The latest?  My buddy Josef Ajram of Spain and my Ultraman compadre is trying to talk me into doing RAAM with him as part of a 2 man relay this June.  Say Whaaaat?

At first, I was all like, no way, no how.  Too hard.  Too expensive, too cray, too this, too that.  Every reason to pass it off as ludicrous.  Irresponsible.  Insane.  For those of you who may not know, "RAAM" stands for "Race Across America".  And what, pray-tell does that mean?  Exactly what it says.  A race across the entire United States.  Its "Cannonball Run".  Only on a bicycle.

Then I started to think about it.  That's how my addictive brain works, you see.  A crazy idea just gets lodged in there.  It festers.  And before long, it becomes an obsession.  That's how my Ultraman journey began.  And I feel it happening again.

Because when you think about it, you realize, wow, that could be pretty darn cool.  2 guys and a crew guttin' it out in June for 3000 miles across the entire U.S. of A.  From Oceanside, CA all the way to Annapolis, MD.  And unlike Ultraman, this ain't no stage race.  Its straight through -- stop at your peril.  From what I understand, the top soloists essentially ride non-stop coast to coast in about 12 days, on a diet of Ensure and 40 minutes of sleep per night in the bushes along the road.  Can there be anything more insane?  Of course.  But this is right up there at the top of the lunacy chart.

Then again, what an epic experience.  I can hardly say I'm ready for something like that solo, but I think I can begin to wrap my brain around doing it as a 2 man team in shifts.  Hardcore  Absolutely.  But plausible?  Definitely.

My boy Jason Lester from Ultraman is doing it solo.  And he only has one arm.  Ultraman Alums David Goggins & Tony O'Keefe (3rd at UM this year) are doing it solo.  And Shanna Armstrong from Ultraman is the reigning queen of this event.  If they can gut it out alone, I'm confident I can do a relay.

I'm not saying I'm committed.  Yet.  Let's just say its swirling around in the brain at the moment.  But it is exciting to think about.  Its 6 months away -- so just enough time to get ready if I shift focus.  But I would have to decide soon.  Very soon.

The only true limiter is finances.  But I know from experience, that when I have faith and just begin to move forward, if its in alignment with God's plan for me to do this, then somehow it will work out.

I'm told it would take a minimum of about $25 - $30K to fund the adventure -- crew vans, support, etc.  And I certainly can't afford to foot that bill.  Josef said he can raise 1/2 the budget from Spanish sponsors, which leaves me with needing to raise about $12 - $15K in sponsor funding.  So I have a few sources I plan to approach, but if anyone out there has any ideas for me or any companies / persons who would be willing to jump on the funding bandwagon, I'm all ears.  I guess what I'm saying is that if I can raise the money to do it, then I'm in.  And if I'm in, then I plan to raise alot of charity money.

Did I just commit to this?  I think I just did.  No, not really.  Well, maybe.  God help me:)

For more information on RAAM, click HERE.

TriathlonLab, Sponsorship & Update

I've been offline for a while, but plenty of things afoot!

First, I've been slowly inching back into my training, which has been great.  Put in a big 120 mile ride down in Carlsbad last Saturday with my boy Dave Meyer.  We rode the infamous "German Ride" -- the training loop Norman Stadler and Faris Al-Sultan trained on prior to their Kona wins.  I felt it working for me and my fitness was great for such an early season ride.  When I compare my current fitness to that of a year ago, its a joke.  I'm off to a great start headed into 2009 and super excited for quantum improvement, especially in my cycling, which was my major limiter at Ultraman last year.

In addition, I've been in the gym doing alot of CORE work for the first time ever and coming into an understanding of just how important this type of strength work is, especially at my age.  After only a couple weeks of working a rigorous core routine, I can feel my entire body working better, stronger and more efficiently.

On the sponsorship front, I've made some great inroads.  A couple weeks ago, I met with Lloyd and Teresa Taylor, the owners of TriathlonLab in Redondo Beach.  They are excited to sponsor me for 2009 and I am thrilled to have their support.  If you don't know these guys or the shop, this is the premiere triathlon specific retailer in the Los Angeles vicinity -- they know what they're doing and more importantly, they are great people.  And what is even cooler is that they just signed a deal with Chris McCormack to be his official retailer for all things triathlon.  So needless to say, I am in very good company and look forward to working with them.  I'll keep you posted as this relationship continues to develop.

