Sunday, November 30, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Do some short running races. Try to do two 5K's per month in December, January, and February, and run them hard.
- 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.
- 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
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
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
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