Saturday, December 28, 2013

Peace on Earth

If you live in America, you'll have noticed that there was not a lot of action the other day. Regardless of the separation of Church and State, the nation pretty much came to a screeching halt while countless people celebrated a national past time of not working (that is true, of course, for everyone not in law enforcement, emergency services, the Jewish Starbucks, or currently living at the North Pole).

I, being an adult without children, get excited on Christmas morning just like everyone else under the age of 7, albeit for different reasons. I have something awesome to look forward to: my daily run.

Triathletes across the Northern Hemisphere experience a big lag in between races, forced upon us by waning sunlight, falling temperatures, and a propensity towards pansy-isms. (I lead the charge on that last one.) Winter time is commonly called the 'off season' in many circles of amateur, non-organized, summer sports. I think that calling winter the 'off season' is quite a poor application of the word. To me, the off season means, well, off. Not semi off. Not kinda off. Not off in the sense of "does this smell off to you?" Not off in the "his brain is a little off". (Oft heard as a response to reading my blog) (ha- that's the joke- no one often reads nor responds). But off as in doing nothing.

Christmas Day is the epitome of the off season for most. They take pretty much everything, except eating and watching TV, off. No work. No play. It's mostly just sitting, eating, drinking, and throwing paper wads at eat other made from the spoils of a recently unwrapped gift.

Not for me, though. I go for a run. (Okay, I do participate in all of the above. I admit it, it's pretty darn fun.)

I really look forward to this run. Sure, it was a bit chilly outside this year, with a runtime temperature of 16º F (or -9º C in case anyone with a good system of measurement is reading). There were a few clouds in the sky and there was a light breeze. I, sadly, being experienced with this sort weather, had ample amounts of clothing. This included 4 shirts, ear thingies, hand thingies, and my regular socks and shoes (unsure about the pants). With the rest of the country essentially doing nothing, I get the roads to myself.

My run was a short four and a third miler at an easy pace, I.E. nothing special. It was just a run. Except that it was real and it was spectacular. I was able to count the number of cars that passed me in either direction: n=13. I was out in the bliss for 35 minutes, making the automobile frequency of 1 car for every 2.8 minutes of running. Not once did I see 2 cars at the same time. I did see 9 deer, 3 other runners, 6 sledders, and 2 people taking a walk with their dogs. It was very much running utopia.

If you read the articles that are abundant this time of year, they will boast about the benefits of Christmas running. They'll cite metabolism, calories, endorphins, and a bunch of other sciency sounding words. I'm not going to tell you that they're wrong. I'm telling you that I think they miss out on the greatest point of all.

Rarely does a runner get to experience such an opportunity for relative solitude and peacefulness on the road. Rarely does a runner get to enjoy the open road without the imminent fear of certain demise. Rarely does a runner get to be in the majority of things without motors versus things requiring gasoline. Rarely does a non-running sloth get to call himself a runner.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A State of Intolerance

My whole life, I've been an eater. I like food. Luckily for me, I also have this cardio addiction. The 2 are forever at war with each other. Sometimes, the food-loving portion of my existence tips the scales (literally and figuratively). Other times, I let the Wookie win the calories-out side of the equation dominates. The result has been a rather life-long equilibrium of non-overweightness coupled with my fair share of sweaty, smelly clothes.

Should anyone ask, my favorite food is, hands down, chocolate. I can't remember a day going by when something chocolaty has not crossed my lips. Usually, chocolate hits my system multiple times a day. Sometimes, it's 100% of my daily intake. This is not to say that I don't like other foods. Quite the contrary, I like almost every food (except for bacon- I loathe that vile excuse for a meat's existence). I've always had this endless, cast-iron stomach; able to handle food in epic portions and random mixtures of organic compounds.

In the past year, I've met my match. It took a rather surprising form. Upon it's ingestion, I am rendered even more useless than normal, which makes me about as valuable as a 3 dollar bill. My new nemesis: the Almond.

Nutritionally, it's supposed to be a healthy nut. It's loaded with protein and fat. And, not the bad kind of fat, but the Glinda- the Good Witch kind. Regardless of it's accolades, I cannot tolerate this food.

That's not to say that I don't like it. Quite the contrary. I think it's remarkably delicious. I've enjoyed its flavor in its 'raw' form. Its 'roasted salty' form. Its 'sliced and mixed with other foods' (such as chicken or green beans) form. Its 'lubed for her pleasure' form. Its 'mashed up 'butter'' form. They're all good.

Except that my digestive system, for some reason, stopped agreeing with me. I have what's commonly known as adult onset almond intolerance. This is not the same thing as an allergy. Nut allergies usually impact the respiratory system. The resulting lack of ability to breathe can be quite deadly for the allergee. As opposed to an intolerance, which can be quite deadly to the others in the room.

With any of my food problems, I will occasionally re-validate. Like I said before, I like to eat and I hate it when an item is removed from the palate. Yes, I've even re-validated my hatred for everything bacon. I've never liked it and it seems that I never will.

Recently, I revalidated my almond intolerance. The Wife made some almond butter based chocolate chip cookies. Once she decided to put chocolate into the mix, I was sold on the attempt (addiction is not pretty). Plus, I was curious to a couple of things: 1. Will cooked almond butter cause a reaction? 2. What are the individual Banter Intolerance phases? This time, I took careful notes to try and understand the process scientifically. Sure enough, the cookies were extraordinarily good. I am saddened to report that I'll probably not eat another one again.

I'm posting this now so that you, dear Bantee, can be aware of the symptoms and have an understanding of what is happening in your body.

Step 1: Ingestion
This seems simple enough. Simply introduce the intoleragen (yes, I just made that word up) into your digestive system. The best way is through eating. I have not experimented with other methods, probably since I am unwilling to purchase almond suppositories.

Step 2: Gestation
This part is purely psychological warfare. See, you've eaten something that you think will cause a problem. Only thing is that it's not immediate (at least not for me). There is this time period in which the food travels the length of your esophagus and enters the stomach. Now, I'm not exactly sure where the reaction takes place. It could be in the stomach. It could be in the duodenum. During the wait-period, there is nothing but joy. I am cured! Then, you start thinking of all of the other food opportunities that await you newly found intolerant-free existence. Until Step 3 hits like a bully's punch to the gut.

Step 3: The Build Up
Your intestines are designed around the movement of solids and liquids. Sure, there are some gas molecules down there. Partly, there is marginal amounts of air leftover from the swallowing process. Majorly, there are some products as a result of enzyme-aided chemical reactions. Well, one or ten-thousand of these processes has just been ramped up. As a consequence, your belly fills up like an airbag during an automobile collision.

