Monday, June 30, 2008

Tragedy and Responsibility

First of all, I'd like to report that all of my Team in Training athletes had a terrific race, despite the heat at Pac Crest this weekend. I have a ton of pictures and I'm sure a lengthy write-up about our experiences there, which were overwhelmingly positive.

But before I tackle that, I feel compelled to write about the tragedy that unfolded before my eyes as I stood on the boat ramp ready to cheer my team on. At the transition area on the day before we cheered on the TNT half-Ironman participants, and one of my teammates (a nurse) and I had noted the lack of an ambulance and water safety crew (we also noted the heat and the utter lack of water for athletes at this very remote swim start). It was especially notable considering that the last triathlon we'd attended together (the Duck Bill Chill, a much much smaller race) had an ambulance, medic unit, and an paramedic/water safety crew standing by. The water safety medics (five or six of them) were literally standing on the beach at the swim start at that race.

So here at Pacific Crest I'm standing on the boat ramp at Wickiup Reservoir with camera in hand ready to catch all of my TNT athletes. A 45 year old male athlete comes in limp on a jet ski (according to the swimmer who aided him out of the water, he was waving arms frantically and then assisted onto the jet ski). At the top of the ramp, I hear a woman running up and down through the spectators asking if there is a doctor or a nurse among them. WTF??? Where are the trained medics? ambulance? emergency crew? First aid volunteers give CPR. I did not see an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) onsite (which signifigantly improves the possibility of survival of a cardiac arrest if used in the first 5 minutes or so). There is no ambulance. What feels like a very very long time later, they move aside spectators to bring in an ambulance. I don't know how much time had passed, but I know it was way too long to keep a guy alive on basic CPR with no oxygen, and no other aid equipment.

And the worst part of it is all of this is almost identical to the incident in 2005 in which a 41 year old athlete died with an ambulance not arriving for half an hour. The circumstances are eerily similar. Yesterday, I stood next to the victim's family member as she frantically tried to reach his wife, shook, and cried. It was just horrifying. From the race entrants listed on AA Sports pages, this man was part of a relay team that also included a 12 year old boy of the same last name. As an athlete almost the same age, with a son almost the same age, I can't imagine the tragedy that this family is dealing with today. My heart goes out to all of them.

I have no idea if an ambulance could've saved this man's life, and I don't think anyone will ever know for sure. But I do know that statistically the sooner you can get appropriate medical care, the better your chances are, and this man went a very long time without such medical care.

I do wonder and have questions about the responsibilities of race directors towards their participants. I've read the waivers we all sign, that it's a dangerous sport and we can't sue no matter what, but even with all of that I think there's some responsibility to provide basic emergency care, especially at an event that takes place 30 miles from the nearest medical facilities and ambulances.

Additionally, another participant I know in the overwhelmingly HOT half-Ironman was told that the medical tent ran out of IVs and they would have to go to the hospital to get one. They finisher's tent also was completely out of water and sports drink when I visited my athletes there, as was the race start.

I'm just processing all of this mentally, being a spectator to a fatality. I wonder how far we can reasonably expect race directors to go. I wonder why a race with only 100 participants charging $60 apiece like the Duck Bill Thrill can afford an ambulance onsite, while an "Event Weekend" with hundreds of participants at $75 apiece (Oly) and $225 apiece (HIM) cannot. I'm wondering how an athlete can die in a race and then another athlete can pass away a few years later in the same circumstances without anything happening in between to increase the safety of participants. I'm wondering how much as athletes we are supposed to just suck up the dangers, and how much the race should be responsible for in terms of adequate medical care.

Additionally, I saw this on Tales from the Tube : According to the Deschutes County Planning Department the organizers of the triathlon did not apply for a Outdoor Mass Gathering Permit which is required by Deschutes County Code 8.16.240. According to that code, "each Outdoor Mass Gathering or Extended Mass Gathering shall have as a minimum one ambulance."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Color Purple

I thought I'd match all of those purple TNT jerseys out there on the race course... us coaches only have white jerseys, so we might be kind of hard to spot. I guess my team will be able to find me near the finish line though! I can't wait to cheer them on.

