For new readers

To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chippewa Triathlon - small fish in a big pond

Photo from the Grand Forks Herald article that came out in April of 2010.  The author, Ann Bailey, dubbed me 'Captain Adventure' without my knowledge (thanks alot Ann!).  To make sure i'll never live it down, yesterday my wife gave me a nice base-layer shirt, proudly (and largely) displaying the moniker (thanks alot Tammy!).

Living in Grand Forks, ND and being none other than Captain Adventure himself, i've started to feel like a big fish in a small pond.  This past weekend, however, with a trip to the Chippewa Triathlon (only a few hours east into minnesota), i found myself in entirely different waters.  I placed sixth in my category (solo), which isn't as high as i'd hoped, but then i was expecting this after the pre-race dinner on friday night when i arrived and saw some of the boats some of the other solo racers would be using (K-1 class stuff).  All in all i had a great time and was pretty happy with how i fared and how well my relatively untested portage system worked.  The full triathlon results can be found here and some photos from the race here

Entering the woods on one of the portages during the canoe leg

When expanding my category to include all the male racers who completed the entire course (including those who paddled as a pair - either with another guy or as part of a coed team - and thus had a significant advantage so to speak), I had 83 'competitors'.  I finished 26th in the paddle, 16th in the bike, and 11th in the run, and 17th overall.  

It was a great race made greater by the fact that it also serves as a it of a family reunion on my wife's side.  She partnered with her brother to complete the whole thing (though at a much more leisurely pace) and for the first time one of the youngest generation - her sister's 12 year old son, Thomas - participated by doing the run.  In addition, i made a couple of new friends (Tim, Paul, and Joe - who i was happy to be swapping pulls with during the last 10 miles of the bike leg) and got to catch up with some folks i'd met at the Arrowhead 135 during the post race meal.  

Tammy and Dave just after the start of the race

Since the race i learned a few things which, if i decide to do it again next year, promise to make me even faster - 1) Get a lighter paddle.  I was using a SRS 5 piece wing paddle with indestructible plastic blades that weighed well over a kilogram.  OUCH.  My shoulders were jelly after about an hour and forty minutes, which coincidentally is the length of my longest day of paddle training.  2) Higher PSi isn't always a good thing.  I'd set my tire pressure at nearly 60 psi because i thought that this would make me faster as the bike course was said to be relatively mud free.  But after talking to my brother, the adventure racing guru, i've realized that unless you're on asphalt almost exclusively, a lower tire pressure (35-40 psi) is better.  As it was, my super hard tires bit deeper into the wettish sand, dirt, and clay that formed over half of the bike course and probably slowed me down.  I noticed the drag during the race - i remember constantly looking down at my tires to make sure they weren't going flat, as i seemed perpetually to be peddling through nearly dry cement.  I'm guessing the guy that blew by me 5 minutes after i started the bike leg as if i was standing still had proper tire pressure!  3) Force the food.  I tried my best but got so carried away in always trying to be right at my edge that i forgot to eat as much as i probably should have.  As a consequence the last two miles of the run were tough - i hit some sort of a wall and began to a bit light headed.  It was a strange space to occupy for the last 15 minutes or so of the run, and i'm fairly certain what had been a decent pace slowed considerably.

Great event overall - but next year,  i'll certainly have to get serious about the paddling and improve my placing a bit, or better yet, maybe i'll just swim the thing instead of paddling it - really make it a true triathlon. After all, Captain Adventure has a reputation to uphold, and that does sound like a good adventure....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Paddlers early on in the 2008 race (photo courtesy of GetOutdoorsUSA)

I'm racing in the Chippewa triathlon this weekend.  It will be my first real endurance test since the arrowhead in February - and that seems like ages ago.  I figure i'll come in with a time of around 6 hours and hope to place in the top three in the solo male catagory (Ok, honestly i hope to win).  I may be way off base - i may get slaughtered - who knows.  But if you've followed this journey at all, you probably know that i think confidence is key.....

The training has been going as well as can be expected, given that the stress of writing my thesis (due for completion in a matter of 6 weeks) is severe and made worse by the fact that my heart is only slightly in it.  I think i've finally got the kinks worked out for the paddling leg - the second version of the attached wheel assembly seems to be working fine - though it's only been really tested on one occasion.  I'm feeling reasonably fit in all three disciplines (though not at my peak in any of them) and have had a few longer workouts this last week to prepare me mentally for the challenge.  My bike is tuned up (if only the chain doesn't break this year!) and ready to go, and i've only a few last minute gear tweaks to make (how do i attach the camel bak to my life jacket for the paddle?  do i take the carbon soled bike shoes that hurt my feet, of the comfy nylon soled ones that let my heels slip out?).  I'm excited as hell and can't wait to leave it all out there and forget about grad school for a while.  

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


This is destined to be a short post as i'm due home in 20 minutes, but I just handed in the draft of my thesis and need a few minutes to decompress - so i thought i'd mention something i'd been thinking about lately - accountability.

One of the toughest things about hard, effective training of the type i'm promoting with this blog is figuring out where to place accountability to ensure the longevity of the training.  It's easy to let 3 hours a week drift off to nothing - alot easier than say, 20 hours a week.  20 hours a week requires such a tremendous amount of commitment in the first place - life essentially is built (at least in very significant ways) around the fitness goals of such an athlete.  But i've noticed both through the 'participants' that i've trained and self-reflection that it's there's a hidden difficulty in taking on this 'three hours to prepare for anything' agenda - it seems too easy.

People start off excited - amped up. They work hard and realize very quick gains in endurance and performance - the learning curve is steep.  It's always easier to stick with something when the results are noticeable.  But just like any diet - it's not starting thats really the tough part.  Once the first plateau is hit (of many), enthusiasm generally wanes.  The workouts are damn hard after all - not relentlessly so, but pretty close.  The upshot of all this is that i'm realizing that my 'audience' is much smaller than i had previously thought.  Sure, i still believe that the theory is sound - but the crevasse that forms the gulf between theory and reality (for most folks) is always bigger when you're standing on it's edge than it is when the view from afar enticed you to head in it's direction.

I guess what i'm trying to get at is that this works for me (sometimes better than others) because i've accepted accountability.  I'm determined to do this - to maximize my potential as the byline of the blog indicates - despite the many demands on my time.  I didn't sign up for anything.  There's not the unconscious expectations that are certainly present for those who are following training schedules i provide.  And i think that things that are dependent, even in part, on external validation (pleasing the coach, the partner, the world), are easier to 'drop' when the s**t hits the fan than things that we do only to please ourselves.