Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year Reflections

I usually post this time of year reflecting on the year that just passed. I've logged the majority of my highlights in this space of the internet already so it seems a bit redundant. Also a bit self absorbed, especially considering everything else going on in the world right now. The one focus I strive for is to make each year stand out - so I sit here at this time each December and think, man, that was quite a year! If this was the case for anyone else that may be reading, congratulations! Take the same approach and set some high standards for 2009. If the year passed and all's that you are focused on is the negatives, than it's time to rethink your approach and get on a new path. That's the cool thing about a new year - you are starting with a clean slate.

Here are some of my tips to make this coming year a special one:

  1. Stop watching the news. Stay up to date with current events through periodicals instead of the screen. What's portrayed on the news is usually a sensationalized view of the reality. Funny, I talk with many different business people daily. Very educated people who have interesting and powerful career positions. Each one I talk to gives me a totally different view of the current economic crisis, and what they foresee in the future. What I've come to conclude is that each persons view is based solely on their personal situation instead of looking at the global situation, even if they think they are looking globally. This is regardless of whether they are optimistic or pessimistic. My point is that A. I don't think anyone really knows what the hell is going on, and B. we need to be more proactive instead of following the news and advice of people we think are in the know.

  2. Start each day by asking yourself what you are going to do that day that puts you ahead - that separates you from the ordinary. OK, I know this is hokey, but get in the habit of looking in the mirror each morning, telling yourself it's going to be a great day (even if it is a grey Monday in February and -2 degrees outside), and asking yourself this question. Instead of rolling your eyes, just try it for two weeks. What have you got to lose?

  3. Don't accept routine, normalcy, or complacency. Easier said than done. Many have fallen into the habit of doing the same things each day, week, year. Those racing endurance events feel they are putting themselves out there, but the truth is that many of them are doing the same exact things they have done for the last five years. Switch it up. Stretch your goals a bit. Decide that this year, you are going to throw in one off the wall or bizarre or out of routine training session each week. The Tue night MTB ride reintroduced to me the fact that as much as I love swimming, biking, and running, I had become to routine. When was the last time you finished a day feeling re-invigorated and full of new energy that you couldn't sleep? This happened to me after the first few night rides. Something new and exciting to switch up the schedule a bit.

  4. Get out and train with others at least once a month. For some, that's a not a common thing. If you typically train with the same people, aim to train with some other athletes as well at least once per month. I have this Sunday morning run and it's been mostly just Ken and I. We do different courses, throw in hill repeats, trails, ... Most don't want to drive to run, and do the same long run each week. I've watched Ken go from a 7 min/mi racer to a 6 min/mi racer. Good stuff.
  5. Don't accept what others say. Being told that you are not capable of doing something that you truly believe in should just fuel you. People in life, for some reason, are constantly offering their unasked for advice to others in the form of negativity. If you believe what they tell you, then it will come true. If you have your sights set high and people tell you that maybe you should lower them, you can believe them and not even try, or you can defy them and prove to them and more importantly, yourself, that you are capable.
  6. Smile more. Ok, once again, a bit hokey. But studies prove that those who smile more have more energy and carry through on things.
  7. Surround yourself with influential, positive people, and dismiss those who drag you down. As we age, time becomes more and more precious and why waste it with those who don't contribute anything positive at all?

That's enough for now. Sure, we've all heard these things but how many of us are following all of them? If you are one of the few who is, then you are way ahead of the game and will have a brilliant 2009, congrats. If you are one of the many who is stuck in a rut, the choice is yours right now. You don't want to reflect back on a year, or worse, twenty years, thinking I coulda, shoulda, woulda.



Sunday, December 28, 2008

Is age getting the best of me?

December 28th and I ran in shorts and short sleeves this morning! The trails were a mess so I ran a very hilly road course and my legs felt great, unexpectedly. I keep overthinking this whole age thing. There are some days that remind me that I'm supposedly on the downward slope. This isn't a depressing thing, just the factuality that I started racing in my 20's and I'm now in my 40's. These are the days when I feel a bit more stiff than usual. When my gait seems three inches shorter than it used to and when I don't have that spring up the hills that I remember. I'm not looking for sympathy, trust me. I'm just jotting down my thoughts. I know that this is a bit self consuming and that's the one battle I continuously have with keeping a blog anyways, but maybe there is something of value in here. If not, then you just wasted a minute of your time reading this. (Straz, that's five minutes of your time - I know your reading level.)

I perform a lot of self analysis tests - tests that I have been using for years to compare and evaluate where my present fitness is. I recommend often that my athletes come up with a solid run course and bike course where they themselves can perform such tests. As much as these tests give me an idea of my present fitness AND health (you can have one and not the other), I also know that lab results and tests aren't always accurate in depicting certain information. Trust me, I've been doing this for over twenty years and have studied the analytical as well as the actual.

The main obstacle when evaluating ones form and fitness and health is in not lying to oneself. Lying in general is something that really bothers the hell out of me. I know it bothers most, but I really get overly irritated with it for some reason. It's the main thing I stress constantly to my kids. "we never lie", "be humble" and "always think about yourself in someone elses shoes" are the lessons that I hope become ingrained in them from my constant reminding(nagging). We all have some ability to lie to ourselves. Justifying is a form of this. This is a self-defense mechanism set up so that we don't get ourselves in to much trouble physically. Now I'm not talking about justifying or lying with non-physical things. There is a difference and it has to do with ethics. Convincing lots of people to invest their life savings with you and screwing them out of that money is a bit different than convincing yourself that you gave it your all and did the best race you could, don't you think? OK, I'm getting off topic.

I don't want to lie to myself, telling myself that I'm as fit as I was maybe two or ten years ago and convincing myself that I'm not on that downward slope. If I feel I can't run as fast as I once was able to, I'll deal with it. That brings me to today.

As I was out on my run, feeling good and thinking about the upcoming year and goals (I recently sent all my athletes a specific goal sheet asking them about their realistic goals and their dream or reach goals), I thought about whether I was setting the bar to high or to low. And with all the HR, wattage and time tests that I performed this past year, the one test that puts a smile on my face and proves to me that I can still put out my best times (this is if I had the amount of time I would need to put into training) is the Vermont Ride I did with Baker and Molson in August. After doing this ride since 97 every year, sometimes twice per year, I averaged my fastest time to date and felt strong the whole way there AND back. Reflecting on this gives me a lot of confidence knowing that this coming year is going to be an exciting one and one where I definitely reach!



Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

I'm sitting here procrastinating. I want to get a run in, but I guess not that bad, as I'm wasting time instead of getting dressed to go. That's what a foodfest, sugar-filled, too-much-wine couple of days will do to ya. Up until Wednesday, I have been quite disciplined in regards to my nutrition the last month - something not so easy in December. I have a good routine that works for me that I'll share, out of boredom and the fact that strangely, I have been getting a bunch of inquiries about what I eat. Just keep in mind that this works for me.

4:45 am: Yoplait Vanilla Yogurt
8 oz of H2O w/ 2 teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar
2 salmon oil supplements
2 packets of emergen-c
2 probiotic capsules

6am: coffee (black)

9 am: shake (frozen bananas, soy milk, peanut butter, whey protein, flax seed)

sometime during the day: apple w/ almond butter

Some other time during the day: hand full of honey oat pretzels

Dinner: something protein related w/ veggies and a glass of wine
2 more salmon oil supplements

Yesterday, I had none of the stuff on my routine menu really. I'm not going to search for the nutrition in what I ate and make any justifications. I did have a piece of coconut cream pie, a piece of chocolate cream pie, a bunch of cookies and chocolate chip biscotti. OK, now I feel gross again. I guess I just needed this reminder - time to go run. Maybe I'll even tack on a few extra miles. Tonight, I'm making home made pizza.



