21 December 2011

Lazer Helmet Give Away: And The Winner Is...

Congratulations to some chick named Laura Wheatley. She is the proud new owner of a Lazer Tardiz helmet. The rest of you should be green with envy.

Thank you to everyone who signed up to participate in the giveaway. I appreciate your PATIENCE more than you know.

I started getting some messages on "the" Facebook from followers asking if they had won. Thank you for stalking me. The last couple of weeks have been crazy. I just got all of my grades in yesterday. As much as I love spending time adding and subtracting numbers, grading is the last glamorous part of a college professor's job. Plus, my ass has been busy training once again. I am really getting back into the swing of things after a month and a half of relative laziness. Know how that feels? Yeah. Like you've been hit by a truck. Around ten o'clock at night, my energy level resembles that of a tree sloth.

Congratulations Laura. Send me an email to let me know which Lazer helmet you would like.


A BIG THANK YOU to Lazer for allowing me to have this super-awesome giveaway on my blog.

For anyone who did not win, have no fear! Contact me about how you can receive a 20% discount on a new Lazer helmet!

More soon. Train Smart!





16 December 2011

The Friday Top Five: The Top Five Greatest Tunes About Rock n' Roll

The Friday Top Five: The Top Five Greatest Tunes About Rock n' Roll


As someone who actually teaches a course titled "The History of Rock and Roll," I feel a unique sense of entitlement with all things rock& roll. In fact, I have self-appointed myself the absolute authority on all things rock and roll. I mean, after all, Michael Jackson dubbed himself "The King of Pop," and Howard Stern declared he was "The King of All Media," why should I not be Dr. Rock and Roll? I mean let's face it, I even have the official name plate on my door.


I know I will receive some comments and other suggestions for this list... I'm looking at you Jeff and Rock Star.

Picking the five best songs ever written about rock and roll is a lot like picking my favorite dish containing lobster. I mean, does it matter? I heard a comedian once talk about how lobsters completely got the short end of the stick. He went on to say, "...when God was creating all the animals, he said, "Okay, lobster. I'm going to make you red, and give you these little claw things on the front. Yeah, that's it. (muffled voice) Oh, yeah, and the most intelligent creatures on the planet are going to find you absolutely delicious."

I decided to base my list on songs that really celebrate rock and roll for what it is; a subversive, ass-kicking, stick-it-to-the-man, in-your-face, "My amplifier goes to eleven," form of musical expression.
I had to eliminate tunes with "Rock and Roll" in the title that were played by fringe rock and roll bands at best, like The Velvet Underground. I love the Velvet Underground, but they are about as rock & roll to me as say, The Cure, or Elvis Costello.

So, I had to rule out tunes like "I'm Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band" by the Moody Blues, and "So You Want to Be A Rock and Roll Star" by Tom Petty. While peripherally tunes about rock and roll, they do not speak to the true nature of what it means to bang your head and feel the power of guitar distortion. 

5) For Those About to Rock, AC/DC: How cool is it that those of us who have never served in the armed forces can still be saluted? This tune from the 1981 album of the same name features starts with lead singer, Brian Johnson, engaged with a little antiphonal (call and response) between himself and the band. The music is raw, heavy, heavily influenced by R& B guitar licks that are predictable, but tasty.

4) I Love Rock and Roll, Joan Jett: This tune feels nostalgic because her lyrics "I love rock and roll, so put another dime in the jukebox baby. I love rock n' roll, so come an' and take your time an' and dance with me" harkens back to a time when you could actually pay for tunes on the jukebox without having to take out your ATM card and take money out.

3) Rock and Roll MusicChuck Berry, Look, Chuck Berry is unequivocally the architect of rock and roll. There would be no rock guitar if it were not for Chuck Berry. Who would the Beatles cover, and Brian Wilson—of the Beach Boys—rip off if were not for Chuck Berry? He explains in the song how rock&roll has a backbeat, and if you want to dance with him, it has to be rock& roll music that you're listening to.

2) Long Live Rock, The Who: A tribute to rock and roll artists dead or alive, this tune mixes some honkey tonk, with good ole' fashion ass-kickin' rock and roll to reaffirm that rock and roll is here to stay.

1) Rock and Roll, Led Zepplin: Proof that when you spend enough time away from rock n' roll, you really need it. I feel this way every morning when I need my jazz fix. I have to sit down at the piano in the a.m. and unleash some demons. I spend and hour and a half playing tunes, improvising, and getting my daily therapy before I go out there and face the ever-increasing sarcasm of la vie quotidienne.


TRAINING:


Hey, guess what? My ass is IN gear and I am training hard again. This year, it does not appear that I will be facing some of the same kinds of stresses as previous seasons. Let me recap the last two seasons for you:

2009: My father passes away a day before his 81'st birthday. It came unexpectedly. This put a bit of a damper in my training. I ran the Musselman HIM less than two weeks later.

2010: Left a steady academic position I was in for ten years after completing my doctorate to take a one year position and pray that it would turn into something more permanent. It did. The stress of applying for gigs, and reapplying for my position left me spent and struggling to find time last season. Had an injury that kept me from running for about eight weeks. Oh, I decided to coach my son's baseball team last summer. What the hell was I thinking?

2011: Have some major writing to do this year. I have a couple of huge commissions on the burner that I have to get done. Unfortunately, I prefer writing and training in the morning. Finding balance is going to be difficult.


Coach Kelly has me hitting it pretty hard already. I like that. There is something to be said for ramping up slowly, but I really dislike waiting until, say, April to start having any significant long runs.

I did a 2800 yard swim yesterday, followed by an hour of interval work on the bike. I have also been doing some weight training this pre-season. I use to be a strength athlete and I trained pretty hard. I miss pumping iron, but it has been a really long time since I've bench pressed, or did dumbbell flys and my chest is absolutely killing me.

I think I am going to run a 5K this weekend. It will be fun to go out there and really test myself early. I have not run a 5K in years. Isn't that crazy? I have been more interested in running 10K's. Something about going out there and running fast enough to elicit vomiting really scares the hell out of me. A little vomiting never hurt anyone.

I was pretty excited about my recent heart rate test. After warming up for 15 minutes and doing 3 short 30-second intervals, I ran hard for twenty minutes. I remember reading something years ago that someone wrote about how to run faster. This coach once said, "in order to run faster, you need to run faster," and that is exactly what I did.