Check out this video of Lloyd talking about their partnership with Rocket Science Sports, the manufacturer behind a great line of wetsuits.  If you follow swimming, you know that Rocket Science just came out with a competition swim suit that by all scientific accounts is FASTER than the Speedo LZR.  Skin suit issues and debate aside, this is incredible!

I wore the Rocket Science sleeveless wetsuit at Ultraman and it was just great.  The best wetsuit I have worn to date.  I look forward to experimenting with some of their new TriathlonLab branded suits this year.

On other fronts, I was contacted by Sziols Eyewear about sponsorship.  They have a very cool line of performance sunglasses, so I look forward to seeing what develops there.

In addition, I look forward to continuing my relationship with Vega and Juvenon, who supported me in 2008.

Training will remain a bit light for a period to avoid burnout when things really start to ramp up in the Spring.  But I am itching to start really hitting it!

If you are in FACEBOOK (who isn't?), Check out TriathlonLab HERE.

Ultraman Documentary

Check out this short (16 minute) documentary on my fellow Ultraman competitor Josef Ajram produced by Canal+ that aired on Spanish network television this week.

Its a fantastic behind-the-scenes look at Josef's Ultraman journey with epic cinematography and music that really conveys the emotional drama behind what this experience was all about.

Watching it, I relived every painful beautiful moment.

Its in Spanish, but even if you can't follow the language, its well worth a viewing.  You don't need words to get into it.

I was not able to embed the video, so click HERE to screen the film.

Interview With "Gold Medal Mel"

Thought you would enjoy this video and print interview I did with Mel Stewart for his “Gold Medal Mel” blog/website.

For those who may not know, Mel is a giant.  A true champion among champions and one of my all-time swimming heroes.

When I was a swimmer back in the 80's, Mel was a god — the greatest 200 butterfly swimmer of his era.  Not only did he hold the world record in the 200 fly (my event) for eons, I believe he still holds the record for the most national titles in one event -- an unbelievable 14!  More than any other male swimmer in USA Swimming history, Michael Phelps included.  Mel highlighted his amazing swimming career with 2 gold medals and a bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Of course Mel doesn't remember, but I will still never forget the drubbing he gave me at Junior Nationals in Ft Lauderdale back in the summer of 1984 when he was only 14 years old. It was clear back then that he was truly special -- that he would become a major swimming star. And he did not disappoint.  He remains one of the greatest swimming talents of all time.

In any event, today Mel is a model renaissance man himself.  A husband, father, screenwriter, filmmaker,  television broadcaster, journalist and overall phenomenal ambassador for the sport of swimming.  And if that's not enough, Mel is selflessly giving back to the sport he loves as an active spokesperson on behalf of the US Swimming Foundation, a fundraising organization that (among many other things) brings swimming education to underprivileged youth nation-wide.  In short, he is a guy who is not only passionate about all things swimming, but committed to giving back to the sport he loves -- an inspiration for us all.

To point, Mel is relentless blogger and advocate of all things swimming through his voracious social networking on Facebook, his articles on SwimNetwork.com and his very entertaining blog posts, articles and videos on his Gold Medal Mel website, where he chronicles with a unique "bon vivance" all aspects of the sport from world champions to human interest stories.

It has been very fun following his journey and getting to know him a bit through Facebook and I am honored that he found my Ultraman journey worthy of his blog.  Hope you enjoy it!

Click HERE to visit the GOLD MEDAL MEL site.

Click HERE to visit the US SWIMMING FOUNDATION site.


Click HERE to visit Mel on Facebook.

The Vegan Athlete, con't...

I continue to get a lot of interest and intrigue on the advisability of a plant based diet for high performance athletes.  So I thought I would drop some more info on not only what I have experienced, but also what's out there on the subject.

