28 December 2010

Pros and Cons Of Being A Monster

Okay, I know that Twilight is one of the most cliche teenage vampire movies of all time. Unquestionably the most cliche teenage vampire film of all time—The Lost Boys—is from my generation. It starred both of the now infamous 80's Corey's (Haim and Feldman), and the ever-popular Kip Winger look-alike, Kiefer Sutherland.  Anyway, Twilight is exactly the kind of mind-numbing mindless dribble I was looking for when logging hours on my trainer. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of playing a bit of it for wifey. After the first five minutes she looked at me and said "... this is SO silly." After 15 minutes, I asked her if she wanted me to turn it off. Wifey said... "nah... it's okay, go ahead, we can watch it." After a half hour, if I even cleared my throat, she was shushing me. It does not matter if it is blood-sucking vampires, women dig the chick flicks, even vampire chick flicks. Okay.. don't go calling me misogynistic... I mean by the end of the second Twilight film—New Moon—wifey was saying things like:

"... she can't be with Jacob. Edward is her first love," and "She so has to choose Edward. He is so mysterious."


This has prompted me to walk around the house most of the day with furrowed eyebrows and answering everything in riddle-like form. I'll show her mysterious.

Here is what I've learned from Twilight:

1) Women love romance. No matter how campy the movie is.
2) Vampires, although pale-faced and downright scary, can be wooed by women as long as they have bushy eyebrows, a thick head of hair, and drive a really shiny sports car.
3) Certain women gravitate towards the "bad boy" persona. What is more bad ass than saying... "Mom, meet my new boyfriend, Dracula."
4) If any of my daughter's self esteems were so low that they were willing to become an undead vampire to impress a boy, I have probably failed as a parent.
5) Werewolves, although terribly frightening are World class cliff divers. Who knew?

* = indicates a specific triathlon strength.


- Immortality
- Get to meet a lot of really cool historical figures over the next hundred years
- Can go to medical school and still have enough time to pay back your school loans
- Never have to worry about your Select Comfort sleep number bed number since..... you never sleep
- Have superhuman strength and speed*
- Staying out of the sun leaves them wrinkle-free for life.
- High protein, low fat diet *
- Werewolves get to eat muffins. Seriously—there is a scene in Twilight New Moon, where a bunch werewolves are just sitting around eating corn muffins. Nice.


- Terrible life if you were a foodie, chef, or food critic before becoming a vampire. Your diet consists of blood and...... well...blood.
- Immortality (yes, this is a pro and a con—how would you like seeing everyone you love die before you?)
- Pastey white complexion makes it difficult to "hit the beach" during the summer months ^
- Have to wait for capes to become fashionable again.
- Werewolves always have to carry around lint rollers with them because of wolf hair

Just some observations. What are yours?

It's 5:30 a.m. and I am off to the pool to go swimming for an hour followed by a 45 minute endurance run in zone 2. Roar.

More soon. Train Smart.

26 December 2010

The Confessions

Shortly after handing the no television punishment until the guilty water-in-the-soap culprit has been identified, my son Julian was the first one to confess his guilt. Julian confessed in his quiet, meek voice (not his usual voice immodulation disorder voice). For some reason, all of our children suffer from what my wife and I have determined to be temporary hearing loss. We have come to this conclusion because all of our children have at some point stood less than three feet away from us while speaking in a manner that resembles a PA system. Seriously, what is up with our children? Is their self-awareness so poor that they do not understand that they are shouting at us from across a table at dinner? But I digress.

The conversation went down like this:

Julian: "Mommy... I did it. I put the water in the soap."

Mommy: "You did? When did you do it?"

Julian: "Um..... sometime, like a couple of weeks ago."

Mommy: "No Julian, this was more recently. This must have happened in the last couple of days."

Julian: "Well, I don't know. I think... um.... maybe... it was like a couple of days ago."

Mommy: "Uh-huh."

Then it was Janina's turn to confess—followed by Luca—who literally said that he did it sometime "last year." It did not take us more than five seconds to realize what was going on. Our kids will confess to grand larceny if it means having their coveted television time back. We never found out who did it... but I have a sneaking suspicion it may have been Thing 1 or Thing 2.

Christmas morning was great fun. The bambini were up at the butt crack of dawn. This is not unusual. Wifey always makes fun of the fact that I do not know how—or do not care to take the time—to wrap Christmas presents. So, I always like to exaggerate the fact that I can not wrap a present to save my life. I get a bit campy with the high school-esque adoration. Can any men really wrap presents? I have not met one yet. Rumor has it that one lives in a forest with elves among the unicorns and dragons.

My Russian children. 

