Saturday, October 29, 2011

Long Week = Bike

My off-season training plan is something of a mutt. I've adopted a lot of other plans and put some of my own touches on them. One of the former is the variation on which discipline is the long one of the week. This week, that was the bike.

It was not the warmest of days but not bad either. I opted to wear a technical shirt and my running jacket but stayed with just shorts. It's pretty rare that my legs get chilly.

The recently tightened strap on my HR monitor helped, but about a mile and a half in, I found it spiking again. I stopped and tightened it some more but it still gave me fits until I had warmed up. This lead to a new discovery, my running jacket fits a little bit loosely so when going faster, it flaps around a bit. At the same time, my HR monitor spikes. I noticed this when I was going down the steepest hill on the ride and was not pedaling yet my HR shot way up. My theory is that the jacket is generating static electricity which is in turn interfering with the monitor. I noticed if I pulled my arms in close to my body, the effect went away.

All in all, it was a good ride and the longest I've been out on the bike in quite a while. I don't doubt my ability to do outside rides will continue to be hampered by the coming winter, but I'll enjoy these days when I can.

In other news, I'm five weeks away from the Rock Canyon Half Marathon in Pueblo. My brother has done this one a few times and has been encouraging me to do it for years. It ought to be nice to have a big event in the off-season when there is not much else going on. Once that's done, I'll be going back to more Z1 training and building that base up as I get ready for the 70.3 event next summer.

More later...thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

HR Training Updates

Been a while since I posted so here's a little summary in chronological order:

Saturday morning I was back at the Parker Rec Center to my swimming MHR test. Since my FR305 is not water proof (at least in any practical sense for swimming) and since ANT+ heart rate straps have a range of something like three inches in the water, this one had to be done without that.

Per the method described in Heart Rate Training, I began with a 500 meter warm up at a moderate pace. It was a nice opportunity to work solely on technique with no concern for speed. Once that was done, I began a series of 100 yard swims as fast as I could with 30 seconds rest in between. At the end of the third set, I took my heart rate which turned out to be 145 bpm.  Like my other tests, I was thoroughly exhausted at the end so I'm fairly confident I'm hitting the max.

Since then I've been doing the running and biking in Z1 and I have to admit it seemed easy. Too easy in fact. Today on my run, less than 10 minutes in, I just knew I was not getting a good reading. I was barely jogging and was jumping into Z2. Something I re-read in the book stuck with me. Monitors get artificially high readings from friction. Like the friction you get when your monitor is moving up and down on your chest. My guess (though not proven) is that the friction is creating a small static-electric charge that it is in turn interfering with the monitor's ability to read the electrical activity of the heart. So I stopped, tightened the strap up and voila, no more problem.

Once that was done, I made the run a little more interesting by employing the fartlek method of training. What? No not that! It's Swedish and roughly translates to "speed play." I cycled between 60% and 75% of my MHR. That works much better now that I have good readings. As you can see below, the data smoothed out once I tightened the strap:

The rest of the variability is the fartleking.

I'm looking forward to a long ride on Saturday, my first in a very long time.  More on that plus my plans for a late-fall/early-winter half marathon in a future post.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bike MHR Test

While still not balmy, it was calm enough today to do my cycling workout in the great outdoors as well as incorporate my MHR test into it.

I've had a lot of trouble with my heart-rate monitor on the bike. Specifically, it tends to give erroneously high readings, especially in cool weather. I've tried to mitigate this problem by using contact jelly (the same stuff you see them put on de-fib paddles right before they yell "CLEAR!" on T.V.) and that sometimes helps and sometimes does not.

The best solution is to have a layer of sweat between your skin and your heart-rate monitor. Unfortunately, I'm usually headed down hill to start my rides and hence no sweat for a while.

Today, I did manage to start getting normal readings right before heading up the somewhat steep hill that runs west from the intersection of Jordan and E-470. After dodging the right turning cars that invariably don't look for cyclists in the cross-walk, I quickly increased my cadence to 120 rpm and went as hard as I could. The heart-rate kept climbing and I kept feeling more and more miserable, but it finally peaked out at 154.  I think I got a pretty good test and just like Saturday, by the time I hit the max rate, I really had nothing left. The bike MHR is 90% of the run and that sounds about right.

