Friday, March 30, 2007

I've Just Gotta Tri This

A few of you have already guessed it... I've gone and signed myself up for a triathlon. The Tupper Lake Tinman Triathlon is a Half Ironman distance and consists of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and a 13.1 mile run.

I've looked over the results from last year but I honestly have no idea how I'll do or what my times will be like.

The swim will likely be my weakest event and is also the biggest variable for me. I fully anticipate crushing the bike leg.

Running a half marathon is never easy, particularly after swimming more than a mile in open water and biking 56 miles in the Adirondack Mountains. Despite these challenges I think I'll be able to muscle/heart out the run.

I'm not following nor have I found a formal training plan as of yet but I am working on all three sports. Any recommendations on training plans is welcome. I am also open to any recommended reading on biking and swimming technique.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Xtrain Weekend or About the Bike

On Saturday I ran a 10 mile tempo run with some of the Hellgate crew. On Sunday I took my "new" road bike out for the my very first ride (more on this below). On Monday morning I hit the pool for about an hour.

I am pooped.

So, about the bike. It is a late 80's road bike made by Cannondale. It was probably a fairly high-end bike when new but by today's stadards it's... well let's just say it's pushing up on 20 years old.

It was purchased used on Craig's List Seattle by my de facto brother-in-law about a decade ago. A few years later it was retrofitted for my sister-in-law who lives in Boston. Last week it made its way to New York and to me.

This "free" bike ending up costing almost $500 to tune it up and refit it with a new seat, stem, handlebars, aerobars, water cages, computer, helmet, flat kit, etc... I do have to give mad props to the folks at Tony's Bike Shop here in Astoria. They are friendly, knowledgeable and they spent a significant amount of time working with me and the bike.

As I noted prior, I took it out on Sunday for the first ride. I put in 25 miles in about an hour and a half. This is roughly 16.5 miles per hour, probably a little faster when you factor in stopping for red lights and such. Per my Polar Heart Rate Monitor my average HR for the workout was 134 - which seems on the low side.

The real story here is the saddle. There is one additional piece of equipment that will be essential before I go out for another ride of this duration or intensity... BIKE SHORTS!!!

Good Lord! How do professional cyclists do it?!?!?!?

"On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow."
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, March 23, 2007

Dumb... But Funny

The good people at the Washington Post recently put this collection of humorous photos together...

People are dumb (but funny).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Colon Cancer Challenge - 15K

I had no intention of running the New York Road Runner's Colon Cancer Challenge this past Sunday - but as turned out, it was a good thing I did.

Just two days before the race I was still hemming and hawing about what to do. It had recently been suggested that I pick a race of a shorter distance and go all out - 115% effort. If I have the race of my life... Excellent. If I red line and blow up... Excellent. Either way I learn a good lesson about my ability.

I eventually decided to follow this suggestion and drop the hammer on this 4-miler. Given the fair weather it seemed reasonable that I would best my recent PR for this distance.

At the very last minute I changed my mind and decided to run the 15K instead. However, I did not change my race strategy. This 15k was to be a knock down, drag out, bare-knuckled slugfest.

I queued up right at the front of the starting chute with a couple of the fastest of my teammates. Speaches were made and the starting horn sounded.

I ran my best time for the 15k last year. I finished in 1:06:35 which is a pace of 7:09 per mile. On Sunday my first mile clocked in at 6:15... Mile 2 came and went in 6:02. Clearly I was on a mission!

As I past the 3 mile marker it dawned on me that I had just run my fastest 5k ever. I also realized that my heart was about to explode. As much as I'd like it to be true, I am not yet capable of running this pace for 9.3 miles.

Somewhere between mile 4 and 5 I realized that keeping a positive mental outlook was going to be key to getting myself across the finish line. As thoughts of slowing down or giving up crossed my mind I actually spoke these words allowed:

"no. No. NO!"

Those running near me must have thought me crazy... but that was just the begining! An old Johnny Mercer song then popped into my head and I had a new mantra!

