It’s gotta be the shoes

May 31, 2009

My gear, in case you care. I’m sure you don’t.

Wetsuit: Fit2Race Sockeye sleeveless. I don’t like swimming in a full-sleeve wetsuit – I feel like I just spend more effort turning my arms over. It’ll be chilly in Elkhart Lake on June 13, but I can always get warm again. I can’t gain back energy I wasted needlessly. I have to plug the folks over at Fit2Race (www dot f2r dot com). Their customer service is OUTSTANDING; they answered a lot of questions before I bought my first wetsuit, and they have a terrific warranty policy. They also rent suits. I highly recommend you patronize their business.

Bike: 2007 Trek Pilot 5.2 s.p.a. I know, I know, it’s kind of a Cadillac in a Corvette world, but cut me some slack. When I bought it, I was so fat and out of shape I couldn’t touch my toes, much less get horizontal on a road bike. It’s usually the plushest bike at a smaller tri, but I upgraded all the components to Ultegra, took off the front reflector (lame!) and recently got re-fit to a more aggressive handlebar and seat position. I do love riding the Pilot; it’ll ride all day comfortably and eats potholes for breakfast. Next year, after I lose more weight in the off-season, I’m going to look at a tri bike. The hard decision will be to stick with Trek (my homies – we have five Treks including my 3-year-old daughters bike) or look at Cervelo.

I wear Sidi road shoes (13 Mega – I have FLIPPERS) with Speedplay pedals.

Clothes: I like Under Armor shirts and SmartWool socks, but I really want to pimp AeroTech Designs (www dot aerotechdesigns dot com) and Mt. Borah (mtborah dot com). AeroTech is based in Pennsylvania and sells both other manufacturer’s jerseys, bike shorts and tri shorts as well as their own brand. Their stuff is manufactured in the U.S.A. in Pennsylvania and is high-quality stuff. I love their tri shorts. Plus, their sizes run up to 4X-5X depending on the item. They’re the only guys I’ve found that cater to the truly big and tall cyclist and triathlete. Mt. Borah sells shorts, jerseys and jackets in killer designs, all made right here in Wisconsin. I really think it’s good for our country and our economy to buy American, so I love to give my money to these two companies.

Shoes: Brooks Adrenaline GTS. I walked into Fox Valley Running in Appleton, they took one look at me and handed me these shoes. (Don’t get the wrong idea, though. They did a full gait analysis and let me run outside in them. They pride themselves on giving you a good fit.) I have to say, they were right; my lungs and legs give out long before my feet ever hurt.

Nutrition: I like regular PowerBars and bananas before a workout or race, GU during, and Clif Bars (Black Cherry Almond – mmm) and PB&J after.

Miscellaneous: Body Glide is this Fat Triathlete’s best friend. If your thighs rub together, you need this.

Anyway, that was totally a filler post, but hey, if you got this far, you read it. Thank you.




The wind giveth, and the wind taketh away

May 30, 2009

One of the best things about being an athlete is that extra gear you develop. When I started working out and training, I’d come to a hill or turn into the wind and I’d send a little message from my mind to my body – “Please send me more energy,” and my body would reply, “Fuggadaboudit.” Now the reply is “Sure, how much do you need?”

Today I needed that extra gear. I planned on doing a 60/20 minute bike-run brick, but problems with my iPod and my miscalculated attempt to fit my bike in the back of my wife’s car delayed my leaving the house by 45 minutes. So I amended my brick – I would ride 12.4 miles at race pace and then run 18 minutes. The goal was to make my race time goal on the bike and then see how the run would go.

There was a stiff, gusting wind coming directly out of the west (the direction I was headed) and I struggled to keep up my speed. I knew I needed to average about 15 mph to meet my race goal of 47 minutes, but I was only going about 12.5 mph. I didn’t give up, though – I got into the drops and just PUSHED. I got to my turnaround and checked the time – 27 minutes. I thought, crap, even with the wind at my back, I’ll never make 6.2 miles in 20 minutes. I did the math in my head and realized I’d have to average about 18.5 mph on the way back to make it.

I put the bike into the big gear and praised the wind I had so recently been cursing. I put my head down and sent the request; “I need a little more.” And blessed be, my body responded. I kept looking at the speedometer, and more often than not, the number started with a “2.” I knew I was doing what I needed to do.

