29 November 2009

Why I Should Be Given A Mandatory 10-Minute Head Start At Every Race

I love my children, all one hundred and fifty, er, uh... I mean, five of them. It only sounds like I have one hundred and fifty children at any given moment in my house, or when I call my wife from work to say hello. I especially love it when I call home and my wife stops listening to me every three seconds to tell the children to stop doing something that will either: 1) put them in immediate danger, 2) annoy my wife enough to the point when she says "I have to go" many times in quick succession. Whenever I hear the excessive noise in the background through the phone, I often think that perhaps my wife has invited a couple of girlfriends and their children over for a play date resulting in a small army of kindergartners romping around the house. I am amazed to find out that not only is it only just our children, but at several points throughout the day, exceed maximum decibel rating at a Who concert.

Every Sunday my wife leaves for rehearsal around 9:30 a.m. I get to fly solo with the children until 1:30. Have you ever tried to get a couple of kids—let alone five—dressed, fed, and out the door to go anywhere? Fed and dressed you say? How difficult could that be? There are times in the morning when my wife and I feel like short order cooks. Getting the girls dressed has become increasingly more difficult as they seem to have a very particular idea about what types of shorts they should wear with their winter boots and tights. Look, I am not complaining at ALL. The real goal here is to help illuminate my training partners—sans children— just why exactly I am completely tapped before I ever begin any workout.

It always seems especially taxing when you have to try to get somewhere at a particular time, as is always the case with our family. This Sunday, as with most Sundays, I went to the YMCA for my bi-weekly Masters Swim. It never fails though. By the time I arrive anywhere with the children, they usually have me so mentally spent, that I'm tapped of a great deal of physical energy as well. The ten minute car ride to the YMCA can be a fun little jaunt, singing our favorite one hundred children songs (literally, we have a CD of one hundred children songs in the car,) or the longest ride in the slowest moving machine on the planet that you would ever want to experience. I think the incessant bickering is the most mentally draining. You know... "Yes you did!" "No I didn't" "Yes you did" "No I didn't" "Yes you did" Voice a little louder now "NO I DIDN'T!" Ah, yes! This could go on for minutes. A close second is having one of the girls sing "Happy Birthday" the whole car ride without ever modulating to the V chord (obviously suffering from voice modulation disorder,) thus leaving me in a constant state of post-minimalistic tension. To up the ante, one of them might try to flex her vocal muscles at the same time with a song that she feels more appropriate for the car ride, or perhaps they are just really into Charles Ives.

Our 2250 yard workout last week consisted of four 50 yard sprints. My training partner Adam whipped me pretty good on the sprints, and of course, let me know it in the locker room on the way out (I would expect no less. It keeps the ego in check.) My response was "I think what makes you faster is that you have five less children than I do." To which a fellow father in the locker room shook his head affirmatively and added his own "they'll drain you good." I told them that I should get a ten minute head start at every triathlon I race. Adam agreed that two minutes per kid sounded like a fair handicap system. I called Adam later on that afternoon to see what he was up to and he informed me he was taking a nap. A nap! On a Sunday afternoon! I can not imagine!

Okay, here is where my diatribe takes an unexpected turn. I believe that all the mentally and physically draining days I spend with my kids actually makes me a more efficient and faster triathlete. When I go away somewhere to race a longer event, I am usually somewhere quiet away from home, and getting more sleep than I have throughout my training, or any other time throughout the year. I have five alarm clocks that go off around 6:45 every morning, not to mention that one will invariably crawl into bed to cuddle with me during the night, usually kicking or slapping me in the face at some point, leaving me pinned like a burrito between them and their mother.

This Weeks Goals: Run 25 good miles sans pain
Run in Boise
Write a ridiculous amount of music

27 November 2009

Post Race Report: No Pain, Well Trained

My Turkey Trot was successful. I was pretty excited to get back out there and run a race again, but I was a little nervous about how my knees were going to feel throughout the race and afterwards. To ensure that I could subside any pain during the run, I took a couple of ibuprofen about fifteen minutes before the race. This was also the longest distance I had run since running a marathon back on 13 September.

