Monday, May 25, 2009

CapTexTri 2009 Race Report

That was Zen and this is Tao.

There was a time I thought I'd never do another sprint triathlon in my life. I was all about Half-Ironmans and Ironman. Better, faster, bigger, stronger.

As I looked down at my ankle on the way to the transition corral. Immediately, I got a feeling one would get when you sit down to the first cup of coffee at the office and then realize you left the front-door-back home-13-miles-away unlocked. Yes, that's the feeling I got when I looked down and saw no timing chip on my ankle. I immediately knew it was sitting next to my chair back home. The chair I sat in while deciding to give the left foot a quick massage before putting my shoes on. &8%it!

I still had plenty of time to drive back home and retrieve my chip and also my wallet, as that too was left behind. In the past I had way too much time to sit in the transition area and do nothing anyway. I'd sit on my kitty-litter bucket now converted into a triathlon-stuff bucket wondering how many more minutes need to pass before getting on my wetsuit, before walking down to the start line, before clearing my Timex Triathlon watch out to zeroes. Maybe it was a good thing to drive all the way home and back. Maybe next time it will be extra good to sleep a little more and blow off the whole sitting around thing altogether.

My training since the Longhorn Half-Ironman last October left little to be desired. When I went to taper the conditioning schedule a week before this race I realized I'd been tapering all winter and spring. Lack of motivation, combined with bursts of allergies, a cold, outdoor Mexican smoke and the last remnants of foot pain didn't get me in the shape I needed to be in. With this lack of training my goal for this race was to figure out why I'm still doing this race.

The swim was better than expected (2.07/100yds compared to 2.39). I've only been in the pool once since last October but this is where I experienced the most improvement. Go figure. I shaved four minutes off my last sprint time. I guess this was a case where less was more.

I had tried on the wetsuit the day before the race. However, I had tried it on dry and not wet and that was how I was going to remove it in transition. And there was the problem. I could not get out of the thing. I felt like I was in a straight jacket and as my arms and shoulders were toast from the swim, my anxiety was building with every wasted minute to a point that I thought I may spend the rest of the race in T1, trying to remove my straight jacket. The race results would read, "Tony Mook, DNF (Did Not Finish) because he couldn't get out of his freakin'wetsuit."

Looking at the results, the 45-49 age groupers were anal retentive. I did not beat a one of them in T1. They were highly proficient at getting out of their wetsuits and on with their business. I had to scour the 55-59 age group to find someone I beat in my T1 time. One poor soul camped out in T1 for 17 minutes. Jeez, that's long enough to get a pizza delivered. So I feel better now.

I took a deep breath, relaxed and pulled one arm out and then another. Whew! I then proceeded to put on my bike jersey and it rolled up on my back with the moisture. The number ripped from two of the four safety pins. Ahhhhhhhhhh! More minutes ticked off the clock. This was going to be the slowest transition ever. EVER! As mentioned aove, one poor triathlete measured up with a 17-minute transition. I delivered with a 7:27 transition.

A week before the race I had decided to replace my LOOK clipless pedals for the clip and strap pedals. The CapTexTri course requires one to jog quite a ways to and from the mount and dismount lines to transition. Therefore, running shoes would be a better choice. This would prove to also save time in T2 by not having to swap bike shoes for running shoes. This is the one thing that did work well for the day.

The new bike worked well and seemed faster. However, upon inspection of the time, I was eight seconds slower than the Pawn Shop Bike time three years ago. And that's also while wearing an aero Limar helmet this time.

The run. Well. Brutal. Hot. I haven't run in the heat since last October so needless to say I wasn't ready for any heat or humidity and received a huge dose of both. Jack of Jack and Adams Bicycles was out there yet again helping the runners out by handing out cups of water. He's got to be one of the coolest business owners/bike gurus ever. EVER!

At the end of the day I found my race again. The sprint is the race. Not Xterra. Not Half-Ironman. Not Ironman. Not marathons. Just half-marathons and sprint triathlons and 8-mile bike time trials. They each have me doing my thing for 90 minutes or less. That's enough. And I like going faster for 90 minutes than slower than a slug in 90-degree heat for six hours.

