21 August 2011

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

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

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

Without further adieu....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Train Smart!

11 August 2011

Ramping Up For Rev 3 And Watching Rugrats Run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

03 August 2011

A Triathlete's Manifesto: CAN!

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

Fight Cancer

Beat Cancer

Last One Picked In Gym Class

To Let My Children Know That Anything Is Possible

The T-Shirt

Challenge Myself

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

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

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

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

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

It is a lifestyle. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I don't have the time to train."  

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

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

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

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

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

More soon. Train Smart!