December 31, 2007
It will be time to face new challenges. My parents will face their 85th year very differently from the shape they started out from in 2007. Their health issues were stressful for myself and the rest of the family in 2007. I'm praying for them to have a healthier 2008.
My oldest daughter will be leaving the house to attend college in the Fall. It will be a challenge to manage how my wife and I will react to that. We're excited for her but having your first born leave to go away to school will be an emotional roller coaster I'm sure.
I've taken a bit of a hiatus from this Blog but hope to return or more regular posts this year. So far, my training schedule only includes Eagleman and a sprint tri the folowing week. I will look to pick up another few races to enter and report on.
Until then, Happy New Year, Happy Training and Good health to all!
December 10, 2007
December 03, 2007
Unfortunately, on Thanksgiving morning, one of my rides turned into the painful off-season. I was in Pennsylvania riding a very tame trail by myself. It was a beautiful morning when I started out. The temperature was about 60 degrees and sunny. I was in nirvana. The ride wasn't going to be super technical but it would be aerobic, long and fun. Plus, it was a great release to get out of the house. The ride would ease the guilt from all that food and beer that I was about to eat and drink later in the day.
At about 7 minutes into the ride, I came up this slight incline and made a quick right back onto the fire road like trail. This was no typical, gravel fire road but more grass like, so it was easier. As I made the right, I noticed a 2 foot by 2 foot rock in the middle of the trail. At the last second, I decided to lift off the rock like I so often do and with never any trouble. I don't know what happened but the next thing I knew, the handlebars violently whipped to the right and I was heading over the bars towards the ground. I don't even remember having an opportunity to clip out of the pedals in an effort to land on my feet. The ground met my chin and face so fast I was shocked. I hit the ground with a tremendous force, rolling over and landing on my back. I sat there, momentarily dazed, wondering how that could have happened. I mean, this was one easy trail. After a few minutes of shaking the cobwebs out, I righted myself. I had some very sore, bloody scrapes on my left leg which looked like a bear had clawed me. My chin was sore and my left wrist was in pain and started to swell. I tried to ride a little longer but couldn't grip the left handlebar so I reluctantly headed back to my in-laws house.
The wrist really swelled up even with the ice I applied for several hours. Finally, I was taken to a nearby urgent care facility that happened to be open. Lucky for me because x-rays revealed a fracture in one of my meta carpal bones. So, my off season, my easy season was put on hold for 4 or more weeks. I'm in a half cast and watching the calories I take in because my activity level has been less than zero. I'm counting the days to get back on the bike but this time I'll shoot for the hard stuff and leave the easy trails waiting until next year.
November 14, 2007
November 07, 2007
I was in the lobby of a hotel this past weekend watching the leaders finish the NYC marathon. Both the men and women were incredible but it's the woman's winner, Paula Radcliffe, that was so very impressive. From when I picked up the race at Mile 19, it seemed like second place finisher, Gete Wami, was on Paula's tail the entire time. She just couldn't shake her. It even appeared that for several moments, Paula was faltering but she stayed strong. Her arms were pumping...her stride was strong and her face was determined. If you saw the race, the one thing you can take away was Paula's grit and determination. She would not accept anything but finishing first. As an age group triathlete, we're not going to win may races, if any. But in order to finish strong, to move up a few places in the standings, we should remember Paula Radcliffe. I know that the next time I approach the finish line, I'll remember Gete chasing Paula down and Paula not letting go. Even when Gete moved a few meters ahead, Paula dug down deep and took the lead right back. She is a great example of what it means to be a winner. And we can all learn from that.
October 26, 2007
I write this not looking for someone to absolve me of my sins. The choice, although the most difficult of my 45 year old life, was for her to live alone, live with myself or my brothers or go to assisted living. We chose the latter because we felt that it would provide the best care for her at this time. There really wasn't any choice.
But when I heard the director of the facility explain my Mom's behavior the other day as maybe she was "feeling trapped", I shake. A big lump of feeling guilty is sitting in my brain right now. It just sits there and waits and pokes me on the shoulder when I forget for a nano-second where she is. And it's her own words in her own voice I constantl hear. Words she has been saying for the last 10 years that really have meaning and relevance now:
"Don't get old, kid"
October 23, 2007
Is it an addiction?
My new favorite t-shirt that I picked up at the Ironman store this year in Lake Placid says:
"Life is Simple. Swim. Bike. Run. Eat. Sleep."
Is there anything else? When you are in the middle of training, does it seem like there is anything else? Actually, a better shirt might be:
"Life is Not Simple. Irritable. Irrational. Stressed. Tired. When will it end?"
Why not? That's how we feel when training seems to drag on and on. However, when we cross the finish line and our bodies make their way back to being normal again, a peace sets in. We're elated. We want to show off all that we have earned. When the family makes a remark like 'Oh no, you're not wearing another finisher race shirt or hat or both!' My daughter sums it up with 'it's their badge of honor. They all wear them.' True. We wear what we've earned on our sleeve, er, back and head. And ankle too. Many of us after finishing an Ironman head to the neighborhood Tattoo parlor and get the ultimate badge of honor, the M-dot. I thought of doing this. I even felt the pressure from two friends that got their's. But everytime I mentioned it, my youngest daughter would start to cry. I think she equated a tattoo with a life of crime and possible jail time.