And We're Off To Pacific Crest

My tri team has done our last brick, our last swim, our pre-race briefings and all of that jazz. We head out tomorrow morning for Sunriver, Oregon and the Pacific Crest Tri. We'll have a whole weekend of prepping, watching the kid's race (my daughter Asa is going to do that), attending the Pasta Party for Team in Training, cheering on our Tri team doing the Half-Ironman on Saturday, and then setting up T1 and getting ready for the Olympic day on Sunday. Everyone on my team is ready, they're well-trained and I have every confidence that they'll not only finish the race, but have an amazing experience along the way.


Ironman Oregon - Possibilities!

Oh yeah!!!!!

Check this out: Ironman Oregon. his would be a GREAT course and a GREAT time of year. I love doing Tris at Hagg Lake.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Almost-Painless Hardcore Distance Set

Here's one for the triathletes and Master's swimmers in our midst:

4 x {
25 hard
50 Distance Pace (DP)
75 hard
100 DP }

5 second rest in between each of the elements, 20 seconds rest in between each repition of the whole set. The key to this set is really making sure that you don't go easy on the DP portions. They should be exactly at your distance pace, not an easy pace. And by 5 seconds rest, I don't mean "round up to the nearest 10 or 15" like so many swimmers do! It's five seconds, no more, no less. So if you normally swim a 1:30 per 100 distance pace, your set might look like:

25 @ 17 seconds, 5 seconds rest
50 @ 45 seconds, 5 seconds rest
75 @ 1:00, 5 seconds rest
100 @ 1:30, 20 seconds rest

This is a great set for many reasons. I like taking it to the outdoor pool in the summer when it's crowded and I need to also keep an eye on my kids. I'm not swimming for more than a minute and a half at any one time, and I end up at both ends of the pool, so it's handy this way. Also, you can do this set in a pool where you can't see the pace clock, which makes it versatile.

This is also a great 1000 yard set to improve your distance swimming. For one thing it doesn't really feel like a long set, it goes by fast. The hard parts are never too long, and broken up by the distance pace. It can really get you to hone in on your distance pace after a hard effort, so in a race situation when you have to work it a little to get ahead of the pack at a buoy turn and then you need to return to your distance pace, you'll know exactly how to do it.

This set is great to do in a mixed group too, it keeps your distance people happy and it keeps your sprinters happy. Nobody can complain too much, yet it's deceptively hard work.

If you really want to do a hardcore set, add this one before or after:
4 x {
100 hard
75 Distance Pace (DP)
50 hard
25 DP }


Monday, June 23, 2008

Summertime Yummmmm

I could eat this all summer long. Parsely is packed with vitamins and makes for a great summertime cool salad with carbs and protein:


1/2 cup fine bulgur
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup boiling-hot water
2 cups finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (from 3 bunches)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 seedless (European) cucumber, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Stir together bulgur and 1 tablespoon oil in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over, then cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve, pressing on bulgur to remove any excess liquid.
Transfer bulgur to a bowl and toss with remaining ingredients, including 2 tablespoons oil, until combined well.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hi Ho Silver, Awayyyyyyyy

I have a confession to make: I have never named my bike. This does not mean I don't love my bike (notice, I also do not refer to my bike as a "he" or a "she", though I do speak a smidge of Romance languages, my bike has no gender). I do love my bike, I love it a lot. I could live on my bike. My bike and I are welded at the hip. But it has no name. A recent spate of posts on Trifuel and various blogs have pointed out this deficiency of nomenclature to me, but I doubt I'll be giving my bike a moniker any time soon.

Once, when my daughter was about six and just starting into her ongoing horse obsession, she named all of our bikes with cute horsie names like "Blackie", "Big Red", and "Ginger". My tri bike became "HiHoSilver" on account of its titanium frame and lack of paint. But I am not about to start blogging about the adventures of me and HiHoSilver, trust me on that one. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I know that for vast numbers of tri-geeks out there, naming your bike is some sort of moral imperative, and though I can understand that, it's just not for me.

