Monday, June 25, 2007

Oh Crap...

What the heck did I just do?

Worse thing is, I have a whole friggin year to think about it! When I decided to try and get into Special Forces I don't think I had a year to train for that - and getting in to SF, well, it compares closely (wink, wink, nod, nod - sworn to secrecy...).

And do you really think they will have a 2xl t-shirt for me? Benny...did they have any 2xl's there?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Deer in Headlights

I'm stuck here in front of the computer watching Ironman Live coverage of Ironman Couer D' Alene, and I can't stop watching. A year from now, barring any injury or illness or other bad luck, I'll be one of those hardened souls spinning for 112 miles up and down the hills of Idaho.

I'm nervous just thinking about it. The beginnings of nervousness. It's a big commitment. It's a long day!

Ultimately you make the strokes, push the pedals and turn the legs over on your own, but the folks around you and with you make a huge difference. Mrs. B with her love and support and cowbell. Local training partners like Jetpack, Luke and M-Gel aka Exel-Man. Support from the blog-world. It all adds up to, and on race day.

Another big deal is the synergy of other athletes, near and far, training for the same event. Blink's on board for a go at CdA'08. Baboo will be taking a whack at it. Tri-Greyhound is on the fence, and Spokane Al will heal up and give it another shot. I'm sure there are others...

Robo Stu: "So, CdA'08?"

Iron Jenny: "Coeur D' Alene, 2008, alright, all of us will register for it..."

Bold: "Wildflower '07..."

Robo Stu: "Wildfower '07?"

Iron Jenny: "Wildflower '07?

After careful consideration of PUBLISHED video and audio, the only confirmed interested parties from the classic IMFL'06 Part 2 Video seem to be Robo Stu and Iron Jenny. But what didn't we see? How much was edited? After Bolder suggested Wildflower, was there an acknowledgement of CdA'08? Did the Kahuna chime in, or Trimama perhaps? Everyman was there, right? Did he give a thumbs up? What about my favorite super-hero, the one, the only Taconite Boy? I know this is the Year of the Taconite Boy (tm), but what about next year? Only time will tell. No pressure. "You don't choose a race, the race chooses you" Bolder, 2007 - has IMCdA'08 chosen you yet?

Looks like it's chosen FE-Lady....

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Real Men of Genius

One more time for M-Gel and Green Eye Lady, and anyone else looking for a laugh...this was originally posted back in December...

Key Music...

Bud Lite Presents: Real Men of Genius. Here's to you, mister Super-Elitist Old-School Triathlon Guy....

Background Singer: Mr. Super-Elitist Old-School Triathlon Guy!

For 24 years you've been toeing the line and throwing elbows at swim starts around the country. You hammer hard on your rusty steel Trek, passing those carbon-framed bikes with a loud "on your left" honking like a freight train outta hell..

Background Singer: On your Leeeeeefft!

Your shirt pockets look like a grocery stand - it'll be a cold day in hell when you bow down to those new-fangled cliff bars and energy drinks. Strapped into your pedals, technology means nothing to you and your bright red speedo, heart rate monitors, power meters and lactate threshold tests be damned.

Background female singers: Like that banana hammock....

Look at all those fools in their fancy new wetsuits - anything above 60 degrees is like bath water to you. Pass the safety pins - those new race number belts are for sissies. You scoff at aid stations, you let newbies struggle in transition and can't for the life of you understand why those fat, slow Clydesdale's should get a medal and you can't.

Background Singer: Loose some weight you fat ass.

And while you sit hour after hour, day after day posting comments into SlowTwitch about the way things used to be and should be, slowly but surely losing every triathlon friend you ever had, crack open a cold one, 'cause we salute you...

Background Singer: Mr. Super-Elitist Old-School Triathlon Guy!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Weekend Update

Time for another addition of WEEKEND UPDATE, with your host, The BIGUN, giving you all the fake news that worth knowing about.

Thanks and welcome to another edition of Weekend Update - lets get right into it - we have alarming news out of Texas - it seems the FBI is on the lookout for a 20-something hawtie that's been robbing banks all over the country. She's known as the Ponytail Bandit - banks in Texas, California and Washington have fallen victim to this scheming blonde, and the FBI seems baffled. Well, FBI, look no further because I've found your bank robber.