One thing I've learned about cardiovascular fitness by training for triathlons, is that one discipline (swimming, biking, running) can not take the place of another. I have been swimming regularly since the marathon, but it is a different kind of cardiovascular fitness. To build up your running—you need to run, to build up your bike, you need to bike. Having the mindset that your long runs are a substitute, or are going to somehow transfer over to your cardiovascular fitness on the bike—I've learned—is erroneous. First of all, you use different muscles running than you do biking, which require a different type of effort. Just because your hamstrings are well conditioned, does not mean your quads are going to take the pounding of a two hour bike ride. Trying to climb a steep grade on your ride is difficult if you have not been putting in the hours. It can take some serious wind out of your sails. That is mostly what I felt yesterday—the lack of training.

With brother Leonard

I ran the first three miles with my friend Manuel. Our first three splits were 7:10, 14:45 and 23:50. I knew that I was not going to maintain that pace (with minimal training)—despite the fact I was eager to run negative splits. Between miles three and four, Manuel pulled away on one of the gradual climbs. I wanted to finish sub-50 minutes, but I ended up with a fairly respectable 50:21. I can not complain. The good news is that my knees felt good last night and they feel great this morning! I am ready to start training for double digits again. I look at this as a training run at the end of the day.

Here I am with Manuel and Vanessa

Congratulations to friends Terry Christo for her first place age-group finish (55-59): 45:27, Vanessa Taylor's 6th place age-group finish (20-24): with a time of 46:35, Karen Leastman's PR of 52:55, Manuel Pacheo: 48:15, and my brother Len with a 1:01:04.

Here I am with age-group champion Terry Christo.

25 November 2009

10K Turkey Trot

It's official. I am going out tomorrow morning to run my first 10K since the dreaded marathon. It will be especially nice because I know a lot of my friends, and people I train with will be out there. The weather looks like it is going to cooperate as well—partly sunny, high of 50. My brother Leonard and I are registering in a couple of hours as a brother/brother team. I am especially excited for him because he has recently bumped up his running, with his first eight mile run this past week—ever! Hey, Len... only 5 more to go to run a half, and you are more than 9 months out still. I will also be running (behind) my friend Vanessa, who recently qualified for the Boston Marathon.

I know I have not been running a lot, so I have a pretty conservative game plan for the race: survive. Well, the actual game plan is a bit more ambitious. I want to run a solid eight minute pace for the first three miles and then try to run negative splits the last three. That will put me somewhere around 49-51 minutes. The cooler air this time of year is a blessing. What I have to be conscious of now—at my ripe old age—is leg fatigue. I have been doing squats and stretching quite a bit since about mid-October, so I am hoping fatigue is not an issue. If I feel good after the run tomorrow (i.e. knees,) it may just give me the confidence to start striving for double digits again. I also feel a bit of excitement about getting back out there and training. I have not felt that way since before the Musselman half-iron on 19 July. My secret weapons for the race are ibuprofen, 2 endurolytes and one vanilla flavored GU with caffeine. Perhaps I should try to get to bed at a reasonable hour as well.

Good luck to my friend Jodie who will be running a half-marathon in Vegas—or so she says. Of course, what happens in Vegas... And good luck to my fellow runners out there tomorrow, especially Vanessa, Manuel, Len, Tom, and Karen. Let's burn some serious turkey calories!

Post-race day pictures to follow!

23 November 2009

Ecosystem and Circuses

• Wegman's—arguably the greatest supermarket on Earth—makes whole wheat bread that uses raisin juice concentrate and vinegar as preservatives. Why can't all preservatives be this benign?

• I never want to purchase bottled water again. When did our culture suddenly become obsessively dependent on bottled water? What a strange commodity. When did tap water suddenly become undrinkable?

• The source for Aquafina bottled water: Latham, NY municipal.... that's right, tap water. What's next, oxygen?

• How is it possible that I have five children that are nothing alike?