Better, faster, bigger, stronger. Yes. Faster but not longer. Duration is only one component, not THE ONLY component. And not one of my components for a race. Improvement over time is the main necessary component. Seeing results from a change in training. That's a component.

There's a visual I have in my mind of what I should look like and what I should go through day after day with workouts and I'm far from realizing this nature. I think I'm getting closer to that visual but I need more time to pull it all together. More time analyzing the numbers and more time not looking at the numbers if that makes sense. For example, my heart rate was three beats less on average than last time. That's not much but could be the difference in three minutes which is the difference between a PR or not. 161 versus 158.

I had a routine that was right on track but focused in the wrong direction. Now, I need to refocus in the direction I know is the right one and give it a good push. That was Zen and this is Tao.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Link Friday

The New York Times: Guest Column: Math and the City. It would be interesting to see if anyone has extended this math to then look at the number of cancer patients and how it correlates.

CNN: Astronauts enjoy recycled urine

ESPN: Life of Reilly. How do you beat a guy who throws righty and lefty? You don't. I hope this guy makes it to the bigs so I can see how he pulls this off.

News8Austin: Austin City Council to approve $250M bike plan. Too bad there's too many cars on the ATX roads today to make this a healthy option. It's not just about creating bike lanes and making it safe to ride but also it has to be healthy and that means they'll need to clean up the air.


The water temp at Lady Bird Lake is 77 degrees so I won't be wearing a wetsuit for Monday's event. I'm even thinking of using the clip and strap pedals to save some time in transition. Running with the bike in my running shoes will speed me up. With no wetsuit to worry about and no shoes to change I should be able to shave off some minutes in the T1 and T2.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's Time to Play Visionary, Fanatic or Lunatic

Robert Kraft, also known as The Raven, and not to be confused with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, has been running every day for 34 years straight, running an eight-mile stretch of Miami Beach. Starting 1975, Mr. Kraft has run through pneumonia, hurricanes and back pain. His reply as to why someone would do such a thing, "I wanted to discipline myself," said Mr. Kraft.

ESPN recently resurfaced a January 2008 piece on The Raven that I saw the other morning.

From the last VF or L I see Jack LaLanne as a visionary and Ronald Kmiec as a fanatic/lunatic, especially for not listening to his body after suffering a heart attack. His wife had to pressure him into seeing the doctor. With Mr. Kraft it's a little different. At first I would label him a lunatic but I think he's more of a fanatic. What's sad is that it looks like he won't have many more years of running going the way he is. Without a day off to recover and repair damaged tissue caused by the eight-mile run, over time the overuse injuries will cause a problem. Research has proven this. I think even Hal Higdon, who ran 10-miles every morning and night even took some time off to recover.

The one thing I thought was great about The Raven was his varied workout. Pullups, pushups and alike are really what runners should be doing more of.

If you haven't guessed it, I'm looking for the fitness sweet spot, the Holy Grail of sets and reps and miles, the Supreme Being of workouts, the Pièce de résistance diet plan. What gets us ripped like a Laird Hamilton but not die at 39 like Steve Larsen.

5-hour ENERGY

I just slammed a 2 ounce 5-hour ENERGY drink to try it out. DANG! I was suspicious but it works like two Red Bull drinks but without the calories. It has only four calories. We'll see if it lasts for five full hours. So far, it's really kicking in at the one-hour mark.

I don't think I'd go out and run on a full two ounces but I can definitely see using it for afternoons when I'm dragging after two-a-day workouts where I need to then write 1,000 words for an article.

Update: I noticed it weakening after three hours and after four hours I felt it was pretty much done.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I love surprises.! Well, let me restate that. I love surprises that unexpectedly provide me something with which I've been yearning for. I hate the surprises like driving south on IH35 and being sandwiched by two 90-mph-speeding Yukons on the left with a 100-mph-speeding Scion tc coming up my ass and then choosing to rip past in the emergency lane to get by me and the Yukons. Yeah, surprises like that, not so much. But that was two days ago and today is well, today.

