Sunday, August 02, 2009

Zen of Kezar

Yesterday I was in the 9th mile of a 10 miler on the track at Kezar Stadium (sounds stupid but I like the Zen like aspect of running 40 laps like a metronome; it's like swimming laps at a pool without the pain of swimming) when I got stung by a bee. I spent about a lap hurling it away and pulling the stinger out. I thought there would be no residual affect but by 8:00 p.m. my neck hurt and it was a little swollen plus I started feeling achy. Of course that could have been from either walking four miles after my run because I locked myself out of my apartment yet again, or from bowling two games at Emily's birthday party. Sounds lame but I did nail a 127 and 100.

I almost signed up for an online coach this morning - I am principally looking at Focus-N-Fly. I know that being self trained, particularly when my coach prefers to give out the same workouts every day is not the best approach to excelling. However, most marathon schedules assume you run six days a week and I am typically hitting only four, in addition to the three days a week of lifting. I'd love to find a coach or system that could fit within this type of schedule. Ideally, there should be a running site like Cross Fit that doesn't list your workout until the night before, and you never know more than one day at a time.

I came very close this morning to going back on Creatine as I am beginning to feel like a cancer victim again although I have no proof that I have lost weight and my bench press is still the same. I fought the impulse, visualizing how it will feel to qualify for Boston but I could cave at any moment.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chasing Time at SF Marathon

Sometimes the sign of trouble is when everything goes well, you have no excuses but you still don’t do as well as you wanted. That’s what happened to me yesterday at the San Francisco Half Marathon.

I went into the race realistically hoping to run sub 1 hour 37 minutes with the faint hope of breaking 1.35 for the first time since going on Creatine. In the old days (4 years ago) I almost always beat my race goals. Back when running was easy. I have done a few 10 mile runs in
the past month, I was feeling great and, although my times for my habitual 8 mile runs have been slower the past year or so, they seemed on par with a 1.37 performance

The course for the half was a little challenging but awesome (although the race organizers suck)
with hills scattered throughout. However, from the first mile I felt good and loose, and full of energy. I felt like I went out pretty fast until I heard 8 minutes at mile 1. I didn’t get appreciably faster, hitting 5 miles in around 38.30 or so. And that’s when the mile markers disappeared for the next 40 minutes. I don’t think I would have been much faster than the 76.22 I went through at 10 but it would have been nice to have some fear to motivate me (I actually do have an excuse). I did accelerate the last 3 miles but slugged home in 1.38.46.

So I have a lot of work to do in the next 5 months if Boston 2010 is going to happen. Hopefully that will make it all the sweeter.

Footnote: My dad ran 1.58, which is incredibly impressive since he is in the 65-69 year old age group.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hero for a day or a lifetime

Nailing specific goals like marathons personal bests (or 20 straight pullups) requires periodization, meaning you train really hard for a few months a year and take it easy for a few months. Build up and break down. But I can't embrace this approach. I dread the hard stuff way too much and am racked with guilt if I do too much easy. That's one of the reasons I can't embrace Cross Fit. The crushing prospect of Angie would have me up all night in fear and the one day off every fourth day would have me convinced I was atrophying and acquiring fat, no matter what I did in the preceeding three days. So I remain stuck doing the same 8 mile runs, 210 pound bench presses (1oX mind you) and 15 pullups, convinced I am a hero.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Inspiration and revulsion

Sometimes inspiration doesn't come from the winner of the race. Today lance did not win Stage 15 of the Tour de France; he got 9th on the stage and relatively struggled in the last 5 miles. But watching him as a 37 year-old not giving up, fighting to maintain form was incredibly inspirational and pumped me up to do a 10.5+ mile run today. I didn't smoke it but it's the best I have felt on a long run in a while. With 6 more stages of the race, I anticipate several more charged runs.

After watching a segment on This American Life that documented genetically altered pigs, I am now giving up pork and beef. God help me if I watch Food, Inc. because I will then be forced to give up almost all forms of protein, including chicken, and then my life will lose all meaning. I have gone down this path before - in college I gave up pork and beef for about a year until I went to the US Open and devoured a plate full of nachos. I had a valid excuse as I was synthetically hungry.

