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    Black Canyons 100k Buckle

The transition from sub-ultra to ultra-distance events can be an exercise in humility for an athlete with an engine like a racecar. You’re asking them to drive with the purpose of a diesel rig which goes against their nature but it’s in their best interest to shy away from that top set of gears. Although nothing was really said aloud, I’m certain his inner dialog was quite amusing. But he got on board with the plan and he set out to conquer the Black Canyons 100k. We chose this race for a few reasons but one in particular – securing his first ticket for the Western States lottery. Aside from that goal, we wanted to get his first “official” ultra distance run since his first go, the North Face 50 in San Francisco, got cancelled. The cancellation didn’t stop him though. He set out, with the help of family, and did it on his own a few weeks after the official race date. Not ideal given that we’d trained for a particular day but Nature tends to do what she wants. In addition, despite numerous warnings from yours truly, he went out too fast, with goals in mind, and paid for it with a much slower second half.

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    Team

Out on my run this morning, I ran into a group of athletes and after some polite conversation, one of them said – “you should join our team”.  I thanked him but said I’m good.  His intentions were well meaning but triathlon and ultra running, in my opinion, are solo adventures.  Does that mean we can’t play with others from time to time?  Of course not.  But it does mean you should figure out the underlying purpose for your athletics before you hitch your wagon to an organization. 

If your objective is just to get out the door and the only way you’re going to do that is if a group is waiting for you – a team is what you should seek.  But if you’re self-driven, goal-oriented, athlete in search of your best performance, you’re probably better suited for the monastery life of solo training. 

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    MRI

Let’s first define “winning” in terms of what is actually possible for someone given their circumstances. For example, I’m not going to win an Ironman outright. But in my Ironman days, winning took the form of various different goals over the years and eventually, winning actually meant winning my age group. If we’re talking about someone who is coming off the couch, winning could mean just finishing. If it’s someone in the mid-pack, winning could be a top ten finish in their age group. I think you get the idea.

In the context of winning and losing, there are people who afraid of not winning. In another group, there are people who are afraid to lose. So much so that their fear of losing is greater than their desire to win and unless they accidentally fall into a win, they end up somewhere in the middle.

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    MRI

I've been thinking about injury and how it has played a role in my journey.  In the early years, I would ignore injuries hoping it would just go away.  Or I'd push through it because -- no pain, no gain.  And then once I'd recognize it wasn't going away, I would google the symptoms only to learn I had some rare and fatal disorder.  Then I would search, or even post, on the various forums to get yet more "professional" opinions.  All the while, continuing to train in a half-assed manner -- not really accomplishing much other than dragging it out further into my training block. 

Now I'm on the other end of the spectrum where I typically stop when an ache or pain pops up.  As a general rule, when in doubt, I treat it with respect and let's take a day off. 

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    CdA BIke

This past weekend, Ironman Texas rose to the top of the list as worst clusterf*** of all time.  Initial reports were describing ridiculous amounts of drafting and dangerous conditions on the bike course.  I wanted to wait until I spoke with someone I trusted before making an opinion and what was described on the interwebs was confirmed.

When racing this distance, the reason why I chose the Ironman brand over the other events was that they always put on a topnotch production.  They were well staffed, aid stations were well stocked, good crowds, decent venues for travel purposes, and they were safe.  Even though I cringed a little when they took away the mass swim start, I understood why and I appreciated that they were concerned about the safety of the athletes racing. 

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    IMAZ Bikers

I remember when I bought my first tri bike, I scoured the triathlon forums wondering if this was the right bike.  Was it aero enough?  Did I have an “aggressive” fit?  Should I change my tires for the model du jour with lower rolling resistance?  I probably spent as much time on what-ifs as I did training.  I seem to recall going down this rabbit hole with other aspects of triathlon.  Am I swimming enough?  Should I run 30 runs in 30 days?  And yet another avenue – a fixation with the athletes who are racing my “A” race.  As if I’m going to change something which will make a difference because the superstar swimmer, biker, or runner is racing against me.

It’s mentally exhausting and counterproductive.

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    Niner RLT Steel Gravel Bike

It’s been a long time since I’ve really wanted to ride my bike consistently.  I turned my old TT bike into a single speed and I’ve ridden it around.  I’ve been on my mountain bike a few times.  But outside of those instances, I haven’t had a real desire to log consistent mileage.  I could go into the reasons but to summarize – I just got burned out.  Especially burned out from riding a TT bike. 

In the last six months, I’ve been thinking about riding – actually wanting to ride but my bike choices weren’t appealing.  My buddy Scott suggested I get a gravel bike which is basically what happens if you store a mountain bike and a road bike in the garage together – nature takes its course and you get a gravel bike.  But which gravel bike?  He immediately pointed me to the Niner RLT Steel – because “steel is real, bro”.  The steel RLT is slick and I was immediately in deep like with it based on the pictures I saw on Niner’s web site.

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    Beth, Scott, and Vince

Just a quick recap of the Joshua Tree trip.  A small group of us headed to Joshua Tree to swim, bike, and run around the Southern California desert.  The weather was cooperative and we had good times running, riding, swimming, eating tacos, and playing with @TanktheDoggy

I probably should have taken more photos but there was more doing and less photo taking.  ;)

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    Zion

I’ve gone through a long evolution of changes with my diet and where I am now versus where I came from are very much night and day.   In the very beginning, I ate fast food but we’re talking over 20 years ago.  It was convenient, I wasn’t an athlete, or at least not by comparison to who am I now, and I didn’t know any better.  At the time, I worked crazy hours and I had little time to cook if I even knew how – which I didn’t.  I started to put on weight which is something that never happened in my life up until that point.  And perhaps it was a combination of a sedentary lifestyle, getting to that age where additional weight sticks, or I don’t know what but I was well aware of the metamorphosis.

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    Zion

What I want to do is run long at an aerobic pace.  Always.  However, my limiter is running fast over the course of a hundred miles.  Running long and slow is not the cure for this problem and workouts like the one I did this morning are a step in the right direction.  That said, when I looked at the calendar, I saw the workout description and I cringed – 30 minutes easy, 30 minutes hard, 30 minutes easy.  Hard is marathon to sub-marathon pace.  Not really something I wanted to do this morning.