Thursday, December 30, 2010

Non-tri end of year checklist

It seems everyone else is doing a year in review thing right now. I’m not sure I had a race in 2010 that I need to review. They were fun, but nothing needs to be added to what has already been said. So instead I’m going to go a different route with this post. Here are a few things I’ve been working on to finish out the year.

If you have a stock portfolio, it’s time to rebalance. If you have losers in the portfolio, decide if you would buy the stock at it’s current price. If the answer is no then you really should sell it at a loss. Even if you would buy it at it’s current price, you should consider selling it for the loss and moving it to a similar investment. Or waiting the 30 days (or however long it is you have to not own it) then buy it back. This is to help with taxes. It also helps people who can’t bring themselves to admit they bought a stock at the wrong time, sell out of a bad position.

The Stock Market has a regular day Friday. I thought they might close at 2 but it’s a full session.

Subscriptions: Make a list of all your monthly bills/subscriptions. Are all the subscriptions worth the money being spent on them? Where can you cut back? I know I have some cleaning up to do here.

Passwords: I’m going to guess that many of you have the same username and password for 50% or more of your logins. This is a really bad idea you need to make some changes. It’s insane how many usernames and passwords we need to keep track of now but it’s really important that you create really good passwords for the important sites. Banking, Investing, Credit Cards… Unfortunately different sites allow different numbers of characters and which characters are allowed which can make it tough sometimes to make a strong password. Get creative tho’ and make something that passes the test. Check out your passwords here to see just how good they are. . If you are struggling on how to be creative with your password, here is a push in the right direction.

I think I had some other end of year suggestions but I guess they will have to wait for another post. Hopefully they aren't that time sensitive.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Out of Sync.

I had planned my workouts last week in such a way that I could have stayed on track if I ran a couple times and did some easy weight training while I was in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, I woke up Friday Morning with some messed up sinuses and I spent the next 2 days with a box of Kleenex at my side. I’m still not recovered from it and it’s now Wednesday. So I haven’t run in over a week, which is frustrating. I suppose to look at the bright side, I did swim twice while back in PA and I was really pleased with my balance and form.

We got back to NJ Tuesday night. I was expecting a really tough evening of shoveling snow but was surprised to see that Somerville didn’t have nearly the insane amounts that NYC had. It was still a chore digging out the driveway especially near the road where we get plowed in but because I was expecting so much worse I wasn’t really bothered by the task.

This morning I woke up early to go to the pool. I got there a bit later than I had planned but I was still going to be able to finish my workout easily. I hop out of the car go to grab my swim bag out of the back seat…. Only to realize I left my swim bag beside the door at home. I practically had to step over it to leave the house and yet managed not to pick it up. So much for my swim workout this morning… I had to head back home to get a shower and go to work. So much for getting back on track.

Waiting for my train, I spoke to someone that lives in Whitehouse Station, it’s a little further west than Somerville. They didn’t get much snow at all. He said he ended up driving into the city yesterday. He wished he hadn’t. The closer to NYC you got the more snow there was and even after nearly a day Interstate 78 which is 4 lanes wide only had one lane open for about a 10 mile stretch. He figures he was in that mess for almost two hours. I’m glad we waited the extra day before driving back to NJ. It was a very easy and safe trip for us on Tuesday.

Speaking of being safe, I should mention that Genine and I are somewhat lucky to be here. On our way home to PA on Christmas Eve our drive home was about 336 miles. Well, at about mile 330 just as we were driving out of Sheffield, (in front of the billboard at the High School). The car driving towards us crosses into our lane at 55 miles an hour. I hit the brakes and start heading for whatever room I have off the side of the road. There wasn’t much and even if I dump into the side, if she doesn’t change course she’s still going to hit me basically head on. I’m staring right at her trying to get a read as to what I need to do. I see her look up from her lap and she corrects back into her lane with a very abrupt move when she was probably within 20 yards of me. I’m guessing at 55 miles and hour I had less than 2 seconds left before there was going to be be a very serious accident. My heart rate was through the roof. I was scared and very angry. I can’t help but think that she was texting or doing something with her cell phone and my life nearly took a very bad turn because of it. I could go on a very long rant about cell phone use without a good hands free system, lack of recognition as to when it is even safe to be talking on the phone while driving and as for texting?!! I’ll spare you the rant. I’ll just ask that you take a hard look at your own use and consider letting the voicemail pick up the call for a change. That driver was distracted for less than 5 seconds and if I didn't leave the roadway, I hate to think of what would have happened.

