Wednesday, December 29, 2010

William Lee Christofferson: 1934-2010

My father passed away last night, around 10:30, in his home in Naples, Florida. His courageous eight plus year battle with four different cancers is now over. He was in his bed and resting comfortably when his time came. My mother and Sandy were able to care for him over his last few days.

I have many positive things to say of him but this is not the place nor the time. I am at peace with his passing and my relationship with him as my father and as a grandfather to my children. May he rest in peace and I trust that he is smiling upon us from heaven.

Thanks for your wishes, prayers and comments during his struggle.

Peace be.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas (Sigh)

Hey everyone--here's to you and your families--may God bless you and may you have a wonderful holiday!

The good news is that all of my lil family is back together. Judy made an incredible Christmas Eve dinner tonight. Our kids opened their traditional ornament gifts and we also gave them our whole family pajama grams tonight--including Roxy:

This is a bit tempered by our expectation that my father will move on to the next adventure very soon. He is peaceful and without any apparent pain. My sister and mom are with him--for this I am thankful. I've had a lot of time to come to grips with his death and my relationship with him--my visit kast week was awesome. i talked to him tonight--perhaps for the last time.

Life does go on and I went over 10,000 miles on the bike for this year today. I know my father would want me to post this--life is to be lived with all the fervor that one can muster.

Anyways, hug your loved ones and be happy my friends.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My top ten experiences in triathlon over the last decade

I started doing triathlon in 2001 so this marks my first 10 years/decade in the sport. I'll be posting a lot of year-end/year ahead stuff in the days ahead but thought I would start with my view of the best of my career so far:

Top Ten Experiences of My First Triathlon Decade

1. Kona: October 9th, 2010

Kona is my most recent triathlon so perhaps my judgment is influenced by the freshness of the experience—but I doubt it. Kona 2010 was everything I wanted it to be. I was able to do all of the pre-race activities and then I raced the race that I set out to do. It was very challenging and of-course, I would have liked to be faster, but I thought I did it the right way. Much more talented athletes than I DNF’ed—something that I was not prepared to entertain.

Having Judy, Anders and Jenny there along with our friends the Prices was very special. Having Jenny greet me at the finish line was over the top. It was also the 100th triathlon of my career.

Kona was a dream I first had in 1982. It was my top and toughest goal in triathlon. I tried 11 times prior to qualify and I finally made it at Oceanside. I went to the Big Island and realized my dream. I’d like to go back, but if I never do, at least I had the privilege of doing it on this magical October day.

2. Ironman Florida: November 6th, 2004

IMFL was my first Ironman. A realization of the dream that I first hatched watching Julie Moss in 1982. I was further inspired by the 2003 IMFL race of local triathlete Mike Clark and would be closely aligned with him “tri-wise” until his untimely death in 2008.

I signed up for IMFL before I was ready physically or mentally. However, once crossing the Rubicon, I was able to dedicate myself throughout 2004 and arrived down in Panama City with enough in the tank to have a legitimate shot at making it.

My swim was solid and my bike more than so. I had some tough moments on the run but persevered and crossed the finish line in 11:31:29. Kara ran the last 100 yards with me, and my parents, Judy, Jenny and Alex were also there to greet me. They say there is nothing like your first Ironman finish and they are right!

3. White Lake Half-Ironman: May 5th, 2007

In my training prior to my big events I often imagine/visualize myself having a “perfect” race. At White Lake in 2007 I had that race. I had been training with Peter Reid as my coach for about six months and we aimed for White Lake as our first real test of my fitness gains. At stake was a spot on the U. S. Long-Course Championship Team and a chance to gauge myself against two first rate athletes: Lou Almekinders (a perennial All-American and Team USA member and a man who was previously ranked 7th in the nation in our AG) and Bill Edwards (a multiple Kona qualifier who two years prior had done a 10:09 IM and was ranked 16th in the country).

