Why Twitter Matters

It’s quite common for me to hear people grump: “Twitter is so stupid – I don’t care what flavor of Latte someone is drinking RIGHT NOW.” The grumpers inevitably go on to add their disdain for the amount of time people spend on Facebook, and how crazy kids are to post pictures of themselves on MySpace. Yep, Yep, and Yep, I reply.

But there is much more to the story, and those of us from the pre-text generation (we use phones to talk, not text!) would do ourselves a favor to see where things are going, what good can be found, and why it all matters.

First off, an apologia – I don’t care about people’s latte flavor either. I don’t care about much of what comes across my social networks. But I’m committed to the baby, and I’m learning how to efficiently deal with the bath water. This isn’t much different than a newspaper though, is it? Does anyone read a whole newspaper anymore. Heck, does anyone read a newspaper at all anymore?!? No, we skim the headlines and read the interesting bits. Sites like Facebook do that one better – they have the option to Hide content you don’t want to read. I have Facebook “friends” who are actually just high school buddies that I haven’t seen for years. I have no qualms against “hiding” their daily (hourly!) posts about how long the line is at the bank.

But what good comes from all this stuff anyway? I’m going to skip all the obvious stuff – catching up with old friends, staying connected, yada, yada. What about the cool stuff going on!??! Here’s a scattering of ways that social networking is impacting real life and business…

Kogi – This is a “virtual” restaurant in the L.A. area. They serve Korean fusion food from a group of taco trucks – that are deployed through Twitter. They tweet where they’re going to be and at what time, and a loyal following is waiting when they arrive. On the other side, if there are a bunch of hungry people at some sort of gathering, like a street fair, the Kogi folks pick up on the temporary emerging market by following their fan’s tweets, and get a truck over there.

Facebook vs. Simon Cowell – It’s a recent British tradition that the winner of X-Factor TV show(similar to American Idol) handily wins the coveted spot of #1 single during the Christmas season. Some kid on Facebook decided that he was sick of the X Factor telling him what to listen to, and started a group on Facebook to stop it. He asked people to join the cause and purchase a (7 year old) song from the group Rage Against the Machine. Within a week or two, over 500,000 copies of the song had been purchased, knocking the X Factor guy into second place. Cost: $0.00, Impact: over half a million participants, Time: weeks. And this wasn’t all about something as visible as Haiti relief, it was about someone finding something that people felt strongly about, and giving them an opportunity to jump in and impact the world (in a small way).

Google Flu – Google is in a unique position of being able to determine, right now, what’s going on. And while they’ve been able to parlay that knowledge into some serious dinero ($1.9 Billion in profits in Q4 of 2009 – yes, that’s “B” billion, and “p” for profit!), they also do some good with it. Google tracks searches for “tamiflu”, “aches”, oh, and probably “flu”, and maps those searches by location (which they can determine from a variety of methods). Out pops a map of pockets of people seeking flu related information. I heard an interview that observed that the US Centers for Disease Control takes advantage of Google Flu Trends to anticipate where the next outbreak of flu will be, since Google typically knows a week before they do. Yipes!

Earthquake tracking – While Google is looking for flu, the US Geological Survey is looking for earthquakes…on Twitter. It costs A LOT of money to put seismological sensors all over the country in places that aren’t susceptible to being fooled by human influences (big trucks, fireworks, etc). But within minutes of an earthquake, Twitter lights up with people reporting their experience. The USGS uses this data to very quickly map out the extent of an earthquake’s impact and to help locate the epicenter. Sure it’s still experimental, but it’s off the hook cool.

And that’s just a sampling, and there’s surely more to come. In this morning’s paper there was an<a href="http://www.mercurynews.com/search/ci_14242473?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com“> article about a team at Microsoft trying to do real-time search: not looking at stale indexed web pages, but sifting through live, dynamic social media feeds for up-to-the-second search. A month or two back there was talk of Google buying Twitter to achieve the same goal.

Yes, much of what goes across these social networks is mundane crap. But there’s also some gold in all that dirt – if you know how to look.

And since I’m sure you’re dying to know, while I typed this I was enjoying a refreshing tangerine Italian Soda, mmmmmm.

Dick Collins Firetrails 50


What a great day. Not a day free of pain mind you, but great nonetheless!


I started my Saturday at 3am (I had planned on 4, but I woke up early). Had my standard race breakfast at 4 – Banana, hard boilded egg, Cliff bar, 1/2 bagel, and a Gatorade. Drove with Karen to the start, where it was still dark. After some quick words from the Race Director, we were off.


