Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gear Review: Wheelbuilder.com's AeroJacket Disc Cover

I'd seen and heard about the AeroJacket Disc Cover from other triathletes, including Coach Tim down in Miami who has raced with his for quite some time.  The idea is pretty simple: the Jacket is a low cost alternative to a traditional disc wheel.  Seeing as how my budget doesn't allow me to even consider the purchase of a disc wheel, the AeroJacket was the next best (and only) option.

Full disclosure: I reached out to the sales staff at Wheelbuilder.com and in exchange for my review of their product I received a discount from their regular pricing.  As always, the arrangement has no bearing on my impressions and this review is my honest assessment of the product. 


The Company and Ordering Process
The sales representative who helped me with my transaction was top notch; the service I received gave me the impression that all customers are handled with the same courtesy and professionalism. 


Monday, September 23, 2013

Race Report: Cow Harbor 10K 2013

I'd heard nothing but positive things about the Cow Harbor 10K, which is widely regarded as one of the most popular races on Long Island.  Saturday's race lived up to its reputation and I know this a race that I'll try to include on the calendar each year. 

The race took place in Northport (a town I had been to only once); Northport is located on the north side of Long Island and the course features some amazing views of Northport Harbor and Northport Bay.  The race was large (especially for a local race), with 4,578 listed finishers, but was run so smoothly and efficiently from start to finish that (for me) it never felt uncomfortable.  One of the best things about the race had to be the crowd support; the race is in its 36th year and the town really gets into it.  If there were three official water stops, there were at least a dozen more resident-supported stations. The cheers across all ten kilometers were encouraging and the crowds of people surrounding the home stretch on Main Street made for a memorable finish.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Hint of the Chill to Come

It was 54° for this morning's walk of the dog; the running shorts and tank top I had on were hardly appropriate!  I'm sure it will warm up throughout the day and I know we are (hopefully) still many weeks away from the real cold setting in, but I can't help think about the looming winter.  

This will be my third winter since I moved back to New York and I am no more excited than I was for the other two. Maintaining my training is made exponentially harder by the cold temperatures and short days. Waking up at 5:00am is hard enough when it's nice out but sometimes your body just says "no" when it's cold. 

Weather aside, I'm working on developing a plan/strategy for the winter that will further fortify my foundation for when Mont Tremblant training formally begins in late February.  I am committed to working on my weakest link: swimming (specifically my form). I also plan to focus on increasing my cycling power.  To accomplish these two goals I'm considering both joining a Masters swim group (though I'm no aquatic Master myself) and trying the Sufferfest indoor cycling DVDs which I've heard great things about. 

For now I'll just enjoy the remainder of summer and the cooler temps of fall. Though the weather may soon put the kibosh on swimming and cycling, this time of year helps produce some of the best run results (see: Marathon Performance and Temperature).  I am signed up for next week's Cow Harbor 10K and plan to round out my season with a few more running races.  I've yet to run a standalone 10K nor have I raced a 5K with an actual goal; this fall - in a 5K yet to be chosen - I will be aiming to run sub 20 minutes (a far cry from my first 30+ minute 5K several years ago.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Race Report: New Jersey State Triathlon

Early attempts to properly plan my 2013 race calendar went a bit by the wayside after some of the winter’s events.  My hope to race an Olympic-distance event about a month before Timberman was saved by the New Jersey State Triathlon.  Despite being sold out, an email to the race director secured spots for me and my buddy (J$).

Located in West Windsor, NJ at Mercer County Park, about 40 minutes from my Aunt and Uncle’s house, the race was close to home (yet far enough to offer a mini-simulation of traveling for race).  We headed to NJ on Saturday for packet pickup and enjoyed a pasta dinner with my Uncle before laying down for an early night’s rest.

Race morning entailed an early (even more so than on a normal race day) wake up and breakfast before the 40-minute drive to the race site.  We were among the early arrivals (as is tradition for J$) and had plenty of time before the race would begin.

Monday, August 26, 2013

How Not to be a Spin Instructor

Today's post is brought to you by Barry, this morning's sad excuse for a spin instructor.  For visual purposes imagine the following: a 60-ish year old man wearing very short women's-styled bicycle shorts (note as you form your mental image that I didn't say cycling shorts), rocking a Richard Simmons-esque yet much more flacid perm, and a cut-off shirt, all coupled with a deep baritone voice (think Rocky meets Barry White: "Yo Adrian, can't get enough of your love).

I'm a member of LA Fitness and have been for over seven years.  My relationship with LA is love and hate, but mostly hate. I love my membership fees; for what I pay it is incredible to have access to so many facilities most of which have a swimming pool. I also have access to all their fitness classes which provides me with spin classes to supplement my riding (and replace it in the winter).  Hmm...anything else?  Nope, I'm out of positives. 