I have to admit, I don't envy all of you who live in warm-weathered locales who have to deal with heat and humidity all year round, but I am not excited about having to sit my ass on a trainer in my basement during the winter. Ugh!

More soon. Train Smart!





Training is going swimmingly. Pun intended.

04 December 2011

The Friday Top Five: The Top Five Things You Give Up When You Become A Parent

5) Being Cool: Although some parents try desperately to remain cool by declaring to all the world that  they would "would never be caught dead in a minivan," having an infant pee, poop, and vomit on you makes what type of ride you're rolling in the least of your problems. You have to worry about whether anyone at work can smell that vomit on your clothes because you were too tired to change them on account of staying up all night wondering why how your child will cry all evening for you then manage to sleep all afternoon when you need to run errands.

4) Listening to your music in the Car: I have tried desperately to indoctrinate my children to my musical aesthetic. It has worked for the most part. Sometimes, it is a little embarrassing. I mean, I remember my boys singing "Brass Monkey" at some pretty inopportune times as well. Now, my youngest wants to hear her Suzuki violin CD and everyone in the car will sing Lightly Row, Twinkle Little Star (to the rhythm of "Mississippi hotdog"—a personal favorite of mine). I have also listened to enough Disney tunes in the car with the kids that I have temporarily "misplaced" the CD... perhaps forever.

3) Reasoning: It is nearly impossible to try to reason with five year old. Their brains—although amazing sponges—do not function quite the same way as a fairly well-adjusted adult. I use "fairly adjusted" here, because, let's just face it, all of us are still recovering from the trauma of are dysfunctional childhoods. Children believe that are at the center of the universe and that everyone and everything should revolve around them. Forget trying to speak sensibly to a screaming toddler. What I have learned is that inconsolable screaming over
not having the right dinner fork or wrong socks to wear with their school clothes is usually a result of on of two things:

                        1) child is hungry
                        2) child is tired

Here is a diagram of how the average child thinks:


2) Sanity: Yeah, wifey and I left this at the turnstile long ago. (I am not even sure what that means). All I can attest to is that having young, fragile lives to take care of every second of the day is a daunting task. There are times when I have been so crazed trying to get the kids ready to do something that I leave the house without remembering to bring my computer, or lunch, or brain to work with me.

1) Sleeping In: Yeah, forget this completely. Sleeping in when you have small children means waking up past 7 a.m. I remember the first time we had to set a mandatory "sleep in" time with my oldest son. He came into our bedroom and climbed into bed with me and asked if we could go downstairs and play. It was 6:30. I said "No, buddy. We have to sleep until seven o'clock." He nestled in right next to me and went back to sleep.... or so I thought. As soon as the clock hit 7 a.m., he turned around with his
eyes wide open and said "Okay!  It's seven o'clock daddy, let's go downstairs!" Ugh!


Training: Training is going pretty well, as in I am finally training and not just cobbling together a bunch of half-assed workouts and feeling good about myself. Guilt has a way of turning the screw and

My recent delve back into the world of training/self-flaggalation has been directly linked to a few different factors:

1) I was tired feeling like out-of shape. If I intend on keeping my ridiculous Ironman like diet (which I have absolutely no intention of departing with), then I thought that perhaps I should start training more consistently. I am self-motivated, but I needed some time off to regroup after Rev3 Full Cedar Point to reassess what I wanted to focus on this season.

2) I have a coach. I am now trained by Coach Kelly over at T2Multisport. The cool part about training with Kelly is that I have known her for a long time. We went to graduate school together some.... hmm, 12 years ago!

3) Work: This semester has been incredibly crazy, not to mention the fact that we moved twice in the span of two months. We are settled now, but it made training insane.

I have some lower back pain that I have been wrestling with. I could not figure out where it was coming from. I thought that perhaps it was a result of bumping up the training again. Wifey's back has also been hurting her. We have been giving each other nightly massages. Bonus.

Last night I finally figured out where all my pain is coming from. I knew that is must be some movement that I have been doing because it is really localized. While I sit in my office, I often throw my feet up on top of a chair—as I am sometimes sitting in front of my computer for hours out of my day—and write. Last evening, I noticed that my torso was having to twist around to put my feet up and that the numerous hours I have spent in that position have caused a great deal of pain. It reminded me of when I was a graduate student at the Ithaca Conservatory and I spent the summer painting houses. I was young then (with more hair), and I spent hours on a ladder painting trim with my arm stretched over my head. I didn't notice anything at the time until the next morning when I got up and my neck was absolutely killing me.

The Rest:


My youngest has graduated to her first real violin after spending a few weeks on the noodle-roni box. So awesome! Watch out, Vanessa Mae!










01 December 2011

Lazer Awesomness! Tardiz Helmet Giveaway!

Friends! (Triathlon nerds and their supporters)

Amazing news. 

The fine folks over at Lazer have once again allowed me to giveaway another one of their super fast—and fashion conscious—Lazer Tardiz aero helmets. 

In case you missed my review of the Lazer Tardiz helmet you can find it here.

ontzagwekkend! (Dutch for awesome, at least according to Google)


I find this funny, given that the Dutch word for "Awesomeness" according to Google, is "awesomeness." But I digress. 


I decided that I wanted to do another giveaway via my blog because on any given day, about a quarter to half of the hits are from people going to the review of the Lazer helmet that I wrote. Surprisingly, I am unbelievably popular in Laos and Senegal. Who knew. 





I love my Lazer helmet. It is zeer comfortabel! 


So, here is the skinny:


1. Go to the Lazer website and then come back and leave a comment
telling me which Lazer Tardiz helmet design you like most AND when you would wear it. (1 entry)

2. Be a follower of my blog, leave a separate comment letting me know
who you are. (1 entry)

3. Become a fan of Lazer Helmets on Facebook. Leave a seperate
comment letting me know. (1 entry)

4. Post this contest on your blog, leave a separate comment letting me
know you've done so. (1 entry)




I will do a random drawing next Sunday, December 11th. 


Good luck!

19 November 2011

Blogs, Bambini, And Bonking And The Friday Top Five

Blogs:


It's not me, it's you. Really. 


