Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Surviving the Holidays"

I recently attended a super informative clinic hosted by both Echelon Cycle & Multi-Sport and Jill B. Nimble Multi-Sport Training Group. Sport and exercise mental skills coach Carrie Cheadle, M.A. / CC-AASP, presented a lot of helpful information and tips for getting through the holidays without taking too many proverbial steps backwards with regards to our precious health and fitness.

“I can resist anything but temptation” is the famous quote from actress Mae West. Carrie suggests that we establish a health goal or two through the holiday season, whether that be a goal weight or increased core strength. Making healthier decisions during these times of temptation has the potential to really boost our confidence and allow us to reach spring time with greater powers of self control. Let’s get specific.

Have a plan for how you will respond in those inevitable moments of temptation. A specific, goal oriented vision of exactly how you will respond to that stimulus. Keep in mind that our brains are wired for immediate perceived reward, i.e., instant gratification reigns supreme. Here are some of the high risk situations we get ourselves into at the holiday time: travel, injury, illness, weather, increased workload, increased stress. The only way to counteract the instant gratification monster in your head to plan ahead.

My favorite author Mark Helprin once wrote, “Anticipation is the heart of wisdom.” No doubt this is true. But it takes time and effort. Carrie says the same thing: “Plan your behavior.” Make decisions BEFORE the seductive situation comes up. VISUALIZE control. PRACTICE thought patterns and strengthen those neural pathways in the brain prior to entering into it for real. Because you have visualized responding in a proactive manner, the research is clear that you will be far more likely to respond this way in reality. Try it. It really is quite effective, for any situation that tests our self control.

“All or Nothing”

This holiday season, be aware of your Needs vs. your Wants. That is what does your body need versus what do you want. Still, this is the time of year to come together and celebrate with friends and family. The trick is not to go overboard. As people, we tend to slip into an “All or Nothing” mindset. We feel that if we break down and eat one or two pieces of See’s Candy, well, then, what’s five or six more pieces going to hurt. Likewise, with workouts, we sometimes feel that if we can’t get in at least an hour workout then what’s the sense of doing anything at all. Think about compromise. Always work to find a middle ground. Some workout is better than none at all. And you’ll most always finish with feeling better, with your sense of well-being restored. Be like Lao-Tzu and find the middle path this holiday season.

Carrie’s “Mini-Tips” to keep on exercising during these cold and dark months:
1. Just put on your workout clothes (and if that doesn’t sufficiently motivate you…)
2. Get out the door! Just do it. (you never get done with a workout and say, “Boy, I wish I
wouldn’t have done that!).
2. Some exercise is better than no exercise (don’t be such a triathlete!)
3. Maintain consistency!
4. Change it up. You know it: Variety is the spice of your winter training life!

My vision as both coach and athlete-

Do regular short efforts to keep your mind and body fresh and healthy. Go out of your way to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables this winter and in 2010. Drink water regularly. Your goal this time of year should be to optimize your sense of well-being!

So, in conclusion, have a clear vision of how you want to come out of this winter, write out a simple plan of action, and commit to it.

Happy Holidays!

-Coach Bob

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chi Running by Danny Dreyer (click to go)

ChiRunning, by Danny Dreyer, should be on the bookshelves of all runners and triathletes. It should be used as a reference guide in order to remind ourselves, at least weekly, that we need to maintain a conscious awareness of what we’re doing while we’re exercising instead of using exercise as just another means of escape from reality. Tune out distractions and tune in to your breathing and form. Training to save energy will always produce results faster than training to increase it.

The premise of ChiRunning is quite simple and not a surprise: “If you try to add speed with improper running form, you are magnifying the poor biomechanical habits that cause injury. So, the best place to build a good foundation is in getting your running motion smooth, relaxed, and efficient. Then you can add distance or speed without risking injury” (p.4). Still, how many of us are out there now, during the off-season working on mindfully improving our foundations? This is Eastern thinking people—less is more so a little focus, here and there, goes a long way. My sport psych professor used to remind us regularly, “It’s normal for your attention to wander, but we must condition ourselves to ‘change the channel’ and bring ourselves back into the present.”