On the contrary, it seems LA cares about one thing, and one thing only: getting members signed up. The care, or lack thereof, that they put into maintaining their facilities is lackadaisical at best and more like negligent.  You want examples?  You got it: despite being among the earliest crew at the gym (pre 6am on many days) the garbages are consistently stuffed and overflowing, several weeks ago a smoke detector began sounding its low battery alerts yet it still continues to cry for help, shower curtains are moldy beyond even the lowest sanitary standards, but I will stop there.  As far as classes and instructors go, LA is totally hit or miss. There are some great instructors, along with some horrific ones.  Dealing with these issues (petty though they may seem) and the myriad others is the price I pay for not paying much at all. 

Back to the task at hand though. What made this morning's class so epically bad that I felt compelled to write about it?  Rather than describe the class I think I will sum it up in the following list of what not to do and what to do in order to be a terrible instructor.  Keep in mind this is Barry-inspired and not Barry-specific. 

How to be a Terrible Spin Instructor
Don't: by any means, introduce yourself. 
Do: completely stop pedaling and close your eyes (this is particularly motivating to the class).
Don't: ask if anyone needs help with their bike setup. 
Do: tell people precisely what gear to be in despite their inherent differences in size, power, and fitness.
Don't: give people any idea of what's coming next; instead just randomly yell "jumps" or "climb." 
Do: speak softly so that no one can understand you.
Don't: tell someone when their seat is so low that they are at risk of injury.
Do: tell people to spin as fast as they can (bonus points pushing them to go above 120RPMs or higher than the bike can even calculate).

Just to put this all in perspective, I get that not all spin instructors (or participants) are cyclists, nor do they need to be.  I think, however, that they have a responsibility to run a class that motivates participants and guides them through a class that is both safe and will promote fitness gains.  In order to do this some level of understanding about resistance, cadence, power, and heart rate is necessary.

It's not too difficult to spot the good vs. the bad classes, just take a peek in the window.  Aside from typically being pretty packed (the really good classes sometimes run out of bikes), another sign of a solid instructor is a class in sync.  This shows that the instructor is leading the way; this morning was the opposite.  Barry was lost adrift in his own sea of weirdness leaving us to find our own way (only to be reprimanded when I quietly called out our own intervals).  

I've toyed with the idea of becoming a cycling instructor myself and it is still on my to-do list.  I don't think it will be easy by any means but I think that right now I can run a better class than half the folks teaching at LA Fitness.  And, if I put in the time and effort, I think I can be a damned good instructor.  For now though, I'll have to settle for what they've got and keep building the list of the good and the bad and scheduling accordingly.

For more fun reading on the joys of spin instructors, check out:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gear Review: Adidas Adios

As the time has come to say goodbye to my pair of Adidas Adios I figured that I've logged enough miles in them to give my $.02.  I purchased the Adios at Paragon Sports in NYC during the weekend of the Aquaphor NYC Triathlon in 2012.  I'm typically a heavy researcher for all my purchases but these were an exception and basically an impulse-buy due to the coupon I received at the race expo.

The Adios were only the third make of shoes that I'd purchased since I'd begun running.  At the time I had just about finished burning through my second pair of New Balance MR1400s and was in the market for something more durable.  I'll admit that I was drawn to the sole of the Adios which is made by Continental; seeing as how they manufacture car tires I hoped the shoes would wear well.  Once the sole drew me in, the weight and fit of the Adios sealed the deal.


Fit
The Adios is a fairly narrow shoe and is probably not suited for runners with wide feet. It fits me snugly but comfortably through the mid-foot and has never felt too tight. The toe box is not as roomy as other shoes I've owned but I never found that to be a problem. 

At the time I bought the Adios I was sort of obsessed with heel-toe drop; I've since realized that - with the exception of the massive-heeled, overly cushy variety - my running form makes drop less relevant.  I am a forefoot striker and the wear pattern on my shoe proves that I almost never land on my heel. Regardless, for those concerned: the drop is about 12mm which is average-to-highfor a typical racing flat.

The Ride
I find the Adios to be a pretty stiff shoe and as a result they simply like to go fast.  I had never really planned on using them for my slower, longer runs and my first run in them corraborated that intention.  It's not that they are unforgiving (they do have a bit of cushion) but due to their firm sole they are much more suited to the quicker turnover and lighter foot strike I tend to favor when running fast.

My first couple of runs in the Adios left my feet a little more worse for the wear than I was used to them feeling.  My previous flats (the New Balance MR1400) were much softer and more forgiving.  What the Adios give up in comfort (at least initially) they make up for in speed.  The more I ran in them the more I came to appreciate the stiffness which seems to rebound the energy in each stride right back into my legs.  By comparison, the few times I have run in the New Balance since owning the Adios they now feel too soft, squishy, and almost sloppy. 

