Saturday, December 4, 2010

Norseman Xtreme Memory

I came across this image and it reminded me of the fun start to our honeymoon in Norway in '07. This image was captured and later put into Norway's version of WOMEN'S magazine in a story they did on the Norseman Xtreme - which included an in-depth profile on Emily and her win that year.

Here Emily is explaining in Norwegian why I should try and run with her to the finish line. I obviously didn't understand what she was saying.

To see for yourself how tough this race is, visit their website. This race now sells out in mere minutes to 250 crazy endurance junkies out there.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

super sprint tri grand prix - oceanside, ca

Triathlon rarely gets credit for being a spectator friendly sport. And for good reason. Besides a few of us hard core tri fans, who else really enjoys watching long distance racing where athletes disappear out of sight for hours at a time, only to return and then disappear again? Is this racing fun for anyone other than the athletes participating in the event?

Back in the 1990's, a race series was conceptualized and developed by the Australians called the Formula One (F1) Series. This was fast and furious racing and was made to be spectator and television friendly triathlon. It created the triathlon stars of today including the likes of Greg Bennett, Chris McCormack, Matt Reed, Craig Alexander, Simon Whitfield and others. It was also the impetus for the ITU's creation of draft-legal Olympic distance racing.

On Sunday, in Oceanside, a sleepy beach town 40 miles north of downtown San Diego, former F1 racer Marc Lees, organized the Super Sprint Triathlon Grand Prix with an invitation only professional field. The event was considered a trial although Lees took every step necessary to cater to both athletes and spectators alike with a top notch production.

Lees' course design was well-conceived. Using the Pacific Ocean by the Oceanside Pier as the course backdrop, Lees used one of three racing formats used in F1 racing, the Enduro format which includes a 300-meter swim, 5-mile bike and 1.5-mile run completed twice through. The swim took place in the chilled and choppy Pacific, the bike over a half-mile stretch of the Strand, and the run over the same Strand roads with a short hill zig-zagging up onto the Pier.

Many of triathlon's top pro stars flew in for the event - a sign they are committed to spurring on growth and excitement for this kind of racing in the US. And the timing couldn't be better for our ADHD riddled society. All of the action happens right in front of your face, leaving no time to imagine, only time to participate. As spectators, this is exactly what we needed.

Who wouldn't want to watch the likes of current Ironman world champion Macca toe the line against short course studs like American national champion Jarrod Shoemaker or Matt?

I contacted Lees race week and inquired about an opening on the starting line. He agreed due to another athlete canceling last minute, and like that, I was embedded in the race day battle. I was one of few athletes without a short course, draft legal racing background, and it showed.

From the word "GO" I was shed to the back of the line of athletes sprinting into the 60-degree water. In this furious racing, there is no time for wetsuits but also no time to even think about whether you feel cold or not. We were immediately confronted with a series of breakers and had to duck dive under set after set for what seemed like an eternity before even having the opportunity to start swimming. Swimming is a generous term for what I was doing myself. I was flailing and swinging my arms as fast as possible firmly locked onto the calves of Matt who had a poor start himself. I knew it would be the end of my race if I let go of his legs. So I stayed locked in.

Near the turn around buoy, he had enough of me pestering him and turned around and kicked my hands off his legs. I don't blame him. I had crossed the unspoken line in drafting etiquette during the swim. However, I quickly located my next tow, Richie Cunningham and Paul Amey. Heading back in towards shore, my arms started to feel like lead and both Richie and Paul caught a wave that sent them flying into shore. I arrived a few seconds later, but any time lost can mean the end of your race.

It was evident by the speed they ran out of the water and into transition compared to me that I was out of my league! I chased hard and tore out of transition believing my cycling was good enough to bridge up to one of the chase groups. I rode with my feet set on top of my cycling shoes and time-trialed with my head down until I locked onto the back of a small group including Richie, Paul and another rider my impaired vision was too blurred to recognize. I still had not dared reach down and slip my feet into my shoes for fear I would lose contact with the draft created when you ride behind other cyclists.

