Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Always in Motion is the Future

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Status Report

The countdown clock says that my base 1 training begins in a few hours.

Since the Berlin marathon, I've lived a dissolute lifestyle of sloth. For example, today I slept until 9am, had a lunch consisting of chicken curry on chips with Guinness to drink, did not and will not work out, and will have a buffet dinner featuring turkey and roast beef as well as yet more Guinness.

Yeah, I've gained weight. Why do you ask? :-)

To make the off-season complete, I was in Las Vegas on Friday. Nothing says off-season like Vegas.

I'm not going to use the glories of Fall Back to squeeze in a workout tomorrow morning - I'm going to use it to sleep an hour later. Sure, I'm happy at the prospect of a new training season, but let's not get too crazy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fall Back Looms!

Early Sunday morning all sorts of people will set their clocks back one hour as they return to Standard Time from Daylight Saving Time.

Thank goodness.

Cayman does not observe Daylight Saving Time. My daily schedule is dominated by the US and Europe. Hence, I shift my schedule by one hour according to local clocks. Just now I'm getting up at 4:30am, and I'm not by nature a morning person.

Have a happy Fall Back people - I sure will!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

One Can Tri Too Much

Fe-Lady often reminds us to take care in how much of our lives we invest in triathlon.

On various (non-tri) blogs I've seen links to the story of someone bailing from the World of Warcraft Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG).

As I watch my countdown clock tick down toward the commencement of real (Base 1) training, it's a good story for me to keep in mind. Tri isn't my profession. Any time that I put into it beyond that required for good physical health is devoting a scarce resource to a hobby. Perhaps I can justify a bit more time on the basis of the meditative benefits of endurance training on mental state, but maybe that's stretching.

There are other benefits, though. Practicing the habits of goal setting and achievement increases my ability to be effective in my entire life. Being part of group exercise activities may help motivate others (as they motivate me). Public displays of healthy living, as well as the habits of goal setting and achievement, can be useful to others. Finally, my own involvement with tri encourages me to do a bit of community service: assisting at kids' races and minor committee work.

Although it's an individual sport, it doesn't have to be just about the individual.

Note to self: avoid MMORPGs like crack.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Travel Bit: Munich (Part II)

We got a late start on Friday September 29th. I did not have a post-Oktoberfest hangover, and had no unexplained bruising - while I did have a bruise, I remembered its origin!

Although breakfast may have been cautious, by afternoon my friend JK and I were back at it. First we went to a nearby hotel lounge to meet up with a friend of JK's who works for the Walt Disney Company (in marketing with the Parks division). A few more Disney folks joined the agglomeration to make a total of six of us, and we all headed off to the Weisses Brauhaus (Tal). The Disney folks had been in a meeting that morning, even though they too had been at Oktoberfest the night before. Neither fact slowed them down.

The Disney folks were an interesting bunch. Aside from JK's friend, they were in the Imagineering group; all were California-based. We spent most of our day with them, as we were invited along to join their larger group's dinner function at the Brenner Grill restaurant. That had us sitting with more Disney folks, and a couple of other corporate folks from the meeting. I was seated between the Chief Information Officer of Walt Disney World Co. and a Chief Financial Officer in Imagineering (although a lot of the CFO's work sounded like project management).

After dinner we were back down to the same six of us who'd been at Weisses Brauhaus. We stuck mainly to the bar section of the Brenner Grill, which seemed a pretty active place. Lots of stories were told, but there was a clear winner in that department - Chris Carradine. He's chief designer for Imagineering, and the black sheep of his family for going into architecture and not the family business of acting (father: John; mother: Sonia Sorel; brothers: David, Robert; half-brother: Keith; adoptive brother: Bruce).

It was an entertaining night, and it left me even more impressed with the House of Mouse. Eventually we left for one last beer, only to find the Hofbrauhaus already closed. We wound things down and headed off to our various hotels.

The next day (Saturday September 30th) JK and I made one last use of a hotel perk - a significant amount off lunch at the Mandarin Oriental, through the AmEx program. Although we weren't dressed for it, lunch was in substance a fine dining experience, with a seemingly endless parade of different waiting staff. After that we hurried to the airport for our flight to Washington (Dulles), where we went our separate ways.

