Studio S in Cincinnati
Today we have our friend and guest blogger Chris helping us out. Chris is a friend, triathlete, and Physics guru extraordinaire. Susie, who is Chris’ wife, owns and runs Studio S, our favorite spinning and workout place in Cincinnati.
Hola! Guest blogger Chris here today, helping some friends hack-out an answer to today’s super-loaded question. My friends at the Fitness Electronics Blog are too modest to talk up the fact that they are incubating their first baby, studying for the bar exam, interviewing for jobs, house hunting (in Chris’ neighborhood, hopefully), leading patient support groups, teaching Pilates, running engineering departments, hosting out of town in-laws, planning graduation parties, celebrating bike month… and did somebody say training?
So, my question for them is, “If you are so busy, what is happening with the Fitness Electronics Blog, and how do you keep up your blog posts?”
Translation—“Is there any way I can help with a bit of unsolicited content for your blog while your lives are temporarily ass-deep in metaphorical alligators?” It’s one simple question with four hidden caverns to explore, including the telling of the tale of one recon-mission/camping trip to the legendary American Triple T race course.
Of course, the answer is: “We get by with a little help from our friends!”
So here goes!
Part I Sub-Question “What will you do with your fitness electronics?”
In the context of my camping trip last week, this question verges on being an ethical/philosophical question. Are men even allowed to have electronics on camping trips? Aren’t pine cones, tent poles, and spiders all made of electrons, and therefore mother nature’s original electronics? Whatever happened to cut-off jeans and good ol’ fashioned low-tech spunk in the triathlon world?
My training buddy Franklin and I each had our own answers to this question last week on our man-venture-training-camp-course-recon mission. My approach was, as usual, to accidentally forget everything of import. That included my 4-man tent, bike helmet, heart rate monitor, and fire starter. Not to worry, because there are perks to training with Franklin. His approach to most fitness electronics questions is to watch Moore’s Law at work in the global technology markets, wait until the last moment of accelerated semi-conductor progress, then snatch up the best tech deals on Ebay right before he needs them. This guy is always prepared. His middle name is “I’ve got your back”, and guess what—he’s a physician assistant in his spare time.
Our mission was course reconnaissance for the American Triple T at the end of May. If you’ve never heard of Triple T, this race is truly an epic weekend that you need to put on your bucket list.
You compete solo or in teams of two in four triathlons over three days, taking your combined times, over 140+ miles. Friday night is a super-sprint, Saturday morning an Olympic distance, Saturday afternoon an inverted Olympic distance (bike, swim, run), and then Sunday is a half IM. The scenery is breathtaking, the course insanely tough, the dress code humiliating, and the camaraderie overflowing.
Everyone takes an ice bath in the river after the last race
Our goal was to ride all four courses. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we were beyond the reach of cell phone coverage, so GPS was useless. We were completely off the grid! As camping always is, it was a refreshing break from the technocratic gadgetry of the gizmo world. Luckily, Franklin packed back-up maps in hi-tech waterproof sandwich bags. So very MacGeyver of him!
Franklin plotting the course
Shawnee State Forest is 1.5 hours east of Cincinnati
Part II Sub-Question “What will you do with your fitness?”
In the same way that older generations tend to believe that youth is wasted on the young, I do my best to insure that my fitness is not wasted merely for fitness’ sake. Every once in a while, it makes a lot of sense to do things that make no sense. For some, that means taking their friends up on stupid dares. For others, it means chasing down a storm rather than your competition.
The first 40k ride was absolutely gorgeous. It consisted of several steep climbs on the remote service trails of Shawnee State Park in the “Little Smokies”. We waffled back and forth, discussing whether it would be smarter to race the course on road bikes or tri bikes. It really is a toss up. Best case scenario would likely be a tri-bike with a compact crank-set. I raced just the half IM portion last year on my new Pinarello tri bike’s maiden voyage and it did pretty well without the compact, but I was hurtin’ for certain coming into T2. We also had to decide whether we’d drink water and stay hydrated, or if we’d squirt the water in self-defense against the many stray dogs. Again, it’s a toss up. Last year, I was unpleasantly surprised by the fact that there was only one water station on the bike leg. It cost me dearly when I was seriously dehydrated and puking, somehow mustering a top ten finish.
After the ride, it didn’t take an iPhone to see the clouds morph into cumulus-treacherous. By the time we started the second 40k, we knew the apocalypse had targeted us in its crosshairs. Headwinds were fierce. Rain was torrential. Temperatures were plummeting. Hills were everywhere. I kept pretending I was Lieutenant Dan in the hurricane scene of Forrest Gump, going mano-e-mano against mother nature herself. At the turn-around point of the out-and-back course, conditions were at their worst and we had to hunker down for cover at the only sign of civilization.
The ride back to base-camp was a real strain on the will-power. The rain let up somewhat, but the wind didn’t and we were soaked to the bone. There would be no third scouting ride of the day. I lost sensation in my feet and I think I was getting hypothermia. Franklin started seeing mirages of Coronas with lime and a blazing campfire. We adjusted our goal to “live-and-fight-another-day”.
Random Gigantic Beer Bottle near Shawnee State Park
Meanwhile, in a juicy guest blogger sub-plot, I was having moral dilemmas about whether I’d stick to my vegan diet or if I’d crumble at the first sight of campfire cuisine. What will happen with our hero?
Part III Sub Question Sub Plot “What will you do?”
Long story short—I didn’t just fall off the wagon, I did a hallelujah naked Triple Lindy back flip off the wagon for what were quite possibly the greatest s’mores in campfire history. I figured the following:
- life’s too short no matter what label you try to attach to yourself
- The success of my potato-veggie bakes on the fire earned me a spot next to John Rambo and Steve Erwin in the camping hall of fame
- Franklin was cool enough to try the vegan thing for the weekend, (even drinking my homemade date-o-rade and banana-mamma-jamma smoothies)
- There’s no such thing as a pleasure that’s guilty
Advanced Hydration Technology
Potato Veggie Bakes
Part IV Sub Question “What will?”
So, I crumbled under pressure– big woop! In the end, we both extended ourselves pretty far outside our comfort zones this weekend and grew as athletes and friends. It took a lot of will-power and self-monitoring, which, psychologists have been saying for the last couple of decades, is a finite resource. You simply deplete it when you have to make a lot of self-control and self-monitoring decisions. For instance, those moments where I had to tell myself, “Chris, you forgot your helmet, so you are not allowed to kamikaze your way down this descent,” that was the beginning of the end of my s’mores resistance.
That night, it continued to storm, but I slept as well as I’ve ever slept in my life, guilt-free, of course. I think the rain also kept the birds from squawking like they normally do. When we woke up, we both felt good and had recharged our stock-piles of will-power. So, before heading home to our lovely wives, we decided to squeeze in a quick 6.55 mile trail run on the out and back half-marathon course.
In typical Chris fashion, I took off down the fire trail under-prepared, in my Vibram Five Fingers. The stony trail hurt so bad that I could barely walk, let alone run. I was going to try to suck it up so as not slow down Franklin. But once again, he was Johnny on the spot and brought an extra pair of shoes. He let me borrow his Newton’s, which fit perfectly and I had been meaning to try out, anyway. Do I have an amazing teammate or what!