A New Beginning


Life.  It happens.

We get pushed, pulled, twisted, and stretched as we conquer our fears, chase our dreams, accept our limitations, and diligently execute on our responsibilities.

Sometimes we make a change seeking something different and better, only to fall down and wish we had never made a change.  It takes us longer to get back up and moving again with another change to change course on the original change.

After moving to Seattle from Santa Barbara, I fell.  My heart was still in paradise and my inspirations were swept away with the grey, dreary rain and cold of a Seattle winter.  Not only did I learn about my allergy to high humidity and barometric pressure changes, but I learned how much being true to yourself and your values is far more important than making any new life work.  There is much more to this story which will be revealed as I move into this new beginning.

This fall, I am relocating to Colorado.  The area of Boulder and Louisville at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  I was born in Englewood, so I feel like I am coming home.  Unlike Seattle, Colorado has a lot more sun during the winter even though it is significantly colder with periodic snow.

You can tell a lot about whether you are in the right place by how you feel. We humans have an instinct which helps protect us.  From the start, I never felt great about living in the Puget Sound area.  By contrast, I am happy in Colorado with a collected, calm head.

This is a new beginning.  A restart of my love for fitness, cycling, and triathlon.  I have 25 “Seattle” pounds to shed and a training program to rebuild.  But I’ve done this before and have fond memories of my triathlon journey.  I am looking forward to not only meeting a bunch of new people, but also feeling great again.

You know, life happens.  But now it will happen a bit differently.

Quick Start Apps for Getting Into Shape


Seems the smartphone is the new computer.  You are no one if you don’t have one.  In fact, many Millennials have indicated they would give up their car before they give up their smartphone!!  Thank you Steve Jobs!!  😉

I’ve been playing with a few Apps as I begin my new chapter in multisport and wanted to share some of the ones I really dig.   So, in no particular order:

  • Lose It: While there are numerous Apps out there which allow you to track nutrition, Lose It! is by far my most favorite.  The UI is brilliant, the database is nearly complete, and I love the “scan barcode” function.  You can even set a weight goal and the daily calorie count will automatically adjust.   So far, I’ve lost 8 pounds with this app.
  • EveryMove: Earning rewards for your workouts is nothing new, it has been around for a few years.  GymPact and AchieveMint are the real pioneers.  However, I fell in love with Every Move recently and have been earning rewards happily ever since.  Instead of cash, you earn discounts with online retailers, usually in the 10%-30% range.  I recently saved $24 when I earned a Reward for Kaidel Sportswear and purchased a stylish new cycling jersey.  You can also view a Leaderboard of how you perform in relation to other people your age or other people in your City.   Very cool!
  • FitDeck:  When looking for inspiration for a workout at the gym, FitDeck provides a simple package of workout flash cards conveniently located on your smartphone.  I found these guys originally on an episode of Shark Tank. My experience has been with the Bodyweight deck, which includes Pushups, Bear Crawls, Lunges, and Planks, to name a few.   It provides an illustration of how to do the movement with suggested intervals/counts.  The shuffle feature allows the user to create a random workout at the click of a button.   Other “decks” are available for purchase including Yoga, Vertical Jump, and Core Blast.   Way cool!!

While the App universe is full of millions of Apps which claim to help you achieve fitness, the three listed above are proven to work based on my experience with them.   As always, consult with a doctor before starting any workout routine or altering your diet.   Happy Getting into Shape!

Beginning the Next Chapter…


My last event was in 2010.  I believe it was the Camarillo Duathlon.  It is now nearly four years later and I have to admit I have been too far away from the excitement of multisport.  

Over the past few years I learned a lot about myself, relationships, and what it takes to start a business.  TrainingMetrix is at a stalemate after spending many thousands developing TMX Beta, Excel-based triathlon templates and exploring a few other business ideas.  It has been and will continue to be an awesome ride.  Successful entrepreneurs are the lucky ones. Among the Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerbergs, there are thousands of hardworking visionaries who never attain the same status.  These hidden entrepreneurs are the real drivers of the economy, not the single success types like Zuckerberg.

