Thursday, May 26, 2011


I will be exiting the blogosphere for a while. Good bye and thanks for all the fish.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quote of the week.

“Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don't stop when you're tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.” – Greg Henderson

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Something I hate.

I went online earlier to see where exactly where the 100k bike ride I was planning to ride Sunday started. I vaguely knew it was somewhere in Connecticut about a 90 minute drive from home. I had never done this ride but there were a couple of things it was noted for: 1) It was a ride, not a race; and 2) the terrain was on the hilly side so it would be a good training day. The website stated that the ride was closed out since they reached capacity of 2000 riders. There would be no day of ride sign up.

Arggggh. This was a RIDE, not even a RACE.

Why would I pay to ride? I don't need yet another cheesy shirt but I equate the $25-$35 registration fee as insurance in case I need a SAG wagon and free food at the rest stops. Instead I rode 35 miles of hills solo today and there is a ride leaving my house tomorrow that will attack a bunch of more hills. These folks will probably push me a little more that I would push myself so all will be good in the hood

On the other hand, kudos to you organizers of the Bloomin' Metric. I'm sure your ride is getting more popular than you even expected. The bad news is that the Gran Fondo NY 2012 has been scheduled for May 20, 2012 (same day as the Bloomin' typically is) instead of Mother's Day. I'm planning on crushing that Fondo next year. It is one of those revenge type of things so I really don't have a choice.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quote of the week.

"Nothing happens by itself... it all will come your way, once you understand that you have to make it come your way, by your own exertions." - Ben Stein

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Non race report.

I signed up a while ago to race the NYRR Wall Street Run that was scheduled for today. I haven't been running due to my blisters and other assorted foot issues. Since I have been feeling better and my blisters are almost healed, I thought about doing this race even though I haven't run a step in about 6 weeks. I packed up my running stuff and took everything with me to work.

The starting line of this race is right near my office so it is very convenient. The race is short at only 3 miles and so crowded that you really can't run fast until it thins out. Many, many, many people walk this race. I've run this race before. On the other side, the weather report was horrible. Sheets of rain were coming down in the morning but for whatever reason it stopped raining early in the afternoon. The sky looked like it would start raining again any minute and the forecast called for up to 3 additional inches of rain today/tonight.

I figured all I needed to do was get caught in the rain, get my feet soaked again, get more blisters, and not be able to run for another two months. I decided to not do the race due to the risk and head home instead. I still wasn't raining when I got home so I laced up my sneakers, put on a running shirt and shorts, found my Garmin, and headed out the door.

As I was playing with the Garmin while walking down my block, the skies opened up. I figured that this was an omen and jogged home. Total distance covered: 0.24 miles.

Pathetic, perhaps, but I realized I wanted to run and am looking at the next try in some train wreck sort of way. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Reflection and cycling.

As I was lamenting in my gimpyness lately, I had a lot of time to reflect on why I do what I do, what do I like about it, and what I don't like about it. I thought I'd share a few of the tidbits that have been rattling around my brain.

I realized that not being able to run well nor fast is not the end of the world for me. Although this would crush others emotionally, running isn't something that I live for. I run because I have to, not really because I want to. It is hard. My body complains. I am not instantly going to become a fast runner. If I spend a ton of time at running, it STILL won't be a strength for me. Could it be possible that I will run the marathon leg of Ironman under 5:00? No. Is is possible that it will be under 6:00? Maybe but not likely. I think that between 6:00 and 7:00 is the most likely range but over 7:00 is possible too. So the upside of investing a lot of time in running isn't that great for me. Yes, I'll gain some time but it won't be significant. The downside is that more running will keep me on injury road. Injury road prevents me from cycling and swimming. That's the base of my success.

Swimming is more of a hobby for me. I used to think this is my weakest link but I've improved over time to the point where I consider myself average. Yes there are people that swim like fish and that isn't me but I hold my own now. I view the swim stage of a triathlon as a prelude to the bike ride.

But cycling, ahhh cycling. I realized cycling is what ignites my passion. Since I couldn't run, we mixed in more cycling on the weekends lately. The more I rode, the more I wanted to ride. I realized if I couldn't ride, like last summer after my broken wrist and before that after I broke my ribs (and bike), it impacts me on a bunch of levels beyond the physical.

So I had a conversation about this with my coach, The net of this is that we are going to bias more of my training towards cycling and use cycling to drive my fitness. I'm going to cut back (not completely cut out) on the run and let my legs heal. On the rare times when I find some extra time, it will be in the saddle. I'll be riding both days on each weekend and at least one and probably two additional times during the week where some of the hard stuff will be.