“Ultimately, you’re not working to build distance and speed, you’re working to build presence, and that can happen at any distance or speed” (p.6). This reminds me of when I heard Simon Lessing say that the primary difference between the pros and the amateurs comes down to the ability to focus. It makes sense, the more you increase your presence in a race, the better the outcome. When you let the outcome goal go and give yourself over to focusing in the present moment, the outcome takes care of itself. Our minds, however, are not conditioned to this.

Our minds are so oft driven by egos that command us to worry about uncontrollable elements such as who’s racing, where they’re at in the race relative to you, what kind of bike they’re riding, etc. Learn to let that stuff go and get your head back into your present process with a positive mindset, and you’re going places. “The emphasis of ChiRunning is to set yourself up so there are no energy blocks in your body. This means three things: maintaining good posture; keeping your joints open and loose; and making sure your muscles are relaxed and not holding any tension” (p.15). Again, this requires attention in the present moment.

The forward lean…

“The Kenyans have a beautiful forward lean when they run, which does two things: It allows gravity to assist in pulling their body forward, and it allows them to land on their midfoot instead of their heals, thus avoiding the braking motion of the heel strike, which is common in most other runners” (p.20). The Kenyans also run pretty darn fast. The danger as Dreher describes it, is leaning from your waist, i.e., bent at the waist, rather than leaning from your ankles with body like a plank. It’s easier for a faster runner to “step on the gas” and lean into a fast pace. A slower runner is better off still focusing on the Four Chi-Skills while being especially mindful of where they’re leaning from.

The Four Chi-Skills…

1. Focusing your mind
2. Body Sensing
3. Breathing
4. Relaxation

I always think about what Dave Scott advised on pacing an Ironman, “What you save early will be there for you later.” It’s not just the conscious slowing of your pace. It’s much more than that. “There is no question that when I run a 50k race, I am using all of these skills to maximize performance while minimizing physical effort” (p.43).

“The use of Chi-Skills allows your [typically mindless] running to become multidimensional. Your workouts will have more depth and breadth because there’s something more going on than running. You will begin to approach running in ways that go beyond the realms of farther or faster” (p.43). (which is immediately a healthy notion to ponder).

Here’s where the teacher in me gets excited…

“Learning is what we are meant to do. It is our birthright as humans. If we stop learning, we stop growing, and our minds become stagnant” (p.44). Just like our muscles, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” These skills don’t come easy--nothing good or worthwhile ever does. You have to stick with it. You have to strengthen your mind, like Neo in the Matrix--you must believe that "there is no spoon." Stay positive though—-it’s well worth it to have six months pass and see your improvement in energy savings! “[t]he ChiRunning focuses can be a meditative practice that trains your mind to curtail its arbitrary wanderings. As in meditation, the greater aspect of ChiRunning is that you learn how to be present with your mind and body, which is where true inner freedom lies” (p.45).

In closing… Get yourself videotaped!!!

“People have their biggest breakthroughs when they see themselves on a videotape replay. This is because they can remember how they felt when they were running [or swimming or cycling], then match that up with how they looked in the video” (p.50).

Go forth and cultivate as much Chi into your life as you can -- Energy for life and living.

Point Positive .+!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Run in the Sun

SNER GPS data @

I felt pretty relaxed coming in to this one; an ominous state of mind to be certain. Somehow, after running my first 100mi up in Tahoe in July, I naively thought this one would feel "easier" by comparison. No such luck. As we know (and sometimes forget), each event brings with it many unknowns for which deal with as the race unfolds before us. Today, it was heat and the futile process of remaining sufficiently hydrated.

