Monday, December 28, 2009


I am telling you right now, had there not been an open bottle of Hersey's Caramel topping in my refrigerator, I would be at least two pounds lighter than I am today. Because look, its not just the caramel topping, any a moron can dip a spoon in a jar, its creatively applying that ooey, gooey, scrumptious substance to something else. Usually something chocolate.

My Flatiron hike on Christmas Eve, hammered, hammered, my quads. Four days later I can walk down my stairs without taking them one at a time or using the railing. So even though I am a few miles behind in my training this week, I am on vacation through January 4 and I am looking for some great adventures.

Here is some of the things I would love to get done this week. As I am often corrected, all adventures are not endurance sports or competition. Thus I am going to fulfill my promise Mighty Mo to see snow before the end of the year. He has never seen it in person. I am going to attempt another run up Carney Springs to find the trail that leads over the ridge line of the Superstition Mountains. Fellowship with friends, an anniversary with Mistress and New Years.

Its not enough to exist. I am going to live.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Hike: Flatiron

On Christmas Eve, myself and several of my AZTRICLUB team mates decided to meet up and hike in Lost Dutchman State Park. Specifically we hiked first to Siphon Draw and then as some turned back, four of us continued, literally up the trail, to Flatiron. This is rated as the hardest hike inside the Valley of the Sun. This is not the first time I have done this hike, but in most regards this was a new hike for me as I am finally getting into better shape as I transition from recovery to base training.

The hike started just before sunrise and two degrees above freezing. Yikes. We also knew that travel of the sun and location of our hike would keep us in shadow for many hours. Zipped up, shivering but in good spirits we marched out on the frost covered trail.

It was a relatively quick 55 minutes to the seasonal waterfall marking the end of Siphon Draw trail. There was some water flowing and those that playfully stomped in the thin pools, were scrambling to purchase footing on what is called slick rock for a reason. After a quick, too cold and chilly break, we parted ways with our team mates and smeared a 100 yard 40 degree face that bring many people to lung chewing heaves of breath.

The distance from Siphon Draw to the top of the Superstition Mountains, called Flatiron, is roughly a mile. I have the exact distance in my GPS but its somewhere across the room and my knee is currently bathed in a ice wrap. So forgive my lack of enthusiasm for movement. However far the distance, its the vertical nature that begs the question, "Why are we doing this?"

This part of the hike is a solid Class 2 climb, I'd call it 2.8 if I could. Except for the lack of exposure that would seriously injure there is much use of the hands to continue forward, or perhaps more specifically, upward movement. The jovial nature of our banter certainly helped pass the time and before we knew it, we were on the top in a total time of 1:55. A very respectable time.

Of the four of us in the party, only I had climbed the entire route recently. One had climbed it years ago. One climbed most of it recently but turned back due to time constraints. One had never been. I had warned that time loses track at the top and we should not stay long. Forty minutes blew by in a flash and the though the sun was finally on us, the wind was terrible and we moved back down.

It is a Christmas miracle that I personally did not fall or suffer injury. I willingly admit I am good for one good fall per hike. However it was two others who slipped on frosty rocks and bruised their tailbones. I certainly turned an ankle here and there and looked a fool to absorb rapid movement in painful directions and as earlier stated am dealing with a painful knee ten hours later. In all a great hike and with great company. My hydration was excellent and nutrition on target.

It is not enough to exist. I am going to live.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy advice

A sure sign that I am firmly moving back into triathlon is the attraction people have toward me for advice. Nothing pleases me more, and I think I speak for the vast majority of triathletes, than helping peoe with their programs. Dosent suck that I am in the indusrty I am n which gives me practical experience with people and fitness.

Today alone I have been approached by two people looking for advice or mentoring I to the sport. Funny enough all the people I have spoke too lately all have the same fear, the swim. From someone like me who had zero swim ability and still cannot float and has only one stroke, anything is possible.

What has been most exciting for me is that is something that was sorely lacking in my recovery. It was very important for me have hard break from the excitement of adventure and now that I am back I haven't skippd a beat.

I would say the one thing has changed is that as of yet I still haven't fully comitted myself to training with the squad. Where I was at 90% of team events I am now at about a third. Better than the 0% it has been so it's not all bad.

2010 promises to be a great year for me. I expect to engage again in the spirit of competition. I expect plenty of successes and honestly quite a few failures. "No rain, no rainbows."

it is not enough to exist, I am going to live.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Is that you?