Look, it's not that I don't love you, it is just that I need a better way of managing all of my fellow bloggers. Currently, I sift through ALL 170 of my dedicated followers and try to hit each of the blogs on a rotational basis. This proves tedious. What makes it tedious is that Blogger opens up this window with a link to their blog. Actually, often I can not even get a link to the blog. This is especially annoying when you would like to reciprocate the blog love you just received. Then, there are times that I get to these blogs, only to find out that they have since removed it, or they have not written a post in about three months. Still, much of the problem with not hitting everyone's blogs effectively lies in my inability to manage them. 


So!  I am open for suggestions on how to do this most effectively in Blogger. Any thoughts? Is there an effective way to make links to all the blogs that I read? I see blog menus at the top of some blogs that allow for the reader to easily click on a blog. This seems like it would take a computer science degree, or an especially large amount of time trying to figure out. 




Bambini:


Wifey and I have the best children in the world. Now, don't get me wrong. Just the other day, I was having lunch with my friend Kelly and I asked her if she ever wants to put a muzzle over her children's mouths because they drive her to the brink of insanity. I think we both agree, that while we love our children unconditionally, that we sometimes wish that our houses came with round cushioned sound proof rooms. 


However, while there is certainly a lot of insanity going around, they do manage to fill our lives with an unbelievable amount of joy and humor. Our children say the funniest things. For instance, yesterday morning, Stella looks over at wifey sitting at the kitchen table and says "Mommy.... daddy's triathlon stuff is all over the couch!"  I came home from work last week and Julian came running to the door telling me that he had a special performance that he and his sisters were going to perform for me and mommy that evening. The kiddies have two parents that are artists. They recently attended a concert that wifey and I were in in which I made a bunch of my own instruments and improvised on several instruments throughout the performance. Julian had decided that he was going to spend the day building his own set of musical instruments before I arrived home from work that evening. Check out a small part of the performance:


video




Bonking: 


I had a really rough run on Saturday morning. I went out for my usual 10k, but completely bonked at mile four. Like, as in, my heart rate was stratospheric. I think it was the result of: 1) Not being adequately hydrated. Imagine that. Me. Not adequately hydrated. The guy that went to the hospital twice—one of those times being personally chauffeured by my local volunteer ambulance service—over the span of five years. 2) Not enough rest. Yeah, not only had I not gone to bed early enough all last week, but I wake up far too early on account of our kids deciding that they want to make as much noise as humanly possible during the wee small hours of the morning. 


THE FRIDAY TOP FIVE:


The Friday Top Five: The Top Five Things That My Children's Generation Will Never Know:


I think every generation probably looks at the next and thinks how fortunate they are to never have the opportunity to be able to do things that they were able to experience. Those pioneer work ethic folks that grew up before the turn of the century probably felt bad for their children who would never know how to churn butter, live without indoor plumbing, and never experience the natural glow of gas lamps. Having grown up during the 1970's and 1980's, I am really a gen-exer. Thus, my list will represnt the poor taste and bias of a disillusioned generation having had to live through both bell-bottoms and Cyndi Lauper: 


5) The Adult Magazine: Look, whether for better or worse, one of the rites of passage for a teenage boy was the shame and humiliation they had to suffer going into an adult bookstore to get a glimpse, or purchase an adult magazine. With the proliferation of pornography on the internet, it seems that those days no longer exist. 


4) Vinyl: I was part of the last generation of teenagers going out to purchase albums. I always chose albums over tapes. My friends thought I was crazy, but there were two reasons for this:


1) Album art is pretty kick-ass. They either have to scale everything down to fit on a tape cover—or CD for that matter—or completely eliminate some of the material. That is lame. Album covers were sometimes provocative, humorous, or grotesque. Whatever the case, when I was a teenager, I would spend hours in a record store looking at the cover art of albums. It was my way of getting my artistic fix if I was unable to actually purchase the album, which was most often the case. 

2) You could always tape the album as soon as you brought it home. I had this crazy idea that I could tape all my albums and when one of the tapes started wearing out, then I could just record it on another tape, thus, preserving the life of my album. 


3) Arcades: Sure, arcades still exist, but not like they did back when I was growing up. Games were generally only a quarter to play. About ten years ago, a bunch of high-priced arcade/bars starting opening up in large, trendy metropolitan areas around the country selling  "points" on cards depending on how much of your hard earned money you were willing to part with. Wifey and I went to one of these places. After putting just $5 on our card, we realized that was only good for, hmmm, two games. I remember going to the mall as a teenager with a couple of dollars. That was my afternoon. It was usually a combination of Joust, Dig Dug, and Galaga. I really had to pace myself with my two dollars, otherwise I would be watching other people play for the remainder of my afternoon. I would have to comb the mall visiting Spencer Gifts, looking at posters of Samantha Fox and nameless poster models in scantily clad clothing with my friends. 


The games today are ridiculously sophisticated. When I was learning how to play Mario Kart a couple of years ago with my boys, I found the learning curve really steep. It moves fast. For the life of me, I can not understand how more people are not suffering from neurological disorders as a result of prolonged exposure to these psychedelic video game experiences. 


Nowadays, kids can sit indoors, all day on their Wii's, Crackstations, or other video gaming devices. As if nerds were not isolated enough, now nerds sit on their couch all day eating crap and playing video games, because mom and dad do not want to bother being parents. Look, I am not defending video games at all, but at least when I was a kid, we would have to stand to play them. More, we actually interacted with other nerdy kids about the best way to defeat that bad dude on the fifth screen of Kung Fu Master. 


There was recently an exhibit at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, of on hundred old video games like Tron (my personal favorite), Pole Position, Bezerk, Defender, etc. The exhibit was so popular–especially with nerds that fall into my demographic–that they actually purchased the exhibit. Do you realize that we will be the first generation of octogenarians playing Madden?

2) Pay Phones/Phones with Cords: I will never forget the first time I realized that I had to actually bite the bullet and purchase a cellular phone. It was gigantic and had an antennae that I had to pull up. I actually remember rotary phones. 


1) Rock and Roll: The only way my children will ever understand what rock and roll is will be my me playing it and talking to them about it. There are no rock bands anymore. Seriously. Can you name one? A rock band. You know... like The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zeppelin. I had a conversation with one of my classes the other day about how we are still talking about Led Zeppelin forty years later. How many bands from their generation do you think will be current forty years from now? We will look back on Maroon Five and Dave Matthews as horrible sociological experiments. The idea of rock and roll being dead brings up an even more interesting question. How will we ever experience the work of The Who again? 


