Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Quote of the week.

"It's not what he doesn't know that troubles me. It's what he knows for sure that just ain't so." - Will Rogers

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Yet another another opinion.

I can't see why they say there is an issue with medical care in this country. 

I went back to see the doctor this afternoon about my various physical maladies after doing physical therapy for 6 weeks. While I'm getting better the progress is very slow. I've tried some running to mixed results and I figure at the pace of improvement it might take years for me to get "better." I've been going from doctor to doctor since last November and the latest doctor felt that my knee pain was sourced from my back.

I had back surgery years ago and I know intimately what referred back pain feels like. I told the doctor I was doubting his diagnosis since the pain that I have did not feel like back referred pain.  He said he would try to convince me.  He bent me in a few poses and asked where did each hurt. I told him honestly. At the end of about 5 minutes he said that I was convincing him is was less a back issue and more of an ITB issue (this was the original diagnosis months ago).

He said stop PT and gave me some additional stretches that he feels confident will cure me in 6-8 weeks assuming I do them about 10 times a day. If that doesn't work, we'll go to the needle again but this time in my knee. The only good news is that my hip has been hurting me less and less and it seems like I've been able to manage that injury by avoiding the positions that cause pain.

Anyone think these stretches will work? I don't but I'll try them anyway. Do I really have a choice?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Begone Children.

School here ended last Friday. My eldest "graduated" from middle school and she cleaned up in the class awards: only middle school student to win two high school varsity letters (XC and track), named top orchestra student as well as exceptional achievement in almost every subject. I saw the awards and knew she would be annoyed that the program had her in the "average above 94" as compared to the "average above 97" category for Spanish (she has close to a 100 average and got a 100 on the state wide final). I wanted to see what she would say. Afterwards, of course, her one comment on the ceremony was how they screwed up the program for her Spanish award. The teacher later called our house and apologized for the mistake.

My kids are going to music camp until the end of July in Maine. Saturday was the day we blocked out to pack but I was able to get out early for a quick 30 minute open water swim in the perfect conditions of the Long Island Sound at Sunken Meadow (the Sound was like glass and they said the water was 70 degrees). I'm counting this swim as this year's first open water official swim trying to erase the nightmare memory of Eagleman. I still can't believe that I actually got in the water that day and I can't believe even more that my time in that non wetsuit swim was more than double my expectations. We followed up the swim with a little over an hour biking some hills around Kings Park then I had to get back to Operation Get-Ready-For-Camp.

The goal was to try to pack what seemed to be everything in one of many duffels for the two girls. We had some emergency shopping that had to be done but since we were strapped for time it was a buying expedition rather than a shopping expedition. I was able to sneak a new Mets hat for me in with all the camp stuff for them so all was happy. They went to bed about 2AM.

I was up early Sunday morning, loaded up the minivan and dropped the kids off Sunday in Chappaqua in Westchester County north of NYC (a little over an hour away from Casa Rockstar) to catch the bus up to music camp. The bus was a big win for us as the other option was to drive up 7 hours, drop them off, and then drive back 7 hours. My wife and I will still wind up doing this trip in a few weeks for visiting "weekend" in a few weekends.

When I came back home the inside of the house looked like a tornado hit it. What didn't get packed got scattered to the wind. Rather than immediately clean up, my wife and I went out for an unfancy dinner together last night as grownups. We also spent the afternoon together and actually spent time without one having to go one way and the other the other way meeting somewhere in the middle to swap kids. I was tired and went to sleep early in peace.

I'm sure we'll miss our kids soon.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

NYRR American Heart Association Start! Wall Street Run and Heart Walk

Tonight I ran in the AMA Start Wall Street Run and Heart Walk. Ran being the operative word.

I originally signed up for this race a while ago since the start was only a few blocks from my office and it would count as another of the 9 races to qualify for the 2011 NYC 26.2. I figured if I couldn't run I could walk it. I've been doing the physical therapy and asked if I should try running to see if I'm making any progress. The PT said to do a short run and see what happened.

I viewed this race as the perfect opportunity and I convinced myself 3 miles qualified as short. I haven't really run in months and quickly realized I sort of forgot how. The race was not cooperating either since the weather was in the mid 90s today with a severe thunderstorm warning issued by the weather wonks. The race was scheduled to start at 6:45 and it cooled down to a tepid 87 per the race director.

