Tuesday, November 30, 2010


We (my family) were away last week celebrating Thanksgiving and my wife's 40th birthday on Turks and Caicos. Yes, it was tough leaving the tradition of thanksgiving at my in laws in always grey and cold Pennsylvania, but we managed.

The first couple of days there, I awoke and ran the roads of the island, which are mainly inland and are less than scenic. The majority of the Caribbean is quite poor, and running through these sections make you significantly question your safety. But even more than that, I found myself just overly focused on getting in my run and getting it done rather than enjoying the process. I put a lot of time and effort into my recreation, like most triathletes, and I strive to enjoy the process, because otherwise, what's the sense? I mean seriously, if you aren't making a living at your recreation and you aren't enjoying the process, then you really need to, in my opinion, re-evaluate what you are doing.

We were staying on a long stretch of beach that was pitched a bit, and loose sand, yet it was gorgeous. So on day three, I woke up, put on a pair of running shorts, left my shoes in my room, and hit the beach. There's something so simple and liberating about running in general, and to head out with just a pair of shorts takes it to another level. I ran along the coast line for four miles, then turned, splashing through the rolling tide on my eight miles. It was challenging - in fact, I was sore in my lower legs the next day which hasn't occurred with me in a long time. I developed a nice blister on my right big toe from pushing off. And yet, I enjoyed this run so much that I never even thought about the slower pace, lack of push off, or blisters. It's a lot more enjoyable training with a smile on your face.

I also swam a lot in the open water. Lisa and I have been fortunate enough to visit quite a few islands and Turks and Caicos had the best water and beaches we've ever witnessed. In fact, on one snorkeling excursion aboard a catamaran, we stopped about 100 meters off shore from a small island that's part of the T&C chain and swam into shore. This little island (pictured above) had the best beach that I've ever experienced, with sand that looked and felt like sifted flour, and water that was so green and clear that describing it doesn't do it justice. The captain of the catamaran brought his son (Steven) along - an extremely nice college aged kid who also happened to be blind. I couldn't help but think of the irony of this kid growing up blind in one of the most visually beautiful places. The next few days running along the beach, snorkeling in the beautiful ocean, and looking at my kids faces, I felt so appreciative.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! And switch up your routine a bit now in the "off season" and make things fun and interesting! I've been doing more strength and TRX training, jumping rope, hitting the heavy bag, and riding the mountain bike. All fun, productive, and a nice diversion from the typical S,B,R.



Thursday, November 11, 2010

NYC Marathon

I was at the NYC marathon last Sunday as a spectator this year. My wife, Lisa, was racing this time. I was up at 2am with her - she was nervous about the race, and I was nervous for her. I was more anxious about the three hours leading up to the start for her rather than the race itself. The NYC marathon is logistically a nightmare. Starting in Staten Island at the foot of the Verranzano Bridge, just getting to the start is a pain in the ass. Lisa was catching a bus that my friend Bob Sabre organizes every year. I had to have her at the pick-up in Stratford by 5am, and this was the last time I'd talk to her until after the race besides yelling to her a few times on the course. Lisa was quite emotional race morning and I could see her sitting on the bus wiping tears as I drove off. Don't mistake Lisa for some wuss though - she's tough as nails and I'll get more into that in a bit.

Once you get to the start of the race, you have to sit around waiting for three hours until the gun goes off. It was very cold out that morning, so I sent Lisa off with sweat pants, ski pants, a fleece pullover, a fleece vest, and an old winter jacket, plus hand and feet warmers and a hat and two pairs of gloves. Some homeless person is going to get a decent score since everything she was wearing would be donated as she stripped down to her running shorts and top just prior to the start.

This waiting period sucks! You desperately just want the race to start and you are trapped in a tight area with 48000 runners, most waiting in port-o-potty lines. On top of this, Lisa was in the wave that started on the lower level of the Verrenzano which is where you don't want to be. You see, the runners on the upper level that are couped up and overhydrated begin peeing wherever, which drips down and onto the lower level - disgusting! Lisa was really freaked out about this but thankfully, she didn't experience any showers.

Baker and I drove into Manhattan and parked near the finish area on the west side of central park, then purchased a one day subway pass, and headed over to Brooklyn. First, we watched the elite/pro women come by. They started 33 minutes earlier then the pro men/first wave. We were positioned between miles eight and nine, and a pack of pro women rolled through looking comfortable in 47 minutes. Then there were some smaller groups and solo women, before the pro men came cruising through, again, the leaders in a big pack, looking effortless in 41 minutes. The crowds of spectators in Brooklyn were amazing, yet nothing compared to Manhattan later in the race. Lots of runners began coming through although they were still thinned out until the 7 minute per mile group hit us. For the next 30 minutes, it was a sea of runners that was so dense, it made you dizzy viewing it. I was nervous I'd miss Lisa, but I had a hunch she'd be running on the right side of the road and sure enough, she came cruising through, looking great!