The course starts out on a flat, paved bike path – which is good since it’s still pretty dark and it serves as a warmup before the first real hills at mile 3. Which is where I made my first change in plan…and I think it was a good one. I had every intention of at least jogging up all the hills. In a past race I had a lot of problems getting going again after walking due to dehydration. Well, I got to the first hill and EVERYONE was walking. Duh. Maybe I should listen. The problem was dehydration, not walking. And there was still a LOT of day ahead, so I joined the plodding procession. I was happy when things leveled out and we could get running again. That first hill is one of the bigger ones of the course, so it was great to get it over with so quickly.


Then I was surprised – the course was much, much flatter than I had expected (and trained for). I had read online race reports that this course has very few flat sections, and the elevation profile backed that up:


But after that first big spike, things leveled out and became pretty gentle rollers for quite a while. There were still plenty of hills to walk up though, and I tried to be disciplined to not hammer on the downhills to “make up lost time”.


Karen drove ahead of me and met me at many of the aide stations. Here’s a picture of me coming into an aide station at mile 21.7:


The next big chunk of the race was pretty uneventful. I was really focusing on hydration, and had already pee-ed 2 or 3 times before the turnaround. One embarrassing moment – there was a winding section of single track trail, and I was all alone, and really had to “go”. So I figure “why not?” Pulled down my shorts a bit and just kept running (I learned this trick from Matt Aro when I paced him at the Headlands 100 last year). Fifty feet later I’m turning a switchback and hear some people, glance back, and I was definitively NOT alone. They didn’t say anything, and I didn’t ask – but I did pick up the pace and put some distance between us!!


Funniest line of the day – at the turn around aid station a young lady ready to start out on the second half gave her boyfriend a hug and then quickly apologized: “Sorry for being so sweaty!” – after 26 miles of trail running and she wasn’t Downey Fresh – the nerve! I cracked up 🙂


The next event for me came at mile 34. I was cruising along in a pretty technical section and kicked a root or rock. I didn’t fall down, but I was pretty sure my big toenail was toast. The good news was that about 15 feet after cracking my toe I started down the steepest, most technical section of the whole course. It’s basically a stream bed with tons of rocks, and very steep. Steep = foot jammed into the toe of your shoe. Yeah, definitely uncomfortable.


Another hour or so went by with pretty much just easy flat cruise, but then somewhere around mile 40 I lost my focus on hydrating properly. I remember getting to the aid station at 44.1 and refilling my Camelbak, and then in the intervening 2.9 miles to the next aid station I pretty much drained it. This section was the most exposed and arid of the course, and also had a 660 foot rise (so there was a lot of walking). Why do race directors feel compelled to put the hot, dry sections of a race right near the end?!? But indicative of how well this race is run – there were aid stations on either side – so that was nice.


Then the real pain began – not due to the course as much as my own (pick one): vanity, drive, insanity. Right at mile 45 I glanced at my watch and saw: 9:08. I was stunned. I was thinking it would be saying 10 something. Up until then I had tried to keep my eyes off my watch, not stress about pace, not endlessly do the math of this many miles divided by that time, yada, yada. But 9:08!? Dang, if I could bang out 10 minute miles from now on I could beat 10 hours! The only problem is that my normal pace on trails is more like 12 minute miles…and I’ve had a 45 mile “warmup”. Screw it – I’m going to go for it. And I started working like I’ve never worked before. There was an aid station at mile 47 that I took like an Indy car pit stop – they reached for my bottle, but I just kept it in my hand, got a top off of water, and bolted. Leaving the aid station I looked down – 9:30:01, with three miles left. Up to that station had been pretty flat, so I was feeling upbeat. Then I turned the first corner in the trail and was hit in the face with a long steep uphill. Oops. I power walked it and kept drinking, and then started running as soon as I could. If you look at the last three miles of the elevation profile above you’ll see the many little hills – ouch. After walking the first one I knew I couldn’t walk any of the others. Those last three miles were the hardest miles I’ve ever run.


I was really, really, really happy to come around the last corner and see the finish chute. I glanced down and saw that I had a minute to spare. My final official time was 9:59:35. All grins for me. And then something new – I came within an inch of breaking down in tears. It was such a relief to be done, so happy to have squeezed in under 10 hours (when my stretch goal had been 10:30). Here’s me right after the race (and yes, I do my own hair!):


Then the eating. Oh, the eating. According to my Garmin watch, I expended 6646 calories over the course of the run. I calculate that I took in around 3000 calories from my Infinit drink. Right after the race I had two bottles of recovery drink, and I tried some bread, soup and a hamburger (but the hot food just didn’t sit well). On the way home from the race I asked Karen to pull over so I could pee and get some french fries, which ended up being a hamburger and fries (which I drenched in salt). Even though my Infinit has the electrolytes turned all the way up, and taking 2 Thermolyte tablets an hour, my body still craved salt after the race. When I got home I sliced up a mango and sprinkled it with chili powder and salt (Mexican style!). At 10pm I asked Karen to cook me some eggs and (5 pieces!) of bacon. There was something else in there, but I can’t remember what it was.