The other day I was waxing poetic about my wonderful bike and my good friend said that she could tell how much I loved my bike because it seemed like an extension of my body when I rode. Sometimes it feels more like an extension of my soul. I am frequently and inexplicably moved to tears when I ride. Like just in the middle of a ride I'll start crying just from the sheer joy of it. Sometimes it even happens going uphill (though much more likely on the downhill side). I have a favorite ride out into a little valley filled with vineyards that almost never fails to make me tear up. I may very rarely feel that fabled "runner's high", but the biker's high? I own it.

My bike and I will be heading up to the lake this weekend with the TNT team for our final brick. A nice long swim in the relatively balmy 60 degree water and then we'll head out along a bike trail that parallels the lake, also one of my favorite places to ride. Then we'll cap it off with a run, chat about transitions and they'll be ready to roll for next Saturday. Then I'll head back along another favorite ride. Just me and my unnamed, two-wheeled best friend.

Here's the other unnamed bikes in my life: My old, unrestored Schwinn tandem, my around-town Stumpjumper, my Bike Friday tandem with the tag-a-long, My old tri bike (Giant Cadex carbon with those great Scott DB bars), my hubby's yellow Bianchi that I rode for one season, and my awesome titanium tri bike, formerly known as HiHo Silver!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

And You Really Should Watch This

As I was quoting this movie in my previous post, I just have to say if you haven't seen the movie "Always", then rent it. Really, it's one of the nicest little mostly-overlooked movies of the last twenty years. It's funny, it's sad, it's got action, romance, something for everyone. And the actors are top knotch, and it has airplanes - what more can you want? Just rent it already.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I Was Rusty On Panic

One of my favorite movies of all time is Always, with Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, and John Goodman. In one of the early scenes, Richard Dreyfuss' character is piloting an A-26 through burning treetops and says calmly "Oh this is good. I was rusty on panic." That's about how I felt last week as I walked into my karate test and found that my evaluator would be The Sensei. Not just any old instructor but the head of our dojo. Not that he's a particularly fear-inducing person, he's really a very very nice guy, the kind of person that you really like as well as respect. Nothing like my first sensei when I took Judo as a teenager who regularly scared the crap outta me. But still, The Sensei is The Sensei, and I knew for a fact that, unlike some of the younger black belts who might be less attentive or more distracted, he would be actually paying attention to everything I was doing out there.

I don't think I'd felt this nervous since I woke up wondering what I'd forgotten to put in all those bags you turn in at the Ironman. There's nervous, which is what I get before every race or big event, and then there's Nervous, which is a sensation I don't really like to feel all that often as it lands in the pit of my stomach with a thud. But here it was, and I just had to use my previous experiences to stuff it down and carry on. In retrospect, I know that I was so nervous because this time I really do want to follow through and get my black belt. I've taken martial arts half-assedly before, a couple of years of Judo and 18 months of karate. But I had never been able to visualize myself continuing on, let alone getting a black belt. My old dojo had a couple of perpetual brown belts that didn't lend one confidence or any kind of road map to seeing oneself as making it to a black belt level. This time it's different, and not just because I have met many encouraging black belts and see a clear path to working through to that level, but also because I started with my kids and I want them to see that you can pursue something all the way, even through the tough parts. If my kids want to get their black belts some day, the last thing I want to do is give them a model for quitting when the going gets tough.

Which brings me back to my test and my thudding stomach. I did just fine. There were a couple of things I muddled through. I'd forgotten my ankle brace and so my side kicks were weak when I had to pivot on my right foot. My wrist sometimes bends when I punch, especially with my left arm. Honestly, if I ever really punched someone with that left hand, my wrist would just about instantly dislocate (due to previous injuries), so it's an unlikely move for me to ever make. But still, it's something I know I need to work on. When I got my results back, Sensei picked up on all of those things, which let me know how closely he was observing. But overall it all went very very well (and thankfully the one time I really did mess up a move, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he was looking down at the paper he was making notes on - phew!). I know that having gone through this test, I'll take the next one even more seriously. And some day I'll be taking that one test that I'll have to take most seriously of all!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


My pet peeve of the day: drivers who rip by you so close their mirrors almost take out your aerobars and.... they've got a bike rack on their car. What, they never ride on the road themselves? The road I was on had no shoulder, and every other driver politely gave me plenty of room. So why did Mr. Bike Rack need to be so rude, I ask...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Triathlon's Gift to Me

The scene was familiar: gear bag on one side, clothes and equipment spread all over the living room, checklist in hand, thinking over all the details of the quick transitions to be made.... the only difference is that I'm getting ready for my daughter's dance recital. Or should I say three dress rehearsals and four recitals in three different locations with six costume changes each! At eight years old, she's not really ready to handle the mass of hair, makeup, costume, and accessory changes herself at the fast pace she'll need to. Most of the girls on her dance team are several years older than her, but I'll be back in the dressing room helping her make the transitions so she can have her glorious nights on the big stage, something she looks forward to all year.