I promise to get back to the fun stuff soon.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Haul

I'll post more about this later. Here is the teaser.

2008 P2 SL Ultegra

2008 P2SL DuraAce

So which bike is going to be Matt's and which is Genine's?

Here is the link to the full specs on the Ultegra.
Here is the link to the full specs on the DuraAce.

Review of Ultegra
Review of DuraAce

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kona NBC, My favorite part.

I watched the NBC coverage of the Ironman Championships at Kona the other day. From a production standpoint, I was left feeling like I wanted to be given access to all the footage so that I could try to edit something together that would be so much better. Even if I found that I couldn’t do it, watching all that great cinematography would be worth it.

The one thing everyone seems to agree upon is that one of the best parts of the show was about Lew Hollander, the 80 year old finisher. There was one statement he made that I kept thinking about this week. I couldn’t remember exactly how he said it so I went to his website.

There he says it a bit differently. “We all get a free ride to the age of around 40”. I think on the show he added, if you want to get to 100 you need to pay attention when you are 40.

I probably heard that louder than others because I’m 40 but when I looked at his website he gave his reasons for why he thinks 40 is the end of the free ride.

He’s a motivational speaker, so of course he’s going to say things in a way that have a bit of edge to them, even if they are true. One of his thoughts to help motivate you to stay in shape, "There are no fat old people so watch your calorie intake.”

Anyhow, I found him to be interesting. There is one thing I would add to his website to make it better. I think somewhere it should say, “It’s never too late, but it gets harder to start with every passing day. Seize the Day!”

(2nd post in less than 24 hours, the schedule must be easing up.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dangerous Weekend Ahead

(click to enlarge)

The chart above shows my progress so far with the diet. As you can see, so far so good. I don't expect to get very far away from that purple line. I just want to make sure I'm on or under it the majority of the time.

It will be interesting to see how this weekend goes. There is going to be plenty of good stuff to eat and I'm not sure I'll find time to workout. I'm hoping to run a couple times and maybe a very short swim. I'm not sure the pool there will be open on Sunday tho'.

I'm hoping that because I posted this, I might show some restraint around all the food and snacks. I did alright last night at dinner in the city with friends. We went to TAO. We had a good time. (Genine may post pictures later). Surprisingly enough we had a very easy drive in and out of the city. We even found street parking at both stops we made. (beginner's luck, I don't drive into the city much). It was a late night, but it was worth it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

NYRR 15K Report

The start of the race today was in the North East corner of the park. We haven't started there before. So the first challenge of the day was to find some parking in a new part of town. We just missed with a couple of spots, where the car in front of us got it. Finally we decide we are going to have to pay for a parking lot. On the way back to the lot we hit an area with parking everywhere. Now we know where to start next time around.

Trouble is, we are cutting it close. Out of the car, and we start jogging to the start. Drop our bags at bag check. (you need warm clothes post run). Then stand on line at the portajohns. We are still on line when they are singing the national anthem. Had to wait tho'. It's a bit of a drive into the city and 9 miles on a full tank isn't a good idea.

We run to the corrals, the horn sounds before we get there. Todd jumps into the first corral as best he can. I duck in half way back.

I'm glad I wasn't trying to set any kind of PR today. I felt penned in for about two miles and I was running slowly. (HR under 150). When it finally opened up a bit, I probably bumped my speed up so I was running 150-160 BPM. I was still trying to figure out how I was going to play this. I felt pretty good but I had a feeling that 9 miles was going to be too much. The 3 mile mark is ahead. I decide that I'm going to step up the tempo for at least 3 miles and see how it goes.
So now I'm running with my HR between 170-180. I don't know my speed, never took a single split all day and didn't use my footpod. I wanted to make sure my decisions were based on how I felt rather than some number I felt I should be capable of.

