Anarchist and Mt. Baldy

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The toughest single day of cycling I’ve ever done. This is the top of the Anarchist Mountain climb, a relatively steady 17km traverse that constituted our *first* training zone of the day. The second zone, Mt. Baldy, was a pitchier struggle over 14km that we did near the end of the day. On Baldy, I dropped my chain halfway up the climb, and halfway up a particularly pitchy portion (I had to ride *downhill* a few feet just to clip in again), which set me back a minute, and managed to f*ck up my rear derailleur so I couldn’t shift properly. This event was a kick in the gut, the emotional impact so pronounced, so dramatic that my *will to climb* turned into a *struggle to hang on* nearly instantaneously. What’s significant about this for me—and what probably saved my skin for the rest of the climb—was the fact I was able to recognize what happened *when* it happened, to acknowledge it, package it up, and thereby gain some purchase over it, instead of melting down completely. I actually said to myself, “that just happened, and that is why you feel the way you do,” instead of questioning “why me?” Part of this comes from experience (I’ve shouted down tantrums in races before), part of it from the mindfulness work I’ve done through various forms of meditation, and part of it from reading about, and trying to emulate, the strategies of others (e.g., see Matt Fitzgerald’s book *How Bad Do You Want It*). Could I have handled the experience better? Probably. Could I have handled it worse? DEFINITELY. . #cycling #triathlon #fatcamp2017 #motivation #anarchist #sasquatch #mindfulness #grit

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Wide View

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#TBT to 2014 and the California Superbike School. The School has camps all over the world—I did mine at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and over the course of two days I learned critical lessons about riding, and, curiously, life. Proper throttle control, turning points, rider input—these are some of the essential and potentially life-saving skills you should employ on the motorbike, and coincidentally many of them translate very well to cycling (which accounts for my comfort and relative skill descending). However, another skill—the *wide view*—has implications beyond the track or the highway: Ever find yourself on a long, steep descent on your time-trial bike, full aero position, and you happen to look down at the pavement around your front wheel? It’s a little unsettling, isn’t it? You can’t keep track of everything going by, and you have to look up to gain some sense of perspective, to *slow things down*, as it were. Next time, extend this concept a little further: don’t just look up five, ten, fifteen feet in front of you. Look *wide*, take everything in—'truck at T-intersection, guardrail on the right, patch of gravel on the left, ocean in the distance'—and notice how time slows down, as if someone hit the “slo-mo” button on life. You minimize the risk of surprises occurring (which can lead to survival reactions such as target fixation = very bad), and you’ll have much more time to respond when they do. If this concept resonates at all in this context, ask yourself, where else might it apply? . #triathlon #motorcycle #cycling #tbt #lifehacks

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The run…

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I respect swimming. I like cycling. I LOVE running. Last fall, I injured my MCL from what I think was a combination of (i) slightly asymmetrical running mechanics, and (ii) a couple-millimetres-too-high saddle on my new CX bike. A few hard workouts and I was on the injured list. It’s been an agonizingly slow return to form, but over the last couple months my cycling has come around respectably, and just recently my knee has really started to come online for running as well. And man, I am grateful. To be sure, cycling is one of my favourite activities and I salivate at just the thought of my Maui cycling trips, but with running—I don’t know, it’s just that much more visceral, immanent. Shedding my bike in T2 is tantamount to that moment when Forrest breaks away from his splints—that Tito Puente song (popularized by Santana) “Oye Como Va” often pops into my head, which, in the context of the song, translates to “listen to how my rhythm goes”. A few years ago I won my AG at the Kelowna Apple, and I remember playing cat and mouse with a guy during the last 20k of the bike. He exited T2 a few seconds before me, and within a hundred yards I had drawn even with him. I was holding a 4:01/km pace, and after about 10 seconds he said, “You go, man.” It was one of the best moments I’ve had in a race, and I look forward to getting there again. #run #running #runyyc #whyirun #triathlon #cycling #fitness #athlete #instarunner #instarunners

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The Iron-Man

iron-man

The first “Iron-Man” triathlon was held 39 years ago today, on the island of Oahu, conceived from a debate regarding who were the fittest athletes: runners, swimmers, or cyclists.

The first modern triathlon actually occurred a few years earlier in California — modern because there are documented instances of tri-sport events in France as far back as the early 20th century — but it was diminutive in comparison to the goliath distances proposed for that first Hawai’i race: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run, so chosen because the race essentially combined three long-distance events already on the island.

Those ambitious distances have become the standard for “iron distance” races today, including those under the ubiquitous Ironman brand (owned by World Triathlon Corporation), as well as other organizations who put on iron distance events (e.g., Challenge Triathlon). Continue reading “The Iron-Man”

2011 Race Reflections

“You’re the laziest athlete I know,” my friend Ryan often quips, and in certain respects, he’s right (e.g., I’d rather drive to Cowtown Beef Shack at lunchtime than walk the 700 yards).  And whereas I should have been writing race reports after every race, just like my coach tells me to, it’s now mid-October and I’ve managed only one report all season.

So for the benefit of the one or two people who might read this, allow me to indulge in a little stream-of-consciousness reporting, to try to make sense of this year.  It’s been a curious year, this—though, come to think of it, not as curious as 2010, but high up on the scale nonetheless—and I’ve been acquiring mental post-it notes along the way, but I haven’t yet tried to assemble them so as to come up with a coherent narrative.

For what it’s worth, I know where it starts.  It starts where every good narrative starts:  the breakup.

Continue reading “2011 Race Reflections”

Ironman Canada 2010 (my first)

photo19It was in the early 80’s when I first got the idea in my head that, someday, I’d like to do an Ironman. Triathlon was relatively new back then, the first “Ironman” having been held in Hawai’I in 1978. I had loved endurance running probably from the age of 8, and back then the thought of someday doing just a marathon seemed, to me, the ultimate endurance event. Then I caught TV coverage of one of the Hawaiian Ironmans, and immediately it garnered top billing on my—excuse the cliché—“bucket list”, the ne plus ultra of (what I thought at the time to be “purely”) physical achievement.

Over the years I got caught up in different things—martial arts, mountain biking, girls, drinking (heh)—but I never completely forgot about this goal, and whenever, perchance, I happened upon some triathlon event while channel surfing, I was glued. Continue reading “Ironman Canada 2010 (my first)”

Calgary 70.3 2009

The last ten seconds of the race—when the finish line came into view, the crowd started to cheer, and I began to sprint—made it all worth it. If I could somehow unpack the elation, the feeling of invincibility, the Las Vegas style lightshow of neuro-chemical activity contained in those last 10 seconds, I could easily spread it out over every training session during the last year. And I’m pretty sure it’s registered on some sub-conscious level, because thoughts of future training and future events keep bubbling to the surface. Your body craves more.

Continue reading “Calgary 70.3 2009”