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 (http://humbletriathlete.blogspot.com/2009/11/frazz-giveaway.html). 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!