The temperatures have reached 100 degrees in Tempe, but to me, summer doesn’t officially start until Memorial Day weekend. If you’re going to be in my favorite city over the holiday, you might have plans to go to Arizona Mills, Tempe Marketplace, Mill Avenue and Tempe Town Lake. All excellent choices, for sure. But, if you want to try something new, here are a few ideas for you.
Take a Vacation at a Tempe hotel – Many Tempe hotels are offering great deals this summer. If you’re coming to Tempe this summer, or you’re a local who could use a mini-vacation, check out our special offers page for ideas and discounts.
Oceanside Ice Arena – Ice skating in the desert is possible at Tempe’s Oceanside Ice Arena. Located near Big Surf Waterpark, Oceanside is an excellent place to cool off and pretend, for an hour or so, that the weather is chilly once again.Open skating hours are 7-9 p.m. on Saturday, May 25 and 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, May 26.
Ride the Waves at Big Surf – Big Surf Waterpark is now open every weekend, but starting on May 25it will be open every single day from through August 4. Zoom down slides like the White Serpentine and the Black Hole, soak up the sun on Waikiki Beach or splash with the smallest swimmers at Captain Cook’s Landing. Surfing and boogie boarding sessions are also available daily.
Plan a picnic – I haven’t planned a picnic in a while, but it sure sounds like fun. Grab a blanket, a bocce ball set or a Frisbee and pick up sandwiches from Sacks.There are lots of scenic parks in Tempe with plenty of space to play – see a full list here.
Movies in the Park – Speaking of parks, go to Kiwanis Park on May 24 and see “Finding Nemo” with the whole family. This free event starts at dusk (approximately 7 p.m.). Bring a blanket and snacks (or buy a few treats on site) and relax. Visit the City of Tempe website for the full calendar of movies.
Whether you’re a local or a visitor, you’re sure to have a fun Memorial Day in Tempe. For even more ideas, visit www.tempetourism.com.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like summer, which means that soon it will be too hot to venture outside for any length of time during the day. Yes, it’s time to find alternative recreational opportunities that don’t involve any exertion under the searing summer sun.
Of course there are the usual indoor solutions like retreating for hours on end to the air conditioned comfort of the malls, movie theater, bowling alleys or laser tag. These are all activities that will definitely keep you cool and entertained. But eventually we all crave doing something outdoors other than trying to find relief in the tepid water of the swimming pool.
During the summer months, the Desert Botanical Garden offers Garden Flashlight Tours that will get you outside and give you a chance to see another, cooler side of the desert. From May through August, you can explore how the desert comes to life when the sun goes down. You might see nighthawks that have their own built in super night vision, snakes or other furry or scaly nocturnal desert dwellers. You might even see rare, night blooming flowers. The self-guided tour lets you set your own pace along the trail which takes you to 10 discovery stations.
So, this summer fetch your flashlights and hit the trail for a fun, cool and interesting Garden Flashlight Tour. Tours are held Thursdays and Saturday May 30 – August 31, 7-9 p.m. For more information call the Desert Botanical Garden, 480-941-1225 or visit dbg.org.
Legendary Singer/songwriter/producer and inventor Jerry Riopelle will perform with local artists Blaine Long, Marconias and Roxie Whipple in a night of original music, hosted by Walt Richardson, at the Tempe Center for the Arts (TCA), May 17, 7:30 p.m.
Jerry Riopelle first came on the scene in the 1970s and has maintained a loyal fan base ever since. His music reflects various genres such as rhythm and blues, rock and country, jazz and reggae. He is known not only as an entertainer, but also as a song writer and inventor. Several of his Top 40 hits have been recorded by artists, including Herb Alpert, Joan Baez, Leon Russell, Kenny Loggins, Rita Coolidge and Meat Loaf. He has also written many songs for films and television. He is a member of the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame.
Jerry invented and received patents for Beamz®, a laser-based musical device for which he was awarded the 2003 Innovator of the Year award at the Arizona Technology Expo. Since then, the device has won additional awards for its benefits in recreational music and occupational therapy.
Jerry Riopelle’s performance is part of the award-winning Songwriter’s Showcase series produced by the TCA and filmed for television and Internet by Tempe’s government access channel Tempe 11. The series features selected local performers from TCA’s Walk-in Wednesdays Open Mic Night and In the Spotlight events who join a regional headliner for a night of live original music. Past headliners include Gin Blossoms co-founder Jesse Valenzuela, four-time Grammy nominee William Eaton, Arizona Blues favorite Hans Olson, Obadiah Parker and The Sugar Thieves. The series appears on local PBS channels in Phoenix, Tucson and other government access channels around the state.
There are many more great events taking place in Tempe this week. See below for more and view a complete listing of Tempe events, or call 480-894-8158 for more information.
There are a lot of things I love about Arizona. The weather and the desert landscape are atop my list. But I also love all the fun, outdoor activities the city has. We have IRONMAN Arizona, Pat’s Run and The Color Run. But there’s one fun activity that I haven’t done yet that I’m really looking forward to.
Sounds run, right? All you have to do is register. Sign in is usually from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. or you can register online on their website. From 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., you have the scavenger hunt. At sign in, you’ll get a pen, paper and a Ziploc bag for your tickets. Right before 7:00 p.m., they’ll unveil the map of all the stores you need to run to. Once it’s time to go, you run around to all the checkpoints, as fast as you can, collecting raffle tickets. You only have 60 minutes, so plan your route accordingly. Once the scavenger is over, you use your tickets to win prizes, such as shoe discounts, nutritional products, after the race.
If you’re looking for a fun way to get some exercise and win free stuff, without a doubt, try the Adventure Run. Nothing is more exciting than adding a little adventure to your life.
The famous dance pioneer Martha Graham once said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”
There is something magical about a dance performance, whether ballet, jazz or modern, that transforms you. The dancers can somehow tell a story through their movement and that story has the power to move an audience.
This is why I can’t wait to see Topia at Desert Botanical Garden, May 14-June 1. Topia is an original ballet set to the music of Beethoven that was created by Ballet Arizona’s artistic director, Ib Andersen. It is a performance that is inspired by the Sonoran Desert landscape, so there isn’t a better setting that the beautiful Desert Botanical Garden. Topia will be performed outside on at 80 foot panoramic stage with the Papago Park buttes as a glorious backdrop. Topia premiered at the Garden last year, and I’m thrilled that audiences have the chance to see it again.
Check out this video from last year’s performance. I think you’ll agree that it is visually stunning and absolutely beautiful. I just love how ballet dancers make every movement look effortless, when I know that even the smallest gesture is choreographed to perfection. The hours of rehearsal, the strength of each dancer and the thought behind each movement become pure joy and exuberance on stage.
Whether this is your first time seeing a ballet or your 100th time, don’t miss this Ballet Arizona production. Tickets begin at $40. Guests can choose to have dinner at the Garden prior to the show. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit the Desert Botanical Garden website or the Ballet Arizona website.
