27 February 2010

How Macho We're Not: The Truth About Projecting Our Psyche

Following my one hour lunchtime swim workout yesterday at the university, I was feeling pretty spent, so I called Adam to see how his workout went earlier that morning. I then made the comment "I got done well before the hour." He replied, "... well yeah you should have, it wasn't that long of a swim." I thought to myself, "Not that long?" Granted, it was a only a 2700 yard swim, but I never thought either one of us would be calling a 2700 yard swim workout short, especially when we  still had a one hour bike workout on cue. Then it occurred to me. The four of us—Adam, Manuel, Scott and myself—will casually throw these comments out to one another to psyche each other up, or often, out. We have these little mental pissing contests to see which one of us is handling the stress of the workouts, and life, before cracking and having to be committed to counting tiny black squares on the floor of an asylum. We are completely conscious of the fact that we do it, but pretend—for the sake of our friendships—that these little passive aggressive displays of machismo don't rattle any of us that much. And we all know which buttons to press. For instance, in the middle of a difficult bike workout, I will look over at the senior statesman of our group, Manuel, and ask him if the reason he is sweating so much is because he is feeling especially tired from staying up too late trying to renew his AARP membership online, or catching up on episodes of  Matlock. One of my favorite "digs" came one day when I asked Manuel in the middle of a run which Golden Girl he dated in their prime. Occasionally, the testosterone-induced bullying from our compet.... er, rather, training partners, escalates and manifest with the ultimate infantile response to these challenges to our manhood: a heroic and brainless display of athletic one-upmanship. Again, this usually goes without any verbal acknowledgment, because to do so would be to admit that we are all just as vulnerable today as we were by that bully in the fifth grade. No, rather, we will quietly try to increase the speed of the treadmill without someone noticing, , subtract three seconds from our ten second interval recovery on a swim so that  we can gain a two stroke advantage over your lane-mate, or sprinting the last half mile of a long bike ride, just to cross that finish line 20 seconds ahead of your training partner. The most tragic part of all this is that these these self-induced, moronic displays at proving our competitive advantage with witty—sometimes cruel—jabs, or pushing ourselves harder than the next guy are never done so with any regard to heart rate, training regimen, or the sustainability of our friendships. Far be it from me to come between you and Bea Arthur. So, the projecting of our inadequacies upon others will continue. All of us will continue to gauge each others strengths and weaknesses to gain some sort of psychological advantage for ourselves. Really, the only psychological advantage one can have in my opinion, is knowing yourself and your own limits, and to accept that others are going to be stronger than we are in one discipline or another. My advice to everyone is to not be concerned with what someone else can do, but the gains you're making in your training. Sure, duh you say, but it is way more easily said that done. I have found that accepting my weaknesses far more liberating. It is the way that I make gains in the pool. I ask stronger swimmers to look at my technique and give me feedback.

I have to admit it, I am less macho these days than ever. Life has this uncanny way of kicking your ass and beating you into submission every once in a while. Everyone has their breaking point. I know mine and I respect it. If my body still feels whipped the morning after a particularly grueling workout and workday, I am closing my eyes and getting an extra hour of sleep in the morning. I have learned my lesson trying to be macho and muscle my way through a workout. No gains come form muscling through a workout without enough rest. 
Exhaustion has set in a couple of time during weeks seven and eight. You know, that feeling when you just finish dinner and and your head and eyes start to feel irritated and "fuzzy." All I want to do is put the kids in bed and crawl into bed right after them.

Now, the very definition of macho is exemplified by my son Julian who had his tonsils and adenoids taken out  yesterday. If someone cut some part of my anatomy from the back of my throat I don't know how well I would take it. This guy was smiling—with the help of pain medication—and lucid nearly an hour out of surgery. I'm a wimp. 

In other news: Okay, it's Saturday morning and I am off to the gym for a TWO hour ride-yikes! I am really looking forward to getting my trainer. 

Swim Breakthrough:  This week I had a nice swim breakthrough. I learned how to really follow through with my left arm and rotate my right shoulder and core. Nice!  Using your left arm can be very useful swimming. Who would have thought?

Interview: I finished my interview with Jeff Henderson, race director of the Musselman and Portland Triathlon concerning race entry fees and history and future of mutisport events. 

Giveaway: I am also excited about an upcoming review and nutrition giveaway about a recovery product that I have very recently come to experience and really dig. 