I mostly use the Adios for my faster workouts and have run up to about 10 miles in them.  I have also done the majority of my shorter-distance racing in them including several 5Ks, Sprint triathlons, and a couple of Olympic-distance races.  I think I could easily run a half-marathon in them and plan to do so in my next pair.  A marathon is probably pushing it for the Adios; I think at that distance I'd rather have a bit more cushion.

Final Thoughts
My first pair of Adios are officially retired now (after logging upwards of 300 miles).  I shopped around several times for new flats and came home empty-footed each time.  I tried on several pairs of flats, none of which felt good enough to steer me away from just buying another pair of Adios.

In the end I decided that if "it ain't broke" I should just get another pair and so I did.  I am currently breaking in my new set of kicks and have no regrets with my decision.

For additional (more thorough and technical) reviews of the Adios 2 check out:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Otro Eve (A Timberman Haiku)

My mind is racing,
thoughts of the day which waits,
tomorrow I race. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pre-Race Ritual

Pasta?  Check. 
Swim Gear? Check.
Bike Gear? Check. 
Run Gear? Check. 
Nutrition? Check. 
Tri Tats?  Check.

Free Tri Tats!
I'm staying with family in Marlboro, NJ and will be racing tomorrow in the New Jersey State triathlon.  The race is our last tune-up before Timberman and features a flat and fast course.  We picked up our packets today and all signs point to a  well-organized race but crowded race (the field is huge at somewhere near 3,000 participants).

My overall goal for the day is to race strong (and safely) and I've got an idea of the times I'd like to see myself put up.  The race is perfectly timed to get a gauge of where I'm at for Timberman and I have enough time to race and recover before next month.

Tomorrow will be an early morning so some rest is in order.  It's time for my meditation iPhone app and some tranquil rest to prepare me for tomorrow's Olympic Tri.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Race Report: Ironman Arizona

"How was it?"

It's a simple question that I've heard many times since I returned from Arizona; yet even after being asked dozens of times, my brain begins to churn rapidly each time.  My answer varies depending on the audience.  Do they really want to know?  Do they want to hear details of what it's like to travel 140.6 miles only on the power of one's own arms and legs?  Or, are they asking to be polite, hoping for a short and sweet, "it was fun."  After gauging my audience, I reply; usually I offer up an "it was unforgettable" or "it was an awesome day."  Those inquisitors who really want to know more don't settle for my wimpy answer.  Instead, they follow up with more meaningful and thoughtful questions about how I felt throughout the day, whether or not I ever considered quitting, or what it felt like to cross the finish line.  The answers by the way are: It depends on what time of day you're wondering about.  Absolutely. And, unparalleled triumph.

My typical recounting of the "Ironman Experience" is an exercise in restraint.  Let's face it: I trained for a year, then spent an entire day pouring every drop of my being into completing a relatively absurd task.  Am I any different now that "I am an Ironman" than I was beforehand (being able to remind my wife and close friends that I can do X, Y, or Z because I'm a frickin Ironman doesn't count)?  On the surface, the answer is "of course not."  I'm just like you, or anyone else, and am really no different than I was prior to November 18, 2012.  But deep down, becoming an Ironman (not just the feat, but the journey) has changed me.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Race Report: Belmont Stakes Blue Ribbon Run for Prostate Cancer

To cap off a day packed full of both racing and training two Sundays ago (6/2/13) I participated in the Greater Long Island Run Club's (GLIRC) Belmont Stakes Blue Ribbon Run for Prostate Cancer 5K.  

Why Run
The only good reason to run a 5K the same day as my first Tri of the year was to honor my Dad who eight years ago was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Dad is the inspiration for much of what I do out on the race course and in training.  When I'm getting tired and feeling like my tank is running empty, I think of him - he constantly pushes himself and has never let the lingering effects of his treatments become an excuse for why he can't do something - then, I dig deep and swim, bike, or run harder.  Knowing that my legs would already be tired from the day I suspected I'd need that motivation at some point during the race. 

Getting There
On the way to the race we hit a slight snag as we began to merge onto the parking lot that was the Southern State Parkway. Luckily for Jonah and me (who have equally horrific senses of direction) Dad knew an alternate route that would get us there on time. His detour was well-timed and executed and helped us get to the race when we'd planned. 

About that time thing: somehow we were both under the impression that the race started at 8:00pm. As we casually got out of the car at about 7:00pm we figured we had plenty of time to go to the bathroom and then warm up.  Not so much.  We hardly realized what was happening but eventually caught on to the fact that people had migrated over to the starting line, and for good reason. The pre-race speeches and songs were already underway and the race was starting at 7:15pm.  There'd be no time for a warmup, in fact we were lucky to have a minute to relieve ourselves in the bushes. 

And They're Off
We hurried back over to the start line and within about a minute the starting gun went off.  I hadn't developed much of a strategy or plan for the race; I figured that I'd see what my legs had leftover from the day and push as hard as possible. Caught up in my fast-running neighbors I started out way too hard but quickly realized it and reeled myself in.  I found a comfortable pace and some folks running similar speeds and stayed steady. As is typical for me in both training and racing I would plan to continually build my speed during the race to achieve a solid negative split. 

