10/15/2009

Athens 2 Atlanta Inline Episode

It’s been a while since the last Blog update. Sorry for that. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy over here at ET. Since our double Ironman filming in Austria and Switzerland this past July, Endurance Traveler has filmed in Colorado, Nevada and Georgia.

Starting with Colorado, I decided I was't going to be capable of completing the Athens 2 Atlanta (A2A) inline skate if I didn’t learn to skate some hills and increase my distance rapidly. So, I packed my bags and took off for Steamboat Springs. There I was able to take several weeks of hills and long roads to really learn how to skate. That said, I wasn’t any good at it, I was just able to do it, which is a start! I was also able get the filming done for a webisode related to the A2A and several tips from the road we’ll be releasing shortly.

Now, from there we made our way to Boulder, where Brooke Burger and Justin Daerr were nice enough to put me up for a few days. While in Boulder I was able to get a great trail run and skate in. But the real reason I was there was to do interviews. We interviewed Chris McDonald and Justin Daerr while there and got some great footage of them training for their upcoming race in Wisconsin. They went on to finish 4th and 5th respectively. We were supposed to do an interview with Chrissie Wellington also, but that fell through. It was too bad, since we would have used the footage to help promote one of the charities she supports.

A week after returning to Miami, we back at it again as I boarded a flight to Las Vegas for the 2009 Interbike convention. We have a series of webisodes featuring all the cool products, racing and interviews that will be released in just a few days. We fell behind on production because we are so backed up, otherwise this stuff would already be up for your viewing pleasure.

Finally, it was October and while everyone in the triathlon world was ramping up for Hawaii, I was ramping up for an adventure of my own…A2A!!!

We arrived in Atlanta on Tuesday, October 6 where the Hotel Palomar provided lodging. This exquisite and new establishment is beautifully designed inside and out. We were able to shoot inside the hotel, at Pacci it’s Italian restaurant and AltoRex the terrace bar. Production began in earnest the following day when me and the crew hooked up with “Top Chef” Kevin Gillespie and his Sous chef E.J. Hodgkinson to do some slow food cooking at Woodfire Grill. The term Slow food was introduced by Carlo Petrini in Italy to counteract the fast food. It is an effort to preserve the cuisine, produce and animals within a region, without sacrificing too much time in the preparation of meals.

Later that same day was one of the coolest things we could have done…we went scuba diving in the Ocean Voyager exhibit at Georgia Aquarium. I don’t want to give too much away, so that’s all you get.

Thursday, we were off to Athens, where we checked in to the modern and ecologically friendly Indigo Hotel. The Indigo just opened about a month ago and is currently being evaluated for Gold LEED certification, which would make it only the 5th hotel in the world to achieve such status. Oyeah, and Tyler made me a mean Indigo Martini, their signature drink.

Again, this blog is to give you a feel for the show but not give it away. So, I will tell you where we filmed with a few stills, but I can’t give it all away. The Day was spent filming at TRR Cobbs residence, Athens most influential citizen prior to the civil war. After which we went for some lunch and an amazing filming experience at Weaver D’s , “Automatic for the people Y’all”. In the evening we hit up Terrapin Brewery, Athens home grown brewer, where Thursday thru Saturday night they offer festive beer tours, live music, dancing lessons and of course great beers to sample. Finally, we finished the filming night off with a visit to Melting Point, where the Gourds were performing, a “honky-tonk badonka-donk” band from Austin Texas.

Friday was back to Atlanta for the day. We filmed with our feature athletes Jessica Wright and Eddy Matzger along with their respective families and friends over at Flip Burger, where Richard Blais made us some of his crazy concoctions and unreal burgers!! We followed that with a visit to the World of Coke for and interview session with Jessica. Then in the evening, we got Eddy’s interview after the very cool and very fun FRIDAY NIGHT SKATE.

Saturday was a much needed break from the camera for me and I spent the day roaming the streets of Athens with Caroline.

Sunday, it was on! The race started promptly at 7:30 and we were off. I am not giving anything about the event away here. All I will say is that our feature athletes put on an amazing show for the cameras and well I…I did my part too! I can’t wait for you to see this episode in the spring, it may be the best episode yet.

