Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tucson Arrival Day

I’m seated on my flight out to Tucson. Flights can be very productive – I got a lot of work done this morning. In about one hour, I’ll be stepping out into the warm air – hopefully! I still have flashbacks of Palm Springs 2006 where it snowed on the first day. The weather looks amazing though for this coming week – it actually is supposed to be in the high 80’s tomorrow!

Today is travel day, get settled in and get the bikes assembled. We have a 5pm meeting tonight before dinner where we lay out the ground rules and expectations for camp. Anyone that knows me and/or has been to my camps know that I basically have three rules that the campers must adhere to:

1. No whining. Really, what good does whining do? I remind everyone that they signed up for this, and that this and that we are all privileged to be able to do this. If it begins to rain during a long ride, it does know good to bitch about it and to complain to your riding partners.
2. Check your ego at the door. I could care less who is the fastest and strongest. There is always a new person who wants to prove themselves on day 1. Usually, the lesson learned is a hard one as they crawl back after blowing up or when they are spent by day four.
3. Expand your limits, if not for this one week. The campers are all here to train with no other worries for a week, so take advantage of this. I prefer high volume at the camps over intensity. Once the campers get home, they can work back in more quality as their schedule usually allows for maybe a third of the volume that most will do this week. I want them to take some chances here and swing for the fence.

A few other points I’ll touch upon tonight are all about getting the campers in the right mind set. Most are intimidated on the first day, and I try anything I can to alleviate this tension. I want those here to not only make themselves better, but challenge themselves to make everyone around them better. This is something that we should think about each morning – “how exactly can I make myself and those around me better today?”. One of the keys to doing this is to free up ourselves mentally, so that we find a place where success and failure don’t matter. Only than can we take those uncompromising chances and really begin to learn about ourselves.

OK, enough philosophical mumbo jumbo. Some other things I wanted to write about:

Huge new discovery in nutritional science this week. I’m sure that you have all heard or read this in the news: To lose weight, it’s not so much what you eat, but rather it’s more about taking in less calories than you are expending. This is revolutionary! What a breakthrough!!! Finally, we figured out that if you burn more calories than you consume daily, you’ll lose weight.

I’ve been catching up on some movies while riding the computrainer. Keep in mind that trainer movies should be filled with action, and not make you think to much. I know there are scholars out there reading this saying it never hurts to think – if you become to distracted to focus on some quality (a trainer ride should be all about quality), then save it for the sofa. I saw a movie with Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie where they play assassins who can bend the path of bullets. It starts out as a combination of The Matrix, Office Space and Fight Club (yeah, it’s that hoaxy) and almost loses me, but I end up hanging in there for one reason and one reason only; Angelina. Goddamn is she stunning. Funny thing is the movie actually gets a bit entertaining. I recommend it for both sexes as I think just as many women find Angelina unbelievably attractive whether they admit it or not. I also saw Hancock with Will Smith which was surprisingly good - Will Smith plays the role well.

I'll be posting daily hopefully with some pictures and maybe some video as well, so stay tuned.



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Polar Bear Run

Sunday morning, I awoke feeling like I should stay in bed for a few more hours. I have a hard time doing this though. I wish I could, but when I'm up, I'm up. I planned on running the Polar Bear Run around Lake Warmaug and wasn't feeling motivated about it. Lisa and the kids were coming up to Lake Warmaug with me to visit Anita, the kids sitter who lives close by to the Lake. Before getting out of Monroe, I get a call from Baker who was planning on running as well. He was in the same boat as me in that he wasn't to keen on racing. I could tell that Baker was just waiting for me to give him the OK sign to bail, but Baker is solid - he would never bail on his own. After hanging up, I said to Lisa "Man, I don't feel like driving all the way up to Lake Warmaug to run an 8 mile race at 11am when I could run from here and be done by 11am." She said "Then why are you going?" I was ready to turn the car around but I always am preaching to my kids that you follow through on things.