Booked plane tickets for Ben and Sam's trip two week to California in August which will be awesome. Ben wants to go to either Yosemite or Joshua Tree to do some serious climbing; not sure I am officially on board with that yet (see yesterday's post) but at the least we can have Iron Gym contests in my apartment.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fear and smaller me

Last weekend I went rock climbing with Ben and Sam and I have finally hit the inflection point where they are both starting to exceed me in physical performance. Not only can Ben now do slightly more pullups than me but he is an incredible rock climber. We went to the world famous Shawangunks in New Paltz, NY and he went flying up 70 foot cliffs with little fear while I quit after 4 feet. Too scary.

I have been off Creatine for four days now in an attempt to lose some bulk and get down to 170 pounds by the California International Marathon. In the past three years, I have begun to go slowly slightly slower on my habitual 8 mile runs; I'm not sure if this is the inevitable sign of aging or if the extra 10 pounds have made a difference. I'm about to find out in the next five months although if I lose the weight but don't gain the speed I am not going to admit it's age.

Hack and the Flack is going really well. Mike and I have had some kickass interviews recently - many of course focused around Lance in interviews with Bill Gifford of Slate/Men's Journal and Bonnie Ford of ESPN, but we also had Dan "Fake Steve Jobs" Lyons of Newsweek, Emily Bazelon of Slate and Ashlee Vance of The New York Times. It has been much easier than I thought to get relatively famous reporters to agree to do the program but they of course have egos and want to push their names. As I do but they are just better at it so far.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Personal Records

One of the good things about exercising is you can come up with goals you'd like to achieve, train for them and nail them. Result: you feel like you accomplished something in your life even if you aren't starting the next Google, curing cancer or becoming the next Governor of California (must read article). There are some people like J-Tris who seem to set a personal record for a marathon or Ironman every time they do one. I'm not of those people. Those goals don't come easy so I set my goals lower.

Recent accomplishments include:

1) Just did 17 pullups straight - this is nothing like Dave Borders 31 (which is captured on video) but he kips and I can't. My goal is 20 straight by the end of the year, which is a higher goal for 2009 than saving lots of $$.

2) Number of 400s in 1.45 or faster without pulling my hamstring. I hit 9 last week even though I was shooting for 12, but had slight pull on 9th one. It must have been the searing 1.39 I hit on the 8th.

3) Nailed my 14th week in a row of wimping out on back-back-to-back days of 10 mile runs. I say I am going to do it but then call up the rule of only one run over 8 miles per week, No rational for that rule other than fear of pain.

4) Number of articles I can read about Lance in one day that all say essentially the same thing. I believe I hit that with 24 yesterday.

Tomorrow's goal - number of times I can do the exact same 8 mile loop at the exact same pace yet think I am going to get faster. 9 years and counting.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Not ready to commit

I am still going through an internal battle over my desire
to run a relatively fast marathon (sub 3.30) to qualify for the Boston Marathon
and my other interests and passions.

1) Diet.
I basically believe in the carbohydrate, fat and protein diet, and have a whine
fest if vegetables are suggested as the main part of a meal or fruit the
desert. I don’t need to radically reduce my body fat percentage but I am sure I
would feel better if I listened to some semblance of reason. But the whole
point of exercising is so I can eat whatever I want.

2) Ectomorph.
I alternate days of lifting and running, which results in me being a skinny
lifter and a heavy runner. I am
comfortable with this except the added 20 pounds or so of upper body bulk is
not helping me run faster. But it does prevent me from running everyday, which
I am sure would cause me to burnout. And look 70 years old. And be single. Oh
wait, I am.

3) Balance.
I do try and maintain some form of balance in my life, which means doing things
beyond just running. For example, I joined a tennis league, and the stopping
and starting of tennis isn’t helpful for long distance running. But I joined
and played a few matches, and ended up sore and almost injured my hamstrings.
So I quit the league. Of course, that was more because I lost my second match
than because I was trying to prevent injury.