Train Smart!

21 February 2010

Six And A Half Percent and It's Okay Not To Finish

I decided to get my body fat tested. The last time I had it done was four years ago—just before I started training for triathlons—and it was 11 percent. What prompted me to get it done this time around is that I have been losing weight at an unbelievably rapid pace the last couple of weeks—nine pounds in two weeks—and I have been thinking of getting together with a nutritionist to figure out how to keep weight on while I train. Why? Don't people want to try to lose weight while they are training? Sure, but I am starting to look like a svelte Brian Boitano in tights circa 1988 Calgary Olympics (minus the great hair and tights.) I could do it by trial and error, or just eat a pint of my favorite Ben and Gerry's ice cream—Chunky Monkey—every night, although that would probably not be good for my sugar levels.

I have noticed that a lot of my friends, fellow bloggers, and training partners are going through a little bit of mid-early season training doldrums. You know... your six or seven weeks into a training program for a half or full triathlon that isn't until August or September, and you are already swimming 3000 yards three or four times a week by mid-February. Sound familiar? You are in good company. I, for one, do not subscribe to this notion of doing every single thing according to the letter of the law. If my parents read my blog, they could easily vouch for me. I mean, I do not get overly concerned with those mornings that I wake up and say "Holy crow! I have nothing in the tank this morning." It does not make sense for me to "go through the motions" if I am not getting anything out  my workout. I really can not run intervals if I am concerned about being thrown from the treadmill like a caber at a Scottish games ceremony induced by a spontaneous narcoleptic-like sleep. No, I teach one night class this semester, and I seldom get home before 9:30. I then have "dinner," talk to Alaina for a while and get to bed. Except by the time I get to bed it is well after 11 p.m., and five and a half hours of sleep to prepare for a 3000+ yard swim is just not enough in my book. Okay, I have been taking some liberties with the wifey's rule about getting all the training done before 8:00 a.m. However, I have been managing to squeeze my swim workouts in at noon at the university, which is cool and I can still make it home in time for dinner (if I am not in my office trying to hammer out another piece.) I am not going to get stressed out about missing part of my workout, or a workout all together. I can't. Unfortunately, sometimes real life rears its ugly head and I can not spend all my discretionary time away from work and family at the gym. When my  new Kinetic fluid bike trainer comes in, I will be able to put even "more time in the bank," as I can ride at home before the kids get up, or after Alaina and I put them in bed. I have to be okay with the fact that my life is crazy and I am not always going to have the time or energy to finish a workout to the letter of the law. C'est la vie!

The Kids: In the most bizarre comment yet by any of my children, I was getting dressed in my room when I overheard Luca make the comment after his shower while still in the bathroom getting toweled off "...hmmm, I smell like ranch dressing."   Ranch dressing?   What?!   I kind of laughed. It prompted one of my friends to insist that I really ought to check the labels on our salad dressing before dinner to make sure we are not eating Suave conditioner. 

The Plan Today: 1 hour and 10 minute run and a 40 minute bike ride. Here is a comparison of this past week and next: 

WEEK #7 - 1st Week of 2nd Pre-Season Cycle 
Swim 2:30 - Bike 4:25 - Run 2:35 -- Total: 9:30

WEEK #8 - 2nd Week of 2nd Pre-Season Cycle Swim 2:30 - Bike 4:40 - Run 3:05 -- Total: 10:15

Okay, off to the gym in a bit. Train Smart everyone!

17 February 2010

Iron Reflections: 7 Weeks In

My life gives new meaning to the phrase "burning the candle at both ends." As the volume has steadily increased, I have noticed that Mark needs much more sleep. My life is ridiculously crazy at the moment. I have periods of craziness in my life that are usually accompanied with the pressure of finishing a commission in time. Even if I have a year to write a piece, it usually comes down to the last five or six weeks. The good news is I have been chipping away at this one for some time, and the score is officially with my friend Nicholas who is making parts and making the score pretty. Getting close!

I taught an evening seminar last night at the university from 6-:9:15. I came home, had "dinner"—if you can call eating at 10 p.m. dinner—and talked to the wifey. Adam called me around 10:30 last night to see what our game plan was going to be for the morning. I knew right then and there that a morning workout was not possible. I would have had to be in bed already to get up at five in the morning. I felt bad because I am trying to live up to my end of the bargain training for ironman, which is that all of my training should be finished before the kids have to get to school. That way, I can drive them every once in a while, put some time in the bank, and be home for dinner. When I miss an a.m. workout, especially a swim, it means I will have to be at the gym later. The only bright side is that my boys usually like to go to the gym with me, so I can take them.