After registering, I did an easy warm-up jog which didn't feel easy. I knew it was going to be a tough run. Just before the start, I was trying to decide on going with a singlet or a long sleeve jersey; 95% of the time in a race, I'd go with the "less" scenario, however, for some strange reason I decided on the long sleeves thankfully. As we waited for a bunch of bozo's to tie their shoes right in front of the race start, it begins to rain. It's a cold, freezing rain that's quickly drenching us. Since my hypothermia from Ralph's 1/2 IM in 2006, I have little tolerance to these conditions. By mile two I was shivering. At this point, the hammerheads out of the gate were starting to come back, and the rain was changing to a dense snow. This big guy runs up on me and for the next 4.5 miles, we run side by side. The conditions were so bizarre and by mile six, it was a white out and the road was covered. I was still freezing - i just couldn't warm up, but i was still running:) I felt very stiff and my gate didn't feel fluid, yet I could hear the big guy next to me and his breathing was beginning to sound more labored. I dropped him and went after fifth place who had been about 100 meters in front of us the whole race. I caught him with 1/2 mile to go and then kicked it in.

I didn't hang around to long after the race - in fact, I jogged back towards the campground area at the Lake where I saw Lisa and the kids parked, changed into some dry clothes, and headed out. It took me the rest of the day to warm-up, but you know what, I'm glad I went. Smaller races - there are many times where I think "why bother, just get in your training here early", but the bottom line is that it was great to be in the race atmosphere again - to toe the line. And I may not have run as fast as I would have liked but I still ran close to 8 miles at a sub 6 min pace, something I would not have done if I stayed home and trained. It was also very cool to be in the race scenario with 5th, 6th and 7th at the 6 mile mark. This made it exciting and it really tests what you are made of. So it's all good and re-enforces why it's important to get out there and enter some races, even when you don't feel like it.



Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Phil Ligget's and Paul Sherwin's voices bring enjoyment to my ears. Have you ever tried watching a televised bike race with other commentators besides these two? It's painful. Bob Roll is also great and I'm even liking Craig Hummer. The conditions thus far at the Tour Of California have been anything but Californian. Seeing these guys race in these conditions is not only motivating, but it can make you feel soft for opting to RUN inside because it's drizzling out.

I'm currently watching a breakaway on the the fourth stage which contains Tyler Hamilton. Funny, even after his bullshit excuses during his trial for being caught blood doping, I still find myself rooting for him in this stage?. What's strange is that I'm typically a one chance kind of guy. I used to be more forgiving, but age hardens you, or at least washes out some of the naivete. You learn that loyalty needs to work both ways. In regards to A-Rod and pro baseball players, I'm anything but sympathetic. What's the difference you ask? I don't know... These pro baseball players are hardly tested and then getaway with such small penalties, especially considering what they make. I'm by no means excusing the cheats in pro cycling. Maybe it's the amount of work and labor these cyclists put into their sport versus the amount they're paid, along with the amount they are tested and the penalty they serve. All of the athletes in these two sports are under great pressure to perform. If anyone thinks that A-Rod was only on the juice for the three seasons he's confessed to, take a look at pictures of him from his early years and compare them to pictures of him from the past five seasons.

There's a lot of illness going around at the moment. My daughter has a fever and upper respiratory bug as well as my kids sitter. Many of my pt clients or their families have something going on. I have been having a very healthy winter until yesterday where I awoke with nausea and a bad stomach. Seems as though it was just a 24 hr bug though as I'm feeling much better now.

I leave for Tucson a week from Saturday which I'm really looking forward to. We have a fun group that I plan on introducing in my blog and on my site. I'll be posting daily from AZ.



Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Zen

Lisa and I ventured into NYC a few days ago for an early Valentines Day getaway. The next morning, I felt the need to work off some of ceviche, duck quesadillas, lobster pot pie, and red wine from the previous evening so I met a client of mine in Central Park to run. It was a beautiful morning for running – in the low 40’s and sunny. Towards the end of the run, Lewis mentioned how he was really looking forward to a cup of coffee, to which I commented that a post run cup of coffee is relaxing. He rebutted that often people comment on how having a cup of coffee is relaxing, and how they have coffee places with a relaxing set up inside and how Sirius has a “Coffee House” channel that plays all soothing and relaxing music, yet coffee amps him up – the caffeine gets him going.

So I was once again pondering this yesterday during a running hill repeat session. This was a vo2 max session and I worked it to the point where I was nauseous. On my last set of three hill repeats, I honestly thought I was going to hurl – it was great! Endurance athletes will understand what I mean here. I had 20 minutes still to run home and they certainly weren’t flat miles, yet the pace was easier. During this time, I felt spent, yet my leg turnover felt easy and my head was in a very cool, relaxed place. I felt this way for much of the afternoon following this run. I was in that haze of exhaustion yet knowing I just busted my ass in a solid session and feeling good about that as well as enjoying my overall fatigue.