So, the training drags on and we pray for it all to end. Race day arrives and maybe, the race doesn't go so great. Like me, maybe we're bent over at Mile 10 of the run with the dry heaves praying even harder for it all to end. Or maybe we crashed on the bike and the raspberry hurts like hell and the end just can't come quick enough. Thoughts of quitting enter our heads. But we don't and we push on. At this year's Ironman in Lake Placid, I was at about mile 15 when I spotted a guy with the finisher shirt on. It was a beautiful shade of faded Hunter Green. It was sweet looking. At the time I was battling with myself about dropping out. I was beyond the dry heaves but my stomach was in distress. It would have been so easy.
"Hey, is that this year's finisher shirt"
"Well, now I have my inspiration to finish"
"Oh, you have to man...there's no greater feeling"
"I know.." I managed to whimper. And so, I pushed on in search of another badge of honor. But we still talk to ourselves: "This is it. I'm done. No more Ironman's. No more long distance Tri's"
And then we finish, we're happy and we're not signing up the next day but we're not talking like our triathlon career is over either. We stand there in the middle of the road not committing to anything either way. Then the next more is when the Addiction sets in. We miss it already. As the weeks go on and the glow of our race brightens, the feeling grows stronger, the Addiction grows and festers inside of us. It's then that we realize that we're hooked. The only cure, fortunately, is more Swimming and Biking and Running and Eating and Sleeping.
October 18, 2007
I read a great article by Steve Jonas in the current issue of USA Triathlon Life, the official publication of the USAT. The title was "Why a Good Story Matters". It was about his individual triathlon experiences and stories. It got me thinking about why I do Tri and the special memories that I have. Steve explained that he can't remember every race he's ever done but there are certain races that stand out. Everyone has their own reasons why they do triathlon. For me there are many reasons: great way to stay in shape, sense of accomplishment, the pain (HA HA), etc. But the overall best reason is simply: I just enjoy it! There are so many memories and so many more to come. If my injuries don't slow me down, who knows, maybe I will keep going until I'm 70.
My first Tri is a great one because my mantra was: how hard can the swim be! I hardly trained and when I got 500 yards out from shore and had to resort to swimming on my side, I found out quick. Needless to say that was a rude awakening to the sport. But when I finished, I was hooked. My first half ironman was memorable. It was an enormous high to finish the Eagleman in 2002. I had a very bad sunburn afterwards and my race number was tattooed to my arm for about 1 year. No joke! I've done 5 more Eagleman's since that day. My first and second Ironman finishes are the gems of the catalog. The first because I had a smile on my face the entire time. The second because I had pain on my face most of the run coupled with the dry heaves at Mile 10. But, oh to finish an Ironman is a magical moment. My last race is a showstopper too. Right there at the top. It was only a sprint but it was my 17 year old daughter's first. I'll never forget that one. It's a whole new dimension now.
Triathlon is a lot like life. It's more a journey than a race. Just start and just finish. The journey can have many highs and many lows. But we just have to work through them and keep pushing. There are so many memories that have been made and so many still to be made. Thank you Mr Jonas for reminding me of that.
October 11, 2007
I'm excited. If you're like me, you have sports dreams. Some of the ones on the top of my list are seeing the Mets play the Cubs in a weekend series at Wrigley, the Giants or Jets or Packers in the Super Bowl, Mets in the World Series, being at the Masters, finishing the Ironman World Championship in Kona, etc. Another one will be realized this weekend as I head to Notre Dame with my daughter. She's a senior in HS and is interested in seeing the campus. The dream? Notre Dame vs Boston College on Saturday. Can't wait! I think we might surprise them.
ND 27 BC 24 ....on a late field goal.
October 03, 2007
On Friday, July 13 my brother went to my Mom's apartment to check on her, after she didn't return our phone calls for several hours. Looking through the front door, he could see her lying on her bathroom floor. Breaking in, he found her alive, face bloodied, arm broken, rib cracked, bruised and confused.
Fast forward to this day, after 16 days in the hospital and about 40 days in a rehab center, my Mom at age 84, is now living in an assisted living facility. Physically, I would say she is fine. She's about 95% of what she was, which for an 84 year old woman, was very good. She was spry to say the least. It was only two years ago when she tried using my daughter's pogo stick. We still talk about that one!
However, she has dementia and is considered a "flight risk". Just this year, prior to her fall, she would often walk the 3 miles to my brother's house from her place. Our decision to place her into the "safe care" unit of this assited living facility did not come easy. I feel in many ways that I took her freedom from her. And as triathlete's we know what freedom means to us. She is happy at the facility, I believe. She knows she has an apartment but doesn't demand that she return. However, I still can't get over what I feel we've done to her.
I'm going to use this blog over the next several months to talk about her and the decision we made. I keep dreaming that someday, she will be cured and could return to an apartment setting. But I know that is not being realistic. I'd like to get a bigger house and bring her home. The problem is she is a Long Island Girl and I live in Jersey. And Jersey is not her home. But we'll see. For now, I visit her as much as I can.
October 01, 2007
But I bleed NY Mets blue and orange. For all diehard Mets fans everywhere...today is a national day of mourning. The much hated Phillies skipped over us and took control of 1st place. Hats off to the Phils for sweeping us umpteen times but in the end..we beat ourselves. The division was ours and we let it slip away. And now there is no post season..no potential World Series win...which would have been our first since 1986. The only solace is the Braves are out as well.
