Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Winter Wonderland 5 Miler

I was not really ready to run a five mile road race on Sunday. But I wanted to anyway.

I was feeling the edges of a cold coming on or maybe I'd just had a little too much beer the night before. Still, my usual Sunday running partner was out of town and I'd talked Dick Korby into going with me. I'd made some effort to get ready- although I haven't been running much. On FRiday I went to the gym and did some intervals, some hill repeats and some sprints on the treadmill.

It was cold on Sunday morning, but I still wanted to run in bike shorts and a race singlet. Unfortunately I could only find one glove, which was kind of a bummer. With the long cold spell we'd had, my hands had gotten chapped and cracked and were just starting to recover. Oh well.

Although I didn't feel that great all morning, after running a mile warm-up and doing a bunch of strides, I felt like I was ready to go. I actually felt pretty good, although I knew it wasn't really likely that I was going to be able to run strong for 5 miles, given it was going to be my longest race since the ironman.

The race starts out on the far side of the school and you run downhill for quite a way. In fact, almost the first mile is downhill, with a couple of turns.

The race quickly split into a lead group of three, and two chase groups of three that were closer to each other than the lead group was. I was trying to stay with two other masters runners, Enaldo Oliviera and another guy whose name I don't know Some high school or college kids and a 30 something were also all in the mix.

The first mile of a five miler is tough because you're probably running at a 5K intensity. It's just how it is. It was obvious that the lead pack was gone and they weren't coming back.

I was hanging tough, but I knew that the cold- and I haven't run outside much lately- and the fact that there had to be some uphills eventually- would start to eat in to how hard I could run.

We went through a mile at about 5:40, winding through a neighbourhood. After a mile, we hit the first real uphill and there was some back and forth here as the stronger hill runners, like me, ran a little stronger, just as we'd struggled on the downhills comparatively.

My goal in the middle three miles was to run steady and I mean really run steady. No surges, no racing other people, just a steady middle three miles. There was going to be some uphill and some downhill, that much I knew, and I wanted to really work on being smart.

Oh well.

I ended up getting tangled up in a group of three with two thirty-somethings who seemed to have exactly the opposite plan. They kept surging- one would go, the other would follow. Then both would come back to me on a slight uphill grade. Then it would flatten out and they would surge again. I was trying to stay in my own zone and run solid, but one of the pair brushed elbows with me. I let it go the first time, the second time, with no sorry, no acknowledgement at all, I'd had enough. I kind of feel like in a road race, in the middle of a road race where there are two other guys anywhere near you, the amount of contact should be zero, and if it's not, you just need to make the slightest acknowledgement- just say 'sorry.'

I sprinted past the guy going into a turn, careful to get a full length in front before cutting him off. He got the message and passed wide around me.

The two guys started to pull away on a downhill. It would have ben easy to let them go but I made a decision to leave my comfort zone and stay with them. It worked. We hit the 4 mile mark and then an uphill and actually pulled ahead-


Then they surged again, for the fifth or sixth time and try as I might as we turned back onto the road the race started on, I lost ground. I was spent, running hard, but not as hard as they were. My strategy of consistency might have been better but my talent wasn't.

I still ran hard, running downhill, and then I could tell, as we turned into the Platt Tech entrance road, someone was bearing down on me. I had to sprint, but I held onto 9th, onto 3rd in my age group. The two thirty-somethings had beaten me by at least 10 seconds.

It was a hard run. Maybe a little bit of a wake-up call. But then again, for a cold day in January while I'm just building my base ?

It was fine. Absolutely fine.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Polar Plunge 2010

I just wanted to thank everyone who donated- your contributions added 610.00 to our overall total and Eric was very psyched at your generosity !

There's video- and yes, I dove underwater this year. A good clean dive. See the video here

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cleanse Day 14

This is it- the last day- hell, the last hour.

I did not want to do the cleanse. Let's be honest, I never want to do the cleanse, but this year I really didn't want to do it. More than ever. It wasn't just that I'd done it quite a few times already, it was just that, well, I don't like it.

Now that it's almost over, I'm really glad that I did it. Of course, with the entire cleanse in the rear-view mirror it's easy to look back and say hey, I'm glad I did this thing that really kind of sucked while I was doing it but now I feel like I accomplished something.

But that's the way it goes. And that's okay- it's over. It's time to go back to my normal routine, with a little better nutrition this year.

I want to race better this year. I can eat a little better and I can definitely sleep more. These things will help.