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Run Playlist Today

Ran 9 miles with some pick-ups thrown in at the 20 min and 40 min mark. I had a cool playlist rolling - at least I dig it. Here it is in order:

Malibu - Hole (great warm up song)
99 Problems - Jay-Z (but a bitch aint one)
Timebomb - Beck (good tempo to this song - helps you find the right pace)
Sex On Fire - Kings Of Leon (These guys are good, check em out if you havent yet)
When The World Is Running Down - Police (old school - great beat to run to)
Hello/Goodbye - Lupe Fiasco (just a cool song, period)
Something Is Not Right With Me - Cold War Kids (Lisa thinks the title is fitting for me)
Control - Puddle Of Mudd (try running easy to this one)
Times Like These - Foo Fighters (classic song, makes me feel good for some reason)
I’m Not Over - Carolina Liar (another good beat to run to. Duh, this is a run playlist)
Can’t Stop - Red Hot Chili Peppers (Again, the title is fitting. The end of this song is just to cool)
Daft Punk Is Playing In My House - LCD Soundsystem (stupid song, but great to run to)
L.E.S. Artistes - Santogold (tempo of this song starts to ease my effort)
Lucky Man - The Verve (just a great, fitting song. A good one to get stuck in your head)



Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow Running

Who needs snowshoes? Ken and I met at 7am this morning for our Sunday long run as usual. There were a lot less cars in the trail parking lot this morning. That's a shame - it was a beautiful morning to run. Connecticut got hammered with snow yesterday - a fluffy, yet thick snow. This is great to run in and makes for a different workout. It's definitely a strength run. The first thing most ask when they find I'm running in the trails in the snow is "don't your feet get wet and cold?" Once your feet are wet, they're wet. And they rarely get cold as long as your moving.

I hope others got a chance to get outside and run in this. it's amazingly peaceful in the woods and the white snow is unbelievably picturesque. It'd be a shame to be stuck indoors on a treadmill and miss out on these days that are few and far between.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

December Blues?

One year ago, I wrote about the lack of motivation many athletes experience during December. You can read it here: http://http//hodska.blogspot.com/2007/12/off-season-blues.html (I am not great on the computer and don't know how to make just the word "here" the link, so bare with me.)

I feel it's worth revisiting. In this post, I want to discuss mental attitude a bit more.

I always try to be dead honest with myself. I get nervous going into big events and experience self doubt sometimes. I remind myself of all the hard work I put in towards the upcoming event, and ask myself these questions: A) why am I doing this and B) what are my expectations? I then break B down a bit further asking myself what result will I truly be content with? Sometimes this can add to the nerves, but the main thing I try to avoid is making any pre-race excuses in case something goes wrong. Once we start doing this, we begin to set ourselves up for a disappointing race before we even get to the starting line. It's easy to feel outside expectations besides the ones that we place on ourselves. I feel them. The key thing is not try to justify anything before or after races. I remember posting a race journal and a friend and athlete I coached commented that I was awfully hard on myself. I went back and re-read my journal and found that I was being honest, given my expectations. When I was younger and first began racing, I had some good results in local races quickly and started placing race pressure on myself. If I had any set backs in training, something we all encounter throughout the season, I'd begin to make excuses in my head in case I didn't finish where I wanted to. My ego was getting the best of me which happens easily when you are young and naive - or stupid. I caught this quickly and thought that this negativism and focus on petting my ego was not only silly, but that it was going to sap the enjoyment and learning process out of racing. Another young friend of mine couldn't let this go and dropped out of triathlons back in the mid 90's. I saw him a few years ago, fat and bloated and regretting that he ever fell out of the sport.

After spilling all that out, the only thing that truly matters when I break it down is that I'm enjoying the process, testing myself, learning, and making friends. It's great to have high expectations. I certainly do and I think that setting high expectations, one's that we really need to reach for, is the way we'll learn the most about who we are. Remember that the higher the expectations, the higher the pressure will be that you place upon yourself and the more you will feel pre-race nerves and question yourself as to why you are doing this in the first place. But this is where, if we follow through, we take big chances and maybe reap big rewards in self discovery and fulfilment.

I recently asked the athletes I coach to complete some written homework in the form of listing their top ten limiters (a nice term for weaknesses). I have a few who listed mental toughness as their strength, where as I had listed mental toughness as one of their limiters in my personal notes/files on them. After thinking more about this, I realize that many of them are mentally tough in the fact that they won't give up or quit when the going gets tough in a race. When you are testing yourself by racing and being tested in that race by that little devil on your shoulder convincing you to quit or ease up or walk or lie down, not giving in exudes mental toughness. So after re-evaluating their mental toughness, I changed my notes to "lack of belief" for these individuals. They are very talented physically, yet train and race at a level that is within their safety zone. They are capable of racing at a higher level and yet don't believe they belong at that higher level. Guess what? The body follows the mind. You gotta believe!

I know it's only mid December and motivation may be a bit low right now. Re-evaluate your 2009 goals, or begin evaluating them. Write them down, set high standards and begin to believe that these standards are where you belong. Then get your ass out of the couch and out the door.



Monday, December 15, 2008

The Plunge 2009

December 15, 2008

Hi All,

It’s, once again, that time of year. No, it’s not the holiday season I’m talking about. It’s that time of year when I attempt to recruit a number of you to join me in January in jumping into Long Island Sound. “Why would you do something that stupid?” you may ask if you have never done this. If you have, you are probably thinking right now “I was dreading this letter!” Let’s start with a brief history of the event. In 2005 when the Tsunami hit the south pacific, I thought that we could use the Plunge as a way to raise charitable funds for the American Red Cross, which we did quite well. In fact, that year, we organized simultaneous Plunges in Cleveland, New Mexico, and California. In 2006, we continued this terrific annual event, but decided to make it beneficial to someone closer to home. I wanted those that donated to see directly where their generous funds were going. We raised money for a young boy battling cystic fibrosis. The funds we raised helped offset some of his extensive hospital bills and paid for a well needed vacation to Disney. How cool is that! In 2006, we continued the trend of helping children directly in need by donating funds to a family with overwhelming hospital bills due to testing and procedures with their two autistic kids. The money this time paid for the kids to attend a leading autism medical specialist in Boston, one that their insurance wouldn’t pick up. Last year, we raised funds for a Stratford single mother and her child who is battling a very rare illness called Kawasaki’s Disease. So that leads to this year.

Pam Morrow contacted me about having the Plunge for her neighbors Bob and Christine Greif. On May 11, 1997, Christine was hit by a drunk driver while on her bicycle preparing for a local triathlon. Christine sustained a traumatic brain injury that has left her with limited ability to walk, eat, speak or otherwise engage in normal daily activities.

Christine was a scholar athlete at Avon High School and then at Dickinson College where she majored in English. Christine was the recipient of the Trinity Club Book Award in her junior year for her scholastic achievement and service to the community.

More than ten years since her injury, Christine continues to suffer the severe effects of the brain injury which have made daily functioning incredibly difficult. Christine has persevered with the help and generosity of family, friends, church and community. Insurance companies have given up on Christine making funding of her care extremely challenging.

Our goal is to raise awareness and to generate some charitable funds to help offset some of the expenses that Christine has incurred. The thought of asking people to donate money is difficult enough without considering this financial crisis we are all undergoing. This is also a time of year where it’s important for us all to realize just how fortunate we are in the big picture.

In the four years that we have done the Plunge, we have raised quite a bit of cash, thanks to all of you who have contributed and/or participated. One of my favorite things about the Plunge is the way that it makes those attending smile – even those of us that are stupid enough to Plunge.

Here is the official information on the upcoming Plunge for Christine Grief’s fight against her severe debilitating injuries:

When: January 3, 2009

Time: 2:30 pm!!! High tide is predicted at 3:44pm so we are plunging in the afternoon this year. I will provide coffee and hot chocolate.

Where: Southport Beach on Pequot/Beachside Avenue (Exit 18 or 19 off i95)

Even if you are not plunging, please come down, support the event and watch us plunge, even if it’s only me.

Please e-mail me at ehods@earthlink.net if you are planning on being there so I have an idea of a head count.

Each plunger should make an effort to raise $100 to be donated to “Team Christine Greif Fund”. You can send checks to me, bring them with you to the plunge, or donate through paypal at http://www.hodska.com/ . If you donate through paypal, please send me an email informing me of this so I can then keep track of each individual donation for Christine.

Please forward this on to family, friends or any one you think you can sucker into plunging.

***The beach could be rocky and/or have sharp shells. I advise you to wear an old pair of sneakers during the plunge.

***Those plunging are doing so at their own risk. If you have any physical ailments such as an existing cardiac condition, asthma, weak immune system, or anything else that may be effected by this event, please come to watch, but its best that you do not plunge.

Thanks everyone! What better way to start the New Year than doing something good for others, and waking up the system!

Happy Holidays and here’s to an exciting and adventurous New Year! See you at the Beach January 3rd.



Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hawaii on TV

The Hawaii Ironman is on NBC today from 2:30pm et to 4pm. Go out and run first before plopping yourself down on the couch.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Doom and Gloom

Today is a tough day. Yes, in this current global economic situation, when there are soldiers still fighting that will not be home with their families for the holidays, it gets worse... Oprah has regained her weight and is back up to 200 lbs. I can't believe this has happened. I mean, what is this world coming to? I'm devastated and at a loss for words.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Getting Hungry

We had 12 show up for the Tuesday night ride this past week, including a 12 year old on a cross bike! The ride went close to two hours and stayed mainly on the rail trail, however, we did do some single track - nothing too technical. I rode the new 29'er - what a great ride! One ride and I'm already sold on this tech. My light battery died about 90 minutes in, making things very interesting. When I was with the group, it was no problem. When alone, I couldn't see the trail under me, making the ride dangerous and bizarre. I came out unscathed though. This ride has been a blast and a nice change of pace.

Wednesday night, I attended the kick off meeting for the Bethel Cycle Club for next season. Greg has really done a great job with this club. He has the right people heading things up and they have done nothing but grown. Megan S. heads up the tri-club and they currently have more members than the cyclists! Greg introduced me at one point and asked me to say a few words, so I spontaneously discussed motivation during this time of year. One of the things I mentioned was the African runners and how they are studied and observed to see why they are so good. Many books and magazines have covered their theories as to why the Africans excel in distance running - the common theories are; they all train together at altitude and that they have been running long distances since they were young kids. I think it's more simple than that. The pure reason they are so good is because they are hungry - both literally and mentally! In a country where their annual individual salary is less than $100/year, this is their ticket out. We have it very nice over here in the US, even during this recession, and this makes us soft, plain and simple. The point was that now is a great time of year to "get hungry", instead of being a lethargic, excuse making, over partied, over hor douerved, typical December American.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Prime 16

Man, I had a great run today! It's been awhile since I felt "springy", so this was unexpected. I always remind athletes that when you have one of those great training runs where you are just flying, that's an indication of your potential - not a fluke thing. Today was one of those runs where you know it's going to be a good one after taking your first ten strides. Bonus was that the weather was perfect here in CT for running - I wore shorts and a long sleeve jersey and was comfortable. As I ran, I had a desire to get back on the track and do some interval work. I know many of the closet coaches would feel this is stupid to do in the wintertime, but if you do the "right" session (in regards to length and effort) this is not only not stupid but it can take you to a new level.

Nostalgia entered my mind, as I thought about the early 90's when I used to drive up to Yale in the winter and do indoor track sessions at Cox Cage with Margit McDougall, Ron Meneo, Scott Roth and Emmitt Hibson. We were preparing for the first race of the Connecticut Series. Man, I wish someone (hint - Mandy) would bring back this cool series. The series consisted of sprint races like the Milford Tri, The Orange Biathlon, The Derby Biathlon, The Hartford Tri, and Griskus. They even had an awards banquet at the end of the year. The competition was fierce and I'd run these sessions at Cox Cage thinking about going up against L.J. Briggs, Chuck Sperraza, and Dick Korby to name a few. One of these winter days this year, I'm going to have Margit (here that?) help me round up Ron, Scott and Emmitt and do a track session then go drink some beers and catch up.

Speaking of drinking some beers, I was up in New Haven last week with some friends at Farbers (The Mexican) new bar and restaurant Prime 16. He opened up right near the corner of Temple Street and the green and the place is great, but I expected nothing less from Farber. It's a microbrew bar with something like 30 microbrews on tap from all over the place and another 60 in bottles. His menu consists of some really cool appetizers and some amazing burgers - there's even a few vegetarian ones. As much as i like The Bar, Prime 16 will replace it as our destination the night of The Plunge, January 3rd. Hopefully, a bunch of you can make it. My athletes will be beginning my Cleanse Plan on January 4th, so you may as well join us for some fun the night before.

Tonight is the night Rail Trail ride. I'm anxious to try out my new Cannondale 29'er. If people are feeling adventurous, I may take them on some single track.



Sunday, November 30, 2008

Blogs, shoe review, ...

I just added a "Followers to this blog" section in the upper right hand corner that you may noticed. Alan and Sean, thanks for jumping on board and thanks for reading. I added this option because I know that I have a dynamic group of athletes and friends that may be reading this and it's an opportunity for others to check out some other blogs as well. I don't know what it is but I have issues with the word blog that I need to get over. "Blog" seems like such a passe doofish word and the whole thing, as I've written about, seems quite self absorbed. Having said that, it's a great journal that I wouldnt keep otherwise, and also a nice opportunity to communicate, vent, whatever. That is assuming that a few may be reading. By eliminating the word "blog" from my title, I'm certainly not kidding anyone including myself as to what this little page is. - Baker was fooled for a bit but that probably had more to do with the T-bone/Coco thing. Anyway, if you happen to read this and also keep a blog, please post your tag in the "follows" section. I'd be curious to read them.

I have been testing out a pair of Nike Lunar Trainers.

This is a very light weight shoe that offers quite a bit of cushioning. To give you an idea of what I like in running shoes, the past couple of years I've run mainly in Newtons, Nike Frees, Zoot, and Nike Marathon racers. The Lunar's are as light as any of these, but with much more cushioning. The upper is a lightweight mesh which I love. The toe box is wide wich suits my fat feet. These shoes would be perfect if it werent for the fact that the heel tab comes up a bit high and is rigid, thus cutting into my skin on both feet. I have blood on the shoes to prove it. No matter how great the shoes may be, this absolutely sucks. So this morning, before my run, I took out a pair of scissors and did some remodeling.

Problem solved, this worked perfect. I thought I was going to have to do some sewing, but the glue and stiching in back seemed to hold in place fine. We'll see how this lasts. I had a great run in these shoes this morning with no issues, and what made it even better was that 10 minutes into my run, it started to snow and I ran the majority of the run with fresh, white snow falling.

Hopefully the snow will fall up in Foxboro as the Patriots beat up on the Steelers (How did you end up becoming a Steelers fan anyways Straz?).



Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day and all is well

I just finished my traditional Thanksgiving Day calorie burner run here in Pennsylvania at my in-laws. Three things are guaranteed here in PA when you run; One, it'll be overcast, Two, you'll get yelled at by some disgruntled driver, and three, you'll get chased by at least two dogs. I rolled out of the driveway into the grey day and not more than ten minutes later, I hear the growling of an angry animal. I turn to see some type of inbred shepard charging my way, gums showing and spit flying out of the corner of it's mouth. This dog was hauling and it was just a matter of time before he were to lock his jaws on my hamstring at this pace. Thankfully, the owner let out a loud whistle that stopped him dead in his tracks about 5 feet away. You know of course that for the owners own entertainment, he probably waited until the last minute before calling his predator off. My heart is finally starting to settle down as well as coincidentally my fast pace when a guy lays on his horn and flips me the bird for running as close to the edge of the road I possibly could. Thank you - have a nice Thanksgiving! I was having a good run nonetheless, and as I made my way 50 minutes in, down a dirt road, dog number dos come charging out of his yard. This dog was smaller though and I pushed him off as he tried to nip at me. It was still a great run - my philosophy is that any finished run is a great one.

We are about to head out for the family football game - my son has the teams all set up. Lisa's not on my team but I'll have to go easier on her since it's her birthday today. Or hopefully she'll go easier on me.

In these interesting economic times, it's easy to internalize more. Everyone is rightfully concerned about what's in their immediate future. The majority of us certainly have a lot to be thankful for though, and today is the day to put your own worries aside, become a bit more optimistic, and realize in the big picture just how fortunate we are and think about the many who are so much less fortunate. In fact, it's a great day to think about what we all may be able to do to help out at least someone who could really use it in some way. This is often said, not so often done. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone! Time to go play.



