New York City Triathlon 2007 – The Drunk GPS Triathlete

NYC Triathlon Course Map

I thought some of you might get a kick out of viewing the NYC Triathlon as viewed from a satelite connected to the Garmin 305 watch on my wrist. The entire race is captured in motion by watching the link below. This includes exceptional moments such as me floating down the Hudson (I floated pretty straight except when I was trying to get out of the way of the wave coming up behind me – didn’t want to get an impeding penalty while filming), cycling up the Westside Hwy, dropping my camera and having to go back for it, and running into and around Central Park.

To make it more enjoyable, do the following:

  • Click on “Large” to make the map large
  • Click on “Hybrid” to see roads and satellite views
  • Click on the “Plus” Sign to zoom in as far as possible
  • Click on the drop down menu in the player and select .5X so you can follow without getting dizzy
  • Then click the blue triangle that starts the program to play

You’ll then get to see me cycling over the tops of cars, through trees and apparently running into the Lasker Pool in Central Park. I’m so fast it’s almost like the cars on the highway are standing still. Such are the limitations of GPS around buildings and trees.

http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/player/3506076

Try it and let me know what you think. Here’s a link also to the main file.

NYC Triathlon Finish - Me in Red

Entitlement – Lessons learned from Tri-Atlanta

What happens when a community loses its motivation? Who’s responsibility is it to keep that motivation high and the community vibrant? In organizations led exclusively or mainly by volunteers, where do participants get the mindset that they have little or no responsibility to contribute to the success and life of the organization through their active participation?

The e-mail below is a rare look into an all too often problem facing community organizations of all types. Most in the multi-sport communities would argue that we are immune to this because our community is made up of supportive, active, “A” personality adrenaline junkies that live for this. Unfortunately, human frailties to criticize, take rather than give, assume rather than discover or simply feel that we were placed on this earth to have others create opportunities for us while we sit passively back can often be too much to overcome. Tri-Atlanta is at a tipping point. How they address this may be a lesson we can all learn from.

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“Disappointed with Tri Atlanta”

Posted by: “ianreves” ianreves@hotmail.com ianreves

Wed Jul 18, 2007 10:22 pm (PST)

I was departing for an anniversary vacation with my wife (who vowed to
divorce me if I brought my laptop with us to `work’) when this
chatter about being “disappointed with Tri Atlanta” began to
surface. And between the three business trips I’ve been on in the
last two weeks and some serious grad school prep, I’ve been hard
pressed to put my many thoughts to paper.

So what probably goes without saying is my time commitment to leading
this organization into a healthy, thriving state is thin to non-existent
and therefore as my tenure wraps this season I openly invite one of the
many critics at large to put their schedule where their mouth is and
join in the worthy fight to advance the community of our sport that is
currently woefully underserved around Atlanta.

Two major viruses are plaguing not just Tri Altanta but the Georgia
Triathlon community as a whole:

First are the vocal consumers who think by paying a few bucks they are
not only entitled to a newsletter but are therefore a member of the
“community” and all its benefits. Buying the Wall Street Journal
doesn’t make me a stock broker or a member of the financial
industry. Whether or not you contribute a few dollars, this is still a
100% VOLUNTEER group and ALL the materials, programs and benefits we
work hard to generate are not things that can simply be bought.
Community means getting off your ass.

The second major issue seems to be lack of motivation or belief that
this community is worth putting any effort into. Yes our schedules are
stretched to the minute and adding a line item in your Palm Pilot sounds
suicidal to many, but like some other non-native Atlantans and long-term
Tri Atlanta members, I too have seen before the productive,
advantageous, inspiring, energizing and FUN times that come from a
tight, committed, consistent group of friends in the sport who take a
moment to grab a drink every once in a while, carpool to races and hang
out before and after and who match up to train and work out.

So whatever the case and whomever can muster the spirit to lead this
rabble, I plan on helping in any way I can to make Atlanta a great home
for triathletes for as long as I’m around. The title of President is
therefore open for the taking; though I will gladly offer my humble hand
at helping generate any materials, newsletters, publicity,
communications etc. needed as these are things I can do in my sleep.

