Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolutionista statements and questions

  • Hey Fatso, I know what your resolution is!
  • Cardio while reading a novel doesn't count as high intensity?
  • The volume of grunting isn't proportional to effort?
  • Cannonballs are not allowed in this pool?
  • Is a lap there or there and back in this pool?
  • I don't sweat so I don't need to wipe off the machine.
  • Isn't my watch cool? Do you know how to use it?
  • Is it ok if I water jog in the same lane you are swimming in?
  • What about my friends too?
  • You are supposed to ride a bike more than 12 minutes?
  • How long does it take to run a mile?
  • Is it always this crowded?
  • Are you supposed to wear underwear under your bike shorts?
  • My goal is to run a 5k marathon.
  • I can't take pictures of you working out and post them on Facebook?
  • What do I do with my cell phone while I'm on the treadmill?
  • It isn't polite to stare?

Monday, December 24, 2012

December ramblings.

  • There could be lots of reasons why I haven't written a blog entry lately but the net of it is that I haven't. No excuses. Fact.
  • I've been traveling a lot recently. Sleep overs in New Jersey and London were the most time consuming. I have a lot of work travel to plan. Dallas, Singapore, San Fran, Prague, Hong Kong, Tampa, and Boston need to be queued up.
  • Getting PLAGUE on the way home from London in the petri dish known as American Airlines sucked. (The doctor said it was the flu, not PLAGUE, but I'm still a little messed up).
  • Our treadmill was fixed but I haven't used it yet.
  • I'm no where near being ready to run a half Mary in less than 3 weeks. In fact, I really can't run at all although I've walked 6-7 miles or so one a week in addition to some other training when not suffering from Plague.
  • My daughter, in contrast, seems ready for Disney having thrown down a 10 spot last weekend with the running club. I walked 6.
  • Losing all this time has made the holidays sneak up on us. Can we just delay it a few more weeks?
  • I really don't like email holiday cards. Seems too impersonal. Especially when you have to remind yourself who that person actually is - most commonly a vendor wanting to sell crap.
  • I like picture christmas cards but not when I can't recognize the kids in the picture as they have changed so much.
  • The NYC marathon resolution has been published. The lesson that I learned was do not cancel until the last minute. Since I cancelled 3 weeks earlier I do not get a refund. Don't know what options I do have but rescheduling it for 2014 would have most appeal to me. It will be my first marathon.
  • I'm so fat that I can't fit into my clothes any more. Need a self intervention. Don't want to buy fat clothes again but might have to. Christmas cookies aren't helping but this is the key to my year.
  • My 2013 race calendar is set. Two races in Florida, one in New York, and one in Tempe are the highlights.
  • Training is going slow but going. The indication of real triathlon training is when I'll be swimming. Thinking about kicking that up this week and either masters swim or private lessons after the New Year.
  • Merry Christmas to all.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Those who know me know that I have a love/hate relationship with my treadmill (and there ain't so much love involved). I've had a LifeFitness T55 treadmill for a while and never felt we've gotten the value that we paid for it. It was expensive.

A couple of years ago when I ramped up the use of it we had issues where the treadmill would randomly shut off mid "run." It would immediately turn on when you repressed the start button but was very annoying. My wife called for service and was told that it was still under warranty for parts but not for labor. The tech came and told us we just got it in before our warranty expired. He did his magic and while the problem still randomly occurred it was usable. He said that there may be a problem with the quality of the power but we never looked into it.

Last week while I was on it for a very casual workout, it died again. This time there was a slight smell of smoke and it would not power on again. It was dead and I have to admit I had mixed feelings.

If the 'mill was just under the warranty last time there was no way it was covered now. We decided to go look at the new treadmills to see how the offerings have changed. My wife and I both consider ourselves technologically savvy. We believe that there is a change upcoming where tablets (iPads or the like) will be used to control this type of equipment. There will be a software revolution that additional capabilities with updates to a controlling app. There will be the treadmill equivalent of a CompuTrainer where the incline will adjust to a video to give a virtual reality feel. This revolution will also cut down on the cost as the electronics wouldn't need the initial investment by the treadmill manufacturers.

Unfortunately, we are more innovative than the equipment manufacturers. We found they are going that way but very slowly. Also, treadmills are not cheap. We were originally looking in the $4k and up range but got a little frightened to what the "and up" turned into. Our quest turned to the internet since we didn't want to make a large investment into something that would be rendered obsolete shortly.

My wife found out some of the next generation treadmill information. It seems like LifeFitness was one of the more innovative companies so she called to see when these products would be available. Their road map was long with the first step on this journey happening later in 2013. While on the phone she tried to get an estimate on fixing our existing one.

Their first estimate was about $750 with the caveat that no one checked out the unit in question. Some newer treadmills have lifetime warranties (excluding labor). The person on the phone said that ours came with 5 years and since we bought it in mid 2006 it was out of warranty. My wife noticed in the instruction book where she got their number it said we had a 7 year warranty.  If 7 years, we are covered! The person on the phone said if our book says 7, we get 7. Seems odd but we'll go with it. It'll be about $200 for the labor but that beats thousands for a new one.

They said a tech will contact us. We asked to have him bring all the parts that went into the $750 estimate. Out treadmill is dead. I hope it gets fixed soon.

Once fixed, I can start hating it again.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A change in plans. Ironman Arizona 2013

My plan for a long time was to not register for Ironman Arizona in 2013 but to register for the 2014 flavor of this event. The primary reason was that I believe that the 2013 event conflicted with my 20th wedding anniversary and I couldn't imagine Mrs. Rockstar enjoying this milestone with me in either post race stupid syndrome or gimping around like I was post IMFL2011. Reality is that I wouldn't enjoy it much either so I point blame on her. There were some secondary concerns around my body composition, medical aches and pains, and squeezing in the actual training. Also of a concern is that my oldest daughter will be in the final push for applying to colleges. But then, while stalking the people doing the race this year, I saw that the 2013 race was not scheduled for November 24 as I expected but on November 17 instead.

I thought the race would be November 24 as Thanksgiving in 2013 is scheduled for November 28. I thought the race would be the Sunday before (as it has been) but somehow the race is the week before. This would give me enough time to recover and immediately became a viable option.

I emailed my coach to get his view (previously he said that IMAZ would probably be next for me if I ever wanted to do another Ironman). While waiting for his answer I broached this idea with my wife. Her primary concern was that I need to be supportive of my daughter in her college quest. She said during my last Ironman training I was a bit useless to the family spending my time between training and being a zombie from training.

My coach emailed back stating that we had plenty of time to get ready training wise but he was concerned about my physical state. The doctor and I have a tentative plan. I figured if I could register online before it closed out, it would be an omen. Some magic happened and I got an email which started:

Dear RockStar,

Thank you! You are now registered for the 2013 IRONMAN Arizona - IRONMAN......

Sunday, November 18, 2012

This and that.

  • Hurricane Sandy cleanup on Long Island continues. This sign was on my run this morning. There was some of the path was cleared but other parts were not.  Clearing a running trail shouldn't be a priority compared to the impact that others still have.

  • I entered the lottery for the 2013 NYC triathlon. I was rejected. I decided to enter via the "Champions Club" as plan B This seems to be a scam where you pay an extra $250 to get an entry to the 2013 race, a gym bag, 2 tickets to a special waiting area, and the ability to bypass the lottery for 2014.
  • I thought about signing up with Team in Training but decided against it. I might do St Anthony's Triathlon with TNT but I'll see if I get in via conventional registration first. That registration date is 12/1.
  • Just need to dial in a 70.3 for the tail end of 2013. I would think Shoreman in NJ the leading candidate. Beach 2 Battleship and Rev3CP are still under consideration but there is a lot of travel involved there.
  • NYC marathon is still under consideration.
  • Plan is still IMAZ in 2014. I thought about moving it up to 2013 but decided to stay with the plan.
  • Cablevision is an evil company. The most recent examples are that they are making people apply for refunds for during the Hurricane Sandy recovery time rather than just applying an appropriate credit. The second example was when we lost internet/phone, and cable again yesterday they would not even look into it, after waiting on phone for 15 minutes of advertizing because not enough people reported the outage so it couldn't be real. 24 hours later it is magically fixed, no one showed up, no one called.
Saw this sign on my run too and thought it great but probably not the context it was meant. BTW, doesn't everyone have a flag on their bike?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Taking the medical over

One of my nieces graduated from medical school last spring and is currently a resident doctor at one of the local teaching hospitals. A second niece is graduating from medical school next spring and is in the process of applying for residency positions expecting that the last year of med school will end favorably. My sister added a PhD in Nursing to her resume a while back which included being a RN and a NP. My mother was a nurse in her day. My older daughter is starting to look at colleges for her undergraduate studies and is expecting (at least today because it seems to change rapidly) to select a pre-med program with the expectation of becoming some sort of a doctor.