I had a little bit of a breakthrough swimming last week. I was at the university pool where I made an appointment to get with the swim coach in a few weeks after their national championships. One of the guards stopped me who had seen me talking to the coach and said, "Hey, do you mind if I give you a little advice on your stroke?" She swims competitively on the university team. I was all ears. Turns out, I was really crossing my midline way too much. I seems so natural to do this, but it is really less efficient. The other thing she said that  made a big difference was to think of pulling yourself "up" in the water instead of this idea of pushing the water behind you, which is how I always swam. Does everyone know this? I was immediately swimming faster. The difficult thing for me is to let this all happen naturally. I am always so conscious of my stroke still as I am swimming. I sometimes hold my breath. Not good. Lack of proper oxygen flow can get you get that heart pumping quickly. She did complement me on my stroke and the things I was doing right too. She said I was getting good rotation and then tried to convince me she had no idea that I had only been swimming for four years.

Instead of doing our usual bike workouts, me, Adam and Manuel did the espresso bikes a few times this week. These are bikes with computer screens that have courses with varying degrees of difficulty on them. We did a twenty mile loop over some pretty steep rolling hills. As we were finishing up (the whole course took Adam and I an hour and five minutes to complete,) I looked over at him and said, "Hey only four and a half more times around this and we've done our ironman bike." He glanced over and gave me queer look before jokingly replying "okay, let's do it!" We decided not to. I had to  get to work—yeah, that's the reason. My legs have been fatigued all week from the 10-miler, my leg workout and the two twenty mile rides I have done in the last five days. I need to do some serious stretching. If I can get the legs a little more loose this week, I will welcome another long run. Crazy as it sounds, I kind of miss those 10+ milers!

Train Smart!

16 February 2010

And The Winner IS......

Wow!  Sorry for the incredible delay getting this post out, but between raising five children, work,  training, and finishing a commission, I have had zero time or energy to finish this post. Lame, I know. Let's recap the last 36 hours: Sunday morning I woke and took all the children to the Y with me. After a one hour and twenty minute-ten mile run, I shuffled the kids off to their grandparents to meet my wife at a rehearsal for a concert we have at the end of the month. (Coincidentally, following my post-run shower, I weighed in at 174 pounds—this after hydrating—a weight I have not been since high school)

This morning I woke up at five a.m. to do a 2400 yard morning swim, got to work and was writing music by one thirty this afternoon. After an amazing dinner prepared by my wife, I surprised the kids with a little post-Valentine's Day love with some Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. Oh, it was delicious!

At bedtime, I started reading the boys Return of the Jedi but could feel my eyelids growing steadily heavier with each turn of the page. So, I put a bookmark in and declared bedtime about 10  minutes in. The boys asked me if I would lie down with them for a little bit—it was about 8:30. When I woke up and looked at my watch, it was midnight! Whoa! My body has been so tired adjusting to this incredible volume, coupled with the fact that I am mentally spent by the time I get home from work as well.

And now... after much anticipations... I shall announce the winner of the Timex Ironman Race Trainer Kit, supplied courtesy of the awesome folks at Timex. I should just say for the record one last time, that I have grown incredibly fond of my watch. I thought it was wicked cool when I first received it, but the functionality of it has made it increasingly more enjoyable to train with, and I know the winner is going to enjoy it as well. Oh, and to make things fair, I put everyone's name onto a Excel spreadsheet, giving them as many rows as entries they had into the contest. So, if you did everything: are a follower of my blog, became a fan of Timex Sports on FB, went to the Timex website and indicated which gear you liked the most and when you would wear them and post this giveaway on your blog, you would get four entries into the raffle. I then used a random number generator to pick one number between the values of 1 and 91. The family gathered round as the lucky number came up: 44. We checked the spreadsheet. And the winner is: Krista!  Congratulations to Krista, and thanks to everyone who participated in my first ever blog giveaway. Krista, I will send you an email through google to get your address. 

Okay, more on Iron Reflections: week 7 later. I am going to bed!