I still need to review the book about the test for the swim MHR, but this one will not involve using a monitor since they generally do not work in the water and my FR305 is not waterproof in any case.

On the return trip of my out and back workout, I kept my speed slow and focused on staying in Z1 which is 92 to 115 bpm. It seems a little easier than running, but we'll see if that is true on future workouts.

Still lots more to come on all of this....stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Heart Rate Training Begins

There's no question that this is going to present some unanticipated challenges.

This afternoon I haded out on a 40 minute run with the single goal of staying in Zone I. With my MHR of 171 that meant keeping my heart rate between 103 and 128 bpm which is quite a bit lower than what I've previously considered normal.

The very beginning of the run proved to be challenging in this regard. I kept going way over the top limit with minimal effort. In fact, I slowed to a walk a few times just to make sure the rate went back down.

It took more than a mile, but I finally settled into a more stable pattern and though the pace was much slower than anything I've done lately, I also didn't feel like I had to walk to stay in my zone.

In this zone, I should be burning mostly fat so it will be interesting to see if my body fat % declines as I continue in Z1. My Withings Wi-Fi scale had that reading at 12.3% this morning.

I'm going to have to give some thought to how I start out these runs as well. I think there's a point of increased HR activity at the very beginning that needs to be considered.

While a little frustrating, I'm still fairly intrigued by the process so I hope to have more to share as I progress,

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Weekend in the High Country

My week off is coming to a close and I spent the last couple of days of it here in the Red Feather Lakes area at my parents' mountain home.

We're long past aspen watching--I think that probably peaked two or three weeks ago, but it's always picturesque up here. We did a drive up Deadman Road yesterday afternoon and enjoyed the beauty that's pretty much a year-round event in this part of the world.

The picture below doesn't really show it, but the wind was fierce.

We had a couple of good dinners--jambalaya and chicken mole tortas--but alas the work on both was a little too intense to take the time for photos and add posts to the cooking site. Fear not, they'll eventually make it there after I get some time to set it up a little more carefully.

I finished the main sections of Heart Rate Training and it includes a really good training plan for 70.3 length races. My hope is to do a max HR test for the bike when I return home to Parker this afternoon. Right now, the weather looks a little crappy for riding (windy according to but hopefully it will be tolerable enough.

I've got a lot more to share on the HR training front including how I hope to use the authors' technique for building my own plan as well as how I do in staying with the HR zones. In the meantime, I need to pack up and get going. We woke up this morning to this:

Very pretty, but also a sure sign it's time to get going before we get stuck up here!

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

MHR Test

I had mentioned in a previous post that I did not plan to do any workouts this week. However, it was a good week to a test that involved working out. Specifically, today was the day to do my maximum heart rate (MHR) test.

As I go into the off-season, my new training plan is built around heart rate rather than distance. It's evident from everything I read both from experts as well as from fellow-triathletes in the online community that it's a smart way to train. No doubt some challenges will be presented, but I'm encouraged by what I've read and hopefully that means a stronger showing next year.

Since HR training is based on the baseline of a max heart rate, I needed to find that first. Old school thinking around the MHR was based on the formula:

MHR = 220 - Age
However, that apparently only works when you are in a fairly narrow average. For me, that number would be 178. Instead of relying on that, I went out to the track at nearby Legend High School and tested myself there.

I rode my mountain bike there and that gave me a bit of a warm up. Once I was ready to go, I did a couple of easy laps around the track just to bring my heart rate up into the 140 to 150 zone. As I started into lap 3, I picked up the pace moving into the low to mid six minute range. That moved up to the sub six and finally into the low 5 range. I was breathing pretty hard and I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. I kept pushing as hard as I could to keep moving my HR up. Finally, just after completing my third lap, I could not move the needle any more and I slowed down and walked out the remainder to cool down. My number? It turned out at 171 beats per minute. For those of you keeping score at home, that's almost 4% lower than what the formula predicted. I actually thought I was going to be more like 180 but as you can see from the chart below, I really did plateau around the 170 mark:

I think it will make sense to test again in a few months and, of course, I need to do a separate test for the bike. However, that flat line at the top (right before the abrupt stop to recover) seems to me to be a pretty strong indicator. 

By the way, I'm also in the process of reading the book "Heart Rate Training" by Roy Benson and Declan Connolly and am about halfway though it. So far,  recommend it. I'm learning a lot about how the body develops in reaction to training as well as some really good tips about how to train. 

