Where the hell have you been???

Posted: April 26, 2017 in MTN Biking, XTERRA

Been a few years since writing anything…  I was busy! 😉


2017 starts off with an Athlete Sponsorship by GoPro!  Thanks GoPro!


St Patty Day PUB RUN!

A bit of MTN biking…


Enjoying life!


WNY XTERRA – Score This!!!

Posted: November 21, 2013 in Triathlon

Getting caught up in so many things you forget about blogs…  

Inagural XTERRA – ASP and ASP EPIC were a great success bringing a very high number of road triathletes in the area to a course, while not tough by my off road standards, very difficult physically!  

Date for next event: September 27, 2014

Registration is open! https://reg.score-this.com/regx/step1.jsp?eventID=1295

20111219-135842.jpgJust off of an Ironman season… I’m burned out, no motivation, just not feeling the 2012 season… I’ve said in the past, “if it isn’t fun, why do it!?!?”. A time to reflect, why do I do it? What motivates me? What is fun???
I live quite a distance from the mainstream XTERRA events, have put on events to bring it close… It was fun bringing XTERRA to people who had no idea what to expect and watching them have a great time but… I want to race!
2012 I will be planning some off road and XTERRA clinics, small stuff for focused attention. I will post on each one to share the info people are learning and their progress.
Swimming, transitions, Mtn biking, trail running, how to, training, practice, tips and tricks, workouts…


Posted: December 19, 2011 in XTERRA
Tags: , , ,

Common Freestyle Flaws and How to Fix Them
Even top swimmers can benefit from technique work, so working out stroke inefficiencies is time well spent.

Steve Tarpinian
Triathlete magazine

Your weakness is your strength! Cliche? Yes, but like many cliches, this maxim contains an element of truth, since every imperfection presents an opportunity for improvement. And when it comes to swimming, ironing out wrinkles in your stroke can yield huge dividends in terms of improved efficiency and lowered splits.
What’s more, regardless of your level of proficiency in the water, there is always room for improvement, so even the most talented swimmers can improve by continually tweaking and refining their strokes.

Start by Taking a Breather

Let’s back up. Before we talk about technique, let’s start where most problems begin in the water: breathing. When you’re swimming freestyle, it’s critical to exhale when your face is in the water so you are able to take a full breath when you roll to the side.

However, because they can’t relax in the water, many swimmers hold their breath or only partially exhale, which subsequently prevents them from taking in a complete lungful of air. Invariably, these swimmers need to breathe every stroke and usually go hypoxic after a short swim, not from the effort but merely from lack of oxygen.

Prescription: Always focus on breathing while warming up and cooling down. This is the perfect time to smooth out your breathing and relax in preparation for the technique work and main set to follow.

Another useful exercise is to take five breaths on each side at the edge of the pool. If you are breathing to your left, place your right arm on the wall and rotate to the side, exhaling while your face is in the water and inhaling when you turn to breathe. This is not a physically demanding drill, but it helps to reinforce rhythm and relaxation.

Technique Troubleshooter

As noted, even top swimmers can benefit from technique work, so taking the time to work out inefficiencies in your stroke is time well spent. Here are a few of the most common sources of waterborne frustration for triathletes along with a few suggestions for improvement:

Crossover: When your hand enters the water at the beginning of each stroke, you must ensure it doesn’t cross your body’s imaginary midline running from head to toe. Crossing over puts a tremendous amount of strain on the shoulder joint and makes your body fishtail or swing from side to side, increasing drag.

Prescription: Single-arm and catch-up drills. Exaggerate the width of your entry point. At first it may feel as though you are entering far too wide, but this is simply because relative to where you were entering, it feels wide. Video analysis is usually necessary to monitor progress.

Entering too early: An early hand entry at the start of each stroke almost always causes the swimmer to drive down with his or her arm rather then extend forward. The driving-down motion causes an ineffective straight-arm pull that generates little power.

Prescription: Catch-up, finger-tip drag and single-arm drills.

Short finish: When you are sprinting, a shortened finish, which boosts stroke rate, is advantageous; however, for most distance swimmers, full or almost full extension at the end of the pull phase is much more efficient.

Prescription: Catch-up drill with thumb scrape on your leg to ensure you are completing the end of each stroke.

