Saturday, December 27, 2008

09 Season Map


Well, it looks like I'm finally getting back into it. I'm looking at races and schedules and calendars and getting excited again. This wasn't the case a few weeks / months ago. I've started to put together 2009. It looks good so far. I'm not trying to think past the Minnesota Border to Border - although perhaps a half IM like the Florida Challenge would cap off the year nicely.

What's changed? I don't know. Maybe looking at myself in the mirror. I'm afraid to step on the scale. Yesterday I gave up sodas. Completely. No more sodas - it will probably cut my daily calorie intake by a minimum of 1000 calories. No kidding. I'm also done with fast food lunches. No more Mickie D's quarter pounders for lunch. No more fries. Goodness. I've been pumping myself with that crap for too long.

Goals? Well, that's a tough one. My "A" race this year is a relay, with a strange series of events and distances. I'll most likely be doing 4 x 24 mile bikes, 13 x 1 mile runs, and 25 miles in a tandem canoe. I'll tell ya, training for that will be different - very much a speed oriented training plan. I'd like to think I can work up to 21mph average on the bikes, and 8:30's for the runs. We'll see how much training I can actually get in!

So the plan is set. Not in stone, of course, but a working schedule is out there. Except for MnB2B - everything is local around Tampa and Orlando this year. We are trying to keep it very much on the cheap. There are so many cool races Nationally, I hope things change through '09 so that we can get out and do more across the country - and visit our great friends!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

IMCOZ

WHAT?  Nooooo! It's sold out!  I was just going to.... crap!  Oh well, maybe next time.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Facebook killed the bloggie star...

Well, not just Facebook - I've just not a lot to say.  This blog has been mostly about Triathlon and training, and some humorous other stuff along the way.  Not a lot of funny stuff going on lately.  Even less triathlon or training!  At least for me.  Some of you are training like crazy and getting ready for first Ironmans and what-not.  That's completely awesome...I lurk on your blogs and love to read your latest adventures.  

This isn't a farewell post by any means.  Just an explanation as to wassup in the life of Bigun.  The blog life.  My writing motivation is just diminished.  Sorry folks.  I do spend a ton of time on Facebook, and for those of you making the Facebook rounds, well, we know.  Facebooking is 10 times easier than blogging.  At least when you have just a little bit to say.

In time I'll be back.  I enjoyed blogging at one point, and will again.  I'll be training again, and getting ready for some new race.  In the mean time - you guys and gals keep up the good training and racing - and blogging!

Monday, November 24, 2008

POP


Important Edit:  I totally messed up and made this sound like there was only one person, one friend that I'd talked to who mentioned this idea.  Actually, after I had heard it from 3 multi-sport friends, I thought I'd dig in deeper.  I'm by far NOT the expert on this, and I welcome some opposing thoughts and ideas.  To my good friend, you know who you are, I'm very sorry for my one-sided post.

I hate to burst your bubble. I really do. There are folks out there that have and are planning to enter an Ironman event through a Community Slot and then write off all of their travel and training expenses, as well as the entry fee, as a charitable donation. Sounds good on the surface, and their CPA says it's perfectly ok.

Of course they do. And of course, the IRS audit is all on you.

Other than actual cash or non-cash donations given directly to a qualified charitable organization, like the NAS Community Fund, a registered 503 (c) charitable organization, it is possible to also deduct unreimbursed Out of Pocket Expenses. It is stipulated in IRS Publication 526, however, howthese expenses must be incurred: "you may be able to deduct some amounts you pay in giving services to a qualified organization". It is in that stipulation that I have a hard time wrapping my mind around.

What service to any organization is served in competing in an Ironman? The list of recipients of Community Funds is long and genuine, but no physical 'serving' is accomplished in the 17hrs or less of Ironman toil. When you donate money to church, for example, do you write off your job expenses because you were using that job to raise the money you donated? No, and you couldn't if you wanted to. Could you write off expenses you incurred while volunteering at a church function? To some degree, yes. The service must be directly related to the charitable contribution, not as a result of it.

Put it this way: your church service example is such that your actions while volunteering directly contribute to the raising of money for the charitable organization. Your actions at Ironman are a byproduct of your initial charitable contribution. If you contributed and didn't race, the charity would not suffer in the least.

Perhaps it is a subtle distinction, and I'm sure someone with more accounting and tax experience than I, like a CPA, could argue for the deductions. I'd be curious to see how the deductions held up to the scrutiny of an IRS agent, however.

One of the interesting documentation requirements of the deduction is that in addition to keeping the appropriate record of the expenses, the taxpayer MUST also obtain acknowledgement from the charitable organization that contains:
  • a description of the service you provided
  • a statement of anything you received as reimbursement (if any) for your expenses
  • a valuation of any goods or services you received
  • a statement that only intangible benefits were received.

Good luck getting that statement before filing your taxes. Oh yea, and try and put a value on the benefits of Community Slot entry - the fleece, the visor and backpack. Oh, and entry into an otherwise sold-out event. So what is the value of entry to an event otherwise unable to enter? Does that move into the realm of "Tangible benefit" vs. intangible? Good question.

The $775 donation is, of course, charitable and deductible (of course, only if you use a Schedule A - do you have a mortgage? If not, then you probably don't itemize your deductions, and therefor, disregard this whole post - you can't deduct your charitable donations period). Please, someone, shed some light on how the expenses can also be deductible!

Sorry, btw, for the boring tax-related post.

Edit: I don't know how often this has happened in the past, but I was inspired to write this when a friend said his CPA had already said it was ok. I looked at the IRS Pub that covers this part of Tax law, and of course it was clear as mud. Getting the documentation, for those out there that are still going by what their CPA "who has done taxes for years" says is ok, will be the kicker - as is the general argument that the act of racing is not a service to a charity. Perhaps something like the MS ride series - where you personally solicit donations and those are based on your completion of the event - could be a valid example of training and travel expenses that are deductible. I doubt the IRS Agent completing your audit will be so impressed with your IRONMAN finisher's medal that he or she will overlook your $5k in Charitable Iron Expenses.

Wake UP!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Episode 16 is out!

Oh yea...that's right....Episode 16 - the Tampa Reunion show is out. Good stuff. Our shortest episode yet.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Rundown

  • Picked up Tri Rob and his buddy on Wednesday. Ate a healthy dinner. Dude dislocated his shoulder doing the Airport Shuffle. I brought him a sling. It was very sexy.



  • Tacboy rolled in on Friday night. Turns out that not only do we have similar senses of humor and comedic timing, we both have no problem lying around and watching movies instead of going out. Translation: we are old men.


  • Spectated the 70.3 Championships in Clearwater Saturday. Met up with a pro's wife and cheered for her hubby too. Tac knew many more people there than I did. Watched Tri-Rob finish his race, went home and took naps. Affirmed: We are old men.



  • Sunday morning Tac dragged me out of my own house for a 5.5 mile run. Everything now hurts. I hope everything now hurts him too. Guess it's time to start training again. Also, Tac wears more IM schwag than any 3 people. Shamelessly adorns himself with layer upon layer of overpriced finisher clothing. There has to be some sort of therapy group he can go to....



      • Met Tri-Rob at his hotel and did the dinner thing with his buddy and his coach...Coach Liz. Cool chick - she says it like it is. I instantly liked her. Met Brian Dunn (super stud) and his mom (super studdette) pool-side at Rob's Hotel. Turns out their heritage of "redneck dutch" is the same as mine. They just hail from the side of Holland with the smaller, crazy fast folks. My ancestors stuck their finger in the dike and held it together while his ancestors ran and got help. Small, yet important distinction.

      • Got Rob to the airport on time, hoping that he didn't break anything getting to his flight. Overall, a great weekend.

      Monday, November 03, 2008

      Perfect end to a political discussion

      Other than it being a clearly Obama-biased show, this was the perfect end to any political discussion amongst friends...

      Great Weekend

      • No longer cutting grass for a living.
      • Saw a bunch of new Ironman finishers this weekend
      • Am crazy-busy installing blinds and window treatments
      • Picking up Tri-Rob and his friend on Wednesday for the Clearwater 70.3 Champs...
      • Possibly having Taconite Boy over for the race - we'll see
      • Time for a mezzo-schedule motivational training plan!
      • Did you see the cheater at IMFL? I'll dedicate a full post to that yahoo....
      • What do we name our team for the Minnesota Border to Border?

      Sunday, October 26, 2008

      MN B2B "on the cheap" Deadline approaches

      The Minnesota Border to Border's entry fee goes up fifty dollars on 10/30/08 , so it's time to count my pennies and sign up! Any of you out there thinking of putting a team together...it could be a good time to put it on your '09 schedule here soon as well. We'd certainly look forward to having you out there with us. Us being TriSherpaDi, TacBoy, Trimama, and Iron Jenny. Blink will be there to pace as well, and perhaps we'll have Jumper 2.0 starting up a team as well. What about you other northerners?

