Monday, March 30, 2009

anti Midas touch

Some people can create beautiful melody's and others can think of something and build it with their hands. I am the opposite of this, I am a destructionist. I just, quite simply, can destroy anything I touch.

I used to believe that it was normal to go through three or four watches a year, or a wet suit a race season, along with several pairs of goggles, shoes, shocks, sunglasses, tri shorts and other assorted sports paraphernalia. Nay, nay. I realize that I am not experiencing bad luck in my purchases, my purchases are doomed to a life of hard living the moment I take them out of the box.

I currently have a wetsuit with a torn zipper and once that is fixed, I need to wet test a one inch rip I glued myself. I just bought my second ironman watch this year and my second set of goggles. I have a newer pair of hiking boots with the side rim of rubber coming off (Goo anyone?) and a sturdy daypack I bought just over a year ago is ripped and battered. My favorite adventuring shirts and pants are conspicuously stitched with red thread, (my preferred color of repair) and blotched with stains and roughed areas.

I prefer it this way. How will I know if I can trust this gear when it really counts, unless I take it to hell and back. I think it is why I am so 'for' certain brands. Even though I wear them out quickly, they last longer than others. Plus if you don't push your gear hard, how will you know what it can really do.

Wait...I think I just realized something. I've done the same thing to my body over the last few years. Dammit! I hate it when I see allegories that refute my current thinking. I don't think I can get a full repair this item. I need to take better care of my body. I know I am quite capable of taking it to hell and back.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lapping an old friend

I have a friend. Someone I have spent countless hours with. A friend that has been there for me rain or shine, good times and bad. I was supposed to meet my friend last April on a really big day. Instead I almost died a couple miles away. And really hadn't seen my friend since. Fear, embarrasment, life all played a part in that.

It was a really nice day recently and thought I'd go see my friend. It had been almost a year since I'd had the courage. You see my friend is a taker. I don't mind I created the relationship. I was suprized that on this day, just our first time together again, that my friend gave back.

My friend is not a person. My friend is the five mile loop around Tempe Town Lake. A path I have run a hundred miles on. A path that holds 85% of the Ironman run course and all of dozens more races I have done there.

I stuck to my plan. I ran nine minutes and walked one. Repeat. When the auto lap went off at at mile 1 and I had not hit my first walk break, I was surprized. As I finally walked my minute I figured I would even out on mile 2. I hit mile 2 at 17 minutes. I ran a faster second mile. Mile 3, 4 and 5 gave me an average split of 9 minute miles while including a 1 minute walk.

My friend was not mad at my imposed separation. My friend showed no emotion at my return. But there's no mistaking I was glad to be back.

There's treasure everywhere.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Between the lines

From a very early age I tracked my workouts. I have various notepads for gym work going back to 1990 but the serious tracking started when I ran marathons for the US Army a couple years later. While I do and have used several fantastic online journals, free and paid, I often find myself using a notepad and a stubby pencil.

On Sunday I finished what I thought a decent ride on a hilly course with several of my team mates. As I often do I copied the numbers from my cyclocomputer (Polar 200 w/ wireless cadence). On a whim I flipped back to my first ride on this course this year in January, my first serious ride since my injury in April.

How did I compare two months later?

The first time I did this 21 mile course in January, I could not stay with the team so I only did 13 miles, sticking to the the main road as they did out and backs. Now I stayed all they way.

That first ride took me 1'10" to do 13 miles averaging 13.3 mph. I just did the full 21 miles in 1'19" averaging 16mph. My top speed is now five mph faster from 30 to 35 mph.

My HR that first ride was an average of 147 and high of 182. As I said there are hills. Now my average is 141 bpm and my max is 165. On the same course. Drops on both sides. Very happy.

Cadence in January was an average of 80 rpm and a max of 98. Now I average 85 rpm and my max on Sunday is 117 rpm.

In all I am very pleased with this progress. While it's not race worthy it is certainly health worthy and I love that I can do what I love.

There's treasure everywhere.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

High Points: Silly Mountain

Yes its name is Silly Mountain, located off the US-60 just east of Apache Junction. I have driven past this trail head many times, most recently this very day on my way out to our team cycling route.

I can only speak for myself on this, but I often drive past hills/mountains/etc and desire to get to its peak. On the way back from a great 21 mile rolling hill route, I pulled over and decided to bag this one.