I've decided to opt out of the Half Rev at Quassy and do the AquaBike instead. I'm probably not doing the Brooklyn Half Mary but will ride instead and I'm OK with that.

Time to go for a ride. There are some hills taunting me as only hills can.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Quote of the week.

"You never have the wind with you - either it is against you or you're having a good day." - Daniel Behrman

Monday, May 9, 2011

Medio Fondo NY

Last Sunday I rode in the inaugural Gran Fondo New York. The Gran Fondo is a "popular cycling event stemming from Italy. With a peloton of 500 to 10,000 participants, a Gran Fondo covers at least 100 miles and goes over challenging terrain. In France and the UK such events are known as cyclosportives." For the first New York version two flavors were offered: the Gran Fondo at 100 miles with 6600ft of climbing or the Medio Fondo at 65 miles with 3668ft of climbing. I chose to do the medio since my training really doesn't need a hundo (yet) even though my "friend" DrFran kept asking me to consider doing the whole enchilada that he was doing as part of IMLP training. I luckily declined.

This ride was expensive. They included a jersey that was required to be worn to take advantage of the ride support. The start wasn't all that convenient as it started at 7AM on the bottom of the George Washington Bridge so I had to get up in the dark to find free parking (I did!). When I got there and looked around at the few thousand people lined up I noticed that there were very few women riders and a preponderance of hammerheads. There seemed no cheap bikes. George Hincapie showed to ride but didn't wear the "official" jersey. I wonder if he got a banana at the rest stop wearing his BMC kit. It seemed like a lot of people we racing this ride. The announcer advised not to race until after the first 5 miles to let the crowd thin out.

Before the start they had someone sing the anthem. I noticed early on that she seemed to be moving the words around but near the end of the song, it seemed very free form and I thought she was making up her own words. I thought I was the only one that noticed but I saw a bunch of people start making up their own words to the anthem too and laughing.

This ride was hard. It was crowded in the beginning. The organizers controlled traffic well (most streets were patrolled by members of the law enforcement community). There were lots of climbs and it was definitely harder than I thought it would be. It covered many of the "standard" NYC rides with a little bit of extra hillage thrown in. At the end of this ride I was hurting more than after a 70.3 due to all the climbing (Fran's Garmin said the hundo had over 10k ft of climbing). I just wanted it to be over. Unfortunately the finish line was in New Jersey and my car was in New York so I had to ride an additional 4 miles over the George Washington Bridge to get back. That extra climbing was really annoying as I was already spent.

This ride is definitely on the future Rock Star calendar especially if they move it from Mothers Day as promised. Maybe even the hundo.

PS: My friend Mikey called me yesterday and asked how I could get out to ride a long ride on Mother's Day. I answered that my wife, the mother of my children, is a special person, she endorsed this training day and let me gallivant around that morning. Another example of how lucky I am.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

St. Anthony's - the race itself and lessons learned.

Transition was supposed to be open starting at 4:45AM and the was scheduled to close at 6:45. Transition was about a 20-25 minute walk from my hotel and then to get to the swim start I estimated that it would be another 20 minutes or so. Given the time to neoprene up (still hoping), I figured I needed to leave transition no later than 6:30 to make my 7:13 wave start.

I set the clock to go off at 4am but was up before it went off. The first thing I did was to looked out the window and I saw the trees bending over from the wind. Not good. I looked up the weather and it said sustained 20 mph winds. I dreaded seeing what the water conditions were as I ate my breakfast.

As we were walking over to the start I noticed no one going towards the swim start. I heard announcements but couldn't make out what they were saying. I got body marked and then was able to hear the announcer say that the water temp was 78.5 and due to safety concerns they were modifying the swim. The swim was going to start and finish in a different place than originally designed and was shorted to 1000m. They were going to have a wet suit wave after all the rest of the waves. It was still dark out so I couldn't see the water conditions.

I set everything up and walked over to the now new start. The water wasn't as rough as the day before. My plan was to go into the neoprene nation if I had the choice and now I was second guessing myself. I decided to turn my brain off and follow the plan.

