Monday, November 02, 2009

Creator of Frazz Giveaway!

My recovery from the Great Floridian Iron Triathlon has been going great! I am raring to go get me a new iron PR at Beach to Battleship. Of course, my body may have totally different plans but I will be there with a big smile no matter how long it takes to cross the finish line. 2 irons in 2 weeks, what the heck is wrong with me???

Well, a new book I've been reading, Trizophrenia: Inside the Minds of a Triathlete, seems to explain it all.

Trizophrenia: Symptoms typically include an obsessive-compulsive need for the rituals of the sport: eat, swim, eat, work, eat, ride, eat, work, eat, run, eat, go to bed early. Delusional spending on expensive equipment, indifference to pain, and hallucinations of future grandeur intensify over years spent in the sport.

Sound like anyone you know?

Well, I had the opportunity to do a Q&A with Jef Mallett, the award-winning creator of the syndicated comic strip Frazz, who in his book unravels the sport's mystery and madness while raising it to new heights of hilarity. To get to know him a little better and have a chance to win a FREE copy of Trizophrenia, read on!

1. When is Miss Plainwell going to do her first tri?
I don't have any plans to get Miss Plainwell into a triathlon, but that doesn't mean a thing. My characters are always doing their own thing without my permission. Seriously, characters do that. Ask anyone who tells stories for a living. You create them, you think you control them, but no. Which raises some seriously disturbing theological questions, if you want to go there. I'll say this, though: Miss Plainwell somehow looks a little like my wife, and she just did her first triathlon this year.

2. As a triathlete in the colder climates, how to you stay in shape and motivated in the dark cold months?
Well, I'm a middle-aged triathlete who's constantly behind on his deadlines, so even dark, cold months whip by remarkably fast. So motivation is not the problem. I have plenty of indoor swimming options, and you can run in just about anything. The one change I've made is that I hardly bike at all over the winter. In recent years, I've found that if I concentrate on the other two, do a few masters meets and aim for a spring marathon or something, the bike comes back almost seamlessly. And my gear isn't all covered with salt (from the road or from me on rollers).

3. If Frazz doubled the value of the car when he put his bike on the rack, wasn't the Chevette over-priced or did he just use his old bike that day?
You know, that's a very good point. Maybe he had his gym membership receipt in the glove compartment.

4. How do you train your mind to overcome the pain when you do this silly stuff?
I just watch golf on TV and suddenly everything else seems painless. No, seriously, I would NEVER watch golf on TV. But I have certainly compiled a handy list of bad days for comparison's sake, and that works nicely. Beyond that, it's just habit. Every time you push through pain, the easier it gets. And then there's the real motivator: It probably works the other way. Every time you back off, the easier that gets. And I don't want to experiment with that, so I press on.

5. Frazz seems to have the most problem with the swim. Is that your case too?
It might be. Or it might just be where it's most evident. I can hold my own in a triathlon swim, but I go to a Masters meet and compete against specialists and I'm thoroughly fed my own lunch. There aren't so many casual Masters swimmers, where you go to any given marathon or 5K and you're not likely to come in last, let alone come in last several times in the same meet. Make no mistake, though: I love it.

6. How do you maintain your drive over the years and face the fact that you aren't as young / fast as you used to be?
I'm only not as young as I used to be. I'm still getting faster. That's the beauty of never being particularly elite when you were younger. And it's also the beauty of a sport where there's always somewhere new to improve. I am less fast on the bike. But that's the discipline that had me closest to elite status (which, not close at all) when I was young. And a few years back, I realized I needed to decide if I wanted to be a cyclist with a wetsuit, or if I wanted to back off that and be a triathlete. So I'm not as close to the top of the bike split list anymore, but I'm a little more of a threat by the end of the race.

7. How many bikes are too many?
Well, you can only ride one at a time. But it's nice to have a choice. You know what's the best thing about too many bikes? You can lend them to people to try out. It's the evangelist in me.

