Friday, February 26, 2010

Book Review: Trizophrenia by Jef Mallett (Boulder, CO: VeloPress, 2009)

Trizophrenia (How to Pronounce It: "TRIT suh FREE nee uh"), written by Jef Mallett (How to Pronounce It: "muh-LETT") has written a wonderful book about the joys of triathlon. Anyone who mentions Randy Wayne White, Paavo Nurmi, Nietzsche, and many other cool references is okay by me. While I wouldn’t necessarily give this book to someone THINKING of doing a triathlon, it’s definitely funny to the people who will get the inside jokes (I would suspect that triathlon can seem impenetrable to outsiders). I read his comic strip “Frazz” on almost a daily basis (only miss it if the newspaper has not yet arrived before I leave for work!) and feel a connection with his mindset. This book is definitely recommended for everyone except those who hate footnotes (I suggest that all the footnotes be moved into the body of the work in parentheses if need be). The beyond liberal use of footnotes and the pronunciation of the title (why not “try-suh FREE nee uh?”) are the only things I did not like about this book, so I’m hoping there are more on the way. Apparently Jef has also written a children’s book, which I hope to track down. For more info on Jef, visit his website and buy the book at VeloPress.

Book Review: Roadie by Jamie Smith (Boulder, CO: VeloPress, 2008)

Jamie Smith, bike racer and race announcer, has written a really comprehensive, funny, and insightful book explaining the life of a roadie (bicycle aficionado) to the lay person. Wonderfully illustrated by Frazz comic creator Jef Mallett, this is definitely recommended for anyone who is a Roadie, knows a Roadie, or has ever wondered about bicycle racing. Purchase from VeloPress.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Haiku lament

Running on treadmill
Winter seems to never end
I long for spring

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Help Fat Cyclist's Sister!

Elden, the Fat Cyclist, is asking help for his sister's son, who needs funds to pay medical bills related to "a rare, very aggressive form of Crescentic IGA Nephropathy. Which means he has an autoimmune disorder that produces antibodies that attach to the kidney and ruin the filtration system." Every $5.00 a person donates enters him/her into a raffle to win one, two, or three bikes:

A Trek Madone, powered by SRAM Red components Fatty won for his ride with Team RadioShack.

The second bike you can win is his Diamondback 2009 Sortie Black (size: Medium).

The third bike you can win is…his three-year-old, heavy-as-lead Lemond Fillmore singlespeed road bike with bullhorn bars and TT brake levers!

This is for a good cause, and the deadline for donations is midnight, MDT, March 1st, so don't delay!

2010 Race Schedule

It appears that we have finalized (?) our race schedule for this season. Barring any last minute additions (besides the new baby in July ☺!!), this is what the season looks like:

4/11/2010 Race That’s Good for Life 1-miler, Oak Park, IL (son + daughter)
4/18/2010 Indoor Triathlon presented by Experience Triathlon, Lisle, IL (me)
06/27/2010 Bigfoot Sprint Triathlon, Lake Geneva, WI (me)
08/28/2010 Chicago Kids’ Triathlon, Chicago, IL (son + daughter)
09/19/2010 Lake Carroll Sprint Triathlon, Lake Carroll, IL (me)
11/06/2010 Hot Chocolate 5K, Chicago, IL (me + wife)

Looks like fun!

Book Review: John Brant’s “Duel in the sun : Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America's greatest marathon” (Emmaus, PA : Rodale c2006)

I admit I’m a bit puzzled by this book. Nominally, it is about the 1982 Boston Marathon, when Salazar and Beardsley dueled from start to finish to finish 1-2. There is also some discussion about their upbringing, training, and personal philosophies. All well and good. Interspersed throughout the book are fast-forwards to times post-race that chronicle Beardsley’s addiction and recovery from opiate drugs and Salazar’s mystery ailment and partial comeback, along with his born-again Christianity after a trip to Medjugorje, Yugoslavia. Huh?