Thanks, Eric.

ps I'm sure next year, it will be more of the same. I'll be hating the cleanse until about the 23rd hour of the 14th day...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cleanse Day 13

Just one more day- one more day....

It's a little hard to focus on your own suffering- if suffering is the right word, and I'm pretty sure it's not, when the mess in Haiti is in front of you.

If you haven't texted on of the numbers taking donations yet, then it's time that you did. Such as Text 'HAITI' to 90999.

Nevertheless, I am going to be damn glad when the cleanse is over this year. I'm looking forward to midnight and yes, I'm staying up and having a beer.

Then I'll have a few more at Bar after diving into the Sound Saturday.

Just one more day...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cleanse Day 12

Well, here we are, twelve days in.

I was listening to NPR- one report says that 2/3 of Americans are either overweight or obese.

Holy crap !

This 'diet' isn't about losing weight. It's about setting goals, re-invigorating your discipline, and re-focusing on your 2010 goals. It isn't a diet at all, it's an exercise.

I keep trying to remind myself that when I just really, really, really want a beer, or like today, when I had a morning meeting and someone brought Munchkins- that's just a little cruel, by the way- that two weeks is nothing.

I can't imagine what this would be like if it really was about losing weight. I have the luxury of doing this cleanse when I'm a few pounds overweight (normal for me in the winter) and at a fairly high exercise level. The concept of starting something like this on day zero, need to lose weight, needing to drastically increase my activity level, perhaps doing it because my doctor had told me it was time to make a change or else.

Makes me feel lucky. Very lucky.

2010 Polar Plunge

Once again it's that time of year where Eric asks me to jump in some freezing cold water to raise money for a worthy cause and challenges everyone to collect as much as they can in donations.

I'm going to go a step further this time and ask you all to consider also making a donation effort to relief funds for Haiti at the same time you commit to making a small donation to this cause. There are many great charities that are collecting.

If you would like to support my plunge effort you can donate on Eric's site through PayPal or send Eric a check as detailed below. Please email me to let me know what you're donating so I have a running total- and THANKS !

Without further cajoling, I'll let you read on. You can also catch this on: http://www.hodska.com/polar10.htm and note- as a bonus, I'll post pictures Margit takes of me doing the deed (which I hate, I hate cold water) on my blog (here).

2010 Polar Plunge (Eric's words from here on out)

This year we will be raising funds for Trumbull resident Alex Convertito. On September 6th, 2009, Alex, a member of the Trumbull community, was critically injured in a two car motor vehicle accident on rt. 8. He was ejected from his vehicle and as a result received severe spinal injuries. Alex, 22, has undergone substantial surgeries to stabilize his spine and restore movement and feeling to his lower extremities. For Alex and his family, the road to recovery is a long one paved with extensive rehabilitation. He is about to once again undergo another spinal stabilization surgery. As you can imagine, the costs of this keep building and insurance only covers so much. It would be very cool if we could help offset some of this debt.

The deal is we meet at Southport Beach (directions below) at 12:45pm on January 16th and take a dip in The Sound at around 1pm. If you are taking The Plunge, your goal is to try and raise $100 to donate to the cause we select. The past few years, we have sent a local child battling cystic fibrosis and hefty medical bills to Disney, we assisted two autistic children in seeing one of the top specialists around, we helped pay the costs of a young boys medical bills from his fight against Kawasakis Disease, we also gave some financial aid to a woman cyclist who was struck by a hit and run car, and in the very first Plunge, we sent close to $50,000 to the American Red Cross to aid those in the Tsunami. Let's keep this great thing rolling. In these tough economic times, it's important to still support a worthwhile cause. And at the very least, whether Plunging or not, you will have a laugh. If we raise over $5000 I will do something stupid again. One year I wore a speedo which in January in icy cold water can be quite embarrasing. This year, I will be the first one in and the last one out - if we raise more than $5000.

So here’s the deal:

Meet at 12:45pm on Saturday, January 16th at Southport Beach (directions below).

Alex’s father’s employer, Fletcher Thompson, Inc. has compassionately established a 501c3 account in Alex’s name. Any contributions donated to this fund will be tax deductable and go directly to offset the cost of Alex’s medical expenses and equipment.

Contributions can be made payable to:
Fletcher Thompson Health and Family Services
Memo on check: For Alex Convertito

You can also donate through the Paypal link on my site http://www.hodska.com/paypal.html – if you do this, please note “Alex Convertito Donation” in the subject or notes. www.hodska.com/paypal.html

If you don’t plan on Plunging, come out anyways to support us fools that are and have a laugh!

