Running, Biking, Triathlons, Swimming, Snowshoeing; what's next? Sal's kicks butt.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ironman Rule Changes

This year IM instituted six new rules regarding competition. The complete descriptions are here.

Number one is about disc brakes. I've heard good things about disc brakes, especially regarding safety, so that's a positive.

Number two regarding cell phones, good luck with that. I see people using cell phones in too many uncalled (yes, meant that) places. It doesn't surprise me that competitors would use them during a race. People are generally idiots. I ran a local 10k race this past Sunday. When the starting gun went off a guy and two girls decided THAT was the time to take a selfie. Unbelievable, 20 feet from the timing mats, 600 runners behind them (including me right behind) and that is when you are getting a photo?
So riding your bike in an IM and taking photos with your phone, or taking a call, I can see that happening. Enforcement will be close to impossible.

3. Yellow Means Stop. Well, hopefully an official never sees a reason to stop me and issue a penalty.

4. Cover Up. What a bummer, now women can't compete with their tops zipped down past their sternum. Oh, men too of course, but that doesn't interest me as much. Just saying.

5. Physically Challenged athletes have more opportunities to compete as their guides can be of the opposite gender. This wasn't true in the past. I don't know why it would have been an issue, but it was.

6. This is the surprising rule. "The ITU has access to the latest technology able to detect the use of motors in bicycle frames or wheels.” What? Who has a motor inside their frame and competes at an IM? That is unbelievable. I'm just not smart enough to think of things like that. Even if was aware such devices existed I couldn't imagine using them. So maybe the pack of 12 guys who sped past me in a mini-peloton like I was riding a unicycle at the Florida IM a few years back weren't just breaking the no drafting rule, but had tiny motors in their frames?

I guess people will go to any means to finish an Ironman.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Potty Mouth Mike

The older we get the more Jan and I seem to swear. The majority of our swearing is just when the two of us are alone. We swear for a lot of reasons, from accidentally dropping an item, to emphasizing a point we are making, at bad drivers on the road, or from getting hurt.

When our kids were growing up we seldom swore, especially around them. I might have let a few choice words fly out when doing repairs around the house, but otherwise kept myself in check. Jan just didn't swear at all.

It's only been the last couple of years that "bad" four letter words have been used more frequently by Jan and myself. This is kind of strange, too, since when we hear certain words that used to be considered bad on television we are still shocked and glad our kids aren't little anymore and listening to this stuff.

A couple of years ago a "new to us" runner joined the Sal's group on our long runs. We soon called him Potty Mouth Mike, because he had an uncontrollable need to swear and to differentiate him from the other Mikes who are in the Sal's group. Potty Mouth Mike only ran with us for a year or so before injuries and work requirements took their toll. But his legend lives on.

Last Saturday I was running on the canal path with the Sal's group. It wasn't until I got home that I realized when I was talking while we were running that I let a few F-bombs fly. I also slipped on some mud and lost my balance when another F-bomb flew out automatically. It was a reflex response to thinking I was going to fall. Falling is bad. I can't fall anymore and not get hurt. It seems a justifiable reason to swear.

Now I wonder if I am going to be the new Potty Mouth Mike. No one seemed shocked by my swearing, which means they don't care or are so used to me speaking like an uneducated/uncivilized teenager that they've become oblivious.

The good news is that a new study says that "Swearing aloud can make you stronger".  Participants in the study were put on exercise bikes and then given aerobic power tests while swearing or not swearing. "The results showed that the participants produced more power if they had sworn in the first experiment and a stronger handgrip if they had sworn in the second." The athletes could withstand pain better or for a longer period if they were swearing.

It may be a good thing for me to keep letting a few F-bombs drop on the run. Wait until racing season starts and every other breath is FU. I may end up being banned from racing, but at least I'll have some fast times to show for it!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Questions That Need Answering

Many things puzzle me about the world around us. Please provide feedback if you have answers to my questions.

1. Why do telephone poles still exist? Is it really necessary to cut down all those trees and soak them in toxins? The poles constantly come down in wind storms and tornadoes, then communities are without power for hours or days. People drive into poles everyday. Just bury the lines, save a life or two, save a tree, stop visual pollution and long term soil pollution that occurs when poles are eventually discarded to damage or age. Really, the squirrels can find another way to get around. The noisy crows near my house can just leave.