Whereas modern-day man will point to an infinite expansion level of the mid-section, that is a slow build up. In Intolerant Land, it feels like something is about to burst. You look at your belly button in hopes that you'll find the secret pressure release valve. No luck.

Step 4: The Churning
Initially, the pressure is in your upper abdominal region. But, you can feel it migrate. There are approximately 22 feet of small intestine in the average human (I haven't measured mine just yet. Been meaning to, but who has the time for such things?) If you put your hand on your stomach, not only is it extra sensitive to your touch but you can feel a creature moving its way south. You start to think that it's going to burst out. (Don't worry, it will. But that's in the next step.) I'm pretty sure that the origin of the famous scene from Alien(s)/ Spaceballs (pictured) was influenced by someone with a food intolerance.

Step 5: The Release
Note- sometime during step 4, it's probably best that you communicate to anyone in your immediate vicinity of situation and the risks of their proximity. This is especially important if you have only 1 bathroom.

The Release happens suddenly. You'll likely be curled up in the fetal position due to the never ending presence of steps 3 and 4. However, once the Release comes a knocking, all other sensations and discomforts are forgotten as panic sets in. You run to the nearest depositing station.

What comes out in no way resembles what went in (but isn't that always the case?). The main ingredient is water, meaning that your large intestine has stopped functioning normally and switch all of its effort on the evacuation procedure. The large intestine does its new job well, adding an extra layer of intensity. Now, depending on the volume of food you have consumed that day, a courtesy flush or 2 may be in order.

Step 6: The Cycle
I'm sorry to report but this whole process does not end after the Release. In fact, it starts over at Step 3 (unless, of course, you are stupid enough to continue eating) (which I, umm, may or may not know through experience). Upon leaving the bathroom (or wherever you made your deposit) after step 5, it's nice to turn on a vent fan or light a candle out of respect for those that may live with you, including your pets. It is unlikely that you had time to do so on the way in. Advanced tip: leave the fan and candle running for a while.

Here's what's going to happen. You'll resume your fetal position on the couch, bed, -or for the experienced intolerators- the bathroom floor. The Build-Up, The Churning, and The Release will happen again and again rendering you useless for the next several hours.

There is, however, a gleam of hope. The amount of time between one episode to the next increases. During round 1, the cycle make take a total of 2 minutes between Releases. Round 2 may take 2.5 minutes. And, with each passing Release, intensity lessens.

Scientifically put: time and intensity are inversely related. This means that as the time interval (x-axis) increase, the amount of discomfort (y-axis) decreases. Be advised- units may vary. Even better, it's an exponential relationship (see graph). You'll start feeling better and for longer periods of time. Soon, you'll be able to tolerate non-fetal positions. After a few hours, you might even be able to turn off the bathroom fan and blow out the candle. Your loved ones may attempt to use the bathroom again. If you have any respect for them, you should run some cleaner around the pot.

1. Will cooked almond butter cause a reaction? Yes. The mashing and baking process did not denature whatever chemical(s) that my discomforts.

2. What are the individual Banter Intolerance phases? Ingestion, Gestation, Build-up, Churning, and Release. Lather- rinse- and repeat.

The Take-Home Message
Please don't feed me almonds. There is a high probability that I will eat them. It won't be pretty for either of us.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lessons from Behind the Shovel

It has snowed every day since my last post. This is not a complaint, rather a statement of fact. Mother Nature has decided to bless my home with its vile sputum.

When it comes to snow, I am sort of lawful good versus this neutral evil's presence on my land (Aside: I was thinking, originally, that I am chaotic good. But, truth be told, I just don't look that good in a golden bikini. End aside). When faced with 2 options: 1. snow removal on my driveway, or 2. doing something less important, such as getting to work on time or rescuing children from a burning building, you will likely find me out front of the house with a shovel in my hand. There really is no way around it (Aside 2: This is a neurotic fact that the Wife has had to deal with for years. If we had moved someplace warmer, it would be a non-issue. End Aside 2.)

I have a large driveway which means I spend a lot of time out there with a stick in my hand. This also give me ample time to think. Most of the time, I dream of someplace sunny. That, or monkeys. However, during one of my recent OCD sessions, I started to correlate how the process of shoveling snow very much mimics training. I shall share this lunacy with promptly.

Start Slowly
Whether you're removing snow, just starting your season, or simply starting your workout, there's no need to make the first minute the hardest minute. Getting in to your pace and finding your groove is a much better way to stay in it for the long term. Starting too fast will more easily lead to exhaustion, burn-out, or injury. Not to mention that you may finish early and what in the world would you do with all that extra time? (Hint- the correct answer is train more.)

Actual pic of me and our recent snow
Get the Right Equipment
This doesn't necessarily mean the most expensive. It means get the stuff that can do the job. If you're going running, get a pair of running shoes that fit you (preferably something in a non-neon color). If you are doing group rides, get a road bike. If you are doing time trials or triathlons, get a tri bike. If you are going mountain biking, don't forget to ride off the cliff some sort of fat-tired thingy will suffice. If you are shoveling snow, don't use your garden spade.

See, there is such a thing as equipment specificity. In biology, we teach that structure matches function. If you want smooth, efficient function, then get the stuff that was designed for that stuff. In snow removal, I'm a pusher and not a thrower. In cycling, I'm a spinner and not a grinder. In running, well, I do something that resembles running. My gear reflects these habits.

Careful with Your Electrolytes
Because I have the right equipment and because I am efficient in my shoveling, I don't salt the drive. I don't need to. There's no snow left. There's no ice. There's only the original blacktop, the same stuff and consistency that you would see in the summer. If you do the job correctly, you won't need the salt.

The same can be said for training. Salt tablets or electrolyte supplements are found in many an endurance athlete's gear bag. Personally, I don't use them. Even in the longest, hottest events, I haven't needed them.

I would likely be more right than wrong when I tell you than 98% of the people don't need them 98% of the time. Even for the people who do 'officially' need them, they certainly don't need supplementation for each and every workout. ('Officially' in quotes as it's highly unlikely that the average athlete has done any blood work and urine samples pre and post workout to quantify their needs- most people are holistic in this regard and do what they think is best based on perception) (Aside 3- Want a fun afternoon? Try drilling a salt supplementer to give you a firm definition of what the words "heavy sweater" means. Then, try convincing them that they really don't need 'em. This will be hours of entertainment if you have the stamina. End Aside 3.)

