28 December 2012

The Friday Top Five: The Five Greatest Albums From 1991 You've Probably Never Heard

If you are like me you most likely have severe psychological trauma induced by traumatic popular culture phenomenon from the eighties that you had absolutely no control over: parachute pants, friendship pins, girls with feathered hair, and Bon Jovi. Let's not forget the wave of terrible music that brought us forgettable bands like Oniogo Boingo (the only reason I remember these guys is because they were recently an answer in a crossword puzzle I was doing in the car so I could pretend not to listen to my children argue in the back of the car over the relative merits of their favorite Pokemon cards). Let's not forget Howard Jones who is solely to blame for his song, No One Ever Is to Blame. Yes, the eighties brought us a scourge of wonderful tight leather pant donning wannabe-Sabbath bands such as Ratt, Skid Row, and Cinderella. If you thought those bands were good, go back and listen to them now. Of course, the eighties were not all bad musically, and I will probably list the most fantastic artist from the eighties in another post, but for now, I would like to focus on the year 1991.

5) Teenage Fan Club, Bandwagonesque: The undisputed greatest Scottish rock band since Mogwai, their Bandwagonesque beat out Nirvana's epic Nevermind album for the number one spot by Spin magazine in 1991, and deservedly so. This power-pop quartet combines Soupy Sales like minimalistic lyrics—Soupy would ask children to write him a letter that was 50 words or less—with an old-school rock sound reminiscent of the Kinks with hummable melodies and crafty songwriting. Songs like "The Concept" deserve a place alongside those "epic" tunes in rock history such as Prince's "Purple Rain," "Bohemian Rhapsody," and that "Stairway" song.

What you do to me...
I know, I can't believe
There's something about you
Got me down on my knees

What you do to me...
What you do to me...
What you do to me...
What you do to me...

Coincidentally, Iggy Pop claims that Soupy Sales was instrumental in his 50-words-or-less approach to lyric writing.

4) My Bloody Valentine, Loveless: The cover for this album about sums up what the sonic experience is. This Irish alternative rock band found the subtle  balance between experimental sound led by guitarist Kevin Shields and the subtle, gentle nuances of Bilinda Butchers sonically sweet, soothing voice that transfixes  listeners and delivers them to a place between psychedelia and computer concert music. Not only do I have fond memories of my classmates back when I was an undergrad at a small liberal arts college in the midwest/middle of nowhere doing a stirring a cappella rendition of "I Only Said" at 3 o'clock in the morning outside of my apartment as one of my former girlfriend was visiting for the weekend, but I still listen to this album straight through for about two weeks once or twice every year. Like a good book or film, Loveless continues to deliver anew with every listening. It is like listening to Bach's Art of the Fugue—discovering new sounds, timbres, gestures within this album that keep you asking "how did I miss this?"

Oh, and the girl? They effectively sealed the deal. She was so annoyed by my friends that I don't think I saw or heard from her ever again after that weekend. I still talk to all of them twenty years later.

3) A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory: This album can be viewed as a cultural artifact that links jazz and hip hop to the same cultural roots. Upon its release, the hip hop magazine,The Source, dubbed it an instant classic and gave it its coveted five mic rating.  The lyrics are intelligent and acutely aware of pop culture and their position within it. Not only are the lyrics unbelievably solid, but the samples used on this album—which would now cost a fortune to attain the rights for—are as varied and wonderful as the album itself. Everything from "A Chant for Bu" by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers to "Fly Like an Eagle" by The Steve Miller Band. A Tribe Called Quest knows their music and is not afraid to steal, er, borrow from any source that adds to the music, and the samples do just that. They are integrated into the compositions in a way that is organic, rather than forced like many hip hop artists who do not have the breadth of musical knowledge that Tribe demonstrates. Of course, the reason that I always argue with my hip hop students that old-school hip hoppers are more acutely aware of different musical rhetorics is because unlike today's hip hop musicians/rappers, the pioneers of the movement did not grow up listening to hip hop. They were inventing it. If you listen to DJ Kool Herc, Afrikaa Bambaataa, and Melle Mel talk about the early days of hip hop, they talk about listening to funk and disco and rock and roll and incorporating the "break beats" and riffs into their own compositions. The group fuses jazz and hip hop on this album in a seamless fashion and even hire legendary jazz bassist—and former member of Miles Davis rhythm section, Ron Carter, to play on the track "Verses from the Abstract." But the samples on this album do not convolute the music. The music here is stripped down to the essentials: drums, bass, and lyrics.

