November 29, 2009

Last Year

At this time last year, I was completing Week 1 of training for Ironman Lake Placid. All I can say is that it brought a smile to my face when I realized I wasn't signed up for 2010! Hit the woods yesterday for some great single track mountain biking and it was fantastic!

I usually don't mountain bike during IM training for fear of a needless injury. But those shackles are off this year. Looking forward to a nice "easy" winter of running, mountain biking, casual road riding (weather permitting) and taking it slow. Sometime around February I'll head back to the pool to start training for a Half IM in June. Oh yeah! Now it's time for another cup of coffee.

November 03, 2009

Turning the Page

So, tomorrow I will put an end to this time of idleness. Thanks to Mel 2nd Chances (, I am going to run tomorrow morning either on the street or the treadmill. In fairness to me, I've been putting in a good Saturday workout on the mountain bike. But other than that: nothing. Nothing since Lake Placid.

Again, in fairness to me, I started a new job 6 weeks ago and I've been wrapped up in that. However, in order to not let me off the hook here, I've had plenty of time to get it going in the morning. I've just been lazy. I've also felt little desire to write here on something that has been such a big part of my life over the last 12 years: the sport of triathlon.

Time to turn the page.

October 13, 2009

Nothing Going On

Well, it's been well over 1 month since I have contributed to this blog. Many reasons why. Lazy is in the Top 5 as is being tired at night when I write. I just started a new job so I've been a little worn out when I get home. But the number 1 reason is this: Nothing Going On. It's those calm waters after the storm. It's the not wanting to exert yourself after 9 months of training 6 days a week. It's also mountain bike season. And that's what I have been doing. Ride on Saturdays and that's it.

I was running 2 or 3 times per week but that has come to a grinding halt as well. I need to get that going because I feel so lazy. Every cookie or piece of chocolate I put in my mouth feels like it has double the calories. This is the evil side of Ironman. Does this happen to anyone else?

I haven't even swam since the race back in July. Everything I gained is probably long gone by now. The speed I had worked hard to achieve in order to keep pace with the better swimmers is out the window. I purposefully missed signing up for the Eagleman 70.3 Half Ironman. It closed out which means my streak of consecutive years is done at 8. What is wrong with me? Am I becoming a couch potato? I mean my favorite drinks these days are coffee and beer. And I love watching college football on Saturdays. All day long!

Maybe writing about this horrible time that I am going through will help me get out of the corner. Get off the canvas and answer the bell. But for now I feel like I have been TKO'd. Somebody help me and invite me for a 50 miler!

September 06, 2009

The Wheels Came Off

I went for my first bike ride after Ironman this past Tuesday. (The race was almost 6 weeks ago) I went for my second one 2 days later on Thursday. Let me tell you, it felt great to be back on the road.

There were several reasons why it took me so long to get back out there. The first BIG one was laziness. The second BIGGER one was that I couldn't get my tires back on my wheels. I know that really sounds lame, doesn't it? It's funny because I feel like I am fairly good when it comes to "simple bike repairs." I would consider fixing a flat and getting the tire back on the wheel to be one of them. But for some reason, the two new tires I bought and the wheels I own (Easton T3, by the way) were not in agreement with each other. For the race I had borrowed my friend's wheels because I had a "spoke" issue with my wheels 2 weeks before race day. I was afraid of a spoke breaking again during Ironman.

Putting my tires on his wheels: No Problem. But my tires on my wheels: Big Problem!

For weeks, I took a shot at it. But all I accomplished were sore red hands and sore red fingers. It was embarrassing! Why couldn't I do this?? I never had this issue before. And I wanted to ride this bike so badly. The weather during this time period was mostly amazing. It was begging me to get outside. I thought of taking them to my local bike shop but the shame I would feel. Not an option. This went on for awhile until last Monday when I made one final charge. I had a vision the night before about how I could do it. I can't write it here because I am thinking of marketing this technique and wouldn't want to give away any trade secrets for free. The vision came true. The technique worked! And much to my delight, I was back on the road. This is what Ironman has taught me: Never Give Up! There is so much practicality to this insane sport they call Ironman. Its lessons are endless. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

September 01, 2009

I Can't Stop Eating!

It's September 1, more than 5 weeks since my Ironman finish on July 26 and I have been on a non-stop food fest. I can't stop eating! The hunger is insatiable. I don't think I've gained that much weight but I am not doing much to burn the calories either. I have run exactly 4X with no biking or swimming since then so I am not in need of the calories. When I was training for IM, I ate like crazy too but during that time I needed to. Now, it's just that I can't satisfy the hunger.

Look at what I ate yesterday, a typical day:

2 eight ounce glasses OJ
2 cups of coffee
2 bananas
1 bowl of Oatmeal Squares cereal
1 English muffin w/peanut butter
1 Kashi granola bar
1 Capri Sun lemonade
1 Turkey sandwich (lettuce, cheese, mayo) on sub roll
10 small pretzels
3 bottles of water
2 glasses of Iced tea
1 plate of spaghetti with meatballs
5 pieces of Italian bread with butter
1 serving of broccoli
1 small piece of carrot cake
1 decaf coffee

Does this seem a lot? When I weighed in at Ironman I was 192 pounds. I am guessing that I probably lost 3 0r 4 pounds during the race. This makes my post-race weight at about 188. My guess is that I have gained about 7 pounds back. Not that I am watching my weight. Don't get me wrong. But this hunger. It's getting to me. Then again I do love to eat.

August 22, 2009

Anything is Possible....Almost

I saw this bike in the Ironman Lake Placid transition area after racking my bike Saturday afternoon. My first thought that this guy (or woman) was crazy to attempt the bike at Lake Placid with this piece of ancient machinery. The hills will bring him (or her) to their feet begging for mercy. I started to visualize and feel their pain. There would be a brief moment of joy as they sailed down the 6 mile downhill at Mile 10. I know just what they would think, "Man, I can do this." But what waited ahead would bring even the most confident of bikers crawling into town crying like a baby. That is, if they could make it back to town after 3 moments of truth.
First, there was the hill out of Jay going up Route 86. A long, steady climb that goes up, flattens briefly and then goes upward some more. It's one of those quad busters that leave you crying out in agony as you reach the top. Not to mention a curse word or two.
Second, there was the out and back. Especially the back. The hills coming back rival the hardest of climbs. It's usually hot at this time as well if the sun is out. It was that day.
Third, the last 10 miles into town. I believe they call these hills Poppa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear. Many a soul is flattened here. The first time through it's tough. The second time it's merciless.
But then I started to think of this old clunker and the bravey of its rider. I had found a new hero. As they say in Ironman, "Anything is Possible" and this athlete was going to spit in the face of the naysayers. Power to the people!
So recently, I tried studying the photo to locate the athlete. A few bikes down from it, the number of another athlete, 632, was visible. So I started to looking at results near this number and cross referencing it with the pictures that are available after the race. Eventually, I found him! And it was a him. I looked up his results and that's when I saw it. The DNF. I was disappointed that he didn't finish the race let alone the bike. He had completed the first loop, 56 miles, in 4 hours 28 minutes 23 seconds. If he was to make the cut off, he would need to do the second loop in 4 hours 19 minutes. Tough to do. But it appears he couldn't answer the bell for the second loop. Was he injured? Did the bike breakdown? Or was his psyche too damaged that he threw in the towel and became another IM victim falling short of his goal? I may never know.
One thing is sure, I do salute him for his attempt. And I hope he will try again. But I do further hope that it is on a different bike. Dreams do come true but sometimes you have to have the right equipment.

