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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Lose 7lbs in 2 days! Try Mike's Diet for Free!

Well, not entirely free. I won't charge you for my secret diet information, but you will have to pay for the triathlon equipment, entry fees and traveling expenses. In a moment of insanity four weeks ago I decided to register for the Steelman Triathlon in Darien Lakes State Park held 6/17 and the Medved 5k for ALS held on Sunday in Rochester, NY at Frontier Field.

The triathlon seemed like a good choice since it was within an hour of my home, I hadn't done one in two years and need to train for the Lake Placid Half-IM in September and sprint distances suit me better. The 5k race is for a good charity, a Rochester Runner of the Year race, starts and ends at the baseball park and is well-organized. So, two races, one weekend, it was. Why not beat myself into shape?

The sprint triathlon (750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run) was advertised as a flat, fast course. The organizers were right, the swim was flat and fast. Stupid me, I thought the bike and run would also be flat and fast. The swim began with the men, with women following five minutes later. The water was 74 degrees and for once the bouys, of which they had five, didn't seem a long way off. Unfortunately my goggles fogged so much I had to stop three times to clear one side so I could see anything. I definitely swam off course a couple times, but still finished in a respectable (for me) 14:02. My transitions also went well, no panicking, just kept moving along. 

The bike course was rolling and with one very significant hill around mile 5-6, a hill several people had to walk up. There were times on the course I was biking at 25mph and other times at 7 mph. It was also a hot day, and humid, 77 degrees at the start and 64 dew point. It was a small race, only 101 triathlon participants, so we were pretty spread out on the bike. The volunteers, police and traffic control was fantastic.

Going into the run I was tired and hot and we started up a long incline/hill. The course went off road and onto some trails and cross-country type running. We passed the finish line and had to do a second loop. I always go into a triathlon thinking the run will be the leg I dominate at, but it seldom works that way. This race was no different.

The great thing was that I finished third in my age group, the first time ever winning a medal at a triathlon! Of course there were only five in my group, but hey, in the past I would have been fifth.

My total time was 1:33:08. I had the bike segment at 13.2 miles, the organizers 12.4. They have my bike speed averaging 15.5, me 16.5 based on my distance and time (and my bike said 16.5 too).  The run was a slow 27:56, 9:01 pace. I really need to bike more.

Sunday's 5k turned into a blistering, hot, humid morning. It was 80 at the 8:30am start time and 70 dew point. My legs felt really tired. My first mile was good, at 7:54, but then I went quickly to survival mode, finishing in 26:09, about two minutes off what I would normally do. Jan also had a tough time, finishing in 29:21. We both earned RROY points, though, me 6 and Jan 4, so that was a bonus. I guess everyone had a rough day.
Jan, blue shirt on right
 Oh, and I lost a total of seven pounds from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon. This despite drinking as many fluids as I could from pre-race Saturday to post-race Sunday. So try my diet plan out, it may just be what you need to get over the hump of not losing a few pounds.

Next up, more training; longer swims, bikes and runs. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Greek Tragedy: Camping at Lake Placid Act Two

Camping at Lake Placid, Act two.

Readers: please scroll down to the previous post, Act 1, to begin the play.

Scene 1: Sunday afternoon, bikers are done with their second loop, roads open to traffic, it is still pouring rain.
Queen: The coffee shop clerk told us it would rain the rest of the day and thunderstorm all night. What will we do Lowly? How will we stay dry and sleep? We have to be up at 5:30am to get to the 2009 Lake Placid IM registration.
Lowly: We could sleep in the SUV?
Queen: And just where will all our stuff go. Look at the tent, it's a mess. Give me the tablecloth.
The Queen clothespins the tablecloth to the tent. Now there is a beat up sun canopy over the tent, a checkerboard tablecloth on one side and garbage bags around the rest of the tent to try and keep it dry. The tent site is mud and puddles.
Queen: Let's see if there is a motel room, Lowly, please.
Lowly: There aren't any rooms, it's the IM, this area has been sold out for months.
Queen: We have to do something.
Lowly: Okay, get in the SUV, at least we will be dry for awhile.