As for the schwag – this race is schweet! In a reusable shopping bag was a nice windbreaker, a tech shirt, a logo’ed wine glass, a water bottle, TrailRunner and UltraRunning magazines, and then the requisite coupons and ads.


Sunday morning – I feel pretty good today. My shoulders are sore – I’m not sure if it’s from the Camelbak, or more likely from carrying a bottle all day. My legs are fine as long as I’m stationary, but they like to “remind” me whenever I move around. The toe I whacked is tender, but it looks like it will be fine. All in all, not too bad.


Thanks to everyone for their well wishes, and to Karen for being my chief supporter and super crew during the race!


In reply to a recent Facebook post I made about the deterioration of decorum, a friend of mine made some interesting comments about Joe Wilson, the “You lie!” guy in congress. I wanted to spill out all my thoughts, and Facebook just didn’t seem to be the right place. I’m not sure this is either, but who cares….

To provide some context, here’s my original post:
Thinking a lot about the lack of civility these days. Troubling that our kids are seeing “grown ups” carrying on like spoiled, tantrum throwing idiots. Who would have thought that Joe Wilson and Kanye West have so much in common?!?!

And here was my friend’s reply:
Face it, we can still be like children as grown up. Kanye is simply an idiot and Joe is simply frustrated because his hands are tied and he see through the lies. Too bad they both made fools of themselves. I doubt our kids would see Joe as they probably don’t watch politics but Kanye is a prime example of what Mike is saying. Good thoughts Mike.

I can understand why Joe Wilson may be unhappy, but I hardly think his hands are tied. We live in a democracy, and anyone can run for president, or congress, and change the course of the way things are done. And to make sure that nobody’s hands are tied, they hold those elections regularly. Great idea.

Of course, the question is, when you’re in the minority, what do you do? One tried and true tactic is to dig your feet in, and try no matter what to make the other side fail. And in my experience, both parties have a long history of that kind of crap. Party politics trumping what’s good for the country – sad. For a long while there, speaking out against the President was called unpatriotic, but I guess that’s not the rule anymore.

As for the context of Wilson’s outburst, Obama had just mentioned that under his plan, illegal immigrants wouldn’t be insured. While Wilson kind of apologized for being rude, he didn’t apologize about the facts. The trouble is, in every analysis I’ve heard and read, (and yes, I suppose I do tend towards the whacky left for my media inputs like NPR) Obama was telling the truth about illegal immigrants and healthcare. Here are a couple of references:

The funny thing is…they get healthcare RIGHT NOW anyways! Due to laws prohibiting hospitals from turning people away, pretty much anyone in America can see a doctor. Of course, most economists and health care professionals shudder at the dollars involved at having only emergency rooms available to people – but that’s the corner we’ve painted ourselves into for now.

Looking beyond Mr. Wilson, I think it’s important to take note of an important shift in the rhetoric in the last week or two regarding health care. A number of times recently I’ve heard or read conservatives mention that the proposals being considered would lead to a government takeover of health care in America. (Here’s John McCain) Why I find this of interest, is that it’s completely un-attackable. It’s not based on any particular fact, it’s just a postulation. A postulation based on fear.

I think there’s a lot more to write about governing by instilling fear in your constituency. But that’ll have to be some other time.

Skyline to the Sea 50k

“Well Jeff, I can say that this is the longest run I’ve ever done.” “Me too” he replied. And so we marked passing into the 27th mile of the Skyline to the Sea 50k Ultramarathon. Jeff and I had bumped into each other on and off through the day, but after that exchange we stuck together and finished together. It’s SO helpful finding someone who’s going about your same speed (or a little better).

My goal for this race was six hours, and crossed the line in 5:48!  I had a hard time guaging how to pace for a race like this. Overall, the course goes downhill – it starts near the top of a mountain and ends up a couple of hundred yards from the ocean. But there were a ton of steep uphills (walkers!), and a LOT of technical downhills which really trash the quads and knees. One thing that probably ended up helping me a lot was that I was about the last person to get lined up due to standing in a slow moving porta pottie line.  Right before I made it to the front of the line they asked people to line up for the start.  Well, I didn’t anticipate that they literally meant line up – as in single file!  Since the trail is so narrow, we were strung out on the course in one long line, with me at the back.  But this meant that there was NO way for me to start off running too fast.  Things opened up after a while, and then I was able to pass some folks.