2) Lenny Kravitz, Mama Said: Long before he played the role of Cinna in The Hunger Games, Lenny—son of television icon Roxie Roker who played Helen Willis, half of the first interracial couple on the Jeffersons, was making music. Good music. The follow up to his controversial debut album, Let Love Rule, Mama Said contains the same gospely, funky earthy quality as Let Love Rule, but is not overpowered by Kravitz's early musical influences. Some of the highlights of this album are the tunes "Always on the Run," co-written by former Guns-n-Roses guitarists Slash, and "All I Ever Wanted," which was written in collaboration with Sean Ono Lennon. "Always on the Run is a staple of my iPod "I'm-Going-to-Kick-Your-Ass-Running-Next-to-Me -on-the-Treadmill" Mix. Lenny's voice is really versatile throughout his career. He can sing slow, passionate gospel-like tunes using his falsetto like on "Fields of Joy," and "Stand By My Woman," or rock it out with his trademark bluesy growl on tunes such as "Always on the Run," and "All I Ever Wanted." If you do not own this album, or his debut album, Let Love Rule, please stop reading this immediately, run to your local CD emporium and purchase a copy of each. Please feel free to download them both from the Steve Jobs memorial music store as well (a.k.a. iTunes).

1) The Pixies, Trompe le Monde: Not only is Trompe le Monde one of the greatest albums of 1991, or of the nineties, but it considered by connoisseurs of fine music everywhere to be one of the greatest rock albums of all time. The fourth and final studio album by this Boston based neo-punk rock outfit is one for the ages. Lime Lizard's Michael Bonner said that it was a strong contender for best album of the 20th century." What makes the album so wonderful is the succinctness of the tunes—the longest song on the album , U-MASS—is only 3:01 coupled with an incredibly inventive harmonic language rarely indicative of anything in rock music, let alone punk-influenced rock music. You do not expect the music to take you to some of the places it does, and because a lot of it moves at about a million miles per hour, it does so with such force and ease that makes it mesmerizing. They do an outstanding cover of "Head On" by The Jesus and Mary Chain and their tunes "Distance Equals Rate Times Time," and "Alec Eiffel" leave you wanting to run a marathon, or at the very least, pedal a little bit harder. Their track "Space (I Believe In)" is one of the most clever lyrically on the album. Looking for someone to come and fill up some empty "space" on one of their tracks, they brought in a percussionist who added to the mix. So, the song became about him:

We needed something to move and fill up the space
we needed something this always is just the case
jefrey with one f jeffery took up his place
sat on a carpet and with tablas in hand took up the chase
jefrey with one f jefrey
now it occurred to me as he drove away
d= r x t
spacious (he's so) spacios
(i belive in ) space
jefrey with one f jeffery
now i'm going to sing the perry mason theme
(he's so) spacious
(he's so) spacious
(he's so) spacious
jefrey with one f jeffery
jefrey with one f jeffery
jefrey with one f one f.

Before you dismiss the seemingly austere text, give a listen and decide for yourself.

Until next time. Train Smart.

26 December 2012

Say What? A Blog Post?

The Year In Review: 

Here I go again. I have been on hiatus for a long time. But like Val Kilmer said in his role as Chris Knight in Real Genius—the greatest film ever made about lasers liquidating human targets from outer space— "... Let's just take a step back. No, I was wrong, I'm sorry, take a step forward. Now, take a step back. Step forward. Back. And then we're ch-cha-ing." 


Sometimes we need a little reflection. 

Okay, a lot of reflection. 

And like old friends (which you and me are), we should just be able to pick up and get going again at the drop of a hat, or at the very least, the drop of your 10k PR time. 

2012 was insane, or as they say in Insano, Brazil—home of the world's largest 14-story water slide—"insano in the mebrano." 

I have decided that instead of going back and trying to fill in every enthralling detail of my multi-sport life (which I am sure pales in comparison to the ride that one Mr. Lance Armstrong has been on lately), that I will instead turn the page and move forward. I will recap what is important with the type of brevity and succinctness by such filmmakers as George Lucas and Peter Jackson. 