The whole week-and-a-half was a grand time: top notch!

Special thanks to JK for arranging logistics.

Travel Bit: Munich (Part I)

On Wednesday September 27th I had sent an e-mail to my sister, Wendy:
"Now in Stuttgart. Going to Munich tomorrow. Now have hotel reservations; will not have to sleep in a van; feeling reassured."

Yeah, that's right. My friend JK and I had committed to a travel schedule that put us in Munich in the midst of Oktoberfest without benefit of a guaranteed hotel reservation. I was only half-kidding about the van.

JK and I caught a late morning train from Stuttgart to Munich on Thursday September 28th. Once there, we checked in at the Mandarin Oriental, again under the auspices of American Express' fine hotel and resort program. Service standards were very high; we were treated as highly valued guests and from what I could see so were all others. They have a five-star rating, and are often cited as the top hotel in Munich; from what I saw, they keep earning that each day. There's a Mandarin Oriental project forthcoming for Grand Cayman - maybe I had a bit of a preview!

Our room came with a view. Some might not think of it that way - we looked across the street to a multi-level parking garage. For us, it was great - BMWs, Mercedes, Porsches, et al, all in a changing display!

In keeping with the theme of our two days in Munich, I note that the Mandarin Oriental structure is actually attached by an above-ground walkway to the Hofbrauhaus.

For lunch on Thursday we went to the Weisses Brauhaus (Tal), about two blocks from our hotel. We sat outdoors, drank beer, ate Bavarian cuisine, and people-watched.

Late that afternoon (or early that evening, depending upon how you draw the lines), we headed out to Oktoberfest to meet up with one of JK's neighbours. The neighbour just happened to be in Munich for work-related reasons (he's a researcher in robotics). The neighbour was with a colleague, a local professor in robotics.

The four of us went to two of the beer tents, rejecting notions of going on any of the many amusement-park rides (there's a fair-sized carnival at Oktoberfest). The first was the Hacker-Pschorr tent; we ended up sitting at an outdoor picnic-type bench, drinking beer, and snacking. The second was the Paulaner tent, where we stayed inside. The Paulaner tent came complete with a band in the centre, playing various music (including oom-pah!).

Eventually in the Paulaner tent we squeezed around one of the tables, for the most part standing up with the other (college-aged) fellows who were already there. Any concerns about our snagging of space seemed to evaporate when they found the upside of having us there: our tendency to buy rounds. Here I discovered just why men stand up on the benches.

I also discovered that with training-related decrease in alcohol consumption and body composition changes I was not calibrated for how much (read: how little) to consume. No real trouble, but something of which I should have been more mindful.

I had great fun at Oktoberfest, and quite recommend it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cayman Tri-Life: CayKids Triathlon

On Sunday morning I was at the CayKids Triathlon, sponsored by Nestle MILO. Organiser Judy Ryan and her team of volunteers did a great job. There were approximately 125 participants overall, as individuals in age groups (7 to 10 and 11 to 14) or as relay teams. The younger group biked 3km and ran 500m. How far they swam is a bit of guess - 125m? The older group did two loops of everything, so double the distance of the younger group.

Being a spare pair of hands, I was sent out to staff the bike turn-around (along with Paul Phillips, who organised the local Stroke and Stride series two months back). Paul and I provided traffic control for cars, and directions and encouragement for participants. I also put a dropped chain back on, a trickier operation on a child's bike with a chainguard and no derailleur than on my own. Wish I'd been faster - poor kid took quite a time penalty!

By 8:45am the event was over, and partipants were happily demolishing the pizza provided. For the rest of the morning I kept seeing kids with event T-shirts wearing finishers medals, usually with parents in tow. What fun!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Travel Bit: Stuttgart

My friend JK and I arrived in Stuttgart at the airport around 8:40am on Wednesday September 27th. We went straight to the Ascot airport hotel and were able to get early check-in.

For the first time on this expedition we stayed somewhere one might describe as a "clean, well-lit place", and where we had no special status. We were fortunate to have reservations at all; accommodations were tight in the city. At 79 euros for my single room with single twin bed I certainly didn't feel as though I were being extorted.

