Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sleepless Nights, Birthday Parties and 27 teeth....

27 Teeth

We are in a world of trouble. Marco has started a trend that can only lead to trouble as he gets older. The last few slumber parties he attended he had done the same thing. This past Friday he stayed at a buddy's house. We warned the parents that Marco may not sleep. He didn't. He stayed up all night watching movies and playing videos. He paid dearly for this act but feels no remorse. He slept through a great deal of the day today, Sunday. Ask him maybe he should have slept on Friday and he says, No. Uh Oh! What's going to happen when he's in High School.
..Mr. Jewell.. This is Jody's mom. Marco and Jody are not home yet. It's 5:00am! Any Idea where they might be?
Birthday Parties - Last night as hard as we tried we threw a surprise 40th Birthday party for Mary. We had it all planned out. The guests would be at the pub, we would walk in and they would all yell "Surprise". The problem is timing. The goal time was 7:30pm. We had a son who hadn't slept in some 35 hours and Mary was driving to an early evening. I tried stalling as much as possible but no. We were in the Pub at 6:30 ordering dinner. It all worked out though. Mary was quite surprised, and a good time was had. Marco faded quickly so he and I left early to get him to bed. Mary and her friends stayed on and had a good time catching up. She has surrounded herself with really good friends. They are going to miss her terribly and she's going to miss them too.
27 Teeth
So the last few races I've done I've come back saying "I need more gear to get up those hills". Then I forget about the race, do my training, mash up the hills and race again. Same result. I think part of it is Ego, I don't need more gear, and part of it is I'm cheap. Why spend more money on this bike. Well yesteday I broke down, paid 55 euros and got myself some new teeth....lots of them in fact. You see the biggest gear I had on the back was 21 teeth. Remember now that bigger on the back mean's easier. Yesterday I put on a new set of gears and now I have a 21,24 and a 27. Today I tested this on the steep hills in the Faconian Switzerland. Go figure, I road the hills much faster and with much less strain. In fact dare I say, I was dancing on the pedals today. Imagine what it would be if I listened to myself in the first place.
It's a good life....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Can You do this?

Ah Vienna.............

Rest in peace Steve. I'll be sitting on your wheel, along with the rest of us. - Chuckie V

The other day at the breakfast table we were talking about all the cool places Marco has been. He had just added country 22, Slovakia. I asked him "Name all the countries that border Germany". He got all but one. "Name all the countries that border Austria" again all but one. "Name all the states that border California", all but one. You can look at it two ways. He's really consistent with missing one each time or he's a worldly kid. He has a memory of almost every place he's been. Because he's a kid it could be the oversized Dog he saw on the streets of Stockholm but it's a memory of the thing in a place he's been. Show him a map and ask him to find Stockholm and he will. I'm a big believer that this will take him far. The more he knows about the world, the more the world will open doors for him when he gets older.

Another benefit of being a kid is you do goofy things and get away with it. Here's one for you to try. Marco can sing Sir Mix-a-Lots Baby got Back - In German.

It's a good life....


Sunday, May 24, 2009

70.3 Austria Report

Race #1 of the year is done. Man are Triathlons a bunch of work.

As reported my goal was to be somewhere better than the 5:03 from last year in Switzerland and closer to the 4:26 of the winner of the age group in Austria last year. I acomplished the first part of the goal when I went 4:51:27. One point of note, I've never been under 5:00 at this distance. Nothing to celebrate there just a point to make. The 2nd part of that goal was a bit tougher. This years winner of the agegroup went 4:21. That's stupid crazy fast.

Pre Race
For some reason they put my agegroup last on the starting rotation. That means we had 6 groups before us and 55 minutes to wait after the pros went off. Point for all, plan your pre race routine on your start not theirs. Really good thing I think all races should try, 10 minutes between wave starts. It sure makes the swim cleaner.

The Swim 33:41
Really cool swim. We swam 1000 meters in the first lake rougly straight point to point. Got out of the water, ran 200 meters up over a bridge and then swam 900 meters in the second lake. That was hard to manage. Getting back in the water after such a long time was really weird. A really big thank you for the guy in the Orca suit in Lake #2. I know I was annoying, hitting your feet and all, but you made the swim seem easy. A bit sorry I pulled around you at the end and left you on your own.

