The Follower

When I was in school, I used to have a tendency to tilt the stories I would write for creative writing projects a bit toward the scary side. I remember one story I wrote when I was in 6th grade… I told it in the first person, and it was about a soldier who… well… maybe I should just revise and rewrite it instead. It’s been a long time, but I remember the basic plot. Now, anyone who knows me knows I’m not a very dark and brooding person, but this story certainly was quite dark, and my teacher loved it. She actually hung onto it to share not only with her other classes, but with teachers and people she knew. In the 8th grade, I put an “Unsolved Mysteries” spin on an assignment where the first few paragraphs were already written… teacher got a kick out of that one. Anyway, I haven’t really tapped into that side of my writing in a looong time, but I recently came across a little writing contest: share a “scary” workout story. I thought about sharing my Silverman Race Report, since that was a pretty horrific situation for me, but then I remembered a training run I did a few months back. That story fit the bill perfectly and it even allowed me to revisit my scary story writing youth. 🙂

So… what follows is a story about a run.

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Silverman vs GWL vs Bass Lake – A Tale of Three Rides

I was messing around with VeloViewer, which can generate these cool 3D course elevation profiles, and thought it’d be interesting to see how the Bass Lake and Silverman bike courses stacked up against the Great Western Loop out here in San Diego. I was particularly curious about how the grades and stuff worked out, so I generated some fancy graphics and did a quick comparison of the three. The one major take away is this: I cannot wait to do all three of these again… [Keep Reading…]

The story of Milo, a little ball of crazy

I’ll never forget it… I was sleeping soundly one night, oblivious to the world around me, dreaming about whatever I was dreaming of that night, when suddenly I was snapped back into consciousness. It was an odd feeling, it wasn’t like I was jolted awake, where you jump up in your bed, or your eyes snap open to see what’s going on. One second I was deep asleep, my subconscious filling my head with various images and sounds as my brain processed the day, and then suddenly I was pulled into reality, but not in the typical panic-y way that happens when you’re rudely awakened.

Milo isn't too fond of a camera in his face when he's trying to sleep.

Milo isn’t too fond of a camera in his face when he’s trying to sleep.

It wasn’t a sound or motion which woke me, those usually prompt an “OMGWHATISTHAT” type of waking up. It was a smell. A really foul smell to be precise. I immediately knew where it came from, considering the source had been peeling paint for almost his entire life, so I laid with my eyes closed waiting for the smell to dissipate. What felt like minutes passed, but the smell hadn’t faded. My thoughts shifted from waiting for a smell to pass, to worrying about having to clean up a mess, so I slowly opened my eyes. I first noticed a strange black shape in front of my face, but it was hard to make out precisely what it was. I squinted, waiting for my eyes to clarify the world around me… and when they eventually did, the horrifying truth became evident.

An inch or so in front of me was a stubby black tail. So my initial hunch was correct, what I was smelling was a fart. What I didn’t expect was the fact the fart’s source was about 3 inches from my nose.

Milo, my lovable little jerk of a Boston Terrier, had literally farted in my face.

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Silverwoman – A Guest Post by Tam

Tam finally finished up her race report for Silverman, and I was more than happy to host it up on my site for everyone’s enjoyment. So, take it away Tam!

I am not much of a story teller. In fact, I hate it. And I don’t have much of a memory, especially for an event that lasted 8 hours. I have no idea how to write this thing. I wrote my first draft in 3 hours, just to get all the thoughts out. They were just gigantic chunks of word vomit. So I hope this draft will be much better. Here goes nothing….yet everything. My first race report. And I shall try to keep it as clean as possible…..kinda.

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Seven and a Half Hours of Torture – Ironman 70.3 Silverman

70 miles is a long distance. Most people are reluctant to drive that far unless there’s a very good reason, so it’s wild that there are people who willingly swim, bike, and run that far. It’s physically demanding, requiring tons of training and preparation, which is why most people start training for it months in advance. Hours a day spent swimming, biking, or running, with very few rest days in between, so your weekdays quickly start revolving around your workouts, foregoing dinner with friends for a brick ride and run. Pretty soon you find yourself more concerned with having clean workout clothes than having clothes to go out in! Not gonna lie, it’s a huge time suck.

But that’s just the distance, the low hanging fruit. Lost in all the training, the talk, the preparations, are the aspects of these races that really push them over the edge. The things that take them from just “races” to something else: the course, and the mental game.

The “course” is multi-faceted. There’s the actual terrain you have to traverse: the water, the hills, the corners, the road conditions, the chop. There’s the stuff that could be “sharing” the course with you: traffic, be it from other competitors or from vehicles on the road or in the water, wildlife, spectators, and so on. And then there’s old Mother Nature, with all her lovable un-predictableness. A week out the forecast could be perfect, then you show up on race day to sheets of sideways rain. You can prepare yourself for the terrain, study the course maps, and even pre-swim/ride/run parts of the course, but it’s difficult, if not impossible, to account for all the variables the course throws at you. A difficult course can turn a well prepared athlete inside out and wreck their mental state, and even on an “easy” course, with so much distance to cover, there’s no telling what will go wrong.

Then there’s what’s going on in your head. There’s a bunch of evidence that suggests we humans were built for long distance endurance activity, muscles and tendons in our legs act as springs, storing and releasing energy as we run, our lungs are situated in a way so we can breathe deeply regardless of how fast we’re moving, our brains pump out endorphins so we feel rewarded as we go, the list goes on… but there’s a limit. There’s a point where you switch from having an enjoyable workout to your brain freaking out, wondering what the hell is going on. When it starts telling you, no, SCREAMING at you to stop, and setting off every alarm bell it can. When it’s magnifying every ache, every pain, every labored breath a thousand times over and using it as fuel to talk you into quitting. Many people never start the race because panic sets in before they even get in the water, and many more never finish because of the toll it takes not only on your body, but on your mind. It’s brutal, and it’s a significant reason why these races are so difficult… and honestly, so addicting. When it’s over, and the panic centers of your brain realize everything is ok, the most miserable day of your life quickly becomes one of the most rewarding.

It really takes a special kind of crazy to want to do these races… so allow me to introduce myself. I’m Joel, and apparently I’m a nutjob.

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An Easy Warmup – TriRock 2015

It’s been about a year since my first foray into the world of triathlon, having completed this same race at around this time last year. Things are a bit different this time around though… First and foremost, in addition to doing this race with my Team Challenge peeps again, I was finishing up my first season as a Mentor. I was doing the intermediate distance this time around instead of the sprint like I did last year. I’m in better shape this time around than I was last year, so I was hopeful for better results, in the form of faster averages. Finally, this wasn’t my “A” race, it was essentially a warmup for the race I’ve been preparing all summer for: Ironman 70.3 Silverman. Still, I was hopeful I’d put up a good time, and having a good race prior to Silverman would be a nice positive boost before the big one.

My overall goals for this race were pretty straight forward: finish with a respectable time, and with no injuries. I wasn’t intent on going pills to the paint while out there, but I wasn’t going to just doddle through the race.
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