I ran a PR at the Musselman HIM Triathlon this year. I was excited about that. It was my best half run so far and I think it is getting easier still. I attribute a lot of my success to my coach who kept me in line running slowly when all I really wanted to do was motor. 

I went out to Cedar point in September and worked behind the scenes for the Rev3 Half/Full. What I realized working that race is how unbelievably crazy it is from before the sun rises until long after the sun goes down. I have only ever worked this race, but I can tell you that the nine hours I put in working that morning/afternoon were some of the most difficulty fun hours of work I have ever enjoyed. I had to  stock aid stations—ice, bars, gels, meet and greet volunteers. Volunteers are awesome, aren't they?! None of us would have a race if it weren't for these people volunteering their time to hang out part or all of their day making sure you are hydrated, sane, fed, good-humored, and inspired. 

I capped off my official race season with a go at the 31st running of the Wineglass Marathon, a one-way shot from the town of Bath to Corning, New York. The race medals are unique glass medals made by Corning Glass. My training up to the marathon is what I like to refer to as "spotty" at best. I did one 18 miler about three weeks before, but my heart (and legs) were out on the trails more last season than any other time. I did a lot of running and biking on the mountain midway through last season. Unbelievably, not only did I survive this "race," but I felt really great the whole way through. Unfortunately, I decided to go for a 13 mile trail run two weeks after this marathon and injured myself. I do not always make the best decisions. 

My official 2013 race schedule?

I will be doing a ridiculous amount of MTB riding in 2013. I have plans for some epic new races (to me) including a 24-hour MTB race and a six hour race. Little man will be racing all summer as well, so he and I will be getting on the mountain together all off-season to train together. 

I will begin my triathlon season in Middlebury, Connecticut at the Rev3 Quassy HIM. This is an incredibly difficult ride and run. Hilly! Any of you northeastern-ers looking for a kick-ass, difficult test of your place early in the season ought to come out and run this puppy. 

In June, I will be running down to a little place called Buenos Aires, Argentina for a performance. One of the first things I researched when I found out I had a performance in Argentina was where I could go mountain bike riding. More on that later. 

I am going to run my "home" race. The Musselman HIM will happen in July. I will be working or racing at least two other Rev3 races this year as well as killing it on the mountain with my friends from team Crankskins.com

Okay, off to the pool. My body should have remembered how to swim. Maybe. 

Train Smart!

19 July 2012

My Pearl Armada And Career MTB Race #2

Um, I can explain.

What appears to be a photo of Imelda Marcos' prison floor is really just part of my Pearl Izumi collection. Yes, I said "part." I am an endurance athlete, back off. On the far end are my Tri Fly Carbon IV's, but I am missing my Tri Fly Carbon III's and my newly acquired MTB All Road's.

And, yes, I have run in every single pair of these kicks. Every once in a while wifey will ask me when we can get rid of a pair.


Would you ask me to get rid of one of my children?
I think not.

It is extremely easy to write a review of a product line that you absolutely dig. That is the way I feel about my arsenal of Pearl Izumi kicks. Plain and simple, they are the shiznit.*

I have been wearing Pearl Izumi running and bike shoes for about six years. It started when I got my first pair of  Iso Shifts. I went through a few pairs of these and decided to get another pair of kicks for my track/speed workouts. I ended up going the Streaks (the BLUE ones pictured right next to my trail shoes). A few months ago I purchased the Syncro Float IV's for some of my longer runs. The Float is well cushioned and mildly supportive for the mild pronator.

The kind people at Pearl Izumi sent the Rev3 team a pair of their outstanding Iso Tranisition triathlon specific shoes, as well as their Tri Fly Carbon IV's. I'll be honest. I was a little concerned with running a HIM with the Iso Transitions because when you pick them up it feels like they defy gravity. How can gravity-defying shoes offer me the support I need? I am not big on all the technical babble about shoes: "They do this, it has that, etc." What I do know is that I ran my fastest and most comfortable HIM split in my Iso Transitions. Coincidence? Negative, Ghost Rider. When you are more comfortable on the bike, you can bike faster. When you are more comfortable in your shoes, you can run faster. I have loved my trail shoes, but they also serve a dual purpose as my everyday "kicking it around town shoes" and thus I am ready for a new pair. I have been gradually increasing my trail running to build some more strength, but mostly for my sanity. I love being out in the trails, trying to navigate my way around, all while avoiding impaling myself on busted tree limbs, or cracking my dome on a rock on the ground from falling over roots hidden by leaves on the trail. I just ordered a pair of these!