I'll probably be watching the playoffs with one eye this year...rooting for whoever is playing the Phillies and the Yanks.
Just wait until next year....
September 30, 2007
Let me be the bragging father for awhile. First, the triathlon was the American Memorial Triathlon in Greenwood Lake, NY. The distances: 1/2 mile Swim, 16 mile Bike and 4 Mile Run. My daughter is a swimmer by trade so I knew that would be her strength. The idea was that I would catch her on the bike and we would stay together for the rest of the race.
The swim was a mass start with about 150-200 competitors. It was 45 degrees at race time but the water was much warmer. My daughter, with no wetsuit, was nervous but ready. I told her to get out in front and see what she could do. If it got crazy crowded heading for the first buoy then stay right out of the way, I said. Well, she got out in front and did very well. She was the first female and fourth overall out of the water. As I was coming into transition, she was heading out. What a great sight!
I was very impressed with her riding. She really only trained for about 1 1/2 months for this race. Everytime I saw her ahead of me at the crest of a hill, I figured I'd catch her after I reached the same point. But when I got to that point, she had disappeared behind a bend. This went on for awhile until I finally caught up to her around Mile 5 of the bike. I stayed with her the rest of the way and she did great! Results weren't posted yet and in my excitement I didn't write down our time.
We made a quick trasnition to the run and she looked strong starting out. But what hampered her during training hit her in the race as well. She started getting a cramp right under the rib cage. For the first 2 miles we did alot of walk-run to get rid of it. She felt better over the last 2 miles and finished strong. We placed 70th and 71st, I believe. She won the age group for 24 and under! It was a proud moment for sure. And a great start to her triathlon career!
September 11, 2007
Today is a tough day for all Americans. It is especially tough for us here in the NY area that were directly effected by the events on 9/11. It is a day I will never forget. And I will never forget those who sadly lost their lives.
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I made my way through the WTC after commuting in from my home in New Jersey. I stepped outside into the beautiful sunshine and walked the distance of less than 100 yards from the South Tower to my office at 90 West Street. It was 8:05 AM as I made it into the building. I was about to begin a staff meeting when, at 8:46 AM, the world changed forever.
I will never forget the images of that day. The death and destruction I witnessed. When the second plane struck the South Tower, after flying over our building, we began our evacuation. Those moments were so surreal because we still did not know the enormity of the situation. Out on the street, looking up at the gaping, burning holes in both towers, I was in shock. But fortunately, I made it home when others didn't.
The pictures above are of my return to the building in November of 2001. The office I'm in was right next door to us, on the same floor, but facing the WTC. When the towers fell, debris littered our building and it caught fire. They say it burned for three days.
Please remember all those who perished today, six years ago in NY, DC and in the fields of Pennsylvania. They are all heroes. God Bless.
September 10, 2007
This is race week for my daughter and I. Her first triathlon is next weekend in Greenwood Lake, NY. I plan to be there with her every mile except the swim where she'll crush me. Training has gone well. We did a few bricks and the transition from bike to run was...let's just say....a New Experience.
Don't just love it?!!
September 04, 2007
August 28, 2007
There I was standing on the opposite side of the lake waiting for the gun to go off. The helicopters were sailing overhead and I was hoping that I would get in the DVD they were filming for. A few butterflies in my stomach but not like last year. I was ready to get this going. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was pscyhed to be here again. A few hugs and handshakes to those around me and we were off.
I felt VG coming into this swim. But it was a tough one from the start. I started wide right but suddenly founf myself over the yellow line. Once you are in there, it's tough to get back out. I was kicked under the chin at least three times, my goggles were jarred a few times and I was run over. Around the second turn and heading in, my right calf and then immediately after my left camp cramped. If you never had this happen before, it's like getting shot in the water. You come to a complete stop. I was able to shake it off, made it around the 2nd loop cramp-free and finished at 1:19:14. Just about what I did last year. I was ok with it.
I spent less time in T1 this year (12:13 vs 15:45) and that was a moral victory in itself. As I hit the bike, I was shivering uncontrollably again, like last year. I recovered faster as it was a lot warmer out. The first 10 miles of the bike are tough. Once outside of town, there is a nice steady climb and then rolling hills until you get to the Great 6 mile Downhill. I checked my odometer later and I had maxxed out at 46 MPH! I had a very good first loop. I hit 40 miles at 2 hours and was cruising. The hills back into town slowed me a bit but I was happy. However, there was trouble brewing. They were giving out orange Gatorade Endurance at the aid stations. I hate orange. It just doesn't agree with my stomach. And because it was warm, it was gumming everything up. Plus, the Cliff Blox which I trained with, were sitting right either. I just wasn't eating or drinking enough. On the 2nd loop, a wind picked up and the times were slower but I still felt good coming in and pleased with my time of 6:52:53. I heard some stories about a few crashes that occurred including some nasty ones but I didn't witness any. The out & back was a little crazy on the first loop. People need to stay on their side of the double yellow line or someone will get hurt.
When I sat down to put on my running shoes, my hamstrings started to cramp. The attendant offered me a massage. (I never noticed there was a maseuse in the transition tent before). Thought hard about it for a few seconds but declined. I never would have got back up.
