Front of Pack to Back of Pack Comparison

Last week, I read a really fantastic blog post by former Team Rev3 member Heather Gannoe about an experience she had at a recent running race where she observed first-hand for the first time what a back-of-the-pack racer experiences.  It’s a real eye-opener post – and depicts an environment that a whole lot of us athletes never get to experience.  Heather’s post is a must-read.  Take a few moments to read the comments as well, as they are really remarkable.  You can find Heather’s post (HERE).

Reading Heather’s post reminded me of a blog I wrote a couple of years ago after racing Rev3’s South Carolina race.

I was coming off a really good performance (for me).  In fact, I earned a really significant personal best at the race – and felt really stoked about how I did at the race.  Honestly, I was no where near the pointy end of the race, but I wasn’t the last place finisher either.  Clearly, I was a back of the mid-pack runner.  I wanted to compare my race with that of the professionals who actually won the race that year.

The results blew me away (honestly, so did the pros)!  Ever wonder just how fast a professional triathlete is?  Click (HERE) for my article and a pretty snazzy (if I say so myself) graphical representation of just how slow I was …. er…. just how fast they were!

 

Advertisements

From Entertaining to Disturbing

I was asked yesterday what was the most entertaining or disturbing thing I’ve seen at a race.  That question really spurred a few vivid memories of races gone by – and the things, both amusing and some revolting, sprang to mind.

Events that we compete in tend to be a cornucopia of sights, smells and tastes.  And trust me, over the years I have seen some doozies!

Take, for example, those triathletes that run out of transition without their shoes – only to turn around and run back in to get them.  I’ve seen that happen at least three times.  What about the triathletes that put on their helmet backwards in transition.  I’ve actually done that before, even though I didn’t leave transition with the helmet on backwards.  I’ve seen people singing to themselves on the run, people skipping, and people bent so far over at the waist that it was amazing they were still (somewhat) vertical.  I’ve witnessed athletes sounding like a motorboat due to flatulence with every step.

I’ll never forget the lady at a local race here in Jacksonville that tied a helium-filled balloon to her handlebars so she could find her bike in transition.  Novel idea, I suppose.  I can only imagine if she were to leave transition with the balloon still tied to her bike, trailing her like a balloon follows a four-year old at the circus.  The same lady was equipped with a 5-gallon bucket of water so she could wash her feet of after the run up the beach following the swim leg.

I’ve seen crazy costumes at races.  I’ve run with a pink-clad Spiderman, been whipped by spectators dressed in S&M outfits, and accosted by a guy in a hot dog costume.  I’ve run by people literally tailgating – cooking out and drinking beers.  During a few marathons, I’ve seen people partaking in mimosas while they watched runners pass.

I have seen pictures, as you may have as well, of an athlete who was so focused on finishing his Ironman race that he defecated on himself and ran I don’t know how many miles with his…um…poop running down his legs.  While getting a Kona spot is a big deal, I frankly can’t imagine what a poopy run would be like.  For the runner or for the runners/spectators near him!

We’ve all likely witnessed our share of vomiting athletes.  Maybe we’ve done it ourselves.  While I haven’t thrown up at a race, one time I did blow a snot rocket right into some other guys face (on accident, of course).

Of course, we’ve seen our share of disturbing images at races.  Images that haunt us or bring back bad memories.  Crash victims, full of road rash and blood.  Cracked helmets.  Broken bones.  I once rode with a guy who did an endo and landed square on his face.  He broke his jaw and lost several teeth.  It was one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen.  I’ve seen a rider at a criterium suffer a compound fracture of his femur.

The fact of the matter, though, is that every race has some element of hilarity and some element of disgustingness or disturbingness.  It’s a matter of perspective.  Do you notice the amusing things and tend to not “see” the other stuff, or do you focus on the grime, slime, and vomit?  As a people watcher, I’m drawn to all of it.  I observe, make mental notes, and either smile or say a prayer.  The comforting thing for me is that as a back-of-the-pack athlete, I’m often on a course so long that I get to see lots of things!

