Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My new bike

My new bike is here! I think these pictures could count as bike porn (a term that I credit to Big Daddy Diesel) and I may need a cool name for my new bike like Mel came up with for her new wheels ("The Animal"). Here it is:

Specialized S-Works Transition, SRAM Red, Zipp 808/404 MAX racewheels, Quarq Cinqo power meter, Speedplay pedals, Profile Design CobraWing base bar with T-mag aerobars.

I joked with one of my friends that they must have wanted it out of the bike shop since they were spending so much time cleaning up the drool that was on the floor near it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A New Month Resolution

Rockstar Research has found an 88% failure rate for the general public's New Year's resolutions. I believe, though, that success rates for goals are higher (or lower percentages) and that there is a big difference between a goal and a resolution. I define goals as having concrete, measurable results that are very objective to measure success (or failure) while resolutions are much more subjective. Resolutions are softer and less tangible. There will be fails in resolutions that are OK but over time resolutions will change behavior, hopefully for the better.

I'm sure that there are a bunch of reasons why people's resolutions fail despite their most noble of intentions. Maybe the resolutions are too lofty. It is difficult to dramatically change behavior that quickly, cold turkey stories aside. Maybe they are not defined right, slipping into the goal category instead. Maybe it is just as simple that in order for a resolution to have significance, it is probably hard.

I don't normally set resolutions but I've decided to set a couple. I'm not going to set them for the length of a year but instead I figured if I started with a few resolutions for just the month of January (a new month resolution) I can see improvement and adjust if necessary.

The two I've decided on for January are:
  1. Reduce the amount of soda I drink. I am a soda-holic for lack of a better term. I mostly drink diet, caffeine free soda but I drink a lot of it. I've been known on some days to have soda during breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between. For January, I'd like to get to the point that some days I don't drink soda at all and other days to just have it with one meal. I'll replace the soda with something healthier - the favorites going in are water, iced tea, or an occasional fruit juice.
  2. Increase my strength and flexibility. I do not consider myself physically strong. I started Lisa's sponsored 100 pushup challenge two weeks ago and I'm progressing but slowly (I didn't start week three of the program but went back to week one, column 2 instead of column 1) . I want to continue this program to the conclusion of doing the hundred. I know I might not get there by the end of January but I also want to continue my flexibility program (now called physical therapy for my ITB issues) by introducing some sort of regular flexibility activities.

That's it. Two resolutions. I do have a whole bunch of goals in addition to these resolutions that I'll post within the week but the resolutions are set..... at least for the first month.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sugoi Brand Champion

I recently received an email that started:

Our SUGOI team has reviewed your application and would like to inform you that you have been accepted as a SUGOI Brand Champion! We believe that you will be a great ambassador of SUGOI and will make us proud in your athletic and personal endeavors. You are an incredible individual, and SUGOI is dedicated to making incredible apparel. We think you’ll agree that together, we make a great pair.

What is most cool about this is that I use a lot of Sugoi stuff already. I belong to 3 triathlon teams, all use Sugoi for their custom uniforms. Almost all of my tri shorts happen to already be made by Sugoi and my favorite piece of workout clothing is my Sugoi custom Team-in-Training RS Cycling jacket (I don't think RS stands for Rock Star but then again, it might).

One of the unexpected by products of losing weight is that since old clothes some how magically stop fitting, I expect to turn over most of my workout clothes this year. I'll let you know which works best for me as the journey continues.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

That's what Christmas is all about

"And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid ... And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings o great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord."

"And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men."

"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."- Linus Van Pelt

My daughter Courtney was very excited that she found this ornament and gave to me as an early Christmas present. Every time I see it I'm sure I'll remember her excitement. Although she didn't recite Luke like Linus does, this is also what Christmas is all about.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A marathon deal?

I registered for the upcoming Disney Marathon through Team-in-Training. I thought about signing up for the marathon outside of TNT but I've done a bunch of events with them and figured I might as well add one to the resume (I'm normally really good at fundraising but that's a story for another day). I don't really follow their training program (instead following the sage advice of CoachBikeMike) but I try to use the team's workouts as ways to get company for my long runs. Of course, this was when I was actually doing long runs.

After I hurt my knee and it didn't get better, I wondered if I could switch from the Disney Full Marathon to the Disney Half Marathon held on the same weekend. I figured there was no way that I could finish "the Full" unless I wrecked myself physically due to a lack of training. ("The Full" is unknown territory for me since I've never even started one before. Last year I signed up for Philly26.2 and bailed since hurt my left leg. This year my NYC26.2 dream was cut short by a rude encounter with a Honda CR-V while riding my bike but I've beaten that story to death). The official Disney policy is that no changes are possible but I reached out to the TNT folks hoping for special dispensation. After they checked, the answer back was sorry, but no.

Oh well, I gave it a shot. I planned on going down to Florida anyway with the Mrs., enjoy the weekend, and maybe do a little running if I'm up to it (rumor has it that it isn't snowy and cold there). There was no imperative to run and since I haven't run in about a month, I was expecting to, at best, jog a few miles to earn the swag before being rescued.

Today the phone rang and TNT let me know that they were able to make the switch! It may take a while to show up on the website but I am now registered for "The Half" instead.

Holy mixed emotions, Batman. A deal? Yes, a deal.

If I can run at all, I think I can finish the half. I may have to walk a bit of it (OK, maybe more than a bit) but there is no backing out now. I'm not going to hurt myself but most half marathon training plans call for a little more than 2 weeks of actually running. Running outside in NY is still a bit of a challenge due to the amount of snow still on the ground (let alone seeing what my knee will actually let me do). I adjusted my mindset that this is, at best, a "C" priority race and I don't care at all about my finishing time (well maybe I care a little but not anywhere near the normal amount of race psychosis).

The slow journey continues....

PS: The maladies continued with the cough adding on a runny nose. The snot factory kept me up all night even though I tried the OTC medicine roulette so I broke down and saw the doctor. He gave me real drugs to cure my bronchitis and sinusitis and I'm hoping for the drugs to kick in any minute now.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Maladay de jour

***Beware: Whining below ****

I hate being sick.

Even worse than being sick is when you are not "all the way" sick - just not right. That means you think you can do what you want until you try it. Then you find out you can't.

Even worse than not "all the way sick" is when it sort of moves around. On Friday night I felt as though an alien was trying to climb through my skin from the inside out. It got better with a case of the pukies and I blamed it on some bad burgers I cooked up. Saturday was a tummy recovery day but most of Sunday I had a headache that I felt in my toes. Monday I started coughing. Today is even more coughing.

Did I say I hate being sick? If not,let me say I hate being sick. I. Hate. Being. Sick.

I'm still going about my day to day though. I bailed on the workouts over the weekend but did squeeze in the push ups, the PT stretches, and even a mini swim last night. Oh, and by the way we had 14" of snow that I luckily got my slow blower back from the shop just in time to do three driveways (mine and we helped out some of the older folks that live down the block).

So I'm not helpless. No need to write the obituary yet. I'm not even sick enough to see the doctor but I keep dreaming of comfort foods and my will power is low. I might even try to ride the bike on the trainer for a while. Might wind up taking a nap instead though.

I hate being sick.

*** End of whining ***

Friday, December 18, 2009

How a weigh-in is like a threshold test.

The other night I did my first threshold test of the season on the bike. Even though it wasn't listed in the training plan as one or officially even called a threshold test, it sure looked and felt like one. I really haven't done any type of threshold testing since before my accident so I was a little concerned that I would overshoot the effort and wouldn't be able to complete it or undershoot the effort leaving too much in the tank. On a threshold test, you want to "baby bear" it (not too hard, not too easy, just right.....) and just right normally means that at some point you are breathing so hard that you contemplate trying to breathe through your eye lids to see if that works. Note: it doesn't.

