Friday, May 30, 2008

Battlestar Galactica

It can be hard to tell, with the way they edit clips together, if three was really talking to Roslin when she 'revealed' who the fifth of the five cylons still unknown at the start of the season- and to be honest, if the show has a fault, it's in these end of episode previews for next week where the tease becomes something more like a spoiler.

I think what was potentially more flabbergasting than that- after all, Roslin is on many people's short list, cancer or no cancer- was the idea that Tighe, Cylon or not, still has the ability to progenerate. It's hard to imagine someone who's lived that hard a life still being able to produce viable seed. He was a hopeless strung out drunk for years before Adama resurrected his military career, and from all appearances, he was drunk for most of that as well. I know that a long life of alcohol abuse doesn't automatically make you sterile, but the indicators are pretty strong- alcohol abuse directly damages testicular cells.

I know, the title of the blog isn't This Blog is About Reproductive Male Medicine...

There was an awful lot in this episode but there was one thing I'm not sure I understood. When Lee was seeing the live cat- what exactly was he seeing ? And for that matter, what were we seeing ? The cat moved, it cried. But in the end, it had been dead for weeks. Sly allegory about how we see what we want to see ? Even when we kick the always empty food bowl and realise that something is just not quite right ?

Maybe Adama should have brought more than one book. But we'll know soon enough...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What's Wrong with this Picture

Hook the cup with your thumb, stupid !

Random Thoughts on iTunes Randomization and Wifi

I was training using my iPhone as my iPod today, and my love of free wifi bit me in the behind. At my turn-around point, I did a slow arc in the parking lot of a firehouse. The music- Evanescence, dipped in volume and I heard a bing that I associate with my email. At least, I thought it was my email, but I didn't know that email reception would lower the music volume. I rode for about 15 minutes, but since part of the reason I carry the iPhone is in case there is an emergency, and I really don't get many other calls, I stopped.

I'd snagged the free wifi and my email. To my credit I didn't check it.

There's been a lot written about the randomness, or lack of randomness, of iTunes in general and iPods in particular.
1) Random is actually quasi-random, because to generate randomness, you need to use a seed, which in turn, well, what you get is not 'true' randomness. However, the title of the blog is not: This Blog is About Math
2) for all intensive purposes, the iPod is random. However, the human brain hates chaos, and will always try to assign order to random results

So when your iPod seems to hate you, or love you, or whatever, that's you, not it. It's a soulless object and it doesn't like Snow Patrol more than Air Supply- although it should.

I've recently added Air Traffic's Fractured Life to my collection, and proving I have no future as a music critic, I'd describe them as a club band who doesn't want to give up that club band sound even though they've recorded a major label album. And nothing's wrong with that, but as they sound like sort of like Coldplay doing club songs, well, I have plenty of Coldplay.

However, since I added this to my collection, the songs seem to play all the time- at least six in three and a half hours today. When you're in that last hour of your ride and you're trying to hold 20 mph climbing hills, in the wind, I'd rather have angry angst. Give me Staind, which the iPod did, after Air Traffic.

The bottom line- you do control your music. Rate it in iTunes (1-5 stars), then click on 'play higher rated songs more often.'

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More Off in My Day Off ?

I had another half-day at work today. I put myself in a hole by leaving late- 12:50PM- for the pool.

I had to shave a few hundred (not much) out of my swim. (off-topiv, they are playing Hand that Feeds during a 3rd period stoppage in Pittsburg-sweet).

Then I hopped in the car, grabbed some cash, went and had my emissions tested, drove home, and rode for 1:45. I got done at 4:59PM, called Zane's to see if they had any 650 tires in, hopped in the car, and headed off to day care.

As I was getting in the car I found myself thinking about how many minutes during my half-day off I'd had to rest, just sit down. Except for the 5 minute wait during the emissions test, the answer was none.

So I considered that. There were two answers- one, my workouts were done at 5PM and there'd be no scrambling to get them done later. Two- I enjoy being on the bike, just like I enjoy having completed my swim workout. Rest ? I can rest later. Who wouldn't rather be on their bike than rest ?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


As an extension of the side-work I do (websites) I was reading a triathlete's blog. This is someone I don't know, who used to work with someone I do know.

I'll start out by saying that for 99% of us, this whole multi-sport thing is nothing more than a hobby. So when you start looking at our opinions, or what we like or dislike, who cares, right ? If you're happy, then that's it really, right ? I mean, if you say 'I think drafting should be legal in USAT races' I'm going to argue with you, but otherwise, hey, whatever makes you happy makes you happy.

This athlete was saying that it's no secret that she doesn't like training with a heart-rate monitor. She's right, because it's on her blog. In her opinion, training with heart rate holds her back.

I thought that was interesting.

I see the heart rate monitor as a tool. I don't use it for all my workouts, but I use it frequently. If coach tells me to run 45 minutes in A or spin easy for 90 minutes, I certainly don't need the HRM for that. If I'm doing a run with short bursts at race pace, I probably don't need the heart rate monitor. It can provide interesting data, but I use speed and effort to determine if I'm reaching race pace (or I do the workout on a treadmill, where I can guarantee it).

This athlete was talking about using power on the bike. It would be cool to be able to afford and have the time to adjust to working with a power tap. That's probably not going to happen for me. I actually find the HRM extremely useful on the bike, because unlike on the run, in workouts at least, I often have trouble elevating my heart rate. Today was an example.

I was supposed to ride in low B for an hour. That was no problem, although I was under 120 a lot, which technically isn't B, it's upper A. But then it was 12 X 1 minute in C with 2 minutes recovery. The highest my heartrate ever got was 152 on one effort that included a climb, other than that I was barely reaching 145. What does that tell me ? I still need to work on what it means and feels like to ride in C.

I guess it comes back to how you use the tools. I use heart rate to complete my workouts the way my coach tells me to. But if I really don't want to be passed by a scooter when I'm supposed to be riding in low B, I let myself go for a few minutes (and then yes, I'm in C). On the run, if I've got a chance to make a catch, or I spend part of my two hour run doing a loop with someone else, maybe the heart rate takes a back seat.

