December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to All! Enjoy the holidays and don't forget to make room for training. Just don't let it interfere with the family gathering. Do it in the morning after the kids open their gifts!

December 19, 2008

The Five Rules

The way I look at training is I need to get it done early so it doesn't hang over my head. Plus, this way it doesn't take away from family life so much. So, with that in mind, here are my 5 rules of Tri Training and early morning workouts:

1. Prepare the Night Before. This means get all your gear together. If you let this go to the morning, which I often do, it cuts into training time. I often break this rule because I'm too tired when I think of doing it the night before. Then I have to scramble in the morning.

2. Factor in Prep Time. If it takes 1 snooze (9 minutes) to get out of bed, 10 minutes to dress and 10 minutes to eat then get up 29 minutes before you need to start the workout. Factor in time for travelling to the workout, for cooling down and for stretching . Of course, I hit the snooze button 3 times, dress & eat in 10 minutes and then cut the workout short by 8 minutes.

3. Stay Disciplined. If I don't follow Rules 1 & 2 then I am not being disciplined. Guess what? I am not as disciplined as I should be. I can get up in the morning but it's never as early as it should be. That's true at least for Monday through Friday. The weekends are no problem. Usually, no problem, that is.

4. Just Do It. Even if you can't get out of bed on time, get out anyway even if you have to short the workout. I find it more mentally rewarding if I run for 35 minutes instead of the 45 minutes planned then if I blow it off entirely. Plus, if I do pass on doing it in the morning, I absolutely have to do it later in the day and then it hangs over my head. And that's worse.

5. Have a Plan. For long distance training, you have to have a plan. You have to know what you are doing the next day, every day and every week. My first two years training for Ironman, I used the Iron Fit plans, which worked great.

December 11, 2008

A Nasty Morning

One of my rules during my current IM training is to "do it the morning" or else it hangs over my head all day. With that being said, there are mornings like today.

Rain. Cold. Darkness. And more Rain.

The alarm went off at 5:30. I needed to catch the bus at 7:10. I had a 45 minute run on the schedule. If I jumped out of bed immediately, I would probably have enough time to run, eat something, shower, dress and make the bus by 7:10. That is if I slept in my running clothes.

Well, that didn't happen. Wishful thinking. I did eventually get out of bed at 5:40 and hit the street at 5:50. But I had to shorten my run by 20 minutes.

It was nasty out there. But in the end, the good news was that it wasn't hanging over my head. And tomorrow is another day and another workout.

December 06, 2008

California Dreaming

Today's workout was extra special. The temp read 24 degrees F. I didn't quite get the wind chill but I would say it was about 7 to 8 degrees colder. But nonetheless, we chose the outside instead of the Trainer. I had 5 layers on up top and 2 layers plus my bike shorts on the bottom. Double socks with hot packs in the shoes. Double layered gloves including my ski gloves. And full mask for the face. It did warm up 4o minutes into the ride but when the puddles out on the road are frozen, maybe the inside would have been a wiser choice. After 1 1/2 hours at a low spin cadence and 24 miles of accomplishment we were done. The transition to the 20 minute run wasn't bad except for my frozen toes. Can anyone say, California?

December 05, 2008


Does anyone find this to be true? When you run into fellow triathlete's at the Y, all we can seem to talk about is training and racing? If it's a non-racer, it doesn't seem to be that way.

I am as guilty as the the other person in these conversations. I seem to initiate half of them in that direction. But yet I am turned off sometimes by the selfishness that sometimes comes from being a triathlete. I am talking about the many "me first" middle of the packers that exist out there. Hey, I know sometimes we need to be selfish because of the amount of workouts required for long distance training. Personally, I try to get it all done in the early morning hours before the family wakes and before I need to go to work. I'm really talking about the people who seem to spend endless hours away from the family at training camps, races and whatever else they can get involved in. They need to buy the latest and greatest equipment. (On that one, I'm jealous!!) Not to mention the costs.

I don't know. Maybe I'm way off base. Or maybe I'm just bored and have nothing else to write about.

December 01, 2008

Am I George Costanza?