Julian deciding to have some of my vino on his birthday. (Christmas Eve)


SWIMMING: I can not believe I am saying this, but I am still very much enjoying the swimming.  Maybe when I am about a month and a half out from my first HIM in June, I will reconsider my feelings toward swimming, but right now, it has been my favorite workout. In fact, Coach Mary gave me a long swim workout that I was not suppose to get done in an hour, but I managed to just make it in 59:58!  I can not wait to see what she throws my way this week.

RUNNING: I had a great endurance run yesterday. It was the first time I ran outside in weeks. Coach Mary had me run 45 minutes (Merry Christmas) in zone 2. The weather yesterday was a balmy 21 degrees. When I got out initially, I was a bit cold. I wore tights, my Rev3 Cedar Point Finisher shirt as my base layer and a cold weather shirt. In about five minutes, I was nice and comfortable. The cold weather helped keep my heart rate down as well.
I get to go out New Years Day and run a 7.5 miler—as fast as I can. So, New Years Race Report to follow soon. I am a bit nervous about doing a race since I have been doing nothing more than zone 2 training the last couple of weeks. Heck, who am I kidding? It will be great fun to motor.

BIKING: The thing with biking during the winter, is that I have to get on my bike in the basement and be bored to tears. Honestly, I would rather look at the black line on the bottom of a pool then sit on a trainer for an hour. So, I have been downloading movies to keep me from clock-watching. So far, I have watched the first two Harry Potter movies while on the trainer with the boys. I have another week of base work until the real joy starts. Coach Mary said not to worry about these little zone 2 rides, because she will have me "puking over my front tire in no time." Ah, it is that kind of sadistic personality that I find especially heart warming in my coach this time of year!

More soon. Train Smart!

21 December 2010

The Inquisition

Recently, an inquisition ensued at my house that made the whole Spanish one look like a tiny religious squabble.

When you have five children all under the age of eight, and someone or something is:

a) broken
b) missing
c) hurt by "mysterious" circumstances

our house conducts a special United States Senate Subcommittee Investigation into what may have initiated said incident. This is how it went down:

I was in my basement doing a one hour trainer ride, when all of a sudden from upstairs I hear wifey in a VERY loud voice ask "Who put water in the soap?"


Seconds later... "Who put water in the soap?"


Now, I should preface that putting water in the soap dispenser is a very small problem. It is a very small problem if it happens once. After four or five times without the apprehension of a suspect, the Chief of Police at my house (wifey) has had just about enough. You see, as wifey likes to explain to me—because I often need explaining—soap is expensive. And because we like to live life green, wifey buys soap that is good for the environment. This soap happens to be a little pricer than  most  normal,"continue to kill our planet" varieties. As an aside, I should tell you that for some reason little girls particularly enjoy dispensing soap and rubbing it all over the sink in the bathroom, on the vanity, countertops, (you get the idea). Even at the local YMCA, my girls can not help themselves with the bubbly hand sanitizer. Perhaps the little ladies have some sort of unhealthy tactile fascination with the slippery stuff, but they just can not seem to leave the stuff alone.  I am suddenly imagining stumbling upon an incriminating picture of my girls years from now on  Facebook on spring break somewhere—unbeknownst to wifey and I—at one of those cheesy, touristy bars with a soap machine, getting lathered up while drinking cheap swill that the natives likes to pass as beer. Wonderful! Moving on....

My wife calls all of them into the living room at which time she starts her diatribe about the cost of soap, how hard mommy and daddy work to buy things, and even the obligatory "... and shut the lights out when you leave your room. Don't you know we don't own the electric company?" As a child, I always found this a bit odd. Even if you did own the electric company, wouldn't you still have to pay for the service provided? But I digress.

The response: Five little round faces with cherub-like gazes looked back at my wife with nothing but innocence and astonishment. First—how does this witch know I put water in the soap. Secondly, what will the punishment be if I should come forward and admit to this heinous, vile, insolent act?!
So, we sat around for five minutes waiting for someone to confess. Nothing. So, wifey decided to play hardball. "Okay—no t.v. or movies until the person who did admits to it." Still nothing.  We got some shifty eyes from the twins. Very shifty. So, we can not p unish everyone indefinitely, but they will have to go without their coveted Scooby Doo and Dora the Explorer until Christmas morning—which might as well be an eternity for them. We've been doing a tad more reading around the ole' house this week.

Speaking of reading, Luca and I are now on book 3 of the Harry Potter series. We are reading them together. They are a fantastic read for both him and me. I realized something about reading books to my children. My philosophy with toys has always been:

If I am going to sit down and play with toys for hours with my children, it better be something that I actually want to play as well. That is why Luca and Julian are into building lego models. I love building Legos with the boys. I actually think Legos are one of the coolest toys in the galaxy. Julian will literally spend hours building Lego models following, what he refers to as "the map." So, Harry Potter is fun to read because it is well written. If I have to read one more Berstein Bear, or Arthur book I think I may just go crazy.

