Blazing Speed in the Pool

The US Open, NCAA, SEC, and American records were all broken in the 50 SCY Free yesterday at the SEC championships.

Caeleb Dressel – an 18 year old (EIGHTEEN) kid from Jacksonville, who swims for the University of Florida – went a crazy-fast 18.23 seconds in the finals, breaking his own record of 18.39 seconds (set during morning preliminies yesterday).

You can watch the video of this amazing speed below.  Caeleb is in lane 4.

This time is wicked fast.

For comparison purposes, this swim – if considered in a non-swimming context – is sort of like a NFL running back going 4.0 seconds in the 40 yard dash.  Or a golfer making two holes-in-one in a row.  Or a baseball pitcher throwing a 110mph fastball.  Basically, it’s off the chart.

After watching this last night, I thought comparing Dressel’s time to my personal swimming ability might be fun.  It’s actually very humbling.

During my swim workout last night, I was turning 100 yards in 1:20.  That equates to about 20 seconds per 25 yards.  Caeleb covered TWICE that distance, and still beat me by the equivalent of a body length or so.  Said differently, I could race Caeleb where I’d swim 25 yards and he’d swim 50 yards – and he would win.  Handily.  Easily.

It’s mind boggling to me how fast that is.  And frankly, I suspect he’ll go faster.  Word has it that Caeleb was not shaved and tapered.  I don’t think he was wearing a speed suit.  He’s saving all that for the NCAA meet next month.  How fast will he go?  You never know, but my money is that he becomes the first sub-18 second swimmer ever.  I’m calling it now:  17.92 will be his finals time at NCAA.

Talk about blazing speed!

The Re-Bucket List

 

Back in 2008, I decided to cross off a some of my bucket list items.  First, I wanted to run a marathon.  Secondly, I wanted to do an Ironman.  And so I did.

My first marathon was along the Atlantic shore here in Jacksonville as part of the “26.2 with Donna – the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer”.  That particular race (which still runs every February) was a fantastic initial marathon.  Pancake flat.  A couple of miles on the beach.  Great crowd support.  Amazing women and men who had beat (or were in the process of beating) breast cancer.  My finishing time was not great (and really isn’t important)…but I was successful in crossing that item off my list.  Incidentally, back in 2010, I did a “Ten Questions With…” interview with Donna Deegan – the founder of the race.  Click HERE to read that interview.

JPS

On the run course at IMFL in 2009

Following that marathon experience, I signed up to race Ironman Kentucky, in Louisville.  I was severely underprepared for that race.  I tried to train without a real plan.  I didn’t think that the hills would be all that rough.  I didn’t devote as much time as I should have to training.  As a result, the race was a disaster!

I got into the swim expecting to have some downstream current.  There wasn’t any.  I sort of freaked out mid-swim and ended up having to do some backstroke and breaststroke.  I finished the swim in close to 1:40 and then headed out on the bike.  So….in case you were wondering….Louisville is NOT FLAT.  I was seemingly going up or down the entire time.  I tried to take my time and pace myself, but by the end of the bike, I was completely gassed.  I started out on the run and very quickly determined that that leg of the race would be a combination of running and walking.  By the time I got through 13 miles, it was more walking than anything.  I made it through 18 miles and got pulled off the course.

Upon returning to the transition area – completely devastated about my performance – I called home to speak with my wife.  Believe it or not, she had already signed me up for Ironman Florida – in just about six weeks’ time!  She really wanted me to cross off that bucket list item!

And so, in November 2009, I toed the line in Panama City Beach for IMFL.  The swim was much better than in Louisville – even despite the Gulf being seriously choppy.  The bike was great – much more along the lines of what I was accustomed to.  I did a modified Galloway approach on the run – running 3 or 5 minutes and then walking 1.  And best of all, I finished!  The time was not great (15 hours and change), but…..I FINISHED!

Cross that baby off the list!

Except that baby is back on my list again.

See, for the last couple of years, I’ve been thinking about doing an iron distance race again.  Sometimes when I’m in a rough spot on a run, I call up a mental picture of crossing the finish line at IMFL or remember that feeling of accomplishment.  But, I’ve held off on actually doing another race.

