Karaoke: Do’s and Don’ts for Triathletes adding a Fourth Sport

As you know, we’re more than a Swim/Bike/Run triathlon team. We add the little known  fourth sport of karaoke. As part of posting training tips for other events, we’d be remiss not to talk about how to shine on stage.  This will be a series, so this list isn’t exhaustive.

Don’t sing slow songs after 10pm.  No matter how good you sound, no matter how meaningful a song is to you, no matter how many people ask you to sing it. Anything slower than the Backstreet Boy’s “I Want it That Way” is strictly prohibited. Everybody thinks they’re having a great time, and then somebody turns in “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger and then everybody’s heart rate drops and they get bored.

If you don’t believe me, go do karaoke at Yosemite Sams in Memphis, and wait for the lady in charge of karaoke to sing a mournful song called “Cry Baby” by Janis Joplin. She does it once every two hours, and, literally, people quit drinking and take naps. WTF lady?

Don’t sing songs that people have never heard of. Same thing, lady in charge of Yosemite Sams.

Do make an effort to sound like the original. This means hitting the high notes, even if you sound bad. There’s a reason why Prince got rich, and you became an accountant. Tonight, though, channel Prince.

Do inject your songs with sexual innuendo. But don’t overdo it. If you’re not sure where the line is, just watch the reaction of the college-aged girls who are judging you.

Do show appreciation for a song well sung. The proper reward is either: a free drink; or you should dance for the person singing.

Do hold the microphone close to your face when you sing. It’s sort of unnatural, but it sounds better.

Stay tuned for more karaoke hits. As everybody knows, as the triathlon season winds down in October through the winter, that’s the best time of year to focus on karaoke.

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Cook Recreation Area at Percy Priest is a Great Open Water Practice Spot in Nashville, Tennessee

You’re not going to be ready for your first triathlon until you’ve practiced swimming in open water. No matter how many laps you can do, nothing prepares you for that random wave, mouthful of water, and the panic that hits you when you can’t touch bottom while you catch your breath.

In middle Tennessee, we have a number of options to practice open water swimming. I recommend you go to Cook Recreational Area and Campground, at Percy Priest Lake.

But, here’s an insider tip: don’t go to the beach area that is described at the above website. Instead, keep driving down Old Hickory Boulevard, past the turn-off for the beach area, to the boat ramps.  Off from the left of the boat ramps (right, if you’re looking at Google Maps), there’s a long open cove, that’s about 1,000 feet from start to tip, that’s a great spot to take a practice swim.

For a beginner, you can stay close to the shore and always be in a comfortable 3 to 5 feet of water. A direct swimming path from start to the tip of the shore takes you through deep waters, but nowhere near the path of boaters. Plus, any non-swimming spotters can rest comfortably in the shade.

The only negative we found in our visits is that the shore is rocky. You’ll feel the pain on your bare feet for days.

It’s a great workout, and you can continue on past the point for an even longer swim. As always, though, use the buddy system and either swim with someone (or have a spotter on shore). Also, be sure to wear a bright, visible swim cap.

The photo above is from The Daily News of Open Water Swimming and, more particularly, from a great post that reviews the various groups that meet in Nashville for swimming practice.

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Race Recap: 2011 Showman Shooter

As always, the race began early. And as always, not early enough to avoid the heat and humidity that are the trademarks of the Memphis triathlon circuit. If you don’t have a good sweat going by the time you’ve got your transition area setup then you’re doing something wrong.  Or your sweat glands are broken, go see a doctor immediately.


The Showman Shooter takes place at Herb Parsons Park/Lake. So finding it might be your greatest challenge of the day. Driving down dark, winding back roads before dawn is never a pleasant experience. Doing it while wearing spandex makes it downright frightening. However, it’s all worthwhile once you arrive at the picturesque destination, shrouded in early morning fog. It looks very much like Yoda’s home planet in the Dagobah system, minus Yoda himself.  But as the day progresses the fog lifts and you are greeted by the site of a green lake, a rickety pier and lots of other people dressed in skin-tight spandex.  Or, as triathletes like to call it, Heaven.