The bike course was flat as an ironing board with only two 180-degree roundabout turns on each end of the road. As we neared the completion of the second lap and started around the roundabout again, my rear tubular tire rolled off the rim and I crashed. I got up quickly, did a quick check and got back on my bike before I noticed the exposed rim. I recognized Paul Huddle standing nearby and he yelled that neutral support was a few hundred meters up the road. So, I yanked off my new and now heavily scraped up Bont cycling shoes, picked up my bike and took off running towards the support station. Word passed quickly to them about the crash and one of the volunteers came sprinting my way to help with the wheel change (I found out after the race, the volunteer holds a sub 4-minute mile PR to his name!). It must have been a bit odd for the cyclists zooming down the road to see me running from one side of the road to the next in order to get closer to the support station while staying out of their way.

Once the wheel was replaced, I was nearly a lap behind the entire field but decided it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and pushed on. Luckily the course was so chaotic with racers spread across the entire road that it was hard to tell how far behind I really was!

I ran as hard as I could but still entered the second rotation through the swim with only a handful or swimmers still heading out to the turnaround buoy. Because I was alone, and out of the race, I was able to focus on taking long strokes and had a decent swim. I missed a big wave that may have taken me in close to shore but did hit a few smaller sets once I was in closer to the beach. As I ran into transition Marc reminded me to watch out for the group once they started running. I ended up being the last one off the bike and to finish the race but Greg Welch was still cool and announced me over the line. A bunch of the guys stayed at the finish too which I thought was a cool gesture.

Despite the less than ideal circumstances, I had a blast out there and knew I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of a race that is going to catch on here in the US and go on to be a great series. I fully expect a few big sponsors to step up and put this series in a few major US markets in 2011. It will draw the biggest name pros in the sport and will be the most talked about series on US soil.

There are a bunch of photos and a race recap up on Aaron Hersh was out on the course for the men's and women's races and snapped photos, grabbed interviews and wrote up a great report.

Til next time -- keep the rubber side down (and firmly glued)!


Saturday, October 30, 2010

babaganoush update

Em had a visit to the doc yesterday - week 38 - and both she and our baby girl are happy and healthy. it could be any day now. i wonder what Em thinks of having a Halloween baby?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

colnago gran fondo

after spending one week in markdorf, germany, our home base during the annual eurobike tradeshow, five of us drove down through the lake district of switzerland and into northern italy for the colnago gran fondo cycling event.

because riding a bike for 100-miles isn't the brightest idea after spending six days in a row off the bike, the other guys (kb, walker, vestal and hersh) decided to ride the medio fondo - which consisted of 75-miles including two mountain passes. i'm not too bright and committed myself to the longer route - with one extra massive 15-mile mountain ascent.

colnago hooked us up with everything we needed: properly sized - and very high end - carbon bikes, water bottles and even a colnago logo'd pump to carry with us.

with over 4,000 crazy italians - and many foreigners - lined up in the start corral, the line was nearly a half-mile long and wrapped around an entire parking lot of a rectangular shaped expo hall.

the first 40k were flat and the peloton raced full throttle as if they were not aware three mountain passes loomed ahead. i took the bait though and took more than my fair share of pulls on the front of the pack and hit the slopes of the first climb in the front.

this first climb, mezzano scotti, was the shortest of the three on the day and resembled the steepness of the climbs seen in the Belgian Classic races on tv. by that, i mean, if a rider chose to unclip from their pedals, it set off a domino effect of all other riders unclipping.

it became obvious i rode the early flat miles too hard, and took too many pulls for my current state-of-fitness, and i quickly bonked within the first quarter-mile. i was forced to lay off the gas and went into survival mode over the five or six miles of that climb.

after loading up with goodies at a buffet-like aid station, i stupidly committed to the "LUNGA" route at the junction where the medio and gran fondo races split. within a few hundred meters, i was staring at the bottom of the day's big climb, santa barbara, which took over an hour to climb. pitches were insanely steep, others leveled off, and there were even a few downhill reprieves, but overall it went UP! at one point, near the top of the climb, i was forced to get off my bike and stretch out two severely cramped up legs, that more closely resembled two blocks of wood.

the final climb, described by one of my colleagues as "false flat", was nothing of the sort and i crawled up it at a snails pace, and with only the thought of getting back to the food tent at the expo for the italian buffet that awaited. the final climb, passo del cerro, was the nail in the coffin and it was obvious i had left my climbing legs back in california (or back in colorado). i was bonked, cramped, and left to figure out how to get my body back to the finish.

