Sunday, March 30, 2008

Open water swim...or feeding frenzy?!

Well, Bayou Teche behind the house is warming up. Time for open water swims, right? My wife Lisa and I are signed up for the Gulf Coast Triathlon 70.3 in May. The bayou's a perfect place to practice OWS skills, except for one little detail...

We grew up swimming and waterskiing in this bayou, but now my wife refuses to do any OWS in it. I keep telling her that the gators will leave us alone, especially if it's a big group of us doing an OWS. And even if they chase us, we will be motivated to swim VERY fast and get out, right? As long as you're not last, you should be OK, right? It would be a very good simulation of a real triathlon swim, with the kicking, elbowing, biting and scratching, right?

She'll hear nothing of it.

Oh, well, back to the pool...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Simply Stu Worldwide Triathlon !!!

The Simply Stu Worldwide Triathlon starts tomorrow !

It runs March 28-30, and everyone can participate. It's very easy - all you do is swim, bike, and run sometime this weekend. Anytime this weekend.

Swim a few laps in the pool at the health club or at a friend's house - check! Ride the old Huffy around the neighborhood - check! Run along the trail at the park - check! Done - you're a triathlon finisher !! Get others to do it with you - your spouse, kids, friends, grandma, whoever. I promise you'll enjoy it - there will be people all over the world doing the same.

Check out Stu's blog for more details. And don't forget about my other teammate Michelle's Run the World campaign that starts March 31!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Race report - CCC - Zatisfaction !!

I got so much Zatisfaction out of the Crescent City Classic this year. Let me give you a brief race report and some pictures.

The cannon went off at 8:30. The race starts at Jackson Square in the French Quarter and runs through the downtown area, then up Esplanade past the New Orleans Art Museum to Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park. The first mile was kind of freaky - I had trouble finding my groove with all the excitement/people/adrenaline. I felt like I couldn't catch my breath, and that I was running too fast. The clock at mile 1 confirmed that - 6:20. I am much more of a ~7:00 kind of guy.

Coach Dan at Vision Quest had warned me about going out too fast, and here I was doing exactly what he told me not to do. Mile 2 and 3 I slowed up a little and tried to relax, just trying to keep up pace and let my legs and breathing do what they normally do. I was tending to look around at the other runners, but I had to make myself ignore what they were doing and run my own race at my own pace. I really settled in.

Right past the halfway point was a beer truck. Any other time I would have had to indulge, but I kept going. At about mile 4, some group was serving hot dogs that were "99 percent rectum free" as their sign stated. This was about the only time I laughed out loud on the run. There were also bands and people playing music from their balconies - really cool distractions.

Miles 4 and 5 were tough. I started getting tired and more out of breath. It got harder and harder to maintain my pace. I felt like I still had so far to go, but I just plugged away. I tried really hard to relax as best I could and think positive thoughts.

At mile marker 5, I realized that I was going to reach the goal that I had set for myself - less than 45:00 - a really good feeling. I tried to pick up my pace a little as Dan had instructed me to do in the last mile or so. At about mile 5.5 I saw a runner from my hometown high school track team walking on the side of the race. I couldn't understand why he was walking - he's a beast on the track. I yelled his name and asked him to run with me if he could. He started running with me and told me he was walking because his foot started feeling numb. After about 20 paces he said he was feeling better. He then dusted me - gone.

I ran around the art museum and straight back toward the finish line. I wiped the sweat off my brow, threw my shoulders back, and raised my arms up in the air to look all strong for the race photo cameras near the end of the race. I crossed the finish line in 42:33. I finished in the top 500 runners and won a commemorative race poster, a feat I've not been able to do since my rheumatic arthritis struck in 2004.