In modern dance, there exists several repertory companies that keep the work of seminary figures in the modern dance world alive, such as Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Jose Limon, and Merce Cunningham. Are there going to be Rock and Roll repertory companies, or are we only going to know what theses bands sound like from video and audio performances? 


Training:


Okay, we have some unbelievable, unseasonably warm weather here in western New York. The sun has been shining all weekend with temperatures approaching the 60's!  In late November! Ah, global warming does have its perks. I start my official season training on Monday. Can not wait. Looking forward to getting the official ball rolling.


 More soon. Train Smart!

18 November 2011

The Friday Top Five: The Five Worst 80's Artists


Remember the 1980's? I do. Skinny leather ties, John Hughes films (I was no-so-secretly in love with Molly Ringwald), leg warmers worn over jeans, Atari, and Garbage Pail Kids (wifey still has a huge mint collection of them in the basement). Those were among some of the coolest trends that transpired from an era that gave rise to the perm and copious amounts of Aqua Net hair spray. It was sometimes difficult to distinguish the faces of many of the girls in my high school because the feathered bangs and porcupine-like hairdos negated their faces. 

To be fair, there were some cool things that emerged  from  the 1980's. The 1980's were the golden years of both New Wave and Hip Hop. Bands like New Order, Depeche Mode, Elvis Costello and Art of Noise (named after the famous Luigi Rusollo manifesto of 1913) meant that nerdy keyboard players who previously got no love from screaming coeds attending their concerts, were now nerdy keyboard players that still got no love from screaming coeds, but were at the cutting edge of popular culture. It was this decade that invited a whole generation of white middle class suburban kids to wear baggy pants and imitate the subversive underground hip hop culture that was emerging by adopting the gesticulations and jargon of artists like RUN DMC and LL Cool J. The 80's ushered a new dance style of movement referred to as breakdancing. With Breakin' II: Electric Boogaloo as my inspiration, I spent countless hours perfecting my moonwalk  and windmill. I am proud to say that I can still throw it down and in the same awkward way nearly thirty years later. 

There was, however, some really terrible music that emerged during this era. Listed below are the top five songs that I am embarrassed to even say I know. If these artists were never to happen, I think the musical landscape of the 1980's would be a far better place:

#5) Mister Mister: Yeah, so take those broken wings and fly the heck out of here, because that song is wickety-wack. What made this band most possibly most embarrassing was the post-Bing Crosby-crooner-like lyricism that said "I am trying to be Steve Perry, but I am just not that cool." Interestingly enough, the band members all went on to have pretty decent careers in music afterwards, writing hit songs for artists like Madonna, Whitesnake, and Rod Stewart. However, lead guitarist and bassist, Richard Page, released a Christmas EP in 2010. Christmas albums are the official death of an artist's career. 

#4) Night Ranger: This San Francisco based pop-rock band quintet's most popular radio hit was the power  ballad "Sister Christian" which peaked at #5 in 1984. They are still doing it after all these years. Nice, old guys in leather pants. Move over Loverboy!

#3) Toad the Wet Sprocket: Years ahead of their time, I like to define them as the slightly less sophisticated Dave Matthews Band of their generation. You know, really Wonderbread. I am sure that the same things that made their music attractive to scores of soccer playing teenagers in the 80's are also what make Dave Matthews attractive to this generation of musically misinformed college coeds. 
Oh, you Dave Matthews apologists, don't get me started. So many of my students ask, "Yeah, but they are such talented musicians, right?" They might be, but Yngwie Malmsteen has great facility on the guitar, but he is still embarrassing. I am not going to front. I own a CD though. 

#2) Richard Marx: Did you know that his debut album yielded four hit singles and went on to sell four million copies? Don't even pretend like you did not rock it out in your mom's minivan to "Don't Mean Nothing," and I am quite confident his "Hold on to the Nights"track made it onto that mix tape you made the girl you were going to spend the rest of your life with in ninth grade. His second album, Repeat Offender, knocked Prince off of the number one position. Prince!  Who is cool and can play his proverbial ass off! Repeat Offender went triple platinum in a number of months and eventually went on to sell five million albums. Blame it on the emergence of Gangsta' rap, but unfortunately Rick never attained the same level of success he enjoyed with his first two albums. In 2006, he appeared on the Fox television show "Celebrity Duets." Although the Fox network is known for its quality programming like Who Want to Marry a Multi-Millionaire, appearing on a Fox reality television show is kind of like making a Christmas album—the kiss of death.

#1) Rick Astley: Rick Astley falls into the category of artists whose songs all sound the same. Among the artists belonging to the dedicated club of making all of their music sound the same are ZZ Top, Dave Matthews Band, and Howard Jones. The best thing that Rick Astley has contributed to popular culture is the "Rick-Rolling" phenomenon. He defines the quintessential white man dance. 







Who are your bottom five?

TRAINING:

We have all been there as athletes. You know, those times during the year when you are trying to compress the six million things that you want to do into a 24-hour period. What is up with this rotation of the earth being so quick? I have to admit though, now that we have been dealing with 24-hour days our whole life, it makes the idea of even having a slightly longer day confusing, and possibly, downright problematic. I mean. have you considered how perfect our clocks look with five numbers nestled on either side of those hemispheres between the twelve and the six? What would it look like to have even one more hour on that clock? Yeah, clearly not right.

My training the past couple of weeks have been pretty decent. The guilt of taking some downtime and continuing to eat as if I were still training for an iron distance event has caught up to me. To be honest, I clearly have to start training my proverbial ass off again, because I am not about to give up my 3500 calorie pancake breakfast with real New York State male syrup anytime soon. I have started to Rev my engines once again and start thinking about next season. My work-induced "downtime" during the month of October has officially left me hungry for more pool time and long runs.

It is shaping up to be a beautiful weekend here in western New York. I might get out for my last November ride of the season this weekend. Almost all the way through November and still no snow!

More soon. Train Smart!

29 October 2011

Pardon The Interruption....

Yeah, so, I am not even going to "front" (as those of who are truly in touch with our hip hop sensibilities like to say).  I have been absent. I will spare you the details, but let me just say this:

We've moved.

Have you ever moved?

Have you ever moved with children?


Moving with the bambini was like trying to herd cats.