The Bike 2:39:24
What a great bike course. It had a bit of everything. We road on the Auto Bahn. We road by huge Castles. We road up big hills. And we came down a nasty 14% grade. In between there was no place to rest on the course. A big thank you to Triangle Sports for closing the course to cars.
The only point I noticed any real fatigue was the big climb. It was 8K long with the average being 3.5%. The final 10-15 minutes though were up at 8 - 10% pitch. I've been meaning to invest in a couple extra gears but spending money on my 9 year old bike just doesn't seem right. I think I'll do it because I've got a super hilly race coming up in 3 weeks. I've just found that I don't have that strength anymore to climb big hills in a 21 tooth cog. 24 here I come. One thing I know I'll probably never get used to is flying down hills. It's interesting though, when it's a super technical drop the European athletes fly by me taking the sharp turns with ease. When it's a wide open drop where you can see the entire turn they never pass me. Anyway, you just have to love the way they handle the bike. A couple words for the folks out on the course:
- How in the heck do you crash on the Auto Bahn. The straightest widest road we had and there is a guy laying on the side of the road coverd in road rash.
- Engeorgio - This is an individual sport. There is no room for guys like you. Cutting people off to get the wheel in front of you. Every time I saw you, you were on the wheel in front of you much closer than the 10 meter rule. Heck closer than 10 inches. I would also say, if you are gettting that much rest, why are you so bad a climbing? I was happy to see you going backwards on the steep hills.
- The earth is not your trash can. I know here in Europe you see the Pro Peleton throwing bottles and food wrappers all the time. You are not a pro. Stop throwing your trash on the side of the road.

The Run 1:33:07
All I could think about on the run was coach Gordo. He said "Save some energy to have a strong final 10K". The run was two laps which sure made the mental part of that idea easy. I knew what I was in for. The first lap of the run for me was about finding a comfortable pace and sticking on the Gel and liquids. It was hot and the course had virtually no shade. First lap done now its time to find out how much energy there was, Go! I started to pick it up and to my surprise it felt good. I ran one K at a time and went has hard as I felt I could go. I started passing people, lots of people. There was one guy running my pace about 100 meters in front and I a just made sure he was in my sight. That of course was until I passed him on the track just before the finish. By the looks of it I moved up 10 places on that 2nd loop. Assuming the splits are correct I did the last 6.9K in 26:32. In my mind during that time I was concentrating on running 4 minute K's. That felt good.

Thanks to the guy on the first lap of the run who grabbed a sponge for me. That was a great gesture.
Thanks to my shoes. Nothing hurt on my feet. More on that later.
Finally, you can walk the aid stations and still run well. I think those short walking breaks to make sure I got the liquid down saved my run.

Final Thoughts
A huge big thanks to Mary and Marco. There is no way I could do or would want to do this without you. I know those VIP passes were a bonus (especially the free Icecream). You deserve VIP and a great deal more.
Big thanks to Coach Gordo and everyone at
Big thanks to Triangle Sports the event people. You put on a class event and I would do your races any time.

It's a good life....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Marketing 101

"Preserving your body never enters your mind. Preserving your history never leaves it"
All Blacks

That quote was used in a Marketing/Branding book I'm reading. It gives me an idea about a future post but I'll save that rambling. I think there is quite a bit in that quote if you just read it again and again.

I'm a believer that there aren't a great deal of brilliant marketing minds out there. I'll admit that I'm not really one of them either. But there is one thing I will admit to is to never stop trying to learn the game. Kind of like my approach to Triathlon this year. I know how to train there is no doubt about it. It was time to learn a new way of doing it, so I hired a coach and not just any coach. One with his own philosophy and different than the standard out there. We'll see the results on my body Sunday. Back to Marketing. I'm constantly on the lookout for new ways to do one of the easiest jobs in the world. Find people who love something, build a product for that something and then connect you to the people. Marketing is really a simple process. The problem of course is that everyone has discovered how easy it is and there is a ton of competition for that one person you have that product for. So I think you have to keep learning to be better than them, or just become one of them trudging to work everyday mad because your product isn't moving like you thought it would.

How do you find the brilliant marketers. I suggest you listen closely to other people. Here's an example. I was in a meeting a few months ago planning out the future for my company. The big boss said something that struck me, "we have to get back to establishing love marks". I had heard that before but it really sounded strange coming out of his mouth. He's not the lovey kind of guy at work. Then a colleague of mine from Latin America mentioned a book to me called Lovemarks. Any time someone mentions a book by name I write that name in the corner of my journal. Then when Mary says she's placing an Amazon order (I know, I'd rather buy at a book store but it is Germany and English books are not plentiful) I give her my list of books. The problem is I usually have more books on the list than I can possibly read. So I asked her to buy the book Lovemarks. It arrived and it was not anything I was expecting. I expected a business book and it's more coffee table size. I set it on the bookshelf for another day. 6 months later I'm staring at the book and figure now is the time. Oh what a gem it is. It's very entertaining in a marketing kind of way and it's really easy to understand. I'll read it and it now goes on the list of books to read again. Go figure, with all the brands to choose from you have to go beyond the brand and move to love. Just read it, or don't.