• How is it that in the last two weeks I have watched, or read at least five separate exposés on school lunches, but little is being done to try to rectify them?

• Why are there literally acres of garbage floating—mostly in the form of small plastic items—in the Pacific Ocean, wreaking havoc on the ecosystem and endangering wildlife on Midway Island?

Training: I did a solid 200o yard Master's Swim again this week. It was not nearly as difficult as the week before when we swam four, 150 yard sprints. I also have been running again, sans pain of any kind! My cardiovascular fitness is a little weak, but I am committed to getting out there Thanksgiving morning and running a 10K. It will certainly not be easy. It's amazing to me that I can go from running a marathon and a half-ironman to worrying about faring well in a 10K. Of course, more of it is psychological than physical. I have started some serious weight training workouts again this fall. I am hoping that my leg workouts, along with my stretching will also keep any knee pain at bay.

Challenge: I contacted Wegmans' supermarket marketing department yesterday to see if they might be interested in sponsoring a last minute weight loss challenge for all of YOU! This is what I proposed:

I would like to hold a challenge for my blog readers to lose weight during the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Years.) The reader with the highest percentage of weight loss wins. Here are my possible suggestions:

1) The winner recieves a $500 donation-in their name-to the charity of their choice. Many of us run for causes. For instance, I run the Finger Lakes Triathlon every year for the Mary M. Gooley Hemophilia Center. I raised over a thousand dollars in donations this year.

2) A paid entrance fee to one event during the 2010 season (not to exceed $X.) Unfortunately, races can be expensive, and prohibitive for some because of the entrance fees. This would be a huge incentive for athletes. Perhaps, one stipulation would be that the athlete race in the Wegmans triathlon/race bib. Not that Wegmans needs the exposure, but it would show their continued dedication to promoting healthy lifestyle choices. I am still awaiting an official "yes" or "no."

Music: I am attending a concert 24 November at the Eastman School of Music to hear Eastman's new music ensemble Ossia, and watch my wife and Donna Davenport dance in a performance of John Cage's Musical Circus. Should prove to be amazing.

19 November 2009

Composing, Kids and Concerts

I had two performances this past weekend on the Finger Lakes Dance! concert held at The Cracker Factory in Geneva, N.Y. The concert was directed by Cadence Whittier—Assistant Professor of Dance at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

To say The Cracker Factory is a unique space is an understatement. The 70,000 square foot building—an old manufacturing warehouse—is owned and operated by Brandon and Amy Phillips. The husband and wife team are custom furniture makers that use the ground floor to operate their business, SMC Furnishings. They have somehow found time to nurture the building back to health after years of neglect as well. The second story has a refinished floor that serves as a multimedia performance space. The Cracker Factory has now played host to the Finger Lakes Film Festival and Finger Lakes Dance!, and several projects are on the burner for the spring.

The audience for the Finger Lakes Dance performance sat in a semi-circle initially, but were sometimes directed to move their chairs depending on how the choreographer wished to have their work viewed. During a performance by tap artists, and dance icon Bill Evans, the audience actually walked thirty feet to the far corner of the performance space were a floor was set up specifically for the tap performance. The audience actually stood during the performance of the seven-minute piece. I am all for engaging the audience as much as possible. I think that when they feel part of the performance space, they become actively engaged in the performance, instead of sitting back and merely allowing the art to happen around them.

One of the most interesting characteristics of the space are the white supporting posts in the middle of the space that divide the room lengthwise. Several choreographers used the posts as props—weaving in and out, shielding themselves from the audience, or physically interacting with them.

I participated as a pianist for three works. The first piece on the program was danced by Missy Pfohl Smith and Donna Davenport titled "In the Air." The dancers started moving to Bach's Air on the G String while the audience was still getting settled in. The dancers started out of the direct view of the audience, near a corner window and slowly made their way toward the center of the floor. As the Bach finished, I made my way to the piano from my seat and started to improvise music inspired by the Bach. The audience had no idea I was a musician. I played a descending chromatic passage in E minor, with simple, austere melodies. The melodies slowly made their way to a fuller texture about two-thirds of the way through piece before settling back into simple first species (note against note) counterpoint.

