Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Stating The Obvious

When you are riding in cold, wet weather, it sucks. No need to mention it to your riding partner.

Train slow and you’ll race slow.

Air travel sucks.

You won’t lose fitness by missing a day or two of training, especially if you are sick.

Speaking of being sick, if you are then stay home! You aren’t being a trooper by coming to work, you are infecting everyone else.

If you want to lose weight, don’t eat so much.

Television is a waste of time and productivity. But it’s entertaining.

Without set goals, it’s hard to move forward.

Many of us try to convince ourselves that we are stepping outside our comfort zones when we know we truly are playing it safe.

At the end of a long, hot ride, there’s not much better than an ice cold coke. Except for an ice cold beer.

Winter will end.

Friday, February 22, 2008

tech hiatus

My kids had their winter school break this week, so we headed way south. We were able to escape the northeast to 85 degree sun with a slight breeze every day which was just what the doctor ordered.

Besides the warm sun and crystal clear ocean, the next best thing was that I committed to turning off my cell phone, and not using my computer while I was there. I had my laptop with me and did write a few things during the flights but I didn't open it at the hotel.

You know what - for a week, it was great! I even stayed clear of current events. I've been caught up in this political race yet I didn't open a newspaper or turn on the news. The only TV I watched was Phinneas and Ferb on the Disney Channel, I think with my kids.

A week was the perfect amount of time. I have some friends that are real tech geeks - I mean they are slaves to their gadgets. It's an easy trap to fall into nowadays. Escaping it for a week is actually really nice. It makes you think about how tied we are to our stuff, and maybe simplifying is actually a good thing. I do realize though that this technology allows me to run a business. However, again, unless you are the president, one week won't kill you. It was actually quite annoying to see a lot of guys on their crackberry's and cell phones while on the beach.

Me, I was playing endless rounds of diving catch in the ocean with my son, and it doesn't get much better than that.



Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Derby Biathlon

My parents read my last "20 years ago" post and sent me this picture. It was from the Derby Biathlon in 1991. Scooter, that's a steel Specialized Allez. I may have even had Suntour components on it!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

20 years ago

1988 and I was a lost college kid, searching for some direction. I was a business economics major although I wasn't really into it. As I was walking to one of my classes, I noticed an advertisement for the Southern Triathlon on a bulletin board in Engleman Hall. Sign-up for the race was in the Exercise Physiology lab in Moore Field House. I remember thinking "Exercise Physiology? That sounds pretty cool!" That day, I signed up for my first triathlon and switched my major.

The Southern Triathlon was a .5 mile pool swim, a 10 mile bike, and a 5 mile run including a killer hill at the 3 mile mark. I had three months to prepare. I had some decent swim ability from swimming in high school and a season in college, so I figured I wouldn't have to swim much. Man, thinking back now, I have always had the terrible habit of blowing off my swim training, relying on my limited youth swim experience. I began running in the field house on the indoor 200 meter track. I'd run 3 miles, 3 times per week. I was also hitting the weight room hard. I went through high school a small, insecure kid weighing only 145 lbs at 5'9" my senior year. The ironic cruelty of this was that I began growing the summer after my senior year! By the end of my freshman year in college, I was 6'1", 185 lbs. At the beginning of my training for this triathlon, I had bulked up to 210 lbs and I was able to bench press 315 lbs a few times. Man, how times have changed.

I began riding twice per week, riding the 10 mile bike course. It was a rolling course through the westwoods section of New Haven into Hamden. I kept this routine rolling until the week before the race. That week, I went out and ran the run course to make sure I could do it. Then, the day before the race, I rode the bike course twice! Yes, that's right, I did 20 miles, my longest ride ever at the time.

Race morning, I was nervous but excited. There were maybe 100 people racing, and we started in waves with about five per lane. I led my lane and came out of the water in 5th place behind some swim team members and my friend Tim Sweigart who I trained for this event with. I rinsed off in the shower, through on my running shoes, a heavy cotton sweatshirt, my Vaurnet sunglasses and my skid lid, and took off on the course. Pat Duggan, an All American swimmer and very good triathlete had a big lead, but I reeled in everyone else, and Tim and I came into t2 together in second place.

I experienced my first dead-leg run feeling in this race. At the top of the big hill, Tom Hromas, another experienced triathlete, came by Tim and I, but we managed to hang tough and place third together. We celebrated that afternoon by drinking a few to many beers back in the dorm.