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Morning Run

6:09am... That's when my alarm went off this morning. I lied there for a few minutes beginning to justify staying in bed. At the top of the list was; you only got about five and a half hours of sleep, and you had one to many glasses of red wine last night. Before thinking to much, I dragged myself out of bed, splashed some cold water on my face, brushed my teeth, put in my contacts, pulled on some shorts, and lethargically made my way downstairs to the coffee machine. As the machine heated up, I checked out my inbox. Ken left a note saying he was running five minutes behind - no going back to bed now. I went to weather.com which showed the current temperature at 12 degrees, feeling like 6 degrees. I rethunk the shorts and put on some running tights (even though my eight year old son wore shorts in his soccer game yesterday - Lisa went to NYC for the day or she would have killed me for allowing him to wear shorts. I overheard a few soccer moms saying "look, they let that kid wear shorts today!" to which I wanted to reply "that's my son and he's fine so f' off", but instead I just kept my mouth shut.) A double shot of espresso, and I stepped out into the exceptionally cold November morning. Ken was there at 7:04am and we didn't say much as we headed out. Five minutes in, I took him up a long, steep trail climb, partly to warm-up, mostly to wake-up. Ten minutes in, I felt alive and clear. It was a beautiful morning and we clipped off a solid 1 hr 40 min run before heading over to The Last Drop to get some more coffee and shoot the shit some more.

As I showered this morning after my run, I thought about how my morning and day may have been different had I stayed in bed. I know that personally, I would have felt off all day, functioning in third gear instead of fifth. It's easy to justify skipping these morning runs in the winter, yet, if you dress right, there's no excuses. And as much as they pay off physically, they do so ten fold mentally. Even if you have to run with Ken. Plus, I know that the Patriots would have lost today had I slept in.



Friday, November 21, 2008

Setting Goals

OK, trying to post something here every few days, so here goes;

I never want to force anything here, so I do believe this is poignant. I'm the type that takes a down week that I call an off-season and then I start getting very antsy and feel like I have no direction, so I compensate by mapping out all my goals for the next year, including off-season goals, pre-season goals, race goals, life goals, lots o' goals. Mapping and planning all this out feels constructive. Plus, I believe in S. Covey's habit that when you write something down, you are like 80% more likely to accomplish it.

I now have my athletes working on some homework. I gave them an assignment to list ten things they want to work on in the off and pre-season - that they believe may be limiters. I asked them to list them in order of importance, 1 being the most. I also told them that I write up my ideas of what I think they should be focused on and keep it in their files. If they'd like to compare it to their list, that would be cool. I warned that I'm very candid in this write-up. It's in my personal files on each client and it's what I'd like to help them with based on evaluating them.

So, in an effort to organize your athletic pursuits, take some time and jot down your own top ten list. Then, write down your goal sheet, listing your A race goals, B and C race goals, and be specific. Don't just write in your goal sheet that your A race is, say, Wildflower, for example. Write down what exactly you want to do at Wildflower. Keep your training easy now though. It was a busy season I'm sure and you physically and mentally need a break if you want to perform at your best in 2009. And don't be overly paranoid about your diet. Try to keep it somewhat clean, and no, you are not gaining a ton of weight daily. Although Megan had the best line this week in one of the emails she sent me. Very funny, but I don't want to post it since I consider the emails I receive confidential, so instead I'll just tease.

I've been running with the new Oakley Thumps and I have to say that they really kick ass.



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First Tuesday Night Ride


People all day were asking me if we were still going to ride considering the temperature and wind. I thought that these people really don't know me that well by now. My sister Laura said she was talking to a guy who was planning on attending and she relayed a story about when I used to have the summer track sessions. One of the days of these sessions it was 100 degrees and many were asking her if I was still going to have the track workout, so she called to tell me that many wanted to know what was going on and all I said was "bring extra gatorade".

Standing around in the parking area, waiting to begin, yes, it was quite cold. However, once we headed out and started turning the legs, I was fine. The rail trail was the perfect introduction for this first night ride and we kept a steady yet social pace. On the way back from Trumbull, I took everyone around Great hollow Lake - closed to bikes during the day.

What a cool ride! You get such a different perspective and experience riding at night. This was a lot of fun, and those who attended last night all said they'd be back next Tuesday. Many of them headed over to Senor panchos for some food and beer. Maybe we'll even get a few more next week (for the ride - not just the food and beer).



Monday, November 17, 2008

Thank you!

While I was in California, by chance, I had the opportunity to run with Ed. Ed is a great guy who's company I really enjoy. It made me think about the people I "work" with. I'm extremely fortunate. I have a group that I truly enjoy working with and more importantly, calling friends. Running with Ken on Sundays, riding with Gus in AZ, riding with Jeff to VT, training with Pam in LP - these are some of my best memories of the 2008 season. Thank you all of you for a memorable year. I know it's not over yet and there are too many names to list here in terms of thanks and memories, but please know that I feel fortunate to be associated with such classy company. Thankfully Baker pulls me back down to the reality of where I belong. Him and Straz's texts.

Tomorrow night is the first winter night ride. This is a low key, easy trail ride beginning at 7pm (be there by 6:45pm) at the Monroe Rail Trail parking area on Pepper Street. Lights are a necessity, but don't be intimidated if you are local - This ride will be a blast (and maybe just the motivation some can use). All are welcome.



Sunday, November 16, 2008

Back in CT

Congratulations Jeff J. and his new wife Elizabeth! Hope you two had an amazing wedding day yesterday.

Lisa and I spent the perfect amount of time in Southern California - long enough to see and do what we wanted to, yet quick enough so that we could get back home to the kids and not miss anything of what's going on with their busy lives.

When I was in college, I often heard that, based on my lifestyle, I should be living in Southern California. I have to say that many of the people that live there lead very healthy and energized lives. The amount of surfers, runners, cyclists, walkers and in shape people there is amazing. Driving route 101, you'd be hard pressed to find a moment where you don't see some one running or cycling. I like that. The weather is obviously the conducive factor - it's sunny and 70 degrees daily. I say though that when we as people are given a gifted or idyllic scenario daily, we take it for granted. You need a few of those February gray zero degree days to appreciate those first few sunny 60 degree days here in CT that much more.

On Thursday evening, we attended a discussion given by Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. He's a very interesting guy, and hearing his story is certainly inspiring. He's the "guts" man behind Apple, where as Steve Jobs would be considered the "appearance and marketing guru". The guy is a true engineer and tech geek who loves to tinker. He's such a tech geek that he drives a seguay everywhere. The sad thing is that he's easily 100 pounds overweight, so the seguay is not helping him at all on the health front - here's a brilliant guy who is neglecting his health to the point that he's about to encounter some serious issues judging by his appearance, age and lifestyle. Such a waste. I was still inspired by his knowledge and entrepreneurialship (I think I just made up a word). It made me think more about the training schedules I send out to my coaching clientele, and how I can better them. I have tried using a few of the training and scheduling logs out there such as Training Peaks. Training Peaks is actually extremely popular with coaches and athletes and i find it a great log for tracking your training. The problem I have with using it in scheduling is that I find it loses the personalness - it's too generic. They claim that you can really personalize it, but it's still a drag and paste type schedule or drop down schedule and what they claim is personalizing, I see as bs. It certainly looks professional and it allows coaches to work with a bunch more clients, but, in a time when there is an overabundance of unqualified coaches claiming personalized training plans yet giving out generic plans or plans that work for them personally, I have chosen to stick with simple emailing and phone calling. Seeing Steve though has given me renewed vigor to develop or find a scheduling and logging plan that is personalized and offers what I'm looking for.

Lisa and I enjoyed a nice run along the beach before heading to the airport to catch our flight. Her and I never run together, so this was definitely a highlight of the trip. I'm procrastinating my Sunday run at this very moment, enjoying another cup of espresso. At least the rain is gone. I am anxious too try out the new Oakley Thump Pro's though! I'll post a review after using them for a bit.



Thursday, November 13, 2008

Torrey Pines State Park

It's a challenge, being here in the sunny 75 degree weather. I'm tough though and I'm up for it.

Lisa and I went out for an easy 40 minute run yesterday first thing in the morning, then we hit the fitness center for some strength work. After quick showers, we got in the piece o' crap rental car and headed south on rt. 101 from Carlsbad, hugging the pacific coast. The amount of surfers in the water is simply amazing. People certainly live for the lifestyle here. We stopped off at a small place in Del Mar and had an amazing breakfast of omelette's (mine with jalapenos and jack cheese) potatoes and homemade sour dough bread. Oh, and lots of coffee.

Soon after breakfast, while driving further south through Torrey pines, famous for it's legendary golf course, I noticed a road winding up along the bluffs from the Torrey Pine beach. This road was the entrance to a state park. We paid our entrance fee and made the one mile drive up to the parking area.