Don't Get Plowed
There is nothing more beneficial to a community than the plow truck. These selfless beings arise in the wee hours of the mornings and drive their 4 mile-per-gallon vehicles slowly through the dark with the singular goal of removing all but the last inch of snow from the ground. They make sure you are aware of their awesomeness by announcing their presence with un-muffled motors, nail-on-chalkboard type scraping of metal on asphalt. And, just in case the sound doesn't alert you, they have bright, flashy lights on top of their cars implying that the average motorist cannot see a vehicle 4x the size of a typical SUV. (Coming from a guy who spends a lot of time on these same roads biking and plodding running, they may actually have a point there.) Many of these trucks come standard with a fertilizer spreader loaded with electrolytes that they probably wouldn't need if their plows actually did an efficient job of removing the snow. Sigh.

In my world, the other meaning of 'getting plowed' is just as significant. Drinking too much alcohol is also a non-efficient way to run my season. Sure, I'll have the occasional fifth of vodka glass of fermented grape. Okay, it may be more than one glass. And it's probably not correct to use the word occasional. The term glass could be better replaced with carafe. But, the concept still stands, as my repeated experimenting has proven enough for the hypothesis to become a scientific law- I'm a goon the positive effects of alcohol are temporary while the impact on training is much more long term.

Therefore, I don't invite the plow truck into my driveway. And I don't invite ethanol into my mouth. (At least, not on a school night.) (For either.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

On Karma

The Background
I'm sure you're familiar with the concept. Karma.

  • Your current actions determine consequences to be bestowed upon you later
  • What comes around goes around
  • Be good and good things will happen to you. Be bad and bad things will happen to you
  • My Name Is Earl

Over the past year, I've been, among other things, working, training, racing, and flying by missing the ground. On my list of other things, I've been working on the Pain Cave. Here's my last post on the topic, just in case you wanted to catch up.

This work includes sanctioning off a sizable section of the garage. Constructing a new wall. Adding electricity. Moving all of my junk to the other side of the room. Installing heat. I'll post some specifics about the Pain Cave 2.0 in a little while because this specific post is about Karma.

The Set-Up
Take a look at this text message conversation between the BIL and me from a short period ago.

Upon inspection, you should notice a few obvious details.
  1. I figured out how to take a screen shot of my phone without actually borrowing the Wife's phone and taking a picture of my phone.
  2. My contact name for the BIL is actually "The BIL"
  3. He is giving me crap about insulating and heating my workout room
  4. He failed at knowing my location. I'm in upstate NY, not NYC (a common mistake).
  5. He, likely, nailed my sexuality
If you are a faithful Bantee, you'd know that I have the utmost admiration of the Banter-In-Law. He's one of the few people that I can talk to about sport in the family who actually gets it. Yet, he is a trained meteorologist who doesn't seem to understand the weather.

It's no secret that I am no big fan of the cold. I live in the dredges of upstate NY via my obligation to the Wife. She's a rare specimen of many virtues (who seems content to put up with my crap) and I'll do anything to please her (okay, I try with varying levels of success). If one of her desires is to live in the land of no future, so be it. Being north of the center of the temperate zone, we are no stranger to the seasons. Currently, and for a vast majority of the year, it is the cold season.

The BIL, in a former life, lived here as well (which makes it even weirder that he thought I was in NYC). He was smart enough to escape to a dryer, flatter, windier place. Which is rumored to be warmer. 'Rumored' is the key word in this sentence.

The Delivery
Here's a nice map of our recent weather. And by 'our', I mean the entire country from a day or two ago (I'm a slow writer).

I live around here.

The BIL lives near here. (Please don't drive to his house and give him crap.) (To be clear, you can give him crap. Just don't drive to his house.)

As you can see, most of the country has been plunged into frigidly cold temperatures. All except much of the east coast. Our weather is exactly what we'd expect for this time of year..

If anyone out there is not enjoying the cold, you can blame the BIL. He brought this scourge upon himself and the lot of you. It's Karma baby.

Now if you'll excuse me, my toasty, insulated workout room is calling.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Happy New Year!!

I know what you are thinking (and by 'know' I actually mean 'I think I know) (and by 'thinking' I'm actually trying to implant thoughts into your head for my convenience) upon reading the title of this post.

1. You're thinking, "Where the hell have you been?"
2. Hey doofus, it's December and not the New Year yet. Even the Chinese, with their warped calendaring system, don't call this the New Year. What's wrong with you?

The answers to both questions are complicated and I'll do my best to explain as much as possible.

What is the Answer?
On point #1, back in July, I was hanging out with one of my friends (which narrows down the field since I pretty much have only 1 friend anyway)(and the word 'friend' might actually be an exaggeration) who suggested that I grab a towel and we go for a ride. Now, I'm not normal in any sense of the word and I don't think twice about it when my non-normal friend makes a non-normal request. Mostly, I oblige and follow along.

Well, what happened next is a blurr of events that's rather bizarre to explain. I went off world, the Earth was rumored to have been exploded, I met some aliens who were intent on my death, and had dinner at a restaurant near the end of the Universe. (It was quite nice. If you happen to go there, I suggest that you try the fish.) Just don't go to any Cricket matches and you'll be golden. Trust me on this.

And, just in case your were wondering, the answer is indeed 42. I know this now that I have returned. Just don't ask me to explain how I know. I could explain it, but that's not the point of the post. Plus, the moment you ask the question, the answer's going to be 42 again anyway. You and I will get stuck in an infinity loop when all that's really needed is your acceptance of the 42.

As for number 2, I've got a different version of a calendar than the government. To be honest, I've got several, different, non-governmental-type calendars that I regularly use.

On Calendars in General
Let's start by looking at the traditional calendar that lists the days and months in sequential order. It ends on December 31 and starts anew on January 1. Yes, I'm aware that January was so named in honor of the God of Doors and Gates. I'm not normally in the habit of pissing off deities, regardless of how petty their specialty is, so I refuse to put dates and times on my calendar. I'm also aware that the actual decision of when January 1st arrives was pretty much arbitrary. The Romans tried to encompass the Greeks, which was later edited by the Christians and forced upon the rest of the world during the Middle Ages.

In my opinion, a calendar should represent something very real and measurable. I'd have a lot more respect for that thing that hangs on my wall if there was some sort of clear criteria for why they picked Jan 01 in the way that they did. It does not fall on the solstice, or equinox, or aphelion, or perihelion, or moon phase, or the first day of Shark Week. Someone just said, "Today feels like a new year" and went forward. Later on, they found some research by Confucius, Copernicus, Kepler, and Sheldor the Great which may or may not have matched the aforementioned arbitrarily chosen day.