August 21, 2009

IM Lake Placid-The Race: Right and Wrong

Last post, I spelled out what I did right and what I did wrong during training. So, now I will look at the actual race and do the same.

The Race (Wrong):

1. Nutrition: I thought I had corrected one of my issues: Gatorade. I replaced it with Heed by Hammer for the bike. For the most part, I felt it worked. But when the temperature rose, my desire to drink sank. In terms of "food", I chose 1/2 Clif Bar per hour plus Powerbar Gel Blasts to get me to about 350-400 calories per hour. The heat turned off the desire to eat those foods as well. So, it's back to the drawing board to figure it out.

2. The Run: I always feel this way after a race but I start to question whether I ran hard enough. Did I walk too much? Could I have pushed harder? It's not so much that my run went wrong as much as it is that I wish I felt better during the run.

3. Transition: I need to get better with these. I didn't really improve from 2007 and let me tell you, there is plenty of room for improvement. I think because it's Ironman, I take my sweet time. What does 4 or 5 minutes really mean in a 13 -14 hour race? It means a lot. It really does.

The Race (Right):

1. First Loop of the Bike: The first 56 miles felt good. For the first time, I didn't wear a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) and went by feel. I think I pushed as hard as I wanted to on the first loop and stayed within my desired zone. I was hopeful for the last 56.

2. The Swim: I was happy. Beat my previous best by 2 minutes. Thought I could go faster. Thought the second loop should have been faster. But I came out of the water feeling good and pleased with the time. So, the swim was a win.

3. Clothing: I wore the same outfit the entire race and it worked for me. In my Run Special Needs bag I thought I had left a long sleeve Dri-fit shirt. It sometimes gets cool on the second run loop but it turn out I had put a short sleeve shirt in there instead. In the end I didn't need it anyway so I made all the right moves.

The little things matter in this race. And all the experts agree (well, most of them do) that nutrition is the 4th discipline. It's incredibly important especially for me. I always say I will do better the next time. This year I did but I still have many kinks to work out.

August 10, 2009

IM Training: Right and Wrong

After 35 long weeks of training and the race itself, it's time to look back and reflect. Time to reflect on the Training and the Race. On what went Right and what went Wrong.

Let's look at Training first.

Training (Right):

1. Injury Free: I managed no trips to the orthopedic for my knee's or feet. I contribute this to a very measured approach in mileage build-up for the run part of training.

2. Long Rides: I hit every long ride I was supposed to. My longest long rides were significantly longer than in 2007. This came into play for the hills in Lake Placid.

3. Everything in the Morning: I did all of my training in the morning which helped with work and family. It made me tired and I had to go to bed early but it didn't interfere with two of the most important things in my life. Family first. Job second.

Training (Wrong)

1. Nutrition on the Bike: I didn't nail it for the race. I knew the impact and the significance but I didn't nail my plan during training. I should have prepared more for it and taken it more seriously. I should have also experimented more with my beverage of choice on the bike.

2. Longer Runs with Bricks: Even though my plan didn't call for many, I should have implemented Bricks that called for 3 hour rides and 2 or 3 hour runs right after. Most of my long rides (6+ hours) were followed by 30 minute runs. The longer runs may have helped with my nutrition.

3. No Weights or Core Work: Weights was in my plan but Core Work was not. I chose not to do the weights after about 5 or 6 weeks into the plan. It was just too much. I totally ignored Core workouts. When you are swimming, biking and running 6 days a week, it's tough to add a 4th discipline. But, come race time, it could mean all the difference in the world.

Next post I'll reflect on the race itself.

August 01, 2009

It's a Beautiful Day: Ironman Lake Placid 2009 Re-cap

For some reason, in the moments before the start of a long race like Ironman, I am not nervous. I am excited but overall I experience a sense of calm. It might be because I know it's going to be a long day and there is no reason to look too far ahead. And in Ironman where the swim is usually a dogfight, I would need to conserve energy from the start.

So, it was in this state of being after seeing and spending time with my family, I entered the water at 6:45, swam across the end of the lake and stood waiting for the race to begin on the far side. The temperature of the water was perfect, about 70 to 72 degrees but it had started to rain. I was fearing a repeat of 2008 when Lake Placid experienced biblical rains that lasted all day long. I wouldn't have minded rain during the swim or the run but not the bike.

The gun went off and we were off. I started wide right but quickly cut into the line of swimmers along "the line." In Mirror Lake, there is a bright yellow cord below the surface of the water, 8 feet down (?), that lines the course. It's great if you can follow it because there is less swimming off course but it's a dogfight to stay on it. Everyone wants to be there. I got on it about half way down the first side of the rectangular course and stayed there for the rest of the race. But I paid the price. I was hit, poked, rammed, had my goggles knocked off more than once and stopped in the water several times. Usual fare in the IM swim. Around the first turn, a woman competitor actually stopped and said to me "Can you quit doing that?" Doing what? I mean if she meant hitting her with my arms as I swam, I thought to myself, "Is she serious?" I was constantly being hit and hitting others but not on purpose. When 2200 swimmers are packed like sardines fighting for space in the water, you expect this. She had to be a first timer. I paid no attention to the remark and just kept going, trying to get away from her.

I did the first loop in just over 35 minutes which I was happy with. I thought I was faster on the 2nd loop but was actually slower completing the entire swim in 1:17:51 about 2 minutes faster than my previous attempts. I exited the water feeling good, had my wet suit stripped, ran down the red carpet to T1, saw my family along the way and was happy the swim was over. On to the bike and 112 miles.

The rain that had fallen earlier in the morning didn't play a factor in speed especially during the great 6 mile downhill. This stretch occurs at mile 10 and mile 66 of the bike. It's a lot of fun and a brief break from peddling all the uphills at Lake Placid. My maximum speed topped out at 46 miles/hour but there were a lot of people that got it well over 50 going. My bike started to shimmy and I just didn't fell like crashing during the race.

The first loop went really well I thought. I did the first 56 miles in 6 hours 13 minutes and thought I had a great shot at coming in at 6:35:00. I felt good stomach wise so that is the other reason I felt so optimistic. However, around the 60 mile mark, it was strange as if a switch was turned on. Suddenly, I wasn't feeling great. As I started to climb hill, my quads tightened a little, it got hotter out and my stomach felt queasy. I pushed the nutrition thing trying to keep with the Heed, Cliff bars and Powerbar gel blasts. But as I rode it got worse and worse. Still i didn't think I was that far off in terms of nutrition. I still felt much better than in 2007 when I was sick coming into T2. I finished the bike 6:58:32 much slower than I planned. The last 10-12 miles coming back into town are like driving through hell. The scenery is beautiful. The fans are great. But the body is screaming to finish. It can't wait to run a marathon which just sounds down right demonic.