Train Smart!

12 February 2010

Two More Days: Ironman Race Trainer Kit

Don't forget! I will be raffling off one Timex Ironman Race Trainer Kit courtesy of Timex on Valentine's Day. If you have not already signed up for the giveaway, the process is simple. You can check it out here.

I have one. I love it. You want one too. Admit it. Don't lie.

11 February 2010

Jordache vs. Levi's: Some Thoughts on Genes, Pt. II

So where the heck am I going with all this talk about calories, nutrition, and exercise? All of us require much different nutritional needs. What one athlete might require for their caloric intake might be quite different than another. For instance, when I came home last Friday after a particularly grueling swim workout, I scarfed down a pound of penne vodka. No kidding. One pound of pasta—yes, before cooking—with a rich sauce made from cream, vodka, and proscuitto. Now granted, I do not eat penne vodka all the time—although I could very easily subscribe to that diet—my dinner exceeded 2000 calories by the time it was all said and done. Two thousand calories—just for dinner. Perhaps some of you find this scorchingly obscene, or would like to take this opportunity to remind me that gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. However, I did not feel like I was overindulging, but rather, refueling after a long day at work and swim workout (I did not get home until nine p.m.) 

I believe a lot of factors contribute to our body composition as adults. After training with literally hundreds of athletes over the years, I have noticed some very interesting commonalities regarding the body composition of so called "leaner" athletes. I am not making any value judgements regarding being lean, much to the contrary. One of the fascinating things about endurance athletes is the age old adage: "You can't judge a book by it's cover." It is impossible to judge someone's cardiovascular fitness just by looking at them. All of us have probably had the experience of being involved in a race where someone passes us that we feel has absolutely no business doing so. How is this old/big/one-legged/short/giant/long-haired hippie passing me? The similarities that I see between leaner body composition athletes is that they have all incorporated a considerable amount of strength training in their routines. Some, from very early on in their lives. I am not sure what percentage of triathletes, half and full marathoners were endurance athletes at a young age, but I think that the growing popularity of both sports suggests that—especially in the case of triathlon—the sport appeals to competitive athletes from any sport, not just from athletes who ran cross-country, or swam competitively at an early age. Heck, even elite triathlete, and two-time Kona World Champion Craig Alexander was a soccer player in his youth, not a competitive runner (until later in life,) or swimmer. Having more muscle allows your body to lose weight in a couple of different ways:

1) Muscle burns more fat: In metabolic studies, extra muscle burns more energy than body fat at rest. The differences are minimal (a few tens of calories per pound of muscle increased with most people,) but over the course of weeks, and months, these calories add, or rather, negate calories that you have taken in.

2) The EPOC Effect—Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption: Studies have shown that another way of increasing your metabolism for several hours after a particularly long exercise is by engaging in exercise with intensities that are greater than 75% of your maximum heart rate. The bonus here is that you will continue to burn fat after your exercise has ceased. 

Of course, intensities are very important. The "fat burning" settings on treadmills and bikes  at gyms are essentially gimmicks. The general notion is that the body burns a greater percentage of fat at a slower pace. True, but you still burn a percentage of fat at higher intensities. Paul Rogers, registered personal trainer with Fitness Australia, member of the Nutrition Society of Australia, an accredited Heart Foundation Heartmoves instructor, an accredited diabetes trainer and qualified workplace trainer explains it this way:

"It all boils down to how much energy you expend in totality. For example, if you compare exercising at a slow rate that burns 60 percent fat and 40 percent glucose and a higher intensity or duration that burns only 30 percent fat and 70 percent glucose, you may still burn more fat at the higher intensity."

A typical example. Exercise (1) is the slower 60/40 mix and exercise (2) is the faster, 30/70 mix of fat and glucose fuel.
1) Walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes -- 180 calories used -- 108 calories of fat burned
2) Running on a treadmill for 30 minutes -- 400 calories used -- 120 calories of fat burned

