Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quote of the week

"Winning isn't getting ahead of others. It's getting ahead of yourself." - Roger Staubach

Friday, August 26, 2011

TOBAY Triathlon cancelled.

The TOBAY triathlon scheduled for Sunday was cancelled. Something about the storm of the century, blah,blah, blah. There will be no duke out between me and my daughter. The race organizers are unable to reschedule the race due to the complexity of the logistics but are investigating some sort of financial consideration regarding the registration for the 2012 flavor for the race.

While disappointed, in all seriousness I personally think this was a wise decision given the forecast and safety of the participants. I appreciated the early notice since I could adjust my workouts during the calm before the storm. Most likely my daughter won't be able to consider another tri this year since the high school cross country practices start on Monday. Our duke out will happen some other time (maybe Cedar Beach Triathlon if there are no XC invitationals on her schedule that weekend). There will definitely be crying when that happens. By who is the question.

Be safe everyone.

PS: The biggest question in my mind is what to do about the race shirt? On one hand I can say since I didn't race the race I should never consider wearing it. On the other hand I did everything with this race that I was allowed to do so I, in fact, earned the shirt. What say ye?

Preview of the Tobay Runner's Edge Triathlon

I'm scheduled to race the Runner's Edge Tobay Triathlon this Sunday. I've raced this event before and it has the "honor" of being the first triathlon I ever started and finished. It is a sprint triathlon with a 1k (or so) swim, a 15k hilly bike ride and a 5k run. Last year my daughter joined a relay team with two of her friends and they came in third place in the female relay division. This year she is racing the whole enchilada herself. Against me.

I got her a wetsuit and took her swimming in it a few times. She "stole" her mother's bike (Specialized Ruby) and BikeMike adjusted the fit for her. She spent last week at running camp and ran every day. She is 15 years old and probably like all teenagers know everything about everything. Of course on Thursday she twisted her ankle while running.

Even so, she should take a ton of time out of me on the run since she runs well and I can't run basically at all. This is her first open water swim so I should take some time out of her there but since it is only 1000 meters, how much time can I take out of her? It all comes down to the bike. She climbs much better than I do but I descend much better than she does. My wave is supposed to go off 15 minutes after hers and if I can catch her before the run I have a shot.

Am I a mean daddy since I told her she can't borrow my Zipp wheels?

All this might be moot as Hurricane Irene is bearing down on us for Sunday morning. I expect this race to be cancelled or significantly modified so am riding long on Saturday in the (hopefully) calm before the storm instead of any sort of taper. There are states of emergency already declared. What does this all mean? I don't know.

We won't race if it isn't safe but if it is? Game on girl.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Those who know me know that I work in lower Manhattan. I commute to work via the Long Island Rail Road and most days I take the subway downtown. This story involves my subway ride last Monday.

Sunday I had a workout that seemed to take more out of my than I expected. Perhaps it was a culmination of the training load that I have been putting on my body or perhaps it was just a bad day. In any event when I got up to go to work on Monday I was still toast. Luckily Monday was a scheduled rest day from training but unfortunately I still needed to go into the office to make big rocks into little rocks (or something like that).

When I got on the subway car in the morning I glanced at the other passengers already in the car and noticed something odd. Everyone was ugly. Not one or two trolls with a mix of mostly plain people. Everyone on the car was ugly. Everyone.

I'm typically only on the train a few stops. Some uglies got off and uglier people got on. I then thought how odd it was that no one had any redeeming physical attributes. I hoped to forget this crowd and immediately the images of these fuglies was etched into my memory like scratchiti. I tried to avoid eye contact for the rest of the ride by looking at the floor.

Later that day I wondered if I was somehow caught in the black hole of ugly. Then I actually wondered if perhaps somehow the training load was impacting my perspective. If it was, what else could it be impacting? Could this be a side effect of my training load?

Those questions will go unanswered for a while. In the meantime I hope I don't randomly get on the fugly train again. No one deserves that.

Quote of the week

"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it." - Norman Schwarzkopf

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I went for a run this morning with the goal of traveling 8 miles via sneaker. I decided to run along the Bethpage Bike trail, a venue I haven't run at in a while since I haven't really been running much at all. This trail is a paved mini 2 lane trail that is about 6.5 miles from end to end. I stashed a water bottle at the 2 mile point, drove to the 0 mile and figured I would go back and forth and back and forth to get the 8.

While I can walk effectively without pain (and typically walk about a 17:00min/mile pace), every mile I can jog in the Ironman will save me about 5 minutes. I know that I will be walking a great deal of that marathon but even 12 miles of jogging will buy me an hour. This might be significant.