JK left the hotel for a meeting. I went for an extended nap and then stayed in the hotel to eat and read. I just didn't have the get-up-and-go to get up and go tour the Porsche or Mercedes museum - my loss. Dinner that evening was traditional Swabian cuisine at a moderate local restaurant with one of the folks with whom JK had attended the meeting.

We departed Stuttgart for Munich late morning the next day, so we were able to get up late and allow JK to catch up on some sleep.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Travel Bit: Prague

I completed the Berlin marathon about 12:45pm on Sunday September 24th. At 7:10pm that evening my friend JK and I were on a flight to Prague. Because if you stand still, you risk spontaneous human combustion. Or something.

We checked in at the Intercontinental Hotel. Here we were treated as highly valued guests as part of American Express' fine hotel and resort program; a comedown from exploiting JK's exalted "lifetime Diamond Club member" status at the Hyatt, but still much better than I live my regular life.

For dinner we caught up with one of JK's consulting clients (on vacation from North America) who also had a friend in tow. After JK and I slept late on Monday, we all played tourist through to Tuesday night.

JK and I didn't tour the castle; having visited Prague extensively he has already toured it, and I was happy enough just to see the structure (the largest ancient castle in the world, according to Guinness World Records). It certainly is a dominant and imposing sight - no wonder that Franz Kafka wrote The Castle.

The things all four of us did tour:
o the Jewish Quarter;
o the Veletrzni Palace (the modern art permanent exhibition of the National Gallery);
o Wenceslas Square; and
o the Old Town Square (we did watch the astronomical clock strike the hour).
We also attended a string quartet performance in the Church of Saint Martin in the Wall - I was surprised by how good the acoustics were.

Amongst some of my friends I'll have bragging rights for dinner on Tuesday night. We all ate at Franz Kafka Restaurant; it's off the Old Town Square in the building where Franz Kafka was born. Didn't spot any roaches, though.

JK and I left Prague on a 7:15am flight to Stuttgart on Wednesday September 27th. Interestingly, all the flights from Prague that morning left in a block from 7:00am to 7:20am. It seems that Prague is an inexpensive place to store airplanes overnight, so there's a burst of flights out in early the morning, with those jets fanning out on multiple-hop routes.

The downside for us was the handling of lines for passport control. We were at the airport at a reasonable hour, but emigration control was not staffed to smoothly cope with the morning surge of people for those clustered flights. So on the third morning after the marathon I did a baggage-laden airport sprint as the intercom speaker called for JK and I to make it to the gate or be left behind. Good times! And I guarantee that I made a new personal best. :-D

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Travel Bit: Berlin

In Berlin, JK and I stayed at the Hyatt at Potsdamer Platz. That was hugely convenient - getting to the race start was a 15 minute walk.

Checking in at the hotel was interesting. Along with having over six million frequent flyer miles, JK is also a "Diamond Club lifetime member" with Hyatt. In Hyatt-land, this seems the rough equivalent of being minor nobility possessed of a small fortune. Good thing we didn't stay long enough for me to get used to such treatment!

Over Friday and Saturday we did some minor wandering around in central Berlin, in the midst of fabulous weather - sunny and close to room temperature. JK played tour guide, as during some of his time (early 1980s) in the U.S. Air Force he'd been stationed as an intelligence officer in West Berlin. When we'd passed Checkpoint Charlie on the taxi ride in from the airport I think it had really struck home to him how much had changed.

The core of the city is something special. First, there are the historic buildings. Second, there's the West Berlin showcase effect (West Berlin received substantial subsidies from West Germany). Third, there are the effects of reunification - re-establishing Berlin as a capital city and a major population centre. It's a locus for the arts and education, and is a major tourist and convention destination.

Potsdamer Platz made a great starting point. It's new and shiny, and a bright focus of nightlife, having been built up from literally nothing after re-unification. There was a lot of bustle and commerce, as well as a lot of outdoor seating with leisurely dining or drinking.

There is a small section of the Berlin Wall still standing at Potsdamer Platz. There's not much else of it remaining; some people wonder whether more should have been preserved.