Fat and glucose are the body’s two main energy sources. Fat you know well, glucose comes mainly from carbohydrate foods like rice and bread, pasta (which I quite possibly eat an inordinate amount of,) and potatoes and protein is supplied mainly by meat and beans and dairy products. The amino acid building blocks of protein foods can be converted to glucose in emergencies. Your body always burns a mix of fat and glucose except at very high intensities, and the ratio of the fat and glucose in 'the burn' varies with intensity and time of exercise. Of course, it is difficult for people who are coming from a completely sedentary lifestyle to jump right into a 30 minute run workout on a treadmill, but they are still expending calories while walking. And walking is a great start. Excuses are not. 
I have witnessed a couple of amazing transformations of so-called "genetically less fortunate" human beings—my cousin included—go from living completely sedentary lifestyles to an active and healthy way of living in a very short time. Just watch one season of The Biggest Loser. The transformations some of these people make is nothing short of miraculous. The people on that show are amazed that after generations of poor eating habits, and sedentary lifestyles, that a leaner, healthier version of themselves was hiding underneath all their fat. Maybe we can not change our genes, but we can sure do everything we can to make the most of what God has given us. For me, that is ALL that matters. If you are doing the most with what you have, excellent, BUT, don't let your understanding of hereditary traits limit what you can do. If that were the case, I never would have became a composer. My parents have about as much musical aptitude as a four year at his first violin lesson. Screeech! 
I think our perception is that if we have a larger frame, we can not be a particularly lean athlete. I do not subscribe to this point of view. To help me prove it, my cousin M. is coming up for part of his summer again to reach his goal weight of 185 pounds. I will post his pre and post-weight loss pictures. If you could have seen him before he took off the weight, you would have thought he was a future candidate for type-II diabetes and heart disease. Now, he has dropped his body fat by more than half, can run 8 miles over an extremely difficult course, and has increased his strength by more than double from where he started two years ago. Can you tell I am proud of him?
Okay, if you've only learned one thing from this post it is that I am big fan of increasing strength because of its many rewards: more muscle and a more athletic body shape, better balance and bone density and improved functionality across all facets of human movement. In my opinion, strength training should always be incorporated into endurance training—especially those of us above the age of thirty-five. 

Here's some very good news: your genes are not your destiny. In the first study of its kind conducted at the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and the University of California, San Francisco in collaboration with Dr. Peter Carroll, Dr. Mark Magbanua, Dr. Chris Haqq, and others,  research indicated that improved nutrition, stress management techniques, walking, and psychosocial support actually changed the expression of over 500 genes in men with early-stage prostate cancer.

By the way, if any of you need some extra motivation to get your asses in gear to get to the gym, eat better, or train smarter, please do not hesitate to let me know. I will be there to give you a kick in the right direction. After all, we are all in need of a good lil' kick in the pants from time to time. 
More soon. See you out there. Happy Training!

08 February 2010

Jordache vs. Levi's: Some Thoughts on Genes, Pt. I

Apparently, I was blessed with some pretty decent genes. At least, I think my parents have bestowed upon me some satisfactory genetics. However, I did not always think so. Growing up, I had some serious concerns about whether I was in the shallow end of the gene pool. I was never particularly gifted athletically. Don't get me wrong, I was athletic. I played baseball throughout grade school, and I played football and ran track through high school. Not to mention, I have been lifting weights consistently since I was fourteen years old. However, I  never really excelled at any one sport. Luckily for me, triathlon does not require a lot of coordination. Now, try not to be offended hardcore triathlon junkies; I did not say triathlon was not a difficult sport to train for, and to perform at a high level. Much to the contrary. I am just indicating that when it comes to coordination, you roughly need that of a four year old to swim, bike, and run. Trying to hit a baseball square with a round ball and round bat is arguably one of those most difficult things in sport and requires a considerable amount of hand eye coordination.

I would argue that my genes are the Levi's 501 Denims of the jean world—no frills, efficient, dependable. Clever, right?  Genes...jeans. Get it?  The one glaringly obvious difference, of course, is that my genes were not manufactured in Malaysia, or India, but were the product of two average Italians. Wait, stick with me here, I am trying to make a point. More data is transfered through our genomic sequence than just coordination. The locatable region of our genomic sequence corresponds to specific units of inheritance: coordination, eye color, weight, height, etc. One look at my father, and I can immediately tell where I acquired my "clydesdale-like" cycling legs and abnormally springy, gigantic calves. My height—6"2—is another story. My father is only 5"8. My mother, the same—which is semi-tall for a woman—especially one who was born in 1938. Okay, I know what you're thinking—don't go there. You can lay off the all too frequented "milkman" theory. We did not have one. Our postman was a woman, and unless there was some other man that looks exactly like my father, we could pass for twins at the same age. The genetic marker I am most interested in these days is one that determines your propensity for weight gain or loss. 