The Sierra Nevada Endurance Run has 4 races in one: a 12k, marathon, double-marathon, and 100k. The marathon, double, and 100k all started at 6:30. Temps were already a balmy 65deg at that time. Still relatively new to this ultra insanity, I was building on my experience from Tahoe Rim Trail 100 and thought it a pretty good idea to go out with the leaders of the marathon--while it was relatively cool--and have them (in theory) slingshot me up the trail and give me a good lead over any other competitor in the 100k. After all, I was counting on a bump in fitness from the Santa Rosa Marathon, three weeks earlier, where I felt better running than I had in years. I felt my form had returned in earnest, which it had. That race was fun!

I was running at about 155bpm there for about an hour or two cruising comfortably and loving the morning and the single-track bliss. Just about the time we arrived in Auburn with 25mi down, Joe Palubeski, caught up with me as we arrived at a triple fork in the road. With no pink ribbon in sight to guide us we headed down the wrong path for a quarter-mile and came back to the same junction and chose correctly the second time. We made our way up to Auburn.

The race was on. Joe and I both knew we would be duking it out for first and I was happy letting him lead, since I was having trouble with my right leg (hip and IT Band). I'd taken 2 Tylenol at an aid station some ways back but wasn't too confident that it was going to allow me to run the way I wanted too--on Joe's heels!

The middle of any race is the toughest in my opinion. It's where I'm weakest mentally. My IT Band and hip pain consumed me. The question of dropping at the Cool aid-station (half-way) surfaced in my mind. Joe and I had a race going here and I wanted to be there for the action, but I sure didn't want to do any long-term damage to an already ailing leg. Dropping sounded so very tantalizing indeed, with the temps now hitting 100 blazing degrees.

Auburn resident, friend, and safety runner at Tahoe Rim Trail, Michael Cook, joined me, to my surprise, as I ran north through the Auburn Aid Station. He was excited to be out on his long run with the race going on. Fortunately, runners are permitted pacer at the SNER so I was in no danger of being DQ'd for outside assistance. Though I appreciated his company, I was, at that point, drowning in my sorrows. Joe was still running ahead of us at that point but I was only thinking about making it to Cool and calling it a day. It sounded just a dandy thing to do. It'd be so easy to justify. I even talked Michael in to it. His wife, Nicole, could come pick me up and that would be that. So that's what I'd do: drop at the Cool aid-station.

I should better learn to keep my mouth shut as the situation in this ultra-running stuff changes from mile to mile. You're feeling up and the miles are clipping by, and then you're feeling down, and every step is a ridiculous reminder of what you're actually doing with your entire Saturday. Getting through this middle section is just plain tough.

And the moment to do the deed arrived. The Cool aid station. Michael and the aid station folks were filling my bottles with ice-water while I stood there in the sun contemplating my next steps. Michael asked what I wanted to do, and stated something to the effect, "I think I'm going to make this the last race of the year and just finish this blasted thing."

At Cool there's a short out-n-back stretch included to bring the race up to 100 kilometers in length. It's the same road you start out on in the Way Too Cool 50k in March. My legs found it just delightful to be running on a flat road after all that uphill trail on the way up from No Hands Bridge. Joe cruised by me on the way back from the turn-around and we exchanged some words of encouragement. And this made the race, for both of us. This moment would push him for the next 30miles, as it would me. And that's the thrill of the whole thing: the race. "Seeing who," as Prefontaine famously stated about racing, "has the most guts." Knowing your competition is just 15min down the trail is enough to keep you going for hours. And knowing that your competition is just 15min back is all you need to run as hard as possible to that coveted first-place finish. Certainly, we should have our heads examined for pushing that hard on a 100deg day. One inevitably learns where one's limits are, and steadily leans on them, stretching the mind further to allow the body to go just a bit farther.

Michael ran with me back to Auburn and peeled off. Nicole and his 2y/o son Dylan were waiting for Dad there and it was nice to hang out a bit before making my charge to the finish, some 25mi to the south.

