Sunday, March 30, 2008


I haven't been able to get my iPhone to take a picture all day...the drive's not full. Time for a reset, perhaps.

I did take it on my two-hour bike ride today, but it was kept padded and dry...


When I set out on my first two hour run in some time on Saturday, I was expecting any number of things, but what I was not expecting was to have a chocolate labrador try a Deion Sanders shoulder-tackle about 70 minutes into the run. Fortunately, like any Sanders tackle, it was more show than substance, and as you know, dogs are not very good at wrapping up.

However, I will give the dog this- he came up behind me without setting off any alarms and it wasn't until he actually put his head and shoulders into the back of my knees that I realised something was amiss. Because the dog and I were both moving in the same direction and his intention was friendly, there was no harm done, just an extra shot of adrenaline and the wait for the owner to come get control back of his dog.

One my Sunday ride, I disturbed a hawk with his meal- a squirrel, about 15 minutes into my ride. He was just sitting in the middle of the road, eating, so I was a little worried that he might not just take his meal and move off, but he did. I'd completely forgotten about him an hour and a half later when I rode back into Stony Creek.

Apparently, the Hawk did not like mealus interruptus. As I crested the hill and was at my lowest speed, the hawk closed in. I caught its shadow, turned and yelled something- who knows what- at it. Of course, turning my face towards it was probably the dumbest thing I could have done, and clearly it just was reminding me whose turf I was on, but still...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Notes from the Treadmill

Those big screen TVs at LA Fitness are set to CNN, ESPN, and Channel 8, and today was a lunch treadmill workout. here are my observations on today's noontime dren:

ESPN- I don't care if Jose Canseco knows who the second Kennedy shooter was, he does not deserve interview time on any station that can afford to upgrade to HD broadcast equipment.

CNN- Is that Larry King Live discussion scheduled for tonight a Clinton-Obama cage match with John McCain as the in-ring referee ? Obama's got the footwork, but the real secret here is that it's actually Clinton who's got the better left.

Channel 8- How about treating the weather as, oh I don't know, the weather, and not an impending terrorist attack...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Time Trial, Part II

Ah, things are starting to come back to me.

I found myself time-trialing the Hammerfest course for the second time in three days. Do I hate myself or feel that I'm behind on my progress for 2008 ? No. Do I think that hopping my bike in late March and riding until I just feel well, like I'm sprinting for 36 minutes, proves anything. Definitely not.

What is it then. Two things- first, it's light and warm enough to be outside, and second, I have to pick my son up from day care most nights and I'd rather ride my ass off for a little under forty minutes outside on a nice day, than spin inside if I'm also watching my son at the same time. That was my dilemma today- pick him up and try to convince him to play in the basement for an hour while I spun, or rush home, ride until my tongue was hanging out of my mouth and get that done in less than forty minutes.

I picked the shorter, harder, more known quantity. He's let me spin 9- minutes without an interruption that requires me getting off the bike, and other days it's 5 times in 40 minutes. With my other option being to wait until 9 PM, I decided to squeeze what I could in...

And then, I almost overcooked a turn at 25 mph, which would have endangered the day-care pick up.

But I'll note here- as this is the closest thing I have to a training diary- that I averaged 22.2 mph for just under 14 miles. So if I was thinking I was behind where I need to be....

Monday, March 24, 2008

Time Trial

Well, the weather is sort of improving- why we are having some of our coldest nights of the year in the spring, when there's no snow on the ground is beyond me, but even the 20 degree nights aren't stopping the shoreline temperatures from flirting with 50 degrees late in the day.

I took advantage to get out on my bike at 6:30 tonight. Yes, 6:30. I don't know what sort of crazy sort of blood-pressure medicine the US Congress is on, starting Daylight Savings Time in the middle of March, but suddenly, I'm liking it. I was able to get in a 42 minute, 14.75 mile time trial ride on my Elite. Nothing to brag about- barely 21 MPH for a fairly flat course. But the last time I managed a time trial was back in late November after a long run.

I was overdressed, sucking wind the whole time, and wondering if my legs would hold up, but it was sure nice to pull the bike off the trainer and give it a real workout...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Egg Hunt, or on Being a Parent

I don't usually delve too far into my personal life here in this blog (are anywhere else for that matter ?), but today a completely off-topic event reminded me of a 5K, so here I am, writing about it.