Gang, if you want "Run like an Animal," you must visit the Pearl Website and get with it.

* For my hip hop impaired blogger friends, urbandictionary.com defines shiznit as the shortened term for "that is the shit, isn't it?" (ex. "that taco's the shiznit.")


My little man and I went out last night for our second go at a MTB race. He had a much faster race than last week, finishing 6th overall in the 8-12 junior category. Way to go little man! I, on the other hand,  decided that I was going to race the 40+ Sport division last night. This meant doing 5 laps around a fairly technical, tight single-track course. I kind of missed the start of the race. I was out at my car trying to charge up my Garmin which unfortunately remained dead for my race. I did okay considering I raced on Sunday. I went out there to just do it and have some fun, and that is exactly how it went down.

Good News: I only spilled once and it was not so bad. Man, trying to bike on sand is ridiculous.
Bad News: Mountain biking requires a totally different kind of fitness than triathlon.

More soon. Train Smart!

18 July 2012

The Friday Top Five: My Five Least Favorite Things About Triathlon

Ironically, my idea for this top five came while I was out pedaling away on the Musselman course this past weekend. You have a lot of time to think when you are pedaling 56 miles. Do you ever just think about stuff when you are on your bike for a long-ass time and start cracking up? Certain things really annoy me about the sport of triathlon. Least of which is the fact that I am just not very good at it—yet. I have finally discovered that you can only race well at a distance that you have the time to train for. Duh. This has come as quite the revelation for me.

5) Ironman Guy/Girl: You know them. The most annoying Ironman/girl has a tattoo on their ankle/calf/neck (like a member of some notorious Los Angeles street gang). Coincidentally, for some strange reason (or maybe not so strange), I started singing NWA's "Straight Outta' Compton" (kicking it old school) in my head as I was passing people on my bike during the HIM this past weekend. Particularly the part that goes "I'm a bad muthafu**er, and you know it."

But I digress....

Look, you may very well be Ironman Guy/Girl. If you are, I'm sorry... sort of. Ironman is to the triathlon world like the Empire is to the Force. They are the evil corporate monster. I have never competed in an Ironman sanctioned event, and I do not intend on ever giving them my hard earned cash. I encourage my fellow triathletes to vote with your legs and head to another race every season. There is a new cat in town. A kinder, gentler, more awesome race series by the name of REV3. You also know Ironman Guy/Girl because they tell you they've competed in an Ironman. They usually think they are dropping this subtly. You know, something like, "Ugh, I want to have a beer, but I am competing in Ironman two months from now, and I do not want to be dehydrated for my race." They will also wear the M-dot hat/t-shirt/shorts/jersey that they paid a ton of loot for so that everyone will know that they are in fact an Ironman. The coolest thing about wearing my Rev3 visor is I have athletes come up to me all the time asking me which Rev3 races I have done. It starts real conversations. Imagine that!

4) Excuse Guy/Girl: You know these types. They pass you at mile 20 of the bike, hammering like it's the final leg of the Tour de France, or early on in the run thinking they are Craig Alexander or Chrissie Wellington. When you pass them later in the race, they say something like, "Hey! Good job... we've been playing cat and mouse all day. (You think to yourself: "No, we haven't. You've been playing cat and mouse all day. I am out here running my race, homeslice). Then, they say it... "Yeah, I am just out here for a training ride/run/HIM. I have an Ironman coming up in September." GIVE ME A BREAK, DUDE! It is funny how they are just out there for a "training ride" when you finally run back into them  near the end of a ride or run. When I perform poorly at a race, I own up to it.

This is what you look like, aero-helmet guy.
3) Disc Wheel/Aero Helmet Guy: My feeling about aero helmet/disc wheel guy is that I better not pass you with my non-aero wheels and my regular biking helmet on the course. Look, I have an aero helmet, and I have worn it at REV3 Full Cedar Point—twice—but I am not wearing one in a sprint or Olympic distance triathlon. That just screams "newbie."For some reason the sound of a disc wheel drives me crazy.

