Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Royals: Game 7 #TakeTheCrown

So when I first started this blog, I mentioned I would likely talk about non-triathlony stuff.  This may be my first one.

Last night was Game 6 of the MLB World Series between the KC Royals and SF Giants.  I am a fan of the KC Royals as I've been a resident of Kansas City since day 0 of my life. At the start of the 2nd inning I was sitting on my couch, beer in hand, dog laying next to me, TKB watching intently, and life was great.  No team had scored yet and, yet, I was already euphoric.  This was amazing.  I say this because I can honestly say that I never thought this moment was going to happen in my lifetime.. not without some changes.

In my previous blog (which is now defunct), I made a post about bucket list items in baseball that I wanted to witness in a Royals game.  Items like an inside-the-park Home Run (Thank you, Angel Berroa), Grand Slam (Thank you, Ryan Shealy), someone stealing home, a no hitter, a triple play, a 3 pitch inning, getting a foul ball (Thank you, Detroit player who hit it into the upper deck).  One item that I don't recall if I had one on there is the Royals winning a World Series.  Why?  Simply because from the late 1990s baseball was broken.  The competitive balance of baseball was screwed up.  The economics was skewed to those who could buy a championship team.  In my mind, the figurehead of this were the Yankees but many teams were guilty.

How in the world could a team in a small market be competitive?  Kansas City was the prime example of a small market team.  Players didn't want to come here and why would they?  If they were good, teams would simply overpay for their services.  The Royals couldn't (or, rather, wouldn't) match.  Our ownership literally came from the Walmart mindset (he was previously a CEO of the company).  We got plenty of flack about being a cheap team... and the ownership deserved those comments.  Here are some facts from a hopefully reliable source of information.  It compares the total amount of money spent on baseball salaries since the Yankees and Royals last won their World Series.

In the last 6 years, the Yankees have spent $10.8 million MORE than the Royals in the previous 30 years.  Yes, this is non-adjusted for inflation so it might be closer.  In 2011, the Royals salary was so an anemic 17% of that of the Yankees.  That was a horrible year for the Royals when they lost 91 games.

To be fair, I feel that every person should be paid as much as people are willing to pay them.  I'm not going to stop my company from giving me a $25 million per year contract, so I won't blame the Yankees with their deep pockets; however, from an ownership perspective, I feel it's reckless (ie, my company didn't give me that contract).  Yankees being a prime example.  They have spent $1.2 BILLION dollars and have nothing to show for it since 2009.

In addition, there are plenty of teams who have won the World Series that aren't in the top 5 of salary spenders.  So why do it?!

As you can see, the Royals have started spending money to get some big arms in clubhouse but they aren't overpaying by an absurd amount.  They have also spent plenty of capital (not just financially but in mentoring, training, and grooming) players from their own farm system.  THAT is why I was euphoric.  I feel the Royals have hit the right combination and didn't mortgage the future to get it.

So while I am impatiently waiting for Game 7 to start, I don't know what the outcome will be. I want our team to win and I feel very confident that they will.  Even if they lose, this has been an absolutely awesome experience being a fan of the team.  This entire post-season has been enjoyable to watch.  I hope that if you are a true fan of this sport, you are enjoying the it too. Being a true fan of this sport, I hope your team wins tonight (but only if your team also happens to be the Royals)!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Next Year's Ironman

As I mentioned in my Race Registration-Palooza, I'm returning to ironman-distance racing with Ironman Louisville.  I completed my first ironman race with Beach2Battleship 140.6.  The goal was to have fun and just complete it (which I did in 10 hours, 24 minutes).  Now it's time to see what I can do.  The planning for this started soon after Beach2Battleship when I signed up with Midwest Triathlon Coaching.  I then started attending the local Master's Swim class for stroke efficiency training.  I have even gone so far as to purchase a Power Meter in September to help with cycling. I feel confident in my running, it's just making sure I can get to the marathon in great shape.