I realized that I need to be in motion to relax. Typically, people will relax by lying around, maybe reading a book or watching television. Maybe just catching an afternoon nap. Once I’m awake in the morning, I need to get up. I’m not one to lay there half asleep hitting the snooze. I’ve tried – many times, and I’m anything but relaxed. I often wish I could do this, but it’s just not me. While I advocate taking a nap if you can squeeze one in, I just can’t do this either. Yet, when I’m active, doing things I get a sense of satisfaction from, I find my Zen state. When I’m turning the pedals on a long ride in beautiful country, I feel at peace. I think Lisa finally gets this. It took awhile, but she will now tell me every so often that I need to go out and train. She understands that I’ll return in a calmer state.

The funny thing is that the majority of people – the average Joe, will laugh at the thought of exercise and movement as being relaxing, thinking that the body has to be relaxed. But the real key is the mind. I’m sure that most endurance athletes get it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Climbing On My Mind

Above is my new Cannondale Supersix that will be carrying me around Tucson in a few weeks!

When you get a sunny 58 degree day in February here in CT, you gotta take advantage. I snuck out this afternoon for a nice hilly ride, taking in what I believe to be every single hill within 20 miles of my house, including 188 from rt. 34, Punkup Rd. from rt. 34, rt. 111 from rt. 34, and rt. 34 from from the damn towards Newtown/Sandy Hook. It felt great to ride outdoors without thirty layers of clothing on - I was actually sweating today. As I rode, I thought about the fact that I'll be climbing Mt. Lemmon in just a few weeks, and then thought about the best climbs I've done on two wheels. I've had the fortune to ride in some pretty cool places and up some pretty cool climbs. Here's my list of my favorite climbs that I have experienced, in descending order based on my favorite climbs, not in order of toughness:

9. Idylwild Climb in Palm Springs, CA. - this climb was my first where I was climbing non-stop for close to an hour. The scenery was cool, although the traffic was a negative.

8. Northwest Corner of CT Route - this corner of CT and parts of MA and NY has some spectacular riding and I have a route that's just a killer including climbs up Greer Mountain Rd. and then soon after up Carter Hill Rd. It's just brutal, but very scenic.

7. Joshua Tree National Park, CA - this park has some nice, long gradual climbs, and the park is just so cool.

6. Whiteface Mountain, Lake Placid New York - a bit over 8 miles, The USA's Alpe D'Huezsince it's supposedly equal in distance and gradient. It's a tough climb, and what makes it more challenging is that the six or so times I've climbed it, the weather has always been shitty!

5. Kitt Peak, near Tucson, AZ -11 mile steady climb at a challenging gradient, winding around a mountain with views of desert valleys. The climb finishes at an observatory on top of the mountain.

4. Mauna Kea Climb in Hawaii - This climbs a son of a bitch! It starts at a road in between Kailua and the airport off the queen K and just climbs and climbs for close to an hour. There are some gradients above 17% thrown in for fun near the top!

3. Mt. Lemmon, Tucson, AZ - Climbing for 26 miles!!! The gradient averages just over 6% for the climb which is tame compared to the other climbs I've mentioned, but it's 26 miles! Amazing views and you start in desert, enter high desert, then you actually go through an evergreen forest.

2. Port D'Bales, France - This has only been in the tour once since until a few years ago, it was a dirt road. This is the most challenging individual climb of my list here. It was long - something like 25 kilometers, and had some killer gradients.

1. Combo big day - Peyressoude, Col D'Aspin, Tourmalet, France - Not much to say here that I already haven't said. This triple climb is nostalgic in Tour history, is incredibly challenging, has amazing scenery and views - it has it all! It'll be tough to top this one.

The best part about these climbs is of course, you get to descend them as well.



Sunday, February 08, 2009

Cutting Edge

I've mentioned many times about how I have been involved in endurance sports for quite awhile, and how I believe in cummulative base, reaching, changing things up, and always challenging yourself. This year, I'm taking it to a whole new level. I am doing some radical training with the hopes that I will set some new and solid pr's this season. The training is not easy, although it's very time efficient. I'm not going to the pool (what else is new). I'm not riding my bike (save that for race day). No need to run. According to the infomercial, All that I need to keep doing is Hip Hop Abs.



