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Athlete Accolades

January 15th, 2014


Hardware for Smooh!
Hardware for Smooh!
SW doesn't get cold.
SW doesn't get cold.
Peachy's Mom snapped this photo of Peachy (red hair) running the mile in 1974. 40 years later she ran darn near the same pace for 6.2 miles.
Peachy's Mom snapped this photo of Peachy (red hair) running the mile in 1974. 40 years later she ran darn near the same pace for 6.2 miles.

Many of my clients have been busy tearing up the roads and trails this winter.  I’m a big fan of using 5 and 10km races over the winter as a way of staying in the game.

Many athletes will find that, despite extensive specific preparation, they are able to PR at shorter distances due to their previous season of hard work and a proper amount of off-season rest.  There’s a lot to be said about “freshness.”

Susan “Smooh” Hayden rocked the hills of St. Francisville, LA (yes, there are hills in south Louisiana – big suckers, actually).  She placed second in the 10 mile Wilderness challenge.

Stacey “Stud Woman” Finerman continues to roll.  SW placed second overall in the aptly named Polar Prowl 5km in Boulder, CO.

Ken Miller set a 40 second PR for the 5km distance at the SoCal Half Marathon and 5km.  Impressive!

Lisa “Rockfish” Ribes ran to a second overall in the Tucson Sun Run 10km, with a quick early season time of 36:53.  Keep an eye out for Rockfish this year!

Sharon Peachy “her actual maiden name” Sheremeta ran an unbelievable 10km in the Tucson Sun Run.  At the ripe young age of 54, Peachy smashed her all-time best for the 6.2 mile distance – by a longshot.

Words can’t describe how fortunate I am to have friends and clients who continually impress and motivate me with their passion for fitness and their dedication to balance and hard work.

Congrats on a great start to 2014!

I’m Right. (Should a male triathlete shave his legs?)

January 6th, 2014


Men - we're hairy. Embrace it.
Men - we're hairy. Embrace it.

I enjoy a civil argument – especially when there’s no right or wrong answer, because then I’m always right.

With this in mind – tune in here to periodically weigh in on questions that have no right or wrong answer.  It’s always fun to argue when you can never be wrong!

Should a male triathlete shave his legs?

No, you should not shave your legs if you’re a male triathlete.

Shaving your legs will not make you a faster triathlete and is a colossal waste of time.

Swimmers shave visible body hair before key meets – at most, once or twice per year.  And I believe that the heightened sensation the results from shaving off a jungle of hair and the first layer of skin, may lead to improved “feel” for the water and therefore faster times.  However, the reason swimmers limit their shave-down to once or twice per year is because the more you shave, the less sensitized your skin feels – you become used to the feeling, in other words.

So any male triathlete who tells you that he is hairless because he will swim faster, is pulling the fur over your eyes.  Besides, 99% of triathlon swims are wetsuit swims!

I’ve heard it all: hairless legs make massage easier, hairless legs make road rash easier to take care of, hairless legs are more aerodynamic – all BS.

The only reason a male triathlete wants to shave his legs is because shaved legs look better – which is 100% true.  The ugliest legs will look less ugly sans pelt.  But that’s still no reason to spend time and money on a regular grooming routine if you’re a man.  On average, it takes a man 26 minutes to mow down the hairy equivalent of the rough at Augusta National.  Not to mention the fact that yearly razor and shaving cream costs will run you well into the three figures.

Furthermore, it’s a scientific fact that leg hair was put there for two primary reasons having to do with the survival of both the male and female species: warmth and traction.

Bottom line: Go for a three to four mile run instead of shaving your legs, and then bank the money you’ll save by not buying razors and shaving cream.  At the end of the year, you’ll have enough money to buy yourself a nice pair of running shoes (or two, if you’re extremely Sasquatch-like).

Racing For A Reason(s)

January 4th, 2014


Matthew and Madeline with Layla, a Tu Nidito child.
Matthew and Madeline with Layla, a Tu Nidito child.
Matthew, Madeline, and me.
Matthew, Madeline, and me.
The kids watched Ironman Kona this year. Next stop Tahoe!
The kids watched Ironman Kona this year. Next stop Tahoe!

During my 20-year career as a professional triathlete, I had just about zero desire to do the Ironman distance.  I was mildly intrigued at the start of my career, but by mile six of the run in the 1987 Ironman World Championships, I was over it.

I was so over it that I never attempted another Ironman nor thought about attempting one until the twilight of my career in 1999.  I’ve always been a quick learner and on that day in 1987, I learned two very important things about myself:

  1. I have a short attention span, and
  2. I suck at the Ironman distance.

To be blatantly honest, the only reason I considered an Ironman in 1999 was because I knew that I would be venturing into the coaching world and that I should probably finish one so that I would have a better idea of what those wacky enough to want to do an Ironman – over and over again, were going through.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the Ironman distance.  It’s just that at the time (in 1987 - after I got my butt handed to me by the race and by my peers) I decided that the life lessons learned from participating in an Ironman can be gleaned almost as well from the sidelines as from the field of play.  For me, the “doing” was limited to (much) shorter events.