2) Cat and Mouse—But Obviously Can Not Keep Up With You Because I Do Not Hold A Steady Pace—Guy/Girl:

These people are SO annoying. This past weekend I was racing and some woman flew by me smoking fast. Less than ten minutes later I look up and see her and a bunch of other people who flew by me earlier. As I pass them, I know they see my REV3 kit and recognize me. So, what do they do when I pass them? Their fragile egos can not handle being passed by someone that they once passed, so they speed up and start motoring. They use every bit of energy trying to keep up instead of just sticking to their race plan and pace. Look, I'm okay with this. These people usually bonk at the tail end of their ride, or when they begin the run. Thank you! If you are this person... YES! I am racing you, but I do not care to play cat and mouse over 56 miles. If you are faster than me, good for you. If you are using every last ounce of energy trying to keep up with me, you need to enroll in some sort of self-help program to work on your self-esteem issues.

1) Elitism: For years, I have had a big problem with the exclusivity of triathlon. Nothing screams "I am a privileged upper-middle class white person" like the sport of triathlon. You might not like it, but it is difficult to disagree with me. I have certainly seen more people of color competing in triathlon, but the majority of the participants are white. I would really like to see someone start a program to bring the multisport lifestyle into the inner cities and provide opportunities for inner-city youth to train and compete. Am I crazy? I feel like I have to do something to make this sport—the sport that I love—more accessible to more people.

That's all I  got. Train Smart!

17 July 2012

Musselman Half Iron Distance Race Report

A new PR!

Today I ran the Musselman Half Iron Distance Triathlon in Geneva, New York. This race was my very first Half Iron distance race six seasons ago, so it holds a special place in my wee triathlon heart. Since REV3 Full last year, I just have not been able to get my shit together to put together a decent race. This race is always particularly daunting for me because I know so many athletes who compete and I usually go into the race with some unrealistic expectation of how I should perform. In other words, race anxiety.

SWIM: 39:33

My swim was absolutely terrible. I don't think I have ever swam so poorly in a triathlon since my very first one seven seasons ago. Okay, I lie. Every swim I have is pretty terrible. I motor in the water and forget to look up to find those buoys. The result? I end up swimming a good 150 to 200 yards longer. I never turn my Garmin on during the swim anymore, because the last time I did, it said my top speed was 70 m.p.h., but I am sure my swim today would look more like an EKG of someone trying to be resuscitated after their heart had stopped. I heard a lot of athletes talking afterwards that they thought the swim was pretty choppy—especially on the way out. I did not find the waves to be too bad. I just kept telling myself, "let's have a nice swim out here." I have to say, the last little bit of the swim that exits the lake and goes through the narrow canal went faster than I had anticipated. My run out of the water and into transition was pretty strong. I almost failed to mention the best worse part of the swim. My goggles decided to come off somewhere between the first and second buoys. Yeah, that was great fun. Nothing like treading water with your legs while using your hands to put the rubber back through the notches on the side of your goggles.

T1: 2:35

As soon as I got out of the water, I saw a few of my friends who were cheering me on. I know that you go by them really quickly, but it is so awesome to have that support out there on race day. I got into transition, took off my wetsuit VERY easily, thanks to TRISLIDE! For those of you who have not used TriSlide yet, I'm sorry. It is magic in a can and nothing even comes close to getting you in and out of that wetsuit quicker. I put on my helmet, sunglasses, bike shoes (sans socks), got my nutrition into my REV3 kit and started to run my bike out of transition.