I wasted only 5 minutes in T2 although I wanted to stay longer. My family was right outside the tent as I exited so I spent some time with them before I started my journey. Leaving town is great because everyone is cheering and the energy just carries you. But just past the first aid station as you climb a short hill, reality sets in. I didn't want to walk this soon but I couldn't help myself. I started to notice my hunger for the first time realizing that once again I didn't eat enough on the bike. I passed on the orange Gatorade instead going for the water and some grapes. The grapes tasted good and I kept throwing them down until I reached Mile 10. It was there that one grape thrust my entire race into jeopardy. When it hit my stomach, my body suffered from violent dry heaves. At first I couldn't control them. I stopped walking and bent over. I was still getting them when I knelt down and waited for them to pass. A Someone ran by and shouted to "keep moving. You know Cola settles the stomach." I knew this but was going to put off the cola until later in the race. Unfortunately, I had to re-adjust that plan. Thanks to that racer for reminding me that I had to do what I had to do. And that was to save my race. For the rest of the race all I had was cola, water and cups of ice. I dared not go near the chicken broth or anything solid. I still had some nausea as well.

I met a lot of great people out there. In Ironman, everyone who is at your pace is typically suffering right along with you. So you swap stories as you run, walk and run again. I met a guy from Austin, Texas who was not only doing his first IM but it was his first triathlon! In those later hours as the sun sets, it's like a brotherhood out there. We are all after two goals: to finish and to finish respectively. I picked up some untapped energy with 4 miles to go. I started to put together some strong pushes and came sprinting into the Olympic oval to finish the run in 5:55:03. Not what I wanted but I'll take it.

My finish time for the entire 140.6 miles was 14:29:50. It was about 1 hour longer than my goal time but 10 minutes faster than my previous PR. All in all it was another great day. I said all along that this could be my last but it's not. I will take a few years off because this one was tough on the family. At least the training was. Training and completing three in the last four years takes a toll. But when it comes to Ironman, I'm an addict. And I'm coming back again. Someday.

July 29, 2009

Mile 10

My third Ironman finish is the books. And even though it was a rough experience at times, it was satisfying overall. So much has happened over the last few weeks that I am going to relfect back in snippets. Love that word: snippet. As defined in the dictionary, snippet is a small collection of fragments.

My first snippet then goes back to the run portion of the race and specifically at Mile 10. This is where I had trouble in 2007 and again in 2009. Why start here? Because I think this is what has defined my IM racing career. Mile 10.

In 2007, I had trouble with the Orange Gatorade Endurance on the bike. It just didn't sit well and ended up tying my stomach in knots. This year, even though they were giving out Lemon-Lime, I decided to use my own nutrition plan. I replaced the Gatorade with Heed. Heed is made by Hammer Nutrition and contains no High Fructose Corn Syrup. I thought this was the answer. Everything seemed to be going well nutrition wise on the bike. At Special Needs, between the two loops, I replaced my three bottles of Heed with some new olcd bottles from my bag. But it was getting hotter and hotter out. There was some humidity in the air and on the 2nd bike loop the wind seemed to kick up a few notches. I was still drinking a little Heed but slowing down. I kept with the water and was getting some Powerbar gel tabs down. I thought I was ok. I thought this would work.

But when I started the run, I was hungry. This alarmed me because you just can't replace everything at once. Plus, how was I going to get 200 calories per hour into my system? They were giving away orange Gatorade at the aid stations and I avoided it. If it had been Lemon-Lime, I would have ventured to try it with a cup of ice and watered down. But no such luck. I started to sip water and take in some grapes instead. They were good and filling the hole in my stomach. I continued this for the first 100 minutes. But then suddenly the next grape I ingested broke the camel's back. This one evil grape launched my stomach into violent dry heaves. I walked, bent over, walked and then stopped. I couldn't control it and I thought I was done. I crouched down with my head over my knee and waited for it to stop. I remember many people prior to the race advising me that if you were suffering from stomach distress to stop and wait. What's 5 or 10 minutes in an Ironman? Let it pass. My plan was to start drinking cola the 2nd loop but I was thinking that I might have to start earlier. Just as that thought entered my mind, someone ran by me and asked if I was ok. Then he shouted, "drink the cola. It settles the stomach, you know." I knew but I appreciated the reminder. The decision was made and it saved me. I started moving again.

Even though my run time was not what I wanted it to be. And even though I walked more than I wanted to, it was still a good race. I picked up my pace the last 4 miles and actually felt good coming in.

Tomorrow, I start at the beginning.

July 21, 2009

Ironman Countdown: 4 Plus Days

Ironman is now about 4 days and 7 hours away. All the little aches and pains are becoming bigger than they really are. I start to focus on them and create more concern than is needed. But the bottom line is that after almost 35 weeks of training, you can't not come to the start of this race with some kind of pain. My knees, feet, back, hip and neck all suffer or have suffered from pain during my pursuit of a third IM finish. And that's what makes finishing the Ironman special. It's your ability to push through these issues and finish.

I am not looking for a finish like I had in 2007 when I walked a lot of the last 13 miles of the run. I had stomach issues and my legs were shutting down. This year I believe I've worked through those issues and come up with a good plan for eating during the bike. For my own mental state, I need to best my time by 90 minutes in order to feel that I accomplished what I set out to do. If I do then I will feel better about taking time off for the next Ironman. Which won't be for at least 4 years!

July 18, 2009

Here Comes Ironman

Ironman is 8 days away and it's taken it's toll. The stress is not over yet.

First, let's start with the family. They love Lake Placid and they love Ironman. What's not to love for them? They get to be in a beautiful place and watch me suffer! Kidding aside, it is a great place to be on race day. The buzz is unbelieveable! And it is exciting for them to watch me. But I feel guilty because this is esentially their summer vacation. So, after this one is over, it's time to take a hiatus from Ironman. Three in the last four years is a lot. The training started the week of Thanksgiving so it's a long haul. Not just on me but the family. They suffer right along with me.

Second, I've had a good training period and I feel I'm ready to post a PR. But this past week I was out on a 20 mile ride when at 12 miles in, I broke a spoke. My trusty mechanic Juan is superb at what he does. He's the one I trust the most with my bike. He repaired the wheel but he couldn't do it the way it should have been done. He had to "Jimmy it". His words of wisdom were try it out before the race and see what happens. But in the meantime "start looking for a new wheel". This did not give me the confidence I was looking for so I started exploring options. Do I buy, rent, or borrow a bike? Luckily, a friend of mine had a set of 650 Bontrager's that are in great shape. So, I'm racing on his wheels next weekend.

Finally, I am still tuning my nutrition that is oh so important during this race. In 2007, bad nutrition on the bike crippled me on the run. I had the dry heaves at mile 10 and ended up walking 90% of the last 13 miles. Not a fun day. I came to the conclusion that Gatorade makes me sick after 2 hours of drinking it. Since I will be on the bike for about 6 1/2 hours, I need to look to replace it. I have one bike ride left to figure this out. The plan is to try Heed by Hammer which contains no sugar. It has a subtle flavor and contains enough calories and electrolytes to get me through. At this stage it's a little risky to try something new but I figured 2 1/2 hours on the bike drinking it exclusively should tell me something. The plan is also to drink more water on the bike something I usually don't do enough of.

Well, the excitement is starting to build. Still a lot to do before we shove off next Thursday. But it's all good. I have to keep the stress down this week or my wife will shoot me before I even make it to the start of the swim.