Keith Marshall has done a fantastic job manning the books as has Brett
Clarence done in babysitting our membership database. Adam Teja has
graciously committed hours to engineering a new website though we’re
bogged down trying to hunt down some DNS info from who-knows-when (Jane
Fratesi, any ideas?) Christine Strange had been charging ahead
developing sponsorships and corporate partnerships before parting ways
with the group; if someone can get her the tools she needs to work her
magic maybe she can be brought back in, health willing. Jake Seely has
been harvesting triathlon resources to share via the website should that
ever make it into the open. And other long-standing members like Doug
Simpson, Lisa Marshall, Collette Ragan, David Stewart, Kevin Krehmeyer
and so on have always been helpful in many ways, though as time goes on
their schedules are more densely packed and the rest of the community
owes it to them to pick up some slack.

So the gauntlet has been thrown. Welcome to anyone willing to own up.
This community is ripe for an awakening though it cannot come from two
or three people. This isn’t the Atlanta
Cleaning-Out-Your-Gutters-Club, this it triathlon – one of the
greatest sports conceived by man and hands-down the most exhilarating
and rewarding! Can we get something started already or what?

Ian Reves
(Former) President, Tri Atlanta

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The post above is an e-mail sent from the President of the Tri-Atlanta triathlon club. I belong to a variety of online endurance communities, mostly to connect with group workouts because I travel so much for work and also because I like to see what’s going on around the country in the local running and tri-communities.

For the past three years, I have traveled pretty routinely to Hotlanta and have had an amazing time connecting with the Tri folks associated with Tri-Atlanta, the cyclists and triathletes who train out of the Buckhead YMCA and the great runners who meet most evenings in Piedmont Park, Wednesday’s at Virginia-Highlands, or Tim Sullivan’s Cabbagetown Running Club who meets on Thursday evenings for their weekly runs.

Having started a number of active communities over the past twenty years, I can tell you that leading a club is right up there with being a race director as one of the most thankless jobs you’ll ever have. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not crying for myself by any means because I get more out of doing what I do than anyone would ever imagine, but I also tend to focus on training programs that have a defined beginning and end. It’s the founders and leaders of clubs with an infinite expected lifespan that have my greatest admiration.

The first running club I ever joined was called the Trail Runners Club of Santa Monica and was founded and has been led by Stan Swartz. He’s been leading this club forever,  probably since he left military service when Pre was still just the beginning of a word.

Every Sunday morning, Stan would meet us at Palisades High School and we’d carpool to the trailhead where we would begin our run. Week after week, year after year, decade after decade, Stan has committed himself to this responsibility and for the most part, all Stan ever gets is a nod and a “great run” from the regulars before we jump back into our cars and head back down Pacific Coast Highway to get on with the rest of our weekend.

I always thought that the reason Stan did this was because of the first timers, those that had never been out on a trail before; those who run Malibu or Sullivan Canyon for the first time and have an eye and heart-opening experience when they realize that minutes from the hustle and bustle of what most people think of Los Angeles is a slice of heaven on earth. It’s a smile that can’t be wiped from their face and will be branded on their souls. This is what drives Stan to wake up at 4:30 am or 5 am every Sunday morning, even during a full year when he couldn’t run with us because of a very serious illness.

When I traveled back to Los Angeles last year, I naturally made a point to find time to run with the group on Sunday morning and as it happened, my good friend and running partner Barry lost his car key somewhere on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) during the run, so Stan offered to drive us back the 30 miles or so to Barry’s condo. Before we left the area, Barry, Stan and I went walking along PCH trying to find a key that Barry felt must be there somewhere, because he remembered stopping to tie his shoe and he figured that’s when it must have fallen out. Well, we didn’t find it and Stan drove us back.

As we were stuck in the traditional summer beach traffic I realized that not once since the first time that I had met Stan did I ever thank him for doing what he does. In that car, I had a complete revelation that I’m embarrassed to say should have occurred to me years ago. The mere fact that I can fly from New York and expect that the group will be running, the trail will be marked and the same people will be there is one of the few things that I can count on when I return to my birthplace that seems to change its appearance each and every year. The single reason this is possible is Stan. Just like Coach Mike Barno who leads the Westchester Track Club or Tim Sullivan in Atlanta, or Brett who runs the virtual triathlete community TriScoop, Stan makes this all possible. Stan makes it possible for me to show up year after year and feel wrapped in familiarity and enthusiasm.