Things started to get serious last year – my friend and I were talking about doing a full.  It was on his bucket list, after all.  Plus, he wanted to do one before he turned 50, and time was running out.

We had our eyes set on doing Beach to Battleship in November 2016.  This Wilmington, NC, race had developed a fantastic reputation for being a super-high quality independent iron distance race.  The price point was much lower than Ironman, the swim was current aided (and crazy fast), and the rest of the terrain was similar to northeast Florida.  Plus, the November timing was perfect.

And then, B2B decided to sell out to Ironman.  While I certainly am open to racing an Ironman event, to me it was difficult to reconcile spending $300 or so more on race entry fees for substantially the same race – just because of a name change.

Enter Rev3 Triathlon and their race at Cedar Point!

Cedar Point

See, I’ve been on the Rev3 age group team for a bunch of years, but have never raced at Cedar Point.  Honestly, I’m not sure why – other than the fact that Sandusky, OH, is about 17 weeks away by car and not super-easy to fly to, either.  I do love roller coasters, though, and by all accounts the course is quite similar to what I’m used to.

So….Rev3 Cedar Point is now on my 2016 bucket list!  The race is September 11th this year, and I’ll be ready to race.

And this time, it’s not just about completing the distance and crossing off a bucket list item.  This time, instead of “Complete an Ironman”, the bucket list item is “Race Rev3 Cedar Point”.  There’s a real, tangible difference there.

 

Triathlon Things I’d Buy After I Win Powerball

Like lots of Americans, I like to dream about insane wealth.  Wealth beyond measure.  Beyond my craziest dreams.

Well, dreams could come true tonight when the estimated $1.5 Billion Powerball Lottery is pulled.  I have an awesome chance of winning (something like 1:260,000,000).  So…..when I do win, let’s imagine that I take the cash option – which will net me roughly $850 million prior to paying taxes.  Subtract about 40% for taxes, and that will leave me in the ballpark range of $510 million.

And let’s assume that I want to spend ALL of that money on triathlon related things.  What could I buy?

Of course, I’d want to have everything that I could possibly need to be successful at triathlon, so I’d want to be able to train year-round, in comfort, and have the best-of-the-best.

So….here goes:

Residences:

All good super-rich triathletes need good training locations.  I figure I’ll buy several.

Boulder, CO.  They say that Colorado is prime training ground for triathletes.  Plus it offers training at altitude.  So, I need a place there.  I think I should buy this nice, small 20,000 square foot house with 7 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms.  Plus, it’s a bargain at just $7.5 mil.

boulder

Whitefish, MT.  I love big mountains, and I want to be like Hillary Biscay – so I’ll spend some time living and training in Montana.  Plus, this little bungalow is close to Glacier National Park – one of the prettiest places on the planet.  It’s s quaint cottage at 12,000 square feet and 7 bedrooms – for the cheap price of just $8.75 mil.

Montana

Siesta Key, FL.  As much as I love the mountains, Mrs TriMadness loves the beach.  And why not have a house at the best beach in the USA?  We’ll pick up this nice beach cottage on the southwestern Gulf-side of Florida, south of Tampa, and I’ll only drop about $8 million.

siesta

On The Road.  As a super-rich triathlete, I’ll be racing a lot (because I won’t have anything else to do).  I’ll need to have some way to get to and from my races.  Depending upon where in the world I’ll be racing, I’ll take one of a couple forms of transportation:

Airbus ACJ319.  I’ll likely need to fly some – like to Europe or Australia or somewhere.  To do that, I’ll hitch a ride in my $80 million private plane.

airbus

RV:  Featherlite Vantare Platinum Plus ($2.5 million).  This is not quite the most expensive RV out there, but it’ll do for me.  It has Swarovski Crystals all over it, can sleep me and 8 friends, and I can drive it anywhere I need to.

RV

So – now I have a place to live and ways to get around to all my races, and I’ve only spent about $107 million.

