Saturday, January 01, 2011

Assault on Lake Casitas

I just discovered "Assault on Lake Casitas" by Brad Lewis, which describes his quest for sculling gold at the 1984 Olympics. It is a variation on David Halberstam's "The Amateurs," which is the best sports book I have ever read.

The beauty of The Amateurs and the sport of rowing is that the athletes are pursuing an activity in which there is generally no monetary recognition or reward. They do it for the love of the sport and its community. People all pursuing the same thing - suffering, progress and a goal.

I am stuck somewhere in the middle - I love the community but I have not really joined it other than superficially at work where I am known as the fitness guy. I should definitely work on embracing it more to see if I really do have a spiritual side. Probably not but worth a shot.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Heartrate Monitor

The heart rate monitor is supposed to give you interesting insights into how you are performing, but today all I learned is I am in some stage of freaking out. I ran the usual Golden Gate Park loop and I was basically incapable of keeping my heartrate below 150, even when going downhill. Physically I have felt fine with no signs of overtraining or sickness.

I'm not sure what affect emotions have on heartrate or training but I am not exactly firing on all biorythyms. Maybe it is emotional stress but I need to address it pronto. Maybe the famous Dr. Scott.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I know the treadmill is monotonous and avoiding running outside on extreme weather days makes me soft but:

1) I can listen to music on it but can't outside because it throws off my rhythm - there is no rhythm when you are on a treadmill because pace is constant.

2) The weather is always perfect except at Holiday Inn in Kingston in the summer when its 110 degrees and 90 percent humidity. Running is hard enough that I don't need weather to be a factor.

3) Pace is completely in my control, satisfying my OCD. I don't have to worry about how fast or slow I am going.

4) I can meticulously measure miles, again satisfying my OCD.

5) I don't need to pack as much on trips during the winter, although I still tend to overpack.

I know I need to start running, biking and swimming more outside as I target Boston and sub 12. Plus that will give me opportunity to buy more gear. But first one last run on Holiday Inn treadmill.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Going Long Scientifically

I am thinking it might make sense to buy Going Long, a somewhat scientific book about how to train for long distance endurance events. My approach of doing an assortment of runs, bikes and swims got me to a 13.28 Ironman but I don't think they will get me to sub-12. Without major structure I always gravitate to the comfortable burn (7 mile run, one hour ride or 1 mile swim). Hopefully this book isn't too scientific (e.g., percent exertion, workout zones) as those make me nuts.

I might also sign up for Pacific Masters, an organized swim team that meets at Koret Center. I swam half a mile on Saturday and my form is a joke. It would be seriously fun to be able to flip turn. I am going to try that this weekend with Ben and Sam.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Baby Steps

So I have taken baby steps towards triathlon training although I am still confining the majority of my workouts to treadmills and Lifecycles which is very bizarre when you live in San Francisco. Everyday is a good running day and there are very few times when it is too cold to ride. But I still have vestiges of mental softness.

I plan on running, lifting, biking, swimming until I can't anymore but I do have a few goals I want to hit if I am going to consider myself a legitimate athlete. They are break 3.30 and qualify for Boston, break 12 hours for an Ironman and qualify for Hawaii Ironman. All while trying to maintain or attain a normal social and family life. I don't think this is impossible and unlike some pretentious authors , I don't think I need to break the bank to accomplish these goals. Given that I am at best a mediocre biker and swimmer, I figure I need 18 months minimum to try and improve these skills if I have a shot. And I will still nail 20 pullups by December 31.

Thursday, Dec 2 - 7 mile treadmill in 53.36

Friday, Dec 3 - weights in AM; 45 minute Lifecycle at Planet Fitness in PM (480 cals; heartrate 140-145 bpm)

Saturday, Dec 4 - 7 mile treadmill in 54.09 in AM; .5 mile swim in 18.59 at Koret (embarassment)

Sunday, Dec 5 - 60 minute Lifecycle at Koret Center in AM (810 cals; heartrate 120-125)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The NY Marathon

To appreciate success you need to suffer and I have done lots of the latter the two times I have run the New York Marathon. Both times the same predictable thing happened. I had my usual melt and cramp down between miles and 20 and 22, making what should be a triumphant run up Fifth Avenue and through Central Park a death march. It’s kind of hard to look cool and fit when you are walking and there is nothing worse than acknowledging people who treat you like a member of the Achilles Track Club with sympathetic support. So I don’t acknowledge – I silently redirect my self loathing at my mental and physical weakness by cursing them in my head and refusing to look at them. Of course they have 35,000 other chances to cheer better people than I on.

Despite the race being an overall awesome experience, I was left with bitterness, anger and disappointment when I ran the race in 2005 and 2007. It wasn’t my times that killed me (3.51 and 3.41); it was the fact that I didn’t accomplish my bare minimum – run the entire race. Time is important but so is the general goal of the race – run the whole goddamn thing. No one sets out to run 22 and walk 4.2 No one. So I cautiously approached the 2010 with hope but fear.

The first 22 miles were an afterthought, an obvious. With little training I could do 22 miles. But not the point. So when I started feeling the first calf cramp (ironic that I have virtually no calves but they are always the first to go). In the Bronx I assumed I was back in my usual home of misery. My hope was that meeting Mike at mile 21 for the final run in might prompt my ego to override the faulty wiring.

And it worked. At the risk of being dramatic, the last five miles of the race are as enjoyable a run as I have ever had. It hurt, it wasn’t fast (8.15/mile or so pace) but I ran every step of it. The cheers along 5th Avenue and in the Park weren’t transcending but this time they weren’t annoying. And when I turned the corner from Central Park South to go back into the Park, I knew I had done it. The time (3.37) was satisfying but not the promised land. That’s for next year. Because I have entered the gates, now I aim for the prize.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I typically haven't planned out races or goals a year in advance. My rough plans usually consist of doing one marathon and a bunch of other to be determined races. I am going to try a different approach in 2011, as I want to move from participating to amping up my performance. I still have the goal in my head of doing a sub 12 hour Ironman but not next year. First I have to learn how to swim rather than my current approach of dragging as much water behind me.

So my preliminary 2011 schedule:

April Black Butte Olympic Triathlon - sub 2.45
Half marathon in June/July time frame - sub 1.33
Vineman or Big Kahuna Half Ironman - sub 5.4o
Grand Fondo - finish under 8 hours
Fall marathon (NY or CIM) - sub 3.30