I wasn't getting enough water in me and was running out between aid stations. I carried two hand-helds with water with a four-hour bottle of concentrated Sustained Energy in my waist pack. Erik Skaden, who I also saw yesterday serving an athlete well in a pacing capacity, carried 3 bottles at TRT 100 in July. Thinking that was pretty smart, I upgraded from 2 to 3 for this event. Still, since it was so ungodly hot, my two hand-helds were running dry between aid stations. I found myself rationing the last few ounces of life-giving H20 in each bottle--Suck-fest! The SNER folks were doing their best to adjust to the day's searing conditions and saved the day with an impromptu aid-station between two stations that were some 9mi apart. I'd been out of water for 20-30min before finding this little oasis. Without this intervention from race-management, I don't know what would've happened (and don't want to think about it!).

"And I won't back down... no I won't back down..." I'd never raced with an iPod before, due to the fact that they're not permitted in most races. SNER allows them and for that I'm most grateful. Everything from the Stones, to Moby, to Tom Petty was full-blastin' that last ten miles. With 3.4 to go I wanted to be done more than at any other time in any other race. Most of all, I was shot emotionally. Increasingly frustrated with my miserable state of existence, I did my best to turn adversity into opportunity. I could not know if Joe was still in it ahead or had dropped like so many folks did off the front on the day I ran Tahoe Rim. You just never know. Likewise, I didn't really know if the guys chasing me were in the 100k or the double-marathon. So, after all the suffering because of heat, I imagined the possible scenario of being passed by this one tough runner behind, who answered every time I surged up the trail in front of him, passing me with a less than a mile to go and win the 100k IF, that is Joe had dropped ou. That's the unnerving thing about a race with 3 races going on at once (at this point it was only us 100k and double-marathon folks).

That's the game that got me home: don't get caught by that dude right behind you. This turned out to prove enormously difficult since my electrolyte depleted body was locking up here, there, and everywhere at once. My legs felt like they were contorting into a mass of knots below me. My feet felt like the were going to trip me up and send me to the ground at any moment. And since I hadn't fallen all day (a marked improvement over Tahoe Rim!), I was fiercely determined to remain rubber side down.

The finish line arrived and while bending over to help get my chip off, the ol' legs contorted violently and I was yelping like a puppy who just had it's tail stepped on. I hobbled into the gym of the middle school, then later out to my car to call Amanda (who had called Michael to come check on me at the finish since I said for her to start worrying at about 6pm if she hadn't heard from me--it was then 6:30.

In addition to remaining upright, I didn't blow chunks on the trail all day, as was a dilemma in Tahoe. But, the body knew the race was over now and it was time to begin the recovery process, and the first order of business? That's right. It's tied to the heat. Same thing happened to me in Kona in '04--finished and the body just shuts down and next thing you know you've taken up residence in the port-o-john. Lovely! And so it goes. How I appreciate these lessons in humility.

I was laying in the back of my trusty Subaru when Michael found me (a rather hot mess) and began urging me to get up, which soon brought on my final bout of vomiting. He split to get me a Sprite and some food and while I was heaving I heard someone say, "Bob?" It was the winner, Joe Pablubeski, a Red-Bluff resident, who capitalized this day on his heat acclimatized body, living and training where he does. Joe, put more than 45 more minutes into me in the last 30miles and won it by an hour. He stated he was in much the same condition as me when he finished. He had just emerged from his sweet RV that he brought to the race. I soon came to find that Joe is a fellow teacher, which immediately dried up the left-over competitive vapors remaining from our race. We agreed that we were in such bad shape because of each other--the hunter and the hunted. I'm always relieved to be beaten by someone who seems to love the thrill of the race so much. Joe showed a lot of guts out there, running in the lead, and putting an hour into me in his process. Prefontaine would dig that. I look forward to seeing him on the trail next year. I hope I'm as fast at 43 years young!

Western States lottery sign up is Thursday, Oct. 1st. Hoping I get into it. Otherwise, may either go back to Tahoe Rim next year to shave a couple hours off my '09 time, or even think about doing a different 100miler; it really depends on the timing with school's end in May and beginning in early August.

It's not just about doing it. It's about doing it better and better, until it's a masterpiece, a work of art.

