Monday, January 28, 2008

Lisa and I threw a small engagement party for our friends Gus and Laura on saturday night. Turns out we actually like the two of them (Laura anyways), so when we heard that they got engaged, we thought it would be a cool thing to do. We had a really fun time and hopefully, Gus and laura did as well although that could be questionable. We had a sit down dinner in our dining room which gets used twice per year. Baker was at one end of the table and I was at the other, and those that know the two of us well know that we can key off each other pretty well when together. In fact, Baker had a girlfriend in college who was a very good friend of mine, yet hated Baker and I together. Pretty soon the engagement party turned more into a roast. Everyone was laughing quite a bit - in fact, I think Kenny is still laughing. Well, Gus and Laura may not be laughing now, but they certainly were that night, even though most of it was at their expense. We even had Gus's mom rolling. After having a bit of time to come down, I'm sure she hates us - or at the very least, thinks a bit different about her sons choice of friends. I'm also amazed how much a bunch of fit, athletic people can drink! The Cleanse must certainly be over.

Lisa and I finished cleaning up about 1 am'ish and after 4 hours of broken sleep, I awoke to meet whoever showed (Ken) for my Sunday am run. Ray showed as well and we did a nice 1 hr 45 min run through the trails and single track.

Turns out it was a fun weekend with a bunch of good, close friends laughing hard and having fun - something to be very appreciative of.

Have a great week everyone! I'm heading to Cleveland on Friday to host a winter tri camp with Ange. I'll post again before there hopefully, but definitely from there.



Friday, January 25, 2008

Spirit of the Marathon

Spirit of the Marathon

Being the endurance geek that I am, I jumped at the opportunity to see a film devoted towards marathon running last night. I went to see Spirit Of The Marathon at the Stratford Cinemas, a documentary that was being shown in selected theaters throughout the country for one night in January (last night) and another night in February.

Big Rocks and my sister Laura accompanied me to the theater, amusingly along with 100 or so familiar faces from the area running community. I commented to Marty Schiavone as we entered the stadium seating theater that this had to be the fittest viewing audience in movie history.

The movie followed six people preparing for the 2005 Chicago marathon. Two elites, Deena Kastor (the women’s American record holder in the marathon and Olympic bronze medalist), Daniel Njenga (a Kenyan residing in Tokyo who is a 2:06 marathoner), a husband and wife, a divorced woman training for her first, another young woman training for her first, and a 70+ year old guy who has run many and is doing this one with his daughter – her first. I have to admit that my expectations were low, and had flashbacks of the disappointing triathlon movie “What It Takes” that documented more about a whining Peter Reid than it did about what it takes. Having 12 hours now to reflect on the movie, it was decent, I’d give it 2.5 out of 4 stars.

I enjoyed the coverage they did of Deena. They showed her training, mostly with other young guys, and she always looks as though she’s hammering. They talked about her 140 mile training weeks, and showed her drive. They also showed her dealing with a small stress fracture in her foot. She mentioned how she was out on a training run and something just didn’t feel right and she just stopped right there. The doc told her that if she had ran a few more steps, more than likely she would have done quite a bit of damage. They showed her running on an underwater treadmill and doing quite a bit of strength training. She’s an extremely hard worker and her personality was likable.

The coverage of the average Joes who were training was ok. Basically, one woman was a solitary runner, the divorcee used the camaraderie of her training group to cope, the guy in the couple situation appeared to be a bit of a whiner, but he and his wife both met their goal the following year of running Boston. The old guy was humorous and displayed in a nonconventional way how running marathons has become part of him, even though he commented often in the film that he was done after this next one.

The Kenyan runner really caught my interest. There are so many talented Kenyan runners and they all appear to just be personalityless machines, however, that’s not the case. The problem is that we just don’t have many opportunities to learn about them. No one really follows marathoning because not only is it a participant sport, but there is also very little known about the Kenyans and Ethiopians that seem to win all the races. This guy they followed, they briefly showed his life in Tokyo and it appeared that he held down a real job besides running. I wished they showed us more of that. They also followed him back to Kenya where he’d return often to visit family and to train. Running is your out as a Kenyan. If you are a good runner, you can make some cash that in Kenya, where the average annual income must be sub $100, puts you in the upper echelon. They showed how rampant crime is there and how this poor guy Daniel’s brother was attacked by thieves at his home where they killed his wife and child and burned down his house, and he didn’t even receive money yet from Daniel! I instantly found myself routing for this guy when they eventually got to coverage of the race.

Finally, they portrayed the Chicago marathon in a light that makes me want to try this one, regardless of the fiasco that occurred there this past year. As I watched there race coverage and how they showed the families of these runners waiting for them at certain points on the course as spectators, I couldn’t help but think of how valuable My Athlete is going to be. Once again, while observing the race, there are two very common similiaraties amongst the fastest runners, both male and female. They were all very lean, and they all had a very quick leg turnover. The quick leg turnover is not to be confused with stride length. In fact, sometimes stride length is shortened initially to achieve a quick turnover. Watch a video of elite runners and you'll understand more why I prescribe those turnover/strike down drills of 90+/minute. It's a pretty easy formula. If you want to run fast, get skinny and turn over those legs 90 times per minute.