Not without knowledge in the medical field, I seem to be expert in seeing doctors and getting ambiguous answers. Or no answers. Or seemingly unlimited follow on appointments. Or misdirection. I gots skillage (to paraphrase the youth of our country).

Today I saw an ENT. I originally went to him a few weeks ago to diagnose the chronic coughing that has plagued me since June. After that initial visit, he sent me for CAT scans and to see three other doctors for tests. Today was supposed to be the test review meeting.

He said they found a whole bunch of things wrong with me (surprise - not!). For one issue he is recommending minor surgery on my sinuses. He wants to try diet and drugs for some others. After his spiel, I asked the simple question if any of these "findings" could be the cause of my cough. He said probably not. I asked could I have had these "issues" for my whole life. He said maybe.

He saw where I was heading on this and then played the doctor scare card. You know the story: it probably isn't anything serious but what if it is? My biggest issue was trying to determine if he was sincere or if he needed the bucks before ObamaCare really kicks in. Maybe he wants to retire soon. Maybe he wants to book this revenue before the so-called fiscal cliff raises his tax rate.

Whoa there RockStar, this isn't an economics blog so get back on topic. BTW your finance degree is grossly out of date. Sorry.

The doctor said to give this a try and see if it does cure my cough. One of the findings is that I'm allergic to almost everything. The allergist is recommending allergy shots that I don't have much faith in. So I'll try the diet. I'll try the drugs. I'll see when we can schedule this surgery and I'll continue to train. This must be the carpet bombing approach to medicine.

I wonder if they teach that approach in med school or not yet. If not, I'll invent it and it will be named after me. Of course, it will only work if my cough actually goes away. I believe the over/under on the quantity of more doctors to see is 5. I'm taking the over.

Maybe I should go to med school. Bet I would see fewer doctors that way.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Old people walking in the mall

One day last week, according to my coach via TrainingPeaks, I was supposed to get in some sneaker time. I haven't been running yet but have been doing all of these time based workouts walking. On tap was 50 minutes, potentially with hand weights.

Life post Sandy on Long Island is a bit different than before. While the lights are coming back on slowly but surely, this night had miserable weather and no dread mill available for me (due to the lack of power not the hate of the evil hamster wheel). I couldn't walk inside, I couldn't walk outside, so where should I go?

The mall.

I knew there is an army of old people who walk the mall every day. While most of them are there in the early morning, I went at night. I started doing a lap at a decent pace, zigging and zagging to avoid the shoppers, happy with myself being a genius on how to get this training in. I thought I was doing good when it appeared that a pace line of 80 year olds were almost sprinting in front of the Apple store. They dropped me like a bad habit with them not even breaking their conversation while they were wearing their vintage Member's Only jackets. Have you ever seen an old person sweat. I don't think they do.

Each lap took me about 13 minutes and I ultimately got my workout in. A few of the old folks passed me and I passed a few back. I was determines to not get geezered in the mall, let alone during races. I felt I was getting my game face one.

I forgot that this was their turf. They had home field advantage. They deftly knew which stores would have a lot of traffic in and out (for example, the teen emporium of Abercrombie) vs. which stores where a few months from closing (for example, the 2013 calendar store with the clerk trying to stay awake). They may not know how to use a cell phone without yelling at it but they can adapt to the weaving and sudden stops a teen texting up a storm. I tried to draft off the fogies for a while and then I realized that I was out of my league.

Christmas shopping is starting soon. This may be the mall walker Olympic season. I think I can try the mall again only in January and start at the bottom. Maybe in about 40 years I will have enough experience to compete with them.

Then again, maybe not.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Butt Crack Cycling

Before spin class last weekend everyone seemed to be celebrating getting power restored (we got ours finally back late Thursday). If you don't have electricity nor heat, contemplating going to the spin asylum to warm up a little starts looking attractive. Note that the hot yoga place was also trying to attract people to swing by to charge up their electronic devices while sweating with the gumby barbies but I wasn't that desperate. I considered it but felt spinning felt a more attractive choice.

That was about to change.

Once the class started in earnest the instructor had everyone out of the saddle and I felt a breeze where one should never feel a breeze. Since the wash was still backed up due to no washing machine I was reaching to the bottom of the cycling short bin for shorts that haven't been worn in quite some time. Apparently, these shorts were carriers of the disease of butt crack cycling.

Every time I was out of the saddle I could tell this would be an issue. Luckily the class was not full but the rows behind me were full. I now had a choice to make: be oblivious to the butt crack on display or try to hike the shorts up repeatedly. I chose the hiking method.

This proved difficult over the course of the hour long class. It did distract me so the class went faster than usual. When it was time to leave, I didn't look the people behind me in the eye and wanted to get out as quickly as possible.

Wonder if I'll get stink eye the next time I go to a class. Even so, I'll probably wear a different pair of shorts. I expect to use the oblivious play then.

That will be a much more attractive choice.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

One future of politics

With the impact of Hurricane Sandy (which seems to be going through a name change to "Superstorm" Sandy) still being battled here on Long Island, my view of the various elections was somewhat different than in past years. I'm not going to go into party affiliations or beliefs during this post but more observations of being unplugged in. I have no TV or internet (or power) at home but most of the TV coverage I did see had to do with recovery from the hurricane anyway. I did listen to some radio but the same political ads played over and over in between the hurricane coverage. Social media seems to have a tendency to ignite passion within people but I understand that can be passionate for what you believe in as likely as being passionate about something that you think is evil.

With that context, it seems that several candidates and/or parties believe that the road to being elected has nothing to do with the issues. Vision is not important. The ability to realize that vision isn't relevant and should only be thought of after the election results are in. What is most important these days? Fund Raising and Negative Advertising. This is one future. We can let this happen or steer it in another direction.

Do you want to elect the best fundraiser or the best leader? Do you want to elect the person who hires the best marketing team or the person who can put together the best team to govern? The irony is that it may be the same person but we may never know that.

Another future could be for more getting more involved earlier. Separate the facts (which are always interpretations anyway) from the rhetoric. Be closer to the issues and constructively help solve problems.

Tip O'Neill was one of the earliest to say "All politics is local." Fixing politics is local too. If your candidate lost it might be time to get more involved. Same if your candidate won.

PS: We'll return to our regularly scheduled triathlon and training rants shortly. This weather is making training a challenge for me.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thoughts and questions around the NYC Marathon

First, a little level setting and apologies in advance for the venting.

I was scheduled to run the NYC Marathon in 2012. I deferred my entry a few months ago as my training wasn't what it needed to be. In fact, my training was nonexistent. I deferred at that time so that I would have the option to register for the marathon in 2013. I understood that I would have to pony up the funds again but that was the deal (at that time). I haven't determined if the marathon will be on my calendar for next year yet. I thought I had time to make that decision.

I completely agree that the Marathon should not have been held. I think the communication around the initial non-canceling and subsequent canceling was horrific. I also think that there was no consistency with sporting events in the city. Yes, opening day between the Knicks and Nets was cancelled but the Knicks played a game in the Garden, the Nets played a game in the Barclay, and the Giants hosted a game last weekend. I believe that these activities diverted critical staff (police, etc) from the recovery efforts even though the claim is not. There is, of course, a public relations aspect to it as to convince people that NYC is open for business but it is not fully there as there are areas of the city still in crisis. I have yet to go into the city as trains are still limited, lack of gas is preventing driving in, tunnels are still closed, and other stuff. My office in lower Manhattan doesn't have heat with suspect electricity even today. Other buildings won't be inhabitable for a while. Portions of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Long Island, and New Jersey are much worse. There is a nor'easter expected this week to pile on.