We took my wifey's parents out for dinner on Friday. They sure do a lot for us. With five kids, they were our primary source of childcare this past semester, year, lifetime... as wifey and I were busy with some professional obligations. We would never be able to swing it if it were not for them and the help of family and friends. Here are a few of the delicious eats we had with explanations. Try not to drool:

Oysters on the half shell
Rock shrimp and calamari in deliciousness with daikon radish and field greens
Wifey's tina roll
The Vino

I am not that evil, so I will not post the main courses, but they were might yummy!

Oh yeah... TRAINING:

I could not be happier with my progress thus far. I feel fit, and ready to go. The bikes are a little behind where I would like them right now. I am just starting to get into the swing of biking again and my legs are asking the rest of my body what the hell is going on. Nothing like being in your basement on a trainer for the remainder of the winter. And, luckily for me, winter in western New York is only a mere 9 months long!  Coach Mary has me training to keep my HR in zone 2 on my runs and bike. I am finding it extremely difficult on my runs because of my ego, and because I am not incredibly patient. I mean, what the heck do I do on my runs? Walk?? So, this week has me doing endurance runs no longer than an hour.

I am currently in love with swimming. What the heck?!!! I have been doing these great swim workouts that I am really excited about. Essentially, Coach Mary is giving me swims that are far beyond what I can do in an hour. There is something really liberating about knowing that I can not get it done. For some reason, when the pressure is off to motor, it happens anyway.

I think I am going to do a 7.5 mile race on New Year's morning (pending Coach Mary's approval). I am alaso looking forward to doing a "location run" when I head out to Seattle the beginning of January to hear the premiere of my new piece "Chromium Music" by The Tangletown Trio. Word on the street is that there are some awesome places for seafood in the Pacific Northwest. You don't say?

More soon. Train Smart!

15 December 2010

I Wish I Had Gills

I wish I had gills. Although, I am not sure that it would really help much.

This week marked the beginning of my Ironman base training with Coach Mary. Coach Mary coaches a lot of athletes, but somehow she gives the personal attention that makes you think she has a camera set up in my house and is aware of each time I delve into"slacker mode." She is already on me like white on rice. I rather like this. I mean, this is why I wanted a coach this season. I have quickly learned that when you have a coach, there is no such thing as not logging your workouts.

I took my swim test yesterday. This included a moderate length warm up, followed by the yardage to find my 100 pace. My warmup felt great, maybe too great. By the time I got to my pace set, I was a little tired already. I think part of this is that I am still going to bed too late. I have to work on this. Needless to say, my 100 pace is NOT terribly fast. The good news is that Coach Mary is a swimmer, and if anyone can help me with an analysis of my swim, she can. She makes Aquaman look like a chump (or so I've been told).  What is the deal with Aquaman exactly. I mean... honestly, there is no Aquawoman. Doesn't he get a tad lonely down there in the eerie green deep with all of those prehistoric looking sea creatures?

Training thus far is going relatively well. I dig training when I have specific goals. It was weird just jumping into the pool and going out for a run without any real specific plan. I have been noticing a familiar sensation that usually accompanies my workouts: hunger. Yeah, I am pretty much extremely hungry all day. I joke, but one of the reasons I love training this hard is that I can consume as much food as  some of those on the competitive eating tours. Honestly, I am not proud of this fact, but I can pack away a pound or pasta in one sitting.

I have some exciting news about some of the sponsors for Team Trakkers this upcoming season.

Kestrel will be the official bike sponsor of Team Trakkers for the 2011 season.  Yes, this means I will be rocking a brand new bike this summer. Will it be this one pictured here? No. This bike is far too small for me. I mean, even on the largest computer screen, this bike would only measures four or five inches long.

Seriously, I am figuring out what bike and component group to go with. Any suggestions?  Just go to the Kestrel website and pick out a bike for me. Maybe I should put an online poll up. I could also have a donation page for anyone wanting to fuel my lifestyle. Nah—just kidding. I will be selling my ole' trusty steed to one deserving triathlete. I shall miss you Cookie Monster. We had some good times. Thanks for getting me through Rev3 Cedar Point. I shall miss you.

Avia is the official shoe sponsor of Trakkers. Although I have never worn Avia's, I have heard good things about them from a number of athletes. How cool is it that their racing flat comes in Trakkers green
and black

I am really excited to report that the official nutrition sponsor of the Trakkers team is First Endurance. I am really excited because most of my training partners from this past season got on board with First Endurance with me. So, I know it is going to be really easy to promote their awesome products.
I will be posting some lengthy reviews of my gear once I get underway with all of it.

