Tuesday, June 28, 2011

GWOS III (Golf Weekend Of Spite)

I've just returned from our 3rd Annual Golf Weekend of Spite - a guys golf weekend at my cabin in Northern Minnesota.  My guy friends and I are hyper-competitive, and in addition to the competition on the golf course, the machismo carries over into everything from yard games down to who can build a better fire.  Hence, why we've termed it the Golf Weekend of Spite. 

72 holes of golf later (and as many beers) - and I'm not sure anything is decided, but a good time was had by all.

At one point during the weekend, all 6 of us sat down and took an IQ/Trivia test...just to establish who's smarter.  That's the kind of overboard competitiveness and spitefulness you just can't get while sitting on the couch with your girlfriend watching '27 Dresses'.

How's about a photo montage?

Turns out driving ranges aren't packed at 9am on a Thursday

Team Gameface

Team Whiskey (who played out of their skulls and won the day)

"Bags", being played by D-Bags

Beer, Steak, and Comfortable Slacks

Team Rickie Fowler won day 3.  Me and my orange cap sunk a 10 footer on 18 to win at -1 under par.

B, signifying that his team finished in 2nd place


Our technically inclined friend, MD, setup a projector to watch Wedding Crashers on the front of the cabin.  This is the view from the fire pit.

Another tidbit from the weekend was my creation of a new fireside treat - the S'more made with a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, rather than the usual chocolate square.  Perhaps gilding the lily a bit - but I highly suggest you try it at your next fire.  It's possible someone else in the world has already thought this up - but since it was an original idea to me, I'm claiming it as my own.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jersey Genesis Triathlon

Another 4:30am wake up, and another triathlon in the books.  This season's second Triathlon, the 'Jersey Genesis', was the longest distance triathlon I've done thus far.  Half mile swim, 16 mile bike, 4 mile run.  While not a huge leap up from the 'Sprint' distance, it was the next building block on the way toward the Half Ironman in October.

This swim was in a saltwater river that connected to the Atlantic Ocean, and having not grown up around the ocean - my brain always has a momentary stroke when I realize I'm in salt water.  Well, something short of a stroke - maybe just a momentary 'WTF' moment as I taste salt on my lips.

That said, one of the little known facts about salt water is that it increases the buoyancy of anything floating in it - which in this case was my churning mass of a body.  The salt water combined with my wetsuit meant that I had by far my strongest swim in a race, and came out of the water in 58th place out of 261 people.  Pretty solid for me - and I was feeling well nigh euphoric when I came out of the water; for once not feeling like I'd cheated death and glad to be alive.   (Also worth pointing out that in the previous 3 weeks I've been swimming 1.2 miles four times a week - so I cant give all the credit to salt water.)

The rest of the race was a misty, humid, uneventful finish - and I hit all my transitions about as well as possible.  Still room for improvement on the run, as I'm not leaving it all out on the course.

Since you rubes like pictures, let's leave the rest of the story up to the photographers (who grabbed a lot of pictures of me this time around - maybe it helps to be out in front?)

And, if you fellas (or ladies) are still looking for a good reason to get into the sport of Triathlon - I submit for you one last picture...that I nearly missed when I looked through the pictures the first time - as I'm not exactly the focal point of this picture:

I sent these pictures to my parents to have a look, and my mom's response was classic:

Those are great pictures, but if you could run a little faster, you could catch that girl !!! Do they have social hour after the race???

Everyone's a critic.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hammonton 2011 Triathlon

It might not surprise you to learn that there aren't many lakes on the Island of Manhattan.  There is plenty of Ocean all around, but not many calm lakes or rivers in which to contest a triathlon.  For that reason, most triathlons in my region are contested in Southern New Jersey - where lakes are somewhat more common, albeit nothing like the plethora that abound in Northern Minnesota.  New Jersey lakes also tend to be somewhat pathetic - rather shallow and not very big.

All that is a lead up to saying that before any triathlon starts, I'm looking at a 90 minute drive to get to South Jersey.  I've actually found I like that drive - as 90 minutes is about the right amount of time to eat a little car breakfast, have a diet coke, and wake up from the fog that the 5:30am wake up call entails.

 This was the first triathlon of the season for me, and I was feeling pretty confident. I had a few reasons to feel confident:
  • Upgraded to a legit Tri bike
  • Over the winter increased my time in the pool by about 1000%
  • Swim lessons with a coach
  • Dropped some weight
  • Running pace 45 seconds faster per mile
Confidence is a particularly key component to successful triathlon.  I suppose one could say confidence is key in anything - from picking up chicks to cooking an omelet.  However, if you can confidently feel that you won't drown and can smoke the bike leg; you've got a big mental advantage.

I was confident, but any time you don that wetsuit and look out into open water at some far off buoy - one can't help but get a small tingle of butterflies in the stomach.  There's also a tangible intense vibe as the athletes gather on shore, all wrapped head to toe in neoprene, swim caps, and goggles.

In all my past triathlons, I'd hung to the back of my swim wave - letting the big boys get out in front, and I took up the rear to go at my own (slow) pace.  This time around, I decided I'd mix it up a bit.  I was on the very front line, and when the gun went off - it's herd mentality at it's finest.  Picture that water ship-sinking scene from 'Titanic', with all the bodies thrashing  in the water - just all going the same direction.  You get knocked a bit, people swim over top of you, you randomly grab a foot in front of you...all the while you're trying to get your stroke going.

It was far from a 'perfect' swim, but went pretty well in general.  I'd done this same race in 2010, and on the swim leg this year I basically cut my time in half over the previous year - a 50% improvement.

Transition 1 was quick, saved time by going sockless on the bike - and also pre-clipping my shoes to my pedals.

The bike leg was statistically my best leg of the event, and I averaged a 19.9 mph average.  I got a slight lower abdominal cramp right as I was getting off the bike into T2, and that slowed me up maybe 15 seconds while I stretched it out.

That's me out front, taking a couple 40 year old guys to the woodshed

The run after the bike is always an odd thing.  It takes your brain and body a couple of minutes to realize you're no longer peddling, and instead running.  There's a strange phenomenon where you feel like you're running extremely slowly - but I think it's a mental smokescreen due to how fast you'd just been peddling.  In fact I know it's a trick, because I averaged my fastest miles of the year on the run.

All told, I performed about as well as my training lead me to think I should.  My swim can still be stronger, and the run is still statistically my slowest event comparatively to the competitors who finish around the same time as I do.

Next Triathlon is this Saturday, and we up the ante a bit with a half mile swim, 16 mile bike, and 4 mile run.

I'm 17 pounds lighter than last June and 12 pounds lighter than New Years.

Learn to like egg whites.