Wednesday, July 30, 2008

LP 08'

This is late, but so what. It's something to read. You can only read so much of or or (that's right Molson, I know how you roll). So even though this may be dribble, it can't be much worse than the alternatives. Can it?

I don't know what it is about Lake Placid. I absolutely love the place. I love the drive from 87 up to LP. I love the small town and the lakes. And I absolutely love the surrounding wilderness. The swimming, riding, running, mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, is superb. Yet, at the same time, when it's time for me to leave, I'm ready to get the hell out of there. There have only been a few places that while at the end of the trip, I wished that I had a few more days there. Mostly island places. I love to travel, but I guess I am a bit of a homebody and I do miss and love to come home, especially when I travel without the family.

Monday morning at 5:45am, I was on the road traveling east to 87 and anxious to get home. I did however have a great four days in Lake Placid. Baker came up there with me and I don't think we have ever not had a great time on any excursion we have done. I was definitely laughed out by Sunday evening.

We got there Thursday around noon and our hotel room wasn't ready, so we changed into cycling clothes in our cars and headed out to ride the bike course in reverse. The big downhill, when riding it in reverse can feel like a bitch of an uphill, but it's not so bad. It's just long, but the grades not bad. Ride Whiteface and this climb on 73 will seem easy. We managed to squeeze an hour run in before dinner as well - I hit the secret trails off of Mirror Lake drive.

Tri-geeks were everywhere. This place is inundated with triathletes. Many racing and many spectating and hoping to register on Monday for next years race. I ran into a lot of familiar faces during my run back to the hotel on Mirror Lake Drive. Then it was dinner at Nicolas which consisted of a few beers, a couple of salads and the #5 pizzas. This meal is hard to beat.

The next morning, Baker headed out on his ride at 6am, I left at 6:15. We were riding down 86 and up Whiteface. This climb is a son of a bitch, and it's great. You start climbing as soon as you turn left off of 86 and it's a straight climb, meaning you don't need to steer for the first 3.5 miles up to the tollbooth. It's a constant, steady grind. I caught Baker at around the 2.5 mile mark and forged onward. The Whiteface road rules state that you must be off the road by 8:30am, when the toll booth opens and permits cars to make the 8.5 mile drive up to the peak. A truck with some workers came up on me around the 5 mile mark reminding me of this. It was drizzling rain, but not so bad. Around the 5.5 mile mark, I flatted my rear wheel. Reminder that when riding up in altitude, underinflate a bit. 100psi would have been fine. A defective co2 had me waiting and hoping Baker had an extra, which he did. I was back on track. Another flat would have made for a long walk down the mountain. When you hit the 7 mile mark, you get some switchbacks. The last 1/2 mile was directly into a nasty headwind and was brutal. I hit the summit in 58 minutes and put on some warm clothes then began the descent. After two cold miles of descending, the hale began. Fun. Then the downpours came. The descent took all of 20 minutes and it was hard to see a thing. The rain wasnt so bad though. I often say that once you are wet, you're wet, so why bitch? Hope that Sundays racers had the same attitude.

Baker and I regrouped and rode the course in reverse again. I needed to be at the top of the big downhill on rt 73 for downhill practice. I pulled into this parking area where we were to meet at 9:58 and was the first one there. I had a great turnout for the practice though. the roads were damp, making it all that much more valuable. I host this each year, the idea being that those who are racing can practice this six mile descent a few times (we have friends and spouses meet at the bottom and drive us back up) to learn it and build confidence for raceday. Everyone says that this only helps their race day. Many brake too much on the corners, only to hammer like hell on the straights to make up for it. You know who you are. This is wasted energy. This downhill, when done correctly, regardless of conditions, requires no braking. That's right, no braking! Jeff M. drove Baker and I back from the downhill, stopping at a great lunch spot (thanks for lunch Jeff!). I can't say where it's at. They are doing plenty of business already and this place doesn't need to be anymore busy, especially when I'm up there. Call me selfish but it is what it is.

I met with some athletes, hit the expo and My Athlete tent, and then headed out for a run which turned into quite an adventure. I hit the trails again and I ran one trail straight uphill for quite awhile. The trail ended at the foot of a huge rock ledge. The top of the ledge looked like an incredible view, so I began climbing. My zoot running shoes weren't great on traction, but I made it about 2/3rds of the way up. The rock was really slick at this point and about 90 degrees. There weren't many hand grabs, so after sitting there irritated for a few minutes, I decided to descend. The problem is that the descent was really steep! I didn't realize how much I climbed and how vertical it was until I turned around. Ascending is easier then descending in this terrain, believe it or not. After getting religious for a moment and saying a few hail mary's, I made my way down, including a not so stylish slide on my back the last 1/3rd. I returned to the hotel fired up to tell Baker about this experience - funny, he did the same exact thing maybe 10 minutes after me!