Lowly and the Queen stop at the first motel, less than a mile from the campground. The Queen goes in while Lowly the servant knows this is futile.
Queen: Lowly, they have a room, Queen bed, it's ...
Before she can finish Lowly is in the office and paying for the room. Someone got hurt and went home a day early, canceling their room. Bad for them, but finally some good fortune for Lowly and the Queen.
Back at the campground, one last time.
Queen: Lowly, what should I do with the canopy and poles?
Lowly: I'll meet you at the dumpster, throw it in and let's get out of here!

Scene 2: Lowly and the Queen in a bar/restaurant next to the motel.
Waitress: Can I take your orders?
Queen and Lowly in unison: Just bring a pitcher of beer and two glasses, maybe hot burgers and some side dishes.
After dinner Queen and Lowly stagger to the nice warm room, with a clean, private shower, and  fall into a deep sleep until the 5:30 alarm.
Scene 3:Lowly and Queen arrive at the Lake Placid skating oval at 6:35. People have been sleeping on the sidewalk all night. There are 3-400 people in line ahead of them.
Lowly: You triathletes are nuts. This is crazy, I can't believe people get in line like this to spend $500 and race for 140 miles. Registration doesn't open until 9am.
Queen: I want to do this race.
Lowly: Yes Queen.

At 7:30 the organizers tease Lowly and Queen,letting everyone into the oval in an orderly fashion. People who volunteered at yesterday's IM get a special line. They get to register first.
At 9:00 the lines begin to move. It goes quickly and by 9:30 everyone is out of there.

Scene 4: Queen and Lowly are back home unloading the SUV.
Queen: Where are we putting the tent so it dries out Lowly?
Lowly doesn't answer, just drags the soggy mess over to the side of the road so the garbage men can pick it up in the morning.
Queen (jumping with joy and clapping): Does this mean we aren't camping again Lowly?
Lowly: No... I don't know. Maybe. But you were right, again, that 23 year old tent should have been tossed years ago. How did we ever fit us and three kids in there?
Later that night the Queen logs on to the IM web site.
Queen: Look at this Lowly, Lake Placid IM sold out on site. If we hadn't have been there I wouldn't have gotten in. Amazing.
Lowly: Well that's just great Queen, should I look for a campground to stay at for next year?
The end.

A Greek Tragedy or "Camping in Lake Placid" Act 1

This is reprint of a blog article I wrote in the summer of 2008, the year before Jan completed her Lake Placid Ironman, We went to the mountains for training and to get Jan signed up for the 2009 race. This was when it was extremely difficult to get into the next year's race unless you stood in line early in the morning the day after the race had just completed.

Since six of us are going to Lake Placid to swim, bike and run the end of June as training for the LP Half-Ironman in September, I thought this would be a good time to reprint my play. It's in two Acts. This is Act one of two.

Readers, if only it weren't all true, a sad woeful tale of a vacation gone awry. 
Characters; Queen Triathlete Wife and Lowly, the loyal servant.

Act One, Scene 1, before leaving Spencerport:

Queen: Don't you think we should waterproof the tent, after all it hasn't been used in years.
Lowly: Nah, it'll be fine, it has a rain fly and the weather forecast calls for only a 30% chance of rain.
Queen: I better not get wet. That's all I ask from you making me camp again, a dry tent to sleep in!
Lowly: Not a problem, I guarantee we will be okay.

