The New Year Brings New Goals!


Resolutions 5k Run kicks off 2012

As we begin flying through the new 2012 calendar and say “whew” after running my first event of the new year, it is time to outline my goals for the year.  Instead of doing a half dozen events, I feel like 2012 should be the year of simple and calculated performance.  Let’s focus on one or two larger goals and let the rest fall in as they come.

Choose Your Distance!

Recognizing the diversity of the triathlon sport, 2012 will be the year to step up.  First, I will complete my first “long” course triathlon.  This means swimming a mile in the ocean (really?), biking fives time longer than a sprint, and running more than 3x’s the distance.  But, that’s how we roll and continually improve our performance.

The event of choice for my first long course triathlon is none other than my home town event, the Santa Barbara Triathlon on August 25th.  Why travel when you can roll out of bed 45 minutes before start and still wait for horn?    To read more about the daunting 1-mile swim, 34-mile bike, and 10-mile run ahead, check out the course description.

After surviving my first long course, I thought it would be an excellent recovery opportunity to finish the Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint in the fastest time possible on September 30th.  After going long, the shorter distances are going to be a breeze (I say that now!).   The Carp Tri is my favorite and I can’t think of any better way to end the season with a solid showing on a course that I love so much.

Host Your Own Event When You Can’t Find It

But, my biggest goal yet, which is not necessarily directly related to training, but is fitness oriented, is going to be awesomer.  I am directing the Goleta Duathlon, held on May 20, 2012 in the “Good Land” of Goleta, California. The best part about a duathlon (run-bike-run) is the lack of swimming with the sharks! I am still in the process of obtaining permits, I can’t wait to share a bit of California’s Central Coast with other athletes and allow them to share in this memorable event.  From now to May 21st, life is going to be interesting.

Cooking Paleo, Cover to Cover

Of course, an individual needs their “fun” goals as well.  Life can’t be all training and race directing.  This year I decided to get back in the kitchen and cook!  The goal is to make every recipe (minus recipes with allergies) in a paleo cookbook from cover to cover.

The book for 2012 is Paleo Comfort Food by the Mayfields. I’ve owned this book for a while, but haven’t had a chance to really dive into the scrumptious recipes inside.  By the end of this year, though, I will be a paleo comfort food master!

Wish me luck!  I set the bar extremely high, but I know I can achieve!

What are your goals for 2012?

Wet, Dreary, But Awesome: 2011 Carpinteria Triathlon


The Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint is the best triathlon on the central coast of California (at least according to me).  Despite heavy mist that slowly soaked everything to the core, cold air and an otherwise dreary day, the 2011 Carpinteria Triathlon is in the history books.  It is a triathlon I will be talking about for a while to come.

Here are the highlights:

Pre-Race

  • Arriving at 5:45am and getting stuck in the queue waiting for transition to open was a little insane given an 8:20 start time.
  • My transition was at the far end of the transition area, meaning I had a looonngg sprint with the bike to the bike out, but a brief sprint to the run out.
  • Despite the cold, wet weather everyone was in good spirits and I quickly setup my transition using my Gyst bag.
  • The practice went well with the water not too cold (around 62) and not very clear.
  • The GPS went dead. The old, data-geek Aric would have panicked, but the new Aric thought this was a sign from above to just trust the body and let go.

Swim (19:39)

  • Horn blew and I found myself in the pack!  Oh boy, I was actually keeping up with other athletes for a change.
  • Getting to the first buoy felt like swimming up a hill. What?
  • Rounding the first buoy, sighting was an issue, so I just followed the pack. You’d be amazed how far off course people swim, so don’t trust the legs in front of you!
  • Rounding the last buoy, the swim in took forever as my technique got so bad that I was swimming in circles.  I think I swam twice the distance.

