Thursday, April 28, 2011

A different racing mindset

I have a race, St Anthony's Triathlon, scheduled for this Sunday and I'm not ready to race. I haven't run due to various injuries in about a month. The air temperature in St. Petersburg (the Florida flavor not the Russian flavor) is supposed to be about 90 (not so perfect for a north easterner that hasn't seen heat vapors off the asphalt in quite some time). The race website says the water temperature is currently between 80 and 81 so prepare for a non wetsuit swim. I've raced non wetsuit swim before (see 2010 Eagleman70.3) and I really don't want to do it again (full disclosure: I am a fairly confident swimmer with a wetsuit but a mental wreck without one). Seeing that my foot/calf injuries have limited the amount of kicking I can do, it won't be pretty without neoprene.

StA is flat and racers are rewarded from spending time on the bike aero. Before I shipped my bike the other day I went for a ride with the expectation of staying aero for a while. I realized this was the first time that I tried to ride in that position on my race bike since I broke my wrist last summer. Luckily (or unluckily based on your perspective) I found out that my left wrist no longer was able to be in the position with my aerobars comfortably. Off to the bike store I went and we found some new bars that seem to work. We'll find out for real Sunday.

A month ago I would have predicted that I would have expectations/mindset of setting PRs and the like. I would be getting all nervous since my weight isn't where I want it to be. I would be freaking out on minutia that I couldn't control (like the temperature of the air and water). This would be not a happy place. So, why am I even doing this race?

I'll be swimming in open water on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (during the race). Mrs. Rock Star is joining me for the weekend (the kids are staying with Grandma and Grandpa) and we might take in a Rays game on Friday night. I'm doing this race with Team in Training (my 17th event with the team) so we have all of those festivities throughout the weekend too.

But somehow, my mindset is "I get to race, I don't have to race." I'm going to do what I can do and learn from it. If they let me wear a wetsuit with the non competitive folks, I will take the trade of starting in the last wave for a wetsuit. If it is too warm for that option, I'll slog through the swim. I'm going to bike like there is no run afterwards. With the run, DrLarry - who has ARTed up a storm on my leg - recommended to start slow (potentially even walking out transition) then see what is there. It is a different race mindset for me but I think the right one given where I am physically.

Of course it is possible that a cold front will come in, drop the water temperature 5 or 6 degrees, the air temperature about 10, miraculously cure my calf and my ankle. If that happens, great. If not, still great.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Quote of the week.

"Be as you wish to seem." - Socrates

image from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure found on google images, dude.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How does your local news make you feel?

Sorry to go off topic but I've recently read some local news stories that seem to resonate in odd ways with me. Specifically:
  • Business Week, in their April 18-24 edition, ran a multi page story titled "The Real Deficits of Nassau County: How one of the nation's wealthiest counties went broke." In the article, Robert B. Ward, deputy director of the Rockefeller Institute of Government was quoted, "Nassau is an extreme example of our national problem." I live in Nassau County.
  • Newsday, our local newspaper, reported this week that "Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick, citing unspecified threats, has started carrying a gun, constructed a new security system at Village Hall, posted armed cops at village board meetings and had Nassau police install "panic buttons" at his home and office." While I don't live in Freeport, it is a village in my previously mentioned broke county.
  • The most talked about story per many of the local media outlets involve our beaches. No, not how world famous some may think they but the stories center around the dead bodies they have recently found. Up to 10 people's remains have been found. They are still searching for more.
Isn't Long Island a special place? All we need is Joey Buttafuco to rise to prominence once again and we can all feel even more of that special home town feeling.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quote of the week.

"I don't believe in pessimism. If something doesn't come up the way you want, forge ahead. If you think it's going to rain, it will." - Clint Eastwood

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why do I keep breaking myself?

I've been feeling better with my ankle and looking forward to getting my new orthotics when Saturday Night at the Tennis Asylum was scheduled once again. My wife and I play once a month in a couples league. She is a good player. I am not but the company is the main reason I play. We won our first match 6-2 and it was 1-1 in the second match when it was my turn to serve. On my second serve of the game I heard the following sound in the middle of my serve from my left calf:

RIIIIIIIPPPPPPP. Then my left leg stopped working. I limped off the court and immediately put ice on it. My night was done.

I woke up on Sunday and my leg still didn't work so well. I'm trying not to get into a pity party state of mind but I'm in the angry state of mind. More angry at myself than at anyone else. Disappointed that I can't do something as simple as playing relatively uncompetitive tennis without getting hurt.

Getting hurt as much as I have been recently is getting old. My tennis career is over but I am still wondering what this latest injury will do to my racing season. Hopefully I'll heal quickly and not hurt myself in some other inventive way.

I have to find out why I keep breaking myself and stop it. Wish me luck. I think I need it and am due for some good luck.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quote of the week.