      Monday, October 20, 2008

      oops

      Um...IMFL is not next weekend, but the weekend after. My bad. Hope I didn't cause panic in the likes of Excel Man, Ryan or Lana - no stress, you still have two weeks!

      Pulling Hair

      Arrg! Just got back from a 22-hour driving ordeal to and from Greensboro, NC to participate in my Gram's service. Tons of family there, lots of great tasting food and beer - if it weren't for all the daggum Democrats in my family, it would have been the perfect weekend! Who knew? Just kidding, btw...it was a great weekend - even the service. Gram wasn't so much mourned as remembered - and I believe that is what the purpose was this weekend.

      I've got a stack of business, generated from my personal money printer - my fax machine - waiting to be called and serviced. I've got installs scheduled for every day, and I have to still cut grass every day this week. I HAVE to get it all done by Friday, since TriSherpaDi and I are heading to Panama City Beach to cheer for all the IMFL participants this coming weekend. Another mad-dash weekend on the road to look forward to.

      If all goes well, I WILL sign up for a couple of races here before the end of the month, and get busy training again on the 1st. Next month I start cutting every other week, slicing my work load in half, giving more of an opportunity to run, bike, swim, and now canoe to my hearts content. I certainly need it. And miss it.

      Friday, October 10, 2008

      Gram

      When I was a kid - maybe 8 or 9 years old, Gram and I used to drink tea together. It may have only been a few times, but I remember boiling up the water and putting some bread in the toaster. One night, sitting in her kitchen, one of the roller shades just flew open, as roller shades were prone to do back then, and scared the you-know-what out of us! After a few seconds, we both broke into laughter, humored by the silliness of the moment.

      Gram took us all in after my folks separated. I think back to the small upstairs house that was no bigger than most of the apartments I've lived in as an adult, and understand what it must have been like for Gram - taking in family. As big a pain in the butt it is, that's what family does. I even had my own room. It barely could take a bed in it, but it had a closet and a window and it was mine.

      I remember her perfect yard. The barn converted to a garage, with places that were off limits, making them even creepier to a young kid. My great-grandfather's black caddie always covered in blankets, only occasionally being driven into town and then quickly tucked away and re-covered. I even drove in that car once or twice, I think.

      Her basement was full of hidden treasures for a kid. It flooded nearly every year - and for kids, floods are cool. I climbed the trees in her yard. I got in fights there. Went to summer camp in the park down the street. Got into loads of trouble. All while living there with Gram.

      Gram never remarried, and was single for as long as I can remember. She smoked like the day is long, and I constantly harassed her for it. I worked, for a very short time, at a pharmacy in town (Stanton's Drugs - the things you all of a sudden remember...), and in came Gram while I was behind the counter. She was pretty upset with me for not selling her cigarettes that day - as was the manager. I lost that job not too long after that incident. 20years later, she quit smoking....but she often reminded me of that day.

      She sold that great house while I was in College and moved to a retirement area near the Jersey Shore. A much smaller place with no yard that she could manage by herself. One day a buddy of mine, Eric and I, plus two passengers (one of which was my sister, Leslie), visited Gram on our two new motorcycles. Oh what a day that was. They still speak of the day those two loud motorcycles came roaring up the road to visit Madeline. Towards the end, Gram didn't remember much, but she reminded me of that day.

      Edit: I thought up some more stuff today. Her favorite cocktail was the Manhattan. I'll never forget - gosh, it was yesterday, my Uncle Mel (her brother) and me sneaking her Manhattans to my Mom's chagrin. Being born in the Netherlands, Gram would really turn on the Dutch when she was mad. Good thing we couldn't understand her! She used to sing to us in Dutch as well. That was much more pleasant. Dust pan and broom - that's the "Faagud and Blinky" - at least, according to Gram.

      As I hasten to put some memories to paper, it's alarming that there's not more. When I got the news that she had passed, it had come as no surprise. Her health had been failing for quite some time, and the last time we visited her I was pretty sure it would be the last time I'd see her. I'm thankful now for that last visit, hopeful that she recognized and remembered being surrounded by loved ones on that beautiful summer day.

      Saturday, September 27, 2008

      Almost Fall

      The temps are plummeting here in Tampa - 2 or 3 days in a row of sub-90 degree weather has me hopeful and anticipating Fall. Ah yes, fall in Tampa. Where the only thing turning color is the grass - from green to brown. Where you finally can't wring your shirt out after an hour of working outside. And most importantly, where the year-round-outdoor-training-center truly becomes year round again.

      Things are looking up for the family d' Bigun. The installation biz is looking good. Of course, going from zero to anything is good at this point, so really, time will tell. Only one more month of weekly grass cuts for my lawn customers - then the nice 6-month break of every-other-week cuts. Time to do other things. Like train.

      And train, we must. The interesting thing about a mega-relay like Border to Border is the added pressure of not letting your teammates down. An Ironman, generally, is all on you. DNF, and you've only got your own pride to deal with. Fail to pull your weight in a relay - even amongst friends (or especially amongst friends?) and the consequences are far more guilt ridden. I like the carrot this race provides me - it may force me to train even harder than I did for IM CdA. This is really gonna be a cool race.

      The big question for the back half of the '09 Tri Season is, "which Ironman"? Ironman Arizona seems to have fallen flat - lackluster blogger/friend interest in this race has taken it off the radar. Ironman Florida is now a consideration. Cheap accommodations, no plane fare, cool temps, flat and fast, IMFL has it appeal. It's still an hour and a half in salt water, however, and the entry fee is sure to be in the $600 range. Gulp.

      Beach to Battleship is gaining some steam in this community - all predicated by positive race reports from this race coming up on Nov 1st. Interesting point-to-point down-current swim, flat bike on newly paved roads, and a flat run, taking place in an area with affordable hotels to which we can drive to. It's close to my NC-based family. Oh, and did I mention that last year's entry fee was $250! I'd be very interested to see how much LESS you get for that entry fee vs. an M-Dot race, if it's even less at all.

      Ironman Cozumel has a foothold and continues to gain ground. I wouldn't be surprised if it's close to sold out already, since they are only allowing 1,500 athletes. And, it's $525. Now there are, allegedly, inexpensive packages heading that way - it is a tourist (trap) hot spot, after all. I'm not sure how much longer the window will be open to consider this race for '09, but it too, is out there. Not sure how I feel about having fish for Thanksgiving though (packet pickup is on Turkey Day...).

      So there you have it. I'm pretty sure I'm not doing St. Anthony's Olympic this year - $150+ for a mega-crowded race that I have yet to eat at or do well in - and having to wait in the sun for an hour in line to get into transition - well, I used to love this race, now, not so much. Smaller and cheaper is the way I think I'm going now...and different. I enjoy multisport - and I enjoy a new and interesting challenge from time to time. The whole endurance canoe/kayak sport is intriguing to me, and it's something I think Di might enjoy as well, at some participatory level. Ultra running or biking may catch me napping and grab hold of me before I come to my senses. Who knows?

      In the mean time, I gotta figure out a way to pay for all...all THIS! These "hard" times will turn, I'm sure, and priorities will change again. Change like the seasons.

      Monday, September 22, 2008

      AZ now tentative

      Aaaaak! We had to pull the plug on IMAZ'08 this weekend. After careful consideration of the bank accounts and air fares, we decided it wasn't in our mortgage's best interest to fly to Phoenix in 9 weeks. We are very disappointed, and while we are still working towards a business windfall which will enable us to make a last minute trek to Tempe, we just cannot commit to it at this time. Perhaps we have a boxed up item worth thousands on e-bay in the garage?

      That does, of course put a monkey wrench in our '09 race plans. I was just looking at the Beach to Battleship again...$250 entry fee for '08, we can drive there (no airfare)...I don't know, it's a possibility as a late-season Iron-distance event. Our race dollar priority for next year is still the Minnesota Border to Border - having just learned that my boy Blink and the Blinkettes may come up and ride with us, not as race participants, but as a long training weekend. Very cool.

      IMAZ may have to take a raincheck until 2010.... Craaaap!

      Saturday, September 13, 2008

      Decisions, Decisions

      Well, it's coming down to the wire. Well, sort of. Pretty soon we have to decide whether or not to go to Arizona to cheer on our bloggie peeps cranking it out at IMAZ08. That would then lead to "pulling a slip" for IMAZ09 - something that I really want to do, yet I see the crowd participation fading fast. Blink is out. Johnny Tri is out. Greyhound is out. Iron Shane is out. Baboo and Misty are out. Momo, who surprised the world with her IMAZ08 bid, is out for '09. I know there are many more bloggers and potential participants out there...these were just folks that have been swept away for one reason or another.

      IMCOZ09 - looks like many will be traveling over to the dark side and hitting the beaches of Cozumel in '09. That's cool - it looks to be great race. Hope we don't get any late season hurricanes...