7/18/2009

3 weeks of travel and 2 European Ironman Episodes (Phase 1)

It’s been a long hard journey over the past 3 weeks, but totally worth it! First, lets just touch on what we did to try and get the best programming set up for the show.

Austria was first on the list, but in order to get there, the Endurance Traveler path went through Munich. Toby Wadinger is a friend of mine from there and happens to be life-long friend and manager for Faris Al-Sultan. After spending a day wandering the streets of Munich, Faris sat down with me for a great interview that we’ll be posting here on Endurance Traveler in the coming days.


Faris and Me in our interview

Next, we were off to Klagenfurt, Austria for the first of two Ironman events we would be racing and filming at.

My friend and fellow triathlete Meinhard Vintler was gracious enough to have me as a guest at his parents home in St. Michelle about 15 minutes outside the city and at the base of the 10 kilometer climb to the famed Magdalensberg. If, your planning a trip to Klagenfurt, the views cannot be seen any better than this vantage point. It’s also one of the best places to try Kantner Noodle a regional dish.




Me with Meinhards parents

Our first location was the Wörthersee, the lake is this majestic teal, reminiscent of the healing waters of the Havasu in southwestern grand canyon. The Wörthersee ferry system offers visitors a tremendous way to visit all areas of the lake without a vehicle, take in the castles and view all the different architectural influences that have touched the region.


Denis Dal Bianchi (Camera) Eva Windich (Guide) and Me

Second stop was back in the kitchen. As those of you already following production know, we try to hit at least one restaurant per episode. Maria Loretto, is a seafood restaurant serving both saltwater seafood and fish pulled from the Wörthersee itself. Cooking there was great and the meal was delectable. Whats even cooler, was that the restaurant actually sits right on the swim course and is the marker we all swam towards as we headed into the river

Cooking at Maria Loretto

Our next shoot landed us at Burg Hochosterwitz. The castle that is rumored to be Walt Disney’s inspiration for the Cinderellas Castle now famous the world over. Whats even more amazing is the familial history of the Khevenhüller family, owners of the mystical place. They once owned 16 different castles in the modern state of Karinthia, including Castle Feldon, now a Casino hotel located on the Wörthersee’s western banks.


Burg Hochosterwitz Count Kevin Khevenhüller


During our race, we were able to cover two athletes from California, Joe Traba (on my right) and Bill Moore (on my left). Both of these guys are great athletes. For Bill, it was his first attempt at the Ironman distance, while Joe was making his 8th attempt and looking to go sub 11 hours. We’ll follow their day during the show.

Following the race, Monday was our last day of filming and a great one. We went to Hirter Brauerei (Brewery), founded by monks in 1270. As we find with most edible products that have outlasted all the others, one of the key ingredients that makes Hirter unique is the water they use. They one of only a few brewers that use natural un-distilled water to make their 12 different styles of beer. Between the water, no pasteurization and the dual fermentation process are all part of making Hirter beer truly dignified.


Brew master Raimund Linzer and me discussing the fermenters

6/30/2009

A STOP IN MUNICH

The next production of Endurance Traveler is officially underway, and it’s going to be a double. We’ll be filming for 2 races over the next 3 weeks. Ironman Austria is the first and then Ironman Switzerland. But before I get in to that, I had to get there first. I decided to fly through Munich, Germany and take a train to Klagenfurt, Austria.


Faris Al-Sultan, 2005 Ironman Hawaii World Champion lives there and this was a perfect opportunity to catch a few good minutes with him as he does his last minute preparation for Ironman Germany, European Championships. Toby Waldinger, Faris’s manager is a good friend of mine and offered to put me up for the night.


During the day, Toby unleashed me in Marienplatz to check out some of the cathedrals, shops, open market and the Jewish Museum of Munich. All of it was very cool and packed with an even spread of tourist and locals. Of course, like any good Bavarian, Toby made sure I ended up at a beer garden. In this case it was Augustinerkeller, home to the oldest brewery in Munich, dating back to 1328. I am going to find a race near Oktoberfest time, so we can incorporate all of Munich and Augustiner, that’s for sure!