"I don't think you can ever will yourself to win. I think you prepare yourself the best you can, get yourself in the best mindset you can get in, and go after it! " - Jack Nicklaus

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Musings

  • The idiot light on my car said that one of the tires was "Low Pressure." It would have been nice if it said which one. I couldn't find a gas station with a gas pump that you didn't have to feed quarters into so I broke out my bike pump, set all the tires to 32 psi and the light went out.
  • My wife and I were in the car the other day and we came to the corner at the end of our block. I saw a cyclist heading towards me and to make him less nervous from the hood of a minivan appearing I gave him the Fockers sign below. He saw it, put his hand on his heart and pointed back at me. My wife asked if I knew him. I answered no, why?
  • The worst thing about my Quassy recon mission is that when I was done I wasn't able to say how many discrete hills there were as they all sort of melded together. The long hill, of course, stood out on its own.
  • I feel so violated that two of my email accounts got hacked. First, sorry to everyone who got inadvertently spammed (hint: don't buy the little blue pills from that link). Second, I'm fixing it. Still, it is very annoying.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Quassy Recon

I am scheduled to race Rev3 Quassy HalfRev on June 5. I've heard rumors about how hilly this course is and wanted to check it out myself prior to race day. I persuaded Fran to join me (he is in the middle of IMLP training so hills for a few hours couldn't hurt him as a training day) so we decided to go up to Quassy early Saturday, leaving while it was still dark. We had no idea where we were going but thanks to GPS we made it there in about 90 minutes from Casa Fran.

Earlier last week I checked the race website for the cue sheet and left it at my office. When I went to print it out again I found that it was changed to mapmyride and there was no longer a turn by turn unless you are mapmyride premium member. (Boo. Hiss - I will be following up with the Rev3 folks to make sure they have opportunity to fix it). Luckily I found a cue sheet online but didn't know how accurate it was. Fran still had the window open from the other day and was able to print the formerly official one out too.

When we showed up it was 31 degrees but it didn't seem that cold. Fran commented that he thought we would see snow. I thought he was crazy but started pumping up my tires. I did the front but when I started on the back I heard the evil "SSSSSSSSSSSSSS." coming from the front as it went flat. I took a spare tube and started fixing the flat. Fran asked how many spare tubes I had since he had only one. I said not to worry since I always bring 2. Unfortunately, my spare tube had a hole in it too - double flat before we even start! Fixed it again now with my last tube and all was good except we now had only one tube for the both of us on a ride where neither of us had any idea where we were going. If we needed rescue we were a few hours from home. Go for it!

We started riding and with the wind from riding made the 31 degrees feel like less than 31 degrees. At each turn we would reach into our pocket to read the cue sheet for the next turn, put it back into our pockets and continued on. After 15 minutes Fran cursed that his cue sheet must have fallen out of his pocket and disappeared. Now we were using mine, the one of dubious origin, solo. We thought we were getting lost a few times and thanks to Fran's iphone were able to pull up a map to make sure we were on course.

My phone started ringing a few times while we were climbing and when I checked I found out that one of my email accounts got hacked. People were calling me since my email address was spamming them. There was nothing that I could do so far away but I called my wife to power off my PC. The calls continued and so did the climbing.

The best way to describe the course was grinding hills. There were a few "stingers" where I needed to get out of the saddle but mostly it was long, slow, cadence in the 60s, power at threshold for a few minutes at a time and not a lot of recovery. Mapmyride did show that there were 6 cat5 climbs and one cat3 climb (3.7 miles long averaging a little over 3%). There is more net climbing on this course than one lap of the Placid course (my Garmin measured about 3600 ft over 50 miles). Since we had no clue as to the course I really didn't want to hammer the down hills that were there from time to time. We expected to go slow and I went even slower than I expected. We found no need to do the out and back section so our ride was shortened to about 50 miles. We saw snow on the side of the road in the shady parts (genius Fran). The wind in our face on the way back just made the ride a little extra special.

My thoughts during the ride, besides how good a cheeseburger would taste, was that maybe I should consider using my road bike rather than my tri bike (I did the recon on the tri bike). I could have used some more low end gears or I need to lose some weight and get stronger. I will not be setting a PR on the bike for this course but the real reason I'm doing this race is to make sure that I pay attention and listen to my coach's race instructions. One would think that I learned that lesson when I felt stronger than I was at Timberman70.3 a few years ago and blew myself up.

There are about 2 months before race day and I'm sure I'll be visiting Quassy again for more recon. The goal for next time is to figure out where to attack and where to just suck it up. There was a lot of "suck it up" this time.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Quote of the week.

"There are 86,400 seconds in a day. It's up to you to decide what to do with them." - Jim Valvano

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Musings

  • I had my first toe nail casualty of the season when the whole toe nail of the middle toe on my right foot decided to vacate the premises.
  • The battery on my laptop is, to use the technical term, crapping out. It only holds a charge for about 15 minutes. My family (except me) has completely converted over to the dark side (aka Apple) but I still have some stuff that only runs on a PC. It is hard to rationalize $2000 for a Macbook Air vs. $40 for a new battery or even $400 for a new PC laptop but that Macbook Air looks sweet.
  • I ordered the battery.
  • Then certain "features" of Internet Explorer stopped working for me. One of the symptoms was that I was no longer able to comment on blogs where the "embedded below post" attribute was used by the author. I wasted spent hours trying to fix it without success. I ultimately installed Chrome and all now works fine with Chrome.
  • None of the Apple computers in the household had this issue though so it was definitely something from the evil side of Redmond. The Macbook Air is still looking sweet.
  • I saw a kid, estimated age of 10, wearing Yankee paraphernalia from head to toe walking into a sports bar with his father (similarly dressed) right before the Yankee game was supposed to start on Saturday. What was odd about this situation is that he was wearing a glove. It must be a long fly ball to make it into the bar a few counties away from the "House that George Built." The dad wasn't wearing a glove though.
  • Ipads don't work well for me either.
  • The Mets are over .500. Who woulda thunk it?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Guilt, Fear, Passion and Joy.