The announcer said that there was about 12,000 runners and walkers combined. Now, I don't know how familiar you are with lower Manhattan but twelve thousand people don't fit on those streets at the same time. The race started and immediately there was a turn a few hundred feet onto the course. The crowds made it so that you couldn't run so there was a lot of walking from time to time. But when I could, I ran. People started running on the sidewalks. The New Yorkers coming out of their offices seemed oblivious that there was a race going on and just walked into the crowds to get to their subways. I saw a girl go down and there was a pile up. I still tried to run. I looked at my Garmin to see what my pace was and it was jumping around. I realized the buildings were making it lose signals. Oh well.

I found when you don't run for a while (in my case months), running can be hard. Per the Garmin, Mile 1 went by in 10:26, Mile 2 went by in 9:38, Mile 3 in 10:30 and somehow Garmin thought I raced an additional .25 of a mile at a 10:15 pace. For me these times are fast. I stopped to catch my breath a couple of times but the official finish had me in 33:00 for 3 miles. Garmin said it was 3.25 miles. Who knows if it was off or I was off but I was very happy with my run.

The best news is that my hip and legs didn't hurt during or after the run. A lot of the rest of me hurt but that is to be expected. The net of this is that I might have a shot at actually running in the NYC tri later in July.

Rock on.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Quote of the week.

"A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one" - Benjamin Franklin.

Credit: Duplessis, Joseph-Siffrede, artist. "Benjamin Franklin, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing slightly right, wearing fur collar." 1907. Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Riding bikes.

I had some recovery rides on the calendar Saturday and Sunday. These rides were supposed to be easy rides with the goal of assessing if I'm ready to start the block of serious training leading up to the NYC Olympic tri in a few weeks. I decided to do my ride Saturday old school and dusted off my Lemond Zurich early Saturday morning.

This LeMond was my first grown up bicycle. I bought it as a year end leftover bike many moons ago. It cost more money than I though could be spent on a bike (fear not, my bike spending has been recalibrated over time and I've spent much, much more on a bike). I overspent on purpose to make sure I would have enough guilt to follow through on my vow to complete a century ride with Team in Training. I finished that century and a few more on that bike before I upgraded to a custom Guru (bike porn to be included in a future post). This Lemond has none of the high tech stuff that my other bikes have: no power meter; it is steel (not titanium or carbon); it has a triple chain ring in the front to make pedaling easier; it is very upright to make be super comfortable at the expense of some aero and all that is OK. I normally ride this bike only on rare occasions when I don't want the weather to "ruin" my more expensive bikes or to spend lots of time cleaning them afterwards. I sometimes loan this bike out from time to time for newbies to get a feel for riding a real road bike but I haven't ridden this bike in a few months.

I had no route planned. I just pointed the LeMond into the early morning sun and hoped to explore some neighborhoods in the towns east of my house. It was early, the sun was just rising, the automatic sprinklers were on, and a few people were just waking up by getting the newspapers from their driveways still in their PJs. After I rode a while, it was about time to head home but I really didn't know "specifically" where I was so I just headed towards the west until I recognized some roads. It was about the perfect low to no pressure ride. It was slow but I really didn't care. I was home before 730am.

Sunday was scheduled to be a little longer and a little more serious ride. Fran came over early and I decided to break out the LeMond again. This was supposed to be an easy ride and we kept it easy even when a geezer went by us. Fran and I looked at each other realizing that the thought of toasting the geezer was simultaneously going through both of our heads. We laughed at ourselves, and chuckling Fran said "Down boy." We let the geezer go.

Even though we hit a few "named" hills, it was a fun ride again. During the ride I thought about when, as kids, "riding bikes" could just make the day float along. The act of riding itself was the destination. Not where, nor how hard, nor who we are competing against, nor the time nor speed. These rides on my old bike were more about "riding bikes" than cycling.

Cycling has its place but so does simply riding bikes. I've got to remember that more.

PS: In honor of Big Daddy Diesel awarding me the Pukey award this week, I wore my Republic of Anaerobia jersey Saturday. Their national motto, "Veni Vedi Vomiti," loosely translates into "I came, I saw, I tried to earn the Pukey."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Eagleman: The Aftermath

Thanks everyone for the support, comments, calls, emails and kind words around my Eagleman experience. While on one level it wasn't what I was expecting, on another level it was an experience I'll remember forever. I'll never figure out what impacted me the most (travel, heat, wind, lack of sleep or non-wetsuit super slow swim) but it really doesn't matter, does it?