That's not to say I just shove it aside. I think if you've got two hours in low B, you better be in low B 1:45 of that. Eric says that heart rate is a guide, and don't sweat it.

I don't know, I think all the tools you can use, all the data you can gather, it's all got its uses. That said, if you're happy, you're happy, and if you're not, you're not.

But to me, heart rate is a pretty time-tested and valuable training tool.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

CT State Championship 10K

After racing three times in four months, I found myself in the middle of a three-week arc of once a week racing- and only my 3rd road race of 2008.

It was a last minute decision to do the race. I certainly had known about it- after all, I was one of the people who'd voted for the race to be part of the USATF-CT grand prix this year. But John Hirsch was having a really cool 110 mile ride today, which would have been awesome training, but also a completely unfair monopolization of time.

The 10K is one of the harder distances. You basically have to hold something as close to your 5K pace as possible for twice as long. Of course you can't hold 5k pace that long, and you're much better off going out a little slower, but you can only go out so slow, especially at a state championship race. When all I was doing was road racing, I considered 10K my distance- long enough to weed out the pure speed guys, too short for the real endurance runners. But the truth is I was a better 5k runner- neither my patience nor experience was were where they needed to be. Now that I have more of both, I no longer have the modest speed I once did.

I got to the race nice and early, registered, took the long hike to the bathrooms.

I wound up talking to Jim Zoldy, who's doing Alcatraz next month. That at once seems like one of the coolest and most intimidating things in the sport. You jump in water that's always ridiculously cold and hope to hell you can make the shore... have a great race, Jim.

I also saw Oscar and Bart in the parking lot and we were swapping stories. It was a pretty low-key morning- sunny, not too windy, warm enough for a singlet. I found myself not warming up quite as hard as at the duathlons, in part because I wasn't sure where the start was.

The course is pretty flat/rolling, except for about 3/10th of a mile in, where there's a pretty reasonable little hill. That was the only thing I remembered about the only other race I'd run there. According to Google, that was in 2001. By 2/10th of a mile, I think we were already joking about how there seemed to be two races going on, the elite runners and the rest of us. We climbed the hill, crested, moved to the left and I found myself yelling loudly 'Incoming'- grey sedan in our lane coming right at us, but plenty of room and time to work that out.

The separation between the top 8 or ten guys and the rest of us was tremendous before the mile mark. I joked that it seemed like they were running 1k pace instead of 10k pace. But for the rest of us, the race started to settle in and somewhere around 1 mile, we really started to thin out- Brian Talon in front of me and Shannon McHale going by, one of the guys from Sound Runner in front of me. The course seemed like it was mostly downhill on the way out to the turnaround and we went around turns and through rollers. I could hear a number of people behind me, breathing loudly, including one runner I'm not going to mention by name that breathes really loudly/coughs/grunts. He makes the same noises in every race, I swear. It was that kind of day, where you could the people 50 yards behind you. But no one was close and I just had three people in range in front of me.

Brain and Shannon passed the guy in yellow and white in front of me before the turn-around. I saw all the leaders, then I saw George and Jim running together, and before I knew it, we were at the turn-around. I had not looked back once, I just won't do it, but you have no choice at a turn-around. The entire field of 50-59 guys I know seemed to be about 30 yards behind me, Steve Johnson from my own team and several other guys I'd be lucky to be as fast as when that time comes, plus some guys in my own age group. You tend to exaggerate how close people are at a turn-around. I thought a mass of people where bearing down on me and I was about to be engulfed. That was at exactly three miles

No one would pass me the rest of the race.

I passed the guy in yellow and white, there was some back and forth and finally I started to exert myself. The course had seemed downhill the whole way out but as we rolled up and down small inclines I realised it wasn't.

The rest of the race was more of the same. I never did look back, but until I hit 5 miles, I was convinced that I was barely holding of the people behind me. Brian and Shannon were still close, but not close enough. While I'd rather be the last guy not to get beat by any woman, I was at the back-end of a long set of training (my easy day was an hour on the bike, hour run brick Saturday), and last year I pretty much blew up my calf at a Memorial Day 10k. We went up the hill and I realised that no one was really back there.

My heart rate hit 176.

Then it was down the hill, the oddly long swooping turn until finally I could see the starting line and then, the finish line.

I felt like it was a good race. It hurt while I was doing it, and then it didn't hurt when it was it over and I was warming down with George, Brian, and Paul Moyse. That was what I was really aiming for. Normally, 6th master would be a little disappointing, but I could hardly expect better at a state championship. I think our team, and even our men's masters team, despite me being there 3rd man, did okay.

Back on the bike for three hours tomorrow...

Friday, May 23, 2008


Anyone who knows me probably knows that I'm stubborn. It's definitely my achilles heel. But sometimes it's also a good thing.

My coach has great advice about listening to your body, and I know a lot of other triathletes, some of whom listen very closely to what their bodies are saying, and some that turn a pretty deaf ear. Listening to your body means different things to different people- some are just self-aware (in the good way), others tend, when they listen to their bodies, to dial it down, or dial it off. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Downtime, especially downtime when your body is telling you to take it, can be a good thing.

I think though, that sometimes there's a value in being able to get out the door and stay on your plan when you feel less than optimal. Sometimes it's the days where you just don't want to be out there, but you are anyway, and you get done what you want to get done, that you build the experience you need for those long races, where you may not feel your best. Been there.

Today was one of those days. My plan was to do a hard, hill focused workout yesterday (ended up climbing Mt. Lemon, or the first 14 miles- more or less). At the end of the workout, I was planning to run 1/2 an hour. But I was so spent that I decided that was a bad idea. I was freezing, my stomach/bowels were unhappy. That continued for the rest of the afternoon and night.

Fast forward to the next morning- swim lesson. I was still a little less than 100% but I got through the lesson. Then came the question of what to do. I'd taken the day off for the lesson and my long ride. With the long weekend, I could have reworked what I wanted to do.

