Friday, September 28, 2012

Thorn Bushes Have Roses: A New PR

"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."
-Abraham Lincoln

Fitting in my longer runs and rides has grown increasingly challenging as temperatures have dropped and daylight hours have shortened. In turn, on occasion I've had to push the limits of early awakening. Throughout the course of my Ironman Arizona training I've begun workouts at some ungodly hours, but today takes the cake.

I woke up at 4:30am, was out of the house by 4:45, and departed the LA Fitness parking lot for a 2hr 30min run at 5:10am. The morning was off without a hitch until the rain began. It was by no means a Florida rain but it was just enough (and just early enough in my run) to make me not want to go on if I didn't have to.

To make the most of the morning, I headed back to the gym and had a great stretching/yoga session (a part of my training which is sorely neglected). I wish I'd been able to complete my run and not have to do it this evening or tomorrow, but I'm glad the morning wasn't a waste.

Now I'm off to work for an early start to the day. Another bonus to the change in plans is that getting in before most others gives me some quiet time to get things done before it gets busy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gear/Store Review: Finis Tech Toc Trainer &

Full disclosure: Several weeks ago I was contacted by the folks at who offered me a store credit to use towards any of their merchandise. In exchange it was requested that I share a review of both the product and their site. The terms of this agreement have no bearing on the review below; in no way is my review tilted because of the credit I received.

Having read more than my fair share of books and articles on the subject and watching countless videos on swimming form I know the importance of proper hip rotation in the water. Rather than swimming with your back parallel to the surface of the water, swimming on your side helps increase hydrodynamics allowing you to cut through the water. Throughout the course of my swim training I have spent many laps working through Total Immersion drills focused on body rotation and positioning.

The Finis Tech Toc Trainer was created to help provide feedback (that you can feel and hear) to a swimmer that lets them know whether their rotation is up to par.  I suppose I may have had unrealistic expectations for the device (although I’m not sure what I was thinking it would do) because after my first swim with it I was rather underwhelmed. Let me break it down:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy and a Healthy Jew-Year

For those that don't know, last night marked the start of the Jewish high holy days: Rosh Hashanah ("Head of the Year") followed by Yom Kippur ("Day of Atonement").

This afternoon's Jewish education lesson will be on two Rosh Hashanah traditions:

The round challah: Typically challah is made in a braided fashion (except when I'm lazy and don't bother pulling it from the bread machine pan, but for Rosh Hashanah it is in a spiraling round shape. The shape is symbolic of the cycle of the year.

Apples Dipped in Honey: This one is pretty straightforward also; the snack is intended to remind us all to have a sweet new year.

That concludes our session class. Time to get with the family and feast on my mom-in-law's amazing food. 

L'shanah Tova ("Happy New Year") to anyone who stops by this site - Jewish or not.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

They Said It Would Happen (But I Didn't Believe Them)

I remember awhile back talking to some Locos about workout duration and one in particular (who shall remain nameless) scoffed at talk of any bike ride 1 hour or less. In my mind an hour ride is still exercise and though I was assured that the time would come when I'd feel similarly, I found it hard to believe that there'd be a time when I too would dismiss short workouts.  

It's not too long ago that running for 30 minutes straight or biking more than 1.5 hours was a big deal. How quickly things have changed. As I made the transition from budding triathlete to an aspiring Ironman finisher my workouts have become both more frequent and more significant (in intensity and duration). In turn, I have become so much fitter and stronger and my perception of what's considered a daunting workout (or race distance) has shifted significantly.  I'm grateful for where I've come as a triathlete and for those who've helped shepherd me along the way.  I say all this to qualify what comes next and hopefully prevent myself from sounding snobby or elitist.

As last weekend approached and I checked my workout schedule I was surprised to see Sunday's typical long ride replaced by a shorter than expected one. Of course the logic in our overall training make sense (in Coach I trust); last week we had the longest ride yet and Saturday's run was 2 hours and 20 minutes (I ran just short of 16 miles). Nonetheless, when I saw Sunday's brick workout on the schedule (a 2.5 hour ride followed by a 20 minute run) I actually thought to myself that I was in for an easy day of training.  Almost 3 hours of training is by no means a walk in the park, it was just less that I had been training on most Sundays.  On the heels of Saturday's run the workout was still challenging and I totally understand why we didn't have a 5 hour ride planned instead.