Back to the marathon though. When I deferred the deal was that I would get the option to register without going through the lottery again. Will there even be a lottery for 2013? Will they give any credit for the people who paid full freight in 2012 in 2013? Typically they say no refunds mean no refunds and I can understand that some of the entry fees were already spent. A local tri which was cancelled in 2011 due to Hurricane Irene gave the option for 2011 registrants to enter at a reduced fee prior to opening up general registration in 2012. This worked well but NYC marathon is a much bigger scale.

There is the question of appearance fees for the pro runners but I'll let them work that out them work that out.

In essence, though, everyone deferred for the NYC marathon in 2013. Do they set up different classes of deferrals based on when they deferred? If everyone eligible for 2013 reregistered, would there be any slots left? I think there would be but how many of them would be filled with the 9+1 guaranteed entry program. Would that program even still get someone in or will they cancel it even though some people already did the 9 races with one volunteer.

NYC marathon is a bucket list event for many. Coming in from out of state can get expensive. People spent a lot of money to not race in 2012 that may not be able to pay that price again. Training for a marathon means investing a lot of time that may not be possible next year for some participants as well.

Canceling wasn't an easy decision. I'm sure there will be more hard decisions for the 2013 Marathon. This crisis has realized that communication is paramount to manage expectations. Hope this lesson is learned by all and we'll hear the policy and procedure decisions as quickly as possible without impacting the recovery.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Overly Optimistic

In my post the other day reviewing the direct impact of Sandy on me (after all it always is all about me), I painted a relatively upbeat picture. Since then, though, some things have changed.

My daughter is a junior in high school and was scheduled to take the SAT on Saturday. Most of the schools where they were offering the test still had no power. We got an email on Thursday that explained that she would be unable to take the test that day and they'll let us know when and if it would be rescheduled. This was disappointing as I think my kid was ready to crush this test.

She then came to the realization that since school was out, we had no internet, we had no TV, and most of the town was off the air, and since her parents have been nagging her about college thoughts, this might be a good time for a road trip to check out some schools. She originally wanted to head south towards Washington DC, Baltimore or Philly but I explained that travel through NYC wasn't good. There is a ferry to Connecticut that seemed to be running. Although I couldn't go due to work, I said if the ferry was running to go for it and figure it out on the way. They hit the road.

My wife invited one of her friends and family over to watch a DVD and recharge their phones. I didn't care as I was going to break the ice with a workout on the trainer. As soon as they came over, wham, the power went out. Everyone left.  I saw lights flashing at the end of the block and walked down to see what the deal was.

I asked if the power went out or if they took it down. The power guy said they took it down. I thought that good but asked where the crew was to fix the tree, etc. and he said they weren't there yet. I thought it odd that he had police escort and he commented that he knew it sucked that we had power and only then lost it. He gave no ETA but I thought it a short time that I would be out of power.

I couldn't do my workout since I was planning on using the Computrainer (that needs electricity). I broke my freestanding bike trainer last year and never got around to replacing it. Blunder. I went to bed early but woke up to no one working our issue.

Friday I went to work. No power at home.

Saturday I bought an old school fluid trainer, did my workout, and lamented how out of shape I am. It was hard to follow IMFL with the spotty cell service and no internet.  Congrats to all who got it done. I heard it was a hard year. Still no power.

Now it is Sunday. I still have no power. The family had a great time in Boston looking a schools, visiting friends and my daughter even went to a concert. I woke up to 57 degrees in the house, no hot water, and 36 degrees outside. I went into my local office (which has power) to charge my phone and laptop. Don't want to drive too much because of the lack of gas. Rumor has it we may get power restored by Wednesday. Maybe.

Still, we're better than most. The estimate is that 100,000 homes are uninhabitable. People have lost everything. Many are lucky. I count myself in that group.

PS: I thought about signing up for IMFL2013 but then decided to stay with the plan. Luckily internet isn't that available since if it was, I could see myself accidentally signing up. Doubt my wife would think it an accident though.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy Review

We did better than most. Everyone is safe. Even though there are many trees down in the neighborhood, none of ours fell. We had some friends (aka refugees) stay over as they were evacuated from their home south of us. Their home is still standing without water damage (it stopped a few feet in front of their house) while others in their neighborhood are not so lucky.

We are in the minority as we never lost power. We had some flickering and a period of brown outs but all is good. Reports say 90% of homes on Long Island are dark. There is a massive tree down at the end of my block that took out two poles but the current is still running. The power folks say that in order to fix the wires on the ground they will need to take down our power. I would expect that to be a short time hopefully.

Driving is still hazardous due to trees across the road and more traffic lights are not working than are working. Cell phones don't really work, our land lines are hard down, no internet and no cable is available. My daughter said she had to do her current events homework "old school." I asked what that meant and she said she did it by reading the newspaper. Imagine that.

I can't make it into NYC as transit is still down. I was able to get to my alternate office so starting to be back to routine. Everyone I've checked with so far is safe. Schools are closed but no guidance available on when they will open again.

Prayers for the victims. Be safe and be well.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Noah is my hero

I was recently reading a bunch of articles on how to race an Ironman. One of the most interesting sound bites that resonated with me came from Endurance Nation. To paraphrase, there is a difference between building a vessel and operating a vessel. Race day is about operating the vessel, not building the vessel.

Training time, in contrast, should focus on building the vessel. Right now I have no vessel but need to build one with the raw materials (me) that I have. While they aren't the highest quality materials I do have some time. I realized that the StA triathlon is six months away so the time is about right to start.

Noah didn't start building the ark when the rain started, he started it way before so it would be ready when he needed it. I need to start training now to be successful next year. So the offseason is officially over, the coach has been called, Training Peaks is set up to start pestering me with the workouts, and I need to figure out an eating plan. Eating everything and a lot of it doesn't seem to be working so well for me.

The rain for Hurricane Sandy has already started here. This storm is real annoying as I couldn't even watch/record the IM Kona special since the TV kept breaking away to the politician's news conference that kept saying the same thing over and over. They didn't break into the football games as they used the split screen approach. Even so I believe that the Kona special is more impactful to me after I've completed an Ironman as compared to before.

Don't think I need an ark for Sandy but I need to build a vessel for the 2013 triathlon season. Time to start building.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A question of Iron protocol

My wife was having a lot of problems with "her" minivan. I use the quotes as although it is "hers," I frequently drive it. It had the unofficial moniker of the SAGmobile as it often was the vehicle of survival when bike rides went awry. It was also a great consolidator vehicle for biking road trips as it could seat 6 people with 4 bikes on the back. The main problem was that the car just stopped running randomly. This became a safety issue as it happened while at highway speeds as well as just driving around town. This issue was seemingly unsolvable, even by the dealer on multiple occasions. It got to the point where my wife vowed never to spend another minute of her life in Chrysler's service department.

We decided to break away from a minivan, traded it in and ordered a new car. The new car just came in the other day. We are enjoying the new car smell and all seems good. I happened to be at the Runner's Edge today and a saw the emblem above for sale. I didn't buy it as there were two questions in my mind:

  1. Am I breaking any sort of protocol by putting this on a car that I didn't own when I actually finished my Ironman?
  2. As this will be my wife's primary car, should it even have the emblem on it?
While we waited for the new car to come in my wife was driving my car. She did comment that driving a car with a 140.6 sticker on it didn't concern her except when she pulled into her tennis club parking lot (with the gym attached).

So, do I buy the emblem, wait for Santa to bring it for Christmas, or move on?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Spin Class Visualization

I've been becoming a regular in the Saturday morning Spin class at the local studio. During today's class my mind wandered a bit as it is wont to do during these classes. I found it interesting as to where my mind took me versus where it did not. Does this happen to you?