Point Positive. -b

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Winding Down and Ramping Up

Happy September folks. I'm loving it as I hope you are. So yeah, here we are, squeezing just a few more races out of 2009. As the days grow shorter and colder, there's plenty of us out there going longer, with engines that are burning hotter and hotter. As it should be--Carpe diem and all that stuff.

Point Positive athletes have been getting after it since my last post. All kinds of things going on. We did the inaugural Santa Rosa Marathon a few weeks back. That was pretty sweet day. Athlete Matt Gallo ran his third marathon as he pack them in as part of his Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2010 preparation. Interesting case with Matt; his reminds me of the Emersonian quote, "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." And you need enthusiasm (and one amazing coach, of course ;) to pull off the year he's achieving: a 1/2 marathon, 2 marathons, 4 Ironman 70.3 triathlons, and 2 cycling centuries. Carpe diem.

Tiffney Crumby Beckloff bounced back from her first half-marathon at the Barb's Race Triathlon Relay in August to race the Chase Corporate Challenge 5k this week. I caught her on Wednesday evening--elated--walking back to her car. Racing (so often) brings out the very best in us. Tiff was excited to have gotten another race under her belt as she continues to push forth with her health & fitness goals, while wearing a lot of other hats, including the hat of Mia's Mommy. :) Go Tiff!

Two other athletes to mention this time around. First, a big Point-Positive welcome to Windsor resident Jeff Ottoboni. Jeff let his fingers do the walking about a month ago and found Point Positive online to include pics of an "old" high school buddy, Matt Gallo. One thing leads to another and Jeff and I have moved through our first event together, The Ukiah Triathlon.

Ukiah is a popular sprint-distance triathlon a bit north of Healdsburg; sometimes referred to by its participants as the "World Championship" because of its draw on local athletes (and their undying quest for a year's worth of bragging rights). Jeff is relatively new to triathlon, and like his former classmate, his enthusiasm for multisport, will take him far. Jeff also has kids in the district in which I teach. So, what are kids for?--To do the bidding of parents and teachers of course! Prior to Ukiah, we coordinated and had Jeff's daughter, an 8th grader at Windsor Middle, to stop by my classroom before school and pick up a race belt and some Clif Shots for Dad. Parents who are active/athletic (as well as responsible parents) inspire me.

What about Rod Matteri? What's that guy been up to besides hitting every horse show this side of the Rocky Mountains with his own daughter? Training, of course. While races have come and gone, Rod's been biding his time; strategizing; polishing the cannonball; waiting to see the whites of... okay, enough. We've put together a master plan to execute a monster double--The Longhorn Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Austin on October 25th, followed by the New York City Marathon on November 1st.

Rod just completed his run-specific phase of training that will allow him to successfully recover from Austin in order to hang tough during the final 10k in NYC. Last weekend, he completed a century ride affectionately known as "BestBuddies," with Matt (Matt's first 100mi ride!) on time-trials bikes nonetheless. The fellas racked up about 7,000ft of cumulative gain on that ride. I'm thinking Rod's going to light it up in Austin and then turn around and run longer (with a hotter burning engine) through the 5 burroughs of The Big Apple. Bring it.

Hey, I'm fired up too folks. In no less than 6 days I'll be back on trail at the Sierra Nevada 100k in Auburn/Folsom. With the knowledge and experience I derived from my first 100miler at Tahoe Rim in July, I'm hungry to apply it to one more ultra-distance run before year's end. I've had some difficulty with my right hip and my right IT Band this year as a result of running too much or too far, and/or aging and/or not enough stretching and/or lack of cross-training. Amanda, my nursing student girlfriend, has been instrumental (a pain in the *&%) about getting me to stretch more and actually use the foam roller I bought a month ago. Bike commuting has helped a lot too with my hip. Off coffee and adult beverages for 2 weeks now. Yeah, it's looking pretty good.

Also, we're really dialing our nutrition in. Amanda's reading Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma," which is a great stuff (I read Pollan's "In Defense of Food" and loved it. I also just read "ChiRunning" by Danny Dreyer and took away a lot of interesting info to apply to not only my training but also to integrate into my coaching. I'm going to read it again more closely, highlight, then write a blog entry about what I perceive to be the golden nuggets of Chi wisdom is it pertains to saving energy while running and staying healthy as runner. Too many of us become injured. We can do better, when we work smarter.