I love jellyfish, those tentacled, transparent, luminous, undulating sea critters that live in oceans and big public aquariums far from Arizona. I always figured that, unless I happen to encounter one while vacationing by the sea or visiting one of the big aquariums that have jelly fish exhibits, my chances of actually seeing just one jelly fish were pretty remote. Living here in the middle of the desert, I thought it was highly unlikely that I would ever see several varieties of this strange, fanciful sea life. So, imagine how excited I was to hear that this Friday, May 10, SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium is opening Jelly Fish Discovery, featuring the largest collection of jelly fish in Arizona.
Jelly fish are beautiful and fascinating, but let’s face it, for whatever reason, they are not given the kinds of attention and notoriety that other sea creatures like, say dolphins, sharks and sting rays receive. However, thanks to SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium, we can now see some of the many beautiful varieties and learn more about their mysterious lives. Questions such as, “what is a jelly fish?,” what do they eat?,” “what’s up with all those tentacles?,” and many more will be answered.
SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium is located at Arizona Mills and is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. On Friday, May 10, it will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
There are many more great events taking place in Tempe this week. See below for more and view a complete listing of Tempe events, or call 480-894-8158 for more information.
This Sunday isn’t your run of the mill Sunday. It’s Cinco de Mayo!
There are a lot of festivities around town from events at local Mexican food restaurants and bars to a “Cinco de Rhino” party at The Phoenix Zoo. Yes, a rhino party.
First, a bit of fact checking so you know why you’re celebrating…
Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture. It is celebrated in the U.S., especially the Southwest, more so than in Mexico. It commemorates the small but mighty Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The Independence Day celebrated widely in Mexico is not Cinco de Mayo. Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16.
So, what is there to do in Tempe for Cinco de Mayo? Events with drink specials, lots of food, entertainment and more fun stuff are taking place at the following Tempe restaurants:
In addition, if you’re looking for something to do with the family on May 5, you’re in luck.
The Phoenix Zoo is hosting “Cinco de Rhino” from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be games and activities throughout the day, including a special treat for the resident rhino at 10 a.m. and a talk from a zookeeper at 11 a.m.
Big Surf Waterpark will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 5. To celebrate their season opening, everyone who brings in at least five non-perishable food items for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance will receive the 50 percent off of general admission ($27.95).
I love art. Whether it’s painting, drawing, sculpture, or ceramics, I’ve always enjoyed the creative process. When I was younger, I loved to draw and even took art/drawing lessons for a time. Some are blessed with artistic talents that make the rest of us sit back and admire what they’re able to create.
Rachel Goede is a local, Tempe artist who is able to paint masterpieces. She’s an Omaha, NE native that studied painting at ASU and eventually graduated with a BFA in painting from there too.
“I wanted to be an artist ever since I was a little girl. I always thought being an artist was the most radical and amazing profession a person could possibly have,” she said. “I still think that, however, being an artist can be hard because not everyone is excited about my art as I am. I love what I do. I have always loved creating art because it calms a craving within me.”
Like most artists, everyone has something that inspires them. For Rachel, her inspiration comes from people. “I am inspired by faces. I simply want to document people around me, including myself, so that I can tell others about whom and what I know, and about my life. I paint myself because I know my own face better than any other face. I love the human figure and the face; I believe the human body is very beautiful.”
Even though she finds her inspiration through the human figure and enjoys that, she has painted some traditional, Arizona landscapes. Her work includes an art studio classroom at ASU overlooking monument Valley Arizona, as well as, a still life painting about horse culture in Arizona.
“Most of the portraits I have painted are about Arizona in a wider sense, because they are about my experiences while living here. Arizona, and my portrait subjects that I have met here, are very dear to me and I want others to know their roles in my life.”
To see more of Rachel’s work, you can visit her website here. For more information about Tempe arts and culture, be sure to visit the Tempe Tourism website or call 800-283-6734.
FLASHDANCE - THE MUSICAL comes to ASU Gammage this week.
I loved Flashdance, the movie and am so excited that the big Broadway musical version is coming to Tempe this week. Yep, millions of us got that “Flashdance” feeling in 1983 when the movie, with its great music, dancing and romantic story, swept us away. Fast forward thirty years we can be swept away again by FLASHDANCE-THE MUSICAL when it comes to ASU Gammage, April 30-May 5.
With electrifying dance at its core, FLASHDANCE-THE MUSICAL tells the inspiring and unforgettable story of Alex Owens, a Pittsburgh steel mill welder by day and a bar dancer by night with dreams of becoming a respected professional performer. Along the way she falls in love with her boss at the mill. And, in true fairy-tale fashion, it all works out in the end with Alex’s prince of a boss/boyfriend helping to make her dream come true. Think of it as Cinderella in a welding mask and leg warmers!
The audience shares in Alex’s trials and triumphs with great dancing and a score that includes the biggest hit songs from the movie, including the Academy Award-winning title song “Flashdance – What a Feeling,” Maniac,” “Gloria,” “Manhunt,” and “I Love Rock & Roll.” plus 16 brand new songs have been written for the musical.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
I’ve got to agree with wise Abe. Moms are the most special people on earth. Moms should be thanked daily for the countless hours they spend taking care of everyone in the family. But, officially, there is only one that that’s just for them. Mother’s Day.
Here are just a few places in and near Tempe where you can take your mom or grandmother on May 12. There are lots of excellent choices for brunch, lunch and dinner. Just remember to use your best table manners, just like she taught you.
At the Trophy Room at ASU Karsten Golf Course, Executive Chef Andrew Brosten’s is preparing a fabulous Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet, including Rosemary Crusted New York Strip, House Smoked Turkey Breast, Spiced Braised Lamb Shoulder and much more. There will be bottomless bellinis or mimosas ($8) or try a spicy Habanero Bloody Mary ($7). All reservations will include a complimentary family photo. Call 480-921-8073 for reservations. Adults are $43 each and children (10 and under) are $15 each.
Milagro’s at the Fiesta Resort and Conference Center is another great choice for Mother’s Day Brunch. Their menu features cooked to order eggs and omelets, eggs benedict, seasonal fruit, build your own waffles, peel and eat shrimp, stuffed breast of chicken, spice rubbed prime rib hand carved to order, baked orange roughy and lots of delights for dessert.
Brunch is served from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and the cost is $25 12 & up, $12 ages 6-11. Call 480-804-5223 for reservations
Everyone’s favorite Tempe restaurant, House of Tricks, isn’t normally open on Sundays, but they will be open on Sunday, May 12. Join them for a memorable meal for mom on their lush patio or in one of the cozy indoor dining rooms. Their chef will create special menus for the occasion:
3 courses with lots of fantastic choices within each course … $49 per person.
3 course children’s menu … $15 per child.
Make your reservations online or call 480 968-1114.
