Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ironman necessary for motivation?

Last week my friend Tim and I were talking on the phone. We haven't talked in a while and haven't trained together in even longer a while. Both of raced Ironman Florida last November and both of us seem to be having a hard time getting back into training. Sure, life is getting in the way but our conversation turned into pondering if we need an Ironman on our schedule to get us motivated?

I have a lot of cycling on the calender and some triathlons (including a HIM). Tim has races coming up too. Why isn't this enough? Why can't we focus on racing shorter distances faster? Why is an Ironman so significant and why are other options not so significant in our minds? We jointly didn't know.

The conversation quickly turned into which one. Tim (and others) are lobbying for Placid 2013. Placid is still not the right race for me with the climbing but I could rationalize it as 30 minutes for transitions, 90 minute or less for the swim, slot 8 hours for the bike, leaving 7 hours for the run. This means that I would have to actually run the run but that is a subject for another day. There is another bunch of friends positioning themselves for IMCDA in 2013. I think the logistics of that race, the time of the year being earlier and hard training time overlapping anticipated key kid requirements make that race not ideal. The best IM branded race for me (besides IMFL which isn't an option) is probably IMAZ but that will be 3 days before my 20th anniversary with the Mrs - the danger of even mentioning this as an option is too high to consider.

Tim felt a non IM branded race, while an option, probably isn't the right choice. There are a limited number of Ironman races in our future and I may even be beyond my limit remembering that my family dubbed IMFL the Highlander Ironman (there can be only one).

But do we need one for motivation? If so, why? What can we do to change that? Most importantly, should we?

PS: Tim is volunteering at Placid 2012. So is Fran. I'm not..

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Quote of the week - John F. Kennedy

"Things do not happen. Things are made to happen." - John F. Kennedy

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Yard invasion

These guys have shown up on our lawn this week. I think they are lost. We don't live in farm country but downtown suburbia. The birds seem to like it here except they won't shut up. They disappear for hours at a time but reappear traveling in a pack, yapping and yapping.

I keep thinking of better options like:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Quote of the week - Mark Victor Hansen

"Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful." - Mark Victor Hansen

Sunday, March 18, 2012


This morning I was walking along this path in Bethpage State Park.

I saw this path and contemplated going home to get my mountain bike for a little single track but alas that wasn't to be. Maybe next time.

Then I saw this and wondered what that could do to the next time:

The park denizens rumor is either an extension to the bike path but it looks too wide. A bike path wouldn't be bad, a road would be, a parking lot horrific. I kept dreading the lyrics of the Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi:

"They took all the trees
And put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half to seem 'em

Don't it always seem to go,
That you don't know what you've got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot"

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bicycle Club Speed Dating

As a tool to get me to ride more I've decided to try out a few of the rides that are put on by the local bike clubs. I have four clubs near me that post rides but the challenge is interpreting the paces of the various groups. Pacing, as we all know, is an inexact science.

I don't normally ride with strangers. I ride with my "regulars" and we understand each other's strengths and weaknesses. We ride our normal routes and no one needs cue sheets or anything. Riding with strangers brings its own challenges. What if they are idiots (not so common in the bicycling community but it does happen)? Will they start on time and ride or it is a mosey type of deal?

Tomorrow I'm trying a group ride that advertises as a C+ relatively flat 36 miler. I spoke to the ride leader and I'm probably a little strong for this group. Sunday has some other ride options that I'll try but I'll see how Saturday goes first. I view this as each ride as a speed date (pun intended) for each bike club/ride. I also expect to continue this experiment during the next few weeks.

Of course, all riding this Saturday must be finished before I go to the bar for some St. Patrick's day festivities. Then again, those festivities may make Sunday's rides a little more challenging for me. Need to keep that in mind during and after the riding.

Erin Go Bragh.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Quote of the week - Arthur Conan Doyle

"When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking." - Arthur Conan Doyle

Saturday, March 10, 2012

How to prevent "death by a thousand cuts."