July 08, 2009

I Can See the Light

The Mental Weeks are over!

The rides on the last 5 Saturday's consisted of 100, 103, Half Ironman (56 and a break!), 99 and 90. All included runs of 30 minutes afterwards. I am in Week 33 with 2 1/2 weeks to go to race day and can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even though I am in taper there is still a lot of work to be done, don't get me wrong, but the end is near. This Saturday the ride is 60 miles with a 1 hour run to follow and it feels like I'll be on vacation. I might be home before 1 PM!!

It's at this point where you just can't wait for it to be over. Slowly you inch towards race week and the anticipation will start to build.

I also don't want anything stupid to happen. Don't trip and fall over the dog or catch your foot in the car door. No way. Stay safe.

I have a tightness in my left hip/left upper leg area which is of a concern. But at this point, if I had to do the IM today, I could. So, it's all about allowing it to heal and landing in one piece. If I have to skip a workout, I will. if I have to cut it short then I'll do that too.

I haven't felt like writing but will try to get more of the next 2 1/2 weeks written down. This is number 3 for me and I will then be going on IM hiatus. I may have to change the name of this blog!

June 21, 2009

Eagleman Re-cap

Thanks for everyone's good wishes for Eagleman. The race went well. The key was the weather. As Leah said, the weather was not as hot as last year. The run did get a little warm at times but overall it was ok. There was some cloud cover that shielded the sun but the rays were strong and still produced plenty of sun burn.

The swim was a different course this year as the area where you usually finish, the boat launch, was being repaired. They had us going in the opposite direction. I had a decent swim with a time of 35:40. I had a tough time sighting some of the buoys and at times found myself drifting off. But overall I was pleased with the swim.

I was intent on getting fast transition times this year. I came into T1 in a blaze. But the wet, muddy conditions slowed me down and I took 4:08 in getting ready for the bike. Not all that bad but I was hoping to be a minute faster.

The bike started out great as I was producing averages between 21 and 22 miles per hour. Where were the winds?!! I was hammering along and feeling great when I realized that I spoke to soon. Around mile 40, the infamous Eagleman winds kicked in and stayed with us most of the whole way home. I ended up with a 19+ average and a time of 2:55:00. I'll take it.

T2 went fairly smooth but again I was 1 minute slower than I wanted to be at 4:15. The legs felt fresh going out on the run and I was intent on hitting the turn around in under 1 hour. The hope was to couple that with a 1:05 or 1:10 run back in for 2:05, 2:10 finish. Unfortunately, it didn't work out. I tired in the middle miles and struggled after mile 11. I finished with a time of 2:18:14. Not bad but certainly not great. My overall time of 5:57:15 was a personal PR at Eagleman by 20 seconds. But the best thing I am taking away from this race is how good I felt after the race. In years past, I have felt very beat up from Eagleman but this year was different.

Now, it's on to Lake Placid with 5 weeks to go. This past week was the first week of 3 hard ones. The end is near!

June 11, 2009

Eagleman 2009

Eagleman is lurking in the shadows. 3 days away.

This will be my 8th year in a row. And like the guys I race with, I'm not sure why I do this race. It's a fantastic race. Don't get me wrong. Robert Vogorito does a fantastic job year after year. And now it's an official Ironman 70.3 so it has that level of status now. But it's the conditions that can produce misery. Rough water, Heat, and Wind. They can all make for a horrible day if just one of them shows up. Last year, at 6 AM before we even go in the water, it was at leaset 85 degrees. Later on, the heat index was 100+.

But then there was 2007 when conditions were perfect. The temp was down, the wind was at our backs and the water current pushed us a long. And record times all around.

You never know what you get on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. When I cross the line, my first thought could be 'Why?' but hours later we'll all be ready to sign up again.

June 04, 2009

The Mental Weeks

There are just a little more than 7 weeks to go until Ironman Lake Placid 2009.

These are "The Mental Weeks". There are still a lot of BIG rides left but you are oh so close to race day. You can almost see the end. Almost taste it. The alarm is still going off at 5:20 AM every single day and the sound of it makes you want to throw up. You have HAD ENOUGH! You are asking yourself and your training buddies "Why are we doing this?"

Even though those voices are starting to quiet a bit because the end is near, they are still there gnawing at you. On Saturday, the alarm goes off at 4:50 AM to get the ride started at 5:30 AM to get the 100 miles in, a 30 minute run afterwards and still be home at a decent time. Everyone shows up as if it's judgement day. It's almost "race day like" in its atmosphere. Everyone is so quiet. Then slowly the voices come to life. They curse what we are doing and suggest we head to the diner instead. Coffee, French Toast and Bacon! But somehow we get on the bikes and ride. Soldiers going off to battle. Solemn but accepting the mission.

The mental weeks are tough. You are investing alot of time into training at this point. The weeks are long. You try to prove to the family that you can train and still be a part of their lives. You can still do everything that needs to be done around the house. But it's just not possible. If I come home after riding 100 miles and running for 5 and I work outside cutting the lawn or painting the deck, I can't make it to 10 PM. Awake that is. A movie? Forget it. A beer? Would love it but then I'm out cold by 9. But still you are a trooper and the family more so. They granted you their permission for you to do this. You must put up a brave face and do what needs to be done. At least make it look like you tried to do it all.

When the mental weeks are over, it's taper time and then the real fun begins. You start the slow descent towards race day. And when it's over, it's like an addict coming off a high. It's hard to sustain but you want more. Except the family is shaking their head. Not this time. It's Saturday morning and we want you back before we wake. And don't forget the bagels.

May 26, 2009

Bears and Bikes

I was in Northeast Pennsylvania for the Memorial Day weekend. But of course training could not stop. In fact, I love to ride up there because it closely resembles Lake Placid in terms of terrain. In other words: Hills! Let's face it, the hills in LP are longer and steeper but the Poconos are a pretty good stand-in.

On Saturday, I had a 2 1/2 hour ride followed by a 30 minute run planned. The last of the easy weeks! The morning was actually quite nice. The sun was in and out but overall it was good riding weather. As always, I started early while everyone else was still sleeping. I stalled as long as I could until I could stall no longer. I was dreaming of sitting around, drinking coffee and reading the paper instead of riding alone when I awoke. But no could do. Training called and I had to answer.

After gearing up, pumping the tires and re-setting my HRM, I set off. As I rode down the driveway, only 20 feet from the house, I heard rustling in the bushes to my left. Probably a deer or turkey I thought. But as soon as I did think those thoughts, a black bear shot out and ran towards the house next door. Thankfully away from me! Of course I ran back in to tell everyone but everyone, except my father-in-law, was sleeping. At least I was excited! I remounted and shot down the driveway. The bear by now was gone.

Nothing like a little excitement to get the ride going.

At about 12 miles into the ride, I was riding up a hill on a local road as I came to the crest. To my right the hill shot down a steep slope beyond the guardrail. As I looked right and down the hill, there to my amazement, was another bear. I was again startled and put a little extra power in my cadence. But the bear really didn't give me the time of day. In fact it didn't even look in my direction. I just sped away and down the hill with the adrenaline pumping.