I also discovered what it was like to have a limited friendship with a narcissist.  While this person was very intelligent and I enjoyed the time, the reality is they always bailed for something else when the real friendship bonding was about to take place.  The adventure we shared together quickly disappeared. Then they bailed again and I wished them the best.  Narcissists never seem to understand the compromise of a friendship and will always put themselves first.  I can appreciate this, but don’t care to deal with this type of person anymore.

So, with this post, I want to open a new chapter.  A chapter which I return to those golden days of competing in multisport.  Only this time, I want to take it slow and work toward finishing my first Ironman.   I love the thrill of competition and personal growth through triathlon, it is forever in my blood.   Stay tuned… 

 

The Winter Triathlete


The winter triathlete is hardcore.

They brave the bitter cold to swim in the  outdoor pool, putting in more laps in the dark by 7am even before the sun rises out of bed.

They ride their bike outfitted with studded tires for the ice and snow while bundled up head to toe in the  warmest of clothing.

They run endless hours in the blizzards of winter for no other reason than to experience running in a blizzard.

Their gym buddies look in awe through the glass window at the heated gym as the winter triathlete tumbles the tractor tire across the parking lot.

At the end of the day, the winter triathlete knows they will smoke their competition come  spring.

2012 Goleta Beach Triathlon – Initial Result Analysis


Being a Data Analyst and Triathlete mean race results are super exciting for me.  The results are almost as exciting as the real event… almost!  I find it interesting to see which Age Groups were fastest and how they compared between the Sprint and Olympic events. Data can tell you a lot about an event, its character and even help you make a smart decision in choosing an event to compete in. If you are a competitive triathlete, do you know how the top 10 stack up?

Overall Results

So, without further ado, here are some interesting insights from the preliminary 2012 Goleta Beach Triathlon results by SB Timing with analysis by TrainingMetrix:

Three distinct races and three distinct finish time patterns.

The blue line is the Sprint, the Green line is the Olympic and the Orange line is the Duathlon event.   What fascinates me the most about these lines are their long tails.  While there was one person who finished the Sprint in three hours, the Olympic course had a much shorter “long tail” of finish times.   The Duathlon was a tiny event and probably a great event for anyone who wanted to place in their Age Group and get a quick medal.

In each of the events, the top 10 stand out as you can see a steep slope from the y-axis, defining the “pro” or “competitive” athlete from a more recreational athlete.

Surprising Sexes

After looking at the counts of Male and Female athletes by event, I was shocked to see that while the Sprint and Duathlon had an equal distribution of M to F, the Olympic event was 2/3 male, 1/3 female.  In fact for every female, there were 2.33 men competing.

Very distinct distributions by event.

At the risk of offending someone, I will limit my inferences as to what the male domination of the Olympic means.   I will simply say further research and participant interviews will be needed.

What Does Age Have To Do With It?

Looking at the count of participants by Age Group, as well as the Average Age by event, we can see the Olympic event is favored by older athletes.  The Sprint histogram by Age Group trails off more steeply after the 40-44 Age Group, while the Olympic event has a sudden drop off at the 55-59 Age Group. (see charts in section above)

The averages by event indicate this as well, the average age of the Sprint triathlete is 36.1 vs 37.5 for the Olympic.  Given this insight, the Olympic is clearly dominated by more experienced Men.

So, Are The Old Guys Faster?

Well, yes.  This is where we see a major difference in the results between the Olympic and Sprint events.  The fastest Age Group for the Sprint is the 35-39 group, whereas the Olympic’s fastest Age Group was the 45-49 (the 65-69 group was fastest but only had one triathlete, so this is statistically insignificant result).

The older Age Groupers are faster in the Olympic event.

Likewise, in general the Sprint tended to have faster athletes in the younger age groups (<40), but the Olympic tended to have faster times in the older age groups (40+).  This makes sense as it takes time to build up the endurance to be a fast endurance athlete. Not to mention speed comes with experience, which comes with age.

What about those Top 10?

The top 10 is an interesting place to look and it certainly illustrates just how competitive each event really is.  For instance, the Sprint is the most popular and has the widest range of athletes and abilities, whereas the Olympic has the more seasoned athletes and is the tougher course.

