Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Little Olympic Spirit

If you’ve followed the blog for any amount of time, you know I live in Salt Lake City. The city is nestled in a valley, surrounded by the stunning Rocky and Oquirrh mountains. Not being a big city, it may surprise you that it has a pollution problem, especially this time of year. In a nutshell, smog gets trapped in between the mountains, with the cold winter air above holding it in a Ric Flair-style headlock... little hope of escape. If you come out to ski, have no fear, as you’ll be at a higher elevation than the pollution. You can literally look down from the slopes and see it hovering there. It clears out with each winter storm that comes through, but in between it accumulates as a disgusting haze. I was stoked to get a long run in late last week, but the morning news kept harping on how bad the air quality was going to be, advising people to drive less and stay inside. I was still leaning towards going for it when they brought out the big guns, showcasing a guy who rides his bike every day to work (these guys have always struck me as having a screw loose… come on, riding in snow and sub-freezing temperatures?). Anyways, he wears a “particulate mask” during times of bad air quality, and was going on about how a few years ago each mask would last him a couple weeks, but now only three days. With this little tidbit I finally relented, accepting the thought of spinning my wheels on the dreadmill later that evening. However, every so often I actually have a decent idea, and fortunately one came to the rescue during my time of need.

As you may recall, SLC and the surrounding area hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics. With that came major investments, one such being a speed & short track skating venue (think Apolo Anton Ohno) not far from my home. Nowadays it’s still a major Olympic training facility and hosts a lot of hockey events. In addition, following the Olympics a track was built around the ice. I’d been there once before, but had never run on the track and was excited to check it out. Walking in is an impressive sight… the ice itself is pretty cool, and flags from all the countries who competed in the games hang from the rafters. There are also banners with US Olympians, medals won, and other cool stuff. I’ve always enjoyed track workouts, but this was more inspirational than most. It’s also the only track I’ve ever run on in which I was warned “runners must yield to Zamboni machine.” Roger that. With a lap being 440 meters it was a challenge to know my pace, and I found myself crunching numbers in my head on several occasions. Sometimes it’s more fun to just run by feel anyways. It was also nice to shed my long johns, hat, and gloves for shorts. I’ve always been a fan of the Olympics, and I think having Sochi around the corner made it even more cool. It’s funny how the Olympics span everything from total celebrity rock stars (eg Shaun White) to complete unknowns. Regardless, they're all on the biggest stage for a 2-week span every four years.

So I ask you… who’s your darkhorse for the women’s luge?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Interview with Steve in a Speedo!

Simply put, Steve Stenzel (AKA Steve in a Speedois the Michael Jordan of triathlon blogs. He's probably signed fewer autographs than MJ over the years, and his net worth is reportedly lower, but he's definitely a celebrity in the triathlon world. He was cool enough to give us some insight into the mysterious man behind the tight swimwear.

I’m not sure which is funnier, the name of your blog or your domain name ( is there some history there or just something you randomly came up with?

I'm not sure where I came up with my domain. I mean, Olivia Newton-John came up with my domain, but I'm not sure why I picked it. It was probably on a whim. My blog title came from my earliest days of triathlon training. When I first decided to do a triathlon, the thought of me purchasing and then wearing a Speedo jammer grossed me out. Who wants to see that?!? So I called my blog "Steve in a Speedo?!? Gross!" That's how I felt about the situation.

What do you do for your “day job,” and what was your initial motivation to start the blog?

I'm a college professor. Yes, really. A guy named "Steve in a Speedo" has been teaching college classes for 9 years. I started my blog when I started training for my first triathlon. I signed up for the Life Time Fitness Olympic Distance Triathlon in 2006, and I started blogging about a month before that race. It was initially a way to keep my family and friends up-to-date with what I was doing, as triathlons were a pretty foreign idea to most people I knew at that time.

What were your aspirations for the blog, and at what point did you realize, “wow, this is really turning into something!”? Did that surprise you?

I really had no big goals for my blog. It was just to share my training and racing with friends. I was first "noticed" as Steve in a Speedo the next year at a race, and it was probably my 2nd or 3rd year of blogging when I started becoming a little more well-known in the area. It was never expected, but I TOTALLY love to hear "Go Steve in a Speedo!" at the races!