i found a nice group of twenty riders to ride in the final 40k of flat roads back to the finish, and was content to sit in the group so as not to bonk again.

as luck would have it, upon crossing the finish line completely spent, i wiped out on a thick black hose that was stretched out across the road. no scratches on the bike and only minor wounds to my ego.

the flight the next day back to the states was rough and having worn my compression socks nearly each day of the eurobike show, i opted to buy a set of travel socks at the milan airport which helped relieve some of the soreness and blood pooling.

a final shout out to my colleague nate forbes who organized beautiful Colnagos for us to ride! if you ever find yourself in europe in the summertime or fall, look for a gran fondo race near you. we met a few cycling fans who were spending their summer traveling throughout europe and racing gran fondos in different cities and countries every weekend. i can't say i can argue with their thought process -- these rides allow you to see a part of the countryside usually reserved for picture books.

Friday, August 6, 2010

shark week -- can i have my life back?

discovery channel has managed to trick me into racing home from work every night so as not to miss a minute of the latest shows during this special week dedicated to sharks.

i am intrigued by these creatures because one of my favorite pastimes is playing in their backyard and each time i walk down the stairs to swim at la jolla cove, i feel extremely alive yet extremely scared shitless.

i know i am afraid, like most people, of the unknown - that knowledge that it is their habitat and they are down there but that i can't see them. last year in hawaii, i woke up early one morning and swam in kailua bay along the ironman hawaii swim course. on the way back to shore, about 800 meters out, i stopped a few meters from the Coffees of Hawaii catamaran and approached a couple of kayakers who were out enjoying their morning. the water was clear and visibility below was good down to the ocean floor. swimming gracefully below were a handful of reef sharks, minding their own business, yet in close proximity to a few dozen swimmers. i was initially surprised with how little it bothered me and then i realized how uninterested they were in us, and how being able to physically see them was far more calming then the anticipation and fear the mind is able to conjure up.

watching the episodes throughout the week, one thing in particular strikes me about the people who have been victims to shark attacks. not one of them put blame on the shark for the attack and noted it was likely a case of mistaken identity and they understood they were in their backyard and natural habitat.

i respect these animals for their beauty, mysteriousness, and their raw power and i also know the lifestyle i willingly choose to participate in puts me in their playground. it is an amazing spectacle on friday nights down at la jolla cove to see the tri club of san diego members and other open water swimmers, numbering in the hundreds, flock down for their half-mile, mile and two-mile swims in the 60-odd degree water, enjoying the ocean and it's habitat, while holding ultimate respect for what dwells beneath.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Big News

We're having a baby! We had our 20-wk ultrasound two weeks ago and so far everything looks great. We are both very excited are looking forward to mid-November when we expect baby girl Finanger to join us.

We found the perfect onesie for our baby to wear:

I am finished working in Boulder and am ready to head back to SD full time. It will be very nice to get settled and begin preparing for our new adventure into parenthood.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ocean Beach

Thor really is a water dog. He loves the ocean in San Diego and isn't afraid of the crashing waves. Izzy, on the other hand, will only get her paws wet.

Monday, April 19, 2010

SD Update

A few highlights from the past month out here in San Diego. Back in May, my colleagues from the VeloNews office in Boulder flew out to ride the Gran Fondo. The ride started in Little Italy, went over the SD-Coronado Bridge and then completed an out-and-back loop around the Cleveland National Forest for just over 100 miles. It rained 100% of the time! The photo is from the night before the race where I defied all odds and parked in the smallest parallel parking spot possible in Emily's VW.

Italian World Champion and Athens road race gold medal winner, Paolo Bettini, was at Mission Bay Park the morning before the Gran Fondo for a photo shoot with Briko. He was very gracious and had his manager snap a photo of us.

I've been living with Emily's sister in Mission Valley and last week we went to the Padres second home game of the season at Petco Park downtown. It was military appreciation night and Kendra's service in the Navy allowed us to get within sniffing distance of the field.