Ok, I blew off tonight's Strength workout. Since it's the tendency of a triathlete, at least this triathlete (see last post), to justify why it was done, I will act like George Costanza and do the opposite. I will offer no explanation. In fact, I will be arrogant, in a George Costanza kind-of-way and illustrate the rest of my workout week. I will let you draw your own conclusions. One key to this, as well as my reference to my last post, is that Justification is a form of Whining.

Here's the week ahead:

1. Monday: Strength for 1 hour. (Arrived home at 7:15 from work)

2. Tuesday: Bike 1 Hour (will hit the Trainer before I catch the bus at 6:55 bound for NYC & Work)

3. Wednesday: Swim 45 minutes & Strength for 1 hour (Will hit the Y before work, try to get everything in and then shower and dress at the Y to leave by 7:30 for a breakfast meeting at 8 in NJ; father-in-law coming over tonight)

4. Thursday: Run for 45 minutes (before work and then hit the road by 7:30 for office in NJ; Easy Day)

5. Friday: Swim for 1 hour and Strength for 1 hour (before work; must arrive by 8 AM; easy day)
You know, when you write it our, it doesn't look that hard. It's only Week 2. I just have to stay disciplined and take it 1 workout at a time. Bed at 10 PM. Goodnight!

November 30, 2008

The Training Whine

I tend to whine during the early days of training. My wife notices it. And she makes sure that I know she notices it. So, in addition to being mindful to hitting my workouts, I must also be mindful of my tongue.

Over the last 4 years, I've acquired some "over use" injuries. Both knees hurt from Runner's Knee and now I have this thing with both feet. Sometimes when I'm running (or walking), it feels like my foot is broken. I have to stop. On some days around the house, I'm limping and some days I am not. I can't explain it. I had a similar injury 2 years ago and the doctor couldn't find anything wrong. Both an X-Ray and an MRI were negative. He ended up giving me a shot of cortisone and an oral mediaction with the same medicinal effect. I guess it worked because it got me through the rest of training with 2 months to go to race day. And it got me through the race: my second IM finish. But they are still with me and these nagging, annoying injuries get the best of me and make me whine. I start to focus on them instead of the workout itself. They hang over my head and penetrate my performance because it just doesn't feel good to run. I used to love to run but these "hurts" really hurt and block me from really pushing hard.

Today's workout was a 1 hour run. I was dreading it. Factor in the weather, rain and cold, and my whine was in full swing. Actually, I need to give myself a break here and state that it's not that bad. I think my wife is over sensitive to it. But nonetheless, I did catch myself whining today as I procrastinated over when to start. Finally, driven by the foul conditions, I got out there and actually had a decent run. The foot hurt but I got through it with little trouble. There was no need to stop and the last 30 minutes actually felt very good.

When I arrived home, I felt the need to complain about my knee's. They were sore. As I made my way inside, I saw my wife and she asked me how my run was. I hesitated and then said, "Fine." And then added, "Wet too." She smiled.

November 29, 2008

IM Training Begins.....Again!

And so it began 5 days ago on November 24. The quest for a 3rd IM finish.

The starting line seems so far away during these early days. The knees are sore. The right foot-ankle is hurting again. So much, that I've had to cut short 1 run and cancel another. It's been cold and it's dark in the mornings. Already, those voices are creeping in asking why I signed up again. The voices urge me on to look up the cancellation dates for the race and the hotel.

But, so far, I have stared them down. I hit 2 of 3 Strength workouts, 1 of 2 runs, 2 of 2 swims, and 2 of 2 bikes this week. Since this is the first time I have started this early so I feel like I am already ahead of the game.

It is important to get these workouts in so you don't feel inclined to blow them off later. Quit now and what will stop you from quiting later? When it's April and you have a 4 to 5 hour ride followed by a 30 minute run ahead of you, you will think about these early days and how you rose from your bed in 30 degree weather to hit the road for a run or the chilly pool for a swim.

And you will be much better off. I guarantee it.

November 17, 2008

Here Comes That Training Again

Ironman Lake Placid 2009. Training starts 1 week from today.