In this very time-consuming and thankless task, Stan and club organizers and podcasters like him have changed thousands of lives.

What makes us feel entitled to this service? In the years that I lived in Los Angeles and was a regular member, I led some weekend runs, marked some trails, and financially supported the launch of the Malibu Creek Trail Challenge, but I always knew that I could come and go as I pleased. If Stan stopped showing up, the entire community would have dissolved. And for their efforts, what do these people dedicated to community service receive? Personal satisfaction as I’ve described above, but you know what they mostly get? Criticism. “The trail wasn’t marked very well, Stan.” “Why didn’t we run a different way, Stan?” “Can’t you changed the schedule next week to accommodate my son’s Bar Mitzvah, Stan?” This natural orientation to entitlement is short sighted, self indulgent and quite frankly disgusting and I include myself as one of those who fell into that trap.

Why do we necessarily migrate toward this sense of entitlement instead of a swell of appreciation? Why is it so easy to take and yet so difficult to give? Why is it so difficult to get people to volunteer to support the community that they say that they love and enjoy? And perhaps most importantly, why do we treat those who do give so selflessly of themselves so poorly or at best indifferently.

I wish I had answers to any or all of these questions. Perhaps realizing that these predispositions exist is enough to remind me to reorient myself in a better direction.

When I was in high school, I used to love the first day of school, not because of the people I would see, but because I’d had three months for people to forget the fool I had been by the end of the prior year. Perhaps on the Thursday after Labor day, I would show up at school and I would be seen as a different person. It didn’t always happen, but the opportunity was always there. I had the opportunity to reinvent myself.

As an adult, our lifestyles and responsibilities make this natural separation harder to achieve. That said, every morning that we wake up, we have the ability to see the world through a completely different lens than we did the day before. We can reinvent ourselves through our behaviors and our actions. And we can make the affirmative decision to live with a sense of entitlement or take on the daunting responsibility to improve our own life and the lives of those around us by showing our appreciation for their efforts.

What is clear, is that this choice is ours and doesn’t depend on anyone else.

Thanks Stan.

Nautica New York City Triathlon 2007 – A Photo Pictorial

Please only swim in-between the yellow buoys

Swim Buoy in the Hudson River

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the set-up, check-in, management, execution and completion of one of the nation’s largest triathlons.

So this was a huge triathlon weekend for Race with Purpose athletes with new Ironmen being crowned at Lake Placid, Coach Michelle taking third in her age group in the Vineman Half Ironman in only her second Half Iron distance race and a crew of NYC team members rock’n the streets of the Big Apple, riding the Westside Highway without an EZ Pass and swimming in the clean Hudson river as illustrated above. Yes, that is indeed a swim buoy mixed in with the Dorito wrappers.

He's just holding his breath

See, it must be clean, otherwise why would this goose be able to hold his breath so long? At least he is able to keep his hips and legs high in the water. Okay, seriously on Sunday morning, they sent a skimmer boat around and picked up all of the foul refuse that keeps this river warm and insulated.

Not training for any particular race myself right now, I spent this race finding answers to all of the questions I’ve received from triathletes over the past few years. To start with I went out and interviewed the set-up crew on Friday before the race. I recorded the pre-race briefing, I hung out as they tied buckets of concrete to buoys before dumping them into the Hudson, (I’ve always thought they only did that to people who didn’t pay their markers in New Jersey) and then the fun really began.

On race day, I filmed as much of the race as possible taking both video and stills from above, on and under the water, while riding on my bike and while running in Central Park. This first installment will include only the still photographs that I took and then with any luck, I’ll post both audio and some video for you guys as we go along (and I have time to edit.) If you have editing skills and extra time and want to help create this NYC Triathlonamentary, let me know. My good friend and teammate Eugene took additional film during the race without being encumbered by the task of trying to run or handle a bike.