This is not a typical rockstartri blog post. Feel free to skip this - I'm posting it for purely selfish reasons as something to look back on. It isn't an uplifting story. It isn't sarcastic. It isn't amusing. Probably not that informative and definitely something I never thought I'd craft. I realize that all blogging can be viewed as done for selfish reasons but this post is something new for me. I've turned off the ability to comment on this post. Again, selfish but that is that.

My blog quality, content and frequency have suffered recently and some have even pointed it out to me. I thought this just a byproduct of running out of nonsense to pontificate on with my Ironman behind me or perhaps the simple answer of just a general lack of desire to continue. I've been posting this blog for a few years so all this sort of made sense. Sometimes the obvious answer is the answer.

But sometimes it isn't. The blog problem was really a symptom of other stuff going on.

Work has been a series of bad experiences for me lately and I'm not handling it well. This is from someone who did OK while watching a previous employer become the poster child for all that is wrong in the economic world as they crashed. Hundreds of people who worked for me were impacted. I've physically felt the WTC towers collapse as I watched out them fall from my office window before running, slowly, under the fighter jet sortie. Those times I did ok.

This case is a different experience for me. It isn't just one thing. It seems like petty issues keep coming up and my day is dealing with this noise. I'm caring less and less. I described it recently as death by a thousand cuts. Perhaps an exaggeration. Perhaps not.

I need to transform the culture at work and I don't believe the culture wants to change. This isn't an easy thing to do. I know that. The downturn in business has meant that I've had to layoff some folks and feel at some level I'm being set up myself. Being laid off isn't the end of the world for me - I've been laid off once before. Yes, it would suck but I'm sure my family and I would get through it.

I wake up at 4AM dreading what the day will bring. In my mind I've tried to make surviving it through a day, a week or month end the goal. I get home from work exhausted. Everything seems to hurt: my back, my neck, my shoulder, my head, my knees, my feet. Sometimes go through the motions of doing a workout but most times not. I've found myself going to bed before 9pm but can't come close to a sound sleep. This has been going on for a while and getting worse. I tried a vacation and while a good time, didn't help.

Something needs to change and that something is probably me.

This is not a way to live. I felt that this was either burnout, stress exhaustion, or something worse. I kept imagining what that could be but realized facts would be better than fears. Step one was to go to the doctor to get checked out to see if something physical was clouding my outlook.

DrK found that my blood pressure high. Not a surprise due to the stress and recent weight gain. He said to lose the weight I've gained recently and add in more exercise. He did say that the aches and pains are probably due not handling the stress.In other words, common sense and no smoking gun but it did make me focus on handling the stress.

I also made an appointment with my cardiologist do see if there was an issue there. I've gone through a whole bunch of cardiac testing in the past due to family history and all previously was relatively clear. My uncle though recently had a heart attack and this only made my family history go from bad to horrible. He did an EKG and an echo cardiogram and all seemed like it was before. He also said to lose weight but this level of testing, along with finishing an Ironman a few months ago, gave him a good feeling. Of course, a good feeling doesn't mean much so an official stress test is scheduled. I'll be doing these periodically for the rest of my life.

The summary of the medical stuff was that there is no reason to not train and training itself will help. Losing weight will get my blood pressure under control again and that really needs to happen. I think the decrease in my training volume is contributing to not handling the increased stress.

So, what to do?
  • I do need either need to fix my job (if even possible) or find a new job if not. That'll take time since there aren't a lot of jobs these days.
  • I need to be more conscious of my outlook and behavior. If things are looking bad, they are probably not as bad as they appear. Don't walk around as if a black cloud is over my head.
  • I need to be aware of the stress and what it is doing to me.
  • I need to increase my training to burn off the stress.
  • I need to let me family help me. No need to be superman here.
  • Realize all the good out in my life more than balances out the bad. This is most important.
I'm also going to be more diligent about the blog. The quote of the week will start up again - this isn't that hard since I seem to always have a back log of quotes. Additionally I hope that I'll have some interesting things to share. If I do, that will show progress.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Sorry if this brought you down a little but this one is for me. Stay tuned - it'll be a different, but interesting, journey.