Jeff Molson and his wife and kids had us and some of my athletes over for a cookout that evening. Jeff rented a key house on Mirror Lake. The house itself is great and the location makes it unbelievable. We had an exceptional steak and salmon dinner which was unbelievably generous of the Molsons.

Saturday, we headed out to ride a loop of the bike course and there were easily 200+ people out there training on the course. Even with all these people, I pretty much rode alone. I took advantage of this trip to get in some training. I didn't commit to any group rides or to meeting up with people, and even though it may have been selfish, it was nice. It was sunny and the wind was howling. That afternoon, Baker and I picked up John Hirsch and blindfolded him and took him over to an unbelievable trail run. I don't know what Baker did to him on the drive over. John wasn't complaining though.

Another solid day completed with a great dinner at Milano's where we were able to watch the Tour, then John Brennan, the bad influence, kept us out drinking a bit to long.

Sunday, race day: We all know now that the rain never let up. Funny thing is, it actually made for a fast day to race LP. Temps were in the 60's. My wife was driving back from my inlaws and called me while passing through NYC - she said it was 102 degrees there! The rain kept the wind down. 86 is actually nice with no wind. We hung out and cheered from the My Athlete tent during the day. I remind my athletes that by race week, they are ready and it's up to them. They all stepped up and did amazingly well. Everyone of them! Hopefully, we'll get some race journals soon to post. I was really proud of not only the way everyone performed, but also the fact that everyone seemed to really be making the most of the day.

Maybe you were looking for more of a writeup on the race. Well, we already know about the day and about how everyone did, so why beat a horse?

Many of you signed up for next year and I have to say that I almost did as well. I do want to race an IM next year and if it isn't going to be Hawaii, then LP would be my next choice.



Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"Change The Focus"

As much as i try to teach my kids each day, I learn quite a bit from them. My son is in a soccer camp this week. Monday, it was 90+ degrees out and humid and he was in his cleats, shin guards and socks for four hours. He developed some major blisters on both heels. They were about the size of a nickel and the skin was flapping. We put some band aids on them the next morning, then he put on his cleats, shin guards and socks. According to my wife, he was walking out to the car very gingerly. She didn't know how he was going to run at practice. When I came home on Tuesday, I asked how the camp went to which he replied "great! We won the scrimmage, I played center mid-field." I then asked how his blisters were doing. He said "Oh... I think they are OK." I looked at them and the skin had fallen off and they were both bleeding.

Everything we do on a daily basis has a mind body connection. How we direct our mental focus determines how well we do physically. I wondered how many adult athletes that I knew would have blown off their training that day had they had the same blisters. I'm not claiming that my son is tougher than most. In fact, he's a sensitive 7 year old. But kids don't over think things and don't over focus on small issues. All that he knew was that he wanted to go "play" that day. His focus was on playing.

I've discussed before the 70 year old psychiatrist that I personal train. He's an avid tennis player who had a major surgery performed on his wrist two years ago - a surgery that was botched. He was told that playing tennis again would be difficult and to never attempt doing push-ups again, yet he currently plays an hour or more of daily singles and when I see him, I can get three sets of 12 to 15 push-ups out of him. The funny thing is that if I tell him just before he attempts a set of push-ups to really focus on his wrist, he can't do one. Instead, I tell him to visualize he's on the tennis court and in a great rally and to feel the power coming from his lower body. He puts himself there mentally and bangs out the push-ups. He changes the focus.

Just some food for thought next time you think about skipping a training session, or cutting something short, because of a minor nagging pain or ache. Don't be stupid and really injure yourself, yet at the same time, if you shift the focus correctly, things usually correct themselves and even better, our performance improves. Maybe the real lesson is to not take things so seriously and "play" more? And to change the focus.

Download This:
  • "I will possess your heart" by Death Cab For Cutie. I hate the name of this band. So much so that it actually for some stupid reason makes me not want to listen to them. Yet, they are really good and this song has a great rhythm for training, and it's over eight minutes long.
  • "I'm not over" by Carolina Liar.
  • "Let it die" by The Foo Fighters - these guys continually put out one good song/album after another.