But, since 1985, I have rarely missed spectating (in person) at the Kona Ironman World Championships.  During an Ironman, the race unfolds much slower than it does in the 1-2 hour events that were my bread and butter.  Because of this, we spectators are able to see many stories unfold – hundreds, if you paid attention.  You don’t get much of a story watching a 1-2 hour race.  Watching Kona each year reminded me why I started doing triathlons in the first place – for the test and for the journey.

Now, as a parent and coach, I want to teach my children, other children, AND adults, that the test and the journey are important.  In our world of technology (smartphones, ipads, ipods, video/computer games . . . ) and stimuli (facebook, twitter, instagram . . .) that make it harder to get up and move and easier to sit on your butt (pick your poison) – I want my children’s experiences to be felt and not be of the virtual variety.

Plus, this year - Tu Nidito, a charitable organization that is near and dear to my heart, has chosen the Ironman vehicle as a way to raise money and awareness for its mission - supporting children impacted by serious medical conditions and death.

Cutting to the chase – I’ve thrown my hat in the ring for Ironman Lake Tahoe.  I’m racing Ironman Lake Tahoe as part of Tu Nidito’s Tri for a Child team.

Many who knew me “way back when,” will find this amusing and perplexing.  Many of my “new” friends and family (our kids, mainly) will find this exciting and curious.

Me – I’m all of those.

Mainly, I want to lead by example again.  I’ve been sitting on the sidelines for too long.  I also want to raise funds and awareness for Tu Nidito because I believe so passionately in their mission and purpose.

And finally, for those of you who are wondering – mostly my friends from way back when – I’m not lumping myself into the “just want to finish” category … not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I am slapping my intentions firmly on the table for all to see.  If you’re 50 years old and racing in Tahoe – you better get your Shitzu together (as my 10-year-old daughter likes to say).  If you’re a “youngster,” you better watch your back.

And if you’re of any age and you’re looking to finish a real Ironman – Tahoe is your race.  It’s a true triathlete’s course – man/woman against the venue.  I watched last year, and the stories that I saw unfold in that race are rivaled only by those played out on the lava fields of Kona.

I want some of that.

If you want to join me, please consider being part of Tu Nidito’s Tri For A Child team.  Tu Nidito has entry spots for Ironman Tahoe (and sold-out Ironman Boulder).  As part of the Tri For A Child team, you’ll get a training plan designed by me, support at the race, the satisfaction of helping a child in need, and most important of all, you’ll learn, teach, and inspire – yourself and others.


January 1st, 2014

Listing New Year’s Resolutions has been a family tradition as far back as I can remember.  My mom was big on the list.  She would ask us kids (at least four and sometimes six, if you count the “steps”) to sit quietly and list ways in which we could better ourselves.  I remember the hour or two that it took to compile a list of 3-4 resolutions seeming like a torture session.  When you’re eight or nine, there are not a whole lot of things that you feel like doing or changing that will make you a better person.

One thing that many years of New Year’s Resolution lists makes me realize is that the older I get, the easier it becomes to make a longer list – at least for me, anyway.  It’s funny, but shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve made a comprehensive list of New Year’s Resolutions.  The last few years I’ve chosen to focus on one or two tasks usually associated with health such as: going to bed earlier/sleeping more, not eating as many “sweets,” or quitting chewing tobacco (I know – gross).

However, on the eve of 2014, it feels like a more ambitious list is in order.  There are many reasons for this feeling.  Among them, the milestone of celebrating 50 years of life, the contemplation of what 20 years of marriage means, and the knowledge and perspective that comes from 12 years of parenting.

But there’s a bigger reason.  Resolve is an important quality and tackling a comprehensive New Year’s Resolution list strengthens one’s resolve.  Over the last few years my resolve has faltered.  The fear of failing to follow through on a long list has caused me to take the easy way out – the safe way out.

I wasn’t as afraid when I was younger because I had less to lose.

Life seems to work in cycles and for whatever reason (I’ll figure out why, later), I’m getting my nerve back.  I realize that a long New Year’s resolution list presents conflicts – to work on one item, sometimes takes time and focus away from others.  But that doesn’t mean I need to shy away from going big.  So here’s my list for 2014 – The Year Of Resolve. 