The second half of the concert began with a piece I wrote and performed for Missy Pfhol Smith's company, BIODANCE titled I.T. (Information Technology.) The piece explores how technology impacts our relationship with nature and with each other. I wrote the piece for synthesizer and computer and percussion. My friend and colleague, Dennis Mariano, was enlisted to work his percussion magic.

Finally, the last piece I was involved in was a collaboration with Donna Davenport on a new composition titled "Tandem:" a whimsical search for visual parity explored through the interaction with the pianist (me!) onstage. The piece ended with Donna and me lying vertically, reaching out towards each other while I tried to play the instrument on my side with one hand. The score was created in direct collaboration with Davenport's dance. The music starts with a one octave D-flat major scale, followed by a sleuth of elementary technique exercises, while the dancer performs ballet technique at the bar. Then, both the dancer and the pianist break out into an attention deficit disorder induced stylistic free-for-all. The score toggles between "traditional" concert rhetoric and popular music styles such as jazz and funk. The stylistic changes are tied together by a single note, rhythmic motif, or harmonic center. The concert was well attended both evenings and the reception was warm and enthusiastic. I was very happy I was able to be a part of it!

Okay, purchasing a plane ticket for Idaho today. I have a world premiere (that's fun to say) at Boise State University on 3 December 2009 by The Rothko Piano Trio of my piece Trio for the Common Man. It is especially exciting because my friend Jo Nardolillo will be playing violin. We have collaborated before. I wrote her a duet for violin and cello titled Suite for Jules that she premiered in Rochester, NY back in 2007 and she has also performed my first piano trio. Then, I am off to Minnesota for a performance. I received an email the other day that a friend of mine, Catarina Domenici opened with a piece of mine in a concert in Sao Pauolo, Brazil. It is really exciting when people actually perform your music. I have other pieces that have never really quite received the performance exposure—for whatever reason—that I had wished. I am currently finishing a piece for the acclaimed Society for New Music for a premiere on 18 April 2010.

A special congratulations to Gwendolyn McNamara for being my 40th Follower. She wins an additional one year subscription to my blog, where she will be subjected to all my ranting and raving, personal bias, and subjective opinions.

A very special congratulations to my son Julian for coming in first place in his kindergarten "turkey trot." He finished first out of the three kindergarten classes. He is currently looking for sponsorships for the 2010 race season.

16 November 2009

14 Pounds Till New Year

Eight years ago, I put on 14 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. For those of you looking to "beef up" this holiday season, here is the training regimen I recommend:

• Eat a second dinner late at night—usually between 10 or 11:00 p.m. I am not talking a little "snack," but rather leftover turkey with all the holiday fixings; mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, etc

• Drink Guinness Stout and Bailey's Irish Cream indiscriminately at all hours of the day.

• Watch as many football games and bad holiday movies as you can withstand, while sitting on the couch ingesting copious amounts of the aforementioned turkey and beverages.

• Your exercise regimen should include getting to the gym at least once or twice a week, fraternizing with as many acquaintances as possible while working in some abs to counter the effects of the Guinness.

• Only weigh yourself after you know that you may have done irreversible damage. It does no good to weigh yourself through the process, should the overwhelming sense of guilt lead to some premature consciousness along the way, ruining your holiday weight gain.

Here come the holidays. Tis' the season to eat cookies, drink excessively, and delve into the abyss. Let's not go there this year! My goal, as is my challenge to all of you is to shed a pound or two this holiday season (I am being realistic here, c'mon.) I am no saint, we all indulge in a little holiday excess, but knowing is half the battle. Find a Turkey Trot, do some extra laps in the pool, take an extra spinning class a week, but get out there and don't let the holidays dictate your weight.