The run started out ok but when you leave town so many people are cheering that it's hard to not feel elated. Outside of town was a different story. The stomach was in distress. I tried eating grapes..wouldn't go down. Tried drinking lemon & lime Gatorade but my stomach felt like I was on the ocean. Coke was ok but it was so early in the run, I abandoned that idea. I could only sip water. At mile 10, I drank a bottle of water someone handed me but immediately got the dry heaves. There I was bent over near the horse grounds thinking my race might be over. Never had I experienced this before. But Coach Chuck, who trains some of my friends, once said that you can get through most stomach issues. Just give yourself time to recover and keep moving forward. When the heaves passed, I started to walk. When I got to town I told my family that it was going to be a late night and they might not see me until 11 PM. I was in trouble. The 2nd half of the run was a horror. Friend after friend passed me. My calfs and hamstrings were getting tight. I still couldn't eat anything. Just sipping water. I saw Coach Chuck, who was on his mountain bike, and he talked me through alot of it. At Mile 21 or so, I stated to sip the coke and that brought me back. I never tried the chicken broth because the thought of it nauseated me. But alot of racers sware by it. I was mostly walking but as I got into town, the noise rejuvenated me. As soon as you start to run, if you've been walking, the crowds go crazy. It's quite a feeling. I ran and walked the last two miles and somehow was able to sprint into the stadium. I found my 3 daughters and we made it to the finish. The clock read 15:01:59. Twenty three minutes slower than last year and 1 1/2 hours slower than my goal. But...I'll take it. Ironman finsh #2. It's all about the finish, isn't it?
July 29, 2007
July 17, 2007
There was alot more mileage on the bike this year, which was good because my bike time in IM last year was not satisfactory (7:26:57). I feel I'm positioned to attack it a little more this Sunday. On the flip side, my running time and mileage is off due to a foot injury that kept me sidelined for almost 2 months (April to mid-May). But the way I look at the run in IM is to just survive. I'm still confident that I can beat last year's overall time and all I need to do is improve on the run by 15 minutes. It's definitely do-able. Of course, I'm looking for a faster bike (by 45 minutes), the same swim (1:19:27) and a better T1 (last year...15:45) to get that desired time. I took a nap in T1! Can't do that this year. Plus, if the knee and feet feel good..then who knows?
It's a long day and it has to be approached that way. Stick to my raceplan and everything should be ok.
July 15, 2007
July 13, 2007
The fun part of taper for Ironman is knowing when I get up early on Thursday or Friday or anyday for that matter, this time next week I won't have to anymore. Like, no 6 AM Masters class on Wednesday's after this week. I'm done. No Thursday morning bricks. It's over. No early morning Friday swims. Finished. And the best of all: No more long Saturday rides and long Sunday runs. This weekend it's 2 hours on the bike followed by a short run and 1 hour long run on Sunday. Feels very good. Feels fantastic!
July 12, 2007
-Get the bike tuned up
-one more cortisone shot in the left foot/ankle
-convince the doctor to give one in the right foot as well
-make dinner reservations for Saturday night before the race
-get my haircut
-solidify race nutrition
-check my Tri List. Twice.
On and on and on. I'm one of those super organized people. I'm so organized that I'm disorganized. I'll be writing more as we appraoch July 22 so stay tuned.
June 21, 2007
I went off in the 5th wave with the in water start. It was cloudy so visibilty was great. The day before we got in the water for a practice swim and the sun glare was unbelievable. It would have made sighting the turn difficult at best. But it was not to be. The only thing that we had to contend with was a bunch of unruly swimmers. I had my goggles knocked off twice within the first 300 yards. Then as I was about 100 yards from the turn, some guy cut across a bunch of swimmers, me included, at a 90 degree angle as if he wanted out. Strangest thing.
After I was able to get out of the water from a last minute cramp, I looked at my watch and it read 34:31. My fastest time ever at Eagleman. I walked/ran back to transition and took my time. I had been nursing an ankle/foot injury so I wasn't planiing on running after the bike. I was playing it by ear. The bike wnet very smoothly. In fact it was the best bike ever at Eagleman. There was never that strong headwind that slows you down and knocks the crap out of you. I finished the bike strong and started to think about doing the run.
Again, I took my time in transition and as I started out, had the mindset that I'd stop anytime if the foot hurt. I didn't want to cause any relapse in my injury that would prevent me from doing Ironman Lake Placid. That was the goal. But mile after mile, it felt ok. The knees were hurting but I managed to get through it. It was the longest run in training so far.
My finish time was my best in 6 years which is unbelievable because of the foot injury. But it was all about the conditions. The best I've ever experienced. And that can make or break a race. Natascha Badmann set a new world record in 70.3 distance. That's saying something.
June 06, 2007
So, why is that? I mean what the heck?!!
I have my own reasons as to why 40% of the riders out there can't force themselves to say hello to a fellow rider. I think it's a reflection about our World today. We're living in the "Me, Me, Me" generation. It's all about me and no one else.
If you find your way to this site and this post and your one of the 40 percenters, make the world a better place. Just say Hi, Hello, Hey. It only takes a second.
