Thursday, January 29, 2009

A New Team in Training Season

Saturday, January 31, is the kickoff meeting for the Summer 2009 season for the Long Island Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma's Team in Training (TNT) program. I've done more than a handful of events with the team (I've listed them below), raised a lot of money with help from a whole bunch of folks, made some friends and, I think, changed my life and the lives of some cancer patients, victims and survivors for the better. I also feel that my involvement with TNT has had a positive impact on my family and I'm proud that my girls are in the promotional video shown at most of the Long Island's chapter's kickoff. No need to mention that I've never been in the video but that might be due to a lack of a wide angle lens.

This year in support of my EagleQuest, I've decided to do the St. Anthony's Olympic Triathlon in April, the Long Island Half Marathon in May, and the Montauk Century Bicycle Ride also in May. This "triple crown" will be a challenge but I hope they will prepare me for determining which half of me is iron in June.

Of course there is a fundraising component to the TNT program. Even though there is scant evidence of anyone actually reading this blog unless I've forced them to or they've accidentally stumbled across it, there is opportunity to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's mission by donating to help find a cure. Dawn and I have contributed enough to cover any expenses associated with me doing these events so anything you'd like to put in could be considered gravy. The details can be found in my fundraising page located at

Events I've completed with TNT:
  1. Montauk Century 2004 - Cycle
  2. El Tour de Tucson 2004 - Cycle
  3. Montauk Century 2005 - Cycle
  4. Vytra Tobay Sprint Triathlon 2005 - Tri
  5. Golden Apple Century 2005 - Cycle
  6. El Tour de Tucson 2006 - Cycle
  7. Long Island Half Marathon 2006 - Run
  8. Montauk Century 2006 - Cycle
  9. Montauk Century 2007 - Cycle
  10. Runner's Edge TOBAY Sprint Triathlon 2007 - Tri
  11. Disney Olympic Triathlon 2007 - Tri
  12. Disney Half Marathon 2008 Run
  13. St Anthony's Olympic Triathlon 2008 - Tri

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Genesis of Race Goals and Tossing the Pigskin

"Every ceiling, when reached, becomes a floor, upon which one walks as a matter of course and prescriptive right." - Aldous Huxley

Now, I have no idea who Aldous Huxley was (curiousity made me do a little research anyway and he seems like a philosopher/quote-meister that did a lot of drugs) but this quote seemed appropriate given the topic I've decided to ramble on in this post. I'm sure that others may think this way (and I'm sure there are many who don't) but I thought that if I wrote this down it would help me understand if I should be happy after a race vs. dissatisfied. The Gridiron Classic 4m race scheduled for Feb 1 in Central Park is next up on the agenda so I figured that I would list the options around my goals for this race. This would let me be somewhat of a Monday morning quarterback, albeit the Monday beforehand.

I typically go into each race with a variety of goals: Finish time goals, finish place goals, race strategy goals, and physical goals. First, finish time goals:

  • Last year my time in this event was 47:03.
  • My PR for 4m is 44:48 on a similar course in the park. I view this as my interpretation of Huxley's ceiling/floor.
  • If I take the pace in my last race it would be 44:24 over 4 miles.
  • If I would beat the 11:00/mile pace I've been shooting for (I know, for too long) my finish time would be less than 44:00.
  • If I took last years Gridiron Classic time and improved by 1min/mile, it would be 43:04.
  • NYRR has my fastest time as 10:39/mile. That would be a time of 42:36.

Now, I'm aware that there are circumstances out of my control. Weather is the most obvious with wind, temperature, and precipitation (potentially accumulation or ground cover) having contributions. The course itself could be impactful but I'm aware of the terrain expected. After all, I did do this race last year and a bunch of other races in the park since then. I'm feeling generally OK but am aware the injury bug could bite at any time.

If I run the race I should run, my time should be sub 44:00.

I will be disappointed if I don't break 44:00. It could be considered a bit arrogant (or me being a pig again) that I could be disappointed with a PR but that's my mindset at this time. On the flip side, what would make me happy? I typically set a reach goal and in this case it would be sub 43:03. It is possible, not probable, that I could reach this so I'm going to give it a shot but if I don't meet this goal, I won't mope about it. My strategy would be to try to maintain a 10:45 pace as long as I could and see what I have left near the end.