On my way back, I put a little extra speed in my climb past that very spot where I saw the second bear but this time there were none. At least none that I could see. All in all it was a good ride totalling 36 miles. It was about 4 miles short of what I expected to do but the hills had something to do with that. Plus, I got the bear sightings. What more could I ask for?

May 19, 2009

Musings on a Tuesday

25 weeks of training down and 10 to go. Here's where it gets interesting.

Eagleman Half Ironman is 25 days away. But it's coming at a great time. It will occur at the end of the 29th week of training with 6 to go to IM. It's great timing because it represents a change in the monotony. It's an opportunity and test to see how fit you are and if you need to work extra hard the 3 weeks following before tapering to lake Placid.

Saturday was the start of the "long rides". Saturday is always the long ride for the bike but now it gets serious. This past Saturday: 77 miles followed by a 15 minute run.

This week, Memorial Day weekend, we get a break. A 3 hour ride. Time to enjoy the day off because it gets doubled on May 3o to 6 hours. Joy!

Time to stock up on Gatorade, Cliff Bars, Z Bars and Snickers!

Yesterday was an official day off. Today was not. But I took it anyway because I was flat out exhausted. Plus, I normally ride before work and it was 45 degrees out. Sorry, done with that this year. Gotta be warmer.

However, I will make up the 90 minute ride tomorrow or Thursday. I will need to double up workouts. Can't miss anything from here on in.

Last night around 10, I was so looped I couldn't stand up. Tonight is better.

The knee's have been holding up. Someone knock some wood for me. Thanks.

Masters Swim tomorrow morning at 6 AM sharp. Can't wait! Really....I can't.

We were all complaining Saturday about getting up early constantly to get the workouts in. Can't wait for it to be over. The problem is that when it's over, you don't know what to do with yourself. You go through withdrawal. But I'll figure it out.

Well, time to start heading toward bed.

Somewhere "there's "kite blowing out of control on a breeze."

And so am I.

May 12, 2009

Boo Ironman!

The World Triathlon Corporation or Ironman itself, I really don't know who governs this race anymore, has slipped us a fast one. They have taken away one of the greatest benefits of completing this race.

Ironman recently announced the following:

"Friends and/or family members will no longer be permitted to cross the finish line or enter the finish chute with participating athletes. However, friends and/or families are encouraged to reunite with their athlete in the photo/post-race area just beyond the finish line"

I will not win my age group. I will not qualify for Kona. I will finish somewhere in the 13 to 14 hour range. When I make that last turnaround in Lake Placid and head for the Olympic skating oval and the IM finish, I am flooded with adrenaline. I almost feel I could go another 5 miles. The joy of seeing my family is overwhelming. At both my IM races and finishes in Lake Placid, my three daughters waited patiently for me. They were excited to see me finish the race. They are getting older now but they still smile and join me in my dash across the finish line and through the tape. I think they look forward to it.

But now the Big Corporation says: No More!

It's a sad day for the common athlete.

Somewhere, there are athletes like me who may indeed win their Age Group. And somewhere deep inside, and I realize this is dangerous to be accusatory, I believe it is probably because of them that we cannot finish with our family anymore. They were tired of fighting Bob and his three kids as they strolled across the finish line. Maybe it cost Johnny Age Grouper a few precious seconds off his time. He still qualified but it could have been 2 seconds faster. And in his opinion, that was an outrage. Two sides to every story.

Or maybe it's the I-word getting in the way again. The I-word being Insurance. Whatever the reason, it won't be the same for me this year at Lake Placid. It's just a sad day.

May 03, 2009

Guy's Weekend

I am just back from a "guy's weekend" with my father-in-law and my 6 brothers in law. (There is a 7th but he couldn't join us as he is in Germany with the US Army). This is our traditional Christmas gift from my wife's Dad. A weekend of golf and hanging out. I met up with the rest of the group for dinner as I couldn't get off work Friday but the rest of them could. They all played golf during the day while I worked. I also brought all my workout clothes and training gear as I am at the end of Week 23 in IM Training and couldn't take off the weekend from training. So, I did what I have always done the last three years this traditional trip has occurred: I ride after golf.

Friday night was good food, laughs and a lot of beers. And I mean a lot of beers. Somehow they are hard to count when your glass is rarely empty. Pitchers are filled and glasses are re-filled.

Bedtime was midnight.

The alarm sounded at 6:15 Saturday morning. The head was foggy and the mouth was dry. I needed water and coffee in that order. And then I needed more coffee. We played 18 holes of golf and it was a glorious day. Cloudy and windy for the first nine but by the back we were basking in sunshine. After lunch we finally got back home at 1:30 and as everyone started to sack out on couches, floors and beds (Yes-there were a few nappers), I changed into my bike shorts and headed out for a 1 hour 45 minute ride followed by a 15 minute run. We were in the Poconos so I had a nice rolling hills course to simulate Lake Placid. I was tired but the sun was really out now and I was looking forward to it. I was also thankful that the training schedule didn't call for a 3 to 4 hour ride. That would have been depressing.

After I completed my workout, it was time to shower and then it was back to watching sports, eating and drinking more beer. I didn't go too crazy because Sunday was a 1 hour 20 minute run. But we were all gassed anyway from the day and people were leaving early so it was an early night. I do admit that Yuengling's taste better after 30 miles on the bike and a great day of golf. Plus, there is no guilt. I can't wait until next year!

April 16, 2009


Wow, I have not been very good at writing or reading other blogs. Between Work, Training, Family and Life in general, it has been crazy. Wait a second, I feel a complaint coming on. Whew! Caught it just in time.

In the words of a very famous philosopher, "you have to visualize what you want." I want peace, harmony and time to get everything done in 24 hours. But right now I am visualizing going to bed and hitting the pool in the morning.

I promise to visualize writing more consistently and catch up with what everyone else is writing. Especially those who take the time to read what I write.

Oh, and one more thing: Happy Birthday Mom!

March 30, 2009

The Lonely 3000 Yards

My training plan had 3 swims scheduled for last week and two of them were for 3000 yards. Same thing this week too.

Somehow, I got switched to swimming at night after work instead of in the morning. I usually like the morning better because then the swim doesn't hang over my head all day. Plus, when I swim at night I get home late so less family time. Although, I'm not sure that was a factor tonight. When I walked in the 12 year old was screaming at the 14 year old and my wife was the referee. Maybe I should have stayed and swam another 3000.

Usually, at 7 PM when I get to the Y, the pool is crazy with the Y swim team. There are three lanes for lap swimming until 7:30 and then it goes down to one. However, for the last three weeks the team has been on hiatus. So, when I get there, the pool is empty. It's actually nice to not have to battle for an open lane. But the distance is the killer.

One of my training partners has been swimming alone lately too. We've come to call these workouts "The Lonely 3000 Yards." It's a mental chore to get through it but you know if you don't you will feel worse. So, there I was on a Lonely Monday night at the Lonely Y Pool pounding out the Lonely 3000 Yards. I'm pretty sure it's all worth it.