Dropping the elbow: Oftentimes, swimmers drop their elbows after their hands enter the water at the start of each stroke (instead, the elbow should remain high while the fingertips point down — think of reaching over a barrel on its side). This freestyle no-no robs swimmers of speed more than any other flaw. A similar flaw with the same prescription is pulling with a straight arm. In both cases, most of the resultant force vectors are directed down.

Prescription: Fist and single-arm drill. Also, visualize pulling over a barrel with each stroke.

No long-axis rotation: This is also described as flat swimming, where the swimmer doesn’t rotate from side to side. This flaw shortens the pull, reduces the length of the stroke and increases drag.

Prescription: Kick on side drill and catch-up drill.

Slapping and overextending entry: This is usually caused when a swimmer is working to lengthen his or her stroke; however, a long stroke must be generated by extending underwater and rolling onto the side. Otherwise, overextending on the entry can push a swimmer’s body down in the water and lead to a straight-arm pull.

Prescription: Catch-up, finger-tip drag and single-arm drills.

When working on the above drills, take the time to do them properly and concentrate on the skills you are developing. With practice, your stroke will respond and you can enjoy increased efficiency and faster splits in the water.

I know some of you have been on one or at least seen one. If you want to try one, in the Buffalo NY area, contact me for a full demo and “try out”.

Training might be a big priority for you, but on a daily basis, you have to make decisions around keeping your training, career and family in balance. Swimming is often the most difficult of the three triathlon disciplines to fit into a time-crunched schedule. Fortunately, there is a great training tool available that you can use when your time is too crunched to complete a full in-water swim session. Say hello to the Vasa Ergometer.

To use the Vasa Ergometer, you lie on your belly on an elevated padded platform that moves forward and backward on a rail. In each hand you hold a swim paddle that is attached to a resistance unit via a cable. As you mimic your swim stroke, the cables provide resistance and ideally the platform should stay stationary.

This training device is so useful because it allows you to complete a sport-specific strength workout in a short period of time. It can also help improve your swim technique. For example, one important part of swim technique is maintaining high elbows during the catch phase of your swim stroke, which puts your hand and forearm in an optimal position for a strong pulling phase. There are ways to work on this and other components of stroke technique in the water, but the necessities of staying at the surface and moving forward sometimes make it difficult to focus intently on one aspect of swim technique. When you’re on the Vasa you aren’t turning your head so frequently, so you can monitor the position of your arms throughout the entire catch phase of each stroke. Keep in mind, however, that because the Vasa Ergometer doesn’t require all of the integrated motions of in-water swimming, it has to be considered a supplement to your pool workouts and not a total replacement. For example, you are not working on your kick or your side-to-side breathing while on the machine.

When it comes to designing individual workouts on this machine, they can vary for each athlete. The unit has the ability to adjust the resistance or load on your arms through a flap door that alters the amount of airflow into the wind-generating fan. You can also change the angle of the rail supporting the sliding platform. It’s important to remember, though, that even on an easy setting, a Vasa workout will be much harder than a comparable in-water workout. For example, if you usually swim 45-60 minutes in the pool, you might only be able to handle 10 to 15 minutes on the Vasa, perhaps less the first time you use the machine. From the perspective of a time-crunched athlete, however, that’s not a bad thing because a high-quality 15-minute workout on the Vasa is better than skipping your swim training altogether.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the Vasa with about five to eight minutes of “swimming” to help you determine how your current fitness level translates to time and effort on the machine. Since you’re using the Vasa for more of an endurance swimming workout than a purely strength training workout, you’ll want the angle of the rail to stay almost level, or for more resistance you can raise the front of the rail. Be sure to get in a good two to five minutes of easy swimming on the machine (very light resistance) to warm up your arms before attempting any particular intervals.

We recommend that your first workout be five to 10 x 30-second freestyle intervals with 30 to 45 seconds of passive recovery between intervals. You only want to pull as hard as you can while maintaining perfect form, and there will be resistance on your arms during the recovery phase of the stroke as well. The Vasa places a lot of load on the initial catch phase of the stroke, when your arm is extended in front of you. You want to be conservative on the Vasa because the muscles controlling this portion of the stroke are often somewhat weak, meaning they are easy to overload.

As your fitness and experience with the machine progress, your goal should be to increase the duration of individual intervals while reducing your total number of intervals. In other words, you want to accumulate more total work time and make each work period longer. A typical progression could go from 10 x 30-second intervals, to 5 x 1-minute intervals, to 5 x 90-second intervals, eventually working your way up to repeatable five-minute intervals.