I'll bring the coffee and hot chocolate. I hope you can make it!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cleanse Day 11

Today wasn't really an easy day.

I think a lot of people settle into the cleanse, and after a few days, it's just a part of the routine, like strength training or your triathlon workouts.

I am not one of those people (you may have figured that out by now).

I've been breaking it down into smaller goals sets- halfway, last day with a long run, last weekend day. Today just didn't have anything special to it. I had a typical day at work, then drove to day care only to find out he had a rough day at daycare today, so by the time I got home, it was a little late, I was a little disappointed, and dinner was still an hour and a half away.

However, we went out for Hibatchi, we do that once every cleanse and just eat the things that are on the diet, and it was great. Not only that but my son couldn't get enough of the chefs antics.

It was a good time. Two more days like this one, then it's day 14 and at midnight on Friday- it's all over.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cleanse Day 10

Nothing to see here.

Seriously, a pretty average day on the cleanse. A big nod to @poycc for making a cleanse-friendly meal for the three people on the cleanse at dinner tonight.

Good company, good food and Top Gear.

That's a nice way to end a day on the cleanse- certainly more enjoyable then returning to the pool, which seemed to have gotten a mega-dose of chlorine...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cleanse Day 9

I feel like I'm learning more from the cleanse this year then in previous years. Or at least I'm trying different things- like decaf coffee in the evening after I've drunk all my water.

Today was a real hump day for the cleanse, the last weekend day. I always feel like the weekdays are easier, and the longer weekend workouts make the cleanse a little more of a nutritional challenge, because they are the only days you might not really get everything you need.

I was going to do a challenging 90-minute spin today- Time Trialpalooza- followed by a 40 run. I didn't want to use a Hammer-Gel again today, but because I started at 9:20 I figured I would try something new, that I've never done during a workout. I'd try eating a yogurt during my workout.

The workout is four reps- 20 minutes at 40K time trial, pace, followed by 15, followed by 10, followed by 5. You start out at 95 RPM and work your way down to 80 RPM for the last five minute set, so your effort and heart rate go up, although you're doing your best to stay at about 10 beats above threshold.

I wanted to make the yogurt last, to hold off until after the 15 minute rep. But I thought about it- after the last two days, I thought getting through more than half the spin before eating was exactly the sort of boneheaded thinking that gets me into trouble in shorter races where I'm 'going too hard' to stop and eat. I mean, in an ironman, or even a half, you can bonk and still recover (been there, done that this year at both distances). In a sprint, which is about the same length of time you're looking at with a 40K time trial, your race is done when you bonk.

So I sucked down the yogurt before the second interval, and had a great workout. I was really steady for the first three reps, and then I actually was able to pick it up for the final rep and have my best one last.

My 35 minute run was SLOW, but overall, another good day on the cleanse.

I also decided I'm going to try to add two things to my nutrition package- high fiber oatmeal in the morning, and 1-2 a week, whole wheat pasta for lunch.

After the cleanse.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Cleanse Day 8

I knew this was going to be one of the more interesting days for the cleanse this year. I had to swap my bike and run because of some family events and the 90 minute run is potentially the hardest workout on the cleanse because it's the one where you dig deeper into your reserves- although we'll see as I have a 90-minute spin/40 minute run tomorrow- than just about anything during the two weeks.

Eric's discussed using any sports nutrition during the cleanse and generally the answer is no, but with a long enough one, some small amount may be acceptable.

I'd carried a raspberry Hammer-Gel on my long run last week and as it was the first day of the cleanse it was unneeded.

Today was different. Fifteen minutes into the run, with my water freezing, I was really lagging. I was running with @poycc and I would say I just didn't feel good. After have great workouts on Wednesday and Thursday, I was really struggling.

I went ahead and ate the Hammer-Gel. I was thinking it might just be psychological, that I didn't need it. I think if I had gotten an immediate pick-up it would have been, and I'd have felt like I was cheating. But it took at least five minutes before I did start to feel the pick-up and then I had a very good run and felt strong at the end.

Then we did a couple of great family things that Ian really enjoyed- I might not have enjoyed being at Disney on Ice instead of watching playoff football, but I got a great, cleanse friendly meal afterwards.

Just 6 more days- and the low moment was on the run today and it was easy to work through. I'll be glad when it's over but I'll take a good day like this one...