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of Steve in a Speedo?

Blogging has introduced me to so many new people so easily. It's been fantastic how many new friends I've made by just being "that guy from the internet." The majority of my local "race buddies" were people that first came across my blog before we met. It's been a great way to meet new and awesome people who share the same hobbies (and who also spend the majority of their income on the same stuff that I do).

Do you ever get sick of blogging or is it still something you enjoy after several years?

I still really enjoy it. There are times when life gets busier and it STARTS to feel like work, but 97% of the time, it's just totally for fun.

Are there any “secrets” to generating the traffic you have, or is it primarily your consistency with great content over the years?

I think there are 3 secrets: be constant, stick to a topic, and don't be a phony. The first part (constancy) is easy: make regular updates. I rarely go more than 48 hours without a post. Next, try to keep it based on one theme. My blog has always been endurance-related stuff with humor mixed in. I post stuff going on in my life, but I TRY not to drone on about that (but Lord knows I still do sometimes). I didn't know how much I'd be writing about parenting when my wife was pregnant 3 years ago, but my son found his way into my training. Finally, be yourself. I'm hairy, gross, blistery, and gassy at times. I take selfies in porta-potties. Some people don't like that, and I know I've lost readers here and there. But other people like hearing how I deal with these problems, and they're entertained by it. I'd rather have a solid group of dedicated readers than a large group of people that kinda stop by every once and a while.

It’s well-known that a lot of people start a blog, only to let it go shortly thereafter. Do you think blogging in general has peaked (in terms of number of blogs, etc) and will decline, or continue to grow into the future?

I think blogging (on platforms like Blogger and Wordpress) probably peaked a few years ago. Now "quicker" blogs like Tumblr are more popular, and many even consider twitter a form of "micro-blogging." People will always be starting more blogs, but I think the trend is moving away from traditional blogs.

I lived in Wisconsin from 2005-2010, and first stumbled on your blog from reading about Ironman Wisconsin. Do you have aspirations to do more Ironmans in the future or have you scratched that itch?

I haven't started getting another Ironman rash that needs to be scratched yet, but I'm expecting that to flare up again some day. We'll see…

What personal race result or accomplishment are you most proud of? What are your top 3 favorite races?

My 59:05 at the 2010 TC 10 Mile is one of my prouder finishes - I really trained up for that race with the help of Coach Jen Harrison (who coached me for 8 weeks leading up to that race). I'm also happy with my 2:15 Olympic Distance PR from earlier in 2010. Hmm… all my fast racing came the summer before we started a family. Go figure. I was also happy to race very constantly in 2012 which allowed me to win the year-long "Minnesota Distance Running Association's Grand Prix" series of races. The Grand Prix is a series of 14 races from 1-mile to marathon, and the idea is to find the "best all-around distance runner" in the state. I love the TC 10 Mile and the Life Time Fitness Triathlon as great "bigger" races. And I like the Trinona Triathlon and many of the Final Stretch races as smaller, more low-key races.

What led to your trip to Israel and how was the experience of racing there this past week? 

Israel was fantastic. I absolutely fell in love with the people there. I was sent by Kinetis, a non-profit who is trying to get people to experience Israel and see that it's maybe more than what we think it is. My week there and being a part of the Israman Triathlon did just that. It's an amazing, beautiful, entrepreneurial, and enterprising country that is rich with history. The Israman half iron and full iron triathlon was a world class event on one of the toughest courses you'll ever see. It was an amazing experience. 

making short work of the Red Sea

Thanks for the time, Steve!

Blog (in case you missed the link above)
Tumblr (at first glance this is hilarious as well)

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Over the holidays I mentioned to a few family members how I hated being “addicted to my phone,” and asked if they were the same way… repeatedly grabbing and looking at their phone out of habit more than necessity. I was mildly surprised (and strangely a little comforted) when everyone concurred. As this Onion article pokes fun of, it seems to be a widespread epidemic.
Technology is amazing and great to have. I’ve often said I’m glad there were smarter people than me ahead of my time… for example, I might have figured out the concept of hitching a ride by hopping on a horse, but I definitely wouldn’t have come up with the car, train, steamboat, or even tricycle. Likewise with cell phones and other gadgets… if the world depended on me for communication, the Pony Express would still be alive and well!