What about you?  What are some of the things that you’ve seen at races?  What are your lasting memories?

A Super-Inspiring Athlete

You know, as an athlete (a term I use loosely in relation to me) and sports fan, there are a wide variety of athletes that I hold in high regard.  Some of these athletes are famous and are in the newspaper, on ESPN, or online literally daily.  Others are athletes that fly under the radar.  It seems like it might be fun for me to write occasionally about athletes that have inspired me for one reason or another.  To showcase their performances.  Or their character.  Or their mettle.

And with that introduction, I’d like to start this on-again, off-again series by introducing you to one of my Team Rev3 Tri teammates, Susan Haag.

susan-haag

Susan may not be the speediest athlete at a triathlon, but she may well be the most experienced one.  She has done a mind boggling array of events:  More than 70 full iron distance races.  Countless marathons and ultramarathons.  She did more than 75 events in 2012 alone!  I don’t know if I could even keep up with the overall number of events Susan has done in her career (and I’m not sure if she could even tell you).  Just a week or so ago, Susan ran in a 55 mile ultra to support the Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville.  In two weeks, she will be racing the Florida Ultraman (which, by the way is an iron race on steroids:  6.2 mile swim, followed by 261.4 miles on her bike, then a double marathon – 52.4 miles).

The sheer distances and volumes this woman races are staggering and mind boggling.  I frankly don’t have any clue how she trains and races, all the while managing a career as a local assistant district attorney.

Susan also volunteers considerably.  She’s on a variety of boards.  She is the Florida Region representative on USAT’s board of directors.

In a nutshell, this woman is B-U-S-Y.

But quite honestly, it’s not the prolific miles and number of races that inspires me about Susan.  Rather, Susan’s approach to triathlon and endurance sports in general is what really makes this athlete stand head and shoulders above others.  Not a race goes by where Susan doesn’t stop to pet dogs, great children or chat with volunteers.  For Susan, a triathlon or marathon is not just about the race; it’s more about the experience.  She epitomizes what endurance sports should be all about.  Togetherness.  Fun.  Loyalty.  Conviction.  Inclusion.

As an example, Susan shared an experience she had when she ran in the recent Ultra on behalf of Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital. This year wasn’t the first year she had participated in this event.  In fact, last year, she met a young man who was frankly pretty sick at the time.  This year, she came across him again – only this time he was competing as part of a relay.  He was struggling to run very far or very fast.  Susan connected with him and his mother – and ended up running and walking with him for an entire lap – lifting his spirits and confidence and mood the entire way.  It didn’t matter that Susan had several additional laps of her own to run; she selflessly gave of herself and made a lasting impact on another athlete.

It’s like Susan that I aspire to be.  To be able to participate in events, have a blast doing it, and making memories with others.  To me, that’s what I’d like to model each time I toe the line at a race.

Looking for Multi-Sport Holiday Bargains?

As of today, there are thirty-four shopping days left until Christmas, and just eight until the start of Hanukkah. Next Friday officially kicks off the shopping season in the United States, with Black Friday and then Cyber Monday.  As you know, these two days are the biggest shopping days of the year, and retailers everywhere offer tons of discounts and sales to entice you to spend your hard-earned dollars with them.  It’s time to get ready to get your shopping grove on!

If you’re shopping for a triathlete, cyclist, or other endurance athlete, chances are high that you might be looking for bike components, nutrition items, clothing, wheels, computers, lights, helmets, shoes, wetsuits, and much, much more.  Or, perhaps, you’re just a bargain shopper and like to find the deals and bargains that come around this time of year.

For the last several years, Michael Hutto – one of my Team Rev3 Tri teammates – has put together a  really comprehensive list of Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals relating to triathlon and multi-sport.  He’s doing it again for this year (click on the image below to go to his site).  Some of the bargains last year were really good – and Michael does a great job of finding the deals, consolidating them into one place, and then sharing for all to benefit.

So – happy shopping!  And, if you need any present ideas for me, just let me know!  🙂

hutto