Last weekend I raced at the Superfrog Half Ironman, the longest running half distance triathlon in the world at 32 years straight. Emily and I have competed in this one since 2006 and besides being one of the toughest run courses around (80% of the race is on the beach and soft sand pits), we have made some great friends with the organizers including race director Moki Martin (right). Moki was one of the original triathletes with Tom Warren, completed Ironman Hawaii numerous times, is a retired Navy Seal, and puts on one hell of a great race.

More in the future, I promise...


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Abu Dhabi and back in Boulder

Lars and I went to Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago for a race and to see his parents. They are only a 45-minute flight away so it was great that they could get the day off work to spend a few days with us.

Lars' bike only arrived at 2AM the day of the race. He was putting it together after two hours of sleep and only 4 hours before the race was to start. He had a great swim and a great start to the bike but it turned out that his brakes were rubbing for the first loop of the bike course. At about 117 miles into the bike he decided he had had enough and dropped out. I have watched a lot of Ironman races and all I can say about this course is that the athletes looked the worst I have ever seen when they were coming off of the bike. They all looked miserable.

The night before the race we went on a little adventure out into the desert and drove around in Land Cruisers through the sand dunes (and thankfully never tipped over). Following the tour of the desert we had a big Middle Eastern feast, including shawarmas, and watched some belly dancing.

I've been back in Boulder now for a week. Right after we got back from Abu Dhabi I got a call from my former boss asking if I could come back and help out here for a few months. I wasn't doing anything in SD yet, except walking the dogs and enjoying the nice weather, so I accepted the offer. I'll be here working until the beginning of July when our friends get married up in Vail.

I miss Lars and the dogs a lot but I will be going home every 2 weeks to see them. Here is a picture of the pups on their second swim in Mission Bay, taken by Lars on the morning I left. On his first time there, Thor loved it but the salt water didn't agree with his stomach and he ended up puking it up all over my sister's house.

My friend, Jen, from Minnesota, just had her first baby, Sienna Mae, and I was able to meet her when she was just 3 days old. I thought I would have to wait until she was much older so I am glad I was back in CO for that.

I'm heading home Thursday night and can't wait to be back in San Diego for the weekend and watch Kendra and Lars race the Superseal and Superfrog.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Old Slowtwitch Interview

Written by: Herbert Krabel
Date: Mon Dec 17 2007

Emily Finanger turned Pro and got married in 2006 and spent part of her honeymoon racing and winning the 2007 Norseman Xtreme triathlon in Eidfjord, Norway. Meet this Boulder, CO implant.

ST: How long have you been going triathlon?

Emily: I started racing in triathlon in 2001. I started with a few sprint triathlons that year, my first Olympic distance was in 2002, first half Ironman in 2003 and then I jumped up to the Ironman distance last summer with Ironman France.

ST: What is your athletic background?

Emily: I was a competitive swimmer growing up. I started swimming when I was 8 and my family moved out to California from Long Island, NY. I think my mom made me join the swim team because I was really shy and she wanted me to be able to make some friends. I swam competitively all through college at the University of Minnesota. I usually ran in the off-season as a way to keep in shape but I didn't really start biking seriously until I started triathlon.

ST: What made you decide to race the Norseman event this year?

Emily: Lars has been writing about the Norseman for the last few years and was always interested in racing it. He was born in Norway and his Godfather lives there as well as some good family friends. His family is also of Norwegian heritage. My In-Laws gave us a trip to Norway for our wedding present and we knew we couldn't pass up the opportunity to race the Norseman if we were going over there. We got engaged after Ironman France last year, got married the day after Ironman Hawaii in October so it made sense to include the Norseman in our honeymoon this summer. Some people might think that doesn't make sense but to us it did.

ST: Tell us more about Norseman and how it went for you.

Emily: Norseman was a great race. It required a different kind of planning because we each had our own support crews for the entire race. It really made me think about what exactly I would want to eat and drink and where along the course I wanted it. It was a little bit difficult to plan for because I never really pay too much attention to how much I drink or eat along the way.

The course changed the day before the race because the water in the fjord was too cold (low-50’s) where we were originally supposed to swim. They moved the swim 20km down the road to a section where we could get out of the water at the halfway point and get warm at a bonfire, if needed (the water there was 59-F). So, the bike ended up being 200km instead of 180km.