Happy 40th Baker

I've known Baker since 1989, when we first met in college. I became a resident advisor for one of the dormitory floors and he was my co-RA. First time I met him, I told him to grab some shoes, we were going running, and took him up West Rock. He should have head for the hills then. He and I share an identical sense of humour which can drive some nuts, but we don't care - we can usually make some fun out of any situation. Be it a last minute road trip, a destination training ride, or one of my camps, it's always an adventure and a great time.

There are countless stories of how he got his nickname Baker. Most, including my kids, don't even know him as John Morris anymore. Lisa once called him John when he was here and Ryan and Kate both asked "who's John?". He's just Baker, like Cher, or McGuyver, or Mclovin.

We have done many road trips, beginning with college spring break, where we both decided the day before that we needed to do something, rented a car and drove down to Daytona Beach with no place to stay. We were so fired up that we made the drive from CT in under 17 hours, including the five loops we did around our dorm at 4:30am with the horn pinned as we departed.

Baker has accompanied me on just about every Vermont Ride. In fact, because of our friendship, he's been dragged out on many of my training adventures, even when it was the absolute last thing he was interested in doing. We shared an apartment out of college until I got married, and there were countless times when I'd get home and say "get changed, were heading out for a ride.". I brought him up to see me race IMLP back in 2000 and could tell that the event stirred up something in him. A few years later just after he came up to LP to train with me and spectate the event, I signed him up for it. He had never done a triathlon before but was dragged all over the place accompanying me on training adventures that I thought it was time for him to do one. In fact, IMLP was his first triathlon ever.

He's helped me out tremendously with my training camps and has become infamous at the CT one for his Saturday night video. Baker is a talented guy with a very artful eye. When most see us two together, they usually think were up to something. Well, I guess, most of the time, we are.

When Lisa and I were married, Baker was my best man. He's my son Ryan's godfather. Whether he likes it or not, he's family now.

So thanks for all the great times my man - I know there will be plenty more. Lisa will often ask the two of us when we are going to grow up, and based on this recent trip to LP, I can tell it's not going to be anytime soon.

Happy birthday Baker - have a great day!



Monday, July 21, 2008

LP quick update

I know, I know - I was supposed to blog while in LP. Unfortunately I had no patience for the hotels wireless service and I had no time to go elsewhere. I plan on doing a writeup this week about the trip. It was a memorable one, to say the least! One thing that's a given when Baker and I do trip, it's always memorable.

II wanted to post something quickly though to pay accolades to all my athletes that raced this past weekend. It was a great weekend for all. At LP, everyone not only finished under some interesting conditions, but most pr'd. Congratulations to Alan and Margit for another IM well done. It's hard enough to have one person in a family racing an IM. Think about it with two. Mike Biehl and Dan Mastella both did their first IM and both were under 12 hrs! Jeff Molson finished yet another IM. To make it that much more of a challenge, he thought he'd go through a major low back surgery last November - just to add a bit to the challenge. Don Henry finished another and did a pr as well, finishing under 12 hours. And then there's Megan Searfoss. Megan had an amazing race, capping it with a 3:46 marathon. She's not only going to Hawaii, she qualified for the Boston marathon! Many of angela's crew raced well out there also. It was great seeing the Cleveland contingent.

On the other coast, Margaret Coffey pr'd at the Vineman 70.3 and qualified for the world championships in Clearwater, Fl.

In the heat and humidity of NY, Greg Pelican and Kenn Vohls raced hard and well. Greg finished second in his age group even after swimming with a wetsuit not zipped up due to a broken zipper. I also saw plenty of Greg's crew from Bethel Cyle's multisport club performing well at LP.

OK, I'll put another more descriptive update on the LP trip this week.



Monday, July 14, 2008

Stage 10

Wow, what a stage today in the tour! Anyone who thinks that cycling is dead, or that this year's tour is boring should go to the emergency room right now and see if they have a pulse. Either that or they need to pull their head out of their ass.

I picked Valverde to win this year, so looks as though I'm out of it. Ryan picked Evans.

Seeing Jens Voight drive the pace at the front up the Tourmalet and blow the pack to pieces was just awesome. CSC was certainly strong today and came out to this years tour not concerned so much in winning stages, but more concerned in winning the gc.

Saunier Duval - man can those bastards climb!

Cadel Evans has such strange form on the bike showing that when you are fit and strong, there is no one "right" way to get it done.