May 23, 2007
"The 10 Secrets to Being Rich"
"The 10 Secrets to a Better Life"
"The 10 Secrets to Being a Master Networker"
"The 10 Secrets to Getting Into the Best B-School"
It goes on and on. I guess some of these "secrets" are worth reading about. But it all comes down to whether it works for you personally or not. If it does great. if not, then just find something that does. So, in that spirit, I've come up with the 10 Secrets to a Successful Ironman Finish (including Training for one). Please keep in mind that I am a one time IM finisher so I'm not the expert. But it's in my quest for a 2nd consecutive IM finish that I have learned some secrets that might help. Here goes:
1. Stay Injury Free. Try to, anyway. If you do get injured-get it treated right away. Don't Wait! It may get worse.
2. Follow a Training Plan. There are alot of free ones out there. The book IronFit has plans for 3 different levels which work. I used the competitive finish plan. Or you could hire a coach. A more expensive way to go but effective.
3. Use a Heart Rate Monitor. It's a long day. You need to train with one to develop a good base and you need to race with one to make sure you have something left in the tank near the end.
4. Talk to IM Finishers. Someone who has finished an IM, specifically the IM you are signed up for, can be an invaluable source of information about the race, the course, where to stay, etc.
5. Visit the Race Course & Train there. Take a weekend and go visit the race site. Ride the bike course, hit the run course and do the swim, if possible. I didn't do that the first time and wished I had.
6. Get Your Nutrition Right. Practice your Nutrition on your long training rides and long training runs. Once your plan is set, don't introduce anything new on race day. FYI, try to drink the same drink that will be given out during the race.
7. Prep the Family. This should really be more like, get the family buy-in. This is critical. I've said it before but worth stating again.
8. Keep a Journal. I find it helpful to record my training activities, how certain nutritional supplements work, training methods that worked, how I felt during a specific training run, etc. I also use an on-line service (trainingpeaks.com) to record data. You can bet very technical here. I don't. I use the basics.
9. Sleep. Find the right number of hours, probably 7 or 8, that work for you and stick with it. This is a hard one but can really help especially those last 3 to 4 weeks before the race.
10. Have Fun. The mental part of training can be brutal. I know when you get 2 months out before race day, it keep be overbearing. Don't be afraid to skip a workout here and there (not too many), take a day off (don't train 7 days a week) and make sure you are having fun. If it's not fun, is it worth it? Every Monday is my day off, which helps after tough weekends.
May 15, 2007
Whine, whine, whine. Enough already!
It's just that you put all this time in, then you get injured and now I might not be able to race.
Depressing. OK, I'm done.
May 14, 2007
He was a golfer not a triathlete but don't his words reveal the inner core of why we do triathlon? Because we enjoy it. I'm not sure we enjoy the pain but it's more the accomplishment of crossing the finish line. Of completing the journey. There are so many inspirational triathletes out there that doing their best. Because, they enjoy it.
May 09, 2007
May 07, 2007
Now, I have a new injury to report, My Left Foot II. (I call it that because I want to avoid any confusion with the Daniel Day-Lewis movie, My Left Foot, a few years back.) Bad humor I know. I’ve already been told that by the family. But they just don’t get it. Nor do they appreciate my constant whining about My Left Foot II. You see, all I worry about now is whether the foot will be ready to go for July 22. The next 10 weeks are critical in my IM training. Plus I have a half-Ironman coming up on June 10, the Eagleman 70.3. I need to run now to be ready. So, as if it will help me, I hobble around the house, letting out little gasps of pain and a whine here and there. I didn’t think anyone was hearing me until this morning. As I was trying to make a doctor appointment and getting frustrated that my doctor of choice couldn’t see me this week; my wife let it be known that I should see any doctor so the rest of the family didn’t have to listen to me complain anymore. Ooh that hurt. But I faced it like an Ironman and understood where she was coming from. I do tend to do that. Whine that is.
With both races bearing down on me, I need to stay on track with training. I need to heal My Left Foot II. I need to take care of the knees. And I need to shut up. My good friend Pat once gave me a shirt that read “Just Shut Up and Train”. Good advice. All too often, as triathletes we get twisted up into the “Me Campaign”. It’s not about me. It’s about them. The family allows me to do this crazy stuff. And it takes a lot away from them. As triathlete warriors, we all need to be aware of that. (If you are already, I apologize, I didn’t mean you) But I sometimes forget. The other day, my daughter said, “You’re never here anymore.” Not altogether true but true enough for me to listen. Good advice. It was very good advice.
April 26, 2007
In the end, I did get my bike back on Thursday. The shop did a pretty good job and I was able to ride at least 2 days while I was there. However, the rides were a bit unpleasant for a totally unrelated reason. I had forgot my bike shorts so I had to ride without. It was not a comfortable feeling. Man, I can't wait to tee it up.
April 17, 2007
Actually, what I said was, my bike has been in an accident. I didn't want to alarm her too much.
Or did I say: “You’re never going to believe what happened?”
Either way, it was gnawing at me that I may have ruined my bike albeit my back up. And that I might not be able to train when we’re in Hilton Head. The R300 is a beginner bike but it’s the one I graduated to from my old 2-ton Schwinn World Tour. So, I do have some good memories with her. Ok, back to the conversation with my wife.
“How did you not hear that?”
“I don’t know” I said.
“Were you blasting the radio again?”
“No, well…maybe a little.” Pause. Reflection. “No, I wasn’t. No way”
“Molly didn’t hear it either?”