Not sure when I'll get the bike test done, but hopefully on Monday. While it would be nice to know the same info for swimming, I don't think I'll worry about that for now. I'm actually feeling pretty good about the swim and any progress I make there will be incremental.

I expect I'll be back at the Legend High School track for more testing and training. I do admire a good track after my high school years training on a crumby old cinder track. This one was nice and smooth.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Year of Accomplishments

I'm into my first week of doing nothing. That's right, not an athletic thing at all. It's been about a year in the works and I really think I deserved this one. I may ice down my knee and foot, but that's about it.

To get some appreciation, it helps to look back to where I was nearly a year ago when I decided I had given my foot enough time since the surgery and it was time to start exercising again. It was also when I decided--at least in the back of my mind--that I was going to attempt a triathlon.

There was a lot of inertia to overcome. Here's the summary from that first run:

That's right, all of two miles and at a blistering 11:00 minute pace. I also tipped the scale at 222 that day which was actually down a few pounds from a high of 225.

But as Confucius said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." So did mine.

In the twelve months that have followed, Ive put in a total of 467 miles including the 13.1 that I ran yesterday. I've also ridden the bike 1942 miles and swam just over 50. I've also improved my swim time from something like 2:40 per 100 yards to a fairly consistent 2:00 as of my most recent trip to the pool on Wednesday. I've also managed to shed about 32 of those pounds and feel confident I can loose another 10 or so before my biggest race next year. Well before if I can help it.

With any endeavor like this one, there's always the question of will I continue to stay with it. One year is great, but how about five....or ten. I do think that Triathlons have given me a new-found enthusiasm. It's not just pounding the pavement everyday. It's multi-sport and it's very engaging. That in itself is not motivation, but it helps.

The other helper: success. I knew I had run a pretty fast half marathon yesterday and in fact I went screaming into the finish thanks to being able to literally run down capitol hill. But it gets better. I PR'd! My new time of 2:06:51 (per the official results on the website) beats my previous best of 2:07:02. Incidentally, that was set on the same course five years ago.

My figurative journey of a thousand miles has really only just begun. I still consider myself a first timer because I keep finding new challenges. Now it's a 70.3. That's going to provide a ton of fodder for this blog and as always, hopefully it will provide readers with a chance to learn the easy way, what I learned the hard way.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Race Report - 2011 Rock & Roll Half Marathon

For the past five months or so, my main enemy in training and racing has been heat. It pretty much killed me on the Creek Streak and shortened a few runs and rides to less than what I set out to accomplish. So when the snow was falling yesterday and the temperature on my car thermometer this morning was all the way down to 32*, I knew I was going to be in for a fairly significant change. The question was, how would I handle it?

My backyard around 11:00 yesterday, 10/8

I actually registered for the Rock & Roll Half Marathon way back in like June or July. It was cheaper to start early and it was also good to have it on my radar as the season progressed. I had done a little bit of reading on the website, but things were kind of at a stand still until I went to the Expo on Friday.

You have to give Competitor Group their due. They organize a packet pick-up as well as anyone I've seen and well they should given the large turnout for their races. Friday afternoon was no exception. I made my way through the stations that involve packet and swag pick-up and then onto the Expo itself. It's actually a pretty savvy business move on their part to require each athlete to come to the Expo to pick up their stuff. I'm sure it's a selling point when they want to get exhibitors to buy booth space.

The exit from the packet area put you in a large area dedicated to selling event-specific merchandise.  Brooks is one of their big sponsors and they had set up this area to promote their products:

Personally, I don't think a freak show or even free skee-ball is the best way to sell running products so I did not go in. All told, I thought the expo was a little lack-luster. Mostly it was dominated by Nutrilite which is some kind of Amway spin-off that sells vitamins or supplements or something. Not interested.

All told, I did end up purchasing one souvenir that is particularly useful on the afternoon after a race:

I didn't stay long and soon I was on my way back home to rest and relax leading up to this morning.

I'm afraid I don't have any event-day pictures to share. The blog's chief photographer (aka: my wife) was given the day off given the 5:30 departure time. She's been out there for just about everything else and it was a little too cold to ask her to come out and stand around for a couple of hours. Just as well.

As I mentioned, it was cold here in Parker this morning but things had warmed up to a balmy 42* by the time I parked at the Auraria campus garage and began the 1 mile walk to the start area.