4) Moderation.

I would rather run 5 miles a day and never get injured than try and train for a
marathon and get hurt. I like the daily endorphin fix rather than
pursuing the big goal with a cost. But then I change my mind when I read about
Lance going after his goal. I want both but not sure I can have them.
Especially when I tweaked my hamstring doing 400s today.

More to come.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Almost Water

I am on my third day of the AquaHydrate Challenge, which calls for drinking at least two liters of this water-like product for six days, and avoiding any other water. I exist in a permanent state of dehydration; I just don't enjoy drinking water until I am totally depleted. This obviously doesn't help my performance at endurance sports. So it made sense to try and commit to this challenge to see if I could force myself to drink and see the effects.

AquaHydrate claims to absorb better than regular water and leaves you feeling less bloated (and I am a bloater). I went for my first run this morning since starting the challenge and I felt much better than usual and I ran about two minutes faster than normal. I did just break out a new pair of Asics 2130s (that are black no less) but still. I felt much more energetic and smooth. Not sure if it was the AquaHydrate but I am going 10 on Saturday so we shall see. Assuming I keep chugging the two liters.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I keep saying I am going to start integrating CrossFit into my workouts but I haven't done it. Probably the main reason is that the most basic workout, Angie, intimidates the crap out of me. The workout is complete 100 pullups, then 100 pushups, then 100 situps and finally 100 wall squats. Other than the pullups, I am not to scared but the first 100 has me thoroughly intimidated.

Going to failure in any exercise is the epitome of pain and loss, and I am not a fan of either neighborhood. But to prove I am not getting old, I need to do it. So I am going baby steps - I just did Angie in 17 minutes 44 seconds, albeit only doing 50 pullups. It of course hurt but now I don't feel a day over 41.

Next weekend I go 70 pullups.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Zensah Compressions

I usually arrive late to the gadget and gear party, if I come at all. Took me years to realize that 100% cotton shirts weren't necessarily the way to go and Dry Fit shirts mattered, and I still haven't embraced heart rate monitors. So when confronted with the new craze of compression socks I didn't even think about it. They looked like work socks meet the 1970's tube monstrosities. Why would this look be a good thing? It didn't make sense and I had no desire to look ridiculous.

Then I had the chance to test out a pair of Zensah compression socks. I had never heard of this performance sports apparel company until they reached out to me on Twitter (see, incessantly twittering about my daily 8 mile run and Lance's latest training ride has its benefits) to see if I would be interested in testing them. Free clothes? Sounded like an offer on which I don't usually pass.

The basic thrust of the compression sock is that, due to its tight fit, it increases oxygen blood flow which can improve performance. Sounds like a good value proposition, which might possibly overcome the ridiculous sight of me in long shorts and high socks, just revealing my hot knees.

So, two days after the black beauties arrived, I took them for a test run on the treadmill last night. And I give them a big thumbs up so far. I did a typical 7 mile run at 7:45-7:50 pace. Nothing too earth shattering. I didn't feel like I was floating; the run was not effortless or appreciably easier than my usual slogs.

But I did notice something that I also noticed when I took PureSport. At the usual point in my runs when I start to feel fatigued and it becomes actual work to maintain consistent pace, I didn't feel the drop in energy. I felt like I could have kept going for longer and when I eventually stopped after 54 minutes, 45 seconds, I felt much better than I normally do. This feeling kind if snuck up on me; it wasn't like I ever had this moment of euphoria when I realized how good I felt. It was more like the Zensah socks prevented me from spiraling downwards. They company also makes compression shirts, arm sleeves and shorts so I wonder if the effect of being totally enclosed in compression garments is an order of magnitude improvement over running naked. Definite test required.