We did walk around (OK, circumambulate for those who want 5-euro words) the Reichstag, so I had a view of the mix of old and modern architecture clustered around that focal point.

Collecting race kits required a taxi ride to the Internationales Congress Centrum (ICC), the largest convention centre in Europe. Landmarks along the way ranged from churches to an erotic museum.

The most fun thing about the taxi ride was being out-muscled by a one-seater topless roadster that sounded like a large angry sewing machine. We asked the driver about it at a stoplight (topless cars make for easy inquiries). It was a 50 year old Messerschmitt! Subsequently, I've identified it as a TG500 "Tiger", with the softtop roof detached.

It was too brief a stay and my focus was on the marathon, not being a tourist. At least I've been there!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Travel Bit: There and Back Again

In part spurred by Roman's recent post, it seems time for me to blague about Prog - whoops, blog about Prague. But first, some background.

When I got back from this whole Berlin marathon tour, a friend asked "How was travelling around Europe with [JK]? Is it much like we would expect?"

Oh yeah. It was.

For one thing, JK has over six million frequent flyer miles. And it's not as though he's hoarding them - that's just what he hasn't managed to use. Do you know how one collects that many? I don't myself, really, but it seems to involve spending about as much time in the air going places as being on the ground *in* those places.

My travel itinerary for the Berlin marathon went like this:
Sep. 20: depart Grand Cayman for Baltimore
Sep. 21: join JK in Baltimore, depart Baltimore for Berlin
Sep. 22: arrive Berlin
Sep. 24: depart Berlin for Prague
Sep. 27: depart Prague for Stuttgart
Sep. 28: depart Stuttgart for Munich
Sep. 30: depart Munich for Baltimore, part company with JK in Baltimore
Oct. 01: depart Baltimore for Grand Cayman

FYI, JK got on a plane for Tokyo on October 2nd, attended a 4 hour meeting, and then got on a plane to get back to Baltimore; his eldest daughter's wedding was October 7th, and he really had to get back to at least try on his tux....

Maybe you're getting the picture. I was being pulled along in one heck of a slipstream!


Today is Thanksgiving in Canada; my best wishes go out to family and friends who are celebrating. While it may not be obvious, as I've chosen to move a couple of thousand kilometres, family and friends are the best part of my life - and it's a wonderful life.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Travel Bit: North Baltimore Aquatic Club Breakfast

To begin my trip for the Berlin marathon I went to Baltimore to rendezvous with my friend John Kamauff (JK). We used a two-for-one air travel deal for the major part of our travels and that required traveling together, so I caught up with him and his family there.

Our flight was in the afternoon, so JK and I (with JK's wife Susan) were able to attend the North Baltimore Aquatic Club (NBAC) "A Breakfast for our Champions". It was a fundraiser celebrating "the 40th anniversary of the founding of America's Greatest Swim Team". It would have been great to attend the cocktail party the night before too (JK and Susan went), but my sleep schedule didn't permit.

NBAC is clearly a special organisation. How special? There were 17 champions on the programme; they were scattered around the room, anchoring guest tables. Here are the top two, both of whom were in attendance and spoke later: Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff. Michael Phelps is an NBAC alumnus, and made the time in his schedule to travel back for the event. Katie Hoff is a current member.

[Triathlon-oriented Aside: Bold, TriBoomer: Joanna Zeiger was also listed in the programme, but I don't recall seeing her there.]

At the end I took the opportunity of introducing myself to Bob Bowman. He was a coach with NBAC, was on the 2004 Olympic staff, and is Michael Phelps' coach and coach of University of Michigan's men's swimming. I knew that he would be interested in meeting one of Coach Mike's masters swimmers and getting a quick personal update.

That all made for an inspirational kick-off for Berlin. And I'm still left pondering how some organisations gel into something really special and others... just don't.