The Phoenix Marriott Tempe at the Buttes has two options for Mother’s Day;
Celebrate your mother with a specialty brunch at Market Café. This restaurant will have more than 40 buffet items, such as a carving station, breakfast entrees, seafood, salads, side dishes and a variety of sweet desserts. Call (602) 225-9000 and ask for Market Café to make your reservations.
Sunday, May 12, 2013 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Adults: $54.95; Ages 13-17: $18.95; ages 12 and under eat free.
Top of the Rock at Phoenix Marriott Tempe at the Buttes offers incredible views of Tempe and Phoenix, and a special brunch just for moms. The Top of the Rock buffet will showcase more than 50 items.The carving station will offer Carved Leg of Goat, Agave Baked Ham and Prime Rib. In true Southwestern fashion, there will be a Huevos Rancheros Station and an Arizona Omelet Station. Salads and sides will also make it hard to choose, with lots of breakfast items and brunch favorites like Mac and Cheese Bake and Smoked Chicken Popovers. Desserts include Cake Pops, Vanilla Crème Brulee, Flourless Chocolate Mousse Cakes and much more. Make your reservations today by calling (602) 431-2370.
Sunday, May 12, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
$69.95 per person; $24.95 for children 6-17 years; children under 6 are free
What’s more fun than a bit of Western-themed adventure on Mother’s Day? Our friends at Rawhide will have Mother’s Day specials from 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. along with the regular steakhouse lunch and dinner menus. Featured items include your choice of Southern Fried Chicken, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Vegetable Medley, Chipotle Dijon Crusted Pork Loin, Butter Braised Corn, Meyer Lemon Mahi Mahi and Peppercorn Filet. Dessert will be homemade Apple Pie or Chocolate Fudge Cake.
$17.99 plus tax. Gratuity added for parties of 8 or more.
Add any choice of drinks, Prickly Pear Margarita, Chocolatini or a glass of champagne for $7 more.
Reservations are recommended. Call 480-502-5600, ext. 1141.
Rustler’s Rooste offers terrific views of the valley and a fun, Western atmosphere that is perfect for kids of all ages. But even better than a cool Western atmosphere is the impeccable food and great service. For Mother’s Day, take in the delicious Western-style brunch, enjoy live music and for well-deserving moms, a glass of champagne or a mimosa. The menu includes Eggs Diablo (the Rooste version of Eggs Benedict with Spicy Machaca and Diablo Sauce), Biscuits and Country Gravy, Ham with w/ Rum Raisin Sauce, Chicken Monterey, side dishes and for dessert, Danishes, Muffins, Pies, Cakes, Cheesecake, Mousses, Cookies and a Chocolate Fountain!
Brunch will be served from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. with the last reservation taken at 1 p.m. Call 602-431-6474 for reservations.
Adults $32.95 & Kids 10 Under $12.95++
Kids in Highchairs are Free
Dinner will be served from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. from their regular dining menu.
The Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill at Tempe Marketplace is offering special menu options for Mother’s Day along with the tasty items on the regular menu. Specials include Parmesan Crusted Alaskan Halibut, Crab Stuffed Atlantic Salmon and Herb Crusted Flat Iron Steak. Call (480) 968-2920 for reservations.
Sunday, May 12, 2013 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. – pricing is ala carte
The Z’Tejas in Tempe on Sixth Street and Mill will offer their brunch menu for Mother’s Day. Moms will be treated to a free dessert and a complimentary photo with their family. Call for a reservation and more details: 480-377-1170.
Ok, so, the good news is that I’m still ahead of pace for my 10,000 goal. But I’ve been slacking lately and haven’t been doing my daily reps. To reach 10,000, I should be at 7,397 to go. I’m a good 600 reps ahead of that. But, I need to get back in the swing of things.
Man, getting 2 days behind is bad news… I need to try to catch up. But at least I didn’t fall further behind. I had spent the entire day moving boxes. I’m going to have to log that as a workout also… lots of climbing stairs with heavy things.
Yes… I’m calling this a workout. This was lots of carrying heavy boxes up stairs. Moving things around and general huffing and puffing… especially hard considering my legs being trashed from Saturday’s 50km trail run!
We read in every magazine and website the stories of our sport’s elite. Their lives dedicated to training and how they rise to contest for the top spots in the world. Unfortunately I, like the vast majority of triathletes out there, will never be able to challenge the best in the world but this doesn’t mean that I don’t have great goals and aspirations that I am striving to achieve.
Whilst I always like to be competitive, my goals are not so much focused around the places I get in future races but instead just completing the biggest and hardest races around that normal (non-triathlete) people out there couldn’t even imagine completing. The two races that I now have my heart set on are the Port Macquarie Ironman in April 2010 and then the Coast to Coast in New Zealand Feb 2011. Once I have completed these two races I will have enough experience to really know what I enjoy the most and focus on beating my times.
I originally got into triathlons when I was getting bored at the gym and knew that I had to have a change of scenery before falling back into my routine downward spiral back into laziness. Since then I have never looked back. I only started training in October (08) but jumped straight into it and competed in most of the Gatorade Series in Queensland, Australia. I must say that the Gatorade Series is a fantastic way to get into the sport offering a range of short courses which seem a lot more achievable to the beginner than something as big as an Olympic distance race. Anyone out there who is considering giving it a go but hasn’t yet plucked up quite enough courage should give one of those races a go, you won’t regret it. On average I have always finished about 25% of the way down my age group which I have always been pretty happy with due to my lack of experience and other commitments.
I finished my 08-09 season off with my first Olympic distance race at Mooloolaba, Australia. I came 371st out of 2058 finishers and completed the race in 2:23:52. I realised during this race that I much preferred the feeling of the Olympic race over the sprint distance races. It is for this reason that I really can’t wait to jump straight into the Half Ironman (70.3) Distance races next season!
Unfortunately I started triathlons with very poor core stability and inwards rolling feet. Mainly due to these factors (and some serious inconsistencies in my training) I have suffered from quite a few little injuries including bruised bones in my feet and some knee pain. I have, however, been doing heaps of core work with my club and believe that everything is finally starting to fall into place. Along with a crazy amount of core work we have done a lot of different running drills recently that really highlight just how much of a difference your posture and core strength make when running. I have to admit I was a little sceptical at first when my coach told me that various abs exercises would cure my knee pain and make me run heaps faster but now I am really left with no doubt in my mind. If there is anyone out there reading this who does not focus much on core strength work but instead believes that if you just go out there and pound the pavement you’ll get just as far I must tell you that you are greatly mistaken!
So I have booked myself into the 70.3 at Yeppoon on August 16th and have finally settled into some great, consistent, offseason training with very high hopes for beating 5:30:00 (which I am told is a very achievable goal even with my lack of experience). My coach has identified that our club in general seems to struggle the most with our run splits and so as a club we are really focussing on getting our running form perfected, or at least improved, and are putting in some high volume runs with the aim of practicing this form and getting it right before we start to increase intensity again.
