Sunday, March 29, 2009


"Into each life some rain must fall." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Yesterday I woke up to the sounds of rain, heavy at times, overflowing the gutters. I was up a little early as there was a big workout on the calendar and I was meeting a whole bunch of folks at Hecksher Park. The Long Island TNT Tri team was meeting at 8AM and the Cycle team had the same bat place/same bat time thing going. Some of the EagleCronies were meeting there at 7 to get an early start too. My original plan called for an hour of hard work on the cycle followed by an hour of steady cycle work followed by a little over an hour of running. Since my calf was still bothering me I decided to alter the plan to get a couple of hours of saddle time in and try to transition to a jog for about 15 minutes as a test for the calf. Dawn reminded my that my bike was already in the trainer and the treadmill was ready but the weather report said that the skies were supposed to clear so I headed out. The same weather report said the next day, Sunday, was supposed to be the worst of the two days.

After a breakfast stop at the bagel store, I got to the park at about 7:05. Tim and Fran were doing the Norman Rockwell rain scene as modified for triathlon training and decided to do their weekly long run in the rain instead of cycling. I went out on the bike and the rain seemed to only get harder.

Workouts in the rain are not one of my favorite pastimes. I originally hurt my left leg last June while running in the rain. It poured during the the Mighty Hamptons triathlon last September. Of course none of this compares to the IMLP2008 stories but those stories aren't mine to tell. I think there were odds posted on the over/under on when I would bail(I overheard the number was 1 lap around the park, ~4 miles).

The Tri team sent out a mail to reset the schedule and meet at 10 rather than 8. The Cycle team showed up but formed a caravan to get pancakes instead of riding. There were a few lost souls riding and I was able to get in a little over 30 miles. The rain stopped so I decided to run a bit and failed the calf test - it was close, feeling the dreaded twinge at 14 minutes into a 15 minute run. Tim and Fran did their run and Fran commented this day could be good blog fodder (even though he said he doesn't read my ramblings but very few admit to reading them).

Fran, consider it done.

PS: Today was worse weather wise so I took Dawn's advice and did my workout on the trainer

PPS: A hidden cost of riding in the rain was having to spend a lot of time cleaning the mess off the bike. The Look now sparkles

PPPS: I still hate workouts in the rain.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Qualifying standards for the National Marathon

My finishing time in the Colon Cancer Challenge qualified me for something. The National Marathon and Half Marathon has qualifying standards to, I assume, prevent in riff raff from trying to compete and my time in the 15K made the cut. I must have had a better day than I thought.

The qualifying standards are found at

In summary:
  • marathon - 5:00:00 (qualifies for the marathon and half-marathon)
  • half-marathon - 2:30:00 (qualifies for the marathon and half-marathon)
  • 20k - 2:22:00 (qualifies for the marathon and half-marathon)
  • ten-miler - 1:50:00 (qualifies for the marathon and half-marathon)
  • 15k - 1:46:00 (qualifies for the marathon and half-marathon) ROCKSTAR @ 1:44:19 3/22/09
  • 12k - 1:18:00 (qualifies for the marathon and half-marathon)
  • 10k - 1:05:00 (qualifies for the marathon and half-marathon)
  • 8k/5 miles - 52:00 (qualifies for half-marathon only)
  • 4 miler - 41:00 (qualifies for half-marathon only
  • 5k - 31:00 (qualifies for half-marathon only)

Maybe these times could be viewed as stepping stones on the road to "non sucking?"

Monday, March 23, 2009

NYRR Colon Cancer Challenge 15k

I'm a bit confused as to what to write about this race.

On the successful side this was the longest race I ever "ran" (as compared to run/walked). My race goal was to try to keep a 11:00min/mile pace and see how long I could keep that going except for walking through while drinking at each water stop. At 10K I was more than 5 minutes ahead of my 10K PR time with a 5K yet to be run. My 1:44:19 finishing time would translate into a 2:30:00 1/2marathon per the Runner's World pace. I tied my high water mark in NYRR's mystery age-graded performance level percent (at 44.1% whatever that means). I was able to get #5 of the 9 races required for the guaranteed entry into the 2010NYC26.2 done. As this was the first 15K I ever ran, I got a PR!

On the unsuccessful side I tweaked my right calf again. Not as bad as the HoHoNo as I walked a little to try to loosed it up (unsuccessfully) but I was able to jog it in. It still hurts a bit the day after but seems heading in the right direction. As there was a bit of a skewed population running the 15K rather than the 4m option, I finished closer to last (2191/2347, beating only 6% of the finishers). And I was lapped by 2 of the leaders.

So, it was a mixed bag. Some good stuff, some less than good stuff. I hope this experience will make the 10k at the end of StA seem not as long and make the half at the end of Eagleman seem like a victory stroll.

Or a Rockstar's encore. :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Aquatic Crack

It is said that the first step of recovery from an addiction is admitting you are powerless over your addiction. Well, I have a problem. I suffer from PBA (better known as Pull Buoy Addiction) or even in some circles, Aquatic Crack. Hopefully, though, I am not powerless.