2. Why are fitness rooms at clubs and colleges always so warm? At least keep the aerobic section temperature down and/or provide plenty of fans. I ran three miles in the college facility today and probably lost three pounds. My sweat was flying everywhere.

3. Due to number two I couldn't stop sweating, even after showering, to get back to work. Is it really bad for an old man to walk the college halls and enter the library without a shirt?

4. When a hotel advertises a fitness room for guests, does one treadmill and one bike count? I think there should be a minimum standard and the rooms should be given a star ranking. Two pieces of aerobic equipment would be a one star. Add a weight machine and/or dumbbells for two stars. (and keep the room cool!!, that'll get you three stars). Add more equipment to get up to a five star ranking, like a restaurant.

5. Every decent motel/hotel should provide maps or an app that gives safe running routes outdoors near the hotel. Really, this could be a good marketing feature. I picked our Hampton Inn in Lakeland, Florida based partly on looking at Google Maps and seeing that a safe one mile loop was just out the door.

6. Is it my imagination or reality? Every time I drive, in the village, on the expressway, or the Interstate, another vehicle comes across the line from the other direction and almost hits me. I drive a full-size pickup and probably would win a lot of those battles, but I really prefer not being a participant. What the hell is going on out on the roads?

7. This season I only know maybe two NY Yankees, Gardner and the fat old pitcher who's been there forever, Sabathia, oh, and Ellsbury, so three players. But the Yanks are winning and battling for first. Maybe not signing has-beens to huge contracts is paying off?

8. The Buffalo Bills fired their General Manager, Doug Whaley, a couple of days ago. This came as no surprise. But why not fire the president of the team, Russ Brandon? He is the one constant during their 17 non-playoff years. If you are going to clean house do it from the top down. Oh, and Brandon is also president of the Buffalo Sabres, how's that working out?

There you have it. Eight questions that affect all of us and need answering.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Prevention of Exercise Induced Muscle Cramps

As an athlete proficient in the art of sweating and cramping I'm always on the lookout for a magic pill/substance that will prevent this disabling, painful problem. I've suffered severe cramps during a few marathons, typically in my calf muscles (gastrocnemius to you technical people) and at times extending to the soleus muscle.
 In my most embarrassing (ass being best part of that word) display of cramping I ended up DNFing at the Florida 1/2 IM several years ago. I was on the second loop of three in the half-marathon and caught up with my daughter on her first loop. It was hot, we were on a dusty path in the back nature trails of Walt Disney World alongside a "canal". I was suffering and had been for sometime. But I was a runner, this was the part of the event I was supposed to shine in. In the swim I was below average, the bike, maybe average, the run was my time. But now we were walking together and taking in fluids.
It was too late to make up for my dehydration. I told my daughter (Amanda) I needed to begin to run again. She didn't think that was such a good idea, that maybe I should just walk to the finish, I had plenty of time until the cutoff. No, I need to run, so I took off, for maybe 40 yards before falling in a heap clutching my right gastrocnemius. I was making noises, it may have been screaming, not sure now.
Luck was on my side.  A medical team was a few yards away and came right over as the left calf and then quads began severely cramping. Now I was making a scene. The team iced my legs, massaged the muscles and tried to get me up and moving. Whether physical, mental, or both, I just couldn't continue. My daughter went on as I was taken on a small medical cart back to the first aid tent and pumped with fluids.
Pete, a longtime runner and member of our Sal's Racing Team, suggested a long time ago that we drink Pickle Juice to stay hydrated during longer runs. The rest of us made fun of him, of course. Pickle Juice seemed disgusting to drink and ridiculous when there were so many commercial options available.
Now there are scientific studies that back up Pete's personal experiences. Never doubt Pete. Here is one section of the study;
 "Regardless of the trigger for ... (fatigue, dehydration, etc.), if cramps are of neurogenic origin, interventions that decrease persistent inward currents and motoneuron hyperexcitability may prevent EAMCs (cramps) from occurring or reduce their severity. This concept is supported by the observation that ingestion of pickle juice significantly reduces the duration of electrically induced muscle cramps (14). The consumption of pickle juice (1 ml/kg BW) immediately after the induction of electrically induced cramp of the flexor hallucis brevis muscle of the foot reduced cramp duration
compared to the consumption of deionized water. This experiment suggests that the ingestion of pickle juice triggered a neural reflex in the oropharyngeal space that activated spinal inhibitory neurons and reduced alpha motoneuron activity to the cramping muscle, lessening the duration of the cramp."

