Monday, April 14, 2014

Beiber, musicals and allergies

Last week I was in Miami for a work thing. I won't bore you with the details except that we were in a nice hotel and vendors were sucking up to me. At the beginning of our first meeting, it was announced that Justin Bieber had rented the whole penthouse floor of our hotel so that's why there was a pack of 14 year old girls at the end of the entrance driveway into the hotel cheering as every car arrived. I didn't notice this (perhaps because I'm used to adoration) and I never ran into any of Bieber's entourage although others in my meeting did. I'm still be proud of the fact that I've never consciously listened to any of his songs.

The net of this trip with the 80 degree temperatures, on the beach, with people running on a trail was that I was psyched to exercise when I came home. I nailed a bike workout on Saturday and Sunday I had riding 1:45 on the plan. I woke up a little tired from the first real workout in a while but was going to ride in the afternoon after it warmed up a bit. My wife then told be that she went online and saw available 3rd row tickets to see Les Mis on Broadway that afternoon. There were two seats available.

I hate Les Mis. I believe it is painful to sit through most musicals and Les Mis is one of the worst. She offered to take my youngest daughter instead of me (my older one had a rehearsal herself). Deal! They bought the tickets.

I did my ride, very casually, coasting way too much. There was no rush to get home since the rest of the family was at the play. But this weekend was riding outside as compared to inside at spin classes. The only downside was that it seemed that all seasonal allergies took hold and I'm paying that price now.

I have only one spin class left in my prepaid pack. Maybe I'll use it later this week since the weather is supposed to be bad. There is something wrong with snow in the forecast in April. Sure hope, if I go, there are no Bieber songs at this spin class. Would a Les Mis song be worse? Maybe, maybe not.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Frozen: Top 5 of all Disney movies?

Before the family and I went to Disney World last week, my girls wanted to watch Frozen. They saw it first without me and said it was soooooooo good that even I would like it. So we watched it as a family. Again, for them. First time, for me.

I thought it was OK, just OK. It followed the Disney recipe of somebody dies, turmoil, bad guy loses, cute side kick, resolution of good guy wins, happy ever after, etc.

Both my teenagers said that they thought that Frozen was a top five Disney movie of all time, perhaps even top 3. They asked what I thought.

My first thought was that I obviously have failed as a parent.

Top3? Top5? What are they, nuts? The look of utter amazement on my face gave away my thoughts. Then I then asked which were better.

Having watched Disney movies thousands of times while my kids were younger, I knew Lion King was an easy first choice to be king. The Little Mermaid was part of this world.  I said Fantasia had to be included even though it included the featured the song that all double bassoon players strive to master (both of my children are classical string instrument musicians and have an overt bias against wind instruments). They said they never saw Fantasia. I think I heard Maestro Stokowski conduct a collective groan from the Philadelphia Orchestra.

I asked them what movie, in their mind, competed with Frozen. They agreed with the Lion King and said Mulan was up there too. MULAN? I took a deep breadth, sighed, and said what about the classics: Snow White, Dumbo, Cinderella, and the like. There could be some debate on the Pixar flicks on if they count or not but I put The Incredibles, Toy Story 1 and 2, and Up ahead of Frozen. Their retort was Bugs Life.

I then asked them to get real here. You needed story, songs, etc. They wouldn't admit they were wrong. Frozen. Sigh. They want me to watch it again. And probably again after that. They kept saying Elphaba (Idina Menzel) was a great singer. They kept humming and singing "Do You Want to Make a Snow Man."

So, what say ye? What are your top 5? How do I fix my kids?

PS: While at Disney it was fun to get the Disney "cast members" to make a choice in this debate. Lots of religion in Lake Buena Vista.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Shoe comfort

I have Sasquatch feet. Most of my conventional shoes are american sized 14 with various designations for wide: 4E, XW, or whatever. Sometimes getting non conventional shoes turn into a challenge and cycling shoes fall right into the middle of this challenge but I've generally been successful with some shoes more comfortable than others.

My least comfortable shoes were my mountain bike shoes. They are sized 48 Wide and look like the picture. The spin classes that I've been taking recently require either SPD or Look compatible cleats. My tri and road cycle shoes match my pedals but they are Speed Play since I get the extra long pedal spindles for comfort. So I've been wearing my Specialized mountain bike shoes with the SPDs. The biggest problem is that these shoes have a racheting strap for closure and it seems like my foot is too high for comfort. I felt it was the best I could get given my foot challenges.

I was mindlessly surfing the web and found an extra long strap specifically for these shoes. I ordered them hoping beyond hope and found that with the longer strap, these are now comfortable.

Celebrating these little things like this makes me happy.