While running "fast" two things were brought to my attention. I don't have the hill power I'd like to have and my hamstrings/glutes are still too tight. The lack of flexibility in my hamstrings felt like the biggest limiting factor for me today.

When I got to mile 6, I went back to an easier run 140-150 BPM. I was very tempted to take the cut off for the first loop and cut the race short. I'd just take a DNF. My hamstrings probably would have liked that. I decided to finish it out. I just kept it real easy. The worst part was that I started to get cold. So I probably returned to the 150-160 range again.

I finished in 1:21:03, 8:42 pace.
Todd finished in 1:07:11. He said he wasn't going to go all out today. He had been skiing the day before. Still a good run in my opinion.
Looking at the results, it would have been a fun finish to watch. 2nd place was 1 second behind, both running 5:08 min/mile pace.

I'm not sure running 15K was really the best idea for my training but I did come away with a few things.
My ankle is no longer an issue. I never even thought about it at all today.
I need to focus on stretching more often than I do.
I need to get my polar watch software back up and running.
Once I have my graphs back up and running. Contact the coaches about adding a bunch of shorter races Jan-April. Then I'll make sure to get some feedback about the results.

I have a pool workout yet to do today and then some weight training. I'll be stretching my legs every chance I get. Time to break out the STICK again.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Some good links

Just thought I'd mix it up a bit here. Here is a collection of links I gathered this week that I thought were worth sharing with others.

Jeopardy. I could see putting this on the TiVo list.

Great Photos from National Geographic

A Velodrome in Hillsboro NJ?!? (about 10 minutes away from where I live). I doubt this will happen but it would be fun if it did.

We all know facebook has created a ton of connections. Here is an interesting picture showing the connectivity.

Best of 2010 space pictures.

Man cured of HIV with Stem Transplant. Fascinating to me because of the fact the man had Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The same type my Mom and Nephew had.

"Shooting Stars" This is a little late as a post but it happens every year. Put it on your calendar.

I hadn't seen this before. Wow.... wow. (This really wasn't ever on a bus, was it?)

Animal Voiceovers

And this one I saw earlier this year and is a favorite.

Have a good weekend everyone!

A Bike? No NYC Half Marathon. 15K

I got an email from the bike shop last Saturday. The 2011’s had arrived and they had my size in stock. I emailed back saying I’d be there late afternoon.

Yep, I’m considering a tri-bike. I have a few reasons for it. One of the key reasons is I figure 2011 may be as good as it gets for me in terms of fitness. (Hopefully I’m wrong about that) Another is the fact so many people tell me there is free speed to be had by getting into a better aero setup. Then of course the “saving of the legs” for the run with the tri position over the road bike setup. The big thing for me is probably the hope of being more comfortable on the bike.

So after my swim workout, I’m off to the bike shop. It was one of the shops I typically get very frustrated with in terms of customer service. There just aren’t enough employees there to handle the volume of customers some days. So I was pleasantly surprised by the fact the person I was supposed to meet left his lunch to help me. I guess having an appointment is the key to this place.

So we spend a bunch of time determining if the frame is the right size for me. This one is a 54, the next size down is a 51 I believe. He decides 51 would be too small and we go about making various adjustments to the 54 as I spin away on the trainer.

Unfortunately, we eventually run out of daylight and the shop is closing up so I never made it out on the road to try out the bike.

So we head home and I was surprised to find myself less enthused about buying a new bike than I was when I got there. It had nothing to do with the service, the guy helping me, he was very good, much better than I was expecting. I would definitely consider him to help with my next bike fit.

Why the loss of interest in the bike? I’m not really sure. Well first on the list is that it’s a bunch of money for a bike! Maybe it’s that I don’t race very flat bike courses. Maybe I don’t believe the time saved is going to be enough to really matter, what’s 120th vs. 140th? Nobody is going to remember that or care but me. If I continue to race my old bike I’ll know any improvement in time is a direct result of my efforts, not technology. I don’t know, someone talk me into this one.