 I hadn't looked at the course prior to the race so every turn was a surprise. It wasn't the most scenic run I've ever had but it wasn't the worst.  For about 2.75 miles we circumnavigated the Belmont race track, meandering through its parking lots and following the dips and dives of its several over/under-passes. 

The Home Stretch
The final stretch of the race is where things got really cool.  Having already finished a triathlon on a NASCAR track I was excited about running the last .2 miles of the race on Belmont's dirt horse track. As we made the final turn we passed under the grandstands and out onto the historical track; a track where many a Triple Crown hopeful has either fallen short or triumphed. 

Driving my tired body forward as the dirt slightly gave way to each push off was grueling. I had to dig down to find the extra energy and fed off the noise of the crowd in the grandstand and the knowledge that my father was standing by watching my finish. I poured every once of what was left in the tank into those final strides and finished with my new 5K PR of 21:34; good for 4th (out of 25) in my Age Group and 48/475 overall. 
The final stretch.  Photo credit: GLIRC
While this was my best 5K to date (and I am by no means disappointed) I know I can do even better.  I've set my sights on a sub-20 minute 5K (and hopefully a podium finish) sometime this year and I'm confident I will get it. 

The Post-Race Party
Easily the best array I've ever seen, GLIRC and their race sponsors put together an incredible spread.  There was a variety of post-race food the likes of which I'd never seen including: pizza (from at least three pizzarias), Clif Bars, Zone bars, cupcakes, sandwiches, fruit, cannolis, Haitian pastries, and more.  We ate more than our fair share of goodies and spent some time chatting with both new and old faces. 

Hats off to GLIRC. This is the second event of theirs I've participated in and both were fun and well-run. I'll be joining GLIRC pretty soon as I have already begun frequenting their weekly track workout. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Abandon Ship

video
It was one of those situations where you hope you can motivate one another.  One where you tell the other guy to buck up and quit being a baby. Instead we took one look, then another, and then nodded in agreement that there would be no Open Water Swim today.

video

It was a complete violation of Rule #5 (geared towards cycling but applicable nonetheless) but I'm not (totally) ashamed. Sure, it was the easy way out and definitely not the Iron-way but I'm going to pull the safety card on this one.  The morning wasn't a total loss as the OWS was replaced by a pool swim; there will be many more chances to swim outside.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Race Report: Great South Bay Triathlon (Islip, NY)

My first triathlon of the year came and went yesterday and I'm feeling completely energized for my next few months of training for Timberman.  Great South Bay was the first event where all three NY Tri Locos raced together and it was the perfect start to the season.  The temperature up north has finally risen to what it should be this time of year and the triathlon gods gave us a great day for racing (so what if the water was a bit choppy).  Now onto the details:


Swim
One of the first things we noticed when we arrived at the marina was the choppiness and current of the water.  As we milled about before the race making our final preparations we noticed a small huddle of race personnel down near the water's edge. Our speculation of probable course adjustments proved correct and during the race briefing we were informed that the swim had been cut in half; music to my ears (and shoulder)!

I usually swim on Long Island's North Shore and I'd recently heard that the south side is generally warmer.  When I entered the water I immediately felt the difference; the temperature was at least a few degrees warmer than what I'd swam in the day before. 

As usual, the swim for me was about getting through it so I can bike and run.  I'd done very little swimming in preparation for the race so I stayed back for a moment after the start to let the masses go.  Once the water was clear I began my slow and steady stroke.  I guess it's just part of that fact that I am still not 100% one with the water but I can't seem to get myself to actually race the swim.  I'm going to try to work on more max-effort swimming so I can get myself used to swimming at, and sustaining, higher paces. 

Nonetheless, the swim was rather uneventful with the exception of one odd thing: I saw the faces of lots of people.  I can't figure out why so many people were doing the backstroke AND why they were doing it at virtually the same speed I freestyle.  This was a triathlon first for me but I just stayed my course and did my thing.

Swim Time: 8:51 (Age Place: 18/21)

T1: Swim-to-Bike
The run into transition was fairly short and afforded me just enough time to get my upper body freed from my wetsuit.  I was glad to have opted for booties because they insulated me well from what was apparently a rocky shore line.  Once at my bike I had a pretty quick transition, until I (tried to) put on my bike gloves.

I have to decide what to do about the gloves situation.  I hate riding without gloves; not because my paws are too sensitive to hold on without them, but for the protection they offer in the event of a crash.  I raced without gloves at Riverhead Rocks and though I got lucky that I didn't injure my hands during my crash, that didn't turn out so well.  My new rule might be to skip the gloves on sprint races but wear them for all other distances.