March 29, 2009

It's Not Just About the Race

I always seem to write better when I plan my blog entries and this one is sort of planned. I have an idea of what I want to write about but I didn't create it before I signed on. That seems to be my life anyway, doing things without any plans in mind. Trying to pull it off with no plan in place. Well, that works in some things but it's not a good recipe for your entire life. It is especially not good for completing an Ironman race. Although, I do know a guy that does it. Sort of. He doesn't follow any formalized plan but makes sure he swims 3 times a week, gets in several 100 mile bike rides and runs far enough. He's one of those gifted runners who can turn in a sub 4 hour marathon without really training. But one thing is sure, he doesn't start his training like I did the week of Thanksgiving for a July race. He gets to it when he gets to it.

There is a great article in the Winter 2009 issue of Triathlon Life. This is the publication of the USAT. On page 114, Jeff Matlow writes an artilce titled "Beyond the Pain." It is largely a story about a Tri Coach named Tony that Jeff hired to help him train for triathlon racing and other endurance events. Tony was an ex-military guy so that right there should tell you the kind of coach he was. Jeff said he was tough but also knew when to back off if the training was pushing too hard. One time during training for a marathon and an Ironman, Jeff gets hurt and is told by his doctor to stop running. The doctor allowed him to do pool running but that got boring. So, he did what every bored, tough triathlete does when they are injured and can't run outside. He hit the elliptical machine.

There was one specific training session when Jeff decided to go for 26.2 miles on the elliptical. It took him 3 hours and 28 minutes. If that mind numbing exercise can't prepare you for triathlon when half the time you are battling yourself and the other half the course, then I don't know what will. I've personally been on a few 6+ hour rides that get old after awhile but the elliptical? I can't even last 2 hours on my trainer. But this is precisely the point that Jeff wants to make. It was his coach Tony that prepared him for this. As he said, "he was proud of having pushed forward when every cell in my body tried to convince me to fall back."

The training sessions with Tony taught him more than how to swim, bike and run. All the pain, anguish, and tears accumulated during endurance training eventually add up to something. Yes, it hopefully gets you to the finish line but there is more. As Jeff said "....Triathlon isn't just about the race. Rather, it's about what you learn from the race that you can apply to the rest of your life."

This past Saturday, four of us showed up at the usual parking lot we meet at for our long rides. It was finally warmer than the usual '27 degrees" that it has been all winter but still chilly out and overcast. We're half way to Ironman now but all so tired of waking up at 5:30 and riding in the cold. In any evet, we somehow mounted the bikes and headed out. It warmed up some and the time went quicker than we thought it would. We pulled back into the lot and commented aloud that the ride wasn't that bad and actually enjoyble. But that's what triathlon teaches. When everything seems impossible, it's the strong that continue on.

March 22, 2009

Running with Injuries

As I warmed up for my long run today, which was only supposed to be 1 hour 20 min max, the thoughts slipped into my mind again. The knees, the feet, the heels, the back and the hips are all experiencing nagging injuries. And all I can say that after this year: No More Ironman. Of course, the next sentence out of mouth is usually:

“Well, at least for awhile”

But the thought of not doing it again is really starting to take hold. You see I am trying to make it through this training without seeing any doctors. Swimming and biking are fine but running is a mental chore. I’ve had these knee injuries before and I know what I need to do to prevent them. Or at least lessen their impact. I need to do the exercises my PT taught me to warm the knee up. But between work, training and life in general, the plate is always full. There is no time for anything else. Of course it will force my hand if the injuries worsen and then I’ll tell myself that I told you so.

This morning seemed a little different. I think the warm up actually helped. But the left toes are still giving me that hot nerve like pain. That is a result of my shoes, I think. I run in Saucony Hurricanes. I was a big fan of the 8’s but I am running in the 9’s and they are different. Don’t you hate when the manufacturer does that?! Change the shoes and maybe alleviate the pain. We’ll see.

Anyway, this whole training odyssey is about keeping sane and not letting the intensity and frequency of the workouts get you down. Just don’t look too far ahead in the schedule. It’s just another part of the discipline required to get you through it all.

March 15, 2009

Hurry Spring

Ok, cold weather really does SUCK! Have I said this before? Maybe, on one or two occasions. But it's really testing my patience this year. The last three Winters have been mild so it hasn't been bad in terms of training but this year just don't get me started!

On Saturday, I was on my way to meet my training partners for our scheduled long ride. It was 27 degrees out and I started to question why I was doing this. (Don't worry I am not dropping out! It's all just smack Katie!) I left a nice warm bed with the promise of hot coffee and the morning paper to ride and freeze my fingers and toes off. Plus, not to mention all the clothes you have to pile on. That in itself is getting old. But nonetheless, I trudged on and was not alone in my opinions.

At one point during the ride, we passed another person in their robe walking down their driveway, coffee cup in hand, to pick up the paper. I said to Jim, "I want to be that person. I'm sick of being the freezing one on the bike passing by." He agreed.

It did manage to warm up to about 43 degrees when we started our run. But it wasn't like it was last week when the starting temp was 30 and the ending temp was 60. And you know it's only with the bike that the cold weather sucks. I love to run in the cold. Ok, maybe I don't love it but I tolerate it. Actually, I do like it. But with the bike the issue is time since we are on it so long. Spring can't get here quick enough.

March 05, 2009

Getting Sick

When you're sick not only don't you feel like training but you don't feel like writing either. I got hit with something just short of strep throat. I missed two days of work (which I never do) and an entire week of training. But even now, with this the first week back, I am easing back in. My energy just got really zapped. I couldn't lift my arms.

It all happened after my run on Sunday, February 22. I wasn't feeling great Saturday night but had a 1 hour and 40 minute run scheduled for Sunday. I think I broke the cardinal rule. If it's below the head, don't work out. If it's above it then go ahead. Is that it? Anyway, I had a cough that was burning at the end of it. That should have been my warning sign but I ran anyway. It had been a good week. Long but good so I wanted to finish it with this run. Then I came crawling home. It was the run from Hell. No energy. Shivering. Aches and pains. I also think I was tired from the 41 miles on the bike the day before. I spent the whole day in bed after the run with extreme body aches. Started running a fever and just felt like crap. I went to the doctor on Monday and got anti-biotics and here I am. Better and getting stronger each day. Back to training. Back to writing.

My Ironman fever has cooled. I actually thought of dropping out. But I'm ready to start full tilt again. It's supposed to be 60 this weekend and that's good news. I'm just done with this winter. Done. It's been a long one here in the East. Global warming is not here yet. I can attest to that.

February 19, 2009

Win the Lottery & Train All the Time

Well, this was supposed to be a continuation of the last entry but I got a little lazy this week with my writing. Well, better late than never. I think that my apply here or is that when I apologize to my wife for trashing the house but not immediately admitting to it?

Sunday's run was great. But I continue to have that slightly hot pain with the sensation of my foot being asleep in my left foot. It usually starts at around 30 to 40 minutes into the run. Sometimes it goes away and sometimes it does not. So far it hasn't shut me down completely so I'll just continue to monitor it. I did 8+ miles in 1 hour and 27 minutes. S-L-O-W I know. But I was trying to keep it in Zone 1 on my HRM which is like trying to walk a tightrope with a 200 pound backpack on. I just can't seem to do it.