Most of the time during spin class my mind pictured me riding El Tour de Tucson. I've done this ride twice but the last time was in 2005 when I first started on this adult onset athletic disease. I started thinking I may need to swing by Tucson for a ride. This year seems out but maybe next year. I would then volunteer at IMAZ and sign up the next day. Could be a plan.

I also pictured myself doing hill repeats up Bear Mountain in upstate NY. I didn't ride Bear this year but  am looking forward to doing it many times next year with my friends training for IMLP. I thought fleetingly about riding up there in the next few weeks if the weather cooperates but don't know if my fitness is up to the point where I can do effectively the 3.5 mile ascent that averages 5.1%.

I did not think of either IMLP or IMFL's bike courses and wondered why a little. It is coming up on my one year anniversary of IMFL so there will be some recollections going through my brain shortly but they weren't there today.

The final thought that bounced around my feeble brain this morning was that I may not be in as bad shape as I thought I was. I get through these classes without issue and really don't think that I have any concerns on being able to do any similar class. Daughter#2 has said that she would be interested in trying a cardio kick boxing class. She needs a chaperone so I may be giving that a shot soon. Part of me was thinking that maybe I raising my kids to be athletic but a different part of me was thinking that I would be so inept at cardio kick boxing that they might ban me forever. We'll see as I'm leaving it up to her to show some initiative.

I haven't done any training yet for the Disney Half in January as compared to my daughter#1 who ran an easy 8 this morning (she is racing Disney with me as her first half mary). Think I need to mix in a little sneaker time soon.

Bit by bit I'm on the road back.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Interesting case

It is never a good place to be when a doctor says you have an "interesting case."

This phrase appears to be code for "we have no idea what is going on so we're going to continue to look." Today was a visit to the ENT to determine if there was evidence of reflux. Apparently reflux is the third most common cause of a chronic cough and/or breathing issues. Who knew? Reflux causes inflammation and the cough is in response to that irritation. Of course when a doctor asks you if you have reflux and you don't, every subsequent meal seems to generate some level of heartburn. I was also advised to take some preventative antacids, just in case reflux was the cause.

The antacid didn't seem to do anything and when the ENT looked down my throat he found no evidence of reflux. Another dead end.

But with an interesting case, it cannot end there. He did find a few abnormalities. First,  he saw I have nasal polyps. I've had them in the past and they come and go normally in response to some sort of allergy. When they were really bad in the past, I've had them surgically removed. I haven't had to have the surgery for over 20 years so I though I was good. I don't consider them really bad now since they do not obstruct my nasal airflow. The doctor  recommended a CAT scan to see how extensive they are. He said this may be the cause of the cough and breathing as the polyps may be obstructing sinus draining causing irritation. He recommended more detailed, up to date, allergy testing. My sense is that when winter really kicks in I'll magically be cured. Of course, I don't want to repeat this next summer.

The strangest thing he found was that one of my vocal cords wasn't working right. Can't tell if this was a symptom, cause, or result of my breathing and coughing. Even so it wouldn't be a visit to the doctor if he didn't call for more tests.

In the meantime, I'm starting some training with the goal of really training November 1.  My diet has remained poor so there is no surprise that I gained a little over a pound in the last month. I have to get back into the exercise mindset and found spin classes work. Next up is swimming.  When I told my coach was I was doing he asked how I felt. I told him I felt out of shape.

That, he said, we can fix.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Remembering spin class.

I've been getting upset with my lack of physical activity lately. My wife commented to me that if my blog has turned into complaining about football and hockey then something needs to be fixed. She offered to do whatever she could to help me out.

The problem with exercising with your spouse is if you are at very different skill levels. My wife plays tennis. I do not. When I try, I break myself. I did triathlon stuff. She did some. There was a time when she was cycling to prepare for a bike tour that we took in Napa Valley but that was a while ago. When we rode we rode at very different paces. It made training together difficult. Forget about having to have one to chase on some kid activity.

My kids said that their practices started at 10AM on Saturday. I decided to see if we could do a spin class at 8 to be home in time to start the carpools going in time. There was space available and I booked two bikes. The girl answering the phone asked if I had ever been there before since I wasn't in the computer. I explained the last spin class I took at the spin studio had to be about a gazillion years ago. Maybe it was 2 gazillion years ago.

When we told the kids what we were planning, my oldest said she remembered she was wrong about the start of her XC practice. It started at 9 instead of 10. We told her to get her own ride. She put on a pout face but was able to get a ride. We did have to drive someone home from practice but that would work.

I was wondering how cycling shorts would feel expecting the worst. It is great that these shorts stretch a bit. The bigger challenge wound up being finding my mountain biking shoes for SPD spin class. It took a while but I eventually found the right shoes.

On the way to the studio my wife commented that she viewed this as a date and it was frightening how our dates had changed over the years. When we got there the leader recognized me and commented it had been a long time. My coach does not believe in spin classes as he feels you can get more out of a target power workout. I generally agree with him as the power file analysis that I've done with these classes show the level of effort typically lower than a stand alone but my fitness level is so low I figured that anything is better than nothing.

The class was fine even though I started looking at my watch 20 minutes in to see when it would end. My breathing held up. I didn't wear a HRM as I didn't want to focus on that too much and just wanted to finish the class. I started remembering what it must feel like to ride a bike. When the said to make the effort harder, I reflexively started shifting like I had a STI shifter. That didn't work (hey moron you are on a spin bike) but I'm still glad we went. I finished strong and thought maybe my fitness wasn't as bad as I thought.

I think I need more social exercising to get me back on track. This spin class worked so we need to do it again. Having the company to do it was great.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Team loyalty

This weekend, while watching football, I came to realize that I am becoming less of a New York Jets fan. This realization bothered me.

How do you become a fan of a team? I grew up mostly a hockey fan and a baseball fan. My father wasn't really a sports fan so I don't know how that really happened. Why those sports over others? I don't know. We did have a then minor league hockey team near by, the Long Island Ducks. It was more of a "Slap Shot" type of team that folded once the Islanders were created. I could never watch the Islanders since you had to pay extra for that channel on cable and that wasn't happening in my house. The Rangers, in contrast, had more games on free TV. In college, I went to Hofstra University which was across the street from the Islander's Nassau Coliseum. We watched the games in the local bar and often I was the only Rangers fan. That was fine by me then. They were my team.

Baseball is more obvious. My grandfather was a die hard Brooklyn Dodgers fan. I don't think that he ever got over them leaving for Los Angeles. All this happened before I was born but he remained a baseball fan so he had to find a different way to root without team loyalty. He hated the Yankees. He couldn't have any sort of allegiance to the Mets as they were a "sand lot" team. His solution was to watch the Game of the week and every Yankee game on TV. Yankee game? Yes, but he rooted against them. Every game. He wouldn't even call them the Yankees. They were the "Prima donnas".

I was a Mets fan but it became hard to root for them in the Vince Coleman/Bobby Bonilla era so in the 1990s, if you asked me, I would have probably said that NHL hockey was my favorite sport. In 1991 I bought a share of season tickets for the NY Rangers with 5 others so it worked out that I went to a game every few weeks. I somewhat religiously watched the games on TV and sometimes even listened in on the radio if I was in transit. I was in MSG when they won the cup. I had a wardrobe that was further enhanced by many of the 94 Stanley Cup champions. After they went on strike the last time, I told them to keep their tickets. I haven't watched a game since. Now they are on strike/lock out now. I don't miss it.

I am still a Mets fan. Yes, they do not have a good record but that doesn't matter so much to me. I realized that while results count, how they go about their business is important to me. Why? I don't know but I want to be able to see they are trying their best, that they are honorable to the fans and themselves, and they care.

I do like watching pro football on Sunday afternoons. I watch the games while I putter around the house or sometimes on the bike trainer. MNF is too late for me and I never got into college football (my college doesn't field a team any more). I'm finding the professionalism of the NY Giants is making the Jets look bad. This has nothing to do with them winning the Super Bowl last year but compare that the all the flash backs to the Jets melt down last year hurt. The Tebow situation doesn't help either. They say "ground and pound" but that isn't how they are playing. It appears that they really don't have a well thought out plan or approach.