Every time I watch a stage, I'm fired up to go out and ride! I awoke early on Saturday morning to roll out at 6am and ride for an hour before meeting the Bethel Cycle group to ride. just before rolling out, I raised my saddle on my road bike. As I tightened the seatpost binder bolt, I heard a "snap!". The bolt cracked in two, leaving a piece in an impossible location to get at inside the clamp. I have a bunch of bikes in my garage and basement and not one has the same seat clamp diameter as my road bike seat clamp. After tinkering around for 45 minutes, I gave up and headed out on my Slice tri frame. I missed the Bethel ride and told my family I'd be back by 9:30, so after a 20 minute warm-up, I did 3 X 30 min TT's at 350 watts w/ 10 min easy in between each. This bike is a bullet. I have been riding only three times per week this year but it's all been quality and I feel like I'm riding stronger than I have in a long time. I have preached for awhile the value of cumulative base and how specific quality, when you have this cumulative base, not only saves time, but is far more effective.

I'm heading up to LP on Thursday - I have quite a few athletes racing, so I'll be coaching and helping John B. out with My Athlete. I'll try and blog daily from up there. It should be a great time.

Lot's of good new music out lately. I haven't posted a "download this" in awhile - I'll get back into that.



Sunday, July 06, 2008

Best ride ever?

For those that may be reading this, what's your best ride ever? Seriously, I'd be interested in hearing about it, so please comment if you feel up to it. Your best ride may be one in a race or in training. It may be one where you felt amazing from the start or one that you built into. It may be one that was incredibly scenic or surreal. Many have asked which is my favorite discipline of triathlon. I love all three of them for their own unique offerings. Swimming may easily get the shaft, although swimming in Kailua Bay is one of my favorite things. Running is pure and simple and nothing can match the mental and physical benefits one receives bang for the buck from running. Cycling is probably the most amazing though. the territory covered leaves the other two disciplines dwarfed. The exhilaration of a huge climb or a fast descent is hard to match.

The tour has obviously started. One year ago, I was getting ready for my birthday trip to France, the most amazing gift that has ever been given in my opinion. I have been fortunate to do some amazing rides. I have raced the infamous lava fields on the Big Island many times. I have ridden up famous climbs in the US like Mt Lemmon, Whiteface, and Kitts Peak. I have raced with broken parts through 70 of 112 miles and persevered. My best day on a bike though is an easy choice, a clear cut memory. It was my ride last year from Luchon, up the Col D'Peyressoude, then the Col D'Aspin, then finally the Tourmalet. Why was this my best day on a bike? I rolled out of Luchon all alone at 6am with my ipod on a clear, mild day. You start climbing the Peyressoude almost right away. There were trailers and tents everywhere from the stage the previous day, yet everyone was still asleep, making it peaceful. There wasn't a bit of litter anywhere from the day before. My legs felt stiff from the big climbs I had done the two preceding days. Looking up the mountain at the switchbacks jutting through the light clouds was an incredible site - one that could feel daunting, yet exciting at the same time. The first descent was long and chilly and I was still all alone. I rolled through some picturesque towns and soon found myself ascending the Co D'Aspin. This climb isn't that tough compared to the others I experienced on the trip. It's long, especially compared with anything we have in the states, but my legs were coming around and seeing faded paint spelling "Indurain" or "go Lance!" certainly upped the adrenalin. I had to skirt my way around roaming cattle and goats on this climb, then another long, fun descent before starting the monster - the Tourmalet. I pulled over to take some pictures and was joined by two guides from the trip I was on, one being George Alteri. I climbed with them up to the ski town La Mongie, then stopped to refill my empty bottles and take some photos. In hindsight, I wanted to finish this surreal day the way I started, all by myself. This was my day. The switchbacks and wind from La Mongie to the Tourmalet summit was incredibly challenging, especially with beat up legs from the six huge climbs I had done in the 48 hours leading up to this moment. But not once did I question what I was doing. I sat at the cafe on the top of the mountain downing double espressos and really trying to take in the coolness of what I just did and was doing. As I did, hundreds of cyclists appeared, out capturing there own memories on one of Frances most famous climbs. The excitement of the morning stays with me to this day. I'll do this same ride again some day. It won't omit the raw emotion from the newness of the adventure that it did on that day last summer. But I'll be doing it with my son Ryan and it'll bring on a whole different meaning I'm sure. I just hope I can stay with him. It's rides like these that remind why I do this in the first place, and that ground me, allowing me to feel unbelievably fortunate.