T1 (03:21)

  • Finding transition was easy, just a few rows to the right.
  • It was hard getting the wetsuit off, it kept getting caught on my ankle and binding up.  Spent a little too much time fiddling with it.
  • The bike gear went on quickly, so off I went on my run to bike out.
  • Consistent, slow pace was the strategy running through transition.

Bike (32:22)

  • At the mount/dismount line, the first big problem.  I dropped my chain. It only took a second to get it back on, but I sliced open my thumb on the crank while doing so.  The first two miles was gushing blood.
  • Despite the blood and cold air, I settled into a pace behind another cyclist.
  • It was uphill for the first half of the course and the quads knew it.
  • I’ve mastered the art of opening sealed packages with my teeth and manipulating food one handed while cruising.  A Clif Bar was the fuel needed for the run.
  • It is amazing how much dirt one collects on their body riding down a dirty, wet road.
  • Do they make windshield wipers for sunglasses?
  • Getting passed was a regular thing, but I managed to pass a few people.
  • Getting back to T1, I felt great and was ready to take on the run.

T2 (02:26)

  • I have to run alllll the way down there?  Yep.
  • After arriving at my spot, it was a matter of racking the bike, switching shoes and grabbing the hat.
  • Out onto the run course I went.

Run (33:58)

  • I have no idea what pace I settled into, but it felt slow. Happy the GPS was dead!
  • Getting passed on both the right and left at the exact same time is a little psychologically messed up.
  • Consistent… be in the moment… the finish line isn’t going anywhere so why worry about it?
  • While I wanted to see my heart rate data and pace, I was glad the GPS died, because the body was feeling good.  I pushed it a little harder.
  • Whoa! Who put the run turn-around at City Hall?  I have to run 0.11 mile farther this year?  ugh!
  • Turning around, it was mostly down hill from here.
  • The residents are out in their lawn chairs, cheering us on! How cool is that?
  • Turning into the finish chute, I felt done.  Still, I picked up the pace for a modest finish.
  • I hope my gut isn’t hanging out in my finish line photo…  that jersey is like two sizes too small for me.

Overall, it was a really fun, exciting race.   It reminded me why I speak so fondly of the Carpinteria Triathlon.  With a final result of 1:31:46, I was pleased.  (results are posted here) From a numbers perspective, that is roughly five minutes faster than last year’s result, but still about 45 seconds away from a PR.

So, did my strategy work?  Once the GPS died and I decided to focus on relaxation and being in the moment, I think it payed off with dividends.  Not having the distraction of the data and not having to fiddle with the GPS during T1/T2 freed my mind and let me focus on what mattered.  It took me three years to figure this out, but it is a strategy to use going forward.

I am also going to spend a little time developing my tan for the next triathlon.  The combination of a pale farmer’s tan with a two sizes too small tri club jersey makes me a candidate for a triathlete make over.   In order to save myself the embarrassment of laughing grandkids, I’ll put this one near the top.

Since the Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint was my last scheduled tri of the season, I will start focusing on what my 2012 goals should be.  While I hope to better my time at both Santa Barbara and Carpinteria next year, I am also hoping to be a race director and hold a duathlon or two in 2012.

Stay tuned… things are just starting to get exciting.

Carpinteria Triathlon Results Posted


Hi All,

Just a quick post.  Today, I finished the Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint in 1:36:15, not exactly earth shattering, but given the crazy few weeks I’ve had, I think it is just great!

Placing 370th of 462 puts me about 20% better than the other athletes.  With a goal in 2011 of finishing in the top 50%, I have quite a bit of work to do this winter!

The results are posted on the Carpinteria Triathlon website (click “Results” on the left).   I took the liberty of plotting the Sprint course overall finish times.

2010 Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint results

The red triangle is me.  I wanted to see where I place on the graph and like it.  Note how much time is between 1st and 2nd place… a full 8 minutes!   That is impressive.

A full race report is coming soon… Cheers!