I decided to try jog 3 minutes/walk 2. I started with this just focusing on the clock not looking at pace on the Garmin. I was doing well but the trail was crowded with runners, many who I know but since I haven't really been running, who I haven't seen in a while.

While "socializing" with many of the long time runners, I thought of this site as the home for the running faction of endurance athletes. Some athletes are able to be in multiple factions (I'm one) but this multifaction group is small. The runners accepted me since I have, in the distant past, been able to run. The noobs to the running crew looked at me oddly, not knowing if I belonged since I was, ahem, slow, but followed the lead of the old school folks who knew and welcomed me. This got me thinking.

If I triathlete shows up in cyclistland with aerobars, they are immediately identified as "one of those." Conversely if a athlete shows up to a triathlon centric group ride without areobars on their bike, they are initially viewed as a noob or "cyclist" type. You need to know which faction you are training with.

Why does knowing factions matter? When someone you haven't seen in a while sees you training, one of the first questions they ask is "what are you training for?" There are many ways for me to answer at this time without showing the wrong endurance athlete DNA. If it is a runner, I'll say "The Hampton's Half" and they'll nod their head or respond with their agenda. If a cyclist, I'll say "Tour of the Hamptons" or "Golden Apple Century" - both acceptable answers. To a triathlete, I'll say IMFL.

If you answer cross faction, you've already identified that you are "different." Not as different as proudly wearing a Red Sox shirt in New York or a Mets hat in Philadelphia, but different none the less.

I did my 3/2 for a little over 6 miles and rather than risk it, walked the rest in. I was happy I got my sneaker time done and tomorrow I have a brick of a 5.5 hour ride at ironpace followed by a 4 mile TT run that I may try 4/1 instead of 3/2. I'm going to do this at Heckscher Park which is typically a triathlete faction venue. I need to remember that if any faction specific queries are raised.

Do you ever inadvertantly cross faction?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Motivation or lack thereof.

I'm sitting here in my swim trunks procrastinating. I'm supposed to be swimming but I'm not. My swim workout tonight is supposed to be 20x100 as a main set and I'm staring at the pool instead of swimming. I'm writing this blog entry instead of swimming. I'm looking to do almost anything but hopping into the pool and doing what I'm supposed to.

I'm not proud of the way I feel but I'm sure almost everyone feels this way some time. I know that I have to do the work. I know that my Ironman is coming up and making the 17 hour cutoff is a serious concern. My run training (if you can even call it run training) is way behind. My cycle training is going OK but my power is off from its peak (I know since part of my procrastination was to look up my tested power numbers from 2 years ago). My threshold test yesterday was at 271 watts for the first 20 minute interval with 261 for a second 20 minute interval. I was proud until I saw I did 261 watts for a whole bike leg of a sprint tri two years ago. My swim training can best be described as I'm sitting here writing this instead of doing tonight's workout. And I'm fat.

I can invent all sorts of excuses but when you cut it to the bone I realize they are just excuses. Either do the work or don't. That's what the choice comes down to.

Sorry for the rant but I need to get swimming.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Quote of the week.

"The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt but in spite of doubt." -Rollo May

Monday, August 15, 2011

Philly Phondo

I don't like blogging about the weather but don't think I can tell this story without focusing on it The forecast called for rain and I was scheduled to ride the 108 mile version of the Gran Fondo Philadelphia as part of my iron training. I figured if the rain was bad I could always step it down to the 73 mile route. I was stressed out a little with the amount of climbing (I thought it about 3000ft but later found out it would be closer to 8000 ft). Yikes.

When I woke up early to get ready for the ride, I first looked outside and from the 18th floor of the hotel I was able to see that it was pouring. Hard. This view was lit up by the lightning and punctuated by thunder. I put on the TV to see the weather report to see if this was just a passing shower and it was raining so hard that the satellite TV signal couldn't make it through the weather.

I ate breakfast, took a shower and generally got ready to ride by loading up my nutrition on the bike and pumping up my tires. Still no TV weather. I hopped on the ipad and the weather report from the local weather folks was abysmal. I went down to the lobby to gauge the mood of the rest of the cyclists. There were a lot of cyclists there waiting it out. I got my bike, put on tri shoes instead of road shoes since I could go sock less (figuring that they would be drenched in moments), donned my rain gear and joined the crew in the lobby. The ride was supposed to start at 7AM so at about 6:40 people started heading out. The rain was like a water fall.