I am going to stop watching them? Not yet but I find myself wearing my Jets jersey less and less. I'm afraid of a trend happening here and hope they do something to right the ship. The biggest problem I have is that I don't think the Jets think this is even a problem. That will kill my (and others) loyalty to the team and it could take years to recover.

Doubt this? Ask the NHL.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Current events homework

C: Daddy, I have a question.
RS: Ok.
C: I need a topic for my social studies project.
RS: What's the assignment?
C: We have to write a paragraph on a current affairs topic dealing with different societies.
RS: Any ideas?
C: What about that guy who gave a speech?
RS: Which guy?
C: You know the baseball player who died?
RS: Which player was that?
C: I dont know his name but he had a disease named after him and he died when he was 23. He gave a speech about him being a lucky guy.
RS: 23? Do you mean Lou Gehrig? ALS?
C: Yea, that's the guy!
RS: He wasn't 23. He was much older..... like 37.
C: Whatever.
RS: And it wasn't that he was a lucky guy but he was "the luckiest man alive." He was a Yankee.
C: I don't like the Yankees.
RS: Where did the 23 come from?
C: That must of been how old Michael Jordan was when he got AIDS.
A: Michael Jordan didn't get AIDS. You mean Magic Johnson. And he has HIV, not AIDS.
C: That's right.
A: Michael Jordan's number was 23.
C: That's must be where I got that from.
MrsRS: Where did this ALS come from?
A: She is reading "Tuesdays with Morrie" I bet. Morrie had ALS.
C: Yup, but I'm only 20 pages into it. Don't ruin it for me.
RS: None of this is "current events." Do you know about any current events?
C: Of course I do.
RS: What about the ambassador who got killed?
C: I saw that.
RS: Do you know why he was killed?
C: No, the news blip on the iPad only said he was killed, not why.
RS: What about the redistribution of wealth and the election?
C: Nobody cares about that.
RS: Some do.
C: I still think the lucky guy story will work.
Mrs.RS: All the facts are in there but the connections are a little off.
C: No they aren't.
C: He died.
C: He gave a speech.
C: He had a disease named after him.
C: I know my stuff.
RS: Good thing it is still early in the school year.
C: I know my stuff.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What a lack of diagnosis can do.

Today I had a follow up appointment with a pulmonologist regarding my coughing and breathing issue that I've been experiencing since June. This appointment was supposed to be a while ago but for some reason the office of the doctor who I was seeing kept canceling appointments. I had to take a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) to see if there was an issue directly in my lungs or something else. After I took the test, the office cancelled my appointment for the 4th time. I decided to see another doctor. I asked for them to send me the results of the tests and they refused due to office policy. I was almost to the point of siccing a lawyer on them when they faxed me the results. I wonder if the doctor even knows this is going on.

So the new doctor looked at the test results and said it all looked good. There is no issue with my lungs. No asthma. No bronchitis. Everything seems to be working fine. Yet I am still coughing. He believes that the coughing issue is related to some sort of inflammation either from allergies, acid reflux or something else dripping. When I introduce training load, it makes it worse. He pointed me at take some antacids and make an appointment with an ENT to take a look down my throat to see what is going on.

I haven't been training and feel very out of shape. There is no way I'll be able to do a marathon in 7 weeks. I doubt I'll be able to do another event at all this year. I told the folks at Team Aquaphor that I won't be able to meet my racing obligations with them and while disappointing, they understood. Good group of folks on that team.

All the major items of concern have been eliminated so on that hand I'm happy. I'd like to have a real diagnosis to be able to solve this and move on but that doesn't seem to be happening. Even so, I have the Disney Half Mary on the calendar in January. I'm doing that race even if I have to walk it.

All you can do is all you can do. I can do this.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Garmin Ant Sticks (or not).

I've been a long time Garmin user. I currently have 5 Garmin running/biking thingies in my household: Forerunner 305, Forerunner 310xt, Forerunner 910xt, Edge 500, Edge 705. Some have broken over time. I've replaced them. Some under warranty. Some not. I recently snapped my second Ant Stick off my laptop. Argh.

I wanted to see if there was an option to getting (and breaking) a third as I felt that the Ant Stick was a flawed device. It probably is OK for a desktop but for a laptop, it sticks out too much on a laptop. I do not have a desktop computer (that I can use) at home. After some searching I found DC Rainmaker's review of the Suunto Movestick Mini. You can find the review here.

The price for the Suunto and the Garmin were about the same so I ordered a Suunto via Amazon. I plugged it in and so far so good. I've only had it a short time and only used it with the 910xt but hope springs eternal.

Consider this a public service announcement. If you are plagued like me with this issue you may want to consider this option. I have received no compensation nor product nor anything for this write up (I don't consider it a review as I couldn't rival Ray's).

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Update in Bullets

I went to San Francisco for a technology conference for work last week and was unable to update the blogosphere. Rather than craft an eloquent post I thought I'd just put out some bullets:
  • I didn't race last Sunday at the Tobay Triathlon as I woke up not feeling great in the breathing department.
  • My 16yo daughter did race in her first grown up tri. She did a relay a couple of years ago with some of her friends but this was her first solo effort.
  • Since I was registered I was able to go into transition with her to make sure she was set up ok.
  • My younger daughter decided to help out by volunteering in one of the water stops.
  • My daughter had a great race. She finished 4th in the under19 AG. Her run time was faster this year (by a second) than her standalone run time in the relay two years ago.
  • She was originally disappointed in 4th until she found out that the podium was 5 deep.
  • I guess she is fairly photogenic as her pictures while racing are in the various local newspapers.
With respect to the conference in Frisco:
  • The cool SF weather was very refreshing. Walking the hills while the temps were high 50s was much more civilized than 90s (which is what I came back to in NYC).
  • The homeless people in SF were much more visible and aggressive than those in NYC. Thank you Rudy.
  • I haven't been to a tech conference in a while. There were very few young people in attendance. Most of the people at the conference were in their 40s and 50s. I'm concerned about the future of technology in our country. It seems like we've either outsourced the next generation or just pushed them away from technology. Either way, we lose. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.
  • With the national party conventions happening, I'm wondering if the politicians are concerned about the right things. Next up, Democrats. Confidence is low.
  • While away, my eating was horrible. I'm getting very frustrated with myself. I know I need to address this but for some reason I'm not. My mantra for for my Ironman was "It comes down to you vs. you." I'm losing that battle now but can't give up.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The lure of the finish line

Tomorrow I'm supposed to race the Runner's Edge TOBAY sprint triathlon. Less than 24 hours beforehand I don't know if I'm going to race or not. The plan in my mind keeps changing.

I'm really not ready to race. My breathing issues haven't been cured yet and I have follow up appointment scheduled. The swim in this race is 1000m or so. I might have swam that distance once or twice in the last 9 months. I rode the bike course last week on my race bike and had to walk up a hill (a 14% hill but walking is walking). Running is, well, running. There will be a lot of walking if I do this at all.

Does any of this matter? How great is the lure of finishing?

It will be my daughter's first grown up tri. She will toast me. Most of her friends have bailed. Since I'm a registered racer I get to go into transition to help her set up so I will be at the race anyway. If I don't race, I will cheer her on.

If I do race, the wetsuit should help my swim knowing I'll be in the drink for a while. I can bring my old man road bike that has lower gearing and the course should be ride able. If I walk the 5k, so be it. I might come in last but there are 1500 racers so I should finish before a few - not many but a few.