Saturday, July 05, 2008

Happy 4th

Our US Olympic trials selection is lame. I realize the importance of being able to step up on a specific day. Tyson Gay had an unbelievable cramp in the 200 quarter final - a cramp so bad that it caused him to take a dive to the track. He won the 100 and 200 in the world championships recently, and has been pretty much unbeatable in the 200 and he won't be representing us in the Olympics?!

However, Dara Torres will! As a 41 year old, how cool is that!

I don't know if we have the triathlon team to medal at the Olympics. All three are outstanding athletes who are capable of medaling, but it appears that many other countries are selecting their team as just that - a team. They have two athletes that are there to sacrifice themselves to set up their fastest runner. We have three guys that I'm sure all want the glory.

It's been a fun long weekend thus far. No traveling for us which is definitely cool. I took the family to the track yesterday morning. I had planned to do 12 X 400's although I awoke feeling wiped out. I had a great week of training but on Wednesday, I did something that I'd never have one of the athletes I coach do. I was feeling tired Wednesday, yet had two hard sessions on the agenda. I know very well that you can feel good through these two sessions but if you are fatigued, it'll bite you in the ass a day or two later. Well, I had great sessions Wednesday, and bailed on my track session half way through due to fatigue and feeling like shit. I feel much better today though, so it was smart not to force it yesterday. Plus, the kids had fun doing the long jump.



Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I love this time of year. Early summer when the days are hot and sunny. There's lots of cool sporting events on television between baseball games, Wimbeldon, and the Tour De France of course. This year we have/had the added bonus of the Euro Cup, track and field olympic trials, and swimming olympic trials. Watching these events get's me fired up to get out there and train. Well, I enjoy following baseball and Wmbledon but they don't get me fired up to train. The swimming trials motvated me to the point that I actually went to the pool yesterday and swam 3000 yards!

This time of year is when, if you trained properly, your fitness feels strong and you are anxious to race. I'm beginning to increase my running volume a bit in preparation for the NYC marathon this fall. I'm running pretty good at the moment so I'm enjoying it. When you are running poorly, training can really blow. I'm aiming to run 7 times a week over 6 to 7 days. I'm building up my volume gradually, but more importantly relative to my current fitness, I'm building up my speed. I'm a strength and endurance guy, so I need to address my limiters which is my speed. Running from the deer flys in the trails is a good way to work on this.

Yesterday I celebrated a birthday. It certainly wasnt a monumental one like last year, so it's not a big deal. After the age of 10, you have monumental birthdays like 16, 21, 30, 40, ... The birthdays in between these should serve some purpose in motivating us to reach a bit, and remind us to live the life we want, but otherwise, they're not that big a deal. I worked with a bunch of PT clients, sneaking in a great 9 mile run including 5 miles of tempo done at 5:30 to 5:40/mile pace, and also the 3000 yd swim. Lisa and my kids took me out to a nice dinner - I had a great seared sesame tuna and a couple glasses of red wine, then we went home and watched the swimming trials. Michael Phelps's turns are absolutely amazing! He puts a 1/2 a body length into his rivals off the wall. What's interesting is that most swimmers start kicking immediately upon leaving the wall, yet Phelps glides a bit, then dolphin kicks. I was telling Lisa how my high school swim coach would yell at me constantly to kick off the turns. He looked like popeye and was probably in his late 60's or early 70's at the time and would yell "god damn it Hodskiii, kick off the god damn wall in the turns!!!" He'd stand there at the end of the lane with his bull whip. He was old school and coaches and teachers got away with quite a bit more back then! Lisa was hysterically laughing. I was also telling her how I went out for the high school swim team the day before the schools first meet. I probably told this story before but it's a good one. The coach told me to get in and swim a length of the pool (25 yards). After following his orders, he said, "you'll do". I had never swam competitively before. The next day, we swam Foran High School and coach through me in the longest event, the 500, because no one ever wants to swim this event. Foran had a senior, Rich Enders who was all-american. He kept lapping me - I remember thinking "how the hell is doing that - swimming so fast? I still had two laps left and I remember going to take a breath and seeing Enders sitting on his team bench fully dressed in his sweats. I think he was eating a sandwich. I finished in 8 minutes 46 seconds.

Back to the present; it's going to be a fun summer! some sprint races are coming up quickly, Lake Placid IM will be here in a couple of weeks (I have a bunch of athletes racing there and I'll be heading up to train, coach, spectate, and drink some beers with Baker and Brennan), some family trips. How can you not like the summer?!