In the morning, I woke to a plethora of German delights, with soft cheese, breads, pretzels, cured meat, fresh eggs and coffee. I almost went back to sleep after eating, but I had Faris’ interview to do. The interview was great and we’ll try to have it up in the next few days. In the mean time I hope you enjoy this little video log of my day in Munich.

video

6/13/2009

Swim Around Key West recap

By Friday, May 5th, we were heading to Key West, and I was travelling with a fever around 100. These are the perils of the job. The big trick, was not so much about getting better, but talking on camera without sounding nasally and somehow figuring out a way to survive the 12.5 mile swim just hours ahead.

The Key West Episode is going to include some great race footage. Along the way, we'll make a meal at Louie's Backyard, a real Key West tradition; do the Duval Crawl; eat some conch fritters in Bahama Town; visit the Hemingway House; fish with Captain Billy and see one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.

My film crew in Key West was the most professional group I could have ever requested. Anthony and Greg not only did excellent camera work, but they were stellar in there artistry behind the lens. Kaz was amazing too, she made my job simple. It was the first shoot where I only needed to worry about being on camera and racing. It was a good thing too, since I was so utterly sick. Now, it's time to get myself healthy and get ready for the next Endurance Traveler adventure. In the meantime, we will have some teaser for these episodes posted within the next few days, so please come check them out!!!

Cheers.

6/11/2009

Ironman Brasil Recap

Well it has been a really busy couple of weeks here at Endurance Traveler. It started out on May 21st with my passport debacle getting down to Brasil. Once that was sorted and I actually made it to Floripa, the real work and fun began. The biggest obstacle we had to overcome during the last 19 days of travel and filming was sickness. I was already a little under the weather before heading down to Brasil and ended up spending the last 3 weeks in a constant battle to get healthy while traveling, filming and racing.

The bad news was that my physical performances were seriously impacted, but on a better note, we got all the filming done and I'm sure that it will make for great episodes anyway. After all, if it's easy every time, then where is the personal challenge.

Brasil:

Filming in and around Florianopoilis included Surfing (see the prior Blog post), White water Kayaking,



a visit to an Oyster Farm,


along with 3 restaurants. During the race we followed 2 feature athletes, Marc Tendler and Davide Murdocca.


Both were great and I look forward to presenting their stories. Filming in a foreign country with a language barrier can always be a little challenging, and this time was no exception. My camera operator Sydney was the consummate professional and I only wish that I spoke Portuguese or he spoke better English so that we could have communicated better. Regardless he was great. My other operator Wes, was the better English speaker and therefore took on the roll of lead camera. He also did a good job, but was in a little over his head with the physical capabilities required in a job like this. The first day of filming almost wiped him out in the surf, and there were a few other issues along the way, but he survived and so did the camera he was using.


Not as much can be said for the little Sanyo waterproof camera we were also using. That poor little thing didn't survive Kayaking in St. Amaro. Also, our stills photographer, Giovanni was a local guy that now lives in South Africa. He was a hidden gem, and I hope to work with him again someday. This guy was super nice, his English was great, and he was just an all around cool person.

As for the race itself...it was a wet and cool day. The swim was a little tougher than anyone expected for two reasons. First, the water was rough. Second, 2 of the buoy's got loose and we all chased them down!

Me giving an interview during the swim mid-point

The bike course is a two looper with several climbs and plenty of opportunities to see your friends on the out and back portions.



A view from the out and back portion of the bike

Once on the run, the weather started to really clear up, leaving cooler temps and plenty of spectators cheering on the sidelines!



Now, after getting back from Brasil on the 3rd, I actually caught something new and even worse on the flight back to Miami. That's the problem with being sick and still doing massive amounts of exercise, your immunity is crap. On Thursday, I was so worried about my sickness, I went to the doctor and had them test me for Swine flu!!! It was negative.

We will try to get some footage up in the next few days. in the meantime please check back when you get a chance and we will also work on getting som Swim Around Key West pics and video up also!!!

Till then...keep training and traveling!

5/25/2009

A Technical Day


I spent the morning putting my bike together, cleaning sandy-salty equipment from yesterday and working on shot lists for the crew. Also I forgot one of the highlights that we didn't catch on film last night.

After filming, we went back to the surf house for a little while and Lucy made everyone
Chimarrão, also known as Mate in some South American countries. Carlos made the comparison to a pungent green tea and i wold have to agree with that assessment. Even though I pound the coffee, I could tell this stuff was definitely loaded with caffeine.