BIKE: 2:45:39

Little did I know that I would get as wet on the bike as I did on the swim. About 20 miles into the bike ride, the sky started looking pretty ominous. Then, without warning, there were a couple of claps of lightning and the sky opened up and started pouring. I took every corner very slowly, as this time around, I made sure to connect my breaks and inflate the hell out of my tires. I did not mind the rain so much. I would much rather it be cool and rainy than 90 degrees like it was last year. It sure helps to keep the heart rate down. This was a fairly decent bike for me. It took me a good ten miles to get my hip flexors and bursar to stop being annoying from all the extra kicking I did on the swim trying to make my way back to those buoys. I felt good motoring out of T1. This time last year, the first few miles of the bike were just excruciatingly difficult.  I was coming off of a knee injury that did not allow me to run for about eight weeks, and my riding was limited too. The first few hills on this ride felt WAY better than last year, and that gave me early encouragement. My coach said to hold back a bit on the bike, and that is exactly what I did. I kept hydrated and took in all my nutrition. I only needed to pick up one extra bottle on the bike. I quickly put it all into my aero bottle, finished the rest (splashing most of it on my face), and kept motoring. I had to hold myself back the last 15 to 10 miles in. I looked at my watch and thought "Holy Smokes,  I feel awesome!  I could just pound it hard." I knew I would end up paying for it on the run if I did that.

T2: 2:24

T2 took me a little longer than I would have liked. It would be great if all my transition times were under 2:00. I wanted to make sure I had all my nutrition before I went out on the run. It took me an extra few seconds to find where I had placed my Fuel Belt bottles, but eventually I got them in my belt, got the race number on and started running. I could hear my old training partner Manuel yelling at me in transition, telling me to hurry up. He was videoing me with his iPhone and doing commentary like it was on television. Hysterical!

RUN: 1:58:39

I actually brought two pairs of kick with me into transition. I had my Pearl Izumi Syncro Float IV's and my isoTransition. My thought was, that my right calf was sort of tight a day or two before the race, and I might try to put on some socks and run in the Syncro Floats for a little added stability. The rain on the bike made the decision to wear the Iso Transitions pretty simple. I slipped out of my Pearl Izumi Tri Fly IV Carbon's and into my Pearl Izumi Iso Transition.

I actually thought my run was a little faster than what the results said. Maybe in a state of oxygen-deprivation, I forgot to hit my lap button immediately. I don't know. It is all a blur. 

I started out on the run thinking that I should start slower than I think I should go, and gradually increase the tempo as the race went on. I looked down at my watch as I started running out of transition and noticed I was running a 7:24 pace. Yeah, somehow, I do not think I am going to be able to maintain this the whole way, yet. I slowed down and settled into a good groove. I skipped getting anything to drink at the first three aid stations because I was taking in nutrition from my Fuel Belt. I stopped for water at mile four and every single stop after that to hydrate. A couple of times on the run I could sense that I was towing  that line between feeling good and dehydration settling in. It is amazing when you have finally arrived to where you can get a sense of what your body is telling you.This was my first sub-9:00"-mile HIM trot. 


OVERALL: 172/829

40-44 AGE GROUP: 36/109

This was exactly what I needed. A little confidence builder going into the second half of the season. I now know that I can and will improve on this time and that choosing not to go long this season was a very wise decision.


1) You are your first coach. Whether you are a coached athlete or not, ultimately, you  are responsible for putting in the time and figuring out your nutrition. I had my coach to bounce ideas off of and help me through the process—which made the process quicker—but I still had to take an inventory and put it together.

2) I really dislike training in the morning. I only really dislike it because I dislike going to bed early. I've spoken about this before. Wifey and I get the bambini usually get the bambini in bed around 8:30-9:00. During the summer, it could be later if we have things going on and are traveling back from somewhere.

I think that age groupers like myself have a tendency to overtrain sometimes. I put in the hours this year, for sure, but I focused on the intensity of my workouts, rather than trying to go out and bang out a bunch of 100 mile rides because I think that is what I need to do to be competitive with people who bike 250+ miles a week.

3) I can still go faster. This year proved to me that I still have the capacity to run faster off the bike. I will have one more go at the half distance at REV3 Cedar Point in September. I am hoping to nail the nutrition again and have another decent day, maybe another PR.

Okay, Friday top Five in a few days. More soon. Train Smart!