      IMCanada'09 - Those crazy Canuks have done the unspeakable and, yes, opened up registration on-line for an undisclosed number of slots. I know of two who got in...Blink - taking him out of IMAZ...AND...MN B2B! My step-sister in-law also got in, and is VERY excited about racing next year. Truly...good for them both!

      So now what with the MN B2B? Looks like there has been interest garnered in an unlikely, yet very likely place - in the heart of Minnesota itself! Yes, Tacboy and his super-hot Trimama have quietly mentioned to Heir Bigun that they'd like to participate in a 4-person Relay. This leaves one more slot open - perhaps for the likes of another smoking hot, uber-fit, fem'd triathlete extraordinaire...none other than Iron Jenny? Doing this race for the first time as part of a 4-person relay sounds a bit more fun (Bigun says, hiking up his skirt...) than the 2-person variety. The registration price goes up at the end of next month, me thinks, so we still have time to hem and haw.

      I actually started running again - 4 times so far this week (it's Saturday...I'm wanting to run tonight and do a little longer run tomorrow...) and while I thought I had two giant, fat sandbags for legs on Monday, by Thursday things felt a whole lot better. Bike and Pool...soon, grasshopper, soon....

      Saturday, September 06, 2008

      Minnesota Border to Border Triathlon

      The Minnesota Border to Border. 4 days. Biking. Running. Canoeing. Yes, it's a Triathlon. No, there's no swimming. No, there's no whining.

      Blink's got me brainwashed into believing we can do this as a 2 person relay. Last year, one out of 2 relay teams made it in. Teams of the 2-person variety, that is.

      This sucker's taking place in July. I'm 90% in, although, not much (ok, any) discussion with TrisherpaDi has taken place yet. Oh yea, a little thing called, how-we-gonna-pay-for-all-dat is also a factor. But...it's nice to dream, isn't it?

      Any one else think this looks like fun and want to consider entering against Blink and I in the 2-person (or even a 4 person) relay?

      Oh, and Blink promised that he would actually get out of the canoe during the portages....I was sorta wondering why he'd pick a 250-lb Clydesdale as his Relay Partner.

      Wednesday, September 03, 2008

      Unretouched Picture of Taconite Boy

      They say that superhero's are immortal. Now Taconite Boy may just be that. Just as I pictured him, Tacboy was once a German General pushing military symbols around a lighted war board with long sticks. This photograph is proof-positive.

      Tacboy seems to have turned and in a rare uber-race moment, smiled for the camera. World Domination! We are lucky to have his experience for our new planning center up in the Hallowed Hall.

      Oh, and if you don't listen to the TacBoy and Bigun Podcast, you totally won't get any of this. In fact, there's a good chance you are slightly offended. Sorry about that!

      Friday, August 29, 2008

      Blerbs...

      I liked Tacboy's format...a few blerbs about his goings on, just to keep folks updated.

      • No, I didn't watch the conventions (not tonight's either). Please. The VP? Talk about bloated media hype. It's all sycophantic - these jerks tore each other up a few months ago and now they drip with praise for each other. Unity....right. I may not have ever posted this, but my feeling is that we will NEVER see a true man, or woman, of character, leadership, strong ethics and great ability run for the Presidency again, simply because the process to get there is so sickening. What person of any mettle AND integrity would run for office? And please don't list any of the current running candidates or recent presidents.

      • Those conventions are just giant pep rallies anyway. Cram as many people as you can into an auditorium and prompt them to cheer and go wild and use that to say, "wow - look - the "people" really support this guy". No different than a sitcom's fake studio audience laugh.

      • Won't Clinton ever just go away (Bill, I mean. I feel the same about Hillary, but we're stuck listening to her for a long time to come)?

      • Aaaaaaagh - I'm writing about my least favorite topic - Politics - someone shoot me!

      • No, still no training - not since June 22nd. I've got to change that.

      • I have a promising business lead - will know more in 2 - 3 weeks. Keeping fingers crossed - it will be just what the doctor ordered.

      • Space Raiders on Facebook is awesome. Could be why I haven't trained since June. Or not.

      • It is sooooo hot here. A few hours out cutting grass in 95 degrees and high humidity is really taking its toll.

      • Simply Media is also very cool...echoing Tac's post. Streaming files from friends music and video libraries is neat - of course, I've only got Taconite Boy's music to sort through, and well, remember how Trimama is really into Folk Music (Podcast Episode 1)?

      • Looks like an active hurricane season this year again. I'm finding that Weather Underground is a great source for information on these storms, and there is a cool feature - the Wunder Map - well, you need to see it yourself and if you are at all a weather-geek, like me, you'll dig it.

      • The next podcast episode will be dark. Your triathlon super heroes haven't been feeling "it" lately, so if you want to commiserate with us, by all means, look forward to our Picasso Blue Period piece.

      I need a new Blog feed reader - something that tells me when blogs have changed or been posted on. The last 2 I've used no longer work, and I really like not having to peck through every one's blog to find a new post...any suggestions would be welcome.

      Friday, August 22, 2008

      CDA 08 Picture Review

      Hope you like this....obviously been working on it for a long time. Off and on. The song, in an effort to acknowledge, is called "Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance. It ran through my head a lot during training and the actual race, I thought it fitting for this collage of pictures of the week. I know there are many that were left out, and probably a bunch of pics that go by too quickly. If you can believe it, in retrospect, the race itself, all 14 and a half hours of it, went by way to quickly as well.

      After making, finishing this - I am easily reminded of why I hold such a fondness for triathlon, "blogdom" and now Ironman. All these people in this video were awesome, and from all over the country, they are my friends. Who knows if we can ever put a week like this together again - the number of new faces, the dinners, the party, the race - but it certainly is worth the effort!

      I hope the quality of the video is worthy of the fantastic photography of my lovely bride, TrisherpaDi, and of the photos I stole from various blogs. Thanks in advance, if you see a picture here that belongs to you. I miss training for Ironman. I miss the becoming. If you are thinking of undertaking the journey to M-dot-ed-ness, by all means, find the means, and find your way. It's worth every minute of it.

      Wednesday, August 13, 2008

      Cozumel???

      I will certainly be jealous of you studs and studetts opening your wallets and purses to hit Ironman Cozumel next Thanksgiving. "Back in the day" I would say, "of course!" and hit the registration button along with you, logistics be damned. But this year...



      • Flight to Cozumel: $717 (each)

      • 4.5 star hotel: $100+ per night

      • Bike transport: ??$200??

      • Doing and Ironman on an Island with all your creepy Internet friends: Priceless.

      One thing I noticed that really is a no-go in my book - a one-lap ocean swim with no wetsuit. Last time I swam 2.4 miles at Clearwater Beach for the Hurricane Man with no mid-point break and no wetsuit, I was rubbed raw in my armpits. Granted, I could have used more body glide...but my distain for ocean water in my mouth is well documented. I'll take the toxins in Tempe Town Lake over salt water any day and twice on Sunday.

      Sorry, I'll be staying stateside for a while, and keeping my eye on IMAZ09...

      Friday, August 08, 2008

      Handi-work

      Di scored some free window treatments - the place that made them (the workroom for all you non-decorators or installers out there) screwed them up, so now they are in our office.

      I did all the hanging. Di showed me how to "dress" them up, and I even did the pretty work. They were not at all made for our windows, so we did our best to make them work. Took the pic with my web cam, so it's not the best quality...sorry.


      You know, along those lines, I saw some really gorgeous shoes the other day out at Dillards....

      Wednesday, August 06, 2008

      Dark Running

      Oh the joys of running in the dark.

      We all know that cobwebs = spiders. Number of webs I ran through this morning....countless. My least favorite insect - spiders. Sure, wasps are a close second.

      Lazy dog owners. Gotta love them. Let them dogs out unattended. Out the front door, no less. Meeting up with 2 medium sized dogs on your bike is one thing. You've got a buffer. 2 dogs, in the dark, while running - not much fun. Especially when one's getting behind you! Luckily they were barkers, and I had a moment to prepare. I didn't run, I turned and faced them, and yelled "NO!" as loud and as mean as I could. They still came - crossed the street - at a full run and barked and growled waaaay too close for comfort. I backed further away from their home, still yelling at them and trying to keep both in front of me. I got out to a main street with some traffic on it, and they did not continue the chase. Nice adrenalin rush in the first mile of the day!

      Being a tall runner. Being a sidewalk runner. These things don't' mix well. I have to duck for every branch, bush and creepy vine that the city workers, in their infinite shortness, fail to trim away. Night running only makes it even more fun to negotiate this maze of eye-hunting twigs and leaves.

      Oncoming traffic. Why do people think it's a GOOD thing to turn on their bright lights when they see a runner? I've got crappy night vision to begin with - sometimes I like to run with no contacts or glasses, so essentially I'm running by feel more than anything. It gives me an excuse to run slowly...like I really needed another one. Lights head on only make the ground surface that much more a mystery.

