Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ironman- Catch it on TV All Day, January 1st

Tune in on January 1, as Universal Sports dedicates the entire day to the Ford Ironman World Championship from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, including the 2009 event aired recently on NBC.

Below is the Universal Sports schedule for January 1st, 2010, in Eastern Standard Time.

Ford Ironman World Championship from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM - 2001
11:30 AM - 1:00 PM - 2002
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM - 2004
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM - 2005
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM - 2006
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM - 2007
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM - 2008
9:00 PM - 9:03 PM - Countdown to Vancouver News Update
9:03 PM - 10:30 PM - 2009
10:30 PM - 12:00 AM - 2001
12:00 AM - 12:03 AM - Countdown to Vancouver News Update
12:03 AM - 1:30 AM - 2009
1:30 AM - 3:00 AM - 2008
3:00 AM - 4:00 AM - 2005

Photos From My Arizona Trip

I never really posted the links from my Arizona Trip. I did get some great photos in the Grand Canyon and Sedona.

Check the pictures out Grand Canyon and Sedona

Looking back on 2009

I thought I'd post a random list of things I'll remember from 2009:

1. Visiting the Grand Canyon and Sedona with my family
2. Changing my son's daycare and the positive effect that change has had on him
3. Ironman Arizona
4. Winning Brian's Beachside Boogie
5. Dave from Elite Bicycles turning my cracked frame into a new bike
6. Coach Eric's December Strength Challenge
7. Winning my fantasy football league
8. Watching my son mature and develop his own quirky personality
9. Firmman Half-Ironman
10. Sunday runs with Michael, Saturday rides with Force Five Sports

Happy New Year

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy 2010 and thank all of you out there who helped make 2009 a year to remember. I know that it was a challenging year for a lot of people and I'm thankful to be surrounded by a group of friends that are positive, cheerful and engaging, both in and out of sports.

I hope 2010 brings you all that you are hoping for.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Daniel Snyder- Out Al Davising Al Davis

After watching last night's horrific 'game', one thing became clear to me.

Daniel Snyder is doing with the Redskins what Al Davis did with the Raiders. I'm not the first blogger this year to compare Snyder to Davis, and I certainly won't be the last.

It's even a little ironic that the Raiders have gone 3-2 in their last five games while the Redskins are 1-4. If the Raiders aren't careful they'll 'fall' out of the top ten- for the 2010 draft. Amazingly Tom Cable has breathed some life into the team, or they are simply responding to basic football instincts- to make plays and win games. Not sure.

Going into last night's game the Skins had managed to go 4-9 while only being outscored by a mere 17 points (compared to the Raiders, whose net differential at 4-9 last week was -161).

I think that Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, and Ron Jaworski were as shocked as I was by the debacle. The Redskins had lost to the Eagles and then Saints by just 3 points each and then had throttled the Raiders. Despite the fact that Jim Zorn was clearly a dead-man walking the team had played well. So last night was an eye-opener.

This was an affront to the very concept of professional football, from Jason Campbell as helpless rag-doll to the Pop-Warner fake field goal that ended the first half in the exact opposite of a mercy-killing. The Giants scored so many ways and times I started having flashbacks to the Simms-Taylor era.

The story here isn't the players, or the lame-duck coach- OK, maybe that fake field goal was really his call, but after having someone else call all your offensive plays, maybe Jim felt he had to do something- anything- to get control over the Titanic that was sinking on its home field.

This is about Daniel Snyder, who is out Al Davising Davis.

It was Synder that brought in Zorn to call the offensive plays for the Redskins. Zorn, in fact, came in before the head coach. It was that ass-backwards decision to hire assistants that probably made every sane head coach candidate back away from the Redskins job, leaving it open for Zorn.