Wait for it. Your not going to believe it. Your bank robber is none other than little miss innocent Curly Sue.

That's right, folks, Curly Sue is terrorizing the nation robbing banks by the clever use of disguise and poor posture. How could this be, Bigun? I'll tell you - First, she's "off" for the summer. She's got the time. She's already alluded to her wanting to be rich and famous, and she's shown that her lawlessness knows no bounds, posting unpurchased race photographs on her blog, violating copyrights and committing felony's left and right.

Let me ask you this...who was unsupervised in TEXAS "house-sitting" for a span of 20 hrs?

Who took a trip out west and stayed in the "HBAC Medal Room" (yea, right, those Canadians will cover for anyone...)?

None other than Curly Sue. We've got photographic proof - look at this unretouched photo:

Notice the hat?

Notice the smile?

That's the spiting image! I hope there is a reward....


Wow, I've been slacking! I'm too busy giving out comment love, I guess. Lots of big racing this weekend - IMCdA and BSLT70.3 are the first two that come to mind. I'm sure there are others, hmm, let's see:


Iron Benny (#436)
Momo (#2290)
Mrs. Everyman Barb (#2386)

BSLT70.3 -

Kona Shelly
Clydeology Myles

IMZurich -

TriJack (My Daily Spin)
Iron Jenny

High Cliff Half -

Iron Wil
Iron Pol
Simply Stu - sorry I forgot you!
Rural Girl - you too!

Escape from the Rock -

The Kahuna (Tri Geek Dreams)

Buffalo Springs Sprint -

Geek Girl

Clearwater Beach Patrol 1 Mile Open Water Swim -

M-Gel aka Excel-Man
Bigun, maybe...

There may be more of you racing this weekend, but you failed to mention it in your blog or have a schedule posted - but - good luck to everyone and have a great weekend!

Reds are add-on's and registration numbers that I dug up - this is an exciting weekend for all!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Just Kidding!

Hey! EVERYONE! FYI - I read it all - every word. Every nuance. You post it, I read it. Twice and sometimes three times. Just kidding about the training logs and summaries and writeup - I hang on every word, as if it were part of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Keep 'em coming! Long runs, short runs, swim drills, one-legged bike circle drills with two fingers on the aerobars - I want to read about it. Please! Seriously. And graph more. We need more graphs. Pictures and graphs. Cant' get enough of them. Really. Link them to your Training Peaks Logs. And everyone should register with ATHLinks - yes! This means you too! I've got a link to the right down there - find it and sign up - it's free, and it's cool as beans - that's right Johnny Tri, I'm talking to you...3 episodes of Star Wars - you've got some time on your hands!

Ok? Are we cool?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Getting back into it

Awesome to read all the race reports from you folks this weekend. Great job everyone! Props out to Duane with his 2nd tri ever - great effort big guy! Other than all the health and mental benefits, and looking hawt for your significant other, racing is icing on the cake for all this training that we do. Bolder's report about his rez race has got me motivated for a rematch against my first tri - the Crystal River Sprint Tri on the 30th. It's a "c" race, but it will be fun - especially with the really short 1/4 mile swim.

Last week was a transition week for me. I'm having to fight my brain hard to get back into training again. I'm usually pretty good at getting out the door, but this week, not so much. I did my long bike and long run though, so that's a good thing. Those were the important ones. If you are like me you can skip past this training recap part of my post, like I do many times with your posts.... Long run this week was 8 miles. Long bike was 62 miles, averaged at 17.7 mph and 140bmp HR. Took some discipline to keep it in the "base" HR range, but was nice to see after 3:30hrs that the average HR was as low as that. I was riding with a guy and he pushed the last 12 miles - with the breeze picking up, my HR was at or over 150 for a while, pushing the average up. My last base phase had me at 134bpm for 18.6mph as a best effort, so I'm not quite as fit as then, but I have a feeling it will come back pretty quickly. Plus that PR was only for 25 miles - so it really is not a fair assessment. We'll see.

I managed to get in the pool again this morning after a 2 week hiatus - I was like a rusty gate in there! Coughing, was ugly. But, what should I have expected? Swimming is so much about form and feel - it's the one event you really can't let go of like I did. Not that I had much form or feel to begin with.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Can't touch this...

