Monday, August 27, 2012

Dear Mr. Asshole Driving the Jag

This has been a tough summer for runners and cyclists.  Michael Fontes (written up in my blog post;
"A Father and Runner Lost") and TJ Doherty; were both struck down this summer by cars while doing what they loved to do which was running.

This weekend, I was ironically headed to a 5K race ten minutes from my house when some old dude (yes...older than me) completely blew through a stop sign to make a right turn right in front of me.  This was no, "California Stop."  This was a "no brakes applied, blow through a sign" right turn.  It pissed me off, as I braked to avoid hitting his crappy convertible Jaguar.  This was also within a mile of the spot where another runner (Sherry Lynn Peters) was fatally struck down in Highlands Ranch.
Not his real license plate, but it should be

I blew this off as an isolated incident and went off to run my race.  The incident with Mr. Jag(off) came up again at dinner with the family.  As I explained the incident, and described the driver, my wife concluded that the same jerk had cut her off more than once pulling the same kind of stunts.  Cutting people off...running red lights for right turns.  Are we talking about a really crappy driver, old dude run amok, or just a narcissistic asshole?  You be the judge.

Over dinner, I joked with the boys that we should track this guy down, and leave a nasty note on his car.  We went through all kinds of literary suggestions...many too inappropriate (these are teenage boys) to list here.

Literally, the next morning, (I'm not making this up,) I pull into my recreation center for my morning swim.  I had planned to apply what I'd learned in my swim lesson this last week (Water Works) and practice some more on my flip turns.  I had some successful time in the pool and as I'm walking out to the parking lot, in flys Mr. Jaguar with Mrs. Cougar.  He pulls into a parking spot two spots away from me.  Before I could form any words in my head, he bolts indoors and leaves his car unattended.

I proceeded to leave a teenage son-inspired note on his windshield.  "Please do all of Highlands Ranch (area I live in) a favor and SLOW down and obey stop signs.  You have 'cut off' 3 members of my family on the road.  This is not the Autobahn and you aren't driving a Porsche--it's a crappy Jaguar.  Thank You!"  I added "I now have your license number" after I snapped a photo of the priceless note.

While I can't say he will learn anything from my sophomoric note, or change his behavior, I can at least hope he might slow down or actually obey the traffic signals and signs in my neighborhood that's loaded with runners, cyclists and children.  I'm not saying he's going to kill a runner or cyclist, but I can say that his odds are much higher than the average Joe that he hits someone.  Slow down, you move too fast, you gotta make the moments last.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

DNF is Not a Four Letter Word

Those dreaded three letters. "DNF."  Did not finish.  Unlike MNF (Monday Night Football) that we look forward to, DNF is the word that no runner wants to utter or swimmer wants to mutter.  Why is that?

We are fresh off the Summer Olympics and one of the images that is still swirling the internet is of McKayla Maroney looking all pissed off with her silver medal.  It's spawned several parody sites of "McKayla is not impressed."  Right or wrong, our culture is obsessed with winning and even more so, not quitting.  Sometimes we don't know when to quit (see Republican Senator Todd Akin.) Um...Todd...I think you should throw in the towel on that one, because you just committed political suicide.  You should quit.  While quit is literally a four letter word, it's sometimes the right choice.  Sometimes your body just quits.

Back to the topic of DNF, or "did not finish." Perhaps DNF should actually be "Denied Not Failed." Also in the Olympics we saw Ryan Hall drop out at mile 11 of the men's marathon and Desiree Davila dropped out a mere two miles in the women's marathon.  Davila notched her first ever DNF in a marathon.  A thigh and a hip respectively kept Ryan and Desi from finishing a race they'd trained so hard for.  We don't know what to say to another runner who has to drop out of a race, but I'd argue that their performances are often just as courageous or even more courageous than those that got to run injury free in the race.  Davila trained on an anti-gravity treadmill and took cortisone shots to try and "lace them up" for London.  Brutal disappointment.