T1 Time: 1:49 (Age Place: 7/21)

Bike
As I like to do (if I have the chance) I previewed the bike course with my training buddies before the race, and I'm glad I did.  While the course was flat with just a few turns there were more than a couple areas of pretty rough road.  The .25 mile start and finish of the course was particularly gnarly and needed to be ridden with extreme caution.

All the pre-race information given warned participants to ride with caution and keep their heads up.  Did they forget this was a race?  I vowed to be cautious but still aimed for a fast bike time.

Once off of the rough patches at the start of the ride, and with my feet finally inside my shoes, I settled into a nice pace.  Within the first few minutes of the ride I was passed by a girl who I'll call "Twenty-five" because of the age on her calf.  Twenty-five had a nice pace going and I decided to follow the rabbit.  We rode almost the entire bike course within a couple of lengths of one another (without drafting of course).  We surged at about the same times, came out of the corners equally hard and just seemed to sync up.  

It was fun having a pseudo-partner out on the course and we chatted afterwards about what a great ride it had been.  My goal for the bike was to have an average above 20mph and with her motivation I met that mark.  It seems I made a good choice about who to follow because she ended up placing in her age group.

Knowing how fast/hard to ride is to me the most difficult part of triathlon.  Unfortunately I lost the aid of my heart rate monitor (which malfunctioned during the race) but I figured that the race would be a learning experience one way or another.  Without my heart rate I focused solely on my cadence.  I tried to never drop below 90bpm to avoid putting to much strain on my legs.  I ended up averaging 97bpm which may have been a bit too high but my legs felt ready to run.


Bike Time:  31:54 (Age Place: 4/21)

T2: Bike-to-Run
After a smooth dismount from the bike I ran with my bike into T2.  I can't say I enjoyed running alongside my bike through sand, but such is life.  I quickly racked my bike, sprayed some Dry Goods on my feet, put on socks and shoes and hit the road.  I'm not sure what ended up taking so long in there but I will definitely practice T2 before my next race.  I was disorganized and chaotic in T2 and I see no reason I can't shave at least 30s off of my time.

T2 Time: 1:36 (Age Place:11/21)

Run
After a hard bike and a frazzled T2 I was winded to begin the run.  I didn't even need my heart rate monitor to know that I was somewhere above 90%.  I focused on my breathing and worked to get myself in check.  I was able to reel myself in and settled into my pace comfortably.  My body felt fluid during the run and I felt good about being able to cap off a solid race.  

Along the way I caught up to a fellow Ironman (a Lake Placid finisher) and we ran together for a solid stretch.  As is fairly typical for me now, I wasn't passed by many during the run but I do recall being buzzed by the top finishers of the 40+ age groups (who started after me).  

I kept a steady pace throughout the run and did my best to turn it up over the final moments.  There was one dude who I had see-sawed with several times and I was intent on getting past him one last time.  One of the stalwarts of my training (as preached by Coach Tim) is to do strides at the end of many of my runs. Running at almost full speed at the end of so many long runs has given me the confidence to lay it all out there when the time is right.  I was able to continue my goal of sprint finishes and as soon as I could see the race clock I raced towards it.  I surged past several other racers down the final stretch as the spectators looking on faded into a blur.

Run Time: 22:39 (Age Place: 6/21)

Total Time: 1:06:48 (Age Place: 6/21)

Overall I am very happy with my performance this past weekend.  I didn't have any finite goals for the race other than to have fun and stay safe but I'm pleased with how my body felt just three months removed from surgery.  The other Locos had awesome showings including both a PR and a podium finish and I'm proud to train with them.

Event Power did a nice job organizing the race.  Perhaps there are a few details they could handle better (like how about a tech t-shirt instead of a heavy cotton one) but overall the race was smooth and well-run.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Put it in the Books


If today wasn't a day to remember I don't know what qualifies!  Where this crazy two races + training ride idea came from I don't know, but it was as fun as expected, and will be a day to remember. 

The day started with the Great South Bay sprint triathlon in Islip, NY.  It was the first time I was able to race with my NY training buddies and the race was a blast.  The NY Tri Locos all put down great performances including a podium (2nd place) finish for the Pink Panther (Dru).  I had a successful first race of the year and put up a Sprint Tri PR with a time of 1:06:48, good for 7/21 in my age group.  Looking at the race results it's clear that I'm really going to have to improve my swim times if I plan on moving any further up the leaderboard.   

The second stage of the day was an hour-long training ride.  The ride wasn't particularly long, fast, nor steep, but the combination of having throwing down in the morning and heading out during the hottest part of the day made for a good workout.  Thanks to Vinny and Jay for the good company and frosty cold ones at the finish!

As if that isn't enough exercise to deserve a good night's sleep, Act Three featured the Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC) Belmont Stakes Blue Ribbon Run for Prostate Cancer.  Jonah and I ran in honor of my father - a thriving prostate cancer survivor - who joined us at the track.  On tired legs we each put up 5K PRs and placed respectably in our age group: 4/25 for me and 6/25 for Jonah.