And the results support this.  The top 10 for the Sprint had an average finish time of 0:48:10 and an 0:01:56 deviation (4.0% of the average).  Not only is this a really insanely fast time, but the top 10 finished closely.  Compare this to Olympic which had a finish time of 2:12:52 and an 0:03:40 deviation (just 2.7% of the average).  Wow, imagine bustin’ your butt for over two hours and have a top 10 finish come down to less than four minutes.   Those older, more experienced athletes know how to race!

One last word on the top 10.  The top 10 are both dominated by men (sorry ladies!), with 9 of the 10 Sprint finishers Men and all 10 Olympic being men.

Summary

Data is a fascinating that can help each athlete determine the best race for their goal.  The 2012 Goleta Beach Triathlon offers very distinct events for triathletes of all types. From a distinctly older Olympic event to the Sprint with its equal Sex mix and faster younger athletes, you can easily see he evolution of the triathlete in the data.  Makes me wonder how many of the triathletes in the top 25% of the Sprint will be competing in the Olympic in a few years?

Cheers!

On Becoming a Race Director…


Giving back to the community can take many forms.  From donations to local charities to adopting a highway, there is more than one way to give back.  How one gives back often depends on their beliefs and passions.

Being a triathlete convert from an office potato, I understand the impact of fitness on improving one’s quality of life.  So, for my philanthropic project for 2012, I decided to do something so outside my box, that I downright frightened myself.

Combining my passion for competition and the local need for a new type of sporting event, I created the concept of the Goleta Duathlon.   A run-bike-run event that is structured as a “B” race, good for seasoned athletes as a warm-up, and a great first race for beginners, that will double as a fundraiser for the Foundation for Girsh Park.

For the first time in my life, I set the bar so high, it drowns me with fear.  Being Race Director is a huge responsibility as the success of the event and the safety of all participants lie on my shoulders.  This event will sink or swim because of me.

Luckily, some of the same principles I learned in triathlon competition apply to my Race Directorship.  In no particular order:

  • Perseverance – Just don’t give up.  Like a triathlon, the mind plays games and tries to get you to stop pushing the edge.  When you get a flat tire, you either continue riding or you change it fast and double your effort to make up time.  As a Race Director, you must keep moving toward the larger goal, even with “No” thrown at you.  If one thing doesn’t work, get feedback and try another angle.
  • Flexibility – Triathlon requires a large amount of flexibility, particularly when dealing with race day conditions.  You can’t let the snow stop you, just adjust your game.  As a Race Director, listening to my community leaders and peers has lead to a very different event that I envisioned last summer when I came up with the idea.   Instead of being stuck on the original event, I rode along for the ride and adjusted where I needed to.
  • Attitude is everything – Sure the rain sucks and makes you cold.  But the cool thing is that you are doing a triathlon in the rain!  Not a lot of people would be bragging about such a thing, but it makes a great story for the grandkids and your friends will respect you a lot more smiling as you cross the finish line in the rain.  Race Director’s have to smile a lot too.  During my first meeting with the city, my event was rejected.  As crushed as I was, I listened to why they rejected it and worked with them.  While the smile did disappear for a moment or two, when the smile came back, I knew this event was going to happen.
  • Enjoy the Journey – Life is not about the destination (death) and neither is the finish line.  In fact, I find finish lines quite boring.  The action is out on the course with every step.  So, every interaction, every sponsor I speak to, and every athlete that contacts me is going to make the journey what it is.  I will be focusing less on race day, and more on how to make race day hugely successful.  Of course, a week before race day, the Race Director seldom sleeps, something that sweetens the journey.

While the daunting task of making the Goleta Duathlon & Fitness Expo a huge success has just began, I know I will be learning a lot along the way.  I know I will also be doing a great thing for my local community.  If there is one thing that keeps me going on this project, is knowing that this event will have a positive impact on a lot of people and be the reason for their smiles at the finish.

Looking to be a Race Director yourself, checkout this inspiring post.

Camarillo Duathlon: A Race to Never Forget


For the past three years, since the very first Camarillo Duathlon was publicized, I have had the goal of completing the course. Due to cancellations, scheduling conflicts, and even injury, I couldn’t quite get my butt down to Camarillo at the right time to get it done!  This race turned into one of those long-term achievements that happen later for a reason.