A carry-over from the years when this race was the Denver Marathon is a gear check at no extra charge. It's a good idea and a nice way to be able to wear warm clothes until it's time to start. I would guess more than 90% of participants take advantage of this service and there were big crowds gathered to check things in with less than 10 minutes before the first wave went out. Not helping things was a big semi-truck from none other than Nutrilite parked right in front off the drop off tables forcing everyone to line up to one side or another.

At long last, my gear was checked, I had fought through the crowds and positioned myself in Coral #8 which is for those expecting a finish time of 2:10. The wave start makes sense because 14th Street is on the narrow side and more so due to some maintenance going on there. When my group left, we had a clear field in front of us. As I turned off of Bannock and onto 14th, I remembered that four weeks ago I was doing a tri in San Diego. Now I'm doing a half-marathon in Denver. Life's pretty good!

The first third of this course is a tour of downtown. There were no radical departures and we went by both Pepsi Center and Coors Field as well as through the canyons of downtown. A left turn onto 17th Avenue faces you with the steepest hill of the course. My rough calculations have it at about a 4.6% grade but it feels worse mainly because you can't see the top as you climb. If you know the area, it's where 17th Avenue goes by the Wells Fargo "cash register" building.

Fortunately, the run from there is flat and reasonably fast. I was finding that the miles were going by quickly and I still felt good. I was also making a point of trying not to look at my Garmin too much.

A left turn on York had us running along the west side of City Park. At the corner of 21st Avenue and York, we made a right turn into the park itself where the course would be for the next few miles. A short young woman, probably pushing five feet if that, decided to stop right in front of me to pick up the Gu pouch she dropped and nearly got plowed over. For that matter, a lot of people stopped in the middle of the pack or right at the front of the water station. It makes me appreciate triathletes all the more because I don't recall seeing that nonsense in any of those races this year.

Out of the park and back onto 17th Avenue for the last part of the race. I started to get a little concerned as I went by mile 9 and my watch said 9.18. I know I don't run a perfectly straight line but I had been focusing on running the tangents and adding as little extra distance as possible. It cleared up around mile 10 leading me to believe that the issue was their placement of the marker and not my running.

At this point, I saw two big challenges remaining. First, was the run up York Street (south rather than north now) to Cheesman Park. You do gain about 78 feet in less than a mile and unlike the hill before mile four, it's more drawn out. However, this turned out not to be too bad and the right turn on to the flat stretch on 13th Avenue came up faster than I expected. Second was the run through Cheesman Park itself. Although physically impossible, it felt almost like the whole loop was uphill. You enter the park on an uphill, turn down for a fairly short stretch and then run uphill again to leave the park. There was no question that the second hill hurt a little bit.

The best news of all after leaving the park is that you only have 1.1 miles to go and it's all downhill. I think that is a great way to end a race. Several people around me, as well as me, started pushing the pace. There are enough tall buildings in the way that when you make the right off of 13th Avenue and onto Sherman Street, you still can't hear the PA announcer. That changes once you turn left onto 14th Avenue in front of the south side of the State Capitol.

Could I ever hear the announcer. He was shouting with a lot of enthusiasm. What was going on? No way he would be showing the level of energy for everyone who was finishing the half in a little over two hours. Turns out, the full marathon winner was just in front of me and in the process of setting a course record.

As for me, well the down hill was really down hill at this point and I was flying toward the finish with a big goofy smile on my face both for being nearly done and for finishing ahead of my 2:10 goal. The final number on the day was 2:06:53 or about a 9:37 pace. I felt really good. Not the usual I think I'm going to faint that often comes with the end of the race, but that "runners high."

With that finish, my 2010/2011 season comes to an end. I'm taking the next week completely off and then I start a new plan for my off season conditioning. The biggest decision, pending the outcome of this race was whether or not to attempt a 70.3 next year. And.....yup. Going to give it a shot. That's a hell of a hill to climb, but I have 10 months.

There's a lot to talk about regarding how much I accomplished during the last year, and I'm thinking that will be the subject of another post this week.

I know this has gotten to be a lengthy post, but it would not be a race report if I did not do the good and bad.

The bad:

Price:  This sucker is expensive at something like $130 (and that was discounted). Gotta love the venue and all of the bands, but that's a lot of change.