Leadville 100: Photo Courtesy Matt Trappe Photography
This week, closer to home, Colorado hosted the Leadville Trail 100.  Arguably the worlds toughest race; high altitude "start to finish," rugged terrain, and "oh, by the way," it's 100 frickin' miles.  I am not an ultra runner, nor do I have plans for this insanity anytime soon.  I can say that "amazing" comes to mind when I hear of those who signed up for this mountain monster.  I had a number of running friends in the race this year and two of them (Amy Schneider and Michael Aish) were victims of the mountain...and the dreaded DNF.

Michael had actually won the qualifying Leadville 50 and was "gunning" for a win in the 100.  He was featured in Outside Magazine talking about his transition from Olympic marathons to the crazy sport of ultras.  Amy was running her second Leadville and has also transitioned her wicked fast marathon game to the ultra world.  Michael had to "bow out" due to hip flexor issues and Amy had difficulty breathing with fluid built up in her lungs.  No shame for these fact, an incredible amount of respect from this guy.
Still smiling through a hip flexor

As I was beginning to gather my thoughts on writing about DNF, another story popped up this week on the woman trying to swim from Cuba to Florida.  One hundred miles.  I will go swim a mile today in a heated pool.  I will not have to encounter Jellyfish attacks like she did.  I will not swim among sharks without a cage like she did.  I will not encounter squalls...she came up against two.  Lighting will not be an issue for me as it was with Diana's 60 hours in the water.  She DNF'ed. but she made it halfway there in her fourth lifetime attempt.  And by the way....Diana Nyad is 63 years old.

The amount of work that goes into something like Diana's swim, the Leadville 100, or training for a marathon is an amazing accomplishment in and of itself.  There should be no shame in dropping out when you've pushed your body to the limit, but it has no more to give.  DNF is not a four letter word and while Kayla may not be impressed, I certainly am.

Have you had a DNF...what do you think of those that suffered a DNF?

Author's Footnote:  Special thanks to Matt Trappe for the Leadville 100 photo.  Some amazing shots of the race can be seen on his site here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Water Works

I have this debate with my Mom. She swears that I had swim lessons as a kid. One of us is having memory issues (likely me) as I thought my first lesson was last summer.  I told her that throwing me into the deep end of the King's Point neighborhood swimming pool as a five year old and say, "now swim" does not count. Up until my "first lesson," the extent of my water skills were limited to;

Marco Polo
Reenacting the opening shark attack scene from the movie "Jaws"
Fraternity Hot tub parties (sometimes reenacting the opening scene from "Jaws")
Body surfing in California
Drinking wine in my hot tub at home

As I embarked on my new sport of triathlons last July, I took my first lesson at Swim Labs in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Swim labs utilizes video taping in an endless indoor pool that "breaks down" the various aspects of a swim stroke. Much like a golf stroke where there's several things happening at once, the same thing happens with swimming. Last year, my stroke was "way off." It could be best described as a combination of a Mississippi paddleboat and throwing a gas lawn mower into the pool...with the lawn mower running.

Ty Swim Lesson Aug 2012 from Ty Godwin on Vimeo.

Last summer was a good start and my swim times dropped quite a bit. I still don't really know what a fast time is in the water, but I can now swim a mile under 30 minutes. I'm told that's some kind of milestone. More important is the fact that I can swim that distance without stopping, or throwing in some breast stroke. My previous breast stroke experience was in college.
After some work, my butt closer to the surface.

Given that, I realize there are swimmers in my age group that are faster than me, so I returned to Swim Labs this week for a repeat lesson. The instructor quickly saw two things that I needed to work on; 1) adjusting my upper body and arm position entering the water to allow my butt to float vs. dragging under the water, and 2) perhaps I "over-compensated" for the giant paddleboat stroke style I started with and had fallen into the habit of using too much hand, not enough forearm, not digging deep enough, and having the elbow exit in front of my hand/forearm.

All that sounds like a lot, but it made sense. Just like golf, I will have to probably work on one of those at a time and repeat them often. Odd that a year ago, I loathed the thought of swimming for exercise. Now, I can't wait for the next triathlon and my next time in the pool to apply what I've learned to try and shave some time off that swim leg.   Marco...Polo...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Battle in the Burbs: Father vs. Son

"Nothing quite as beautiful as the moment a child's spirit breaks." (TRU TV: Toilet Paper Cake Episode featuring the two athletes in this post.)