I've got a few more weeks of increasingly challenging workouts before things begin to taper for the big day.  I'll do my best not to look past any workout (no matter the length) because you never know how you're going to feel on a given day. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Brush with Disaster

By now I know that I am a quick healer and have a knack for avoiding major catastrophe, but boy do I wish I'd stop testing it.  
The Situation
I could see the light ahead as I came churning down the hill.  The light in my direction was still red but I could see the other side changing and knew I'd be getting a green.  What I didn't account for though was the SUV that was trying to catch the tail end of the light cycle.  Glancing up from the aero position I saw the blue Jeep enter my path.  I reacted quickly, posturing up and slamming on the brakes (several witnesses couldn't believe I didn't crash).  I made my best effort to stop but because of the speed (I was traveling about 30mph) I ended up dumping the bike and hitting the deck.  I narrowly avoided the disaster of broadsiding the car and came to a rolling stop about a foot from its side.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Energizer Lady

There she goes again; she keeps going and going and going.  Stroke after endless stroke the mystery senior swims, inching ever so slowly forward, but never pausing.  If I had to guess (which I do because you just can't ask a lady her age) she must be at least 80 years old.  I don't know how long she swims, but I do know that most days she’s there before I start and still going strong when I leave.  At first I didn't take it well, feeling as if her consistency and stamina was mocking me.  Now though, I've come to realize that it’s a remarkable sight and I just take in (albeit it's still humbling to say the least).  

Just a peek at the ageless wonder doing her thing!
I tried to talk to her once or twice (it's rare that she isn't swimming the entire time I'm at the pool) but due to the swim cap over her ears - and what seems to be a minor hearing deficiency - my accolades and inquiries have gone unanswered.  Of course it's possible that she's just pretending not to hear me; I'm sure she already knows that she’s nothing short of amazing.

There's nothing pretty about her swimming form, in fact the word that comes to mind is atrocious.  But who cares!  Day in, day out, she heads to the pool and puts in her laps.  I don't know a thing about this woman other that what I see at the pool, but that's enough for me. If the devotion and commitment that she brings to her swims tells you anything, it's that she has a passion that I can only hope to emulate.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fare Thee Well

Over the last several months I've built a small militia of running shoes and the time has come to give an honorable discharge to one of my long standing foot soldiers.  My first pair of New Balance MR1400s (reviewed here) have served me well - if I had to guess I've probably put over 300 miles on them.  Though it pains me to retire a pair of shoes, today's run was all I needed to make clear to me that the end has come.  

No, those shoes are not on my kitchen counter...

 The wet conditions and continued drizzle made me think it'd be a good idea to wear my oldest sneakers which are well past their prime.  Not only is the sole completely worn down on one side but they just felt dead; running in them reminded me of trying to hit a forehand with a washed up tennis ball.  I almost went back and changed my shoes but I figured I'd give them one last spin around the block (I should say many spins) and bid them a proper adeiu.  In retrospect it was probably a dumb move (risking injury and all) but luckily after the run I'm no worse for the wear.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Aftermath

8 O'Clock!  AM.  That's when I woke up today.  As my wife pointed out it was easily the latest I've slept in months and I have no doubt it was directly related to the 88 miles that I rode yesterday.  I'm jealous that I couldn't be in Sebring, FL with the Tri Locos who were doing a supported Century ride, but it was up to me make the most of my Sunday long ride.  With company for the first 1.25 hours and then solo the rest of the way I made my way from my apartment all the way across to the eastern end of Long Island.  My parents were heading to my cousin's in Riverhead and it was the perfect opportunity to make a one-way destination ride rather than the usual out and back. 

I reviewed the map and planned my route when I realized that my cousins were only 50 miles away.  My path would take me well past their house and then I'd have to loop back around for a total of about 80 miles. I made one or two wrong turns and missed my turnaround but otherwise it was mostly smooth sailing.  The minor detours along the way took the ride up from the planned 80 miles to just short of 88 miles.  I deliberately started the ride late so that I would be out during the warmer part of the day (I'm running out of time to train in the heat) but it ended up being a pretty cool ride.  Aside from some mild saddle soreness I felt great both during and after my ride.  My legs felt strong throughout and I certainly could have gone 24 more miles.  I guess all the brick work is paying off because in a weird way I was actually disappointed not to have a run.