In the last month, my training and nutrition have been pretty spot on. Enough so that every day of the last week, people have remarked I look significantly thinner. And that is true. Clothes are looser, face and neck thinner. It's nice getting that kind of recognition from my peers.

The sad fact is that for 18 months my fitness was not a priority, recovering my kidneys and liver took that distinction. Its seems that for now, at the level I am training, I am keeping the lid on that situation. But I took a hit physically and nutritionally. I never really put on a lot of weight but as I get older the weight becomes more noticeable. Thus I am beginning to believe the converse is also true. Read the first paragraph.

Though I work through Wednesday and have to attend a meeting next week, I won't physically interact with my management staff in a significant way until January 4 or 5. I am going to use this dark time as a way to really take the training and nutrition to a whole new level and make some huge leaps in my progress.

Being on vacation allows me to push the training a bit more and then truly recover with rest instead of working 10-12 hours each day. I just need to avoid the excess Christmas calorie and not become overwhelmed with other peoples (read: family) obligations they want to put on me which conflicts with me working on myself.

Wanting to devote time to myself for exercise is selfish and you will never hear me say otherwise. But a persons fitness is more than physical, it is mental, emotional and spiritual as well. How can you love others if you don't love yourself? How can you be the leader of your family if you can't lead from the front? Why be good when you can be great? Is that you? It's me.

Its not enough to exist, I am going to live.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Streams of consciousness pour like sweat

After a long strange day I am laying in bed reading a book. Something in the book makes me suddenly want to read an online biography of Napoleon Bonaparte. This leads me to reading several battle histories which leads me to want to find the old video game Doom online and play it. Then I start looking up any old video game that I used to play to see if its free online. That gets disappointing because free clicks into pay sites. Undeterred I spend two hours of precious sleep time surfing game sites for games that I can play.

Which really sucks because I need my sleep and the last thing I need is to inflame my video game habit which could be as dangerous a drug to me as any narcotic to an addict. Just so I am clear, I don't have a real problem with video games like an addict does with crack, but I am just saying, here I am well past midnight at a computer when I should be in bed in deep REM sleep. Like mom says, "Nothing good happens after midnight." I'd be willing to push that till 2am, but the illustration stands. And I have gotten into some really tight spots well before midnight. So it might be an arbitrary time anyway.

I made my second spin class for the week and have officially terrified the women in my class. Not only did I burn just about 1000 calories, I produce prodigious sweat, a proverbial lake around my bike that was avoided at all costs when the lights came on. The grunting also did not help when the instructor said, "Give me a 10" (out of 10). I won't be able to make it back there for a couple of weeks. Till January. Oh well.

I still haven't decided what to do about racing early next year. I say I will, then I say I won't . I have been pushing myself hard for it and then wonder why I train so hard for it. I am confused. Pulled in two directions, equally tensioned along two polar opposite ends of the spectrum. I feel that either path now is a good one to follow but each has its own long term obstacles. A constant nagging that I should be able to compete against the clock but staying in denial. Or race with the knowledge I could quite suddenly lose control and charge into a dire physical scenario.

I know what I know what I know. I think....

Monday, December 14, 2009

Spinning around

Today I went to my first spin class in years. I was challenged by the spin staff to go through the class. Since I am technically a big-deal in my company, and I accepted the challenge, the first person of my level to do so, the instructor(s) delighted in the days leading up by describing the pain they were going to put me through. I let them have their good humor at my expense.

Surprise, surprise when I showed up with cycling shoes. The instructor was helpful with a smirk and loud announcement. When asked to provide my official title, I responded 'Janitor' with a laugh and I believe the point was made to the other cyclists.. The cycling shoes did not fit the clips but they had a better bottom than my running shoes so I used them anyway in the strap in pedals. A quick set up, light spin, black lights on, and away we went.

My thoughts of the class are as follows. First, I will give it to the instructor, he put on a great class and did not let me or any previous sense of goading me distract from the experience he gave the whole class. As a strict triathlete cyclist, I am used to being in the aero position and trying to stay as tight as possible for hours at a time. Spin class had way to much standing for me. And swaying the body with upper body training. It took me 75% of the class to break that habit and try to get into the 'swing' of things.