Bike:  Naturally, I’ll need a new rig to ride on in my races.  Perhaps I’ll get the Felt IA FRD bike.  Comes complete with Shimano Dura Ace Di2 components, some sleek aero wheels, a power meter, and much more.  Plus it’s only $15,000.  I’ll buy one for each day of the year (’cause you never want to ride your tri bike again after you pee on it).  Total cost: $5.4 million.

Felt

Wetsuit:  Same concept as with the bike.  Once I “warm up” the suit just once, I’ll never want to wear it again.  So I’ll get 365.  I already have a TYR Hurricane Cat 5 wetsuit, and I like it – so I’ll get the next version up….the TYR Freak of Nature.  And at $1200 each, I’ll only have to spend $0.5 million.

wetsuit

Extra Wheels:  It’s probably a safe thing for me to have extra wheels on hand just in case I trash a set or so each day.  I’m not set on any particular brand of wheels – but let’s figure the top of the line set runs about $2500 each.  I’ll buy 500 sets of wheels and spend about $1.25 million.

Other race gear, Swag, Clothing:  I’m going to race A LOT.  In fact, I’ll race so much that I’ll make the Iron Cowboy look like a chump.  And like all good triathletes, I’ll only wear race gear and tri-specific clothes.  I better set aside $1.5 million to cover all of this stuff

Race Nutrition:  I’ll need to eat when I’m training.  I’m partial to Powerbar products, so maybe I should just buy the company.  Nestle bought Powerbar for about $200 million a year or so ago.  Maybe I could buy Powerbar from Nestle.  Or maybe I could buy Picky Bars from Jesse Thomas.  Let’s do that.  I could probably get that for $10 million or so.

Races:  As I said above, I will be racing a lot.  And who wants to pay all those pesky race entry fees?  I’m going to just buy some races.  WTC recently sold out for $650 million – that’s more than I’d want to pay for races.  Maybe I could buy a bunch of other race series (maybe all the independent triathlons in the country).  Let’s earmark $200 million for that.

Coaches, Nutritionists, Chefs, Massage Therapists, etc.  I’ll need a stable of support people to help me get ready to do all this racing.  I should hire the best of the best.  Michael Phelps can be my swim coach.  I’ll also have Andy Potts on retainer (because he’s an awesome open water swimmer).  Meb Keflezighi will be my running coach.  Maybe I’ll hire Jan Frodeno to be my bike coach.  Great people, but in reality people are cheap.  All of these folks should be attainable for $5 million per year (total).

Hmmmmm.  I’ve only spent about $330 million dollars.  What’s left to get?  What do you think?  Any suggestions?

I’ve got cash to spend….

Flexibility of a Brick

Over the past two years, I have had a never ending series of little injuries.

The injuries stated with a torn plantar fascia.  That was followed by a wicked bout of peroneal tendinitis.  Then the top of my foot started hurting.  Finally it was a sore hamstring & glute.

I was beginning to think that I couldn’t win for losing.  Seemingly, as soon as I started to recover from one injury, another would pop up.

I’ve been a pretty good patient.  Physical therapy, rolling, trigger point treatment, icing, reducing the length and effort associated with workouts.  You name it, and I’ve tried it.

While there may well be some other underlying issues around my running style and gait, shoe selection, weight (yes, that’s a biggie), and more, I’m becoming more and more convinced that the root cause of many of these injuries lies in the fact that my tendons and muscles basically have the flexibility of a piece of stone.

Some history:  I just turned 46, and have been running or cycling since I was 15.  I ran track and cross country in high school and picked up cycling in college.  In high school, we had a regimented stretching cadence that we followed both prior to and following every workout.  We’d do a warm up run, some core work, and then a bunch of basic (mostly) static stretches.  Fast forward a few years, and I essentially stopped stretching pre or post workout.  To make matters potentially worse, I sit all day long at a computer or conference room table.

Don’t get me wrong – I so some stretching, but whatever I do tends to be centralized on something that is nagging me at the moment.  For example, if my calves are sore, I’ll stretch them.  If my shoulders are sore during a swim, I’ll do some stretching.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I was remembered a comment my teammate Ryan Heisler made earlier this year.  His statement was along the lines that everything is connected in your body, and that if you are having foot issues, the root issue may be someplace other than in your foot.