One of the things I love about Lisa is that she is always up for an adventure, even while wearing a skirt and dress shoes. There are over 10K of trails in this national park and I was dragging Lisa out to explore some with me, looking for a fun spot to run with Ed the next day. The trails were amazing, going up and down the bluffs, hugging cliff sides and one that took us down 150 make shift stairs to the water.

After this little adventure, we spent some time walking around La Jolla before driving north back to Carlsbad. We stopped at Nitro, the infamous bike shop, along the way. This shop has nothing on Bethel Cycle!

I, for kicks, looked back in the archives of this blog to see what I was up to two years ago. I posted about bad luck in threes and me getting closed in a barb wired fenced area while running, having my dentist drill my tooth with the Novocain not working, and losing a toenail.

I just finished running with Ed through the park Lisa and I explored yesterday. We ran for 80 minutes, starting at the beach and running the 1 mile uphill that gains 265 feet of elevation before hitting all the trails. It was an amazing run with some great conversation - some of the stuff we discussed would be a cool future post. My IT band has still been sore since the marathon, so yesterday after hobbling on the run with Lisa, I stretched it out quite a bit and also spent time stretching my posterior muscles and tendons and you know what? No ITB pain today!

What a great way to start a day.



Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Going back to Cali

I'm in San Diego - About to go out for an easy run in the nice high 60 degree morning sun. Ran into Ed Sparkowski at the airport last night - small world. I'm in Carlsbad and he's attending a work conference in San Diego but we are going to try and meet up tomorrow morning for a run. Anyone who may read this and knows the area, any good run route suggestions would be very welcome.

Check out the AOTM on my home page. I thought many might want to learn more about what makes Big Rocks tick. I think the AOTM is a cool way to learn about like minded people in our endurance world community. If there is anyone you'd like to represent the AOTM in the future, please email me your suggestions. If you have any specific questions you'd like added to the interview, include that as well. I'm looking for suggestions actually. I want to expand and represent people that we may or may not know but would like to know.

OK, just a quick report.



Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Weekend Update

So now that I'm in this Off-Season bs and trying to adhere to my own advice, I thought I'd write about my weekend with no training.

Saturday started with my daughters soccer game. U6 soccer is the huge huddle chasing the ball. At one point, the ball kicked out from the scrum and no one even noticed. The score was like 12 to 1. Lisa was heading out of town for a girls weekend, so it was the kids and me. Kate had a friend over on the rainy Saturday and we ended up playing two on two kick ball in the basement, in which Ryan repeatedly pummeled the ball off my head, then soccer, then Wii bowling before her mom picked her up. We then headed to the movies to catch Madagascar 2 which didn't have nearly enough adult humor that these kids movies often sneak in. My daughter ate a huge tub of pop corn which Lisa informed me will bound her up for a week - my bad.

Today, we grocery shopped, then played football in the abundance of leaves in my front yard, then I cleaned an abundance of leaves out of the gutters then we met a few of my sons friends at the park to play some soccer. I participated in the game, not only because it's fun, but also because it allows me to cheat on my "week off from training" and run a bit. I just finished cooking a nice Italian meal for us. Tomorrow, my week off from training is done, thank god!

Endurance athletes - we are a rare, weird breed. We equate everything to training somehow and have a hard time taking down time. Glad my week is up because it's time to start training for my big 400 meter goal for next season.



Thursday, November 06, 2008

Off Season?

So most are finished with their 2008 race schedule. A few still have "A" races left like Clearwater this weekend, IM Arizona, or a late season marathon. But for the most part, endurance athletes are looking for some slack off time. When you train diligently for the better part of year, staying focused and sacrificing many of life's so called enjoyments, a little down time is certainly not a bad idea. I have come up with some guidelines for those in couch mode right now or who may be entering it soon;

  1. Take four to seven days totally off from training. Get some extra sleep, catch up on some neglected chores, but stay away from the pool, the weight room, the running shoes, the bike, ... Trust me, you aren't going to get fat.
  2. To make sure you don't get fat, back off the calories a bit. Enjoy some desert or an extra glass of wine now and then, but don't just jam food, and especially sugar, down your throat while taking a break from the rigorous schedule.
  3. After your short hiatus, allow yourself 1 hr of max activity in a very easy HR zone (A or z1) for 1 week. Try to do something each day, but max of 1 hr and EASY!
  4. So now, you are two weeks into your "break". Do a self check and see how you feel physically and mentally. Are you having difficulty waking up in the AM? Do you have some nagging injuries that are still there? Is your motivation low? Yes to any of these means take another week of 1 hr max easy sessions per day. If no to all of these, proceed to #5.
  5. Get back into it! Yes, I know two weeks seems short for an off season. Hear me out. First, I have witnessed many "enjoy" their off season a bit too much. I have three good friends who fall hard in the off season. I don't want to incriminate so I'll give them all an alias. Let's call them Jaker, Lenny, and Flooter. I've seen these guys get themselves in top shape, only to totally derail in the offseason. Picture top shape as reaching the highest rung of a hypothetical ladder - rung 10 say. The key in the off season is to rest and recover, yet not slip past the 6th rung. These three have slipped down to the 2nd rung. It's hard to surpass your previous years performances when you spend a great portion of the new year getting back to the level you were at. Many do long slow training trying to build a base when they get back into it. I subscribe to just the opposite. It's cold and dark out and you'll have plenty of time in the spring and summer to go long. So keep things short, but throw in some intensity. Also, focus on your weaknesses now, and add some strength training in. Unless you are under 30, strength training will absolutely benefit you - even though there are some so called experts who are skeptical of it.
  6. Do some short running races. Try to do two 5K's per month in December, January, and February, and run them hard.
  7. Do some different activities: Try snow shoeing, cross country skiing, hiking with a weighted back pack, in line skating, yoga, indoor soccer or basket ball (just watch the knees), or anything that's fun and makes you sweat.
  8. start developing your 2009 goals. Not just the races you are going to focus on, but more specifics such as time goals, training goals, ... Share them with your coach!

OK, this blog may be boring, but it's necessary and timely because before you know it, it will be March and your bike may still be in it's case from your last race in October (I did this one year) and you haven't been to a pool in three months and you only wanted to gain five pounds in the winter but you are now carrying 15. Don't let this happen to you. Off season is not an excuse to get out of shape!



Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's the Wednesday after NY, the day after election day, and I'm feeling pretty good! I have a bit of soreness still in my quads, but the ITB is fine and so are the hips. I am going to wait until tomorrow to do a light jog. There were a ton of people out voting yesterday which was cool to see. I'm a very decisive person and I went into the booth still unsure of who I'd select.

My daughter, Kate, was holding my finishers medal from the race on Sunday and she asked me what place I came in. Then she said, "Oh, it's right here on your medal. You came in two, zero, zero, eighth place."

Reflecting back on the marathon now, a few days later, I have some new found knowledge and training ideas. One of the things that I feel most endurance athletes neglect is strength training. Then, many that are doing strength training are following a routine that is actually taking away rather than contributing to their running/training. I also have some insight as to why some find an IM easier than a stand alone marathon, but I don't know if it's a good idea to go there!

For the next month or two, I plan on jumping in some 5K's here and there, doing some mountain biking, and even beginning swimming! We'll see if that actually happens, but for some strange reason right now, my motivation is very high. Usually around this time each year, it's just the opposite. Maybe the year away from racing really did work.



Sunday, November 02, 2008

Marathon in the Big Shitty

First, congrats to Alan, Jim H., Kenn V, Denny W., and Mandy for their great races at IMF.

Second, the NYC Marathon is a great race in an amazing place. The organization is superb and all endurance athletes should run this at least once.

2:58:28. Am I satisfied? With the day and the experience, definitely. With that time, definitely not. I worked it today though, so what you see is what you get.

I knew coming into this race that I was way under prepared. No need to beat a dead horse. September and October were wash outs in terms of training. I knew that if my energy and cardio fitness would come around by race day (after that brutal virus last week), then the one thing that would get me at some point would be my structure. Basically, did I deserve to be on the starting line today? Sure, I earned my way there, but training wise, no.