When the lights came on, the regulars milled about. Some saw the lake of sweat around my bike. Its was prodigious. The instructor came over and gave me a very nice compliment, my ability to finish the class the way in which I did was all the abbreviated commentary that was needed.

A bunch of the people in class wore HRM and were comparing calories burned. I heard, "330....520" and so forth. I got done cleaning up my bike and looked at my own Polar monitor. 1005 calories. I was taken aback and actually said the number out loud. One of the ladies looked at me and was pissed. Pissed. I think she is usually the center of attention for the class and I just clowned the calories burn category by almost 50%.

As it turns out, I will be back at that club when the instructor is teaching another class this week. I plan on making a repeat showing. I don't think I will make this a full on habit but its a nice change of pace.

It's not enough to exist. I am going to live.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not all lollipops and egg nog

Well still haven't trained this week, nor most of last. Painful admission on my part. I feel guilty of Common Man Syndrome but I realize this is just a marginalizing of how sick I am right now and how run down I get before a vacation. I think everyone, myself included, has had a hard 2009 and just wants to have a little joy and love of family before closing the book on the year. Its just getting through the rest of the year, first.

I did get nine and half hours sleep last night. I needed it. I woke up only once about three hours in. My book was still propped on my chest and my headlamp was still shining on the page. Mistress let me sleep in as long as I needed, which was great except it made me rush to get out of the house on time. Though I have popped a couple cold tabs to get through the day.

Mighty Mo has missed the whole week of school with his illness. He has a couple hours of good energy and then just wiped out. Hopefully he will be better by the weekend.

Mae took her first couple of unsupported steps in her playpen yesterday. Mistress wouldn't call them 'walking' but all of us think she will officially walk by Christmas. She has barely crawled around on the floor, instead preferring her walker to zip around in.

Mistress is juggling it all with relative ease. Her ankle is getting better and like all moms, able to absorb multiple immediate needs with a pretty casual disposition. With Mae sleeping through the night now, she is also getting undistrubed sleep with is greatest gift a mom can have.

Its not enough to exist, I am going to live.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Spirit of the Deer

About ten years ago I had a workout partner who was a fitness model, fitness educator, new agey-yoga type guy. We could not have been more different as partners. He did lighter weight and higher reps. I was a power movement guy lifting for strength. But it worked. As was often his style he would get very philosophical about fitness being about mind-body-spirit and one day he spoke about the Spirit of the Deer.

First he described the Spirit of the Bear. A bear is a tall powerful creature known for its strength. A bear could run down a human or catch a fish with one swipe of its mighty paw. Bears are also known for eating habits. Bears gorge themselves usually in just one meal a day. They steal food from campers, break into cars based on a scent. Bears love to eat. Bears are creatures of habit. And bears put on a lot of weight in order to hibernate for the winter.

The analogy was that I was the bear. I have problems with food control. I love to eat. I rarely changed my workout style except to add some more running for the odd road race I still enjoyed. My body type is such that I easily put on weight. But I was strong and powerful in the weight room, able to leg press half a ton and bench press 110 pound dumbbells for sets.

Then he described the Spirit of the Deer. A deer is a nimble creature. While fast, it relies on agility to get away from predators. A deer does not gorge, but nibbles all day long. A full stomach does not help a deer in any way. A deer does not hibernate in winter but faces the challenge without significant gain in weight like the bear.

He was the deer. Of course he may have taken the animal analogy too far as like most animals he was unable to remain monogamous, in this case to his very human wife, and she culled him from the herd with a nasty divorce.

The analogy and the story is one that continuously pops into my head when I meditate, both the Spirit of the Deer (and marital fidelity). For the most part, I understand the necessity to remain a lighter, more agile person. A lighter person takes less medication and has, in general, better health. A lighter person is someone who through metabolism or habit has eating patterns that give energy throughout the day, sustained energy. A lighter spirit is seen as a benefit to the eco system and and not agitator.

As someone who is most certainly a bear spirit by nature, I have tried, with some success to become a deer spirit. I no longer train the same way, eat the same way, maintain and sustain my energy the same way. I don't look at life the same way as I did those many years ago. This is progress that I can measure in me by looking at those around me who have lived the same year, every year for the last ten years.

I see the dangers that exist for people that are overweight or obese as they get older, whether they have the spirit of the deer, bear, eagle, hummingbird, whatever spirit someone ascribes to them self, they heavier they are, the worse off they are. (Massive generality).