Completion of the Hudson Float

I will tell you that the highlight of my day was floating the swim, yes, I said FLOATING the swim. I laid out, and didn’t move until the next wave of swimmers came up to overtake me. Then I floated vertically for the remaining distance while shooting both stills and videos and STILL completed the mile swim in 36 minutes. Take that Endless Pool!

I’ll also post a link to a race report for your enjoyment later. By the way, the picture of the foot in my earlier post below is essentially what my own foot looked like after running 600 meters barefoot to T1 coming out of the swim on the hot asphalt. Brett, I need serious help with this barefoot running thing.

Enjoy! Coach Adam’s Nautica NYC Triathlon Pictorial

Plantar Fasciitis – The what, the why and the how

Plantar Fascia

As promised, this begins a series of articles to help ease the anxiety and accelerate the rehabilitation of some of the most common injuries that besets endurance athletes. It has been my experience that the stress caused by not knowing “How” is much more impactful and detrimental to your overall raining than the “What.”

How long will it be before I can get back to running? How much speed will I lose? How will I ever make up the workouts that I will miss? How will my training partner deal with me not being around? How will I ever be able to do nothing and feel good about it?

With injuries, the how’s definitely have it. Sometimes, knowing the what, however, is a good place to begin. Read the article below and most importantly, if you have personal experience with any of these maladies, please share them by posting a comment to this blog.

Plantar Fasciitis

Tape me up, Coach!

Alabama's Tyrone Protrho

Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.
Marcus Aurelius

This is a quick post to introduce a new category on my blog, “Tape me up, Coach!”. This category is dedicated to the numerous questions I get on the various boards such as Race with Purpose and TriScoop from novice and veteran endurance athletes who all at some point are likely to become equal members of the unfortunate club of the walking wounded.

There is a ton of information out there that will help you identify, diagnose, treat, prevent, avoid, minimize, mitigate and recover from common and not so common injuries. That said, I have found that the information isn’t necessarily organized in such a way that an already stressed out and anxious athlete can gain confidence and a measure of relief that they will get through this hurdle in a reasonable amount of time. That’s the main point to make here. Aside from extreme acute injuries such as the one pictured above, most injuries that endurance athletes encounter fall into two categories, overuse or due to improper biomechanics and technique. In fact the latter can be said to be a subset of the former because for many the training tends to illuminate the inherent muscular imbalances or biomechanical inefficiencies that were there in the first place.

Over the next few months, I’ll be writing how to guides for some of the most common injuries for our Race with Purpose fall 2007 marathon training program. When completed, I’ll also post them here.

Please don’t take this as some sense that I know any more than anyone else out there. There are a lot of great coaches and athletic trainers who know far more than I do. What I will do, is write these in such a way that they have already been found useful; to the athletes with whom I have worked with and perhaps this structure will be helpful to you as well.

The other advantage of posting this here is that you can comment on your own personal experiences around these common injuries. Think of this as a Wicki on injuries with a little bit of knowledgeable moderation. By sharing your experiences, you may be able to help the next unfortunate soul to get back on the road a bit sooner.

Cheers,
-Coach Adam

The Halo Effect

Coach Adam, Nathan and Michelle on the IMLP Course

halo effect
n.

An effect whereby the perception of positive qualities in one thing or part gives rise to the perception of similar qualities in related things or in the whole.

The halo effect can be one of the most powerful catalysts to transformational performance. Consider the last time you had a good race; I’m not talking about one that you bonked at or didn’t prepare for. I’m eluding to the one where things just clicked, you passed the person you were trying to catch on the run, or glided throughout the event seemingly effortlessly, or pushed so hard that you tasted metal but still were able to persevere until the end to set a new PR.

Aside from feeling good at the moment, or long enough to recount with your friends every step that you took along the course until they prayed for you to talk about anything else, what did you do with this experience?

The answer usually comes in two forms. The first is found in the person who feels that they have completed the task that they trained for. They take a number of days off and tell themselves that they will ease back into it in about a week or so – and they do. A week later they go out to run or cycle or swim, (whatever their event may be) and then they focus on starting all over again. They remember their event and then look for the next challenge ahead of them.