I'm not your typical parent- at 42, pushing 43 pretty hard, my son is just 3 years old, and we have only a few friends with young (or any) kids, and I would not say those are friends we spend much time with. I'm not exactly tapped into the kid nation either. I had sort of an odd childhood in that my parents were even older than I am compared to my son and I'm not sure they were dialed all the way in either, although they tried pretty damn hard and on scant resources. As a result, there's an awful lot I don't know about what is typical family activity.

Take the egg hunt. Branford sponsors a town-wide egg hunt and this is a pretty well-attended event. My wife was swimming out in New London until 9AM, and really wanted me to go to the egg hunt. For this and other reasons I was left with getting my workout (and shower) in between 9 AM and 10:40 AM. I went long on the bike yesterday (in my basement) and in honor of the EH crew being out in Arizona, did another part of the virtual reality Arizona DVD from Coach Troy- the Mt. Lemmon climb (yesterday was Gates Pass). If you really want to work your backside off on the trainer, get this DVD. If half an hour straight in Big Ring 13 is not to your taste, then this is not the DVD for you (or you're not working hard enough, pal). There's the workout related, on-topic part of the blog.

At 10:30 I was in the shower, and at 10:40 we were in the car for a 5-10 minute drive. This was still probably a little bit too late to leave the house. We pulled down the side-road to Foote Park wedged between minvans and Jeeps, grabbed one of the last parking spaces in the park, and headed over to the start. We ran into a number of Ian's friends from school- children that had been in his pre-school class at day care until recently when he moved up. We happily settled into line with them and snapped some pix as the VFW volunteers waited for everyone to get into place for the 'hunt.'

Now, as hunting goes, this is a step above hunting with Dick Cheney (how a guy shoots you in the face when the birds he's supposed to be shooting are basically stationary until the moment of they are flushed and he knows where the birds are going to be, in other words in the air, not at ground level, in other words, accident my ass), but a step below English foxhunts. The 'eggs', hundreds of them along with store-bought candy bars, are laid out on a relatively flat patch of grass in corrals, divided into different age-groups. Meanwhile, the Eastern bunny was roaming around- costume perfect except for some pretty beat-looking basketball shoes that kind of ruined the illusion for me.

The problem was that Ian, standing with his friends, was in the 1-2 corral. We moved over to the 3-5 corral and I smelled trouble. First of all, we couldn't even get to the line, second, their was a slew of parents blocking the way and hovering over their kids. The VFW crew announced that parents could follow their kids. I determined not to do that, but wow.

The whistle went off and I finally knew what it was like to be on the wrong end of a 5K. The locust went up the grass and with the machine efficiency of terminators, they eliminated every egg, every piece of candy, every wrapper. It was a horde lurching up over the Urals, while I watched it retreat away from me. Even the grass browned under the press. Ian got a decent amount of candy, but was not exactly the high earner.

He happily scooted over into the 1-2 corral, where he had half the area to himself and filled his basket without depriving anyone else of their candy.

Man, being a parent is weird.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

300- Spinning Movie Review

I don't usually watch movies when I spin, but I rented 300 on the iTunes store and had- you guessed it, 2 hours left to watch the movie before it expired- Apple only gives you a month. Sad.

The movie actually starts out a little on the slow side, to be honest. A lot of talking, a boy and his dog victim, politicians, and so on. But that doesn't last and anyway, when I started spinning I had 1 hour and six minutes left to watch.

Now, there's no sense talking about history here. First of all, the real Xerxes was probably a little over six foot tall, not seven-eight feet tall and oddrogynous. Then there are the particulars of the stand of Leonidas and his men, many of which followed him and his to the grave and certainly were at odds with what you saw in the movie. And let's not even talk about how the Spartans were just as often the worst Greece had to offer as the best. Nevertheless...

300 really turned out to be a guilty pleasure. Because it's always a little guilty for me, as someone who generally thinks that war and killing are exactly the sorts of things the human race should have figured out by now how to do without, to really sit down (on my bike in this case) and enjoy- really enjoy, a movie that at its essence, is about the most brutal, most violent sort of conflict.

This is a great movie for when you're trapped on your bike looking to generate some intensity. The fight scenes are top-notch, graphic, but well done. The slower parts still carry the right sort of music and storyline that you'll find yourself cranking out a nice steady high-aerobic effort while watching the movie. A good movie to spin to immerses you without being distracting.

And let's face it- while the Spartans are standing to the last man against Xerxes you feel like the least you can do is suffer a little spinning...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hybrid Workout

Yesterday my coach gave me a two hour outdoor ride, but it was thankfully set up in a way that was also easy to spin- warm up, 20 minutes in C, 20 minutes easy, 20 minutes in C, steady B to end. I've done plenty of outdoor riding this winter, but the one thing I won't do is ride in cold and wet/raining conditions, and it was a wet morning. So while my coach was on his way to Tucson, I popped in Stargate SG-1, the Ark of Truth, and started my workout. Because the downstairs TV is beyond its last legs, the only way to really see anything on it is to turn out the lights, making the basement dark enough you can see the TV.