Now for essential daily dose of marketing you need to sign up for Seth Godin. When I say sign up, you can have his Blog emailed to you every day. He writes every day and 4 out of 7 a week are totally worth the read for me. I use his ramblings daily. Many I already know but it's good to get a refresher. I'm convinced he his shadowing me. I may be sitting at my desk banging my head against the wall trying to get my head around a topic. I take a break, open my email and there it is. The answer I've been looking for from Seth. I may be working on how to deal with an co-worker and he's talking about how to deal with a customer and all of the sudden I'm treating the co-woker like a customer and it works. Sign up and get inspired.

I've decided to update this blog twice a week. Wednesday and Sunday. You can check back every week or you can sign up to follow the Blog. Over on the right side there is a widget to sign up. It's really easy and you can have it emailed to you or just opened up on your google account. Again, only if you are interested in my ramblings. I'm convinced at least that my Dad and my Sister read this regularly. So at least now if they sign up to follow it they won't have to remember to look.

It's a good life....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Game On!

Back in October of 2008 I set my personal goals. One of those goals was to win my age group in a triathlon. Well the official triathlon season for me starts next Sunday and it’s time to put up or shut up. I’ve done the work. It hasn’t been perfect but it will never be perfect. I’ve had great coaching for the last 5.5 months. Now it’s up to me.
Next weekend is not the goal. I would be crazy happy if I reach my goal next week, but I find it hard to comprehend. I think next week I’m simply looking for a good solid race played out with ease and a fast time. It’s been almost an entire year since I raced a triathlon. Although I have experience that dates back further than I care to admit I still expect to be a bit rusty. Where does rust show up, swimming. You can swim in a pool for as much as you want or you can even head to the lake or ocean (soon that will happen again) but until you are in there with 400 of your same age crazies you can’t practice it. Take for instance my last race. 40 seconds into the swim my goggles are knocked off my face. I had to stop, find them, put them back on and then chase to get back on the group. Rust can come anywhere, and this race in Austria is geared to get the rust out.
I’m still not going to be satisfied with a finish. I have to beat my time from 70.3 Switzerland last year and get closer to the winner of the age group. If I can’t do that then the 5.5 months of preparation needs to be blown up. It’s that simple.

2008 Ironman 70.3 Switzerland
My Race last year.
Swim 35:10
Bike 2:44:35
Run 1:39:51
Total 5:03:33

Ironman 70.3 Austria
The Winner 45-49
Swim 32:13
Bike 2:23:01
Run 1:26:18
Total 4:26:18

So you might think I’m crazy with my goal. How do I get from there to here while aging and all the other crap going on in my life? First I looked for a coach who would build my bike riding ability up. It wasn’t a matter of my ability more about my willingness. Last year I did random training with only 2 rides over 3 hours and most in the 2 hour range. This year, with the help of Endurance Corner 3 hours is like a warm up. I would share all the graphs I have on Training Peaks but believe me when I say I am one with my bike. Next were some minor goals. When I moved to Germany I added weight. I wasn’t fat but I sure wasn’t as lean as I was before the move. So I had a minor goal of getting back to my weight between 142 and 144. I focused on hitting the training plan and tried as hard as possible to stick to real food. I’ve been at 144 for 3 weeks now and will probably hit race morning at 143. That’s 10lbs lighter than I was in January or even last September when I ran the Berlin Marathon. That’s 10lbs I don’t have to carry up the hills and 10lbs I don’t have to manage while running. The only real drawback is my clothes don’t fit. I have had to pull the belt two holes tighter. I can’t wear any of my shorts, jeans or pants without a belt any longer. They simply fall off. Next up I wanted to learn to manage my effort while running. My typical running over the years has been at my pace. Whatever that happened to be. During this training season I wanted to learn to be comfortable running easy, and manage the times I run hard. I don’t think I’ve mastered this yet but I have no problems doing a long run under 140 bpm Heart Rate where in the past I could barely manage to keep it under 150. By the way, I’m running close to the same pace as before now at 140. Finally I managed travel better this year. That was not really by goal but by budget cuts and it’s less than last year. So far this year I’ve been across the water twice with the longest trip being 7 days. Last year by May I had been across the water 3 times with the longest trip being over 2 weeks with travel to Panama, Mexico and Boston in that one trip. So I think the lack of long haul trips is only going to help me.
The rest is up to my head. Can I stay focused for 4+ hours? Can I manage the pain? All of this is in my control. Right now I’m fully confident.