The picture above is is a view from our deck looking out at the lake in the morning. I get to roll out of bed every morning to this spectacular view. Talk about motivation! It is just there, calling me down. If we did not have winter here eight months out of the year, why would I ever do laps at the pool? This "waterfront"—although the actual waterfront is a wee bit father than it looks—is nothing new for us. Heck when we moved into our first house eleven years ago we had a teeny, tiny retaining pond in our backyard for the the development behind us. Eleven years later

We moved twice in the span of a month. Who does that, or more importantly, why did we do this?

Well, as we were waiting to close on our new house, and start the kids at their new school, we thought it would be a good idea not to live in our van down by the river, er, or lake in this case. It really came down to wifey and me not wanting to start the kiddies in there previous school and have to move them after a month. I know it seems crazy to some, but we thought it might have been a bit more difficult, especially given the fact that our twins were starting full-day kindergarten. The amazing thing about our children is that they just rolled with everything. Perhaps it is the fact that they are so close in age, but they were barely phased by the chaos the last month. When we moved into the house we rented from one of my colleagues, the kids were outside riding their bikes around the block, immediately making new friends.

Needless to say, the month following Rev3 has been absolosmurfly insane. Thus, I am just getting into the swing of training again. My new neighborhood provides the perfect triathlon training ground as far as I am concerned. I have a brutal 4.5, 7, and 9 mile loop that have me running up hills that I literally have to pump myself up for minutes before arriving. I can not make any excuses for taking a little time off, other than the fact that I have been a bit physically and mentally spent from the pace at work. Of course, if I don't train, I get a little lethargic and am not as efficient at work as I should be. When I swim during the afternoons and head back to my office, I am incredibly productive.

Speaking of swimming, the women's swim team invited me to start practicing with them, which of course, I graciously accepted. I think they all secretly enjoy kicking my ass, but you would never know it. They are incredibly encouraging all the time. Why don't I work out with them men's team? We don't have one. Needless to say, I am currently the slowest "honorary member" on the team.

I am still "unpacking" from Rev 3 Cedar Point and looking forward to another season under the fearless leadership of Mama Bear herself, Carole Sharpless. My nephew, Nicholas seeded me this video in a torrent file a couple of weeks ago.

Our fearless team leader, Carole Sharples interview 1/2. You'll understand after seeing this double feature, why Carole is well-suited to lead a team with so many personalities—she has multiple personalities herself:

video
















I have some other big news for 2012 coming soon. Stay tuned!

20 September 2011

Rev 3 Race Report

Well, I had to sit down and finally write this report. I am not sure if this will be a race report or an online therapy session for me. I am still psychologically recovering form my race. I think this one is really going to take a while because I thought I was on the verge of doing something spectacular for me. A lot of friends have supported me this week by telling me "we've all been there." Unfortunately, this does not really make it any better.

Really, this is the tale of two races for me: the one until mile 10 of the marathon, and the one after mile 10 of the marathon.

I taught Friday morning. My nephew, Nicholas (who was incredibly supportive the whole weekend even as he was making his documentary film about my whole experience) came to my class Friday morning. My class ended at 11:05 and we made our way downtown to eat some breakfast before departing for the weekend.

I stayed pretty relaxed the car ride to Sandusky, Ohio—the site for the Rev3 Full race. It is about a five and a half hour car ride. The only thing that was troublesome for me about the trip is that my nephew packed the back of his Subaru Forester like he was going on an excursion across the Americas for a undetermined amount of time. He packed several cameras, a tripod, clothes for every conceivable natural disaster, and enough homemade chocolate chip cookies to make the Keebler elves envious. The ironic part is that Nicholas also has the family "vain gene" which necessitated him a black tank top most of the time. My bike was also IN the car with us, so I could not really put my set back to ever stretch out my legs. Being 6'2" has some slight disadvantages.

I ate great all weekend. By great I mean a lot of carbohydrates a lot of the time. It was as if I had died and gone to Italian Culinary Heaven. Friday night, a bunch of Trakker teammates and friends got together for some good food and conversation. I was feeling pretty relaxed. Nicholas and I got to our hotel around 9:30, put on my Recovery Pump, and decided to call it a night.

Saturday morning, a bunch of Trakkers teammates went out to the shores of Lake Erie (and do I mean erie!) to spray athletes down with "Magic in a Bottle," otherwise known as TriSlide. I had strict instructions from Coach Mary to stay off of my feet as much as possible. Luckily, my awesome teammate Kelly was there to make sure that I was diligent about this.

The Race:

Transition: 

Unknowingly, this is where everything started to go completely wrong.

I felt really relaxed. I filled up my aero bottle, pumped my race tires. I headed out to the beach with Kelly's husband, Kelly. Here we are getting ready to head out on the beach race morning. Yup, those are the pants I wore. I was warm, and I match. What can I say. MC Hammer would approve. The only thing that completely messed me up was that when I got out to the actual beach near the start, I had suddenly realized—with less than twenty minutes before the actual start—that I forgot to take all the nutrition out of my backpack and into my swim to bike bag. Not good. Needless to say, I got the nutrition in the bag. Let's just leave it at that. I am confident that there were several USAT rule violations happening that magically made my nutrition appear in my bag at transition. I put on my wetsuit and got into the water for a little swim. This is a picture of the view the entire swim:
I am not exaggerating a little bit. I could literally not see an inch in front of my eyes. Perhaps this was the reason that my heart rate spiked and I thought I might drown on the way out to the first buoy. Or, perhaps I was completely psyching myself out. I have never swam a more physical swim than this. All the way out to the first buoy, I was being hammered, pulled, dragged, kneed, slapped, and moved. Of course, I would be lying if I did not admit to moving a few bodies aside to get to where I needed to go. 

Once I got past the first buoy, it was clear sailing. I got into a rhythm and felt pretty good... I even kicked a little. A little. 


My swim time last year was 1:24:57. I definitely had a better swim. 

My bike time improved as well. Last year my course average was 19.16, and I biked a 19.26 this year.  I even biked a faster split despite the fact that I stopped during special needs to grab two water bottle—something that I did not do last year.  The bike was fine, except for the fact that about 40 miles in I suffered some unbearable pain that I had not experienced biking all season. REALLY?! Does this have to happen NOW?   The pain was shooting from what I believe is my IT band straight down to the right side of my right knee. I do not know that I would have necessarily biked any faster (although I would like to think I could have), but being free from the pain would have made the next seventy miles of the bike a heck of a lot more enjoyable. 