That said, I often get sucked into the dreaded technology loop, at times even related to the blog as I do things to promote online, share posts on social media & forums, etc. As this video from off-the-wall but at times hilarious Portlandia demonstrates, it can be a real downward spiral.

On the other hand, I’m also addicted to the high of training and being out in nature. In this case, the payoff is far superior than reading an email. It’s amazing what taking a break from my phone, etc. in the form of a run, bike, or even simple walk can do to boost morale. After a particularly stressful day last week, I hit one of my favorite trails for a longer (and also very slow) run. The trail follows a river, and it was especially serene on this day. A part of the trail is more like a wooden boardwalk, crossing a marsh, and it was just what the doctor ordered. So much so, that when we ran out of things to do to occupy our kids Monday afternoon (having Martin Luther King day off work) I took them to that same spot. My son and daughter ran wild, looking for “trails” and throwing bread to the ducks. Not that we were down in the dumps before, but it was definitely a crowd pleaser. Like the latest and greatest technology, it’s amazing how that works.

Monday, January 20, 2014

New Wheels!

After test-riding some 2014 Reynolds Assaults a few months ago (which I described as "weapons for the weekend warrior"), I knew I needed to buy a Reynolds wheelset of my own. I decided to go with the Assaults older brother, AKA the Reynolds Strike, and they arrived a couple days ago. These wheels are very similar to the Assaults in build, only a bit deeper at 62mm as opposed to 41mm. They're light and strong, weighing in at a mere 1635g... can't wait to test'em out! 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Crowie vs. Macca

Along with the Road ID that I recently wrote about, for Christmas my sister got me Craig Alexander’s book, “As the Crow Flies,” solidifying her place as my favorite sibling. Alexander’s nickname is “Crowie,” coined by some fellow pros early in his career due to a striking resemblance to an Australian soap opera star with a similar name. It’s an entertaining, coffee table style book with great photography, capturing his journey to the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 World Championships.
I’ve now read both Crowie’s and Chris “Macca” McCormack’s books... when Macca’s “I’m Here to Win” came out a couple years ago, I did something I rarely do and picked it up on the spot. Macca’s book was more self-aggrandizing, as is Macca’s style. It was also more of a traditional novel, with more filler pages, but also more advice to glean. One section that I found extremely valuable is his advice on dealing with pain… in fact, I often use his quote “I shake hands with the pain” as a race day mantra of sorts. Crowie’s book is less for reading and more for the photography, getting a peek into his professional and family life. All in all, both were entertaining and I enjoyed them both for different reasons.
The differing styles of their books seems natural given their contrasting styles as athletes. Macca’s the guy you either love, or love to hate. He’s irritating, boastful, and not afraid to say what he thinks, but also extremely charismatic and a huge ambassador for the sport. His most documented rivalry was actually with Germans Normann Stadler and Faris Al-Sultan in the mid-2000's, on whom he launched a full on psychological assault. In my opinion, a polarizing character such as Macca has been incredible for triathlon. Individuals and teams that are polarizing in all sports drive attention, interest, and ratings. The New York Yankees, Manchester United, Notre Dame, New England Patriots, and Miami Heat are current examples that come to mind off the top of my head. They are a magnet for ratings, as an equal number of people tune in to cheer for and against.
Crowie is more polished, generally more “likeable,” and far less outspoken. Deep down he’s just as intense as Macca, if not more so, but it’s not his style to speak his mind as much.