“I guess not”
And so began the inquisition. Dragging me over hot coals again and again until I was completely numb. As if I wasn’t in enough pain already. You know when you ruin something that’s expensive and dear to your heart, you feel like crud? Well, that’s how I felt. Like dropping your new i-pod 2 days after you get it? The only thing that can heal the hurt is time. And a good bike repair man.
That night, I checked out where a Performance Bike shop might be on our way down to Hilton Head on Sunday. I figured new pedals and whatever else I needed would be too expensive on the island so better get them on the way there. I would look for an authorized Cannondale dealer. Maybe the guy would know a little more about repairing a Cannondale than the average mechanic. With a little luck, I wouldn’t miss a beat and be riding by the 2nd day of vacation. Little did I know that it would have been better to drag my golf clubs than my bike.
Stay tuned for the exciting climax!
April 12, 2007
I was recently on vacation with my family in Hilton Head. Since it was a last minute decision and the fact that we were in South Jersey for my daughter’s swim meet on Saturday and Sunday, we decided to drive the 800+ miles. And since it was the middle of IM training, I just had to bring my bike. The winter has been cold (spring has been too!) so riding in 60 degree weather was appealing.
We arrived at our hotel on Friday in Mount Laurel, NJ. The bike was on the back of the Suburban attached to a Yakima rack that goes into the trailer hitch. It was late when we arrived and everyone was tired. I didn’t have the energy to bring the bike into the hotel room so I left it locked on the rack. It was my old bike so in some strange way, I was almost wishing someone would try to take it. Maybe I could claim it on my insurance and buy a new bike! A man can dream can’t he? Plus, the family gets a little cranky when I wheel the bike into a small, cramped hotel room. It makes everybody that more claustrophobic.
The next morning the alarm went off at 5:30. The plan was for me to drive my daughter, the swimmer, to the meet for her warm-up. I would come back and pick up my wife and our other two daughters later. Everything went according to plan: we awoke, got out of bed, dressed, and headed out to the car. The bike was still there. Good….I guess. The drive to the swim meet was about 20 minutes and all was going well. As we merged onto another highway, some guy in a sedan started to speed up next to me with his window down. What the heck is this? Does he need directions? Did I cut him off? I put my window down, going 50 MPH, and shouted out to him: “What’s up?” I’m sure my expression was puzzling as well. Then the words came at me like a bullet in slow motion. I could see it as it got closer and closer but no matter what I did, I couldn’t stop it. His words sounded muffled as if he were talking in slow motion:
“You’re dragging your bike.”
My eyebrows rose. My mouth hung open. For a brief second I was suspended in mid-air. Finally, a word emerged, “What!!???” He sped off. Did I thank him? I couldn’t remember. I pulled over and got out of the car like I was rushing to save a life. The top arm of the rack was down and there was the bike barely breathing. The left peddle was sheared about 1/3 off, the left drop was sheared and all the tape was gone, there was a hole in the back tire, and the tube was popped. I just couldn’t believe it. Did I forget to fasten the clasp last night because I was too tired? There was really no time to mourn as my daughter needed to get to the pool. I re-fastened the bike, got in the truck and sped away. My daughter asked something like, “What happened?” But I was too dazed to answer. Why didn’t we hear it? Or feel it even? Did this really happen?
After I dropped my daughter off, I found a Wa-Wa convenience store to buy some food for her for her swim meet. I drank my coffee and inspected the bike. I would have to get it repaired if I was going to ride it in Hilton Head. My gut ached. I mean it’s my back up bike but it’s a bike for crying out loud. No bike should have to go through the pain that my Cannondale R300 just went through. Sadly, I got in my truck, and went back to the hotel. When I walked in the room, I looked at my wife and in a whisper said there words: “There’s been an accident.” To be continued.
March 26, 2007
March 08, 2007
Everyone knows about this one. The alarm goes off at 5:30 AM and there's not enough time to snooze. Exactly enough time to get up, go to the bathroom, dress, put my contacts in, get my swim gear together (this is never done the night before), eat a banana, put gatorade in my water bottle, coat on, car keys, out the door, drive to the Y, go inside, get in my jammers and get to the Masters class on time. It starts at 6 AM. Exactly enough time that is if I get out of bed exactly when the alarm goes off. But guess what? I snooze it. I snooze thinking I'll just be faster this morning. I peer out of the blanket looking at the clock thinking there has been a mistake. Can't be 5:30, can't be. So, I'm snoozing in defiance. Outside it's about 10 degrees. Think that has anything to do with it? I wake again at 5:39. Now, I'm thinking how I'll never make the class in time so I might as well hit snooze again. In the end, I get out of bed and finally get to masters at 6:30 or 6:40. Sometimes it's not enough time to get the full workout in and I wonder why. I have to be back home by 7:55 latest and there is no flexibility there. I keep telling myself that when it gets warmer, this will all change. But right now it's a battle and I'm losing.
February 28, 2007
Think about this when you are half way through the run of an Ironman or Half-Ironman race and you are feeling blue. Your mouth is all gummy and one more gel would make you throw up. The smell of gatorade is nauseating. You're leaning against the wall as other racers start passing you more frequently. And they're all talking to you, "Come on..almost there." The head is dizzy. Just putting one foot in front of the other is like asking yourself to climb Mount Everest. You doubt you can finish. You just want to stop, fall down and lay on the side of the road. End it right there.