It was less than 4 months ago when I made the trip to Lake Placid 2008 in order to sign up for the 2009 race. The day was "wet" from biblical rains but my friends and I were once again filled with those crazy endorphins and that overwhelming desire to do it again. And here I am on the eve of training. Everything is falling into place leading up to Day 1. For example, I put in a "ton" of base work. NOT! (I kept saying I would. Tomorrow, for sure!) And I am cruising into Day 1 with no injuries. NOT! (Once again the knees are sore and My Right Foot feels like it's broken). At least the weather looks great for outdoor rides instead of the trainer. Double NOT! (Sure, 70 degrees last Saturday but the lows for the next 10 days are in the 20's and 30's).

This is the hardest part of the race. Even before the gun goes off and 2000 people start swimming, kicking, punching and clawing their way through the swim course. Even before the stomach starts to knot up from warm, orange Gatorade Endurance while out on the bike. And well before, the dry heaves kick in at Mile 10 of the run. It's that persistent, sinking feeling of do I really need to go to bed early? Get up early? Jump in the cold pool, early?

Yes. Yes I do. And so do all the other 2000+ entries

The good news is I won't be alone. The demons inside my head will be barking for me to quit. To go back to sleep. To cut the workout short. To worry over the ache in my knees as if I'll never walk again if I don't.

This is Ironman. And it's why we do it. I think.

October 29, 2008

The Swim Should Be Good For You

It is unusual for someone to die doing something they love and something that is so good for you. (Good meaning being in excellent physical shape not over use injuries from triathlon training) But it does happen. It is shocking when it does. USA Triathlon has recorded 25 deaths in Tri races and all have occurred during the swim. Why? Read this article and learn why. Be careful out there.

October 09, 2008

The Tour

There is an article in the most recent issue of Mountain Bike Magazine about a group of friends who make a yearly mountian bike-camping trip, called The Tour, to the mountains of southern Oregon. The trip is many things to this group of guys including a search for a Sasquatch like being they call the Wookie. It is also about epic, day long rides on trails that are largely unknown or not very often ridden by the masses. But it is really more than all that.
The author made the point to say that The Tour is "a search for the wild, elusive side of ourselves that is chased off by the demands of corporate cubicles and familial responsibilities." When I read that, it hit me. I made a connection. For the past 7 years, I have journeyed with a group of guys that has ranged from a low of 2 to a high of 7, to the Eagleman Half Ironman race in Cambridge, Maryland. Guys only. No wives. No families.

Yes, it requires one to be trained, in good race shape to participate. (You can go untrained but you will suffer. The Eagleman is not kind to those who treat it lightly). But it's a "fun" weekend when we share the nervousness before the race, the pain during it and the accomplishment after we all finish. Unlike, most races, where you hang out for awhile and then take off in separate ways, we make our time after the race, a celebration. There is a grill where we cook Jerk Chicken, there is beer, laughs, busting each other, music and all around good times. We have traditions like our annual trek to Hardee's in the evening to get our much anticipated milkshake. Denny's in the morning for a much deserved, high fat, high caloric breakfast. Every year as we finish this "challenging" triathlon, as we cross the finish line with disgust on our face, we all scream that this is the final year! But after the pain wears off, we pledge our desire to return as we have done time and time again. It's half about the race itself, which remains a constant challenge to better our times as we compete against the Wind, the current of the Choptank River and the stifling heat. But it's half about the guys getting together to rank on each other and laugh about anything. It's a time to break free from the shackles of corporate life, the worrying of rising living costs, of sending our children into the World for the first time, of taxes and every other stress laden worry in our lives. It's a time to be a kid again with no immediate obligations. Except to finish the race!

October 01, 2008

This Will Not Be Like Last Year

Ok, the Mets didn't make the playoffs again this year. It will be a long Winter so what. My knees have been hurting so no big deal. What else is new really? I've been working alot of hours. I'm used to it. My running shoes are worn out. New ones arrived today. (via I need new jammers to swim in. I can order those.

I think that is it. All the excuses are out there on the table. No reason to not get out of bed, in the dark, and head out into the cold to swim or run. Snow will not keep me from the trainer. This training season will not be like last year when I just couldn't get started. There is an Ironman to train for and the training will start the week of Thanksgiving. In the meantime it's the continuing of base training.

And No Excuses.