I've always believed, "Training to save energy produces results faster than training to increase it." ChiRunning gives you the tools to actually do it. Focus is key. I employed a couple of the ChiRunning techniques myself in the Santa Rosa Marathon three weeks ago and was surprised to see myself run through mile 13 still under 6min/mi. Man, that felt good. I love how hard running is (that is, in retrospect of course). With a mile to go in Santa Rosa, as happened in my first marathon in 1998, a emotional upwelling occurs in my body. This time, with half a mile to go, I was dwelling on a quote from Dr. George Sheehan, author of the 1978 book "Running and Being," where he wrote, "The marathon is a powerful martial strain, one of those tunes of glory." Then I think about Poe, "Without a certain continuity of effort, the soul is never deeply moved." And so it goes, I'm running fumes once again with pained expression but nothing but love in my heart.

Sheehan also wrote, "What do I do after running a marathon? Run another, and another, and find out that much more about myself." Thus, next weekend, I'll be focused on damage control, 'cause I'd sure like to run the Healdsburg 26.2 on Oct. 11th. I'm optimistic that 15 days is enough to recover from a 100k. After that, it's no running for six weeks. Well, besides a 10k turkey trot with Amanda. :)

Point positive .+!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

2009 Full Vineman Triathlon & Barb's Race

Dave Latourette, me, and Kevin Buchholz at Vineman Reception on Thursday. Kevin's the only one racing, but Dave and I reliving old war stories on the FVM course.

2009 marked the 20th edition of the Full Vineman. That means it marks my 7th year at the event, in some capacity--either as volunteer, competitor in the full, mobile bike support on the course, competitor in the relay, and now, as a coach of Full and Barb's race athletes. Whew! Seven years. Always the positive experience, FVM represents the culmination of my summer vaca and the start of another school year. Since the run course and the race finish resides in the neighborhood of my school district, FVM's a great way to begin the process of reconnecting with people since I live 11mi due south in Santa Rosa. Before the teacher reenters the classroom though, the coach was out on the course following the progress of three athletes and their solid A+ performances.

Rod Matteri participated in a quasi-Aquabike (swim/bike), Doug Wilson nailed a perfectly executed race plan to finish 50min under his established 12hr time goal, and Tiffney Crumby Beckloff ran her very first half-marathon in the Barb's Triathlon Relay. I witnessed their performances first-hand and they all did themselves proud out there, to be certain. Being so terribly(?) focused on my own previous performances as an triathlete, I do marvel at the significant awe-inspiration I glean from observing these athletes push to their own finish lines. Curiously, I found myself feeling as elated after they were done as if I had raced myself. And not simply because they managed to finish, safely and in one piece (it's always a relief though!). Moreover, I recognize that the event whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. It was a great day out there yesterday. You just gotta love it when the weatherman dishes up a plate of ideal triathlon conditions! Great day for us on the sidelines too.

Jamming to some sweet tunes on 97.7 BOB FM on the way out to the Johnson's Beach swim-start at o'dark 30, I was in a happy mood, and not just 'cause I wasn't going to have to swim this day. FVM' like a family reunion of sorts. Time to catch up with the folks.

Doug Wilson & Rod Matteri. The more these boys train the younger they get. I work with a lot of students. These are two of the hungriest learners I know. And they say, the more you know, the less you fear...

Rod was in-n-out of the water and tore of the bike course yesterday all for the sake of learning, that is, gaining experience with the 2.4mi Ironman swim and the 112mi Ironman bike ride. Racing is the best training. No doubt, it's tough on all of us to pay our dues on our ascent to established goals. Rod's climbing toward a personal best performance at Ironman Coeur d'Alene in June 2010; one rung at a time.

Doug Wilson has a Point Positive attitude on the run. All the hard work paid off--Big.