Why is this bad, you ask? No, not the powerless part but the pull buoy part. After all, my brand spanking new wetsuit has a feature of VPB ( "virtual pull buoy," not the more popular VPL acronym). However, the problem really manifests itself when when I need to swim without a blue and white pacifier stuck between my legs. My body gets off plane, I'm gasping for breath, and it seems like, although everything is moving in the right manner, very little forward progress in the water is happening and what is happening is slow.

The MiniMightMan Sprint Triathlon is scheduled for 4/18/2009 - no pull buoys allowed. Last year I did this event with the goal of doing the 400m swim under 10minutes. I don't remember if this was realistic or just a wish. It wound up that I didn't have a good swim as I went out too fast and just managed to hang on and others were seemingly flying by me. They reported my time as 11:43. I timed it closer to 11:00. Slow either way.

So I have about a month to break this addiction. I took the buoy out of my swim bag and put it in my garage resident tri bag. I swam 3 times without it already. Last night was the longest yet. It wasn't fast nor pretty but I timed 3x300 @ 7:50, 8:00, and 8:20 with breaks in between. I didn't drown. I didn't barf up water. I didn't suffer from withdrawal (OK, maybe a little).

Since I am addressing this issue is it an addiction, a dependency or simply one of those 21 day habits that need to be cured? Hopefully a non issue in less than a month but the true test will be 4/18/2009. I keep telling myself "don't touch the crutch....don't touch the crutch....."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Three weeks and Three months

Rockstar Research has found multiple experts that agree it takes 21 days to develop a habit. Breaking a bad habit is a little more difficult but the same time frame can be applied. Many self help programs are based of this hypothesis but it doesn't mean that after 3 weeks, presto magic, everything is better or the habit that you are trying to correct has, in fact, been corrected.

The first three weeks may be the hardest but if you can keep the repetition of the new, desired habit going for three months it will, only then, become the equivalent of something that you don't need to even think about anymore. There will be pitfalls. There will be challenges but there will be a point, around 3 months according to Rockstar Research, that the new behaviour just is.

Three weeks from today is the Nationwide Insurance 10K Run for ASPIRE in Plainview, NY. Three months from today is EagleMan 70.3. While running the NYRR8000 was a step in the right direction this morning (and doing the course clockwise and counterclockwise), put that greasy bacon cheeseburger down, Rockstar, and get into a habit of eating right, training right, because that will lead to experiencing how to celebrate right.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wetsuits for Fat Guys and missing an X

I decided to get a new wetsuit. I currently have a sleeveless Quintana Roo UltraJohn that has served me well but I wanted to get a full sleeve wetsuit in case the water temperature is a little on the chilly side for EagleDay or even more so, TimberDay. There is a hope, and I gotta keep hope alive, that I will swim a little faster with a full wet suit than with the sleeveless. Also, a full sleeve should get rid of any residual armpit cleavage but that is less of an issue since I've lost some girth and I really don't care about making a fashion statement as compared to a potential increase of functionality or probability of survival.

I didn't do a lot of research when I originally bought my wetsuit. I was going to get one from TNT but was concerned that I would get it too late so I went to the Runner's Edge and got the biggest size they had. It sort of fit if you grease yourself up (with Body Glide and PAM) enough. I avoided the full wetsuits as they had more potential for issues for flexibility or fit when you stuff enough rock star into neoprene. Somehow the visual of Ferris Bueller as Abe Froeman, the sausage king of Chicago comes to mind.

I rationalized that since I wanted to buy a new wetsuit, I would buy a good one realizing that not all wetsuits are created equal. There is Yamamoto 39 vs Yamamoto 40, different panels, different thicknesses among other details. More importantly are the sizing charts. Normal sized athletes don't have this issue but I do (at least for a short while). In summary:

  • The max recommended weight for XXL QR is 251 pounds

  • The max recommended weight for XXL 2XU is 256 pounds
  • Zoot and Xterra top out at 230.

  • The Profile Design/Aquaman website says 230+ but I doubt anyone knows what the + really means.

  • Blue Seventy says 209+

  • DeSoto says that they go to 265 pounds but the two piece designed scared me with possibility of belly roll and muffin tops.

So I ordered a QR SuperFull XXL and it came in yesterday. Went into the changing room and found IT WAS TOO BIG. How could that happen? I was still on the high side of the weight guideline. Luckily The Runner's Edge had a new XL QR SuperFull down in the basement so I tried that one on even though it is supposed to fit 6' to 6'6" from 205lbs to 235. It was a bit of a squeeze but it fit me. As I'm only going to lose more weight I paid the bill and took it home.

XL. I lost an X. Wow.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Refocus and Menu planning

I haven't been to weight watchers since I've been back from vacation. I've found that my weight has been inching up even though I've been training fairly regularly and generally watching what I eat. This morning the scale said 264.8 and I realized this variation to a plan wasn't working. It is time to get off the schneid and refocus my energy (or lack thereof anyway) on this.

I've picked a checkpoint as the Nationwide Insurance Run for ASPIRE 10K in Plainview, NY 4/4/2009. I haven't done a 10K in a while and expect to have a PR performance as my long training runs these days are done at a pace that is at or close to my current 10k PR pace. I'd also like to get my weight down at least 10pounds from where it is today before that event.

I've found that I'm most successsful losing weight when I model my meals against a eating plan. I had in my blackberry a weekly plan that I must have lost while cleaning up the many junk emails that I get so to prevent this from getting lost again I've decided to post it on the blog. So here it goes:

  • Breakfast - home
  • Lunch - Wrap
  • Dinner - McDonalds Salad

  • Tuesday
  • Breakfast - None (weigh in day)
  • Lunch - If down > 2 lbs - Yips, otherwise - Chopt salad, if flat/up - wrap.
  • Dinner - Fish Sandwich

  • Wednesday
  • Breakfast - Home
  • Lunch - Wrap
  • Dinner - McDonalds Salad

  • Thursday
  • Breakfast - Home
  • Lunch - Salad
  • Dinner - Burger night

  • Friday
  • Breakfast - After Swim (out)
  • Lunch - McDonalds Salad
  • Dinner - Home Salad

  • Saturday
  • Breakfast - Bagel Store
  • Lunch - McDonalds Salad
  • Dinner - Out to dinner

  • Sunday
  • Breakfast - home
  • Lunch - Mc Donald's Salad
  • Dinner - Home with the family

  • Of course there needs to be flexibility in this but this is the bogey. There is a lot of McDonalds but I am a shareholder. Additionally I need to drink 1L of water before lunch every day. Let's see how we do.

    PS: The earworms last weekend were "Breaking the law" - Judas Priest (courtesy of Butthead) and Taylor Swift's "Love Story."

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    Songs that get stuck in my head while training and racing

    While riding my trainer, I like to listen to music as it makes the time go by quicker. Some times I watch videos (try pushing threshold wattage while watching "The Best of Beavis and Butthead" one day and you'll see how this can impact focus) and sometimes just a Spinerval type DVD. Although I got a H2O Audio for Christmas that lets an ipod shuffle to be used while in the pool, I haven't used it yet as most of my time in the water is still focused on survival (aka not drowning). When I run, though, I'm attached to an ipod but when I ride outside or race in events that won't allow music, I mostly have no audio stimulation except for ambient noise (listening to the homeless guy trying to channel Frank Sinatra does count in this category).

    Why don't I wear headphones while I ride outside or race? Some of it has to do with safety or training habit. There is also that disqualification shadow that some events cast upon the participants with personal music.

    A downside to this is that when I have no music my mind wanders. Invariably a song will get stuck in my head and most times it stays there until the end of the ride or race. Unfortunately sometimes the same song gets stuck time and time again. Sometimes the songs aren't that annoying but sometimes they are world class annoying. The worst is when only some of the words are known and it seems like a 10 second tape loop going on forever. Here are a few of my most common song offenders:

    • "Chameleon" - both the Herbie Hancock and Maynard Ferguson version
    • "Una Paluma Blanca" - Slim Whitman version
    • "Funky Town" - Lipps, Inc.
    • "I Will Survive" - Gloria Gaynor
    • "Freak Out" - Le Chic
    • "Hips Don't Lie" - Shakira

    and of course,

    • "I Wanna Be a Rock Star" - Nickelback

    I'll add more to the list as they get stuck in future workouts. I've got a >2 hour ride on the agenda for Sunday and I'm sure there will be a new entry afterwards into this dubious list.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    Birthdays jumped the shark?

    It is birthday season. Last week was my sister's birthday and today is mine. On Sunday I was having a discussion with my father regarding birthdays and I posed a question that I think is worthy of debate, "at what age did birthdays jump the shark?"

    The Urban dictionary defines jump the shark as "a term to describe a moment when something that was once great has reached a point where it will now decline in quality and popularity. Origin of this phrase comes from a Happy Days episode where the Fonz jumped a shark on waterskis. Thus was labeled the lowest point of the show."

    I am now 4 dozen years old (I've decided to take a stand on not saying 48 as that sounds too old) and I tried, as an academic exercise, to take a view of the concept of birthdays and birthday parties from the view of various ages. The typical 8 year old is much more excited about a birthday than a typical 28 year old (let along a 38, 4 dozen, 58, 68, 78 or more year old). The only people who look good in a birthday hat are either very young or very old. There may be a relationship to the amount of grown up teeth to the ability to pulling off wearing the pointy hat as a fashion statement. The pinnacle of birthdays seems to end with single digits although there are certain milestone birthdays (16 for girls, 18, 21, 65, etc) that have more gravitas. Four dozen isn't one of them though.

    Once you get to a certain age, I believe, birthdays return to the celebratory nature that they were when people were young. Don't know what this age is but it may be that it is more of a relief that the birthday party isn't some scene out of "Weekend at Bernie's." It may be your last one but then again, maybe not.

    A downside is that once you get to that age, whatever it may be, you might have a problem blowing out the candles. Or you might not even remember how old you are. In any case, I hope the cake still tastes as good then as it does now.