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.