So, Think about those words. Take action. And finish that damn race. All Doubt will be removed.
February 27, 2007
February 20, 2007
I remember seeing Julie Moss on Wide World of Sports in 1982. It was an incredible story then. Today, it's still an inspiration. I have to belive that almost all of us that do triathlon, especially Ironman, are still inspired by Julie's heroic efforts. If we can be as brave as she was then when we're faced with future challenges, then we'll be just fine. Julie Moss, Triathlon Hero, worth watching again.
February 12, 2007
January 29, 2007
I finally signed up after wanting to do one for years. With the courage in hand, I filled out the form and paid my $40 bucks. It was a half mile swim, 15 mile bike and a 5 mile run. A piece of cake. For the bike portion, I was going to use my Schwinn World Tour. It was a great bike. It probably weighed 40 pounds but I put a nice new gel seat on it and I was good to go. I trained hard on the bike. The run would be no problem. I had always been a good runner. And as far as the swim was concerned, I could swim. No sweat.
I joined my local Y and went to the pool to train, er, swim some laps. Looking back at my training journal, I believe I swam maybe 3 times before thinking I didn't really need to train in the swim. I remember thinking “How hard could it be to swim a ½ mile?” Well, fast forward to race day. The nerves were high but I was still full of confidence. Well, the gun sounded and we were off. The first few strokes were ok. But then suddenly fatigue set in. And it set in fast! We were less than 200 yards from shore and I was thinking “Oh, my God, I’m not going to be able to finish this race. All that training was going to go down the drain!” All that training? All that biking and running…maybe but training?
I started to swim on my side in a modified dog paddle. As I approached the first buoy, I saw out of the corner of my eye some guy standing on the shore in shallow water. His hands were on his hips, he was breathing heavy and he looked like he had just seen Jesus walk across the lake. I thought it looked like my friend Jim but I wasn’t positive. (Later, it turned out to be him after all. He was feeling the same way I was in the water and was taking a break. We still to this day have a good laugh about that!!) I swam slowly and painfully on my side for the rest of the race. As I approached the finish, both calves went into the most painful muscle cramps I have ever felt. I couldn't stand up so I sort of floated and pushed myself with my hands along the bottom of the lake until I could crawl, stand walk out of the water. Then I made the long trek to transition.
The rest of the race was uneventful. But I learned something invaluable that day: you get out what you put in. The next year, I trained a little harder in the swim and had a better race. But I still laugh at some of my training journal entries for that year:
May 6: Swim 10 Laps
May 10: Swim 14 Laps
May 12: Swim 10 Laps. Awful!
May 19: Swim 18 Laps. Best yet!
Can you imagine 18 laps being the best yet! The following year, I joined the Masters group at my Y and swam 40 laps my first time out. I couldn't believe it! At the next session, it was 46 laps, then 65, then 84. I was elated that I could swim that far! My swim time for that same triathlon that year was half of what it was just 2 years ago! I was hooked.
Anything is Possible!
January 19, 2007
And then there are the times when my thoughts drift to those who can't be here, running, biking or just simply being like I am. Those close to me who had to leave this World and are now somewhere else. Hopefully, in a better place. The alone time will do this to you. You get philosophical. Many times these thoughts will give you the strength to carry on.
At the top of my "rememberance list" is my sister April, who died in a car accident at age 30. I was 20 at the time and a junior at the University of Maryland. I know that she would very interested in these triathlon things I do because that's the way she was. She wanted to be involved with what you were into. But these things I do (swimming, running & biking) are for fun and they don't mean a heck of a lot in the big scheme of life. I would galdly trade all of my experiences and good fortune to have her back. To ask her a question, show her pictures of my children or simply give her a hug. Maybe she's one reason why I do triathlon. Maybe it's not for the whole, accomplishment part of it but more that I'm chasing her memory or trying to out race what happened to her. It's been almost 25 years and the pain has faded a bit. But she's still there on my shoulder as I pound out mile 67 on the bike or mile 20 on the run.
Then there is my mother in law, Phyllis. She succumbed to her second bout with breast cancer 6 years ago. It would have been nice to have her at the Ironman finish line last year, standing next to her husband Al, her daughter and my wife, Sean and my kids, her gradnchildren. She would have enjoyed the atmosphere caught up in the dramatics of the event. She had a flair for the dramatic.
I almost always think of my friends who lost siblings too. Don (and U2's Number 1 Fan) lost his brother Michael in a skiing accident. Rich lost his brother Guy in a car accident (less than a month after my sister was killed). Eddie lost his brother, David, when he was hit by a car in Puerto Rico. I think of all them. And I keep going for their memories.
I often think of my good friend from growing up, Steve. He died at the age of 25. They said it was an accident but many of us feel that it was worse than that. It happened at the South Street Seaport in NYC one hot summer. They said he fell off an escalator. I remember many good times with him. Many hilarious times. All those great memories keep me laughing and smiling. One needs a little humor while running in 90 degree heat.
I remember my high school girlfriend's Dad, Jim. He died of cancer soon after I graduated from college. I remember him because of one simple, caring act of kindness he did for me. He did many of kind things but one really stood out. When I had a bad experience my first few days at college, he drove me back to school and helped me work out the problems. If it wasn't for him, my life might be different right now. Maybe I never would have gone back. I'll never forget him for that.