Monday was another big day as I hit the pool in the morning for 3000 yards and lifted weights afterwards. It was Presidents Day and I was off from work so I had the afternoon free. It was cool out, maybe 38 degrees, but SUNNY. How could I resist? I mean the bike was still right there by my front door from Saturday's ride. Plus I had a 90 minute ride in the training plan scheduled for tomorrow which almost certainly would have to be done on the trainer. I really don't think there was anything to consider why I shouldn't ride. I mean my wife and daughters were still out of town. What was I going to do anyway? Watch a soap opera? It turned out to be one of those "magical rides" where everything just felt great. The weather was almost perfect. Traffic was light. I was a little tired but I took it slow and got 22 miles in.

Tuesday was an earned day off and much needed. But I think Wednesday it all came crashing down. I hit the pool at 6 AM for a Masters class and I was anything but a master. (Not that I am anything close to one when I am at the top of MY game). I was sluggish at best. But you know, it was all worth it. Outside for two bike rides in three days. I'll take it in the midst of this Winter.

Now I just need to win the lottery so I can train like this all the time.

February 14, 2009

Big Saturday

What do you do when your wife and daughters are out of town on a Saturday? You train!

I had a big day today and now I'm ready to hit the couch. We hit the road at 8:15 AM with a balmy temperature of 27 degrees and cloudy skies. I had hot packs in both of my shoes and my gloves. They did help but Boy, it was cold! It didn't matter though because I was getting out no matter what today. I haven't been outside on the bike since early December and the trainer was starting to drive me crazy. (Think "the Shinning"). Someday, I have to put a picture up on this blog of my "training room" where my bike sits. I have basically imprisioned myself.

At around 1 hour into the ride, the sun did appear and it warmed up quite nicely. It actually felt great. The pain in the toes and fingers was subsiding. I was glad I didn't blow this off.

After 2 1/4 hours and32 miles, we got off the bikes and ran for 15 minutes. The run is just get the legs to turn over and to feel that heaviness after getting off the bike.

On my way back home, I decided to stop off at my Y and get some laps in. I missed a swim this week plus one was on the schedule for today anyway. I did 2000 yards in under 50 minutes but what really stood out were the two major cramps I experienced. One in the right hamstring and the other in the left foot. Cramps in the pool stink. But, hey, at least I got there.

And now it's either Miller time or crash time. Maybe, I'll see what movies are available via on demand. Either way, I'm in bed early tonight. A long run awaits me for tomorrow.

What else do you do with your wife and daughters out of town? You write a blog entry on a Saturday night. I lead an exciting life!

February 11, 2009


I am a BIG fan of Sully Sullenberger and the rest of the crew of Flight 1549. If you watched the interviews on 60 minutes or Larry King Live, you might agree. There are many parts of this story that make it great. But I guess the most important is that it had a happy ending. The 155 people from that flight are alive today because of the quick thinking of Sully. It's amazing when you start to look at the amount of time he had to make the decision on what to do with the plane. I may be off slightly with these numbers but it was about 2 minutes into the flight when they struck the birds and about 6 minutes in when he put the jet down into the Hudson. It seems like he played out all the scenarios of what to do in his mind like he had a microprocessor crunching all the numbers. It's just amazing that someone can think that quickly and that soundly and under all that pressure. He really had no time to think of his family or the passengers in back. He only thought of what his options were for saving these people and this plane. He had a triathlete's focus and detrmination multiplied to the tenth power.
So, with that I ask you, what is the deal with Alex Rodriguez? How come he couldn't think that clearly before he shot HGH into himself? Or that woman, Jennifer Figge, who claims to have swam across the Atlantic Ocean? Well, it's now come out that it was a hoax. She only swam 250 miles in all. What was she thinking before she let the media publish this story? The world is filled with imposters and "role models" that constantly let us down. We are in need of true heroes.
In the end, I hope nothing bad comes out about Sully and his Crew. I hope there are no skeletons in the closet. Hopefully, he paid all his taxes. Hopefully, his ultra human thinking capacity wasn't enhanced by shooting adrenaline into his veins. Is that stuff banned? If he is who he says he is and I gotta believe he is, then I'd like to see kids wearing Sully Football Jersey's with his name on the back. Or kids playing with Flight 1549 trading cards instead of A-Roid's rookie card. Or maybe what will happen is that this story will make us feel good for awhile but then fade into the background once its' run its' course. That is how a true hero story goes.
We will all remember where we were that day and how Sully and his team made us feel hopeful. A story to inspire a generation.

February 08, 2009

Sunday Morning

Well, the rusted chain proved too much to handle this morning. I couldn't get myself out of bed at 6 AM in order to give myself enough time to clean it, get it working and meet my friends by 8 AM. The urge to sleep in was really the culprit here. I had to sleep past 7 with a big training week coming up. I just had to. probably a mental thing. Tomorrow morning a swim workout is scheduled and I will attempt to make the 6 AM masters class. We, shall see.

I was looking at my two past training logs for IMLP 2006 and 2007, I have to say I was outside on the bike alot more than I have been here in 2009. It's not that we've had a lot of snow, it's just that it has stuck around a lot longer. The roads are awful. Potholes, salt, sand, rocks. It's a nightmare for bikes. My race bike, being my "best" bike is 7 years old but it's still my best bike. I can't risk taking it out. It would be a mess so I need my R300 in working condition so I can take advantage of these 50 degree days.
But really I am also horrified at the condition of this bike. I am usually very good about keeping my bikes clean and in working condition. But this is just neglect. DIBS is probably on their way to get me right now. (DIBS = Division of Bike Services) Maybe it's this bike itself. It sure has taken a lot of abuse over the years like 3 years ago on the way to Hilton Head. Somehow the bike rack had come loose and I was dragging this poor thing for a few miles. I had to get several new parts including pedals. DIBS let me off easy on that one.
Well, I will try to bring it back to life and if I can't then it's time to see Juan, my trusty mechanic. What a weekend.

February 07, 2009

Saturday Night

I have a lot of great ideas for new posts but this is not one of them. It's Saturday night and here I am writing on my blog. How exciting!! Shouldn't I be out on the town? Naw, that's not me anymore. I didn't want too much time to pass before my next post so I'm "getting this one in". This is why it's not one of my new, great ideas.

Ok, back to what I need to tie into with these posts: training. Borrrrinnggg again. Actually, I did my long run today with the hope of getting outside tomorrow for my long bike. It is supposed to be 50+ F here in North Jersey on Sunday. But I don't want to ride my race bike since the roads are mucky. Don't want to mess it up. The snow will be melting, lots of salt all over the place as well as rocks and sticks. That will wreck havoc on the bike. So, my next great idea was to drag my Cannondale R300 out of the garage. Dust it off. Literally. It has no pedals, no seat and, I found out tonight, that the chain is rusted. I can fix the seat and the pedals but the chain requires dirty work. Only not tonight. This means, unless I get up early to deal with it, I am riding alone on the trainer again. My friends are meeting at 8 AM and I don't know if I can get the bike operational by then. Sleep is important too!

Ok, my head is hurting. That's enough for this lonely Saturday night. Geez, I hope I can get outside tomorrow.

February 02, 2009

Ramblings on a Monday

Last week was the 10th week of my training plan for Lake Placid. It was also the 2nd consecutive week of a hard cycle. Unfortunately, because of work, weather and everything else going on, I missed or shorted a few workouts. I know. Excuses! Just excuses.