Getting back to today...Not that much to tell, so rather than bore you, or make up some B.S. just to pass the time, enjoy the video of my walk around town and we'll catch up later. Ciao!






video

5/24/2009

Brasil First Day of Filming: "Surf & Turf"


Today was pretty dam cool. I drove over the mountain range from Centro to Lagoa da Conceição and met up with my 2 camera operators Weslei Vianna and Sydney Pihiero. Wes is actually staying at the the Surf house we filmed at. My host for the day was Luiz Stadler and his wife Lucy. They were absolutely awesome and we had a blast!! After showing me around the surf house, a whole group of us went to a secret surf spot, where the waves were crappy but the comradery was killer. I discovered that my Skins short sleeve top not only "improves power and endurance", but also acts as an amazing rash gaurd while surfing...double bonus!

Between my broken Spanish and the Brazilians broken English, we had no trouble communicating all day. It was probably much like a cycling peleton, where an Italian rider and an American rider are having a conversation in Spanish.

After surfing we headed back to Lagoa da Conceição to grab a bite to eat. Luis insisted we all go to this place called "O Barba Negra". This is a MUST EAT restaurant. We had all kinds of amazing seafood that you'll have to wait for the show to see. But, I'll say they served us this dish called Camarón en Moranga, which is served in a pumpkin and is going to make Thanksgiving a whole new experience. Tomorrow is an off day from filming and I need to put my bike together so I be blogging to you!

Caio!


video

5/23/2009

ROOKIE MANEUVER

No matter how seasoned a traveler you may think you are, it doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. I’d like to think I’m a veteran of international travel, but that doesn’t automatically make you impervious to blunders.

It never dawned on me to check if I needed a Visa for Brasil!!! A classic rookie maneuver. I made a huge mistake writing off the entirety of Latin America as this dynamic and free flowing appendage to domestic travel. I mean after all, I make my home in Miami, a place loaded with Brazilians, Argentinians, Colombians, Chileans….flying in and out all day, every day. Well, I found out otherwise, when I wasn’t allowed to board the plane headed for Sao Paulo a few days ago. Then, when I showed up at the Consulate to get a visa, I was informed it’s a 2 business day wait!!! I was very fortunate, and the Consulate was very nice when they made an exception to let my sorry butt through. But still, it was an easily avoidable blunder had I simply checked out the situation online.

What’s funny about the whole situation is when I spoke to several people about it, they told me they never said anything because they assumed I knew. They made that assumption based on my frequent international travels. The simple lesson to learn here, which applies to endurance sports as well, is stick to your basic checklist! I remember almost exactly a year ago, reading Johan Bruyneel’s book and he said exactly that. He said the main thing he does with his riders is keep them doing the very basic things we forget about (like eating and drinking). Endurance sports, travel, business, learning…this lesson is applicable everywhere you turn. Needless to say, I am in Florianopolis a day late and a little wiser.

O, and one more thing...everyone down here was quick to tell my why U.S. citizens pay $130 for our visa and wait 2 days. It's because the Brasil's government is treating U.S. citizens the same way we treat Brasilians. It's hard to argue with the logic, even if it only hurts tourism in the end.

The video was shot along the beach of Baia Norte in the Centro district of Florianopolis
.


video

5/14/2009

Pre-Production Madness

We are getting ready to embark on the next adventure...or should I say adventures! Endurance Traveler is knee deep in pre-production for both Ironman Brazil and Swim Around Key West a week later. Of course this also means different locations, different camera operators, different everything...except yours truly. When people watch the episodes, what many don't realize is the training that goes in to getting on that start-line. In the next few months we will be filming several episodes outside my comfort zone of Ironman. I'm really excited and nervous all at the same time. It should make for some great episodes though. As we move forward with Endurance traveler, I hope you'll continue to join us on the adventure.

5/04/2009

ARE THEY BUILT FOR SPEED OR COMFORT

Vince Vaughn asked this age old question in Wedding Crashers. Was he referring to breast implants or sports training? you decide.