Pre-Race Info: When I did the Rock&Roll San Diego, they had an okay map, but they also had a video of the course shot from a car and played back at high speed. Now that seemingly every large metro area in the country has a Rock & Roll event, the website has become generic and only gets informative in the two weeks leading up to the event. They really ought to be using MapMyRun, Gmap-Pedeometer or a comparable service to provide course maps and details. Additionally, the turn-by-turn directions were wrong in a couple of places. Not a problem for a local like me, but I can see how an out-of-towner could get confused.

Expo: If you're going to force me to go, make it worth my while with something other than the weird Brooks carnival thing a bunch of lack-luster vendors. Do I really want to go by the State Farm tent? If the vendors want to keep me interested, start slinging the free stuff like water bottles, etc. Not the biggest deal, but sometimes these things just fall flat.

The Good:

Organization: The lack of pre-race communication not withstanding, things went off pretty well this morning. It was easy to check my stuff, easy to get to the start and there were no problems following the course. It helps when there are thousands of people out there, but still, no questions about it. Also, water, Cytomax and Gu were plentiful and adequately spaced.

Venue: Rock & Roll more or less inherited this course from the original Denver Marathon, but they've done a good job of not screwing it up. In fact, moving the start from Broadway to Bannock in front of the City & County building is a nice touch. What's more, they took some time to actually put some pretty good bands on the course. I liked all of the music I heard and I think the performers were really into supporting the runners. That's no easy thing when your audience is changing every 10 seconds!

X-Factor: No not the singing competition that looks just like American Idol to me. It's the intangible quality that makes it fun to run a race. It probably comes about as the result of all the little things like bands, enthusiastic supporters, helpful volunteers and the professionalism of the race staff. Whatever it is, this race has it and I leave it with fond memories.

Overall, I would like to return and do this one next year and would recommend it to others (specifically the half since I've never done the full). Denver has had trouble keeping its Marathon as a going concern. I do like that Competitor adds a vibrancy and vitality that suggest this will be an annual tradition for years to come.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Neapolitan Pizza Dough

On my trip to Italy last summer, I became particularly enthralled with the local version of pizza. I had already had some exposure through a place in Boulder called Pizzeria Locale where they do the completely authentic wood-fired thing.

For us mere cooking mortals, this recipe might be the next best thing. It is not, strictly speaking, my own, but rather a combination of others I've found around the web.

Step 1: Yeast Preparation

Just about any baking project means getting your yeast going. I know there are recipes out there that just have you add it to the flour mix, but I'm convinced this works better.

In a small bowl, add a teaspoon of your basic household yeast such as Fleishmann's.

To this add about 3/4 of a cup of very warm but not hot water. If you can't run your hand under it, it's too hot. Mix the yeast and water until the yeast if fully dissolved.

The key distinction I found in Neapolitan dough is the use of cake flour. I suspect you could also use sifted flour but not owning a sifter, I settled for a brand like this:

Since we're already using our own yeast, you want to make sure it's not a self-rising type.

Any of this can be done by hand, but if you have one of these bad boys with a dough hook, it will make the process easier and much faster.

While your yeast is doing its thing, combine a half cup of the cake flour and a full cup of regular all-purpose flour. Too add a little taste, you can also add a teaspoon of salt. I think kosher salt is best:

Start the mixer (or your arm if you don't have one) to combine the dry ingredients.

Once that is done, slowly add your yeast liquid.

If the result is not a nicely formed dough ball, slowly add a little more warm water. Ultimately you want dough that is tacky. That is to stay it will feel sticky but when you pull your finger away, no dough sticks to it.

A dough ball that is ready to rise looks about like this

In a medium sized glass or plastic bowl, add a little olive oil, about a table spoon. This will prevent the dough from sticking as it rises and also impart a little bit of flavor.

Mix your dough around in the oil to fully coat it and then cover the bowl with some plastic wrap

Any warm place will work for the rise, but what I do is set my oven to "warm"  until it pre-heats which is about 170 degrees. Then I turn it off. Prior to putting my bowl in, I leave the door open for a moment and let it cool back a little bit. Then the dough goes into the oven, power off, for about an hour. When it's done, it should pretty much fill up your bowl:

In future posts I'll talk more about toppings, but now you have the foundation. By the way, when using the oven (as opposed to the grill) I always use a pizza stone that I preheat with the oven to 500*. Once the oven reaches that temp, I toss corn meal on the stone to prevent sticking. Cook time is about 10 minutes.