I will leave it there for now but I am going to keep this blog updated with my progress towards making the jump from Olympic Distance races to Half Ironman (70.3) Distance races. If anyone else out there has any advice for me or is in a similar position themselves please let me know your thoughts and how you are going.
All the best, train safe, Dave, Age Grouper Triathlete.
Everyone’s talking global warming these days, but meanwhile, a company out of Glenview, IL is pushing us into a new Ice Age.
Chicago-based start up Moji has created a superior alternative to leaky ice cube filled baggies and frozen vegetables, that actually makes the critical act of post-activity icing comfortable, mobile and even stylish with its truly innovative new Moji Knee cold compression (aka “icing”) system.
Being a publication focused on active living and athletics, I’m sure you understand that icing is pretty important. There’s a bunch of research that supports it as well. But surprisingly enough, even though icing is considered one of the most effective and important measures to prevent injuries (let alone rehab injuries), a ton of people who engage in daily fitness pastimes like running, cycling, working out or other popular sports like golf and tennis never ice. This is pretty surprising when you consider that every time we engage in such activities, we experience micro-trauma to our joints and tendons that can, and will, lead to injury, arthritis and a host of other painful ailments along the way. Icing is the single most effective and efficient way to keep ourselves injury free and active as long as possible throughout our lives.
Moji went out and figured out that there were three main reasons people neglected icing after workouts or activity:
1. Convenience – It’s kind of hard to take ice with you without it melting, and who wants to carry an igloo cooler around everywhere. If there’s no freezer nearby, there’s no icing.
2. Messiness – Pretty much every icing method available, from athletic icing products to good ole frozen veggies get wet, and leave a damp and uncomfortable mess. Not to mention, the typical plastic bags and pouches used for icing aren’t exactly what you’d call comfortable.
3. Mobility – (Or lack there of). Icing means you’re basically confined to your recliner or couch for 30 minutes. It’s not like you can get up and get things done while your icing.
After identifying these three primary reasons, Moji took the critical step of developing a solution that eliminates these three barriers to icing. It’s new Moji Knee cold compressions system possesses superior icing capabilities due to an innovative “Cold Cell” design and a gel that stays soft and pliable when frozen and maintains optimal cooling temperature for the duration of the icing process, not to mention that it doesn’t sweat or leak making it completely “mess free.” It’s totally mobile due to a high-tech four-way stretch fabric that’s super comfortable, and totally accommodates full movement for those who want to be able to get out and about while they are icing after an activity. And finally, the Moji Knee looks great! Like any other modern athletic apparel, Moji Knee not only looks stylish and is extremely comfortable to wear, but it’s design qualities make for superior results because it delivers cooling more effectively and maximizes compression to the area, which is critical to effective icing. Finally, they offer Moji To Go – a thermal canister that keeps the Moji frozen for up to six hours and fits conveniently into any athletic bag or backpack. So you can “Moji” anytime, anywhere.
Zone3 is a new exciting British brand created exclusively for Triathlon.
The brand has been developed by elite triathlete James Lock. Researched and formulated whilst at Loughborough University, Zone3 offers exceptional high performance racing wear designed to increase speed, enhance overall appearance and improve comfort.
What makes this brand different?
British Triathletes have been a dominant force on the world stage for several years now and invariably have been wearing brands from the other side of the world. Zone3 is one of the first British owned brands and aims to support as many British athletes as possible.
The apparel has been developed with the help from such a wide range of at Triathletes which has successfully allowed some innovative features to be built into the products which no other brands can offer.
Zone3 also buys directly from the manufacturers, so unlike many other brands, Zone3 products haven’t passed through any ‘middle men’ before being purchased by the consumer, therefore lowering prices.
James Lock has been a competitive athlete since the age of 10. As a junior he was a national ranked swimmer and runner and turned to triathlon when he started at Loughborough University. In 2006 he became World Biathle Champion and World Amateur Aquathlon Champion. He finished seventh in last season’s British Elite Grand Prix Series and has very strong ambitions to race at the 2012 Olympics.
Where did the name come from? Why Zone3?
Zone3 is a terminology used by a wide range of top-level coaches. Zones 1 and 2 are predominately your training paces, but it is in Zone3 that you are in racing mode! In Zone3 you are focused, powerful, controlled and striving to reach new goals.
Zone3 garments allow you to achieve the best race results possible, whether you are a novice competitor or seasoned International.
What is the aim for the season?
The aim for 2009 is to work as closely with as many Triathletes as we can. We want to visit as many clubs and races as possible to let people try on our suits and understand how great they feel and perform. None of the Zone3 products will be available to buy through the retail stores until 2010. All products will be sold directly through the Zone3 website and there are only limited numbers available so this season you have a chance to get hold of an exclusive design before the masses.
We are also launching a race team this year so are very excited to see a full spectrum of athletes from elite internationals to first timers benefiting from our unique garments. Please get in touch if you are interested in racing for the Zone3 team which would guarantee you availability of your chosen garments, as well as team discounts. You can email: James@RaceZone3.com
So, what’s available this season?
Zone3 are launching a very high spec ‘intermediate level’ wetsuit as well as an uncompromised high performance wetsuit. Both suits offer the optimum balance of buoyancy and superb all over flexibility. They also features Pro Speed™ arm and leg cuffs which make them the fastest suit in transition saving vital time on any course.
Again, for the Tri suits there is a very sleek suit designed for out and out performance and there is also a range of suits which combines similar high tech features but is aimed more at the intermediate triathlete who wants to race in comfort and style.
Both ranges utilise the most Triathlon specific fabrics in the world as which are just perfect for every discipline. These suits can’t be beaten by any other main stream Tri brand.
Zone3 is a scientific brand but is also being developed with fashion designers’ input to ensure the garments are both functional and fashionable.
April 2009 sees the launch of our race specific triathlon products, including high performance racing suits and wetsuits, which have taken years of research and development. By the start of 2010 we will also release a range of swimming, cycling and running products which are innovatively designed to help develop training and racing.
Our business mission is to get this British brand on the world-wide map by 2011 and by 2012 we want to be in a position to show our presence at the London Olympic Games. Currently some of the world’s top triathletes are using our wetsuits and racing suits so feel confident that we can achieve this.
If you are a member of a team or a club and would like to book in a visit where Zone3 will come to your pool and let you demo the suits, then please get in touch with James on James@RaceZone3.com
In 2006, Beth joined Team in Training to prepare for her first triathlon. That’s where she met Lawrence Fong, her Team in Training coach.
Six months later, Beth participated in that first race. In an effort to reduce her confusion in transition, Beth had taken chalk and wrote her name on the ground right in front of her bike rack. As she was out on the course, her then-boyfriend Lawrence snuck into transition and under her name added the words, “…will you marry me?”
Though Beth was ecstatically surprised, the proposal was inevitable; Beth and Lawrence were destined for each other. Lawrence, with his gentle, caring soul is the perfect compliment to Beth’s vibrant personality. They calm each other and seamlessly connect like two pieces of a puzzle.