So it was a total surprise this morning when ESPN let out that Jon Gruden was replacing Tony Kornheiser on MNF. So the NYTimes wrote, "Now, ESPN has Gruden, a blond-haired football guy, unlike Kornheiser, balding writer guy." You would think as I'm a balding writer guy named Tony I'd be really ticked that one of my own was sacked from MNF. Not. at. all. I haven't watched MNF in the last three year's just because of the balding writer guy. And, he wasn't sacked but left for a reported fear of flying. So Monday nights this coming fall have new meaning. No more slinking off to bed early. There's football to watch and commentary from the blond-haired football guy to listen to, at least until he finds another team to coach.

The other total surprise this morning was seeing proof of more winter blubber weight evaporated into the ether. Pounds 13 and 14 are gone. This was a surprise as I didn't get as many workouts in while in Dallas and the one I had was cut short. I then ate at Pappadeaux for lunch which could have sent me far into blubberville for the next week but it didn't. I guess there wasn't as much butter on that tilapia as I thought. If I drop another two before the CapTexTri on Monday, I'll feel better about the race.

It's good thing there won't be any surprises on the CapTexTri course on Monday. No falling 250-feet into a ravine like Pedro Horrillo did in the Giro d'Italia. That's a surprise we can all live without.

Monday, May 18, 2009

One of Austin's Perfect Mornings

David Siik, the runner on the cover of this month's Runner's World Magazine said, "I breathe so much better when I'm by the water and away from traffic." Hmmmm ya tink? That's what I've been doing lately is getting away from traffic, all traffic. That's hard to do in the city but can be accomplished if done early.

I almost missed the one of the best running mornings Austin has to give by sleeping in. A perfect 52-degrees with a one mile an hour breeze and a 5.2 PM-2.5 pollution reading. My mind and body wanted to soak up as much as I could but alas, the cars started pulling out of their driveways and it was just too much trouble holding my breath as I passed the polluted micro puff clouds so I called it a day, but not before I had thoroughly enjoyed the run. Seven AM is the absolute Cinderella moment for running in the hood. After that we all turn into black tar asphalt pumpkins.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Link Friday May 15, 2009

Here's a little of what I've been reading this week.

The New York Times: Brain Dance 
Creating the magazine's Green Issue cover with the dance company Momix.

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Close the Book. Recall. Write It Down.

The New York Times: In German Suburb, Life Goes On Without Cars (Bike to Work Day Today!)

The New York Times: On the Waterfront

Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Catalog founder and former member of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, lives on the Mirene, a tugboat moored in Sausalito, on the San Francisco Bay.

The New York Times:  Wi-Fi to Go, No Cafe Needed  

The New York Times:  Portland on a Budget

The New York Times: Frugal Traveler blog - Frugal Portland

AstroProfile: Mercury Retrograde

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mercury Retrograde and Almost a Bad Cup of Coffee

That was a close one. I just overheard that she was slipping in the bad coffee every third pot to get rid of it. We're in the middle of another mercury retrograde. Two more weeks.

From AstroProfile.

  • Communications go awry - phone calls, letters, emails, faxes, conversations are delayed, misinterpreted, blocked. Recheck everything like appointment times, spelling, wording, the words you say.

  • Anticipate detours - memory lapses, confusion, failing to listen, failing to confirm, negotiation failures, changing of plans.

Another day, another sports story. Barry Zito intentionally walked Ryan Zimmerman which contributed slightly to his 30-game hitting streak to come to an end. Zimmerman had three other at bats but couldn't deliver. Good to see Zito's arm is still solid. "Zito's fifth strong effort in a row should have encouraged the Giants," said Chris Haft of

And this from SI on Randy Johnson. "So I told you last week I wasn't wild about Randy Johnson starting against the Rockies again and he got hit hard. Johnson is showing the effects of age, but is still pitching better than a 45 year old would have 30 years ago."

On a positive note, I got through my morning workout while watching ESPN without a single mention of that banned substance that rhymes with Altoids. I did see a mention of it on but it's hilarious Manny Ramirez has gone from the masculine sounding "ManRam" to "Nanny" in one week's time. I've heard female fertility drugs can do that sort of thing.

Already this morning, Austin's air isn't looking too good. A PM-2.5 reading of 21 doesn't bode well for health. The folks in Tyler have the cleanest air in the state of Texas at a 1.2 PM-2.5. It looks like another bike ride indoors at the gym.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Get Over Roids as I Declare My Free Agency

I forgot how much two and three-a-day-workouts tire me, both physically and mentally. The body is responding ok though. Sore from an hour on the hills with the bike yesterday.