A huge thanks to Paul Moyse and Randy Chamberland. I tagged along with them this morning and it made the experience that much easier and that much more enjoyable. We took an organized bus out of Stratford that dropped us off at the Verranzano around 7:30am. Then, we had to just wait until our start time at 9:40. Runners are way different than triathletes and here, there were 40, 000 runners. They were lying around everywhere, making it challenging to just walk without stepping on someone. Everyone had throwaway clothes on, so it looked like a big homeless convention at the starting line. People are sleeping, changing and peeing everywhere. Above all, everyone was just trying to keep warm. Then you are ushered into your corral. Paul, Randy and Gus were in the same color corral, but were in the C corral, and I was in D. With 1000 runners in each corral, I wasn't thrilled about this, so I followed Paul and Randy through the security gate into their corral, pretended like I belonged there and barely flashed my bib number with your corral assignment listed on it. Problem solved. This helped a bunch, because when the gun sounded, it took only 20 seconds for me to cross the starting line.

We had a huge headwind over the Verranzano and it's very crowded, making the first mile slow - a 7:30. I then settled into a very comfortable pace and was clicking off 6:30's. I went through the 1/2 way point in 1:25 and cardio wise, it felt easy, but structurally, I had some signs showing that the last part of the race was going to hurt. I didn't go out to hard. The pace felt easy, but the hips and it band on my left leg were starting to act up a bit. If I had been running slower, it probably would have been worse since I'd be out there longer. The Verranzano Bridge was really cool, then you run through Brooklyn into Queens. The crowds are simply awesome at this race. The course is lined the whole way with cheering people and lots of bands, the only exception being the Queensboro Bridge around the 16 mile mark. Thank god for the crowds, because otherwise, this course though Brooklyn and Queens is fugly.

Lisa and Baker came in and were tracking me on MyAthlete - the only way to spectate this race. With the amount of runners and the amount of fans, you'd never see each other. I spotted them in Brooklyn at a cool spot around the 8 mile mark. Hitting the incline on the Queensboro bridge, i was really beginning to feel it structurally. This part of the course, as Paul warned me, was tough. It's an incline and dark since you on the lower bridge level, and quiet since there are no fans. However, coming off the bridge into Manhattan is amazing! The crowds on first ave yelling and cheering are the most impressive I've ever witnessed in a race.

The last 8 miles were painful. Again, my cardio or wind, felt fine. In control and relaxed. It was my hips and more so my left ITB that were screaming. My pace slowed as I felt my form go to shit. At the 25 mile mark, I saw Lisa and Baker and then had to stop and walk - it felt as though my left ITB was going to snap. I walked for four depressing minutes, then I looked at my watch and had a little self talk that went something like "come on you bastard! If you don't go under three your pathetic!"

I crossed feeling as though you might feel if you squelched on a bet and the bookie and his thugs took it out on your legs with baseball bats. I snagged some Tylenol from the med tent and borrowed a cell from a nice lady to give Lisa and Baker a meeting spot. From there, we headed back to the car, stopping for some burgers and black and tans.

This was my marathon debut. I have run a bunch of marathons in IM's but never a stand alone. Many athletes had told me that they feel running a stand alone marathon is harder than racing an IM. Their philosophy being that the harder pace of a stand alone marathon is extremely challenging and painful. I was curious to see if this was true. I mentioned that I wanted to really experience this race, but at the same time, I raced hard, despite my slower time. That's the only way I know how to race. I have to say that those who feel a stand alone marathon is harder than an IM clearly haven't pushed hard enough in their IM race. There is no comparison! Yes, a marathon is very challenging and it beat the hell out of me. But it's only three hours versus nine, and you don't have the nutritional issues that you experience in an IM. Sorry, but as hard as a marathon is, an IM is WAY harder. Paul was telling me before the race that he's often criticized for taking races out to hard. I responded that I feel most race too conservatively. I've said it before - you don't know how far you can hit it if you don't swing for the fence once in awhile.

Now, I'll get myself healthy and give Boston a fair test and see what I can really do.



Saturday, November 01, 2008

Marathon Tomorrow

Tomorrow I'll be toeing the line at the NYC marathon. My prep for this race was anything but stellar, by my standards. Illness really sidelined me through September and October, so I'll be standing there on the Verrenzano Bridge feeling anything but prepared. However, I never take for granted my health and the fitness that I have created. There are many out there who's huge dream is to run a marathon, let alone NY. Me not feeling prepared means that I won't run the time I feel I'm capable of with the proper training, however, I have no doubt as to whether I could go the distance. So I'll be on that line, awaiting the gun and then moving forward with the mass of runners tackling this course, and I'll be appreciating every step I take. Tomorrow is about participating, pure and simple.

I have a bunch of athletes in IMF today who are doing very well. Tomorrow, I have a few racing in the marathon. One of them, Gabby, will be doing her first marathon ever. She's a native New Yorker and has dreamed of doing this race. She didn't begin running until maybe two years ago. In fact, I began working with her just to get her in shape and fit again after the birth of her second child. We began with mostly strength work, but I soon convinced her and Laurie, her training partner, into competing in some 5K's. To see how Gabby has evolved in her training is so cool. The fact that she is running tomorrow doesn't surprise me. Gabby and Laurie are doers. They walk the walk. Gabby will be racing for her late father who passed away this year, and I'll be thinking about her a bunch while we're both out on that course tomorrow.

You can track me at www.myathletegps.com - login and password are ma4/ma4



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Still in a funk

That virus last week really kicked my ass. I went out yesterday to run an easy 1 hr and after 35 minutes, I called it quits. Today, I did nothing. In fact, I'll probably do nothing until Sunday. I feel drained. Just really fatigued. On my drive back from Greenwich, I do everything I can to stay awake including slapping myself in the face. It's a shitty feeling - to feel this fatigued four days out from a marathon. It is what it is though - no sense in worrying about yesterday let alone last week or last month.

Tomorrow afternoon, Big Rocks, Gus and I are heading into NYC to do the expo and pick up race packets. Should be fun.



Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Some Taper

Sorry it's been awhile. Besides the fact that last week was interesting, to say the least, I never want to force anything here. Going to a blog where things may be posted daily but they are just a recount of daily chores is nothing but boring.

I am five days out from NYC. Am I excited? Not like I should be. My immunity has been beat up since September. I posted about how I caught an upper respiratory illness in September that really hampered my training. Well, I think that I wasn't fully recovered upon embarking on the quick Hawaii trip. I also commented how I lose a full nights sleep on the flight back from Hawaii.

The week I got home, my son Ryan came down with a small stomach bug. It lasted just 18 hours with him and then he was fine. Kids are so resilient. With my weakened immune system and coming off of the trip, I must have picked this up. Last Sunday, I went for a long run in the morning and felt pretty good. While bringing Ryan home later that day from soccer practice, I began to feel achy. I tried ignoring this and went out to work on the trail I've been making in the woods in my back yard. Coming in for dinner, I felt worse, so I skipped dinner and went to bed. That right there should have told me I was in for a ride. Me skipping a meal AND on top of that, going to bed early... The writing was on the wall.

Monday was spent in bed, nauseous and shivering one minute, sweating the next. I drank fluids but ate next to nothing. Around 12:45am on Tuesday, I awoke sweating and feeling really nauseous. I started getting that tightness under the chin in the throat region that you get before hurling so I jumped out of bed and the next thing I know, Lisa was in a panic, waking me up from blacking out on the bathroom floor. The cold tile felt better than my bed did and I lay there a moment, disoriented and still feeling nauseous. I got up and bam, my eyes rolled back and down I went again. I awoke to hear Lisa dialing 911. I told her not to - that i'd be fine. I'd passed out once before - when my back went out almost two years ago. I know that if you have a very low resting heart rate and resting blood pressure and that if you have been lying on your back all day and suddenly jump out of bed, you'll bottom out and down you go. As we waited for Monroe EMS to arrive, I teased Lisa about her itchy trigger finger and dialing 911. I mentioned that I won't be able to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without her calling 911.

It must have been a slow night in Monroe because soon enough, four EMT's were standing in my bedroom. The head guy was giving his spiel as I interrupted saying stubbornly that I understood his reasoning, but that I wasn't going to the ER and that I had a virus, stood up to quick and just felt a bit dehydrated. I'd pound the gatorade all day and be fine. Then I thought that I had the marathon in less than two weeks and that an IV may do me some good so the next thing you know, I'm in St. Vincent's ER in Bridgeport. It was a quiet night there, relatively speaking, so they hooked me up with an IV right away.