They had initially tried to keep their interest hidden behind the veil of professionalism in their Team in Training relationship. But when true love comes knocking, you have to answer. Within weeks they were dating and within months they had moved in together. They both knew this was forever.
Forever is much more than fictional fairy tale endings. The true essence of forever is not about the months and years of happiness; forever is about surviving those days and seconds that test our fortitude. It is about the sudden, unexpected challenges that fray the thread of life to its very core. Forever is about pushing forward, no matter the cost.
That’s where forever began for the Fongs: In transition, after Beth’s first triathlon, when her coach proposed to her with a piece of chalk.
Beth said yes and exactly one year later they were married.
Beth and Lawrence are the model of multisport. She is an accomplished cyclist and runner, with marathons and triathlons under her belt. Lawrence is a Cat IV cyclist, has done over 30 triathlons including Ironman Arizona and Ironman Florida and, as a side-hobby, has been coaching triathletes and runners since 2005.
Lawrence and Beth are also active members of the Los Angeles multisport community, putting on weekly training events and organizing numerous group activities, oftentimes through Lawrence’s role on the LA Tri Club’s Board of Directors.
On the evening of November 5, 2008, barely six months into their marriage, Lawrence kissed his new wife, said “I love you” and went out to an LA Tri Club Board meeting. Mid-way through the meeting, Lawrence excused himself to go to the men’s room. When he didn’t come back, someone went to check on him. They found Lawrence on the floor of the bathroom, a fractured skull, a crushed cheekbone and blood coming out of his ears and nose.
They called 911. That was about the time things began to get worse. He started vomiting and bleeding profusely. He was becoming incoherent and fading quickly.
Beth got the call immediately. Nobody knew the severity; she assumed Lawrence would be alright. Lawrence always turns out alright. She rushed to the hospital.
Beth arrived at the emergency ward as Lawrence was being brought in. He was conscious but incoherent. She tried to talk to him as he was rolled away but he didn’t respond.
Later that evening, Lawrence Fong slipped into a coma.
There are many questions about why this happened to Lawrence and what caused it. He is 36 years old, fit and healthy. Rumors quickly spread of a stroke, blood clot, bad fall, random attack. But, alas, there are no answers. It could be anything. “I just wanted to know why,” Beth said. “At least then it would give me something to be mad at.”
In that first night, Lawrence underwent brain surgery as the medical team struggled to determine the cause of his accident and battled for signs of a positive outcome.
Within 24 hours of the accident, as Beth’s world stood on the edge of surreal, she was told that her husband was brain dead. Barely six months into her marriage, Beth Fong found herself encouraged by doctors to remove her husband’s ventilator – to pull the plug and forget forever.
But from tragedy, miracles emerge. Lawrence and Beth gave a lot to the multisport community and when word of his accident spread, the multisport community began to give back. On that first night of the accident, nearly 50 athletes held vigil in the hospital waiting room throughout the evening. And when word spread that Lawrence was considered brain dead, the multisport community refused to accept it.
As Beth was brought away to rest, two triathletes in the medical field took the initiative upon themselves to make calls and pull strings. A few hours later, through the miracle of multisport connectivity, Beth learned that Lawrence was getting transferred to UCLA Medical, one of the nation’s leading neurological trauma intensive care units; a place where they don’t make rash decisions about killing forever.
Within days triathletes had set up a charity fund for Lawrence and Beth called Fongstrong (www.fongstrong.com). T-shirts were made, wristbands were sold. There was a Fongstrong aid station at Ironman Arizona. Signs and donation requests appeared at races throughout Los Angeles. Within weeks of the accident there were bike rides to benefit Fongstrong and Fongstrong charity runs were held in Los Angeles and San Francisco, collecting nearly $15,000 to help support Lawrence and Beth.
And despite the fact that they weren’t allowed to see Lawrence, masses of people remained in vigil in the hospital waiting room. Through all hours of the day and night, the multisport community stayed together to comfort, pray and support. They brought food and games and smiles and hugs. From a sport driven by individual competitiveness, they proved that the true heart of multisport is about true heart.
All the while, Beth spent her days and nights at Lawrence’s side, wondering if she’d ever have the same husband again. Doctor’s instilled doubts of whether Lawrence would ever emerge from the coma. They questioned whether he would ever be able to live his life without a ventilator. There were uncertainties of his short-term memory; whether he’d even remember his wife.
Then on December 9, 2008, despite all odds, Lawrence began to emerge from the coma and the multisport community breathed a miraculous sigh of relief. And on December 24, Lawrence and Beth celebrated their first married Christmas with a nod. There were no presents, no tree with glimmering lights, no carolers on the porch – there was simply a nod. A nod from Lawrence that indicated, for the first time since the accident, the he understood. He had his mental capacity. There is no better Christmas gift Beth could receive.
In the months to follow, Lawrence embarked on a slow and grueling road to recovery. In April he began to speak, then he began to eat and slowly he began to remember. Despite all odds, Lawrence Fong once again emerged.
There are still no promises on how much Lawrence will recover but every day he proves that the determination of a triathlete and the support of a multisport community can exceed all expectations. Doctors assumed he’d never come out of the coma. They said he would never speak. Never eat on his own. They said Lawrence Fong would never walk. But in early May, when Lawrence took his first small step, they suddenly realized the stubborn determination of a lifetime triathlete.
And as Lawrence and Beth continue their long and fateful journey down the road to forever, they’ve recognized they are not alone. With every step, and every breath, an entire multisport community is cheering them on. Forever.
You've heard it already, Lance Armstrong and RadioShack have joined forces to create a new team: Team RadioShack. They'll be whoring out Lance's celebrity to raise money for the LIVESTRONG Foundation.
I think that's great for the cancer kids. Lance is doing wonders in the world of cancer research and, despite his ego, he should be knighted for his efforts, or whatever the heck we do here in the United States that is equal to knighting. Medal of Valor? Nobel Prize? Purple Heart? Free Fries With Big Mac?
But seriously... RadioShack?! Since his bout with cancer, Lance has actually been portrayed as somewhat of a classy guy. I mean, aside from the whole cheating on his wife and acting holier than thou, he's been a fairly respectable person who seems to be trying to do something good in this world.
RadioShack is not a brand I associate with "classy" or "respectable" - or even "trying to do something good". In fact, I don't really associate RadioShack with anything but rundown, overpriced and lame. (Which, I guess are probably adjectives others would use to describe Lance but that's a whole different blog post.)
Didn't we all expect the announcement to be about Team Nike LIVESTRONG? Isn't that the no-brainer? I mean, does it take more than Lance making a phone call to Nike? If Lance Armstrong dials 1-800-IAM-NIKE and says, "Give me $30 million, let's start a team," isn't the obvious answer, "OK".