There are other goals that will be mixed in:

  • I want to run the whole tamale without taking significant walking breaks. This means I could take a few seconds at a water stop but more that this would be disappointing.
  • NYRR has something called Performance % based on Age Graded Time. The science behind this calculation is a mystery to me but it is supposed to assess a performance as compared to the other competitors. The logic behind this is that if the conditions impact performance, it should impact the field. This gives a way to compare performance against the field. My high water mark is 42.9% (done in the 1/10/09 Fred Lebow Classic). I'd like to be better than this number, whatever the number means.
  • As always, I want to have fun. I GET to run the races, I don't HAVE to run them.
  • I don't want to get injured.
  • I want to knock off the second of the nine for the 9+1 guaranteed entry into 2010NYC26.2.
  • It would be great for me to beat some of the family and friends that are racing this day. The only way this will happen is if I have a great day and someone else has a bad day. but I can hope......The early betting line has Sarah, Michael, and Amanda as the favorites. EagleChick Christine, EagleDoc Fran, Sis MB, and Dr. Wannabe Caitlin could impress. RayRay would impress if she would show up (still in doubt) and toss the pigskin (even more in doubt) this year.

My only hope for a "wow" performance is in the football toss beforehand. Since my throw last year looked more like a dead quail, this hope might be a reach goal itself since last year before the Gridiron Classic was the last time that I actually tossed the pigskin.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Losing weight should be easy.

It is a simple math equation. If you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. So you need to either burn more (exercise), consume less, or both. Rock star research shows that, for most people, if someone has a deficit of 500 calories a day, they'll lose about a pound per week. If the deficit is 1000 calories per day, they'll lose, you guessed it, double that or two pounds per week.

What is 1000 calories? Each BK quad burger, pictured here, itself is 1000 calories. Unfortunately, it can't be viewed as every day that you don't eat one, you will save 1000 calories. I won't even get into the potato chip factor (you CAN'T eat just one) associated with this burger - that's a topic for another day.

Of course there is a limit to this. At some point, the body will go into starvation mode and slow down its metabolism. That's why the American Dietetic Association, The Obesity Society, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute all recommend a maximum daily calorie deficit of 500-1000 calories. Another gotcha is that all of the deficit isn't made up by losing only fat, even though there may be a surplus of that. Some lean tissue gets lost too. Also, you can't just like you can't point the fat loss to get rid of that muffin top belly. Would that it be so.

But losing weight isn't easy. BikeMike threw down the gauntlet to lose two pounds a week for six weeks to help get the weight loss back on track for the EagleGoals. I picked the gauntlet up posting a two pound weight loss for the week ending 1/13 and followed that up with a 2.6 pound loss as measured by the "official" Weight Watchers scale on 1/19. Although conceptually the road is well marked, reality is that weight loss, for me, it is a constant struggle.

I'm sure I'm not the only one with this struggle but we'll find out the payoff on EagleDay.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

PRs, Dissatisfaction, and the Pigs.

Yesterday I raced in the NYRR Fred Lebow Classic, a 5 mile race in Central Park. My personal record for this distance was 58:33, averaging 11:42 per mile. I did this PR a few days before I got hurt last June.

I've been training a lot recently and went into this race with the goal of averaging better than 11:00 per mile or a time of less than 55:00. A concern of mine was if my body would fail me in some new and unique way since my recent history of my right calf seizing during the HoHoNo DNF was followed by a pool workout last week that left both my calves screaming for a couple of days. All this coupled with my left hamstring reminding me multiple times each day that it still wasn't 100%. My race plan was that I was going to skip the first water stop, walk through the second, and skip the third by running to the end. I was going to checkpoint my time each mile and hope to be under 11:00 per.

Race day brought with it a starting temperature of about 21 degrees with a little wind. The winter storm that was predicted for that day didn't start yet (it wound up being a dud anyway). The race announcer kept reminding everyone that the spilled water near the water stops would freeze quickly so they should be careful. I never thought of that but it makes sense.

I ran the race fairly well but had to take two walking breaks. I limited them to one minute each and finished in 55:30. This took three minutes out of my PR and was the fastest I ran ever in the hills of Central Park. And yet, I was disappointed. I didn't break 55:00. I walked twice instead of once and still came in near the bottom of the finishers (2900/3224).