Great Masters Swim Workout this Sunday:

100 S
100 K
100 P
100 S

50 Sprint
100 Easy
150 Sprint
200 Easy X2
150 Sprint
100 Easy
50 Sprint

150 S
150 K
150 P

14 November 2009

To Share or Not to Share

I have said it many times, and although I do not need to say it anymore—I love triathlon. I read about it incessantly, whether the source is my most recent issue of Triathlete magazine (for which I ought to just fork over the $35 subscription rate to save myself a few million a year by purchasing it monthly,) my friend's triathlon blogs or, online resources. I love sharing experiences with other athletes whether it be about races, nutrition, gear, etc. While at the YMCA last night, I met a 7-time Lake Placid Ironman who somehow seemingly managed to escape my precision-like Triathlete-Radar for a number of months before identifying him. I use my triathlete radar, or TR™ to meet fellow triathletes and steal, uh, er.. pick up valuable tips to make my training more efficient and my race day performance faster.

Right now, I am particularly fascinated by the psychos who run the Iron distance. As an Ironman hopeful myself, I am trying to gain some insight about how my life will change once I have accomplished one of the most difficult—and arguably—most psychotic tests of human endurance that anyone should legally be allowed to participate in. Will the experience of running my first Ironman allow me to become a mellower human being? Where is the best place to shop for capes? How gigantic should the Ironman logo be that I will have tattooed on my body in the week immediately following the race? How do I subtly drop the fact that I just ran an Ironman into casual conversation with friends—or anyone else who will listen—in an unassuming way?

My radar has been well honed these past two years. I am learning the subtle signals that triathletes possess that make them easily identifiable. It has nothing to do with their physiognomy. You can not detect great cardiovascular fitness by looking at someone. There have been many so called "clydesdales:" racers of a larger physical stature and weight, that have run nimbly by me, smiling along the way, as I struggle futilely for my lean frame to keep pace. You can sometimes spot a triathlete by the exercises they engage in on a reoccurring basis. For instance, triathletes tend to spend a inordinate amount of time in pools during the winter months—especially athletes that live in colder climates. I have often looked over in the lane next to me and asked someone what they are training for. Invariably, it is a triathlon. So often though, it is the gear that someone is wearing that is a dead giveaway. If I look down at someone's kicks and see them sporting Yankz (laces generally worn by triathletes that require no tying—saving them an enormous 20 seconds on the transition from the bike to the run.) The dead giveaway with this particular 7-time Ironman was his 2008 Lake Placid Ironman hat. No one would ever dare wear that hat without actually having participated.

For the most part, I find triathletes pretty eager to "talk shop." We like to share experiences, and my new Ironman friend was just as eager to share race day stories, so long as I would listen. But I have to wonder: just how much are they telling me? I mean, I have a three friends that I train with regularly. Unbelievably, I do not compete in the same age-group with any of them. We all read articles, test nutrition needs, implement new training methods and discuss our gains—if any—when we get together. Of course, this makes me wonder... how much do I really want to share? Okay, I know. I always want to set a PR every time I go out there. I am not out there competing against anyone else but myself. Yeah right! Even though none of my closest training partners are in my age group, you can bet that it is a matter of pride for all of us to cross that finish line first. In some regards, the rest of the field does not even matter as long as we were the first in the group of athletes that we train with to finish.

It starts during training. A casual 30 minute bike ride at a moderate pace ends up turning into a time trial stage at the Tour de France. You've been there, whether it is in triathlon, or another sport. You've been involved in a situation similar to playing a friendly pickup game of basketball that one person suddenly turns into game seven of the NBA files. My personal favorite is when you are out on a group-training run and everyone takes turns being the one just one inch ahead of everyone else to gain some sort of psychological advantage. Before you know it, you are running a minute faster per mile. Maybe this is a good thing. Anything I learn about nutrition and training that works for me, I share. In return, I have improved my swimming and nutrition as a result of tips from fellow triathletes. So, do I share, or keep some things back to have a competitive advantage? Get real—I share. In the end, I have learned that I am really only competitive with myself. It is not like I am competing for a podium spot or a cash prize.