I had seen the Hawaii Ironman on ABC's Wide World of Sports, and like so many others out there, I was intrigued. The thought of doing a triathlon stayed with me, especially considering my father was also a nut and began training towards something. At the time, he didn't know what. At a time in college when I was acting quite irresponsibly and immature and enjoying the social aspects that an undergraduate program offers, the training for and racing in this small triathlon really turned my focus around. To say this event came along in a timely fashion would be a significant understatement.

I continued to train after this race, but found that without a worm dangling out there I'd become complacent. I'd still train but I'd do the same things instead of reaching. This showed to be quite a metaphor. I next raced the Milford Triathlon with my father. They had cancelled the swim because of the weather and made it a biathlon. I raced fairly well, placing in my age group and then went on to race the Southern Triathlon again the next year and won it.

Then in the early 90's, I started racing more frequently, competing in the CT series sprint races and some olympic distance races. This was a time in my life where I certainly enjoyed the training, but I was all about competing. How I raced and placed was my primary focus. I guess this is quite reminiscent of youth and athletics.

20 years later and I'm still racing and still driven to excel, yet my focus certainly has changed. Well, maybe it's only changed just a bit.



Thursday, February 07, 2008

Someone got a new toy!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sunday - Cleveland Winterfest Camp

What most people don't realize is that their personality and energy directly and indirectly affects any group situation they are involved in. Regardless of how many people are in the group, if you are a negetive person, it will drag the group down. If you are a positive person, it will lift the group. This is just a fact. Most of us are to caught up in our own being that we don't take a look to see how we may be affecting our surroundings. The group we had at this camp was very positive. they were encouraging and supportive to others and even those who were more shy were laughing and smiling quite a bit. This is what creates a memorable and positive experience and one that you really want to be around.

We finished dinner after a very long Saturday and then I posted my previous blog and caught up on some emails before heading down to work on Scooter and Angela's bike positions, finishing after 10pm.

Sunday, we headed out at 7am to a great pool that Ange, with the help of Aimee, nailed down for us to use. Everyone did a group swim session while Baker and I videotaped each individuals swim form. I filmed them from underwater with a camera in a waterproof bag for filming, while Baker shot them from above. After everyone was videotaped, Ange and I worked on swim form with the campers and put them through some more fun intervals. Then, we ended the pool session with relays. The last relay, each person had to swim 25 yds underwater. If they came up for a breath, they had to wait 3 seconds before resuming. There was certainly some interesting underwater form! Henk, the Belgian, found the loophole and swam freestyle without taking a breath. It came down to Jeff and Liz, the two fish of the group. Liz had a slight lead going into it, and although Jeff might have her beat in regular swimming, I think her dolphin kick would have been hard to match if they were neck and neck. Her speed 4 feet down from the surface was quite impressive!

We rinsed off quickly, put on some running attire, and made the short drive over to the trail system in the metroparks. We headed out on this great singletrack for a long run. It was a hilly, scenic, out and back course that I really enjoyed. Many had a difficult time with the ice. What's interesting is that the previous day while videotaping run form of each camper, I noticed that many were striking down very hard. I left comments on their dvd to listen to their running and try to run quitely, landing softly as though running on glass or ice. Now you have to use a bit of caution when running on ice and safety and injury prevention is most important, however, it's a great running drill and opportunityt to learn to land more flat footed and softly. I headed out with J, Jim, Brad and Baker. They all did great - Baker is such a sandbagger. I always tell him that he's a good runner but until he believes it himself, his talent won't come through as often. On the return trip, I took off to try and catch some of the others and spend time running with them. I saw Ben in the zone listening to his tunes. This guy is a trooper - he had a 101 degree fever and still plowed through the weekend, not wanting to miss anything. Same for Eric and Aimee who were both quite sick and still did a hell of a lot. I'm not advocating training while sick, but these three signed up for this camp and didn't want to miss out and they partricipated with no complaints! I then ran with Mike for a bit who seemed to be really enjoying the day and the experience. That attitude is infectuous. Next, there is a great series of switchbacks where you can see across in the winter and see who may be ahead or behind you. Henk, Doug and Jeff were up ahead and I yelled that I was coming for them. I ran a bit with Hank and Doug and they also seemed to really be enjoying the moment. Jeff picked it up, but I caught up and ran in with him.