So the plan now is to get ready to race and see what tomorrow brings. Maybe I'll race. Maybe I won't. I need to realize the lure of the finish line will be strong. Can I resist that temptation? Should I?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Quote of the week - H.L. Hunt

“Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.” - H. L. Hunt

Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympic thoughts

Now that the Olympics are over, I've started thinking about the sports that should be dropped or added. I'm sure there are more but here is a short list:
  1. Tug of War. It was an Olympic sport from 1900-1920 but hasn't been held as an official sport since then. There is a movement to resurrect this for Rio2016. I wonder how serious people could get cheering for it.
  2. Rhythmic Gymnastics. Why is this a sport? I don't like sports that are "judged" on a subjective manner. I prefer sports that are unambiguous - who gets to the finish line first, etc. While it is cool to watch like a Cirque du Soleil , if this is a sport wouldn't whoever hula hoops the longest warrant consideration for a medal?
  3. Equestrian events. Does the horse get a medal? If not, isn't the variability of Trigger's skill have a large impact? They dropped other animal sports like polo a while ago. If they bring back polo, imagine the marketing synergy possibilities.
  4. Make the cannonball a required dive. The splashometer can help judge. The referee from the Canada/US women's soccer game might be looking for a gig.
  5. Why is there no half marathon?
  6. I am not a fan of the opening ceremonies nor closing ceremonies. Why do these gala's need to be wrapped around the event? At least with the superbowl it is during a short halftime and there is always another option (like the Bikini Bowl or a Beavis and Butthead marathon).
  7. If ping pong is in, why isn't darts or foosball? Beer pong anyone?
  8. Curling. 'Nuff said.
The best line that I heard was that if we can spend billions of dollars to get an international competition of gym class or color day, why don't we try something like math?

Which am I missing?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Do you train to race or race to train?

This was one of the first questions that my coach asked me in my first meeting with him when we were considering setting up a coaching "relationship" back in the day. At that time I couldn't imagine anyone who raced to train after all, isn't racing and racing fast the goal?

Well, not for everyone and not necessarily now for me. That doesn't mean that I won't be racing though. I stated the other day in a post that I'm targeting 2014IMAZ. I will be racing that day but what about between now and then? In this world where you need to sign up for a race a year in advance, some prior planning is required. Two years prior may be a bit excessive but let's work backwards.

Consider it a given that I'm racing IMAZ in November 2014. I'll need a late season relatively flat (to simulate IMAZ conditions) HIM to test pacing and nutrition. Either Shoreman70.3 in Port Republic, NJ (I used it for IMFL) or Mighty Montauk at the end of Long Island would suffice. The beginning of 2014 is open as I just want to fit something in.

2013 will be getting lean, getting healthy, getting strong and getting fast. The get fast I'm going to race most likely shorter. Right now I'm targeting StA olympic with TNT, shooting for NYC OLY to represent team Aquaphor and some late season race. I might try to dovetail the same race for 2013 as I'm thinking for 2014 to measure improvement.

2012 is a wash out for me medically so far but there is hope that I'm on the road to recovery. Signs are looking up. I have a tri on my calendar in a few weeks but I'll probably do it just for "fun." This means probably walking the 5k and coming in close to last. I've also signed up for a 10 miler and a half Mary leading up to this pesky marathon in NYC in November. Will that happen? I don't know. I've been walking long (last weekend was 7miles) just in case.

Here is where it gets interesting. I believe in testing frequently. Testing can be done as part of a workout (the dreaded 2x20 on the bike, or 3x300 in the pool, or 5k on the run) or as part of an official event. Those events can be viewed as supported testing sessions. There will be more than a few. I won't be training for them. They will be training themselves.

So almost everything for me is racing to train. It is a different mindset that I'm still wrestling with. Do you train to race or race to train?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Quote of the week - Dr. Seuss

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” - Dr. Seuss

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Trinity of Iron

There are 3 things I need to change in my quest: train right, get healthy, and lose weight. I'm calling them my trinity of iron. If I miss one of these, I'll fail in my quest. So, what's the plan?

Of the three, training seems the least complicated to me. Yes, I went through the USAT coaching class and I'm sure I can design a plan that will work. Another option would be to get one of the template plans and adapt it but I think it is better for me to engage a coach for the training. I've worked with Coach Mike Monastero from Long Island Tri Coach and Babylon Bike Shop in the past and I know he can design the workouts necessary for my success. I feel that Mike works well with me, can get me in a good place for my goals, and is a match in philosophy.

I'll supplement Mike's sage advice with some focused swim training. I haven't been to master swim class in a while but think that these classes will make me a stronger swimmer. My plan is to spend the rest of August getting back in the pool and then do one master class each week. I've also worked one on one with Danielle Sullivan on my swimming leading up to IMFL2011. Perhaps she'll be interested in giving me a different perspective from time to time. We'll see.

None of this matters if I do not do the training. Finding the time will be my biggest challenge. I do have to work for a living. My job consumes a lot of time. My commute is long. I will have to travel for work. The plus side of the equation is that I can do almost all of my training in my house. I have a Computrainer. I have a treadmill. I even have an endless pool. It is difficult for me to train during weekday mornings and during my IMFL training I often started my workout after 9pm to get them done. I did miss some from time to time but I need to be more diligent. An open item is how to make sure I'm accountable to my coach and myself.

But how much time do I need to invest now? My target is 2+ years away so there is no need to start the 20-25 hour training weeks now (if fact if I did I would break). I'll leave it to Mike's judgement but I'm looking to train an hour a day during the week and perhaps a little longer on the weekends (as life permits) trading duration for intensity. I'm going to try an experiment of a Wednesday double where I run in the morning to try to mix in some Yoga at night. I hate Yoga but even if it doesn't help me physically I think it may help me mentally. If not yoga, I know I'll need some sort of social workout with other athletes. In the winter, spin classes kick in with the tri club or investigate if there is something athletically I can do with my wife (Ironman is a team sport in case you don't know).

The getting healthy component is the next least complicated. I do have some ailments and physical limitations. Some may never get better. Some may get worse but I still have hope that enough will improve to the point where I can be successful. I'll never be perfect but rather than lament on what I can't do, I have to embrace what I can. I have plenty of doctors advising me on the best path for success and I need to listen to them. My current breathing issue is the most pressing. Next most crucial are my legs (knee and feet in particular). Patience for this patient is paramount but I can't be passive with this.

The last leg of the trinity is losing weight. I've done it before. I've done Weight Watchers and have had success with that. I've tried NutriSystems and that wasn't as good for me. I've consulted with a nutritionist in the past and that really wasn't a match for me. Perhaps I need to try a different nutritionist.

My doctor said, wisely, that any diet can work if you follow it. No diet works if you don't though. My two biggest eating disorders are that I eat out too much and when I do I make poor choices in content and quality. The old joke of the food here sucks and the potions are too small doesn't apply to me as the portions are never too small. Speed often trumps quality to my detriment and portion sizes have exploded for me. I think it more habit than need.

My solution is pre-planning. That is, I need to plan my weekly menu in advance and dovetail my dinners with the rest of the family. I need to eat breakfast home before heading out to work. I probably need to start bringing lunch more frequently (I'm going to casually ramp this up). Typically I do OK eating-wise during the week and fall apart on the weekends. When something disrupts the plan, I'll need to adapt.

Writing down what I eat vs. plan will help me succeed (don't worry this blog won't become a picture of every meal that I eat!). I've used to track this in the past. TrainingPeaks supposedly has a feature for this too and it has the advantage of that is where I track my workouts and training sessions. That may warrant some consideration.

There are a lot of plans above and they definitely are things that I need to focus on. The trinity of iron visual will help but it will all come down to me on this quest. I wish it was as easy to do as to write about it but it is not. Every journey needs to start somewhere.

Friday, August 3, 2012

H.B.A.G. (Hairy Big Ass Goals) and Needs.

"The greater danger for most of us isn't that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." - Michelangelo

The day after IMLP many of my friends were signing up for the 2013 version of the race. More than a few went up to Lake Placid to volunteer to get to the front of the registration line. Others were taking the chance that they would be online as it opened to the people not onsite. In years past the registration has been sold out quickly. I seem to recall one year where it was closed out before anyone online got a shot to register. Other years where it was open for only a few minutes. Promptly at noon I got my first text from Mr26point2 (who completed his second ironman the day before) to sign up. I checked it out , found it open, but didn't sign up.

Later that afternoon I continued getting calls and texts to sign up from friends who were "in." I got texts organizing groups to training for the race. Other groups were already scheduling when to go up for camps. All seemed amazed that it was still open. I went to the site a few more times and even started filling out the registration but I did not sign up.

Why not?

My wife asked me if I needed an Ironman to get back on track. I said I think I did. She said that I needed to get back on track and while Ironman is intrusive, even though she thinks I may think it not, we'll figure it out together.