      Humidity. Ah, the morning humidity. Sure it's cooler before sunrise. My lungs feel like I just got done swimming.

      The alternative in August in Tampa - run when the sun comes out. Not a very good alternative. I guess there's always a dreadmill inside. How much fun could that be?

      Saturday, August 02, 2008

      Rain

      You know, if I were training, I'd probably be even more pissed. As it is, this current system over Florida is giving me fits! It looks like this every day, now, since Tuesday. I work for about 2 - 3 hrs, then get deluged with the accompanying lightning. The rain isn't quite as limiting as the lightning, but really, heavy lawn mowers and wet, water-soaked ground don't mix very well.


      Today looks to be even worse. It's Saturday - so do you really get started on someones lawn before 9am? If I was sleeping in on Saturday and my lawn guy showed up at 8am, well, I'd be a bit miffed, right? Oh yea, we are all triathletes...sleeping in is like, sleeping to 6am....

      Tampa's forecast for next week is more of the same if not worse. Great. The phone calls aught to be hitting here pretty soon. See...this is where an I-phone would be perfect. These rain cells come in, sometimes only in one part of town - but how can I know that driving around in my truck? The answer - an I-phone with 3G digital service and the trusty "Weather Underground for I-Phone" application (my buddy Greg has it on his phone). Pull up a map with the radar on it, and bamb! I know if it's a thunderstorm or an all day "cats and dogs" work-buster.

      No, I'm not paid by Apple or representatives of I-phone....I just lust after one. Oh, and yes, this would be another one of those, "it's your blog, dammit, and it's all about YOU - so go ahead make another negative post, why don't you....".

      Friday, August 01, 2008

      Low Motivation

      It's funny just how accurate this little triangle can be some times. I can barely remember discussing it in college psychology 101 class: Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs. In a nutshell, (as if I truly understand it, shaaah...) lower needs in the pyramid take priority over higher ones. Until a pressing problem in a lower level need gets fulfilled, it's dang hard to focus on needs in a higher level.

      Now again, I'm not expert, but I'd put fitness and racing in the "Esteem" level of this pyramid. I'm sure one can make an argument that fitness is very much physiological, but it would take a lot of convincing to make me a believer. I've been fortunate in life that my own personal physiological needs tend to be pretty "healthy". I've never been in such dire straits that my sole focus has been at that level. Thankfully!

      But very easily, I believe, one can find themselves in the "Safety" needs level. Get yourself short of cash - I mean really short, like "how in the heck are we gonna pay the rent this month" short, and when your diet consists of Ramean noodles and PB&J's for 2 out of 3 meals or worse, and you are there. Unfortunately there are many important things that take a back seat when you sink to that level. Friendships, family relationships, spousal interaction...and it's weird. It's not like you don't have the time, you just don't have the energy....

      Of course, these "levels" are not absolute, and a person will devote energy and resources to areas that need attending to while still operating at a higher level. Hence, a relationship may get strained while you put more hours in at work, but one wouldn't give up the relationship totally, for example.

      Maslow calls the "love/belonging" level a Social level. It's interesting to me that as important to many the relationships formed in "blog-land" and even the therapeutic effect that maintaining a blog has for some, there will still come time in all of our lives when the blog - the relationships - will take a back seat to more pressing needs. That's just natural - unfortunate - but it's the way things are.

      So, for whatever reason - perhaps it's the echo in the bank account, or the lack of satisfaction with my business, or wanting to spend more time at home with my wife - or - I'm just dang burned out from all the training...I'm having a hard time finding the motivation to train. It's been 5 weeks now since Iroman CdA...and I've only run once for all of 2 miles. Sure, I sweat my ba**&ack off every day out cutting grass, and fortunately I've only gained 6 lbs in 5 weeks, but somewhere I need to find the motivation. Or get all those other damn needs taking care of. And quick!

      Tuesday, July 29, 2008

      Iron Guilt

      You know, I've been feeling guilty as of late.

      I see the results of my bloggie peep's toils - their training volumes posted in their buildup to Ironman, and mine sooooo pales in comparison. The first step in the "healing" process is to fess up, right? I started the whole process a bit earlier than some, but not all - I was 30 weeks of Ironman focused training. Yea, you can question the "focus" part. Here goes:

      Average swim volume per week: 3,545 yards. Result: 2.4 mile swim in 1:34 for a 2:29 per 100 meter pace, which I think is a 2:13 per 100 yd pace. I have a hard time complaining about that. I didn't even average the length of the Ironman swim per week! I wouldn't recommend that to everyone. Or, maybe I would. I did do 3 swims of 2.4 miles or more leading up to the race, however.

      Average bike volume per week: 77.1 miles. I know, I know - "its all about the bike" - right. Result: 112 mile bike at a 17.4 mph pace. I passed 679 people on that ride. I did 5 centuries in 9 weeks - I'm sure that helped my bike a lot. Of course my advise is to ride long...often.

      Average run volume per week: 16.6 miles. That there was my downfall. Not that I didn't finish. Result: 14:18 min/mile "pace" - where 749 people passed me back on the run. It was ugly, partly due to my stomach issues, but more probably due to my lack of run volume leading up to the race. Most of that 16.6 mile volume took place MONTHS before the race during my marathon train up. If you were to see my volume for the last, say, 12 weeks leading to CdA...you'd laugh. Longest "long" run between Feb and June - 11 miles.

      Average Total Training Time per week: 8.5 hrs. Result: 14:32:23 We'll do better next time. Not that I could have had more fun. Weight for Ironman: 254 lbs. I'd really like to get that down to 225 lbs for the next one. I just have to want it bad enough...that's the big question...do I?

      Saturday, July 26, 2008

      A lot of nothun

      So there's a lot of nuthun going on in the life of the M-Dot Bigun. Yes, we've podcasted. Yes, we did an Ironman. But after that...well -
      • No workouts yet. I miscalculated, and Monday coming up marks the 18-week start of the Marathon trainup. So I've got that to look forward to. That was a healthy 5 week break from all things run, bike and swim. Can we say, "burned-out"? Bigtime.

      • Work sucks. Royally. It's so blooming hot, and humid, that by 3pm I'm absolutely smoked. Unfortunately, I need a couple more hours to get them all done. Hence working on Saturday and Sunday this week. Crap.

      • I get to do my first "install" this Monday. It's something akin to hanging a picture, but I'll take it. Ya gotta start somewhere. It just so happens the "economy" has a strangle hold on every one's money these days, and window treatments tend to be one of the things put off 'till later. Now why couldn't that be the yard work instead?

      • Yes, the bike is still in the box. It's doubtful I'll do another Tri this season. I just don't see it as being in the cards. I saw some folks on their bike today...and was jealous that I had to cut grass and they were out pedaling. I wonder if you heard a loud and resounding "FU&^!" this morning at around 9:30am? That was me.

      • I'm escared to step on the scale. No workouts = a rounder M-Dot Bigun. Granted, I've been sweating my ass off every day outside. So, it may not be as bad as I think. I'm just not checking...

      On the good side, TriSherpaDi's started her new J.O.B. this week and seems to be hitting it off famously with her co-workers and boss. Lets hope this economy turns around soon so we can all go back to making money and spending it on fitness instead of having it all go to pay for the lights. Can I get a "here, here!"?

      I've got my resume out and about. I'm looking. I'm looking for something interesting. I don't want to settle, and I'm afraid that I'm gonna get into desperation mode sooner rather than later. The fingers are crossed, and the feelers are out. More on that as it develops, I promise.

      What else? You all know that IMAZ'09 is shaping up to be the next IM for me. I'd like to go and Volunteer at the '08 race, but that's only 4 months off, and financially it's not looking good right now. We'll see. If worse comes to worse, I'll try and sign up on-line - it's scary to think that IMUSA sold out on site - but whatever happens, happens. We really, really, really want to go and spend the weekend in Scottsdale, however.

      Jenny and Brent are heading to Tampa tomorrow night and will join us at the casa d' bigun for some eats and drinks - looking forward to that! Trisherpadi ususally pulls out all the stops cooking-wise when visitors are coming over....mmmmmmm....dinner-guests......some pictures of the food should be forthcoming.

      Monday, July 21, 2008

      Episode 11 - IMCdA Race Report Published

      Our latest podcast is out! Enjoy the show, if you can...it's a bit on the - boring - side, if you ask me, but there are some funny parts in there. Like when we talk about poop.

      Sunday, July 20, 2008

      Knee Deep

      I'm knee deep in the Post-Ironman Non-working-out Blues these days. It's a self-imposed moratorium on working out - and it was necessary! In case you are wondering, I still, to this day, have yet to break a sweat in a fun, workout-type activity, since CdA. That's a long time between workouts.

