Monday, July 23, 2007

All That For Just a Yellow Jersey?

Well, it’s that time of year again. The voices of Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwen resonate throughout our household as coverage of the Tour de France plays on numerous televisions simultaneously. I have watched the tour religiously since the early 80’s when it was just a weekend blurb on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” I got Dana hooked on it in the 90’s when we had 30 minute daily updates on ESPN. Having it on all day everyday of the week on Versus is like being in Europe watching Eurosport.

Somehow I just can’t get the kids interested, especially my son Braden. The other day he said “All that for just a yellow jersey?……. That’s stupid!” He has a good point. He knows how hard cycling is. He has experienced the mask of pain….well, somewhat. He occasionally rides his bike along with me while I take in a 3 mile recovery run. He finishes his ride like Laurent Fingon did when he lost the final time trial to Greg Lemond in 1989. He slumps to the ground in what appears to be complete exhaustion. I think he might be destined to be a thespian rather than an athlete.

I suppose he doesn’t appreciate the scenic helicopter views of the French countryside and architecture, or the excitement and drama on the roads surrounding this event. He just doesn’t see it. One day it’s going to click. He will sit down and watch it with me and suddenly get into it. My girls have found sports and enjoy watching them on TV. Braden has yet to find his sport niche yet. Heck, he’s only 7.

One day when he does appreciate what amazing athletes these guys are, and he achieves the fitness to climb these mountains on his own bike, we might make a family vacation to go there in person and experience the event first hand. Until then, he will have to just to endure my wife and I as we watch these amazing athletes compete and suffer in the most difficult endurance event in the world.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Eat when you can, sleep when you can, and train when you can

Paige in the white cap

Dana and Paige

Folks often ask us “How do you guys do it?” (Referring to how both my wife and I compete and train for Ironman triathlons while maintaining jobs, raising three children, and having a family life) Well, it isn’t easy. There is a saying that I remember from my residency days” Eat when you can…sleep when you can.” We just added “train when you can“.

I will give an example: On the July 4th, my wife Dana, who is training for Ironman Canada, got up early and ran 18 miles. Our daughter, Payton, went to a gymnastics workout and I was with the other kids. When she returned, I got in a short 30 min run then suited up for a 5 hr 100 mile ride up to Bartlesville, OK where we planned on celebrating the holiday that evening at Dana‘s parents place. Dana picked up Payton from gymnastics and drove the crew up there.

Unfortunately, with all the rain we have been having lately, some of the rivers were overflowing which made some roads impassable. This resulted in making my 5 hr ride into a 6 hr 120 mile ride as I ended up riding all over the country side looking for a detour. I ran out of food and water. The temperature was in the upper 90’s and extremely humid and I began to bonk. It wasn’t a pretty site. My father in law came out to pick me up and said it was the worst condition he has ever seen me in. Ugg!

On the following weekend, Paige our daughter was participating in an invitational swim meet in Bartlesville. Payton our other daughter was in a gymnastics camp and we had arranged that she spend the weekend with one of her gymnastics buddies. Dana left early in the morning on her bike and rode up while I took Braden and Paige to the swim meet.

After the meet, I had a chance to get in a pretty good run in Bartlesville. We stayed the night with Dana’s parents because the meet warm-ups started at 7 am the next morning. Dana took the day off her exercise routine, I did a nice little run in the morning and after the meet I rode my bike back home to Tulsa.

When I got home Dana had picked up Payton from gymnastics camp and we had a nice little evening together.

During the week the situation is the same. Dana tries to get her workouts in while the kids are in their activities and I am at work. I try getting all my workouts in when I get off work. That leaves little time for watching any TV or much of anything else. I almost always train alone because my work schedule is so hit and miss. If I do get out with some pals, I can’t just take my time because Dana usually needs to do her workout too. Sometimes we have to get a sitter.

Oklahoma is a great place to live and train. The roads are well paved with minimal traffic and you can go for miles sometimes seeing nothing but cattle and wild horses. My coach, Dave LaTourette, says it’s a great place to train for Kona because the heat and humidity in the summer is so oppressive. I often meet other athletes from other cities like Houston, and ask them where they ride. I’ve been to Houston and I can’t imagine what riding would be like there. It can’t be as relaxing it is here.

Oh BTW, Paige ended up dropping time in all her events and won two of her heats. That entitled her to a Hawaiian lei. She was 4th in her age group in the 200 IM and 200 free. As the distance comes down, Paige doesn’t fare as well. As much as she resists, she is destined to be an endurance athlete just like her parents.