It’s a really well-written book, which makes those fast-forwards all the more disjointed. Not sure what the point of each was. For Beardsley: That his fame as an athlete bent the judicial system in his favor? For Salazar: ?

The author’s blurb gives a possible clue. The book is based on a Runner’s World essay included in Best American Sports Writing 2005. This book is an expanded version of that essay. I couldn’t find the essay online and haven’t gotten the book from the library yet, but I’m guessing that a lot of the extraneous stuff in Brant’s book was added to the article to make it book-length (sort of like some SNL skits that became feature-length movies, but probably shouldn’t have).

If you can overlook the added fluff, this is a well-written piece on 2 runners who captured the imagination of many during running’s initial heyday here in the United States.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cycling: No more Downers Grove National Criterium Championship

For $37,000 (the amount of funding support the city withdrew), Downers Grove has given up the National Criterium Championship, which will move to Glencoe for 2010. Our mayor and City Council, in a hasty move to assuage our senior citizen PAC, have turned a blind eye to an event that was recognized the world over among cycling fans. Our loss, Glencoe's gain. For more, read here.

Race: Lake Carroll Triathlon

Registered for the Lake Caroll Sprint Triathlon, to be held on September 19, 2010. Heard good things about last year's and this will probably be my season ender. The coolest thing is that, at least last year, they allowed camping at the race site - our own Midwest Wildflower!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Race: Indoor Triathlon presented by Experience Triathlon and LifeStart

For a brand new experience, I registered for an Indoor Triathlon presented by Experience Triathlon and LifeStart, which is "is a great way to become a triathlete in one hour. It’s fun and enjoyed by athletes of all levels – from first timers to veterans. You set your own pace. It all happens at LifeStart Central Park in Lisle, IL."

"The one hour event looks like this:

• 10 minutes of swimming in the lap pool
• 10 minute easy transition from the pool to the spin room
• 30 minutes of bike riding on the studio spin bikes
• 5 minute easy transition from the spin room to the treadmills
• 20 minutes of treadmill running

Results are measured by how far you go in each of the three events."

This is the same location where my swim training will take place, so it will sort of be my home pool. :) Looking forward to it, should be a good start to the racing season.

Team CarboRocket: Update

Last night at midnight was the deadline for the Team CarboRocket applications. Not sure if there's a schedule of when they will announce the team members. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Now that the deadline has passed, I'm posting my essay:

15 years ago, I ran the Chicago Marathon in a respectable time. Then -- sloth, laziness, apathy, and many, many excuses. Not wanting my kids to be fatherless, I pried myself off the couch. After numerous false starts, I am headed in the right direction. I have discovered it doesn't matter if you have the right magazines, the right clothes, or the right gear. The work needs to be done. There is no Fitness Fairy.

I don’t want to be a hero, except to my wife and kids. Every time I get on the bike, in the pool, or go for a run, I want them to see me moving, improving, and working hard. I’ll feel successful if they join me in an active lifestyle.

My goal: an Ironman in 2016, when I’ll be 50 years old.

In between now and then: swim, bike, run, repeat.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Triathlon Training Plan: Swim Training

Since I've had no luck getting started on my own, I've decided to register for a 10 week swim training session put on by Naperville-based Experience Triathlon. The swimming will be Tuesday evenings (yuck, I'm definitely not an evening person) and Friday early mornings (yeah!) at Central Park Athletic Club in Lisle (close by our house, easy access). Coach Joe and the others seem like good folks, we initially found them when they offered a kids' transition clinic last year, which my son attended. I've planned for a while to attend their Saturday morning group runs and Sunday morning group rides, but had scheduled that for March or April. This will give me a chance to meet some of the other athletes, rather than going into those group situations cold. Join me if you're based out this way.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Triathlon Training Plan: Backwards Running

Yesterday I completed a challenge ( I had set for myself, by running a mile backwards. It was really difficult, made doubly so as I completed it on my treadmill, due to ice and snow still affecting us here in Chicagoland. Today my calves are so sore that I decided to skip my Tuesday morning run to avoid injury. That ache definitely makes me want to work backwards running into my training plan, as I obviously worked some muscles normally dormant. Decided to do some basic research on it, surprisingly little on the Internet at a quick glance.