The nice thing about a long ride is you can always turn around after an hour and go home- you get 45 minutes into a two hour run, and even if you do turn around, you're a long way from home...

Although it was a beautiful day, it was windy as hell. I was looking to stay aerobic today- I'd worked hard yesterday, at threshold, so I wanted a nice, comfortable ride. Of course, there's no such thing in the wind. You moderate your effort as best you can- I was riding the route 1 area on the shoreline and it was mostly a weird crosswind. It was definitely at my back going out though. My bowels were rumbling the whole time, but it's easy to keep working on the bike.

The ride back was-tough. And slower.

But I got through it, got in the mileage and the time I wanted, even headed out and ran for 25 minutes.

When it was over, I didn't feel great, but I felt better than I had yesterday after my workout, a lot better- I didn't feel like taking a nap, which I did yesterday- and that was kind of scary. Now I can relax and take it easy tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Suffocating Beauty

I took the day off today, which meant that I only spent two hours at work. Work is on the way to the pool, and there's something almost therapeutic about being at work, but not having to actually do anything. I spooled up the drives on the Pegasus (an xserve in my office), wrote some procedures out, and then went swimming.

After splitting my lane with a woman doing the breaststroke for a while, I decided that missing 100 yards wasn't going to affect my long-term IM prospects, hopped in the car and headed home for a ride.

I take a lot of days off in May and June and I have trouble not going out on the bike every day. At least I do when it is as beautiful as it was today.

I probably miss a lot as an athlete. In the water, fear nibbles away at the edge of my perception the entire time and I don't notice much except waves, getting pounded by other equally inept swimmers, and wondering when it will all be over. When I'm running, well, long runs in the winter I will admit to noticing a lot, but once the weather gets good and I'm out running during the day, I'm more worried about dodging cars. In races, I'm just running, staring at people's backs, alternately encouraging and questioning myself.

The bike is different, though. It's this incredibly complex relationship between athlete and bike. Sometimes it takes every ounce of your ability and concentration, but sometimes, when you have your cadence going and the road is true and you can see ahead easily, you start to see the world around you, really see it. Coach Troy says that it's the best way to see a place, and I tend to agree. He also says not to wear an iPod when you're riding. Oh well.

I was listening to Vega's Life is Beautiful and cruising along out in Madison along the water and the view just stretched out ahead of me- sun, a few clouds, the water, rough, white caps, looking cold and beating on the beach, the trees bending just a little in the wind. No cars, no other people, just this view.

It was a little painful really. There it is, stretched out in front of you, just everything you could want, the sky so blue, so bright, clean, the smells of spring and the water and you're flying down the road and it's so incredibly temporary. You feel, well, there's this sense of power because you're just cutting through the air of your own effort, kind of a poor man's flight, and you know you can't take a picture with your brain, you can't capture the feeling you have. You're going to turn a corner and it will all be gone.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Can anyone ruin football ? Gene Upshaw Can

From an AP news feed:
Upshaw made his argument in a half-hour conference call that ended a few minutes before Goodell made his in a news conference. The debate will continue in negotiations and through the media over a course of months and years. Both conceded there might be no agreement until the deadline, which Upshaw suggested might not happen until the winter of 2010. That would be a year without a salary cap under terms of the deal.

“We’d like to get things done,” Goodell said. “But often it’s not until you have a deadline that people realize the consequences of not reaching a deal.”

Upshaw added: “March of 2010—that’s what we see as the realistic deadline. I’m not going to sell the players on a cap again. Once we go through the cap, why should we agree to it again?”

My take on this: Hopefully Upshaw is gone by March of 2010. Upshaw has stood by and done nothing while untested rookies have grabbed money that should have been allocated to veterans, fought for players like Michael Vick to keep salary they didn't deserve, and in general displayed a greed and disregard for the game that is almost mind-numbing. The cap is what has allowed there to be labor rest instead of labor unrest...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Off Topic- Beer

Anyone who knows me also knows that I like beer. This is not usual for triathletes, and in fact, when you consider I can't really swim, don't know how much my bike weighs, and don't keep or record running splits, I probably am only qualified to be a triathlete by my significant fondness for beer, and my ownership of numerous singlet/bike short kits. And the race tees. Don't forget the 450.00 race tees...

Anyway, onto a subject I typically know a little about, beer. On Saturday, I bought two six packs of beer- including Stoudt's Double IPA bottle-conditioned India Pale Ale info here. If you're reading this blog, you already know that I was racing Sunday, and how I did. So when I cracked open this little gem on at 6 PM on Saturday, I was thinking IPA, not Double IPA. Serious dumb moment on my part. Double IPAs typically start at 7% alcohol and go up from there and I certainly know better.

Stoudt's Double IPA clocks in at an even (and potent) 10%. I was thinking 6-7% tops. It was about 6PM, I was pretty thirsty, and I downed this potent ale quickly. In short order, the beer was gone- and I was buzzed.

I found myself thinking "Oh, man, this is bad, it's late, I want to be sleeping in a few hours and I feel practically drunk..."

It all worked out, but a word to the wise. If you want to have a Stoudt's Double IPAs, have it after your race, not the night before. This is a great 'I just mowed the lawn, now I'm just going to hang out' beer...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Shamrock Duathlon

One thing i remember about last year's race was how iffy the weather was. You couldn't tell if it was going to pour or not, I was changing clothes repeatedly before the race...

This year was not like that. I got out of the car, took off the shirt I had under my EH jersey and the arm warmers and tossed them in the trunk and didn't pay any more attention to what I was wearing after that. It was a beautiful day, almost a perfect day, for a duathlon. I got there a little late- ten minutes after registration opened. That part was fine, I got my bike set up and then headed for the port-a-potty.

This was not fine. Four porta-potties, lots of people in line. I ate a gel and hoped I'd have time to warm up. I saw Chris Schulten warming up and a few other people I knew, but I mostly did what I like to do before a race. Listen to music.