Talk about perspective; this woman was in the "booth" next to me, us being separated by a sheet wall. The noises coming out of her - I thought she was snoring, however she was wide awake. Her breathing was making me more nauseous. A small Asian woman doctor goes in to interview her. She has been in and out of three hospitals in the last month. She has severe emphysema, bronchitis and asthma. She still smokes, down from three packs to one per day. She is divorced with two kids. She was laid off from Walmart a year ago, she gained 100 pounds over the last year and, oh yeah, she was a crystal meth addict and still sees a meth clinic daily.

Soon, I received my second IV as my current neighbor was issued to a room in the hospital and I received a new one. This one was a guy who came in with his wife, 56 years old from Westport, feeling nauseous and dizzy. Every time the automatic bp cuff pumped up around his arm, he whined like a little school girl. Besides prozac, the only other med he was on was a Cialis he took over the weekend.

I never saw any of my ER neighbors, nor did I want to. I did though get started on a third IV and some anti-nausea medicine. Oh, and I hadn't pee'd yet. The doctor on call finally came in and looked at me and said that I had a bad virus, it's been going around and that I was dehydrated, and needed to let the virus run it's course. I was released at 5am but had to wait until 8am for Lisa to come get me. Tuesday night my temperature hovered around 102 for most of the evening. I didn't sleep that night as well, other than 20 minutes here or there. Wednesday, the temperature was back to normal. I was just really achy and still had no appetite. And I still had this intense frontal headache that made it hurt to see. Thursday, I finally began to come around.

I waited until Sunday to run again, and it felt like crap, but I was running again at least. I had a lot of time to reflect back on how I let myself get so depleted. Basically it comes down to the fact that you are vulnerable if you have young kids in school, work hard, train hard, and don't get enough sleep. Throw on top of that some hectic travel and you are a green light for virus's and germs. I also know that if I had been training for Hawaii, I would have been paying much closer attention to sleep and nutrition - and I don't need another wake up call like this anytime soon to reiterate the importance of these two things.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Track Session

Went to the track today. I don't deserve to be there considering the way I have felt lately combined with the inconsistent training. Hawaii was definitely good for my motivation and for giving me a good kick in the ass wake up call. I never really let myself get out of shape but there is a huge difference between staying in shape and training to be race ready. At least there is in my book.

The plan was to run a 2.5 mile warm-up, then run 6 X 1 mile at 6 min/mile pace w/ a 1/4 mi easy jog in between each and a 1.5 mile cooldown. Surprisingly, this session felt easy. I ran the warm-up at 7 min/mi pace, then did the mile repeats at 6 min, 5:58, 5:56, 5:56, 5:52, 5:50.

This session was encouraging in that I'm not over the top spent. Yet, I know myself and if I were to take out the marathon at 6 min/mile pace, I'd be fine for maybe 18 miles. Unfortunately, a marathon isn't 18 miles. My plan at this point is to run 6:30's.

As great as it was running in Hawaii, it is hard to beat running in CT in the peak foliage.

I said I wouldn't go political on this post, but curious as to peoples reaction on the debate last night. Both of these candidates made me nauseous.



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Traveling East

Endurance athletes don't really suffer from jet lag because they are constantly fatigued, so it doesn't make much of a difference!

I travel west easily - meaning I adapt to the time zone changes easily, however, traveling east hits me a bit harder. I can't sleep on a plane, which means that when I travel east, I basically loose a nights sleep. This tends to hit me two days later, meaning today.

I was with a pt appointment today and was doing everything I could to stay awake. Some personal trainer! I started by doing some rotation exercisers along with her, but I was still dosing off. I then resorted to self inflicted pain by ramming a weighted bar into my toes and by bitch slapping myself when she wasn't looking. I was then doing the head bobbing while driving home. So I chewed gum, rolled down the windows, cranked some tunes, ...

I did squeeze in an easy 1 hr run. Well, "easy" is relative. The pace was easy in that it was slow. However, the effort still didn't feel easy. The good news is that I felt better in the last 20 minutes. On a day like today though, with the trees bursting in colors, the sun out, and temperatures in the 70's, how could you have a bad run?

I think that the fatigue is more the fact that I loose some sleep on the travel west, stay very busy while away, then loose a full night on the return. It's more a cumulative thing.

By the way, I don't know if any of you had a chance to read my Hawaii course description on my home page but I highly recommended that you race this race in a well vented helmet rather than an aero one. Guess what the two winners wore?

Hawaii pictures are coming.



Monday, October 13, 2008

Departure Day

Well, this trip certainly went by quick. But hey, I get to sit on a plane again for 10 hours! Our flight leaves today at 5pm and we fly through the night – typical of all the flights I’ve had out of Hawaii. I don’t sleep well on planes so it looks like it will be an all nighter.

I remember back in 2002 on departure day, Lisa and I were killing time in the early afternoon walking around the Waikoloa Hilton. Lisa didn’t feel well and I suggested jokingly that maybe she was pregnant. At first, she joked with me, but soon enough, we were in the pharmacy purchasing one of those home pregnancy tests, and found out Lisa had our daughter in her belly.

Baker and I were going to head out for one last run here in Hawaii and then get in a swim at the pier. Megan shot me a text message saying she and her husband Chon were having breakfast in the resort restaurant if I’d like to join them, so I stopped to chat before beginning my run. Megan looked great considering she raced here just 12 hours prior. She was still fired up on adrenaline and we rehashed the day.

I then ran back down into the pit. As I was running out, I saw Chris Leigh and Luke Bell running in. These two guys are very cool. I felt a bit sluggish, but was moving at a decent clip. The run along Alii felt crappy, but again, my pace was solid. I try not to put too much weight into an odd shitty run, especially considering that I haven’t been sleeping much and have been very busy. And to be honest, it’s hard to have a shitty run when it’s sunny and warm and your views are of palm trees and oceans.

There were a lot of people out training this morning still – non-racers of course. Baker and I met up at the pier and headed out for a swim. I have swum three times since a tri I did in June, all in the past four days.

Some of my race day/week observations: All week when I’d ask an athlete how their prep went for Hawaii, 90% of the time, the answer was not as great as they wanted – they have a small injury or missed some training here or there. This was then followed up with “I’m just going to give it my best shot and do what I can” in a self doubting kind of way. The race week nerves gets in an athletes head. They start looking at all the fit hard bodies and start doubting themselves. Before you know it, they are tossing out excuses to give themselves an out in case something goes wrong on race day. I’m not being critical or judging here, just stating the obvious and pointing out that it’s a normal psychological reaction. There are 10% who have figured out how to firmly believe that they are ready to rip it up. Learn from their self confidence and how they change or create this state and it’ll erase your own race day self doubt. On race day, I continue to see many ignoring their bike pacing, riding at an effort that they can ride, but not one that will set them up to run well. At Kawaihai, I witnessed lots of drafting and also lots of very clean riding. Those that say it’s hard to ride clean now in these races don’t want to. If you attend this race and aren’t moved in some way on race day as a spectator, than something is clearly not right. You may think “it’s just not that person’s thing” but there is something powerful and remarkable on race day that rubs off on just about everyone. I have, in time, including this year, witnessed those who don’t cheer for the athletes and are there out of what seems to be obligation or other binding reasons but would rather be elsewhere. Strange.

Baker and I were driving out to the airport and saw a woman on a bike with an EH jersey! I have no clue who she is. Never saw her before. Traffic prevented us from stopping to ask.

Baker took a bunch of pictures that I’ll put up as a gallery on the home page.



Sunday, October 12, 2008

Race Day

Last year, I came out to work this race and I remember thinking "man, I'm glad I'm not racing this year!" If that's not a sign of being a bit burnt mentally, than I don't know what is. This year, I kept thinking "man, I wish I was racing today!"

The vog that had been hanging around making things cooler from the overcast was a no show today. Nothing but the strong bright sun, raising temps to the typical Ironman weather. The wind was light early on and the pros and faster age groupers bike splits displayed this. However, if you took a bit longer to get out to Kawaihai, the climb up to Hawi brought out those infamous Kona tradewinds. Things did cloud over during most of the run though. It certainly wasn't the easiest day in Kona, but it wasn't close to the hardest. But this is Kona and this race is just naturally brutal. It's the toughest Ironman out there. OK, I have never raced Lanzarote but the conditions and competition make this one the hardest.