Deviant Calendar Systems
There is precedence for ignoring the Gregorian calendar. Car sales do this all the time. We are only 90% of the way finished with 2013 and they are already selling 2014s. I'm not sure how this is exactly legal, selling a model car named for a year which hasn't happened yet. It reeks of false advertising to me but it is quite common practice.

The new season of TV shows doesn't seem to follow any sort of concrete system. They do reruns in the summer and the 'new season of Fox' starts sometime mid fall. Some guy (not being sexist here, it's just that I'm pretty sure it's a guy) (but, really, you never can tell with Hollywood types these days so you have a good point there) tosses a dart at the arbitrarily chosen calendar hanging on his wall and the network airs the first original content (using those terms loosely) on that date.

Every school year starts off at some point in space-time that barely uses any logic. If you are in a non-NY state, the system typically goes as follows:

  • Decide on when you would like Christmas Break to occur.
    • But, don't call it Christmas break. You might offend someone. Call it "Holiday Break" or some other form of non-religious type word. Examples: End of Semester Break. End of Year Break. Breaking 2- Electric Boogaloo.
      • But, still treat it as Christmas Break even though the name says differently.
  • Read the State law on how many days are required per school year. That number is typically between 180-190 and may be different (for no real reason) that last year. Divide this number by 2.
  • Since you are likely a graduate of the public school system, do not do any real math. You'll likely screw it up. Instead, start counting backwards beginning at the answer to the first bullet point and continuing until you've arrived at the answer to the second bullet point.
  • Once again, go to your State Charter and find out which, ahem, non-religious holidays that you are required to adhere. Keep in mind that "Superintendent's Conference Day" is a legal holiday.
  • Extend your calendar to include these dates as days off.
  • Viola- you have successfully discovered the start of your calendar, which is somewhere in the heat of August.
If you live in NY State, the process goes as follows:
  • Start on the first Tuesday or Wednesday after Labor Day, thus ensuring that NYS menses are out of sync with the rest of the country
  • Add in Holidays and Christmas Break (see disclaimer above)
  • Ignore all of the research and data showing regression over extended periods of time off. End your semester about 3 weeks after Christmas Break with large, standardized State tests. 
    • Make sure kids know that their ability to graduate depends on their success on the test.
    • Make sure teachers know that their ability to teach will be based on their students' success.
      • But, don't hold the teachers accountable for student scores anyway
The Banter's Calendar
The start of my calendar is just as arbitrary as everybody else's calendar. The only difference is that I'm not afraid to admit that I just made it up. And, like all the other calendar creators out there, I have a reason for my calendar. I suggest that all athletes develop a similar calendar for themselves.

My calendar calculation starts with my big A-race of the 2014 season. In my case, I signed up for Ironman Mt. Tremblant. Note: This is not the END of my calendar, it's only a benchmark to determine the beginning. IMMT 2014 is on August 17th of the Gregorian Calendar.

Next, I have to determine how many training days are needed to achieve my race goals. This includes full analyses of my weaknesses coupled with the amount of time needed to see the desired results in a realistic fashion (meaning I pulled a number out of my wazoo). Then I add a couple of weeks for setbacks, such as illness, injuries, family obligations, and pansiness. The number of setback days is usually greater that the number of training days.

Now, since I too am a graduate of the American public school system, I do no math and I start counting. Since my number is right around 252 as of this post (I admit that I had to use an internet calculator to help me out with this. It can be found here), I started counting. 

As a result, my training season has already started. I have begun training for the season. Not the 2013 season. That season is long over and since been swept under the rug. All of my current work is being done for a year that most of the world hasn't recognized yet. Let them put it off. Not me. I'm already in 2014. Feel free to join me in the new year and don't delay the start of your season any longer.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Experiencing Technological Difficulties

I have a confession to make- I am not a real human I don't actually own a computer. I'm one of the lucky ones whose job provides him with a nice Macbook, free of charge, simply by being awesome. Included with this computer is free maintenance, updates, virus protection, and high speed internet. That's right, I'm one of the lucky ones.

However, since I don't own the computer, I have no say as to when I get to keep it or as to when they get to take it away. If you haven't guessed, they took away my connection to the world. I sat around daily like Paul Simon wanting to keep his camera. (Didn't work out that well for him either, given the state of Kodak.) My 3-year lease on life had to be sent back and I had to hold my breath until my replacement machine became available. Luckily, I'm a former swimmer who had a coach that believed in hypoxicity. The lung capacity was ready for such a long haul.

The problem was that I wasn't keep up with my blogging duties. I tried really hard to find an existing replacement technology in my home that could keep up with the demands of the internet. I tried to log-on to blogger and use my phone. It was incredibly painful, with thumb typing (I currently use the 3-fingered hunt and peck version). But, I have an iPhone. This is what the king of phones is supposed to be used for, right. When it wasn't working the way I expected, I took it in to the Apple Store. The guys at the Genius Bar asked to see my phone.

At least I could still hear my music. We do have an old iPad (yup, we're an iHouse). For some reason, it wouldn't connect to the internet.

Turns out that it was just duct tape with an Apple logo taped to the front. (Please ignore the keyboard in the picture. That's to my still functioning Commodore 128 with the option to change to C-64 that I use for playing Pit Fall and Donkey Kong, original versions.)

When I went to graduate school, they gave us a 'free' (with paid tuition) Windows machine. Since the Wife refuses to allow such crappy machines into the house, I had to develop a disguise.

She wasn't fooled. Anyway, after all this time, I finally got my shiny, new portable computing device, complete with high speed wi-fi, and I'm ready to join the world again.

There's a lot of triathlon that's happened in between the last time I posted and now. I'll do my best to catch you up in a way that's appropriate and interesting (I struggle on both accounts).

Until then, here's a good video to keep you entertained that's been floating around the internet. It shows you the importance of not buying in to the hype being spewed by the shoe companies and their "pronation controlling technologies". The barefoot running/ natural running craze is here and it looks like it has staying power. These guys show you why.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What to Expect When You're Syracusing- The Run

My intent is to pass along knowledge based on experience for any and all those who are planning on doing IM Syracuse 70.3 (even if you have no intention of ever doing this race, maybe you'll find it interesting). If, at any point along the way, please feel free to raise your hand and ask questions. (I suppose you could also leave a comment.)

Links to other posts in this series
The Swim
The Bike 
The Run (viewing)
Back in Transition
Let's assume for a minute that you have survived the bike ride through the hostile outback of suburban Syracuse. Congratulations! You're a beast. For some people, a 56 mile bike ride is enough to call it a day. Not you, stud or studette. You have paid money to go for a run. Now, before you get running, you have some chores to do before you can go play.