The key is to continue challenging yourself to swim a little longer, but without sacrificing technique in the process. At the end of any series of intervals, cool down with one to three minutes of low-resistance swimming to help facilitate circulation to and from the muscles you’ve been training.

For time-crunched athletes, the Vasa Ergometer can be a great timesaver and a beneficial addition to your swim training. Most importantly, it helps to bridge the gap between missing and completing workouts when training gets kicked off course by your busy life.


Ironman LP 2011

Posted: July 18, 2011 in Triathlon

It is 6 days before Ironman and all I can think about is the vacation? I’m not worried I didn’t train enough, I know I didn’t. I’m not thinking about things that could go wrong, I’m sure something will. I have an old bike, she does me well. Old shoes, it’s only 26.2 more miles in them. I’m not worried about anything other than the A/C in my room working and having a great time with friends. Are my priorities wrong???
To all of my friends doing IMLP this coming weekend, I hope you have the time of your lives and achieve everything you are looking to achieve. To the first timers especially… Have a BLAST!!!

Last November, I was on my way to the New York City marathon when I got word that my father had two clots on his brain and needed emergency surgery. My family urged me to go ahead and run anyway.

It was to have been my first marathon since I gave up running years ago, and my first high-profile race since writing my book “Born to Run.’’ I had trained to run it barefoot, and even announced my plans to the world in an article in The New York Times.

“It’s what your father would want,” my mother said, encouraging me to stay in New York. But it’s not what my father would do. So the day before the race, I turned around and headed home.

During my father’s recovery, I teetered on that ledge we all encounter when the curtain drops on our main event before it ever goes up. Without a challenge ahead or a beat-down still smarting behind, there’s no urgency to snap back into serious training. You’re off schedule and like it that way, letting one week of occasional runs drift into three, working out by feel instead of formula — until you realize you feel lousy and have barely worked out at all.

Just about the only time I pushed myself was every other week or so, when I met a band of local trail runners who have an absurd mail-carrier ethic when it comes to snow, rain and gloom of night. No matter how dark or cold, they never cancel, bobbing along by headlamp through ice storms, face-whipping branches and far too uncommon self-doubt. It’s not the punishment they love, I eventually realized; it’s the goofy thrill of banding together in the face of slippery awfulness.

While many of them had finisher’s medals from Boston and New York and Chicago, their stories were never about marquee races or fast times. Instead they talked about Mrs. Smith’s Challenge and Megatransect and Super Hike, backyard events with no more prestige than a Sunday softball game. They never crowed about nailing qualifiers or lucking out in lotteries, but good lord could they go on about tailgating with microbrews and Old Bay burgers while cheering their friends to the finish.

Before long, these war stories made me forget my disappointment over missing New York and rekindled my first long-distance love: an event that not only gave birth to modern endurance sports, but could be their redemption. It’s called the “Fat Ass.”

These events are trail races governed by three rules: no fees, no awards, no whining. Distances are typically 50 kilometers or 50 miles, but vary according to a race director’s whims or ability to borrow his buddy’s GPS device. There are no lotteries, no expos, no qualifying times, no triple-digit entry fees subsidizing multimillion-dollar “running clubs.” No one will urinate on you from the upper span of the Verrazano Bridge, and you won’t shiver for hours in a corral before the starting gun. Everyone charges off as equals, Braveheart-style.

On the other hand, you get what you pay for. Aid stations are as makeshift as the course measurements. Some are spartan: friends sharing a jug of water and family-size M&M’s. Others are bizarre. Two volunteers at a Maryland race had their hearts set on serving deep-fried turkey, but surrendered to the impossibility of carrying enough poultry and oil into the woods for 300 runners. They settled instead for handing out fistfuls of fresh-cooked French fries.

My debut in the series was in 2006, a 50K (about 31 miles) in a lonely Delaware forest on a freezing January morning. Since it was my first race on trails and my first of any kind after a six-year layoff, I decided to stick tight to a seasoned vet named Hunt Bartine so I wouldn’t be stranded if I couldn’t follow the trail or handle the distance. My plan was working nicely, until Mr. Bartine suddenly stopped and started cursing. Somehow, he’d wandered off a trail which he, personally, had marked the week before. It took a good 10 minutes of thrashing through brambles before we got back on course. Five hours later, I popped out of the trees and crossed the finish line. The winners were still there, ladling out steaming cups of vegetable barley soup to the runners-up.