I had a solid swim and followed it up with an AG leading 2:24 bike split. I left T2 with a 5-minute lead on these two very strong runners. Then the unthinkable happened as I cranked out a 1:38:01 half-marathon to win my AG by over 7 minutes and ahead of 43 others. I ended up recording my best half-marathon split (including road races) and dropping 15 minutes from my H-IM best. Further, my 4:43:14 was a new M50-54 AG record for White Lake by over 5 minutes. Anders and I both qualified for the Worlds in France and I scored an 89+ USAT rating—my best ever—even to this day.

As perfect a race as I can ever imagine having!

4. Stone Harbor Triathlon: July 15th, 2001

My very first triathlon. I had vowed to do an Ironman in 1982 and when my financial advisor, Scott, challenged me to a triathlon in Stone Harbor in 2001, I decided it was probably time to get on it. I didn’t know what I was doing and it showed (for example the 10+ minute backstroke swim for the quarter mile). Scott whooped me even though it seemed to me that I was both a better athlete and in better shape. I did catch the bug and vowed to come back in 2002 and avenge my defeat. Which I did. A lot of the great experiences I’ve had since are a result of this day and my desire to get better at this sport.

5. Lake Lenape Triathlon: July 12th, 2003

Lake Lenape—a typical NJ sprint race—was my 10th triathlon. In the prior nine races, despite devoting a lot of very serious effort in 2002 and 2003 to get good at triathlon, I had still never been able to finish in the top 3 (podium) in my AG. Lenape is a very competitive race with close to 400 triathletes and on this day, 34 in my AG. While I believed in my training, and myself I certainly had no reason to believe that I could find my way to the top.

However, I surprised myself with a solid swim and then posted the #3 overall bike split. I ran scared but well enough to think that maybe I had a chance. At that point in my career, my tactical awareness was pretty poor so I was quite surprised when I checked the results to find that I had not only podiumed but that I had won my first AG title. Since then I’ve gone on to win 28 times and been on the podium 60. But it was that first victory at Lenape that opened the door.

6. Spring Training

I’ve had the privilege to travel with Anders to four separate spring training sessions. Once in Provence, twice in the Costa Brava—north of Barcelona, and once in Tucson. These were extraordinary experiences for Anders and I. We made tremendous progress in our fitness. We experienced some incredible things and did it with a great cast of fellow triathletes and cyclists.

We raced up Mount Ventoux on a truly epic day. We lounged in St. Tropez. We saw Barca play Real Madrid in a fantastic football game. We climbed Angels and had Cappuccino in Gerona—just like Lance. We climbed Lemmon with Pete Reid and did an epic brick with Sam McGlone. I was able to get into a successful break with Sam and TJ and drop Pete at Gates—the stuff of dreams.

And all through it all was the most quality of times with my adventure partner, Anders.

7. Avalon Islandman: July 2nd, 2006

This is the first race where my tri-partner, Anders took me down. He had come close in a couple of prior races—where I perhaps had a bit of an off day. Not today however, I was on my game and raced an excellent race. But Anders, with is dedication to the craft and rapidly increasing fitness was just simply better and he beat me by 38 seconds.

My honest reaction was immense pride. When I did well, I didn’t want to brag about it (too much), but with Anders performance I let everyone know what a strong triathlete he had become.

Later we cheered Alex on in his first triathlon. He took a whack across the race and soldiered on with bloody lips. A great day for the C-Boys!

8. Ironman Western Australia: November 27th, 2005

After I finished my first IM (IMFL 2004), Judy threw a party for me back in Delaware. Anders was a freshman at George Washington and he came home for the festivities. He caught the bug that night. He told me he wanted to do an IM as well. I suggested that maybe he should first train for a while and then see if he could complete a Half-Ironman. We agreed that if he did so then we would sign up to do a full Ironman together.

Anders followed through and in June of 2005 he was fit enough to complete Eagleman—and he still wanted to do an Ironman. The only one available at that point happened to be on the other side of the globe, in Busselton, Western Australia. So we signed up.

In between we were both involved in car accidents, mine causing a full separation of the AC joint of my shoulder. I also torn my meniscus a few weeks before the race and could no longer run.

