Monthly Archives: June 2013

I’ve Been MIA

Sorry for the week off, but I’ve been in Vegas working, eating, and drinking.  I’ll be back in full force with Vegas “Race Recap” of sorts and heavy posting tomorrow.

One note:  Got to run in Red Rock Canyon with a recently relocated buddy, Mark Spencer.  image


We Need Your Help at Ironman Wisconsin

Some of you may know we’re documenting our road to Ironman Wisconsin on video.  We’ve done a bunch of interviews and some training stuff along the way, but, since I do most of the shooting, I’m getting a little anxious about how we’re going to cover Ironman weekend.

This is really like a zero-budget process and I’m looking for ideas to help an organic ground swell of phone videographers on race day.  Do you know anyone who will be at the race?  Have any thoughts on how we can get the word out to people we may not know yet who’d want to help document this occasion?

I would like to set up a server so that anyone who shoots video at Ironman Wisconsin could upload it for use in the film.  It would be amazing if a bunch of people actually capture footage of the Fab 5, but that’s not necessary.

We’re planning to rent GPS chips so that our tracking can be in real time with Athlete Tracker’s free app.  This will allow people to know exactly where we are on the course and be ready to shoot.  Also, we’ll make sure our numbers and pictures, etc are readily available.

This journey has been amazing and the people involved have been the best part.  That goes well beyond the guys I’m training with.  People that race triathlon, along with their families and friends are the most generous and supportive humans, so I really think this can literally be an organic film made by hundreds of people.  Can you help spread the word?

Feel free to contact me with ideas and any questions.

Remember Who You Are

I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to waking up at 5 am, but when I do, it changes my day for the better.


After a little warm up, Coach busted out the drills and my swim was feeling pretty good, but Wasky was the man of record.  I spent most of my energy just trying to keep up. 

Then, in the final relay, we were anchors of our respective teams.  We waited for our teammates to circle the buoy and back.  My crew was building a substantial lead, but Coach changed the plan.  Wasky and I would go head to head for all the marbles. 

Wasky and I stood shoulder to shoulder shaking gingerly like real swimmers.  His eyes had that distant, yet focused gaze that says, “I’m glad you’re here, but I have no choice but to kick your ass.” 


We crouched into starter’s pose like sprinters and coach hollered, “Go!”  We dug into the sand, then water, and dove when it got too deep to run.  When I came up for air, I realized my goggles were now around my neck and I contemplated swimming without them, but decided to pull them up.  I lurched over the orange boom and promptly kicked the cable that holds it in place.  It was not a good start. 

But Wasky was still in range. 

I quickly focused and got on his feet.  It’s amazing how much easier it is to swim in someone’s draft, and by the time we got to the buoy I was literally swimming up his back.  We made the always awkward 180 degree turn and headed for home. 

That’s when I made a big mistake. 

Wasky is a faster swimmer and at that moment, I forgot or refused to believe it.  Instead of drafting him in, I decided to find my own lane and sprint to the finish.  My heart was pounding and I couldn’t see him anywhere.  I thought I’d passed him and was putting together an epic swim.  I sighted off the beach and all I saw was small waves in front of me.  Could I hold on? 

I dug deeper and hammered toward the shore.  My arms were baked and my legs felt the aftermath of last night’s Monogetti run.  But, it felt like a breakthrough moment.  I was head to head with Wasky, and it was my race to lose! 

I knew a straight line to shore could be the difference, so I started sighting every stroke.  On my third sight, I saw a bright yellow swim cap about 15 yards ahead of me and my heart sank.  Wasky. 

When I finally got to the orange pole and he was running out of the water.  My Cinderella story was not to be, but it was a good race lesson. 

99% of us doing triathlon should focus on racing against ourselves.  It’s great to push the envelope and get better in practice, but race strategy should be set, and kept. 

Every time I change my plans, I bomb.  The most common mistake I make is going out too fast, then fighting to hold on.  Not only does this make racing less enjoyable, it rarely works. Like today when I fell apart chasing Wasky.  

I’m doing a sprint triathlon this weekend and my plan is to negative split each event . . . and I’ll have to do it by feel because I’m not wearing a Garmin.  The more I train, the more I understand effort.  I know if I’m pushing myself just enough or maybe pushing too hard and if I let someone else’s pace dictate pace, it’s difficult to regroup. 