By nature I'm not the world's most organized person. One of triathlon's many gifts to me has been to help me figure out how to sort, pack, check off, practice, and organize myself in situations like this. It's funny how many skills transfer from this sport that I love to the rest of my life. Discipline, tenaciousness, organization, good sportsmanship, the influence of triathlon helps all other aspects of my existance.

And today, it lets my daughter shine.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Adventures at Wickiup

Our TNT team mentors had the brilliant idea of camping out at the Pacific Crest racecourse, and letting our team members swim, bike, and run on the course to get a feel for how their race day would go. Despite dire weather forecasts, it ended up being pretty nice, if a little chilly (especially in the mornings). The big shocker of course was the lake temperature, a very brisk 52 degrees. Now a lot of seasoned triathletes won't even dip a toe in anything under 60, but our TNT team is a bunch of hardy souls, so on Saturday once the air temperature warmed up, we donned our wetsuits and jumped in for a swim. Yes, that's snow on the hills behind us!

Despite some understandable skepticism and a few moments of also-understandable panic, we all got going. This is really the hardest thing for new triathletes, and as I've shared with my team I even feel a bit panicky when I first start open-water swimming each season. Between the wetsuit constricting your chest, the cold water, and whatever is lurking beneath you, it can be a bit nerve-wracking to say the least. I am so proud and happy that our teammates made that hurdle and not only swam on Saturday but on Sunday as well!

And look at that great form....and in a sleeveless wetsuit to boot!

Sometimes it takes a bit of encouragement to get going. It's nice to swim with a group who can give support and camaraderie along the way.

We were very grateful to have a TNT Teammate from last year and avid kayaker to accompany us on our swims!

Once we were done with the swim, our bikes were waiting for us. Team mentor Mike created this cool race-style bike rack. This definitely comes in handy for practicing transitions! Everyone took the time to dry off and warm up (not to mention eat up) before donning some cool weather biking clothes for the ride to Sunriver.The bike course for this race is just plain beautiful. I wish I'd had my camera on the course, it winds through pine forests with occasional views of lakes and snow-capped mountains. A few gently-rolling hills provide some distraction and a chance to stretch your legs but nothing to really discourage you. And the last few miles is all downhill into T2 on some nice smooth pavement!
We had a little excitement on the bike when one of our riders took a spill. I had been playing the sheepdog by biking back and forth between the tail and front of the line of cyclists, and after stopping to make sure everyone made the final big turn, we realized that our last cyclist hadn't come through the checkpoint. I turned back to find her, and as it turned out she had crashed and headed back to camp, giving me quite a scare as the miles spun under my wheels and I still didn't see her! Fortunately all was well and I caught a ride back up to the rest of the team and cruised the rest of the course with them. They all did great, and I think they are definitely more confident that they can all tackle this bike course (and enjoy the views along the way!)

That night, it was an awesome pasta dinner created by the team, and a campfire complete with s'mores, brownies, fresh strawberries, and other well-deserved yummies!

The next morning, the team geared up to go into town and run the course.... From their reports, it sounds like a nice run along the paths that wind through Sunriver. They all felt good about their run (especially after another toe-numbing swim that morning!)

Since my hubby couldn't come along with me, I stayed back in camp with the kids. Not wanting to miss out on a run, I did 10 loops through the campground with my kids on their bikes, about 6.5 miles. So I was with the team in spirit at least (and my kids slept good that night!)

All in all, it was a great experience for the whole team. We all enjoyed the beautiful course, the good company, and the satisfaction of knowing that we had tackled the distances and would be able to carry that confidence forward to race day. GO TEAM!