      Tomorrow, Monday, begins my 18 week Marathon Training Plan. It couldn't come too soon. Of course, looking at the plan, Mondays are cross training days. So I guess I'm swimming tomorrow, which I also miss. I guess, if I plan on biking any time soon, I'd better take it out of the shipping box and put it back together. Is that bad karma? I'm sure my bike needed a break too.

      I'm working on a montage using a slew of pictures from CdA using Microsoft Movie Maker. It worked fine to a point...now I have so many pictures in it, I think, that it locks up if I try to add any more. Friggin Gates....

      Oh, and the TB&B Podcast...um...sorry folks - Tacboy and I talk about calling each other - the conversations go something like this:

      Taconite: We really need to finish up this episode....
      Bigun: Yea, when do you want to do it?
      Taconite: Any night this week is good for me...oh wait, I've got a thing on Wednesday and Thursday, so I guess Tuesday, or maybe over the weekend.
      Bigun: Na, Tuesday's no good for me, I've got a really long day that day. Maybe Sunday then...
      TriSherpaDi in the background: Don't forget about going over to Dawns Sunday night for Mexican....
      Bigun: Oh crap, that's right - dude, we need to get this done.....

      And it plays like that week, after week, after week. Please! Don't hate us!

      Tuesday, July 15, 2008

      This skirt feels kinda...sexy

      Oh yea, I'm knee deep in skirt-wear now. High heels t'boot. Check out my new business card. No, not my business socks - I'm sure I'll need some - or perhaps some good pantie hose.

      I'm just using them all up before ya'll can sling them.



      Yes, I'm still cutting lawns. Still have my man card from that. This is my kinder, gentler side coming out. Coming out, like from the closet. Yea, that was too easy...

      I'm feeling behind the times...I saw, with TriSherpaDi last night, Super Troopers, made in 2001. How did I miss that one? Great flick - rent it if you feel like laughing for an hour or so. BearFu*&ers.

      Saturday, July 12, 2008

      Wassup?

      It's been far too long. Sorry...been doing some training. Learning how to hang window treatments. Yes, it requires wearing a skirt and some high heels. Good thing I shave my legs!

      We are pretty excited here in the casa d' Bigun. TriSherpaDi and I signed up to be volunteers at IMAZ08. We are looking forward to cheering and meeting up with our bloggie peeps, again - albeit 6 months from now!

      Oh, and read between the lines, can you? That's right...IM #2 - IMAZ09! I'm already excited about it. Another shot. Better. Stronger. Faster.

      What else? I'm pretty psyched for another shot at the SpaceCoast Marathon on November 30th. Goal: Lose a ton of weight, and go sub 4:30 with an eye toward 4:15. That's the plan right now...I'll start an 18 week marathon trainup in 2 weeks. So that's the short term plan. I'll keep you posted on that.

      Hopefully Tac and I will have time this week to finish up episode 11 of the Show. We owe you guys a great one!

      Friday, July 04, 2008

      Amazing Adventures of Taconite Boy!

      Another Amazing Adventure of Taconite Boy

      Announcer: We bring you now to another Amazing adventure of Taconite Boy! A new evil nemesis wreaks havoc in the universe as our heroes rush to the scene...

      ...loud sucking whirring, like a vacuum cleaner....

      Taconite Boy - I can't take it, Bigun, he's got me in his evil clutches and I can't get away!

      Bigun - Fight it, Tac - here, take my hand!

      TB - (grunting) .....got 'cha!

      Announcer - a huge swirling tornado of idea-sucking vacuum is being directed at our SuperHeros. All who enter are rendered blogless! A dark, sinister being is at the helm of this device which seems to suck ideas and motivation right out of it's victim's skull!

      Bigun - Resist Tac, Resist - Don't fall down the path of Bolder, FE Lady, the Kahuna and now even Nytro! Look, there goes Tea! (yelling to the evil one...) Whoever you are....you'll pay for that!

      Unknown Evil One: ...Sinister laugh...

      Announcer: Swirling out of control in a mass of legs, arms and a cordless computer keyboard, Tea spins headlong into the vortex...

      Tac Boy: (with effort) I....can't....hold....on....Bigun! I'm slipping!

      Bigun: Don't let go, TacBoy, the blogger world needs you to keep on putting pen to paper! There are even more devious evildoers than this insidious character out there...I can't do this alone!

      TB: I'm slipping.....(echo off)....aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh.....

      Bigun: Noooooooooo!

      Announcer: Diving into the vortex after Taconite Boy, The.Bigun races, without a plan, to save his podcasting partner from impending doom. Tune in next time to see what happens next!

      Thursday, July 03, 2008

      Clydesdale Zipp 808 Review

      Ok, this is really a two part review. Sure, the Zipps are part of it. But also, I'm gonna say a few words about RaceDayWheels.com.

      RaceDayWheels suffers from a bit of low technology - they require a the use of a printer and a fax to reserve wheels. No up-to-date web serving "registration" or ability to pay on line to reserve your wheels. With that, I was a bit sceptical when I first contacted them. They were, however, quick to e-mail me back with answers to questions regarding their service and available wheels. I even called once, and talked to an actual person! I was assured that my Zipp Clydesdale 808's would be waiting for me on the Wednesday before the big race, and for $140, which was not taken until I grabbed the wheels at the Ironman Expo, I thought I was getting a good deal.

      A large, black trailer emboldened with their logo was setting up on the Wednesday before Ironman. I found Marc, my only point of contact, and he stopped what he was doing and grabbed my wheels. It was effortless. The wheels were not brand new - but they were in great shape. Well, little did I know that the "cassette lockring" was stripped, but a quick trip back and an new hub installed by their mechanics was all it took to be back in business. RaceDayWheels had 2 mechanics on site to change out cassettes and flats for those less mechanically inclined - or if you just didn't feel like doing it yourself. This service was included in the wheel rental.

      My wheels came with Continental GP2000 tires - they seemed to be of high quality and could be pumped to 120 psi - which is good for a clincher in my limited experience. The seemed to roll nicely - and they did not flat, which is more important than anything.

      808's hold the wind. With the breeze at the beginning of the ride, and then the wind at the end, I could really feel the sailing effects of the wheel - cross winds pushed even me a bit to where I had to make steering adjustments to keep a straight line. At 250lbs, I usually scoff at any and all but gale-force hurricane winds.

      808's are the stiffest wheel I've ridden. Again, limited experience, however, I own a deep dish HED Jet 90 front wheel. The difference between HED Jet and Zipp is that the spokes on the HED Jet go from the hub all the way to the rim. On the Zipps, the spoke attaches to the carbon faring - which on the 808 is just a bit smaller than the HED Jet 90. This does not cut the spokes quite in half on the Zipps - but close.

      Spokes act as just one of the vibration and shock absorbing devises between you and the road when you are riding. The shorter the spoke, (given that the spokes are all the same thickness, material and tension - oh I can just hear all you vibration engineers socking it to me....) generally the less shock absorption it can provide. It's kinda like a diving board - a longer board, and you get more spring and bounce. Ok, if you've never tried to do a flip off a diving board, then I lost you too. Anyway.

      Those Zipp 808's beat me up a bit on that ride. Whenever the road got rough, I felt it in my hands, arms and shoulders. Big bumps in the road really hit the front and rear wheel hard, which translated through my aluminum-framed bike and into me like I was getting slugged with an aluminum baseball bat. On a perfectly smooth road the 808's are no doubt the fastest, bestest things you can ride on -the bumps become a non issue. On a 112 mile ride on mixed surfaced roads - you are gonna feel them.

      I've been on a 82 mile ride with my HED Jet 90 on the front - on a mixed surface road and did not even notice the bumps and vibrations like I did, from the start, with the Zipps. Unfortunately, RaceDayWheels seems to sponsored by Zipp (a Zipp rep was present at their display to answer questions and help with sales) and nary a HED was to be found nor available for rental.

      Looking forward, as a 2nd choice, the Zipp 808's are certainly within the realm of "tolerable". Without a choice for race wheels another way, I had a great bike (for me) and was happy with the Zipps. They were silky smooth, they looked AWESOME, and I felt like a rock-star riding them. Oh, and I felt fast, which is the most important thing.

      I just would have preferred to ride HED Jet 90's. I'm just sayin...

      RaceDayWheels were breaking down their site on Monday after the race...a bit problematic for a "weekly" rental. Sure you have the option to mail the wheels back to them, incurring postage costs, or you can Iron-walk back to get your wheels and hurry to catch them before they pulled up the tailgate and left, like I did. I'm sure watching me limp quickly, yet gingerly, with a pair of Zipps in my hands was comical to the citizens of Coeur d' Alene - but at the time I wasn't laughing. I would have liked to know ahead of time when those guys were leaving - it was a bit of luck, really, that I caught them still at the Expo. Just some FYI....

      Saturday, June 28, 2008

      You are an Ironman!