So, in the true nature of sharing, I am going to pass along a little speed workout that my friend my Vanessa Taylor shared with me (that was shared with her from someone else.) Vanessa is a just qualified for the Boston Marathon. Here are Vanessa's exact words of motivation to me:

And the Good Lord spoke and said "Thou shalt run the gauntlet."

And though doth protest, go forth and run it.

And there will be much rejoicing, so long as there is stretching thereafter.

Run 2 miles as a warm up.

Then 1600 (under 7:10)

Rest/Recover for a minute

Then 800 (under 3:45)

Rest/Recover for a minute

Then 400 (under 1:45)

Rest/Recover for a minute

Then 200 (under :45)

Rest/Recover for a minute

Then 100 (under :18)

Run 2 miles as a cool-down.

Have fun training, and don't forget to pay it forward,


08 November 2009

How to Manage Being Sick

My Master Swim workout last week was terrible. I had not been sleeping well the week prior (for which I blame the World Series,) and my body just plain felt run down and on the verge of getting sick. Plus, I have just had some enormous projects on the burner, papers to correct, smaller musical projects with encroaching deadlines, and family obligations to fulfill. I know my body. I can beat the heck out of it. I can run brick workouts during the day and feel like Superman during the evening (I've never actually put on a cape and tights,) but if I have too many things on my mind with none of them being addressed because I have now entered the "paralyzed deer in headlights" phase, it is all but over for me. Athletes understand that our psychological state can make an enormous difference between a PR (personal record,) and having a dreadful training day. Long story short, I quit my workout 1200 yards in. I rarely ever quit a workout, but it happens.

I sat on a bench in the pool area recovering from my terrible swim workout feeling quite demoralized. An acquaintance of mine—a terrific age group triathlete—who often takes first overall at many regional sprint and olympic distance triathlons came up to chat for a bit. With three children of her own and a full-time job, she understands the demands that a family and real life places on a training schedule and your psyche. She said, "Could you imagine if we had the luxury of training full-time like the pros?" Ah, it would be nice to have a ton of discretionary time to train without worrying about the million other things we have circling around our brain. I can generally turn it off when I am training, but there are times that I can't. I especially dislike how cranky I get if I do not get to the gym because one of my children are sick, or I would have too small of a window to actually get in a workout. Want to see me really cranky? You will if I miss three consecutive days of training.

I got in the pool yesterday (Sunday 8 November) and did a solid 2150 yard Masters Swim. I felt terrible going in. However, although I was a bit winded doing my sprints and immediately after my warm down, I felt great the rest of the day and felt like my immune system suddenly received the boost it needed. It is a little crazy. I never know when to push my body through a workout or bag when I am sick. Is there some sort of way of telling? There were several times yesterday that I thought I was pushing it too hard considering how I felt, but I kept going thankfully.

Okay, now to help my immune system this week I am going to try to get to bed much earlier than usual. I suffer from not wanting to miss anything, and trying to catch up on the day late at night. I stay up way later than I should, and as a result, suffer from it the following day feeling sluggish.

Flip Turns: They are slightly less embarrassing now!
Running: I think I am back. I ran 2 miles in 14:30 on Wednesday. It felt great to run at the tempo. I have not done that in a long time. I am working on some new running plans. I will share more soon.

04 November 2009


I waited all week in anticipation of my H2O Audio Interval 3G Waterproof Headphone System for my fourth generation iPod Shuffle. I do not want to say I was overly anxious—I mean what—just because I copied the FedEx tracking number and would check its whereabouts at least three times a day. Not to mention the 20 minute trip I made to the local FedEx ground center to see if I could pick it up directly form the warehouse before it got on board the truck to be delivered.

