01 February 2012

Vegans, Beer 4-Packs, And Training!

"If God didn't want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat.?" — Homer J. Simpson

As much as I love Israeli couscous and quinoa, I start salivating like Pavlov's dog at the mere thought of a strip steak. 

I do not really understand vegetarianism, let alone, vegans. I have listened to arguments about health benefits of vegetarianism for years from good friends who swear by it. I understand ideological vegans and vegetarians, but some can be a bit judgmental and militant towards us omnivores. My wife recently found herself in the middle of a heated Facebook exchange (as heated and serious as one can take a Facebook exchange) with a vegan who could not appreciate my wife's ignorance for ruining the world by eating animals. All I have to say to this is ... really? 

Do you drive a car? Do you put gas in it? A bicycle? Does it have parts that were manufactured in a factory? Do you make your own clothing? Oh, you do? From hemp? What do you use to sew it? A sewing machine? A needle manufactured in a factory in China? Unless an ideological vegan is prepared to live off the grid, eat only local ingredients, make their own clothes, dig their own wells, and live without indoor plumbing, please do not judge my wife. Or, if you do, prepare to be judged yourself. Pick your battles. I do not often stand atop the soap box, but I really get irked by the shortsightedness and hypocritical thinking by some folks. 

All I know is that after 3000 yards in the pool, or by mile 10 of a long run, I start visualizing and smelling cheeseburgers.

This can not be a coincidence.

Speaking of the pool, I had a really great second swim test this past week. I guess I should preface by saying I have never been a really efficient swimmer. I have only been swimming as long as I have been doing triathlons, which is six seasons. Before beginning triathlons, I was the guy who use to swim flinging his head from side to side keeping it above the water, or bury my face in the water and kick like hell and fling my arms in front of me with the hope that I might be getting somewhere quickly. What the hell was I thinking?

But I digress...

I shaved 18 seconds off my previous 400 time trial time. 18 seconds!

1 went from a 7:15's, all the way down to two consecutive 6:57's. That is good improvement for me.

The crazy part is that I feel that my effort has not nearly been as hard. I have learned how to re-relax in the pool while I am swimming. As a musician, I can attest to there being some similarities between performing on your instrument and training. As a pianist performing concert repertory, you have to make a conscious effort to continue to relax while you are playing—especially difficult passages. Improvisation can be even more mentally demanding. It is is one thing to play repertory form the printed page, but it is a completely different thing to compose "on the spot" in front of an audience while you are performing jazz. Nothing really prepares you for that like practicing technique and understanding the theory of jazz improvisation, but relaxation is key to this as well. Young jazz musicians will often feel the need to play too much, or continue to introduce new ideas rather than expanding on ones they have already stated. A more experienced player will allow space, and time for musical ideas to develop without being nervous about their audience. You have to trust your instinct, follow your own trajectory, rather than being worried how the music is being perceived in the moment.

So, my swimming has borrowed a page out of my musical playbook: "Allow it to happen."


BEER: What the hell is up with my favorite beers now being sold in four packs?  I want MORE of a good thing, not less! 

It happened first with Young's Double Chocolate Stout, followed soon after by Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout. To my knowledge, my favorite beer on planet Earth, or any other planet for that matter, Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout has never been sold in a six pack, only four packs. Is it something specific to stouts? Are beer companies worried about the caloric intake of stout drinkers specifically? 

NETFLIX: Yeah, so I recently discovered Netflix. Perhaps you've heard of it?  For the past couple of years, I have been searching for ways to make my tedious long weekend trainer rides to seem a little less.... tedious. Music in my ears does not work, nor does reading. Although, I did read much of books six and seven of the Harry Potter series while working up a nice sweat. I am not sure whether my heart rate use to elevate because of my hatred of Voldermort, or because I was actually working hard. This brings me to my next random topic:

SPARTACUS: I am a sucker for those sword and sandal type films. You know, Gladiator, Clash of the Titans, Alexander, etc. I recently started watching the new Spartacus series—based on the legend of the famous Thracian leader who led his army of slaves against the the Roman Empire—on Netflix while on my trainer. It is everything I could ever want in a program for my long rides. There is plenty of gratuitous sex, graphic violence, and poor acting. What I find the most difficult to understand is how every single male gladiator and slave in the show are incredibly jacked for performance enhancing drugs. Seriously, how are these guys 6'2, 240, incredibly ripped with six packs while seemingly be limited to about an 800 calorie a day diet. More, they show these cats bare chested in the middle of winter crawling on the side of a mountain in the snow. They are not shivering. They barely notice that it is even cold, because their giant muscles and underdeveloped gladiator brains—and an apparent slight neurological problem not being be able to feel pain or cold—has left them unfettered by these minor nuisances. 

