Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Was Beat Up By A Ballerina

I will leave no stone unturned to explore something that will give my body an edge in my training or in a race (iron IV drips, turning myself into a swimmer, shaving my legs, and doing Yasso's in a Target parking lot,) but this is really stretching my comfort zone. As part of my hardcore core training mission I've been on lately, I took to the ballet class. No, that's not a typo. My wife knows how to lure me into something as she promised I would be the only male in a roomful of hotties (herself included.)

I have to admit, it seemed a bit like getting behind enemy lines or fulfilling my grade school fantasy. In the later case, if allowed a super power, I always chose invisibility...of course to head straight to the girls' locker room. At this point, I should ask that you refrain from the hatemail...there's nothing wrong with the female form. Why wouldn't I want to spend an hour getting fit in a roomful of women in their little yoga outfits.

Our class was at Ballet Physique in downtown Littleton, CO. With some yoga class experience under my belt, I felt okay with my manhood and had little problem walking into the studio. You could tell that I caught them off-guard, but they went through the normal check-in as I filled out the new ballerina profile and checked the box that I was NOT pregnant.

Trying to assimilate, I merely copied the pre-class routine. Pick out hand weights...alpha male went for the 8 pounders. Don't you have some 35's I wondered but kept my mouth shut. I saw mirrors, a bar (my wife corrected me that it's a barre,) a 24" mat we never used (and I still don't know what it's used for,) a yoga mat and a rubber ball--do we get to play dodgeball? Sweet!

The class was "tag-teamed" by two instructors that took turns tightening up our tushes..."just think about how your jeans will come on easier after class" they'd say. I wasn't thinking about my jeans. Concentrate, try not to embarrass yourself, and don't stare, or get caught staring.

I have to say that the class completely kicked my ass. One hour of ass work when I don't own one to begin with was torture, but there was plenty of other body sculpting; biceps, triceps, quads, calf muscles, hammies were all screaming for the solice of the swimming pool or crushed pebble running path lined by shade trees. I know I will be feeling it tomorrow and am convinced this is some serious core stuff. Some poses I'd seen in chick flicks or in yoga class and one resembled a hunting dog. I did my best to mimic the others.

My wife was shocked that I went and excited that she excelled in something athletic over her husband--not fair as she's trained as a dancer.

While pondering the strength benefits of ballet this evening while writing, I googled "males whose wives coerced them into a ballet class under the guise of core training" and found an interesting article from 2008 by Professor Tim Watson and Dr Andrew Garret. They compared the fitness of ballet dancers from the English National Ballet with the British Olympic Swimming Team. They measured the athletes on a range of fitness tests including strength, endurance balance, flexibility and psychological state. The Ballet dancers came out top in seven out of ten of the tests and were 25% stronger than the swimmers." In yo face swimmers and runners!

I had to bolt to my day job after class, but the questions after class ranged from, "is that your husband?," "I've been trying to get my husband to come," and "he's brave!" Not brave...just working on my core and getting behind enemy lines.

Footnote: I apologize to all the husbands and boyfriends whose partners were in my class today. No doubt they got the lecture over the dinner table tonight that "so and so's husband went to class, why can't you?!"

Wordless Wednesday: Are you ready for Winter Training?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Black Monday

Dear John...you're not worthy...denied...Tin Cup (Kevin Costner style)...close but no cigar...a day late and a dollar short..."you can't handle the truth"..."MR. BLUTARSKY... ZERO POINT ZERO"...

As I feared and wrote about in my blog earlier this month, my "barely qualified" for the 2012 Boston Marathon was not good enough for the Boston Athletic Association as I came up two minutes and twelve seconds short of being an entrant to next April's race.

As much as I'd convinced myself that I'd be okay and go with plan B, this was a kick to the gut (or Jeff Gillooly crowbar to the shins.) Denied by New York and Boston in the same year. Ouch! I haven't endured this much rejection since Jr. High. I have drank from the BAA chalice twice (in 2010 and in 2011) and last year's BQ minus nine would have certainly got me in this year, but this is the year that wasn't meant to be.

For those that have followed my pilgrimage this last year, you know that I had some setbacks with my running. Dealing with a lot of personal stress in my life, I just simply overdid it. Perhaps using running as some sort of elixir, but just ask Charlie Sheen, anything done in excess will not end pretty. Five marathons in eighteen months was my Charlie Sheen moment. I knew in the first few minutes of this last April's Boston that I simply had no gas left in the tank.