The only thing that almost ruined this euphoric ride was the couple walking their two German shepherds. They were on the right side of the bike path, but their dogs were pulling on their leashes and were stretched all the way across the path. There was also a runner in front of me. I started screaming “Passing left! Passing left! PASSING LEFT!” This stupid couple was so distracted by their precious little puppies they didn’t even look up, and I had to SLAM on the brakes to avoid running over them and their stupid dogs.

I yelled something about keeping their dogs under control and tried to shake it off. I got my cadence back, got my speed back, got back in the drops, and I was back in my happy place.

I made it back to the “transistion area” (Trimom’s car) and checked the clock – 46:43. I had done it. Rock and roll. However, I still had a run to do, and I wondered, did the effort on the bike kill my legs?

In a word, no. In fact, I had a FANTASTIC run. I only felt awkward for the first 50 yards or so, and then I was off. I didn’t even realize how well things were going until I looked at my HRM and saw I was running 6 mph. I backed off a little, because I didn’t want to burn out, but just a few strides later, I was back at 6. I was having a mythical run. I was running faster with less effort. It was beautiful. I ended up running about 1.7 miles in just over 18 minutes, for just over a 10:30 pace. I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever run for any meaningful distance.

Overall, a wonderful, euphoric workout, and writing this just four hours later, I don’t feel sore or tired at all.

I’m going to a fancy-schmancy charity thing tonight, and I will be sure to raise my club soda (no drinking during training!) to the wind, and to the extra gear.



Oh, who are the people in your locker room?

May 30, 2009

There’s a running gag in the movie Airplane! that involves the pilot, Captain Over, talking to young Billy, who’s visiting the cockpit. (Oh, those innocent pre-9/11 times). Captain Over asks Billy a series of increasingly disturbing questions, including “Billy, have you ever seen a grown man naked?” and “Billy, have you ever been to a Turkish prison?”

With that image fixed in your head, I ask my own disturbing question – “Have you ever been in a YMCA men’s locker room?”

It’s an interesting place, especially at 5:30 a.m. I had a crazy busy day, so the only time I had for a workout was between 5:30 and 6:15 a.m. I managed to grab a quick 800-meter swim, which went well. After I got out of the pool and back into the locker room, I was struck (as I often am) by the bizarre cast of characters.

Way-too-friendly Naked Guy: Way-too-friendly Naked Guy could be anyone, but he meets a couple of criteria. 1) I don’t know him, and he doesn’t know me. 2) He’s naked. 3) He wants to chat.

Sometimes he wants to talk about the Packers or the Brewers or the economy or some other current events topic, but he wants to talk about it while he’s air-drying. Sometimes he’s just talking to nobody in particular, at high volume, again, while naked. Most horrifying of all, sometimes this guy gives you a hearty slap on the back or chuck on the shoulder, WHILE NAKED.

Naked Shaving Guy: He shaves/brushes his teeth/combs his hair at the communal sink completely in the buff. Don’t think about it too much.

Not-Really-Here-To-Work-Out Guy: I think this guy just wants to get away from his wife. He comes in, strips down to boxers or even just a towel, and then just hangs out. He’ll read the newspaper, or watch CNBC, or sit in the hot tub, or talk to people, or whatever, but he NEVER WORKS OUT. He’ll sit in there for hours – this is his social time. Often, he metamorphs into one of the above two guys.

Oldie McSpeedo: He’s old. Very old. At least 75. And he’s in fantastic shape. Slim, trim, fit. And he’s wearing a Speedo. A BAGGY Speedo. I admire this guy – he’s stayed in shape his whole life, he’s enjoying a quality of life most old people don’t have, and he’s comfortable enough in his own skin to wear a Speedo. The only problem is, you know, GET A SPEEDO THAT FITS!

Hans (or Franz): Remember the old Saturday Night Live skit with Kevin Nealon and Dana Carvey, where they played Hans and Franz the bodybuilders? It was funny in part because of the costumes – sweatshirts stuffed with socks to make it look like they had huge bulging upper bodies, and then Nealon’s and Carvey’s own pale, skinny legs. They were mocking the guys who only lifted for big arms and completely ignored their legs, making them resemble a lollipop. You remember that? Yeah, well, there’s at least three of them in my locker room. It would be just as funny as Saturday Night Live, if it weren’t so sad.

These are just a few of the people in my neighborhood, but if you’ve never experienced the singular joys of a Y locker room, you’re welcome. Good luck getting those images out of your head.