Scene 2: At the campground in Wilmington Notch, 8 miles from Lake Placid
Queen: I can't believe we got lost, we've been coming here for years.
Lowly: I know, I thought the shortcut would help us avoid downtown, I didn't know we would miss our turn to Wilmington and take another hour.
Queen: Well, let's get the tent set up.
Lowly: Okay, but where's the electric at our site, it must be here somewhere.
Queen: Lowly, there is no electric!
Lowly: There has to be. There are rv's here, don't they need electric?
Queen: Evidently not, Lowly.
Lowly: Oh god. All of our meals were planned using electric. I brought an electric coffee pot, electric lamp, a griddle for cooking with electric!
Queen: Let's ask the Park Ranger.
Ranger: Are you stupid or something boy? No DEC campground in the Adirondacks has electric.
Lowly: Stupid is as stupid does.
Ranger: Well, there you go.
Queen: (ever optimistic) We can eat sandwiches for dinner, it'll be okay. Let's see, I'll have the ham, you have the pastrami, now where is the mustard?
Lowly: I forgot the mustard.
Queen: You have got to be kidding. Well, how about butter?
Lowly: Yeah, we have butter. Yum, pastrami on whole wheat with butter. This is good carb loading for our bike ride of the Ironman course tomorrow.
Queen: Break out the wine, now!
(later that night)
Queen: Umm, Lowly, I hear rain.
Lowly: It's got to be the wind, it's not supposed to rain.
Queen: Well, the tent is getting wet. Quick, let's get out there and put the sun canopy over the tent... Lowly, why are the holes in the canopy?
Lowly: Hey, I patched those holes with duct tape, it'll be fine.
Queen: My sleeping bag better not get wet Lowly!
Lowly: Don't worry my Queen, we will be fine.

Scene 3: Saturday morning, pre-bike ride, 70 degrees.
Queen: Keep the tent flap open, string up the bags so the tent dries out Lowly.
Lowly: Okay, okay, so it rained a bit, we are fine.
Queen: What's for breakfast?
Lowly: We were going to have eggs, bacon, homefries. But no electric and no time to start a fire. We need to get riding!
Queen: I'm not riding for hours without eating, I'm hungry.
Lowly: Okay, here, we have juice, Hammer Bars, dry cereal, bananas, this is great!
Queen: My banana is rotten. Where's my coffee?

Scene 4: The duo are on their bikes. Lowly forgot his Garmin and his bike computer doesn't work. He can't tell distance, speed or cadence.
Lowly: (to himself) Oh, isn't that cute, someone put a sign on the road saying, "Cherry Patch". Hey, we are going up a hill. Hey, look at that, a sign "baby bear", a bigger hill. Oh no, "mama bear", a bigger hill. Gdammit. Here it comes, "papa bear". They are killing me here and we are only 7 miles from the campground!
Lowly: Are all of these bikers in the race? How can they be riding miles the day before an Ironman? They can't be in the race.
Queen: I guess they are in shape.
Lowly: I'm in shape dammit!
Queen: I guess not IM shape.
Lowly: But they are miles away from Lake Placid. This doesn't make sense.
Queen: Maybe they are just riding the course for fun, like us.
Lowly: (in his lowest granny gear, climbing up some mountain heading to Keene) This is fun? How can they fly by me like that? Ugh.
Queen: Look, a downhill sign, are you ready?
Queen and Lowly fly downhill for over 7 miles. It is treacherous reaching speeds Lowly never thought possible. His brakes are smoking from overuse.
Lowly: We have to stop, my hands are tired from braking. Did you see that woman go past me? She must have been doing 45mph or more! That is crazy.
Queen and Lowly continue from Keene to Jay. A fairly flat section that was actually fun and beautiful to ride, a smile almost appeared on Lowly's face.
Queen: Okay, Lowly, we have a three mile climb to Wilmington, just turn left.
Two bikers pass Lowly. Two more, then more, and more.
Lowly: I made it! Wilmington, wow, Queenie, look behind us at the climb we just did! Now we are only 7 miles from our campground.
Queen: First we have to take a right turn on Haselton road and go out for 7 miles, then back to here.
Lowly: Hah, hah. Funny Queen.
Queen: Let's go.
Queen and Lowly head out on the 14 mile loop. It begins to rain, then stops, then rains and stops, then rains and stops. Finally they are back in Wilmington.
Lowly: Hey Queen, that wasn't too bad a section, except for the rain and wind.
Queen: I need a bathroom.
Lowly: Well, it's the day before the IM, surely there are port-a-pots all over Wilmington?
Queen: They are locked Lowly, what will I do now?
Lowly: Hey, a tourist information center, let's stop.
Queen: There better be a bathroom. (there was, thankfully)
Later, Queen and Lowly head up route 86 to the campground.
Lowly: (as Queen passes him) Why aren't I going anywhere? I'm pedaling like hell, it doesn't look uphill, but I'm hardly moving!
Queen: I know, it doesn't make sense. Look up there, the campground sign.
Lowly: Uh, Queenie, it's not.
Queen: Oh my god. where is it? This is all uphill! I'm going to cry.