Back to registering for Placid. I thought about it but my brain did kick in a little. Placid is the wrong race for me. When I first considered attempting an Ironman I realized that the climbing for that race really doesn't match my body composition. It is relatively close to my 'burg. I've been there. I know the logistics. While I've ridden the bike course at Placid a few times, I found my weight and the hills don't mix well. (of course one the texts that I got said that I wouldn't have as much of a weight problem if I trained but that is a different, though related, problem).

Then I thought: What about IMNYNJ? Again, not an optimal course for my athletic abilities (or lack there of). It is much more convenient with the course less than a 60 minute drive from my house without traffic. It is a new race. There are a bunch of friends that are volunteer captains already and I'm sure they would not turn down my help. Rev3 Cedar Point is another option but if I do another Ironman I want it to be an official Ironman race. No offense to the Rev3 folks but I feel there is a difference in the atmosphere with a branded IM race. There are other races, some earlier and some later. IMAZ seems an ideal venue for me. While I haven't ridden the course in real life I often pop it in the Computrainer. But 2013 IMAZ is the week of my 20th wedding anniversary. A racecation for me is not the best way for both of us to celebrate. Also, would I even be ready?

The short answer is no. I can't do 2013 since I'm expecting to spend a lot of weekend time with my daughter checking out colleges. If I shoot for 2013, there will be conflict with road trips and I don't want that for either me nor her. Can I train and still look at colleges? Yes but the training focus will need to be on shorter races and losing weight. I need to do that anyway so that takes racing Ironman in 2013 off the board.

But IMAZ in 2014? That could work. I have the blessing from my wife and everything. My daughter should already be in college (a frightening thought in itself).

This raised a different question in my mind: What do I want to get out of Ironman? I've already proved to myself that I can finish. Although I walked most of the "run" at 2011IMFL, there was never any doubt in my mind from the beginning of the run that I was going to finish before the cutoff. That was my goal and I met it. I realized my goal in almost every endurance race I've attempted was to simply finish.

This time I want more than just to simply finish. I want to race well. What is racing well? I'm not talking Kona or anything like that but a 75 minute swim (I did 85 in IMFL), sub 7 bike (7:14@IMFL), sub 6 run (a blister ridden train wreck at IMFL but it really didn't matter to me since I knew I had it), add on 20 minutes for transition (27 in FL) and you get 14:35. Round it and say sub 14:30. Be happy with sub 15:00. HBAG#1. Book it.

What do I need to do that? I need to lose weight. A lot of weight. I raced IMFL at about 270 lbs. Two years ago I weighed 245 and I seem to recall a little lower (but not in the 230s). Since then my weight has steadily increased to now where I'm over 300lbs. The start of the weight gain seems to align with my second bike accident where I broke my left wrist and got stitches in my right hand. It stopped my training cold and while I think that I got the training part back for Ironman, I never got the eating part back.

My definition per BMI of not obese is 234 (I'm 6'2"). I want to race IMAZ at less than 230. HBAG#2.

It is great to want something but I can't just want Ironman. I have to need Ironman. I've coached many athletes during the iron "decision" and ask all "why do they want to do this?" I know there will be times during training that I won't like myself. There will be times where I don't like what I'm doing. There will be times where I'll be so tired that I can't think straight. There will be times where I won't be a pleasant person to be around. I will doubt why I'm doing it. I need to have a need to keep me focused.

I need to be the person I can become not the person I am now. Even though there is so much good in my life now, I need more. This quest will get me there.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Quote of the week - George Lorimer

"Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible." - George Lorimer

Monday, July 30, 2012

Chicken or Egg?

I've recently been wondering if my weight gain, lack of desire for training, generally sub par performance, medical issues and declining fitness level is the result of not enjoying my training or is it that because I am not enjoying my training, all of these other things are happening. In other words, a classic chicken and egg quandary. There could be some debate on the medical side of the house but could it have been that my iron fitness masked these issues but now that my fitness has declined these issues that have always been there are now more impactful?

My wife has mentioned it is obvious that I am not enjoying training. It seem more that I am "having" to do versus "getting" to do it. Since I "have" to do it, I can't remember the last time I was proud of a training session. My power numbers are low. My endurance is low. Since all this training does, in fact, have an impact on my family's life, there is a cost associated with this. If I don't enjoy it, could that cost be reinvested elsewhere with more return?

I recently went on vacation now with my extended family. We go to the same place in the north end of the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. I brought my bike since the riding in the mountains, although hard, I typically consider fun. I also brought running clothes even though running is rarely considered fun for me. The weather was not cooperating with thunder and lightening storms for the past few days. I was woken up by thunder at about 5:30am Sunday morning. I tried to sleep in but couldn't. Since breakfast started at 8AM I decided to go out on the porch, read a book, and watch the storm until pancake time. This was about 7AM and the storm, while not as hard as earlier, was still going on.

I saw a runner running towards me on the road alone. In the rain. Drenched. With thunder rumbling. She wasn't running very fast but she was getting it done. Then I realized it was my sister. She was completing her 3 mile morning run to get it done before breakfast. I was sitting in a chair reading a paperback.

After breakfast, my daughter appeared in her running clothes and said she wanted to go run. While the sky was still very dark, the rain was slowing. I asked if she wanted me to rescue her if the storm really kicked up a but. She said no. I think she was running more to clear her mind more than anything else and since she runs much faster than I do, I let her go without me. I kept reading my book.

I would be a much better story if I then said the hell with it and went for a run. There was a time where I would have been that one running in the rain. The one that everyone said was crazy. I might have complained about it the whole time but deep down I probably would be enjoying it, at least a little. At the end, I would have been glad I did it. But that isn't me now. I thought more about why that is (or is not) and realized a few things.

I'm not ready to give up on this. I know what I've lost. I want it back. I need to do something different.

There needs to be some changes in the blog. I find that the happier I am, the more I blog. Chicken or egg? I don't know but let's see.

There needs to be some changes in my training. I need to change the focus because what I doing now is not working.

There will be some changes in my eating habits. That is the biggest issue I have in more ways than one. I've found that my food choices are now about as bad as possible.

There needs to be some changes in my goals. Defining success clearly is a better way to know if I met it or not. There are two corollaries here: 1) Better being the enemy of good enough; and 2) I don't need to boil the ocean. My Iron man quest took years. Maybe I need a hairy big assed goal to keep me focused.

I am treating this as almost a restart from the beginning. Consider it an egg. Or maybe a chicken. I don't think that anything one thing in particular will fix this but it will be a series of small adjustments. Over time, though, minor adjustments can have a huge impact. Either way, the journey is taking a different route. It won't be a short cut but I'm thinking it will get me to a better place.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Penn State Student Athletes

I think some disclosure is necessary to begin. I am not a college football fan. Yes, I used to watch bowl games on New Years Day when they were on New Years Day but now that there seems to be a bowl game almost every day in December and half of January so I don't really watch them. I have never gone to a college football game in person and the college I attended, Hofstra University, dropped its football program a few years ago. See this link for more details on that.

When Hofstra disbanded its team, the student athletes were made to make choices. They either had to find a new school/team or decide to stay and not play football. Hofstra offered to honor the scholarship commitments to the existing scholarship recipients but the student athletes needed to decide to be either or. I don't know how many decided to stay and how many decided to go but the stress that they were under by this decision that they were forced to make was no fault of their own.

The current Penn State student football players are also in a situation that is no fault of their own. They simply made a decision to attend Penn State or accept a scholarship to PSU that was probably the best decision they could have made with the facts known at that time. Last fall's season probably wasn't the best season to be a Penn State Football player. The future, though, for these athletes will be different. I don't want to predict if that future will be better or worse.

Yes, the players can look for another school. But being able to join a football team at another school doesn't mean that academically these individual students won't pay a cost. I may be naive but some of the student athletes may be actually attending college to get an education rather that using the college football program as an NFL minor league. Some may be going to school to get a degree or, gasp, perhaps learn something to prepare them for the rest of their lives. Most schools do not accept transfers of seniors. Many have degree requirements that could extend their time in college. No, most of these athletes are not going to the NFL. I wonder if the NCAA realized that they were students as well as athletes.