You have to get off your bike at or before the mount line. But, it's been a couple of hours since you left. Since that time, the RD went out and changed it to a "Dismount" line. You are now allowed to get off your bike. Same holds true for the bike exit, which has magically transformed into a bike entrance. One of these days, I'll not do a race and watch the wand waving to see exactly how the transformation unfolds. I doubt I'll understand.

Here is your list of chores: (It's up to you how quickly you want to accomplish them. Nobody will help you with this.)
  • Find your old bike spot. You need to use it again
  • Hang your bike on the pole in said spot
  • Take off your helmet
  • Get naked
  • Replace your bike shoes with running shoes
  • Add any additional gear to your body as you feel appropriate
    • Socks
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Monkey Suit
    • Fuel belt
    • Sunscreen
    • Nutrition
Tip 1: Leave your bike shoes on your bike if possible. You really don't need them from here on out. Hopefully you have practiced sliding your feet out of the shoes while riding.

The transition is at the opposite end of the recently formed bike entrance. In many races, the "Run Out" is the same place as the "Swim In". At Syracuse 70.3, this is almost the case. Find the Swim In spot and look just to the right. Voila. Go through that opening and turn right again. You are now on your way to an exciting adventure.

The Run
The course starts off in the park. The park is mostly flat with a mix of sun and shade. It's also a mix of pavement and dirt. After a brief period of time, should you follow the prescribed course (and it is in your best interests to do so), you'll have a chance to run past your car.

Tip 2: Resist the urge to get in your car and drive the course. You'll actually be slower. Here's why: After mile 1, the road is mostly closed. Traffic is backed up and creeping along. Also, the timing mats don't register your chip efficiently through the insulated vehicle. It's better that you just run it.

There is an aid station right before you leave the park and turn onto the main road. The aid stations basically have the same products in the same order as the bike stations with a couple of notable additions. They've added pretzels and flat cola (may or may not be name brand). The Athlete's Guide doesn't officially say it, but there is a high probability that you'll find some ice. Do not expect water bottles. They dish all the liquids out into convenient paper cups, about 3-4 ounces in each. Same for the pretzels. Gels, chomps, etc. come complete in their original wrappings.

Again, there will be copious numbers of volunteers lining up, shouting at you and handing you stuff. Sometimes, they try to force it on you. Stay assertive.

Tip 3: Grab a cup from a volunteer or the table and pinch the top. You have now made a nice spout/ funnel, which is easier to drink whilst moving.

Tip 4: Water is typically first followed by the rest of the stuff. There may a second chance at water. When I take in calories, I grab 2 waters. Slam one immediately. Then calories. Then the other water. I hate running with that sticky, sugary goo glopped in the back of my throat.

After the aid station, turn left and onto the main road. You'll recognize this spot by a sudden increase in entropy. The road normally has 2 full lanes for cars and 2 slanted shoulders for everything else. They close down the northbound lane for the race. You recently biked on the outside of the race lane. Now, you are sandwiched in the middle of the bike lane and the returning runners.

The road is not that bad at this time. You are on a relatively flat part in terms of slanting vertically and horizontally. (That will change later.) There is a small, easy up and down while on the main road, on which you will run for about a mile. It's mostly shady and pleasant.

Just before the 2 mile mark, you will turn left into a quaint neighborhood. The road is all runners now. There is a second aid station. There is also a lot more sun. This portion of the course is about 3/4 of a mile long. It is the end of all things happy as you know it.

Here's the run profile. It's shaped like a beautiful pair of c-cups. The bottom of the hill coincides with the end of the road that you are currently running on. At this time, you won't see anything but the tip of the ice berg. The road Ts just as you start to go up. You make a right hand turn and the enormity of the climb slaps you across the face like you just made an unwelcomed pass at the hottie. As you start to ascend, you'll start to feel as if she also kicked you in the groin. She'll keep pounding away on your sensitive areas until just after the 3rd mile mark.

At this time, you'll find relief in a couple of different forms. First and foremost, the hill has ended. Secondly, there is an aid station filled with volunteers that know what torture you've just been through. Third, you get to turn around and head downhill now.

From here on out, you have to go back. You get to retrace your steps down the hill, back into the sun, hit the main road, and head back to the park. On the main road, however, you are faced with yet another challenge. What you thought was a nice, flat road on the way out has now officially become a pain in the leg on the way in. If you are running on the shoulder, expect that the slope will cause a limping sort of gait as your right/ outside leg will be hitting the pavement at a slightly lower elevation than your left/ inside leg.

You'll turn right back into the park and hit the first/ last of the aid station of the course. You diverge from the beaten path as you take the long way around the parking lot, pass your car once again (see Tip #2), and head back towards transition. This portion of the run is littered with sharp, finger to fist-sized limestone cobbles. Pay attention here and run carefully.

Tip 5: Don't run in the middle of the path. Stick to the outside edge. If you're smart, you'll be on the left hand side as it's the inside of the turn. Not only will this be a shorter distance, but the ground is smoother here (or was).

Please pause in your reading. If this is your first lap, please go back up to the heading "The Run" and re-read everything that I have written. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you have to turn around and re-do the run. Even though it feels like an eternity, you've only covered half the distance to the goal. Once you have finished your second round of reading, then you may continue with the rest of the post.

After you've finished re-reading and re-running the entire shpeel, you get to finish (both the post and the run). This time, you are allowed to run past transition. It seems like you are going to head back to the lake for a swim (which, by the way, will sound pretty dang good). There will be party music. There will be people yelling and cheering. There will be someone announcing your triumphant return. There will be a chute that only the most weak minded persons (this may number in the hundreds on race day) would be able to miss. There will be a nice finisher's arch.

Cross the line and get your medal. You've done the deed now receive the bling. You'll have your shot at sitting on the ground under a tent in the shade. There will be amply supplies of beverages. A few steps away, you'll see and smell the post race food. You may even be able to convince a volunteer to bring you stuff.

Do's and Don'ts After the Race
  • Do remember to thank as many people as possible (you have hopefully been doing this the whole time)
  • Do shake hands and brag chat with your fellow athletes
  • Don't pat them on the back. They'll probably fall over
  • Don't forget your morning clothes bag
  • Do grab an extra water bottle for the way out
  • Don't forget that you have an expensive bike in transition. Plus some other stuff
  • Do remember where you parked your car
  • Don't sit directly on your seat. You smell. Put down a towel or something
  • Do send me a message and tell me how things went
By now, hopefully, you have a pretty good idea as to what to expect when your Syracusing. Feel free to chime in and tell me what I'm missing. I look forward to your success and good luck to you.