The finished product, is always good!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Racing Industry

 I've been thinking about this topic a lot lately. Some of my off-season planning includes deciding which races to run next year and that invariably brings me around to outfits that are in the business of putting on races. The nearest comparison I can think of is a concert promotion company. While the mode is different, both are basically in the entertainment industry.

I ran my first foot race in 1978 in my hometown of Greeley, Colorado. The United Bank Fun Run was the biggest race in town for years and it's 5 plus distance went over well and pretty much anyone who was part of the fledgling running community at the time was there.

In 1983, I ran in my first Bolder Boulder. It was the first year for that race's wave start and though still only its eighth year, it was a big deal. The venue through the streets of Boulder, the finish at Folsom Stadium, and the field of world class athletes all made it (and still do) the big race it is today.

What these two races, along with the myriad of others I ran over the years had in common were their amateur status. Though I suspect someone was "working" on the Boulder race just about year round, there really was not the professional organization behind it that's there now. The Fun Run was an all  volunteer event from the race director on down.

Today, of course, that has changed. My first event of the season was Summer Open Sprint which is produced by Without Limits Productions. The Creek Streak in July was organized by a non-profit but nevertheless professional organization called Your Cause Sports. Both the TriRock and this weekend's Rock & Roll Half Marathon are productions of Competitor Group, Inc. The big race in Boulder that I'm considering for next summer is one of dozens run by the World Triathlon Corporation.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Events that were once organized for fun and charity by volunteers who did it in their spare time are, more and more, professionally produced events. While some still do benefit charity, many have become for profit endeavors and include full time paid staff.

None of this is necessarily a bad thing. I actually appreciate the fact that there aspiring to elevate races to big events. Furthermore, doing so still has not seriously damaged the community-organized races as anyone who runs in their local Turkey Trot or July 4th race can attest. The issue with professionally produced events comes in the gap between the quality to which they aspire and the actual results they produce.

Past readers of these pages may recall my thoughts about race directors. I've also had more than a few things to say in my various race reports. This is not because I am an overly negative person or particularly enjoy delivering criticism. I'd like to think it's because I've spent my adult years as a good critical thinker and the thoughts I express here just reflect that.

In any case, when it comes to an event produced by an organization like the one of the ones mentioned above, my expectations increase. The first, and probably most blunt reason is cost. Races, triathlons in particular, are expensive affairs. No doubt, the overhead is not cheap either. Even with an army of unpaid volunteers making up the majority of an event-day staff, I have no doubt that equipment, event permits and most significantly, insurance all add up. Still at the end of the day, the production company is making a profit. My question is, did they really earn it?

I don't mean that in the "do they deserve it:" category since that's a far more subjective value judgement. Instead, think of it like the professional baseball player who hits .210 for the season but still pulls in an eight figure salary. Does his lackluster performance really rate the salary that drives things like ticket prices and television contracts? Unless he has some other intangible "wow" factor, probably not.

So in that vein, what does one get for a race entry fee from $130 and up? Most of us spend hundreds of hours and even thousands of dollars on our sport. We think about a race months ahead of time and the anticipation leading up to race day builds along with our expectations. From a hassle free packet pick-up to an enjoyable post race experience and everything encompassed in between, there has to be value for what I get.

Nordstrom is more expensive than most other department stores. Certainly more so than a Macy's or Dillards. What sets them apart? In other words, how do they get away with being pricier? To some extent it's due to higher quality merchandise (though some items have also become largely commoditised). More so, however, it's because they are unrivaled in the quality of their service. When you make a purchase at a Nordstrom store, you know they appreciate your business. The company is resplendent with stories of outstanding customer service.

Successful companies like Nordstrom got to where they are because they executed successfully. By the same token, an event production company risks losing participants due to sloppy execution of their events. This is only compounded by a high entry fee.

It's my hope that as the sport continues to grow and evolve, the more skilled, participant-focused companies will thrive while those that clearly aren't up to snuff will fade away. Such is the way of the open market place. In the triathletes and distance runners, these companies have a target market that is willing to spend big money, highly engaged in their sport and likely to generate return business. Shouldn't they have to work hard to generate more to their bottom line?