None-the-less, a plan is a plan, and we ventured forth and overcame very challenging conditions (wind, large waves, lightning, and finally oppressive heat) to both finish. Nothing like a first Ironman and we both reveled in Anders’ first IM experience.

The trek home was no less challenging as it involved a death on the plane and an emergency landing well short of our destination. The trip home ended up being a 40-hour ordeal but we survived and we were now both Ironmen.

9. Metroman: May 20th, 2007

We signed up for this race because there was a parent/child competition. We envisioned racing against the Holmes—an outstanding father/son pair of All-American triathletes. We were both in tremendous shape having both obliterated our Half-Ironman personal bests at White Lake two weeks before.

We both cranked it and ended up finishing 2nd (Anders) and 3rd (me) overall. We won the parent/child competition by over an hour. We were both into that magical groove that we both experienced in 2007. After the race we cruised the parking lot blasting our theme song (Heavy Rotation)—we were very much on top of our game.

10. Cadence Kona Challenge: October 20th-21st, 2007

The Cadence Kona Challenge was a promotional event sponsored by Cadence Cycling and Triathlete magazine. It was (in theory) to help a couple of people get to Kona. Thousands of people applied by completing an extensive questionnaire and they invited 100 to a weekend in NYC to pick the 6 winners. I was one of the 100.

There were four prime parts to the Challenge. On Saturday we had a test of our Functional Threshold Power on the bike and a max run performance over 12 minutes. The top 10 from these tests would advance to the finals on Sunday.

I was in the last wave of 10 for the bike test. These were all the old people of which I was the oldest male. The top Computrainer measured power for the 20-minute test prior to my wave was 307 watts. My good friend, Steve Delmonte (a better cyclist than me) was second at 303 watts. While I own a Computrainer, I really had no idea what I could do. I knew I was a very strong cyclist and that I was in tremendous shape (and in the early phases of my IM taper)—just before my “A” race—IMFL 2007. I also knew if I was to advance, it would be based on this bike test.

We were in a room with ten bikes with all of our performance data displayed on a number of big screens in front of us. In the room were the Cadence staff and the Challenge judges as well as many of the prior competitors—it had a real hop to it.

I thought it best to start conservatively and see how it felt—I rode the first 5 minutes at 280 watts and felt very comfortable and I was able to rapidly gap my fellow riders in wave 10. I decided to go for it—maybe I could get third behind Steve. I pushed my effort up to 300-320 watts and found the effort challenging but still doable. At the end of 10 minutes, my average power had climbed to 293 watts.

I had a decision to make. Nurse it and shoot for the top 5 or just go for it. I decided to pursue the latter. I took a towel and put it over my head and closed my eyes as I just lay out in the aero position. I didn’t want to watch my power and I just decided to just go for it—try to feel the most power I could. I checked my HR monitor/chrono a couple of times and saw I was pushing over 170 bpm—I was maxing out. I felt a hand rubbing my lower back and I heard many people urging me on by name.

At 15 minutes I looked up and saw that I was at 302 watts of average power. I looked around and saw and heard people screaming and urging me to push harder. I decided that I was going to beat that 307-watt standard. It was like a dream. I felt such strength but at the same time I was in extraordinary pain.

I tried to “hold back” a bit while edging my average watts upward. Steve Delmonte, the incredible sport and man that he is, was right there with me urging me on helping me climb this last wall of pain. I knew if I got close with a minute to go I could do it. At 19 minutes I was at 305 watts and I let it fly. I was pushing 400 watts and people were screaming at me. I hit 306 watts with 45 seconds to go and hit 307 watts with 25 left. As I hit 15 seconds I stood up and gave it everything and saw the number click over to 308 with 7 seconds left. I held it through to the end and I had achieved the top bike performance of the competition.

The rest is far less dramatic. I did well enough on the run to make the finals and on Sunday, I swam decent enough in the endless pool and was a strong enough interview that I was picked to win the $30,000 package that the six of us won.