Glass half full?

Dealing with Dr's orders not to run another marathon in 2011, I decided not to quit, but to make my body stronger through weight training and cross-training. Little did I realize that there was also a swimmer inside me as my desire for competition lead to three sprint triathlons at the end of my summer. I have noticed a big difference in my core and upper body strength that will hopefully carry into my 2012 campaign.

What now?

The burning question in your mind, is what now for a runner (and emerging triathlete) with a blog named "Seeking Boston Marathon?" As I pointed out in my last blog, "someone (DP_Turtle) asked me will I change the name to "Sought Boston Marathon?" While it made sense, it didn't. Lays potato chips. Once you have one, you can't stop. Gluttony. Still seeking Boston." I'm holding to that. In fact, just as my first marathon time of 3:42 only motivated me to shave off twelve minutes to qualify the first time, I'm just as pissed that I did not hit my goal and I'm sure it will only fuel me in my 2012 training and races.

Soooo...what mary do I run now that my calendar is open in April? You get to vote, but the short list is two races I've wanted to run that were too close to Boston;

Flying Pig in Cincinnati
Colorado Marathon in Ft. Collins

Beyond what race is next, I have three additional goals for 2012; get a BQ minus ten, go for a NYQ, and resume my triathlon career again next summer. Ironically, I got my Dear John email moments before going out for my lunch run. With fire in my belly, I ran the tempo portion of my five mile run at a 6:58 pace. I guess you could say I've got something to prove.

For those that made it for the first time, enjoy every minute of it, and I hope to see you back there stronger than ever in 2013. The quest continues...still seeking Boston Marathon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Healthy Addictions

You don't suppose I have some healthy addiction issues do ya?

I have figured out how many marathons I can (or can't) squeeze in a year, but how often can you run sprint triathlons? I can tell you that my body does not feel like it's been dragged by a truck after a sprint like it does after a marathon so I completed my third in six weeks in Parker, CO last weekend at the "Fall Frenzy Triathon."

Just like with marathon'ing, there's so much to learn and so much room for improvement so here's the race report from my third.

The "Weak" Leading up

What is it with me getting sick the week of a race? This wasn't the best set of conditions for my third foray into triathlons as I came down with a stomach bug the week (or weak?) of the race. I've repeated the sickness rule before...if it's above the neck (i.e. a cold) then strap your big girl panties on, suck it up and get out there and race. Below the neck...(as in stomach) then you're best not to race as de-hydration is not a good thing and can be quite dangerous. I am all male and rarely listen to my own sound judgement.

Ironically, one of my best race days was in the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon last year with a similar stomach bug. In that race, I was in the porto-potty moments before the race debating if I could make it through 13.1 miles. I did...and blew away my previous PR with a 1:32 (two minutes off a NYQ.)

Being a borderline Darwin Award winner, I was determined not to let my $90 registration fee go in the toilet per se. As I did in my last TRI, I decided to ride the course earlier in the week. While I was hopeful, that I'd get a fast flat course, it had a bit more hill than I'd expected. No worries. Despite knowing better, I headed out on the (dry run) course without a spare, and sure enough, at the halfway point, a flat tire. Four miles from my car. I pushed, jogged, and ran with my bike looking like a M-O-R-O-N back to the car. I could have walked, but this was on my lunch hour and had a conference call with my boss I had to make. I'd bought the bento box, spare, bike rim tools and nitrogen which were all in my car. Brilliant. A cyclist stopped and asked if I needed help. I lied and said my car was close. A self-punishment if you will.

Leading up to the Race

With the swim times staggered based on projected 500 yd swim times, I didn't need to be at transition set-up until 8:30. Due to race nerves and stomach issues, I was up before the alarm went off and got to the transition area early so there were plenty of decent rack spots to pick from. This also gave me extra time for hitting the restroom (twice.) I enjoyed watching the first few swimmers enter the area. The race started with the slowest swimmers, and I picked up a few things NOT to do. One dude was wearing board shorts. Another guy with a lot of expensive stuff must have spent four minutes with wardrobe changes in T1. A slight curve with this course was that the indoor swim at the recreation center was a good 1/10 of a mile from transition. At the race meeting the day before (which was quite good) they'd mentioned that some runners position their shoes outside the door of the recreation center if they don't ride with bike clips. I haven't advanced to the really nice bike with clips so I put my running shoes (with elastic shoelaces) by a tree and hoped that I wouldn't forget I put them there vs transition. As I entered the pool area I started scoping out what times were swimming and what group I should be in. I must admit, this feels like some sort of mating ritual. I felt this is where I showed my inexperience as I'm still figuring out my times. Being conservative, I looked for 9:15's (500 yard times) and found three others to circle swim with. They looked fast, and one was a swimmer by trade...vs. me entering the sport as a runner. I started to self-doubt I was in the right group and they'd determined I was "fast" so I would go first. What?!? I think I (literally) pissed myself in line (see #12 of reasons "Why Triathlons Are Like Frat Houses.") Nerves, stomach, fast?!? Not.