Lisa is not your typical endurance athlete. I'm assuming that if there are a few of you reading this "random gibberish", that you are endurance athletes of some kind. Either that or you are really bored at work. Endurance athletes have a mindset that's different then most. They love to train, and eat and breathe endurance training and racing. It's a huge part of their life whether they admit it or not. I'm an endurance athlete. Lisa is not. She is an unbelievable athlete, who was CT state champion in high school in the 200 meters, and who was a multiple college all American in the 400. Her raw athleticism towers over mine. But a two mile run for a 400 meter runner is distance. Lisa was burnt out on running and so didn't do much after college. Then, after seeing me race in Hawaii a few times, she was inspired to the point that she committed to run the Philadelphia marathon a few years ago. She did well considering her training. Lisa's running form is a thing of beauty and I'm not just saying that because she's my wife. But solid genetics and years of honing her form on the track in her youth have implanted a flowing, light, land on your toes stride that looks effortless. She's fortunate that she is such a gifted runner because she ran on average twice per week training for her first marathon. She did a long run on the weekend and a mid week easy run. That's it. Again, she's not an endurance athlete who panics over a missed or shortened session. This training garnered a 3:46 virgin marathon. Lisa had talked about doing New York one day and so put her name into the lottery the past few years. This year, she was picked! Most endurance athletes would think "Awesome!!! I'm in!". Lisa's response was "Oh, fuck!". However, even though she's not an endurance athlete by mindset, she is amazingly determined, and her work ethic in everything she does, her conscientiousness, and her humbleness are attributes that I am daily impressed with. Lisa is the type of person that is a bosses dream. She sets her mind to something and she does it. Simple as that. I very, very loosely coach Lisa. I know that coaching or working with your spouse is rarely a good thing. So I direct her with an idea of what she should do each week, but her training mainly came down to her weekly long run. Not much changed from her training for Philly to her training for NY. She ran once or twice per week on the treadmill for 30 to 40 minutes, and then got in her long run on the weekends.

Back to the race: Baker and I subwayed up to Queens, and yelled to Lisa although she didn't see us there, then we went back to Manhattan and watched at the 18 and 24 mile mark. Lisa was really struggling at the 24 mile mark, and I gave her some tough love yelling "Lis, be tough! Finish this thing!!!" She did finish in 4:01 and she left it all out there. For the next day and half, she swore "never again!". I can tell though that the 90 sec she needed to get under 4 hours is haunting her. She's not done yet. Maybe for awhile, but not yet. And I'm also willing to bet she runs New york again. Besides Boston, there isn't a cooler, more festive marathon experience.

Anyways, i rarely talk about my family in this blog, but I wanted to record here in my archives how impressed and amazed I am with my wife. Everything she does, she does more than well. What a very cool way also for her to exit her thirties. Alright, enough of the sappy stuff.

I plan on starting up my daily challenge on my website right after Thanksgiving, so stay tuned.



Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Just Do It!

Lisa is attending a two day Franklin Covey workshop down in Greenwich. When I was in corporate, I attended one of these workshops. It's all about time management, goal setting, staff building, ... Is it productive? I guess. I know, this is an indecisive answer, but to be honest, two days is a lot of overkill in my opinion. I'd prefer the cliff notes version which could be summed up in three seconds by the brilliant folks at Nike; "Just do it!". I mean, how simple and smart is this slogan?! Words to live by. Big Rock's (my father) is way into time management, which is a good thing. However I often bust his big rocks in that the time he spends writing goals and things he "needs to do" down in his day-timer, he could be getting a hell of a lot accomplished. I know there is a secondary purpose to Lisa's company attending which is uniting everyone in trust exercises, but power clapping and trust falls are long forgotten once your back at the office. At the end of the two days, when they ask what have you learned, I'd stand up and say "I learned that I just lost two days of being productive and getting things done had I been back at the office!". OK, maybe this is a bit hypocritical seeing as how I'm a firm believer in writing down goals, having a plan, and, well, just doing it. Maybe I just feel that two full days of this training is excessive. But then again, what do I know? I pay an exorbitant sum of money to swim from a starting line and bust my ass for hours on end only to finish up right back at the same spot from where I started.

On another note, I was recently contacted by an athlete inquiring about me coaching him. After talking with him for a bit, I had come to learn that he was currently working with a coach and two other coaches prior to this one. He mentioned that his present coach wasn't doing anything wrong really, but he wanted to be faster than where he presently was racing at. Yet his development seemed quite good considering his prior results and ability. Often times, people look at others instead of looking at themselves. A friend and colleague of mine who coaches was telling me last week about an athlete of his that left. This coach is a very knowledgeable guy and hard worker. I know some athletes that bounce around from coach to coach, mainly because they haven't accomplished what they might dream of. So instead of being patient and developing a working relationship with their coach, they leave and find another hoping that this new one will be the answer. But in their hearts, I'm sure they realize what the answer is. It's happened to me before in the past and I used to take it personally since I'm a big believer in loyalty, yet I get it now after time. Often it's a better situation for everyone involved.

Met with a good friend a few weeks ago and his motivation has been a bit low. He mentioned how he's left his front door to run, and has gone left 1000+ times, and gone right 1000+ times and it's leaving him a bit unexcited. What he needs to do is switch it up a bunch - go right but do 30 sec fast, 30 sec easy, ..., or go left and find a hill and do bounding hill repeats. As I believe, now is the time to switch it up, focus on some strength and yes, speed. Be creative. Think as though you are brand new to this recreation and make each training session way different then it's been in years. It can only help!