Friday, February 06, 2009


Endurance athletes often use the lessons they learn from sport in life. I guess all athletes do somewhat. Besides teaching us more about ourselves, sport can quickly show others ones true personality. Don't believe me? Go play a sport with someone - any sport, and you'll see many of the persons true personality traits. Back to the metaphor of sport and life;

I've witnessed many different reactions thus far on how people are approaching and dealing with the current state of affairs in our country. It's very reminiscent of what I've seen firsthand on the race course. Let's take last years Lake Placid IM as an example. Athletes trained there little asses off preparing for this huge event and day in their lives. They awoke to a pretty miserable day, with cooler weather and torrential downpours most of the day.

Some dealt with the day with such negativism, doubting themselves from the get go. You could see it on their faces clear as day - well not clear as that day. They had the "woe is me" approach. The "why the hell is this happening to me? I can't believe we were dealt this day! This really sucks!" attitude. I talked with quite a few athletes after the race who gave into the day, letting it get the best of them.

Then there was the middle road approach. These athletes went with the flow of the day, readjusting and racing cautiously and hoping for the best. They didn't give in, but they went with the masses hoping for the best later on. These athletes finished a few hours slower than they wanted to.

There were a group that did seize the day. They realized that most were faltering on this obscure and pathetic weather day, and they took hold and upped the ante. They smiled at the conditions, took an opportunity realizing that most would go conservative or falter, and they persevered big. These are the athletes that nailed their goals and even pr'd! Yes, there were some that set personal bests that day. They certainly weren't reckless, but rather, they were calculated and aggressive and confident and driven. I coached a few of these athletes and it was certainly cool to witness.

In this new, interesting, turbulent year, which path will you be following?

On another note, last nights 30 Rock was hilarious! If you don't watch this show yet, why not?



Thursday, February 05, 2009

Self Analyzing Running

There are two treadmills at my gym that are set up directly in front of a mirror. The rest face outdoors, peering through the glass wall. Of the 12 treadmills at the gym, only two now will not skip and will hold speed when it's set above 11mph. I was relegated to the one of these which is facing the mirror. As I ran, I analyzed my form, and thought process and how it affected my effort and gait, and confirmed a few things; first, while running at a fast effort, the more that I focused on turning over from the hip, relaxing my upper body, and kicking up behind me, the more comfortable I was at that speed. What affected it more though were two things - If I smiled it felt easier. that simple. Seems goofy, but it works. As I ran at a hard effort, smiling, it turned my thoughts automatically into the positiveness of just running and training in general. Yes, again, sounds goofy, but try it - what have you got to lose? You already look dweeby in your tight running shorts, matching tri-shirt, compression socks, heart rate monitor, fuel belt, and matching wrist and head band (yeah, you know that's you), so you may as well put a dumb grin on your face. The other was thinking aggressive. If I were running say at 11 mph, instead of thinking "try to keep up with this speed!", I'd aggressively try to outrun that speed crowding the front of the treadmill so that I actually had to back off my own tempo a bit.

Too often we get in the pattern of "hoping" we have a good run and can keep up a specific pace, and thinking too much about whether we are going to hard and if we'll blow. Smile and be aggressive and you'll get that much more out of your next tempo, interval or race session. Simple as that.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Not much going on that's exciting...

Trying to think of something to post for the sake of posting - that's no good. The Superbowl? Great game, what more to say? The Doritos commercial was hands down the best one.

Training is going well. I ran the Stratford Sweetheart Run course on Sunday before the Superbowl - my father, and older sisters ran it also which was cool. That's a bitch of a course - just the way I like it. Most of us are too caught up in times searching for courses where we could pr. I always wanted to break 9 hrs in an IM (and I still will!) but I certainly didn't choose the right IM course to do this. I think in the long run, it'll be the challenge of the courses that I'll remember more and that will have more of an impact than the times I did. Ran tempo on the treadmill today which went well. 2 mile warm-up, 3 X 2 miles at 5:30 to 5:40 pace w/ .5 mi easy in between each, then a 1 mi cooldown. Good stuff.

I'm sucked right back into 24.

My motivation is still running well. I'm certainly looking forward to Arizona in a few weeks, however, considering this winter, I'm quite pleased with my drive at the moment. Why not though? I mean, if you are having motivation issues, it's usually due to something that's pretty clear, right? And although we know usually what's causing motivational issues, we still can search trying to come up with other reasons.

I received a rough cut of my trainer dvd and, although I'm overly critical of myself, it's coming out amazing. The production just blows away spinervals dvd's. Hopefully we'll have it ready for release within the next month. You hear that Sean?!

There are some new things up on my home page ( ) including an excellent article by Greg P. comparing the latest Shimano, Camp and Sram groups, and also the newest from Rob Straz which is a great read.