Granted, this is somewhat new terrain.  There are not yet a lot of professional athletes dedicated to this program, but there are a notable few -- Track & Field's legendary Olympian Carl Lewis, NFL's Tony Gonzales, UFC Fighter Mac Danzig, Ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, NBA's Salin Stoudamire and pro triathlete Brendan Brazier among them -- courageously challenging and overcoming traditional notions of what an athlete "needs" or "should" be eating.  I love this stuff.  I'm telling you, this is not a hippy birkenstock thing.  If anything, its pure punk rock.

But rather than writing a voluminous primer on the subjects of protein intake, absorption rates, the benefits of an alkaline diet, recovery rates, and the connection between an animal based diet and heart disease and liver cancer, I will briefly outline some links that go into these various subjects in great detail.

THE CHINA STUDY: A fascinating study performed by Cornell University researcher and professor Dr. T. Colin Campbell, who initially sought to determine why Asian nations suffered lower rates of heart disease than Westernized nations.  What he determined was that communities with the highest incidence of animal product intake suffered the highest rates of chronic illness.  He challenges the "low carb" craze and takes on government interest groups while establishing a plant based diet as the healthiest form of good overall nutrition

GETTING BIG AND STRONG ON A VEGAN DIET: Article by vegan body builder and strength coach Mike Mahler on strength training, and plant based protein / amino acid intake.  I love the fact that this guy is a bodybuilder and vegan.  People, this is no longer a hippy-dippy deal.  Its about high performance nutrition, optimal nutrition intake and absorption, enhanced recovery rates, injury prevention and overall long-term wellness.

VEGAN ATHLETES AND PROTEIN: Article by Robert Cheeke, elite bodybuilder (and VEGA Sponsored athlete).  Great primer on the misinformation out there concerning the amount of protein necessary for optimal recovery and muscle building strength.  Even elite athletes only need about 10% of their diet to be protein based.  The trick as a vegan is to ensure that the foods consumed contain all of the 10 amino acids (building blocks of protein) necessary for muscle building, recovery and regeneration.

THRIVE DIET FUELING: Article by Brendan Brazier, pro triathlete, vegan and author of THRIVE, a primer on plant based nutrition for athletes and normies alike.  Here Brendan shares a few performance recipies designed to maximize workout performance and recovery.

THE 247 LB. VEGAN: Article in the Wall Street Journal about Kansas City Chiefs star tight-end Tony Gonzales, maverick vegan and highest paid tail-end in the NFL.

MAC DANZIG: Mac is a top ranked mixed martial arts and UFC fighter as well as dedicated vegan.  This is a link to his official site.  Click HERE for an article in Men's Fitness on his vegan regime, where he is listed as one of Men's Fitness "Fittest Guys in America".  Mac, Robert Cheeke and I are both sponsored by the VEGA product line of plant-based nutrition products.

SALIM STOUDAMIRE: A brief interview with Atlanta Hawks guard Salim Stoudamire on going vegan.  I believe he is sole NBA player on a plant based diet.

MONKEY BAR GYM: Official site of Jon Hinds, the former trainer for the LA Clippers, who is vegan.  This site contains voluminous information and articles on plant-based nutrition for athletes, including some of the above-listed articles.

THRIVE: Finally, I had lunch with Brendan Brazier the other day, the guy behind VEGA.  He was a wealth of knowledge on the subject of athletics and plant-based nutrition, most of which can be found in his book THRIVE.  If this subject at all intrigues you, I suggest you read this book!

I will leave you with one compelling thought as it relates to the vegan athlete and strength / power training.  Based upon the response from athletes Brendan has worked with, empirical studies, anecdotal evidence from other vegan athletes and my own personal experience, there is a strong correlation between vegan nutrition and a significant reduction in inflammation since a whole food plant-based diet is more alkaline forming. Therefore, such athletes have been able to avoid injury and recover from their workouts more quickly and schedule the next one sooner.

It cannot be controverted that this is the touchstone for all athletes in all sports where strength, power and endurance are a factor -- whether you are a baseball, football or hockey player or a swimmer, runner or triathlete.  You are always trying to get stronger and faster.  And advances in training science have heavily highlighted the importance or proper recovery between workouts as a key (if not the key) in achieving these goals.  If you can train hard and recover more quickly, the better and harder you can train the following day or week without overtraining.  This obviously leads to greater gains in shorter time periods, maximizing training results in a given season.

Brendan has written an article on the subject, which I will add to a future post.