      So the finish. Just so you know, there will be many posts that I make regarding this whole experience. The people of this week are sorely missing from my posts - our bloggie peeps - our creepy internet friends - as well as photos and video that needs to be compiled. This is really just the down and dirty. The way Blink likes it.

      The aid station with two miles to go was packed with a group of college kids drinking their brains out and yelling and screaming and high-fiving us through the aid station. I knew this would be the last aid station I would partake in, so I downed a "double" of coke, and stopped to walk only long enough to swallow. The mile to the next aid station was a long one. I could hear the finish line, but it was getting dark and lonely. I took advantage of a particularly long stretch to walk for a minute (I'd count to 60) and collect myself for the final push. No more walks. No more coke.

      I doubt many folks were using the first/last aid station much any more - it was pretty well packed up for folks bringing it home. I ran through it and said thanks to the few remaining volunteers. Around the corner I knew the route separated for folks finishing and folks needing to do one more lap. Oh the secret pleasure I took in scootching over to the left side of the road - the finisher's side! This new ground snaked through the streets of Coeur d' Alene where volunteers informed me of an 8 block run to the finish line. Hanging a final left at the top of finishing street, I could see the two bright spotlights that shone the way to Ironman. They were now close.

      Coeur d' Alene proper converged on these 8 blocks. Because of the spotlights in my eyes, it was difficult to see just how many folks there were, but I could feel them just the same. "Great job, Marc!" and "Keep it going - your only 3 blocks away!" filled my ears and hands outstretched for high-fives were laid out in front of me. These spectators filled the shadows of my peripheral vision, and that shadow bottle necked to the finisher's shoot. I thought it was loud running those last 8 blocks - the noise was nothing compared to the final 100 meters.

      I was all alone entering the shoot, but as soon as I came into view, the stands went bonkers. These folks, with a few exceptions, didn't know me from Adam, yet they screamed for me like I was a family member. I couldn't hear the announcer calling my name, but like on the bike, I had some more High-fives to give. I caught sight of Di on the right side surrounded by "creepy Internet friends". I went left and slapped hands with folks I didn't know, then right again, then left. At last, the Ironman tape lay stretched out before me. I tried to lift it over my head, but one of the holders had more strength then me - still, I held it, and in that instant, became an Ironman. It felt awesome.

      My insanely long run split of 6:14:33 doesn't even make me all that mad, even today. I've certainly got a goal now for my next run at Ironman, with my finishing time of 14:32:23, shoot, so many things were great about that day, it would be silly to be upset about 6 hrs of it. Very quickly after finishing, collecting my medal, t-shirt and hat, I spied Di and collected my finisher's kiss and hug. Mmmmmmmmwaaaah! Even though she could have, I'm glad she didn't have to hold me up.



      Friday, June 27, 2008

      Impressions of Ironman

      It's hard to know where to start, now that it's done. How many times can I reiterate the fact that Coeur d'Alene is drop-dead beautiful? I doubt, with the race day conditions, there is a better place to do the Ironman. I'm sure, however, I'll look for a place over the years to come.

      So I swam the thing in 1:34 - what makes that incredible is that, folks, I really didn't do much swim training. I had an open water swim of 1:52, and then a pool swim of 1:41 at the distance - I really was hoping for a 1:45 or better - how it happened I have no idea. The draft? Probably. Not sighting, ever? Probably helped too. Oh, don't get me wrong, I had plenty of activity in the scrum - just because I was "the.bigun", I didn't get any respect. I even had my swim cap knocked off. That's NEVER happened before. It was rough out there, but really, in my pea brain I knew that as long as it was rough, I was catching a draft - even though my tendency was to swim out away from the scrum line, I fought that urge and stayed in the mix. Probably helped my split.

      The last 1k meters I totally had to go. #2. That also may have helped my swim split. I didn't hear any announcement of my name as I exited. All I wanted was out of my suit and into a port-o-potty. I was dying thinking of the minutes wasting away but I finally emerged, victorious, and off to the changing tent I ran. Nekked Bigun. Oh, and there was some serious shrinkage - but other than Bolder, I really wasn't out to impress anyone. I seriously - read "very, very much" - over-chamois-creamed my bibs, and it really did not feel that great once the shorts were in position. The sacrifices we make....

      My bike was LONELY on its rack, as usual after any triathlon swim that I participate in - which brings me to my first IMCDA gripe - a total lack of race clocks on the course. I would have been AMPED had I known I crushed my swim goal, but instead, my lonely self was just content to be done with it. A surprising 9:54 T1 (I really thought I took more time purging) on a goal of 5 min, and I was off on the bike.

      Now I was certainly ready for the CdA bike course. I put in 5 Century Rides in the months leading up to the race - confidence was high. Perhaps a bit too high! It took my Garmin 1 mile to finally read the satellites, and after all the stats finally popped up, my HR was about 155. Way higher than I planned! It was flat, and usually after the swim my HR is elevated, so I worked to bring it down by calming myself, taking deep breaths and slowing a bit. Just in time for the first hill. Now I'm looking at HR's over 160 - and I had told myself that I just would not do that no matter what. Oops.

      I really didn't do much hill riding - ok, lets call it what it is - mountain climbing - here in Florida. Even in the hillier parts of the area I live in, there is little that resembles the 5 or 6 major "climbs" of the CdA course. On one of those climbs, one of the crowd cheered, "great work, there, big guy!" - and it made me think... "hey, this is Ironman! I'm supposed to be WORKING at this, not sitting back and taking it easy!". By the end of the first 56 mile loop, I was feeling it. I probably went out way too hard. Coming back into town, I totally planned on taking it easier on the 2nd loop. Then, almost exactly 1 mile from the bike special needs turnaround spot, something interesting happened. I saw Taconite Boy. He was "merely" 2 miles ahead of me. I stopped real quick to pee (no, I just could not get myself to squeeze it out while riding....) and put myself into chase mode.

      Now I know that's kinda uber competitive of me, 254lb Bigun, to pick on skinny little 180lb TacBoy like that. But truthfully, at that point, I needed a spark. I didn't pick up my pace, I just didn't fade. Well....fade much that is. Those climbs the second time around were done in the smallest rings possible, and I'm sure they were slower than the first go-around. I did not spike my HR this lap and kept myself under 160 for most of the ride, even on the big efforts. Up at the next turnaround, Tac was about the same distance from me, maybe a quarter-mile closer. "He has to fade sometime" was all I could think, and my strength, the flats that were also into the wind, were coming up.

      I passed a bunch of folks in those last 12 miles heading into town, folks shaking their heads as the wind beat them after 6 or 7 hrs of riding. But I did not pass Taconite. He entered T2 4:46 ahead of me - I certainly gained ground, but couldn't catch my podcasting partner. Great ride, Tac, and thanks for that 2nd loop! I got'er done in 6:26:59 for an average speed of 17.37 mph. Goal was to be "better than 7 hrs", and a 6:30 was my ultimate best-ever, all great day. Wow.

      Sitting down to change into my run gear, all I could wonder was, "where am I gonna find 26 miles in me?". Another truth: I'd never run off of my centuries - I was venturing into uncharted territories (as well as that 112 mile ride was my longest ever) and a little bit worried. I looked left and right and saw lots of dudes just sitting there, holding their heads in their hands, resting or thinking the same thoughts. That catalyzed me, and I just methodically put my run clothes on with the help of a volunteer (who put my shirt on backwards....way!) and got the hell out of that tent....into another port-o-pottie. Only #1 this time. T2: 6:51

      The first 13 miles sucked royally. After 2 miles, my stomach went south, and stayed there no matter what I tried. I walked. Lots and lots of walking. Momo caught me right away at mile 3. Then Bolder and Spokane Al smacked me down at mile 10. Greyhound zoomed by at mile 11 or so. I tried bananas, pretzels, water, Gatorade - none worked. I stumbled into run special needs and grabbed my long sleeve shirt, knowing that it would get cold, especially if I was still walking. I remembered, all of a sudden, advise from Bolder - drink Coke at mile 13 and never go back - it will help. So I started drinking Coke and taking in a gel or two. Ta-da!!!! My tummy was all better! Strange how fast it took. Should I have started with it earlier? Don't know - but you can bet that next time I'll try it!

      So shortly after mile 13 (pun intended), Greyhound runs by me again and he says, "You're reeling me in, Bigun!" - and he's about 2 miles ahead of me, and for the first time I feel great. I thought, "you know, you can turn this around. you can negative split this marathon. you may even catch Grey....". I vowed then and there to only walk the aid stations. Weird thing - I started to pass people. After 13 miles of getting passed by EVERYONE - the.bigun now has a wake. I certainly was not moving fast, just faster than before. There was pain, but I had energy. Energy is everything - you can overcome pain with energy.