And then Nature kicked in – and kicked in with a vengance.  You could hear it from the runners up ahead: “BEEs!!”  Well, they were actually wasps I think, and they didn’t take kindly to 200 people running through their yard.  Over the course of the first 10 miles I think there were three separate nests.  One guy on the course cracked: “They should call this race ‘Beeline to the Sea'”.   I was stung three times on my legs, and three on my back.  I was pretty lucky – some people got hit a lot more (and some not at all).  The pain was quite intense.  About six hours after the end of the race the needle like pain subsided…only to be replaced by crazy bad itching.  One person on the race forum reported that they went to the emergency room because of the itching.  It’s been three days since the itch kicked in, and I’ve eaten a box of antihistamines, and a ton of cortisone cream…and I still can’t sleep normally. 🙁

Nutrition wise I did pretty well.  I wore a Camelbak with six hours of concentrated Infinit drink, and then I wore a bottle holder with plain water which I refilled at the aid stations.  The only problem I had was the long gap before the final aid station.  The previous gaps had been only 7k long, but this one was almost 14.  Halfway through that gap my water was gone.  Let’s just say, I was really glad to see that final aid station!  I ended up not drinking 16oz of my Infinit.  Since it was concentrated, I had stopped drinking it during that long leg.  But I didn’t feel the loss of calories.  I also had 5 or 6 electrolyte pills (SaltStick) over the course of the race.  All in all, I felt good about my nutrition and hydration.  But considering I only pee’ed once on the course, and not again until hours after the finish, I was well on my way to being dehydrated.

Special thanks goes out to Marcus Frame and his girlfriend for giving me a lift to the starting line, and to Karen and the kids for making the long drive to pick me up.  After the race we went over to Waddell beach for a while.  The kite surfers there are amazing!  It’s a cool mix of parasailing, surfing, and windsurfing.

Headlands 100 (but only the last 25!)

Two weekends ago I participated in a local 100mile run as a pacer. One of the competitors asked on the race forum board if anyone would like to run with him for the last 25m of the race, and I took him up on the offer.

I then did a little looking into his background, and I got a bit nervous…the guy’s an animal. He came in first and second in two triathlons – DOUBLE IronMan races!! Two weeks out from the race he mailed me about his last long training run, a 50m run that he did in 8h 13min – and that was a holding back run to not incur the need for an extended recovery. But in the end, I figured that a 75m warm-up would even things out considerably.
Race day on Saturday came, and the online tracking wasn’t working, nor could I reach his girlfriend who was crewing for him. I had hoped to get an idea of his 50m split to gauge when he would show up at 75m. So given the lack of info I just drove to the race site, and got there about 6:30pm.
Upon getting there I see that they have the splits posted for 50m, and there he is in second place:
Matt Aro – 9:00:54
Let me tell you, that’s SMOKIN’. The first 50 was very hilly, with some pretty technical trails, with 8100′ of altitude change! The first place guy was 2″ ahead.
I got dressed and sat in my car, estimating that he would be arriving somewhere between 8:30pm and 9. He arrived right at 9pm, and we got going shortly afterward. 75m split: 14:01:17. There was no sign of the previous leader, who eventually hit the 75m mark half an hour later.
We ran with headlamps, but there were portions of the trail where it was quite foggy, so I was glad that we also each had a handheld flashlight. In the fog all you can see with the headlamp is the fog 1 foot from your face, so we just turned those off in these sections. Another thing I learned is that holding the light lower increases the contrast of rocks and roots considerably. So the next time I do a night run I’ll figure out a way to mount my headlamp on my waist.
As for the run, it was pretty slow. Matt was pretty trashed, the uphills were too steep to run, and running down the more technical hills would have been suicide. For many of the downhills Matt rested his arm on my shoulder just in case – but I don’t recall him ever slipping. I nailed one root somewhere in the middle of the run, and half rolled my ankle like 7 minutes into the run, but it didn’t affect the rest of the run.   e4ae6-media_httpwwwenduranc_xtooaAt each aid station Matt’s girlfriend Shevaun was there with his own private stash of goodies – ibuprofen, gels, salt tabs, and PBJ sandwiches. We would refill his camelbak, he’d grab a sandwich and stick it under the thigh of his compression shorts (no joking), he’d tell her what he would likely want at the next stop, and off we’d run into the night. I can tell you, she was a GREAT help!