13 July 2012

The Friday Top Five: The Five Things I Have Learned Being Married

Those of you with living with a domestic partner understand how difficult it is to negotiate space, time, and responsibilities. Relationships constantly evolve as we evolve as people. I mean, are you the same person now that you were ten years ago, let alone, five years ago? I shudder to ask. Over the course of my eleven years of utterly blissful marriage to my wonderful wife—who I am lucky to have (I know this because I am reminded of it daily by my wife and my family)—I have learned some things about myself and my skill set that have come to light thanks to my wonderful wifey. Here are the top five:

5) DOMESTIC DUTIES: According to my wife, before I met her, I as unable to actually cook and clean and perform simple domestic chores. I found this revelation especially worrisome because I don't know how I survived six years of living on my own as an undergraduate and during graduate school before meeting my wife. Apparently, I suck at performing the simplest of tasks: folding laundry, making the bed, and doing the laundry, because I am no longer able to do these things. I know what you're thinking... I purposely sabotage the making of the bed and folding of laundry so that I do not have to do it. Negative. After putting together a couple of piles of clothes, wifey will inevitably sigh, grab about half of them and refold them. I love cooking, and my wife does not mind when I cook. However, upon finishing dinner, it apparently looks like "a hurricane went through the kitchen." If I clean immediately after dinner, I am allowed to cook for the family again without permission. However, if I wait too long to clean up after myself, I lose my cooking privilege for an undetermined amount of time.

And while I am on domestic chores, what the hell is the sense of making the bed? Yes, I realize it looks nice, but when I was in college, I think I actually made my bed twice during a semester, and that was only because I washed my sheets. Again, I am not sure I actually made the bed, but rather, made it so I could sleep in it comfortably.

4) I AM NOT AS FUNNY AS I THINK I AM: Marriage has taught me that although I think I am one of the most hysterical and good-humored persons on the planet, that I am in fact about as funny as the film "Leaving Las Vegas." When I took my new job and went into school the first day to teach, my wife looked at me and said, "Mark, don't try to be funny, you are not that funny." I think she was only half-serious. What I have learned about teaching is that I have stopped being cool and funny in the way that my students think of "cool" and "funny."

3) I AM A TERRIBLE DRIVER: Although I've never been in any accident (that was my fault), I may in fact be the worse driver in North America. I know this because my wife is actually responsible for giving me directions like a Nascar pit crew while I am driving with her anywhere. "You're going to fast," "Don't get so close to that car." What I like most of all are the comments and rhetorical questions she asks as I am driving:

"What do you think, you're driving a Ferrari?"


"Yiiiikes!  *under breath* Not safe... not safe."

2) I DO NOT NEED TO EAT A FEAST FOR DINNER EVERY NIGHT: Huh, who knew? You mean, I don't need to eat a meal every evening like it is my last meal on Earth? Yeah, unfortunately, this is one of the things left over from my impressionable Italian upbringing that is the most difficult to break from. Dinner time growing up was a festival of food. It did not matter if it was Sunday or a holiday, my mother always made a large dinner for the family which invariably consisted of enough pasta to feed an entire army barracks, or just my brothers and me. Wifey has taught me that not only could we just eat cous cous salad for dinner sans meat, but we can also have breakfast for dinner on occasion. Honestly, who does enjoy waffles and bacon any time of the day?

1) I NEED TO PRACTICE MY MIND READING: This is one of the most important skills that any person in a relationship should hone if in fact they want a long, happy relationship. Your mind-reading skills and powers of perception are two of the most crucial skills that you can hope to improve upon throughout your relationship. I have been trained to notice something as simple as a haircut. I should state that not only do I notice the haircut, but if I do not notice the haircut or new outfit within the first five minutes of speaking to the wifey, I obviously am completely self-absorbed and therefor do not care about her feelings. It is also important to work on your mind-reading so that you can know what your partner is thinking without them actually speaking the words. This is particularly difficult if you do not possess the abilities of an extra-sensory empath like Deanna Troi. I would suggest keeping a detailed journal of your partner's body language as a quick reference guide as how to respond to potentially life-threatening situations.

More soon. Train Smart!

12 July 2012

Mountain Bike Race and HIM Preview

Nothing, in my humble opinion, gets you ready for a HIM like going out and racing your first mountain bike race, ever, accompanied by your eight year old who also went out there for his first attempt. It might not have been what my coach would have like me to do, but I do not have a history of being an extraordinary rule follower. Let's face it, I'm a musician. Worse, a composer and jazz musician. I might as well live in a van down by the river. 

How did I fare?