Swim Leg

The water was nice and warm and I started off as the first in our circle swim group of four. Triathlon etiquette is a tap on the foot of the swimmer in front of you should indicate they let you move ahead of them at the end of the lane. I gotta believe my endurance has built in the short two months I've been swimming and I passed two in the 500 yard segment. Aside for slowing down to pass, this was the first race that was all freestyle for me--my previous two races required quite a bit of breast-stoke as I couldn't go the distance all freestyle. A race segment PR for me as I "cracked" the nine minute mark for the first time and seemed to have decent lungs for the short run to transition (in the shoes I remembered by the tree.)

T1/Bike Ride/T2

The transition was somewhat un-eventful and like my last race, I decided to go commando on the socks or sans socks. I felt my bike segment was also one of my better performances with a 19.3 mph pace over a 12 mile loop course. I'm glad I rode the course once before as I noticed during the race and talking to some folks after the race that while marked, there were a lot of people who went straight when they should have turned. One thing that may have helped would be the arrows marked on the pavement. Where there were turns, they'd sprayed a series of staight arrows with last one (or few) indicating the turns. I met one woman who was disappointed in getting second or third, but had added some mistake mileage on her ride. Ouch. I was passed on my clunker bike by a couple, but passed more than passed me. Second transition was also uneventful.

The Run


"Now you are on my turf!" I felt strong heading into the 5K portion and passed a number of runners on this leg while only getting passed by one younger (thanks to the back of the leg marking) man. One of the runners I passed was a guy from my swim group that passed me on the bike course. It was ironic as he and one of the other female swimmers lamented before the race how the run was their weak segment and hated it when runners would pass them during the last leg. My family was "double booked" this day and I gave them a "hall pass" for skipping the race so I had no one I knew to push me during transition or approaching the finish. I improvised and "egg'ed on" the crowd as I went into my sprint to the finish line. My run leg was a respectable 7:24 pace, but far off my 5K and half marathon PR pace. Given that I have taken the summer off from hardcore run miles, I was happy with this.

The Results

Final tally. A 1:11 overall time for a 500yd/12 mile/3M triathlon. An embarrassment of riches...my third medal in as many trys in my age group to add to my bookcase collection. My online triathlon buddy Morey chided, "why are triathletes in Colorado so slow?" I don't know...perhaps I've just picked the right races, but there are no asterisks on medals. After taking 10 years to get two medals in running, I've snagged three in six weeks of my brief triathlon career. If I weren't hooked before, I guess you could say I am now.

* Author's footnote. After I received my medal above, they announced someone who had a timing chip issue and decided there was a tie for second place in my age group. I guess there are asterisks in races, but I'm not giving mine back.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Seeking Boston Marathon For Sale?

With the new Boston Marathon registration system, unless I change my name from Tyron to Sharon I will not be able to register this week for the 2012 running of the Boston Marathon. If you've read my blog (thank you) you know that I've taken a Maniacal Sabbatical from marathon training due to cramming too many marathons in too short a period of time (five in 18 months.) As a result, while last year I was nine minutes under my BQ, this year I hit it on the nose. A 3:30 in Portland.

While I feel blessed to have run not one but two Boston's, that just makes you want more. I do live in the most gluttonous country in the world. With the new semi-complicated system, I can't try and register until next Monday assuming there are slots left. Considering last year's registration was sold out before parts of the world woke up, I'm not exactly hopeful I'll be lacing them up in April.

Given that, what do I do for 15 months with a blog named, "Seeking Boston Marathon." Ironically, I started this blog when I was recovering from a stress fracture in my lower left leg I ran on in Chicago and I had yet to qualify. Starting the blog held me accountable to the internet. It worked and I qualified in the next race I ran (Sacramento's CIM.) Once I'd finally run on hallowed ground, someone from twitterland asked me will I change the name to "Sought Boston Marathon?" while it made sense, it didn't. Lays potato chips. Once you have one, you can't stop. Gluttony. Still seeking Boston.