The script of this test was to, after a warm up and a L2ish interval with the bike on the trainer, "give hard a try" for 20 minutes. In the good ole days my functional threshold power (FTP) was somewhere north of 280 watts but that seemed like eons ago and it wasn't in the so called off-season. I figured I would start at about 250 watts, see how I felt, and ramp it up a little at a time until there was nothing left. The "test" went according to plan (except the side stitch at 17 minutes) and after the magic of a power file analysis, WKO spit out my normalized power for this test as 260 watts. I was not unhappy with this number since it was still well above where I was last year at this time and in the range that I expected it to be at this time.

This morning I stepped on the scale at Weight Watchers and the number, while not where I wanted it to be, was also in the not unhappy range. I haven't been to WeWa in a while and was glad that I went. The number was down from the last time (the old ladies that work the scale got all excited) and a single pound above my low of 2009 (again right before my accident). They gave me the new 2010 Weight Watchers log book to track my weight for the upcoming year.

Both of these "tests" have provided me with numbers that will act as baselines going forward and both were in the not unhappy range. These two tests got me thinking about what's going to happen in 2010. Now that I have some baselines, I need to formulate some goals since I'll be doing these types of tests somewhat frequently and I know that goals will help me focus on succeeding. But what is succeeding? I figured that these areas, while interesting and can be used for motivation, ultimately are second class goals for me. What I mean by that is that they show progress and warrant focus but there are other goals (like actual race performances and other less tangible stuff) that will trump the weight loss and power numbers. These other goals will be what defines "succeeding."

What are they? Stay tuned. I'll publish them next week.

PS: I realized, after the fact, that while I was doing the threshold test I wasn't thinking about my injuries or my recovery. This may be the biggest threshold that I broke through.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Training update

I haven't blogged about actual training for a while now but there has been some (not a lot) of that on the Rock Star daily agenda. The reality of not being able to complete the Disney Marathon in less than a month is becoming more and more obvious since most marathon training plans don't include weeks of not running. I haven't been a complete slug but even if a miracle happens, finishing Disney isn't looking promising. But there may be other options.

I've traded running for 3x/week PT sessions to try to cure this ITB problem. Part of this rehab plan is to include 2-a-days of the individual stretching and exercises as well. I wish that I could report that this is helping my knee but I'd be lying as I still feel pain without doing anything specific (the evil side of my brain keeps thinking that these exercises are causing the pain but I need to control the evil side by letting the stupid side of my brain take over.) The rest of me is feeling improvement in flexibility and strength so this, even if I need to find something else to cure my knee (stop evil side, stop), has been beneficial. Sunday was three weeks without running and today is two weeks of physical therapy.

Since I'm already flopping around on the floor with these exercises, I've decided to take up Lisa from Chasin' Bunnies's Push up challenge and mix that in on the morning sessions on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Today was the second day of week one and I hope these should only add a few minutes a day - let's see how I do!

Monday, Wednesday and Fridays are swim days. I'm slowly increasing the time I can swim and I'm up to swimming 20 minutes sessions (not continuously yet) without issue from my ribs. This is a positive sign and if I continue to improve I may be able to try a masters class again in January with the expectation and hope of survival.

I have three bikes in the bike store (yes, some may say I have a bike problem): the old one that was crashed, the new one still awaiting some parts for RockStar customization, and my Guru titanium road bike. The hope is to salvage some of the parts from my shattered tri bike (it was all high end, all Dura-Ace) and upgrade my road bike (which was Ultegra). Many of the parts are not salvageable but some may be. Once the pieces are put back together again pictures will be posted - especially the bike porn of the new Transition S-Works. Since my mechanical skills top out at changing a flat, this effort is in the trusted hands of the bike shop crew.

Fortunately I have yet another road bike which I have been riding (maybe I do have a problem - we're not even going to talk about my Mountain bike ). Most of my rides have been on the trainer but even so Training Peaks reports I've done about 125 miles in the past 2 weeks. This has all been at a L1/L2 intensity but the Rockstar rehab plan says to "give hard a try" tonight. Yikes.

So, what to do about Disney? My wife and I decided on flying down anyway. The hotel is booked. The flights are booked and we'll make it into a kid-less mini vacation. If I can run more than 5 miles without pain, I may start the race anyway and bail early, using it as a typical training run. Even though that may not be enough to "earn" the shirt and swag, I'm still going to get the Fred Flintstone steak from Shula's afterwards, pair it with a bottle of red, and chase it with some sort of chocolate cake.

Yabadaba do!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas tunes.

Rockstar Research has found that most Christmas songs, at best, suck. Wait a minute, hear me out before you reflexively dub me Scrooge McGrinch or something like that. The other thing I've found is that many so-called Christmas songs don't really have anything to do with the actual meaning of the Christmas holiday but that is rant for another day. If you don't believe me, what does Frosty the Snow Man, Jingle Bells, Sleigh Ride, etc. have to do with the holiday? But I digress....

There are a few gems, though, that are worthy of a listen or two. Dominick the Donkey ain't one of them and I think the limit on listening to the dogs barking Jingle Bells is once per year. The Dr. Demento Christmas album (I'm showing my age now with the "A" word) gets you thinking and chuckling a bit but, and I know this concept may be controversial, there are actual Christmas songs are enjoyable to listen to. So without further ado and open for revision and recommendation, the official and basically unscientific list:
  • Kenny Loggins' "Celebrate Me Home."
  • Vince Guaraldi's "O Tannenbaum" from A Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack.
  • Barenaked Ladies' "Elf's Lament."
  • Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne."
  • Faith Hill's "Where are you Christmas."
  • Brian Setzer's "Dig that Crazy Santa Claus."
  • James Taylor's "Deck the Halls."
  • Eagles' "Please Come Home For Christmas."
  • Sting's "Soul Cake."

I'm sure there are more songs that could make the cut. I'm still searching (especially for a RockStar Research approved version of "What Child is This?" or "The First Noel") but for every potentially good song/version you have to listen to the Grandma getting run over again or "Chipmunk Song" five times. Now if it was the Chipmunk's remix of Funky Town from their movie soundtrack that might be a different story...

'Tis the season. Fa la la la la, parump a pum pum.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Signs of resizing

I've been working on my body composition for some time now. The scale really hasn't been my friend lately (but it hasn't been my enemy either though - sort of detente perhaps). The lowest scale reading (PR?) was right before my accident and it has been in a narrow range slightly above that magic number since then. On one hand I look at that as not great but rationalize that since my training volume has gone down it isn't that bad. On the other hand, the accident was three months ago and I'm getting frustrated.

Yes, I do take a few liberties with the rigidity of the diet (OK, maybe more than a few at times) but I've recently renewed this as focus item. I'm feeling body composition changes but needed an objective sign since I'm not getting it from the scale. Fortuntely, I've recently got a couple of them.

The first sign was that my jeans were loose even though they were a 36" waist. I went to the store (in this case Costco) and got a pair of 34s to try on. I wore 34s in high school (yes they had jeans back then) and remember that there was one fleeting moment later in life when 34s were my size (for reference when I started this weight loss/active journey I was growing out of my 44s) . I figured if they didn't fit now I would put them somewhere that I would continually see them for use as body composition motivation. This plan won't work BECAUSE THEY FIT NOW! Yes, there is a little muffin top going on but I've had that since it was called Dunlap's disease (my belly has "done laps" over my belt). Let's see if they still fit after they go through the wash cycle but I view these new jeans fitting as a good sign. The picture above is of the actual jeans.

The second sign was I felt that my wedding ring was getting looser and looser. I didn't want for it to fall off and get lost. I've worn this ring 16 years and never had to resize it up or down. The jeweler looked at it, measured me, and figured the ring should go down 1 whole size! The ring just came back and although it felt a little tight, the smaller size fit.

Good signs, yes. Progress, yes. Now we just need to end detente to get that scale working the right way and keep it going that way.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What's in your car?

