Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Bit of Mt. Taylor Prep

A and I got the pleasure of riding and running with our coach (Jared) today for a little Mt. Taylor Quad prep. To some up the day in three words: He destroyed us.

Fortunately, I think we will recover pretty quickly as today's workout was more bike focused than run focused like the race will be.

The ride started easily enough as we met up on the flat roads between our houses. It soon turned a bit more difficult as the winds picked up and Jared picked up the pace.

Once we hit Lefthand Canyon, Jared gave A an assignment and wanted me to stay on his wheel. Trying to stay with him was the hardest workout I've done in a while. I lost him for good with about 2 miles to Jamestown.

After re-grouping at Jamestown, we headed to Heil Ranch for a bit of running. That went pretty well except for my Superman style fall on the way back. My knee landed on a rock, but I don't think it caused anything more than temporary pain.

On the ride home, Jared had to get home and dropped us like a bad habit. A and I made our way back and made ourselves a tasty strawberry, mango, banana, frozen yogurt, and honey smoothie. It was so thick that we put it in bowls (Rush style) and added granola on top.

Later, we went to dinner at Rincon del Sol in Boulder and A and I both felt like we were down at El Cafecito in Grants, New Mexico for our traditional post Quad lunch as we had whole body fatigue.

Peace Out,

Monday, January 26, 2009

So Its Been Awhile...

Well world or well the few people that bother to check this blog anymore,

A and I are still here, still trying to get our workouts in, still working a lot, still not being successful at staying healthy, still wishing for more snow in town.

Right now, A is describing how someone on 24 is being stabbed multiple times. Otherwise, she came down with something today that made her pretty miserable at work. Supposedly a co-worker found her trying to nap underneath her desk. In the last few weeks, I've been the healthy one in the household as she had to deal with the stitches from the ski collision and then a sinus infection. She just informed me that someone is getting framed for the previously mentioned stabbing.

One of the most exciting things recently (and this might give you an idea of how exciting it has been around here) was the making of paella, which happened to correspond with the first use of our new paella pan. The paella pan was on sale at Williams Sonoma, so I convinced A that we had to get it. She wasn't convinced that I would ever use it, but on MLK day, I broke it out. It large enough to cover two of the burners on the stove and needed to be seasoned, so it was a bit of an intensive process. The actual meal turned out really well and fed us most of last week. Combined with the lasagna (with homemade noodles) we had made a few days before, we ate very well last week going through our leftovers. This week is going to have a lot less cooking, but we have some homemade tamales in the freezer. Actually they are more like neighbor-made, friend-made and/or Amber-made as they came from a tamale making gathering at our friends down the street.

Training has been going decently, but we're not sure is 0, 1 or 2 of us is/are going to be able to get to Grants, NM in a few weeks to race the Mt. Taylor Quad. It's stressful enough not knowing that I'm leaning to just skipping it this year.

A just informed me that the only company that is doing well right now according to the news is McDonalds. My guess is that it isn't cause of their paella.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Winter Tri Part 2

Just a quick follow up:

Winter tri nationals this past weekend was down 6 more finishers than last year to 47. Amber could have won her age group by showing up. Results here. The splits look pretty well distributed between the bike and ski portions, but Bend is a long ways to travel to in the winter with a bike and skis for an hour long race.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Is winter triathlon bound for failure?

Soapbox time.

Number of ski races we have done: 200, 300, whatever its a lot
Number of triathlons we have done: 100+ (including 2 xterras, 5 ironmans)
Number of winter triathlons we have done: 21 or so
Our interest in doing winter triathlons this year: 0

I (E) was skimming through the USAT magazine a while ago and was saddened to find a little blurb from the Northeast region that was title like "Largest Winter Triathlon in the Country Held ..." and started with "with nearly 60 competitors, the ...". OMG, the largest winter triathlon in the country for 2008 had less than sixty people. A quick check using "the google" found that 53 people did nationals in Oregon and a whopping 19 people did the Durango race. In 2007, 103 people started and 90 finished the US nationals that was held in Winter Park, CO.

So, the sport shrank last year. Why? My belief is that it is just like real estate: location, location, location. There are other reasons like course selection, lack of race consistency, timing, etc., but location is the one that causes winter triathlon to represent less than 1% of the particiation that Ironmans in the US get.

For some background, Amber and I both were cross country skiers before we were triathletes. Winter triathlon (run, bike and Nordic ski) is a natural extenstion from what we do in the winter and what we do in the summer. We jumped at the chance to race in the winter tri's that Barry Siff (5430 race director) had starting in 2003 or so. He had 2 or 3 a year for a couple of years but never got that much participation and stopped doing them. The courses at Snow Mountain Ranch ranches were difficult but not too bad unless the bike course (normally a ski trail) was soft and a majority of the riders were forced to walk/run a bunch.