I got my bike back. Yea! Took me 2 hrs to go to Clearwater and back to my favorite riding spot, Flatwoods...what an ordeal. I don't think I'll be using Tri-Bike Transport again - unless they get a closer drop off point - and return the bike faster. I had to drop it off over a week before the race, and it took a week and a half to get it back. I was darn near a month without my bike (dropped it off on the 22nd of last's the 14th). I guess, for an Ironman, there wouldn't be so much riding in that time, with the big taper and bigger recovery - but this was not that type of event. Anyway.

Base workouts are interesting. Ride for an hour and a half and feel like you did hardly a thing. That was about all I had time for this afternoon - and I found my Garmin, although it was too late to use it today, so my Base ride was done using PE instead of HR. 18mph on flat ground and almost no wind is pretty much in my Base range. I felt pretty rusty on the bike after so much time without a "workout". Alcatraz was just for fun.

Now I know I've been attempting to disguise this post in dreary recollection of training recaps in order to draw your attention from the photo to the right. I love this commercial, and over dinner tonight, Mrs. Bigun and I, like married couples tend to do, simultaneous said that the wicked cool rapper-dancer dude reminds us of Tri-Dummy. So, in an effort to either dispel any rumors or embrace them, this is an un-retouched photo of said rappers and a recent full-frontal of our fearless friend TD. Well, perhaps Ex-Friend. After he sees this.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Where's my bike?!?!

Ok, I missed a planned ride on Tuesday. I'm not so rigid that the missed ride will kill me. But now I've got one scheduled for Thursday - and it's not looking too good. Still no bike. Still en route from San Francisco. WTF?

Base workouts are so much fun, aren't they? NOT! This 8.5 mile run this morning took me an hour and 40 minutes. Good grief. I was more than ready for it to be over. Note to self: June in Tampa means Camelbacks on all long runs, for now on. I can't find my Garmin, so I don't know what my HR was for the run, but I kept my perceived effort at minus 3, so I'm sure it was low for the whole run. I may have even taken a nap somewhere around mile 5.

I tried to get to the pool this morning. Set the alarm for 4:45 - got up when it went off! Lo and behold - thunder and lightning at 4:45 am - again, WTF? Some serious rain and wind right along with the loud stuff - I knew the pool would be closed, so back to bed I went - it sure is easy to sleep with the rain on the roof.

Off triathlon - this lawn business is no joke. In this heat, by the time 3pm rolls around, I'm DONE! I've done this kind of work before - like 10 years ago - the Bigun ain't no spring chicken anymore. It's all about perception - in a month or so, 6 lawns in a day will be replaced with 10 and it won't seem like any big deal. Hopefully. Good thing is that I don't feel like eating in that heat all day. I'm drinking a ton of water. And I'm getting a wicked farmer's tan.

Now, do I really look like Howie Long?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Who's that handsome fellow?

Talk about being bored:

But I think they left one out:

Time for a run.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Annual Sickness

I get this Annual cold. No matter what I do, I'm sick at least once a year, and it's usually a good one. The body rebelling or expelling - who knows. Fortunately its now behind me. Its Sunday, and I'm feeling "raring to go". This year it hit me pretty hard and at an inopportune time - the night before this last race. Those bed sweats were not nerves like I thought - just a good old fashioned fever. The second night, the night after the race, was even worse. Ug - lets hope all that is behind me.

I'm over-ready to start training again. All this racing has gotten in the way of a really good training cycle. I miss it. There are 20 some-odd weeks until the next A race - Woodlands 101. I've got plenty of time for a good Base cycle - it will be interesting to see what the heart rate is up to.

Thanks to everyone who gave me some comment love and well wishes on our Alcatraz trip - your thoughts were needed and well received. This really is a great community of folks and friends we've all built and joined - technology is a wonderful thing. Good luck to everyone who is racing today and yesterday - I'm looking forward to hearing of your accomplishments!

Side note - IMCdA is upon all of you heading out that way, and for those of us considering '08, decision time is here! I'm starting to wonder, financially, if IMFL'08 would not be better for the Bigun, since I can drive and not have to pay for air fare and bike shipping. Career changes are starting to grip the wallet a bit. I don't know. This will be a tough decision.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Run like a Convict

The Run

So far so good. Tackle the swim, check. Ride up and down monster hills, check. All that's left is a 8 mile run. No problem. I've been loafing - there's plenty in the tank. Actually there's too much in the tank! Remember, no port-o-potties? As Blink was frantically hitting F5, I was frantically searching for somewhere to GO! Thank you little baby Jesus, so soft and cuddly and even though you can't talk yet you're still Omnipotent, there was a public restroom just off the run route - ahhhhhh - now we can continue with this adventure!