      I really wish I had a 13 mile split for you, but IMCdA did not post run splits. Gripe #2. Along with gripe #1, ie, not having any clocks on the course, my only timepiece was the sun - and sunset was around 8:30. The sun was getting low in the sky - I knew I wouldn't finish in daylight. But running I still was, and ticking off the miles better than in any back half of a marathon I'd ever run. The feeling of only 5, then 4, THEN 3 miles to go is almost indescribable. Elation is a good word for it. Relief. Psyched out of your mind. I started seeing folks heading out for their 2nd laps with glow-rings around their necks - for a second there I was wondering if I was going to get one....

      At 2 miles I could hear Mike Reilly announcing finishers in the distance. Since the finish line was one of the coolest experiences ever in the history of "HARD THINGS THAT MARC aka BIGUN HAS DONE" - I'll save that for later.

      Thursday, June 26, 2008

      Iron Prelude

      Before I try and describe the experience that was Ironman Coeur d'Alene, I must first thank, from the bottom of my heart, my wife and greatest fan, Di, or TrisherpaDi as she's come to be known.

      Di stood by me through all the training, all the gadget buying and fretting over reservations and plane fares. She waited nervously for me when my IM run went to shit, worried that something horrible had happened to me.

      She put up with my daily obsessing over trinkets and splits and sunglasses without hardly a word of complaint. She was there for me. I love her more than she knows.

      She was my first friendly face in the finish shoot - her hug and kiss was the validation of a year of training. For over 14 hrs she found me on the course and lifted me from whatever funk I was in at the time.

      I couldn't ask for a better partner, lover, friend - if I haven't said it enough - Thanks, Di - I love you!

      Saturday, June 21, 2008

      Twas the Night...

      So here we are at our awesome house in CdA, getting ready to carbo-load for tomorrow's big event. We've met everyone...just as planned, so far it's been a very social trip. If it were not for Tri-Rob's company computer with his AIRCARD - I'd not be blogging this.

      The weather is going to be perfect. The water temp has risen to manageable levels. The bike course looks challenging, the run course is absolutely gorgeous. I can't imagine a more beautiful Ironman course.

      So I - we - all of us are ready. Tomorrow, I attack at dawn. Looking around at all these uber-fit, mostly little, svelte, hard-bodied people, I have to keep reminding myself that I've done the work too. Pace...Nutrition...Attitude. Almost time for my game face.

      Monday, June 16, 2008

      Ironman CdA Spectators...

      I know there are a bunch of folks who won't be in CdA that are watching and thinking good thoughts for us...so I thought I'd try and make it easier for ya.

      First. On Sunday morning you'll want to go to IronmanLive. From that site you'll be able to watch a live feed from Coeur d'Alene. That feed has interviews with VIP's from the race (no, not Tacboy or Bigun...yes, hard to believe...) and usually shows views from the transition area or other parts of the course. The quality of this broadcast in terms of content and just plain old staying "up" is dubious at best. I've seen them do a fantastic job - Ironman Wisconsin for example, and a horrible job - like for the recent Ironman Arizona. The swim starts up at 7am local on Sunday morning - and that's really cool to watch - so try and tune in for that at least.

      Second. On IronmanLive there will be a link to track an athlete. When you go there, you can enter in bib numbers or athlete's last names to get split times for various parts of the course. The quality of this feature is also troublesome - it is delayed, and sometimes it goes out, but you'll never know it. When it's not getting updated properly, you'd think your athlete has not yet, for example, transitioned from the bike to the run - when in actuality they are already out there pounding the pavement. So use the tool, but don't get worried if it gets late and people are not yet where you think they'd be.

      Third. We'll do everything we can to keep you updated with our blogs. Hopefully we'll have internet access and have time to post while in CdA. There are at least 29 of us racing, with more of us bloggers there in support - so someones gonna be posting while all this is going on.

      I thank everyone who has wished me luck and want to let you know that I appreciate your well wishes! It's nice to know that you'll be looking out for me on race day. Dad wanted me to post this dashboard view of the bike course just to see what we are up against out there. I hope I didn't miss anyone who's racing in my number's picture above!

      It's getting close now.

      Sunday, June 15, 2008

      Leaving soon...

      Well, tomorrow we start packing for our 3:36 flight on Tuesday out of Tampa. Of course, we gots loads of laundry to do, 9 days clothing to plan, cold weather clothes to find and pack, plus the whole race layout....Monday's gonna be a big day!

      Gotta Shave Rave for sure. That will entail some sheers to the legs - I've let them get pretty long again. I need a fresh flattop too. Get them ears lowered.

      Need to make another trip to the bike shop. Dumb Bigun forgot to take off my cassette from my training wheel before I packed the tools to put it on my rental Zipp 808 (did I mention that I'll be riding 808's yet....yea, I thought so...) - so hopefully they will loosen the screw up for me post haste on Monday.

      Some decisions were made. Red top from the Chicago Triathlon will be my run shirt. It's seen a marathon and worked well. Why mess with success? Blue Nike bike jersey and bibs for the bike. Long sleeve cool max shirt to combat the cold morning air - 47 degrees overnight lows - and I'll even start the bike with my cycling gloves. I'm 99.9% sure I'm going to adjust the screens on my Garmin to only show Heart Rate, Average Heart rate, and Miles - no speed. I'm thinking I'll be pleasantly surprised with the cool temps, riding with my aero helmet and race wheels (which I have yet to do on a long ride), and aid stations every 10 miles - plus the excitement of IRONMAN - no predictions of bike splits, I just think I'll be happy.

      As will the run be a happy jaunt. Training in high heat and humidity adds significant stress in the form of raised heart rates for any particular pace. Mid 70's temps during the run is a 15 to 25 degree drop from my normal training temps, and a 55% humidity is going to feel awesome. The trick for the.bigun will be to arrive at the waters' edge without being sick, as significant temperature changes tend to bring on the sniffles. Lots of OJ.

      It's also time to cash in the piggy bank. That's right - the CDA Fun Bank will be converted to green tomorrow at the credit union. We didn't fill up the jar as much as I'd hoped in a year, but whatever is in there will surely buy a few beers!

      Saturday, June 14, 2008

      CdA Plans

      I was chatting with my Dad a day or so ago, and he asked me what we were gonna do besides race up in Coeur d' Alene - good question! After thinking a moment, I responded that the thing we will do most of is socialize! Everything has been so hectic here at the year round outdoor training center - it will be most awesome just to get away from it all. The moving, the cutting, the training, all that...all behind us as the plane takes off on Tuesday.

      I'm sure there are things to do and places to see once we get there. I and perhaps we (TrisherpaDi included) miss the mountains so much living here in the swamps and land of the giant rat, that just being amongst them and their majesty might be enough. The lake, the cool temps, different vegetation and building structures will all be so different to make it a great enough escape.

      Truly, however, the infinite meets, hugs, hello's, conversations, and get togethers that will take place from this coming Wednesday and continuing on for nearly a week will make the trip. Physically getting out and doing what we love to do - swim, bike and run - with our virtual friends is an opportunity of a lifetime. Spending time with people that I know, possibly, better than friends I have locally but because they don't blog, our friendship is somewhat superficial in comparison.

      I'm not saying all my non-blogger friendships are weak relationships and that just because a person blogs then they are my BFF. All I'm saying is that, well, when it comes to YOU ALL, I know things. I know fears. I know triumphs. I know family troubles. I know of trials and graduations and birthdays and new births. I was there, in my living room, watching you cross the finish line in Wisconsin, sharing, even that little bit, the glory of that moment with you. Thank you, BTW. I know things you probably don't talk about with your local friends and family - how do I know this? Because I don't talk about most of what I blog about with my local friends and family.

      But then again, I'm a dude.

      See many of you soon!

      Thursday, June 12, 2008

      The Coolest Number!

      Ok, so I'm biased. I have to say, however, that mine...not YOURS...is the coolest number ever for the race. Better than number 1 - well, not really. But close!


      1234


      Yes, that's right - the easiest 4 digit number to remember in the entire world - I'll bet even a few of you lazy folks even use it as your PIN on your debit card. You know who you are!


      Now that bib numbers are issued...dang this thing is getting close. Did you see the lake temps plummet in the last 2 days? Crimeny! We'll be darn lucky to see 55 degrees come race day. And what's with the cold evening lows? 47 degrees - basically, the water will be warmer, if you can believe it, than the air temperature on race day. Now that's a comforting thought!

      So assuming I make the swim time cutoff of 2 hrs and 20 minutes, we'll exit the water to a happy 50 degrees and jump, water-logged and frozen, on to our bikes for some 17 - 30 mph (remember, there are downhills too...) riding through cold air. What you say? Highs for the day could reach 81 or so? Nice...just in time for the run, we'll hit the day's high - which is still 15 degrees cooler than temps at the year-round-outdoor-training-center.

      And NO, I'm not complaining about 81 degrees - luv that! The question is...how quickly, once the sun does down, does it cool off around there? I'm guessing it's pretty quick - and since I'm 99.9% sure that if all goes well and I make the bike cutoff - I'll be running in the dark, and the cold. TriSherpDi - bring a jacket!