Monday, June 09, 2008

A Study In Contrasts

Fifty-two degrees. FIFTY-TWO DEGREES! That's what that blue water behind us registered on the thermometer. And that measurement was taken in the shallow, and relatively warm water, compared to the depths beyond (where it was maybe 49 or so). What I love though is how we're all in these nice thick rubber wetsuits freezing our butts off, and my kids are in.... yep... bathing suits! Gawd, to be a kid again. I used to swim in the Pacific Ocean in November in a speedo, now a lake like this just spells "ice cream headache".

But cold water aside, our TNT training weekend for Pacific Crest was a ton of fun. I'll have a full report later, with more photos. But suffice it to say, that lake was COLD!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Off to The Frozen Arctic

Well, we're not going above the arctic circle, but my Team in Training teammates and I are heading off to camp for the weekend at Wickiup Reservoir, site of their upcoming Pacific Crest triathlon. Only snag? It's supposed to be 38 degrees there tomorrow morning!! Oh, doesn't that make you just want to get in a wetsuit and climb into a lake? And then bike 28 miles? No? Me neither, LOL.

But we'll do it, for the same reasons I talked about in my "that's why they call you Ironman" post. Because sometimes to reach your goals, you have to do the hard things in life. At least I'm bringing S'mores fixings and firewood!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Waving To Italy

I don't spend a lot of time checking my blog stats, but every now and then I do and get a fun little surprise. Like this week I discovered that my nifty little triathlon checklist is being visited by bunches of Italian triathletes from a triathlon forum over there. So I thought I would just give a wave to all of you from this side of The Big Pond. Hello Italy!

My family and I will be biking through your lovely countryside on our tandems this September, which I am really looking forward to. I am even practicing my Italian daily so I don't have to say "Scusi, parlate inglese? Io parla italiano non molto bene" all the time. And if you're ever in Oregon, USA, drop me in line and I would love to give you a tour through our own beautiful cycling wine country!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Vision of Bicycling Hell and a Ride to Heaven

Every cyclist's worst nightmare: This, at an intersection I passed on my bicycle six times that day. The cyclist was killed, not apparent yet who was at fault in the accident but the sad truth that when car and cyclist meet, it's the cyclist who is in danger, regardless of who is right and who is wrong.

So with all of that on my mind, I turned out of my driveway on my tri bike and hit my favorite ride: out into the wine country south of my home. Let me give you a little imagery of what it's like to bike out here in our neck of the country this time of year:

Rolling hills, green pastures, wild iris, poppies, roses, and apple blossoms, bird song: chickadees, varied thrush, red-wing blackbirds, meadowlarks, and the fluting melody of the tiny wrens. A whole flock of bright yellow golfinches burst from the bushes, a pheasant strolls with his awkward squawk across the road. 11 miles into the ride there's the hill. Still early enough in the season that I have to stand up and huff and puff my way up. Over the top I descend into a tiny valley covered with vineyards on the south-facing slopes, emerald pastures and wooded hillsides to the north. The dark slate clouds alternate with bursts of sun for dramatic lighting over all.

Bicycling Heaven.

Ride safely everyone.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


A drunken man plowed into an entire pack of cyclists in a bike race. WARNING: Do not go to this link if you are likely to be disturbed by a horrifying photo of a car slamming into a group of cyclists.

My heart goes out to the families and friends of the dead and injured cyclists, and to the survivors who surely will live with this day in their hearts the rest of their lives.

There is no excuse for this. None. I wish there was a universal zero tolerance on drinking and driving. There's just never ever any reason to operate a ton of moving metal under the influence of anything.

The Ride of Silence was just last week. It's so sad that it's necessary.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Triathlon Checklist

Google Docs now has the ability to post spreadsheets, doc files, and presentations online, so I thought I'd share my basic triathlon checklist. I print this list out and go over it the week before a race, leaving me plenty of time to buy anything I'm missing from the list. Then I use it to pack my gear bag up the night before, and I check everything off as it goes in the bag or the car. That way when I get up in the morning, I don't have the urge to go plowing through my bag to make sure I haven't forgotten anything. For some reason, some of the formatting got messed up when I imported it, but all the basic data is there. I give this list out to anyone I coach as well. Hopefully it may be useful to someone here.