Sunday, February 28, 2010

NYRR Al Gordon Classic

Originally this was supposed to be a story about how I volunteered and participated in the same race. Unfortunately, the weather gods dumped between a foot and two feet of snow on NYC Friday (yes, the weathermen are now giving snow reports here in feet!) so I wasn't able to make it into the NYRR office to hand out tee shirts and race numbers for this race last Friday. There are other opportunities for indoor volunteering that I'll be hopping on instead though.

This latest snow also added logistical challenges for this race since I now had to pick up my number race morning and to find a space to park. Most of Brooklyn seemed to still be digging out so the street parking places were few and far between in the area around Prospect Park. After about 15 minutes of searching I luckily found a spot not too far away from the start of the race.

My daughter was racing this race with me so we trekked over to the start corrals. We ran into a few friends and she decided to run with them for a bit once the race started. I wasn't running (again) but I figured I couldn't injure myself more than I already was hurt so I decided to try jogging for a minute of every five to see how that went. It worked out OK and the 4 miles went by fairly quickly. This race counts as number 2 done of the 9 required to get into the 2011 NYC Marathon (hey, I gotta keep hoping for a recovery).

The official stats shows me finishing at 55:05 - not bad since I was mostly walking. I was a little tight afterwards but no major increase in pain. Hopefully it will stay that way and the doctor will give me some promising news this week on the injury front.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Disney, Diet and Scooters

I fell off the diet wagon with a loud thump while vacationing at Disney last week. I'm back on track this week understanding that last week was only a small bump in the fitness road and that body composition is a long term journey for me. Healthy eating has returned to the menu and the palate is readjusting. The scale wasn't a wonderful experience this week but I got on it anyway.

On related news, I had issues even walking during my trip due to my injuries (prior to Monday's shot). The pain in my hip and knee altered my walking gait which caused my calf and hamstring to complain. Even so, we walked a lot. To get a sense of how much we walked, one day my daughter wore the Garmin 305 that she "stole" from me (I doubt I'll ever get it back now that she is into running) while we went to MGM. She turned it off after it already said we had 5 miles covered before lunch time knowing that MGM is the most compact park at Disney with the least amount of walking.

I did have a visual at Disney's Animal Kingdom that I'm using to motive me. It was a vacationing family on scooters, multiple scooters. Not one parent in a scooter but each had their own. Their only apparent handicap was fatness. What made this extra special is that the 300+ pound mom had the 200 pound 10 year old or so son asleep on her lap while she drove behind the husband . The husband's job seem to be shouting at the people walking to get out of the way since, after all, they were on scooters. The poor 13 year old or so daughter (who was only mildly overweight) was walking behind the caravan with a pout on her face (maybe because she couldn't ride or maybe because she couldn't understand why the rest of the family was - unfortunately I think it was the former). The only thing that could have made this worse was if the father was hitting the people in his way with a half eaten turkey leg so he could drop the hammer on the scooter and get it up to 4mph.

I realize that some people have legitimate need for a scooter but I never considered one even at my heaviest. Please do me a favor though. If you ever see me in one, please publicly flog me. Or tie me to the back of the scooter and drag me around an amusement park. Not a small one like MGM but one on the scale of EPCOT. Beat me about the head with a half eaten turkey leg if one is available get the picture.

Hey, I get motivation from strange sources. It may not be politically correct but I don't care as long as it works.

Game back on.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Rock Star Tri Sponsor: Rudy Project

Rock Star Tri has picked up a new sponsor for sunglasses and helmets: Rudy Project! For years I've used Rudy Project Sunglasses while cycling and running. I'm happy to have them on the sponsor list.

One of the challenges that I have with most athletic eyewear is that I have very poor eyesight. Since I can't wear contacts due to my eyes being too dry I need to wear glasses all the time. My prescription is too strong to fit in most athletic sunglasses on the market.

Years ago I found a model of Rudy Project that works for me, the RB3, and have used them ever since. Since my presription changed (part of getting old and needing bifocals to read the cue sheets while riding), I was in the market for another pair of riding glasses and once again kept coming back to Rudy Project due to their compatability with my prescription. My problem now is that they have many different models which will work for me. That's a great problem for me to have.