I did my usual warm-up- strides off the starting line. About 25 after I ran into Michael, then Steve- I'd seen Charlie already. Michael mentioned that Steve pulled in around 20 after, but Steve still looked ready to go. The starting line filled up while we talked and I realised I wasn't up in the front row, so I worked to find a place between two other guys. I probably still should be trying to get on the line when the race starts, especially when the starting line is filled up all the way across the road.

I looked down the line trying to find Eric, but he wasn't there. Mark Satran said hey- he remembered me from Hartford last year and Greenwich this year. He's part of the Bethel crew, who always seems well represented at these races- makes me feel like I should be wearing my Zane's gear more often, but you can never go wrong sporting EH gear, can you ?

Beth did not remind us that the run is two loops, which surprised me. Two loops is almost always too much for someone, but who am I to say anything. We got our commands and then the race was on. For the second straight race, I was not engulfed by other runners, in fact, briefly I was second and I quickly settled into about the fifth spot, where I'm very comfortable.

Jeromie Schomacher and John Anthony, who I don't know, quickly pulled away. There were two other guys in front of me but close, a younger guy and a guy in running shorts. I hate to say it, but I discounted the guy in running shorts as a serious threat. Kind of like what any sensible person at a road race does when they see me standing there in my kit, complete with bike pad in my shorts. I no longer even own running shorts. On my shoulder was Chris Schulten.

I'm a little hazy on this, but I think Chris passed me early in the second loop, after I said 'that's it Chris'. If there's someone out there I don't mind getting beat by, it's definitely Chris, who is just the most amazing guy. I mean, he's got a demanding schedule, kids he's devoted to, and he's still never met a race he couldn't do well at- he recently ran a pair of 2:47 or under marathons about three weeks apart, one of them Boston.

By the end of the second loop, all I wanted to do was get on the bike, anything that would stop this running nonsense- two short loops like that (1.75 km per loop), is pretty brutal. I had a little trouble finding my bike, but I run pretty well in bike shoes so I was on the road in decent time and the race was on.

There isn't a lot to write about for a long ride (28kms). There's a slightly bizarre early cul-de-sac in the ride that allows you to see how far behind you are- I ended up in first (briefly) last year in here. No worry about that this year. I was in 5th. I moved up to fourth as we turned onto whatever is the first 'main' road on the course. About three miles in I got passed- and asked what place 'we' were in- I was kind of thinking 'what we ?' and I quickly was dropped. After that I road for about 14 miles in no man's land. One guy getting farther away, another getting closer.

The same parts of the road that were in poor shape last year were in poor shape this year. Still, I stayed aero, I stayed on my seat. I really worked the climbs the way I would in training, not in races. I tend to feel, when I'm riding in a vacuum like this- and there was no one close behind me- that I am riding poorly. It's not the case, but paranoia isn't always a bad thing. I kept pushing as best I could, my legs tired from Friday's workout. Finally, I realised I was going to a) catch the guy in front of me, and b) get caught by the guy behind me.

I caught the guy. We took the final turn, I started to moderate my pace so that I could dismount safely, and the guy I'd passed and the guy right behind me both passed me about 100 yards from the dismount. I was annoyed. But the guy that passed me was the one that was in front with Jeromie on the first run, so no big.

I'd taken a gel and gatorade on the bike and water at the start of the second run and I was chasing the guy that caught me on the bike. I ran a good first loop, closed some of the gap with the guy in front of me. I should have taken the gel, but one of my big problems is that in short races, I have trouble staying on target with the nutrition. I really felt that hard Friday workout. I had pushed myself to my limits and it was paying off- I knew it by the fact I was only 90% recovered . I was having a good race but there was no punch.

I ran the second loop of the second run and started lapping people, including some I knew. I did keep pushing, but it was clear that I was not catching the guy in front of me and no one was catching me either. I felt bad about that, that I wasn't moving up, but at the same time, as I passed one guy limping with a bad hamstring, I felt good that I was going to come out of this race healthy and ready to run two hours tomorrow.

Then I saw the clock and it was in the high 1:29s. I pushed and went well under 1:30, just 25 seconds slower than last year. The guy in front of me, a guy in his twenties ? Two minute penalty. Not the best way to finish fifth, I'll take it.

The only bummer- after hanging out with Steve and Charlie for an hour- no beer ! NO BEER !

Ouch- but the race, I'll take it.

The pre-season is over. Next stop- Lake Placid.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lake Placid, Virtually Yours

Let me preference the rest of what I'm going to say by saying that there is no substitute for actually riding the IM Lake Placid course. The more times you can fit it in to your training, the better, and better still, attend a camp, like the one my coach Eric holds in June. If you don't get a chance to ride IM Florida's course ahead of the race, well, you probably haven't missed anything. But the Lake Placid course requires experience- the screaming descent towards Keene, the need to hold back for the first 40 miles (or is that 60 ?), the brutality of ride back along the river.

There's also no substitute for camp. I know where what confidence on the bike I have really developed- camp.

And hopefully Eric will have some videos of his own soon...

Because it was raining today, I decided to use the Spinervals Lake Placid Virtual Reality DVD as the basis for my 3.5 to 4 hour ride. Although Eric would rather I was either on the road or doing something else on the trainer, he's pretty good about when I decide to go the Spinervals route.

I've had this plan in my back pocket, sort of the Opera House of my Lake Placid training. I'm probably not going to get up there ahead of the race, which is OK. I've been there. I have the course pretty well in my memory- I learned how to check my fear of being on such a small bike on those downhills. But I still wanted to see the course, feel it. I have some questions about my nutrition.

So I climbed on the bike, started out. This is a great training ride. Maybe it's not quite as precise as riding the course on a compu-trainer, but there I was, my heart rate barely in three digits as I started- and Coach Troy telling me to keep it easy, stay moderated. Truer words have never been spoken. There probably aren't too many IM races where you can completely frak yourself in the first ten miles of the bike. Which are not easy. Before you get to the really big downhills, there are rollers and some climbing and you can fry yourself pretty good, pretty quickly.