...and one more thing. Since when did these women have breast implants in ancient Roman times? Seriously!  If you are doing a period piece, it is difficult to take it seriously when there is more silicon in the breasts of some of the actresses than all of the semi-conductor industry. 

TRAINING: Training has been going unbelievably well. As in, I am doing it. Consistently. Perhaps that is why I have not been around as much as of late. I know... I know.. I use these lame excuses like having five children, blah blah blah, and a job that comes home with me every night (i.e. grading papers), blah blah blah, and a training schedule that I try to fit in to a ver busy professional life. LISTEN... I am NOT complaining. I am the luckiest human being on Earth. I have an unbelievably patient wife. Speaking of which, my wife has resurrected her amazing dance career and has been performing quite frequently after taking several years "off" to have children. I am quite proud of what she is able to do. 

RUN ACROSS AMERICA: You know what is really, really, really cool about the REV3 race series?

Answer: Everything.

But, do you know what else?

The amazing folks over at REV3 have decided to run across America. I know, how lame. I mean, they are going to just run across America once? How many times did Forest Gump run across the United States? The REV3 goal is to raise $100,000 for the Ulman Cancer Fund. I know that we have all been affected by cancer. I lost a lot of people I love dearly, especially my father, to cancer. 

What's that?  You say  you want to do your small part to kick cancer's ass? 

Do your part here, would ya?

REVIEW: I have an unbelievably kick-butt review coming up in my next blog post. Trust me, it's a winner. 

Train Smart!


Jeff Irvin said...

MARK, how goes it buddy?

Wow, that was an incredibly well written rant against the militant vegans. It also could double as a pro-capitalism piece! Better be careful "they" could take your Academia card from you (-:

All I know is that vegan have really smelly farts?

Nice job in the pool!

I watched the first two season's of Spartacus and it was everything you described it as. However, can't say the abundant silicone bothers me!!

Kacie Darden said...

Aren't you sassy today ;-)

As a NONjudgemental vegetarian of 11+ years, I laugh at those people too--that hardcore is hard to keep up and sustain it. I also laugh at those who think they HAVE to have certain things (like cheeseburgers)...just like I HAVE to have chocolate cake :-)

To each his own. I am a VERY live and let be vegetarian!

I am veg for the ecological reasons, but they are my reasons. I don't do all those other things, but I do do this thing, and it makes me happy--hehehe I wrote do do.

Christi said...

Okay, this was a very good post. I love the rant you went on. I, too, smell cheeseburgers, fries and a nice brew, at the end of my long rides and runs!

I am laughing at your silicon comments in Spartacus. That is just funny right there!

TriMOEngr said...

This whole thing was kind of random, but very enjoyable. Nice to "see" you around. Looking forward to the follow up post. Don't tease us for too long, okay?


Are you ADD?
Bouncing from swimming to Spartacus to vegan to the easy route to run across America? ( I think Forrest took the more difficult routes, didn't he?) :)

Good catch by Jeff, I should have asked Ms Chewbacca the other day to fart.... I'll bet she is a vegan......


Caratunk Girl said...

I think next time we meet at a race we need to go kill a cow and throw it on the fire. Mmmmmm.

Jeff's comment about the farts is hilarious. And true.

Awesome job in the pool, and the RAA looks awesome.

Colleen said...

I love your all over the place blogs! :) That's a compliment from someone who can't keep on one topic for more than a few sentences! :)

Mmmmmm... meat! I love me a burger when I'm done with a hard workout.

Mark said...

Jeff! I am still alive, but incredibly swamped. Are they coming out with a season 3 of Spartacus? You would like the films Ironclad and Arn: The Knight Templar. They are on Netflix.

Kacie — I am not judging. I agree with you. To each their own.

Christi, Bob, is it obvious I have ADD?

Colleen, Mandy, we need to eat us a burger next time we are together at a race!

Tri To Do It All said...

No meat! What is wrong with people. Those who chose not to eat meat should ask them selves why some cultures who live off the land chase various animals on foot for hours to chatch and eat them when they could just stop and grow vegetables instead. The answer is that we need it!

Medievalist said...

I could never mock your wife. She is too tall and could kick my @$$.
And seriously, I don't get vegans either.