8. We have read that Frazz could be cast a grown up Calvin. If that is the case, wouldn't Caulfield be Hobbs?
That gets debated a lot, which, is OK. Like all cartoonists my age, and smart ones of any age, I learned a lot from that strip, and feel no compulsion to hide it -- or copy it. I think Frazz developed Calvin's hair -- messy hair never goes out of style, and it fits his personality -- but I think his personality falls closer to Hobbes's. Hopefully not too close, though. Who could re-paint the Mona Lisa?

9. How do you balance work, family, and training?
With mixed success. I have better days and worse days. But it all ties together. Training makes me better at the other two, and being fit makes me more efficient, so an hour spent training is not necessarily an hour lost in the other areas. And obviously I couldn't race without an income or support from my wife. We don't have children, the cats don't care, and the dog would run with me all the time if she could. Everybody gets 60 minutes an hour, and hardly anybody thinks it's enough, and yet it all gets done. Best I can tell is that when you have time to waste, you learn to waste time. Maybe the inverse follows.

10. What was your parents reaction the first time they saw you in bike shorts?
My parents bought me my first pair of bike shorts when I was a teen-ager. I'm more worried about how they feel when they see me in a tri-suit at 47.

To have a chance to win the book, leave a comment and name your weakest sport if you are a triathlete or were ever to become one (even hypothetically). To get an extra entry, let me know you're linking back to this post ( Comments will be accepted until Friday, 11/13, midnight Eastern time. US-based and non-U.S.-based friends are welcome to enter.

Good luck, everyone, and I'll see you on the flip side of B2B!


Marlene said...

Great interview. Sounds like a neat book.

I do have a secret desire to "tri" one day, but I KNOW swimming would be my weak point. I havent swum a pool length since lessons as a 10 year old!

Regina said...

oh! Friday the 13th drawing? Good luck for someone and bad luck for the rest of us!

I love swimming, but sadly it is my weakest event. I'm working to change that.

I was a huge, huge fan of Calvin & Hobbes as a kid (actually, I still am), so this is so cool!

Great interview, keeping my fingers crossed.

btw, thanks for the book rec. on training!

Lesser is More said...

Great interview! My wife has a Frazz cartoon posted on our refrigerator door, after she read one in the Washington Post a few months back and it really hit home with her experiences in dealing with my training. Love his stuff!

BTW - Swimming is, and always will be my weakest sport.


First of all, two iron distance events in one month makes you either crazy or possibly suffering from Alzheimers when you signed up for the second one (as in.. couldn't remember signing up for the first). If the second case is true, that is OK because you won't remember doing the first.

My weakest part of triathlon is the snow shoe section. Being from Tampa, I have never been able to perfect running in snow shoes after the speed skating and cross country skiing parts.

Good luck at B2B

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

I am dying that I can not at least be there to cheer you on as well as some other friends.

Next year.... I HOPE!!!

This has been some kind of GREAT year for you.

Bootchez said...

So in the sport of triathlon, I would have to say my weakest event is . . . triathlon.

Seriously, I suck equally in all events, though I like the swimming part the least.

Runner Leana said...

Love the interview! Sounds like a great book. Wow, apparently I am in the majority in that my swimming is my weakest sport of the three. I sure can rock those transitions though! (Sometimes...)

Good luck with your continued recovery!!

Missy said...

Um, the weakest, I'm equally good or bad at all three, honestly! I swear it. It's the most even race times you'll see. I DO suck at transitions, it's like I'm getting my nails done in there or something. If I HAD to pick, it would be the run and I'm hoping to turn that around this weekend!

DaveP said...

It has been a few years, 21 to be exact, since I have done one, but my worse part was the time between getting set up and the start. I never really knew what to do to kill the time.

Meg Runs said...

The author seems like such a cool guy! Very amusing and witty. I think this would be a fun read for anyone! Thanks for sharing!

Shannon said...

Awesome blog post my dear!

B2B is gonna rock!

Nathaniel said...

Awesome stuff. I really would like to get a copy of that book it looks to be a good read.