I admire the hell out of Jim Zorn. I remember when he played for those early (horrible) Seattle Seahwaks teams, how he and Largent and the rest fought and scrapped. Zorn is clearly a nice guy. I think he's a football smart guy. I also think he's not ready to have been a head coach, and sadly, his coaching career is probably ruined now by Snyder's treatment of the whole situation. And that's what really kills me about Snyder- in his petulant arrogance, he's taken a guy that paid his dues to the NFL and the sport by enduring- by really standing tall- for years as a symbol of hope for an expansion team- and emasculated him.

What Snyder did is classic Davis. First, you hire a guy to coach the team that hasn't even been an assistant coach. Then, when the results are as expected (not that great), you cut his legs out from under him by bringing in Sherm Lewis to call the offensive plays (except inside two minutes and some other conditions). In other words, you make it so the coach you initially hired to call plays on offense is powerless to run the offense. You're hoping the guy you gave the fat, long-term contract to will quit so you don't have to pay him the balance of his contract.

That's the sort dick move a manager at the fast-food restaurant pulls on a hated employee, switching them from days to opening and closing hoping they'll quit and not draw unemployment.

It's hard to know exactly how much of this is Snyder's fault and how much of it falls at the feet of Vinny Cerrato, who appeared to want a weak-willed coach during his tenure.

Then again, Snyder appeared to want a weak-willed GM, so maybe the end run around all this is to hire Mike Shanahan.

Problem is, Shanahan's already worked for Al Davis once, and we all know how that worked out. He might hesitate to do it a second time...

The real shame in all this is how Jim Zorn has been treated. Zorn clearly doesn't deserve this.

And neither do we. Last night's game was so bad- and I like the Giants- that it really was a historic low moment on MNF.

Any chance we can fire the owner ???

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christopher Martins 5k

The last race of the season.

So many races this year. Well, not really that many- things have changed for me and I don't race like I used to. Nowhere near as many, but then again, it would take almost 50 5Ks to equal the output of a single day's distance in the Ironman. Still, my first race was January 1st and here I was, trying to get up for one more race in mid-December.

The course was new. And as I would find out during the race, I didn't understand in the least the map that explained the course. I looked at it three times and it didn't help.

Worst though, was the bitter cold.

I stripped down to my bike jersey and shorts, arm warmers. The only concessions to the cold were the goretex gloves and the winter hat with the little tassel.

It was cold enough that when I started running faster, I started getting colder.

I warmed up with Charlie Hornak and we noticed the top woman was looking ready to race- Erin from Trumbull. We were wondering if we had what it would take to outrun her- she looked a lot more ready than either of us.

The starting line was packed. It's funny how when you're right on the start line at a mass start of the Ironman swim you think there's too many people, it's not fair.

And yet, I'll line up, on the line, or as it was this day, in the second row, and think nothing of it. There's no fear. I belong on the line and that's not arrogant. It's a numbers thing. There's probably 40 people on the line, and if I'm in the second row, that's means there are people in front of me that maybe shouldn't be.

We started out and I could tell we were going to start out easy right away. The top guys like Oscar and Bart from Athlete's Foot (second and third overall) were off the front, but there was a nice pack of people in sight. The race starts with a long run up some street, a long, flat run, always either into or out of the wind.

About a third of a mile in, I was thinking that lead woman was nowhere near me. She wasn't in front of me. I looked over my left shoulder. Not there. I relaxed fractionally. If it's a little misogynistic, forgive me. Intellectually, I appreciate, understand, and quite frankly am impressed as all hell by the fact that there are so many women who can leave me in the dust. At the same time, I have no desire to go out and be beaten- in a running race- by women. I'm old. It's a shortcoming.

I looked over my right shoulder.

She was about six inches from me, half a step back.

The race started to thin out after that.

Somewhere past half a mile, I was in a group of four people. One guy was leading the pack and I wanted to move into the second slot and establish my position well before the first turn. I'm pretty scrupulous about moving in and I'm sure I had room. I'm giving the guy behind me the benefit of the doubt that he must have thought I didn't.

He put his hand on the middle of my back. All five fingers. I could feel each one on my back.

He pushed.

I was so shocked that for about 3 seconds I had no reaction.

Then I said about what you'd expect if you know me. Then I went back to running.