30 million is nothing for Nike. I'm guessing they pay more than that on sweatshop lawsuits every year. They probably have 30 mill in petty cash for lunch.
So why RadioShack? Why does one of the most recognized athletes in the world partner with one of the worst retail brands in the United States? Here's my theory....
We all know Lance has a big ego. To accomplish what he's done, you almost kind of have to. It would be naive of us to think that his ego wasn't involved in the negotiations for this. My bet is that Lance and his team approached every big, sexy brand they could think of - from Nike to REI, FedEx to Ben & Jerrys.
I'm also thinking that he walked in with a pretty hefty idea of what should happen. Like maybe Lance gets to pocket a few tens of millions in sponsorship dollars every year. And perhaps the partner probably has to donate a big chunk of their yearly sales to the LIVESTRONG Foundation. And what if Lance and his team have creative control and decision making powers of what they do and where they go and how they accomplish their initiatives.
That all seems like things he would ask for. Which means, here's the pitch:
Lance Armstrong wears your company name on his back. In exchange, you give him millions, you donate most of your revenue to his foundation, and you do what he says you should do.
I can't imagine that any of the aforementioned big sexy brands would think that's a good deal. It's a ridiculous deal. The only one who would go for a deal like that is a company in very dire straits who needs all the help they can get.
Which leads us right to RadioShack. RadioShack's stock price over the past ten years is like a black diamond ski slope. There's a whole lotta down.
The company is hemorrhaging. And Best Buy is beating them up and stealing their milk money on a daily basis.
It doesn't help that RadioShack has limited product and what they do have they overcharge for - like the $3 cable I needed that cost $35 dollars (and that I ended up buying on eBay for 49 cents). And it probably doesn't help when members of the Board of Directors are found guilty of child pornography.
My girlfriend and I have had bets on when we thought RadioShack would go out of business. But, alas, they now are going to sleepaway at Camp Lance.
And it all makes sense. Because, really, what else are they going to do? Everything they've tried over the past 10 years hasn't worked. (As far as I can tell, the only things they've tried are changing the CEO, changing the logo and using a vacuum cleaner on the store carpets). Hell, if they gave away 90 cents out of every dollar for this Armstrong deal at least they'd still be making 10 extra cents - and for a company that is in the crapper as much as RadioShack, 10 cents ain't so bad.
In actuality, it's kind of a smart move for RadioShack. They have such a terrible brand image and they are losing customers on a daily basis, they need something to make them cooler. And what better arbiter of cool than Lance Armstrong, Mr. Cool himself.
After all, look what he did for the US Postal Service. Since they tore it up at the Tour, I've looked at my mail in an entirely different way.
My question is whether and how this will work again. RadioShack, in one word, sucks. Lance has dug the bottom of the barrel for this partner. I'll continue to cheer for him at races, I'll continue to support LIVESTRONG, but there's no way in hell I'm paying 35 dollars for a 3 dollar cable - even if it is painted yellow.
Let's face facts folks, I labor over race reports more than I do over the races. The fact of the matter is that I say the same basic thing in all of the reports because I have just about the same basic experience in all of the races. So to save us all a heckuva lot of time and heartache, I present to you J's Official All-Encompassing Industry Approved Generic Race Report For All Races Past And Hence.
Oh, and it's in graphic form because we all like pretty pictures and they're much quicker to read. (click the image to see it bigger)
Today in America athletes across the country are being tortured. We are forced to race in unsavory conditions. We are commanded to relieve ourselves in unnatural environments that breed disease and discomfort. We are plagued with itchy bottoms and rash-laden undersides. We must put an end to this.
You know what I'm talking about people - I'm talking about 1-ply toilet paper.
Countless Port-a-Potties at thousands of races across the country are stocked with millions of these useless rolls of flimsy fabric. These despicable spools of sandpaper. We are forced to towel our tushies with this trash. To scrape our backsides to smithereens. To give ourselves a faux cleaning and pretend it feels fine.
And then to compete with that post 1-ply feeling?! To run? To bike with a tortured tussy?
We must stand up to this persecution. We must fight together. We must not take this any longer!!
The suffering of the athletes asses must come to an end! Our butts have had enough!
Help us stop this barbaric trade of 1-ply toilet tissue. Please sign the below petition and help set our tushies free.
We the undersigned petition that race directors and port-a-john providers ban the use of 1-ply toilet tissue. We demand that paper product companies cease production of all 1-ply tissue effective immediately. We demand comfort. Our asses can't take one more wipe.
There’s something I really like about racing. I mean, there must be something I really like about racing, right? I’ve been racing triathlon for 17 years now and if there isn’t something I really like about racing then, well, I’d probably need to reevaluate my entire life. And I just can’t bear the thought of having spent 17 years doing something I don’t like, so let’s just assume that I really like racing. Now all I need to do is figure out why.
I get nervous before races. I think I always have. Hell, I get nervous before workouts. But maybe that’s what I’m drawn to. Maybe the part of racing that I really like is facing my fears and conquering them time and again. Then again, maybe it’s the pain. Maybe I’m addicted to the pain of pushing myself to the limits. Pain will set you free. With all this pain, I should be eligible for parole any race now. Maybe, though, the reason I really like racing is just about the competition. I’m a competitive sort who likes doing challenging things and doing them well. Maybe that’s it. Maybe I’m just trying to be the best that I can be and racing let’s me do it.
Whatever the reason, I clearly haven’t figured it out yet. Yet as I grow older, it seems my racing centers on a mission to better understand myself. As if there were hidden meaning in triathlon. As if triathlon were an ancient scripture written in some kind of archaic language and I’ve been spending the past 17 years of my life trying to translate the darn thing into words I can understand.
After finishing Ironman Arizona last year, I purposely took time off from triathlon. I had 6 glorious months of doing practically no exercise. I realized that it’s so gosh darn easy to be sedentary. There’s even something fairly comforting about it. You should try it sometime. Seriously, it’s fun. I wrote a lot, I read, worked, ate, cooked and became intimately familiar with the feel of the couch and the tactile intricacies of the remote control. I learned to read 0-9, pause, play and power in Braille.
Then, alas, I got the bug. It starts with a bike ride, maybe a run. That leads to a dip in the pool and a sudden realization that the physical condition you’ve associated yourself with over the past year has morphed from Ironman shape into more of a Squishyman. So you make a commitment to exercise more. Then you figure you should get a coach to get you on track. And now that you have a coach, doesn’t it make sense to select a race to train for? And next thing you know….The hamster is back on the wheel and it’s like you’ve become reacquainted with a long lost friend.
Catherine just registered me for the Bonelli Olympic Distance triathlon. Or the BOD, for short. It was this past Sunday. It’s an Olympic distance race, but you probably figured that out already. It’s the first race I’ve done in 14 months and it’s probably my only multi-sport race en route to my main event of the year: SOS (Survival of the Shawangunks).