The two haven't necessarily gone head to head at every race, but there’s definitely been a rivalry there and they’re often grouped together. Both are Australian, so that’s part of it, in addition to battling at Kona several times in recent years:

2007: Macca 1st, Crowie 2nd
2008: Crowie 1st, Macca DNF (bike issue)
2009: Crowie 1st, Macca 4th
2010: Macca 1st, Crowie 4th
2011: Crowie 1st, Macca didn't race

(2012-13 either weren't racing or didn't have a great day)

We also know (as both discuss in their books) that Macca conspired against Crowie before Kona in 2010… he was a little sneaky, but well within the rules, teaming up with a few other guys on a strategy to dethrone the then 2x defending champ in Alexander.
While it wasn’t Celtics/Lakers, on triathlon’s smaller scale the 1980’s rivalry between Mark Allen and Dave Scott drove a lot of awareness to Ironman. Whether friendly or otherwise, rivalries are great for the sport. Unfortunately both Crowie and Macca are in the twilight of their professional careers, but they will definitely leave a lasting legacy.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Winter Training in Tucson

Arizona is a popular training location for triathletes, especially during the frozen tundra experienced in other states. Tucson is the winter home to well-known professionals Maik Twelsiek and Hillary Biscay, for example, as well as rock star Triple Threat team member Kristen Lodge. Kristen graciously put this summary together, and if future travels take you to Tucson, start here!

Winter Training in Tucson and Places to Eat in Tucson - Kristen Lodge

This year, 2014, is my second winter in Tucson. I love that I can ride my bike every day, if I want to. Tucson has some of the best road biking with excellent bike lines on many streets, several bike groups that let anyone join (as long as you follow their rules), and a bike path loop that gets you out of traffic. Now that I’ve been in Tucson for just about two years, I’m learning some great bike loops for long rides, for hill climbs, and every combination of flat, fast routes with a little climb. I also know great places to eat post-ride, pre-ride, or to carbo load before a race

climbing Mount Lemmon

Here are my top places to meet cyclists in Tucson for rides. And, where you can get some caffeine and food to fuel up for your ride in the desert:

  - A great place to eat before and after biking Mount Lemmon
Bread and Beyond a typical cyclist meeting spot on Ina and Oracle
Noble Hops in Oro Valley - the best post-ride beers with a view, in my humble opinion

Here are links to resources for planning a winter training week (or more) in Tucson:

Saguaro National Park
Visit Tucson
Gratsy Training
Tucson Velo
GABA Tucson

If you are looking for some trails to run, Tucson has spectacular mountains surrounding the area. Any trail that you can hike can easily turn into a breathtaking trail run.

Email or message me on Facebook or Twitter if you are heading to Tucson and have questions or need more suggestions for rides, runs, or food in Tucson!



Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fizik Tritone Review

Triple Threat Triathlon guest writer, professional triathlete, and all around stud Guilherme Ferreira Campos wrote up a review of the new Fizik Tritone saddle for the blog... as always, thanks G! 

As a traditional Italian company, Fizik is known for their classic and detailed approach to all of their products. Their new triathlon and time trial specific saddle fits that philosophy, while bringing new features that will make even the most demanding & serious triathlete fall in love!

The Tritone is Fi'zi:k’s first 
short nose saddle, and although it maintains the same diamond shape as the popular Arione Tri saddle, it has a deep center "channel" that helps to reduce perineal pressure. This is a key point for long course triathletes and a common (and unpopular) problem among male riders. Talking a little bit from personal experience here, I was riding an Arione Tri 2 before upgrading to the Tritone, and despite not having any major pressure troubles with the Arione, the Tritone definitely has made things even more comfortable for me. If you experience any issue with that, the Tritone is a no brainer for you!

I also changed my ride for the upcoming 2014 season, going from a Fuji D6 to a Fuji Norcom, and the Tritone has played a huge role in helping me achieve a more aero/aggressive position. Specifically, it's enabled me to rotate my hip angle forward, allowing me to get lower in my TT position from saddle to aerobars.

As you can see in the pictures, Fizik cared about minimal but very nice details in the development of the Tritone. For example, there's a transition hook on the front, as well as removable hardware that allows you to mount a threaded 16g CO2 cartridge, tube, and up to two seat-mounted water bottle cages. If you’re considering some fine tuning to your triathlon/TT position leading up to your next race, you should think seriously about trying a Fizik Tritone saddle! It comes with your choice of Fizik’s K:ium metal or carbon rails, weighing in at 250 and 220g respectively.

front hook for racking your ride in transition

In case you missed it, check out last year's interview with G, his popular review of Fuji's new super bike, and his piece on choosing a triathlon wheelset.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Interview with a Race Director

After several interviews with pros, top age groupers, companies, etc, I thought it would be really interesting to see the sport from the perspective of a race director. Dan Aamodt became the new owner of TriUtah last year, making a huge impact in his inaugural season at the helm. He was gracious enough to answer my most burning questions and provide good insight, regardless of where you live in the world. 