(Just don't beat me. I get grumpy about that sort of thing.)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

What to Expect When You're Syracusing- The Bike

My intent is to pass along knowledge based on experience for any and all those who are planning on doing IM Syracuse 70.3 (even if you have no intention of ever doing this race, maybe you'll find it interesting). If, at any point along the way, please feel free to raise your hand and ask questions. (I suppose you could also leave a comment.)

Links to other posts in this series
The Swim
The Bike (viewing)
The Run

A Short Blurb About Transition
If any of you have seen coverage of any of the Ironman races on TV or read about them on the internets, you might have this vision of a changing tent or large numbers of volunteers waiting on you hand and feet. And you'd be right on all accounts. However, this is not an Ironman despite the IM title. Syracuse is a half-Ironman, HIM, half- distance, or whatever else you want to call it. Therefore, you get nothing. Transition is a large, open field fenced off with temporary orange fences. There is no changing tent like the one in the pic. No volunteers will assist you. You are on your own.

You have to find your bike, put on your helmet, buckle your chin strap, put a race number on your body (body marking is not sufficient at this stage), and whatever else you might need. You have to run (or walk) your bike through the field towards the mount line. Once you pass that line, you are free to start your bike ride.

Tip 1: If you've practiced this before, clip your shoes on to the pedals and run through the grass barefoot. This style of running is more efficient and keeps mud/ dirt out of your bike cleats.

Tip 2: If you have not practiced tip one, run with your bike shoes in your hands to just past the mount line. Move all the way over to the side so as to not interfere with anyone, drop your shoes, and slide in your feet. Then mount and ride. Trust me, this will save time and grime.

The Early Stages of the Ride
Assuming that you have mounted the bike successfully and have started pedaling, the initial stages of the ride are quite nice. Head onto the road (there's only 1) and turn right. You'll be met with a nicely paved surface and a slight downhill. Don't get too comfy.  Be warned, there are 2 forms of evil lurking in your near future. These take the shape of railroad tracks. The first set is just before the 1st mile mark and the second is right around mile 2.

Do not underestimate the danger here. There is a 99.99999% chance that there will be no train traffic. In year's past, they even took the time to cover the tracks with astroturf-type carpeting or the like. I would still advise slowing down and not being in any aero position over the tracks. People have bit it badly on these tracks due to their lack of diligence. The tracks are, in all reality, quite simple to navigate. Just don't ruin your ride before it gets started.

As far as man-made obstacles on the course, that's the whole gamut. However, once you pass the second railroad crossing, a new challenge presents itself. You start to go up. Then you make a right hand turn and continue to go up. And after you've gone up, you go up some more. This pattern continues up until about mile 7. Then, you get some teaser false flats which continue until mile 8.5. Then, guess what happens? That's right, you go up. You have to survive the climb until right around mile 11.5. That's the end of the climb.

Tip 3: The magic word of the climb is spin. Try to get into a nice rhythm and don't grind too much. You will burn some of your energy matches just don't try and flame them all. You'll need some for the run. I understand that there will be lots of people passing you on the hill. Let them go and beat them later.

Tip 4: Just after the climb, there will be an aid station. Some people opt to bring minimal hydration so that they can save weight during the climb. They then pick up fluid and nutrition at the first aid staion. That's totally acceptable and up to you.

Aid Stations
There are 3 aid stations on the bike ride: mile 14, 23, and 41. Volunteers at these stations are more than happy to give you everything they have. Without a doubt, they will have water. They will also have sports drink, gels, chomps and bars (depends on this year's race sponsor, check the Athlete's Guide for specific product and flavors). They'll also have some fruit.

You'll know the aid stations when you see them. There will be a large line of people yelling and screaming. I'm serious that the volunteers literally want to give you stuff. They'll be jumping and dancing just to get your attention and in hopes that you'll get your hands on their goodies.

Before you get to the station, you'll want to do a little bit of prep. First and foremost, if you plan on taking advantage of their services, slow down. Don't hit the area at full speed. (If you're not in need, pay careful attention to those around you. It's a busy place. Move over to the left some. But not fully left as you need to leave room for others passing. Unless you are the fastest guy/ gal in the nearest 800 meters. Then, have at it.) If you have any trash, dump it before getting to the station. There will be a sign labeled "bottle drop" and a trash can. You do not actually have to get your trash in the receptacles. You may simply toss it to the side in the general vicinity and feel good about it. Just don't hit anybody (volunteer or athlete) with your crap or leave it in a place where someone behind you could hit it with their bike.

As far as product, first up will be water, then sports drink (both fluids will fit nicely into your bike's bottle cage), then a bunch of other stuff, and finally water. Know what you want ahead of time. Here's what you should do. Suppose you want a product and a nice volunteer is shouting out at the top of their lungs that they have the desired stuff. Shout back the same product and point at someone. Make eye contact. Get their name and phone number. Some volunteers will try and run along side to help you out. Amazing when it happens. Don't count on it. Most will extend their hand and loosen their grip. You reach out your hand and grab on tight (to the product, not the volunteer). Sometimes you miss. Immediately start the process over again. You may want to slow down a little more to increase your chances of success.

Aid stations end with yet another bottle drop and trash area. You should hold on to anything that doesn't make it off of your possession from here on out to the next aid station or back to transition. If you need to use the bathroom and don't know how to pee on the bike, there will also be porta potties available at aid stations. The potties will not run along with you, you must dismount your bike before going in. 

The Rest of the Bike Course
The rest of the course is a nice country ride. Don't expect to see large numbers of people out on this single loop course. There will be the occasional hotbed of spectators that will be yelling and cheering. Most of the time, it will be you and a couple of hundred of your new closest friends on the race.

Most of miles 12-56 are rolling with a net downhill. The entire profile is below.

I am obligated to point out the nice little dip in the profile right around mile 20. This is a hot little bugger. For roughly a half of a mile, you'll have the opportunity to test your mettle at break neck speeds. I got up to 50 mph of that section, which meant that it was over in less than a minute. This section of road is smooth and straight so it's a good time to go fast. Further, the other side of the dip is the photo negative of the hill you went down. It's a short, sharp, uphill climb that will test both your gearing and your quads.

The rest of the way, you should expect a rolling terrain through picturesque upstate NY. The last ten miles or so are down and fast. This should give you and your legs ample time to absorb any water or nutrition as you get ready for the run.