Did the current crop of players do anything wrong related to the cause of the sanctions? No. What about the players who played on the teams that got their wins vacated? They didn't either. While not to the extent of Sandusky's victims, the current student athletes are victims. I feel sorry for them. Don't know if everyone (or perhaps even anyone) in the NCAA does.

PS: If they had a poll asking which figure was the pedophile do you think more people would pick Paterno or Sandusky. What about in 5 years?

PPS: Wonder if taxpayers need to chip in for the $60MM fine (forget about the other fines from the Big10,etc). After all, it is a state school and I think that some of it is funded by state appropriation from tax dollars . Just a thought.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quote of the week - Clint Eastwood

“Sometimes if you want to see a change for the better, you have to take things into your own hands.” - Clint Eastwood

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

AG Cheating

I've recently read a couple of articles on cheating in sports. With the Olympics coming up I thought this somewhat expected but this article put it a completely different light:

Why a different light? Because I did that ride (after all it is always about me). First I thought how dare he dope. I wasn't offended that he was stealing a podium spot from me because there was no way ever that I would podium in that race. He did, though, steal it from someone else. But then I thought about it a little more.

This race was very expensive. A portion of the race fees (that I paid) in some manner were paying for these drug tests. I didn't know that they were testing (I wasn't looking for it) but I would have thought it ridiculous that there were testing (in retrospect there were not ridiculous). Apparently they were quite overt in telling everyone that they were testing. I missed it but would have opted out if I could. Not because I dope (I do not) but because I'm cheap. And had low expectations.

What kind of person could do this? A cheater. Who is he cheating? Everyone, but mostly himself. Where would it end?

John Post put out a good blog before I saw the other article as well with some interesting examples. it can be found here: In it he quotes John McGuire USN, "If you'll cheat yourself, who won't you cheat?"

Put in a different perspective: Would you hire a person like this? Would you like to work with them? For them? Would you like to train with them? Would you like to race against them?

Yes, people can make mistakes. People can be forgiven. But if it was me I wouldn't be able to forgive myself. That's probably why I don't and wouldn't cheat.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Open Water Swim, really.

Today I swam in Oyster Bay. The significance of that statement will become obvious once the following points are understood:
  • The last time I wore my wet suit was last November. In Florida. Racing IMFL.
  • I haven't been swimming much at all.
  • I have no excuses as to why I haven't been swimming. It is even worse when you realize I have an endless pool. In. My. House.
  • My friend, Mindyruns, sent an email out yesterday asking if anyone was swimming open water this morning. I responded that I would be interested in joining her if she found something. She found a group that was swimming part of the TOBAY sprint tri course. She said to bring a bike since they were going to casually ride the bike course after. Some might even do the run too. (I had no dreams of being in that "some").
  • I woke up early and stayed in bed figuring out how to wimp out.
  • Since I couldn't find any reason (said tri is coming up soon and I'm registered) I started looking for all my swimming stuff.
  • My stuff was where I expected it to be. Victory or another reason to not swim avoided?
  • Put the bike in the car too and headed to the meeting place. Got there and there were about 20 people.
  • The bay was relatively calm.
  • Put on my wet suit. Even though I'm fat I'm not so fat that my wet suit didn't fit. Another victory.
  • Jumped in the water. Realized salt water still tastes the same. my goal was to swim slow to make sure I didn't have breathing issues - the weather was just about perfect with air temps in the 60s and water temps in the mid 70s.
  • I started in the back. After what seemed a long while, my arms were getting tired. This long while was a whole 5 minutes per my watch.
  • Swam a little more to a sign that said 5 mph speed limit. Turned around and headed back. I had no issue making sure I was not swimming faster than 5 mph.
  • Got out and deemed it a success swimming a monstrous 20 minutes.
  • Got on my bike and rode most of the course.
There were no breathing issues so I guess I can swim more. I celebrated by taking a nap when I got home.

PS: Later Mindyruns emailed me that she found out that the beach was officially closed due to high bacteria levels. Oh well, this could have been a real excuse but I blew it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Quote of the week - Martin Luther King Jr.

“If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Medical Update

About a month ago I had a fail during the Harpoon Brewery to Brewery ride which caused me to DNF at about 50 miles in. You can read about it here. Unfortunately this medical story didn't end at the race.

In the weeks after the ride, my breathing got worse. I was coughing more and more and couldn't really train with any intensity. Then it got to be where I was having breathing issues just in my normal day to day activities. Even going up a few flights of stairs turned into an issue. Although I hated to do it, I made an appointment with my doctor.

As a kid I had bad asthma. Most of the time it was allergy induced but as a grown up, by virtue of my training, my breathing ability was better than most. The doctor saw me struggling doing almost nothing, and immediately put me on a couple of rescue inhalers, He prescribed an antibiotic just in case something other than allergies was causing this. He said since last winter was so mild in the northeast, it has been a brutal allergy season for many. Since I spent a lot of time outside, I probably was exposed to more allergens than I could handle. Once I went over the magic threshold, a bad cycle began with my breathing and I never was able to recover. He hoped the inhalers would break the cycle and suggested to see a pulmonologist for a consult to see what he had to say.

After I took the inhalers, I had immediate relief. Not 100% relief but pretty significant. When I saw the pulmonologist, he did an initial breathing test. It showed that my breathing was probably 75-80% of "normal" which is different than "endurance athlete." He found that the inhalers seemed to have stopped the madness and that I was clearly on the road to recovery. He adjusted the inhalers and recommended that I ease back into training with an additional workout inhaler. He said to "ease" like a normal human being, not like a crazy iron man triathlete type of person. He figured that it would still take me 6-8 weeks to be fully back to where I was before this and that we'll do a full work up then. That'll be my baseline in case something like this happens again. Also, the earlier we catch it, the avoidance of it getting to crisis mode is more likely.

The good news is that I'm on the road to recovery and the prognosis is good. I can start training but need to keep intensity low for a while. I'm not racing Musselman70.3 this weekend (with the lack of recent training there was no chance of success anyway) but hope to race a few sprint tris this season (I have a local one the end of August). NYC26.2 is on the table but the early mileage will be walking, not running.

I realized that you can't take breathing for granted. You don't realize how much you need it until you can't. Luckily I can now so "game on."

Tales from the road.

  1. While in Maine getting gas in the car, I saw a sign in the attached Circle K that all sized fountain drinks were 69 cents. There was only one size cup though.
  2. When I told my kids, D1 commented "Circle K is a real place? I thought it was some sort of historical place from Bill and Ted. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K." I had to bring them there to prove it existed.
  3. I am still a bigger fan of 7Eleven.
  4. I found a 7Eleven in Maine! Brunswick in case you were wondering where.
  5. There is very little air conditioning in Block Island. Most of the time this isn't an issue due to the sea breezes but our hotel had a rooster who announced his presence starting at 5:45AM. I was unable to shoot that damn bird.
  6. My wife a reservation at a Comfort Suites in Freeport, Maine. When we checked in they told us we weren't allowed to smoke in the room nor have any pets and we had to signed that we understood these rules. I got the bikes and the front desk clerk said they didn't let bicycles in the room but don't worry they had a space behind the hotel for the bikes to be stored. I explained that these were $10K of bikes and that wasn't going to happen. She said we couldn't have our money back since the room was pre-paid. She saw my New Yorker this is going to get ugly face starting and changed her tune by crediting our card back. We went next door to the Super8 hotel and saved $50 for the night with no bike issue. Bad job Comfort Suites.
  7. The next night we checked into a Comfort Inn in Augusta without a bike issue.
  8. I found these places to "run." First, the Kennebec River Rail trail:
  9. Then I found this sign along the Androscoggin River:

  10. This path had a little outhouse:

  11. Before we left I couldn't get my camera to work (I took these pix with my phone). When we came back my wife found the receipt and we were less than 1 week before the warranty expired. She took it to Olympus and they said that "someone took" out the battery and put it back wrong. IT WASN'T ME. They put it in right and everything worked again. Isn't technology wonderful?