I added these to the running_mix playlist.

Kanye West: Heartless (Thanks to K who has switched from Disney artists to hip hop)
Kanye West: Stronger (I'm a little slow with new music, release date 9/11/07)
Alanis Morssette: Citizen of the Planet

I knew the roids issue would get blown up when A-Roid came back to the Yankees active roster but jeeeeeez. The media is on roids with all the roids talk. You know, I'm ok with the roids. It's all performance enhancement and there can never be a level playing field. Vitamins are performance enhancers. Certain trainers enhance performance with their knowledge. I definitely can attest to certain shoes being performance enhancers versus the ones I had that crippled my left foot for 12 months (all better now thanks to New Balance and PT). Caffeine, creatine, protein. Yeah, roids are on a TOTALLY different plane of chemistry. Understood. Just wait for DNA enhancement. I bet we've already seen some of it at the last Olympic games.

That being said, I declare my free agency for any sports team that looks like it's going to have a winning season in my lifetime. I can't believe I was drawn into thinking the Rockets would win last night against the Lakers. Not that I'd go for the LA with Kobe but I definitely need to look elsewhere. 40 point drop. Jeeeez. Just embarrassing.

The good thing is tomorrow is another day and another story will be front and center on the sports pages blogs tweets.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More on Outdoor Air Quality

I just got through publishing the latest article on It deals with the outdoor air pollution in Central Texas and asthma. The readings for particulate matter 2.5 pollution yesterday were through the roof. Looking around town it was strange. Thick haze was obscuring views of the hills. The readings had us at a 238.1 reading for 2.5 particulate matter which is insane. I think someone had their Hummer backed up close to the measuring equipment. I stayed in and drank some red wine rather than play tennis with my next door neighbor.

I woke up this morning and checked the readings thinking there wasn't enough wind to keep the Mexican fire smoke south of the Austin area. However, when I checked at 5:45 am, the levels for 2.5 and for ozone were decent enough to get a run in. 13.1 for the PM-2.5 and 19 for the ozone.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Stable Has a New Filly and TT Season Has Started

The new TT/triathlon bike is finished. Last night I put the finishing touches on what should be a faster bike for the 2009 cycling time trial and triathlon seasons. I took it out for a spin on the veloway without a front derailleur and it seemed faster than the same components on the Canondale frame. I changed frames as the C-dale was a couple CM too big and the Leader frame was more aerodynamic and will fit better.

Although Run-Far scheduled time trials for April I clearly wasn't in shape nor was the bike in shape to get out of the house. Next Tuesday is still a little too soon and the 26th is a day after the CapTexTri triathlon so that's probably out.

APRIL:Tuesdays,14th and 28th (28th is still on!)
MAY:Tuesdays, 12th and 26th
JUNE:Tuesdays, 9th and 23rd
JULY:Tuesdays, 14th and 28th
AUGUST:Tuesdays, 11th and 25th
SEPTEMBER:Tuesdays, 8th and 22nd

Sunday, May 3, 2009

New Day, Cleaner Air

I'm glad I waited until this morning for the long run. Yesterday's air in Austin was horrible. PM 2.5 levels in the moderate range of 26 due to the Mexican smoke arriving in Central Texas. This morning after a front passed through and a little rain, the PM 2.5 level was down to 1.3. That's the lowest I've seen it. I could actually smell the honeysuckle from a distance.

I picked up another Money Tree yesterday from Home Depot. This one is 24" and goes for $19.98. The little one in the photo cost $7.98 and it's tiny in comparison. It's the plant recommended by Kamal Meattle at the TED 2009 Conference.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Links Friday

American Lung Association - State of the Air 2009

Blip.FM - If you've ever wanted to be a DJ, here's your chance. - If you like Will Farrell or have seen the first season of East Bound and Down, you'll love Funny or Die.

How to Grow Your Own Fresh Air - TED 2009

NYTimes Health - Paying a Price for Loving Red Meat

Runner's World Magazine - The Pill Problem , The right drug can relieve pain and discomfort—or put you in a world of hurt.

Twitscoop - visualize in real time a tag cloud of Twitter traffic.