Soooo...if I don't get in next Monday, what do I do with the blog name and my time?

1) Rent it out to the highest bidder? No, but guest bloggers with the same goal may be a thought.
2) Change it to Seeking New York? I am within 2 minutes of a NYQ so I've given it thought, but would not want to turn my back on the greatest race in the land for the second greatest. I do move into a new age bracket next July, so I've got my eye on July races to try and notch NY on my marathon belt.
3) Change to "Desperately Seeking Boston" and start "sucking up" to the BAA. I'm sure that doesn't work with the stodgy BAA. "Very well, sir. You're not only handsome, but a powerful man. I could see the second you walked in here, you were someone to reckon with." (name the movie and a Seeking Boston Marathon sticker is yours.)
4) Ty's Home Decor and Fashion Tip Blog? Vomit is forming in my throat.
5) Keep the name and go after marathons within two months of Boston that I've always wanted to run, but were too close to Boston; the Colorado Marathon and the Flying Pig are hovering in the back of my mind.
6) Run away like Forrest from this and another demon. Canada has a nice ring to it, but nasty in April. Man up Tyrone!
7) Seeking Ironman? As in race an Ironman. While I have got hooked on triathlons this summer, I don't have the time to dedicate to Ironman training with my travel schedule and remain married. This is on hold for now, but just like I obsessed with Boston, I have taken the same approach to triathlons. During my marathon "time off" this summer, I have raced in three triathlons in the last month and a half. Apparently, I was a better swimmer than I thought I was. Three races, three podiums. It took me ten years to podium twice in running--ten years apart. I'm hooked on TRI's.
8) Barista...in Canada? No...see number six.
9) After reading Bart Yasso's "My life on the Run," go after some of racing's alternative races; run with the burros like he did, a naked 5K (certainly not in the winter and my family would disown me,) and/or the Gorilla Run (a Guinness world record race in the making)--can you imagine a 5K loaded with runners in Gorilla suits or birthday suits?
10) Seeking Boston Marathon. I've printed the stickers and Boston runs in my veins. I don't think the name is going away anytime soon.

You're stuck with me.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Why Triathlons Are Like Frat Houses

If you have never been to a frat house, are easily insulted, or have never raced (or considered a triathlon) please move on to your other (self improvement, home decorating, car repair) blog.

Top twelve reasons why triathlons are like frat houses;

1) It's organized chaos.
2) At times, you are taking your clothes off as fast as you can, but you're not very good at it.
3) You can't consume quite enough liquids.
4) You know someone is going to throw up or you feel like you need to.
5) You jump in the water with your clothes on.
6) Women wearing tight clothes.
7) At some point, there will hopefully be cold beer in plastic solo cups.
8) You meet a lot of people but you don't always remember their names.
9) You are either chasing someone or someone is chasing you.
10) You have one "bitchin" bike.
11) At some point, you will be wearing (beer) goggles.
12) You pissed your pants.

Can you name a few more?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Covet

Thursday thoughts for this marathon runner who's taking the summer off from marathon training and dabbling in triathlons;

In Sunday school as a kid, I'd learned that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife (or something like that...I wasn't always paying attention) or as is the case with me, thy neighbor's bike. The dude that lives behind me has a full cycling shop in his garage along with an array of very expensive bad ass bikes. I have to be honest, I looked at him and didn't quite get it. He might as well have pulled his Amish buggy into the garage. It was that foreign to me. As a runner, he seemed a bit odd with his obsession. I didn't know why he spent so much time and money on his sport...although marathon racing isn't exactly cheap.

After two triathlons this summer, I have moved from completely clueless to novice (I aspire for beginner status) and something has happened. I want to rob my neighbor's garage. I now understand the difference between the multi-purpose bike you bought at Target with the fat tires suitable for crashing big curbs and a decent road or triathlon bike. I now even know that there is such a thing as a "triathlon bike."

I took my kids to Guitar Center on Sunday so the boys could play with their toys and I went next door to REI. Big mistake. They have some pretty cool bikes on clearance and I decided to take one out for a spin. Smooth as buttah! (Jewish or New Yorker pronunciation of butter.) I covet that bike, but unlike a new pair of shoes or shirt I can hide in my car or closet, how do I sneak that into the garage and how many chick flicks do I have to watch on the sofa before I can broach the subject with my wife?

About Me

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine