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.