Following the plan meant, though, instead of going in an early wave I would be in the last wave. The announcer was saying only a few triathlons (NYC, Chicago and maybe Nations) had more waves than StA. I would be sitting in the sun for 2 extra hours and it was going to be hot (approaching 90F) later in the day. There were three blunders that became evident with this revised plan: 1) I had no shirt on since I left it in transition; 2) I only had a bottle of Gatorade to sip on while I waited; and 3) I needed to put on sun tan lotion. I was proud of myself for bringing lotion but my skill, or lack there of, became self evident later in the day (mostly after the race) when I had racing stripes on various body parts that I misapplied the Coppertone.

About halfway through the waves I started getting annoyed. People were wearing wetsuits and they weren't getting stopped. Maybe the volunteers thought they were wearing legal skin suits (they weren't) but I saw many people go with their original wave. Eventually it was time for wave 33 to go. The water by then was relatively calm. So calm, in fact, I wouldn't have had an issue without a wetsuit but I decided to stick with the plan.

The problem with the new swim course was that there was a lot of running necessary to just get to the water from the beach (it was a beach start). I didn't want to run and blow up my ankle early so decided to walk instead of run. The tide was out, I walked slowly and the rest of the wave participants were at least 25m ahead of me before I even started swimming. I realized, though, I was swimming well. I was passing tons of people at a very conservative effort. My sighting was spot on. I turned for home and popped up after my arms were hitting the bottom of the bay. I looked at my watch and saw 21:14 for 1000m. This included the time walking. The timing mat was on the beach and it took me some time to walk to it so they had me out at 23:01. If I extrapolate the 23:01 for 1500m it would be 34:30. A little slow but with the walking, I'll take it. Later on I calculated this pace over the iron distance would translate into 1:27 so I still have some work to do (my goal for IMFL' swim is 1:20).

Then the true issue with the new swim became evident for someone who can't run. It was a long run (for me walk) to get to transition for the bike. By long I mean my T1 time was 11:00. Really.

Then it was time for the bike. I was feeling good. Mentally I had a decent swim, The wind was kicking up and it was getting hot. The last time I did this race I biked it just under 1:17 (19.6mph) with power at 225w. That was with no swim before but I wanted to start at that power number and see what could happen. My coach told me beforehand that 225w might be a little aggressive due to the heat. When I looked at the download from the power meter it shows that I averaged 226w for the first 30 minutes at 18.2mph so I was right on plan. The wind was impacting my speed a little but that was ok. What wasn't ok was that I felt it was harder than it should be. The heat was impacting me so I ate a gel, drank some water, and stepped it down a little.

Now comes the second biggest blunder of the day. I rode up to the bottle exchange. I only brought one bottle on the bike. There was still some water left in it so I blew past the exchange. It continued getting hotter, I kept drinking and a few miles past I was out of fluid. I stepped it down a little more and cruised in the last few miles. My bike split finished 1:25 (about 5 minutes slower than I expected). I realized the hydration fail was the cause and consciously stepped down the effort so I wasn't too upset.

Second biggest blunder, you say. What could be the biggest? I had planned on walking the 10k. I wasn't going to run since the only thing that would do would potentially hurt me. It was hot. It was late and I figured that I didn't need socks since I was only walking. I had the socks with me in transition but chose not to wear them. I drank at every water stop and was putting ice in my hat while dumping water on me (and in my shoes). At about the 2m mark, I started feeling hot spots on my left foot. The hot spots kept getting hotter. I was walking fairly quickly (for a walk) but were almost limping near the end. I kept a 15:30 pace while walking the 10k. The rest of the TNT crew were waiting for me and we sprinted it in. I had to run near the end - I think it is a rule.

My finishing time was 3:39. That time would be very disappointing to me typically but I realized with an 11 minute t1 and walking the walk, I did ok. I got to race. My blisters hurt a lot and they continue to hurt. Reality set in when I exited the plane on returning to Long Island and the air temperature was 52F. A far cry from the upper 80s/low 90s of the previous few days.

My wife told me, wise woman that she is, that I should write down the lessons from each race and read them before the next race. It seems like I need to relearn lessons from time to time and this will help "educate" me. The lessons from this race are:

  1. I was proud I brought lotion. I was less than proud of all the spots I missed. Learn to be more generous with the application of lotion.
  2. I made a choice to not wear socks since I wasn't running and got huge blisters on my foot. Lesson learned: always wear socks.
  3. Transition closed at 6:45. My wave was supposed to go off at 7:13. Since I did wet suit wave, my wave went off at about 9:20. I was without a shirt for hours. Lesson learned: always bring extra clothes.
  4. I ate breakfast at 4:45 and brought a bottle of Gatorade to sip while waiting to start. I should have brought more food and eaten another meal about 7AM to top off the nutrition. I paid for it later. Lesson learned: bring more food just in case.
  5. I only put one water bottle on the bike and passed the bottle exchange since I had some water left. I was out of water with about 6 miles left on the bike. Lessons learned: Always overstock liquid and never pass a bottle exchange without topping off.

