New blog!

Well … new theme for my blog, at any rate. I did it myself … can you tell?

I learned a few things: CSS is pretty hard, I have at least an idea of what I want my blog to look like, and I do not have time to write a blog and design a blog at the same time. It still needs polish, a few spacing adjustments, and to have its margins fixed in internet explorer, but all in all I am quite pleased with myself.

Aside from that, it’s been a long winter! I had a great vacation, hernia surgery, and am now full-tilt back in to training. I am racing for a NEW TEAM this season! The Craft / Cervelo / Karhu multisport team, with support (ie. wetsuits!) from BlueSeventy. I am very excited about this, there are two other guys on the team and I am hoping that we can make a bit of noise this season.

Finally, to atone for not posting for the past six months … here is a video of my nephew munching on some french fries.

OMFG, Awesome Software Is Awesome

Nappy Widget, on Apple.com

I wrote an Apple Dashboard Widget the other day. It’s pretty neat. You get two little programs: one that you use to note whether your baby is asleep or awake, and one that you send to friends that automatically updates itself to show whether your baby is asleep or awake. The way it works is, you click a button (“Awake”, for instance) on yours, and it sends a message to theirs (“Francis is Awake”) automatically. So they don’t call and accidentally wake the baby up while he is napping.

I’m selling it for six dollars, which I think is an eminently reasonable price. Actually, I’m giving it away for free, it just costs six dollars to get a “channel code”, which is the part that lets you send the messages. The channel code is valid for six months and can be extended after that if you like.

Anyway – I uploaded it to Apple.com’s Dashboard section – and this morning it is on the front page!! So that is pretty cool.

You should check it out. It would make a great gift, hint hint :-).

The Standard Recruiter Email

I haven’t written in a while, because I’m trolling for work again. Updating my resume on monster.com, calling companies I’ve worked for in the past, dealing with a few of the hundreds of recruiter-spams I get each day, it can be a bit draining.

My favorite is updating my resume on Monster though. They have a pretty detailed interface, so recruiters can see and download your latest resume, see when it was uploaded, et cetera. So it baffles me that close to one hundred percent of the many emails I receive contain the following, practically verbatim:

Dear Will Ronco,
I saw your resume on Monster.com. I think you may be a good fit for a (DBA/Analyst/CIO/Sales/Developer) position we have available. Please send me your resume.
Sincerely yours,
Yet Another Recruiter

I’ve highlighted the relevant parts. How much work experience do you think I have gained in the last 24 hours? I am going to start sending these people my racing resume. “Oh yeah, all that Oracle DBA stuff and multithreaded development in C# … yeah, that was my old resume. I do triathlons now. Same hourly rate.”

Buffing the Muffin

With less than 48 hours to go before my last race of the season, I am in full taper and feeling as ready as I am likely to get. It has been a long road, and although I’ve had ups and downs like anyone could expect, this year has been already blessedly full of ups.

I want to place well, but I know that whatever happens I have already had the season of my life. With the love, help, and support of friends and family, I have accomplished things that were mere dreams a year ago. This race is yet another chance to achieve those dreams.

If you want to follow me on Saturday, the race starts at 6:50 AM Central time.

  • You can sign up to receive text message updates of my position at this website. My race number is 104
  • You can follow my progress online at http://www.ironmanlive.com. There will be video coverage, a live blog, and periodic position updates via the “Athlete Tracker”

If you are reading this, I thank you for being with me this season. I will leave you with a short video tribute to the inimitable Jonnyo, who will not be racing with us on Saturday due to a freak Curling injury.

You can call me Al Jenny

 If you’ll be my bodyguard, I can be your long-lost pal.

JennyClosed out the first half of 2007 with a pair of huge races for me. First was a tough, hot, non-wetsuit day at the 5430 half ironman in Boulder. Steph came out to watch, and so did Paulo, so I was extra motivated to do as well as I could. Steph was a little nervous that she was “bad luck” after witnessing my disastrous performances in Arizona last year and at Boulder Peak in July.

But the race went quite well: I was out of the water in 12th or so, again a non-wetsuit swim, and I had a very good bike ride of 2 hours and 10 minutes for a 25.8 mile per hour average speed (!) to arrive in transition in 8th place, three minutes behind fifth. It took me until 3k to go before I moved into seventh, and 400 meters to go before I moved into sixth. I ended up crossing the line in sixth place, an excellent result for me but about 20 seconds short of fifth place and thus just out of the money. Them’s the breaks. It was still my best performance of the year so far.

dan_saw.jpgAfter the race, I had the toughest taper week of my life as I tried to get ready for Star Island, recover from a quadricep-rending last 3k at the previous weekend’s race, and taper for the Timberman 70.3. So Steph and I flew to Boston, did some last minute shopping and with Dan’s help we made a pair of waterskis and bought over forty pounds of candy.

Then everyone else went out to Star, and I drove up to Gilford to continue the quest. They had helpfully printed everyone’s first name on the race numbers for this year’s race, but I hadn’t made it onto the pro start list in time. So in lieu of a pro number, I would get #1288, previously belonging to “Jenny”, who wouldn’t be able to make it. That was OK – my bike was racked with the women’s 35-39 age group, and they turned out to be a lot more mellow pre-race than the pro men typically are. So that was nice.

Then a decent swim had me out of the water in the second pack, and a solid bike ride brought me briefly into the top 10 before being passed by perennial bike/run ass-kicker Mike Caiazzo. I tried to stay with him, as I thought I might be able to run with him if I could just get to transition with him, but it was not to be. I ran well too, faster than I ever have on that course, to move into sixth across the line. Again one place out of the money. Then, just because not enough things have been oh-so-close, the top age grouper posted a time that would bump me back to seventh. He is a friend of mine though and I look forward to racing with him in the pro field next season.