We had to get up at 2AM in order to eat breakfast and get on the ferry by 3:30AM. The ferry left the dock at 4AM and the race started at 5. You start the race by jumping off the ferry from about 20-feet up on the main deck (they give the option to jump from a 5-foot “chicken door” too). I ended up being the 3rd person out of the water, behind a French girl who travels to the race with her father but only does the swim leg. I didn’t find that out until the top of the first climb at 60-k on the bike when I asked my support crew how far behind I was and they said there were no other girls ahead. The bike course was absolutely beautiful. I just wish I hadn’t been so cold the whole time and I could have enjoyed the views a little more.

One funny part about the race was that I would be all alone on these Norwegian roads and all of a sudden I would hear a cowbell ringing. I would always get confused right away because I would think where the heck are the spectators around here? But, it was always just a sheep lifting its head up from eating grass and ringing their bell in the process. It is also the first race I have done that allowed racers to completely strip down in the transition areas. This kind of weirded me out in T2 when I was the only person in by the racks and everyone was staring. I opted to put a jacket over and “deck change” like I learned from years of swimming. I started the run as the first female but the run but I know a lot of time can be made up in a marathon, especially one where the final nine miles go up a mountain. There was no way to see how far ahead I was because it was a point to point race. I decided before the race that I would run the first 25km on the flat land and then I would walk up the mountain. I thought that was what everyone did. When I turned the corner to start climbing up the mountain, I started walking just like I planned. Then all of a sudden there was a guy who was still running and he ran past me. I was a little bummed because I realized that I had to run too. I wasn’t able to run the whole way up the mountain but I would give myself small goals to stay motivated. That worked out pretty well and I was able to keep my lead to the finish line. I got interviewed by the Norwegian version of Cosmopolitan magazine which was funny because the writer wanted me to stop and pose for pictures at mile 24 of the run. I don’t think she understood what a triathlon was, that I was still racing and if I stopped I wouldn’t be able to start up again!

ST: What are you doing during the off-season?

Emily: It finally snowed enough in Boulder that we can start having some winter fun. Lars got me into Nordic skiing last winter so I am excited to get out and do some skate skiing again. We have a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Thor, and a Black Lab, Izzy, and they love the snow and colder weather. I have been taking them out on long hikes so far this winter but now we can also bring them out when we go snowshoeing. I love being able to mix in some different workouts during the off-season. I am only working part-time right now as a physical therapist so I have a little bit more free time to enjoy playing my winter sports.

ST: What is going on in terms of sponsorship for you?

Emily: Lars convinced me to get my pro card last year after I started finishing in the top of the overall standings in races where there was money. My sponsorships last year consisted of a lot of product, including Quintana Roo wetsuits, HED wheels, Craft clothing and Cytomax nutrition. This year I will be working with David Greenfield and Elite Bicycles, which I am excited about.

ST: What is your favorite race and why?

Emily: My favorite race is probably the Lake Waconia triathlon back in Minnesota. Minnesota has a great triathlon scene and the races fill up very quickly. Lake Waconia was my first triathlon back in 2001. I got 8th my first time and then I won the race the next 4 years. It isn’t a very big race but it is very well run and it is a great example of the Minnesota triathlon community.

ST: What is on schedule for you for 2008?

Emily: I am not sure what races I will be doing in 2008. I am leaning towards Ironman Lanzarote in May and then fill in the empty spots with a few other races. We will go back to do Superfrog again now that it has moved to April. I think I will stick to 70.3 and Ironman distance races for this next year.

ST: You are married to Lars Finanger, a very good triathlete in his own right. How did you two meet?

Emily: Lars and I both went to college in Minnesota and started racing triathlons there. We met at a few races the summer that Lars started racing. He will say that I ignored him for the first few years but my story is that I didn't think he knew who I was. The next summer he had disappeared and I had no idea where he went off to but I heard he went to Belgium to teach. Anyway, we met up again a few years ago at the Lifetime Fitness expo in Minneapolis when he was working for Inside Tri. He won me over by giving me a free pair of flip flops that say Inside Triathlon on them. We started dating long-distance for a while until I could find a job up in Colorado.

ST: Do you and Lars train quite a bit together?