I realize that these feelings could have been psychosomatic; I was hoping to notice some effect, I ran in the afternoon and inside rather than my usual morning outdoor run and it always feels good to wear something new. That being said, I am pretty pumped up to test them out my morning 8 miler tomorrow; the dilemma becomes do I ever wash these babies or just wear them everyday until I pass out from asphyxiation.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

What's wrong with EPO

Michele Ferrari, Lance's former trainer, is quoted in Daniel Coyle's awesome book Lance Armstrong's War, describing cheese and naps as performance enhancers that should be banned. He is obviously kidding but uses the humor to make the point that there are no black and white lines in the performance enhancer discussion. God did not proclaim from Mt. Sinai that EPO is bad, Power Bar good. These decisions have been made by human organizations based on some arbitrary set of guidelines, yet they are treated as scripture.

To support banning substances like EPO and steroids, there are a number of arguments that are used.

The Unfair Advantage

EPO gives a grossly unfair advantage to those who take it, destroying the competitive playing field.

There are a lot substances and tools that give its users an unfair advantage, and all can be acquired if you have lots of $$. Using a $5,000 Trek Madone rather than a $1,300 Biachi Imola creates as much advantage as EPO or not EPO. Hiring a coach like Mark Allen or Chris Carmichael for big bucks provides significant advantage over self coached athletes. Training at altitude versus sea level? Huge. None of these are banned. And competitive athletes don't share training principles. The whole point is to discover the best secrets - the shit that kills - and exploit them to the max until the competition finds them. EPO is no different.

Health Risks

We must protect the athletes from hurting themselves.

It can't be disputed that while EPO improves endurance athletes' ability to process oxygen and perform at a higher level, it also comes with long term health risks. But bombing down a slick Pyrenean road on ultathin tires at 60 mph is no picnic. Every year one or more cyclists dies in a crash and the only move that cycling authorities have made to address the issue is requiring plastic helmets. Running 100+ miles a week isn't good for you. A muscle biopsy on a 25-year old competitor after the 100 mile Western States race revealed the typical profile of a 75-year old. Female endurance athletes stop menustrating because they lack a healthy level of body fat. A growing number of people are dying of heart attacks during the swim portion of triathlons. Clearly, even without EPO, endurance sports at extreme levels aren't good for your health but noone is advocating banning them or their $500 entry fees.

Save the Kids

If we don't ban performance enhancers, little Johnny and Jane will take them so they too can excel at sports.

The CW is that if we don't ban EPO and steroids, American kids will all be inspired to to take them just like their heroes. Is this the exact behavior that needs to be controlled and influenced - a desire to do well in sports? The two top problems affecting America's youth are obesity and flopping in the classroom. We are producing stupid, fat kids. Steroids usage is becoming more prevalent in middle an high schools but not as much as twinkies and X-Boxes
and we aren't trying to ban them. Are we really worried that Arod is the bad influence, not our fat and lazy parents?

The point is not to legalize EPO and steroids today; it's to examine what we really want in our sports, whether as competitor or observe. If the whole point is to push the barriers of human performance, why does the line we won't cross have to be at EPO? Are these arcane rules similar to the Cambridge Deans in Chariots of Fire who objected to a paid coach?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Endurance Sports as Controversial Topic

I aspire to be a writer, but I am searching for my topic, my inner muse. In the book I Talk About When I Think About Running, Haruki Murakami compares his approach to writing to running. It requires work and daily dedication and focus unlike natural writers who just have the words flow. I understand this but it also requires that you be passionate about the subject of your essay or book. If you don't feel strongly about a topic, your writing will be stunningly boring. And an unread writer is like a virgin porn star - worthless.

For example, while in Israel, I hung out with Seth Freedman a columnist for the Guardian, a British newspaper. Seth is a former member of the Israeli Defense Forces, and writes a twice weekly column principally on Israel's policies in Gaza and the West Bank. It's totally understandable for a former soldier to have strong opinions on policies that he had to enforce for 15 months. His columns are very provocative because he makes his opinions known.

It is painfully obvious that endurance sports are my preferred topic for espousing. But is there anything that can be written on the topic that can stir emotions other than agreement? I read a number of endurance blogs but they all are pretty much the same - emotional summaries of a workout or race in which the man or woman discovered their inner chi, salutes to the solidarity of the endurance community and a few self deprecating comments to make sure no one thinks they are taking themselves too seriously. This summarizes 79% of my entries.