It’s a good life….

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Quote for the Day

"I come to embrace it, to heartily concur, to affirm that one's title -- even a title like president -- says very little about how well one's life has been led," he said. "That no matter how much you've done, or how successful you've been, there's always more to do, more to learn, more to achieve."

President Barak Obama

Monday, May 11, 2009

3 months

My Hot wife!
My totally Cool Son

A glimpse of his future!
3 months is a long time. The German process of giving 3 months notice at your job and 3 months notice on your rental is crazy. I know the process is put in place to protect everyone but I don't fully understand it. Maybe on month three I'll begin to appreciate it but just not yet.
One thing I'm fully understanding in this process is I'd fail without Mary. She is so organized and in charge it's great. In the span of about 3 days she had virtually everything we don't want sold. The only things that haven't sold are our beds and I'm kind of with the buyers, I'm not sure I would buy anothers bed.
The other part of the 3 months is just how cool it's going to be. Here's a glimpse of our plans:
May 24. Ironman 70.3 Austria
May 31 - Off weekend
June 6 - Mary and friends to Istanbul - Marco and I to Rock im Park (3 days of rock n roll)
June 13 - Challenge Germany (70.3)
June 20 - Marco and I travel to see Berlin
June 24 - Our stuff is packed and shipped to California
And there is more.
It's a good life.....

Saturday, May 9, 2009

2 Week Countdown

Kenny "Rock Star" Souza in the 90's
Faris Al Sultan - Today

2 Weeks before the first race of 2009 for me. A new age group, another country and a bit of stress.

New Age Group - That's right I move to the 45-49 agegroup this year. I'm officially part of the Average for the sport I love. I've been average since I started doing these things. You see the sport is still so young that all of us are aging with it. It's really kind of weird. I look at the results of the recent Wildflower triathlon. Of the top 10 men in the 45 - 49 agegroup, I know 8 of them. So not only are we all aging with the sport but the guys who won 15 years ago are still winning. I'm not sure what that means for me. We'll see in a couple weeks I guess.

Another Country - So far, I've done triathlons in the USA, Canada, Mexico, England and Switzerland. This year I add Austria and Germany to the list. It's not a goal to race in more and more countries it's just fun to see. The great thing about the sport is that other than England (riding on the other side of the road) triathlon is triathlon. The biggest differences between North America and Europe I think are less women racing in Europe and way too many "Speedo" bottoms on the men over here. I know Faris Al Sultan still races old school but come on guys. You are not Kenny Souza and quite frankly there are better ways to race these days. I also expect to see a huge number of runners in compression socks in Austria. Another Euro trend. I'll try to get the ultimate picture of a guy in a "Speedo" wearing compression socks. I'm sure you have that great image in your head already.
A bit of stress - Nothing like putting a couple races in the middle of another major family move. Changing Jobs (assuming I find one) and moving to the other side of the world makes for a bit of stress.
A big thank you.

You don't do this crazy sport alone. I must put a big Thank You out there to Mary and Marco. They put up with my early morning workouts, my 3 hour weekend workouts and probably a bit of crankiness here and there.
It's a good life....

Friday, May 8, 2009

It's a horse

"If you hear footsteps behind you it's probably a horse and not a zebra" - Proverb

If you are having a really tough time trying to figure something out, think of this proverb. The answer is probably all around you and not that really hard to find answer. I specifically write this to the marketers and athletes (plodders) in my life. There is just too much thinking of zebras out there.

It's a good life....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Peeing in the Woods