On the ride over to the start, we rode through a few portions where the water in the street was so deep that our shoes were under water while pedaling (yea for tri shoes). All were realizing that this was not going to be a good day. The announcer said that the 108 mile route was cancelled and it was recommended that people choose either the 73 or the 33 mile routes. The riders huddled under trees near the start trying to keep somewhat dry while watching the lightening. Some got on the starting line and the inflatable arch that was going to be the entry to the corral blew over onto some riders. I looked and guessed there were about 600-700 riders out of 1500 registered. We laughed at each other and then, we were off.

About 100 yards into the ride there was one of the volunteers warning that a tree fell down on Kelly Drive. As a New Yorker I had no idea where Kelly Drive was but you had to pay attention since the pack slowed down when the water got too deep. Braking was challenging so descents were done cautiously. I was concerned that the uphills might cause the rear wheel to spin out. Luckily that didn't happen.

The rain, if anything, got worse. The hills made for slow going. My glasses kept fogging up but the rain was so hard it was still hard to see. I did bring some tissues to clean my glasses but it was still dark and rainy. I was taking it easy not pushing it until I came to the first rest stop.

No riders were there.

A few minutes later a bunch of riders showed up complained that they were rerouted off the course. I then decided to go the 33 mile route. I headed back with a whole bunch of riders to the finish and just when we approached the finish, the rain almost stopped. Almost. I handed in my chip and got my medal. The press release later from the Gran Fondo website says "Congratulations to all the “heroes” of this epic day that will surely remember for a long time!" The day was epic indeed.

I rode the few miles from the finish line to the hotel. We spent the rest of the day in Philadelphia and the rain never stopped. We drove home and portions of the highways were closed due to flooding. New York, if anything, got even more rain so it was a long drive home.

While I did less training than I hoped, the day was still memorable. Luckily I have 2 more centuries in the upcoming weeks. Next up, the Golden Apple.

PS: Later on I found out that Philadelphia had almost 5 inches of rain that day, the fourth highest daily total in history. Some areas outside of the city had up to 9".

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Time for some heavy lifting

I knew that at some point in training for an Ironman that the training would ramp up. I've been floating around 10-12 hours of training per week lately as it started consuming more time. Time is one of my most precious commodities.

In the next seven weeks I have on my calendar 3 formal century rides, one half ironman, one sprint triathlon, one half marathon and I'm considering adding a timed open water swim. None of this is with any sort of taper. Note that this only describes the weekend activities as there will be plenty of mid week workouts too.

One the one side of the equation, if I survive, I should be in decent mental and physical shape for my November Ironman. I'll have a good understanding of what I can do if I follow the plan.

Part of the goals for these races is to see if I can, in fact, follow the plan. I might not go as fast as I could but I'll be trial to dial in Ironman pacing and nutrition and follow the plan. That's my mantra these days: follow the plan. If I don't feel like doing the workout: follow the plan. If I want to do more, don't: just follow the plan. If there is heavy lifting, just follow the plan.

Part of the plan is success in November. Follow the plan.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Quote of the week.

"Some men have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can." - Martha Graham

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Answer Key (part 2)

This is a continuation of various answers to random questions. Enjoy!

April asked:
  • What is your favorite- can't live without- running accessory? I could say my ipod (I have many) but I'm trying to break that habit. I can't imagine running without a Garmin. Luckily I can steal my daughter's Forerunner 305 if I forget to charge my 310xt - not that not charging it could ever happen, right? Not having a Garmin while running messes with my mind. Why? I don't know. Will I be able to cure that? I think I have a better shot with weaning myself off the ipod.
Teamarcia asked:
  • What's the ringtone on your cell phone? Here we start to explore the depth of my "issues." I carry 2 blackberrys with me almost all of the time. One is for work and the other is for my personal emails and such. They have different standard blackberry ring tones so I can easily tell work vs. non work. I am on call 7x24 since I manage staff worldwide. Additionally, I bought a mini phone to carry when I run since I dropped a blackberry while running one time. It was picked up by another runner on the trail and I got it back a few hours later. I don't even know what the ring tone sounds like on this phone as I only use it for emergencies.