As the night went on we started passing people who were still in the 50-75m loop (the race is one big 50m loop, followed by two laps of a 25m loop). Some of these people were walking (it’s midnight by now) and on the ridges they were pretty cold (strong wind and fog – the course was right on the coast). I felt bad for them, many of them alone, and knowing that they had a LONG trip ahead of them. But we just kept moving.

To brighten his spirits I wrote down a forum posting that his training partner back in Wisconsin wrote to him the morning of the race. After a couple of miles I broke out the mail bag and read him the encouraging mail – he was overwhelmed! I had wanted to keep the mail as a just in case, but then I got scared that I would forget – so I just busted it out when I thought of it. After 15h of running, he was pretty happy to hear from home.

Matt really only got “dark” once. He stopped for a while and had a hard time not being light headed. He took a caffeine pill, we stopped talking, and turned off our headlamps and just walked for a while. He soon recovered and we got back to running.

One interesting element of the course is that you run through tunnels that lead up to bunkers built in 1940 to protect the Golden Gate from bad guys. I read later that the cannons installed there could fire 26miles!


Of course, the guns are gone now, but all that concrete is still there, along with a tunnel going straight back behind the gun. Matt had run through them a couple of times by then, and didn’t know what they were when I asked. It was only by looking back once we got through that I realized they were bunkers!

We finished around 3:20am – Matt’s finishing time was 20:23:52, a new course record, and first place by more than 50min! For my part, I did 25m in about 6h 20m or so. Here’s a picture of Shevaun, Matt (in the middle, and yes, he’s 6’4″!) and me on the right (after I had cleaned up a bit):


So there we are, 4am and finishing the race…so what the heck do you do now!? I started my 90 minute drive home, but about half way had to pull over and sleep for a bit. I got home at 8am, ate and slept for quite a while.

Big, big fun. Matt’s an amazing athlete. Shevaun was a great help. And the course was incredible. For the west coasties, I strongly recommend the races put on by PC Trail Runs (http://www.pctrailruns.com). They do lots of Northern California runs, and some in So Cal as well.

Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2008

What an incredible experience! I spent the week with three different families – my own (Karen and the kids, and we stayed with Karen’s sister and her husband), my EnduranceNation online training family (most of whom I hadn’t met in person until this week), and the C Different family of blind athletes, their guides, other fundraiser athletes like me, and a host of C Different support crew.


At dinner the night before the race, my daughter Katie drew this encouragement on the tablecloth.

Below are some daily mails that I sent out to my C Different supporters leading up to race day, and then my race report.


The race is less than a week away, and I’m VERY excited. My training has gone very well, despite struggling against a few nagging injuries (it’s so fun getting older!). I think I peaked out at about 15 or 16 hours of training in one week.

For the past year I’ve been training with the coaches at EnduranceNation, an awesome online community of triathletes. As part of the race prep for an Ironman the coaches ask us to think of our “One Thing”…that one thing that you will think about which will help you keep going when you just want to stop, when it just hurts too much, when your body says “enough is enough”. My answer was easy this year: I’m doing this race on behalf of the C Different Foundation which supports blind athletes.

On the course with us will be 4 blind triathletes and their guides, along with 18 more of the “IronTeam”. When the going gets rough, which I’m sure it will at points, I’ll be thinking of those 4 incredible people who have gone through so much to be there. We’re having a team dinner on Thursday night where I’ll get to meet the entire C Different Team. I’m sure this will be an inspiring, humbling, emotional kick off to the race.

Anyhow, I’m bib #1282. The race starts at 7am on Sunday. I’m hoping to end somewhere around 7pm. It’ll be a great way for me to spend half a day! If you would like to check in on the progress of the C Different sponsored blind athletes during the day, here are their names: Charlie Plaskon, Richard Bernstein, Ryan Van Praet, Dave Bigoney.

Many of you have expressed an interest in joining with me in support of the C Different Foundation. To the many who already have donated, I say Thank You! If you would like to donate (there’s still time!) just click here: http://ironteam.kintera.org/faf/r.as…7&e=1384636286

I picked up one of the blind athletes from the airport yesterday, and then helped him get oriented to the hotel. Oh-My-Goodness what a production! I had no idea what it entailed to be blind. Small example – the TV remote. First they had wrapped it in a little cardboard wrapper advertising spa services, so the remote didn’t “feel” like a remote. So I had to place his hand on it. He was glad that it was a standard LodgeNet remote – so he knew where the buttons were. Then he wanted to put it exactly back in the same place since that’s where the maid would return it. That way he could find it each time. He had commented, and I got the smallest of flavors, that every little thing takes a LONG time.