For me, it’s as simple as breath.  If I’m breathing too hard, I would be wise to slow down.  Settle into your swim, bike, or run meditation.  Remember who you are . . .  unless you’re on the home stretch of the run with a chance to topple Wasky.  


It was a great morning and the only thing that would make today better would be if it was pint night at NRC




Convenience Store Wisdom

June is an animated woman that works at the truck stop across the road and right around the time I entered my pin number she told me she was fifty two.  Her hair is orange (but leans yellow), she’s missing some teeth, her glasses hang on a chain around her neck, and he always has a story . . .

“You know, I was just now thinking to myself about how good it was to be a kid.  You never believe that then, because all you can think about when your 12 is to be 16 and when your 16 you want to be 18, then 21, then 25 . . . But when you get in your thirties, you start to think, hmm… maybe this ain’t all I hoped it would be.  Cause, you know, when you’re an adult you start to realize all you do is work, and work, and work, and work . . . and pay bills, and pay bills, and pay bills.  And it’s harder now than ever.  When you’re a kid you don’t think about any of that stuff.  I remember when I was 12, my parents sat around the table figuring out what bills they could pay and what ones would have to wait.  They kept tellin me, “Enjoy bein a kid cuz bein an adult is hard.”  I never believed them, but I do now.  Only took me till I was 52,” she said with a big cackle.

June has figured out that being a kid is a pretty good gig.

The whole time she talked I juggled three thoughts:

1.  She is really striking a chord with me right now.
2.  Why does she open up with me so easily.
3.  This has blog potential.

But, as I headed to my car, my thoughts changed to how much I dreaded going back to work.  Then I wondered how she could stand behind that counter for 8 hours a day doing something she loathes.  One third of her life and half her waking hours.  That is a disastrous way to grow up.

“You know, I love my grand kids, but they are so loud.  I couldn’t have kids around anymore.  I cherish going home and being there in my silence.”

I am fascinated by how someone like June can end up in a lifestyle like hers.  We are amazingly adaptive.  We survive hell for a day, then hell becomes easier.  Eventually, we become very content in hell and almost thrive on the low level pain.  There’s a twisted comfort in the familiarity.

So, how do we get out?  It takes:

1.  A fearless leap.
2.  Unwavering commitment and focus.
3.  A clear goal.

I was (and still am on some level) living in that hell.  It’s really pretty easy.  You just figure out how to make it through the day, then numb it all with a lot of food, drugs, or alcohol.

The problem is, once you take that fearless leap, the pain grows more intense for a while.

It’s tough navigating murky waters and that’s why sighting is so important.  You’re not in a pool anymore.  It’s the damn wild west.  No line on the bottom to guide or contain you.  You can roam where ever you like, and that is a scary ass feeling at first, but once you adjust (just like you did in hell) you realize how fucking amazing life can be when you’re truly free.

Swimming in the Washing Machine


Yeah, I know it’s nothing close to what it will be like at Wisconsin, but we do what we can.

Today’s swim was a series of “out to the buoy and backs” that left some of us overly familiar.  Racer K and I spent a large part of the morning beating the shit out of each other and, I think I can speak for him when I say, it was awesome.

The front line in this picture was given about a 20 second head start, then the back line of today’s stronger swimmers ran in to chase them.  We did this several times and the net result was a nice little cluster-f*ck at and around the buoy.

Sighting is huge, as is dealing with currents and waves, but for my money, the most valuable part of our open water clinics is scraping flesh . . . or worse.

When someone is running next to you, you will likely talk, size them up, or dig a little deeper to hold them off, but swimming is another story.  Especially in a lake.

You can’t see much of anything other than a horizon so whenever someone slinks up beside you or touches your feet, your first thought can range from simple “annoyance” to “holy fuck, there is a sea urchin trying to kill me right now at this moment.”

(side bar . . . I just extended that last sentence far more than I needed to by adding “right now at this moment.  It’s super redundant and frankly clutter, but I thought it may make it funnier, which I suppose it would to some, but certainly not linguists).

Yeah, so now that I’m getting stronger, I actually get a kick out of running into people on the swim.  Annoyance, yes, but it’s like solving a tactical mission, which doesn’t always go your way, but is still pretty cool.