Some other thoughts that are going through my head regarding Eagleman:
  • The group of training buddies that we put together initially to help us all get through Eagleman 2009 as each of our first half Ironman sort of decided that our 2011 early season half won't be Eagleman. We decided this before the race last week but since four of the formerly named EagleCrew will be doing IMLP in 2011, we decided on a race with many more hills. Rev3 Connecticut is getting some votes (my preference) as is Mooseman70.3. We'll decide later in the year but the name of "EagleCrew" will be retired. I think I'll rename us simply as "The Crew" henceforth.

  • Assuming I'm able to race physically, I'd like to have Eagleman70.3 back on the calendar in the future. Even though the conditions were hard, I still like this race. Vigo & Co put on a quality event.

  • I left my blackberry in my race bag while I raced Sunday. After the race it was fried and only about 2/3 of the keys still worked. I'm blaming the heat and I needed some of those keys to unlock it. Fortunately, my contract was up this week so I got a new one last night. I admit that I'm addicted and it has been odd this week without it.

  • I have to refocus on body composition.

  • Next up is the NYC Oly triathlon in July and I'm hoping to be able to run a bit during it. That means I probably should start running soon. Also, a shorter race will probably include higher intensity training. Recovery week ends Sunday.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Feature: Quote of the Week (QOTW)

"If you are going through hell, keep going."
- Winston Churchill

Monday, June 14, 2010

2010 Eagleman AquaVelo: The perfect storm for failure

The executive summary is that even though this was a difficult day to race made worse by a series of unfortunate events, I finished the Eagleman AquaVelo Sunday with times slower than I could have ever imagined.

First some back story. I arrived in Cambridge on Friday evening about 7pm after traveling 24 hours from Hong Kong. The early Saturday plan was to jump in the water for a quick recon swim (to get landmarks for siting, etc) and that went off without issue. Most noticed that the water was on the warmer side. I overheard someone say that the water temp was 74 degrees. I thought the water seemed a little warmer than that but I'm used to swimming in very warm water. All checked out good for me. Then off to the expo to check in and pick up the swag bag. They had separate AV shirts but didn't have any in XXL like I requested. They offered to have one sent to me later but I tried on the XL and it fit so I was feeling good about myself. The AquaVelo was the second to last wave scheduled to go off at 8:28 (last was the relays but there were very few of them). The first wave was scheduled to go off at 7:00.

My wave was assigned black swim caps and I really don't understand that. I only use a swim cap in open water and like a light colored one so that you can spot people quickly. Most of my open water swimming is done in the Long Island Sound and black just sort of blends in with the water defeating the purpose.

After the swim I took a short nap as I was feeling the time zone change. I got up and went shopping for supplies (Gatorade, Pop Tarts for breakfast, Uncrustables for during the race, $2 throw away flip flops, plastic garbage bags to wrap up the bike since overnight rain was predicted, etc). Did a quick bike ride to shake down the bike and checked in my bike. The air temperature was 90 degrees and my family arrived at about 7pm. I wanted to get to bed early since my friends were meeting at 430 AM to head over to transition. Eagleman doesn't have good parking at the race site so you need to get there early to park on the street. This year they tried to introduce buses from some of the local schools to help but I think they need to refine that idea (more on that later). Asleep at 8pm. All looking good.

Up at 10:30pm. Uh-oh. My body was still in the wrong time zone. I stared at the ceiling at the hotel until 3:30. I was exhausted, couldn't sleep and the day didn't even start yet. I thought about not racing at all and trying to get some sleep.

When we got there I saw a race official checking out the bikes and asked her what the water temperature was. She said 79.6. I looked at her like she was joking but she wasn't. Then the PA announcer said no wetsuits due to the water temp. The rules state that you can wear a wetsuit if the water is up to 84 but you couldn't qualify for Kona, etc or get any prizes. I asked the official about this and she said that only applied if they could segregate the wetsuit vs nonwetsuits participants. Since the couldn't separate us, none could neoprene up. This was the first time in 15 years that wetsuits would not be allowed for this race. How lucky were we?