Backward running is also known as backwards running, running backwards, retro running, or retro locomotion. The combination of normal forward running and backward running is called mixed running or alternative mixed running. Some believe that running backwards helps balance out the strain brought on by normal running. (From

For an exhaustive (?) history of backward running, visit the Run the Planet website. Hundreds of persons in the United States begin backwards running because of its numerous and appreciable benefits: better oxygenation (84% VO2 in backward running vs. 60% VO2 in forward running); cardiovascular system increases (184 pl/mn vs. 162 pl/mn); it burns one third more calories than forward running; it develops considerable balance, velocity and stamina; it works more quadriceps than forward running; it reduces the ground impact; it promotes a greater flexibility of the body; and it reduces the risks of injuries. (Find it at

For those who become enamored of the sport, world records for backwards running can be found at Thomas Dold of Germany ran the backwards mile in 5:46:59 (2004, Me├čkirch, Germany), while the same year, in China, Xu Zhenjun of China completed a backwards marathon in 3:43:39. Wow! (From

Monday, February 15, 2010

2010 Races:Hot Chocolate 5K

Yesterday I registered my wife and myself for the RAMRacing Hot Chocolate 5K on November 6th in Chicago. As she is due to give birth late July, this will give her 3 months to get motivated and at least somewhat fit after that momentous event. This was our first race together (and my wife's first ever!) last year and we were really impressed. The organization was outstanding, expo and packet pickup easy and enjoyable, and this year they've moved the venue to Grant Park, so it's even simpler to get to the race itself. There's also a 15K for those that want to go longer. Hope to see you there!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Team CarboRocket

Didn't see it on the CarboRocket website, but Elden at Fat Cyclist wrote about a new Team that CarboRocket is sponsoring. Since I'm not a professional, nor do I play one on TV, it sounded like it was worth a shot. Here's what they're looking for (the press release):

Team CarboRocket is looking for a few good, ordinary folks who are on the verge of doing something extraordinary. You may not even know what that extraordinary thing is yet, but you can feel it burning inside of you. Hopefully, you already enjoy cycling, be it on the road or mountain.

Team membership is open to anyone who’s interested in doing something big. You may be a total novice or a seasoned veteran, we care not. What we do care about is that — whatever your extraordinary goal may be — there is an enormous gap between where you are now and achieving that goal. Maybe you are overweight. Maybe you have never ridden even a tenth the distance you’re hoping to ride. Maybe you’re missing a limb or two. Whatever hurdle you have to reaching your goal should make you dig very deep.

If this isn’t clear here’s an example: You are currently an expert level mountain biker with a resume stacked with impressive finishes and maybe even some sponsors and you want to finish the Leadville 100 mountain bike race because you’ve never done it. Sorry, not digging deep enough, no need to apply.

If, however, you’re a sport-level mountain biker and you’ve been thinking that the Great Divide Race is a little bit too short and you think it’s about time somebody rides from Canada to Mexico and then back, well yeah. We’d like to hear more.

What’s in it for you? You will be supported and sponsored by none other than Ibis Cycles in conjunction with Bingham Cyclery, CarboRocket sports drink, Ritchey components and the ever humble We can’t divulge exactly what awesome deals and swag you will be getting from each of these sponsors because we are still trying to figure out what Fatty is contributing. Maybe he’ll publish your stories. Maybe he’ll give you his super-secret recipe for quiche. It’s hard to say for sure. But we will say that you will like being sponsored by us. A lot.

What’s in it for us? We love a good story and we want to follow yours, from ordinary to extraordinary. We will be there when you fall down, first, to laugh at you and then give you a hand up, a dusting off and a gentle push onward. You will keep us apprised of your progress and ultimately your attempt at completing your extraordinary goal by updating your story at regular intervals on the team blog.