I wasn’t really nervous for the days that fed into Bonelli. I like to think that I’ve gotten over the nervousness of racing but that’s bull-hocky. The truth is it’s all about avoidance. I've realized that method kinda works well for me. I don’t think about the race until I actually get there. As a result, I don't start caring until I show up on race site at which point I start caring quite a bit, whether I want to or not.
A couple of days before the race, my coach had me set out my goals. All in all, I just wanted to focus on having a good day. My last racing experience was arguably the most physically challenging day of my life, and I wanted to exorcise those demons.
My goal at the BOD was to go not too fast on the swim, not too hard on the bike, not too crazy for the first half of the run and save it all for the last few miles so I could push beyond my limits, grab pain by the throat and punch him to a pulp. I hadn’t expected any PR at this race – I’m not in great shape and didn’t want to disappoint myself. I set the over/under at 2:45 and silently bet that I’d come under.
There was nothing unusual about the pre-race activities at Bonelli. Cat and I got there early, we set up our transition areas, picked up our chips and race numbers, went for a warm-up run and did all the things we needed to do. We looked for our friend Josh (aka Super Fast Runner), saw our friend Jen (aka Super Fast Swimmer) and saw our friend Kevin (aka Super Fast period). Soon enough, it was time to get in the water for the pre-race pee and be on our way.
Incidentally, after nearly 2 decades of this nonsense, I finally figured out that you don’t actually have to get into the water to pee. The pee doesn’t soak through your wetsuit at all. I can just stand there on the beachfront and pee my pants silly without a damn person knowing. That's the great thing about this sport, you never stop learning.
The day’s challenges: * Masses and masses of flailing limbs flailing in my way * A couple of fear-inducing gulps of water
Our Super Fast friend Kevin is racing Ironman Couer d’Alene in two weeks. The BOD was his last hurrah before that race. I’m going to start in front, he said to me before our wave went off. I want to get in the middle of the mess and try to replicate an Ironman start.
Good on ya, I responded in my best Australian.
Of the many things that I really like about racing triathlon (none of which immediately come to mind), one of them is definitely NOT getting punched in the face while swimming. So you can imagine my surprise as I found myself standing next to Kevin at the water’s edge while we awaited the starting scream (I don’t think they could afford a gun).
In hindsight, I’m not quite sure why I started up front. I suppose there was a part of me that thought I could just hold on to Kevin’s feet and get a free-ride throughout the swim. That didn’t workout, I lost him within the first 15 seconds. Maybe I thought I was a decent swimmer and I didn’t want to get caught in the hullabaloo of the hullabalooers who usually zig-zag their way around the course. Some day I will learn to accept the fact that I’m actually one of those zig-zagging hullabalooers. But until then…
The scream went off and we ran into the water. One can argue that the feet went into my face as I entered the water while another can say that my face made a beeline for the feet. Either way, feet met face from stroke one. Welcome back to racing.
I tried to keep my cool and get into my groove but in reality I was pushing a little harder than my groove. I desperately wanted to get beyond the mauling masses and find some clear water.
Here’s the good news, sometime over the past couple of years I’ve gotten much better at swimming in a straight-ish line toward the buoys. Here’s the bad news, most people already swim in a straight-ish line. That means there are a whole lot of arms and legs in the straight-ish line from buoy to buoy. It makes it really tough to escape from the violence if I wanted to stay on track. Punch, kick – I tried to relax and focus on my body rotation – push, slap – every time I had to change course I tried not to lose my mental momentum – smack, smack, smack. I looked up and saw I was at the first buoy.
It began to thin out a little as we made our way through the remaining 1000 meters. I tried to draft off others feet but I kept choosing people that were much faster than me. After a few attempts I decided not to waste any more energy and continue on steadily at my pace.
About 500 meters before the finish I saw three women zip by me like I was swimming still. I knew one of those was Jen, our Super Fast Swimmer friend. Go Jen!
A few minutes later I reached the beach. I looked down at my watch: 25:25. OK, not close to a PR but better than I expected. Not too shabby. I struggled up the sand – which, may I say, was a much harder struggle than I expected - and went into transition.
You’d think by now I’d be able to take off a wetsuit. Something about my arms, it just doesn’t work. As I was running to transition I started to pull the top of my wetsuit down but inevitably it got stuck on my forearms like it always does. I couldn’t get loose. So there I was, running through transition, my swim cap and goggles hanging from my mouth and my arms firmly locked in the wetsuit like a manacled escape convict from the Open Water Swim Penitentiary.
I got to my bike, spat out the swim gear and pried my arms from the damn wetsuit. I began to pull it off my legs but got in a whole world of kerfuddle with the left leg. The wetsuit got stuck on my left calf and just wouldn’t budge. I pulled, pried and pushed but nothing was working. I stood on one foot in my best killer cobra stance and jimmied, and jimmied again, then jimmied some more and soon all the jimmying set me free.
Well that sure wasted a lot of valuable energy.
I strapped on the bike shoes, plopped on the helmet and I was on my way. Let’s go for a ride, shall we?
BIKE (24.8 miles)
The day’s challenges: * Deflated ego * Hungry like the wolf. Actually, so hungry I could eat the wolf
The bike ride at the BOD starts with a hill. Not a big hill or a dramatically steep hill, just a little piddly thing. Maybe 50 meters long and 4 or 5% grade. But when your legs are tired, your heart rate is spiking, your adrenalin is pumping and you’re really embarrassingly inept at getting your feet clipped in, that little anthill seems like Everest.
I threw one leg over the bike, clipped in my right pedal and pushed off. I tried to get my left foot clipped in, tried tried tried…. No good. I stopped.
People were passing me like it was no big thing. Jumping on their bikes and flying up the hill.
OK, big breath. Focus. One more time. I pushed off with my right foot and aimed my left foot for the clips. Clip, clip, clip. C’mon c’mon! All I wanted was to clip in. GET IN THE GODDAM CLIP!
My bike started slowing down as I was rolling towards the hill. People were zipping by me. I couldn’t get my foot in. I was getting frustrated. I was beginning to fall over. Starting to fall. I'm going to fall. Going to crash. I put my foot down and caught myself. Screw this, I said. I climbed off the bike and ran to the top of the hill.
As I got to the top, I moved to the side of the road and began to mount my bike. As I was lifting my leg up, an 11 year old on a hybrid bike came flying by me. Good job! he yelled.
Really? Has it all come down to this? An 11 year old on a hybrid is encouraging me to continue? I wanted to scream at him. FUCK YOU YOU LITTLE PUNK I wanted to say. But I didn't. I just glared at the back of his helmet as he rode on by. That oughta show him.
I mounted my bike, clipped myself in and pushed forward. Within seconds I caught the 11 year old. I was feeling pretty good and needed to make a point so I passed him without worry. That’ll teach him, the little whipper snapper.
In another ¼ mile we hit the first hill. I’m not much of a hill climber. Before we got halfway up, the 11 year old on the hybrid passed me by. He didn’t say a word, he didn’t need to. By the top of the hill he was out of my sight. I never saw him again.
