100 Triathlons
Go to the early blogs to read how I got into triathlons. Click on any picture to enlarge it. I'm now in USA Triathlon's Century Club; go to
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly." Theodore Roosevelt 1910

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Right Bike

Here I am in Chicago (Evergreen Park) in 1963; I rode this bike to school and back 4 miles (1 mile each way & home for lunch) everyday. For a child growing up in the late 1950s/1960s, a bicycle meant freedom and a chance to explore your surrounding. One speed, balloon tires, probably 45 pounds. I was totally unaware that bicycle racing existed.

1994 Softride Power V; before carbon fiber was light. This was my first tri-bike; before this I used a Specialized road bike for a few races. Great bike but the carbon frame was a bit heavy. It eventually developed a crack and Softride replaced it with the frame below. Greg Welch won the Hawaiian Ironman on the Power V in 1994. This picture looks so dated now.

1999 Softride Rocket TT7, very aero. Softrides were still a bit heavy and they had a higher center of gravity due to the frame shape. The aero shape was better than anything else at the time and amazing on long downhills. I hit 51 mph descending Hospital Hill during a race in Clermont, FL. Weighing 175 pounds helps on downhills!

2005 Litespeed Tachyon; light & fast! I love this bike! The titanium frame with the carbon fork/seatpost does a fabulous job absorbing road shock and keeps the bike nice and light. Litespeed discontinued this model in 2008 and their aero shape tri-bike was a half pound heavier. I added a FSA Compact Crank (36/48) to give my old knees a break climbing hills.
You can do triathlons with any bike but having a tri/forward seatpost frame certainly helps to alleviate the "dead-legs" feeling I used to get off the bike on the run. The theory is that with the seat forward, you're utilizing a different set of leg muscles to pedal. You can find bike bargains on Craigslist or Ebay (if you know what to look for) or check out your Local Bike Shop's end of year sales. I got the Litespeed in 2006 when a LBS dropped Litespeed and cleared out their inventory. At the last race of 2009, I got a kick out of passing a 30 year old on a Cervelo P3 Carbon (disk wheel/aero helmet). Bicycling legend Eddy Merckx is quoted as saying, "You want to go faster? Pedal harder". You can buy speed on the bike but you still have to train to go fast. So which is the Right Bike? It's the one that feels right for you.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Never give up

I'll pass along to you a lesson I learned on September 13, 2008. I was competing in my 5th Downtown Orlando Triathlon. It's an interesting sprint tri since the finish line is 3.5 miles from the transition area. You swim in Lake Underhill (which is bisected by the 408/East-West expressway bridge), bike through downtown Orlando, and then run back to downtown, finishing in Wall Street Plaza. Since I work downtown, it's fun biking and running past my office.

I had a good swim and a great bike and was running along fairly steadily when at Mile 1 I was caught by a guy who, after a quick glance at his age on his calf, was in my age group. Steve and I chatted as we ran along for the next mile and discovered we lived about 2 miles from each other. At mile 2, he said he'd like to stretch his legs and pick up the pace a bit. I had earlier stated that I thought we were probably in 4th or 5th place and I let him lead out. I was feeling a bit tired as just a day earlier, I had a 8 hour flight back from a vacation in Ireland. Steve pulled ahead and I could still see him after the last turn down Orange Avenue to the finish. He finished about 21 seconds ahead of me. I probably could have stayed with him but just took it easy, figuring we were too far back.

You can probably guess the outcome; we were not in 4th or 5th. I was in 1st when he caught me and if I pushed it, I would have run with him for a big charge to the line. However, Steve's focus is mainly running (this was his second tri) and he may have just rocketed away from me. The point is I took it easy and defeated myself. I learned a valuable lesson that day in my second place finish.