The post race party was awesome - always is at the Crescent City Classic. Abita beer, Zatarain's jambalaya, Zapp's craw-tators (my favorite potato chips in the world), plenty of sunshine, great music from Cowboy Mouth, friends and family - a great ending for a great race.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mission report - Mexico and Honduras

A few years ago my wife Lisa and I decided that when each of our four daughters turn 13, I would take them on a mission trip - kind of have some one-on-one, dad/daughter time. Then, when they turn 18, Lisa would go on a trip with them. The whole pupose of my mission trip with them is to show them a different part of the world, to show them how fortunate we are, and to try to instill in them a spirit of service to others.

My oldest daughter Catherine and I went to Reynosa, Mexico, in 2005 on a medical mission trip with a team from Pharr Chapel United Methodist Church in Morgan City. This trip was awesome - we were only there for 5 days, but worked intensely, seeing hundreds of patients while we were there. The places that we visited were shanty towns amongst piles and piles of trash. Even the most basic of healthcare needs are not met there - a medical team may not visit there but every 6-12 months. Essentially everyone was placed on vitamins, treated for worms, and given a few basics like Tylenol or Advil (for the next time they needed it). They were hesitant to have me, a physician, examine them because they felt they were dirty.

While the medical personnel saw patients, one of our missionaries was a hair dresser - she spent the entire days cutting/styling hair, and treating lice. It was funny to see these little Mexican children flipping through Vogue and People magazine to pick out their hair style before their cut. We had a few teenagers on our team, and they would clean and polish fingernails on little girls waiting in line to see the doctors. My 13 year old daughter spent the days holding babies, painting fingernails, checking blood pressures with automated cuffs, helping in the makeshift "pharmacy," loading and unloading supplies, and whatever else the team needed her to do at that moment - what an eye opening experience for her.

Last month, my second daughter Anne Lee and I went on a mission trip to Honduras. This trip was through two Episcopal churches - St. Luke's in Baton Rouge, and Trinity in Morgan City, which is my home parish. This trip was more of a construction mission trip, where our job was to begin construction on 2 new churches. Now don't picture any grand cathedrals - these churches are more of cinderblock rectangles with a roof in the most remote parts of Honduras.
During our visit, we stayed in La Entrada in Copan, which is western Honduras. We took day trips out to El Zarzal and El Carmen. Part of the team worked on construction with the men of the village, digging footings, working on rebar fenceposts, and clearing brush. The other part of the team worked with the women and children of the village, doing arts and crafts, Sunday school activities, and teaching health issues. My 13 year old daughter spent her days working in a puppet show, playing soccer with children, helping haul cut banana trees, holding babies, and moving rocks - what an eye opening experience for her.
Our last two days in Honduras were spent sightseeing. We visited Copan Ruinas, which is a Mayan ruin, and did some shopping. We also ziplined through the canopy in the hills near the border with Guatemala - quite a thrill! Volun-tourism at its best!

Despite having nothing, the people of Mexico and Honduras who we met were genuinely happy and so appreciative of our efforts. They were so amazed that we would travel so far to come and help them in their little corner of the world. They said because of us, they knew they were not alone.

Missionaries go out into the world to help other people, support what they're doing, and let them know that they care, expecting nothing in return. I don't see much difference between missionaries and triathletes. I have seen and felt the care and support of other triathletes in my endeavors, very similar to the care and support of missionaries. You help because someone needs it.

I have another daughter, Signe, turning 13 this fall, and Claire a year and a half behind her. I'm really looking forward to their trips!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Weekend report

2 workouts this weekend...

First, I did the Pharr Chapel United Methodist 5K run on Saturday morning. It's run in memory of Dr. Edward Askew, a very well-respected Morgan City physician. Ms. Elaine, his wife, was at the event cheering everyone on - she's one of the sweetest people I know. I ran the race with my 15 year old daughter Catherine because she wanted me to pace her. We were very pleased with our time of 21:15 - Catherine was the first overall female. In a small town like ours, you know EVERYONE at the event. Really...E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E. It's really cool.