A full 4 miles of the 8 mile run are on desperately needed flats. Right along the Bay at sea level we started out on a nice, wide path with folks running past me on my right finishing up their race (we were instructed to stay to the left - it never did sit right with me through the whole run part of the race). At the 2 mile marker everything got familiar as we started heading up hill fast. Concrete Stairs? Doesn't' have the same foreboding sound as Sand Ladder, and shouldn't be as difficult, right? I guess...after the series of steps, the path continues to swirl upward while hoards of age groupers barrel down hill, all competing for a very narrow bit of foot-space. The concrete turns to dirt and becomes even narrower along the side of a hill with a great view of the bay and the Golden Gate bridge.

We reach the tunnel - and you do have to duck to make it through the far side going out. After negotiating the tunnel, you climb some more to the top-most part of the run where you are greeted by the 2nd aid station at mile 3. Wow, still not half way yet?!?! The worst part of the whole run for me follows next - steep downhill sections of roadway and dirt that snake down to the beach. I got passed by a bunch of folks here - I'm not a very good downhill runner it turns out. My knees and quads were screaming at me, plus one of those mysterious aches in your ankle you just can't get to go away...know what I mean? Anyway, this long downhill section empties out onto the beach.

The tortuous RDs put the 4-mile turnaround mat as far up the beach as they could - there was no running on the "hard" sand except for a small patch of this beach section. I think I even managed a dirty look to one of the volunteers at that 4 mile aid station - it was uncalled for, and I apologize. I wasn't very happy at that moment (just kidding about the dirty look). At least, now, we are on the way back! Half way home!

And lookey, lookey; now that is a Sand Ladder! They place a timing mat at the bottom setting in motion some sick, demented internal desire to make these stairs my bitch. At the beginning of the trek the stairs are just wooden poles that form the steps of a sand staircase. At one time, I'm sure the sand even covered these wooden poles, but erosion has taken it's course and left the wood exposed until you get higher up on the stairs (and more tired).

I seem to shine when running up hill - I finally met up with the guy carrying the Stars and Stripes and offered to help him with the flag for a bit, but he declined. Then I saw the guy I was after - the guy I had traded places with on the bike back and forth, the guy who took off after our restroom break - yea, him. He was cracking, and I was just getting warmed up...I didn't use the flexible tubing they have at the sides of the Sand Ladder to help pull yourself up - it reminded me of my old wrestling days running stairs - I caught him at the top of the Ladder. Then I kept running, while most of us back of the packers were walking. I never saw him again.

After the Sand Ladder its pretty much all down hill - which again, sucks for me. I got passed again and again gingerly strutting down the way we had came, but I had gotten all of my wind back by the time we hit the 2-mile-to-go aid station. It was all flats from there, and I thought I'd do some reeling in from there. Any dude over 180 lbs was fair game and in my sights - well, to be honest, I don't think any of the guys left out there were under 180... My Garmin had been on the fritz for the whole race, so I really don't know what that final pace was, but it was fun to have the last two miles be anything but a suffer fest like usual. Down the final shoot, I was running fast enough to beat the older lady who at the last second decided that I wasn't going to beat her in - ya know, go ahead, but you are going to have to want it. She didn't want it bad enough and I felt her quit the last few steps. I tried to give it to her, really...

I finished up with a run split of 1:25:52 for a 10:44 pace. My sand ladder was done in 3:35, but ya know, none of that really matters, just like the fact that I finished in 3:43:32 is simply irrelevant. Finishing that race meant that you conquered everything they threw at you - the cold, windy weather, strong currents, hypothermic water temps, shark phobias, fog, steep grades, hilly runs, soft sandy beaches and sand ladders. All in one of the most beautiful cities (one triahtlete fellow I met would have described it as "delicious"...) I've ever been in. Mrs. Bigun and I had a great time sightseeing and raceing and would recommend the trip to anyone - IT WAS WICKED AWESOME!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Phase 2 - Escape on a Bike

The Bike

The event organizers, in their infinite wisdom, put a warm up run between the swim exit and the transition area. Considering that I shed all of my swim gear, donned an old pair of running shoes, stuffed everything into a plastic bag with my number on it, and then ran topless to my bike in 9:53 - you can bet it was not a mile run. Wet and shirtless in San Francisco on this day did not make for much of a warm-up, either. I highly recommend going the "shoe" route - if you ever do this race and think, "it's only a half mile, I don't need shoes for that..." - trust me, the running surface is brutal; you need the shoes.