I thought about not racing again. I've only raced one other time without a wetsuit and it was my worst race ever. My hip injury doesn't let me kick so almost all the swimming I've done has been with a pull buoy. People were leaving with their bikes choosing not to race at all. I doubted that I could swim the whole distance without a wetsuit but also figured I couldn't live with myself if I didn't try. I refocused my mindset to just go slow and steady, realizing I might not make the 1:10 cutoff.

The first wave went out at 7:15 rather than 7:00. I think this was due to too many athletes being hung up by the brand new busing situation. The later the morning went, the hotter the air temperature got. My wave went off about 8:45 and I found myself swimming toward the outside (I didn't want to get into the scrum and lose my chip like the last nonwetsuit race that I did). Later I found out Fran lost his 310xt during his swim as the pins fell out of the band in a collision. The going was slow (on purpose) and my hip was hurting a lot. I kept finding myself off course and then I realize I was swimming against a current (duh, it was a river), it kept moving me off course. I swam continuously until I crashed into someone standing up in a shallow part and my watch said I was about 53 minutes in. I realized I wasn't going to make the cutoff but I would finish so I gently swam it in. I convinced myself that my race would be over but wasn't that sad about it. There would be no dishonor if they wouldn't let me continue on, right? There were still many people behind me as I got out of the water finishing the swim in 1:17. My family was there cheering me on.

No one took my chip though. Since I already determined that my race was over I walked through transition to my bike. I was exhausted since this was the longest swim I did time-wise. Then I had the "bright" idea to refocus my ride so that it would be an easy L1/L2 recovery ride and maybe, just maybe, I would recover physically. I was wishing a wish that wouldn't be granted.

I started riding. I was passing a lot of people early on and felt I had some legs under me. I was drinking a lot and ate a PB&J. The wind started howling and the heat was rising off the pavement. I couldn't get my heart rate under control so I dialed it down. At about 20 miles, I felt like I was going to barf and that I was getting goosebumps all over. My left hand (my hand?) was cramping up. These are all symptoms of heat exhaustion. I was overheating.

I already drained 2 bottles, grabbed 2 more at the bottle exchange and poured some on my body to cool off. Now I started to see cyclists just standing on the side of the road anywhere there was shade. I kept going and started feeling a little better.

At the next station about 30 miles, I grabbed 2 more bottles and kept drinking and splashing water on me to cool me off. I wasn't getting better but still kept going. Of course, all the water they had was 95 degrees but I viewed it as medicine.

When I hit the 40 mile I got 2 more bottles and asked if they had any ice. They had a small cooler hidden and offered me some ice. I filled my helmet with ice, put it on and got back on the bike. The ice was melting and dripping down my face cooling me off a little. This was the last bottle stop.

At 50 miles I saw my friend Casey on the side of the road. I told him he only had a few more miles to go and he told me he was done. He looked like he was waiting to get picked up. Later when we were going to start the search party we found he finished the bike. I limped it in and finished. Bike time 3:29:09, 16.1 mph.

The only thought in my head was that I suck. I was an hour over what I expected and I was hurting.

I came back to life quickly after drinking a bunch, having a plate of pasta, and sitting in the river for a little red neck ice bath.

I talked to many of the people as the race was finishing. Carnage was everywhere. A lot of people got DQed from the swim or didn't even try. Many times were way slower than previous years. The temperature on the car when I loaded up my bike was 90. Runners were still out there. The news said the heat index in some parts of the area was north of 110.

It was a hard day for everyone even those who didn't have to deal with timezone changes and modified training. I learned a little about myself and just that sometimes is the criteria for a successful race. My time and performance was not in the galaxy of my expectations.

As BikeMike says, "All you can do is all you can do."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pre-race Schizophrenia

Wikipedia defines schizophrenia as "a mental disorder characterized by abnormalities in the perception or expression of reality. It most commonly manifests as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking with significant social or occupational dysfunction."