I went to clean out my car and found the following in it:
  • One cycling coat.
  • Two pairs of gloves.
  • One gym bag with swim stuff in it (fins, goggles, wet towel, wet suit, lock, defogging drops [that have never worked for me])
  • One gym bag with clean running stuff in it (shorts, shirt, socks, sneakers, hat)
  • One winter running hat.
  • One pair of sweatpants.
  • One race belt (new).
  • Three running hats (Headsweats).
  • One chocolate chip mini clif bar.
  • Two Vanilla Bean Gus (unopened).
  • One "Triathlete" magazine.
  • Two "Bicycling" magazines.
  • Three empty water bottles.
  • One empty hand water flask.
  • One bicycle helmet.
  • One tire pump
  • One pair cycling road shoes
  • One pair cycling sunglasses
Rockstar research has found that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their car so what does this tell about me ( in addition to that I needed to clean out my car - which I did)?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ironman Syracuse 70.3

The RockstarTri 2010 A+B priority race calendar is complete. Today I registered for Syracuse 70.3, a new half ironman being held in upstate New York (about 5 hours from Casa Rockstar).

Originally I wasn't going to do this race. The first reason that I was skipping this race is that 2010 will be the inaugural running and I figured the logistics could still need "refinement." The second reason was that the bike course is rumored to be extra difficult. Although I consider myself generally a strong rider, hills are my main nemesis (due to my size) and most of this course is supposed to be hilly.

So, what changed?

Many of my friends are doing this race and I like to train and race with friends. As part of my sabbatical, I realized that this race could be considered a success if I do not blow myself up on the bike so I am going to go into this race with no overall finish time expectations. The criteria for success for me will be to have a strong swim, a controlled bike, and a strong run. This will see if I can follow a plan and if the lessons from last year's Timberman were actually learned. I got BikeMike's blessing, found a $50 off coupon, and pulled the trigger.

The calendar looks good and I'm excited about 2010!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Retail Fail: A Cautionary Tale

In the town next to mine there used to be a Weight Watchers store front. I seem to recall that at some point this was one of the higher functioning WW outposts. They had men's only meetings, teen support groups, as well as all of the traditional WW support meetings and food offerings.

Then Cold Stone Creamery opened next door to WW. For those who haven't experienced Cold Stone, it is a high end ice cream parlor where they mix in all sorts of unhealthy stuff to their ice cream. I'm not even an ice cream aficionado but realize greatness when I taste it.

I guess it was just a matter of time. WW put up a valiant effort but I figure temptation got the best of most of the WW faithful and they eventually closed the branch. Although there may have been reasons other than Cold Stone being next door that caused it to close, I'm thinking this was an atypical apple in Eden type of deal. Perhaps it was that the rent was going up since there was much more foot traffic due to the "neighbors." Perhaps it was due to an over saturation of WW offices. Perhaps it was due in part to the economic slow down I thought about calling the WW corporate offices but though it would be like putting salt in an open wound.

But it got worse. In the empty store that used to be WW, they opened a Five Guys Burgers and Fries. If you had a SAT question of ice cream is to Cold Stone as burgers is to what, the answer in many geographic regions would be Five Guys. The retail fail was complete.

But this story doesn't end here. If we go in another direction from my town, there is a Jenny Craig outlet. Next door they just opened a Krispy Kreme. Krispy Kreme had a false start in this area and closed almost all of their donut shops. They retreated and decided on this location as the best place to start again. Even my 11 year old daughter Courtney pointed out that Jenny is in jeopardy.

Beware Jenny, beware. Fight that fight and when the hot donut light goes on, don't think of burgers, shakes and fries because you know what could happen.

Ask the Weight Watcher alums.

PS: Although this is supposed to be body composition Thursday, I haven't gone back on the scale after my "sabbatical" but that is coming soon. I only went to Five Guys once during this time, didn't go to a WeWa meeting and never even entered the parking lot for Krispy Kreme.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sabbatical over: What have I learned?

I've gone through a lot of introspection over the last few weeks focusing on what I am currently and what I aspire to be. I think this was a valuable exercise in that I learned some things about myself. Most weren't a surprise but taking a look at myself helped me focus for the near term. In summary what I've found:

My physical state:

My broken rib doesn't hurt all the time but it doesn't not hurt all the time either. Most of the time I feel the broken rib while lying in bed, trying to sleep. In theory it should be cured by now. I'm afraid though that this may be "cured" and the new normal. It is something that I'll just have to accept and move on. Yes, it sucks but there aren't any options other than let time do it's thing. Yes again, patience is not a strength of mine.

More bothersome is the clicking I have in my ribs. I won't bore you with the official "syndrome" name but it is more annoying than painful. It gets even more annoying, though, when they click on almost every breath. In and out. I'm told this may go away but then again it also may not. If it doesn't, most people that have it just get used to it.

Rest didn't cure my right knee so I broke down and saw a doctor about it. His diagnosis was ITB tendinitis, a common running injury. He also commented that my legs were very, very tight (especially my hammies) and that a flexibility program is necessary to prevent me from getting hurt. He set me up with physical therapy to help. I've also gotten some books (including TriPower) to set this up. This, along with weight loss, needs to be my top priority. Yes, I've heard that song before but now I need to dance the dance.

Rest did cure my left calf muscle pain. I believe that I hurt it by compensating for the rest of my aches and pains. I'm also getting new orthotics since my right one recently cracked. Coincidence? I don't know, but new ones won't hurt.

The doctore recommended to not start running until I am pain free during the day and then to ease into it. This means Disney 26.2 is in jeopardy. Not all that happy about it but this race isn't my "A+" race for 2010 ("A+" is Eagleman70.3).

My mental state (as it relates "to athletic" endeavors):

I tried to figure out why I put myself through this training and figured out the benefits do outweigh the draw backs. Of course, I like certain things about it more than others and dislike some less than others - if you know what I mean.

I may never come in first but I can still "win" if I define winning the right way. That means that every race doesn't need to be a PR and I can still "succeed" if I focus on stuff a little differently. I am, by nature, very goal oriented so I need to make sure my goals make sense given where I am physically and mentally.

There are a whole lot of other things that I'll get into in future blog posts such as why I like biking the most of of all the many triathlon disciplines (swimming, biking, running, eating, drinking, stretching, strengthening, etc), why I like training with training buddies rather than alone and the challenges with that since I'm slow, why I need to hate being slow less but enough to continue to strive for improvement, and, most of all, why the support of my family in this sometime crazy adventure makes the journey all that more enjoyable.

Game on.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hurt again and time off.

I cut short my run on Saturday because my right knee pain returned but I still got a little over 5 miles in. My knee was feeling better so I went for a short run on Sunday morning. I left the house and within a few minutes my left (formerly known as good) calf seemed to lock up and wouldn't unlock. I could barely put weight on it. It was a sad mental conversation to figure out if I should call to be picked up and rescued since I was only a few hundred yards from my house. I chose to try to wobble home. Ironically I view this as my biggest athletic weekend success.

When I got home I iced my left leg and it didn't help much. I put a compression sleeve on it. I iced my other knee. I thought about icing my ribs too but decided to continue to tough that out.

I can still only wobble on Monday morning. I thought about making a appointment to see a doctor. The question was what would be my primary complaint? I have so much of me in various states of broken that I'm unsure. Nothing more can be done for my ribs except to wait for them to heal. I believe that most doctors, as a first take, would prescribe rest and recovery then see if my other complaints gets better or not.

I've decided I need to take some time and heal both physically and mentally. How long? I don't know. On the mental side I need to figure out if my goals are real and attainable or plain fantasy. There may be a reason why someone my size keeps getting hurt. Maybe I'm doing too much too fast. Most importantly I need to get excited about workouts again rather than wondering if I'll finish a short workout with or without a new injury.

While I'm figuring this out, I've decided to take a sabbatical from the blogosphere too. I wish I could say stay tuned but I don't know when I'll be back. Hopefully sooner rather than later.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Five for Friday

1) The big news this week is that I've come to a settlement with the insurance company on my bike. In their infinite wisdom they declared my bike a total loss - I think the shattered carbon frame was a hint. I also had to include the clothes that they cut off me in the ER and a new helmet. After a few weeks of back and forth, we agreed on a number that will let me get a really nice bike. Of course, my old bike was a really nice bike too and it was "interesting" have the conversation with my wife on how much I actually paid for it.