I'll be wearing one of their helmets this year too. Although they've made helmets for some time, they've recently made helmets a renewed emphasis with some new designs. As I learned from my accident, safety, protection and fit are the most important features of any helmet. Rudy Project's helmets meet all the requirements and they have good deals on them now. Feel free to check them out at

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The shot.

Monday night I got the long awaited shot in my right hip followed by an MRI. It was an odd experience as it hurt more than I expected (even with the preshots to help minimize that joy). To prevent me from moving around in the MRI I was strapped down to the table and my feet were even taped together. I had to get into a position similar to a swimming streamline position with my arms above my head and then had to hold it. For. 45. Minutes. At the end my shoulders hurt more than anything else.

The doctor told me that it would take at least a few days before I would start feeling if this made any difference at all. He also said it could hurt a lot more before it hurts less (oh goody). If it helps, I definitely have an issue in my hip causing the pain. If it doesn't, we'll have to keep looking. Until my follow up next week then I was told that although I didn't need to bed rest, no cycling nor running nor anything like that. He said I might feel like doing something athletically but to resist this temptation.

I really don't need to do this procedure again and don't recommend it for others in case you had some time on your hands that you were looking to fill. My early season race schedule is probably already shot even with a magical recovery but I hope this shot helps give me a shot at not having the whole season shot.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Oh my Indeed - Musings on a weekend away.

In no particular order I "experienced" the following last weekend and thought I'd share:

  1. Disney was noticeably less crowded than years past. I’ve found Florida to be more of an early indicator of the current economic climate (somewhat like a canary in a coal mine). New York seems to lag Florida by at least 12 months. Seems like the canary is still having issues.
  2. Disney also seemed to suffer more than the usual (normally none) glitches. We had two rides without video for the pre-show. Soarin’ broke and we were seemingly trapped near the ride entrance. People were fearing a bit of a stampede. They did give us some passes to skip to the front of the line for another ride (hello Test Track) but it was uncommonly amateurish at times. They still know how to deal with customers though.
  3. Others, however, do not know how to deal well with customers. When we arrived at MCO, we went to the food court to grab a bite to eat. Since it was Ash Wednesday my eldest wanted to not eat any meat. We saw a Quizno’s, I gave her some money and we let her go by herself but she came back empty handed. I asked what happened. She said Quizno's told her that they couldn’t make her a cheese sandwich. I went back with her and they explained to me that they were a limited menu Quizno's. They couldn’t make a kids meal and they couldn’t make a cheese sandwich since it wasn’t on the "limited" menu. They could sell a turkey with cheese sandwich, a ham and cheese sandwich or even tuna with cheese but no plain cheese. I asked if the sandwiches were premade. They said no, they make them fresh. I asked if they could make a turkey with cheese without turkey and not charge us for the turkey we wouldn’t get or give us cheese to make up for the turkey. They looked at me oddly and said they could only make a turkey and cheese. Rather than try to explain this difficult concept for a third time my daughter decided to get pasta from Sbarro’s. She enjoyed the pasta and felt it tasted better than the Quizno's would have. Think she is going back to Quizno's next time?
  4. Before we even left for the airport, my wife went online and found out flight into Orlando was already delayed and our 2:35 takeoff was now anticipated to be 3:05. When we got to the airport the delay had been extended so our new anticipated take off would be 3:30. We plopped all of our stuff next to a row of chairs next to a little old lady and waited for a short while. Fortunately for us, they started announcing the boarding a little after 3:00. The old lady, approximate age 127, commented that she wondered when the plane to West Palm Beach was taking off because she had been waiting for a few hours. I told her this plane was for Orlando. She said the plane to West Palm was supposed to take off at 2:15 at gate 6. I told her this was gate 5 (now it was 3:10). We looked over to gate 6, no one was there, and the board said the next flight from gate 6 was to Tampa at 5:30. I told her that due to the delays they moved all the gates around. She commented, “Oh my” and she ran off. I looked at the departing flight board and her flight to West Palm left already and the next one was listed as on time with a 6:35 departure. I hope they had a seat for her as most of the flights were sold out.

    I wonder if Delta hooked her up or if she is still waiting.

    Oh my indeed.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Escape from New York.

No, I'm not Snake Pliskin from "Escape from New York" but the Mrs. and I decided to bundled up the kiddies and escape to Florida for a few days. The stars seemed to align: too much snow on the ground in NY, the kids are off from school, too much snow on the ground in NY, our rental property - Memory Maker located just outside of Disney in Kissimmee is available for a couple of days, too much snow on the ground in NY, having Disney tickets from one of our prior trips with admission days left on them, pricelining a decent deal on airfare and rental car and most of all, did I mention that it was too cold with mucho snow on the ground in NY?