In an effort to keep this short and sweet I'm going to cut this post off and plan to post separate race reports for today's events.  

Now it's time for some well deserved rest; tomorrow will be an off day and I plan to enjoy it (I usually have a hard time accepting off days, but I don't think that will be the case with this one).  Tuesday I will be right back to the grind with a hard track workout and then I'll continue with training as usual.

p.s. Thanks for the tagline Howie Rose

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Familiar Feeling

After a full day which included a dip (I can't even call it a swim) in the open water, a "get the wood out" run (as Coach Tom used to say), and a celebration for my mother's upcoming retirement, I'm all packed for my first race of the season.  What should likely be routine by now still makes me both a bit giddy and nervous.  Perhaps part of the emotional surge is related to the fact that for a couple of days - just a few months ago - I wasn't quite sure what would become of my future in triathlon.  Now, mostly healed up, I am back on the horse and ready to race Great South Bay.

I'm not exactly sure what my expectations are for the race other than that I want to have a good time and stay safe.  Of course that doesn't mean that I won't give it what I've got but I'll try to keep a glimpse on the big picture that is my entire tri-season.  In  any case, tomorrow will be an eventful day and I'm looking forward to racing with my fellow Timberman-and-woman: J$ (aka Red Rocket) and Dru (Pink Panther).

As the buzz of the day continues to wear off, it is officially time to put down the pen and pad and get some rest.  I'm crashing at my buddy's place tonight to make things easier for the morning and I'm looking forward to having some company for my pre-race morning routine.  Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Here's a Wild Idea

Now that I am back into the full training mix and the lingering reminders of my shoulder injury are fading, it's time to get racing.  Continuing the trend of signing up for races close to the race event last week my buddy and I signed up for the Great South Bay sprint triathlon.  I'm excited and a bit nervous for my first race (not including a 10-mile winter run) since Arizona; temperatures in the northeast have remained mild and last week was downright cold.  Saturday I'm planning my first OWS of the season and based on the reports of others who have swam recently I am bracing myself for the cold.   

I'm looking towards Sunday's race as if it is just another training day and in fact after the event my Timberman crew and I will be heading out for our weekly long ride.  The 10-mile bike of the sprint is not enough to replace the weekly long ride that is part of our Timberman training plan.  As if that's not enough activity for one day we aren't stopping there: at night we will head to the Belmont Racetrack for the Belmont Stakes 5K for Prostate Cancer.  

The day should be one to remember but more than anything I am just glad to be back to my old self again.  I feel so much more complete now that I am back in training and I'm glad to have a couple of great training partners heading into the tri season.  Let's get it on.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Gear Review: Who's Got the Goods (A Preliminary Review of Dry Goods)

Disclaimer: The product reviewed below was provided to me free of charge in exchange for my unfiltered thoughts on its effectiveness. This is a preliminary review based on my initial experiences with the product. I will follow-up after more applications during summer training.

I was about 14 years old when I was first introduced to Gold Bond Powder. Sure, some people only know of the podiatric uses, but at my sleep-away camp it had other well-known applications (powers). For boys away from home - anxious to become men - the first Gold Bond-ing was a coming of age experience. "It's just powder," you might say. Eh, not so much. The cooling sensation - sometimes referred to as the Gold Bond tingle is at first a foreign and unfamiliar feeling (though not unwelcome). Perhaps for some campers it may just be a summer gimmick but I suspect for many it became part of a daily ritual: wake up, brush teeth, get Bond-ed, and get dressed. I am one of the latter.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Green Light

This week I had a follow-up with the Good Doc to check in on my surgically repaired clavicle. Due to some business travel I had pushed back my appointment a few times and hadn't yet been able to start physical therapy. Despite the lack of formal therapy, over the last few weeks I gradually increased the usage of my right side and relied on my body to tell me when it was too much.  It's been some time since I've felt pain in the shoulder; at this point I am only dealing with some residual tightness, soreness after hard workouts, and a bit of atrophy from non-use.


With the solid progression in my recovery I had a hunch about what the Doc would say.  When I wanted to begin therapy shortly after my surgery, he suggested that it would be a waste at that time.  I knew he'd say the same when he checked me out.  My visit was a success and I now have the Dr. approved "all clear" to do anything!

As I've been through my entire recovery I will of course be smart about easing my way back into things - no 2,500 yard pool workouts just yet.  I'll begin training with resistance bands to increase my strength and flexibility and I can't wait to take my first spin on a real bike this weekend!  I don't doubt that the increased impact of the rubber meeting the road may be at first uncomfortable but oddly I'm looking forward to the soreness that will follow but I'll continue my post workout icing regimen and do everything I can to speed up the rest of the healing.

