Monday, October 17, 2011

Kona from the armchair

A few comments on Kona (I wasn’t there but I'm going to share my view anyways):

*Craig Alexander is a stud. Chris McCormick had a great race last year but he runs his mouth a bit much for my taste. He went on and on about how Alexander is just an 8:20 IM guy and yes, he’s an incredible runner, but he can’t ride (paraphrasing here). Alexander doesn’t discuss it all. When he was interviewed about this the past year, he just smiled and mentioned that Macca is a friend. Then, he races Vegas 70.3 World Championships and wins the race, not on his run (which was the fastest as usual), but on his second fastest bike split. A month later, he wins Kona in a new record time and has once again, the second fastest bike split! In my opinion, his performance this year makes him arguably the third best triathlete ever behind Mark Allen and Dave Scott.

*Chrissie wellington is a bigger stud. Chrissie moved ahead of Paula Newby Frasier as the greatest female triathlete ever. Please don’t take this too seriously as it’s really my opinion. I do know that Paula has more Kona victories. But Chrissies dominance is truly amazing. If you just look at the splits, it appears that it was a close race with Miranda Cafrae. I like Miranda – I think she’s a brilliant athlete. I don’t mean this in a demeaning way whatsoever, but she and Chrissie aren’t in the same league, and to give her so much attention prior to the race thinking that it could be close between her and Chrissie is an insult to Chrissie. The reason the race was as close as it was is all because Chrissie was in a bad bike accident a week before Kona, and raced with severe road rash and fractured ribs! Dave Scott, her coach, informed her to let all the swimmers go since her swim stroke was compromised. She typically swims 52 minutes in Kona. She swam 1:02. She painfully rode the bike probably 10 minutes slower than she would have had she been healthy. She had close to a three minute lead on Miranda off the bike, and all the so called tri experts felt that Miranda is such a better runner and that she’d run her down. Miranda ran a brilliant 2:52. I think there were only four or five men faster! Chrissie was only 30 seconds slower running a 2:52 as well, and she slowed in the final 800 meters to slap high fives and wave to the crowds. The scary thought is that if she was healthy and hadn’t crashed; she could have been 20 minutes faster, placing her amongst the top 12 men!

*Milos Kostic is the biggest stud. This guy is 70 years old and went 11:45!!! He biked 5:47 and ran 3:52! Again, he’s 70! He won the age group by an hour. Poor Eli Ewens who went 12:45, another amazing time for 70 years old and came in second.

I’ve spoken with a few friends who were there and they said that the lack of winds and a bit of cloud cover made this year’s race the best conditions yet for Kona. That still doesn’t diminish whatsoever the incredible performances.

I can’t wait to get out there to the Big Island in March for my camp. And hopefully again next October.


Sunday, October 02, 2011


In 2004, I had a good friend, Rick Moisan, who was diagnosed with lung cancer. Rick was one of those anomalies. He never smoked, took great care of himself, didn’t have any family history of lung cancer, … I spent a great deal of time with him while he underwent his chemotherapy treatments and battled this viscous disease. At one point, it looked as if he was going to beat it, only to quickly have the rug ripped out from under him when they found the disease had spread through his spine and into his brain.

I was training for the Hawaii Ironman that summer as Rick’s condition worsened, and I dedicated my race to him and tried to raise some funds towards cancer research. This was the first time I had witnessed someone close go through something so awful and it really touched me. About a month before I headed out to Kona, I came up with the idea of hosting a bike ride in Rick’s honor. The idea at the time was to get a group of friends together, meet in Rick’s town of Woodbury, and do a scenic ride. I planned on riding this with Rick on a tandem. I sent out an email calling it “The Ride for Rick”, and Lisa Moisan, Rick’s wife, loved the idea. In fact, she gathered a group of her friends and took it to another level, by creating a raffle, getting a DJ, having things for the kids to do. We even had Conan Obrien MC it (Rick was an amazing architect who designed a house for Conan). I plotted out four different ride routes from 5 miles up to 50 so that anyone could participate. I still remember that it was a bitter cold September morning and Rick’s oncologist showed up to ride the 25 mile route in tight khaki shorts with the palest legs I think I’ve ever seen. By the end of the ride, his legs were so red and raw from the cold and wind that it hurt me to look at them. But this guy hadn’t ridden his bike in years and yet he pushed himself through the 25 mile hilly route in honor of Rick! That to me was and is what it’s all about.

Rick passed away that winter. Each September, we continued putting on the Ride for Rick. The event was generating a lot of money towards some really great charities and it really brought the community of Woodbury together. It continued to grow, and in addition to the rides, I added on a 5k event for runners. Yet, as it grew, I could see that it was becoming a bit overwhelming for Lisa and her crew. They had made this event huge, and it was becoming a full time job. Sadly but understandably, Lisa decided to put it on hold a few years ago. She was torn about this but also realized that in this economy, she didn’t feel right in asking the local sponsors to step up year after year. She did an amazing job organizing this event and it was time to pass the torch. Lisa decided this year to hand it over to a local scholarship fundraising organization.

I didn’t hear much in the way of advertising for this year’s event. I didn’t even know they were holding it until 10 days prior. When I did, I found they had changed the name of the event – it was no longer the Ride for Rick, which upset me. The event was yesterday, and I awoke to hear the sounds of pouring rain outside. It would have been really easy to stay in bed. As I drove to Woodbury, I thought about the fact that each year, over the last seven years, this event has been the one thing that reconnects me with my friend Rick. The first few years after he died, I thought of him and his family often, but then as time passed, I got lazy. I’d talk with Lisa periodically and catch up every once in a while through email or a Christmas card, but as time passes we get caught up in our own busy little world and tend to forget. At least I did. And I felt like shit thinking about this. But then I realized one of the really important lessons that Rick taught me subconsciously; since the first Ride for Rick, I realized how important loyalty as a friend is and how people put on these charity events all the time and even though they are raising funds towards a very worthy cause, for them it’s more about the support and the remembrance. To write a check yesterday contributing towards the event and cause would have been a way to justify the fact that I was too lazy to go represent and do the ride. It’s an easy out that gives us a sense of justification. Don’t get me wrong, the contributions are important and necessary and all good. But I needed to be there riding and as I stood at the start of the ride, rain drenching me before I even took one pedal stroke, I knew that this ride was going to be fine. In fact, I knew even sooner when the first three people that I saw there as I got out of my car were Lisa Moisan and her two daughters. I know that when I do my polar plunge, I always appreciate any donations made towards the charity we choose, but what really hits me is those who make time out of their busy day to come down in person.

Because of the weather and lack of advertising, the turnout was poor, but Kenny O. met me there and we headed out to ride, and it was a great way to start the day and the weekend. And to remember a good friend who taught me some great life lessons even after he passed away.