And if you think about it (and remember that Schoolhouse Rock video about the human body), it’s true.  The leg bone is connected to the hip bone, and so forth.  It only makes sense that foot pain could be the result of something jacked up in your hamstrings or hip flexors.

So, I decided to test this theory.  My going-in hypothesis was that I had at least a modicum of flexibility still.  I was going to test my flexibility through a few simple tests:  (1) crossed-foot toe touch (2) calf-stretch and (3) forward lunge.  The highly scientific benchmark was the range of motion that I remembered having back in my high school running days.  (Let’s just ignore the fact that ~30 years difference might have some impact on my level of flexibility for now).

I decided to do each of these stretches twice each leg, for :30 each leg.  The true test would be the amount of pain I had to endure and at what point I started to feel the “stretch”.

And as you might suspect, I failed miserably.  Essentially, I can’t touch my toes without feeling like my hamstrings are going to rip in half.  The forward lunge (apart from killing my quads) made my groin and hip flexors scream as if someone had forced me into a split.  I literally thought that some giant gorilla was shaking me around like an old Barbie doll or something.

So, how am I going to fix this?

For starters, I’m going to start stretching again.  I’ve read that the static stretching that is near and dear to me is no longer in vogue.  Dynamic stretching is the way to go.  And so, I”ll incorporate some of that into my routine.  I’ll stand more.  I’ll give yoga a try (begrudgingly).

I will become more flexible.

Training for Naught

Over the weekend, WTC canceled their Ironman Lake Tahoe race do to poor air quality resulting from a huge brush fire in the general proximity of the race venue.

I can totally relate to how bad the environment must have been in the Lake Tahoe area.  Living in Florida, brush fires are a reality of my life. Each spring, various fires pop up all over the state, but most notably in the northeast part of the state where I live. The smoke and ash that lingers in the air is heavy, reeks and makes breathing supremely difficult. It’s often as if you’re living in the middle of a campfire.

Smoke from a nearby wildfire in 2011 caused a haze to hang over the Jacksonville area (picture courtesy news4jax.com)

Smoke from a nearby wildfire in 2011 caused a haze to hang over the Jacksonville area (picture courtesy news4jax.com)

 

Canceling the race was the correct thing to do.

Imagine what those athletes likely felt when they heard the news.

They had poured literally hundreds of hours into training.  Many of them had pushed their bodies to the brink and back.  For lots of folks, I’m sure that this was their bucket list event – their chance to become an “Ironman”.   I can empathize with those athletes.  I know how hard folks work for a big event like this.

And then suddenly to not be able to do the event.

Wow.  Heartbreaking.

Of course, I get that not doing a race isn’t the end of the world.  There are far bigger fish to fry.  I feel for those that have lost their house as a result of the fire.  There are so many other social and societal issues that folks face each and every day.  This was just a race.

And yet, I’m sure that the sense of let down was huge for lots of these athletes.  While I suspect that most (if not all) of the athletes impacted can rationalize the decision and realize that canceling the event was the correct thing to do, it’s much more difficult to rationalize emotions.

Surely the thought of having the proverbial rug ripped out from right under your feet had to be disappointing for the athletes, but I cannot fathom what it would be like to race even an hour – let alone up to 17 hours – in conditions like what existed on Sunday.

It would be easy to reflect and rejoice on the fitness gained, the mettle tested, and the experiences gained throughout the time that these athletes trained for their race.  Those would be moral victories.  For lots of athletes, the reality could be that this was their one chance.  Their soon-to-be huge accomplishment.  I feel for them.

Ironman has not yet announced how they will handle those athletes.  I don’t know if they will get a refund, an entry deferral, or simply nothing.  Here’s to hoping that WTC takes care of those athletes and that they have another chance to do their race.

And….here’s to hoping that the lingering effects of not being able to swim, bike, and run this past weekend are able to quickly disseminate like smoke on a windy day.