Thursday, December 30, 2010

Eleven Keys for Eleven

I've been contemplating a whole bunch of resolution ideas since it is the season for this type of mental exercise. In contrast to what I typically do with setting measurable milestones, I decided to give myself less tangible keys (aka more of guidelines or intentions). Some of these are obvious but the more I do these things, the more successful I will be this year culminating with racing Ironman Florida on November 5, 2011:

  1. Stay healthy. My last two "seasons" ended with a trip to an emergency room. A serious injury always sucks (I know from experience). A nagging injury would make a difficult quest even more difficult. Paying attention to how my body feels and being cautious are paramount. Addressing physical issues early will help keep me on track.

  2. Believe. This means not just assembling the "team" necessary for success (almost done) but actually entrusting them. They are providing me with guidance, knowledge and inspiration. This will only work if I know when to turn off my brain and having faith in the team and faith in the plan.

  3. Do the work. As much as I would want to "wish" myself ready, there is no magic here. There will be times when I don't want to do what I know I need to do. I don't need to want to do it but I do need to do it.

  4. Lose weight. If this list was based on priority, this item might be number one. My body composition is my biggest limiter I'm not going to set a goal but significant change is necessary.

  5. Expect difficulties and failures. I will be tested and not just on race day. Things like life and work will get in the way. I will not meet some of my expectations. I expect to learn something about myself.

  6. Avoid distractions. Focus on what is important not what I think is important (see #2).

  7. Choose to be a better husband, father, and friend. This is what is most important for my life, not just 2011.

  8. Put myself in a position to be lucky.

  9. Celebrate successes more than lamenting shortcomings. Avoid any downward mental spiral. The mental aspect of my quest cannot be underestimated.

  10. Be thankful. I get to do this, I don't have to do it. Remember that. Often.

  11. Make the journey special. Race day will be the victory lap.
Rock on.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Quote of the week.

“New Year's Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.” - James Agate

Monday, December 27, 2010

The stats are in!

20.5 inches of snow in my town. Wind gusts still to about 50mph. Never made it to work. Haven't made it on the treadmill (yet) but the day is still young.

Be safe everyone.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Weather report.

So I got this to look forward to:

Issued by The National Weather Service
New York City, NY
5:01 am EST, Sun., Dec. 26, 2010




So, I got up early and:

  1. Did a 90 minute spin class with LITC.
  2. Filled up the cars with gas.
  3. Filled up the snow blower with gas. Got extra gas. Made sure the snow blower worked - YES!
  4. Got the snow shovels out of the shed.
  5. Got the sleds out.
  6. Went food shopping with thousands. Once supermarket had traffic backed up on the road for about 1/4 mile waiting to get into the parking lot. I went elsewhere.

My plan for the remainder of the day:

  1. Watch football on TV.
  2. Play with my christmas toys! Again, somehow, I wasn't on the naughty list. How did that happen?
  3. Watch more football.
  4. Take a nap?
  5. Maybe, just maybe swim a little. The probably matters if one of the games is a blow out.
  6. Shovel the snow every 6 inches or so.
  7. Repeat as necessary.

Be safe everyone!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ahhh, recovery week!

This week, thankfully, was a recovery week in my training. Those who follow structured training plans understand the joy and relief I had when I took a look at my plan on Monday and saw BikeMike's Goal #1:

Week's goals:
1. Unload Residual Fatigue
2. Ride & Swim twice
3. Run Three Times

I don't want to turn this post into an opus on periodization but in summary training goes through phases and phases are comprised of one or more training blocks. Typically these blocks include two or three weeks of increasing load with a week of active recovery to unload fatigue. This doesn't mean complete rest but lower durations and/or intensities to get the body for the next block. This planning hopefully ends in peaking at an "A" race. My "A" races aren't for some time yet (June and November).

While most of the time I view recovery weeks with primarily a physical focus, I sometimes find it easy to forget the mental aspects of unloading. This time I needed this recovery week more mentally than physically. Work typically gets stressful this time of the year and the holidays don't necessarily cooperate with stress reduction. Weather being cold and dark doesn't help. Anyway, this recovery week was welcomed.

