A Significant Detour


I look back at my triathlon experience of ten years ago with great admiration.  All the pain, every cheer, every milestone and every race brought a perspective to life that I would never have thought I would experience as a kid who hated PE class.  But, it didn’t last.

The Great February Illness

In February 2012, I got sick.  I was at my prime and the lowest weight of my adult life, under 200 pounds.   As it turned out triathlon had become an addiction.  The months leading up my sickness, I was desperate for a PR and was trying to keep up with the more “professional” athletes. My body said “no more races.”

And so, began a steady and slow return to life as an obese adult.  The weight came back on over a few years.  I still managed to ride the bike and get some runs in, but I was not seriously training on a regular basis, nor was I working with a trainer.

The Workaholic is Back!

In late 2013, the workaholic returned.  I joined a local company as a sales analytics and operations guru and this role turned out to be far from a 9 to 5 role.  The CEO had an extra special personality and required some baby-sitting, as did the Sales VP.  I remember the day I walked into the office and said “F*ck it!” to self care and working out. It was simply too hard to protect your lunch for a nice ride.  It was difficult to ride in the evenings as you got stuck on deliverables and winter brought darkness at 4:30pm.  With an occasional ride on the weekend, my attempts to stick with an intensive workout schedule went out the door. That was a mistake.

Seattle or Bust

I moved to the greater Seattle area.  I had family in the area and needed a reset. But after AricInTraining - Skagit Classic Map17 years of life in Santa Barbara, CA, moving anywhere else was rough, especially a place with at least 5-months of rain and no sun.  I have to say, Washington state is a gorgeous place to live.  I see why everyone wants to live up there.  But with all of these people, traffic, cost of living, and jobs became more and more of an issue.  Seattle’s I5 is a freeway that going one mile can easily take 30+minutes, on a good day.  Riding the bike was a rare event here, as was hiking and even going for a walk after work.  The best moment is that I did finish the Skagit Spring Classic. The 27 mile ride through some exquisite, but soggy country side was proof I still had it in me. Of course, I didn’t walk for a few days after that.  But as time went on, my remote job drove me into isolation and my diet started seriously south in terms providing nutrients over junk.  After two years, I had to make a change and save my life.  The miserable me left rather quickly for Boulder County, Colorado.

The Gorgeous Front Range

Boulder County, Colorado is a gorgeous place.  It is also in the Front Range of the eastern slope of Rocky Mountains.  Boulder is where Mork and Mindy (Wikipedia) lived. Boulder is also where very serious cyclists can be seen cycling in a blizzard, further proof you can do anything when you are prepared!  What drew me to the area is not only the beauty, but the cycling culture.  Boulder County has hundreds of miles of recreational paths.  From the apartment I was living in Louisville, I could access that network from my door.

AricInTraining with Cookie Monster JerseySo why didn’t I ride? Yes, after two years of Colorado living, I only managed to get a handful of rides in, the longest of which was about 10-miles.  As it turns out, my head was bigger than my muscles.  That 10-mile ride did me in.  My legs screamed, “give us a break”, while my head said, “let’s go 100!” Now, keep in mind, Denver is the mile high city and I was living at 5,360 ft above sea level.  I was not used to the altitude.  I was also not used to the extreme dry air and the pounding sun.  Dehydration is too easy.  I was living in one of the most gorgeous areas of Colorado and found myself stuck in my 400 sq ft community garden plot rather than on the bike.

Horribly Sick

Then came January 2019 and my health went south very quickly.  I returned from a friend’s visit in Santa Fe, New Mexico over the holidays to Louisville and became very sick with severe cough, fever, stomach issues, lack of energy, tight chest, inability to focus, and extreme pain in my left calf.  After a week of not getting better, I went to urgent care.  Well, they were quick to diagnose it as bronchitis and sent me home with an inhaler and some antibiotics.  I got better, better then I didn’t.  The chest tightness wouldn’t go away and neither would the cough.  Life as a coughing zombie was the new normal, which was tragic as I just started my dream job in analytics.   After a second visit to the urgent care, I was diagnosed with asthma, given more inhalers, more allergy meds, and a word of caution to get out of town after an allergy test.  The doctor suggested there might be something in my apartment trying to kill me, including my cat.

Allergy Meets GERD

After following the treatment for a few weeks, I got better.  I was learning about asthma and its triggers and inspecting my apartment for what might be killing me.  What I kept finding was a fine grey dust all over the place, almost like lint when you wiped it up.  Then spring came and I turned off the heater.  Then I started to get much better.  The tightness in the chest and the cough subsided.  Long story short, the allergy test revealed a severe allergy to ragweed and dust mites.  I was also diagnosed with moderate sleep apnea and GERD (severe acid reflux). The first key to understanding what happened became the allergy to dust mites as the sleep test revealed a large amount of dust in the air and the air quality really started coming in to question. The second became my own eating habits with too much coffee, too much refined food, and just too much food.   At this point, I had had enough of Colorado and decided to head for lower altitude and better air.

I ended up in San Antonio, Texas where I am typing this today.  Not the prettiest city, but it does have a lot to offer.  The cyclist isn’t the best, nor are the “bike routes”.  But the people, the food, the accessibility, and the cost of living are easy to handle.

I have eliminated coffee and sugars for the last seven days and am feeling really good. My energy is coming back and my stomach feels more like it should. I am also monitoring the amount of food I eat in one sitting and am learning when to stop.

What’s the Point?

So, what’s the point of all of this?  I wrote a really, really long blog post about my significant detour from the wonderful life of triathlon. If you’ve read this far, I congratulate you.  For me, the point of all of this is to make sense of the last few years as I come to another fork in the road along my journey of life.  It makes me realize that I never gave up.  I may have digressed, I may have had some bad times, I may have been living in an apartment trying to kill me, but I persisted through it all.  I didn’t let the negativity win.  The voices in my head certainly challenged my resolve many times, but at least I pushed through it.  I realize a change in attitude and a return to regular training is in order.  Where it goes from there, we’ll see.  Stay tuned and see where Aric ends up.

 

 

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.