One year without them and then Danelle Ballengee held two race in 2006. The first race sucked for me as the bike was either up on roads or down on a snowshoe trail and I almost lost my bike shoes multiple times. The second race was great as the run, bike and ski trails were all firm.

In 2007, Barry again held two races with one of them being the national championships. The bike course got so soft and slow that i spent the time afterwards to compare the proportions that every competitor spent in the three disciplines. The first five guys spent between 39.5 and 42% of their time on the bike (30% or so on the run and ski). The slower people were, the longer proportionally they would spend on the bike to an average later of 46% of their time. These people also tended to spend longer on the ski than the run, suggesting that the bike tired them out more than the first finishers, not surprising since some spent over an hour trying to ride their bike through cottage cheese. I spent 48% of my time on the bike and Amber spent 50.5% of her time on the bike. So, after the race we said "screw this, let's just ski race next year", so this past year we didn't even consider traveling to Durango or up to Bend.

So, how would I fix winter triathlons? I go through 5w's (why, who, what, where, and when).


A fun, winter racing option. Not designed to surplant summer races for triathletes or ski races for skiers. As such the course shouldn't be that difficult. Fitness and skill for the ski will always be critical, but the course itself shouldn't be the limiter for doing well. There are other options (Mt. Taylor Quad for instance) where you are racing the course as much as you are racing others. Cyclocross is booming for cycling as a nice fall alternative as they are short races that are hard but don't take a whole lot of training for most folks to get ready for.


This is a complicated one. I think the courses that have been used recently highly favor those with the best mountain biking skills, altitude training and the means to travel (see Mike Kloser), while leaving others behind. The problem with that is that is means an elite team that isn't necessarily the best to do well at worlds and other athletes don't want to do the races (see Amber and Eric Rydholm). I believe that the main priorities currently should be to get as much participation from young skiers as possible and to get summer triathletes try the sport. The future elites will likely come from ski ranks (see Rebecca Dussault) and the future age groupers will come from summer triathletes who learn how to ski. Two ways I see for this are high school races and relays. There are thousands of high school skiers in Minnesota, Alaska, Colorado, Wisconsin, Vermont, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Michigan, New York, and Maine (I probably forgot a state or two). Get these kids interested and involved.

Short races. Easy races. Not races that leave skiers wishing that they had stayed with skiing.

The midwest where skiers are used to driving to races such as the Birkie and the Vasaloppet. Near the front range of Colorado, where front rangers are used to going for races (Durango is not near the front range). Alaska with a crazy population. No Bend which is a cluster to get to in the winter.

Before or after bigger races at the same location (Monday after the Birkie?, a few days before Sr. Nationals, a week after state for high schoolers or even the same weekend as state for those that couldn't qualify).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Getting ready for the Quad

Our first major race (the Mt. Taylor Quadrathlon) of '09 is coming up in a little over a month. The race is a road bike, run, ski (with skins), snowshoe to the top of Mt Taylor, snowshoe down from the top of Mt Taylor, ski, run, and bike back to town. Four thousand feet of climbing followed by a four thousand feet of decent.

It is an interesting race to prepare for since you have to run uphill a lot and technically should be able to rest at times during the decent. The bike up is all about keeping yourself to your pace which is difficult with everyone else around you. The runs, ski up, and snowshoe sections all rely on good running strength. The ski down can be a lot of snow plowing depending on conditions, which can trash your legs for the following run. The run down starts with a steep grade and ends with rollers. The bike down should be easy, but there will most likely be a headwind to some degree.

The logistics of the race are also interesting as you have to send equipment up the hill the day before not knowing what kind of weather you might run (literally) into and there isn't really much on course support (although I did get gummy bears on the run down last year). A sent a camelback up last year with her ski (and snowshoes) stuff only to find it empty when she tried to drink out of it.

The shortest and IMHO easiest leg is the snowshoe down as you nearly fly down from the top. The toughest section for me has varied from the ski up the year we thought we could do it without skins, to the run down a couple of years, and to the bike down the year I bonked hard during the run and hit massive headwinds on the bike.

A's PR is still from her first year back in '03 although she would have beaten that time in '05 except for the massive headwinds on the bike down (that section took 15 minutes longer than normal) and last year except for the broken spoke that I wrote about in a year in review. My best time came two years ago which I was surprised about as I though last year would have been faster even with the broken spoke, but looking back at last year's training log reminded me that I was sick for the week before the race.