Friday, January 08, 2010

Cleanse Day 7

My son Ian had dental surgery this morning, so the cleanse really took a back seat to this surgery. The surgery was planned and was routine, so once he was under anesthesia with no problems, it was pretty smooth sailing. Margit and I did bring our yogurt and our water to the hospital and were pretty much able to stay on track- by getting up early and wolfing down fruit at 5:30 AM.

The surgery went well, Ian recovered quickly and we had a mostly relaxing afternoon at home.

I even got to spin, although again, I did feel pretty logy during the spin.

Still, it didn't really matter.

Any day you walk into and out of the hospital with your son and everything goes well, that's a good day.

Cleanse or no cleanse.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Cleanse Day 6

The cleanse diet has its ups and downs.

This time of year is pretty stressful at work and one of the projects that I'd been working on just wasn't where I wanted to be and I had a deadline that was causing incredible stress.

As I mentioned yesterday, I do think the cleanse does kind of clear you thinking up a little bit- you're just a little more focused. I'd gotten up today, gotten in a good, high intensity spin and Eric's strength training. It was the first hard spin during the cleanse where I didn't feel completely drained when I got done.

Then I went into work, found the right solution to keep this project moving forward.

A good day.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Cleanse Day5

Another day on the cleanse.

Some of my co-workers were wondering why it is that 'someone like me' would be doing the cleanse. I'm really the one person in the department that is really active and everyone sees me eating fruit, salad and pretty much the same food every day. Add that to the fact that I show almost no interest in going out for lunch- the type of going out for lunch that involves fast food anyway. Mix in that I don't eat meat and people really kind of find it odd that I do something like this.

I, on the other hand, see my eating habits as only slightly above average. Yes, I eat a decent amount of fruit and definitely get my veggies and lean protein, but it's not like I'd ever say, grab an apple out of the refrigerator as a snack. I might eat one at 10 AM because I think I should, but at 3PM on a Sunday when I'm watching the game it's going to be beer, crackers and cheese or some chips...

Deep down, I know if I ate better and slept better, I'd be a better athlete. I'd probably feel sharper most of the time too.

The cleanse is a good reminder of that. And my eating habits have improved as a result of it.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Cleanse Day 4

I'll keep this one short.

Today was the easiest day so far.

I started the day with a good workout at 5:30 in the morning, was done drinking my water at 8:30 PM, and therefore, it was a good cleanse day.

I had a nice big salad for lunch and we had a real good swordfish for dinner.

'nuff said.

Two Suggestions to Fix the End of the NFL Season

Despite the Wes Welker injury and the belief that it will end any speculation about the NFL cleaning up the mess the end of this season became, the league does need to address what has become an embarrassment as the last few weeks of the season become a second exhibition season for the leagues elite. And we all know that a crappy field is the main reason Welker's season ended early.

I'm not going to rehash the opinion of the 'experts' who believe the NFL has no right to involve itself in personnel matters.

What I am going to do is say that as a customer, I'm not satisfied with the product and I've started turning off the TV- and I'm not the only one. As long as advertising revenue continues to be important to the league, people turning the TV off in the last few weeks of the season is an issue. I don't really buy when Roger Goodell talks about the 'integrity of the game.' When you have owners like Daniel Snyder and Al Davis as owners, the integrity of the game is already at great, unaddressable risk.

Rather than argue the plusses and minuses of playing your starters through a sixteen games season I'd like to offer two alternatives that might just give teams an incentive to play out the season and change the discussion:

1) Reverse the value of wins and losses for the draft after Week 12. That's right, from Week 13-17 make a win equivalent to what a loss was through the first 13 weeks. That team that goes 16-0 ? They'd effectively be 11-5 and likely in the mix for a better draft pick. It would also prevent bottom feeders from dumpster diving- were the Rams trying to win Sunday ? Nah. That's not enough of an incentive ? Based the draft on the adjusted standings after Week 17. Unfair ? The bottom half of the first round of the draft is crap-shoot anyway...Why 5 weeks ? The incentive needs to be enough to encourage teams to reach for 16-0 and 11-5 is a better break point than 12-4

2) Hold back 10% of the revenue sharing fees. Divide that total by the number of games played in the last four weeks, and distribute it based on wins. To make this work, you'd have to base revenue projections and sharing and the salary cap on the first 90% of profit. Distribute that last 10% percent to owners and players the same way that you would the other 90%- except teams would get a double share for each win, and no share for each loss. 10% is the equivalent of 3.2 teams revenue, which ought to be enough to make the organizations want the payout- 4 wins would would equal a 110% share at the current distributions. That's millions at stake.

These are just one fans ideas, but if I can come up with something...