As the name of the show suggests, I specialize in endurance racing. That doesn't mean I don't do shorter races; but it does mean that my body doesn't necessarily respond the way I want when doing them. Especially if I don't make a conscious effort to do speed work.

On Sunday, I raced the
MACK CYCLE TRI-MIAMI OLYMPIC TRIATHLON , and I'm in the middle of doing tons of long workouts to build my endurance. I was going as fast as I could but I was still able to talk. Basically, my top speed was no where near my anaerobic threshold. Now, the reason my body didn't respond the way I'd like was my own fault. I'm like a 1 gear machine right now trained to be comfortable at one speed for hours and hours. This is because I haven't been doing any speed work. I'm built for comfort.

Axiom: You have to train fast to go fast!

You may not have to do it all the time, but without speed workouts, you'll never get faster and the speed you have will diminish. It doesn't take much either, 1 speed workout each week in each sport can make a world of difference. After all, would you like to be built for speed and comfort?

So, don't neglect the speed workouts when training long, or you'll just be built for comfort, not that that's a bad thing ;-)


4/26/2009

Swimming Long

Sometimes we have to challenge ourselves athletically. For me, that gets harder and harder with my core sports (swimming biking and running). It's not that there aren't challenges out there; but, picking an event and fitting it in to an annual schedule can be difficult. This past Thursday, the stars must have been aligned. My friend, training partner and Endurance Traveler's In-house Counsel, Neil Bayer threw a new challenge at my feet.

Swim Miami is a race consisting of a 1 mile, 5 Kilometer and 10 Kilometer Open water swim at Miami's Marine Stadium. As of Thursday, the longest swim I had ever done was 3 miles (just under 5 Kilometers) and that was in a pool. On Friday, I went down to sign up with Neil and his law partner City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. They both planned to swim the Ocean mile. As we were driving there, Neil pointed out that the venue was the perfect environment to attempt swimming 10 Kilometers and I am never that far from shore if I wanted to make an early exit. i liked the logic and agreed to sign up for the 10K. Thanks Neil.

A funny thing happened on Friday afternoon....I got nervous!!! It was the first time in probably a decade that I found myself nervous the day before a race. Pre-race jitters are typical for everyone, but since I've been racing so long at ultra distances, I don't really worry accept at the start line itself. But, there I was worrying 24-hours before the race. I loved it!

The Race:

The swim started promptly at 8:00 am, and I was promptly swimming by myself. Apparently, I was the only non-swimming specialist in the field and definitely the only one deciding to swim 10K on a whim.

The swim was four 2.5 Kilometer laps. It was a sunny and windy day that seemed to be picking up as the morning went on. It meant that the last kilometer of each lap was against the current, into the wind and waves in your face. It was tough to say the least.

I was on pretty good pace through the first two laps, averaging 52 minutes per lap. Then, the pain set in. The third lap was complete and total purgatory. I was at a point in the race, where the waves were making me seasick, my shoulders were killing me, my sides hurt, my feet were cramping and my neck was starting to chafe. I was a mess and totally wanted to quit!!

Remembering all your races isn't that easy, but the failures somehow stick out like pimple on your forehead. I started thinking about the 5 DNF's (did not finish) I have in my carer and refused to add another. So, I slogged my way through the third lap, practically in tears and made it back to the pier for the final lap. The 3rd lap took me over an hour.

Lap 4 came much easier than lap three. Not that it wasn't hard, but knowing that every stroke was another stroke closer to the finish somehow made it much more bearable than the previous lap. I even lifted my head to thank the lifeguards as I passed them.

Finally, after 3 hours 43 minutes and 52 seconds, I climbed out of the water and up the beach to claim 59th place out of 69 finishers. Honestly, I didn't care that the winner finished an hour and 41 minutes ahead of me.

I'm not a swimmer and I challenged myself to step outside the comfort zone. That's a big part of endurance sports, taking on challenges that force you to dig deep and show what your truly made of. Never stop challenging yourself and don't be afraid to succeed!

4/22/2009

Let the Blogs begin!

As we visit new places around the globe; we'll supplement our twitter updates with as much blogging as we can. Our goal at Endurance traveler, is to give you a behind the scenes look at what it takes to train for, race, and visit the multitude of events and places covered in a season; to turn it into a show for your viewing pleasure!