The other thing about the course besides the need to really know it, is how unbelievably beautiful it is. I'm from upstate New York, and I mean really upstate, outside Albany. In the summer, LP is stunning. I'm reminded of the rides I used to take when I was in high school and summers in college- on my 3 speed (I once rode it from Albany to Rochester).

The DVD really pushes you to be smart. Keen to Jay- you have to ride this part of the course smart- again, it's about moderation, about intelligence expenditure, staying aerobic, working your nutrition. Get there with at least half a tank of gas and you've got a chance, then the fun begins- one of the harder climbs, more rollers, and finally- that out and back.

Here's where the DVD really either passes or fails. The out and back is hard. People really lose sight of this. It's hard going out. It's harder going back. The DVD completely captures that. I got to the turn-around on the out and back and bam, it hit me. Suddenly, this was getting hard. It really captured the nature of the ride. This was my second time doing the whole DVD and each time I've had trouble convincing myself I was applying myself enough- until this point, when it all comes home.

I was also struggling with the question I always have when drinking gatorade- Cliff Blocks every 30 or every 40 minutes ? Today, it should have been forty, and with the way I was sweating, I should have been using electrolytes as well.

And that last hour ? The best hour of the DVD. you feel like you are climbing up the big hill on the out and back and you certainly feel like you're climbing the cherries and the bears. When you finally turn back towards the town, you are relieved- in a big way.

I started the video up again and rode back down to to Keene, because Eric has told me that is when my race really starts, after I get into Keene a second time. Also, that gave me 3:40 on the bike. Energized (and having fixed the nutrition issue by substituting water for a gatorade after starting to bloat), I hopped on the treadmill and got a good IM pace run in.

The bottom line- I recommend this video to anyone who can't get up (or down or over) to Lake Placid to train. The more you know the course, the better off you are.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Swim Lessons

I had my first one on one swim lesson (ever) yesterday. I'm getting coaching from someone who really knows his stuff. It took about 25 yards to break down the plethora of issues that I have in the water. This is a good thing. I knew what they were but not how to change any of it. I've always looked at my swimming kind of like a very bad tangle. The tangle is the problem, but which knot do you untie first ?

Paraphrasing, he told my wife today that I'm the type of guy you'd want with you in a fight. That's a compliment. But it's also dead on to what my central issue in the water is. While I've never been able to sort out which thing to fix first- the high turnover, the poor pull, the lack of body roll, the head being too far up- the one thing I do know is that it's me vs. the water. I'm fighting the whole time I'm in the water.

I've made plenty of jokes along the way about how I might not come back from a swim, but underneath that has always been a real discomfort. Some fear. I haven't kept count of the times the start of a race left me hyperventilating and gasping for air or I did half a swim with my head up out of the water. My only DNF in a triathlon came when I lost my nerve in rough water about 50 yards from shore.

No more fighting. The drills that I'm getting are designed to teach me balance and relaxation in the water. I'm not naive. The water is never going to be my friend.

But it's not my enemy anymore...

Following My Advice, Part II

See, here it is a few hours later, and I already regret my last blog post. I'm sure I'm being unfair venting about HMF race fees, and that my own experience with race management doesn't qualify me in any way to comment on other races.The foundation does support worthy charities as well, and I didn't mention that...

However, in the posting things I now regret department, I can't hold a candle to this guy- story here - who posted a video on the internet inviting the Miami Police to 'come and get some'. Free speech is one thing. Dumb, threatening speech is another.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Can't Follow My Own Advice ?

Just hours after adding a post to my blog in which I highlighted the importance of not being negative without a good reason on the internet, I registered for a race and I find myself pretty much unable to resist the urge.

I registered for the Shamrock Duathlon last night. Now I know that I was registering at the last minute- just hours before the registration on Active closed (four days before the race). I was taken aback by the 74.00 price tag- so taken aback I very nearly didn't register. 74.00 ? For a duathlon ? That's nearly 1/6 the cost of an Ironman. It would have been 76.00, because the cost of Active's fees were thoughtfully passed on to us, but I am an Active Advantage member...

I am going to bite my tongue/slap my hand and reduce this rant to specifically about this one race and not the general feeling of being repeatedly gouged by HMF. After agreeing to pay what I consider an excessive fee for the race, I was greeted with a message explaining that the race fees don't begin to cover the cost of putting on the race and asking me to donate more.

I was really, really unhappy.

The ironies here are multiple. First, I'm usually the one arguing that (specifically runners) complain too much about race fees. Second, I can think of at least one person- and maybe everyone reading this- saying 'Vote with your checkbook'. if it's too expensive, just stay away. Don't waste blog space on it.

The problem is, this isn't one of the 5-6 5ks that will be held this weekend. There are only a few duathlons in CT all year, and each year I find myself driving 3-5 hours just to get in a duathlon. Duathlons are like triathlons, minus all the stress and most of the getting my ass kicked by people. You can't shop around, and you can't, well, you almost can't punish the race because of the-whatever- of the people holding the race. I want there to be more duathlons, not fewer.

But at the same time, I have to be honest. This race is really overpriced. And if the race director is losing money charging 73.00 a head, then maybe HMF ought to pass the race off to someone else, move the location, do something. I'm sure HMF could explain how that fee is inadequate or barely adequate or whatever the case may be, charity and all that. I'm involved in a duathlon that donates money to charity and we don't have to charge anywhere near that much. I'm also on the board of a national championship road race that agonizes over every two dollar race fee increase and whose fees are, well, I said I would not go there...

So here's what I have to say- go do Marty Schiavone's You Can Du It Duathlon- 45.00 by May 26th. Register at: That's a shameless plug for Marty. But it's another 45.00 duathlon, like Brian's Beachside Boogie.

Sorry to go negative everyone. But 74.00 ? Ouch !

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I have a My Space Account ?

On Monday, I'd taken half a day, part of a sort of yearly Baatan Vacation March, where I try to cram 15-20 days of vacation time into 30 or so work days.