Then finding an outlet for his phone transformer…forget about it – and that was with me having functioning sight! (The large-ish transformer wouldn’t fit in the first two outlets I found.)

But he was upbeat and helpful though the whole process of discovering his room, finding the meeting rooms where the group would be eating meals, etc. Well, he was upbeat until I told him the water is about 57 degrees!!!

I have great confidence in him though. He’s been blind since birth, but has gone on to become a lawyer, and has completed 8 marathons. This will be his first Ironman. He kept saying (with a big smile) “I’m going to kill whoever talked me into this!”.

So if you have a chance to check in on my race day progress, also look up Richard Bernstein and see how he did on that frigid swim 😉

Hi there! It’s the day before the race – not much to do today. As they say “The hay’s in the barn” – now all there is to do is rest, pre-hydrate (translation: dring Gatorade all day), and drop my bike off at the race site.

Yesterday was a highlight. In the morning my coaches gave their pre-race talk, discussing pacing, strategy, pacing, mental keys, and pacing. While I’ve heard it all before, it’s good to get it in your head one more time. During the talk I noticed that Charlie Plaskon was standing in the back listening. Charlie was one of the first C Different blind athletes, and will be racing this Sunday. After the talk wrapped up I went over and introduced myself and we sat and chatted. A little bit later the C Different crew assembled for a bike ride, but Charlie’s guide wasn’t available, so they asked if I would “drive” for him. What a thrill…a humbling thrill though.

Thankfully, Charlie is a great guide guide – he coached me through all the stuff I had to do. Starting the bike rolling, getting our feet clipped in the pedals without dumping, calling out the turns (and whether we pedal through the turns or not), etc.

And let me tell you, that 64 year old guy can push the bike along, all the while talking about going back to school to become a motivational speaker, studying the course by asking lots and lots of questions.

What a great cap to my race prep week! By this time tomorrow the race will be in progress, and while I can’t be writing notes to you all, please know that I do think about you – there’s a lot of time to think out there!

Race Report
The day was incredible, simply incredible. There was a rainstorm the night before, but we had sunshine at dawn. The weather stayed very mild through the day.


Me (left) and one of my coaches Rich Strauss right before the start.

The swim start of an Ironman is always very exciting. Most triathlons split up the starts by age group, but in Ironman races everyone starts together. I started WAY off to the side, but got mixed up pretty good at the first turn buoy. Overall, the swim went great, and I was out of the water in 1:12:56 minutes.

I started the bike as planned – pretty slow. We call it J.R.A. – just riding along. Around 45 minutes or so into it I started in with my target bike pace, and then stayed there a long, long time. The course is pretty hilly, no monster climbs, but lots and lots of hills that can really suck it out of you if you try to power up them. But I stayed at basically the same power output on the hills as when I rode on the flatter sections. This, of course, meant that I got passed by a LOT a LOT of people during that bike ride, especially on the uphills. You want numbers? Of the (about) 2000 people that started the race, I was in 604th place after the swim, but after the bike I was 891st – so that was a lot of people passing me by.

One great thing that happened on the bike, which illustrates the spirit of Ironman – at about mile 90 I heard something hit my helmet and go inside. Well, if it’s a bee and he stings me my day might be done. So I pulled over, took off my helmet and shook out my hair. As I was doing that the next guy riding by slowed an asked if I was OK. Then a couple seconds later another guy slowed, asked if I needed anything. I “knew” that second guy since we had been riding about the same speed for hours – and he’s in my age group – and I’m sure he knew I was in his age group (they write the ages on our calfs in big numbers). So 90 miles into it my direct competitor slowed and offered to help when he saw I was having some kind of problem. There are a lot of great people out there!

Speaking of great people, the spectators and volunteers are the greatest. People all along the course were so incredibly supportive and encouraging. It was great to see my wife Karen and my CdA support crew of Karen’s sister and brother in law Laura and Danny and their friend Kevin. Last year we missed each other a few times, but this year worked out a lot better.


On the way out on the second loop of the bike course, I stopped to say hi to Karen and the crew!

Another great fan was Aaron Scheidies, a blind C Different athlete who wasn’t racing today. Other C Different spectators would tell him when any of us with the C Different group was coming and he went crazy! On the first lap of the run he took off one of the C Different colored Mardi Gras beads and draped it around my neck, and I ran with it the rest of the day.

I finished the bike in 6:24 – a bit slower than I had hoped, but I was happy with it. I paced on the bike to have a good run.