September 21, 2008

The Leadville 100

As usual, I went for a mountain bike ride on Saturday in Ringwood, NJ with my usual group of friends. We rode for about 2+ hours and just had a fantastic time. Ringwood is quite a playground for us 40 somethings. We're all decent riders and can ride 95% of the technical trails out there. But when it comes to Ringwood, we are always discovering something new. And when we do, we giggle like kids about our new playground. This past ride wasn't anything different. Two weeks ago we discovered this single track trail with many rocks, narrow sections, steep descents & ascents and just plain challenging terrain. It was awesome!

During the ride, I kept thinking about the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. ( I read a recent article about it in Mountain Bike magazine and it just seemed like an incredible race. 100 miles all above 9000 feet climbing to a height well over 12,000 feet above sea level. Lance Armstrong came out of retirement for it and finished second. Unreal!! I would love to challenge myself someday and do it but it's quite a feat. if you finish, you get a belt buckle that says you finish. If you finish under 9 hours, you get a "bigger" belt buckle and the pride that no one can take away. Lance finished in 6 hours 45 minutes plus. He was about 2 minutes behind the winner Dave Wiens.

This is what is great about this sport, as well as triathlon, that we can aspire to compete in the same races the pro's do. Where else can you do this? I can't put the pads on, make my way to Giants Stadium and expect to get in the game on Sunday. But I could line up at the start of The Leadville 100, glance to my right and see the great lance Armstrong or I could wave to Desiree Ficker as she is coming in from the run at Lake Placid Ironman (

What a great World!

September 17, 2008

Jamie Whitmore

There is an article in the October issue of triathlete about Jamie Whitmore, the incredibly talented Xterra pro athlete. If you are not aware of her situation, she has been out of racing this year after the discovery and removal of a cancerous tumor in her leg.

I have enjoyed reading about Jamie's racing successes and her epic battles with Melanie McQuaid. And although the greatest thing about our sport is that we get to race with the Pro's (but only see them dressed and rested while we cross the finish line), I have never raced with Jamie. And now it appears that she is battling not only for her career but for her life. Since the article went to press, it appears that she has struggled with some health issues the cancer has produced and is not out of the woods yet. You can read about her status on her blog:

It's another story in the long line of stories about how fragile life can be. Here is a super trained, super talented and fiercely competitive athlete. One day she is a champion and the next day she is struggling to survive. I believe her strength will save her and get her back into racing but in the meantime, we can all help with her healing by praying.

And when you get up the next morning, think about Jamie but think about your own life as well. How would you live it differently if you knew you were going to be sick? Would you be more aware of your surroundings? The people you love? Would you finally sign up for that triathlon you have always dreamed of? Would you finally take that bike ride you have been talking about since New Year's Day? Better yet, wake up and think healthy. Think positive thoughts and be what you have always wanted to be. You will be rewarded. Just don't forget to pray for Jamie, your family and yourself.

September 13, 2008

Ride Like a Champion

The alarm went off at 6:20 this morning. The tentative plan was to ride trails up in Ringwood, NJ. There is some great, technical stuff up there for mountain bikers. But it rained all night and with that, you knew it was going to be slippery with the rocks making it a challenge. Plus my heart wasn't in it. After waking up and texting back and forth to my fellow riders, we decided to stay in bed.

But the garbage had to be put out, then the dog needed to go out and once I am up I just can't seem to fall asleep again. So I laid there with that work out anxiety that I often get when I haven't worked out in awhile. It's that overwhelming, nervous feeling triathletes often get. I did run yeterday but I needed to ride. The road was calling.

Outside, the sun was struggling to come out but it was going to get there. You could tell. It was shaping up to be a great day. Bending over to pump air into my tires, I noticed my IM sticker on the bumber of my car. And it gave me a boost. I tapped it like the Notre Dame football players tap the Play Like a Champion sign on their way out to the field. I was ready to go.

I ended up riding 33 miles. Much more than I anticipated thanks to getting lost because of a detour. But sometimes getting lost can be fun. Like in the woods when you discover new trails, discovering new roads is just as nice.

September 12, 2008

September 11

One day late....

There was a building
It was my building
and it was a football field from the south tower
There was a desk
my desk where I sat on a beautiful sunny morning
There was the sound
nothing more than a sonic boom
There were the debris
falling from the sky
sheets of metal and images
too hard to describe
There was a second sound
this one louder and
more frightening
There was this moment whatever it was
it was real and it was just beginning
There were these stairs
where we were asked to climb down
There was the confusion all around
the images that won't go away
There is this day
a day to remember all those I passed
the day before and the morning of
There is this day
that no one can forget
but all wish we could
There is this day and
I wish there never was.