I have this impression that between 12-1 PM every day, my phone must ring a lot. I don't get this. I have what I know is a warped idea of the 'lunch hour' but I keep thinking people will one day understand- I've been there ten years- that I won't be there during lunch. It was an emergency- someone needed pictures of eight retiring professors for a ceremony to be held in three hours.

So I rushed around getting digital images, but there were two people I didn't have ID card photos of. So I turned to my full-time assistant, er, I mean Google. I found one professor's photo on a CS server that several people have sworn was disconnected from the network, had a stake driven through its hard drive, and its ashes spread on the wind. They lied. The other professor- I found him on something called (beta). This seems to be one of the internet's endless directories, so I did what most people desperate to get the hell out of work and start a run in 40 mph wind would do. I typed in my own name.

Damn that guy in New Zealand that has been using my name his entire life.

But seriously, I found myself. And there was a link to my My Space page. This was news to me. I have a Facebook page, which is a weird collage, since I hijacked it from a college kid that was using my email address for it. Don't know why he did this, but when I started getting friend requests for people I'd never heard of in my work email, I used the lost password feature to hijack the account. My feeling was that if someone was going to be posting drunken, naked pictures to Facebook under my name, it would be me (just kidding- there are NO drunken naked pictures). Most of my 'friends' are people I've never heard of, who invite me to install apps that I have no time to determine the functionality of. But Bove is there...

I must have set the My Space page up at the same time to avoid further dilution of my trademark. There was a picture of me from IM Lake Placid. And I have a friend named 'Tom.' Funny, I only know a few Toms, none of whom live in California. I don't remember setting it up.

And this, this is the internet for so many of us. Footprints we leave in what we think is the sand. Only it's not sand. It's wet cement, and every step is recorded, preserved (until the IPO goes belly-up at least). The big sites- the Facebooks, the My Spaces, the Twitters, they are not going anywhere. Nor are the things you've put there. Oh yeah, like this blog. It's not a bad idea to remember that.

You know that advice your Mom or Dad or other adult authority figure gave you ? "If you can't say something nice..." Sometimes, it's okay to be critical, but before you open the floodgates of negativity, you might want to wonder about what you'll forget that will turn up in a search engine somewhere...

Sunday, May 11, 2008


There's nothing quite like lying in a pool of your own stupidity to bring a little perspective to your life.

I had not put a bike down in so long that I don't really know when I last actually crashed- that is until I hit a truck a few weeks ago. After struggling with the shifting on my bike at last Sunday's race I didn't even take the Elite out of the car. I just took it to Zane's on Monday- where, while waiting for it to get taken in, I ran my hand along the back wheel and cut three fingers on a 2cm piece of wire that just happened to go in on a graceful angle and not flat me- I could just have easily not finished Greenwich as finish where I did.

So I took out my Lightspeed. I love the bike. I have about 10K miles on the bike, not much, I know, but way more than what's on the Elite still. However, it's been relegated to my trainer bike the last two years and hasn't been tuned up since 2005.

So what made me think I could take it out on the road ?

I was actually having a great ride. the bike is huge- 700 wheels- deep dish rolf vector pros, two bottle cages. It can fly. When I sprint, I can get 5 mph out of it I'll never see on the Elite. Of course, it's not as much of a climbing bike and overall, I ride faster and more comfortably on the Elite.

Did I mention it hadn't been tuned up in two years. After 17 sweet miles, I came to realise this is too long.

Apparently I stand a lot when I corner and I'm by myself- I stand up as I come through the turn, power back up to speed.

Or the chain slips off the outside of the big ring. Your bike has to be in a state of disrepair for outdoor riding for this to happen. I went from big ring 14 and accelerating to no ring 14 and blocking the road with the side of my face in about 0.1 seconds as my right knee smashed into the aerobar. Somewhere in between, the bike commenced a sickening wobble that I know was about to lead to a massive face plant. I hit mostly helmet, but gashed open my eye.

My helmet saved my life. I am saying this because on Sunday I went on the Zanes ride and there was a guy WITH NO HELMET. I mean, this guy has major riding chops. Kick my ass skills- in fact, kicked my ass at the end of the ride. Better handling skills, better set of legs, probably better hair. But I've been off my bike twice after years without a crash- a truck hit me, and my chain gave out, and without a helmet I'm not writing this blog. I didn't touch a back wheel or blow through a stop sign. Anything can happen- to anyone. Helmets save lives and last time I checked, no one made fun of you for wearing one. But I digress.

The picture below is what I looked like 43 miles after that. Yeah, I slipped the chain back on, waved off the runner and the truck driver I'd freaked out by doing Face de Soleil on the tarmac, and twenty seconds later, I was back on the saddle and riding. At the next corner, i stood up again and what do you know ? The chain came off again. This time I avoided going down, but for the first time in my life I felt like Lance- Lance right after he crotch-danced on his Trek in the Tour, that is.

I rode the last 43 miles afraid to stand up for fear of going down again, with blood dripping down over my Oakleys. Perversely, the blood and the slight pain- I did do an immediate self-assessment and determined that there was no concussion and it was safe to keep riding- relaxed me, even made me grin a little. Getting a little roughed up is part of sport after all and when you can bounce off the road and keep going, it's a confidence builder.

But it doesn't change the fact that under no circumstance should I have taken that bike out for a long ride. I had done a 9 mile time-trial pace ride on the Hammerfest loop two days before to test it out, but with no big climbs, no hard corners, I realise now that ride was no way to evaluate the bike.

Live and learn... but live and get smarter is a better motto. No ride, I decided as I peeled my face up off the road, is worth taking an unnecessary risk with untested equipment. Of course, I did still finish the ride...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ouch !

Good thing they ship you out the door with two of these !

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Greenwich Duathlon

Since this blog is actually supposed to be about racing and training, I probably should write a short post about Sunday's race. Obviously, I didn't do that on Sunday.

That's the nice thing about a blog- you can go wherever you want- or not. Why ? Hmmm ...