The entire article may be read via this link;

I think switching to Pickle Juice is going to take some getting used to. I'm not sure the taste will be easy to tolerate, plus it will have to be kept cold or yechhh. 

Breaking Bad (or is it?)

Last week Jan and I took a driving vacation to visit friends and family in Florida and Alabama. As we are training for a half-ironman race in September there was some concern on how we would continue to exercise.
We knew some of the longer days on the road meant little time for working out, but we hoped to get in some running, strength training and maybe a swim or two. We stayed at Hampton Inn motels for six of our nine nights (three other nights with our daughter in Alabama). The motels advertised having fitness rooms, which generally included one treadmill, one elliptical trainer and a couple of times a small pool.
We were worried about taking our bikes and trainers so they stayed home. It seemed too much of a hassle to continuously cart them in and out of the truck into the motel rooms for the night. The pools ended up being used by families and, not surprisingly, too small for lap swimming. I had hoped for weights in the fitness rooms and didn't bring my dumbbells. That was a mistake.
We did okay running at our motel in Lakeland, Florida. There was a safe neighborhood to the back of the motel that we ran mile loops in. It was nice running in 70+ degree weather instead of layering our clothes and worrying about icy roads.
In Alabama I ran only once in our three days there. On one day though we did an 80 minute hilly hike on paths in Oak Mtn. State Park that was worth another day of running. Just as important, I didn't fall!

We arrived back home Saturday afternoon after driving about ten hours on Friday and six on Saturday. I had the energy to lift weights, but that was about it after unpacking and the usual post-trip chores.
Sunday Jan and I went to the track for a speed workout. After not running for three days and only four total out of nine I wasn't expecting much. But I actually felt good, had two good warmup miles and then ran 5x800 repeats. Jan ran 200s and 400s. Maybe rest is a good thing, mentally and physically?
I swam at lunch time today and had a decent workout again, feeling fresh, not worn out and struggling. Tomorrow it's back on the bike.
A break can be a good thing after all.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What Not to Wear While Bicycling

A funny video from the Global Cycling Network. Strange (or sad) thing is I've seen MW and LK wearing many of these outfits around Spencerport, even when they aren't cycling.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Spring: Where Are You My Old Friend?

Here's hoping the new colors of my blog help to push in the spring season in Western New York. I don't mind riding my bike in the basement but it would be nice to get outside a couple of days a week.

We should feel lucky that only 1-2" of rain is falling in the 35-42 degree temperatures. The Adirondacks and New England are getting anything from freezing rain to 12" of snow. I truly would be depressed if that happened to us. My Southern Comfort supply is not adequate enough to make it through another snowstorm, wind storm or massive electric outage.

This morning I was at a committee meeting at work. I walked in when a couple of professors were discussing how they don't exercise due to time constraints and other excuses. I stayed quiet and listened and tried to be non-judgmental. Then one of the professors looked me over and asked if I was "one of those people" (the kind that worked out). I'm hoping she thought despite the face of an old man my body looked like it was possible I did exercise. I'm taking it as a positive that there wasn't an immediate vocal display of shock when I said I did.

I mentioned that my wife and I were training for a half-ironman as a couple of other people walked in the room. That got everyone's attention, which actually was nice. A few questions about what the race distance was and my history followed. I really wasn't trying to impress anyone, but honestly I kind of enjoyed some of the attention. After three months of the majority of my running on indoor tracks or treadmills and riding in the basement conversing with "average" people about my activities felt nice.

Training for an event that is personally challenging, whatever the distance, can be mentally as well as physically draining. I seldom talk about what I'm doing unless asked, that can quickly get boring to a listener. It is nice when a person is genuinely interested though. And who knows, maybe we serve as an inspiration?