The second approach is to go out right afterwards, not to race again, but to spin your legs. What you just might find is that you can’t help but be moving faster than you were prior to the race itself. The reason for this is that it is exceedingly difficult to truly mimic race conditions during your training. The endorphins released create opportunities to do things that in training are unthinkable. So much of performance is mental, and requires us to break through perceived barriers. Racing allows us to do this because during a race, we are usually spending a whole lot more time doing, and a whole lot less time thinking, or more to the point, over-thinking.

By going out after a race and spinning your legs, you might find that you have made a breakthrough of sorts. If this has occurred, then you now you have something to build off of. You have the ability to use the end of a race as a new beginning rather than simply the completion of months of training. More importantly, the right midset to racing can allow you to focus on the continual journey rather than on a series of outcome goals.

I was reminded of this during this past week. Last weekend, a group of us drove up to Lake Placid to race in the Tinman Half Ironman race at Tupper Lake, NY. Everyone had breakout performances, it was one of those days where all of the pre-race anxiety is found to be irrelevant as soon as you get out onto the course. The race, similar to the long course at Wildflower, is on a Saturday which makes it possible to go out on Sunday to ride of a loop or more of the Ironman Lake Placid bike course before driving back to the city. Now don’t get me wrong, on Saturday evening, the last thing I wanted to do was jump back into the saddle of my Kestral, but I knew that come daybreak, the world would look a whole lot different, and it did. Sunday we headed out onto a course that I haven’t been on in two years. We didn’t set any land speed records, treating it as a recovery ride but what we did do was communicate a clear message to our bodies and our minds that Saturday, as great as it was, was just a pebble in the stream, something to flow past and take note of before continuing along our journey.

Like every good coach that practices what he preaches, I took Monday off as a recovery day and did absolutely nothing except focused a bit more on my nutrition to help fend off any threats to a depleted post race immune system. And then came Tuesday morning. Tuesday, July 3rd began with me waking up with the sound of the birds outside my window around 4:50am. I headed out to do a run on legs that felt, well, different, they felt thick, or solid, or pumped. There’s a fairly hilly 10K loop that I do regularly from my house. It begins with an immediate if not extensive ascent. I immediately found myself breathing rapidly and laboring from my first steps. It was an interesting sensation in that I just was having trouble catching my breath but I wasn’t feeling tired, just having trouble taking in enough air. I decided that this would be an even pace run as opposed to a constant effort run. This means that I would keep the pace constant throughout the run by increasing effort while climbing hills and then recovering a bit on the other side. I focsed on my form which was easy from the muscle memory refined during Saturday’s race – good midfoot strike under my center of balance, my hands moving forward and pointing where I wanted to go, my head neutral and my shoulders relaxed. It was a challenging run, don’t get me wrong, I felt like I labored and was dragging myself up the hills. I also felt that the run must have taken forever, until I pushed the stop button on my Nike upon returning to my house only to find that I had completed the run faster than I have done so in the past six months. I finished the run a full two minutes faster, and in a 10K, that is huge.

Throughout the run, I felt like my legs were weighing me down and I was just concentrating on getting through it. There must be some mistake. I must have caught a green light at an intersection that I normally would have had to wait around at. In fact, none of this occurred. I simply ran faster and the internal connection of how fast I was running to my perceived effort was all out of whack, because of Saturday’s race.

What did occur was that the timing belt on my legs sped up. The neural connections between my head and my muscles were firing faster and I was simply running faster while in fact feeling like I was running slower. The race on Saturday had stimulated my ability to recruit fibers quickly, enhance my turnover, probably perfected my form and allowed me to turn around and keep those benefits with me when I went out on Tuesday for my run. The goal now is to take that with me and build off of it as I continue my own training. I’m now running my 10K two full minutes faster than I was less than a week ago.

In essence, the halo effect of my race on Saturday was that it acted like shock therapy to my training. A good race can set you up to break through any plateaus that you’ve hit in your training. It can make you do things that you didn’t think were possible. While the race itself is one experience to savor, don’t lose sight of the lingering benefits that exist days afterwards that you can use to remotivate yourself and reinvigorate your training.

“Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.” Virginia Woolf