There may or may not be a no passing zone on the last stretch of road. You'll know it as 'the last stretch as you'll see a lane of traffic completely closed off just for you and your athlete buddies. There will also be cones separating you from your soon-to-be running buddies. You should know this information ahead of time, either from the optional Mandatory Athlete meeting or from asking someone in transition. Either way, this is a good time to do some last minute hydration, nutrition, stretching, kegel exercises, etc. There is a half marathon in your very near future, which I'll tell you about in the very near future (convenient, huh?).

Saturday, June 15, 2013

What to Expect When You're Syracusing- The Swim

My intent is to pass along knowledge based on experience for any and all those who are planning on doing IM Syracuse 70.3 (even if you have no intention of ever doing this race, maybe you'll find it interesting). If, at any point along the way, please feel free to raise your hand and ask questions. (I suppose you could also leave a comment.)

Links to other posts in this series
The Swim (viewing)
The Bike
The Run

If you've done everything efficiently, you have made it to the race site before transition closes. According to published information, transition actually opens around 4:30 am (I, typically haven't even awoken by this time). It closes near 6:45 am (if you're lucky, you can bribe a volunteer to let you stay in a little longer- I know this from experience).

While in transition, make sure your gear is taken care off. Get your fluids and nutrition on your bike. They will have some of those large, orange coolers filled with water and with a sports drink (supplies by whoever is this year's sponsor). There will be lots of pumps in transition, either from fellow athletes or from the race support sponsor.

Borrowing a pump is as simple as asking, "Can I use your pump?" which is 100% of the time responded in the affirmative. The race mechanics, just like Hans and Franz, might pump you up without any work of your own. If you are too shy to ask the question, of course you can bring your own.

The race "starts" at 7:00 am. Don't worry, you won't actually be starting at that time. That is, of course, unless you are a male professional triathlete (then one would have to wonder why you are reading anything posted here...). Syracuse 70.3 is a wave start. In 2013, there will be 13 total waves, separated by about 5 minutes. The older and more feminine people will start earlier than the younger, virile males. I, for example, will be hitting the drink at 7:50. As if the pros need a 50 minute head start against the likes of me.

One aspect that I think is well done at Syracuse is that they have a morning bag check. This means that you don't have to stand around in your wetsuit, shivering in the cold (should the morning temps be cold enough to cause shivering). You can wear shoes to walk around. You can have your favorite hoodie. You can jam the tunes on your music player.

As your time nears, you can dump all of this in your official Morning Clothes bag, which was given to you when you checked-in yesterday, and hand it to the nice volunteers manning the tent. "You don't need to worry about your morning stuff during the race. We'll take care of it for you."

There is a warm up area, should you be the kind of person that likes to waste his/ her energy splashing around in the water before your race. There is a 97% chance that the swim will be wetsuit legal during any given year. In fact, the swim hasn't even been close to the temperature cut-off. In case you didn't know, the WTC is a little odd in their wetsuit temperature policy. The rules say that wetsuits are fully legal up to 76.1º. They are fully illegal above 83.8º. There is a gray area between those numbers. If the water happens to be in the midst, you may decide to wear a wetsuit but will forfeit your eligibility to win anything. No age group awards. No slots for the World Championships. You only get a finisher's medal, hat, t-shirt, and post-race dinner (all of which is probably what you would have gotten anyway).

The Swim

Congratulations, you have been patient enough to make it to your wave start. Everybody in your wave will have similar colored caps, which were given to you yesterday. Sadly, there is no official start line. You enter the water until it's about waist deep. Someone in the group will stop. Current scientific research has failed to identify the exact reason why that person stops where they do or while the rest of us idiots accept that decision. We all form a line in the vicinity of the stopper but are careful not to venture out further then that person.

Eventually, someone will yell go. If you're lucky, there may be something more official, such as an air horn. If you miss it, that's okay. You'll recognize the commencement of your race because everyone else has gone horizontal and started flapping their arms.

The swim is a clockwise swim with the buoys on your right (perfect for right-side breathers like myself). Since the swim is in a reservoir and protected on 3 sides, there will be minimal chop. The first leg is roughly 800 yards. You'll know when you've reached the turn buoy as it will be a different color. Turn right.

In my experience, the first turn is greater than 90º. It's closer to 110º. Should you only turn at a right angle, you'll start to add yardage onto your swim (again, it's been my experience). This leg of the race is about 200 yards and you are swimming directly into the sun, which is not as reliable a marker for spotting as you would expect.

Again, the turn buoy will be seen as a different color than the ones you've just been seeing. You turn right and head for the beach. Pay attention here. The buoys on the 3rd leg of the swim do not lead you directly towards the swim exit (at least they haven't in the past). The buoys make a 90º turn but the exit is directly at about 70º. If you choose to swim near the buoys, you will go out of your way by about 25 yards. Spot the swim exit arch. It'll be big and white. From a 1000 yards away, you would be able to read the words "Swim Exit" but it will be the only white archy-shaped thing against a green background. Swimming straight for the swim exit arch has a second benefit as the masses will be following the buoys where as you, and really I mean me, will be in clean water. Sure, there may be people to draft off of but there will also be slower swimmers from earlier waves to slalom through.

The Strippers
Exit the water onto a sandy beach. After a short 50 yard jog, you'll come across a slew of strippers. No, not the sexy, Gentleman's Club kind, but the kind that will remove your wetsuit for you. What's the difference? You are not expected to hand out dollars for services rendered. These people will give you attention for free.

Should you wish to take advantage of their talent, run up to a couple of volunteers. Make sure you have peeled your suit to the waist. You must do this part yourself (sorry). It's best to communicate your intention to the strippers. I tend to spot a likely victim who is available and point at them. They will acknowledge your presence. Run up to the couple and sit down in front of them. They will grab to top of your suit and yank it quickly. Just like a magician ripping a table cloth out from under the dishes, your suit will magically disappear from your body. Sometimes, they will help you off of your butt and onto your feet. They will always hand you your suit and send you on your way.

Transition is still quite a distance away. I haven't actually put the Garmin on the task, but I believe that the transition area is about 300-400 yards away. Remember that the clock doesn't stop because you are between the water and the bike. Also remember that it's a long day and you are only 10% or so of the way finished with the race. Plan your energy expenditures wisely.

Now that you've successfully made it to your bike, I'll tell you how to tackle the bike course. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 14, 2013

What to Expect When You're Syracusing: Pre-Race

My intent is to pass along knowledge based on experience for any and all those who are planning on doing IM Syracuse 70.3 (even if you have no intention of ever doing this race, maybe you'll find it interesting). If, at any point along the way, please feel free to raise your hand and ask questions. (I suppose you could also leave a comment.)