Today, I did my first bike in a while. I rode 30 miles from Morgan City to Belle River with my wife Lisa, and our friends Beth and Corey. Lisa took a picture of us at our start - see below. It was a really nice day, except for the wind. It was somewhat of a cross-breeze, so we had to deal with it both ways. My Vision Quest coach Dan is trying to get me ready for the Crescent City Classic next weekend, so he had a longer run scheduled for me this weekend. He was very accommodating when I let him know about these events I had planned, and gave me pointers about how I could still fit them into my 10K preparation - he's awesome.

You know, what's so awesome about these events is that, not only are you staying healthy and getting fit, but you're socializing with other people and pushing each other to get better. How cool is that?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Often times the best thing about an early morning workout is the view. I'm a real sucker for fog.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wind at my back...

I'm a very mental runner.

I try really hard to let my thoughts wander while I am running. I find that if I focus too much on my breathing, my mechanics, what hurts, etc., then everything gets out of whack - all the pieces parts seem to take care of themselves much better if my brain stays out of it.

I'm also amazed at how much of a difference a little wind can make in my attitude. I realize that according to the laws of physics, a little wind in my face or at my back can't possibly offer as much resistance or assistance as I would swear it does when I'm running. But it does.

My wandering thoughts offer winds of their own. Negative thoughts, feelings of physical inadequacy, time constraints - wind gusting in my face, every step is a painful chore. Positive thoughts, loved ones, successes - wind at my back, blowing me home.

I went for a run yesterday - Coach Dan prescribed some fartlek training to strengthen me for the Crecent City Classic 10K coming up. I went in kind of dreading the run. I jogged slowly at first then started the fartleks. My mind started to wander, jumping between random thoughts and watching my time intervals. I thought about how much support I received during the competition to make the Evotri team, especially from my hometown, and how fortunate I am to be given this opportunity. I thought about my beautiful wife who loves me more than I could ever deserve. I thought about my 4 daughters who are bright, talented, and well-adjusted. I thought about my mother and my mother-in-law who take care of my needs before I even realize that I need something. I thought about my extended family of relatives and friends who would do anything for me at any time. I thought about my office staff who support me, and practice partners who treat me like a brother, and a son. I'm not sure what the prevailing wind was yesterday, but the mental winds were howling at my back.

I wish every workout could be so special.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Making the Team 2008 - Contest #2

The March 15 deadline is fast approaching for submitting your entry into the contest to become the next Team Evotri sponsored athlete. The specifics of entering the contest can be found on the Evotri website at

Monday, March 10, 2008

Things I learned in Chicago...

1. Vision Quest Coaching is an incredible facility with top-notch coaches and staff. The day could not have run more efficiently, and I learned so much in such a short amount of time.

2. Robbie Ventura is coach extraordinaire. He is a wealth of knowledge about power training, giving us several talks during the day off the cuff. It's obvious that he loves to teach. And to top it off, he's a super nice guy.

3. My Evotri teammates are some of the nicest, most down to earth people I've ever met. They made me feel so welcome right from the start. I'm so fortunate to be given this opportunity to journey with them.

4. My swim instruction from Fitz at Chicago Blue Dolphins made a big difference in my swim stroke. My legs no longer drag the bottom when I swim. I never knew that my armpits had anything to do with my stroke - Fitz told me to thrust my armpits down while gliding to achieve better balance and elevate my legs. Worked like a charm! I might make the swim cutoff after all!

5. I really learned a lot about core strength from Nancy, who does functional testing for Vision Quest. Nancy's little, but she's STRONG - by the end, I was saying, "Yes ma'am, Miss Nancy!" She tested our strength (i.e. push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, etc.), our flexibility (i.e. hamstring/calf flexibility, etc.), and our stability (i.e. one legged squats, kneeling on top of training balls, etc.). Nancy made everything look so easy when she illustrated the exercises, but guess what? It was far from easy. I was sore for three days after this testing - shows how much work I have to do!

6. I was the only guy in the whole facility with "hair pants" (as Stu called my hairy legs). I've been so resistant to shaving - it's just so unnatural in my mind!