Back at camp.
Lowly: I'm sorry Queen, I can't do another loop. You go, I'll follow in the SUV.
Queen: It's okay, I'm done for today too.
After a fine dinner of hot dogs, potatoes and carrots cooked over a roaring fire that the Queen started, with a bottle of wine of course, the duo climb into the tent for the night.
(Lowly wakes up, checks his watch, it's 6am and raining) At 7:30am the Queen wakes up. It's pouring.
Queen: I'm getting wet.
Lowly: I know, this stinks. I can't take it. Let's eat the bagels we bought yesterday.
Queen: I want coffee.
Lowly: I can't start a fire, the wood is all wet. We can't drive to town, the roads are closed for the race. Hey, let's run to town!
Queen: So, I have to run 4 miles downhill to get coffee and then back uphill 4 miles? In the rain?
Lowly: It'll be really good coffee.
Lowly and the Queen do the run and come back to watch and cheer for the bikers. These athletes are riding 112 miles in a torrential downpour. The rain continues throughout the day, over 3 inches fell in Lake Placid on Sunday.
The campground is a mudpit.
End of Act 1.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Running & Triathlon Updates From Around the Country

Number one on the list is Mike Weinpress completing the Cooperstown Triathlon and finishing first in his age group (60-65)! Congratulations to MW for completing an 800m swim in the 58 degree waters of Oneida Lake! I can only imagine the body parts that froze off as Mike climbed onto his bike. This race was held on June 3.

On June 4 Lou Katz completed the Pittsford Triathlon. It was a cold, rainy day in the Rochester area, the kind of day you can get scared applying the brakes during the bike leg because the roads are so slick. At least this triathlon began with an indoor 300m swim before heading out for the bike and run. Lou finished 6/11 in his age group (60-69), but was actually 3rd in the 65-69 group.

On the opposite side of the country, Forest Grove, Oregon, Jan and I ran a 5k race. It was 85 degrees when the race began at 5pm on May 28. A huge crowd of 71 people showed up to race. I think The Let Freedom Run 5k needs a bit more publicity. I averaged 8:08 per mile and finished 9 overall. Jan was 13th place in 27:58. Kind of slow times to finish that high up in the standings, we both started to wilt in the last mile. The race is almost entirely organized by high school students. They did a great job with the course and volunteers, but forgot about having water on the course, which considering the heat would have been a welcome sight. It was professionally timed, amazing considering the size of the crowd. The race supported awareness of youth trafficking in the greater Portland area.

Exciting news on my return to work; I got a new locker in our college gym! Instead of being in the main locker room with possible overcrowding during semesters with students, I get a more private space. Sometimes being nice to people, such as the equipment manager, can work out well.
Now my locker is so big I can hide inside! It's also in a closed off portion of the locker room so only 25 or so lockers are in there. Most of the time I will have the space to myself, which is cool. The space is supposed to be for visiting teams, but the manager said most of them don't use the area. I get the feeling most students, even the athletes, choose not to shower at school.

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.