Monday, February 19, 2007


To avoid making exercise seem like a mindless pursuit but one with a purpose, it is important to have significant goals. They do not have to be as noble as raising money to cure cancer, or attaining inner peace and self-knowledge although that would be nice. They merely have to be enough of a motivation that it will drive you out of bed or away from the TV to work out. Because if you do reach it, you will be overcome by waves of satisfaction.

I am currently struggling to define goals that will produce this sensation. The debate centers on three choices;

1) Numbers. Given that I have completed a half Ironman and Ironman, and finally went sub- 3.30 for the marathon, any advancements in time for these distances will now be incremental. Setting personal records at any distance is satisfying. However, pushing myself on a 50-mile training ride in the hope of lowering my Vineman time from 5.47 to 5.35 seems slightly trivial.

2) Body. At six feet and 172 pounds, I am on middle ground. I am bigger than most competitive triathletes (a group to which I do not belong) but skinnier than the societal definition of buff. In short, I have recently been feeling too skinny. As I get older, I will start losing muscle mass and will probably become skinnier unless I change patterns. As in eat more and lift more to get to 180. Of course, this extra eight-to-10 pounds will directly affect my ability to hit the numbers.

3) Form. While I am a decent runner, I am a terrible swimmer, and below average biker. Rather than maintaining my asinine training approach to swimming of churning inefficient miles and expecting improvement, I should join a masters swim club and actually learn to swim. And even nail flip turns. Now that would be satisfying.

Choosing between the three does not have to be either/or. Step one in the process; go to Koret Center this afternoon, sign up for a masters swim program and weigh myself.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Life is a negative split

In this morning's Kaiser Half Marathon, I achieved the exalted negative split, running the second half of the race faster than the first (44.26 for the first 6 miles or 7.24 pace, 49.32 for the last 7.1 or 6.58 pace). I could play it as an example of my brilliant pacing or ability to fight through the accumulation of pain.

However, I think it's more the case that I do not warm up properly for races and the first 2-3 miles end up as a warmup. The last 3 miles should not feel easier than the last 3 but they usually do. I am more than happy with my 1.33.58 time, and it is a huge psychological boost to finish a race so strong, passing and not being passed over the last 4 miles. Still , I am leaving seconds and minutes on the course and if I am going to ever break 1 hour 30 minutes for the half, this type of racing will not cut it.

Warming up, stretching, speed work, etc . do not require deep scientific research or analysis but it does require me to think. And that is one of the reasons I love lifting and endurance sports. They do not require thought, just effort. Fire, ready, aim.

What do I want?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Climbing out of the rut

Autopilot is not a state I particularly relish inhabiting. My job, my endurance routine, my relationships, my everything currently exist in this plain. I continue to work relatively hard, I am still running 35 miles a week, lifting the same amount, hanging out with my friends and family but something has been missing.

In short I am in a big, ugly rut. While I embrace the routine, it has become extreme. (Non sequitor; I just noticed BusinessWeek now costs $4.99 an issue. Since when does it cost that much?)

The Kaiser Half Marathon, two hours from now, will be a good emotional amphetamine. I suspect I have been in a post marathon malaise since December 3 so this should help.

But I need more than that. More significant changes are required. An initial stab.

1) Ben and Sam. I go back and forth with Jessie on whether or not she is going to move out here with the boys or stay in Woodstock. Regardless if this happens, I need a definitive, actionable plan that is going to get me in front of the boys on a more regular basis. In Woodstock or in San Francisco.

2) Learn to surf. Four five years, I thought about doing a triathlon before I actually did one. I have reached that same anniversary with surfing. It has all the requirements I love; cool gear, promotes the outdoor lifestyle, triggers in its disciples an over analysis of its emotional and psychological tenants, and the ladies dig it.

3) Move to Marin. I love the Bay Area but have mostly been exposed to just the San Francisco side of it. I am not a city man at heart. I am not shutting the bars down at 1:00 am and I don't attend gallery openings. The best place I ever lived was Boulder; parts of Marin are a lot like Mecca. Plus I'll need a car and can finally live out my Wrangler fantasy.

4) Push my workouts to a higher level. Since the California International Marathon, my workouts have lacked purpose. I have been doing the same distance runs and lifting the same amount of weight but there is no fire. I am adding that clarity. The big four goals for the next 18 months:

a) Break 5 hours and 30 minutes at Vineman
b) Qualify for Boston (sub 3.20) in 2007, presumably at New York.
c) Increase weight to 180, without increasing the 8.8 % body fat
d) Break 12 hours at an Ironman.

5) Make a difference at work. Much like in my workouts, I have lacked a purpose or goal at work. My performance has been acceptable but I am treading water, going nowhere. I need to identify how to grow my career, how to challenge myself to jump out of the box in which I am currently operating. To impress me.

6) Open up. Rather than becoming more brave emotionally as I get older, I am moving in reverse. I am increasingly avoiding situations which I think will make me feel vulnerable. No more.

The plan starts in 90 minutes. Break 1.35 for the half.