I made an appointment for a preliminary fitting and in the meanwhile the bike shop reassembled the pieces of my bike to get the old measurements. I saw the bike and said that it looked almost ridable. Then they pointed out that it was held together with clear packing tape.

Now I have some decisions to make and my head is spinning.
  • Dura Ace vs. SRAM Red or do I jump on the wireless Di2? I'm leaning Red.
  • In the power meter world: SRM vs. Quarq vs. Powertap. I'm leaning Quarq since it will give me flexibility on.....
  • Race wheels. Zipp, Reynolds, or Hed. Since, as a fat guy, I'm gravitationally challenged and most of my upcoming races are flat (StA, Eagleman), I'm thinking deeper dish wheels but not a disc. I'll be taking these off Santa's Christmas list and getting them now.
  • Most of all, which bike? That will wait for the fitting but I'm leaning towards Specialized Transition S-Works. If that doesn't work, probably Guru.
  • Then, what color?

2) We are just starting the pain and suffering negotiations. This one will be interesting.

3) The almost equally big news is that I successfully ran on Wednesday night. It was a slow 5 miles but my knee wasn't any worse for the wear. This was a good sign meaning that I didn't have to shut it down for recovery and jeopardize yet another race and race fee. Another run this weekend will let me see if I am back on track.

4) Went to the Garden last night instead of training to watch the Coaches vs. Cancer NCAA basketball doubleheader. This was my first college hoops game in person but my girls were really gung ho. Syracuse vs. Cal and then UNC vs. Ohio State. How I'm raising girls that are die hard Carolina basketball fans is a mystery to me. Also, why would (sane) people go to this game wearing Duke? I guess sane is relative. Any insight John?

It was a fun night but we got home way past our bedtimes.

5) Good luck KathyK and all others out in the desert looking to own IMAZ this weekend and EagleChick Christine running in Philly!

Monday, November 16, 2009

My running was going well and then.....

Let me backtrack a little. I've been running more than I ever have in, let me see, forever as part of building up the miles to do well in the Disney marathon in January. For example, last week I did 5 miles on Tuesday, another 5 on Thursday, and had 11 on the plate for Sunday. On Saturday, my daughter invited some friends for a "running play date" and I went along a chaperon. I figured since I was waiting for them I might as well run a little myself so I added 3 miles as an easy bonus run on the Bethpage Trail. I was happy that I was getting faster - the easy run was a little faster than 11:00/mile (my hopeful marathon pace) and was, ta-da, easy.

Since my accident all of my running has been on the track or on a trail. I can't remember the last time I actually ran on a road (probably early September) so I figured Sunday's run was as good a time as any to start. I'm trying to get the accident behind me (of course, pulling yet another piece of windshield out of my arm Saturday was a fresh reminder). The weather was crap, so I used one of my many old pairs of sneakers to not ruin the new ones. The route wound up hillier than I recalled but just near the end of my run, I got some pain on the outside of my right knee. This pain is not uncommon but normally is no big deal and goes away quickly. (I wonder what it would feel like to be pain free - it has been a while). I finished up my run and when walking into my house, I turned up lame. I limped a bit and it didn't get better all day long. So much for going away quickly.

Yes, I did a bunch of stuff wrong. A lot of miles. Old sneakers. Running on the road in one big jump rather than easing into it. Running back to back days. Which syndrome did I get? ITB syndrome? Stupid-itis syndrome? Another one?

Iced it a bit, ate ibuprofen. It still hurt (a little less) on Monday but I wasn't limping anymore. My orthotics were cracked so I made an appointment with the podiatrist to see if they were salvageable - maybe that was the cause. On Tuesday, I'm still improving but not all the way back.

Good news is that it has taken focus away from my ribs. A little more rest to get better (I hope). Next test is Wednesday night. On the track. With the new sneakers. For a short(er) run.

Stay tuned.

I've already won! 13.1 Marathon - New York City

At the New York City Marathon Expo, I filled out a few raffle entries. I really concentrated on the prizes or products that I had actual interest in. A new race, the 13.1 Marathon - New York City, was a race that I was considering so I filled out the information ticket.

This inaugural race is scheduled for April 3, 2010. This date works perfectly in my training plan since it would be long enough after the Disney Marathon for recovery and early enough to get in two halfs (the other being the Long Island Half Marathon in early May) as part of my 2010 Eagleman 70.3 (mid June) training. There are other races around that time but I would have to balance the kids soccer schedule, life (yes there are life things beyond soccer), and training.

I used to be able to say that I never won anything but I broke that streak since I was contacted by the race directors and they said I won a free entry into any of their 13.1 races. I reached out to them to claim my entry into the NY version and they are hooking me up.

I still can't believe I actually won something. Now, if they happen to have a fat, old, age group that has just me in it I might be able to stand on the podium and grab some hardware but since that ain't happening, a free entry will do just fine.

A good race will be even better. A PR? Now, you are getting greedy..... but then again, why not?

Friday, November 13, 2009

How to tell when someone is dieting.

  • They are never without a water bottle to sip on.

  • They pee 17 times a day.

  • They can smell chocolate from 200 yards away.

  • Their farts smell like lettuce or their farts smell like fish. But then again, what's the difference?

  • They notice body composition changes in everyone else.

  • They weigh themselves in tenths of a pound.

  • It takes them 20 minutes to figure out what to order at a restaurant and 4 minutes to actually order it. Then they send it back at least once.

  • They are cranky. All. The. Time.

  • They wonder how skinny people can eat so much and not be fat.

  • They wonder how they eat so little and are not skinny.

  • When they eat something not "healthy", they first look left and then right to see if anyone is watching.

  • If someone is watching they will reflexively say, "this is only two points." Even if it is a Snickers bar. And even if they aren't on Weight Watchers. Then they will finish the rest of it in one bite. Even if it is king size.

  • The guy at the salad store recognizes them and asks if they are having "the usual."

  • Their family knows which Weight Watcher's desserts taste good and which don't.

  • They chew each pretzel (in a 100 calorie pack of course) no less than 9 times.
  • They wonder if any of the magic weight loss remedies actually work.

  • They realize the magic doesn't work. It comes back to diet and exercise. Duh.

  • They can't watch the food channel without salivating even if it is a food they normally don't like.

  • They have mood swings on weigh-in day.

Today's weigh-in had me at losing 0.4 pounds. My mood is, you guessed it, grumpy/cranky.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How many pairs of sneakers do you own?

I ordered some new kicks last week. Specifically I ordered a pair of New Balance 1225s and a pair of Asics Kayano 16s (so new of a flavor that the Asics website is still featuring the old one). I bought these because my old sneakers were getting old and I'm putting a lot of miles in while I train for my January marathon.

Rockstart Research has found the rule of thumb on changing kicks are about 300 miles or so and since I'm on the big side, my sneakers break down sooner. I figured with the 8 weeks to go before my race, I'll probably put in an additional 250-300 miles. That means my existing sneakers would be toast before the marathon so I got some new ones now that I can break in and use prior to race day. I thought this a great plan.

The first pair are in. My family used this opportunity to ask me how many sneakers did I have and how many did I think I needed. They seemed to thing I might have been channeling Imelda Marcos in my so-called sneaker collection. I didn't think so.

First, the "optimal" state:

  • Two pairs of running sneakers to alternate during training runs (this would be the role of the two new ones).
  • One pair of running sneakers to use on the dreadmill (this one has the Garmin foot pod attached). This is normally one of the previous actual training sneakers.
  • Two pairs of day to day, non running, just walking around sneakers (even though I wear shoes to work).
So this totals up to 5 pairs. I didn't think this excessive.

Then I went into my closet and found I had 7 8 pairs of sneakers (not counting the new ones that are still in the box). The three pairs of cycling shoes (Road, Tri, and Mountain/spin) don't count. The sandals for the gym and fins for swimming don't count either. Yes, they do know my name at the running store and greet me like Norm from Cheers when I walk in. No, they haven't admitted to memorizing my size (maybe they are being nice).