1) For the second straight race, I lost second place in the last mile of the run.
2) I was not happy.
3) Get over it.

Greenwich is an interesting race. Tod's Point is a great location for this race- it has the three things every duathlon ought to have- good parking, good bathrooms, and good transition- like Brian's, you park literally yards from the transition area. Also like Brian's, it's a very flat run. Unlike Brian's, the 10 mile bike is not flat (and it's not 10 miles).

I had been on the fence about the race until the Wednesday before when I sent my check in, and I drove through the pouring rain on 95 at Long Wharf I was questioning my sanity in not just running for two hours.

But when I got to Greenwich, the mostly drizzle that had met me on the ride down had stopped. I grabbed my number, slung on my headphone and started getting ready. I soon realised that switching back wheels- back to the Zipp that the chain had been installed for- at 10:30 at night was not the right move. I made some adjustments and hoped for the best. I racked the bike and started warming up and pretty soon, it was race time. I was nervous. I hadn't raced in a month (familiar theme this year). I also was racing a duathlon with bike shoes for the first time, well, that I could remember.

The race started with my wave and as we heard 'start' and there was a press of bodies, however, I felt less overwhelmed by how far back I was and by the time we hit the opening turn, things had settled down and I was only six or so places back. I worked my way up into fourth after a mile and decided that I needed to split the field up. I started pushing the leader, or at least I thought I was pushing him, and pretty soon we were alone, with two guys from Bethel cycle closest behind.

I felt like I was coasting, although this might not be true. I knew to pass the guy I was following, I would have to go all out, and that was a bad idea. My best option was to sit back, wait, and hope this guy was not as good on the bike.

We came into transition 1-2 and went out 1-2 and within the first minute, I realised that I wasn't likely to be challenging this guy on the bike. I could see him as we went through Old Greenwich, but he was getting farther away. i could do the math. Meanwhile, Greg Pelican was on my almost immediately and we began some back and forth. That lasted all the way to the biggest hill on the course. I backed off a little on that hill, remembering other years where I charged up the hill and then was flat at the end of the bike, where I frequently got caught, usually by groups of two-three riders.

Greg can eat my lunch on the bike, but I decided I had to keep him close and surprised myself. He never really got out of site, and although I was close to giving up third on the bike, that's where I came in.

By the time I started transition I was in fourth. That was a little dispiriting. As a toe-clip guy I'm usually the one leaping up the ranks in transition.

I headed out and quickly split the two guys in site in front of me. I was about 4 seconds behind Greg and I passed him in the back, but I was working hard and never really found that last gear where I could pull away. As we made the turn back onto the 'main' road, he started to pull away and I found myself losing second place again, just like Brian's.

Greg had a really solid second run, and I never did pull back up to him, although I felt like I gave a better chase effort than last race- he was just too good for me.

I was pretty unhappy. I'd finished third again, thought I was a good two minutes slower than last year...

It's a great race. I wish it were sanctioned, but you can't have everything. I always have friends down there and it's a good early-season chance to catch up with people and find out how they are doing. It's also a good chance to remind yourself how challenging these races are.

And hey, I actually did have a good race after all. But that's not what it's really all about...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Yahoo-Microsoft- Why are stock holders such whiners ?

I'm stepping way out of my usual area but I was driving home listening to NPR and some self-server lawyer was going on about who he was suing Yahoo in class-action lawsuit for shareholders (some of these suits started 2 1/2 months ago, long before the Yahoo-Microsoft merge fell apart) because Jerry Yang put his ego ahead of the shareholders.

The poor shareholders. Last time I checked, the stock market did not guarantee a return. Moreover, these stockholders are minority partners in the publicly traded company. Now while it is true that Yang is responsible to the stockholders and gets no special benefit for having co-founded the company, these stock holders could have sold the stock last week. At its highest point, a stockholder who bought the stock any time in 2008 would have made money selling last week. The one year high was last October, about 8-9% higher than its recent high and certainly not a value drop that should trigger a class action lawsuit.

Of course, the stock took a royal beating today. But rather than blaming Yang, Yahoo owners who really wanted to see Yahoo's corporate soul and culture gutted and disemboweled by Microsoft ought to take aim at Steve Ballmer. Steve has presided over one Microsoft disaster after another. Visionless, Ballmer showed unusual business acumen in concluding that the best way to rescue Microsoft's online presence- and online equals search, at least where profit is concerned- was to buy a company better at it than Microsoft. Since Google isn't for sale, Yahoo was the wise choice. But Ballmer could no more deliver this deal than he could a vibrant Vista. Ballmer blamed pirates, overaggressive analysts, and just about everyone not in the room when the big decisions were made about Vista.

Microsoft's problem is that they sent Ballmer personally to deal with Jeffrey Yang. Who am I, but I just can't see a man like Jeffrey Yang being swayed by a man like Steve Ballmer.

But the point here is that people like Gordon Crawford ought to just shut up and accept the fact that they are minority players in the Yahoo board room. If you don't like the profit margin, Gordon, dump the stock and take Capital Research Global Investors' money to some other soulless corporation that is willing to make deals with people like, well, like Steve Ballmer.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Long Run as a Curative for Bad (?) Race

I emailed my coach around lunchtime today, asking if I could push tomorrow's 2 hour run up to this afternoon. I had three reasons I wanted to do this, only one of which I felt was worth articulating. I had done a duathlon in the morning, so the original plan was to do the long run tomorrow.

I mentioned scheduling issues in my email. Because of the way tomorrow is set up for me, the only way to get the run in was to get up at 5 AM and run for two hours, after what was probably going to be another six hours of sleep (if that).

Eric said to go ahead and do the run as long as I was up for it, which I felt I was.

But there were two other reasons I wanted to get out there today and not wait besides the muted joy of knowing that long run is once again out of the way until next week.