Emily: We do train together but it depends on our schedules a lot. Swimming together is good because we can both get a good workout in, but if we run or bike together it isn't really very fair to him. It is a really good workout for me because I am trying to keep up with him but it doesn't help him get faster because I am not pushing him. So, we train together sometimes. Plus, with our schedules we have to fit workouts in around work so if we don't end up being free at the same time we can't train together!

ST: Do you follow any other sports?

Emily: I usually know what is going on in other sports and I enjoy college football. I pay enough attention to know how most teams in the NFL are doing. My family is from NY and they are all huge Yankee and NY Giants fans. I grew up as a Mets fan just to be difficult but now I don’t follow them as much. I definitely became a fair-weather fan when the Rockies made it to the World Series this year and got pretty into baseball during October. My sister went to the Naval Academy so I usually cheer for Navy football and I pay attention to all of the U of MN teams as well. Our roommate writes for VeloNews so I know a little bit about what is going on in professional cycling as well.

ST: What are your likes and dislikes in terms of food?

Emily: My biggest dislikes are probably mushrooms, any kind of runny eggs and shellfish. I don’t like the texture of shellfish. My favorite restaurant in Boulder is a Nepalese restaurant called Sherpas. We eat a lot of pasta and chicken dishes at our house because of the simplicity. I love to go out for sushi but usually I will order rolls and not just plain pieces of fish because that creeps me out.

ST: What type of music do you listen to?

Emily: My favorite kind of music is probably country but I am really not too into music. I like to listen to it but I usually don’t know bands or artists very well. I don’t make that a priority. I run with an iPod Shuffle during easy runs and that has a good mix of all kinds ranging from country to Coldplay to Lenny Kravitz.

ST: What was the last movie you saw and how did you like it?

Emily: I just watched “The Bourne Ultimatum” last night and I enjoyed it. I have read the three Robert Ludlum books in the ‘Bourne’ series and the only thing similar that I can see is that the character’s name is Jason Bourne and he is an assassin for the CIA. Other than that the story lines are completely different. But, the movie made for a good story and it was entertaining. Before that it was “Superbad” which was very funny. I also just saw the newest “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.

ST: Anything else we should know about you?

Emily: I moved around a lot as a kid and to date have lived in eight states. My father was a ship captain and moved all over the US, but that is nothing compared to how often my sister, a Navy Lieutenant, has to move.

I went to boarding school in New Jersey at The Peddie School. My swim coach was pretty tough and we had a good program but I tore the cartilage in my shoulder from the big change in swim volume when I went got to school. He made me kick the same workouts my teammates were swimming which I am guessing was somewhere around 60% of my entire high school career at Peddie.

Emily Finanger 2007 race resume
- Norseman Xtreme Triathlon (Norway) 1st place
- Superfrog Triathlon (San Diego, CA) 1st place
- Tri One-O-One (Clear Lake, CA) 8th place
- Lifetime Fitness Triathlon (Lake Nokomis, MN) 11th place

Thursday, February 11, 2010

the great move west

2005 was the first time I had traveled out to Cali to race in Oceanside at the half-Ironman. My brother Hans was out there with me too, as he was on spring break and hanging out in Palm Springs (pic from Ocean Beach).

Emily closed the doors on our Boulder house, our memorable Colorado lifestyle, packed up the car with Thor and Izzy and drove out to Cali last weekend. She was born further up north in Walnut Creek when her Dad was captaining ships out of Benecia in the Bay Area (pic of Emmy topping the climb up Sunshine Mtn at 9,000+ feet).

Currently we are living with Kendra, Emily's sister, in Mission Valley but forge ahead with our search for a place to lay our stake out here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Weekend update

I joined Lars on his last run in Boulder this morning. We came home and Lars shoved what else he could into any empty space that was in the Expedition before he took off on the long drive to San Diego.

Here is a picture of Thor's incision. Yikes. He seems to be recovering fairly well and is sleeping a lot. He's using his leg a little more but he is hating life in the lampshade:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Thor is out of surgery and the vet says everything went very well. We go to pick him up tomorrow afternoon.

Izzy is very lonely and will be glad to have her buddy back home.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Glad to see the Hawkeyes winning the Orange Bowl. Too bad Minnesota couldn't pull through against Iowa State.