In other news, I did not get into the NYC Half Marathon. So no run through Time Square for me.

The training volume has been high for the last two weeks, which is part of the reason I haven’t been writing much. This time of year is busy enough as it is without having 11-12 workouts a week. Fortunately next week the volume goes way down for a recovery week. I’m probably going to take even more off the list than they are suggesting. I don’t want to be overly concerned about fitting my workouts in when I have so little time to visit friends and family.

The pullback in volume will be good. I’ve been getting everything done and I’m definitely feeling the effects. I regret not having my Polar watch software working. (Why can’t they release a Mac version of their software?) I think I’m starting to see some improvement in my HR while running. I also think my resting HR has improved. At least it seems better than it was compared to a year ago. I’ll have to get the PC software onto my Mac and start to check all this out. Maybe the lower resting HR is just that I’m not overtraining?

We scheduled some coaching sessions with Coach Q. Unfortunately he is in demand, so unless something opens up, we won’t see him until February. That should work out well. I’m finally starting to feel like I have a clue in the pool. I definitely lost a ton of swimming fitness and form during that break. Also this will give Genine some time to also build up some swimming fitness before our first lesson.

I’ve met a few other triathletes at the pool recently. Some have expressed interest in training as a group, even without an instructor. The real difficulty I’m seeing here is the speed difference between all these people. Circle swimming through a workout would be difficult with this big of a difference in abilities. It’s just as well. Right now I’m very happy to just be doing my own thing and working out my own issues. I’m not in build yet. That’s when I’ll have to accept the technique I have and work at pushing through the workouts.

I’m going into Central Park on Sunday to run a 15K. I haven’t decided how I’m going to play this yet. I haven’t done any speed work so to run hard would just be asking for an injury, especially after my last 2 weeks of high volume. (Relatively speaking)

Option 1: Jog the first shorter loop (about 4 miles) and quit.

Option 2: Jog the first 3 miles, “Run” the second 3, jog the last 3.

Option 3: Jog the first short loop loop (about 4 miles). “Run” the second loop (about 5 miles)

I have a feeling I’ll be making my decision at mile 3. I wonder if/when they will knock my corral pace down to reflect my "training races"?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Photo Contest on ITU's Facebook Page

Some of my friends tell me I need to submit my photos to more contests.
Well there is a small one on the ITU Facebook Page, so I submitted a couple photos. I've got one more I can post I just can't decide what my 3rd is going to be.

I have no idea what you win, I just figured I'd put them out there and see what happens.
It said photos from 2010 which eliminated some of my favorite shots. I'm not sure anyone would have known the difference but I limited my picks to this year's.

If you've got a good shot, send it in!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How about a Greek Diet?

It’s way too early to talk about progress with my diet. I don’t think it’s too early to talk about some of the mental battles that go on when dieting.

I make a point of weighing myself every morning, no matter what. There are definitely mornings I know the number isn’t going to be better than the day before. Like after our dinner party at Eleftheria’s the other day.

A Greek Feast! (click the picture for a larger image)

Check out the bottom shelf on the right. Those would be cheese stuffed dates, wrapped in bacon. Something I never would have thought up. Let me tell you they are awesome. Salty, sweet, smoky and creamy. You eat another one because you are wondering if you missed a flavor. You eat the third one... well because when are you going to have these again?!?

Where was I? Right, dieting and getting myself on the scale. This is a habit I want to create long term, just like my improved eating habits because you should see some direct cause and effect, which should improve accountability.

For many, seeing these numbers everyday can be difficult. I understand that, after a couple of really perfect days of dieting, combined with some longer efforts for my workouts, it suddenly looks like I’m 3 pounds ahead of schedule. Then the next day you are higher and the next day higher again. You think “I ate perfectly! This isn’t working.” Or in my case, I just get upset over the fact that it’s not happening quickly enough and backwards can never be a good thing right?