11 year old: 1 Old guy: 0
The Bonelli bike course is three loops. It’s a fairly hilly course. There’s one really big downhill in the beginning of the loop and another towards the end, but the rest of the loop is a whole lot of up. As I said, I’m not much of a hill climber. Within the first mile, it seemed like half the race passed me by. It’s demoralizing. People on mountain bikes wearing sneakers and pedal cages were dusting me. There were points where I was embarrassed to be on my bike.
But it’s ok, I told myself. I haven’t raced in 14 months. I haven’t really ridden my bike that much over the past 14 months. Things can only get better.
My goal was to do the first loop slowly and pick it up for each loop. I tried to stick with my plan and stay slow. I got through the first loop without incident and cranked just a little harder as I began round number two. I was starting to feel better. The road had stretched out and I was no longer in a bunch of riders. I wasn’t really passing anybody but at least not as many people were passing me.
At about 3 miles into the second loop I looked behind me and saw a guy on a hybrid approaching. I kept my pace, kept focused. Within a minute he passed me by. He was wearing sneakers. Pedals with cages. That’s ok, I told myself. He’s clearly a strong rider. At the next downhill I passed him but seconds later, as we hit another uphill, I looked behind me and he was right there. Right behind me. Drafting.
Uh, excuse me… drafting is illegal.
As I was nearing the end of the second loop, I heard somebody yelling behind me. Something about “love of my life.” Something about “there he is.” I turned around and it was Catherine! Catherine!! Hello Catherine!! She was looking mighty strong, mighty good, mighty inspiring. She was sailing up the hill like it ain’t no thang. We exchanged a few words and then she was off into the distance.
I got back into my game with renewed effort. I began the third loop and tried to pick up the pace just a wee bit more. I didn’t want to go all out – I wanted to save at least some energy for the run – but my plan was to push a bit harder this time around and I was going to stick with the plan. So I pushed. And I pushed. And a few miles in I looked behind me again. The guy on the hybrid was still there.
Oh, for godsakes. LEAVE ME ALONE!
For the next 5 miles, I went mano a mano with Mr. Hybrid. He’d pass me, I’d pass him. I’d push harder and he’d be right there. I wanted to drop him, I wanted to be free. I wanted my ego back. I couldn’t beat him on the hills but I knew I could get him on the straight away. So on the last flat area I dipped down into my aero position, tucked in my head, rounded my shoulders and pushed with all my might. I didn’t look back, and I didn’t see him again.
I finished the third loop feeling tired but ready to run.
As I rode into transition I saw Catherine just running out. OK, she’s only about 2 minutes ahead of me. Not a problem. I might be able to catch her.
It’s not really the running that I find the hardest in a triathlon, it’s the starting to run. Starting to run requires a whole heap load of mental effort.
I got off the bike and was just plain tired. I put on my socks and slipped on my shoes. I took a deep breath, said something sarcastic to the person next to me (which happens to be part of my ritual to overcome the mental drain), and began to waddle out of transition. It didn’t take me long – maybe 20 steps – to realize something didn’t feel right. My socks. Damn. I got to the timing mat and pulled to the side of transition. Removed the shoes, removed the socks, put on the socks, put on the shoes, ok, enough stalling. Nobody's gonna save me. Let’s get this over with.
The day’s challenges: * Pain. * So much pain. * No strength in the quads whatsoever
The Bonelli run is a lollipop course, as they say. It’s basically a loop but with a short little out and back in the middle. About ¼ of the run is off-road on trails through forests and even over a creek. The rest is on roads or sidewalk as we wind through the state park.
My goal was to start off easy, pick it up by mile 3 and then kick it on home in the last 2 miles. I definitely started off on goal. I was going easy. Super easy. I used to actually like the feeling of getting off the bike and starting to run. I used to be able to start the run at a pretty rapid pace. The rubber legs seemed natural. Well, those days are long gone. My legs felt like concrete blocks. Each step was a strenuous effort. 6.2 miles seemed like an eternity.
But there was no turning back so I tried to stay centered and focused on where I was not where I was going.
The funny thing about not enjoying a run is that in any given second that can change. After about one mile in, I noticed that I had picked up the pace. Maybe by mistake, maybe just to get the darn thing over with. I was passing people and very few people were passing me. My legs weren’t feeling great but my heart rate wasn’t redlining. By two miles in I suddenly realized that I went too fast too soon. Yes I could probably keep this pace until the end, but I had no more gears, this was it.
I made the commitment to not slow down. I told myself that if I could just hold this pace I’d be fine. I kept going. I kept passing people.
Three miles in my quads started getting really weak. I started wishing I actually had leg muscles. I started making promises to somebody that I'd get into the gym and lift. I held the pace and kept going.
At four miles in I got to the out and back. As I neared the turn-around I saw Catherine. She was less than 30 seconds in front of me. Catch me honey! she screamed. You can do it!
Screw you, I thought. You want me to catch you?! How about you slow down and wait for me, whattaya think of that idea?! I have no leg strength anymore. I can’t go a single second faster. I’m not going to catch you, it’s not physically possible.
And somewhere amidst all this angry rambling, I noticed that I had picked up the pace dramatically. Super-dramatically. If I was doing 9:15s or 9:30s in the beginning, I was probably at a 7:15 or 7:30 pace now. It hurt. A lot. My heart was working so hard I think I started smelling smoke. I couldn’t talk, gasping for breath. Legs were about to collapse. I wanted to stop on the side of the road. I wanted to stop. But I kept pushing harder. Up the hills, down the hills. I pushed.
I saw Catherine. And then she was closer. And closer. And by mile five I caught up to her.
My plan was to catch her and run in together but just as I came by her side she pushed me further. Keep going honey, she said. Push it in, push it hard. You can do it.
And so I did. Somewhere, somehow, I found another gear. I didn’t want that gear, it hurt too much to be in that gear. I didn’t have the strength to get to that gear, there were no leg muscles. But it was beyond me at this point. So I picked up the pace, went into the goddam gear and dealt with it.
The last mile hurt a lot. You know that pain that hurts so much you think you’re going to pass out? This wasn’t quite there but it was really really close. And the only thing to do at that point is dig within yourself and ignore the pain. The only thing to do is focus on one thing. So I focused on the finish – each step got me closer. Each step brought me past another person. And just as the pain was approaching it’s maximum threshold… I finished.
I'm done. Over. Whew.
* * *
I don’t want to say this was an overwhelmingly enjoyable race, mostly because it wasn’t. But at the same time it wasn't that bad.
I don’t want to say I was really happy to get back to racing because there was a lot of frustration and demoralization. But at the same time it wasn't that bad.
In a really weird way it was good. It was good to be back, good to give it my best shot. And the further away I get the better it seems.
And here I sit, suddenly finding myself thinking about what race I should do next.
The hamster is back on the wheel.
I suppose this is just what happens when you really like racing.