Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Thoughts on Lance

I'm a bit late to the table with this, although this morning's news release with Nike dropping their sponsorship commitment and him stepping down from LiveSTRONG's chairman position makes it a bit more timely...

This is the tale of human nature, the tale of somebody who valued winning above all else, but also the tale of somebody so profoundly impacted by his brush with death that he created a foundation for it.

I don't think Lance Armstrong is the devil if, in fact, the USADA case against him is true. It sounds like the conspiracy to dope ran through the entirety of cycling: from teams, to team leaders, to the riders, to the organization that sanctioned the professional tour. It's sickening. And it is through that lens of "doing whatever it took to win" that he valued winning over clean sport, when it sounded like there was no such thing as clean sport during that time.

That doesn't make what he did any better, though. It's cheating. It flies in the face of why I compete; to see how I stack up against my fellows, and to give every ounce of my being to it. Someone else values winning more than that, and they'll do whatever it takes to get there. That can lead to some pretty dark places, and it appears it took Lance there, too. Makes sense, if you think about it: incredibly competitive person wants to do whatever it takes to win.

But I also think that his doping history also does not disqualify him from the good that he does with LiveSTRONG, either. I'm not going to fight a LiveSTRONG argument; that organization did a lot for my family and I when we lost my father-in-law, and I'll happily continue to wear a LiveSTRONG band so long as I have one.

It goes to show that professional athletes are indeed human, and can be doomed to the pitfalls of our nature as well. But that means you be both things: Lance the doper, Lance the charitable.

I don't think it makes much sense to separate the two; nor do I think one disqualifies the other. I think he's human.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Can't Always Know What's Coming, Can't Always Trust a Twist of Fate: 2013 Racing Schedule

Yes, I know how odd that title is up above, but it really speaks volumes: You're never going to be completely sure when you're going to be prepared for something, but you also can't just hope that it's going to be OK. You need to do what you can to give yourself the confidence in your plans. It's that sensation that led to me sitting down with Doug to review the 2012 season and to start thinking ahead towards 2013.

We settled in, and the first question was about how I personally felt about the season. The big thing, to me, was being so happy with the improvement that I've made. I hit one target goal for the year (go sub-5:15), the next goal being within reach (sub-5:00), and I proved to myself that I can run pretty damn fast if I'm smart about it.

That doesn't make me satisfied, though. I'm hungry for a lot of things in the sport, and it's going to take a lot of dedicated work to get there. I knew how much time I left on the table, for instance, at Rev3 Maine. I went as fast as I could on a given day at Rev3 Cedar Point, and now it's about dialing in the nutrition plan.

So as we sat there, chatting about what I feel like I needed to do, the first thing across the mind was closing a run out: not letting the back half of the run hit me like a ton of bricks. Some of that's nutrition, some of that's fitness, and some of that's mental; the willingness to continue to meet pain head on in the face. I've done pretty well, but I want to close it on down and hammer it home.

The goals for next season?

  1. Sub 5:00 HalfRev. I think this one's right within grasp. 
  2. The Reach: Sub 4:45 Half Rev. This is in my "have a perfect day" window. I'd need to execute, execute, execute, with absolutely no room for deviation from the plan. At least, on the current levels of fitness. But we'll see how close we can come...
  3. Be competitive in my age group. What the hell's that mean?'ll find out here soon enough.
So, what's my racing schedule looking like? Well, I'm planning on a full slate of Rev3 races. Even with the team application opening up here soon (follow Rev3 on Twitter or like them on Facebook to see when that actually launches!), I'm racing Rev3 pretty exclusively for long-course triathlon. As Hannah has said in this space, it's much easier on her events-wise. It's got a vibe that I love. And the racing is second to none. So I'm going there for my racing on a pretty permanent basis.

Without further adieu, the tentative 2013 race plan:

  • Rev3 Knoxville Olympic: May 5th, 2013--I've never raced an Olympic, and looking forward to the year, we're planning on doing some speed sessions to kick off the year to carry it in to the longer efforts. 
  • Waldo County Y Sprint: May 17th, 2013--Sounds like I've been roped into this one by Adam. (His mom is the race director.) Apparently, we need to continue our little feud.
  • Rev3 Quassy HalfRev: June 2nd, 2013--I love this race. It's my favorite race. Everything about it stands out: the volunteers, the course, the diabolical signs on the run, the atmosphere. World-class event.
  • Rev3 Maine HalfRev: August 25th, 2013--A nice last hard effort leading into the "big one."
  • Rev3 Cedar Point FullRev: September 8th, 2013--Yep, now I've stepped in it. Why a Full? Well, as I was sitting there all day at Cedar Point thinking to myself, "You know, this really isn't that long..." while racing 70.3 flippin' miles probably says that you're the right kind of crazy. 
Now, if you've paid any attention to the comments over on the Rev3 Facebook page, you know that there's been some rumors floating around about a certain Maine race and a potential "filling out" of the race course, if you catch my drift. Why the hell am I going to travel out to Cedar Point?

Well, for one, where we stayed at Cedar Point this year was fantastic, and I am fully planning on staying there again. Tim, if I remember correctly, put a deposit down on the place for next year. Sign my rear end up. Where do I send the cash? In all seriousness, though, I couldn't imagine a better place to be staying the weekend of a race: right on the course, right in the middle of town, everything's pretty accessible, and it takes the stress off.

Secondly, and almost more importantly: I almost left Maine completely off my race schedule, is why. Not because I don't love the race; I do. I think that course is awesome, I think it's challenging in a way that none of the other Rev3 events I've been a part of's a great event. If I weren't racing, I'd be working. And even still, I'll probably work a bit too!

The problem, for me, is that racing at home is way more stressful than racing at a destination. You see, when you're at a destination, you have to plan. You have to get everything together, so you find it all. No stress the weekend of the race, because it's all there. You don't need to frantically search for it.

When I'm at home, I don't worry about planning as much. Where's my spare stuff? "Oh, it's in the house, I'll find it." So then you're panicking the Saturday before the race trying to find all of your crap because you didn't need to pack it and put it somewhere.

Nope, no thanks. If I'm going to be racing 140.6 miles, I need to have my plan. I need to execute my plan. Can't always trust a twist of fate...(see what I did there?)

So no, I will race Maine...just another HalfRev day to test things out before going and doing something silly at Cedar Point.

With all that in mind, time to hit the road. Goals set. There's work to be done.