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

With my new found positive outlook came a little boost in energy and I muscled up Cat Hill for the second time and pushed as hard as I could along the reletively flat East Drive.

The race then cut across Central Park and doubled-back down the rolling hills of West Drive. At the top of one of these hills I bonked...

I ran out of gas...

I walked...

I was messing with Mister In-Between.

With a few choice words I got myself running again by accentuating the positive fact that the finish line was only two miles away.

This 15-kilometer rumble was giving me a whoopin' but like Rocky Balboa I still had a little fight left in me for the last round.

With about a half mile to go I heard someone call my name... And then again... And then a few hundred meters from the finish line my teammate Eddie passed me.

Oh no you don't!

I kicked like I've never kicked before and I got him by 2 seconds.

Photo by Jared Mestre

My finish time was 1:02:30 a pace of 6:43 per mile and a personal record by over four minutes. Needless to say, I am very pleased.

Of course there are the inevitable "what if's" and the "could have," "should have" and "would have's" but I ran a great race and can honestly say I gave it my best.

"You're gonna eat lightnin' and you're gonna crap thunder!"
-Mickey Goldmill in Rocky (1976)

Friday, March 09, 2007

45:33 Nike+ Original Run

Nike, in cahoots with iTunes, has been building up a catalog of what they call “sport music.” It's mostly a collection of up-tempo songs picked by Nike sponsored celebrity athletes such as Lance Armstrong, Tom Brady and Vince Carter, as well as iMixes uploaded to iTunes by enthusiastic Nike consumers.

Recently I was made aware of something altogether different by my friends at WeCastMusic. Nike had commissioned music producer James Murphy of DFA Records to produce a song specifically engineered for runners. The result is "45:33: Nike Original Run" - a forty-five minute track that is supposedly built around the arc of a run of the same duration.

The first minute of the song is the digital equivalent of a turbine engine revving up - the tempo cycles and spins into a whirling intensity. Oddly enough the unique electronica intro transitions into a piano-driven 70's funk beat and stays that way for the next ten minutes. Think piano, 5-piece drum kit and electric bass guitar. The groove is solid and tempo is quick enough to run to, though the "shame on you" vocals aren't very inspiring.

At about 10 minutes into the song the funk gives way to a Chemical Brothers-like drum-n-bass vibe. This section has a happy, uplifting and trance inspiring beat... Perfect to zone out and pound out the miles. Occasionally a hypnotic, nay, quasi-subliminal voice can be heard saying things like "... it was such a long journey" or "... It took hours and days and years..." Gimme a break!

20 minutes into this epic the 70's funk and drum-n-bass merge and horns are introduced to form a compelling and driving rhythm. At this point you're either bored to tears by the repetitive nature of the song or have zoned out and are running faster than you ever have.

But wait, what's this....? After investing 30 minutes into this song it abruptly changes and becomes... a completely different song! Unfortunately it's a mediocre song. The good news is that it's relatively short, fairly benign and the tempo is very fast.

Finally, this Ulysses length jam winds down into a soothing, zen electronic outro. Presumably this celestial bit of audio engineering is for cooling down and stretching. Personally I think it comes too soon and lasts too long.

I can't quite say that 45:33 is my favorite new tune but, I do like it. At times it feels as if it were written by musicians and marketing executives rather than runners but it does stand on it's own as a purpose built song. As a concept it is an excellent idea and I am keen to hear more of the like such as Aesop Rock's forty-five minute epic "All Day."

Coincidentally... WeCastMusic is reviewing this song today as well. Stop by and here what actual music critics they have to say.

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."
-Henry David Thoreau

Monday, March 05, 2007

Queens Tribune

As I noted in a recent post, I was interviewed by a reporter working on a story for a local newspaper, the Queens Tribune.

The article is now published and can be seen online here. It is a longish story on fitness in general but if you scroll down to the headline "Runners Set Their Personal Regimens" you'll find the section on running. You can also get directly to the running section here.

Kudos to Yvonne for keeping a wicked schedule and making me look like a complete slacker!

"Newspapers should have no friends."
-Joseph Pulitzer