Links to other posts in this series
Pre-Race (viewing)
The Swim
The Bike
The Run

Signing up
First and foremost, you must sign-up for the race in advance. There is no race day registration. Sign-up is done typically on-line via a link through their website, which will then take you to, which will then force you to fill out about four hundred pages of questions, and charge you accordingly. Active will also tack on an additional fee just because they can. Sadly, there's no way around it. The race is expensive, as are all WTC events.

(Keep in mind that I have never had a bad experience at a WTC event that could be blamed on the race instead of my lack of training or my pansiness. Yes I believe that their races are pricey. I also believe that they put on a high quality show.)

Please note that you are expected to be a member of USAT (the official governing body of everything triathlon). Not only do you need to be a current member, but your membership expiration date must be later than the date of the race. If you are a current member but your card expires before the race, you may be forced to renew your membership for an additional year (USAT only has full year memberships or longer) or pay for a day pass.

To the best of my knowledge, the race has never sold out. Still, expect that there will be 1000 plus people on the course at any given time.

Picking Up Your Race Number
The race is typically on a Sunday. You cannot show up on Sunday morning and expect to race. You must do "things" on Friday or Saturday before the race. Bring a government issued ID and your USAT card.

Tip: Some people take a picture of their USAT card, store it on their phone, and use that instead of the physical card itself. Saves space in your wallet and is 100% acceptable.

List of required things
  • Go to the Host Hotel* (this location changes annually) and check in
  • Sign Waivers 
  • Pick up your race packet, which should include but not limited to:
    • Your bib number(s)
    • Your race stickers (there's about 8 thousand of these) 
    • Several coupons or advertisements for products that you have no interest in
  • Pick up your timing chip
  • Get an official wrist band that must stay on until the end of the race
  • Get any swag
If they stay consistent in relation to years past, this will be done efficiently and by many happy volunteers. (Be sure to smile, joke and have fun with these people. They are there out of the goodness of their hearts with the sole intention of pleasing you. If anything goes wrong, don't be a jerk. Your problem will be solved.) They set it up factory-line style. You go to the first table and take care of that business. Then the second. Then the third. Repeat ad infinitum or until they run out of tables.

You'll recognize when you have finished the process because you'll magically end up in the Official Merchandise Store where you can spend more of your money on stuff that has the "M-dot" logo should the desire hit you.

*Note- The Host Hotel might actually be a tent on the race site. 

List of non-required things
(also available, depending on your timing-schedule of these things is usually posted in the Athlete's Guide, which will be emailed to you or posted on the website)
  • Mandatory Athlete Meeting**
  • Chat with Pros (depending on availability)
  • Browse various booths or vendors that have set up shop
**Yes, I know the title says 'Mandatory'. They don't take attendance nor do they penalize you in any fashion for not going. They answer any questions you might have. They go over some of the commonly broken triathlon rules and the consequences/ procedures should you break those rules. They tell you what to expect on the course, if there has been any changes, or if there are any special rules. For example, in 2012, there was a no-passing zone during the last mile of the bike. The only way to know this was attend one of the meetings. Will that be the case this year? I have no idea. I might have to go to the meeting. Or, talk to someone who went to the meeting and was friendly enough to share. The risk is that if you don't go to the meeting and miss out on something, it's fully your fault and you may be penalized for your ignorance.

Bike Check-In
Sorry, but you cannot get around visiting the race site before race day. You have to physically drive to the race site from the Host Hotel (assuming they are separate places). The race site is a few miles southeast of Syracuse proper at:

Jamesville Beach County Park
4110 W. Shore Manor
Jamesville, NY 13078

Why do you have go to the race site? Because you must leave your bike in transition overnight. It must be in it's place before the posted deadline (most years, the deadline is 7:00 pm but be sure to check the Athlete's Guide or ask the question at the optional Mandatory Meeting).

The course is open to any athletes and all motorists who wish to be on the course. You may opt to ride some of the bike course or the run course. You may go for a run in the park. You may not swim in the reservoir (for some reason).

The transition area is controlled by security and will remain so for the duration of the event, including all night long. Remember that annoying wrist band thing from the Required list? That's your entry ticket into and out of transition area. It has your info, including name, your race number, bust size, astronomical sign, and an analysis of red flagged genes based on your DNA analysis.

You have to label your bike before leaving it in transition. In your race packet, there are a bunch of stickers. At least 2 of these must go on your bike. One of the stickers goes on your helmet. The other stickers are available just in case you have a nice sticker collection to which you'd like to add.

Tip: Some of the bike stickers are rather large. I bring scissors and cut those puppies so that they fit nicely on my seat tube and down tube. Otherwise, you'll have to figure out where to put them on your bike without interfering with your comfort or aero-ness. I also cut the helmet sticker down to a smaller size.

The racks are assigned seating based on your race number. They are the 'long pole' types that are meant to hang your bike by the seat or handlebars. Typically, even numbered bibs are on one side of the rack while odd numbers are on the other.

You are not required to leave anything else in transition other than your bike. You will have full access to your bike on race morning (assuming that you get to the race before transition closes, which is not a good assumption for the Banter).

I would suggest checking the weather forecast before making any major decisions about what to leave in transition. If the weather is predicted to be mostly clear with low levels of wind, I would personally leave most of my gear (shoes, helmet, glasses, wetsuit, goggles, bodyglide, etc.). In fact, I'd try to leave as much as possible minus nutrition. I keep food separate as I believe that even the most skilled security guard isn't going to stop a mouse, bug, or other varmint from eating my fig newtons or drinking my punch. Basically, if it's essential gear for the race, I leave it near my highly secured bicycle.

Now, before you start to argue, I have good reasoning for this. Before the race, you get to park your car close to transition. On race morning, your car is likely nowhere near transition. Last year, in 2012, I had to walk a good 1/2 mile to get from my car to my bike. The more I leave on Saturday, the less I have to carry on Sunday.

I've seen some people try and wrap a bag around their seat or cover their bike in copious amounts of plastic for it's overnight slumber party. I personally don't see the point as condensation will still form under the plastic. Further, you are going to be soaking wet from the swim the next time you ride. I can't imagine that your bum will notice if the seat has a couple of dew drops on it race morning.

From here on out, you should be ready for race day. Go home, get some food, get some sleep, and come back to the park in the morning. In the very near future, I'll walk you through race day.