August 31, 2008

The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done

Last weekend, I did one of the hardest things I've had to do in my 46 years on this earth. Harder than finishing an Ironman, harder than finishing a 100 mile training ride, and harder than completing the last leg of a 13 hour adventure race. It was mentally tougher than getting out of bed on a rain soaked Thursday morning in order to get to the pool for a 3000 yard swim. It was more heart wrenching than anything I've witnessed or experienced in life. And with the all the highs of my life, there also have been many lows. So, what did I do? What did I experience?

I dropped my oldest daughter off at college.

My wife and I drove 700 miles on Thursday morning to South Bend, Indiana to deliver our oldest to the University of Notre Dame. It was with mixed feelings that our first child was moving into the next stage of her life. The "growth stage" when she will transition from a young, 18 year old high school graduate to a mature, when she's done, 21 year old, mature young woman. It's the first step towards leaving the nest forever and starting a life that will be called her own. As a parent, it was hard to let her go and do this necessary step in her life. But deep down we knew we had to. There is no choice but to let her go and blossom.

We moved her in on Friday, putting together furniture from Ikea, setting the room up and negotiating with her roommate on where the refridgerator should go. On Saturday we were back and forth to Target so many times, we would have won their frequent visitor award, if there was such a thing. Then on Sunday, my wife and I awoke and were noticeably quieter than in the past few days. We dressed, packed, checked out of the hotel and met our daughter at her dorm. We strolled around campus for awhile and then headed over to the Joyce Center for a Mass for all incoming freshmen and their families. When the Mass was over, it was time. We went back to her dorm and prepared ourselves for our ride back to New Jersey. And our final fairwell.

All I can say it was the hardest thing I've done so far as a parent. I won't say who cried (for fear of embarrassing myself). But I will say it was a very tough and long ride home. I felt like I had left part of my heart back in Indiana. And in many ways I did but it was a part that was ready to move forward, grow, mature and be the person she was meant to be.

All in the caring, loving family that is Notre Dame and for which we are very comfortble with in watching over our daughter.

August 16, 2008

Ranting About IM Sign Up

Ironman is getting too expensive and too hard for the average athlete to get into. As I explained earlier, we went to Lake Placid with the idea of doing a little training, watching the race and then signing up on Monday. We did all that. But to assure that we would get in, it was suggested that we volunteer at the race. The rumor was that the volunteers would be given first shot at getting in for 2009. And fueled by the fact that 2008 racers would be given the chance to sign up for 2009 on Saturday, we eagerly signed up to volunteer. Now, I enjoyed volunteering and would do it again even if I wasn't signing up for next year's race but it just seems that this race is getting to hard to experience. I don't like the idea of this year's racers getting the opportunity to sign up 2 days ealier. I also feel sorry for those who didn't volunteer and didn't get in. There had to be hundreds. And let's not even mention the poor suckers who were going on-line to try and sign up (which I did successfully for the 2006 race) and were shut out. Throw in jacked up hotel prices, 5 night minimums, $500+ entry fee's, training costs and.....whew! Somebody stop me. This sport is getting out of hand. But I love it and as long as my family and my knees support me, I'll keep doing it. It doesn't take away from all the obstacles that keep the common man either on the sideline or penniless after signing up but it is a great race and a fantastic experience.

Let's add more races, stop the Saturday sign up, cut the entry fee, get rid of, make it 3 or 4 night minimums at the hotels and make everyone witness the stinky, smelly and wet Men's transition tent at IM LP. Kidding on that last one!

July 28, 2008

Lessons Learned in T1

Volunteering at Ironman Lake Placid was an experience I will never forget. When the first athlete to finish the swim, Pro Francisco Pontano, came into the men's transition tent it was a lesson in speed and what to do right during transition. He was in and out in what seemed like 40 seconds. (Of course his T1 time was recorded as over 3 minutes because it starts somehwere between exiting the water and getting out on the bike). But the actual time he spent getting ready was incredible. I know that I tend to linger in transition especially in my two Ironman races. My thought process is that it's a long day so I might as well take my time. Of course there is no money on the line either so that might be a reason for staying longer.