Lately, a few of my friends have been talking to me about their struggles with weight, body mass index, and diet. I have to admit, I have never had a problem with my weight. Even at my heaviest—when I was strength training all the time—I was a mere two hundred and five pounds. I tried putting weight on my frame to be stronger in my mid to late twenties, and into my thirties, until someone asked me a pivotal question: 


"Why what?" I answered. "Why do you want to gain weight to be stronger? He then went through a list of arguments challenging my notion of putting on weight to gain strength: 

1) You do not play a competitive sport, nor do you have any desire to train to become a professional body builder. 
2) Strength to weight ratio is more important than pure strength. 
3) Eventually, the weight would come and I would have to work on staying lean and on my diet.

It was then that I decided to abandon the pure strength training exercises I was engaging in the gym in favor of incorporating some endurance training. The payoff with endurance training was that I could still continue to strength train, participate in races that would fuel my competitive nature, and reshape my body in the process. Little did I know then, that triathlon was about to become a way of life, rather than just a sport. 

When it comes to training for triathlons, pumping iron, or writing music, my belief is the same. I do not adhere to so called "expert" advice just because someone has a few letters next to their name. I look at where the advice is coming from. Heck, I have a few letters next to my name, but I am NO expert!  When I was strength training, I still wanted to look a certain way. I did not want to put on any weight that would make me stronger, but immediately go to my mid-section (where I have a tendency to store excess weight.) I look at the bodies of the people that are trying to coach me to become a stronger athlete, and their results. That is what determines—in my mind—how to gauge their advice. If an athlete in the gym is super strong, but built like a gorilla on steroids with a pot belly—whose diet consists of protein shakes, a chicken breast every hour, and a bag of broccoli they carry around the gym—you can talk to me until you are blue in the face, but I am not listening. Now, if a clydesdale triathlete is talking to me, but they can run like a jack russell terrier who has been given one too many shots of espresso, I want to know exactly how the hell they are training to make that body move so fast. If it works for a frame with more than a few extra pounds, I am listening. However—and I am at risk for going here—when it comes to nutrition, I generally take the advice of people who are lean. Does that mean that heavy athletes do not eat healthy? No. To the contrary. There are plenty of athletes who are lean and muscular, but eat like Sid Vicious and their performance suffers as a result. Then, their are larger-framed athletes who eat healthily. Very healthily, but eat a lot of healthy food. I know it sounds insensitive, but I know some of these people. I have been out with some of these friends who say they do not understand why they are putting on weight, or are not losing any weight. I recently went out for sushi with a friend who easily consumed at least twice the amount of food that I did. I had to wonder—although I did not ask—does she have any idea how much food she's consuming?

Then, I have friends that suffer inexplicably to try to lose weight. They seemingly do everything, by the book. The eat healthy, train hard, and count calories, but have trouble taking little, if any weight off. Is this purely because of genetic predisposition?  Here we go again... I am NO geneticist. For the record, I am neither a registered dietician, certified personal trainer, or NASA trained astronaut, but I could make some arguments against genetic predispositions for weight gain. I only need to look at my wife's family. It is no secret. I am not offending anyone here. She is the only one in her immediate family who is not obese. I know how hard she works to stay in shape though. As a dancer, she is always conscious about her weight and her food choices for her and our family. 

When I started to train for triathlons four years ago, I shaved twenty pounds off my frame in a matter of two and a half  months. My diet did not change. It has consisted of the holy trinity of Italian cooking for quite some time: tomato, garlic, and basil.  I eat a lot of carbohydrates. I am not sure when complex carbohydrates turned evil in the endurance community, but they are a staple of my diet. I am here to tell all of you that you can eat your pasta and still lose weight. It can be done. I do not deprive myself of too much. My family eats healthily 95% of the time, but I want to enjoy a cheeseburger and a beer, pizza, a chicken wing or two, a frothy chocolate milkshake, and all of those wonderful things that remind me that I am still alive without guilt. And I can, If I work my ass off! 
I also believe that our bodies let us know what we should be eating. Aren't there times when you just say to yourself "Wow, I could really go for some romaine lettuce with some shaved parmesan and olives." Perhaps I am just projecting right now. I think our bodies are pretty decent barometers for understanding what we should be eating. We should all listen to them more—even if they tell us to eat the occasional piece of chocolate cake. Note: I said occasional!