OK, on to the run…

It all started with the slatherers. That’s what the locals call the volunteers who apply sunscreen on the athletes. I’ve been told that this volunteer position fills up first, hmmm, I wonder why! As I was heading out for the run they asked if I wanted sunscreen, and before I knew it 8 – eight! hands were all over my face, neck, arms, and legs!

The run is a lot more personal than the other disciplines – the course is mostly two out and backs, so you get to see the other athletes, and also the spectators (much easier than at 20mph on the bike!). I had seen some of the C Different people on the bike, but on the run I was able to see and cheer them all.

I came up behind Charlie Plaskon and his guide when they were on a walk break. I walked with him and told him that he inspires me to do my best. Without skipping a beat, he replies: “Well if you’re going to do your best you shouldn’t be walking here with me!” I laughed and ran on. Charlie ended up finished in 15:33 – pretty great for a 64 year old guy who can’t see!

My pacing discipline faltered a bit on the run, and running a bit too fast early on started to catch up with me at around 15 miles. I was very fortunate that around mile 20 I met up with a young guy named Zach who also wanted to break the 12 hour mark. So I would call out paces from my GPS and he would calculate if we were going fast enough given our current distance and pace. He was very encouraging and enthusiastic. While triathlon is a very individual sport, finding a “teammate” late in the run is priceless.

Zach and I made our 12 hour goal with a bit to spare. So after a 4:04 run I ended up with a total time of 11:54:20. Let me tell you – it felt GREAT to cross that finish line!

And more numbers…after the bike I was in 891st place, but after the run I finished in 559th place out of 2060. That means that I passed about 330 people on the run – Yipes! So this was great proof that my pacing worked well (and also proof that I still have some room to improve on the bike!). Comparing to last year is even better news – I did a 12:36 last year. So I knocked off 42 minutes from last year on this same course, and 10 minutes off my best Ironman time from Vineman the year before!

After soaking in the lake a bit I got bundled up and went back to the finish line with Karen, and was able to give some of my EnduranceNation partners a little shout (ok…a BIG SHOUT!) as they approached the finish line. We also saw some of the C Different folks including Richard, who I spent a lot of time with on Thursday was guided by C Different founder Matt Miller, and they finished in 14:36 – a great time!


Me at the finish line with my son Conor


If you haven’t already, please go to http://www.cdifferent.org and sign up for their newsletter. I’ve been amazed by what I’ve seen this week, yet this was only one of their events for a busy summer and on through the rest of the year.

Tour de Silicon Valley

On Memorial Day I rode the valley. The ride took 4 hours, and covered 60 miles total. I had to cut it a bit short since I needed to get back to pick up my brother at the airport.

There’s a self portrait at site G – Intel. As I was taking a picture of the front of the building, I realized that the windows were really reflective.

It’s amazing to me that in one morning I could hit so many famous companies. I also passed by a number of others, but I knew my time was short so I didn’t take pictures. Some of them were: Canon, Hitachi, Toshiba, Memorex, Polycom, Citrix, Fortinet, Nortel Networks, WebEx (funny, I passed by an old WebEx building that is abandoned now that they’ve moved into a huge building…and their WebEx sign was covered in spider webs.)

Make sure you click on site Q – Google, and see their company bike racks. They were all around the building. Google has taken over much of that area of Mountain View, so I bet the bikes are in demand during the week.

A random thought about why I do this

For me, it can be frustrating to see people pass me up. But I need to remember that I’m only racing one guy – the depressed one, that overweight guy that has a heart problem, and is so stressed by his work that he takes it out on himself and those around him. That guy is me – and I’m working real hard to beat him. I don’t ever want THAT guy to catch me. (from an EnduranceNation post of mine a couple months back)

Wildflower – Double Dip!

I told my coach that the title I was going to put on this Race Report would be: “EN Kool-Ade is BORING…”, with a first line of “…until you start passing folks in mile 2 of the run”. At EnduranceNation we are coached to ride steady and controlled. Tests are performed to figure out our goal watts for the bike, and riding that goal really paid off!

This was a great weekend of racing for me.

Breakfast was the same for both races: Clif Bar, Banana, hard boiled egg, Gatorade – 3 hours before my start. Then one Gatorade while setting up transition.

Numbers for the half ironman race:
Swim: 31:10
T1: 4:20
Bike: 3:03:35
T2: 3:31
Run: 1:45:37
Total 5:28:15
AG place: 51/259, Overall 274

In contrast, here were last year’s:
Swim: 34:17
T1: 2:59
Bike: 3:11:04
T2: 2:49
Run: 1:49:13
Total: 5:40:22
AG place: 54

So I was very pleased with good improvement everywhere (except my lollygagging in transition!).