The 2010 Carpinteria Triathlon and Beyond…


The 2010 Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint starts tomorrow morning at 8:13am.  This is my 8th triathlon and my last planned triathlon of the 2010 season.  It seems like a sudden and unexpected end to my 2010 triathlon season journey.

Expect the Unexpected

The 2010 journey has been full of unexpected moments, unexpected people, and true tests of my devotion to the triathlon sport.  I certainly didn’t expect to lose my my personal trainer in the aftermath of Ventura.  I also didn’t expect to be stung by a bee and end up nearly dead a few hours later.  In fact, the shear thought that I am sitting here typing this post excites me, for I am a live, I can look forward to 2011, and I can say that I have learned SO MUCH this year.

The Lost Dream & The Joy of the Moment

Going into tomorrow’s event is the culmination of these events.  While a few months ago I couldn’t stop thinking about how much of a personal record I would have over last year’s Carp Tri, tonight, I can’t thinking about how lucky I am just to be content with finishing.  Tomorrow, numbers are meaningless…   tomorrow is about enjoying the journey, enjoying the triathletes and their families, enjoying the venue and simply enjoying the fact that I am here.

Sure the swim is going to be hard, long and cold.  The 9-mile bike will be exciting, fun and fast.  The 5k run will be excruciating, a mental test, and full of joy.   It is a triathlon and despite the lost dreams of a few months back, it is the beginning of a new journey.

The New Journey

Many of you have asked what my future in triathlons will look like.  I admit, I was on the fence about what would happen with the Carp Tri and what my 2011 goals would look like.   I felt crushed and demotivated after the Santa Barbara Triathlon and then the bee incident a few days later.   It seemed like someone upstairs was trying to send me a message and I considered hanging up my wetsuit.

However, I have come to realize a few things since then.

  1. You are only as good as your support network.  With the changes following Ventura and the realization of who has your back and who doesn’t, it quickly became clear that I was barking up the wrong tree.  Sure they are great people, but they aren’t the people that will launch me into a top 25% finish.
  2. Success only comes when you have everything else in place.  Success is not luck.  Throughout the events of this year, I came to realize that there are so many more components to success than I realized originally.  Components that include experience, coaches, nutrition, and a few basic life principles.  Somehow, some of these were neglected, some weren’t even on the radar, and some just didn’t work.
  3. The journey must be fun.  The journey is not about training countless hours. It is not solely about spending endless hours in the pool perfecting a technique.  The journey is about the everyday moments of life that include sharing with others, waking up to see the sun in the morning, feeling the sun on your face, and being there to help others achieve their successes.
  4. Good talent comes at a price.  There is a reason that the top triathlon coaches cost a lot.  There is also a reason that some trainers come cheap.   You get what you pay for and to achieve my goals for 2011, I am going to have to reach high and dig deep to bring on coaches that can get me there. Coaches with experience, coaches with all their pieces put in place that know how to make the journey fun.

While I can go on with a few more points, these four are the most important.  They can make or break a triathlete and lead to endless successes when in good order.  With these in mind, I set my eye on the prize in 2011.

But not Before the Carpinteria Finish Line

So, tomorrow morning at 8:13am I will dive in the freezing cold water and side stroke, crawl, and doggie paddle my way to the transition area.  After an exhilarating ride and a painful run, I will have finished the 2010 Carpinteria Triathlon course and my 8th triathlon. I will relish in the achievement, the joy of doing, and the pain.  It may not be a personal record, but at least I did it and I will have yet another story to tell the grandkids in a few years.

Onward…

Feeling the Hard Work Pay Off: Swimming


It was a long time ago that I started swimming lessons with the intention of becoming a good swimmer. While I fairly quickly picked up side stroke and was able to power through the 2009 triathlon season with it, side stroke became both my savior and my devil.  It saved me because I could finally swim, but was my devil since the scissor kick sapped my legs of energy even before I got on the bike.