The first is that while the duathlon I did will not help me in any measurable way for Lake Placid, going out and running tired will. I've done LP three times and here's what I've learned- if you aren't feeling a little beat during the run, you aren't working hard enough. Getting up on Sunday morning and eating some fruit and drinking some coffee and nailing a two-hour run at 20 seconds a mile faster than IM pace is important, but it doesn't get it done 100%. I wanted to be leg-sore, tired, frustrated. John Hirsch wrote about this on his blog, but this isn't a case of wanting to be able to relive my glory days of massive volume followed by instant recovery (I've yet to have any glory days or massive volume).

The second was that I was annoyed with myself. I lost second place today by eight seconds, and did not feel that I should have lost by eight seconds. It was a failure to achieve a better result, a mental breakdown in will power or a simple lack of ability to go fast on this day. I have nine seasons of coaching field hockey, track, and lacrosse under my belt and I know sometimes you have to get tough with your athletes. Sometimes you have to play bad cop and give a workout that says 'I'm not satisfied with your effort or execution and when that happens, you will suffer.' You're trying to breed a desire to succeed and quite frankly, a fear of failure, and that can be learned even when you know it's coming. I wanted to atone to myself for failing, although there are far more serious things that I should be atoning for, such as every time I say no when my son wants me to do something with him and I feel like a little part of each of us dies. As demanding, irrationally so sometimes, as a 3 year old can be, 'No, I can't right now' never quite feels right

So I went out and ran, with a small bottle of g2 and a cliff shot for food, cranked up the headphones and set out while wife and son were at his swim lesson, which is a one-parent affair.

The first hour was tough. My left leg was sore- achilles, calf, and vastus intermedius. I alternately felt like my lower intestines were either channeling a Chilean volcano or trying to give birth to the Rising Star. My heart rate was up around 143 and my goal is 129-132, a heartrate at which I can run surprisingly fast for a surprisingly long period of time. I actually was considering whether or not to just stop at home at an hour for a while.

Then something funny happened. I relaxed. I started channelling the athlete people tell me I am, the guy that does OK at the races but doesn't exist inside my head, where good is what other people better than me are. My heart rate dropped into the mid 130's but i was running faster. I did the hardest climbing in the last 50+ minutes (I ended up only running 1:52, but who's counting ), ran better, opened up my stride, worked my arms better, felt good. Actually felt good.

The goal of running tired and getting through it really did come to fruition. The preparation for IMLP, itself a springboard for my real focus, IM Florida, actually didn't take a hit despite doing a race in the morning. It was also a reminder that some things feel like they need to be kept close as reminders or motivation, both good (family) and not so good (IM AZ), but that the race this morning was not one of those things. Maybe I'd been slower than last year. Maybe I didn't prevail against a fellow athlete I had outran on the first loop, and only ran even with on the second.

Where will I be in July, that's the real question.

And then at a dinner for people who have worked on Brian's and Hammerfest to raise money for the Myelin Project, Michael D'Addetta mentioned to me I was faster than last year. That came as a surprise, so when I got home I looked it up. 1:25 faster, not the two minutes slower I assumed I must have been based on the results of where other people were around me.

Which is why a certain coach says to base what you do on what you do, not on what other people do....

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Reality Bikes

Obviously, I like a cheap pun, even if it serves little or no purpose...

Seriously though, my coach has a few rules, of which the first is 'no whining'. A subset of this rule is 'no whining about the weather.' There's nothing you can do about the weather. You are where you are, and for us especially here in south-central CT, there are far worse places to be- 24 people have been killed by bad weather this year.

Still, after those 70 degree days, it feels a little like having the rug pulled out from under you when the temps dip into the fifties and it rains, or even drizzles. Now that it's May, we finally seem to be getting April's weather, which has happened enough times in the last few years to get the meteorologists reminding us that weather patterns are just that- patterns, long term trends that have no specific relevance to short-term events.

Of course, it's when you hop on the bike that a 50F, wet, and windy day takes on an unpleasant turn. So that's when it is good to remember the rules. I've been out on the bike when it was 38 and pouring rain, and just think about some of the miserable days on the bike they have during the Giro. Not only is it not really that bad- it could be lots worse.

There was that time we got 18 inches of snow in Rochester- in May. Now that is bad cycling weather, let me tell you...

All of this said, I'm supposed to spin easy today to get ready to race, so I may find myself inside on the trainer in any event...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

More Long Riding

I didn't feel really good about my last long ride. I had a great day for it- sunny, warm. I didn't get hit by any trucks. I had plenty of fluids and food. I didn't get any work emergency calls.

I also needed over three and an half hours to get 70 miles in and I didn't have time to run afterwards. On one hand, the not being able to run afterwards is an issue. (The next day I did a brick and had a great run, so no big). But I was frustrated by how slow I rode, and how gassed I felt when I got done. Which is silly. I know this. The intellectual part of my brain keeps tell me the same thing- you can't go out and ride that long, ride in a B effort, and expect to ride at 20 mph. It's just a number. Numbers are not a good thing to get fixated on when you're training. When I run and swim, I do very little benchmarking. And I felt gassed after 70 mph ? Maybe I should try getting more than 6 hours sleep...

But the truth is, I used the 20 mph as my benchmark in 2006, when there was not enough time to do long rides in preparation for IM LP. Left to do shorter rides, I stuck to that as my measure of success.

So today, when I went out in colder, winder temps, took a hillier route, and managed to ride 70.6 miles in 3:28, I was psyched. I was even more psyched to be able to hop off the bike and get a short run that felt pretty good in.

Now, the trick is to start putting that benchmark out of my mind. I know I can go out and do it by myself, while keeping my heart rate nice and steady (well, for the first three hours anyway, until I started to push a little). So here comes the hard part- telling myself not to feel like I need to do that. Before IM FLA I rode 120 miles in under 6 hours. It did not lead to me having a good race there. Training is about building confidence, but it's more about building the base you need to succeed on race day.

I train alone. Even when I have a phenomenal (for me) day out there, it's written on a blank slate. I don't record what I do, there's nothing enduring about it, except how much I enjoy some of it. It's time to forget the number, maybe even think about turning the computer off for a few rides.