Diana was there at T1 ringing her bell and cheering me on! Finding my bike was not difficult (remember, 1,400 or so folks had already cleared out of transition...ha!) and before long, I was on my merry, yet cold way. I had donned my raceAthlete cycling jersey - not really a piece of cold weather gear, and I was immediately feeling the cold. Worse yet, I also had to pee. The only negative for the whole race - not a port-o-potty in sight near transition or on the bike course. Believe me - I looked long and hard!

I truly was clueless as what to expect of this course, other than hilly and lots of turns. Understatement. My recent purchase of a 27 cassette was money well spent - that 27 cog got all the workout on this ride. For the first 9 miles I was able to sit and spin up every grade. After the first 2 miles of flats, its all hills, up and down, until you reach Golden Gate Park. Heading back east into the park for the loop and half way point is the flattest part of the course and a place to regroup if you need it. I'll be honest - I was loafing and sightseeing on the bike. I'd see the same group of folks and we'd pass each other back and forth and talk it up a bit. It was a fun ride, at the same time, it was the hardest terrain I'd ever ridden on.

Being an out and back loop, I knew that what I was in for on the way back was a bit worse than on the way out. I was right. The way back found me standing on climbs in places and riding past folks who were walking their bikes up the long, steep climbs. It was brutal, especially for a big Clydesdale Florida flat-lander. There's about 1,750 ft of climbing in 18 miles - but there is some beautiful scenery along the way. Once you poke out of the Lincoln Park area and head all down hill along the Great Highway you get a great view of the Pacific Ocean beaches and countryside. Volunteers and spectators are all over the course, it seemed like there was cheering at the top of every climb.

After the breather in Golden Gate Park, I was so cold that I was looking forward to getting back into the climbs again. Granted, I'm not fast in the steep stuff, but I never felt like I was on my last stroke. In training, I do intervals out of the saddle in the flats in my biggest gears - I'll count out strokes to 80 or 100 then sit back down and bring my cadence and HR back to normal. Anyway, the really hard stuff comes once you leave the park on the second half of the bike. The ride back up the Great Highway is just long. Then you turn into Legion of Honor Drive - that's just mean! That little stretch of road was stand up, quads burning, pedal 'till you drop and don't drop HARD.
Of course, you'd never know it looking at my times - my first 9 miles were done in around 49 minutes, and the back half in 32 minutes - well, the back side just felt harder to me. Who knows!?

Be as prepared as you can for some fast, technical descents. I spent all my descent time on the brakes - I could have gone faster, but with the fog and mist, I was chancing nothing. Plus, lets face it - I never ride fast descents like that - why push the unknown when a crash could hurt you badly and easily? I'm getting more cautious in my old age. There were quite a few crashes and lots of bloody chins, elbows and shoulders on folks I saw later on in the run. I got back into my comfortable aerobars for the final 2 miles of the bike, got my speed up to 21 and passed a few folks just to make me feel better. Hey! I still had an 8 mile run to go; a hilly run with sand and stairs and such! Diana was hitting me with cowbell at the turn into T2, snapping away with the camera and cheering me on. I finished the bike in 1:19:31 for an average speed of 13.5mph. This put me at 1,333rd best bike overall - stop snickering, you! I'm making some headway after the swim, at least!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Escape From Alcatraz Phase 1

The Swim

Few events stir the soul of a triathlete than the Escape - on paper it's a feeling that is hard to explain. The swim is a mile and a half, the bike is 18 miles and the run is 8. Ok, so what? If you have the time, let me tell you, "so what"!

The pre-race talk said that for best results, get to transition early, get set up and get to the bus that will take you to the pier to board the boat that will take you to Alcatraz. Its not that complicated in real life. I did as I was told, got there at 4am, was on a bus by 4:30, and sat at the pier with a bunch of other freezing cold, anxious triathletes until they let us on the boat at around 6am. Some warming barrels would have been nice...what am I saying?!?! Escape is NOT for the feint of heart or one easily dismantled by a little cold weather!