So, the past few years, after working with a coach, attending a Total Immersion swim clinic and persevering through countless frustrating workouts did I manage to arrive at my latest workout, a 35 minute pool workout where I swam 875 yards (0.496 miles, 32 laps!).  While I didn’t realize this accomplishment until today, as soon as I did I jumped for joy.  Not a fast pace by any means, but that will improve over time!

Aric Practicing in the Pool
Not exactly perfect form, but it will improve!

The wow’s, in the beginning:

  1. the head would not stay in the water.  Now, it is in the water and rotates with the body!
  2. the legs dragged behind. Now, the legs follow streamlined and I can glide on each stroke!
  3. power came from my weak arms. Now, my strong arms assist the power from my hips.
  4. kicking was how I compensated for lack of balance. Now, kicking is incidental and not part of my main propulsion.
  5. I hated the thought of swimming. Now, I look forward to the challenge of making myself a better swimmer!

The next big hurdle for me is swimming crawl in the ocean!  I can swim side stroke just fine, but I have the phobia about putting my head under the ocean.  All I see is green and emerging from the green are sea monsters, sunken ships, and sharks.  Maybe I watched JAWS and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea too many times, but this phobia is real and the next big challenge for me, but I know I can do it!

Aric Emerging From Ocean
Oh my, what is that strange creature shedding it's skin?

Also last year’s wetsuit is way too big for me now.  I bought it when I weighed 240 pounds and now I am under 200!  I look like a big scary, black and red sea creature coming out of the ocean.  Surprised I haven’t been harpooned yet.  Besides, a proper fitting wetsuit will help reduce drag.  I think I will pick up another Xterra Vector Pro X2.

Now that I am coming down off my swimming milestone high, I would like to ask you all a question: What was the best moment you have ever had while swimming?  While race results are fine, I am thinking more about experiences during the swim.  Please leave a comment!

Cheers!

Triathlon Results and Their Story


As an analyst, I love numbers and what they can tell you.  It isn’t necessarily the numbers themselves that are so fascinating, but their relationship to one another.  Be it a trend or a comparison of categories.

After completing the Carpinteria Triathlon sprint course and my trainer pointing out the interesting fact that I was just 19 seconds away from a top five finish on the bike course in my division, I got really curious about how I compared on the other sports and transitions.  After some work and lots of ETL, I produced the graph below:

Carp Tri Short Course, Men 30 to 34 Results
Carp Tri Short Course, Men 30 to 34 Results

As you can see, I placed 20th overall in my division, despite the above average finish on the bike course.  Here are some interesting tidbits:

1) If you notice that I am the only one with a run time slower than my bike time (orange triangle below green dot).

2) I was dead last on the run.

3) My triathlon transition times, T1 and T2 are more inline with the top 10 finishers than others finishing at the back of the pack. In fact, I had a better T1 time than the winner.

4) For the top 10 finishers, the swim times were close, likely within a minute of each other.

5) As well, for the top finishers, their bike times were about five minutes greater than their run times.

6) What is up with place 8 & 9, with such long bike times?  Given their very competitive swim times, I would say these were probably really good swimmers that recently started triathlons, so they haven’t developed their cycling muscles yet.

7) Notice how consistent the top 8 places are and how inconsistent the bottom 16 are.  I would be interested in reviewing their nutrition and training plans to see how the top compares to the bottom.  Do the top places have a triathlon coach, where the bottom half do not?  Would be interesting to dig more here.

So what does all of this mean?  It means that I can be a very competitive triathlete.  My approach going into the run course at was slow and finish steady, when it really should have been give it my all and finish mid-pack.   Going forward, these results influence my 2010 training plan.  Here is what I need to do:

1) Learn to swim efficiently.  Side stroke is slow and requires a lot of energy from the legs, putting me at a disadvantage.

2) Improve my run time by building better endurance.  Completing #1 above, will already help me here, but more long distance endurance training and speed work is a must.

Now you know why, as an analyst, why I am so fascinated by numbers.  They tend to tell you a story.  Are you listening?