The next thing to do is to pick a race.  This planning started in May with, of course, a spreadsheet analysis. There are a lot of good options out there but there had to be one major requirement before it got a row in the spreadsheet: It had to be an Ironman-branded race.  Maybe I'm one of the few triathletes out there that don't care to throw cash at the World Triathlon Corporation hand-over-fist (WTC owns the Ironman brand).  It wasn't until this year that I registered for a race that was associated with the company, Kansas 5i50.  So why bother?  If you want to play at the big dance, you have to play their game.  The big dance being the Ironman World Champions in Kona, Hawaii.

The remaining requirements are a late summer, early fall race in the US that is an easy commute.  This limited to:
  • Boulder:  Brand new for 2014.  I wanted to avoid an altitude race though.
  • Wisconsin: A good race that normally sells out fast.  I would have to volunteer this year to guarantee a spot.  Bike course is technical with lots of turns so hard to get in a groove.
  • Chattanooga: Brand new for 2014, so not sure what to expect.  I think this would be a good race; however, having the bike course end up long by four miles made me question the race planning.  I'm apparently a good cyclist, so maybe this is a good?  It's close to friends and family in North Carolina, so that is a plus.
  • Louisville: Known to be a very hot and humid race BUT it was moved to October 11 for 2015.  Bike course is known to be hilly too. Doesn't sell out.
I didn't want to be concerned about registering for a race that sells out in minutes.  Since Boulder and Chattanooga were new, it was unknown as to how quickly it would sell out. As it turns out, Chattanooga and Wisconsin are sold out; however, I'm not sure how quickly they did.

My good friend Vicki did Louisville this year and she really enjoyed it.  She also did Beach2Battleship with me in 2013.  With the concern of the bike course, it turns out her IM Louisville bike time was 13 seconds faster than B2B.  With the race moving to October AND the fact that we loved Louisville when we were there for the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon, I was sold.  In addition, my coach has done this race multiple times and he qualified for Kona there last year.

The run course for IMLOU follows most of the same roads that I ran for the Louisville Marathon (between downtown and Churchill Downs), which was super flat.  So I'm loving this decision!  The swim is challenging in the first 1/3 of the course.  You swim against the current, but it is somewhat protected by a small island.  You turn around and then can enjoy the current.  The swim start is also a time trial start not a mass start.  You line up and jump off a dock to start the swim.  With 2000+ participants, it's a rather long line.  Some people start lining up hours before and so I'm debating about my strategy.  I have a full year to figure it out.

I went backwards from October 11 and found a good half ironman in Muncie to do in July (another WTC race).  It requires some travel, so I can practice the travel preparation.  I have a couple friends, Kevin (from Chicago Triathlon) and Kristen (who has appeared here multiple times) joining me.  Anyone else?

I mentioned Kona earlier in the post.  Am I doing IMLOU with the full purpose of attempting to qualify for Kona?  In 2014, I would have to complete a 9 hour, 35 minute ironman in Louisville.  That's 49 minutes faster than Beach2Battleship on a less forgiving course.  These are based off of times racing in the heat and humidity of summer.

That being said, every goal race needs to have a purpose.  From here on out, any Ironman race I do will be to qualify for Kona.  It may be years before it happens but I have the tools and trust in the plan.  These races are way too expensive to do for fun... or their overpriced merchandise... or simply a tattoo.

Will Louisville improve my chances?  Not sure.  Being an October race likely means I need faster than a 9:35 to make it; however, it is the day after Kona, which means all the fast freaks will already be in Hawaii that weekend!

Hopefully I'll be active on here posting about my training in the next year leading up to the race.  Work has me crazy busy right now and into the foreseeable future, which means the time to blog suffers.

Thanks for reading!!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

An End To The Suspense!

So about 3.5 weeks ago I recapped my Race Registration-Palooza with quite the cliff hanger.  I had to wait over a week to find out if I got accepted by the Boston Athletic Association's Marathon.  And the result:

Success!  I made it by 45 seconds.  So happy!