7. I was warned ahead of time about the lactate threshold testing - I was ready. During this test, you ride the bike progressively harder for 40 minutes while Robbie does fingerstick blood testing to determine your lactic acid levels at different power levels. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be - I barely felt the fingersticks. The hardest part was giving your all, which was worth it for the information we received.

8. Our team has the coolest sponsors. Rachel from Saris/CycleOps was there the whole day, and she was so helpful for me because I had never used a power meter before. She gave me a crash course to be able to use the meter that day - thanks, Rachel.

9. I'm really looking forward to working with my VQ coach Dan. He made a special effort to come and meet me at VQ that day. We sat and chatted about my goals and how I can achieve them. We also discussed the results of my testing done that day, which he will use to tailor my training regimen. I've never had a coach before - this is SWEET!

10. We also had some serious spousal support that day in Chicago. Wil's husband James was there, taking incredible pictures of us in various states of pain and laughter - the pictures in this post were taken by him. My wife Lisa also attended . I was really glad she was there to share in the magic of that day at Vision Quest with my Evotri teammates.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Training schedule

I got my training schedule yesterday from my coach Dan at Vision Quest. I've never had any sort of coaching in the past, so this is all new to me. I'm running the Crescent City Classic 10K in New Orleans in 2 weeks, so Dan is trying to prepare me for that. Guess I'll get started tomorrow...

Bear with me while I play with this blogging thing - I've never done this before, either. I'm excited to have been able to get a picture in here - fog on the bayou the other morning.

Meeting the team

I went to Chicago for a quick visit to meet my fellow Evotri team members and to have a baseline assessment done at Vision Quest coaching. I was a little apprehensive about going to Chicago - didn't quite know what to expect.

Well, I have to say I had an unbelievable time. Thursday morning, I found my way to Vision Quest (an awesome facility!) and met the rest of the team. What an incredible group of individuals - I felt immediately comfortable with them.
The assessment was very comprehensive, measuring strength, flexibility, agility, etc. A swim analysis was done by Chicago Blue Dolphins, and with just a few pointers I felt a lot of improvement in my stroke. I also had a lactate threshold test given to me by Robbie Ventura where you spin on a trainer pretty hard for 40 minutes, with your lactic acid level being measured by fingerstick blood tests. Robbie also gave us a few talks about power training - I've never used power meters in training, but they seem like AWESOME tools to use. I was also able to meet my VQ coach Dan, who seems like he's going to be great to work with - he's already sent me my first 2 weeks of "assignments" based on information gained during the assessment.

BOTTOM LINE from Chicago - I love the team, and I have lots of room for improvement in triathlon.

Today is a beautiful day

Email sent March 1, 2008

Today is a beautiful day.

Charlie Parsiola is the newest member of Team Evotri, THANKS TO ALL OF YOU !! Check out the announcement at - there's even a link to listen to my reaction as I'm told that I've won.

I have been absolutely flabbergasted by the show of support from everyone. I cannot believe that people would take the time and trouble to vote for me not once...not twice... but THREE TIMES in this competition !! I'm humbled by this fact and hope that I can do enough good within the endurance sport community to earn this confidence placed in me.

Team Evotri's mission statement: "The members of Team Evotri will challenge themselves and others to live a healthy and active lifestyle through endurance sports. Given the extraordinary opportunity to train and race with the same equipment and coaching of the pros, they will dedicate themselves to maximizing their potential, to sharing what they learn from their experiences, and to making a positive contribution to the endurance sport community." Having won membership on the team means that I am fully sponsored and given all the equipment and coaching of professional triathletes. In return, they ask 2 things of me: race with the team twice a year, and share my training and racing experiences with others. I'll soon be setting up a blog for anyone interested in following my experiences.

Special thanks to Bruce France with Mondo Bizarro in New Orleans ( who produced the awesome video that won this competition.

Again, thanks to everyone for this show of support. Please forward this email to anyone who had anything to do with this competition.