I did make a critical error on the bike and that was that I started drinking Gatorade more than I usually do. Even as it was going down, it is a lot more sugary than my First Endurance. I am not use to it. I had brought two bottles of EFS on the bike with me and picked up another two bottles during Special Needs, but I dropped a bottle somewhere—who knows where it is now—on the bike and was without my last bottle of EFS for the last hour of the ride. 




Okay, The End.


Dammit, there's more!

Yeah, so, again let me just state the obvious: I'm an idiot. I started out feeling really good on the run. I walked every aid station fueling up. I guess this is where I made my second mistake. I brought a bunch of EFS mix with me in my Fuel Belt that I did not end up drinking. The reason why escapes me. I guess I was feeling so good that I did not bother to do everything that I trained with that got me to this point. I was effectively changing my game plan midway through the run. I was maintaining 10:00 minute miles throughout the run until I got to mile 10. All of a sudden, I started feeling reall, REALLY nauseous. I was not dizzy, I just felt like I was going to hurl. I looked down on my Garmin and I was at mile 10 somewhere around 1:35. I knew right there that it was going to take hurling, or a miracle to start feeling better. I was optimistic that I would feel better soon. Unfortunately, my optimism did not last long. I got to mile 13 and had to sit down. My body was dehydrated and exhausted. Wonderful!  I knew my "race" was over. Then it happened. I started puking between mile 14 and 15 of the run. I thought I would feel better immediately. Not the case. Around mile 18, I sat underneath a tree to get some rest and contemplate the meaning of life. In about 20 seconds, I was surrounded by volunteers and medical staff asking me if I was alright. They took my vitals and said my blood pressure was running a bit low (100/60) and my oxygen was about 88%. I figured that had to be about right since my muscles were probably using every bit of it. They offered to take me to the hospital or to the finish line. I knew one thing. I might not have the race I intended on having, but there was NO WAY I was NOT getting a FINISHER T-SHIRT!

From that point on, I knew that this race was all about the t-shirt. I can honestly say that I have never worked harder for a t-shirt in my entire life than I did at Rev3 Cedar Point Full on September 11, 2011! The good news? I DID get that awesome t-shirt. I am now a two-time Rev3 Full Finisher, and although I did not have the race I had anticipated, or that I know in my heart I still have in me, I learned a lot this season from my coach. She should definitely shoot me for not implementing the game plan come race day though. I had a great time amongst friends, teammates, and my wonderful nephew Nicholas who spent part of his vacation with his uncle Mark. I think that was the greatest part of the whole experience. Nicholas and I got to share some really special time together. He was so encouraging the whole time we spent together.

I am retiring from Iron distance racing for the foreseeable future. I have children to raise, and music and performances to work toward. I will continue to race with nothing more than a half-Rev3 in my future. I know this sounds sick, but I will miss the training. What's wrong with me?


Since the Ironman diet is still in full effect, I think I better get out there again and start swimming, biking, and running. I just did a swim with Musselman race director Jeff Henderson. We swam in Seneca Lake sans wetsuits on Sunday morning. Holy smokes, was that water cold!  I swam fast.

Thanks to all of my Trakkers teammates and friends who encouraged me to cross that finish line... run, walk, or crawl!



02 September 2011

Ground Control To Major Tom: Countdown to Rev 3 Cedar Point

T-Minus 10 9 days and COUNTING.

I've realized a some things:

1) With ten days left to go, I should probably book my hotel for Rev3Full Cedar Point. I am NOT kidding. This is just how I have to roll. I know... I know... how long does it take to book a hotel room? Look guys, I have FIVE kids. I might be sleeping in a tent outside on the beach before the race. The good news? The walk to the swim start will not be far.

2) I am nervous— way more nervous than I was before my first attempt at this distance. Why is that? I think it is a combination of having some sort of expectation of how I should do now after having one iron distance race under my belt, and being scared to death of how much pain I will be in at mile 15 of the run.

3) There is no substitute for sleep.

4) I have little time for sleep between now and Rev3

5) I will sleep when I'm dead. It's overrated anyway.

6) I have got the best job on the planet. Really. I came in to work the other day with this name plate on my door.

7) Blog posts tend to get less long and less funny the closer it gets to Rev3 Full Cedar Point. Some inverse relationship thing. I am not a mathematician. I don't know.

8) There are only 10 kinds of people in the world. Those that understand binary, and those who do not.

9) I received a new t-shirt in the mail the other day. None of my friends really understood it. Even those who have raced the distance. Do they teach periodic tables in school anymore? Is it just me or is my head a little fuzzy? Must be taper week.

10) David Bowie, although very cool, androdgynous, and quite svelte in leather, has absolutely nothing to do with this blog post.

Oh, one last thing.... my CRAZY friend Alexa just wrote  a HYSTERICAL post about our Iron distance  showdown here. I have some serious reservations concerning some of the rhetoric in her post though. Allow me to unpack a little:

#1) Alexa claims that as a full-time professor I have my summers off. That could not be further from the truth. First of all, five kids does not allow you to ever have your summers off. In fact, going to work at the end of the summer is like going on vacation. Don't judge me, those of you with children know what I'm talking about.

#2) Alexa wrote a list of advantage/disadvantages to handicap our showdown. What was interesting is that she said because I am a man, I have an advantage. Her argument for this was that no matter how fast Chrissie Wellington is, she will never beat a male pro. I am not sure I buy this argument. No... no, in fact I know I do not buy this argument. First off, you can not compare elite, pro triathletes to a couple of age-groupers with real jobs and responsibilities outside the world of triathlon. Secondly, I think the REAL comparison should be AGE, which is completely ignored in Ms. Harding's post. Alexa is a at least a decade younger. Sure, you could point at kick-ass age-groupers in their 50's and 60's and say age does not matter, but it does. Not to mention, that most of them (old fast men and women) have been going faster for longer than either one of us.

#3) Alexa has got one thing right. We both can be loud, but if it were a competition, she has me beat by a long shot. We both have decent abs and we are not embarrassed to wear as little clothing as possible to let people know that we've suffered long, hard hours for our statuesque ancient Greek-like physiques.

#4) If I win, it will be the upset of the millennium. It would be like Frazier beating Ali, the Buffalo Bills winning at least one Superbowl against a superior opponent, or the coyote finally catching that ever-elusive Roadrunner. Whatever the case, I am going out there to kick-ass and have the time of my life, again!