Last month we went to Florida for a few days and for the Disney Half Marathon. It was snowing at the start of the race and then it got even colder. Mrs Rockstar felt gypped out of a chance to warm up a bit on that trip so if it is that weather this trip, someone will be in big trouble.

Probably me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stuff I think of while on the trainer doing 5 minute intervals.

Last night I did a set of 5 minute intervals on the bike trainer. Most of the time these intervals are power based (trying to get near, at, or over threshold) but this workout was more cadence centric (keeping above 90rpm and see where the power ends up). I found though my mind wanders in a similar way no matter what the goal as these 5 minutes on, 1 minute off tick by. So there are some of the thoughts that went through my head (beware: some may be strange).

  • Each five minute interval always seem to last much longer than 5 minutes.
  • The later ones seem longer than the first except for the last one (which is only just as long as the first).
  • I hope I'm reaching the end when I look to see how much time is left in the interval and find there is over 4 minutes LEFT.
  • I'm not.
  • Did I count the number of intervals right? Don't want to do too many. Heavens forbid.
  • There must be something wrong with the power meter. (too low)
  • How can time slow down?
  • There can't be anything wrong with me, right?
  • My ability to perform arithmetic diminishes along with each interval.
  • If I did a 10 minute warm up and I'm 43 minutes in, which interval am I on?
  • Fail.
  • How come it seems to take 14 seconds for a drop of sweat to go from my head to the ground?
  • The only thing I remember from physics is that a pound of feathers weighs the same as a pound of lead which weighs the same as a pound of sweat.
  • Biology is big B little b. Both my parents have brown eyes. I have green eyes. What happened there?
  • How much does a drop of sweat weigh?
  • Do I feel like I have to pee?
  • If not, I need to drink more.
  • Will the song on the ipod end before the interval?
  • When will the ipod's battery need to be recharged? Will it last until the last interval?
  • Will I?
  • I picked the wrong food to eat before this work out.
  • What's making that noise?
  • Never mind, it was me.
  • What's that smell?
  • Me again.
  • It really was the wrong food choice.
  • How am I going to be able to walk up the stairs after this workout?
  • I'll find a way.
  • Is five minutes up yet?
  • Three minutes, dayum.
  • The five minute cool down doesn't count.
  • It does?
  • But not for what you hope it does.
  • When (if?) the weather clears I will ride outside and do hill repeats.
  • That may be months away.
  • Al Gore has something to do with this weather.
  • He invented the Internet.
  • Hill repeats will make me look at these intervals as "enjoyable."
  • Then again, maybe not.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Back to the doctor.

It was time to go back to the doctor to review what expensive drugs and no running has done to my body. While my hip is slowly improving (there are times now where I am in no or minimal pain), I am nowhere near cured. The next step is a MRI with contrast and while they are shooting in the contrast, they are going to mix in some sort of steroid cocktail to wage war on the inflammation. Me likey steroid cocktails and a long time ago (20 years goes by quickly these days), in seemingly a galaxy far far away, I had multiple of these types of shot in my back that got me on the road to recovery from post operative recurring disc issues but that is a story for a slow news day....

Scheduling, as always, will be an issue but they are trying to expedite. I'm expecting the earliest to be next week sometime. The expectation is that the MRI will show some things wrong but since almost everyone has something wrong with their hip it may be a challenge to see if what is wrong is causing the pain. The thing he is most afraid of is a labrum tear which is a possibility with this type of injury. That won't be good news but more of an indication will be if the steroid cocktail makes the pain go away or not.

The doctor then said to continue not running but I can begin gentle cycling (forgetting that he told me I could do that last time and I've been doing probably a little more than gentle cycling). Today's workout plan calls for some high cadence intervals to combat my recent decreasing cadence issues (a byproduct of too gentle perhaps?). I can do some stuff in the pool and walking is still good for me.

I was expecting all of this. I believe we these are the steps necessary to get back in the game if that is in the cards. We'll reassess a week after the MRI so we can give the steroids a chance to do their magic. I'll keep doing what I'm doing with the hope that my fitness doesn't take too much of a hit. Then, back to the doctor again.