Possible themes of controversy could include:

  • Prefabricated and expensive race experiences
  • Endurance bloggers and the disease of me
  • Defense of performance enhancers
  • Endurance lifestyle versus the endurance athlete
  • Occupied territories of running (OK - this doesn't exist but I need some bridge to the fascinating, intense topic of the Middle East)

There have to be more because endurance sports are like any drug - there is an upside and downside to it, depending how it is administered.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cheap, smart or stuborn

When I first started running 123 years ago, my dad would not buy me a pair of running shoes until I proved that I was committed to it. There is nothing more intimidating than a skinny white kid running a leg of a mile relay in high white socks and low top basketball shoes. Since I was denied a good pair of running shoes at the beginning, I coveted them and was very excited when I got my first pair of Nike waffle trainers. After that I wanted everything that my parents money could by me - Goretex jackets and pants, fancy watches, fancy running shirts, racing spikes, etc. I didn't get everything I wanted (I actually got very little) but it didn't stop me from wanting and even dreaming about a specific pair of Nike racing flats.

Fast forward to adulthood and I now have my own money and I can buy whatever I want. I still get excited when I go to a bike or running store and see all the cool gear and clothes. I just got a new pair of olive LiveStrong shorts and am in ecstasy. So the wanting hasn't stopped. However, I get slightly nauseous when I go to Ironman races and I see the people with their $5,000 bikes and $500 bike outfits (on which they are ironically providing free advertising for someone), particularly the people who don't even have a shot at beating me. I understand that equipment can help improve performance but will an incredible bike really make a difference for someone who is 40 pounds overweight?

So I am now at the point where I am trying to decide what stuff is actually worth the investment to help me improve as an endurance athlete. Given that I haven't ran and swum in over a year, I think my5-year old $1,200 Bianchi Imola bike and $20 Tyra goggles and suit will suffice for now. I go through new Asics every 15 weeks and still mostly run in Old Navy shorts (besides my aforementioned LiveStrong fetish). So I seem OK in the status quo.

But what about things that I have never really tried? How will I know if Zensah compression socks will help me or if PureSport drinks can really make a difference over the long term. Have I become a caveman fighting against electricity?

Monday, March 02, 2009

How do I go sub 3.30

If I am going to qualify for the 2010 Boston Marathon by running a sub-3.30 marathon this year, I have to make sure I follow a serious training plan. It won't be easy as 2007 when I ran 3.27.40 because I am not willing to go off Creatine in order to get my weight back down to 170. I know I can qualify at 180 if I train smart. But what does that mean?

1) Don't run more than 8 miles more than once a week. In the past I have gotten too hyped up about long runs and have done several 10+ mile runs in a week. This pushes me closer to getting injured and ends up killing me mentally. Even though it's only 16 minutes longer than an 8 mile run, 10 is much tougher and slowly eats away at my motivation if I do too many of them.

2) I must do at least a 10 mile run every week, even if it means before work. Just as too many 10 milers is brain numbing, not enough can kill me too. The benefits are more for my mental stability because if I have done a 10 miler the previous week, a 16 or 18 miler won't seem that much longer.

3) Do some speed work at least once every two weeks. As I get older, I am still running sub 8 minute miles on all my runs but it seems harder. This doesn't mean I have to go to the track and rip of 20 quartes at 65 seconds. I just need to get to the point that I can consistently rip off a 5 or 6 miler at 7 minute pace, which will make 8 minute pace a walk in the park. There are 10k races in the Bay area almost every weekend. I also need to do several Yasso's at 7 minute pace just to be one of the cool kids.

4) I need to make sure I have some balance. One of the main reasons I am not doing triathlons anymore is I wanted to make sure I had some semblance of a life, and when I trained for the Ironman I let it take over my life. Training for a marathon takes half the time if not less as training for an Ironman - lots of time for a life.

