Pac Grove Tri

The short version:

Awesome, exhausting and exhilarating!

The Long Version:

The biggest reasons that we find for not following our dreams is that we have pre-conceived notions of what we think we can and cannot do.

JF and I left for Pac Grove Friday early afternoon (ended up leaving around 2pm). I was apprehensive… the weather was going to be super cold and I’ve always done poorly in cold weather…  yet anxious at the same time. It’s kinda ironic that 15 weeks of busting your ass off end in less than 4 hours.

It was also good to see old friends I hadn’t seen but once this week.  Routine becomes such an ingrained part of your life, swim on Mondays and Wednesdays, Bike on Tuesdays, Track workout on Thursdays, Fridays off and Brick on Saturdays… It’s going to be hard to keep that level  of discipline up on my own but there lies the challenge.

Lovers Point. Pacific Grove

Lovers Point. Pacific Grove

Got to the hotel in time for shower, change of clothes and dinner…  Most of Friday was a blur because I was trying to stay awake after a very short night’s sleep on Thursday… I called it an early night and tried to sleep. Unfortunately the hotel had cable and they had A&E with their re-runs of CSI: Miami.

As an aside, this was the same hotel where a coworker at the time (1998) and I stayed for my first ever work conference. It was kinda funny to see that I remembered every little walk and where to go.

I had warned my roomie that I had requested an 0430 wake up call. I might not have taken it but wanted to make sure I had a cushion between the time I woke up and the time we were supposed to ride to the transition area to setup.

The ride to the transition area was amazing. It was dark on the way out but looking at the Monterey city lights as they shone to my right when riding to the event was amazing.

The jitters I had most of the week weren’t there…  I knew I was going to kick ass and take names; I also knew I was going to do a great job. The mantra was that I was ready for this and that I could only do my best.

By the time I got to the start line for the swim I realized that I didn’t bring my goggles… I was about ready to freak out. Fortunately a teammate had spares so I didn’t have to swim in sea water without goggles.

The swim felt a lot longer than the 43:26 the timer said I did it on. The water wasn’t as cold as I thought it’d be or perhaps it was the adrenaline talking but it went a lot better than I expected… I couldn’t sight worth crap so I decided it was ok to sight to the buoys and to stop every so often to get oriented. Improving sighting is a good thing to aim towards on the swim.

I thought I’d be the last one of the group near me in the transition area but all the bikes were there and all the people started trickling behind me (!?).

I took the bike out and started pedaling like a maniac (yes, I know, we each pedal as we can). My previous best was 17 miles in 90 minutes, which I happily smoked at the Tri… I did 24.8 miles in 1:31:30. I know I can do better and faster, it’s just a matter of continuing to work on it.

As I finished the bike I heard and saw my mom. It was awesome as I wasn’t sure that she was going to make it or not and it came at just the perfect moment.

For some reason (pedaling, lack of fluid, lack of nutrition or combination thereof) my legs usually cramp really bad at the end of the bike so I have to run cramped up and that makes for a really crappy run. It was no exception this time, except that I decided to push through and see how well I could do.

p>I thought my time had sucked…  yet it was only 7 minutes more than my last DSE Golden Gate Vista 10k which was a run only, granted the course was tough as hell but it was still just a run.

Overall I was very pleased with the times I posted.  I thought I was going to go way over 4 hours but I had no idea what my time was going to be until I actually saw it posted 😀

Official Times

These are the official times from the website


Rank: 723

Time: 03:40:37

Rank: 742

Time: 00:43:26

Pace: 00:02:53

Transition 1
Time: 00:05:54

Rank: 634

Time: 01:31:30

Pace: 16.20
Transition 2
Time: 00:04:38

Rank: 511

Time: 01:15:09

Pace: 00:12:07


I’ve met some amazing people

One of the best things  that happens to me whenever I join teams or groups is that, somehow, I find myself surrounded by awesome people whom I love keeping in touch with. 

I have learned so much from all these people and all the rest of the team who are not represented in the pictures below. Thank you folks and GO TEAM!

Keely Marks

Keely Marks

Keeley was my SAG wagon and helper during Bike N Beer… she’s also a really sweet person and a great biker… the kind that will kick your ass if you’re not careful and maybe even if you are careful. It was fun riding with her, it kept my effort honest and consistent.

Several people, both team mates and coaches, including the ones kept reminding me not to take myself too seriously.   It’s taught me a lesson applicable to everything, not just working out…

Stephanie Houston & Sara Hyat

Stephanie Houston & Sara Hyat

Stephanie Jayme & Adam Robertson

Stephanie Jayme & Adam Robertson

Tod Moore and Sara Hyat

Tod Moore and Sara Hyat

I think I’ve blogged about Todd and how much his determination and just sheer joy motivated me to keep pushing when I was feeling about ready to say screw it (yes, there were a few days like that) and turn the wings in.

The Coaches

Coach Thom Zimlich

Coach Thom Zimlich

Coach is amazing… he very seldom raises his voices (I was the recipient of it once, a distinction I don’t recommend) but he delivers results. As I move onto Big K I want to always remember what it is like to be a beginner and to never take anything for granted.