Though swimming was always my least favorite discipline I have literally dreamed of getting back in the pool.  I suppose sometimes it takes losing something to know how important it is to you.  Of the three sports swimming is likely where I will have suffered the biggest setback but the good news is that I wasn't very good to begin with.  Not having much room to go down, I'm looking towards the bright side of focusing on my stroke as I make my way back into the water.

WIth spring entering full bloom, there's no better time to be released into the wild.  Timberman is less than 4 months away and though I've adjusted my goals for the race it's full speed ahead into my training now.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Deja Vu All Over Again

As a result of my brief self-imposed post-Ironman moratorium on heavy workouts, the dreadful - says a recovering Floridian - winter, and the involuntary recovery from my surgery, it's been months since I've hit the track. This morning, accompanied by my fellow Timberman trainee and the emerging light of daybreak we ran intervals at the SUNY Farmingdale track.

Despite not having done one of these workouts in awhile, waking up at the crack of dawn - putting some homemade beef jerky in the dehydrator - and lacing up my racing flats for a near-vomit-inducing workout, was just as invigorating as I remembered it being. By no means was our workout the most challenging but the 30s x 30s interval did fill me with a bit of nostalgia. This workout was one of the first intervals workouts that I completed when I started training for real.  Today, though I was quite a ways from the ocean it seemed as if I could almost smell the salty sea air, just as I did that first time on Miami's Brickell Key.

This morning's session left me feeling energized and ready to take on the day; throughout my work day I was focused and my mind was as sharp as its been in quite some time.

I'm so glad to be back and am looking forward to sinking my teeth (umm...legs) into triathlon season.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fall Back, Spring Ahead

It feels like forever but it's been only two months since my snowboarding SNAFU and just more than that since my surgery.  By all accounts my shoulder is healing well and the Doc is pleased with my progress.  My x-rays point to proper healing of the bone and the only physical reminder I’m left with is a clean red scar which fades a bit more each day.

A few weeks ago I was given clearance to ease into activity and to say I’ve missed it is an understatement.  Not being able to exercise (or do pretty much any normal activity) was agonizing.  I’m still likely at least a few weeks away from swimming but I’ve begun running with mild-regularity and I’m spinning a couple of times a week.  Hopefully when I see the Doc next week I’ll be given the green light to ride a real bike soon (and I just got my script for physical therapy).  When I’m running, or riding (in place), my shoulder hardly feels different but there's no doubt I experience mild soreness afterwards.  I’ve been diligent about post-workout icing and am also cautious (maybe to the point of nervous) during my activities.

A few months ago I laid out my plans for this year’s triathlon season and it’s with regret that I know I have to scratch some of the schedule I envisioned and reassess my aspirations.  Timberman will continue to be my “A” race and the good Doc has been confident from day one that there’s no good reason I won’t be able to race in New Hampshire. 

Based on the fitness gains I had made in the early part of my training and racing I had set lofty goals for this season and its races.  I know that my injury and (semi)recovery was short in the grand scheme of things but it was much more of a setback than I had expected.  My fitness loss (albeit I admit some of it is mental) is noticeable and I’ve begun working hard to get back in shape; it’s amazing what weeks of inactivity, pain killers, and beer will do to a triathlete.

During the first few workouts after I turned the post-op corner I felt like I was simply going through the motions, but lately I am starting to feel the fire again.  I’ve been increasing my intensity and as a result my energy level is rising as well.  I know that as I keep training my broken collarbone will continue to fade in the rearview mirror and I’ll focus my gaze on the obstacles in front of me, rather than behind.  I can’t wait to start therapy next week and experience the soreness associated with rebuilding muscle and recovering my previous range of motion.

Though my first few runs were less than confidence inspiring (and hard to swallow) I know that I have nowhere to go but up.  As the lingering winter begins to fade, spring is finally upon us (sort of). I look forward to joining the bloom and blossom of the flora and coming to life in the emerging season.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Recovery Road

It's been about five weeks since I broke my clavicle and four weeks since it was surgically repaired. I'm feeling a little better and stronger each day and I'd like to think the worst is behind me. Though that's partially true (in that the pain of the break itself and the post-op period was intense) I know I've got a long way to go before I'm back to full strength.

These last couple of weeks have been extremely hard for me and I'll admit to having spent some time in a very dark place.  I'm not one for a "pity party" (and though I know it was only concern) it was tough for me to accept all the text messages and phone calls that I knew were only associated with my calamity.  Not being able to exercise AT ALL has been the biggest challenge and I've been left with a tremendous amount of extra energy.  For better or worse I damn near cut myself off from anyone with whom I associate exercise and resigned myself to self pity rather than hopeful optimism.  I've come to realize that those who I was cutting off are the folks who care most about me and have come to grips with my current level of inactivity.