Today is my anniversary, I am going to celebrate with wifey tonight. I've been together eleven years with my best friend. You are awesome wifey. Thanks for all of your support this year!

More from Rev3 soon!

Train Smart!

21 August 2011

The Friday Top Five: Top Five Things I Love About Training For Rev3 Cedar Point Full

Do you know why it's Sunday and I am posting the Friday Top Five today?!  Because I am convinced my coach is trying to kill me. Honestly, I am not sure what I did to piss her off....

I think that working with a coach has has made one thing glaringly obvious this year: I had NO idea what the heck I was doing last year when I trained on my own. NOW, that is NOT to say that you can not train your proverbial ass off and race well. I really believe that for people with no time to set up workouts or, more importantly, asses the data from your workouts in any meaningful way, I would highly recommend going this route. The other problem with assessing your own data is that it is much too easy to lie to yourself about why you are not performing at a high level.

Without further adieu....

Top Five Things I Love About Training For Rev3 Cedar Point Full

5) PERSPECTIVE: Training for the Rev3 full provides perspective on what is really important. Training for the full distance is time-consuming. If I do not get my ass out of bed and up at five in the morning for a 6 hour ride, it CAN NOT happen. Why?  Playing catch with my boys, building legos with the bambini, or coloring pictures with my girls pays more dividends down the road than beating my last Iron distance time by an hour. Not to mention that staying gainfully employed means making sure I don't substitute training for say, syllabus design.

4) COACH MARY: Seeing steady progress in my swim and run are exciting. Coach Mary is the ultimate jedi-f-ing-Master. I am not sure how I arrived at this level of fitness after not running for 8 WEEKS, but I am excited that I am not hurting anymore and running fairly solid. I learned a lot this season about training, pacing, nutrition (and Coach Mary learned something about my nutrition plan.... I call it the "Olivieri Small Panini Plan, or just O.S.P.P. for short). Don't worry, I'll explain my "untraditional" nutrition plan in a future post. 

The progress has not been limited to the bike. I have done several hour swims in open water the last few weeks. I am swimming as fast this season sans wetsuit as I was swimming last year WITH my wetsuit. If that is not improvement....

After a few long rides in some rolling hills, I also appreciate how quickly my bike fitness improves. I went out for a ride on a course I have ridden a bunch of times. I was scheduled for an easy hour zone two ride the other day. Something about hitting hills makes going into that westerly New York wind a heck of a lot easier.

3) ELITISM: There is no substitute for that totally elitist, self-rightous feeling that comes after finishing an long run before seven or eight in the morning. I also enjoy casually mentioning the fact that I "just rode six hours today, now I am going to the pool with my family for the rest of the afternoon." Sure, snobbery is not attractive. If you want to truly come off as being an elitist, you have to be (or at least pretend) that you are totally aloof to the fact that you are acting like Thurston Howell. 

No one looks better in spandex than a disproportionate
Barbie. 
2) SPANDEX: Look, if I have to wear it to race, I better have the svelte, rippled physique of a seventeen year old Swedish downhill skier (even I am not sure how I arrived there with that one, but go with it). Sure, my wife makes fun of me because of my 80's aerobic attire, but if I need to wear spandex—and, boy do I ever—I might as well be in my best physical shape of the year. 

1) FOOD: Consuming over 10,000 calories on any given day is both fun and annoys the heck out of many of my friends. It is only during Iron distance training that I can somehow justify eating half of a sheet pizza, drinking a gigantic chocolate milkshake, and having a bowl of ice cream for an evening snack.





RANDOM CRAZINESS:

Building over the past couple of weeks has been both EXciting and EXhausting. I can barely log my workouts for Coach Mary because as soon as I get home from a six hour ride, my kids ask me to go on a bike ride with them. I look at them suspiciously, but then I remember that they are way too young to lay on the sarcasm that thickly.

• Yesterday after my ride, Julian asks me "...when I get older, can I have your  Kestrel so I can beat me you at Ironman.

I said, "Julian, what makes you think you are going to beat me at Ironman?" He replied, "Dad, I am really fast, and you will be older."

• I remember when going out for a 10k, an hour bike, and a 1000 yard swim seemed like crazy long distances to have to traverse. I have an hour bike tomorrow and I am like "thank goodness!"

Okay, that's all for now. Looking forward to seeing all my Trakkers teammates and blogger buddies at REV3 Cedar Point in 20 DAYS!

Train Smart!

11 August 2011

Ramping Up For Rev 3 And Watching Rugrats Run

I had a really great build week last week thanks to the fine art of torture planning Coach Mary laid out for me. I had a great six hour ride on Saturday through some hills followed by a nice 30 minute run. All said and done, it was nearly 4800 feet of climbing. Now, I know it is not nearly as much as I would do if I lived, say, in Colorado, but it is pretty darn good for western New York.

I learned a couple of things around mile 90 of my 110 mile bike ride:

1) My sense of humor severely diminishes after mile 90.

2) I want "real people" food after 90 miles, like pizza, or a cheeseburger.

3) TriSlide is an essential part of any 6 hour bike ride.

4) My nutrition plan going into this year's REV3 Cedar Point is far better than I experienced last year. I will be consuming copious amount (at least a bottle per hour) of grape EFS.

Hopefully this will all pay off with a FUN day at REV3 Cedar Point. I am really starting to look forward to the race, despite all the craziness of trying to prepare classes for the fall semester.

I had a swim a one hour swim the other day—with another one scheduled here shortly—that I completely rocked. I mean, check it out.... my top speed was 121 mph. Take THAT Michael Phelps! Not to mention, I did over 2600 feet of climbing on my swim. That is surely unprecedented. When forced to explain how this is even possible to wifey, I told her that I would start underneath the horizon and continually swim back into shore. A canoe would bring me back out and I would repeat. Wifey rolled her eyes and said something about being an idiot. I am not sure. I really was not listening.

Last Thursday wifey and I took the bambini out for a "fun run" that is sponsored by one of the local running clubs. They offered for events for the kiddies: the 100 meter, quarter mile, half mile, and mile. Everyone wanted to try running. Below is a picture of my girls just before the race and a picture of Stella showing of her race bib.