The complete list of NBAC Champions for the event per the programme:
Wendy Weinberg Weil - 1976 Olympics
Polly Winde Surhoff - 1982 World Championships [aside: Susan's friend!]
Theresa Andrews - 1984 Olympics
Patrick Kennedy - 1984 Olympics
Rowdy Gaines - 1984 Olympics
Julie Gorman - 1990 World Championships
Julie Kole - 1990 World Championships
Jill Johnson Chasson - 1992 Olympics
Anita Nall Richesson - 1992 Olympics
Whitney Phelps Flickinger - 1994 World Championships
Casey Barrett - 1996 Olympics [aside: he anchored our table]
Beth Botsford Vencil - 1996 Olympics
Whitney Metzler Krosse - 1996 Olympics
Joanna Zeiger - 2000 Olympics
Michael Phelps - 2000 and 2004 Olympics
Kevin Clements - 2003 World Championships
Katie Hoff - 2004 Olympics

Murray Stephens - 1996 Olympic Staff [aside: head coach & driving force for NBAC]
Bob Bowman - 2004 Olympic Staff
Paul Yetter - 2005 World Championship Staff

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Cayman Tri-Life: Masters Swimming

Swimming is a well-supported sport here. There's a strong traditional attachment to the sea, and year-round it is usually friendly to swimmers.

As a sport, the organising body is the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association. The Masters swimming programme is under its umbrella, as is the official Masters club - Hammerheads. A few of the swimmers went to the World Masters Championships this year, which strikes me as pretty good from a base of 50,000 residents.

Masters swimming in the local 6-lane 25metre outdoor pool is Monday and Thursday evenings at a cost of $3 CI (= $3.75USD) per session. A bargain! We also have access to the pool on some mornings at no cost without formal workouts, and there are informal group sea swims too.

Mike Barrowman is our Masters swim coach. Go on, click on his name to see his Wikipedia entry. I told you that swimming is well-supported! Coach Mike has a different full-time gig on-island; we're fortunate to have him here.

Tonight, weather permitting, I'll be back in the pool after a hiatus that began in the middle of my build for the Berlin marathon. Looking forward to it!

When I refer to "Cayman Tri-Life", it will usually focus on the big island, Grand Cayman.

Transition: the fourth discipline

Bold says that "triathletes can get in and out of clothes like nobody's business".

Yeah, triathletes are great at transition: getting in and out of clothes. However, focus counts. Just as elite triathletes may not be at the very top of swimmers, cyclists, or runners, for getting out of clothes triathletes got nothin' on this guy!

I'm still trying to figure out how to apply that to T1.

Note to self: sign up on YouTube, embed videos instead of linking.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

About This Blog

The raison-d’etre of this blog is the Tri-Geek Alliance and team raceAthlete. Having followed the Tri-Blogging Community (TBC) for some time, when the call for IMMoo 2007 went out I decided that I wanted to join the party. This blog is part of that. I started it with a race report because I’ve enjoyed, and gotten a lot out of, reading so many written by others.

The voice of this blog may be a little stiff, as I’m sensitive to the fact that this is a public forum and archives may hold it for posterity. Per Scott McNealy (former CEO of Sun Microsystems): “You have no privacy, get over it.”

The month of October is my off-season this year, so posting may be sporadic and there won’t be much on day-to-day training. The blog will be on vacation for about a week when I go to Las Vegas. I may post trip reports for Berlin and Vegas, but again: public forum. There may be a few things I leave out....

Monday, October 02, 2006

Personal Race Report: Berlin Marathon (September 24, 2006)

Summary result

Completed without permanent injury in 3:36:30 (personal best).

Overall assessment

A good event for me. Performance under the prevailing conditions was in line with my running fitness. Average heart rate of 172 (86% of maximum HR, 81% of HR reserve) and splits adjusted for conditions show near constant effort pacing - in keeping with race plan. Failed to raise intensity in final 10K due to incipient cramping in right calf (known weakest link for conditioning).

Course Overview

Berlin is flat and fast - the current world record was set on this course. There's more shade along the way than I would have guessed. There are a lot of very enthusiastic spectators all along the route. Aid station support is excellent. The one-loop course goes past many significant landmarks, and running through the Brandenburg gate makes for a spectacular home stretch.


As the winner came in only 61 seconds off the world-record pace, it was clearly a great set of conditions. Sunny; warming throughout with humidity declining -> near constant dew point.