Shoulder = 0       Course = 1

Yup. You know, when you race a triathlon, they put the trees much further away. I say all these more experienced riders in front of me navigating the twists and turns and thought "I should be able to do that." Negative, Ghost Rider. I raced in the "Beginner" category. I quickly learned that "Beginner" in MTB terms has a completely different connotation than how most people think of the word. You see, everyone who races does the same course, it is only a matter of how many laps you go around. The "beginner" race was only three laps, or 7.1(ish) miles. This was more than adequate for my first time out as I think I would have vomited if I had to do one more lap. 

This is how it went down:


I was 3rd into the trails. It seems that MTB racing is dependent on the start to some degree. There is not a whole lot of room to pass doing single track. You basically have to call out "can I get by you?" Most of the time, people are very cool and will let you by. But you start in a big group and motor to be one of the first riders to the trail. 

LAP 1:

I motored on the first lap trying to pass as many people as I could. I passed a lot of the 5-lap racers who went out 30 seconds before us. This was both good and bad. I realized that MTB tactics are completely different than tri tactics. You really have to be smart about choosing when you are going to take another rider. I noticed that many of them were pretty agile on the single track but struggled up some of the moderate climbs. The problem is that you have to really pass them on the single track because it is even more difficult to try to pass someone on the climb. If I was behind someone moving more slowly, it slowed me down and made it more difficult for me to climb instead of clipping along at my regular cadence. There was this dude in front of me who was a little, um, "larger" who I tried to get around. He was breathing like Godzilla. I mean this guys was really huffing and puffing. I started imagining that it would be really funny seeing this guy with an oxygen tank strapped to his back like my hydrapack with a mask on his face the whole time.

Realized that this is indeed my first MTB race as I struggled to take in enough oxygen. I also remembered that I was in fact wearing my Hydrapack, and that I should perhaps take in some more to drink.


It was on these laps that I decided to smash my left shoulder into a tree as hard as possible, forcing me to the ground writhing in pain momentarily until my adrenaline kicked in and I heard people passing me. Nothing really motivates like hearing people passing me. 

Later, I was trying to take someone in front of me. Instead of calling out "can I get around you?" I decided to take a 6" inch ramp rather than go around a tree to save time. This ended poorly. I ended up flying over my handle bars and landing on my head first. My neck was a little tight. When I got back on the saddle and started riding I could tell my balance was a bit off too. Ah, these things are only temporary, and who needs balance MTB riding anyway? Coincidentally, my little man cleared this ramp when we went out on our course ride through. Dammit! 


Started to understand that you can not go out and "kill it" every second—even for a 7 mile MTB race. I finished pretty strong. Unfortunately, falling down MTB riding is a lot like a boxer getting hit in the face. It takes a lot out of you. 

I am sure other people must have fallen out there, but I certainly did not see anyone.   

I digress...


Mountain bike racing is no joke, yo! It takes a lot of mental focus to navigate your way around trees on narrow single track, make it up steep sudden climbs, and not topple over the front of your handle bars while trying to clear the tree that Mother Nature so conveniently left at the end of your descent after a quick switch back. 

As luck would have it, my Rev3 family hosts an epic mountain bike race in November at the Shenandoah River State Park. The website describes the 6 mile trek by stating  "This course is so sick we had to take it to urgent care."

I am suddenly salivating at the prospect of racing this! 


This weekend is my annual "home" race. The Musselman triathlon takes place in the town of Geneva, New York and is a great event for the family to attend. It is right on beautiful Seneca Lake—one of central New York's scenic Finger Lakes. Many of my friends will be there racing with me this weekend, so I look forward to seeing many of them out on the course. Self proclaimed Race Dictator, Jeff Henderson, puts together a safe, wonderful, and fantastically eco-friendly race. 

After the weekend, I am looking forward to the premiere of “Libba,” for flute and piano as part of the American Icons Concert at the Cazenovia Counterpoint Festival. I was one of three composers asked to write pieces for the acclaimed Society for New Music to write a a piece inspired by the songs of African-American blues and folk singer, Elizabeth “Libba” Cotton. 

When I  finished "Libba," I went out for a two hour training ride. I chuckled to myself (yes, chuckled), as I thought about posting something on Facebook that read "Finished another piece and went out for a two hour training ride...you know.... just like Beethoven use to do." These are the things I think about while I am riding my bike. Not "What is my cadence?" "Is my heart rate under control?" 

Okay, time to prepare for bed. Train Smart!  More soon.