Lisa asked:
  • What's your favorite season, and why? I am a big fan of autumn. Winter can be too cold and the leaving for work/getting home in the dark gets old. Spring has too many allergies and running around with end of school year kid's activities. Summer I seem to run around too much. The weather and the demands on my time are best in fall.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Answer Key (part 1)

A while ago I asked the blogosphere for questions about me that inquiring minds may want to know. Since then I've been to Lake Placid, vacation, and have tried to squeeze in my training for my upcoming events so the effect of this is that I've kept a bunch of you on the edge of your seat waiting too long. So, without further ado:

Kate asked:
  • What's your best race memory? One year I was racing El Tour de Tucson and my family was along the route to cheer me on during the 109 mile race. At about the 80 mile mark they were waiting for me at one of the rest stops and when I pulled up my daughter had her camera pointed at the desert. I asked her what she was doing and she answered she was trying to get a picture of a real live tumbleweed. That put me in my place.
  • Favorite vacation spot? I actually have two. The first is Pine Lake Manor in Greenville, NY. This is where I was last week and my family has gone yearly there since I was 12 years old. There are hokey activities, cell phones rarely work, fishing, basic accommodations, history and family dynamics. The second is our house outside of Disney, Memory Maker(see , that in addition to renting out for short term rentals we have to, just have to, stay ourselves from time to time. When we stay we need to take advantage of being 10 minutes from Disney.

GeorgiaSnail asked:
  • How do we keep Reyes & Beltran? Beltran is gone, Reyes is injured, and Wright played short yesterday. The season, while not officially over, does have a fork partially stuck in it.
Big Clyde asked:
  • Have you always been into racing, or did you come to it in recent years? I was very active when I was in high school biking and running seemingly everywhere. After I graduated I got fat and had a few false starts in trying to renew my athletic challenges. A friend of mine did an event with Team in Training and I figured if he could do it, so could I. I bought what I thought an expensive bike to prevent me from guilting out and finished the 2004 Mountauk Century. I lost a lot of weight and thought I was a fairly strong cyclist. Then I branched out to running and triathlons and have kept at it. I'm not as strong as I thought but measure winning differently now than I did when I was younger.

Stay tuned for more soon! Not too late to ask if you missed the window.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Vacations are tiring.

Last week I was in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York on vacation with the family. I still had to train since I still have races coming up and feel, as most people do at some point in training for an Ironman, that I am way behind and can't afford to be a slacker. Swimming was out but I brought my bike, kicks, and a separate piece of luggage just for the workout clothes along.

I found, though, the biggest challenge was where to ride in a land that you normally do not ride so had to "invent" some routes. This was rural riding as compared to suburban which I do most of. Some obvious problems with rural riding are lack of cell phone coverage if lost or if in need of rescue, being able to describe where you are in case of need of rescue, not knowing places to refuel along the way, and being able to know how long it would take to get back from somewhere remote (someone was late for dinner one day). During these rides I noticed:

1) Cemeteries are normally at the top of a hill that you've never gone up before. If you don't see one, keep climbing.

2) The first rule of cycling ("what goes down must go up") seems to apply more when you don't know where you are heading. This is even more relevant if you are in an area with "mountains" in the name or heading back.

3) There was a lot of dead varmint on the road. I saw dead snakes, porcupines, deer, raccoons, squirrels, birds and skunk. Note that you taste dead skunk before you smell it before you see it.

4) But not all the varmint were dead. On one ride I was just biking along minding my own business and I heard heavy panting that wasn't coming from me. I looked behind me and saw a German Shepard sprinting at me only a few feet away with saliva dripping from his fangs. I dropped the hammer to get away from him and was successful. My coach looked at the power file later and commented that I almost joined the 1000 watt club on that sprint. See what motivation can do? I'm expecting next week's workouts to build on that power level though - "Dude, you proved already that you can do it!"

5) The second rule of cycling ("the wind is always against you") is especially relevant when you are returning (hopefully) via an unknown route.

6) Riding along county roads seems better than state roads since they have less traffic and seem in better shape. I think these points may be related. I did ride into a road work crew finishing up some new asphalt one day. Really local roads can turn to dirt at any time.

7) We did sneak away one night and saw Yo-Yo Ma with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. With two kids that are string players, it seems like I'm going to more and more classical music concerts. No, the crowd didn't hold up lighters at the end. (note that they don't do that anymore so I'm showing my age - they hold up cell phones instead).

I was able to ride about 125 hilly miles (5500 ft climbing) including an uphill threshold test (2x20' @ 267/258w np) and include 4 short "runs." Today I was completely tired but we had the travel home as a rest day. I get to celebrate my return to civilization with a flat 4 and 4 Sunday (4 hour ride followed by a 4 mile TT run). We'll get the hour glass out to time that run.

Part of me wants to sleep in before that workout tomorrow but part of me wants to get in done before the heat kicks in. Think I'll take a nap today and decide in the morning. Maybe even take a nap afterwards too. After all, vacations are tiring.

So is Ironman training but, as my wife keeps reminding me, "it is supposed to be hard." Tired now will lead to success on race day.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Quote of the week.

"Once you say you're going to settle for second, that's what happens to you in life." - John F. Kennedy