The picture above is of Steve and I at the awards presentation.
A postscript occured at the first sprint tri in Clermont, Florida in 2009. I caught a fellow competitor on the run with about a 1/2 mile to go. I felt sure he would repass me if I went past him so I hung back while making sure no one else was catching us. He knew I was there and began picking up the pace as we neared the finish line. We were fairly flying when we crossed the first readout pad in the finishing chute. The announcer called his name first and I surged past him in the 20' to the finish, beating him for second place by one second. Lesson learned; never give up!
Footnote: This hasn't happened yet but I continue to push hard through the run now because though another competitor may finish 1:45 minutes ahead of me, the possibility of a post-race 2 minute penalty may put him 15 seconds behind me. Another reason to never give up!

Swim Training

Swimming has always been my weakest link in the triathlon. While I swim a lot during the spring/summer/fall, my training has always fallen off during the winter. I always plan to do some more swimming during the winter but each year in April I realized that I missed it again. The upper body weight training has helped but nothing replaces swimming.

So last Tuesday, I did a 30 minute swim workout as a guest at the new LA Fitness club near my home. It's a 25 meter pool with 4 wide lanes so 8 swimmers can use the pool simultaneously. Plus it's temperature is 82-85' so it's pleasant to workout in. My wife, Sandy, joined too because they have aqua aerobics classes there which she always enjoyed.

My goal is 3 swim workouts per week with the desired result by exiting the water sooner, I won't be passing as many people on the bike leg, a least in the start of the season. My other goal is to have a swim PR at St. Anthony's Triathon on April 25 in St. Petersburg. This will be my 10th time doing the race and my last was 2005; in 2009 the water was so rough, the swim was cancelled. It'll be fun to return and see it now that it has 4,000 competitors.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Marathon training & Garmin GPS

Above is our Training Log for the Marathon (click on it to enlarge). I have to give credit for my great time in the Disney Marathon to Bernadette and the great training program she put together. We ran together every Sunday morning from October to the week before Disney.
The truly amazing device she used was a Garmin Forerunner 205. While this unit has many diverse and interesting features, I loved the real time speed it displays. If our goal was to run 10:20 miles, it told us immediately if we were on that pace or not. It made a great training tool and I am now looking at getting the 305 which incorporates a heart rate monitor also.


I discovered Meetup.com in September and joined a running group in Orlando. Meetup groups are free (or there is a nominal charge) and encompasses all sorts of hobbies and interests.

Just go to http://www.meetup.com/ , type in your interest, Bowling, Triathlon, Knitting, Golf, Cats, Dogs, etc., your zip code, and it will find groups in your area. I would have never met such a great group of people to train with if I hadn't found Meetup.com.

Walt Disney World Marathon notes

During the "winter" in Florida, the running events really pick up with the capper being the Disney Marathon. It's always the 2nd weekend in January and the weather is usually clear and cool. In 2009 it was 50' at the start and 70' at the finish. On January 10, 2010 it was 26' at the start and 40' and windy at the finish! I could deal with the cold on the run especially with a pair of handwarmers (what a great product!) that my running partner Bernadette gave me that morning. The picture shows Joy and Bernadette warming up in the back of my CRV at 4:00 AM in the EPCOT parking lot.

I was in Starting Corral D which was in the first wave as Corrals A, B, & C were on a separate road; we came together at Mile 3. The frigid temps were felt after all the pre-race warm-up clothes were discarded in the first few miles. The race organizers wisely provided sand at the water stops to spread on the pavement, the spilled water was turning to ice immediately! I passed one long-haired runner whose hair was tipped in icicles at Mile 12. I grabbed a cup of water at Mile 22 only to discover a layer of ice on top. Overall, it was a great experience but one I don't wish to repeat. Two weeks later (today), I went on my 6:00 AM bike ride in 65 degrees at the start. Much nicer!
I finished the Marathon with a time of 4:32:08 which was way better than my 2009 time of 4:51:32 which was better that my first Disney Marathon in 2004 with a 5:19. We'll see how much time I can trim off in next year's race. More about my training program in the next post.