This year, I've had the back issue from roller skiing and gotten one cold, but otherwise have had gotten in pretty steady training. Staying in B-town over the holidays helped that. A's crash on Saturday kept her from running on Sunday, but Izzy-dog was up for a fast run, so we ran a half marathon with a negative split. Fortunately, A was able to get back to normal training (except for swimming) after that.

I'm somewhat concerned about my mental health as I was disappointed that our planned rollerski this morning got postponed due to the winds. After college, I was sure I'd never rollerski again, so to be disappointed with a postponement is a bit troubling. At least it is outside which is much better than a treadmill or bike trainer. Oh well, I don't even hate swimming that much anymore.


Saturday, January 3, 2009


Yesterday, Amber and I managed to survive an ill planned time trial up Mt. Sanitas. Ill planned as we wanted to get it done early before she went work, but on January 2nd the sun doesn't come up that early, Mt. Sanitas has a lot of rocks to run over and we didn't bring any headlamps with us. We did try though and I fell once, hit a lot of rocks with my feet, had to stop a few times to see where the trail went, etc. It was four or five minutes slower for the both of us than last time. Fortunately it was getting a bit lighter by the time we headed down. Lesson learned, but no major injuries.

Today though we headed to Eldora to ski with our former Michigan Tech teammates, Eric and Amanda. Since we were going different speeds and they are unfamiliar with Eldora, we headed to a two way loop so that we could keep track of each other. Unfortunately, Amber and Amanda met each other going the opposite ways at a corner and both tried to take the outside line. They collided head first with Amber's eyebrow getting cut with her sunglasses and causing some pretty good bleeding (I didn't see it first hand). An ER nurse happened on them a minute later and suggested stitches, so we headed out and Amber and I went to an ER in Boulder. Four stitches later, she is put back together, but feeling pretty crappy.

So, we survived a sketchy run on day and she gets banged up during a routine ski the next.

Stay safe out there.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Out with 08, In with 09

Well, we missed the last possible race of 2008, the Boulder Beer Mile and some of the first possible races of 2009 including a ski race at Eldora and a cyclo-cross race in Lyons, but I'm (Eric) not too upset about it as we've got a full schedule ahead of us in 2009 although racing might be pushed to the back-burner for a little while as work for both A and myself promises to be a bit crazy.

2008 was a good year. We started the year doing more ski races than we have in a long time. I got burnt out by mid January of racing every weekend, but A kept plugging along every Wednesday for the Eldora Nighthawks and a lot of the weekends as well.

In February, we trekked down to our favorite race of the year (Mt. Taylor Quadrathlon). A had a great uphill bike going until she broke a spoke, but since I wasn't having a great bike and was behind her, we swapped bikes. Riding the rest of the way up wasn't too bad with the bum wheel, but the way down was pretty scary. I never was able to catch A after switching bikes and she ended up getting second for the women. Actually, it wouldn't probably wouldn't have mattered if she had kept riding on her bike as she was 20 minutes behind the 1st place finisher and 30 minutes ahead of the 3rd place finisher. For me, the runs, skis and snowshoe sections went okay, but I had to ride really conservatively for the first steep section down. In town, I chased down the guy in front of me just for competition sake. That ended up being the difference between 3rd and 4th in my age group, so for the first time I got a chunk of Nambe.

After the Quad, we raced the Snow Mountain Stampede ski race in March and tried to get ready of IM Arizona in April. The day before Arizona is when we started this blog, but short story to that race is that we didn't get enough biking training in and weren't prepared for the heat in Tempe.

Post-Arizona, we took a little break, had some family visit, and A turned 30.

In May, we headed to Minnesota for Amber's sister's wedding and threw in a stage race (road).

We had some excitement when Sunny stay with us around the 4th of July and later when we went to Rockygrass for 2 days, but otherwise most of our summer seems to have been centered around biking, running and swimming.

IM Canada went pretty well for both of us as we set PR's. I had a stupid 15 minute flat (damn Vittoria pit stop), but quite pleased with my run. A had a solid race across the board, but her age group was stacked with some fast finishes and there weren't any roll downs for Kona.

Since then, we raced the Halfmax in Boulder City, NV back in October, A switched jobs, we started training for skiing, we painted the kitchen, had Sunny visit us again, had my dad visit us again, had a great weekend up at Devil's Thumb Ranch, and spent the last week and a half doing stuff at home.

For '09, we hope to make it back down the Quad, A is signed up for Buffalo Springs 1/2 IM in June (I plan on signing up once some work things get finalized), and we are signed up for IM Canada again (hey Sunny, are you interested?). Beyond that, maybe the 5430 series, a Triple Bypass ride, more bike races (Mt. Evans hill climb?), or some running races, but we will have to play it by ear.

Peace Out,