We took the turn, still in a group. The next turn is almost immediate and sends you back down the way you came, maybe one block over. We hit the mile mark- which was long- and were at like 5:50. The youngest guy in our group immediately broke ranks, disappointed I guess in the 'slow' mile.

Then it was a lot of back and forth. All four of us tried to assert ourselves, none successfully.

After that, the turns started. I was lost pretty quickly, and confused. The map's course was in my head, but we were making turns that didn't track with what I thought I knew. Then at about 1.75 miles we hit a tight turn and there was a lot of ice around the turn, so I had to hop the ice, extending my right leg out long and bound up high. I hit the ground hard and I swear it took something out of me energy wise. That exertion was just enough...

We keep jockeying.

At one-point the back-pusher managed to elbow me as well, not hard, but I mean, it was two miles into the race. There was a grand total of one person next to me.

Oh well.

And then, we were running back towards the starting line, in the opposite direction, going to cross the line.

I saw a photographer on the side of the road and the back-pusher (again, I'm sure he felt like he had to push me in the back for his own safety- or something) was in front of me. I surged to get in front of him for the pictures. I might not beat him to the line, but I would beat him to the pictures, if I could.

And then it was the final run to the finish.

I had two guys in front of me, including the guy who pushed me and I knew- knew- he was in my age group.

I tried. I gave it everything. But two days of easy workouts and an Ironman three weeks earlier were just too much.

I got beat by four seconds, I finished 4th in my age group.

I'd run 17:54 and finished 18th overall. It was my first time in the top 20 since 2005. I should not have been unhappy with that.

I was 4th in my age group by 4 seconds and I let a guy who pushed me beat me.

Of course I was unhappy.

Then I downed a very good beer, ran a warm down with Charlie Hornak and Dick Korby. And had a second beer.

And then, I wasn't so unhappy anymore...

See y'all next year at the races.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Jon Gruden

Monday Night Football has certainly improved- in the booth at least- this year. Of course, it wouldn't be hard to surpass Tony Kornheiser.

I assumed Kornheiser had been shown the exit as a result of his lackluster performance. This is because as much as I love the game of football, I apparently lack the interest to read a few articles about the staff in the booth on MNF. I had no idea that Joe Theismann had been forced out of the booth (certainly he was far better) or that he and Kornheiser were Washington area-rivals.

What I do know is that I was sitting watching Monday Night Football and I was actually thinking about how Gruden was doing a good job when he trucked out one of the most irritating phrases/concepts in the game.

"He may be the best in game..."

If you took every guy that any commentator nominated as 'best in the game' or 'best at his position' or as being a guy that 'nobody does it better than', and put them all on one team, the rest of the NFL teams would be scouring community colleges to find enough talent to field teams. Can't you just say the guy is 'good' at something ?

But just when I was ready to toss Gruden on the MNF trash heap along with Kornheiser and Dennis Miller (funny, yes, ready for MNF, not really), he continued.

He was talking about Charles Woodson and they went straight to a video of the 'Tuck Rule' game's tuck rule moment.

A few notes here:

One, Charles Woodson has forced 4 fumbles this year. It's the second time in his career he's done that. He's also intercepted 7 passes, one off the league lead of 8.

Two, anyone who knows me probably is aware that I still wake up in the middle of night bathed in cold sweat screaming at an imaginary TV that "it's a #$%^ing fumble."

Three, Gruden had not spoken once about the Tuck Rule all season to his booth mates, but he had the class to go right to the clip and deal with it- one of the most contentious moments in his coaching career. But also one that illustrates his point.

Because the 'tuck' was a fumble, and it was Woodson who forced it, as he's forced many fumbles over the years.

Gruden is a keeper, MNF.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The one that got away- Cow Chip

Six days after Ironman Arizona I found myself standing on the starting line of the Cow Chip Cross Country race in Trumbull.

Having won the race last year, I felt that I should go back and try to defend my win.