The format spontaneously burst into existence, by some weird synchronicity, in three different places in the same year. In February 1978, a few American sailors in Hawaii decided to swim 2.4 miles off Waikiki Beach on Oahu, then bike 112 miles around the island and run all 26.2 miles of the Honolulu Marathon course to see who among them was the toughest — the true iron man. Meanwhile, a gang of Colorado slackers were busy ritualizing an act of vengeance; previously, they’d pushed and pedaled their clunky, one-speed town bikes all 38 miles from Crested Butte to Aspen to settle the score with some rich Aspeners who’d parked their motorcycles in front of a favorite Crested Butte bar. In 1978, just for the fun of it, the Butte-heads declared the Aspen ride an annual event.

And in San Francisco, a runner who couldn’t find a race decided to fake one. Joe Oakes needed a 50-mile qualifying time to apply for the Western States 100. He tried to sign up for a 50-mile relay, but solo runners weren’t permitted. So Mr. Oakes entered seven times under seven different spellings of his name. Team Oakes pulled it off, and from identity fraud a movement was born.

“There is so much greed and so much money in sports these days,” Mr. Oakes later explained to Ultrarunning magazine. To rebel against ever-escalating entry fees, he created the “Recover From the Holidays Fat Ass 50-Mile Run.”

“There is not a nickel involved in any of these events,” Mr. Oakes has said. “You just show up and run. It’s very simple.”

Soon, these races were popping up in Philadelphia, Toronto and England, gradually spreading as far as Siberia and South Africa. The rules have never changed and the name has stuck, albeit translated into regional languages.

Since those freewheeling founding days, big money has invaded mountain biking, marathoning and the Ironman. Gone is the era when a buck could get you into the New York City marathon. Last year, even the Leadville 100 — one of the original, old-school, mining-town, backcountry ultra series — was taken over by corporate ownership and franchised.

But off in the woods, Fat Asses are flourishing.

“Let’s stop paying high prices for commercial cookie-cutter road races and let’s start exploring!” the founders of the New York Trail and Ultrarunning Club declared in December. Within 80 days, that grumble of a mission statement has attracted more than 200 members. The appeal isn’t strictly about cash; it’s about connection. These races are hometown and homemade. It’s not Hollywood; it’s your high school play.

That’s the choice I was faced with when, a few months ago, I was offered complimentary entry into the Boston Marathon, one of most storied, exclusive races in the world. I thought about it — but not for long. Instead of 26.2 miles, I’ll be paying back my missed New York marathon with 20 percent interest by lining up for the 31-mile HAT Run along the Susquehanna River near my home in Pennsylvania. I won’t be barefoot, since it’s a rocky trail, but I’ll be able to wear the same homemade huaraches that my friend “Barefoot Ted” McDonald gave me when I paced him at Leadville.

In a way, I never did resume training; I’ve just been spending more and more time playing in the woods. The prospect of another gigantic “cookie-cutter” left me cold, but a six-hour Braveheart re-enactment was a different story. The HAT Run costs $65 to enter, but every cent comes back to the runners in gift bags, park permits and food. (The current race directors are the same two guys who once tried to fry turkeys,  and they still serve smoking-hot “UltraFries” midrace.)

“We’re filling up faster than we want,” said Tim Gavin, an organizer of the run. “Long-timers aren’t used to this kind of rush for spots.”

Fortunately, Mr. Gavin’s spill-off has created its own throwback movement. Every March, the Buzzards running club holds a free-for-all marathon near Harrisburg, Pa. The Buzzards synchronize the race date each year with the HAT crew so that anyone who doesn’t get into HAT, or doesn’t want to pay, has a free alternative.

And down in Mexico, the semi-mythic loner called Caballo Blanco continues to resist offers of corporate sponsorship for his Copper Canyon Ultramarathon with the Tarahumara Indians, the event I chronicled in my book. Caballo messaged me last week, after more than 300 Tarahumara and international runners turned up for his most recent race. “Together, we all created peace in a small town at the bottom of nowhere,’’ he wrote. “Nowhere but beauty. What more is there?”