In short, the wait was well worth it. This is one of the coolest pieces of gear that I own. Will it make me as fast as Michael Phelps? No. Will it make me faster? Sure. Look, as a composer, I understand the Doctrine of the Musical Affections and the physiological, psychological and kinesthetic relationship that music has to our psyche and bodies. The Doctrine of the Affections stems from the Baroque era. Composers and theorists believed that certain musical parameters: key area, tempi, consonance and dissonance, and dynamics would elicit a particular involuntary response from the listener. For instance, a quick tempo in a major key would elicit joy, a descending chromatic line would elicit grief. There was no way to measure this this c.1600-1750, nor is there really any concrete way to measure it now. However scientists do study brain activity and measure the performance of athletes who are subjected to different types of musical stimuli. Think about it: are you more likely to be given a shot of adrenaline for that last 200 yard surge by listening to Burt Bacharach singing "What the World Needs Now," or the The Who's "Baba O'Reily?" I will not judge you. Whatever moves you. For me, I love the fact that I can listen to music and let my form happen, instead of being overly conscious of it all the time, not to mention bored to tears watching the bottom of the pool for an hour or more. More, those tunes stimulate those affections and get me energized just a tad more.

The information that came with my H2O Audio Interval—instructions for use and care of the product—were some of the most clear and thorough I have ever seen with any product. I remember getting my cycling computer and thinking I needed a secret decoder ring to decipher the hieroglyphics on that sheet of instructions. Not to mention, I needed a magnifying glass to even read it. The H2O Audio instructions were clear, concise and laid out in an organized manner. The directions ask that you submerge the unit in water for thirty minutes prior to the initial use (without the iPod inside) to test the watertight seal. The verdict: As watertight as a naval submersible vessel. The big test came around 7:30 last night when I brought my Interval to the pool. I have to admit, I have been rather slow on the take the last couple of days and it took me a while to figure out the best configuration for me, but it is really quite simple. I put the top band of my goggles through appropriate slots and slid them on. Then, I looked at my swim cap on the pool floor and decided that it should probably go on before I put the Interval on. This way, I can place my swim cap over the ear buds to help keep them in place, which the instructions suggests. I placed my iPod inside and within minutes, I was doing laps while rocking out to The Flaming Lips, Led Zeppelin, St. Vincent and Prince. I did not measure the exact specifications, but I would estimate the whole unit is approximately three inches long and weighs... I don't know... next to nothing. I did not feel uncomfortable with it on as I was swimming. H2O Audio designed the back of the Interval curved to fit the contour of you head. Honestly, I would have forgotten it was even on if it were not for the earplugs and the music. When I finished my workout, I dried off the Interval and opened up the water tight seal. Sure enough, not a drop of H2O! I had a short workout last night. Luca came to the pool with me, and of course, he also needed to put his stamp of approval on the Interval. He says it is "So cool," and "I should use it when I train for my triathlons."

Okay, you might disagree with my playlist, but if you are spending countless hours in that pool and you would love some company—check H2O Audio and all of their cool gear. The Interval goes for a cool $99 and comes with a reassuring 2-year warranty if you register with H2O online. It fits conveniently into a stocking—nudge nudge,wink wink—for all of your swimmers.

Thanks again H2O Audio for the wonderful sponsorship opportunity. I hope I am able to spread the word about this great product for triathletes and swimmers.

02 November 2009

10 Things I Have Learned This Week About Training

1) There is no substitute for sleep.

2) Sleeping in late is no substitute for going to bed early.

3)When you are involved in a Master's Swim that is nearly 3000 yards, and you start feeling terrible in an unfamiliar way 1200 yards in—listen to your body—it does not pay to muscle through a workout.

4) Halloween candy is not a good source of dietary fiber.

5) It is okay to miss a workout for this reason: you're at home with a sick child.

6) It is not okay to miss a workout for this reason: I do not have time. The gym is open at 5:15 a.m.

7) After a grueling brick workout, I am not going to gain back every calorie I expended by drinking a delicious chocolate milkshake.

8) Days off are completely necessary and a day off means a day off... not "... maybe I'll only run a 5k today."

9)Stretching is important, and difficult. I sweat more stretching 20 minutes than I do running a 5k

10) Training is addicting. Now more than ever, with the gains I made this past race season, I am inspired to train even harder.