As I stepped over the entrance gate, I asked a returning hiker, "How do I get up there, sir?" Pointing to the summit above. After consulting his trail guide and deciding on the southern route, off I went along the Brittlebrush trail. A very well developed desert trail with the typical stones sticking out of the ground, I jogged a decent pace toward the Old Mine Trail which connects me to the High Point trail, a short, decent scramble to the top.

As families coming down politely moved aside as ran up, one mother asked me, "Are you a fireman?"

"No ma'am, Ironman," the response spewing from my lips organically. At that moment, I did not have a year of recovery, I was bricking a 21 mile hilly bike with a magnificent trail run up virgin (to me) trail known only as Silly Mountain.

Reaching the summit took less than 15 minutes. It was a perfect route for my expectations. After a few photos, chugs of water, and wonderful veiw to catch my breath, off I went back to the world and responsibilities.

Now when I drive past Silly Mountain I can point and say, "Been there, done that," and love the moment once again.

There's treasure everywhere.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mighty Mo football

Mighty Mo's flag football team is the only undefeated 3-0 team in the league. Trust me its not all offense and its not all defense. There is quite a bit of luck and humor in this thing at this age.

I was lucky enough to catch my first sunburn of the year. It was 90 degrees today. Youch. I haven't gotten into the habit of sunscreen yet.

We rushed home as our first guest pulled up to our "Meet Mae" open house. While the traffic was about half of what was expected there was twice as many kids and us parents had a great time sitting around the table passing the baby around. Well the wives passed the baby around and the guys talked about upcoming training. Mae did great, drinking, cooing and flaying about in a pretty polka-dotted frilly spring dress.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

With Age?

It used to be when we first met that Mistress and I had completely different sleep patterns. I barely at all and at most three hours a night, and her ten to twelve if she could swing it. I hate to sleep, she loves it.

Now it seems I MUST have eight hours a night, regardless of when I go to bed or when I plan to get up. This sucks. I don't like sleeping that long. I don't like waking up and wanting to stay in bed. I don't like the zombie I am in until my body wakes up if I don't get this 'full' nights sleep.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A sad tale of Closed Head Injury

Noted actress Natasha Richardson, is being listed as brain dead after suffering a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) while taking private ski lessons in Canada. The TBI occurred after a simple fall at the bottom of a beginning ski slope, where the actress hit no person or object. She was not wearing a helmet.

She is the wife of Liam Neeson and daughter of Vanessa Redgrave.

The instructor witnessed the fall and arrived at her side in seconds. She remarked she felt fine, but the instructor and two ski patrolman followed strict guidelines and escorted the actress to the lodge and stressed medical attention. After staying with her for an hour, the actress complained of headaches and was rushed to a nearby hospital.

While the accident is different, the next few hours played out almost exactly as my Closed Head Injury (CHI). Far too often these start out so similar. I was fine after my accident and several hours later after complete normalacy I began having headaches, then seizures, then woke up and lost a whole life of memory's to amnesia.

Now two decades and a dozen more Traumatic Brain Injurys (TBI) later, all concussions, I read these stories and just know that God has a plan for my life. With all that I have been through, dare I say survived, between multiple head injury's, multiple heat strokes, kidney failure, liver failure; and not to forget my adventurous activities, I am one damn lucky dude.

So yes, I may get some odd looks because I use a super cool, kick ass helmet for odd activities, in my case any activity I could fall, but its a life insurance policy for me. Fashion be damned. Hell I own more spandex tights than running shorts. It can't be worse than that.

But my heart does go out to the family of this actress and I truly hope that the reports are wrong and she makes a miraculous recovery.

UPDATE 3/18/09 @ 1900 HRS.: Natasha Richardson has passed away due to a Traumatic Brain Injury suffered during what appeared to have been an unspectacular fall on a beginner ski slope. A tragic ending and accident. The affects of even the most mundane hit to the head cannot be dismissed or excused. Always error on the side of caution and after a hit to the head, PREPARE for medical attention before it becomes an emergency.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A lapse in time

Man, I don't even stay in the hospital for a week without posting. Where did that time go. Oh, yes, we have a new baby in the house.