I’ve got a couple of things going that help keep my sanity about this. The first is a graph within the site, where I track my food. It has a graph showing my start weight and my goal weight. A long line sloping down moving left to right. Everyday when I enter my weight, it adds a point somewhere on that graph. My goal is to keep that point under that long sloping line the entire time. It’s very unlikely that I will make a big break away from that long line. Maybe if I get the flu or something like that…. Anyhow, this works for me because if I go over that line, I know I’ve not been eating properly and I’ve got to focus or my goal isn’t going to happen. (I suppose that’s a key too, you have to want the goal).

The other thing I’ve done is this. I’ve marked my calendar with the weight I need to be at/under each week. I put it on my calendar because I look at that often each day and it’s a good reminder.

A pound a week sounds very doable but obviously it requires more effort than many might think. To put it into perspective for people who don’t have any trouble with maintaining a healthy weight Do you consume a lot of sugar or caffeine? Do you smoke? All these things are habitual and have both a physical and mental aspect to them to which make them difficult to cut back on. If you’ve ever tried to cut back on those things you know the feeling of the void you are creating by doing so. It’s the same with a diet, only it’s ALL foods, even healthy food. It’s not easy.

Well as I said, I’m very early in the whole plan. Once I wrote the weight goal down on the calendar, I realized that it might take until May to get there. Whatever, as long as I get there.

Monday, December 6, 2010

From Lava Magazine

The new 5i50 series race in Miami.

How long would you be in the water for this one Jim?
You would think they might have someone check this over before sending it to print.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Not much to report over here. The pool is back down to being its normal temperature. I’m now wondering if it was for a diving competition. Not that it matters. It’s just that I can’t imagine it reaching that temperature accidentally. Lap swimmers are going to mention/complain that the pool is warm well before the temperature got to where it was on Monday. I can’t imagine that they could change the temp of an 8 lane pool like that overnight, there is a bunch of water in there.

My swimming feels like it’s all over the place. Short distances on long rest, I think I could fool myself into thinking I’m doing alright. My workouts have had 300s&500s in there tho’ and they have been giving me a good dose of reality.

I’ve had two things I’ve been focusing on in the pool. My left arm pull: my nasty ole S pull returned on that side and it’s not a good S pull. My left elbow will actually hurt for days after a hard effort when I’m pulling that way. It is also a big part of why I don’t swim straight in open water.

The second thing is my breathing, which is actually two things. The first is my head position as I go for my breath. On my left I’m very consistent in terms of keeping good position. On my right, which I consider my preferred side, I get sloppy and will often catch myself lifting my head out of alignment. I have a feeling that pull with my left arm is tied into this problem. I’m working it out.

The other thing is my exhalation and inhalation. If I’m doing short distance, I have a tendency to hold my breath and then exhale in very strong bursts and then very large gasps inhaling. So I’m spending time focusing on keeping my breathing rhythm very calm and consistent.

Of course there are many other things as well but it’s hard to fix more than one or two things at a time. I’ve got to get these things in place so that I don’t have to think about them anymore.

On the bike I’ve had my first really bad trainer ride this week. Bad in the sense that with an hour left to go I was already thinking, “Am I done yet?” It was the first time in quite a long time where I was just not that into the workout. It had better just be a fluke, we aren’t going to see the sun on a weekday for quite some time.

Running: I’m still running very slowly. I’ve been watching running videos to put ideas into my head about what I need to be thinking about in terms of technique. It was just too easy to zone out and jog through the workout. I’m feeling more focused there now. Also, I’m now finishing my runs wishing that I could do some speed work. One month ago I was glad to be finished with the jog and was wondering what was wrong with my hamstring, hip and back. I definitely had concerns that I was never going to be the same again. So wishing for some speed work is a big step in the right direction.

Diet: The scale is moving the right direction. It’s been a really good week for me in terms of eating. It might be because I’ve changed my fat/protein/carb balance. I gave up the high carb diet (15/25/60) and moved them to protein mostly. My balance has been more like. 20/40/40 and it seems to be easier to maintain the calorie deficit. Hopefully that continues to be the case.

Lastly here is a link to a blog post that I really enjoyed. It's about being fit vs being healthy. It's a good read.