I didn't post any pictures since I looked fat in every one I saw. In this case the camera isn't lying. That is a lesson in and of itself.

Friday, May 6, 2011

St Anthony's Race Report Part 3: Stressful Saturday

The plan for last Saturday, the day before the race itself, started with early open water swim at the race site. I met the TNT faithful and since I swam without a wetsuit on Friday I decided to wear the sleeveless just in case I was allowed to race in it. Hey, one's gotta hope. The wind was howling and the temperature was rising as we walked over the the swim start.

The first thing I saw was white caps. The water was churning. When you stood in water that was knee high the waves were hit your shoulders. The bobbing up and down made it a challenge to see where you were swimming unless you were at the crest of the wave. While I've swam in water this rough before, it isn't an enjoyable experience but I never swam in conditions like this without a wetsuit. Some of the folks were panicing while others just had a stoic face on. We all got the swim done.

Next up was a quick bike ride to make sure the bike was fine - it was. I rested most of the day, checked the bike into transition and headed over to the Team in Training Inspiration dinner. One of the featured speakers was the head referee for the race. In addition to reviewing all of the rules he noted how rough the water was that morning. Later in the day, of course, it was like glass. He stated that the RD really didn't want to cancel or modify the swim but had done so in the past and would if there was a question regarding safety. One of his closing comments was, "The current water temperature is 84.6. This morning it was 82.4. The only way this race will be wet suit legal is if it snows tonight."

I cemented a plan that if I was given the option to swim with a wetsuit, I'd take that option even though it might mean that I would be going off in a later wave. When I went to bed the wind died down and the water was smooth. Even so I went to sleep hoping that Frosty would make an appearance.

Tomorrow's post will be the race itself and the lessons learned. I know you are sick of this story already but humor me.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

StA race report Part 2: Friday

St Anthony's triathlon has a long history. This year was the 28th annual version but recent history has highlighted issues with the swim. In 2007, an athlete died during the swim. In 2009, the swim was cancelled for all AG athletes since the water conditions were so harsh. In 2010, the conditions got progressively worse to the point where they adjusted the swim distance midway through the waves with the later waves going a shorter distance than the earlier waves.

The story of this year, I thought, was going to be the water temperature. Reports were that the water temperature was 80-81 and the use of wetsuits was unlikely. I am not a confident swimmer without a wetsuit, was hopeful that some miracle would happen, and packed both a full and a sleeveless one just in case. Friday morning I had planned an open water swim and I decided to do it without a wetsuit just to see how it would be. I realized that I haven't swam in real open water in a long time due to injuries but most of my open water was in salt water so that wasn't an issue. The water was a choppy and on the warm side (I estimated 80 since it felt a little cooler than my pool which is set to 82) but the wind was kicking up. I did fine but some of the other folks swimming were commenting about how rough it was. After my swim I felt that no wetsuit could be an option even though both times I've raced without a wetsuit can be described as epic failures.

The rest of the day was dealing with administration stuff. I had to check in. I had to get my bike from the transport guys. I had to check out the expo. I only bought some necessities (2 gels and CO2 cartridges) but did buy the 110% compression/ice sleeves for my calf. I thought the idea cool (pun not intended). They were expensive but my wife commented that must be happy since I had everything already else already.

We ended Friday at Tropicana Field. It was an ugly game (Angels 8 with 17 hits, Rays 5). It is always fun to watch how other teams entertain the crowds and baseball, after all, is still baseball. Somehow baseball mellows me out. I didn't know I would need that though but it was good that I did get a dose of mellow.

More to come tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

StA race report Part 1: Travel Adventures

I thought I'd break this race report up into a few parts as there was way too much blog fodder for one post. The first part involves the travel and later posts this week will ultimately lead to the race itself. Enjoy!

The first item of note happened as I was packing for my trip Thursday morning. I found my Garmin 310xt dead. It wouldn't power on even after hitting all the magic reset buttons. I got on the phone with Garmin and they tried to troubleshoot it a while before they declared it a lost cause. Of course, it was no longer under warranty so they asked me to send it back and they would repair or replace it with a refurb for a more than nominal fee. The good news was that I restole the 305 that my daughter stole from me so I wasn't going to race naked. The bad news is that Garmin already had my credit card info on file. The rest of packing was uneventful.

