and left. After all, it was only Kates' 2nd triathlon and we knew we were competing with more than friends teams made up with many friends, Keith Kennedy and Christy Doll, Amy Chow and Michael Ayer, who finished 1st and 2nd respectively, Erin Truslow and boyfriend Adam Reardon, and many other fast couples.

It was only yesterday more than 2-weeks later, I went to browse the official results and found that Kate and I, Team Mates, won the More than Friends 95+ category in a combined time of 3:04:58.8, and finished over an hour faster that the 2nd place Team - Be Creative C&M.