The "race" organizers had all the events back to back. The kids maybe got three to five minutes between races to rest and enjoy their delicious popsicles. Our one daughter, Janina, ran all of the races. She won 100 meter and did pretty well in the quarter—considering she is just five years old. She must have her mother's genetics. Everyone did awesome and had such a blast. Luca surprised wifey and I by going out super fast in the 800. We thought he was going to throw up, but he managed to stride out the middle 200 yards and sail easily past the finish line relatively upright. Tonight, he is going to attempt to run the mile. Luca is as competitive as his old man. He gets distraught when I beat him at chess. He said he wants to come in first. I reminded him that these runs are not timed—they are just about going out and having fun running—to which he replied, "...yeah, I know, but I want to win the fun run." I was proud and tearful for a moment.
The first video is of the 100 meter. This was hysterical. You can see my daughter in the right hand corner in purple pass quickly past the camera, but watching Stella run is absolutely wonderful.

video
video

Heading out this weekend for another six hour ride and 30 minute run. I would like to thank Recovery Pump for ensuring that I am still able to run, let alone walk, on Sunday!
More soon. Train Smart!

03 August 2011

A Triathlete's Manifesto: CAN!

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine


Fight Cancer

Beat Cancer

Last One Picked In Gym Class

To Let My Children Know That Anything Is Possible

The T-Shirt

Challenge Myself

There are thousands of athletes that train for triathlons every year. Everyone has something that motivates them. I have heard every reason why people dedicate so much time to go out there on a weekend, spend your heard earned dough, and beat the hell out of yourself for a few hours. 

Lately, I have been getting a lot of questions asked by people—especially family—why I do what I do. 

Do I have something to prove?  Nope. I ran Rev3 Full last year. I know I am capable of doing the mileage. 

So, why the hell do I subject myself to a part-time job that I will never get paid for? 

Those of us who do it, understand why. It is not really a choice. 

It is a lifestyle. 

Like the "choice" to become a composer. It was not really a choice. I had an involuntary urge to want to be accompanied by music all the time. It was not that I "chose" to be a composer, but rather, it chose me. I can never stop thinking about music—it is in my head all the time. I write daily, I play daily. I write music because it is my passion and I have to do it. Whatever it is I do, I want to do it an an exceptionally high level. I think that is one thing I have noticed about triathletes. I have not met too many athletes who race triathlon that are complete slackers outside of that world. Everyone I  know are incredibly hard-working human beings who work hard in every aspect of their lives—whether it is parenting, their careers, scholarship, academics, or their athletic endeavors. I have noticed that triathlon does have a tendency to attract people who are incredibly goal-oriented. That is a good thing, right? Even when I was tending bar in college, I asked myself "what can I do to maximize my tips?" No, Kelly, I did not take off my shirt. Despite what you think, I have worn a shirt more this summer than I have been without one.
There are few things I dislike more than people who say things like "...I just don't have the time," "...we can't do that. It's not possible." 

I have never understood—nor will I ever—understand the notion that something is not possible. How is THAT possible?!

I have worked with people who have given me this line. I would rather work with people who try to find ways to do the seemingly impossible rather than resign themselves to some imaginary notion that they can not do something. 

I see people overcome enormous obstacles everyday. Forget about triathlon. I look at heroic people—ordinary people—with live with physical disabilities, chronic pain, even terminal illnesses—who do not resign themselves to limitations imposed upon them by the words of others, or by their own bodies. Those who live with these "limitations" somehow muster up the courage to summon superhuman will—not allowing their brain to listen when the body says "quit, now," "you're tired," "you can't do this." These people are fighters. They are winners. They are inspiration for me. I think of the story of Dick and Rick Hoyt. If you don't know their story yet, I dare you to watch this video without getting choked up. 

Why do I train? For me, I get little satisfaction out of the physicality of the sport. I mean, I don't wake up in the morning and say "Alright! I am super-psyched about my one hour open water swim and 45-minute training run today!" Okay, I do like to be out there hitting it hard, and I do love the feeling that I have after accomplishing a ride/run/swim, but to me, the more attractive part of triathlon is the mental component. Anyone who puts in the time to train can run a successful triathlon at any distance. By "successful" here, I mean that they can finish. Qualifying for Kona is not an option unless you are genetically predisposed, work your ass off, and, alas, MAKE TIME!

When friends say they don't have time to a man with five children, a full-time job, and a ton of projects constantly on the burner, I feel like I should have a free pass to just punch them in the face. For the record, my wife feels this way too. However, I am not a violent man, and the passive-aggresive route is so transparent to anyone with a brain. But, I do ask, "Is it that you don't have time, or you are just not interested in making time for that?" I have friends that are casual runners. Some even will run the occasional half marathon. One of my friends gets out to run two days a week—once during the week, and one "long" run on the weekend.  I always wonder (aloud), why don't you do more running during the week?

"I don't have the time to train."  

Let me translate what that really means: I am NOT motivated/interested in improving my run. I am okay with being mediocre. There are other things in my life that are more important to me. 

OKAY—I get that!  But, don't say you do not have time to train. I have gone for runs this season at 5:30 in the morning and 11 p.m. at night. I fit it where I can. I also do not run merely to train. I run for my sanity. If I don't run, I become a very irritable person. I need it to help clear the cobwebs, and to escape from the sometimes harsh and brutal realities of la vie quotidienne. 

So, back to the mental part. That is the most difficult. Finding the will. You know, there are days that I just DO NOT want to go outside, I do not want to do it. This has been especially true the last couple of weeks in western New York as temperatures have consistently been in the low-90's, and the humidity can only be described as "brutal." I feel for my blogger buddies like Jeff and Anne who remind me that they live in that weather eleven and a half months out of the year. In the end, I know that if I don't go outside and start training that I am going to feel worse for it later. I am going to be grumpy, tired, lethargic, and filled with guilt (I getter over the guilt thing pretty quickly though, I must say). 

TRAINING: I am currently in the middle of a build week. Everything has been going pretty well. I am biking and swimming where I think I should be. My runs have seemed a bit flat this week, but it could be because of the unbelievably oppressive heat and humidity (I'm blushing Jeff). The asphalt was well over a hundred degrees on my 45 minute run the other day. When I was done, it felt like I ran through a sprinkler. 

I have a monster 6-hour ride this weekend. Yikes. I am going to try to hit a very hilly course. I will probably post the course here when I am done. If I am still alive. 

More soon. Train Smart!