Monday, January 04, 2010

Cleanse Day 3

Easier day today.

Got up and did the Spinervals Recharge video at 6AM. Felt pretty drained, but definitely not as bad as Sunday.

Planned to have salad with seafood on top for lunch today- this was a big treat, a nice spicy seafood to go with the salad. I'll go back to the pasta tomorrow probably.

Then we had dinner at @poycc's- Michael always makes a good dinner- vegetarian chili, which was awesome.

Drinking the water was also not as hard today. It's still early- day three- but the routine is a little more familiar now and hopefully before I know it, it will be a week from Saturday and I'll be staying up until midnight so I can have a beer to celebrate the end of the cleanse.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Frosty 5k

The first of the year has also become a traditional day for me to race.

Last year I ran the Frosty 5K in Guilford on a miserably cold day, after taking a couple of weeks off.

This year I ran the Frosty 5K on a much nicer day- high 30s and humid. I was coming off having rested since basically Christopher Martins. Eric had told me to take some down time and I'd limited myself to a light spin every day except for a once a week long run with Michael D'Addetta and Dropping the Hammer with Margit (Spinervals) the day after Christmas.

I felt pretty much like I usually do on January 1st- overweight, vaguely out of shape. However, instead of a mild hangover, I'd not slept the night before. We had guests over for New Years Eve and I'd made some evil coffee that was about 150% normal strength. I'd drank two cups and I slept less than an hour total.

Because it was warmer I was determined to wear just bike shorts and a singlet, plus gloves and a winter hat. Maybe it was just because I'd shaved my arms and legs for the first time in three weeks, and that made me feel, and it's very silly, like an athlete again.

I ran half a mile and then did a bunch of strides. because of the lack of sleep I wasn't expecting my A effort. Between last year's race winner, the high school kids, and John Tolbert, I was hoping just to run fast enough to not look like a complete idiot wearing a tri-kit to run a 5K on January 1st. I can tell you I was the only one out there.

The race is flat. THere's one bridge over the train tracks that you have to cross, and that's the only hill on the course, although it's a decent one and you have to climb it both ways.

We started on verbal commands and headed for the first intersection, running down the back side of the green and hanging a right, then a left and down towards the wharf.

Like most 5ks, initially, there were an awful lot of people around me, but the crowd thinned out pretty quickly. I found myself in 9th place, right behind John Tolbert. I kind of expected that he'd run away from me.

That didn't happen. We went down the road, up and over the bridge and towards the turn around at the wharf. He and I were right at 5:40 or something at a mile, and pretty soon after we hit the turn. JT took the turn easy and so did I. Neither of us was taking a spill early in the race.

We were right on each other through 2 miles at 11:38 or whatever, and then finally, JT started to pull away by the fair grounds, a little at first but enough to get separation.

Still, staying with him for two miles was a surprise for me. I reached a little out of my comfort zone to stay with him as long as I did, but the reward was catching a couple of people and having an outside shot at breaking 18:00 for the second straight race.

That didn't happen. I saw when I turned the corner and was back at the green that I was at 17:40 with about a tenth of a mile to go and I dug a little, but I neither caught JT, who beat me by seven seconds, or broke 18:00- I ran an 18:10.

But for a January 1st race, on little training and no sleep- I'll definitely take it.

The Cleanse, Day 2

This hopefully will be the roughest day of the cleanse.

As Eric says, you'r getting plenty of energy to make it through your workouts. And he's right. I'd avoided the mistake of the last two years, gulping down extra coffee on Day 1 and then getting no sleep that night.

Instead I overslept until 7:45 this morning, which is unheard of. I then gutted through aero-base builder spin that left me feeling totally drained.

Then came what's become a ritual for me in Week 17. Long story short- except for one game, everyone I was rooting for to win lost.

On the plus side, I did help paint the bathroom, but I was grumpy and irritated all day. No fun for anyone- sorry about that.

It all gets easier though...

Cleanse Day 1

Coach Eric sent out the email letting us know that we'd be starting the Cleanse on January 2nd.

I don't enjoy the cleanse. I've done it a number of times but it's just never been something I can say that I like doing. It's just something I sort of have to do.

That said, the only real challenge day 1 is drinking 100 ounces of water. I drink a lot of water, compared to most people, but in an average day I probably only drink about 50 ounces.

It always seems to get cold right around the start of the cleanse (probably because it's January 2nd), so drinking all that water also makes it difficult to control your body temperature. Unless you like being cold.

Still, Day One is one of the easier days. And it's over. On to day two.