I arrived back home around 9:30pm to find Lisa sound asleep on the sofa. I took a comfy seat next to her and surfed the channels, looking for something entertaining and allowing me to decompress from the adrenalin that hits every endurance athlete when they view a film on endurance training and racing, no matter how good it may be. I surfed no further than Cinemax. The channel was only 15 minutes into Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a 4 out of 4 star film.



Sunday, January 20, 2008

2008 Polar Plunge

Thanks everyone who participated in or donated to the 2008 Plunge. Kathleen and Jacob were extremely thankful - Kathleen easily showed her gratitude through her emotion all morning. This years Plunge was bizarre. The air temperature was cold at 28 degrees, but not as bad as it's been in other years, yet the water was definitely the coldest I have witnessed yet. I ran down to the water and dove in head first, full of energy and adrenaline. Yet, that frigidness hits you like a brick wall and turns your energy into slow motion. My brain was still racing, yet my body was not responding quickly. Channel 12 News showed up AFTER we were already out of the water!

Once again, I'm truly grateful for all of your support and dedication towards my charitable events. Even though we are raising awareness and funds for a very tough situation, the morning was still lots of fun. Last night at The Bar in New Haven with a bunch of you was also certainly lots of fun! I'm curious as to whether Dangle took home that box of gummis from the bachlorette party.

Thank you.



Sunday, January 13, 2008

One year ago, ...

One year ago, I was doing heavy squats on a very early morning and my lower back gave out and went into such bad spasms that I didn’t get out of bed for five days. I still remember it very vividly, and if I ever forget about it (which I won’t), I have this blog here to remind me of it. I have worked with quite a few people going through back issues and thought I had a very good understanding of exactly what they were feeling. Until you have experienced this pain yourself, you cannot fathom it. In hindsight, I’m glad I went through this. It gave me a much better understanding of what many of my clients with back issues go through, and some better ideas on how to work with them. It also taught me that no matter how fit we think we may be, there are always some vulnerable spots to work on. This injury affected me to the point that I give it a bit of thought every single day. I constantly think about my posture, and if what I’m presently doing may create further issues with my lower back and SI joint. I have not slept on my stomach since I had this back spasm occurrence last year. After 39.5 years of sleeping on my stomach, that’s certainly a tough habit to break. I’m finally getting to the point where I’m comfortable sleeping on my side. I have worked hard on my core strength and found new torturous exercises with Swiss balls, medicine balls, bosu balls, and kettle balls. The one area where I have been lazy is working on my flexibility. I have made some efforts, yet considering the focus I put into all other areas, I would rate my effort towards flexibility as lame. So I have said it before and I’m announcing it again because I feel more obligated to get it done when I write about it that I will give a serious effort to improve my posterior flexibility in 2008.

Yesterday morning, I did one of my favorite new sessions. I put on my 28 layers of clothing and headed out on my MTB early with a headlamp on. I ride the Monroe trails down into Trumbull, hit some of the single track in Trumbull, then ride back home at a higher cadence with a bit of tempo mixed in. I did go down hard though while riding over some steel sheets that were placed over a huge hole where they are repairing a small bridge. The steel was frosted over and my wheels slid right out from under me similar to how I went down on my ride to VT in September. In fact, this right hip has literally taken a beating! I’m fine though and was just a bit more cautious for the remaining part of the ride. It seems to hurt a lot more when you fall at 40 then when you fall at 20.

This past week in CT was incredible! January, and I was able to ride outside one day in shorts! On one of my rides, I ran into Steve Badger, a friend and talented cyclist, who was out for a ride. He said he’s been logging some decent mileage and that “it’s go time now!” How true in that now is the time to lay that foundation for the year. Greg Welch once commented in an interview that the year he won Hawaii in October, it was because of the training he id between January and March. Training should be mostly in the B zone or aerobic and with lots of focus on technique, but in my opinion, there’s no such thing as junk miles during this pre-season phase.

Many of my clients have been on my Cleanse two week nutrition plan, including myself and Lisa. I have everyone do this at the beginning of the year to rid themselves of some bad nutritional habits they may have or may have picked up through the holiday season, and to establish new ones. The Cleanse is certainly not easy, but man it works – and it really makes you aware of what you are putting in your body, and what makes you feel healthy. I am down about 9 lbs and I just feel so much better. I am excited about pizza and beer though next Saturday night, after the Plunge. Usually I catch a lot of bitching from my clients while they are on The Cleanse. The typical “I’m starving, or this is too hard, or I feel weak, blah, blah, blah.” This year, it hasn’t been that bad?! Either it’s getting easier for most or they have learned that I’m not very sympathetic during The Cleanse.

I go this Tuesday to meet a new general practitioner and get a physical. I was seeing my pediatrician as my gp until he retired about 10 years ago. I haven’t had a doctor since, which is stupid, so I finally researched and found someone. I haven’t had a physical since I was maybe 18, so this could be interesting.