Jim and Jen Delaney

Jim and Jen Delaney

Jim and Jenn are such an amazing couple! I blogged about it in a prior post. I first met Jim at a TnT Information Meeting in late May and even then he struck me as a very strong personality and someone who would beat whatever shitty hand he was dealt.  Jenn is a great coach and a great person who continually motivated me to push forward.

Colin's Daugther, Colin, Coach Jill Kruger Zimlich

Colin's Daugther, Colin, Coach Jill Kruger Zimlich

Ivy Depner

Ivy Depner

Jen, Ivy, Jill and Larry were the collective keepers of my sanity throughout the last 15 weeks.  Ivy’s high pitch screams while on the track.

Larry’s eternally optimist perspective and who continually reminded us to smile.

Coach Larry Prensky

Coach Larry Prensky

Jill’s advice has been priceless and her encouragement came right at the time I needed it 🙂

Coach Drew McDonald

Coach Drew McDonald

Drew has been so many things over the season… He’s a passionate coach, from the first time I met him I felt this intensity about him that made triathlon cool beyond the immediate team. It fueled my motivation and my desire to do more.

I’m a better and more motivated athlete for having worked with Drew. You know what they say about putting your money where your mouth is? Drew completed Vineman (an Ironman Distance Triathlon) and did the Sprint Distance at Pacific Grove where he finished 3rd in his age group! I can respect a lot more someone who pushes himself as hard as he has.

Besides that he’s the main reason I got the tri bug. As I was biking and running @ Pac Grove I kept asking myself why had I decided to do Big K as I was feeling miserable with the run in particular. It all goes back to a conversation I had with Drew one day about perseverance.  The will to push yourself to test how far you can really go

What I’ve Learned & Future Tri Plans

Now I'm not gonna sit here and blow sunshine up your ass, Lieutenant. A good pilot is compelled to evaluate what's happened, so he can apply what he's learned. Up there, we gotta push it. That's our job.

Viper – Top Gun

Set Goals for Yourself, Because Absolutely anything is possible that you want to achieve.

The immediate future is Big Kahuna… beyond that I don’t know. I may want to do a season with the bike or the run teams to polish technique before I hit the big decision about doing Vineman or joining the Iron Team. The tentative plan is:

  • San Jose Rock N Roll 1/2 Marathon, downtown San Jose, 10/4
  • Big Kahuna, Santa Cruz 10/25
  • Either:
    • Lavaman with Team in Training as a mentor, Hawaii, end of March
    • Just continue working out, biking, running and swimming on my own
  • Either:
    • Wildflower with Team in Training as a mentor
    • Cycle Team with Team in Training as a participant
    • Run Team with Team in Training as a participant
  • Silicon Valley Olympic Triathlon, San Jose, Late June
  • Either:
    • Big Kahuna with TnT as a participant
    • Pacific Grove with TnT as a participant

I’ve learned a lot both from my own experience with the team as well as from friend’s like Kerry Jo Richards and other people in my summer TnT team. I was humbled by being a part of their journeys of self discovery (even if it was as a cheer leader) and realizations that it is 80% mental and only 20% physical indeed.

At times it has been painful but it has always held the rewards of the final goal and the new challenges 🙂

I’ve learned never to give up… the only person who can stop you from doing something is yourself.

I’ve learned that you have a deep reservoir of energy and will. It’s just a matter of learning to tap it.

I’ve learned (again) that I’m challenge driven person. If you want me to do something phrase it as a challenge and watch me go.

I’ve learned that I don’t know where my physical limits are… the quest to find out continues.

I’m excited and anxious about the next tri.

I need to continue working on my nutrition and hydration. It continues to be a weakness but one that should be correctable in time for Big K.

I’ve realized that you really are as old as you feel you are. I’m in better shape now than when I was swimming daily in junior high (crap, was it that long ago?)

I’ve learned that you’re never too old to start.

Knowing how to use your mental tools can boost your running performance and pleasure

Credit: Mike Powell/Allsport

Dr. Rob Udewitz

During most runs the road is laid out in front of us and we can see where we are at and where we want to go.

I often do my most challenging runs on the Reservoir in New York City's Central Park. There is a spot I've noticed at the Reservoir where the path turns and I can see only a few feet ahead. However, if I look to my left I can see clear to the spot where my hard run will end in about 400 meters.

It is at this moment where my mind has a choice. I can keep my gaze forward and see only where I'm at, or I can look to my left at see where I want to be. On the surface, my first choice promises nothing more than limited scenery, my own heavy breathing and the pain of lactic acid buildup. The second choice holds the promise of a beautiful view of the water and the place I want to be the place where all the pain will stop.

Initially, the better choice seems obvious.

George Sheehan (Running to Win, 1992) wrote, "Of all the lessons sport teaches us about life, perhaps none is more dramatic than the danger of focusing on the outcome."