I didn't think this was too bad but maybe I did have a little Imelda in me. I thought I was fairly normal compared to most real triathletes and runners. So, how many pairs of kicks do you lace up on the foofsies and how many are hiding in your closet?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Back in the swim of things.

I decided on my way home from work yesterday that rather than watch the TTT masters swim workout (I would be there since Courtney, daughter#2, swims with the junior team)I would try a swim to test out the ribs again. The problem was that the last time I tested them out I thought I was OK until about 30 minutes after the swim and then agony set in. And it lasted for days.

The pool was set up for 50m lanes. I figured 4x50 with fins would do the trick and that I would avoid the pull buoy from the beginning so I don't need to wean myself off it later.

I did OK taking a long time between 50s. I found it funny how the habit of looking at the pace clock at the end of every interval is ingrained into my swimming technique. I woke this morning and I was still OK. Pain no better, no worse.

Success! I'll try again on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Running or Racing?

On Halloween, my 13 year old daughter's XC season ended. It was a successful season for her and you can best figure that out since she has been talking about continuing running. Her team doesn't practice anymore and there were some local events (road and XC) I thought she was considering. I came home from work one night a few days ago and this conversation was held around the kitchen table:

Rockstar: Are you looking to race this weekend? There is a 4k XC race on Saturday.

Daughter#1: I don't think so. Why?

Rockstar: Because if you race that race it will make me adjust my plans. I hope to do a half marathon on Saturday.

Mrs.Rockstar: You're running a half marathon? I didn't know that. Where?

Daughter#1: You're racing this weekend?

Rockstar: I just expect to run up and down the Bethpage trail until I get 13.1 miles done. If you are racing I'll go in the afternoon after your sister's soccer game. If not, I'll go in the morning.

Daughter#1 (rolling her eyes): Dad, there is a big difference between running and racing.

This morning, I ran 13.1 miles. Even though it wasn't a race, this was the second fastest that I've ever run this distance (yes, I know I'm slow and I only have finished a handful of half marathons but second fastest is still second fastest).

Maybe there isn't that much of a difference between running and racing? In that case, I won!

Where's the trophy? No trophy? Then again, maybe there is a difference.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A medical opinion

In the ambulance on the way to the hospital after my bike accident, the volunteer EMTs were having a challenge getting a proper ECG on me. They kept saying it was "backwards." When I got to the hospital, the hospital staff re-did it and said it was OK.

I was a bit surprised when I got a copy of the ER report that I needed to begin to haggle with the insurance folks that there were all sorts of non flattering comments regarding my ECG but the most troublesome was the summary of "ABNORMAL ECG." No mention of this was made while I was at the hospital so I bounced the report off my regular doc. He said that these tests are often aggressively interpreted by a computer and that it couldn't have been that bad since they let me leave the hospital. He looked at the detail and said that it was the same as it always was (normally abnormal I guess) but it wouldn't hurt to go to back to a cardiologist for a follow up since I hadn't had gone in a few years. So I did.

The cardiologist felt that he should be aggressive in testing since there was some family history of heart issues, I'm fat, I'm getting old and it wouldn't be good for me to stop getting older by dropping dead while training. After what seemed about a gazillion tests (echo cardiogram, stress test, cardiac calcium CT, carotid artery ultrasound) with most indicating no issues (he was concerned with one part of the stress test but said the CT gave him the all clear), the net was to continue to exercise, lose more weight, and come back in a year. In his opinion the best weight for me to be in a year would be no more than 230 lbs (BMI <30).

A perfect ending to this story would be that everything was OK and that I wouldn't have to go back for a much longer time. Looking back at this, I guess I should be happy even though the stress test wasn't completely clean. I'm sure another full suite of testing will be done next year so I've got that to look forward to.

So on to weight loss after all it is body composition Thursday. The number this week was -2.3 lbs (Total = -75.8, WW3 = -5.6 ). In spite of noshing on a few of the trick or treat candies (OK, I admit it - I ate more than I handed out) and big party at an great restaurant Sunday, I was able to rally to get where I was. How? I really don't know, but I not complaining.

This means next week will be tough and will require more focus. I want to keep the weekly weight loss as going down between 1.0 and 2.0 pounds. That should be sustainable and get me where I need to be at for the doctor in a reasonable time. It also will help me with my athletic misadventures too.

Imagine how different the test results and his opinion would have been if I hadn't lost the weight I've lost already and hadn't increased my fitness. I think I'll be thinking of this on my long run this weekend.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

When is a long run long?

When I started running, I considered a run as long if it was any more than one lap around a standard track. Note that I failed at my first few attempts at running that distance without needing a walk break.

Running a whole 5K became an accomplishment. Then running a whole 10K and then a half marathon (except for walking through the water stops). These were races and probably should be consider long "races" not long "runs."

It got me thinking what is a "long run?" There is some mystique and aura (no, not superheroes or dancers of some sort) around the long run as part of marathon training or long distance triathlon training. Is it physical training or is it, perhaps, more mental? More importantly, when does it qualify as an official long run?

I've heard that some people define it as longer than 10 miles. Some define it as longer than 90 minutes (of course there are probably the same folks who run 10 miles in much less than 90 minutes and that ain't me). Some define it as longer than 2 hours. Perhaps longer than a half mary qualifies.

Last weekend I ran 12 miles of run 10 minutes/walk 1. About 8.5 miles in my run (when I was reloading the water bottle), my friend Kathy was starting her run on the same trail. This was her last big run before IMAZ and she had 18 miles on her plan (this of course was after her 100 on the bike the day before). We ran and talked a while together before I had to turn around and head back to rejoin the real world. I thought my run would qualify as long in my mind.

It got me thinking. Should ipods be worn on the long run if the race doesn't allow them? (I'm leaning no but I seem to use my ipod on almost every run). Should you be talking on the run? (I'm leaning yes especially if you will be racing with friends). Would these disqualify the run as long? I settled on no - as long as the miles get done, the miles get done. It can be (and was) slow but the benefits will be realized in January.

Fortunately I'll have more time to think of this as my training runs for the Disney Marathon are getting long by anyone's definition. I hope there will be some time soon when I will look back at this "dirty dozen" that I ran on Sunday and consider it short.

Doubt I would ever consider them easy though.

Friday, October 30, 2009

2010 New York City Triathlon

There will be a rock star in the Hudson (along with many other "things" floating that we don't want to discuss at this time) July 18, 2010. It is frightening that I woke up at 3AM, saw the email for early entry for USAT members that came out only a few hours earlier, hit the "secret" link, and found age group early entry was already full. Luckily for me, Clydesdale spots were still available.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

I've lost focus on improving my body composition and that's not good.

I decided to renew focus last August with the hope that the third attempt (phase 3) at Weight Watchers getting me to where I needed to be weight-wise to optimize the chances for my athletic "success." I had been successful at WW in the past. In summary:

  • WW Phase 1 began on May 22, 2007 and on that day, even though I'd been dieting a while (unofficially) I weighed (officially) 328.4.

  • WW Phase 2 began on 10/14/08 and on that day I weighed 287.2.

  • WW Phase 3 began on 8/27/09 and on that day I weighed 258.2.

  • Today I weighed in at 254.8 lbs. This is down 73.6 lbs from the beginning of phase 1, 32.4 lbs from the beginning of phase 2, and 3.4 lbs from the beginning of phase 3. Many consider this successful but I'm not done yet. I do know I don't want a phase 4.

    So I've decided to follow the advice from "Galaxy Quest" and to "never give up, never surrender." I have some excuses that I could blame for my current lack of progress but it all comes down to focus and desire. I've decided to make this a priority.

    There is a local health club that has plastered advertisements around New York (just in time for the marathon that I won't be running) that state that 75% of all weight gain happens between Halloween and Valentine's Day. Don't know if this statement is factual or not but I'm going to use it as motivation. My goal will be to flip this around a little and make the focus of this time period my weight loss. I'm going to make my Thursday blog posts to center around this effort so feel free to tune out if you don't want to read about fat guys eating salad and the like. I'm not going to state a goal yet but I'm not giving up and won't surrender.