Friday, February 12, 2010

80 is a good number

This February focus on weight/body composition seems to be working for me. I finally broke through the 80lb lost barrier (from my measured high) now with a total weight loss of 81.2 pounds. I had to chase away the poltergeist in the scale (the mere threat of an exorcism seemed to work). It has been a while but progress is, after all, progress.

I'm not done. I need to keep remembering that while 80 is a good number, 100 will be a better one. There are more than a few numbers in between though.

Back to work.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Which supplements are right for you?

A recent study by The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that "compared with placebo, the use of Ginkgo biloba, 120 mg twice daily, did not result in less cognitive decline in older adults with normal cognition or with mild cognitive impairment." All those folks that read this who bought the Price Club (aka Costco) containers of 10000 pills are sure to be upset or maybe they don't care that much due to "cognitive decline."

This got me thinking about which supplements I take and why. I thought I'd share this with you and perhaps get you thinking about what you take and why.
  • A Performance MultiVitamin. I take the CVS Spectravite Performance rather than pay the uplift for brand name Spectrum Performance. I take one in the morning and one at night instead of the one a day label dose. I view this as a basic insurance policy against missing something in my diet (and plenty is usually missing). Note that Gingko is included in this multivitamin so I would have been covered if that mattered.
  • Low dose aspirin. My doctor said it probably was a good idea to start this due to family history of heart disease. I take one 81mg pill daily.
  • Fish Oil. I take one pill in the morning and one in the evening (1000mg each). I know I don't get enough omega-3 fats in my diet and I primarily took them for heart benefits. Doctor said they couldn't hurt.
  • Flaxseed Oil. My wife went to the cardiologist and he recommended this supplement to help reduce her cholesterol (it was borderline high last time). My cholesterol was slightly lower than hers but I figured it couldn't hurt me either.
  • Red Rice Yeast. Same rationale as flaxseed oil but I never even heard of this supplement.
That's it on the supplement front. I been trying to improve my diet as I continue my weight loss journey and that will put me in a better place. I don't know if these supplements will help but doubt they can hurt too much. The science, as evident by the gingko balboa, is constantly being challenged and validated (or not).

I'm still waiting for the science to validate the benefits of single malt scotch. Or a great use case for more than a taste of red wine. Perhaps a microbrew can have a supplement role too. Until that happens, I'll stay with this until the doctor dreams up something else to try.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The circle of inspiration.

Trish from My Path to Travel has decided to not only hop on the 100 push up challenge but to add on the 200 sit up and 200 squat variations on this theme. She blamed credited me with motivating her to pick up the challenge.

Never one to leave a gauntlet lying on the floor, today was Week1/Day1 of the 200 sit up challenge that I'm adding into the mix for yours truly as well. I also had Coach BikeMike pencil in 3 x weekly strength sessions (aka these challenges) on my TPC plans. This way I get reminded to do them much more frequently and hopefully more effectively than my feeble brain alone.

I'm finding the sit ups easier than the push ups but maybe that's why it is a 200 challenge rather than a 100 challenge. Maybe they are just lulling me into it. In any case, I inspired Trish and she sent it right back at me. I originally heard of it from Lisa and others have picked it up.

Join in - if you will. Maybe it will inspire you and you'll inspire someone else.

PS: I wonder if there is a fitness toy called the perfect sit up to complement the perfect push up?

Walking the walk: The NYRR 4m Gridiron Classic

Yesterday I sort of raced the NYRR Gridiron Classic with my 13yo daughter Amanda. I say "sort of" since I've been trying to actually follow the doctors advice to not run to help my injuries heal. Some days are better than others but I haven't really ran in weeks. Amanda felt she was out of shape but there are different degrees of "out of shape" too.

It is odd to "sort of" race rather than to really race. First, what to wear? The weather was expected to be cold and it was. Official race temp was 17 degrees with reported wind of 9mph (I'm sure that was sustained since it felt the wind was howling at times). I wore my regular winter race clothes but added a hoodie and a pair looser fleece pants.

The race sold out at about 5000 faithful. My sister showed up to race the race, couldn't register, but ran it anyway. People were so bundled up you couldn't tell who was officially racing and who was not.

At race start, Amanda shed a layer and gave it to me. I figure since I was walking the course, what was the difference if I carried the stuff or not. I saw my bother in law and since he wasn't racing, he offered to carry Amanda's stuff and meet her at the finish.