What led you to take over the reins at TriUtah after 15 years under previous management?

Well, I have been involved in triathlon since 1988. When some folks had posters of Michael Jordan in their lockers at school, I had magazine cut-outs of Mark Allen, Mike Pigg, Scott Tinley and Dave Scott in mine. I love this sport and have managed races and special events during my business career in the fundraising industry. Combine that with my love for this sport, I had an itch to direct races. However, I felt that starting from scratch in this industry didn't make sense to me as the Utah market is already filled and saturated with events. Nowadays, you can find a race on any given weekend during the season. Knowing that TriUtah was by far the best organized event management company in the state, works closely with USA Triathlon, and had the best venues in the state, I met with Chris Bowerbank and John Anderson to see if there was a fit for a transition. Luckily for me, we were able to make it happen. 
Who else is on your staff or are you pretty much a 1-man show? Between triathlons and road races, do you get an “offseason” at all?
I have one 3/4 administrative assistant who takes care of all permits and sanctioning for the company. She is also considered our event coordinator. 
I also have 9 PT staff members who help at the events themselves. All of whom have specific assignments; ie run course supervisor, bike course supervisor, swim course supervisor, volunteer coordination, etc etc.

What’s the most rewarding part of being a race director, and what’s the most frustrating?
The most rewarding part of race directing is being at the finish line and witnessing folks who have sacrificed their time and money to race. We owe it to each one of them to make sure the events provide the best experience and value possible.
Honestly, I dont think there is anything that is really all that frustrating. Other than when mother nature throws you a curve ball just before the start of a race.  

On that note, here’s a list of some behind the scenes stuff I imagine an RD deals with. How would you grade each of these given the following scale: A) easy B) can be a struggle C) quite challenging
t-shirts (    )  medals (   ) port-o-potties (   ) police/traffic control (   ) online registration (   ) race check in (   ) getting volunteers (   ) setting up the course (   ) aid stations (   ) timing (   ) results (   ) prizes (   ) securing sponsors (   ) local government issues (   ) advertising (   ) website/social media (   ) post-race food, etc (   )
I don't think I can really rank these. Each has its ups and downs but overall, if you are organized and have planned well, everything goes smoothly.  
You offered some serious prizes this year, including two $1500 Hawaii vacations to watch the Ironman World Championships… did sponsors assist with pulling that off? On a general note, how important are sponsors to putting on races?
Yes, we had a financial sponsor who wanted us to promote the trips. We also had Icon Fitness and Altra shoes giveaway a $2200 Tour De France bike trainer.  
Our goal is to give athletes a reason to come to our events. Having ample "knowledgeable" volunteers is the most important component, while sponsors come in a close 2nd. Financial sponsors give us the opportunity to provide more to the athlete; from swag in the bag, to food at the post race table, to massages and more....  We don't offer a lot of prize money, because we want EVERY athlete to benefit from our hard work of securing financial and in-kind sponsors. Medals and t-shirts come and go, but the overall experience is what we are trying to provide the athlete. If we make them happy with a solid race, great experience, and awesome venues, we believe they will come back to our events. Having raced for over 25 years, I have seen some amazing races and some not so amazing races across the country.  I want to make sure everyone leaves our events and is able to say "that was awesome!" - That is why in 2014, we are offering a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If an athlete doesn't like their experience, and we can't make it right, we will give his/her money back.