What I learned from Francisco is that I need to go through my transition in mind prior to the race and envision what I am going to do. I need to only do what I need to do. Keep it simple. I also need to improve on some of my functions. For instance, one example of this is that I tend to put my race top on in T1. Since my body is wet, it tends to get stuck on my shoulders. The answer to this is to either put it on under the wetsuit or use one that has a full zipper down the front. That way I can just stick my arms in with less friction. It can also be helpful to write down what you are going to do in T1 and then follow through on race day. Don't drift from your designated plan.

If you use visualization before entering T1, I think it can really save you minutes on your overall race time. I am going to practice this in my next race. Whenever that is.

July 24, 2008

Ironman Lake Placid 2008

Some friends and I travelled up to Lake Placid for race weekend last Friday to watch this year's race and then sign up for the 2009 race. Little did we know that we would end up volunteering in the Men's transition tent for T1. We also didn't realize how much fun we would have doing it! I would suggest it to anyone who has raced Ironman before to see what it looks like from the volunteer's side. I would also highly suggest it to anyone who is thinking about doing Ironman for the first time. IM LP 2008 was also the first time many of us watched a Tri race as a spectator. Besides the fact that it was a torrential downpour the entire day, we had a ton of fun. In fact, we can't wait to do it again. Maybe in 2010 to sign up for 2011!

Congratulations to all the finishers on Sunday. It took courage, strength, mental toughness and guts to finish that race. To keep moving when that rain was telling you all to quit. You are all Ironmen!

July 03, 2008

Eagleman 2009

When I first signed up for the Eagleman 70.3, seven years ago, registration opened sometime in October or November. I believe there were still slots available in the February-March timeframe. Man, has this sport changed. Less than 1 month after the 2008 race was over, registration has opened for 2009. As of yesterday morning there were only 800 slots left! There is no time to ponder anymore. You are either in or you are out. What's it going to be? There is no in-between anymore. Given the way this year has gone for me, I'm not sure if I'll be there next year. I need my time to ponder.

June 25, 2008

Eagleman Kills

Well, it's been a long time since my last post. Training for Eagleman 2008 or lack there of and the actual race have come and gone. I thought I actually had trained enough to have a decent race but in the days leading up to D-Day, the weather reports started to scare the heck out of me. As we got closer and closer it was apparent that the Eagleman Heat would be in full force.

At around 6 AM race day morning, the temp was already at 80 degrees. The sun was staring down at us like it was dis-pleased that we had picked this day to race. The elements (Wind, Heat, Current) always plays a big part in this race. And this year was no exception. By the time I started out on the run, the heat index was 100+.

My swim was decent. (for not having trained all that much-that is my central theme here). In fact I had one of best "sighting" swims and stayed just to the right of almost every buoy. However, my time was off at about 5 minutes. The bike actually proved to be ok. The mighty wind was absent and in spite of the heat, excellent times were being recorded. My time was ok (again, lack of training, remember?). But I started to get tired around mile 48. And the heat started to really elevate and wera me down. I was pouring more water on me to stay cool than I was drinking it.

I took my time in transition 2 almost wondering what it would be like to get a DNF. But in 12 years of triathlon, I never had to get one and I intended to keep the streak alive. However, the run was my personal journey through hell. I was tired, tired and HOT! By Mile 3 I had had it with gatorade so I started to drink water and flat coke when I could find it at an aid station. I couldn't eat anything and this is my personal issue with runs in long course. My stomach can't fathom gulping down a gel at that point of the race. With the heat at its highest, I was in for a very long afternoon as I watched my time click past 3 hours. My slowest run for 13 miles in my entire, racing life. I usually have enough to sprint the last hundred or so yards but not this time. I couldn't muster it up. I was exhausted and my spirit was beaten down.

Lessons were learned. When you have been through these races before, you usually have the mental capacity to gut it out. But it doesn't mean that you'll turn in a good time or feel great doing it. The weather can add that wild card component and wear you down faster if you are not in race ready shape. I wasn't and that's what happened. Alot of walking and crying on the run.

The good news is that in the days that followed, I did feel that high from finishing a tough race. Next year, I won't let this one get away from me. By the way, this is my 7th year in a row for E-Man. Before the race I was thinking of ending it there. But I'll be back to keep the streak alive.