5) Fitness needs to be more than just the marathon. One of the goals of working out is to qualify but I also can't be afraid to test myself physically in other areas like Cross Fit or long bike rides. One of the reasons I don't want to go off Creatine is I like feeling strong and fit, but I am still tending to demonstrate that just by lifting and runnning. It's time to incorporate Angie, Barbara and Chelsea.

6) Have a goal post Boston. Once I do qualify for Boston, what I am I going to have left as a goal. One of the reasons I stopped doing triathlons shortly after the 2006 Lake Placid Ironman is I didn't feel like doing another one would be motivating unless I had a big goal out there like going sub 12 hours. I don't think I am prepared to do the hard training needed to go much faster than 3 hours 30 minutes, but will I be happy trying to qualify for Boston a second time?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Excel on Cross Fit Endurance?

I keep going back and forth on whether I want to incorporate Cross Fit workouts into my normal routine of running, lifting, pushups, pullups and situps. Dave and Emily are big proponents of it and it has gone from fringe to mainstream in the last year.

Key benefits to the workouts include: 1) It is unpredictable, incorporating different routines everyday; the next day's workout is not posted until that night so there is little chance of boredom; 2) Each routine has a goal - either complete a specified workout as quick as possible or how much can you do in a set time. Since I am obsessed by the clock, this is perfect for my motivation; 3) A lot of the exercises are ones everyone does so it's easy to brag; e.g., I did 100 pullups, 100 pushups, 100 air squats and 100 situps in 15 minutes! (I didn't really - I'm not doing that workout until I can do 20 pullups straight; 4) it gets you ripped - almost every person on the Cross Fit site is in incredible shape and these aren't models.

And it gets even better. There is even a Cross Fit Endurance (CFE) site for runners, bikers and swimmers who want to incorporate it into their life. Each day you do the normal Cross Fit WOD (workout of the day) and another one specific to your endurance sport. The workouts aren't my normal 8 mile runs - they mostly alternate between race pace workouts for 3-6 miles or intervals of 400-800 meters. Thes site claims, and it is backed up by testimonials, that you can do a marathon on as little as 15 miles a week.

Here is the problem. My number one goal this year is to qualify for the 2009 Boston Marathon which will require me to run sub 3.30. So far, I have not found any examples of CFE athletes who can run that fast, and this isn't exactly a blazing time. Most of the testimonials are for people who basically trained just to finish rather than excel. I'm not trying to win any races but it seems kind of ridiculous for CFE to rip traditional endurance training as bogus when they aren't offering athletes who are excelling with the CFE routine. It is admirable that they have these people who did 50 mile races after losing 100 pounds on CFE but I aspire to more than not being fat.

I'm not ruling Cross Fit Endurance out - I have just seen no evidence how it will help me reach my goal more than my ongoing an eternal 8 mile runs.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


I am not the most nutritionally sound person. I don't come close to my daily requirements for vegetables or fruit, I almost never get the recommended daily 64 ounces of fluid and I consume too much trans fats. Although I can't quantify its affects, it is obviously having a detrimental impact on my athletic performance. It takes much less effort to eat well than it does to work out every day but I seem to have a mental or tastebud block against doing it. I know if I want to stretch my endurance and get faster and reach level three in all the Petraneks in 2009, I can't keep futiley tapping against this block.

Step one in my nutritional makeover could be PureSport. A former client who now works there recommended that I give it a try. It has the same premise as most of the other sports drink like Acclerade or Kona Endurance (KE that is an example of a company that doesn't know how to market - 20 tweets a day saying we rock is not marketing and offering to sponsor athletes by sending them $200 off coupon if they spend $800 is lame) - there are pre-workout and post-workout drinks that contan lots of electrolytes and protein to help you perform and recover from hard workouts. The difference for me in PureSport is that I know someone who works there, they are a new company without slick marketing (although they have some huge sponsored athletes including Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin and several other Olympians) and the way you take it is a challenge in and of itself.

Before a workout, you chug 16 ounces of the liquid and after you do the same for a slightly different drink formula. For me, drinking 32 ounces of anything in such a short time is a challenge, let alone right before and after an 8 mile run. Completing the drinking is almost as much of an accomplishment as the workout.