I had been told that once on the boat it would be "standing room only" - it was not that bad. We weren't crammed in like sardines or anything similar. I found a spot on the floor to sit and stretch and "relax" as much as I could - sitting next to me was a regular guy who had done the race 7 years in a row - he was good to talk with. They gave us a time countdown starting from an hour out, and at 6:15am, just as promised, we were under way.

The boat steamed out to the island, and circled around a bit once it was just off the eastern tip. Once it settled in to a spot we were about 200 yards off of the Rock, dead even with the long side that faces San Francisco - no cheating allowed for swimmers today! (Diana took this great pic on her way to the venue from the hotel - this is looking out from the Aquatic Park, and swimmers are in the water...) Everyone was zipped up and ready to go, and standing at the windows looking for the pros to start. 40 year-olds and up were on the second deck, as we were the last wave to go. When the pros jumped off, you could feel the boat list a little bit closer to level.

The armada of kayakers had formed an alley in which to swim - designed to keep folks from swimming too far off course in either direction. We had been told to swim to the piers at Ft. Mason - three long yellow buildings difficult to miss when sighting. The kayakers must not have gotten this briefing as the alley was pointed much more towards the Golden Gate Bridge, and when the pros took off, that's the direction they went. Someone, a minute or so after they left, realized the sighting error, and turned in the correct vector - and all of the swimmers in the front pack seemed to turn at the same time - it was pretty cool to watch.

Before we knew it, the 4 minutes between the pro wave and the 40-50 wave were up, yet we were all still standing up stairs watching people jump in 3-at-a-time. We quickly headed down stairs and bottlenecked just outside the doors - this was when it finally became real to me. The brisk air back on my face, the cold steal deck on my feet - this is really it! Behind me, back at the door, a race volunteer motioned feverishly to go this way, so I did, and ran to a jump doorway that wasn't being used - I looked back once to see that I was one of the last off the boat, held on to my goggles and jumped in.

I broke the surface and was THANKFUL that I had taken the time to do two swims prior to this in Aquatic Park to get used to the temperature. "This isn't so bad" was my initial thought to the water temp, and off I started swimming in the direction of those long yellow piers. I had stashed my waterproof disposable camera in my wetsuit leg, but wanted to get a little momentum before pulling it out. When I finally did turn to check out my progress, I was pleasantly surprised at the distance I had put on that island. Turning back around - reality check - there was still a bunch of water between me and shoreline.

Hey, I'm a back of the pack swimmer. I exasperated that by stopping to smell the roses and take some pictures along the way. I wasn't going to tear up the course or impress anyone with my times or splits - but I think I was getting some kayakers a bit worried. I had one right on my tail for a while, and one was on my "Bridge side" for nearly all of the swim (in this picture, you can see the gold dome on the right side of the picture - it looks that small in real life too...). If you ever thought you'd be alone on this swim - forget it - I was never more than a couple of paddle pulls away from someone on a boat. I was surprised to see someone hanging on a kayak pretty early on in the swim, but it was cold, windy and the current was strong - the swim was very much mental. More than anything else, I think. If you are reading this getting ready to go do this race (lucky you), just keep your head in the game, and KNOW for certain that the safety folks will not let anything bad happen to you out there.

All my fooling around mid-swim cost me dearly in the end. Once you get past the 3 yellow piers, you are supposed to switch to the west and sight on the Palace of Fine Arts - a huge gold dome that is also hard to miss. The current is moving at about 5mph, across your swim path - as if the bay were a river heading out to sea. You are supposed to be at a point in the swim, once you are past the piers, that sighting on the dome will take you in to the swim exit. That's the plan, at least.
I'd sight, swim, sight again and be off to the west really quickly. At this point it was very cool to actually SEE the swim exit balloon, and the people on the stairs at the shoreline. Finally, the end was in sight. Unfortunately, it was going by me alarmingly fast. I was heading out to sea...