May 12, 2008

Last Night I Dreamed.....

Last night I dreamed of an immaculate race and finish at Eagleman. No cramps in the swim. No head wind on the bike. And a cool day for the run. When I awoke I was bathed in sweat. The alarm clock had jarred me with the Stones' "You Can't Always Get Want You Want" blaring away. Coincidental or the sign of things to come? Race day is less than 4 weeks away.

May 08, 2008

Code Name: The Ninja

I train with a group of guys that call me the Ninja or what I do when I'm not training with them, Ninja Training. I call it trying to manage family obligations and get my swim, bike and runs in.

The hardest part to training is sticking to a schedule. At least for me it is. I can easily lose my focus and discipline. When you commute to work, discipline and organization are absolutely key. There are times when I meant to put my swimming gear in the car in order to hit the Y on the way home but forget. Meeting the guys after work for a ride is great but takes a lot of planning. All the gear should be loaded into the car the night before but do I do that? Of course not. So, I've resorted to what my friends call "being a Ninja." Special Secret Training that when race day comes should propel me to a great finish and have a special advantage over them. It's kind of a cool image but unfortunately, for me, it's not true. Being a Ninja is really about making compromises. My wife lets me ride because I'll be home at 10 instead of 10:30. Or it means I can get a 90 minute ride in instead of one for 60 minutes after work because I'm leaving from my house and not meeting the guys 30 minutes from my home.

But you know the thought of dressing in all black and running after the sun goes down is one I can live with. It's appealing. It makes me mysterious and I like that notion. Of course when race day comes, the truth comes out. I finish where I always finish and I didn't need any secretive training to do it. But for now, its cool to live my training life as a Ninja.

May 06, 2008

To Write or to Train? That's the Question.

Writing is sometimes tougher than training. I mean what would you rather do? Sit down at your computer with a hot cup of coffee dreaming up words to put together in some semblance of sanity. Or head out at 6 AM on another cool, dreary supposedly Spring day in the northeast for a 50 mile bike? If you knew me and what this year has been like, you would think it was the former. But if you stumble onto this blog, you might think the latter. I seem to be on a blog writing holiday. In any event, Eagleman will be a blood bath. I do think I have enough base training and enough time to lessen the pain. But overall, it won't be pretty.

April 07, 2008

Visiting Dad

He was an excellent runner, golfer, bowler, ball player and all around athlete. He was strong and at times invincible. He was tough and I never saw him back down. Many times he was right and many times he was wrong. He could be very compassionate but he could also be very distant. He was smart but he also could be ignorant. He made some great decisions in his life and some that weren't so great. He had good habits and bad habits. In many ways he stills has many of these traits, personalities, talents and ideas. But he doesn't run or golf anymore. He's alive but he's living out his life in a senior care center or nursing home. He has dementia. He thinks it's been 5 weeks since he's been there but it's really been 7 months. He can't walk on his own or maybe he could go home.

I visited my Dad this past Saturday and it's getting harder to do so. I drive the 60 miles from my home in Northern New Jersey to Long Island where he is. Even though it's a tough route across the Cross-Bronx Expressway, the Cross-Island and out the LIE. That's not the hard part. The traffic is nasty, at times, but I'd drive 100 miles if I had to. It's not that at all. It's just plain hard to see someone once so strong ride out their life like this. I may not have agreed with all that he has done but he has given me alot. Some of his lessons I have kept but others that I disagreed with, I have thrown out. But in the end, he is my Dad and this has been hard.

He's on the 2nd half of the marathon now and it's tough going. He's stopping at every aid station trying to catch a second breath. He's digging deep.

April 06, 2008

7 Miles, 25 Degrees, Pancakes & Bacon

Last Saturday, four of us gathered for a long bike ride in wind chill weather of 25 degrees. We were in desperate need of a long ride. The warm weather has been stubborn in its arrival this year and there was a panic to get out. But 5 minutes in, with the wind blowing hard, no one wanted to continue on.

"Let's go get breakfast" This is something we always say but never act on. No one wanted to give in this time either. But as we rode on, the thought of sitting around a hot, cup of coffee was very appealing. The toes and finger tips were starting to hurt. The spirit was just not into it.