But the best part, and so strange to think it would be better than so many other Tri experiences that I’ve had, was that magical 20 minutes on the bike. Thanks Steve!

Monday, December 20, 2010


Even us triathletes need a little T.S. Elliot/Andrew Lloyd Webber every now and then...

(Daylight, see the dew on a sunflower
And a rose that is fading
Roses wither away
Like the sunflower I yearn to turn my face to the dawn
I am waiting for the day.)

Midnight. Not a sound from the pavement.
Has the moon lost her memory?
She is smiling alone.
In the lamplight the withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan.

Memory. All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days,
I was beautiful then.
I remember the time I knew what happiness was,
Let the memory live again.

Every street lamp seems to beat a fatalistic warning.
Someone mutters and a street lamp gutters and soon it will be morning.

Daylight. I must wait for the sunrise,
I must think of a new life
And I mustn't give in.
When the dawn comes tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin.

Burnt out ends of smokey days, the stale cold smell of morning.
The street lamp dies, another night is over, another day is dawning.

(Sunlight, through the trees in summer
Endless masquerading
Like a flower as the dawn is breaking
The memory is fading.)

Touch me. It's so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun.
If you touch me you'll understand what happiness is.
Look, a new day has begun.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Philly is the new New York!

What a great week for Philly fans! Cliff Lee--R2C2--could be the best of all time! Flyers are number one. U of D going to the Nat Championship. Sixers (!!!!!) are on a roll. And then, how about them Eagles tonight--blows your mind!

New York is so yesterday!!!!

Anyways, back on the home front:

4000 yards swimming
172 on the bike
34 running
and 16 hours total this week

Good effort, given everything that is going on work and fam wise.

As i mentioned earlier--my knee and run feel pretty darn good (for me)

All good

Friday, December 17, 2010

Good work today

Today was encouraging! Just being back home and getting somewhat normal sleep and making a nice chicken dinner really helps I think.

On the bike I spun easy for an hour and then did: 30min/10/10/10@250 watts with 5 minutes easy in between. This power is 91% of my current 275 watt FTP. It is also 85% of my 2007 FTP of 293 watts. 85% is roughly my targeted work rate for a Half-ironman effort. My plan is to try to drive my FTP up to 293 or so again and then try to train myself to be able to complete a computrainer workout that looks something like: 60 min/30/30@250 watts with 5 easy in between. If I can get there before Oceanside (and Steelhead for that matter) I should be able to deliver a very competitive bike split.

To put this in perspective. The last time I did Eagleman I did a 2:24 on an average power of 221 watts. This is 23.3 mph. At 250 watts, theoretically, I'd be able to go 4.2% faster (given the cubic relatiobship between power and speed) than this or 24.3 mph. this would translate into a 2:18. There just aren't many guys in my AG that can touch that. It's a long way from 30/10/10/10 to 60/30/30 but that's where I'm heading. Next week I'll do 40/20/10 and we'll see how it goes.

After the bike I went right out and ran 6 miles at a comfy 8:30 pace. I thought my knee might tweak out on me but I really focused on my left leg alignment and I was able to run pain free after the first 5 minutes. People now tell me that I look like I'm limping when i run which is probably a reflection of my management of my gait to minimize the pain. My recent streak of stronger running continues and I'm thinking about pushing into the 40s next week--before we head to Rome.

Then did an easy 2000 yards in the pool--just maintenance work. My real swim work won't begin untill January.

Almost 4 hours of work today and reasonable quality. I feel pretty good. It's only December 17th. I'm very motivated. 2011 could get good.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On a Cheerier Note....

I've been crossing my fingers on this but at this point it does appear to be a trend....

My runs have been almost pain-free over the last couple of weeks. I was over 30 miles last week and will do so again this week. I'm feeling improved strength on some of my runs--feels like my run fitness is beginning to improve....