Oh what to do when you have two "circle the calendar" races on the same day? Last weekend was a highly consternated yet easy decision to opt out of the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon (one of my favorites) and go "head-to-head" with one of my boys in my hometown triathlon, the Highlands Ranch "Splash, Mash, and Dash (SMD)." I covered the decision in my "Torn Between Two Lovers" and "Three Things Thursday" blogs. Shin splints, lack of training for a half, and my son wanting to "school" the old man lead to the right choice of racing the SMD. Bring it on little man!

I shouldn't say little, my youngest (Keenan) is a mere 13 years old, but looks like he's ready to drive a car. He is not quite my height, but we both know that in a short while, he will tower over me. He reminds me of that often. He started late in competitive swimming as he's only been doing it for a few years, but has a knack for it and the lanky body and wingspan that shows great potential. I started late in in 35 years later in life than he did, but he's on the DU (Denver University) Hilltoppers Swim team, and I am not.

Once I informed the family of my decision a mere few days before the "Father Knows Best" show-down, the smack talk that occupied the dinner table disappeared as we both were getting our "game faces on. Keenan has a similar number of triathlons under his belt which is not a lot for either of us, yet the night before and morning of the race, I tried to impart some fatherly wisdom. Both my boys have a typical reaction to such advice..."I know!" Some of the tips I shared, I got off YouTube since I have no triathlon plan, coach, or even a book I've read on the topic.  I do know a little bit about running and know how to launch google on my laptop. You think I'm joking...there's some great transition videos and even a bike cornering video I've found useful...I'm starting to think I might be able to learn a swim "flip turn" the same way.
Keenan coming in on the bike

Despite rebuffing my advice, on race morning, my son couldn't locate his helmet, hadn't mounted his bike number (did you listen to the orientation talk?) and asked if he could mount his bib number on his back. I bit my lip and said no, "it goes in the front." 

There were four races with the Splash, Mash, and Dash. My son was in the youth group and I registered for the sprint distance (the third and fourth options were olympic distance and relay.) Sprint seems to be my "sweet spot." This sprint had a swim of 500 yards, the same (as youth) ten mile bike ride and 3.5 mile run.

With a ton of swimming this summer, Keenan was well-prepared for the swim, but didn't put in the time on run and bike training (not normally a good formula for me or anyone for that matter.) His swim segment seemed effortless and he later confided that he was saving (translation: "sandbagging") his legs for the later two segments. His final result was an impressive 1:07:07. Good enough for third overall in the youth race and his first podium.

Heading out for my run leg
As Keenan was coming in to T2 (Transition area two--from bike to run,) I was heading towards the pool area for my swim start. True confession is that I had my own rookie error that morning. I had picked up my ankle timer earlier and had walked over one of the timing mats in the pool area to go check on Keenan and my bike. Doh! That's not good as it could have triggered an early start. I confessed to the race director and the guy in the Colorado Race Timing booth. We all figured it would be sorted out after the race. As it turned out, the chip was in my hand and hadn't triggered the mat. Color me stupid.

I went through the "mating dance" in the pool deck area to find three other swimmers with similar 500 yard times for the, "four to a lane circle swim." For the runners or non-triathletes, that's what it sounds like. You have four swimmers sharing one lane started moments apart--not sharing half the lane, but following the same circular pattern. You have the opportunity to pass by tapping the person's foot in front of you. Fundamentally, you want to be "grouped" with swimmers of a similar pace so there's not a lot of passing going on. Thus...the mating dance.

The unique thing about the SMD, is that it's split into two pools; 11 lengths indoors and 9 lengths outdoors with a "transition" run between the two. Like Keenan, I felt like I was comfortable on the swim leg and probably could have pushed it further. Having said that, my time in the pool was a respectable 9:56 including the indoor to outdoor pool transition. My first transition was one of my better ones by getting out of T1 (transition from pool to bike) in 1:11.