THEN – you didn’t think that would be it, did you? – I had to get myself to Rye, NH to catch the Star ferry. I’d already missed the whole first day of the conference and I was not about to miss any more. So I pleaded with the police officer directing traffic on the bike course, and drove clear across New Hampshire without so much as stopping to change out of my disgusting race clothes. I made it in the nick of time, and managed to wash myself off in Rye harbor before catching a much-needed nap on the floor of the boat, the only extra sleep I’d be likely to get in the next seven days.

So two very good races on consecutive weekends, but the thing I am proudest of is that, after all that, I made it to the ferry on time. You have to have priorities, you know?

Closing out the summer by being an idiot, again

It’s not true that I had nothing on. I had the radio on.

eagleman_finish_big.jpg

Back in April, when I was sick all the time and having a huge stress-out, I had to schedule two races inappropriately close together. The fact that they were so close together actually made me feel better; it reinforced the idea that I can only control so much, and the best I can do is the best I can. Nothing magic will happen by following The Perfect Schedule, and there will always be things that could go more smoothly or that I could have done to prepare. But you can’t do everything, and you must have confidence in what you could do.

So with two half ironman races approaching in the next two weekends for me, I am again having a huge stress-out. I don’t have confidence that I can place well in either one, let alone both. Actually, I believe I can, but believing that it’s possible is not the same as being certain that it will happen. I cannot control times or places, how fast other people go, or weather. But I know certain things: I am absolutely capable of swimming hard for half an hour. There is no doubt whatsoever that I can ride my bike hard for two and a half hours. I am totally certain that I can run hard for an hour and a half. These are things that are up to me, and I can always do them. Working hard does not always equal going fast, but that’s not under my control.

Beyond that, it doesn’t matter. I will go out and run my race and whatever everyone else does is up to them. I will be controlling what I can control and going as fast as I can. It worked in April, May, June, and July. It’s going to work in August too.

Boulder Peak Triathlon, Race Report

Oh, you’d be surprised the amount of wear and tear that goes on out there in the field.

Cresting the last hillNot so quick with the race report when the race goes badly, are we? But not every hit can be a home run, and this race had its good points too.

Since the race was in town, I got to stay home in my own room. And since my wave didn’t start until 9 am, I got to sleep in until 6. While I was making my coffee, I felt a bit bad for the poor souls who were getting the starting gun at that moment. When they were done before I had even started, well, I felt a bit less bad for them.

So after a bagel and a cup of coffee Steph and I cruised over to the race, a whopping seven minute drive. I had a nice warmup, zipped into my not-technically-a-wetsuit, and lined up with the largest men’s pro field it has ever been my pleasure to share a starting line with. They announced all the race favorites, and then at the last minute, they announced my name too, because my friend Tanya Kensley asked them nicely. Cool!

As I’ve mentioned before, when you start in the pro wave you commit to starting hard. For me, this means giving everything I have in the first 250 meters or so to get with a good group. If the group surges at 400 meters, I am not likely to be able to respond. If it waits until 600 or 700 meters, then maybe. But the group I was trying to hold on to surged again at 400 and I lost them. I tried to limit my losses by holding a strong, steady pace, and I mostly succeeded. I got out of the water about 45 seconds behind them and maybe 2 1/2 minutes down to the leaders. Very good for me in a non-wetsuit swim.

I had a fairly brilliant transition, for me, and tore out onto the bike course. I’d pre ridden the course about a dozen times leading up to the race, and had an exact plan of how to mete out my effort. Out of transition, there is a false flat for about six miles, then about a mile and a half of climbing. I commited to riding as strong as I possibly could to the top of the climb, taking the subsequent descent to recover. That went well – I averaged about 310 watts from transition to the top of the hill, and the radar camera on the downhill flashed 50 MPH at me as I went by. So far so good.

I tried to hang on for the second section that I’d identified as a “key effort”. The last ten miles are gently rolling, and I thought I could muscle through them as well. It turns out that although I’ve made significant improvement, I’m still pretty bad at pacing myself over gentle rollers. I still rolled in with an excellent bike time, for me, of 1:02:33.

So I rolled in to transition around 11th or 12th, pretty confident in the way I was racing so far. And then I proceeded to run slower than I have run in any race except ironman since mid 2005. So that was weird, I gave up a few places on the run and crashed across the line in fifteenth place. It does not feel good to hurt that much on the run!

Anyway, as I said, I finished fifteenth (nineteenth counting four AGers that went quicker, which is not 100% fair in this race, but them’s the breaks) in 2:04:58. Which is actually a little faster than I went two years ago. Hmm.

And I just want to mention about that picture above … check out my calf!  Whew!

Yes, this is an actual occurence

So the other day I raced at the Thursday evening “stroke and stride” race out at the Boulder reservoir. I had a decent race: after a lousy start (what was I thinking starting in the second row? note to self: if you want to swim in the first group, don’t start in the second row) I swam quite well, for me, and was out of the water third.

Then I had the worst transition in the history of ever, and then ran an OK 5k. I was passed by 1 person in transition and passed 1 person on the run to finish third, which was pretty good. I was seventeen seconds behind the winner at the end, and his transition was exactly seventeen seconds faster than mine. Ah well, it was a good way to learn that I need more practice.

The kicker was this: after the race, a guy comes up to me.
“How old are you?” he asks me.
“Twenty-eight”
“Oh, good. I saw you pass me on the run, and when I saw your gray hair, I thought you might be in my age group,” he said.
“Really,” I say, “what age group is that?”
“Fifty to fifty-four.”

(And results are here)

Every day is an adventure