Shortly after I started my second set in C, I noticed bright light. It was coming in through the basement windows and with 45 minutes left after the set, I decided that even though I was enjoying this straight to DVD treatment of the Ori saga (I know, geek alert), it was time to hop on the Elite and get outside. I didn't want a long transition, so I just threw on tights, a jacket, gloves and a hat and got to it.

Of course, it looked nicer from inside than it was on the outside- so typical this time of year- you want it to be nice so badly that you maybe force it a little, but then again, even when it's bad, it's not really that bad. It was sunny, but not all that warm. I started out with the wind at my back and I was flying, chasing along with the cars and feeling really good. For not having been outside in two or three weeks I was surprised at how strong I felt and I was thinking that all the spinning I'd done really was paying off. Of course it's easy to feel good with the wind at your back. That didn't last. As soon as I got into the crosswind I nearly fell over and for the rest of the ride I was off more than on the aerobars, fighting the conditions and not feeling like I was mid-season shape anymore.

It was still a good forty-five minutes outside and probably in some ways the best part of the two-hour ride, however, towards the end, when my feet were cold, the wind was blowing me all over the road and I was climbing a hill, I couldn't help but think back to how I'd been on the trainer sweating, watching a movie with warm feet, and how that was preferable to being cold, and wind-blown at 12 mph.

Which was why it was good that I had to throw the bike back in the basement, grab my running shoes, and head out on my brick run. There's no better way to get the feeling back in your feet, after all...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Who am I ? Here's One Tongue-in-Cheek Answer

Take this test!
We bet you're always getting hit up for dating advice, homework help, or even ninjitsu training sessions! Whatever your specialty, people tend to look up to you and respect your opinions. Your experiences have taught you a lot, and you often enjoy helping others with what you've learned. But sometimes when you spend too much time thinking, it's easy to get wrapped up in the little things instead of seeing the big picture.

Sure, you've got a lot of stuff figured out, but that's no reason to take yourself too seriously. The most important thing is to do what makes you happy and help the people you care about. Just don't forget to relax and enjoy yourself now and again and you'll come out on top!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Shamrock and Roll

One thing that has definitely changed for me when it comes to road races is my desire to warm-up before the race.

I got to the race about 40 minutes before it started, quickly registered and went out and ran about a mile and an half. After that I went straight to the starting line, did my strides and picked the straightest course I could through the start by doing about 20 stride-outs. The start is not as all straight- the street kind of winds it way up the road, but you can run a perfectly straight line if you want.

Surprisingly, people didn't really want to stand right on the line. So I was pretty amazed that as we went to turn the first corner I was in about 30th place and some clown in black cut me off at the corner like it was a 1500 indoor track meet. As there was ice at the corner, I let the man in black cut right across me, something I usually wouldn't do. Then it was into the canyon of everlasting night there at the turn and we were running uphill into the wind.

I looked at all the people in front of me and forced myself to stick with my plan. I mean, it was disheartening- I have rarely run a race this size (less than a thousand people) and been so far back place-wise so early (later yes, this early no). And it didn't exactly look like the usual crowd of kids, high school students, and the terminally insane. But I started up the hill- and noticed what looked like a guy in a red-white and blue jacket running on the sidewalk to our right. The running form looked familiar but all I could think as I started slowly moving up was 'Why is some guy in a jacket running as fast as me ?'

That guy was Chris Schulten, who was out for a training run and intersected the race by accident. I won't say that he dropped me on the hill, but it was close to it. I continued moving up and even passed Michael Dolan (who would pass me back after 2 miles). I took the turn and settled in and wouldn't really change places much except to fall behind Michael on the downhill.

The race is really a hard race, because it's a real dash up the hills for the first half of the run. At least this time, none of the motorcycle cops tried to run me over...

I thought I ran the downhill well, and pushed hard to the finish. Not much really happened on the back half of the race- I ran as hard as I could, held my position, and banged out an 18:15, after I which I downed two Guinness and did my warm-down with Charlie Hornak. I beat my time from two years ago by 15 seconds and for the second time this year felt like I ran a good race, which, since I raced twice, I'll take.

But I still went out in the afternoon and ran for 75 minutes because Sunday is my long run day and I'm training for an Ironman.