Back in early 2009 when I set the goal, the race was just an Olympic event (5k run, 20mi bike, 5k run), but today it offers a sprint (1.5mi run, 10mi bike, 1.5mi run).   So, when I arrived at Freedom Park in the wee hours of August 14, 2011, I was feeling a little like I had taken the easy road with the sprint.  Little did I know that in a matter hours, I would be on cloud 9.

Before I go too much further, I would like to commend Bill Escobar for creating this awesome event for us.  Hearing his announcements that morning, watching him interact with the public and volunteers, he demonstrated a passion for multi-sport and a level of hospitality that I haven’t seen before.  Clearly he loves what he does and I am honored to be a participant in his events.

Without further ado, here are my highlights from the event.  I will spare you the novel that I wrote earlier (you know that blow by blow narrative that is a tad long to post here, but if you want a copy of it, please email me armh31″at”gmail.com).

Run #1

Of course the start was pretty melodramatic.  We lined up and the horn blew.  The pack ran off ahead and instead of following the speedy types, I settled into my groove.  By the first turn, I was at the back of the pack, but I didn’t care.  There were plenty of aircraft to admire along the route. As long as I wasn’t last, I was doing well…. observing, strategizing, and plane spotting!

T1 & Bike

Heading into transition I felt winded and one glance at my heart rate said I had pushed the run a tad hard.  Mounting the bike, I sailed out onto the streets amongst the fields of Camarillo.  With authorities keeping those pesky cars at bay, I settled into a decent pace for the 10 mile loop.

That is until the dude in the yellow jersey passed me.  I don’t know why, but having HIM pass me turned a switch and the game was on! As hard as I tried to keep up with him, I couldn’t quite catch him… until nearly the end of the course.  Things got really interesting as I saw him up ahead and slowing down.  I easily passed him and we exchanged glances.

I thought I had him when, all of the sudden, a half mile later he goes whizzing passed me.  I turn up the speed and start chasing him down, but the zigzags back to dismount kept me from catching him.

Then he made a mistake.  He stopped a good 15 feet from the actual dismount line and I went sailing passed him again only to brake hard and stop right on the dismount line itself (a little trick I learned from an experienced triathlete).  I had 15 feet on him and I ran hard with the bike to the transition.  I still had him!

Run #2 & Finish

The Author Following the Race

With a quick switch of gear, I headed out on the run, not even looking back to see where the mister yellow jersey was. I didn’t care, I had a lead to maintain, so I kept a fast (for me) but steady pace that I was certain I could handle all the way back to the finish.  Since I had just run the same course, I knew what to expect and knew that once I was half way down the dirt road, turn on the sprint to finish.

But at the turn around, I saw that my competition had ditched the yellow jersey and wasn’t that far behind me.  I was nervous so I picked up the pace just a bit more.  Passing him, I could see in his eye that he already gave it his all.  I had won… unless I screwed up.

Hitting the dirt road was when the legs seriously started to protest. Just as I considered my options, I was passed by an older guy whom I knew was a sprint participant.  He was moving fast for his build and age, so I wasn’t about to give up my spot to him.  A little earlier than I wanted, I went into sprint mode and ran him down.

Luckily, there was a curb to run around to the finish chute, which he negotiated rather slowly compared to my more flexible maneuver.  Then it was a sprint to the finish and I beat him by two seconds.

And that was the end of a race I will never forget.

Sprint Results Plotted (courtesy TrainingMetrix)

With my overall time of 1:09:31, I was happy to see myself just ahead of the Sprint race average of 1:10:33.   That was good for 32nd place of 69 competitors.  Camarillo Duathlon Sprint Race results were plotted by TrainingMetrix (graph above is reproduced with their permission) and you can see I am just ahead of average (the red dot).

So, have I achieved that goal I set years ago?  As much as I want to say yes, I still have to finish the Olympic course and we might save that for 2012.  But with the third race of 2011 coming up on Sept. 4th, I might just give the sprint one more try in 2011!

Note: I am working compiling some video of the race (the Olympic start) and will post a video post here when it is complete.