I was not 100%. I'd limped around Arizona for two days before I felt ready to even put 20 minutes of running in on Wednesday. I'd spun an hour on Friday and I was psyched for this, but I was also not really fully healed or ready.

When I went to sign up they told me they were expecting me to be there, but they'd put aside #1 for me, so I handed over my check (which Marty later ripped up) and pinned the number to my shirt- I'd forgotten my race belt.

My warm-up was limited to run out to the starting line and doing a few sprints. I ran into Charlie Hornak and we talked a little about the Branford Thanksgiving race. He'd had a decent race but was talking about building his speed. It seemed like we were out there early even though it was only about 10 of, then suddenly the mass of runners that had been avoiding the cold in the school cafeteria came out, followed by Marty on his bike.

Marty acknowledged a number of runners that were there- past winners and so on- and then we were off.

I didn't take the lead early. I'd spotted a couple of kids/guys I thought might be a threat. I picked my line to the goal post (the race starts on the football field, just like my old high school days), got there and I was quickly in third. The course takes a right, then a left and by the time we got to the backstop, I knew I had to pull in front and take control of the race.

Which I did.

I felt- good isn't the right word. I was running strong, but not really fast or anything. I was chasing Marty but then we went into the woods and I was leading a few people. The front pack had already thinned out and I felt good. I always feel good running through the woods. I feel like if I'm in front in the woods, you're really going to have to work to take that away from me.

We broke out of the woods. Marty's women's cross country team was supposed to marshall the course. Only two showed up. I came out at a point where you go right early in the race, and go left late in the race.

I didn't know which way to go.

Who's fault is that ?

Mine. It's my responsibility to know the course.

Bang, I was in third.

I settled in a second time. We broke out of the woods and I was third behind a guy I thought I could take late in the race and a guy I wasn't sure about. We went around the front of the school, by the barn, into a short section of woods and back around again. I could not eliminate the distance and get back in front.

We wrapped around the middle of the course and headed towards the stream/wall. the two guys in front of me went around it. I went around it. We were all within a few seconds of each other. As we went up a short hill, two of us made our move. The guy in second moved up to first and I moved up to second.

We went under a pavilion of some sort and then we were headed back towards the woods. My goal was to stay close and make a move in the last 750 yards.

This was the wrong strategy. I didn't lose any ground in the woods, but I also didn't gain any, and after we broke out the backside of the woods, I did try to pick it up.

But in the end, it was too little too late.

When the winner crossed the line, I shut it down and lost another 3-4 seconds, but my calf was hurting.

I had not done my job. I could have, in my opinion, but I didn't.

I warmed down with Charlie and an Australian guy who was also a previous race winner, then I hopped in the car right away and drove home so Margit would have some time to do some things.

This one had gotten away.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ironman Arizona-Highs and Lows

Lying in a pool of my own sweat, wide awake, seven hours before race time
Treading cold water for 10 minutes waiting for the race to start
That crippling cramp in my right calf during the swim
That second cramp
Getting out of the water and not being able to sit down to take off my wetsuit
The hypothermia that lead to a 7:20 T1
Mile 20 on the bike, when my right nostril was so plugged I thought there was a Clif Shot Rok wedged in it
Mile 40 on the bike, when an ill-advised shorts adjustment made it feel like someone had stuck my junk in a blender and hit puree
Mile 80-100 on the bike, where there was a lot of drafting
Mile 2 on the run, which was an ill-advised 7:15
Having to stop and pee on the run
Knowing I was way over 10:30

Surviving the cramps
Exiting the water
Running past people trying to mount their bikes 1 inch over the mount line.
Getting on my bike
Seeing my family at the turn around
Easy peeing on the bike
Going 38 mph for a while on the bike
Drawing a drafting penalty on a competitor after getting props from the official
Getting off the bike
Running the first two miles in 14:45
Passing the point where I cracked and walked in 2007, not once, not twice, but three times
Running the entire marathon
Sprinting to beat two guys at the finish
Steve having a great race
Talking with Kurt Eggers after the race

The Grand Canyon trip the day after