FVM is a 3-loop marathon. This is Doug at the final turnaround on his way back to the finish. Oh sweet finish line, I'm ready for this day to be done.

Doug moved through the aid stations methodically--he anticipated his needs coming in, got some fuel down, and boom, he was pounding pavement again--strong and determined.

Doug Wilson cruising to his truly impressive 11:11 finish. Our wish that it would all come together was realized. Doug fixed a flat at the start of the bike and averted catastrophe at a later bike crash, where he stopped and assisted the rattled riders back into the race. Instant karma's gonna getcha!

Tiffney Crumby Beckloff would wait a while before her Barb's race team-mate, Renee, would emerge from the Russian River. She would then wait some more while the Ren, the powerful cyclist, would ride a sub-3 on the challenging Vineman bike course, before arriving at the bike-to-run transition. And then, after all that waiting, Tiff would have the greatest challenge of her day--mustering up the will to properly pace the opening miles of her first half-marathon.

I make every attempt to hammer home the importance of fundamentals, in training and racing. It was refreshing (like a cup of cold Gatorade on the Vineman run course) to see my athletes so focused on these fundamental but all-to-critical elements of endurance racing success.

Congratulations to both Renee and Tiffney for racing their hearts out yesterday. Like myself after a race, I hope they are as proud of any and all resulting soreness.

Tiffney's P-O-S-I-T-I-V-E attitude in training, and still super positive for well over half her run yesterday, gave her the momentum to run tough the second half of her 13.1 when she was in personal unchartered territory. Welcome to the next level Tiff!

Friend and owner of Echelon Bike & Multisport, Kevin Buchholz, top-10'd out there yesterday. The "3rd lap monkey" is off his back. Launching a successful tri store has taken its toll on Kevin's available time to train, making his 10hour effort all the more impressive.

Postrace, Kevin doesn't disappoint for friends and family in attendance. Well done.

Amanda with Ironman Couer d'Alene finisher, Kim Lydon, fondly known as "Nurse Lydon."

Mike Skaggs on the marathon.

Mike at finish with his boys; my former 6th grade students. Mike was solid and grinning every time I saw him out there on the run course yesterday.

Greg & Julie Yaeger at the beach.

Greg with yet another one of my former students. I don't know if my life is ever more fully integrated than when at the Full Vineman. Good stuff.

The ol' 2005 Lemond. My trusty steed for several years now, was my vehicle of choice yesterday on the run course. It also carried me to my first century ride in two years last Monday. Riding again and rolling through yet another Full Vineman naturally stirs up some nostalgia for racing this important event. It's easy to get excited about. I'll have to wait an see. Maybe in 2011...

Life is all about connections. The more experiences we have, the more we may connect and more fully understand things. Thus, my friends, we follow our hearts not unlike running on a piece of single-track in the forest, until of course, we come to that inevitable fork. We choose one (preferably an ascent!) and follow that for a while just because it feels right (and/or Frost and Shakespeare wrote it would make a difference). I'm thinking of the Wendell Johnson quote, "'Always' and 'never' are two words you should always remember never to use." Catch my drift?

Ultra-running legend, Tim Twietmeyer, (, graced the FVM course with his indomitable presence yesterday. Rumor has it, at 50 years young, he's embracing a new challenge with triathlon, and may be making an appearance in Kona this fall. I respect that--applying one's talents to new and exciting challenges and cultivating new skills to meet those challenges. When I say, "Stay in the flow," I'm really saying, "Work for your happiness" or even "Change your tune when you're tired of whistling that same old song, and make sure, for your own sake, that you're really getting what you most want from this crazy life." We must stretch ourselves in new ways, year after painstaking year. Therefore, staying in the flow, regardless of the human endeavor, requires sometimes hard, but consistent, and even athletic effort. Our growth must be just a series of our thoughtful decisions toward that end.

Enough jabbering.

Congratulations to ALL the Full Vineman and Barb's Race competitors! I saw so many people out there yesterday and it was thrilling to watch you all in the flow of it.