Also, I now have one less excuse to avoid these classes so I might need to increase my class attendance frequency from 2x a week to 3x a week.  Better would be to ride outside but there is still about a foot of snow on most of the ground covering up what looks like a world class collection of potholes. That being said, most of the bike clubs are targeting group rides starting on March 1 for the early season centuries. Maybe I should train for and potentially do one since if I could knock out a hundred I'm probably not in as bad shape as I think I am.

At least these shoes are comfortable now.

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Different Type of Spin Class

I've been taking a lot of Soul Cycle spin classes lately. What is Soul Cycle you ask? Well, I describe it as the scene in Wayne's World where they are singing Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody and bopping their heads but on spin bikes. At high cadence. With a bunch of twenty something yuppies and a few, very few, post child rearing aged fogies. In the dark. With candles. And incense. Listening to blasting techno music you mostly never heard of. Except the requisite Beyonce' song. Where you take a break by using weights. Embarrassed by using only 1 pound dumb bells because the others are just too heavy. Did I say the classes were expensive? They are located in only the seemingly rich areas of New York metro and California (I have to drive a bit). The parking lot has too many Porsches and Land Rovers. They aren't mine.

So, why am I doing it? Although there are all sorts of challenges in social media about problems snagging a bike due to the demand, the class times that work for me (very late or very early) don't seem to have that issue. It gets me out of the house since I have to basically pay in advance and I'm so cheap I would dread to lose the money. The weather has sucked recently so it gets me some exercise. Some, not a lot. Not enough for a 70.3. But more than none.

I'm almost able to do all the choreography, yes choreography is included. The teachers are not taking as much pity on the old fat guy in the back row as they did before. The weather must be changing soon so I can ride outside. It better.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What do you do with good, old "stuff?"

I recently visited the Apple Store on behalf of my daughter Courtney. Courtney has a MacBook laptop. She recently bought a protective cover for so that when she puts it in a backpack, it doesn't get smushed into MacBook fragments, parts or even apple dust. Her school recently changed its policy and now kids can bring laptops to school. Too bad she brought the wrong size and needed it exchanged. Somehow that became my wife's job. I was just along for the ride.

When we got to the store, I looked around to see what was new. I'm typically an early adopter of technology in work and in life. My family is generally early adopters as well but they are much more believers in the Gospel of Apple. My wife went to see if they had the right size cover (our primary mission) while I looked around.

In my recent travels, and they have been many, I noticed that since the airlines have relaxed their rules regarding on board electronics, more people seem to be traveling with ipods. Not iphones, ipads, or laptops but plain old ipods. I wanted to look at them to see what had changed since I was using them while training a long, long time ago. Since training is hopefully ramping up, I need one. The new ones looked cool and cost less that I expected but I realized I probably had old ones home so I didn't buy anything. Neither did my wife as they didn't have the right cover size so our trip was a fail.

I went home to look for my old stuff. I found 3 ipod shuffles, and old Iphone that has hundreds of songs loaded, 2 nano, and a couple of  ipod touches. I found no headphones. I had to search for power cords and adapters but found a few that worked. I tested the shuffles and found all powered on. The first one worked.

I got my day to day headphones and used the first while walked a bit outside this morning. It felt a little like real life deja vu  but everything, including my body, worked. A good sign.

I'm still collecting our remaining istuff to figure out which would be ijunk and which could be ifunctional. I haven't even started on old computers yet. We tried to donate old computers in the past and most charities don't want them. I know that some will take tablets (aka ipads) but don't know of any that want ipods.

At sometime I'll need to figure out when do I buy the new stuff. Until then, I'm good with this old stuff. Maybe I should keep track of what I'm not spending to rationalize spending it on something else. Perhaps some time to make these blog posts more frequent?

Yup, that'll work.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Planning on Princeton

I recently realized my mojo is coming back and seem to be spin classing up a storm. I signed up for the Princeton 70.3 next September and am planning a race season around doing well at that venue. Even thinking about signing up for a known non-wetsuit swim race so you know the crazy is beginning.

Have a lot of work to do but I'm heading in the right direction.  Will blog soon. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What are you?

I was in the bookstore (rare, but they still exist) this morning and I overheard the clerk ask a customer, "are you an artist?" I wondered how I would answer that question if it was posed to me.

On one hand, I ceilinged out in the visual arts at either finger painting or perhaps paint by numbers. But considering yourself an artist goes beyond an ability to color inside the lines. I think this question is a flavor of not what you do but what you are. It is an interesting question to ask of yourself. If I don't consider myself an artist, what would I then consider myself as? My first thought is that it shouldn't be that hard to answer but it is. I haven't gotten to a conclusion yet.