That thought entered my mind, and it was difficult not to panic. I looked around, and other than kayaks, lets just say it was not too crowded in my neck of the Bay. Start swimming hard, Bigun. "Splash, Splash, Splash" I looked up and the kayaker that had been shadowing me was now along side of me, protecting me from swimming under the Golden Gate Bridge (this water shot of the Bridge was typical of our days in SF - fog covered the top of the bridge always). He pointed way to my left and said that I needed to swim in that direction. Into the current? Yep. Ok - Swim hard, Bigun. At that point, I really, really didn't want to have to grab a kayak or be rescued by a jetski - but man that current was moving! I stopped for a breather (I know, this is a looooonnng swim!) and watched as I lost 25 yards of beach drifting west in the current. Bigun, you have no time to rest. I put my head down and swam. On the beach, a volunteer was motioning me in, watching out for rocks, just for me. How awesome is that?!?! I could see that I would make the beach, however far away from the actual swim exit, and stopped swimming against the current and just made a bee-line for the beach. My hands finally hit sand; I stood up, and actually found the energy to run down the beach to the swim exit mats, crossing over in 45:02 - 1,400th out of 1,544 finishers. Pretty cool...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Quick Alcatraz

The long and short of it: Bad fever night before, raced anyway, swim was easiest part of the course (and still the hardest swim I've done), hills, hills, hills, hills and more hills on the bike and run, Bataan death march after race to turn bike in at Sports Basement, fever sweats all night...

That's what I get for hanging around this city with the highs of 55 degrees and friggin gusty winds - still, it's a beautiful city and the race was "this is so hard I just gotta laugh" tough. Since there was no Clydesdale division, I knew upfront I wasn't going to worry about performance - and just enjoy doing things like taking pictures on the swim (which I did, but have not yet developed them), not crashing on the bike (did I mention that the hills were gnarly?) and savoring the sand stairs, running under the Golden Gate Bridge, and just being there.

Which is what I did. Thanks for following along with me, I'll post a good race review once we get home...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A perfectly good boat

The big day is upon us! I've got a 3:30am wake up call ready to go, all my bags are packed, and the pucker factor is at just about a million. Di and I hung around in the blistering wind to listen to our first pre-race meeting. It was worth listening to, as they gave us important sighting information and the critical water temp announcement...get ready for it...57 degrees. About 200 yds out from the shore it's supposed to drop to 54 degrees in that super strong current they advised us about. Nice.

Of course, they also spoke about the hilly bike and the sand stairs. Blah blah, blah blah blah blah. Some sun would be nice tomorrow, but if it's just like the last 3 days, sun is wishful thinking. At least it will be colder outside the water than in, so jumping off that perfectly good boat will actually be warmer than standing around waiting to jump. Lovely.

So that's it - next time you hear from me, I'll have finished this awesome race and have some cool tales of kayakers telling me which way to go, monster hills that crushed my quads and sand stairs that sucked up my feet and further crushed me. I can't wait. Really!

Race number is 1276 - thanks for watching!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Hot Head Huah!

I ran 3 miles to the Sports Basement this morning - unbelievable place! It's a good thing there isn't a SB in Tampa, well, that's not really true. I wish there was such a place - wetsuits everywhere, all kinds of sporting goods, biking and tri gear galore - it's an old grocery store packed to the gills with cool stuff. One of those cool things is my Barracuda Hot Head bright red lined neoprene swim cap. Adjustable chin strap too.

Of course, it was cold again today, coldest day so far, with no sun at all peaking through the depressing layer of fog hovering and lingering overhead. The fear is that the fog will drop a couple hundred more feet and obscure the sighting for this swim. That would be bad.

Being chilly, I picked up my bike and only rode it for 5 miles - I did not bring cold weather riding gear and I'm not getting sick for the race. I had shipped it with Tri-bike Transport and it got here in the condition I dropped it off in. So far, so good is my Tri-bike Transport report. I did test out my 27 cassette on a nice little hill heading back to the hotel, and was able to spin and stay seated without difficulty. For a change.

After stalling all day, at 5pm I ventured out to get my agonizing swim in for the day, not so eager to try out my new gear. There were quite a few more triathletes here today, as evident by all the aerobars on the bikes, and the tentative folks at the waterline. Jumping in I was immediately impressed with the difference the new cap made. Night and day. I swam smoothly for about 700 yds and decided to take a break. After a short rest, I dove in again and swam another 400 yds and called it a day. I'd hit my goal of about a 30 min swim, and I know I now can go the distance on race day. One more acclimatization swim tomorrow, and I'll be set.