    Monday, October 26, 2009

    Going to Eleven

    From Spinal Tap:
    Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
    Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
    Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
    Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
    Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
    Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
    Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
    Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
    Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
    Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
    Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

    Last weekend I continued piling on the long slow miles with the hope of building a base for the Disney Full in January. I had 10 miles on the plan but I decided to stretch it out a bit and go to eleven miles.

    It has been a long time since I ran double digit miles. While the pace was slow (yes, even for me let alone "real" athletes), I got it done. A future step in the eleven theme, but not necessarily the next step, is to run at the 11 minute/mile pace that I hope to maintain during the whole Disney marathon. A dream? Perhaps, but so is actually rocking the mouse house with a sub 5:00 finish.

    Perhaps a more relevant quote from Spinal Tap for this rock star would be "It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever."

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    October 25 is St. Cripsin's Day.

    Didn't know Shakespeare was into racing but he had Henry V give this race report:

    "This day is called the feast of Crispian:
    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
    Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
    And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
    He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
    And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
    And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
    Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
    But he'll remember with advantages
    What feats he did that day: then shall our names,
    Familiar in his mouth as household words
    Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
    Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
    Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remember'd;
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition:
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    Book Review: " Running with the Buffaloes" by Chris Lear

    My daughter Amanda decided earlier this year to try out for the high school cross country team (even though she isn't in high school yet). She made the team and her times are getting better and better.

    I picked up this book to read about "real" XC training and mindset. This book describes a year in the life of the Colorado University men's XC team. It is a bit dated since it chronicles the 1998 season but running is running. Adam Goucher (he later married Kara Grgas who has had her own racing successes) is the featured member of the team.

    It is sometimes hard to relate based on how many miles these guys were doing at the paces that they were doing them at. It was also hard for me, as someone who lives at or close to sea level, to understand the impact of training at altitude. In my vast understanding of training, ahem, I can't see how the mileage (sometimes >100 miles/week) can be beneficial due to the wear and tear on bodies. If one has the time and ability to do this without getting hurt, great, but injuries, like you know what Forrest, happen. I hurt even thinking about their volume.

    The concept of peaking for a race, in this case the NCAA XC championships, is something that I can bring to my training. Understanding that "B" or C" type races without a lot of tapering may not bring the same results of a full taper "A" race will help me rationalize how training load affects performance.

    Even at this level, workouts were mostly individual. The plan was constantly tweaked based on performance, injuries and the ability of the athlete to handle the training load. That's something I agree with strongly.

    I found it a quick read and it made me think about training, racing, and recovery. Of course, I had to google the team to see how the season ended before finishing the book but that should have been expected.

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    A Mixed Bag

    The weekend was expected to be a total washout weatherwise but I was able to sneak in some training. While training some thoughts bounced through my head. Some may be borderline psychotic but I thought I share anyway.

    • I hate running on the dreadmill. I got home late on Friday and ran about 5 minutes of my expected hour and then called it a night. I wasn't feeling 100% and had a long run scheduled the next morning so I bailed. The forecast said that the weather was supposed to get worse as the day went on so it was good that I was meeting a group at 7AM to get a long run in.
    • The clock went off at 5:51, my usual wake up time. I turned off the clock, went back to sleep, and got up at 9AM. I guess I needed the rest.
    • Even though the temp was in the mid 40s it was still dry so I thought I'd get my long run in outdoors (after all I'm, in theory, training for a marathon). I'm already behind due to my somewhat forced vacation so I needed some miles under my belt ( I got some new belts that were size 34 so that made me happy even though I don't seem to be dropping pounds). Still wasn't feeling great though with body aches and a head ache.
    • On the plan was 8-10 miles. I wanted to slow/steady/easy (whichever would work) and just get it done. For me, that should be 11:45-12:15/mile.
    • I don't think I can push it faster than that at this time but don't know if my inability to push the pace is mental or physical from my injuries. I really need to get better but the only cure seems to be time. Pain sucks.
    • It seemed like every time I looked at the Garmin during the run, I was going too slow. Kept going anyway at a comfy pace with the howling wind (20-30mph) and it looking like it was going to pour at any minute.
    • Thought about my Iron Dreams while running. I have "permission" from the family to do one (and only one) that will hopefully be sometime in 2011. I hope I do good enough so that one will be enough but not good enough to think I need to do more.
    • I need a marathon under that same new belt to feel that I would have a decent shot at a 140.6 before I sign up for one. If I'm looking at IMFL, I don't know how 2010NYC 26.2 fits in the calendar.
    • Finished 8.25 miles and when I downloaded the results it said 11:58/mile pace. Still can't figure that one out.
    • The rain started when I got into my car to head home. This never happens to me (rain waiting until I was done). Most of the time it starts at the furthest point from "sanctuary." I saw this as a good omen.
    • Had a two hour ride scheduled on Sunday and the weather hit a new level of craptastic with 43 degress and rain going sideways.
    • My daughter had a soccer game Sunday 9AM. They played it in the rain and wind. Her team was down a player for the whole game (10v11) and unfortunately they lost in the last minute 1-0. One of the other team's parents described my daughter's team's effort as heroic. I watched the whole game from the sidelines and I agree they showed a lot of heart.
    • J-E-T-S could stand for Just End The Season again.
    • Late at night I got on the trainer. Wasn't going to be able to do the scheduled 2 hours but did a mellow 60 minutes instead. Watched "Animal House" DVD while I rode and I wondered what would be the best movie to watch while on the trainer. Will try to figure that out as the off season progresses. Perhaps a chick flick like "Gladiator"?

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    The brilliance of POM Wonderful

    I was recently contacted by the folks at POM Wonderful. They stumbled across my blog and wanted to know if they could send me some samples of their product along with some background in exchange for some feedback. I thought "where was the downside?" and asked them to ship the stuff to Casa Rockstar.

    About a week later I received the samples along with a few pages of notes. They had a lot of impressive literature and I found that they are funding a lot of pomegranate juice research. Seems like this stuff wasn't snake oil and was actually healthy.

    Before I got to my taste test I saw that Wes at a Code's Geek Tail and Runner Leana at both had similar experiences and blogged about it. I read their experience as generally positive.

    So it was going to come down to taste. My family tried it and found it on the sweet side. I thought it OK especially if it was watered down a bit. My daughter had some friends over and I offered a taste test to them and they declined. When the girls were getting picked up though some of the parents hopped on the bandwagon and thought the stuff was great. I guess taste in this case is hit and miss.

    So where is the brilliance of POM wonderful? The rock star himself isn't a convert but Rockstar Research has shown that there are potential health benefits to this drink and others do like it. I feel the brilliance is using semi-random bloggers to help spread their word with no strings attached. It might a risky tactic as some could just as easily hate the stuff while others could love it. Either way there will be more "buzz." Perhaps POM will stick like spaghetti or perhaps it will miss but this may help POM Wondeful hit a tipping point (see Malcolm Gladwell's book titled the same).

    For POM Wonderful, that would be truly brilliant.

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    There was a time when....

    There was a time when when I considered running 5.5 miles an impossible task for me. In order to complete that distance it would require a lot of walking breaks just to get it done. I never considered any distance run as "short." I still don't.

    There was a time when I considered a ride of 45 miles as long. I learned to bias the duration vs. intensity ratio towards long duration with low intensity and his allowed me to ride long but slow. It seemed like a long time since I've ridden that distance but then I realized Timberman in August was probably the last time. I also realized the last time I rode outdoors was over a month ago.

    Saturday I ran 5.5 miles. I kept slowing my body down since I didn't want to get hurt but even so I did it at about my half marathon pace. After the run, my 11 year old wanted to go for a run with me. Courtney wants to run a whole 5K turkey trot on Thanksgiving so we run/walked an additional 1.5 miles together. Then we watched her older sister race a 5k at one of the hardest XC courses in the country. Soon I'll have two girls that run too fast for me.

    Yesterday I rode 47.7 miles at a casual pace. I went with a small group of folks that just completed a century ride with Team in Training a few weeks ago and this was a shake out the legs ride for most. It was perfect for my recovery and as my first ride outdoors since my accident.