But back to the customer and the clerk's question. The customer answered the question, "of course." I think that is perfectly artistic.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Trigger for Motivation

Last Sunday was the NYC Marathon and I watched most of it on television.While I've signed up a few times, I never raced a marathon (I don't count the walk that I did at the end of my ironman two years ago as a marathon). Based on last year's marathon being cancelled due to Sandy and my having been registered for it, I do have the option to get in to the 2014 version.

On Monday I flew to Dallas for business. The plane was full of marathoners heading home. Many were wearing finishers clothing with more than a few wearing their medals. The restaurants at the Newark Airport were even offering 25% off for marathoners with their medal. I saw people limping, challenged by getting out of chairs, looking at stairs as an impossible challenge, and sharing their stories. Mostly, I saw they were proud of what they did.

I was, in contrast, sad. I saw a brotherhood that I used to belong to. I was carrying an Ironman branded bag as a carry-on and felt like a poser or perhaps an intruder into their celebration. It now has been two years since I've raced a triathlon. I remembered flying back from Panama City not being able to walk, wearing my finisher jacket, constantly touching the medal around my neck, and being proud.

What does this all mean? I thought about signing up for IMFL2014 while watching the marathon but decided against it. It wasn't a priority. I do have the option for NYCM26.2 so I will need to make that decision in a few months. I want to be in a position where that will be a priority when that decision needs to be made.

Now that I haven't done any real racing in a while what I did do in the past has become more important to me. Does that make any sense? It wouldn't have to me a while ago but it does now. I need to get from the reverence stage to the hungry for more stage. I think that is mostly mental.

Hoping this plane ride and the feeling I had will lead me to the right motivation.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Graduations and racing

I finally decided that IMAZ in 2014 was a fantasy for me completely due to my lack of focus and training so I decided to ask for the token $150 refund. About the same time I started thinking about registering for the inaugural Challenge Family Atlantic City Full since it looks like a great race for me.

My mind went into hyperdrive. I'm in such bad shape now that doing a full next June would be a reach. A better choice would to do a HIM instead or an Oly to get back into the race game. I looked at the date and saw that Rev3Quassy (a course I hate anyway) was probably a little late for a shake out half but found that Bassman the first week or so in May could work nice. I could do the Memorial Day Fireman Ironman camp at Placid, mix in a little NY Fondo (a ride I hate too), a Montauk Century training ride, and everything was coming together. I even started looking at the race fees but then realized something.

The date of the Challenge Family 2014 Atlantic City race is the same date as my daughter's high school graduation.

Now, I am not a fan of graduations. I didn't like when I graduated years ago and my mother made me go by threatening to kick me out of the house if I didn't participate. There was no chance of me going to my MBA graduation. If I decide to go back to school now, I wouldn't dream of going to a graduation ceremony. I think kids now celebrate many minuscule milestones unnecessarily but finishing HS is a real accomplishment and worthy of recognition. It would be hard to sneak out and race this race during intermission or something so the 2014 version was out. Luckily I realized this before sending in all the money.

My  younger daughter will graduate in 2016 so that year would probably be out too. But 2015 is looking good. It gives me a chance to get in shape in 2014 and go for it in 2015.

I told my wife the plan and she said that could work. She did say it would be a good idea to actually race a race that I've registered for. That means training and everything, not just sending in the money.

Time to give that plan a chance. What a novel idea.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Purposeful cycling

As I am transitioning from slug to an out-of-shape athlete wannabe, I'm actually doing a lot of the workouts prescribed by my coach (all will come soon). One of the workouts that I did do last weekend involved bike intervals outside intervals on a flat course. It called for a set of 5x5 minute harder sessions interspersed with other sections that I viewed as just cruising as recovery. I thought I nailed the power targets during the harder bits but got an email after I posted my workout from my coach which said:

"Are you pedaling then briefly coasting frequently or is your power dropping to zero a problem with your power meter?" 

Busted. I answered truthfully that I was pedaling then coasting as I watched the scenery go by. His response was:

"More pedaling and less coasting next time please :)"

This made me think about what I was actually doing and why. There is riding and there is training - they are not necessarily the same thing. I was riding when I should have been training. I did this ride on a 4 mile loop that I went around a bunch of times. Yes, I could have checked out the scenery during my warm up lap or in my cool down but when it was time to train I should have been riding with a purpose. I will claim the invention of the term "purposeful cycling."

This week's plan was posted and includes a similar workout, extended a little longer with the comment "try not to coast." I am sure my mindset will be dialed in to purposeful cycling mode. I'm sure that'll make him happy and soon will become the norm. 

Just like it was before.