I guess one of the hardest losses is my nephew, Michael, at the age of 10. Michael was in a car accident with his Mom and two of his brothers. Unfortunately, he was the only one that didn't make it. I often think of Mike's smile when I'm out there all alone and it's just me and the road. Alone and depressed that my knee's hurt and my spirit is down. When the finish line seems so far away that I have every doubt in the World that I won't make it, I think of Mike. What would Michael do at this moment? I'll tell you. He would flash that big grin of his and tell me to get moving. Maybe even kick me in the butt to emphasize his point. Mike's face flashed in my mind during Ironman last year. I knew what he wanted me to do. Just keep moving.
Triathlon is a great sport. It's a great way to stay fit and to be part of your life. But it should never be taken too seriously. We can all accomplish great things. Triathlon proves that. And the people that are dear to us, both living and dead, help us to succeed. Those we hold dear to us in our lives won't be here forever. That's a hard fact of life. But it's our job to understand that and live our lives to the fullest because of it.
The sun is out, so hopefully, it will melt the snow. All 3/4 of an inch of it. I took a quick look at the forecast for Saturday and the low will be about 15 degrees. Did I say I can deal with the cold? My mistake. Looks like the trainer on Saturday for the long ride. Another one of my favorite things. Thank God for the i-Pod, the TV, DVD's, and other electronic distractions. The schedule calls for 90 minutes in the saddle. Maybe I'll swim instead. I guess I could always skip the workouts all together and then write about the remorse I feel in my next post. There's a plan. Good writing material.
January 12, 2007
But let’s talk about the conditions because that’s what makes this race so tough and yet so compelling at the same time. The swim, shaped like a V, always has at least one leg where the current is against you. The course is on the river Choptank. That name ought to tell you something. In addition, the water is a mix of salt and fresh water which is always interesting. In 2006, there were wakes 3 feet high on the swim in. I kid you not! Every time I went for a breath I got whacked in the face with a splash of water. I also enjoyed my own personal nightmare last year as I cramped up in both calf muscles as well as my hip with less than 200 yards to go.
After the swim, the flat as a pancake bike course awaits you. I’ll say 3 words that describe the bike course: Flat, Windy and Hot. I get bored on flat tracks. But throw the wind in there and there is no relief. No coasting and no climbing. It’s just constant motion. Last year, the wind was so strong that my speed went down to 12 MPH at one point. It felt like I was standing still. Around the 40 mile mark I’m usually screaming to get out of the saddle. The temperature around this time of year on the Eastern Shore is no walk in the park either. It’s usually 85 to 90 degrees with very little shade. All in all it makes for a tough bike ride.
After 56 miles, the urge to get off the bike and run is so great that is hurts. However, what waits you is the most painful part of this race. At least for me it always is. The run is flat, which is nice, but it usually takes place at the hottest point of the day. And absolutely no shade. Let me say that again because it requires emphasis: No Shade. It’s also mentally tough because part of the course is sort of an open U shape. Since it’s an out and back, you can see the people in front of you for miles and miles. I try not to look at them since it’s a reminder of how far I need to go. The first year I did this race, I made the mistake of not putting any sun screen on. I was so sunburned that the race number on my arm was a permanent tattoo for over a year after.
But all in all, it’s a great race. Well run, well supported and great participation. I guess I’ll just keep doing it until someone knocks some sense into me. It’s always around the 2nd Sunday in June with the entry opening up in September the year before. And if you’re lucky you may even see an Eagle out on the course. I never have but there certainly seems to be some vultures circling me every year waiting for my carcass to fall.
January 03, 2007
I didn’t hit all my workouts last week, which I’m not happy about, so I will take a shot at them again this week. The New Year has brought about new vigor but it should be a challenging week nonetheless. I’ll be preparing for a 3 day overnight sales conference that starts next week, my oldest daughter has 5 swim meets, the youngest daughter has basketball practice and a game on Saturday and we need to find a second car as I turned in mine last week when the lease ended. Oh, and did I mention the basement? Sounds like a lot of whining I know. But isn’t that what blogging is about? So I can whine a little in the comfort of my own blog?
Actually, there is a good point to be made and one that I’ve made before. I’m only a one Ironman veteran here but I feel I can speak about this with experience and knowledge. The point is this: No matter what training plans you have carefully laid out for Ironman or a Half-Ironman, Life gets in the way. Last year at this time I would have stressed out about missing workouts but this year experience can helps to alleviate that. In fact at this time last year, I was unable to run as I was going through physical therapy for my runner’s knee. I didn’t start running until mid-February and I was concerned that I wouldn’t get in enough running. But it worked out in the end. I was able to get up to the training time required without over doing it (the sure way to another bout of runner’s knee).
Lake Placid is 200 days away and there is still plenty of time to get on track with training. But I wouldn’t suggest to anyone that you take the relaxed approach for too long, especially if it’s your first IM, because at some point your performance will suffer. You will suffer. You cannot “wing” Ironman although I do know a few who kind of did, finished, and paid for it. That’s just not my style.
The alarm went off this morning at 5:30 AM and I made the Masters class at my Y. It was hard. Oh, so hard!! But I’m happy I got there.