      1234

      Too bad I don't have a 12:34 Ironman in me....

      Wednesday, June 11, 2008

      Triblogger CdA T-shirts!

      These came out really, really cool.


      The fabric is nice - it's called anvil dri-release. It's got a little bit of cotton in it to make it soft.


      Of course there are some without the Sherpa on the back too.



      Dang there are a lot of t-shirts in this box! We are gonna seriously represent in Idaho (who you calling a ho?) this year!


      Maybe we should have had them done on sweatshirts?


      (the.bigun apologizes for the lack of photographic quality in the representation of these fine, fine T-shirts. These pics were not taken with TrisherpaDi's high-speed camera, nor with her trained eyeballs. Sorry.)

      Tuesday, June 10, 2008

      Good things

      Those sunglasses I got, the frameless Tufosi's - worked awesomely. Great optics, just enough shading, they look good, and the only piece of the glasses I can see is the nose piece. Thumbs up for sure from the.bigun.


      The new aerobottle - great as well. no splashing with the new lid means that I can fill it up to the top now. It also means no face full's of Gatorade when I hit a bump! Refills easy with a standard waterbottle - really, no negatives and all positives.

      I tried the new Roc Gu - contains extra amino acids and caffeine. Good stuff actually. Used 2 on my last 50m ride, on an empty stomach, and I really liked them. Maybe Gu will have some at CdA...

      I also bought a pair of the cheepo booties that Spokane Al recommended on the CdA blogger site. $18 with shipping; it's hard to go wrong there.

      My taper has been a bit less than textbook. I've been really, really taking it easy - aside from work, my workouts are lacking. Now that I'm shipping my bike out today, I'll be really avoiding any temptation (however slight) to get on the trail and ride. I have been getting in some heavy lifting - moving TrisherpaDi out of her studio, and then moving all the "stuff" into the house. Fun stuff.

      I shipped my bike today to Spokane! $53 to ship it. For all you shippers out there....some tid bits:
      • If you can get the box under 7" wide, you can save around $10 on Fedex ground. My box was 8" - I may have been able to take an inch off - but with the crank on, it makes the bike a bit wide.
      • My box height was 28". I didn't change that dimension (or the width) - and with my seat removed, the top of my seat tube and the bottom of my crank took up the whole box. My bike is a 58 cm.
      • The box length was 43" - even if it was smaller, that would not have effected the price much. I believe that under 50" is where you want to be. I shortened the box to match my bike's length. The whole orig. box by itself would have been over $80 - so by shortening the length, I saved a bunch. I was able to do this by not shipping my wheels. I'm renting Zipp 808's, so I figured that sending the extra weight and lengths were not necessary. The whole thing, with the tools to put it together, weighed 28lbs.
      • I took off the rear derailleur and hanger - to protect it - and that helped the length . I had to loosen and bend in my aerobar grips, and take off the elbow pads, to make that whole contraption less than 8 inches wide...that was a pain in the neck. I just hope I used enough Styrofoam to pad it all. I guess we'll see in a week!

      Saturday, June 07, 2008

      IM Shipments

      Got some good stuff in today. I'll be testing these out on my last long-ish ride this weekend; they seem way better optically than these cheepo's I train in. I bought some more of the cheepos too - after all, they do work.

      I got some new cleats for my shoes. Nothing like a nice set of cleats. I've taken out my liners on my bike shoes - the largest size of tri-cycling shoes is still just a bit too small for my feet, and taking out the liners went a long way to preventing hot foot. Yes, it was hard on the feet for those first few long rides, but I'm used to it now. Makes it nice in transition. Oh yea, my last long ride I noticed one spot on the bottom of my foot felt like a nail being driven through it. Well, actually, it was a screw. One of the screws to my cleats, on both shoes, goes in so far that I can feel it inside the shoe. So, I'll be using a washer or something to try to make sure that screw can't be felt inside the shoe anymore. I'm sure that with the liners in there'd be no problems, but that just won't work for me in a long ride.


      I also got a new Profile Design aerobottle. Mine was (is) 3 years old, and kinda nasty looking. The new ones come with a top, of all things - so we'll put that to the test, refilling and whatnot, tomorrow as well.


      Got my bike back from the shop. They did a tune up, replaced the shifter cables, trued the wheels, lubed it all up - definitely a whole new bike it seems. I had the bottom bracket bearings replaced - before you could pull on the pedals away from the bike and there was some play to them. Not good. Now there is absolutely no play at all. The mechanic said he had to take blow torch to it to get the bearings off the tube. Nice. He also said that it was the last set of bearings he would be able to replace on that Bottom Bracket. This set was the second replacement. Guess I should start shopping for a new BB.


      Also got a box to ship my bike in from the LBS. This has to be done on Monday or Tuesday. That's gonna be a reality check. The big day is upon us! I'm really looking forward to strapping on those Zipp 808's (rented from http://www.racedaywheels.com/) and seeing what I'm made of on that course. Bring it!

      Wednesday, June 04, 2008

      Focus

      Man, what a couple of weeks. Not sure I really want to get into the ongoing saga's of Team Bigun, or Team Big Bikes for that matter. Lets just say that if you go over to Di's blog, you can get an earful, or eyeful - anyway. Don't ya wish it could all be pigtails and butterflies this close to the big show? Alas...it wouldn't be Ironman if it were easy.

      I'm sure things will work out. I'm sure they will get better. Months, even weeks ago, it was easy to put my head down and get out the door without much fanfare. Now there's a lot of "shaking off the cobwebs" before one foot goes in front of the other...and even then, there's not a lot of enthusiasm involved. Of course it being 97 today didn't help matters much.

      I'm psyched - really, I am. I am so wanting to hit that beach and get this show on the road. I'm looking forward to meeting so many great people, and sharing this event - dare I say "life altering" event - with everyone there. Not to mention the parting. Did I mention the partying? It would be nice to have some things settled by then. But that, my friends, may be cutting it a bit close. If you see me, in 2 weeks and 4 days, not quite in a place I should be....PLEASE...feel free to snap me out if it. I'll welcome the help. Trust me, I'll be working on ME as well. I know all too well that I'll need to be above and beyond the black cloud that surrounds us at this moment in time.

      And no, Nytro, that doesn't include a swift kick in the bells...and I don't mean cowbells either.

      Monday, June 02, 2008

      Tom

      The past 7 or 8 days were nuts. Peak training week. Ungodly high temps. Serious business "developments". And to top it all off, a friend died.

      I'm kind of mad about the friend dying thing. Being as young as I am, even with my military background, I haven't had that many people that I know, family or friends, die. My friend was only a year older than me. I say friend, yet I'm positive I did not know him well enough.

      Tom and his wife Lisa started as customers of Diana - she did some design work for them, including a remodel of his restaurant where I first met Tom, "McHale's Chophouse". It was absolutely the best food I've ever eaten. Tom cared about every plate that was ever served, and came out to check on his customers often. Oh, the calamari, and prime rib...it was all just awesome! He grew tired of his time away from family (he had 3 young boys) and the headaches of owning a restaurant (and a bar, and another restaurant) and closed down my beloved McHale's! I was NOT the only one in Brandon who was angry that day for sure.

      But that's not why I'm mad now.

      We had dinner at Tom and Lisa's house once, maybe twice, and met them out as well - Di continued to have a business relationship with Tom and a friendship with Lisa, but for some reason I never really had time (or made time?) for Tom. Now he was a busy man too - it's not like he called me, ever, or I called him and tried to get together for a beer. It just never...happened.

      We had some things in common, Tom and I - he went to Cornell the same time that I went to West Point. He was riding a bike a couple years ago... actually he stopped riding just as I was starting to. We both struggled with our weight and size, and talked of diet and exersize. We both loved food. Tom was a lineman - played for the Bucs, the Eagles and the Dolphins. He still weighed-in close to 300 on a good day, and I don't know....big guys just seem to get along. He had way about him - he was just great to be around.

      I'm not sure when I learned, but Di told me one day that Tom was in rehab. He was in constant pain as a result of his injuries earned during his football days, and had succumbed to a habit he was working to break. When I heard, I thought, "Tom's a strong dude - he'll be ok soon enough", and I really didn't give it much more thought. I got updates from Diana through his wife Lisa, and it seemed like he was struggling more than I would have figured, but not so much that it caused me concern. Why wasn't I concerned? I don't know, really I don't. I guess I just thought so highly of Tom that I figured he'd fix it.

      So I missed out. That's what I'm mad about. I had a chance over the last 5 or 6 years to get to know a really great man and I blew it. No, I don't think I could have influenced him in any way to change the circumstances causing his death. He had plenty of friends - good one's in fact - and his family was loving and there for him as well. Selfishly - I just wish I'd have known him better. I know he would have added to my life.

      Tom will be missed. If it's possible, or makes sense, I wish I could be missing him more.