Today alone I got punched in the ribs, kicked in the face, had my goggles ripped off and got dunked at the buoy, and that was all by Racer K.

On one of the “out and backs” I got pinned by two people as I tried to pass.  I had two options.  Go over the top or drop off and swim around them.  I chose the second but noticed how much effort it took to bump around in there before falling back, then restarting.  Clearly the best decision in the future is either veer off earlier or just dig in for all I’m worth and split the seam.

In the end we broke into two groups and had our customary session-end relay race.  Most of the time they come right down to the wire and there is no time to relax.  You are RACING with people all up in your grill and doing anything to beat you to the beach.  It wears you down, is often brutal, and I am very glad I’m getting that experience.

Running in Nashville – The Nasty

Last night hundreds of East Nasties gathered on a sweltering evening to knock out the group’s signature run.   If you live in Nashville, you’ve probably seen the black and white “East Nasty” bumper stickers, and all those people have earned it by finishing The Nasty.

The Nasty is a 5.9 mile run, laced with several rolling hills and 6 “big” climbs, including, Mount Nasty, which is a relatively short, but steep ascent at mile 4.  The legend that surrounds this route has an intimidating aura and most expect the worst, but I’ve come to really enjoy the challenge and think it always makes me a better runner.

The mood after running The Nasty ranges from exhaustion to exhilaration.  Mark or Duane stand around and reward everyone with their stickers.  The big one for the first time runners, and the small circle Mount Nasty for repeat offenders.

I feel lucky to have started running in East Nashville.  The Nasty, is basically a collection of the best climbs and descents my neighborhood has to offer.  You start with a slow downhill, into a climb, then a couple blocks of flat followed by another long climb, then two short steep descents and climbs, etc…  Then you get a long, very gradual decline to prepare you for Mount Nasty.  After that, it’s down into Shelby Park, around the lake and back out with a gradual, snake climb back to Shelby Avenue.  Then, it’s down into a big valley, followed by a final climb before you turn and head home to 11th and Holly.

While Nashville is no Boulder, I think we have a great hilly/urban environments for training.  If I’m looking for a flat/fast course, the Greenway is about a half mile from my front door, but if I go any other direction, I’m bound to collide with a bunch of hills.  And the more I run hills, the more I crave them.

Last night I ran the course with John Wasky (+2) who is training for Louisville and typically ready to crush the road waskywouldin front of him.  We talked a lot about the fatigue of Ironman training and ran most of the route (plus 3.25 extra miles) with heavy legs.  What amazed me about last nights run wasn’t that I was able to plow through tired legs, but how the cross training of triathlon is making my body so resilient.  Normally my feet, hips, and knees ache after a run (and especially in the morning) but last night and today I remain cautiously optimistic that I’m turning a corner with nickle and dime pains.

I told Wasky early in the day I wasn’t putting up with any of his “Sub-7 pace BS” and for 8 miles he seemed to agree.  But as we turned onto Shelby for the second time of the night and began a long descent that transformed into a longer climb, he turned on the jets and didn’t look back.  It was all I could do to stay on his heels as he seemed to pick up speed on the hill.  We crested, and I expected a deep breath or two to turn into a jog, but he rounded the corner hard on his way home.  I tried to relax as we belted our way past a porch party full of women for the 3rd time of the night, and he wasn’t letting up.  It was a 6 block sprint to the finish and sure enough, I looked at my watch and we were dabbling in the sub-7 range.  He casually lured me to sleep then tried to break my will, but I am schooled in his shenanigans.

Great run on a humid night in Nashville, TN.  The only bad news was that it wasn’t Pint Night at Nashville Running Company.

Crushing Iron Videos – Ironman Wisconsin Documentary

I’ve put together a video page on our site and will be adding a few more over the next week.  You can find them on the video tab at the top or by clicking here.

Are you really asking that?

Are you really asking that?

Racer K rockin the Sconnie Beer

Racer K rockin the Sconnie Beer

Daniel Smile

Daniel Smile

Confusing Question

Confusing Question

Intimidating Stare

Intimidating Stare

racerknee trace guys

Jim pounds the trainer

Jim pounds the trainer

Jim's East Nasty gear

Jim’s East Nasty gear

MarkNRC JimHotdog