This is a time-trial start with swimmers entering the water every 3 seconds. By necessity this start method has become standard for most local triathlons, however, it is not very conducive to racing against your friends (or even your enemies) as it makes it very difficult to know where you really are in relation to other racers. “Did #302 start 2 minutes after me or 5. Who knows?” Maybe I’m old school but I like knowing that I beat everyone who crossed the finish line after me.

The swim itself was pleasant. The water was warm to the touch and reminiscent of the previous days bathe I soaked in after a long run. This allowed me to relax and let the worries of the day wash off me like the race markings from a completed race.  Before I knew it I was being pulled from the water and surrounded by applause and cheers as I ran towards T1.


The bike was 22 miles of hilly roads and red-neck confusion. Let’s just say Herb Parsons Park/Lake is  a little off the beaten path. It’s not everyday the residents of this area are forced to stop their pick-up trucks or El Caminos to allow a gang of hippy bikers to safely pass. In some cases this causes anger, in other cases confusion. In all cases this makes being one of those hippy bikers scary, especially when there is a pick-up truck right behind you on the largest hill of the course honking and loaded with cursing passengers. Luckily this did not happen to me, but I imagined it later and it seemed very realistic. Terrifying stuff. But back to my original point, this is a hilly course. Bring your climbing shoes.


This a 4 mile trail run. You probably think running through the woods would make it breezy and pleasant.  You would be wrong. Instead it was like running straight through hell. The real Hell, not the one in Indiana.

As you run across the flat levee the sun drains all your strength leaving you with nothing left to make it through the wooded trails that make up the majority of the course. And just as you are starting to get your strength back after a couple of miles reprieve from the sun while running in the woods, you find yourself having to run back over the levee in direct sunlight. As if the course designers just wanted one final sadistic laugh as they watched the proceedings remotely from the inside of their air-conditioned premium van.

Many fell prey to this last, great obstacle. But many succeeded and claimed the glory at the finish line that was rightfully theirs…..The Showman Shooter Commemorative Belt Buckle.

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Race Recap: 2011 Music City Triathlon

Today, the team competed in the 2011 Music City Triathlon, in Nashville, Tennessee. The results haven’t been posted yet, and based on the heat and the hilly course, I’m in no rush to see the numbers.

Overall, it was a good sprint race.  There were about 700 to 800 total participants, of all types of skill levels.

What We Liked: The race started and ended at LP Field, home of the Titans, so there was ample parking for racers and spectators. The bike ride was a fully closed course on a large, 6 lane highway, which meant that we didn’t even have to think about cars.

What We Didn’t Like: There were only 20 or so port-a-potties. The transition staging areas were pretty tight, with lots of riders coming in and out at all times. A little room goes a long way. With all the cool stuff in and around downtown, I was disappointed that the course veered so far away from anything but 3 downtown streets.

If I’d had done the longer triathlon, I’d have really hated the fact that both the bike ride and the run simply doubled up the exact same path as the sprint distance race.

About the Course: The swim was in the Cumberland River, and, around the last buoy, even the best swimmers were being pushed way off course due to the current of the river. The swim was definitely tough. The barefoot run to the T1 was long, about a quarter mile down a narrow path. The bike ride was insanely hilly.

Then, there was the run. You immediately run over the Shelby Street pedestrian bridge, which is on a very steep incline. Then, the course took you up First Avenue (aka the backside of the Second Avenue clubs). At 9am, the sunlight was activating the garbage and bum-urine odors, which made that horrible hill far more difficult. After that, there was another long hill, coming back up Third Avenue.

Overall, any triathlon is a great time. Here, the race organizers seemed to miss out on a good opportunity to steer the course more into downtown, or at least onto Davidson Street toward Shelby Bottoms.