My point is, this holiday season, with all our obstacles to exercise and nutrition, try to channel the Spirit of the Deer. Eat sparingly and often during the day. Do not gorge at parties. Move around and don't hibernate (wise advice for any day). Think light and nimble, someone who bounds over small logs on your trail (obstacles) instead of big, lumber, energy draining bears who stomp through the brush leaving a path of destruction behind it and end up exhausted and have to take long naps.

Its not enough to exist, I am going to live.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Back to training

Well, its time to get back on it. Attempting my first day without cold medicine. I think most people describe how sick they are by how many days they spent in bed or by their symptoms or missed work. I can certainly use those terms but I usually base mine on how many days of training I miss. Today is one week. That sucks, I know. I am going to try some circuit training and treadmill walking.

In my past, I would knuckle under and just do whatever it takes to get the training done. Of course then I had training goals and race schedules. Now I just want to get well as fast as possible. The older I get I find the more tired I am when sick. A normal light five hour sleeper when healthy, when sick I will sleep a hard seven plus hours. AND I am beat the whole day.

I am not alone in this. It seems like 2006 with Mighty Mo. Kid says he doesn't feel good but has a completely normal day and then next morning BAM; bronchitis, sinus and ear infection. He just got off two weeks of antibiotics and now on two more for another two weeks. Mistress spent two hours at the doctors with him yesterday and he will be out of school most of the week because his immune system is shut down again. At least now we know what comes next in this little dance and we're prepping his system to combat the colitis that will attack his intestines.

Through it all the kid has a better disposition than me.

Its not enough to exist, I am going to live.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sick Day(s)

Well the exercise ride was going well until I caught this damn winter cold. I haven't worked out in four days. I really dislike these stupid things. I would use 'hate' but that is too strong a word and I won't let Mighty Mo use it, either. But its up there.

It's been a while since I've had a cold or flu and I suppose I am acting like one of those crazy Seattleite's who forgets how to drive in the snow. It's okay, I can say 'crazy' because I grew up there. And its true. 380 days of rain a year and not a single problem looking through those old skippy, squealchy wipers but add a 1/4 inch of overnight snow and a morning work commute and everyone (else) forgets how to drive.

But back to me. I just want to sleep and in the past I would have knuckled under and just gotten the workouts done on 2x the daily recommended dose of DayQuil, but it's not worth it. Besides ithe cold is screwing up my nutrition and hydration, I am way under caloried the last few days. Which brings me to one of the best movie lines ever, "I figure I am only one stomach flu away from my goal weight" (Devil Wears Prada). I think new federal laws regarding Blogging forces me to disclose that I did not get paid or receive free gear to write that. Though I'd be happy too.

Regardless of my fitness levels, when I am sick I usually can't taste food. So I default to M&Ms and Diet Coke. Might as well splurge, right. But so far I haven't had either. Too sick for even that. Though the girls in my admin office have all kinds of goodies and I tried a Girl Scout Cookie called Thank U Berry Munch. Now look, I haven't had Captain Crunch cereal in at least 15 years, but I am telling you that those cookies take exactly like crunchberries. I stopped at one when I read that it only takes five of those to equal the same calories as a 6" Subway turkey with veggies. Seriously, a cookie that small has 60 calories? That ain't right.

Mistress told me last night that she was going to 'Ferberize' Baby Mae and I may want to sleep downstairs. I just took an extra Nyquil and I slept like a baby. Well, not our baby but somebodies baby I am sure. Luckily, she knew I had to get to the office at zero-dark-thirty to prep for two dispute resolutions going before judges this morning and I skated before anyone was up. By the way, it takes exactly 20 oz of extra caffeinated Quik Trip gas station coffee to cut the fog of 3 Nyquil taken 7 hours earlier. Try to mathmatize that!

But right now, Mighty Mo has his two best bud's over at the house this afternoon probably running around like Hammy from Over the Hedge on a caffeine drink. Mistress is short on sleep, cranky and making sure nothing those three do is permanent to the house or themselves. Baby Mae doesn't even want to sleep. All I want to do is sleep. So I am not sure what to do, except I am not going to buy a large bag of peanut M&M's and half rack of Diet Coke. Probably.

Again, just to stay compliant with new federal law, lots of product placement and name dropping in this post and none of those sonsofbitches are paying me a dime.