Being in one of the earlier swim groups, there were few people on the bike course and felt good about my time on the bike. I passed quite a number of folks and (I believe) was passed only once myself by a relay team member. The course was roughly uphill the first half, but as they say, "what goes up, must come down." The second half was a fun downhill with one challenging "hard right" onto Broadway and the home stretch. My goal was to hit at least a 20 mph average on the bike and finished with a 19.9. Slackard.

After another respectable transition of merely a minute, I was off to my core competency--the run. If you live in Denver or know Highlands Ranch, it's anything but flat, but felt pretty good as my aforementioned shin splints weren't an issue on the three and a half mile course which was a mix of asphalt, concrete and trail path. Same deal as the bike in that I passed a few folks and didn't let anyone pass me with a 7:03 minute per mile run pace. I was okay with that considering it was more uphill (it felt) than down.

Final verdict was a finishing time of 1:06:57. Good enough for my highest ever overall placement of fourth place and my second overall first place in my age group. The only time you feel that it's good to get older.
"Fruits of our labor"

As far as the unspoken bet with my son, there was no "in yo face" or "I schooled you and ruled you" smackdown talk. In fact, I was full of pride for the father son tandem finish. I realize that it's only a matter of time before there's a "changing of the guard" and my son will start lapping me on the course. He is now officially a high school student freshman as of two days ago and is on his cross country team. I believe he has "un-tapped" potential to emerge as a force as a triathlete in a growing sport. 

Across town at the same time, my daughter was marching in a parade as a senior in high school on her pom team and Keenan's brother Jesse was at martial arts working on becoming a black belt. Overall, a proud day for a proud dad.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Three Things Thursday: A First, A Rookie Mistake, and a Gift

Three random thoughts on a run, swim, bike Thursday.

A First

My Birthday Bobblehead
I wrestled with this one and even blogged about it (Torn Between Two Lovers.)  I posted a poll on my Facebook page (no one voted,) and wrestled with this one mightily.  Two races on the same day; Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon (GTIS) and my home town triathlon; Highlands Ranch Splash, Mash and Dash (SMD) this Saturday.  GTIS might be one of my favorite overall races with a downhill course between two mountain towns--it owns my half marathon PR of a 1:32.  I'd previously thought that a NYQ (New York Marathon Qualifier) was 1:35 on on my checklist for the year.  Either I'm dillusional or they lowered the time like Boston did to a 1:29.  While I have worked on speed and I feel it's within reach, I don't feel I have trained to "race" and hit a PR in a half right now.  More importantly, my shin splints (yes...the left side again) have been re-aggravated.  After a 3 mile "easy" run had me grimacing this week, I painfully sent an email to the race director that I would have to pass on my favorite race this year.  Withdrawal from a race for me...a first.

No disrespect to my triathlon friends, but a sprint Tri is much easier on the body than a downhill half marathon so I've opted to tape up my leg and race in the Highlands Ranch SMD this Saturday.  The upside is my 13 yr. old son is drooling over the chance to "kick Dad's ass" in a triathlon, so this will be the first race we're done together.  All things considered, I think it's the right choice.  Yes...SBM in the SMD...FYI...results TBD.

I'm a Rookie

At some point, I can no longer claim to be a rookie triathlete, but there's so much to learn, grow, and improve upon, I am most definitely still a rookie.  With the race on Saturday and perhaps a 100 miles on my two month old bike, I took it into the bike shop for a tune-up for the aforementioned SMD.  I always feel a bit intimidated walking in there--especially in the bike shop area.

If I don't know much about triathlons, I know even less about bicycle maintenance.  As the veteran bike tech started going over my bike, he subtlety asked if I was okay taking off the reflectors from the wheels. I sheepishly answered, of course and realized those were required to ship from the factory for safety reasons, but added unnecessary weight and "drag" on my Trek Speed Concept.  I didn't realize I looked like a complete novice in my first two races with those on there.  I should have included streamers, a bell, and a basket for my puppy while I was at it. #imamoron 

A Gift

Three gifts to brag about.  The first is one of the best birthday gifts I got this year from my in-laws; my own bobble head doll complete with sunglasses, red goatee, and Garmin.  I know what you're thinkin'...I bet you want one too!  A nice addition to my desk at home.