I’m planning a 60 minute bike/20 minute run brick for tomorrow.



Big train running

May 29, 2009

Today’s plan called for a 1200-meter swim and a 35-minute run.  I just didn’t have it in me to get up early to go swimming this morning, so I didn’t.  I hate the inconsistency of mornings.  I get up at 5 a.m. for early workouts, and some mornings I’m jacked up and ready to go.  Some mornings I sit on the couch watching SportsCenter, nodding off, and I barely make it to the Y in time.  I wish I knew why…

It was a beautiful evening – sunny, 65 degrees, mild breeze.  My goal was to run the whole 35 minutes, and to cover 5K in that time.  My Elkhart Lake tri goal calls for a 35-minute run leg, and I know I can do that, because my Cellcom 5K time was 33:16.  However, I haven’ t run a full 5K since Cellcom on May 17th, so I wanted to see if I could make that time without race-day adrenaline.

I felt good the first mile, and skipped the temptation to take a walk break. I felt good the next half-mile to my turnaround point, but the next half-mile was a little more of a struggle.  My speed dropped from about 5.4 mph to 4.9, and I had a stitch for about a quarter-mile.  Then I came to the road crossing that I knew meant I had just under a mile to go, and that gave me a little jolt.  Plus, Baba O’Reilly came on my iPod, which always helps.

I walked across that road, just because of traffic, and then picked up the pace for the last leg. I ran about 5.7 mph the rest of the way back, and stopped my watch when I passed 3.1 miles.  I didn’t even want to look, so I walked back to my car to cool down, and then I looked.


I’ll take it.  Thirty seconds slower than goal without any adrenaline and with two and a half weeks to go?  I’ll take that all day long.

I’ve got a crazy day tomorrow – up at 5 to drive to Green Bay for an all-day meeting, then a dinner meeting after work.  I have no idea when I’m going to fit a workout in, but I’m going to try.



The Weight of Water

May 27, 2009

I had the highest of hopes for today.  Trimom (my wife and mother of my children) was at Girls’ Night Out last night, so I took the opportunity to go to bed early, planning a monster workout for today.  The plan went something like this. Get up at 5 a.m., ride to the YMCA (about 2.5 miles), swim 1200 meters, then bike to work (about 9 miles).

I laid out my bike gear, packed a backpack with clothes for work,  left a note for Trimom to set the alarm and hit the sack.  So far, so good.

I got up as soon as the alarm went off, wandered blearily around the bathroom for a few minutes, and then went downstairs to get ready to go.

Except that, um, I apparently forgot to tell the weather what I was planning on doing.  And in true Wisconsin spring fashion, it (the weather) did not want to cooperate.  It was FORTY-FIVE degrees.

And raining.

So, I wasn’t biking anywhere.  I morosely put away my helmet and shoes, and headed for the car to collect my consolation prize – a good strong swim.  I even got a little cocky; I was going to try to swim my laps at 1:20 or better.  I was feeling bummed about the ride, but stoked for the swim.

Except that didn’t work out quite that way either.

I got to the Y no problem, changed, showered, there was even a lane open the minute I walked into the pool.  But for some reason, I just had a mediocre swim.  Sometimes, I get into a zone, I find a rhythm, and I almost forget the water’s there.  Today, the water felt like concrete – heavy, resistant, slow.  I managed to knock off 1000 meters – 100 short of my plan for the day, but I just didn’t have it, and I needed to get to work.

The good news for the day is that I weighed myself this morning, and I have held steady at 305 throughout my training.  I was worried that all the eating I was doing to fuel my workouts would creep up on me, but apparently I am burning what I’m eating.  So I got that going for me.

I’m hoping to bike and run tomorrow, but someone told me the weather is supposed to be lousy all week.



Something to say, finally

May 27, 2009

tri finish 2Welcome to Fat Triathlete.  (That’s me on the right). These are the adventures of me, the Fat Triathlete.  Mostly they will not be compelling.

I recently realized that I have been boring the socks off my friends and co-workers with my detailed updates of my workouts and races.  Even my loving, devoted, non-fat triathlete (and half-marathoner!) wife doesn’t need a minute-by-minute account of my nutrition, sleep and hydration status.

No one else cares, either, but I thought if I write it down and click the little blue button on the right, then I might be able to stop alienating the people I actually like with my desperate need to share.