Ange took the ladies out on the road because of the ice, but I hope they come back when it's thawed a bit and run in this great singletrack section. There were some great climbs and descents, some river crossings, and a very cool pine forest to run through. I preached the benefits of trail running upon everyones return. When I was training for my first IM in 96', I did most of my run training on the roads. I then found the trails in Trumbull and started doing most of my runs, especially my long runs, in there. I was amazed ho much better I felt the days following my longer runs. The quality of all my runs certainly increased. I give credit not only to the more forgiving surface, but also the more enjoyable surroundings. There is something much more mentally uplifting about running in trails versus roads.

From here, we said our goodbyes to the campers. They all seemd to have a great time. If they didn't, they certainly faked it well. Hopefully, they all also learned something, and will carry some of this energy with them into the next month of training. Winter can be a dreary time but this camp showed that it doesn't have to hold you back. We drove back to Scott and Ange's, showered quickly and finished packing, and then headed to the airport.

My trip home was my own version of "The Amazing Race", trying to make it back to my home in time for the kick off. I was able to get the very first seat on the plane, meaning I was the first one off the plane. I took carry on bags and I was through Westchester Airport and in my car within 5 minutes. I made it home just in time. After watching the game, maybe I should have taken my time.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Winterfest Camp and a special thanks to Ange and Scooter for hosting this event. I know their basement will probably never smell the same way again.



Saturday, February 02, 2008

Cleveland Winter Camp

I told one of my PT clients earlier in the week that I wasn't going to be available on Friday due to the fact that I was heading out to put on a winter camp/clinic. He responded "very cool, some warm weather will be nice. Where are you heading?" "Cleveland!" I brought Baker out with me who bitched and moaned something to the fact of "you have Tucson, Palm Springs, and I get to go to Cleveland!"

Baker flew from Bradley and I flew from Westchester but we both arrived in Cleveland around 8:30am. Angela picked us up, along with the Aussie doctor out of Atlanta, Trephina. We grabbed a coffee and before doing anything else, we had trephina change clothes in a public restroom, and I had Ange, Trephina, and Tina do a short warm-up run before some heart rate testing out on the damp, cold roads. We then made our way back to Ange's to try and get some bike testing done on the computrainer with some of the athletes attending. This made for a very busy day, although it would save us some time for Saturday, which would be even busier.

After a quick lunch, I worked on Ange's, Trephina's, Tina's, Mike's, Mary's, Brad's and Jeff's bike positions. I made some radical changes, including removing a 3 cm spacer from under Ange's stem! Then we did HR testing on the ct which is always a bitch but for some reason very satisfying upon completion. We actually didn't finish up with this until after 7pm, which made for quite a long day considering we were up at 3:30am.

We have, once again, another very cool group of people attending this year. Besides Scooter and Ange, we have 16 other campers ranging from newbies training for their first 1/2 to more experienced athletes looking to qualify for Hawaii. They are all extremely nice, and most importantly, they are showing signs of good senses of humour which is necessary when dealing with myself and Baker. We tormented the campers right out of the gate and I was sure they'd hate us by now, but they seem to want more?!

It's always great coming out to see Ange and Scooter. They started as clients of mine, but have turned into very dear friends. I still need to convince them to move closer to CT.

Saturday started with 6:30am coffee and bagels and introductions, followed by more bike fitting and then more bike testing. We then did a 2 hr 15 min indoor bike session on the trainers where I led them through drills, cadence work, steady state intervals, climbing intervals, star intervals (I call out one name and they have to maintain 105+ rpm's solo and jam for 1 min), ... One of the campers, Jay, had so much sweat pooled under his bike that he must have lost 10 lbs!

We followed up the ride with a brick run outdoors and then Baker video taped run form. We took a quick lunch break and then I ran them through a specific strength and core routine that Baker videod as well. All the campers will go home with a dvd of their swim, bike and run form as well as video of the strength and core routine. Following the strength routine, we had a meditation class led by this guy Todd that Ange and Scooter use here which was great and well needed. The campers were whooped and I even heard some snoring during the meditation session.

We just finished dinner after another very busy day. The campers really put it out there today, especially during the tesing.

I'll try to get more into the blog tomorrow instead of just listing the agenda and what was done, but honestly I'm pretty beat. Tomorrow looks to be another busy day before I catch a flight home and race out of the airport to make the kickoff and watch my Patriots (I've been a life long Patriot fan in a household of Giant fans so lay off) kick some ass.