I did have my longest run since my injury at Ironman last year. 10k. Felt really good. I did a 9:1 run/walk. Everything actually felt right. Running has always been a comfort for me and this felt like getting to know an old friend again. I recall so well wondering, "What am I going to train today?" Then just hop out of bed and run 15-18 miles. I don't know if my body will ever let me get back to that kind of endurance conditioning without some sort of fatal error, but I am optimistic for more, much more progress.

Other than a long run, everything else was short, intense interval training at a higher HR than I probably should have gone. Overall, not much more, maybe ten beats on average but I will confess on activity put my HR at 207 for a few minutes.

My one regret was not cycling. I tried. Just did not happen. This week for sure. I hope tonight. Baby's always have a way of getting in the way of good spin on the trainer.

There's treasure everywhere.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Its a shakedown for a reason

I had little expectations in my workout Saturday. Meet the team for a swim at Canyon Lake and make sure my watch and wetsuit work. The watch got a new battery last week, the wetsuit had a long rip that I patched myself over the winter.

I wore the newly rebatteried Polar watches for a quick shower and drove out to the lake. Why was the watch face foggy on the way up? Why when I toggle through the functions is the screen is readable but all messed up? Damn. The seals and screws must not be tight enough. I decided on the one hour drive out to the lake that I would wear the watch swimming anyway, it's going to work or not. Why an hour, you ask and not the usually much shorter drive. Out of state folks who are on their slow ass nature treks. It sucks. Its like driving through a 10 mile single lane school zone at 15 mph and its not a school day and you can't pass them.

I got to the beach on time and the rest of the team showed up a bit late, same issue. As I slipped into my full wetsuit, the first time since Ironman last year, the zipper was stuck. After a pal tugged on it, it broke. Damn.

Watch busted. Wetsuit busted. An hour drive, a twenty minute wait for everyone to show and no swim. Oh well. It's why its called a shakedown. Based on the condition I was in the last day I wore that wetsuit, I'll take those two flaws to being dead.

There's treasure everywhere.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Reading confessions.

Shh, don't tell anyone but after a decade of reading Triathlete magazine, a periodical that I have been a published writer within, I stopped reading in 2007. This month is the first month in almost a decade that I will not be receiving a Runners World magazine in my mailbox. I am quite sad about this but I have been resigned to this fact for over a year and just waited for the subscription to expire. I realized that my money truly only went to reading Scott Tinley's last page in the former and John Binghams 'Waddle On' column in the later.

What do these two columns have in common that left the remainder of the magazines lacking? They were truly about the struggles of the common man.

I became incredibly bored reading about what the pro's wear, what the pro's eat, what they ride, what they run in and where they train. Sigh. Each magazine wrote less and less about race days and became a masturbatory opus to their advertisers.

Let me invite you in on a secret. The pro's ride what their sponsors give them. They run in what their sponsors give them. And the big surprise, even after completing dozens of Ironmans from Kona on down, not a single one of them will tell you they are ever confident in their nutrition on race day.

The fact is, they got boring. They became more about the pro's and less about the age groupers. Oh sure, the Gear of the Year annuals are great and I may thumb through them this year but it won't be to drool over new Shiny Things.

I love my running shoes, I have worn others but on race day I have relied on the same make for 7 years.

I have the bike of my dreams and the wheel set of my dreams and they weren't found in a magazine. If, God forbid, my Valdora is broken or stolen, I will consult my tri store but most likely will get newer model of my current bike. Why mess with a great thing?

Goggles, wet suits, gloves, socks, flasks, water bottles you ask? All expendable items and once you get above a certain level of manufacturing are completely arbitrary. And trust me I own $15 running socks ergonomically designed for the left foot and right foot and they're no better than $9 DeFeets. I could care less if one water bottle is better than another. I just don't want the lid to leak when I squeeze the bottle upside down. And come to think of it, why can't all bottles have the same size lid? I have 20 bottles and 15 lids and none of them match.

But back to the two magazines that stoked a fire in me for over a decade. They inspired me and I loved them for that. Did I change after my upteenth race or did they change after caving in to marketing?