Back in the day I used to do all my Christmas gift shopping buying on Christmas Eve. Yes, for amateurs it can be stressful but I had this down to almost a science. My wife has been shopping for months already (I think her mother is already working on Christmas 2011) so she humours me when I still do some Christmas Eve shopping for old times sake.

I finished my shopping mini adventure without adding undue stress this morning. A little workout, mix in some Christmas church, and the Christmas celebration will be in full swing. Mental and physical fatigue will be unloaded. Recovery week will be officially over on Sunday with either a 90 minute spin class (better socially) or a hard bike trainer workout (more time efficient).

PS: Yes, I actually do training from time to time even though this blog may not have a lot of evidence of it recently. There will probably more training adventures chronicled next year.

PPS: Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Quote of the week.

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. " - Linus van Pelt

Monday, December 20, 2010

I need Hermey

"Gather around children and I'll tell you a tale. A tale of an elf named Hermey who wanted to become a dentist......." At this point almost every child in the United States (and most adults as well) would interrupt and ask "isn't he from Rudolph?"

Sigh. I won't go into the marketing aspects of Christmas cartoon characters but I'm sure at least one MBA has written some opus on that as part of their degree or thesis (my MBA being from a somewhat lower end school didn't require some of that nonsense l and I think that the statute of limitations for school things has kicked in anyway since it has been so long since I got that piece of parchment but I digress).

But I do have a lesson for the next generation and they can learn from my misadventures. I decided to "clean out" my stash of old nutrition bars. I had a collection of Clif bars, Power bars, Mojo Bars, etc. Rather than throwing them out (which would have been wise), I decided to have them as snacks. All was good until I bit into a petrified Power Bar. This bar broke one of my back teeth (aka molar). It is the first broken tooth that I've had since I was a kid.

But it didn't hurt.

I went to my dentist (not Hermey) and she gasped in horror (just kidding) and said based on how it broke I had to go to the oral surgeon for some "gum work." After multiple trips with the oral surgeon, my tooth was ready for a temporary crown.

Luckily it still didn't hurt. The dentist decided to go with Plan B do a filling type of deal with it. That work was done and I went home hoping to forget this (I previously wised up and threw out the remaining bars).

Then it started to hurt. A lot. Back to the dentist and she then said Plan B didn't work so back to plan A with a crown but this time I need root canal. Hermey yanked out the teeth of the Abonimable, right? So I asked if she could just yank it out and she said that was a bad idea.

Today is my second session of root canal. It still hurts. Adventures in dentistry continues but they say it will stop hurting soon. I don't expect this to be finished for a while with the holidays in between. I hope I learned a lesson on eating petrified Power Bars. You never can tell with me.

I wonder if Hermey would have done it differently. Maybe yes, maybe no, but then I remembered the most important lesson from the Rudolph cartoon: Bumbles bounce.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quote of the week.

"Aren't we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas? You know... the birth of Santa." - Bart Simpson

Monday, December 13, 2010

The true meaning of a tax cut

While eating dinner alone with my 7th grade daughter (my wife and other daughter were out) last night we had a conversation that went something like this:

Courtney: Daddy (as she bats her eyes), can I ask you a question?
RockStar: Sure.
C: What do you know about the Bush tax cut?
RS (with look of skepticism): Why are you asking THAT?
C: Because I asked Mommy and she wouldn't answer me so I told her that you would definitely know about it. (employing the suck up gambit)
RS: Why did you ask Mommy about the Bush tax cut? (back on point)
C: Well, I sort of had a homework assignment on it. (a-ha)
RS: Sort of? What was the assignment? When is it due?
C: I had to read an article in the newspaper and do the 5Ws.
RS: The 5Ws?
C: You know, WhoWhatWhenWhereAndWhy. I got the who, President Bush but want to know the rest.
RS: What did the article say?
C: I sort of haven’t picked one yet. (sort of yet again)
RS: When are you going to pick one let alone read it?
C: After dinner but I thought I could ask you and get a jump on it.
RS: OK, the short story is that there was a tax cut that made most people pay less in taxes. It was done so people would have more money to spend and would buy more stuff. If more people buy stuff, then the grownups who can’t find jobs might find some new jobs easier. The tax cut is supposed to expire so unless the government does something most people will pay more in taxes next year. Then they would have less money. There is a bit of disagreement of which is the right way to go between the Republicans and Democrats. They have to decide soon.
C: Paying more in taxes isn’t good.
RS: No, I don't think so.
C: You didn’t have a job for a while but you got one.
RS: Yes, I was lucky. It is still a big problem for a lot of people. Some people think that the rich people don’t need to play less in taxes just because they are rich. They believe that the rich aren’t spending the money since they already have everything. They real question is what is rich.
C: Families without jobs aren’t rich. Are we rich?
RS: What do you think?
C: No, we just have a regular house, not a mansion.
RS: Yup.
C: But you do have a lot of bicycles.
C: Mommy says you do.
RS: (note to self, I guess the S-Works Roubaix or Pinarello won't be under the tree. Again. ) Why else do you think we are not rich?
C: Rich people drive Ferraris.
RS: We don’t have a Ferrari.
C: I want a yellow Ferrari. That would be cool.
RS: First of all, you are 12 years old. And second, when you grow up and if you can consider a Ferrari, it must be red.
C: Like in Ferris Bueller?
RS: Yes.
C: I still like the yellow ones.
RS: When is this homework due?
C: Tomorrow. I think I know everything about it now. I’ll tell Mommy I was right that you knew about the tax cut.
RS: Find an article.
C: I don’t think I need one anymore.
RS: Find an article.
C: Ok.

I wonder what the 5Ws wound up being. My daughter asked my wife to checked her homework instead of me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Thanks for everyone kind words about my lamenting the other day. The things I was complaining about are nits and my yellow brick road to iron is paved by hitting my work outs.

This weekend had some scheduling challenges mostly due to those things that keep calling me "Daddy." Saturday had Thing1 with track practice drop off at 10 and pick up at noon. Mrs Rockstar and I would swap kids and was taking Thing1 to a music rehearsal at 3:30 (the concert was Sunday). Thing 2 had to be dropped off at a friends Bat Mitzvah 9:45, pick up at 4:30 to go to church where she was doing church service. Out of church 6ish and then the schedule opened up again.

That meant I had to squeeze in my bike workout either in the early afternoon slot or the night slot. A little more complexity weighed in on my choice:
  • I could have ridden outside in the early afternoon slot. We had a mini heat wave with the temperatures approaching 40! Downright balmy for my neck of the woods. Or....
  • I could take advantage of the good weather and actually put the Christmas lights up on the house. This would mean that I would have to ride inside on the trainer at night.
I chose to put up the lights in the afternoon put an hour in on the trainer at night. I think I chose wisely. More importantly, I think my wife thought I chose wisely.

Sunday was a wash out with inches of rain and wind. The weather teased me from time to time when it stopped raining for 10 or 15 minutes at a time. It was just enough to make me think that I could run outside and then as soon as I decided to run, the skies opened up yet again. The taxi service continued with Thing 1 soccer practice in the morning, Thing2 basketball game in the afternoon, the aforementioned concert starting at 5. The schedule again dictated when I could do what I needed to. I wound up hopping on the Tmill for my 45 minute run starting at 800PM and got the workout done per plan.

So, what does this rambling mean? I had a bunch of choices to make this weekend. I made them so that I could balance life, family and training. It would have been easier to bail on a workout but I was successful maintaining balance. I have to keep making these choices as the iron training continues and I realize it might not be easy. These choices and the balance are two ingredients in my recipe for success at Ironman.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dealing with disappointment

You can't always get what you want....

Congrats to all the folks who were selected for TeamTrakkers. I applied but unfortunately didn't make the cut. I've pinged them to hopefully find out what I can do to improve my chances next time. I have my suspicions but I'll share them if I get confirmation. I'm still most likely racing Rev3 Quassy but will be sporting the kit of either Team Runner's Edge or Long Island Tri Coach.

You can't always get what you want....

Training is starting to ramp up and I'm physically tired. The other day I got up and as part of the standard morning ritual, took my shower. The bad sign was when I was getting out of the shower I couldn't remember if I washed my hair or not. I had to hop back in, throw some J&J Baby shampoo on the golden locks more grey every day hair, and continued on with my day. Today I slept in (got up at 8am!). I'm always amazed that the time I now get up on a standard day is before the time I used to go to sleep.