    This morning I woke up after my workouts this weekend and my leg and core muscles hurt. Not too much but enough to let me know I did something a little out of the ordinary for me.

    There was a time that this would have bothered me but today this hurt made me feel good. It made me feel back.

    Friday, October 9, 2009


    I've always heard of people that have gotten hurt while training. I've known some personally and I've even seen some get hurt. A few of these folks have recovered quickly, some have had long drawn out recoveries and others, with drastic injuries, are still on recovery road. I never really thought it would be my turn.

    I'm not a very patient being generally and waiting for my body to heal isn't something that I am good at. I'm also very goal oriented and I believe that finding out "what you can do" involved reaching a bit. Of course, this is very individual based on one's injuries. The ER doctor told me that I could try to workout but be prepared for a lot of pain. When the pain gets too much, he recommended to shut it down.

    So I've started training.

    I've gotten a lot of advice from people I consider "real" athletes who have had injuries similar to mine. Most have commented that the ability to bike (especially on the trainer) would come first and that running would come last. The jury was out on swimming.

    Biking on the trainer hasn't been bad. I've been stretching out the time to the point where I can ride an hour. I can't push the pace since breathing deeply still sucks. I've wanted to ride outside but the weather hasn't cooperated. Sunday looks promising for a ride and there is a group of TNTers with 46 miles on the cue sheet at a relatively slow pace. This is a little longer than I wanted to do but I'm sure there will opportunities to turn around and shorten the ride.

    Swimming, in contrast, has been hell. My first try at swimming lasted a little over 90 seconds before I had to shut it down. My second try was last Sunday and I was happy to be able to swim for 15 minutes. But then, and there always seems to be a then, within an hour I was in agony. I curled up in bed and stayed there for 2 hours. The pain continued until today, 5 days later, when I almost feel the way I felt before I tried my 15 minute swim. Needless to say, I'm not going to try to swim for a few more weeks.

    Running has been better than I expected. Last Saturday I was able to run 3 miles on the flattest course in existence (a boardwalk at the beach). Tuesday I ran 4 miles just running laps around the block. Last night, 4.5 miles on a track. All of this running was slow, even for me, but it was running and I found that running hasn't made my pain worse.

    So, never one to let reality get in the way, I've decided to race the Disney Marathon on January 10, 2010. I've booked a hotel, reserved a rental car and have decided to do this race while raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society and Team in Training.

    I know what you are thinking. "Isn't this a bit of a reach?"

    I looked online and saw a bunch of 20 week beginner plans typically have a long run in the 12 miles range for this weekend. This weekend I hope to run a little longer than the 4.5m the other night and if I continue to improve, I feel I should be able to do it. BikeMike, my coach, seems to feel that based on my fitness level I would need 12 weeks to be ready. Losing weight will help most but the calendar works.

    I'll be racing and training with friends.

    MrsRockstar keeps hinting that the Disney half marathon might be a more attainable goal than the full. She is probably, as usual, right but I've never let "can't" get in my way.

    Is this a folly? Maybe yes but then again, maybe no. Let's find out.

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    Book Review: "A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York" by Liz Robbins

    When I was transitioning from the tri season to training for the NYC marathon, I bought this book to glom some motivation or some useless piece of knowledge that could distract my sometime feeble brain from realizing that that the miles were actually piling up or passing by during race day.

    One of my strengths is useless knowledge. Useful facts, unfortunately in contrast, are not one of my strengths but the depth of my useless knowledge can fool most into thinking that I am intelligent, but only at times. I felt that this book could add to that depth of trivia.

    Overall, I liked the book and would recommend it to someone considering racing or even running the NYC marathon. The author, Liz Robbins, seems to spend a lot of time on the "famous" people but mixes in stories regarding some folks that aren't world class runners. I found those types of stories more interesting but I found most were hard for me to relate with. I also found it odd that she didn't chronicle someone going through the 9+1 races almost 2 years in advance to guarantee entry since it appears that many go that route.

    The book is not critical of the NYRR at all. Some may consider it overly deferential to the NYRR. It is even sold on the NYRR website in addition to many stores (I found it in Borders).

    The book jacket says that the author frequents the running trails of Central Park. She may but I've never heard of a runner describe a running pace in miles per hour (for example 10mph = 6:00/mile) except those who train mostly on the dreaded treadmill. There are a few occasions where this was done but that might have been to entertain the nonrunner readers but I wonder how many nonrunners will read this book?

    The best piece of useless knowledge that I got out of this is that the NY Times publishes a list of all finishers under 5:00 the day after the marathon. This was my time goal and this useless fact solidified my goal.

    I plan on rereading this book before I do the NYC Marathon in 2010. Maybe the 2011 version of the book will have the story of a fat, old, gravy sweating rock star sticking a fork in 26.2 mile of NYC since it will be DONE. I'm sure this blog will tell the story even if the book doesn't. In fact, this blog may chronicle another 26.2 miles before then. It may even be in a magical place.

    Thursday, October 1, 2009

    Dear Santa

    Dear Santa,

    I was in the store last weekend and I saw that many of the toys for Christmas are already on display! This seems to be getting earlier and earlier every year so I thought it would be a good opportunity to get my Christmas "wish" list together. I only put "material" things on the list as the race performance wishes at the various distances are something that I need to take care of by myself with hard work.

    I've been a good rock star this year and definitely feel that I should be on the "nice" list. Don't listen to those other folks that keep saying that I should be on the naughy list and should get coal (again) - what do they know! Humbug to them.

    So, without further ado, the list:

    1) Even though I need to buy a new bike I would love if you put some race wheels under the tree - don't really care which ones. The Zipp Clydesdales look nice. HED makes some smokin' "stallion" wheels. There are other players like Reynolds that have interesting offerings. I know I'm not fast enough (yet) to get the most benefit out of them but they sure look cool and I hope to be fast enough one day. Maybe I'll be fast enough in 2010.

    2) Lake Placid Computrainer real course video. Even though I'm looking at a different 140.6 long term this will help in the winter training. I'm riding a lot more on the trainer.

    3) While most people don't put on things that they don't want, I'm going off the standard "Dear Santa" menu and putting a Aero helmet on the "not wanted" list. I can't imagine being able to wear one in a race, let alone walking around the transition area, without looking like a complete and total dork.
    I'm sure that more will come up but if you put this stuff on the side for me now I'll let you know as quickly as possible what else catches my fancy.

    Your friend always,

    The Rockstar.

    PS: If there is anyway that you can help with the body healing, weight loss, flexibility, or actual race performance, lets have a conversation as I'm sure that there is something that we can work out there.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    A detour to McDonalds

    Yesterday I had a long day at work. I had to go to Piscataway, NJ which is about a 90 minute ride each way from Casa Rockstar when there is no traffic and when driving through New York, there is never no traffic.

    My plan was to stop for some dinner on the way home when traffic got the best of me. Fortunately fat guys, including yours truly, seem to know where most spots to eat are along most rides (car and bike). We don't need a fancy GPS to tell us. We just sort of know. Fat guys also can act as a GPS as well but they often give directions based on restaurants: "go down this road and turn left at McDonalds, keep going until you see a Burger King on the left and then turn right after the Bell (Taco that is) and you are there...."

    So I'm driving in the car getting hungry. I've been trying to follow my diet as best I can especially since I'm working out much less but I rationalize that I need junk food. Buffalo Chicken Pizza or Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese + garnish (fries, etc) at the arches would do. My mind is now out of control now completely focused on unhealthy food.

    And. Lots. Of. It.

    There was a sign which shows that there are delays ahead and I find myself in auto-pilot mode pulling into a McDonalds. Sitting in the parking lot, I mentally go from double quarters to a salad with crispy chicken coupled with a crispy snack wrap. McDonalds has some healthy choices in the salad department and I find that their salads help me from time to time as they are premeasured and consistent (one of the real good things that Ronald has been able to serve up).This is a little slightly healthier option that still keeps the food volume high.

    As I'm walking to the counter, I convince myself to not get the snack wrap but keep it as an option if I'm still hungry after the salad. Even though crispy chicken isn't as healthy as grilled, I'm not a saint and it is still much better for me than the burger and fries. So I order the southwest salad.