I think actually it was the readers of this blog and the (fractured but still thriving?) Triathlete Blogesphere we created. You are the common wo/man that I needed to hear from and meet and build relationships with, not the pros. What did you eat, how did you train, what did you learn? Thanks to you I am richer in thought and deed than the money I spent each month on those magazines that at one time changed my life. You all changed my life much more profoundly. And that's a true confession.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New map service

I remember the day when I if I wanted to know how far I ran, and it wasn't on a track, I would reset the odometer in my car and drive it out. Occasionally as I got older I would use a hiking GPS and my mtn. bike. I wasn't until I got sponsored by Polar Heart rate monitors in 2006 that I truly fell in love with what technology had done with distance measuring with their accelarameter footpods. Garmin came along and while I am only familiar with the product, its at a whole 'nother level with GPS mapping.

As a side benefit to all this technology I became a big fan of Gmaps Pedometer online. I can zoom into wherever on Earth I am starting my run and using a series of waypoints map out with decent accuracy the distance of the route I would like to go. Using the Hybrid or Satellite views I could see side roads, trails and street signs.

I haven't had need of that program for a long time, almost a year. When I came back to it recently I found that it had been changed. The Gmap program now only travels down the middle of main roads. I can't click on a trail or side path and measure distance. THAT SUCKS.

Clicking around alternate sites, I lucked upon the USA Track & Field website and their mapping program is what Gmap used to be. LINK HERE

If you are at all interested in pre-mapping a run or ride, heck even a point to point swim, give this program a chance.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Is it really square 1 when you start over?

Well I am at about 90% recovered from the month long lung and sinus crap that has plagued my part of the world. At least I did not have to go through this alone. I have a whole company of people who got it along with bloggy buddy Bigun.

A few more nights of extra sleep and I think I can start my morning routines again. I will confess I did not have a totally workout free weekend. I tried out a bike trainer on loan from my friend Andy and rode it for 30 minutes. It worked just fine and so did I, thank you very much. However I really need to get the Valdora into the shop for a drive cleaning and cable check. Had some problems there.

Living in the Valley of the the Sun has its perks and today is certainly one of those days. While the east coast, from Maine to Georgia, is being struck by a blizzard, the Valley is going to see 90 degrees. Gadzuks that early. I am hoping a short mid day run goes as planned.

How many times have I been to square one? A few to be sure. However each time it gets a little easier to get back on track. I am not the endurance athlete I was five years ago. I understand the habits, the causes, the effects, the personal costs, the motivation, the heart. Its not a new path for me. I hope this time being behind a bad cold and the birth of Baby Mae that things goes a bit more smoothly for a few months. Maybe get to Square 2.

There's treasure everywhere

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mighty Mo football

Mo, had his first flag football game of the spring season this weekend with his new team, the Steelers. It was a pre-season game so the coaches could fine tune and not cost them a win or loss in regular season. I thought I would share the results.

The team shirts had not arrived by game day so Mo played in his technical tee. Also there was some confusion on game fields and game times so lots of teams and parents were just sitting around watching other games on a hill overlooking the fields. As his game continued, more and more people who recognized Mo started shouting his name, "Get a flag, Mo!", "C'mon, Mo!" Perhaps a group of a dozen to start but his name is easy to remember and the crowd was having fun so more and more joined in.

As with last season and probably why he generates such comments is he is completely focused on the game. During the plays he pursues every kid with the ball. As you would expect he doesn't catch many but he runs everything out full speed. And instead of lollygagging or getting into the defensive huddle he runs right back to his position on the defense line and gets into a focused ready position.

After three or four sets on defense, one of the parents on our team mentioned that the other teams offense was staying away from Mo's side of the line, even though he had not pulled a single flag. As more time went by it was obvious to everyone that Mo was dictating the offensive movement (away from him) on the field. When Mo did get his flag it happened so fast that no one realized it, let alone the runner. Mo stuffed his arm into the air and the crowd erupted.

Now, in age 5-6 flag football, after a team scores a touchdown, the other offense starts on their own twenty yard line and moves towards the end zone on the opposite side of field. In this situation, there was only ten seconds left to play and Mo was the only player on the team to not have played offense during the game. The coach decided to put Mo in as a running back.

The ball was handed off to him at the goal line and in what was called by all spectators the "Greatest Play of the Game", Mo got the ball and ran the entire length of the field for a touchdown on the last play of the game.

Right into the throng of people who had been cheering him on during the game. What a great celebration.

The pursuers thoughts, "He got away from me?"

Notice the hand on Mo's flag.

Howard Cosell: "He could go..all the way"