Echo Canyon is one such awesome venue

Your introductory email from May mentioned your professional career has involved fundraising for non-profits… can you elaborate a bit on that, and has this expertise assisted with being a race director?
Yes, I have worked in the fundraising industry most of my professional career, working with non-profits and charitable organizations in their efforts to raise money. I do believe that this experience has helped me obtain sponsorships and strategic partners. However, I believe that my 25 years of training and racing allows me to see and visualize how the events should run effectively on race day. The most important component has been that I inherited an amazing staff who are the best in the business of making sure the events go off without a hitch! They are Ryan Webb, Randy Bennion, Alicia Cordova, Harold Blomquist, Steve Gonzalez, Camille Meriwether, and more.
Very random, but I’ve always wondered this… is buoy placement before the swim a precise exercise or more of an educated guess?
Precise. We use an instrument which measures the nautical distance on water. 
As a triathlete yourself, you know that pre-race nerves are typically performance related. Do you get nervous before and during races as a race director (eg everything going smoothly or someone getting hurt)?
Only when the honey buckets don't arrive!
a necessary evil
I’ve been in my share of choppy water, but thankfully never had the swim canceled at a race… I would be disappointed for sure. On one hand, the majority of triathletes always want to go for it, yet on the other hand you want to keep people safe. In your opinion where is the line drawn?
I draw the line when the USA Triathlon official tells me to draw the line. They are the experts on when we can and cannot start the swim.
If you had to guess, what % of “local” triathlons around the country are A) profitable B) break-even C) unprofitable
 20% profitable, 60% break-even, 20% unprofitable.
On that note, one local question: when I moved here from Milwaukee three years ago, I was surprised with how many races there were. Since that time, however, races such as Park City, Provo, Scofield, the Fall Finale, Stansbury, and Battle at Midway come to mind as tris that have folded. At the same time, you’ve been steadily adding races to your schedule. Do you think most races fold due to management, or a broader issue of too much supply/ too little demand? What’s the status of triathlon in our state... has it peaked or is it still on the rise?
Great question. I don't think I have an answer for that. The market is saturated, but it makes all of us stronger as it demands race directors to offer better events. Long gone are the days of paying $75 for a t-shirt, medal, and an orange. I believe we have an obligation to provide athletes with high quality, safe, energetic events which encourage future participation.  

Thanks for the time, Dan!

From my own personal experience, TriUtah puts on fantastic races. Word is clearly getting out... at Ogden, for example, guys from Colorado and Montana knocked me to 4th in my age group. If you're within driving distance, I encourage you to take a look! Below are links to their main site and Facebook, as well as my race reports from TriUtah events in 2013:

Friday, January 3, 2014

Now The Year's New

"Now the year's new. I lay my game flat. I want my spot back, take two!" 

It's kinda weird, but that line from the late Notorious B.I.G. often pops in my head on January 1st... the next line, if I recall, is riddled with obscenities, but this one is mildly inspiring.

Now the year's new. A fresh start!
Yes, it’s that time of year again, time to set resolutions that most will quickly abandon. It’s always kinda funny to me how packed the gym parking lot is in January, only to taper back to its normal level by mid-February. But triathletes aren’t “most people”… we may have our flaws, but for the most part, we follow through! Like I did last year, I pulsed some blog followers on their goals for 2014.

“More fruits and veggies, less nachos and beer”
“Average 30k running a week, up from 20-25k last year"
“Set new prs [personal records] in the pool for 100m, 200m, 400m, and 800m”
“Qualify for the Ironman 70.3 champs at Mt. Tremblant!”
“sub 3 hours at an olympic tri”
“Move up 20 spots in my age group at [Rev3] Quassy”
“beat my friend Brooke, who gets me every time by 1-2 min!”
“Be on the [age group] podium at three local races"
“top 50% of the field at [Ironman 70.3] Steelhead”
“become an Ironman”
“Beat my 2013 times on same courses”
“No walking at [Ironman 70.3] Oceanside”
“Lock down my nutrition strategy.. bonked bad at Lake Placid last year”
“sub 23 min 5k”

“Knock an hour off last year’s time at Ironman Louisville”

“Swim at least 5000 meters per week”
“beat my dbag coworker”
“Top 25% overall at Wildflower”
“Sub 6 hr at half iron distance”
“learn how to swim!”
“Push myself harder on the bike and still run well”
“swim strong and calm in open water”
“PR at the 70.3 distance (5:30) and half marathon (1:59)”
“Lose 15 lbs”
“Do my first Olympic distance”
“go under 12 hours at Ironman Texas”
“Complete 10 workouts per week: targeting 2S, 3B, 4R, 1 weights”
“Improve my biking!!!”

Whatever your own resolution may be, go after it... this is your year!!