I started at the back and I started walking fairly quickly. I wasn't shaking my butt like one of those race walkers nor waving my arms crazy like those power walkers. I've run this course a lot before but was able to look around more at the surroundings. I also had a difference cast of "race-mates" in the back of the pack. Many walkers, some slow joggers, older folks keeping fit, etc. It was an interesting crowd.

I found my competitive instinct kicking in from time to time. Looking at someone to reel in (remember to not run and only walk), attacking that hill (remember to not run and only walk), checking out my pace on the Garmin where I normally do to see how I'm doing (again, having to look at the shock at the time and remember I was, you guess it, only walking).

They did an interesting thing and split the lanes in the middle of the race course. People who thought the Saints would win should run in the left lane and Colts fans in the right. This unofficial poll showed 2/3 of the runners were Saints fans. Good job on this change NYRR.

I walk quickly though and actually passed some people who were running. My mile splits were all under 15:00 and my final time was 59:30. I finished a little faster than I hoped and was happy. I didn't feel any worse for the wear.

At the finish line I quickly found my sister and my daughter. They both said that raced well. Amanda said it was crowded where she was running but she took it easy and didn't try to push it. She did have a fail, as she calls it, at the water stop when she went to take a sip out of a cup but found it frozen. She threw it on the ground and then found that only the top layer of the water was frozen. Underneath there was enough water to drench the poor soul next to her. Other than that we really didn't notice the cold. I found I had too many layers on to even "sort of" race.

When we got home we found Amanda came in 8th in her age group and got something they call "honor roll". She improved her time from last year and her place too (she was 10th last year). This was the third year I've done this race and it is becoming a Super Bowl Sunday tradition. Hopefully next year, I'll run it and won't be "sort of" running it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Poltergeist in the scale.

I was doing very good with watching what I eat this week and tracking everything as well. I was conscious of the calories I was consuming and my workouts were going OK too. Earlier this week I felt as though I wasn't eating enough since I wasn't feeling great so I added a few calories here and there, still keeping under control and under my calorie goal.

The scale was becoming my friend. This was a feeling that I hadn't had in a while. I was looking forward to stepping on the scale every morning.

Monday: 248.8
Tuesday: 247
Wednesday: 247
Thursday: 246.8

It had all the makings of a good week on the body composition front. There were numbers that I haven't seen in over a decade. I ate OK yesterday and stepped on the scale this morning expecting all sorts of records to be set and thresholds to be busted. I started crafting the acceptance speech from the accolades that I would have awarded myself in my head.

Today: 248.8.

Two pounds up from just yesterday! The profanities going around my brain were endless. Now that I've calmed down I wonder how I could get so annoyed at an inanimate object and I think I figured it out: there must be a poltergeist involved. I'm tempted to call Tanita to see if they offer an exorcism service since I think that my scale is out of the warranty period.

That has to be it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

You often have a choice.

You often have a choice of who to trust for advice.
You often have a choice to listen.
You often have a choice to not listen.
You often have a choice to do the work out.
You often have a choice to not do the workout.
You often have a choice to do your hard workouts hard.
You often have a choice to do your hard workouts easy.
You often have a choice to do your easy workouts hard.
You often have a choice to do your easy workouts easy.
You often have a choice to blow off a weigh in.
You often have a choice to step on the scale.
You often have a choice to eat healthy or to not eat healthy.
You often have a choice to succeed.

You may not know what you are choosing but every choice you make can be a choice to succeed. It may not be a comfortable choice and at times it isn't easy but there are times, more frequently than you realize (and you know those times as they happen) that you need to make a choice. Even not making a choice is a choice.

Choose success.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

And the winner of this retail battle is......

A while ago I wrote about how the Cold Stone Creamery was duking it out with their neighbor, the local Weight Watchers outpost. (See here if you want to review). In summary, Weight Watchers moved out and Five Guys moved in. The next town also had another battle brewing: Jenny Craig vs. Krispy Kreme:

I was amazed when I saw this sign in the store the other day.

Who would have expected Jenny to prevail? The best part of this sign is that they misspelled the name of the town "Baldwin" and I'm estimating that there are at least 41 Dunkin Donuts locations that need to be passed in order to get there.

Wow. Chalk one up for the underdogs.