I do try to keep to the weekend long stuff but this Winter is really starting to wear me thin. I haven't been able to ride outside since early December when we last had a mild day. Normally, I hate the trainer. Or rather can exist only for a short time on it. But I have taken to watching movies from Netflix ( on my PC. Saturday, I watched Young Frankenstein and was howling. I finished the ride off with a few episodes from The Office. Great stuff. Keeps the mind from realizing what you are actually doing. (Not to mention the numbness)

Then on Saturday evening, I got hit with a tremendous cold. It hit me like a ton of bricks. But being the warrior I am (or at least am trying to be), I attempted my long run. It was supposed to be for 90 minutes but I could only muster 57 minutes and 5 miles. Alot of walking. I felt like crap. No energy whatsoever. I struggled home as Pearl Jam danced in my head.

Let's hope this is a better week although it is lighter in the schedule so that should help. In fact today, I had the day off.

January 31, 2009


I haven't written a post in a long time. Many reasons. First, life has been busy with work, family and training. And secondly, because I just haven't felt up to it. My Dad passed away on January 17 at the age of 86. Two weeks ago today. And I felt I could get back to writing this thing without first mentioning it.

His last 18 months of life hadn't been very good. In August of 2007, he entered a nursing home after falling and dislocating his artificial hip. Unfortunately, they were not able to operate to replace it because of his age and the weakness of his heart. So, he was confined to a wheelchair. And that was just not good a good scenario for him. He was a life long athlete, a very independent person and strong as an ox. To see him in a position of weakness was not right. His mind was starting to go as well so he had the beginnings of dementia, which, in a strange way was almost better for his physical condition. He simply thought everyday in the nursing home was his first and his last. He had lost track of time.
The last few days were tough on everyone as they were spent by his bed in a local hospice. Hospice is end of life care so there are no needles, no IV's, no nutrition to keep him alive. Only oxygen and morphine. The staff of the hospice was wonderful. And what I learned during his ordeal is that you have to be a very special person to work in a hospice. Everyone was very comforting and very positive.

At around 6:45 PM on Saturday night, I left the room with my brother Al and my nephew Glenn saying goodbye to my Father for the last time. My father's breathing had become very labored. In fact, the nurse said that his mind was elsewhere now and it was a matter of time before his body would give out. At 12:10 AM Sunday morning, Al called to give me the news. Of course I knew right away. The ring of the phone has a diiferent tone when someone is calling with bad news.
Although, I know my Father is in a better place now and his pain has ended, it's tough to comprehend. I have had much younger family members die before but a parent is different no matter what age. I think it's the feeling of exposure. One of the people responsible for bringing you into the world is now no longer here. Even though I am grown and with a family of my own, I feel a little less protected now that he is gone.

All I am is a middle of the pack, 47 year old amateur triathlete. But, what the heck, I will dedicate my races to my Dad this year. No one will notice. No one will really care. And that's fine with me. And maybe as I cross the finish line at Lake Placid in July, I'll point to the sky like major league baseball players do after they cross homeplate.

January 12, 2009

Triathlon is Life

Triathlon training makes me feel alive. As much as I complain about getting up early, doing the actual workouts makes me feel on top of the world. I thrive on the endorphins that come from a strong swim, a great bike ride or a long run. It could be running, swimming, biking or triathlon, if it makes you feel strong and alive, then it's life. To me, triathlon is life.

Today begins Week 8 of the road to Ironman Lake Placid. Last week was supposed to be a big week in terms of training time. But due to the weather, work obligations and a host of other excuses, I did a little over half of what I was supposed to do. My training partners were in the same boat. However, when a workout is missed, whatever the opposite of life is, that is what I feel like. And it doesn't feel good. An enormous amount of guilt comes over me. I then have to plan on doing it after work and during the Winter, that is always tough. I get home at night tired, it's dark out, la la la, you know the rest.

But today, Day 1 of Week 8 and it calls for a day off. A much needed mental and physical rest. For the last few weeks I have been dealing with cold weather, snow, ice, rain and little sleep. It takes its toll. A day off is good. No, a day off is great!

I plan to hit every workout this week including getting to bed on time. And it's time for that.

January 01, 2009

Training Goals for 2009

Happy New Year!

Man, 2008 was a tough year and I am glad to see it go. But don't we find ourselves saying that every year? I guess it's the promise that a new year brings. A fresh start. New beginnings. A list of goals to achieve.

Over the next week, I will start to compile my list of personal goals and achievements I want to attain for 2009. Some I will share but some, which are more personal in nature, I will not. I am sure nobody really wants to read about them anyway. They might bore you.

I have become better at listing goals, achievements or dare I say that word, resolutions over the years. I try not to make them too hard to conquer. For example, Designing a new software program and selling it to Microsoft for $5 Million Dollars is a goal I would like to achieve but it's not realistic! It ain't gonna happen. I'm looking for the low hanging fruit that I can pick off quickly and make more meaningful to my life. They will be centered around Family, Work, Personal and of course, Training.

I have been starting to think of goals in all these areas but have not put them down on paper yet. However, I will attempt to do that right here and now with the Training aspect of my life. I don't think it will be that hard since I am constantly thinking about training. (I hear my wife sigh in the background). But that's what triathlon training does to you. Doesn't it? Everytime you try to leave it, it keeps pulling you back in.

Ok, here it goes, my off the cuff, not well thought out, Training Goals for 2009.

1. Getting Up. When the alarm clock goes off at 6 AM for a Run, get out of bed at 6. Don't hit the snooze 4 times and get out at 6:36. By then I have to cut the workout short.

2. Don't cut the workouts short. (See above)

3. Stay Healthy. This might be a little harder to achieve since it's not totally in my control but I'll see what I can do. Over the last 5 years I have battled Knee issues (Runner's Knee), foot problems, a broken hand, etc. I require alot of stretching, being strict in how much time I add to my runs each week and being warmed up for my workouts.

4. Don't Do It. Don't pretend that you are a pro at ice skating. This actually happened two days ago when I got a little fancy on the ice with my daughters. The left hand still hurts.

5. Avoid activities that could result in an injury like Ice Skating, Snow Tubing, Car Skitching, Jumping off the roof, etc. I didn't really jump off the roof but let me put it down here now so there is never the urge to, er, jump off the roof.

6. Incorporate Weights into my training. I actually have already done this. I think this could help prevent some of my injuires. Although, I'm not sure about jumping off the roof. It might not help with that! The experts have always stated that strength training can help prevent over use injuries so we'll see.

7. Hit Every Workout. Incorporate all the above goals plus being focused and disciplined to hit the training program as it is. Now, I know realistically, I will miss a few due to family and work obligations but they cal always be made up. In the end, you just never know what will trip you up on the way to Ironman. But all this is necessary for 1 thing to meet the following goal:

8. Finish Ironman Lake Placid 2009 in 13:31. I have a lot to prove to myself after getting sick at mile 10 of IM LP 2007. I went in the opposite direction of my first finish in 2006. I think I can do this but it will take a great race in terms if nutrition, weather conditions and have enough in the tank for the last 13.1 miles.

Now, it's time to test it out. I'm heading out for a Run today in 25 degree weather followed by 40 minutes on the trainer immediately after. A great start to a great new year.