I have tried PureSport once, two days ago when I ran my usual 8 miles. I am coming off a bad cold so I ran pretty slow for me (7.57 pace) and felt pretty tired during the run. Running with the extra 16 ounces didn't really affect me although I did feel like I had a little more energy than I should have had given my cold. The most noticeable impact was how I felt after the run and after drinking the recovery drink. I felt like I hadn't run at all. I do recover pretty quickly from workouts, but this time I felt great, better than I had since I first got my cold five days prior. I don't tend to push my workouts so I don't usually get sore so I can't claim that PureSport eliminated any of my usual soreness, but maybe if I get balls and start pushing it more I will be able to make that observation.

I am doing the Kaiser Half Marathon on Sunday so that will be an even better test for PureSport, and maybe then I can adopt PureSport t-shirts and pants as my new outfit rather than gray t-shirts and jeans.

I might be getting hooked. I ran 6 miles this morning and figured I didn't need to drink anything pre-run. My run was horrible compared to the 8 miles on Thursday. It's definitely residual affects of the cold but I highly suspect the PureSport was also a factor. I felt as good the first 2-3 miles as I did on Thursday but then got really tired coming back. Let's just say I gulped down the recovery drink.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sleepless in SEA Gate A2

The word rut generally has a negative connotation and most people try and avoid them. It conjures up images of doing the same thing over and over again, day after day in an endless cycle of repetition and boredom. Conventional wisdom is that you should always be trying new things and going on new adventures.

I take a slightly different take on the rut. I do like to go to different places and experience different things, but I like to bring my rut with me. I like to combine going on vacation or a business trip with my daily exercise rut or same bedtime or morning or bedtime read. It puts me in my comfort zone, no matter where I am.

So tonight will be a slight challenge to maintain some level of comfort. I was supposed to meet Ben at Seattle Airport at 9:00 p.m. and we would then hop on the 10:15 p.m. flight to JFK for a fun weekend of skiing in the Catskills. Except Ben's flight from Redmond was canceled due to fog I am stuck waiting for him at the airport until 7:00 a.m. (hopefully). So I am going to try and create my rut at gate SEA Gate A2. I already did my situps before I found out Ben's flight was denied the ability to complete it's full potential so I got that behind me. So I am going to try and escape into a Benadryl-induced sleep as close to my normal 10:00 pmish bedtime as possible, to awake at 5ish to do 500 pushups. If Ben's plane is further delayed then I could be here all day. I'll have to descend into an all day Heroes extravaganza on Netflix on demand - the WiFi connectivity will be better than at Rebecca's or on Colin Northway.

UPDATE: Ben now doesn't get here until 1:00 pm tomorrow. Thinking positive, I could nail 1,000 pushups before he gets here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Does racing ruin the fun

Part of the purity of running, and other endurance sports to an extent is that you can do them anywhere, don't need to rely on other people to do them and they require no membership fees. Except if you want to enter a race, and those benefits are all eliminated. But you need the race for motivation and to focus your training. I'm not sure I would be willing to do a 15 mile run or 60 mile bike ride unless I had the fear of being unprepared for a marathon or half Ironman.

But even as I have become motivated to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I have grown weary of the sheep like mentality of signing up for and doing races. My inherent issues:

1) Running at 5:00 a.m. makes me feel special and elite. Running a race with 8,000 people isn't special.

2) I am inherently cheap and paying someone $100 to help me feel tired seems immoral. The thrill of the free shirt has almost evaporated since I don't wear the shirts for fear of looking like a running geek (the truth hurts).

3) My satisfaction from being fit and dedicated to exercise should all come from within. I resent that I feel the need to measure myself versus other people's performance or against a specific race.

4) I feel like I focus more than enough on endurance fitness; races only make me more regimented and unbalanced.

5) I never would join a club that would have me as a member. I find runners and triathletes to be slightly sanctimonious, almost religious in their zeal. And that is a problem.