This statement is most closely associated with our tendency to focus solely on success or failure and winning or losing. Most of us know that when these factors become our primary goal, performance and pleasure usually suffer. During a strenuous workout or challenging race, a primary focus on the finish line (even if you're not worrying about your time or place) can also put you at a disadvantage.

Goal setting and quieting your mind

Runners sometimes wait to "figure out" goals such as distance and pace during the actual run. They can fill their minds with thoughts like "run hard to that lamppost" or "just one more lap around." The mental chatter of goal-setting and goal-shifting during a run can detract from the pure pleasure of your run.

Setting a goal prior to your workout will allow you to quiet your mind of these thoughts and allow you to focus on your run. When setting your goal for a run, account for variables like cardiovascular conditioning, workout schedules, weather conditions and how you feel that day. If your training calls for a harder workout, try setting a moderately challenging goal before the run based on these factors.

Then make modifications, if necessary, after you've warmed up. If your schedule calls for an easy day, try to keep your mind on making your run as comfortable as possible. Setting a goal while allowing for flexibility will put your mind at ease and reward you with more enjoyable runs.

Distraction and running

There are many places to direct your attention during a run. Running is a great opportunity to experience nature, people-watch or just review the struggles and triumphs of your day. Others prefer to listen to music that inspires them to persevere or distracts them from discomfort.

The problem with distraction, however, is that it leaves little room for awareness to experience what you are actually doing.

Its possible that we freely place our minds on everything else because running can come so naturally to us. Running is easy and most people can do it with minimal instruction, but it can also be very hard, requiring great effort. As the distance and intensity of a run increases, the simple mechanics of your stride begin to change and break down. Maintaining some focus on these elements will help you stay efficient, more comfortable and are guaranteed to bring you more pleasure during your run.

Staying in touch with your mind and body during a run will help you reduce negative thoughts and physical discomfort. You'll also be better able to avoid injuries by differentiating between types of pain. When you are unable to maintain your form because of discomfort, you are at a greater risk of injury and are better off slowing down or stopping.

Checking in with your body also allows you to warm up better and get into the flow of the run more evenly. If you are listening to a Walkman, the intensity of your run is more likely to be dictated by the tempo of the song rather than how you actually feel. Subsequently, you may go too fast before you've sufficiently warmed up and leave yourself prone to injury.

Body awareness on the run

You might think that running comes so naturally to experienced runners that they freely allow their minds to wander. Actually, elite runners often use a flexible style of focus that changes with the demands of the run. When the going is easy, they may pay attention to other things, but they continuously "check in" with their bodies. When the going gets tougher, they pay particular attention internally, to their minds and bodies.

Focusing inward gives you greater control of your run. Our tendency is to try to ignore the pain that can come from a tough run; but when we ignore, we ultimately lose control.

Becoming involved in the rhythm of your breath choosing a specific breathing rhythm like "three steps in; two steps out" can help your lungs more efficiently exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide and flush lactic acid from your muscles. Maintaining awareness of your form can help relax your muscles, reduce pain and allow you to run faster and farther.

Negative thoughts

Our first inclination is to distract ourselves from negative thoughts when we feel their weight bearing down on our minds. If we consistently ignore a persistent thought, we often end up fueling its power and pull. We are telling our mind that it is too scary to "go there," and our fear subsequently grows.

Paying attention to these thoughts might be another path to managing them. If you really follow your thoughts, you may notice that they are more associated with how you might feel in the future, rather than how you actually feel in the present.

We may think, "Wow, how will I ever finish this run if it feels so tough now?" Even though the future could be as short as a few seconds away, you really cannot know for sure how you will feel down the road.

During a tough run, we may worry that we cannot maintain intensity or even make it to the finish. But these thoughts, although very real, often have no basis in reality. We do, however, have control of the present moment.

If we remain aware of our thoughts we are better able to understand their basis in reality and connect with how we actually feel in the present. Finally, you leave yourself open to the very real possibility that you might actually feel better down the road!

If you keep bringing your mind back to the moment you will be better able to manage how you feel during your run. You may notice that you feel pretty good or you may be able to change your breathing and form to help yourself feel better.

Many runners successfully manage negative thoughts by noticing them while detaching from them emotionally. Some effective strategies might be to think, "Oh, there are my negative thoughts again." Or you could actually say hello to them and invite them in. Much like an annoying houseguest, these thoughts are often less emotionally draining when you welcome them and take them lightly.

If you really are having difficulty with negative thinking, you may experience a great sense of power in knowing that you can maintain the intensity of your run wh
ile feeling so lousy.

Let your mind flow

The beauty of running is that there is so much time to think. The ability to engage our bodies while allowing our mind to flow may account for the great emotional benefits of running. There are no right or wrong ways to think or feel, but having some mental tools to try will reward you with the most pleasure from your runs.

Dr. Rob Udewitz is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice at Behavioral Associates in Manhattan, specializing in cognitive behavioral and biofeedback techniques. A collegiate runner, he now runs mostly for pleasure. However, he does admit to a continued competitive streak.