Update 9/18/06: Well, Jorge has survived the PHD Triathlon Challenge. Thanks to everyone who wrote in support and to all those who donated. We raised over $1200 for pediatric AIDS research! Here are some pictures and Jorge's final times:

Top row: Arriving at Zuma Beach, 5:30am. The chaotic Transition Area where everyone sets up their gear. Bottom row: Diving into the open ocean swim. Jorge's trusty $100 e-bay bike (he ran as part of Team Dreamworks). Sprinting stumbling across the finish line.

Final times
1/2 mile swim Transition 1 18 mile bike ride Transition 2 4 mile run overall time
17:03 5:32 1:03:14 1:28 38:23 2:05:36.5


Jorge is running a sprint Triathlon on Sept. 17 in support of pediatric AIDS research. Support the cause and make a donation!

To learn more about the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, click here

PHD Triathlon Challenge FAQ

Wow, is Jorge in really good shape or something??

For a guy who works with robots and draws comics, Jorge is in pretty good shape. In fact, just the other day he actually took the stairs to his 3rd-floor office instead of taking the elevator, and he didn't stop to rest on the 2nd floor!

Uh, so why is he doing this?

To bring hope to children and families affected by AIDS worldwide. Mostly, to procrastinate.
Well, if he dies trying to finish the race, who will draw the comics??
Fear not, dear reader. Should his physical body fail at race day, a crack team of neuroscientists stands ready to transplant his brain to a neuro-prosthetic machine designed by Jorge himself, which will allow him to remote-control a robot arm to draw the comic strips. Sure, he'll be trapped in a glass jar, exploited for his mental capacity, forced to come up with interesting ideas forever, but how is that any different than grad school?
How can I donate?
Click on the link above to go to the donation page. Even $5 can make a difference!




Training log
The Post-Triath Analysis
The swim was brutal. I felt absolutely drained coming out of the water. I kicked and was kicked by the throng of swimmers. Even though I had practiced open ocean swimming, and it was a calm day, I was swimming on pure survival instinct. Still, when I got out and saw I had done the swim in less than 20 minutes, I decided to go for an overall time of 2 hours. When I first signed up, my goal was to live through it with some dignity left. After a few weeks of training, 2:30 hours seemed possible. But now (it must have been the adrenaline) I decided to push myself. In a daze, I dried off and transitioned to the bike. I passed a few people along the way, but then the front runners of the sets behind me started to blow by. When the 57 year-olds started passing me (everyone had to write their age on their left calf), I decided to push through the pain of a left leg cramp and try to make the ride in an hour. Honestly, the thought of everyone who donated and wrote in support kept me pushing myself. On the running portion, I ran as fast as my body would let me, and decided to sprint the last mile. It was incredibly inspirational to see all of the challenged athletes competing (people in wheelchairs, double leg amputees, etc), but in the last 100 meters, two of them were blocking the whole lane. Should I blow past them and look like a jerk? Should I slow down and applaud them with the rest of the cheering crowd? What was the right triathlon etiquette here?? Overall, it was crazy but exhilirating. Thanks again to everyone who supported the challenge!

This is it, only a few days to go. Sorry for not posting any more updates. I figured a) nobody is really reading this, and b) writing out my workouts probably doesn't make for interesting reading. Still, rest assured, I didn't fall off the wagon and kept up the workouts: moderate running/swimming twice a week, big bike/run/swim workout on Sundays. Did a ~85% test run of the whole thing a few Sundays back, and survived, so there is a possibility I'll live through this. Gotta say, it's interesting being "in shape". I definitely have more energy throughout the day for, uh... sitting around and drawing comics. Speaking of Zen lessons, one thing you do learn training for this is that "every man runs their own race". It sounds like an important life lesson, but mostly it keeps my ego intact when 60 year-olds blow past me on the bike or swimming.

Sunday: biked 18 miles in sweltering Pasadena heat. Tuesday: swim 3/4 mile and run 2 mile run. Friday: fast .5 mile swim and semi-sprint 2 mile run. It's been interesting, this whole "being in shape" business. I feel I'm learning a lot about about patience. Whereas before when I started to exercise the only thing going through my mind would be "STOPSTOPSTOP STOP", now it's easier to tell myself, "you are going to feel this discomfort for the next 90 minutes, and that's ok". It's almost like your body becomes this machine that your brain can operate from a distance. One dissapointment: being cardio-vascularly fit doesn't really help you look more buff. Nobody knows you're in shape except you!

Starting to slack a little on training. I have a good excuse this week: had my wisdom teeth pulled out. The grossest part is the food getting stuck in the holes. Yechh. Swam a mile at the Caltech pool today. The pool is swamped these days, with temperatures hitting the mid 90's. I always get the lane next to the ex-olympic swimmer, and maybe it's just my male self, but I always think they're trying to compete with me.

My initial momentum is starting to wear off a little, as work has been picking up. A friend declared herself my official "trainer", which is good. I spend a lot of daydreaming time wondering what I'm going to eat on race day. Here's my plan: usual ceral bowl in the morning, hard-boiled egg and a banana 30 minutes before the race, drink a yogurt smoothie and maybe a cliff bar during the bike ride, with watered down gatorade for thirst-quenching.

Biked to the Rose Bowl and did a few laps. This old guy with a super fancy bike, logo-covered biking shirt and padded lycra pants kept doing loops around me. A post-doc friend and competitive cyclist explains to me that professional athletes ramp up their training so they max out at race day. Meaning, you don't want to train too hard too soon. Of course, this just says to me "hey, you can procrastinate on the training!"

Went to the beach today with other people training for this thing, and tried some ocean swimming. Despite the image of the shirtless California surf dude, the water is *freezing*. Had to shell out more for a wetsuit. Swimming in the ocean is scary: you can't see the bottom so you have no sense of direction or motion, waves toss you around, Jaws theme music goes through your head. Swam for about ten minutes, biked maybe ten miles and ran 2. Came home, stuffed myself with food, and passed out for the rest of the afternoon.

Bought a sweet road bike on E-bay: $100! What a deal! A friend pointed me to the auction. It's a vintage Nishiki from the early 80's. A classic from what I'm told. Bright red with silver trimmings. The last five minutes of the auction I kept hitting reload on my browser to make sure nobody outbid me. Of course, I took it to the bike shop to get it spruced up, and the bill was more than the cost of the bike.

I'm coming out of the gate motivated on this training business. Did a quarter-mile swim followed by a 2 mile run this week. This makes me think maybe I won't die on race day. Later that week, ran 4 miles. Running is my weakest event. It takes every ounce of my will not to just stop. I still say there's a reason man invented the wheel.

Signed up for the triathlon. Recipe for motivation: large vat of procrastination, with some early middle-age crisis and curiosity sprinkled in. The charity aspect seals the deal (kids with AIDS, c'mon!).






all images © 1997-2002 Jorge Cham