After traveling 24 hours to get from Hong Kong to the hotel near the race site in Cambridge, Maryland, I thought I was ready for a good sleep. I thought wrong and now I'm up debating if I should take a sleeping pill or not. While I ponder that I thought it would be interesting to list some of the thoughts going through my head about this race:
  • What did I forget at home? It has to be something since I packed for the race over a week ago.
  • That really doesn't matter since I can buy anything I need at the expo beforehand.
  • Most of the money in my wallet is Hong Kong dollars.
  • They take credit cards here.
  • I never have changed a flat on my Zipp race wheels and those valve extenders are a bit of a mystery.
  • I have changed, with no exaggeration, hundreds and perhaps thousands of flats so I'm sure I'll be able to figure it out eventually.
  • My record for flats fixed is 12 in one day. None were mine.
  • I once flatted about a half a mile from the end of a century. Many people riding by kept encouraging me to put the bike on my shoulder and walk it in.
  • I fixed it that day. My friends waited for me.
  • Even if I can't fix a flat on the Zipps, they may take a while but SAG guys will be around.
  • If I need a SAG guy, I'm having a crappy day.
  • Who am I kidding? I'm going to have a crappy day anyway.
  • I'll never travel further for a race in my life so this is already a weird sort of PR.
  • I was able to do 2 swims and a bike in Asia.
  • Both swims last week were in the rain.
  • The weather forecast for the race sucks. Chance of rain with thunder and a high in the low 90s.
  • That doesn't really matter since I'm still going to have a crappy day.
  • Swimming in the rain isn't bad as long as it isn't raining so hard you can't see the buoys.
  • I've already had that experience at the Mighty Hamptons Oly Tri in 2008.
  • My swim should be better than my previous race swims since I feel I'm swimming faster. What would be a good time?
  • Sub last time (43:01)?
  • Sub 40?
  • Sub 38?
  • It really matters on the current and chop.
  • The course is different this year too.
  • I haven't done an open water swim yet this year.
  • Last year in this race I got stung by jelly fish. Hope that doesn't happen again.
  • Am I going to rip a hole in my wetsuit again?
  • I checked that I have wetsuit glue in case I do. Looks like I need more (see expo).
  • What is the water temp?
  • Hot water was the cause of my pre-race full blown psychosis last year.
  • It wound up being wet suit legal anyway.
  • It is really cool driving to a big race site and noticing the tri bikes on the cars going the same way.
  • My bike is cool.
  • This is the first race I'm using it.
  • Don't go out too hard.
  • How windy will it be?
  • Did I say it is supposed to be 90 degrees?
  • There is no run for me (I'm doing aqua velo) so don't I shouldn't save myself.
  • Due to my hip and knee injuries, I don't feel I've trained enough.
  • I rarely feel I've trained enough.
  • I don't think I've trained at intensity. Duration should be fine.
  • I have no doubt in my ability to finish.
  • If I have to limp it in, so be it.
  • I'd like to bike faster than last year (3:05).
  • I haven't ridden aero enough.
  • A sub 3:00 bike would be nice.
  • A sub 3:45 race would be nice.
  • I'm still too heavy. Need to renew focus on that.
  • Maybe I won't have a crappy day.
  • How many people will be in the Aquavelo anyway? Is top half unreasonable?
  • It matters who shows up.
  • I'll show up.
  • I have friends racing too. I'm missing Tim and Christine though. Next time.
  • My family is driving down to cheer us all on.
  • That's the most important thing.
  • I get to race, I don't have to race.
  • Maybe I'll win?
I realize I suffer from pre-race schizophrenia but I think more people do than don't. Maybe some of these thoughts are a little bizarre but it will be what it will be.

Follow the plan, follow the plan, follow the plan......

Time for sleep.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Swimming in Singapore

I arrived at 6am this morning in Singapore after a 19 hour flight from New York. Checked into the hotel and explored a bit to get the lay of the land of the hotel. I found the hotel's gym and outside pool but it was raining hard. I had some time before I needed to get into the office so I hopped in the pool for a quick swim (I figured I would get wet anyway).

It was a decent swim for me and I seem to be a little faster swimming on this side of the world. Maybe it is just jet lag.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A different kind of taper

I found out that I need to travel for work the week before Eagleman's AquaVelo. I leave Saturday night for Singapore for a few days, then to Hong Kong, followed by a 16 hour flight back to NY next Friday and finally a drive to Maryland for the race. I sure hope they don't test the folks that come in last place for Ambien as part of the drug test policy.

Still have this Saturday for a last chance taperish workout and the hotel I'm staying at supposedly has a 25m pool. I'm expecting to be stylin' some compression socks on the plane. Everyone will be jealous I'm sure.