The flight from Long Island to Tampa was less than stellar. The weather was bad with storms the whole way. The flight was delayed slightly on take off and took longer than expected since we had to "go around some of the bigger storms." There was an infant screaming a few rows behind me for most of the flight but kids can't help themselves in certain conditions especially if they aren't feeling right - the mother was mortified and I felt a little sorry for her having been in that place when my kids were younger. What really got under my skin, though, was a group of people of indeterminate age between 60 and 200 that yapped the whole time while climbing OVER the seats. I probably blew it when I offered to help them put their bags in the overhead to make them stop arguing: "you can't lift the luggage since you just had an operation." "yes, I can," "nooooo, can't," "yes, I can," "Myrtle (who was 4'10") you put it up there,"I can't either but don't let him," "blah, blah, blah," etc. I offered to do it for them hoping that they would stop. That didn't work as I got thank yous for 10 minutes since, you know, he had an operation. Then they kept yapping. They didn't shut up the whole trip rambling about nothing. Loudly. "Can you believe they give you a free magazine? Mine has the crossword filled out already. You should ask for another magazine. Oh, stewardess? Can I have another magazine? How about a bag of nuts? If you get nuts, I want nuts too....anyone else want more nuts?" I asked my wife to shoot me if I ever turned into one of those people. She didn't know what I meant because she spent the flight with my noise cancelling headphones on watching an ipad movie. She also realized that my tolerance prior to racing almost disappears and said that they weren't that bad. At the end of the flight one of my new buddies commented how great the flight was. I said nothing but somehow involuntarily rolled my eyes (hey, it happens). Then they attacked (as a pack of 6) asking why I didn't think the flight was great. I answered that the flight took off late, landed late, was rough, and was generally too loud. They thought a moment (thinking the loud was the kid screaming not them) and then said, "You are right. maybe it wasn't a great flight. Myrtle, it wasn't a great flight. Why did you think it was a great flight?" and went on to their next mindless topic as I tried to run away as quickly as possible to the rental car counter.

There wasn't a long line at the counter. We got to the car and found that I got the official vehicle for old people in the state of Florida: a Mercury Grand Marquis. My wife commented that she didn't think that made them any more. I wonder if the old buddies were upset that I got the last one or the rental clerk gave it to me as a favor since maybe I am starting to look like a geezer having turned 50 earlier this year. The feature that stood out to me was that this car had no center console so you can fit three people across the front. Really.

We left the airport and no cars were on the highway so we made good time from Tampa to St. Pete. When we got to the hotel, I unloaded the car and walked through the door seeing no line at the counter thinking that the tide was changing and this would be smooth. At that exact point, every fire alarm in the hotel went off. They started evacuating the hotel. The fire department showed up and I realized my car was parked right in front since I was still unloading. I moved it out into the street. No one could find a fire and after about 45 minutes of waiting they were finally able to check me in at 1:30AM.

The hotel offered to waive the parking fee of $12/day due to the inconvenience and I graciously accepted their offer. Originally I wanted to swim on Friday morning at the same time as my wave was expected to go off (7:13). Since it was now approaching 2am my wife and I decided to not set an alarm and sleep in. This was a wise choice.

Stay tuned for the next part!

Quote of the week.

"Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get. " -Dale Carnegie

Monday, May 2, 2011

Why going to the bike shop can be dangerous.

Before my race last weekend (race report pending) I had an issue with my aerobars. I went to the bike shop to see what could be done. The problem was solved with new bar extensions but I was able to walk around the store unsupervised.

Walking around led to rationalizing that I needed a new carbon road bike. I plan on riding a lot and wanted to mix up my Guru titanium bike with a carbon bike with a compact chain ring for more hill work. That rationalization led to buying a Specialized Roubaix that looks like this:

The crew at the shop needed to build the bike and I ordered a Quarq power meter for it too. All that came in and I just picked up the bike. I plan in riding it this weekend for Gran Fondo NY.


PS: When we left the bike shop after I ordered the bike my daughter asked if we could stop at the book store so she could get some books. I told her books are really expensive and we should go to the library instead. She looked at me oddly and said, "You just bought a bike. Compared to that bike, books are not really expensive. What would we spend on books, $20? How much did that bike cost?" I had no retort.