I was scheduled to join some friends bright and early Sunday for a 2:30-2:45 ride. Originally we said that we would meet early enough so that we would be pumping up our tires in the dark and rolling at first light. This was translated into get up at 5:30, meet before 6:30 (about 15-20 minutes away) and roll as quickly as possible. Well, at least that was the plan.

The reality is that I was up about 2:00AM and didn't get to sleep again until 4:00 or so. When the clock went off at 5:30 I was useless. I texted some of them to make sure no one was riding solo. They had a quorum so I went back to sleep. When I finally got up I still had my ride to do. While it was warmer than it has been recently (with temps in the mid 40s with the hope of maybe breaking 50), the wind was howling with about 20mph sustained wind.

Before I got on the bike I tried to figure out why I was doing this ride. The first thought was guilt. Not doing this ride would make my coach wonder why he was crafting the workouts that I wasn't doing. Not doing the ride would be imposing on my family as they were adjusting their schedule to accommodate my vanishing for 3 hours - sometimes vanishing early works in the schedule and sometimes, like last Sunday, vanishing later is more difficult with the kids having to be delivered to their activities. I already left my friends high and dry early in the morning. I got on the bike and started riding.

When I am doubting my workouts I sometimes seem to "invent" reasons to cut it short or reduce the intensity. I know I shouldn't be doing this but it happens sort of on its own from time to time. I know if I don't do the work, magic isn't going to help me race the way I want to race. Yes, my early season races are more like training exercises leading up to my IMFL, but fear was starting to come into play. I am fighting the injury to my foot already. If I can't ride as well, reality would start sinking in that an old, fat, gravy sweating rock star shouldn't be doing what I keep trying to do. I kept riding.

To mix things up I decided to do a little exploring on the bike. Turns where I typically made a left as part of a known route, I made a right to see what was there. I did some hills that I hadn't done in a while (including Sagamore Hill and saw the tourists milling around), found a few new ones, and started having some fun on the bike even though the wind was a constant reminder of what the day could have been if it wasn't there. Even though it wasn't a great ride, it was still pretty good.

Time flew by and I realized I had to head for home or I'd be out too long (there was a soccer game for 13 year old girls that I wanted to see). I felt I could have ridden all day. Then I noticed what I've been missing: Passion. Passion led to joy. Obvious at the end of the ride but not obvious at the beginning when guilt and fear were bouncing through my head.

I need to remember the passion more often.

What makes you do what you do?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Self diagnosis by internet

When I woke up on Monday after my race last Sunday, I could barely walk due to the pain in my foot and ankle. I even bailed out of going to work on Monday. For me, that's a big deal.

I tried to make an appointment to see a podiatrist to have him figure out what was going on. Unfortunately, there were no appointments available until today (Friday). So I did what everyone seems to do these days - went online to self diagnose via the Internet. I figured out either I had a stress fracture or posterior tibial tendinitis or with the tibial tendinitis as my favorite guess.

The "Internet" says that casting is a common method to cure this. Sometimes being in a rigid boot for a while is required to get the inflamation down. Orthotics may be necessary for a long term cure. Anti-inflamatories and even a Cortisone shot could be in the arsenal. None of this sounded good.

My pain diminished greatly as the week went on. Experiments swimming and biking didn't hurt it but I was afraid to really push it or to try running. I went to the doctor today and he said I had.......

Posterior tibial tendinitis.

Wile E. Coyote has nothing on me in the supergenius department. A new career was awaiting me as an Internet diagnostician. Don't laugh, I'm sure that some of the new health care programs will make this new type of doctor (where you can only chat, text, or IM but never actually see) more of the norm in the future but that is a rant for another day. I could be a pioneer!

But then he said I also have some Achilles tendinitis. And some Plantar Fasciitis. And heel spurs on both heels. It sucks getting old. He recommended not running for the short term but cycling and swimming should be OK. I need new orthotics but I since I am healing fairly rapidly, I should be OK without anything more drastic. If I hurt, eat some aleve or another NSAID of my choice.

I should be back on track (pun not intented) soon. Of course, I had to ask, "what is soon?" Will I still be able to race StA in a month? In typical doctor fashion he said he couldn't say yes or no yet but it wasn't completely off the table. He said we'll know more in a few weeks. He said since my "A" race (IMFL) is in November, I should still be OK for that if all goes as expected.

Not great news but on the scale of how bad it could be, I'll take it.