Last week, I was supposed to have the week off. Only it turns out when you work for yourself, that sort of doesn’t happen.
It started with doing XTERRA almost two weeks ago now. XTERRA sucks.
OK, fine, maybe it doesn’t suck for some people somewhere. But, it sucked for me. The water was 51 degrees and choppy. And, I simply never got warm. I got in the water to warm up and never got warm. In fact, my hands were swelling from the cold and throbbing as we stood on the beach to start.
I actually didn’t think I would make it to the first buoy, but eventually I did. Eventually, I made it to transition — though I was so cold I got passed by a couple girls and maybe 10 guys on the run to transition. I couldn’t move my feet to go any faster.
I then spilled half my camelbak on my leg and started to bike. I thought the first bike loop was fine, but it was actually slow. Then, I had to do a second loop. I was getting wobbly by then, thirsty since I had spilled all my water, and really, really cold. My hands couldn’t hold onto the bars and it was so gravel-y and rocky they were shaking. I threw a temper tantrum at one point after I slipped and tipped over for the third time going over a rocky patch. And, I slowly worked myself into a fit about having to go back down the long, loose rock-y descent to the finish — and then it started to rain.
I cried the whole way downhill. Except crying during a race is idiotic, so instead I started making these dying animal gasping noises. And then I put on all the warm clothes I had and walked to the car and turned the heater on. People kept yelling at me that I could do it! But, why would I want to?
After that my vacation included more work than ever Monday-Wednesday, writing four articles in those three days.
Then, we spent some time in lovely Baker City, OR.
There was some of this:
And, some of this:
And, a whole lot of this:
"Can bears really not run downhill? Like how downhill? Like if a bear comes out of the woods right now, can I just run down the trail or do I have to head straight over the side of the trail and down the mountain? Climbing a tree wouldn’t be a good idea, right? Are there mountain lions here too? Can’t they all just kill each other? If the rattlesnake is blocking our path on the trail, how do we get back to the car? If we climb through the underbrush to get around the snake, wouldn’t we just end up stepping on other snakes? We’re going to round the corner and there’s going to be a bear trying to get in our car, isn’t there? Did you leave food out in the car?"
I have this reputation for being outdoors-y, but it’s an incredibly misguided reputation.
Then, we drove 13 hours back home. We took the “scenic” route and went through southeastern Oregon. 50 miles into the Great Basin — which is exactly as depressing as it sounds — Steve says that we should stop at the next gas station. And, then we realize the next gas station isn’t going to be for 80 more miles.
Somehow, even with three bikes on the roof, our car got 26 miles to the gallon (how you ask? through my willing it to be so, obviously) and we made it to this intersection of two highways where the one gas station on the side of the road had a hand-painted sign saying “24-hour emergency gas, $10 fee.”
So, we knocked on the mobile home next door — like the sign said — and asked the guy to come out and turn on the gas. He did. He came out and pumped our gas for us, while smoking a cigarette and detailing all the horrific accidents that happen at that intersection, because it’s two freeways in the middle of nowhere and the one stop sign is barely visible.
When he got his dog, he said, he would walk the dog back and forth from the mobile home to the gas station and every time a car would go by he would light a firecracker to teach the dog to stay away from cars. But, then, one day, this old guy driving got scared by the firecracker and nearly drove his truck into a tree.
He also hired an assistant for the gas station/store, but then she stole all his Vicodin and Percocet and narcotics. And, the insurance company won’t let him get them refilled until the 15th, so he’s screwed. He got all the stuff to start growing medical marijuana, but then the state said he had to fill out this paperwork saying the police could come check on it at any time. So, he decided he didn’t want to do it legally, because even if he was Jesus, himself, he wouldn’t want the police to be able to come into his house anytime.
And, we should be careful driving, he said. Don’t go above 65 mph, because there’s a cop who lives next door and since we have out of state plates and this is a drug trafficking route, he’d probably pull us over.
I think it’s safe to say I’m done vacationing anywhere the beauty is described as “harsh, stark, and unrelenting.”
Owning a professional triathlete license (at least until the end of the year when it’ll run out and I’ll have done nothing to renew it), I am included on some professional triathlete email lists and discussions.
Right now, there is a discussion going on about WTC’s rule banning Lance from competition during the ongoing investigation.
As I learned yesterday (and as Slowtwitch explained today), there is no USADA or WADA rule that makes someone ineligible from competition DURING an investigation — something that should be obvious given the number of cyclists that have continued to compete while their guilt was debated. There is however a WTC, the company that owns Ironman-branded races, rule that bans athletes from competing while a doping investigation is open.
Obviously, that rule is insane and stupid and completely unfair. And, just as obviously, WTC never considered revising or changing it for other athletes. But, since they gave Lance a LOT of money to compete in their races and NBC paid a LOT of money for the TV rights to Kona and was going to up its coverage under the understanding that Lance would be there, obviously everyone wants to take back that rule.
So, the question in the professional triathlete community is: should we support a revision of that rule?
Of course we should.
Even if the revision is for all the wrong reasons, it’s still an opportunity to do the right thing. Yes, Lance should be allowed to compete until what passes for a process of guilt determination is complete. Of course he should. And, if this then allows other, less well-known, athletes their own due process and gets them out from under the thumb of WTC, that’s just a bonus of the whole thing.
Stop going to Masters all the time.
I know triathletes love themselves some Masters swim workouts, but if you never did an easy run or a long run and just showed up at track practice every single day and were like ‘hey, coach, what intervals are we running today? any hurdling or long jump involved?,’ you wouldn’t expect to be a fast triathlete, you probably wouldn’t even be a particularly good runner. You might be a pretty good all-around decathlete.
That’s what going to Masters every morning is like.
(At least most Masters. Obviously, there are some triathlon-specific or endurance programs.)
But, seriously. It’s not like the basic rules of endurance training are suspended in the water. Learn how to swim continuously without taking a ten second break every 200m. Do some tempo swim efforts on your own and some easy swims. Don’t try to go the fastest you can EVERY single interval.
And, for the love of god, don’t cut corners just to make the interval. There is no prize for winning the workout.
I’m not saying anything about whether or not you’ll be fit. I’m not saying Masters isn’t a good workout or whatever. I’m just saying you won’t be as fast at triathlon as you could be.
I’m going to interview the founder of Training Peaks for 3Go Magazine and I’m curious what questions people have about the system? I know I have my own, but since virtually everyone uses it, I thought I’d ask.
If you read the article in the current Inside Tri about Matt Chrabot and Jarrod Shoemaker’s effort to make sure the US has two spots at the Olympics* and then you read this thread on Slowtwitch about the shit-show that is the San Diego start list for the last Olympic qualifier, it’s hard not to believe that something is really really wrong with our qualification system.
Come on guys, let’s not turn into gymnastics, where old guys in some room somewhere pick the team.
* There is no online version of this article. But, the gist is: Shoemaker and Chrabot did many, many expensive, unglamorous races to ensure that the US men’s team gets two spots at the Olympics. HOWEVER, they may not end up being the two men that get the spots — ultimately, giving someone else the benefit of their work.