I'm sure I'll keep signing up for the races but I am not necessarily happy about this part of the fitness bit.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Life without late nights

Late night, loud and crowded parties have not excited me for years. In high school they were novel and exciting, particularly since I never got to completely experience them since my curfew was 11:00 p.m., tops. In college, it was part of being a dude, something I desperately wanted to be (and still do). Post college it was supposed to be the best way to meet women although I don't think I ever successfully did it at a bar or party.

In the last 10 years, the combination of drinking less and working out more (which means going to sleep and waking up earlier) has made me a complete lightweight. The result; I have a window of about 60 minutes between when I start drinking and when I get tired. Never mind getting drunk; it's all about trying to maintain consciousness. And when I do manage to stay up past midnight, it's not like I am missing some deep, meaningful conversations that don't occur at 8:00 p.m or 6:00 a.m. There is no secret to human interaction that gets revealed at 1:00 a.m.

But it can't be doubted that meaningful human bonding occurs late night. For example, I can't participate in any conversation that starts with "remember when we ___ at 2:00 a/m. That was righteous." I am now devoid of that type of shared experience. Is it possible to have meaningful friendships between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m?

The speedwork yesterday was a huge success - I nailed the halves in 3.27, 3.27. 3.26, 3.25, 3.24 and 3.18. Beyond the actual change of pace from my usual 8 mile slog, I actually felt like an athlete since there was a rhyme and reason to the workout. I actually engaged my brain in deciding to do this workout and was rewarded by exceeding my expectations. But I am still going to keep mindlessly doing pullups with no rest. And I only bonded with myself.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Speed work and treadmills

It is time for my first speed workout in 25 years. With my manic commitment to qualifying for the Boston Marathon this year, I need to change up my moronic training program of running the same pace regardless of distance. This is a formula for a long, slow inevitable decline in performance. Maybe not this year but soon. So I am going to hit Kezar tomorrow and do a short version of the Yasso workout. If I can hit six 800s in 3.30-3.35 I'll be happy. I'll probably feel fat and bloated because I didn't do the usual 8 miles. I certainly can't complain that running on a track is boring since I have done 10 miles on a track and on a treadmill.

That's what I did yesterday. It was slightly rainy yesterday, I was feeling wimpy and I wanted to workout with Rebecca so I went to JCC and did 10 on the treadmill. The pluses - I am comfortable running with an iPod on a treadmill since I don't have to worry about the music affecting my pace. The temperature is a perfect 72 and I can play endless anal math games while staring at the digital readouts. I can amuse myself by people watching even if I am stuck by the door with no mirror like I was yesterday. The minuses - I am not particularly good at letting my mind drift in even the most beautiful outdoor runs so there is zero chance of this happening on a treadmill. And with no wind in a gym, I am soaked at the end of even short treadmill runs. Particularly when I am forced to run shirtless in boxers.

On top of age, the creatine induced weight might now be a major issue on my slightly slower running times. Before getting on the treadmill yesterday I was 183 (180 after). This is the most I have weighed since I hit the scales at 190 in 1990 (after a five egg omelet). The difference now is that I am in much better shape (much lower body fat) but the extra 10 pounds are definitely hurting my running, particularly on uphills. But I have this fear of being the emaciated old distance runner. Plus Rebecca did a 66 second handstand compared to my 65 second. I can't let up.

Friday, January 02, 2009


I aspire to be both a trusting person and someone who can be trusted. The first part is relatively easy for me. I tend to believe that what you see from people is what you get, that most people are inherently honest. I don't necessarily believe that my friends will always be there for me but if they specifically say they will do something, or that they did something, I believe them

On the other hand, given that I am a guarded person, there have been occasions when people have not trusted me. They think that I am holding back information or not giving out all of the necessary information to protect some act of dishonesty. This is a dilemma because I don't like talking about myself that much, so don't necessarily reveal all of the minutia of my life. What seems like unimportant facts can seem like planned omissions or secrets. Being a good friend requires honest, open communication but determining what constitutes necessary information versus trivial is a challenge for me. Do I regurgitate all the events and thoughts of my day and allow the listener to pick and choose what they think is important? Like the Lance observations or top ten best places to get french fries?