Long way to go but this is quite positive news....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Grand Illusion

2001, when I started, I was your basic "athlete" who signed up for a triathlon

I did "well", in that context, but not really from a true human performance standard

I caught the bug

I've been getting better (albeit older) almost ever sinse

In reality, it's the Grand Illusion--and yes, I am a closet Styx fan--happiness is a low base!


So as you know I was down in Naples with my rents last week

As i told you, my dad was not doing well, and in my view was unlikely to walk amongst us much longer

This turns out to be true (MRI results are back, CNS Lymphoma back, needs Chemo, never solved the kidney thing, oops...3 or 4 months)

this blog is not about Cancer--although, I'd like to be on the record as against it as it really does suck

this blog is about vitality and age and how one creates an illusion about the other

everyting cool about youth and vitality

less things cool about age and the diminishment of vitality


watching my dad waste away, and the impact on my mother, and more importantly the impact on the human being that is my father, is devastating....the affront on human a universe that I designed this would not happen!

my dad never was cut out to be a hero, but in this cancer battle, the one he should have lost many years ago, he has, almost unwittingly, emerged as a hero

because of this, it is so sad to see that illusion of his strength shattered...not much longer now


so, this blog is not about that (or is it?) but really (?) about the nitty-gritty of the triathlon/adventure, here it is:

despite my father's situation and my many days of travel, I, upon arriving finally at home once again, undertook a FTP20 test today. 289 watts was my last high level mark and I set out to push it well into the 290s. By 6-7 minutes I began to feel my limitations. I did not have it. I ended up having to do 4 segments for 10/5/2.5/2.5 minutes@ 292 watts with 5 minutes rest in between--a very far cry from what I wanted (expected)

probably a bad day--I've been running my non-tri life raged recently

and don't get me wrong, I know almost everyone else in my age group that I race against, would kill for these peformacne numbers on the bike...

but still, with my father, I'm so very much more aware of my oldness

I am old and getting older

And while, the tri thing is a bit of a fountain of youth, and such a compelling force in my life, it is truly a Grand Illusion

I see the future and it is not good


All the more reason to enjoy the now


Wish I was better with people and relationships--will have to work on that--it would be embarrassing to have no one come to my funeral--but maybe I wouldn't notice


My kids (and wife, Judy) are fantastic

I could go on and on about them...especially Judy, but this next bit is about the kids:

Jenny is killing at Loyola Grad School

Kara's play the last two nights at Playwright's was fantastic

Alex, screwed up a very easy question on his math PSAT--if he hadn't, he would have scored 800

And Anders, due to his vision and commitment, was accepted into Harvard Business School yesterday


Life is for the young--and it should be

I'm old (and getting older)

Time to man up!


Thanks for reading

Sunday, December 12, 2010

busy times

Down in Florida visiting my parents for most of the week and then up in Boston reuniting with a lot of the old Boston/Bain gang. Lots of travel and lots of time away creates a few obstacles training wise.

Also very sad to see where my father is at. he is going downhill very quickly and I fear will not walk among us much longer. Very challenging situation for my mother as well. It was nice to pitch in a bit and i did enjoy my time with them for sure.

Training wise this week I did manage to squeeze in enough quality and quantity to feel like I'm making progress:

4000 yards swimming
163 miles on the bike
32 miles running
15.3 hours training

Decided to not race the Rehoboth half-marathon. the last minute addition of a trip yesterday up to Boston knocked it off the list. probably a good thing given how much I've been running around.

Up to New York tomorrow for three days and then will be back in Wilmington for a little stretch--I'll need to heavy up when i get back....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

jimmy V

Down in Naples, Fla with my parents. Watching the Jimmy V Classic BB tourney--MSU vs Syracuse.

Watched the famous Jimmy V ESPY speech shortly before he died of cancer. Hard not to feel it having spent some quality with my father with his bout with 4 types of cancer....

my knee hurts less

Monday, December 6, 2010

easy week

with the travel the last week worked out to be a bit of a rest week--probably needed it....more travel this week (and the next two)--December is crazy--I'll just try to do what I can.

Stats for the week:

4000 yards swim
128 miles bike
22 miles run
11:53 training time