"We could do that route we did this past week." That's when the weather was about 50 degrees. The loop was about 15 miles. I was hoping for 40 today. But then it came: "let's just go once around." Everyone agreed. That's how we did a long ride of 7 miles. And then went for breakfast. man, that coffee was hot and good!

March 19, 2008

Ironman Destroys the Will to train

Ironman can corrupt the soul. It can mess with the drive. Anything less than an Ironman race, once you have trained for an Ironman race, can destroy the will to train. Agree or disagree?

What I am saying is that without an ironman to train for, the drive to train is less. I am sure that many may agree but for me it seems to be true. Here it is March and I am still talking about this struggle to train on a consistent basis. I want to do well at Eagleman believe me. I know through experience that if you go into Eagleman not properly trained, the elements can make it a long and horrible day for you. But here I am, at home wondering when I'll feel like going to the Y to swim. Or hit the basement and my trainer.

This is how I feel today.

February 28, 2008

I Am a Dreamer

In little less than 1 hour, the lottery for entry into the 2008 Ironman World Championships will close. And I will have declined my chance of entering once again. I am a dreamer but not yet. Since I really have no chance of qualifying via my age group, the lottery is the only way to go. I dream of being in Kona one day and finishing the crown jewel of all IM races but the timing isn't right this year so I'll wait another year. The wait could be painful but I'll be alright. I'm in no rush.

February 13, 2008

Losing Time

Man, this is harder than I thought. I'm having a tough time managing my time. And I'm just so darn tired. Last Saturday, 4 days ago, I did make Masters swim and it felt great. The next day, my wife's birthday, I did manage to follow up the swim with a 3 1/2 mile run while I "let her" sleep in. But now three days have passed and nothing. I'm starting to get concerned. The Eagleman half-Ironman is less than 4 months away. Need to jump start it. And soon.

February 05, 2008

Slow Start II and the Super Bowl

Ok, so I only got a run in on Super Bowl Sunday but I do have excuses. I ran for 25 minutes on a mild, Winter day and had dreams of biking or swimming. I even thought of pulling out the bike trainer at night as I was watching the Giants take it to the Pats. However, once my butt hit the couch, it was all downhill. I thought hard about that trainer. I even went down in the basement, on my way to pick up a cold refreshment, and stared at the trainer in my office. It looked good too. Unfortunately, the game was coming back on so I had to run back to the family room. When halftime came, I couldn't not watch Tom Petty. I mean the guy is a legend. And then all those commercials. Wow! the good news is that I am formulating a plan so stay tuned. Eagleman is, I don't know, still about 125 days away. I've got time.

February 03, 2008

Slow Start to 2008

Man, it's amazing what having no Ironman on the calendar will do for your training. I've been lazy! A swim here and a run there but that's about it. I've also been very lazy about this blog. Well, the New Year starts now!

But first a few words on what I've been doing...

On most Saturday mornings, I have been lieing in bed dreaming of making the 7;30 Masters swim class at my Y. When that comes and goes and I'm still in bed, I take my training journal out and look at what I was doing a year ago. Since I was training for Lake Placid the last two years, that becomes depressing real quick. So, I look back to 2005 when only a half-Ironman was on the plate. The training was less, believe it or not, and I know over these next few months, I'll put in more ride time, pool time and hit the run just the same in order to be ready. Eagleman is again in June this year and I know I still have time but I need to start now.

I do have excuses. (Don't we all!!) Want to hear them?

New this year for me:

1. A new job which has me commuting into NYC 2-3 days per week and working late (until 7 or 8 PM at night) The last two years, I worked from my basement, which was great for training.

2. I drive my daughter to school. She's a Senior and just cannot be seen on the bus. How can I deny her this? If she had her own car, I could do early morning workouts, but she doesn't. Valid excuse, right?

Ok, so these excuses are just that: Excuses. It's Super Bowl Sunday and I need to do two things: Run and hit the bike trainer before I sit a chair all night. So, I will, I'll get out there. I promise. I'll let you know how I made out tomorrow which gives me a reason to write again. And hopefully no excuses.

In the meantime, how about a prediction?

Giants 27
Patriots 24

Run: 30 minutes
Bike trainer: 45 minutes

Whew! I'm tired already.