Most of the day Saturday I was looking for the silver lining to this cloud but kept thinking of what I didn't do vs. what I did do. Sometimes my mind works in mysterious ways and it kept going to the memory of a bowling team that I competed against named "The Pigs." I asked their leader, Dick Pig (his real first name was Dick but we called him Dick Pig), how they picked their name. His answer was "we want it all."

Now I know that I won't "get" it all but I can still "want" it all. Maybe this is bad and infantile, maybe not, but for this weekend, I was aspiring to be one of the Pigs.

I know it isn't going to be easy but I still want it all.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dogtags, Pete, Buttah, Joy and honor

This weekend is the one year anniversary of when I "ran" the Disney Half Marathon.

Although I ran in high school, running then (at <180lbs) was mostly a social experience. Knowing me can help you figure out either how hard I worked to get the 4 varsity track letters that I earned or the actual value of those little bits of cloth. My mother recently found one of the certificates relating to the multiple awards (you only got one letter per sport) and bundled them with a bunch of stuff that she thought important at the time (ie. 7th grade report cards, library reading contests from the 1960s, school reports on Russian treaties, etc.). Since she knew that I would throw that stuff out at the earliest opportunity, she gave them to my kids for a chuckle. I don't remember most of my event times but I seem to recall a 440y (the only meters in those days were used for parking) time of ~53seconds, a 100 @ 10.4 and the 220 times are hazy at best. The only thing I do remember about longer races was that I sucked at them and they hurt. Of course, this was all 30 years ago.

After high school, my knees were shot, I didn't run for a long time and gained a lot of weight. I always had the desire to try a triathlon and had a lot of biking experience but it was always one of those "one day I'll...." type of things. My friend Mikey got hooked up with Long Island, NY chapter of Team in Training and I decided to take a plunge, spending a lot (at the time for me) of money on a Lemond road bike in December 2003. I also said that I would take the time to help others while helping myself (get in shape) while I competed in the Mountauk Century 2004 with TNT.

One of the first TNT people at the kickoff meeting that Mikey introduced me to was Pete Macaluso. Over time, Pete became a larger than life figure to me. Someone who was battling Leukemia, competing as best as he could, helping others, focusing and touching the lives of everyone he came in contact with. I rode with Pete a few times and I'm honored that I got to know him and his family a little. Pete passed away in September 2004.

Another person that I met early on was Joy. While I was trying to hide in the back of the spin classes so the real riders wouldn't notice how bad I was, Joy was back there too (with her daughter Nikole) a little frightened as well. I didn't know at the time that she was (and is) a cancer survivor as well but her story is best viewed at I don't think I could say it better.

After Pete passed away, "Buttah" decided to create an award to honor Pete and his legacy. This award is a set of RoadID dogtags that read "UCANDOIT SHARE THE LOVE IN LOVING MEMORY OF PETER MACALUSO" and one person from each TNT Run team is selected to wear the dogtags during the event. I was selected for last year's Disney half marathon.

I found that wearing the dog tags is both an honor and a burden. The honor is based on Pete, his legacy and the other people who have worn the dog tags. The burden is that, as I was told by a previous big belly boy honoree, you have to finish (note I still suck at running long distances and it still hurts)! I did the event, finishing in 2:53 (my current half mary PR) and feeling proud the whole way. The picture above is of the dogtags and my finisher medal.

Joy decided to join the run/walk team this season and I found out she was selected to wear the dogtags for the Disney Half this upcoming weekend. I'm sure she will do great. I also believe that this will not be a burden for Joy and somehow, I don't know how, since she will be wearing the dogtags it brought a little more honor to my memory of the event and of Pete. Although I don't wear the dogtags that often, I've decided to wear my dog tags until after the race while I cheer for her and the rest of the team as best I can while a thousand miles away.

Rock on, Joy. Rock on, Pete. Rock on, Buttah.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

After Christmas returns.

Returned the unwanted present. Lost 5.6 pounds this week so I'm back to where I was two weeks ago. Back on track but lost a couple of weeks of weight loss opportunity that will be hard to make up. Sometimes it is a journey, sometimes a destination, and sometimes a direction.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My New Year's Resolution

Lose weight and get in shape. Duh.