Okay, I have been extremely busy as of late writing music, so be patient for the second, brief installment of:

Jordache vs. Levi's: Some Thoughts on Genes, Pt. Deux

Also on the docket: Still writing and interviewing Jeff Henderson, famed race director of the Musselman Half, Portland Triathlon, and Watkins Glen Du about race entry fees. I will have some really interesting information to share!

04 February 2010

10 More Days!

Only 10 Days left until I raffle off a Timex Ironman Race Trainer Kit provided courtesy of Timex.

You have up to four chances to win the watch just by:

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

2) Become a fan of Timex Sports on Facebook (nudge, nudge-wink, wink) Leave a separate comment letting me know.
(1 entry)
3) Post this contest on your blog, leave a separate comment letting me
know you've done so. (1 entry)

4) Go to the Timex website and then come back and leave a comment
telling me which products you like AND when you would wear it. (1 entry) 

Training: I had a pretty good morning workout: 1900 yard swim followed by a 40 minute (5 mile) run. My swim was suppose to be 500 yards more, but I somehow read the workout incorrectly, or did I?  Off to bed here right away. I have another early morning session planned: a one hour swim at 6:00 a.m. I hope the water temperature is not ridiculously warm like it was this morning. It literally felt like I was climbing in my bath tub.

Looking forward to getting my NEW Kinetic Fluid Road Trainer next week. Nothing is worse than having to perform a long indoor bike workout on a spinning cycle. Looking at this weekend's 2:45 minute ride was all the incentive I needed to order one. My butt usually falls asleep just about midway through, which of course means, that it is going to be up all night. I don't even know what that means. I'm tired and apparently delusional. I need sleep.

Oh, yes... almost forgot. The Luke Skywalker/Bytterfly picture turned out great. My friend Cristina said that I do not quite look mean enough. She suggested I work on my "vicious soulless hunter look." She said I look a little too much "spaghetti and meatballs." I'll work on looking less Italian Cristina.

Train Smart!

02 February 2010

The Best Part About Being A Dad

Often, people ask me what the best part of being a dad is. This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many things that I find rewarding—and challenging—about being a father of five children like: writing music, paying for groceries, training, watching a half of a football game, going to the bathroom by myself, trying to field more than one demand or question at a time. The wifey and me keep a mental journal of every amazing  and hysterical thing our children have said and done over the years. 
I think the best part of being a dad are the conversations that you have with your children. The conversations I have had with my children have left me dumbfounded, perplexed, amused, and in great awe at the philosophical inquiries their young minds are capable of.

For instance, just the other day I opened the door just as Luca was walking into the house. He asked, "Hey dad, how did you know I was at the door?"  I jokingly answered, "Luca... come one, I am your father, I know everything. Go ahead, ask me a question, anything. I am sure I'll know the answer." To which he replies, "Okay....  how did God make us?" I was not quite ready for that one. Where the heck did he come up with that one?

The other day my six year old, Julian, was practicing piano while Alaina was helping him along. Julian indicated that he was going to play a part of the piece incorrectly. When Alaina told him he was going to play it wrong he said, "I was just being sarcastic." One of the funniest things I ever heard Julian say occurred one night after I had just finished reading the children a book about animals. I asked the boys if they could be an animal, what animal they would be. Luca said he would be a lemur—strange, I know—but I think a lemur was one of the animals we read about in the book, so it made sense. Then I asked Julian what animal he would be. In a very soft, unassuming, little voice said he would like to be a coyote. When I asked him why, he paused briefly and said "... because coyotes eat lemurs."Luca looked over at Julian on the other side of the bed and said "Julian!

As for my girls, they just brighten my day! I am convinced that they will probably grow up to work as human P.A. systems, air raid sirens, or high frequency hearing aid testers. Yes, they are loud. They also never, EVER stop talking They talk all the time. How is that  possible? I guess I should enjoy it now while they are young. I mean, how long until they start resenting me, I become the least cool person they know, and are embarrassed of me? I think I roughly have eight more years left. I plan on enjoying my time being the center of their universe until then.

Okay off to bed so I can training tomorrow and have something to report. Don't forget to get moving on my Timex Triathlon Race Trainer Kit Giveaway!!