  1.   Be a better husband
  2.   Be a better father.
  3.   Be a better coach.
  4.   Be a better referee.
  5.   Be a better friend.
  6.   Be a better son.
  7.   Be a better sibling.
  8.   Don’t be afraid to try ideas/dreams.
  9.   Be kind(er).
10.   Laugh more.
11.   Eat more veggies.
12.   Exercise more.
13.   Race!
14.   Go to bed earlier.
15.   Live more.
16.   Be a better businessman.
17.   Listen better.
18.   Be neater/more organized.
19.   Read more.
20.   Write more.
21.   Get more sleep.

Happy New Year to everyone reading this.  I hope 2014 brings you happiness and success and love.

Happy 50th Mike Pigg

December 18th, 2013


Photo by: Rich Cruse
Photo by: Rich Cruse
Pigg and Me racing
Pigg and Me racing

I had the good fortune to train and race beside a few people whose dedication to their craft and work ethic were (and still are) second to none.  It goes without saying, that these attributes featured in their palmares. 

Thanks to Facebook, I’m reminded that today is the 50th birthday of one of my primary rivals, friends, and training partners - Mike Pigg.

Mike and I spent a few winters, training together in Tucson.  When we weren’t trying to pummel each other in the pool or on the roads and trails, we endlessly discussed (debated) training and nutrition strategies.  As it turns out, and what none of us liked to admit - Mike was often ahead of his time with regard to diet, nutrition, and training methods.

The main reason that we didn’t like to admit that he was ahead of his time was that it didn’t really matter what Pigg ate or how he trained. Mike Pigg was simply a winning machine - one of the best triathletes ever.

Anyway - here’s but one of my many fond Pigg memories.

Once - at the top of a 12 mile climb, half way through a HARD 120 mile bike ride, Mike and I debated what we would purchase at a convenience store if we were suffering from the worst bonk ever known to man and we only had a single dollar to spend. Keep in mind that a GW bought a lot more in the early/mid 90s than it buys now.

Pigg, sold on the virtues of a high-fat diet and therefore forced to stifle his insatiable, legendary, actually, lust for sweet foods - decided on a simple solution. With his dollar, he’d purchase a quart of whole milk. I remember asking him, “White or chocolate?” He told me white, because the sugar in chocolate milk was bad and caused his calfs to cramp.  I wanted to remind him that his calfs did not cramp while he was kicking my butt around the running track a couple mornings ago (eight hours after polishing off an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey) - but I let it go. Instead, I just told him that his milk strategy was ridiculous and a waste of a dollar, and that when he called me, stranded in the middle of nowhere - delirious and craving cotton candy, that I would refuse to drive and pick him up.

Having grown up obsessively watching The Price Is Right, my strategy was a little more complex. With my dollar, I’d purchase two cans of coke. With the change, I would buy a handful of the single pieces of candy for sale at the counter (sugar was cheap back then, too).  Mike told me that my sugar strategy was ridiculous, that I would re-bonk minutes after ingesting the massive amount of sugar, and that he hoped I enjoyed consuming “dead” food.

Like usual - I felt good about my side of the debate.  And like usual - I expected to be “wrong.”

As fate would have it, forty cold and windy miles later, we had cause to test our strategies.

We staggered (literally) into a convenience store, twenty long miles from home, with zero left in the gas tank and an agreement to spend but a single dollar.

With his dollar, Pigg purchased a quart of white milk and chugged it in about nine seconds (he was very fast at eating and drinking, too).

With my dollar, I bought my two cans of coke and assorted small candies, drank one coke and then put the spare coke in my center jersey pocket, and scattered the candies in my outer jersey pockets.

Five miles later, Pigg was running on fumes, incessantly hocking up giant flemmy loogies, and sitting on my wheel (which RARELY happened). One minute after that I heard him ask, “Are you going to drink that coke, or just carry it around?” Having spent the better part of five winters getting my ass kicked by Pigg, I seized the moment and replied, “Yes, I’m going to drink it - eventually.” I then proceeded to dial up the effort (this was before power meters) to race pace level.

He asked about the coke in the center pocket of my cycling jersey, a few more times over the next 10 miles. I ignored his requests while dramatically popping sweet chocolate morsels every two to five minutes.

By the time we hit the outskirts of town, Pigg had offered to pay me $5 dollars for the can of coke. I believe we settled on $6. He chugged the coke in about five seconds, and said that after drinking the coke, he felt the best he’d every felt in his entire life.

Two months later we finished first and second in St. Croix. In each of our water bottles were four packets of sugar and two packets of salt, taken from the breakfast restaurant.

I like to think that on that day of suffering, I re-sold him on the virtues of sugar during a hard ride/race.  I won the battle but he won the war.

And now my friend turns 50 - three months before me.

Once again - I’m second to Mike Pigg, one of the hardest working athletes triathlon has ever seen. And just like way back then - I don’t mind so much.

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