You can't always get what you want....

I did my first sort of bike power threshold test the other night. I say sort of because it was a variation on the standard 2x20 minute hard intervals. In addition to forgetting how to actually ride "hard" (I went out too hard and died), the power meter showed that hard for me now was no where near where I expected/hoped it to be. At least a baseline was set, the testing will redone and there is plenty of opportunity for improvement. There, I'm sure, will be a swim test in the near future too. I don't know if I should look forward to it or fear it.

But if you try sometimes you might find....

Most of my recent running has been on the treadmill. It is dark and cold outside before I go to work and it is cold and dark outside when I get home after work. My wife still isn't comfortable with me exercising alone outside since my accident and I need to balance her concerns with my dislike of the 'mill. I am supposed to run on Sunday outside while my daughter has indoor soccer practice (something is wrong with that statement) but the forecast calls for rain and cold. Might be back on the mill again since I need to get my work in. It could be worse with snow and cold but I still need to do the work.

You get what you need.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quote of the week.

"Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect."
~ Oren Arnold

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The relationship between charities and endurance athletes

Trish from "My Path To Travel" emailed me the other day. She wrote a blog entry on a recent growth in the relationship between several triathletes and the Blazeman Foundation in support of ALS awareness and research. Check it out here

Trish's email got me thinking. My first efforts in endurance sports were with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. I joined the team primarily for selfish reasons. I wanted to complete a significant event (the century that I signed up for) and I felt that the support that they would give me would help me out in this quest. While I viewed raising money to help fight blood cancers was as noble of a cause as any, I did not have a passion for the mission of the society. I knew of people on the periphery of my life that had this disease but this cause wasn't front and center in my life.

With my relationship with TNT, I've met people that I now consider friends that have a much more personal reason to be associated with the team. I've also been to too many funerals of friends who lost their fight with these diseases. In the meantime I've completed 15 or so events with the cycling, running and triathlon TNT teams with the St Anthony's Triathlon in May 2011 as next on the schedule. I've coached several seasons and have mentored newbies to the finish line of their event. My family has been involved with my wife, sister, BIL, and niece completed events with the team. My kids are in the recruiting videos since they have been at so many events cheering me on (I personally never made the cut for the movie).

Oh, as a byproduct, I've raised about $100k for the society. Needless to say they are somewhat appreciative and they have wanted me to consider "running" for their Man of the Year award a couple of times. I've politely (for me) declined.

But ALS and Leukemia are not the only diseases that have sponsored athletes or events with training programs. While I'm sure I'm going to miss some, some of the big programs that come to mind on addition to TNT are the Multiple Sclerosis Society sponsoring their series of bike rides, Fred's Team to support research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the The Challenged Athletes Foundation. It seems like almost every local race sponsors a charity in some manner. With several Ironman races there is the Janus Challenge as well although I'm not considering doing this for my race. I won't comment on the "community slot" program.

It is still a bit of a mystery to me how these relationships between charities and athletic events came to happen. I'm sure I can spend some time researching but the big question is are these relationships bad? My gut feel is that I don't think so. I can't comment on how efficient or effective these programs are for the athletes or the charities themselves. Some I'm sure are better than others. I think it could make sense to look at them if you feel a passion via a personal relationship with what they stand for or if they align with your goals.

December is the time of the year when the charities seem to get the bulk of their donations. I've seen many stories where donations are down and here is a link for a story of a local charity, The John Theissen Children's Foundation that is having problems (full disclosure I've donated to John's Foundation in the past and plan to this month). The economy isn't great (donations are down) and more people are needing help these days (demand is up). This is a bad mix.

I'm sure you are asking what does this mean, why am I spending time writing this, and why are you spending time reading this. I don't normally ask a lot but it would be great if my, as Trish called you, big readership could take a moment out and think about a way to help out someone this holiday season. I'm not going to say where or how because that is a personal decision. It doesn't need to be money and it could mean a lot to someone. Maybe that someone will be you.

Rock on.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Quote of the week.

"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more."
~ Dr. Seuss from 'How The Grinch Stole Christmas'.