My weakest sport is definitely swimming. I did pure road bike racing for years before trying my 1st triathlon. The bike keeps me within the top but I always loose too much time on the swim to contest the win.

Great interview, I always enjoy reading your posts.

Maria said...

I've heard that book is good, I'm hoping to get a copy at some point! Thanks for sharing the interview, I love Frazz!

Sunshine said...

Good luck. You seem to be good at knowing what you can do... And do you ever do it!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

yay for non-U.S.-based friendly giveaways! :D Got into tri's by constant running injuries... having not swum in a long time, I expected that to be my worst, but interestingly it's my best, and my run sucks! :)

KodaFit said...

First of all... All the best for this weekend, although I think we all know you're going to do well.

Second, put me in for the book, not once, but twice!! I've got this posting link out on my blog already!

And finally, I think I'm pretty much evenly in need of improvement across all three disciplines, but running is probably the area where I think I could use the most.

Jef said...

Hey, Shirley, it's Jef Mallett. Thanks for a great interview. It's not only flattering, but you had some great questions. You made me think, and I love that. It's like training, only without the need to do laundry afterward.

And thanks for tipping me off to Beach2Battleship! It looks like a terrific option to add to the mix of possibilities. I'm looking forward to your report. Good luck!

Calyx Meredith said...

How freakin' cool are you Shirley?! I love the interview & I love Frazz! (You asked great questions. You're like the Renaissance woman - is there anything you can't do?) My weakest area in triathlon is the bike, but I'm interested to see how that changes over time. Will definitely link to this post - I want everyone to see it! See you Friday at the athlete meeting.

David said...

I'm a recipient of Jef's evangelism and have borrowed one of his bikes for several years. He even "loaned" me another set of handlebars after I took a header over a car. He is a cool guy.
And yeah, if I were a triathlete I got to go with the swim as the weakest link if for no other reason than my teenage daughter's swim-team speed intimidates the heck out of me.

X-Country2 said...

Holy crap. I take off for a week and miss your AWESOME RACE! Excellent report. I got a little choked up reading it. I want to do one so bad. You're totally an inspiration.

lindsay said...

what a fun-sounding book!!

as mentioned before, i am often tempted into a tri... but haven't made the leap yet. i am terrified of OWS's and don't seem to have any bike legs, but the swim would definitely be my achilles heel!

Maryland Girl aka Michelle said...

Good Luck this weekend!

Rural Girl said...

Way behind here....big congrats on your recent iron distance race. I can hardly believe you're about ready to tackle another! Crazy (but in a good way!).

Maddy said...

If I were to ever try a tri, I would say that swimming would be my weakest sport.

Based on other comments, I see I'm not the only one.

Mollie Saferstein Newman said...

When I was younger I ran and jogged. I still have my Inner Child's fear of water and don't even own a bathing suit, let alone a wetsuit. I do know how to ride a bike, yay! -- but I don't compete. My sport now (at age 66) is Ping-Pong. Forgive me, for I have sinned by even MENTIONING that.

Great interview . . . great interviewee.

sharon said...

Chalk up another slow swimmer to the list. Loved the interview. Think I'll have to buy the book if I'm not lucky enough to score it for free.
Good luck Shirley and bring home a PR!

peter said...

Interesting comments, and good luck!

Richard said...

Jef kicked my butt at Johann's tri-fest this year. I will blame my poor swimming.

Frazz has been a daily read in our house for years. We love it.

KennY said...

I've only participated in the bike segment of a team tri, so both running and swimming are my weak points. Of the two, I would have picked swimming, but there are so many more strong runners over swimmers, that if you grade on a curve, running may be weakest link.

I also have several bikes, (two road, two mtn, share a tandem) and use them as loaners. I enjoy reading Frazz, and enjoyed the interview.

Lana said...

Loved the interview - I love Frazz and I hopefully will run into Juf at a masters meet this winter. He forgot to mention the best part of masters swimming is that even if you are last several times over, you can still score points for your team! My weakest event, but better than being on the trainer all winter.

Sara Cox Landolt said...

The bike. :-)