The other evening on one of my extended bike rides home I had the strong urge to Pee. I don’t really want to get into my bodily functions but I drink a great deal of water and therefore I pee quite a bit. Something though has happened to me and it’s disturbing me.
I’ll digress for a minute. I’m a guy so peeing in public is no big deal. I’ve been doing it since I was wee little. I’m also a Plodder athlete (more on that in a later posting) and have gotten used to pee breaks on the bike or in the middle of a run. Yes, I do take pee breaks while swimming on occasion but I always get out of the pool for that. I’ll have to admit though, I’m not European. Here in Europe pee breaks are not just for runners in the woods. Regularly you’ll see guys and kids standing on the side of the road, just about any road, relieving themselves. On the Autobahn there are frequent rest stops. Driving at high speeds can be very tiring. These rest stops generally do not have bathrooms (It’s Europe, remember) they usually have parking spaces and picnic benches. The dogs and I found out a couple years ago that lack of bathroom doesn’t stop anyone. And Peeing is not the only thing they do at the rest stop. It was so bad I think the dogs felt weird taking a leek. Anyway it’s an acceptable practice to go when you have to go here in Europe. Don’t think it’s just for the guys either. Maybe not as blatant, but the girls aren’t bashful about it either.
Now back to my problem. I feel like I’ve lost my sense of decency. For instance, my coach has me inserting walking breaks into my long runs. If I have to pee I do it during one of my walking breaks. I turn around continue my progress only backwards and pee. On the bike I’ll stop just about anywhere along the road. I generally don’t wait for a trail head any longer. I just stop and go. The other day in our local forest was the breaking point. I had to go so I stopped on my Mountain Bike. Instead of turning towards the side of the trail like I normally do I turned towards the middle of the trail. In mid stream I heard the click, click, click of a Nordic walker. I paid no attention and continued. When I stopped I pulled my shorts up (no, I’m not a little kid, they were not at my knees) and got back on my bike. Only then did I look up. The Nordic walker was a solo woman. I had just peed on the trail she was walking on. Her polls or her boots were going to go right through my pee. I was devastated. I wanted to scream. I wanted to stop and apologize for all men on this earth. I wanted to hide. Instead, I just road right past her saying nothing and acting as though nothing really happened. I’m really bummed by my actions. My inner voice has failed me. I’m not that guy. I have furthered the notion that in Europe anything goes.
I think I’m writing this because in less than 3 months I’m going to be living in Sunny San Diego again. If by chance you are driving down the coast highway one early Saturday morning and you see a guy walking backwards taking a leek, please honk and remind me where I am.
It’s a good life….

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pictures from the Weekend

We were out and about this weekend. Wurzburg, Germany and more. The following are just a few of the pictures.
This is the top of the Mountain. A brutal 1.5 K climb of 14%. This was the
the turn around point.

I took this on the way down. A church on the hill.

A view of the Valley. Franconian Switzerland.

Welcome to Wurzburg, Germany.

The Castle on the hill, Wurzburg.

It's a Barge named Calypso. Jacque wouldn't mind.

The Wurzburg adventure crew.

There's a girl close by. Let me show her my colors.
It's a good life....

Friday, May 1, 2009

One Try

I was listening to my IPod while walking Scout the other day. It’s a shuffle and when I load it I do so randomly. The current mix of songs is a powerful set. One song caught my attention more than the others and the chorus starts with you’ve only got one Try. So I thank Switchfoot for my thoughts today.
You’ve only got one try
-to make that first impression
-to say I love you to her for the first time
- To raise a child (or children)
- To live
- To Change the World
It is this last one that means a great to Mary and I. Change the World. What a concept. Change the World has so many meanings. For Mary that started close to 20 years ago when the City of Los Angeles was in incredible turmoil. The riots of LA were going on, Mary was at home in Arizona embarking on a Masters Degree. She quit the masters program moved back to San Diego and went to school to become a teacher. Her dream was to Change the World back then. She’s been doing it ever since.
My dream started right around the time I crossed the Ironman Hawaii finish line for the first time. I realized then that I wanted to be involved in sport for the rest of my life. Not long after that first finish I started selling running shoes. I learned that I could help people live their life through running just by putting the right shoes on their feet. From those first few months of selling shoes to today my goal has always been to change lives through running and triathlon. The ability to cross the Finish Line you never thought you’d cross can alter your life forever. It’s an amazing feeling that I want others in this world to have.
Well, we haven’t been doing a really good job of either recently. For Mary it’s because we live so far away from her hub. For me it’s for lack of trying more than anything. Both of these are about to change. Thanks in part to the school district leave of absence policy; we’ve decided to pack our bags and move back home. We know for sure that all three of us will be in San Diego in August. How that all works out is still in the planning.
Mary will be working in the San Diego School District and will be closer to the foundation she started a few years back. That Foundation, First in My Family, currently has 4 students in University with partial funding and has influenced so many more to take the extra leap beyond high school. Without Mary and First in My Family there is no telling where these kids would be today. One thing we know for sure is they will come back to be a change agent in their community all because someone gave them a chance. If you know Mary like I know her, she’s just starting. She wants to help develop 1000’s of change agents. The inner city of San Diego could use them.
As for me, I’m not 100% sure what I’ll be doing for a living. I’m confident though that I will be involved in the sports I love. If you need a running, swimming or riding partner to motivate your rear end I’m always up for a good flogging.

In the coming months I'll post many of my thoughts about living in Germany and working for the great brand that is the 3 Stripes.

It’s a good life…..