As I progressed through my recover I was able to begin taking my arm out of its hefty brace when I was in a "controlled environment.  Last week though I attended the national trade show for my company in Washington DC.  Due to the quantity of people there I had no choice but to keep my arm in the brace both for protection against the crowds and to prevent undue strain on my muscles while I was on my feet. To say my brace was an eyesore and an attention magnet is an understatement; rather it was an albatross and an all too frequent conversion piece. While I'm lucky that my "good" side (I'm left-handed) is healthy, my bum wing made it difficult to shake hands in the typical fashion. Instead I set out as a one man crusader instituting the 21st century left-handed shake; I must admit that watching people decide whether to turn their hand inside out, give me a pound, or simply shake it lefty was more than mildly entertaining.

The show was a neat experience but was without a doubt exhausting and I'm not used to getting so tired from doing so little. On top of the fatigue, by the end of the day I was just hurting.

Being away also meant sleeping somewhere other than my recliner for the first time in weeks. In my hotel room I created a faux-recliner crafted of every pillow the room had to offer and more. My masterpiece was less than comfortable and sadly I was salivating at the idea of a night's sleep back on the couch.

From the time I first learned of the severity of my injury I knew my recovery would be a process and I approached it with a positive outlook. Maintaining my positivity has been more challenging than I expected and these past few weeks have been among the hardest of my adult life. Each day I remind myself that things will get better and my body will get stronger. I am itching to start physical therapy (as soon as the good Doc gives me the green light); though the pain and discomfort won't be fun, I know that I'll welcome the pain that comes along with PT because it is part of the rebuilding. As I reminded myself repeatedly during IM training: no pain, no gain.

Post-Op

In the weeks since my injury I've probably read every internet article, forum thread, or blog post the Internet has to offer on the subject of broken clavicles and surgical repair. I'm more convinced than ever that the decision to operate was the right one.

My surgery was performed by Dr. Joshua Dines, who was actually recommended by the first doctor (who suggested waiting a little bit before going the surgical route) I saw. From the first exam with Doc Dines I was instantly impressed and there was no doubt he'd be my surgeon. He was confident that surgery was the answer and that over time I will make a complete recovery.

The operation was performed at the Hospital for Special Surgery on February 19. I've got to tip my hat to all the nurses, doctors, and volunteers for making the day as stress-free as possible. The facility is top notch and I knew I was in good care.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Titanium-Man

Due to my less than Iron-manly workout schedule and the infrequency of my blog posts I'd been queuing up a post about my winter "tribernation." I'll shelve that one for now in lieu of current events.
 
Last week's snow storm brought heaps of the white stuff (over two feet in my neighborhood) and with it my first opportunity to dust off my snowboard and hit the slopes. After shoveling my way out of the house I was picked up and headed to Hunter Mountain with a couple of friends.
 
Strapping the board on my feet felt strange at first but after the first minute (and a couple of tumbles) or so I started to get my legs back. Just as I was getting comfortable I caught an edge and took a bad spill with my shoulder first contact with an icy patch of ground. It all happened so fast but it hurt pretty badly. I wondered whether it was just typical trauma pain where the pain is brutal at first but subsides quickly.
 
After a few minutes on the ground I attempted to get up and board the rest of the way down. Not happening. Going completely against my nature I agreed for my friends to call for help and within moments I was surrounded by ski patrol. A harrowing speedy sled ride (which under any normal circumstances would have been a blast) brought me to first aid. Much like the school nurse's office, all they were ably to supply was ice (and a poorly tied sling). There was no diagnosis but one of the staff members suggested a possible tear of a ligament near the clavicle.
 
Once I knew that I wouldn't do any further damage waiting to get fully checked out and have the shoulder x-rayed I told the others to enjoy themselves on the slopes (we'd only just arrived) and I hit the bar. Probably due to my sloppy sling, the bartender took great care of me.
 
That night after making it home (in substantial pain) and spending some time with my family and my Dad, who was sitting shiva, the Mrs. and I hit the Emergency Room. The Dr. took a quick look before having the x-rays taken and indicated that it didn't seem like anything was broken (explaining that if it was I would be in excruciating pain, I reminded him that it did indeed hurt).
 
The x-rays revealed a complete break of my clavicle on the distal end ("near the shoulder" in layman's terms-though I'm a clavicle expert now).  The treatment described was immobilization of the shoulder in a real sling and an outside chance of surgery. The follow-up visit with an ortho on Monday was when I first realized things were worse than the hospital docs let on. It was explained that my specific injury can be handled with or without surgery depending on the patient and their activity level. The recommendation was to wait a week and take it from there.
 
I went for a second opinion on Wednesday with one of NY's premier surgeons and for him the diagnosis was clear. For someone like me (young and active) surgery would be the answer. Due to the displacement of the bones the likelihood of the fracture healing normally was slim. I corroborated the prognosis with a good friend who is a doctor of physical therapy and went ahead with scheduling surgery to have a titanium plate installed over the top of my clavicle.