This race is powerful. I watched many run, walk and stumble up Palani Hill and thought about the desolate 14 miles they still had to run out on the Queen K. I again wished I could re-experience this. It's a powerful thing and if you aren't moved by this day in some way, then something is wrong.

Desiree had a very difficult day, but she is a competitor and the real deal and will come back next year motivated and stronger mentally. Megan - Megan is tough as nails. She had a challenging ride and then knocked off a 3:50 marathon to finish in 12 hours. Very nice, especially considering that most don't do well that do the LP, Kona double. I ran with Mandy, the birthday girl, up Palani and she seemed a bit out of it. She's a fighter though and hung in there to finish in 12:20. Chris Nook and Trephina G., Ange's athletes, seemed like they were taking in the experience.

That's just what this day is - an unbelievable experience. Crossing this finish line is like no other. Those who say they don't get all the fuss around Kona have never raced it. Usually, they are the ones who truly want to race it.

Congratulations to Craig Alexander and Chrissie Wellington who epitomize the spirit of this sport and race with talent, passion, and enthusiasm. They were brilliant here today, as were the other 1700 finishers.

I'll get some pictures up tomorrow, but for now, I'm out!



Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hawaii 08 day 2

Slept until 6am this morning! That's quite good for me. The vog (volcanic fog) here in Kailua has been horrible - it's been overcast and it messes with your sinus's. However, it is definitely cooler than usual and without the harsh sun beating down here, expect fast times tomorrow.

I headed out for a run at 7am. Same plan as yesterday - a 1 hour run followed by a nice ocean swim. Finishing up my run, I ran into Mandy, John H. and Megan. I chatted with them for a bit - Mandy and Megan are ready to roll. Look out for them tomorrow! - then I jumped into the pacific at the pier with Megan for an easy swim. I told her I was swimming out to get a coffee and she thought I was going to swim a mile up, hop out of the water and go to Lava Java in my speedo and get a coffee! I mean, I'm a freak Megan, but come on! I took my waterproof camera with me and Megan and I swam out to the swim up coffee boat. On the return trip, I ran into this swimming partner:

Baker and I grabbed some breakfast at Lava Java - this place has gone over the top in popularity! then expo time. I had some more meetings and made sure that Desiree is all set for tomorrow with her My Athlete device. Make sure you track her on http://www.myathletegps.com/ , username and password ma1 and ma1.

The expo ended at noon, and after breaking everything down and a stop at Fed Ex, I took Baker and Andy up to Hapuna Beach. Hapuna Beach is just an amazing place. It's beautiful, clear water, soft, fine sand, and is encapsulated in a crescent shaped cove. The wind was low so the break was calm, and we just floated around in the ocean for awhile. My first year racing in Hawaii, Lisa and I spent some time here at this beach. I remember going there the day after the race in 96' when I wore socks that were too thick and blistered so bad that I basically lost a bunch of layers of skin on the bottom of both feet. These raw, open wounds didn't take kindly to the hot sand and salty water. Anyways, besides the fact that this is one of the worlds best beaches, I have incredibly fond memories of the great times that Lisa and I have spent on this island. As I floated around, it lead to these thoughts:
Sure, this is an incredible Island, but my experiences on this island are what created my fondness here, and I can't expect others to appreciate it the way I do, even though I hope they do. The fact that this incredible event takes place on this island has been great, but the real fondness comes from the experiences that Lisa and I have shared here. Her witnessing me through the Ironman, us exploring the cool places on this island - it's always been consistent and has created a deep memory base of great times that I'll never take for granted.
I spoke with my father today. He asked if I was bummed about not being a participant this year. I told him that last year I came here and though "man, I'm kind of glad I'm not racing this year!" This year, my thoughts are "man, I wish I was racing this year!". Interesting what a year or two off will do.
Many have discussed the effects of the vog from a health perspective. My take is that on race day, you'd much rather deal with the potential health issues created by the vog and have cloud cover and cooler temperatures than have that intense sun beating down on you. If it stays like it has the last few days here, there will be some very fast times tomorrow. However, I have raced here enough to know that the weather one day is no indication of what you will get the next.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Baker and I left my house at 5am on Wednesday morning to make the trip to the big island they call Hawaii. 22 hours later, we reached our destination. Yes, that's right - 22 hours. My math tells me that we should be in Beijing, but no, we are in Hawaii. We flew from Westchester to Chicago first and it was great - we had the emergency exit rows. Then, we boarded the full flight to Honolulu. The plane was a 2 seat, 5 seat, 2 seat deal. Baker sat in the dead middle of the 5 seater, I in the same spot directly behind him. I had some guy to my right that slept the whole time on this 9 hour portion of our trip, and the guy on my left I could tell wanted to talk right away. That is why I put on my headphones. Then, we get stuck in Honolulu for 6 hours because an island hopper plane broke down.

We made it to our hotel 22 hours after leaving my house, in the dark of the night. I was anxious, tired, and a bit frustrated, as was Baker.

I awoke today, first at 2am, then at 3am, finally getting up at 4 am here which is 10am back east. I put on my running clothes and took my swim goggles and ran from our hotel out to Alii drive and down into the pit. It didn't take long before I was smiling, glad to be back on this incredible small piece of earth in the middle of the pacific. This place is therapeutic for me. I ran down into the pit, remembering back in the 90's the original course that was, in my opinion, better and more challenging than the new course. Don't get me wrong, the new course is still great. The sun came up as I climbed out of the pit and I saw a legendary familiar silhouette running on the opposite side of the road. Dave scott and I exchanged waves - the guy seems to have the fountain of youth figured out. I ran along Alii, seeing the many fit athletes doing the same on both sides, and taking in the views of the pacific rolling in on my right. My mind went to thoughts of my past races on this road. I have left a deep part of myself here, digging into places - reserves I didn't know I had.Yet I still view this all as fond memories - memories that I strive to remember rather than nightmares I want to forget. I was naturally smiling as I ran down Alii which is very cool. I'm extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn about myself in such an amazing event and place.

I reached the busy pier and changed into some swim gear and dove in. This is where I decompress from the long flight out and really just relax. I've discussed this swim here before in detail in previous journals and posts, so I won't bore again. Everyone needs to find one special personal thing that grounds them, and this swim is it for me. Even though there are usually a bunch of swimmers in the water around me, I don't see anything but the ocean and the fish. I swam out to the catamaran serving coffee at the 1/2 mile buoy where Scott Molina handed me a nice shot of espresso - cool and cool, before swimming back in.

The underwear run went off at 8am and I told Baker earlier that we should get some people participating in it to wear My Athlete devices and get some photos. When it came time, instead of soliciting, I took one for the team and participated in my black boxer briefs. Brennan, you hear that?! I've boycotted this event since it's inception in 97' or 98' but I have to admit, it was liberating. Megan S., one of my athletes participated as well. She's ready to roll here and if you get a chance, check out her blog at http://www.runlikeamother.org/.

Ok, so a busy day/trip thus far, and it's not even 9am here yet. Baker and I hit Lava Java before the expo began. As I awaited in the line out the door, I saw a special table section set up here with some woman wearing the team shirts for Norman Stadler's German team. His team manager had contacted me inquiring about My Athlete and was one of the people I needed to meet up with today. I went over and introduced myself and they called Jan (the team manager) and then asked me to wait and fed me. I sucked down three iced Kona coffees during my productive meeting with Jan and discussed the opportunities with My Athlete and his European based team. He's a smart business guy and is really fired up about the potential of My Athlete. While meeting with him, Desiree Ficker strolled into Lava Java and I met with her quickly and set her up with her race day device. She's a contender for top three on race day. I spent time in a bunch of other meetings and the enthusiasm of business people behind this product is amazing. It's been fun for me to delve into another business and experience.

The Cannondale guys had a full cooler of beer at the expo thanks to Wolfie, Faris Alsultan's bud, so we hung out there for a bit shooting the shit at the end of the expo.

After a nice dinner at Huggos, I'm sitting out on water at the moment watching the Manta Rays swimming in the moonlight. There are five of them circling around, and I just convinced two woman that the guy at the end of the patio in the Hawaiin shirt (Andy) is going to swim with them in 15 minutes like he does every evening.

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Join me for my run today?

I ran a very hard 2 hrs 5 min yesterday, so today calls for an easy 65 minutes in the trails near my house:

Thanks for coming along!