    I few minutes later with no salad in sight, the manager comes out and tells me they are out of crispy chicken and that it will be a while since they have to cook more. Rather than hop on the burger bandwagon (which looked real tempting), I got grilled chicken in my salad instead. I left without getting the snack wrap either. This turned my trip to Ronald's house to be the most healthy alternative that I could get there.

    When I got home a little after 8pm, I did 45 minutes on the bike trainer followed by a successful five minute jogging test on the t-mill.

    What does this all mean? I don't know but I felt good that I chose to step down to the salad, good that there was no crispy chicken, good that I could get my workout in, and good that I could actually do the workout. The workout still hurt physically but it felt good at the same time.

    And that's good.

    Monday, September 28, 2009

    Why delay the inevitable?

    Dear Rockstar,

    We have received your cancellation notice for the ING New York City Marathon 2009. We're sorry to hear that you won’t be participating in this year's event. You are eligible for guaranteed entry into the ING New York City Marathon 2010. Please note that you must still apply for guaranteed entry into the 2010 event and pay the entry fees as well as applicable optional fees by May 1, 2010.

    Now that you have cancelled, you cannot be reinstated into the ING New York City Marathon 2009. Your decision was final. If you did not cancel and are receiving this notice in error, please contact us.

    Please note that your registration fee for the ING New York City Marathon 2009 is non-refundable. Also, you may not give or sell your race number or timing chip to another individual. NYRR will bar you and the person running with your number or chip from all future NYRR events, including the ING New York City Marathon.

    Wishing you the best in your running endeavors and hoping to see you in 2010.

    New York Road Runners
    ING New York City Marathon

    Friday, September 25, 2009

    An update from Weber

    Yesterday I received the part that Weber had back ordered for my smoker. Based on the last conversation that I had with them I didn't expect this delivery for at least a month. I don't know if the delivery was expedited since I called or if the person on the phone didn't have any reliable facts. Perhaps they were just making stuff up as they went along but it doesn't matter anymore since my smoker was working fine last weekend with a little help from Home Depot.

    I won't be using the smoker this weekend as I still have some leftover pulled pork and ribs in the freezer but next week, ah next week, we try again to fine tune the recipe.

    Thursday, September 24, 2009

    ...and that's ok.

    • Rode on the trainer Tuesday for 45 minutes L1/L2. It was harder than it should have been...and that's ok since I did it. Tonight I'm shooting for an easy hour on the trainer and plan to venture outside on the bike over the weekend.
    • My wounds are basically healed so I tried to swim last night. Lasted a little over 90 seconds and then had to stop since my ribs hurt too much...and that's ok since I tried it. I'll try again over the weekend. Rockstar Research says that a broken rib normally takes 4-6 weeks so I think I'm a little ahead of the curve.
    • Weighed in this morning at Weight Watchers and gained 0.4 lbs...and that's ok since I went instead of hiding. Maybe I was burning a few calories working out that I need to adjust due to my comparitive level of inactivity? To prevent finding excuses not to go, I prepaid for the next month. Since I already paid I'm sure I'll go. Sometimes cheapness can be a virtue.
    • My longest run since the accident has been across the parking lot...and that's ok since I made it all the way across without stopping. This weekend has yet another experiment on tap when I'll try to run a WHOLE LAP around the track. This will be at a pace no faster than a slow jog but I'll be happy if that happens. It might actually be slower than walking...and that's ok too.
    • Training will resume in earnest on Sunday with a plan to run a marathon (not NYC) as soon as practical...and that's more than ok.

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Donovan McNabb

    I was injured on 9/8. My main injury was a broken rib (left rib #5 to be specific). A few days later on 9/13 Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb (#5) was hurt in a game when he suffered, you guessed it, a broken rib. I don't know which rib he cracked some reports indicated that he would be able to play in the Eagle's next game on 9/20.

    If McNabb was able to play in a football game with a similar injury to what I had, I figured that I know that there was no way that I could do anything like that. Sure this is his livelihood, that he would probably wear some sort of rib protector, that he is a professional and it may not be the same injury as mine but I still felt that if he was able to play then somehow he was more tolerant to pain than I was. In other words, I would have been a wimp.

    Yes, these thoughts are some flavor of insanity but I secretly hoped he wouldn't be able to play because then I wouldn't be a wimp. I'm sorry for thinking these illogical thoughts.

    I didn't know that McNabb couldn't practice all week and was ruled out 90 minutes before the game. The Eagles lost to the New Orleans Saints 48-22.

    Tomorrow is two weeks from when I was hurt. I'm feeling that I am recovering and am trying to get on the bike every other day. I couldn't run the half marathon that I signed up for yesterday and the probability of me doing the NYC marathon is getting lower every day. Even if I recover physically in time, I doubt that I'll have the mileage necessary to do well. I'm sure I could slog through it but that wouldn't accomplish much.

    Next week the Eagles play against Kansas City. There are reports that say it is possible that McNabb won't be able to play even next week due to his injury. I can see that. While I'm not an Eagles fan, though, I hope that McNabb can play. In fact, I hope he plays well.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009

    Dear Weber

    I bought a smoker, a Weber Smokey Mountain. Ordered it online. Why did I order it online? It was 20% cheaper than the local stores with free shipping. It came in a couple of days and when I put it together  I found that one of the parts (the charcoal grate) was for a different size smoker rendering mine useless.

    So I called Weber customer service. After explaining the deal to the rep, the said that they would Fedex out a replacement part. I thought that OK and expected it in a couple of days at the latest.

    A week later no part so I called them again. After waiting on hold for about 20 minutes I got a rep who said that the part was backordered and they expect it in about a month! Then they would send it to me but since I was probably not the only person waiting for this part I should expect it early November. I tried to explain to the rep that this was unacceptable, found it incredulous that Weber had no parts, and that my option was to return it and buy a competitors' product. They didn't get it or seemed that they didn't care. I asked for a supervisor hoping there was some intelligence up the food chain. I was on hold a few minutes and then got cut off.

    Rather than wait on hold to complain again to people that don't listen I figured out Plan B. I would go to either Home Depot or Lowes and buy another of the same Weber smoker, take the part out (what I was asking Weber to do but they couldn't understand that), and return the whole thing for a refund when I get the replacement part. I had a bit of a moral internal debate since this may not be the fairest thing to do to these stores but figured it would all go back to Weber.

    Lowes was sold out but when I went to Home Depot, they had the part I needed that they sold individually. $9. I bought it. Problem solved.  A simple solution to a simple problem that would have turned an unhappy customer into a satisfied customer. Weber somehow doesn't understand that simple concept. Maybe I was dealing with someone having a bad day or someone who shouldn't be in a job dealing with customers. In any case, I'm wondering if I'll ever get the correct part from them.

    Hope to do the first trial/experiment this weekend. I sense that a smoker is best operated with a beer in one hand and close proximity to a football game (or perhaps "games") on TV. Probably won't help with the weight loss diet so much. I won't be racing this weekend so I have some time to figure it out.

    Recipe's anyone?

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Questions I keep getting about the accident

    Question #1) What happened to the car?
    Answer #1) I am not a small guy. I'm 6'2", approximately 250 pounds and was going >20mph. All I know is that I left on a flatbed and so did the car.

    Question #2) Were you wearing a helmet?
    Answer#2) I was once told to consider this when thinking about not wearing a helmet: Take a cantaloupe and drop it on the floor. Watch it break. Then think about what would happen if it was going 20mph. Then think about the cantaloupe being your head. Then put on your helmet. In other words, I was wearing a helmet.

    Question #3) Why aren't you as injured as you could have been?
    Answer #3) It could be that my superior cat like reflexes saved the day. It could have been that it wasn't my time. Or it could just be, as Yukon Cornelius says, "Bumbles Bounce." Whatever it is, I'm not complaining.

    Question #4) When are you getting back on the bike?
    Answer #4) Just did. 15 minutes on the trainer. We build from here.

    Game on.