The second gift arrived this week from Premier Nutrition.  Pinging me from twitterland, they asked if I'd be interested in some samples.  Since my endorsement deals haven't come in yet from Asics or Nike, I quickly replied with an emphatic "yes."  A care package arrived this week with several protein bars and shakes.  My personal favorite is the yogurt peanut butter.  Having suffered from poor diet and a "sweet tooth" this could be just what the Dr. ordered.  #yum

The third gift came from my friends at #runchat.  They are running profiles on run bloggers this month and yours truly was featured in their "Celebrating Running Blogs Month."  Read it and tweet!

Footnote:  for those pad geeks out there, SBM is now available on Amazon/Kindle.  Automatically download my babbling thoughts to your iPad, Kindle, or Android Pad.  Your pad or mine?   :)

Download here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Spoiler Alert

Is it just me or are you already disappointed in the NBC coverage of the Olympics? After the awe-inspiring Beijing Olympics opening night, I forced the family to sit down for the London Olympics opening ceremony. Overall, I'd say that I was impressed with the job that Danny Boyle did with the opening ceremonies yet had a hard time keeping the boys in the family room. Having carried a roll of sod before in life convinced me that "schlepping" the entire infield of grass to convert to the industrial revolution was impressive enough. That was before the Queen of England jumped out of a helicopter to make her grand entrance.
The T.V. coverage thus far has been less than impressive than the Queen's entrance. Matt Lauer's comments about individual countries seemed more like Macy's Thanksgiving parade banter..."oh look, there's Snoopy...and there's Madagascar made famous by the animated film with the same name." I'm sure that Kazakhstan appreciated the (continued) reference to Borat..."where do I put the poop?" If we weren't known as narcissist and elitist before, NBC is doing a good job to make us (or U.S.) look like smug jerks.

At some point, NBC broke away for the award winning and compelling (note tone of sarcasm) interview between Ryan Seacrest and Michael Phelps...even Michael Phelps was wondering, "where's Bob Costas for this interview?" What, Joan and Melissa Rivers weren't available? NBC skipped a portion of the ceremony that paid tribute to British citizens lost in a terrorist attack. The interview sucked, the snub was in poor taste, and somewhere Jim McKay is rolling over in his grave. We haven't hit Day five of the competition and I'm already tired of the (lack of) storyline between Phelps and Lochte.NBC tries to spin up drama each night with events, but technology kills any chance of that.

By the time prime time rolls around, I have either seen something on twitter or an ESPN ticker tape that tells me what I don't want to know. When I was a kid, I discovered my Christmas presents under my parents bed one year and while I was excited for a nanosecond, Christmas that year was a bit off as I already knew what was under the tree.

U.S. athletes have been less dominant than advertised with notable disappointments coming from the men's and women's gymnastics teams. I felt for the men's team as they headed into medal night with hopes for Gold and had a colossal collapse. As tough as it was to watch John Orozcos hold back tears, I admit I got a little "choked up" watching Missy Franklin try and get through the National Anthem without crying. Classy young woman full of poise. If I were up there, I'd be crying so hard, I'd be choking on clumps of air. NBC got that one right, but I was already privy to the results. Ironically, they showed a clip of Denver students cheering her on in the race earlier in the day...they apparently got to see it live while billions did not. I understand the whole time zone thing and how that works, but as a kid, I either saw it live or thought I was. No "Miracle on Ice"  moments for me yet.

Watching the late night interviews tonight with Costas and the women's "Gold" gymnastics team, he says we're hours after recording this moment live (that will be delayed 4-7 hours)...the tension was palpable with that oxymoron. 

As a marathon runner and triathlete, both men's and women's competition in both events are yet to come and I will look forward to catching both events assuming I can stay away from my twitter account and T.V. and pretend that I'm seeing it live.

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