My start was 09:10am.
Time Temperature Dew Point Humidity
09:20am 59F 50F 72%
10:20am 64F 50F 59%
11:20am 66F 48F 52%
12:20pm 70F 48F 46%
13:20pm 73F 50F 44%

Winds: 9 to 14mph from ESE/SE


Berlin has a few waves of starters; my wave was the second of the general masses. I joined my section moderately early and looked to slot myself in the top quarter to top third of the wave. I've never been in such a large athletic event (14,000 or so runners - it is one of the five world marathon majors). The enthusiasm was genuine and unforced - there's no grandstanding when you're another wavetop of a human sea.

A long way along the event, past 34K, I was still seeing a few runners who had been close to me at the start, so my slotting was reasonable. The downside was being held up by those ahead who come up to pace more slowly, and those who should have slotted themselves further back. Although my first split was fine, I expended a certain amount of energy working around people, slowing down, speeding up, and moving laterally. I think the second split shows a bit of confusion around the first aid station (should avoid the first table of water cups - there's some chaos at that point of the stations), but also some bunching up still occurring at choke points especially around bends. For a continent with such appreciation of cycling, the runners weren't exceptionally good about holding their lines.

The long middle portion of the run itself was smooth and fun. I occasionally waved at bands or percussionists along the route, and did exchange handslaps with a few groups of children who were extending their hands.

I learned one notable thing from the bystanders. You see, I had lined up near a few folks identified as Danes by flags or lettering on their shirts; there were often one or two of them in my vicinity throughout most of the run. Now, I have always considered Denmark as a country. Sunday, I learned that Denmark is not only a country, it is also a team! The number of spectators calling out "Go Denmark!" or variants was extraordinary.

As lore has it, the second half of a marathon begins at 32K. Somewhere not too much before that I'd had my first motor-control moment, dropping one of my fuel belt flasks as I tried to put it back in place after drinking. I hope it caused no difficulty - at least they're small. Earlier in the race I'd kicked a full-sized (empty) waterbottle to the side; I can only hope that someone else similarly cleaned up my mess. There's no going back when you're in a 14,000 person stampede!

Not all that much past 32K my right calf began signalling an incipient cramp. This nixed the plan of strongly ramping up intensity. Instead, the priority became flexing the toes upward. I attribute the minor blood under my left foot toenails to the gait change from managing my right calf. When I went to pull out another salt tablet from my runner's wallet, I failed to feel them amongst other junk and assumed that I'd dropped them when last I took a tab. Cognitive slip - I found later that they really were still in there.

I ran the last 8K avoiding the aid stations. I had enough Gatorade left in my 8 flask fuelbelt to be self-supported; this was useful because keeping pace steadier helped with my calf. On top of having extra Gatorade still available at 34K, I had only consumed half the amount of energy gel planned; I hadn't paid enough attention to nutrition during the race. I did pretty well hydrating at the aid stations though.

Somewhere in the last 5K I considered a downside of such a big event. The home stretch is littered with runners who have cramped or otherwise blown-up. Sure, they're a small percentage, but it is a bit grim to run past so many people who are in the midst of trying experiences. Just Keep Running.

The run through the Brandenburg gate near the finish line was a rush - actually finishing the marathon a couple of minutes later didn't measure up, but of course was its own reward.

Learning Points

o strength and flexibility conditioning need some more emphasis;
o should up calorie intake with a steadier consumption of gel;
o can attempt slightly higher overall intensity if address calf (et al) conditioning;
o should tweak equipment for carrying salt tabs;
o slot aggressively if seeking to hit a time goal.

In Closing

My thanks to the organisers, volunteers, spectators, service personnel (police, ambulance, and medical), sponsors, and other supporters. It's a great event - a true showcase. And they have free beer after the finish!

Appendix: Splits

5km: 0:25:03
10km: 0:51:27 / 0:26:24
15km: 1:16:51 / 0:25:25
20km: 1:41:46 / 0:24:55
25km: 2:06:56 / 0:25:10
30km: 2:32:35 / 0:25:39
35km: 2:58:11 / 0:25:37
40km: 3:24:38 / 0:26:28

first half: 1:47:24
second half: 1:49:06
total: 3:36:30