The swim went really well. Sighting is hard since we’re basically swimming right into the sun. But I got a LOT of good drafts, and just cruised.

I think this race went so much better than this year’s Oceanside performance because of my discipline on the bike. Here are the power numbers:
TSS: 227.9
Norm Power: 204
VI: 1.06

My goal watts was 200, so I was right there. It was hard seeing SO many people stream by me on the uphills. But it was juicy passing them again on the crests, and blowing by many more on the downhills and the flats. But the real justice didn’t come until the run.

I got passed by very few people on the run, and I only had to walk up a chunk of two or three of the very steepest trail hills. I was happy that for the last month and a half almost all of my runs have incorporated some sort of hill.

Not much more to say, like I said…kinda boring. Very happy though.

Recovery: I brought one serving of Clif Bar Recovery drink with me, and drank it right after the race. Stood in the cold lake for about 30 min, ate at the expo and put my feet straight up in the air against a tree for another 20 min.

Then up to camp, good dinner with Rich Strauss and the fine folks from Pasadena Tri Club. It was great to hang with Rich and Marvin, and just chill with people around the campfire that night. Went to bed a little later than planned (10pm), but like I said, it was great to just chill and watch the wood burn.

Now then, on to the Olympic distance on Sunday morning…

Numbers for the Oly:
Swim: 24:39
T1: 3:50
Bike: 1:25:56
T2: 3:10
Run: 45:24
Total: 2:43:01
AG Place: 29/156 Overall: 320

Power numbers:
TSS: 112.2
Norm Power: 207
VI: 1.07

Left camp for the race start right on time, but noticed the wheel cover making a bit of extra noise – has it been this loud all the time? Started down Lynch hill and a guy rides up next to me: “Is your back tire flat on purpose?” Crap. But dopey me, I don’t have an extra spare tube and CO2 in my RV size transition bag (nice quote from Rich when he see’s the monster: “Is THAT your transition bag?!?!?!”). So I walk down to the very nice mechanic guy who throws a new one on for $11 – cool, I’m back in business. I’ll tell you though, walking down that hill woke up my glute muscles, and not in a good way .

While the bike was being repaired I looked up my wife’s former boss and current dentist, Robert Plant, who is a legend in triathlon. He’s in his 60’s, has done Kona many times, and won his AG this day. We’ve been in a number of races together, but I’ve never had a chance to meet him.

The highlight of the pre-swim was standing next to Nacho Libre – yeah. Some guy was wearing his race cap, goggles, a Mexican Wrestling mask, bright red tights and some shorts. Classic. And that’s the way he started the race I think.

Lynch hill out of T1 was hard. Again, I fought, fought, fought to not push. Then about 2/3rds of the way up, there were two Cal Poly coeds, showing their bums to the passing riders – one with “Faster” and the other with “Stronger” written across their cheeks. Very funny.

Up and out of the park, and on to the rollers. Same as Saturday – back and forth with a huge wave of people. Them streaming past on the uphill, and then blowing by them on the downs and flats.

Same hydration as Saturday – Infinit concentrate (in Camelbak on Sat, bottle on Sunday) and course water in the AeroDrink). Worked great. Did one pee at about mile 2 on both runs as well.

The run went really great – I was SCREAMING (or so I thought…). Then some guy went blazing past me, and was encouraging people as he went, so I decided that he shouldn’t be left alone. I caught up with him, and for a brief moment I noticed we were doing 6:30ish pace – yipes! But we were well into mile 5, so what the heck, it’s mostly downhill from here. He then tells me news that is about the worst you can hear…”weird that the markers the put up are in kilometers, not miles.” WHAT!?!?! I had just drained my Infinit bottle (since we only had a few minutes left as we pass marker #6). Oh CRAPPPPPP!.

He assured me that there were just a couple small hills left, then all downhill, so I just went for it. My right hamstring was right on the edge of cramping, but it was more a muscle tightening than a dehydration spasm, so I wasn’t too scared. During that run I saw maybe 5 people basically crumple on the road trying to stretch out spasming legs.

When we got near the top of Lynch I told the guy that he shouldn’t pace me, but should go if he had it in him…and he did. I saw him after the race and thanked him profusely – without him I’m not at all sure how I would have done, but I could easily see another 3-5 minutes on my time.

Again with the Recovery drink, soak in the lake, food at the expo, break camp, and head home.

Much thanks to Rich, Marvin and the Pasadena Tri Club.

Much thanks to the EnduranceNation Kool-Ade.