If you’re considering doing the 2012 Music City Triathlon, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • It’s going to be hot. Even if it’s not sunny, you’re going to have high humidity and temps in the 90s.
  • The Cumberland River is a beast, and 50% of the swim, you will be fighting the River.
  • The ride and run are hilly.
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Beginner Swimming Tips for Triathlon Swimming

As first-time triathletes do their final preparations for the 2011 Music City Triathlon (or any other of the USA Triathlon sanctioned events this weekend), here are some tips for your first time jumping into the water:

  • Try as hard as you can to ignore the people around you.  They will be flying past you, and you’ll naturally try to speed up to stay with them, then you’ll gas out.  On your first race, you just want to finish.
  • If anyone bumps into you or hits your feet, ignore it, just keep your steady pace, they’ll go around you.
  • If you get out of breath and panicky, try to slow your swim down to as slow as you possibly can until you get your wind back and keep going.
  • Swim straight for the buoys and cut the corners tight.  You can add a lot of time and distance by looping too far around the buoys.  Right at the buoys is also where you get some log jams, people getting hung up, hanging out, etc, so just ignore them and plow through.
  • Your heart rate will be higher on race day than a normal swim, so you will be more likely to get out of breath. Swimming a 100M or so before the race starts will help get the nerves out of you. Then it’s a mental game to force yourself to stick to a slow steady pace, breath normally, and relax
  • When you lay flat and exercise your blood pressure drops. After my first 3 races I had a very hard time walking straight much less running to the transition area. If you speed up your kicking on the swim in the last 100M or so it will reduce that by getting blood flowing into your legs.

Finally, the race in Nashville is in the Cumberland River, which is full of garbage and, a few years ago, they discovered a dead body under a barge near downtown. Try as hard as you can not to drink the water.

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All Ready for the 2011 Music City Triathlon in Nashville

This Sunday marks the 2011 Music City Triathlon, a test of endurance, strength, and vocal skills in a city known for all 3 things and more.

Racers Henry and Dave will be competing in the Sprint Distance race.

This race is being hosted by Team Magic, so be sure to factor in an extra 45 minutes prior to the race to apply the tattoos and stickers to your equipment.

If this is your first triathlon, Team Magic has a great FAQ for triathlon beginners.

Good luck, and we’ll be waiting for you at the finish line.

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Race Recap: 2011 Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon

The Triskrapers recently assembled for the 2011 Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon on July 10, 2011. This was race was: 1.5k swim / 42k bike /10k run.

Here are the official Triskraper race photos from this event.

The racers were Henry, Jon, and Champ, and all 3 reported a beautiful city, but quite an uneventful and un-scenic swimming and running route.

It was a true test of endurance starting from the moment the team arrived in Chattanooga.  Simply walking to the Expo area to get the race packets was challenging in just under 100 degree heat and 90% humidity.  The body fluids were flowing at an alarming rate.

Race day revealed a violent, never-ending river.  Then, the racers climbed the Chattanooga mountains on the bike, followed by running a course that actually involved stair climbs.  As racers fell to the heat and humidity, bikes succumbed to flat tires, the Triskrapers battled through.  We did  so not without our own injuries – yes blood was spilled.

Jon had severe blisters on his feet, Henry had bloody toe blisters, and Champ had a bad butt cramp.  Less motivated athletes would have quit.

Here’s a slice of inspiration from Jon: “After the race feeling sorry for myself due to the blisters and proud of the time I had, I went to the first aid tent for band-aids and I see the guy with two amputated legs who beat me getting an IV.  There was also another dude with one amputated leg that beat me and a guy that was 60 that passed me on the run.”

Overall, the team was unimpressed with the race course.  Maybe expectations were too high, as this was race was voted one of the best in the country.  Right off the bat, having the expo outside in July was a bad idea, it was too hot to really walk the expo and get all the freebees.  The squad didn’t even want to watch the race preview because it was outside.

The swim was a delight being in the river, though you really can’t enjoy your surroundings during a swim.  The bike route was challenging, but boring.  It was straight out and back on an interstate with really no views of anything.

The run was along a greenway with also views of nothing, other than the river for just a little while.  Chattanooga has a really cool downtown, and this race should have routed the bike and run through it, and then go over some of the bridges.

Overall, we give this race 3 and a half tripods out of 5.

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