We want at least half the team to be women and total team members to be 10. We don’t want your entire story just yet, only 150 words or less. You need to tell us a compelling snippet of your story including who you are, what extraordinary thing it is you want to accomplish and why it will be so challenging. Email your 150 words to The sponsors will then pick 10 people with the most compelling stories to make up the Team.

And then we’ll come up with a cool secret handshake or something. We look forward to hearing your outrageously cool idea. Oh yeah, there is a one week deadline for consideration. You have until February 19, Midnight to submit your snippet.


Team CarboRocket

I sent in my application this morning. Still deciding whether or not to post it on this blog. Perhaps it would be best to wait until February 20th, after the deadline has passed.

What are you waiting for? Send it now.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Gear Review: REI Double Shot Waist Pack

Recently, I won a Twitter contest put on by the good folks at FitEgg Tri Reviews ( follow them at My prize was a REI Double Shot Waist Pack.

From the REI website: When one shot won't do, this lightweight dual hydration belt is perfect for the trails. Highly breathable air mesh belt holds two water bottles in molded foam pockets and two power mesh flat pockets with elastic-bound edges are sized for small energy gel packets. Full zippered storage pocket with key-keeper clip; reflective elastic shockcords provide external storage and help you to be seen. Lightweight adjustable webbing minimizes bulk and it comes with two 24-fl. oz. water bottles made from FDA-approved food-grade polypropylene that won't flavor your water or leach chemicals (these water bottles are compatible with most water bottle cages on bikes).

I hope that one day I’m running far enough to actually need 2 water bottles, but this is a really comfortable pack, and the 2nd bottle can always be for my wife, son, or other training partner. By far the best feature (and this is really cool) is that the waistpack can be cinched down enough to fit my 9 year old son. It almost fit my 2 year old! That is amazing and shouldn’t be discounted, as any gear that gets a child excited to run is great gear.

This is the old version of the REI Double Shot Waist Pack, and is currently on sale for roughly half the price of the new one. Thanks again to the folks at FitEgg for the fine prize.

If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at

Midwest Basecamp is now Midwest Triathlon

As my interests have changed, so has the direction of this blog. Originally, my thought was to keep a journal of my offroad adventures (mountain climbing, trail running, mountain biking)after our move to the Chicago area. Problem is, we don't have much in the way of mountains nearby, and, while I will definitely continue mountain biking and trail running, they will be more a reflection of my triathlon training, rather than expeditions. Thus, for the foreseeable future, the blog will be about my triathon training, races, and hopefully, my exploration into getting my kids excited about fitness, hopefully through triathlon. I have yet to find a sport that is so well-rounded and keeps my interest. While I love the idea of mountaineering or hockey or sailing, these are sports that require intensive amounts of equipment and advance planning and travel to participate in. Outside of swimming, triathlon is a sport that is growing in the Midwest and allows for almost year-round participation. While technically we are within the Mideast region of USA Triathlon, Mideast Triathlon just doesn't work for me as a blog name. :)


Monday, February 1, 2010

Triathlon Training Plan: February 2010 Goal

So I met my January goal of working out 4 of every 7 days, or 18 days in January (I actually did 20, since I’m such an overachiever). Biggest disappointment was getting on the scale this morning and finding out I gained 1.5 pounds last month. Now I could splutter and point to my participation in the 100 Pushups Challenge and muscles weigh more than fat and yadda, yadda, yadda, but the truth is, I still eat WAY too much.

My February goal is to continue working out for 30 minutes at least 4 of every seven days (18 days again), but will now add a longer run and bike ride (instead of 30, maybe 35-40 minutes). If possible, I’d like to sneak in some swimming, though haven’t had any luck with motivating myself to get down to the high school any time recently). Oh, and if I can do it, I’d like to cut back on the amount of food I eat. Though my diet is relatively healthy, too much of anything is still too much.

Another achievable goal, another month of training to come. Looking forward to it.

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports -

REI: Gear for the Great Outdoors

UnderArmour - I WILL

Outdoor DIVAS - Adventure Gear for Active Women