Okay, I am off. I have an hour bike ride tonight. I will probably watch an episode of Iron Chef while I am on my trainer. Iron Chef is the greatest cooking show on the planet. Two chefs go head to head to create culinary masterpieces with a single featured ingredient as the main focus of a dish. So, they will have these chefs making four to six different courses with things like broccoli, herring, kobe beef, and mushrooms as their featured ingredient. I think I dig this show because I am a composer. Composition is just like cooking when you get down to it. It is all about different colors, texture, presentation.

Training: Coach Mary gave me a swim workout for tomorrow that reads: Do as much as you can in the time allotted. Huh? As much as I can in an hour? Clearly, she is trying to drown me. More soon. Train smart!

08 December 2010



I already knew I led an incredibly blessed life, but it is always amazing when life throws you a special bonus. This afternoon I learned that I would be joining an amazing team this summer, as I was selected for the 2011 Trakkers team. I will be joining some of my longtime blogger buddies Kelly, Anne, Jeff, and Mandy to name but a few, as well as meeting and introducing all of you to my many new awesoime team members. If any of you have done a Rev 3 event, you know how encouraging and accessible the Trakkers team is.

I have to admit, I NEVER thought when I set out to do my first triathlon four short seasons ago that it would become a lifestyle.

Training:  I have had to switch a few of my workouts around, but I am getting in all the volume. I will have to talk to coach Mary at some point.. like, soon... to find out if this is actually okay. I missed my swim/run yesterday, so I did it today as well as the 30 minute bike.  It is painful doing 30-minute bike rides, but coach Mary insists that six months from now when I am doing six hour rides I will not be complaining about increasing my bike volume. Hey, I did a triathlon today—wahoo!

Rainbows And Hogwarts Therapy

I'm alive—really! As the semester comes to a quick end, I am consumed by things such as grading, finishing a new composition, and fielding questions from students who feel like their various degrees of procrastination throughout the semester has suddenly constituted some type of emergency on my part. How does that work exactly? Okay, I must admit, I often resembled that student while I was an undergraduate. It took me a bit of time to figure out how to manage my life. Of course, my wife would insist that if it were not for her, I would be unable to pay bills, wash dishes, fold laundry, and make the bed. She knows the correct her way of doing things. Seriously, I know I am not going to get any sympathy here, especially from my female friends who probably understand the dynamics of my relationship with the wifey and understand that if it were not for her, I would not be able to tie my shoes before leaving the house in the morning.

In any event, my Thanksgiving tryptophan hibernation is slowly wearing off following my Thanksgiving Day feast, and as I promise yet again never to eat my weight in apple pie over the course of a weekend, I look forward to doing so every year around Thanksgiving time.

I had a great Thanksgiving weekend. Vanessa came home for the holiday and we had a chance to talk running, triathlon, beer, music, medieval stuff that I do not really understand, but I shook my head up and down and furrowed my eyebrows to pretend to know what she was talking about. Every once in a while, I would work in the occasional chin rub to add to the faux-illuminati experience.

Last Monday was my first day of training with coach Mary. My first week has been pretty tame—nothing over a one hour workout. I am back into the swing of running. Unfortunately, the end of my semester has been frantic—to say the least—and I have already missed a couple of workouts. I have not had the energy (I can always make time) to get up early and get out the door. More, because the weather has been yucky, I have had to stay overnight a few days and it just messes up my training rhythm. Ugh!

Here are some things I definitely know now that I am older and wiser:

1) The mental fatigue that results of having far too much on the burner at any moment (and trying to perform it all exceptionally well, usually gives way to physical exhaustion. This manifests with less mental acuity needed for my workouts. My muggle friends (i.e. those who do not partake in triathlon) think that running, biking—or dare I say this—swimming for an HOUR is merely a physical act. On the contrary, you need to be mentally connected to your workouts. If you are mentally wiped, chances are your workouts will not be as effective as they could be with proper rest and peace of mind.

The best way to combat this for me is to do my workouts early in the morning. That way, it is out of the way and I am not getting stressed about when I am going to fit my workouts in.

2) I started reading the first Harry Potter book with my oldest son, Luca. Why I have not read these books yet is beyond me. They are well written. My son asks to read the books with him on the weekend rather than watch a movie with siblings—very cool! I also find getting lost in the fantasy world of Hogwarts for a half an hour a night with my boys very therapeutic.

3) Hydration is important. Duh. For some reason, as the winter months roll in—and those of you living south of the Monongahela line, do not even pretend to know what I am talking about—I forget to hydrate. Sure, you warm blooded creatures get the occasional cold day, even week, but you can not possibly understand what it is like for us poor, wretched souls, stuck up in western New York that are pounded all winter long by the unrelenting white stuff. Anyway, more hydration is in order for the remaining winter.

I am just starting to get in the flow of stuff. Although, with the end of the semester quickly approaching and final grades looming in my not-too-distant future, I am still up to my earlobes.

I will get in a workout here in just a few minutes. I am walking up to the pool to get some much needed therapy.

More soon. Train Smart!