Friday, January 22, 2010

First triathlon

Looking back at my first triathlon, it doesn't seem so long ago. It was a small race called "I Tried A Triathlon" in Oswego, Illinois, west of Aurora (way west of Chicago). Designed as a very short (250 yard swim, 6.5 mile bike, 2.1 mile run) course event, it is a great way to get your feet wet (pun) in multisport. It was Sunday morning, August 15, 1993, when I first tried a triathlon. The race was so casual, there were no bike racks and the swim was 10 laps in a pool. I did have one small problem though, no bike! I had sold my Fuji road bike 2 weeks earlier and bought a new Specialized bike which was supposed to be delivered the Wednesday before the race. As you guessed it, no bike arrived Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. I had already paid for the race, so I put our Santana tandem bike in the van and drove out there. The race actually went off without incident though I got a lot of strange looks on the bike leg. A local sports newspaper did nominate me for an "overcoming adversity" award and I won a pair of New Balance running shoes! This event did prepare me for my next race two weeks later; the new bike did arrive in time for that one.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Triathlon Nutrition

Last evening I was at Track Shack (the greatest running store in the world) buying a pair of shoes and was drawn into a conversation about Sports Nutrition. I have learned a lot over the years about what to eat/drink before/during triathlons and running races and wanted to pass it along to all my new friends.

In 1995 & 1996, I was helping some coach friends run a triathlon training camp in Clermont, FL and learned a lot while sitting in. This knowledge culminated in my exclusive use of Hammer Nutrition products for the last 14 years. Hammer's basic premise is that less is more; taking in less food and water will actually produce better performance. Go to their website, www.hammernutrition.com, and download their guide to sports nutrition. It's a 134 page book they sell but you can download it for free. Reading this guide can help you avoid the mistakes I learned by trial and error (and stomach upset). You can also sign up for their monthly newletter they will (snail) mail to you loaded with tips and stories.

Hammer makes a very complete line of products with NO simple sugars/fructose in anything. I have hypoglycemia which makes me especially suceptable to bad nutrition and added sugars. Hammer's line covers pre-race, race, & recovery. They make Hammer gel in many flavors which is a complex carb only product. I regularly use Sustained Energy (unflavored) and Perpeteum (caffe latte flavor) both of which are carb/soy protein blends (soy is the only protein which assimilates during exercise). They also make Heed, a carb only drink mix. After each race or hard training I use Recoverite, a whey protein isolate/carb drink and have found this allows me to recover quickly with less soreness. I also use Hammer Whey protein powder during training but must confess to not really liking the taste. My wife and I like Designer Whey Protein Powder which you can get at Publix (Florida); mixing the vanilla flavor with orange juice tastes like a Dreamsicle!Years back the only way to get Hammer products was mail order but now in Orlando, Track Shack, David's World Cycle, and Orange Cycle sell some of them, with Orange Cycle having the most variety. I do not work for Hammer and my only connection with them is my friend, Jeff Cuddeback, gets discounts on the products he gets and I wear his team's bike jerseys. Jeff is the coach who recommended them to me back in 1995.


The journey to here

Several years ago, during a conversation with friends, we were talking about the most memorable triathlons we had done, what got us involved in the first place, and where we hoped to go in the world of multisport. As I had done my first triathlon in August of 1993, someone asked how many I had done. This led us to the file cabinet in my den where, years before, I began filing my race bibs (with the results written on them). After counting and recounting the numbers, we discovered, to my astonishment, I had done 72 triathlons. Currently, at the close of the 2009 season, I have finished 93, both sprints and Olympic distance.

My reasoning for starting the blog, is to share my goal of 100 Triathlons and beyond, with people who are just beginning in this wonderful sport. Two years ago, a co-worker named Hollie, came to me with the goal of competing in a tri. In the ensuing months we found her a bike and started her on a training program to complete her first triathlon at the end of the summer. I hope you will gain some information and some insight into the sharing of the knowledge I have acquired since that summer morning in 1993.