Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fuzzy Slippers: The Best Part of Being Unemployed

Here is a great shot of my fuzzy slipper. She weighs 43 lbs. (sorry to rat out your real weight Greta). She is soft, warm, usually clean, and if you don't mind the occasional dog lick; lovely.

I got to "make history" last Wednesday, becoming one of ~20+ other people to be RIF'd for the first time in my former employer's 45 year history. Sometimes making history isn't so great.

Today, I'll go off the coaching and triathlon path to talk about perspective and mental health. First, a quick story. When Lorrie and I were on a cruise in February (celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary - where have the 10 years gone? Oh, yes... chasing Ironman.) I was running on the ship's deck enjoying the 85 F, 70% humidity and the warm, embracing rays of the sun when 30 large whales surfaced near the ship and started spouting. These beautiful mammals gliding through the water with grace and beauty... and as big as a city bus. I thought about the power it takes to move something that big through the water. Ironic, since I was on a 113,000 ton ship that is burning 11,000 TONS of diesel an hour so 3,000 people can buy cheap jewelry, liquor and over eat for a week. I still love to be at sea. Something about the water makes me at home. Getting RIF'd didn't matter when I thought about the whales and the peace and power of the sea.

Since we picked up Greta in December, on a 0 F, frigid day, I have taken a moment in each day to enjoy everything that is Greta. Her silly looks. Her pungent smells (usually after I drop some cheese by mistake). Her curiosity in anything new to her. Lastly, her love of Lorrie and I and anything we do. She is our dog-er (daughter). No kids? No problem... we have a female dog.
Greta is extremely intelligent. She has figured out doors. Where treats are stored (even when she was outside when we put them away). She knows the sound of a carrot bag opening from a different floor in the house. She knows which people she can trust and which she should avoid. She can be a bit of a diva... even as a young puppy she has a "bask in my glow" look from time to time.
Or someone to crash with and watch Universal Sports after a long run.
It has been good to have a stretching partner.
Someone to enjoy the setting sun on the top of a hill with the breeze in our hair, scratch that... fur.
Most importantly, another friendly face to come home to after a long day of training who doesn't care what your watts, kcals, or heartrate was. She's just glad you're home. Even if you are taking her picture standing in front of the TV. She was busted in this picture.
...and no matter how hard yesterday was. We get up and start early on every day starting with a "y". It's what we do. Greta is the ultimate "JFT" training partner. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow a mystery. That's why I live in the present baby.

I will find work where I am valued and make a difference. A place that is making a profit, even in this economic depression. Until then, see you on the trails...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Tony Kornheiser Debate

Tony Kornheiser of ESPN 980 in Washington, D.C was recently ranting about how terrible cyclists are. During his rant he exclaimed that drivers in their 3,000 pound vehicles should "run them down", "kill them", "tap them". All comments that should earn a suspension from a Disney owned company, but that has yet to come. So much for a family company right?

Lance Armstrong touched off a firestorm on Twitter which landed him an interview where Kornheiser backed off of his homicidal suggestions to millions of listeners. During that discussion, Kornheiser admitted that his own daughter rides a bicycle to work. Lance handled the interview very well. I felt he explained the position of cyclists everywhere and lent a machete to Tony Kornheiser's intellectual thicket. At the end of the interview, Kornheiser seemed to come around to being nearly human again. Perhaps it was the onslaught of email, Twitter posts, Facebook posts, and letters to ESPN, ESPN980, and Disney senior management that convinced him he should change his mind.

I think the best response after Lance was Bob Roll. His well thought out, strong response was just what the doctor ordered. I'm posting Bobke's response with hope that readers of this blog entry will re-post it and pass it on. Let Disney and ESPN (a subsidiary of Disney) know how you feel in a sustained response to Tony Kornheiser's ignorance and public neglect of his FCC license's responsibility.

Enjoy Bob Roll's response. I certainly did.

Sunday at the Races: A Fitness Test for One

Sunday I did an indoor triathlon. These are quick, painful and fun. I needed an understanding of where I am relative to others in a more easy going environment. I asked to be in the first (and most competitive wave) and the race organizers didn't seem to mind because I had registered early.

The Swim
I met my lane mate. Nancy, a 64 year old lady who was a solid swimmer. She was nice and we shared a few pre-race laughs. "OK, Nancy. You want to start us out at 1:05/100 and get faster after about 500 yards?" I asked. She just laughed. "If you see me on the bottom of the pool, please grab my hand and toss me on deck as you go by." Agreed, we both laughed. She swam 600 yards. Not bad at all. The pool was very warm - 84 F. WOW, after 300 yards I was hot and could taste blood in my mouth. I was working really hard, but it is a sprint after all so I pushed through the pain. Funny bit, the photographer was snapping a lot of shots of me and blinding me every time I took a breath on his side. It looked like a guy was hanging with me for the first 300 yards or so - just behind my pace so I kept the heat on. It turns out I had lapped him at 150 and did so again at 300. I didn't really care if I 'won' anything because this day is about my fitness and where I am. Shockingly, the really nice lady counting for me told me, "Nice job. 38 laps in 10 minutes. I think the next closest was 27."

The Bike
The ride was on Kaiser indoor spin bikes. The ones with the "flight deck" of information on them. We were not allowed to go over level 10 on the power setting. This was pretty easy, so rpms would win the day. I parked my effort at 120-125 rpms which was about 220-235 watts. It felt pretty easy but when I surged to 145 rpms it didn't feel right. Since I trained all winter at 90-120 under bigger power numbers, I didn't push beyond where I knew I had been. Could I have done 140 rpms for 20 minutes? Maybe, but at what cost to my knees and ligaments that were not used to that speed? I rode 12.6 miles in 20 minutes which was great considering I couldn't ride with more power. I held the same pace the entire time. Exciting for my April international distance race, but let's see how I do outside on the road.

The Run
"Bob, you are a runner with an interest in triathlon." This has been my theme for the 2009-2010 winter. Near daily lunchtime runs on the tready or in the snow. I'll be honest. I felt slow. I was getting lapped by the fastest three runners who were doing 5:55s or so. In the end, I ran 2.1 miles in 15 minutes or what calculated out to 7:08/mile. So I must have started fast and finished fast because I hurt in the middle... a lot.

The good news: no pain from old injuries that helped me pack on some extra pounds that today are melting away. Another strong couple of weeks of training and I'll be ready to give a strong effort in Florida.

Thanks to all the volunteers at the race and Kim Yessian for swimming another 2800 after the race and doing some aqua jogging. That would have been much harder without you.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Targets and Progress

The sun dawns at sea during an early morning run and on the rebirth of athletic preparation.

Progress must be measured objectively. Like revenge, it is best served cold.

Unemotionally looking at the numbers, I should be happy. I've lost 22 pounds since October. My FTP (in the aerobars) is up 38 points. My pace per mile at aerobic pace has dropped 1:45. My pants that were tight in November are literally falling off my arse.

Set Your Own Targets
Bobby McGee once told me, "Targets should not become burdens, but rather a guiding light to your goals."

My winter targets have been achieved except in my best sport - swimming. I am three pounds away from my goal of dropping 25 this winter; with a chance to grab a few more pounds before the end of April.

Never cease from:
1) Dreaming for all you desire and pushing toward it.
2) Go after what you really want.
3) Passionately. Life is empty without passion.

"Consider each target achieved as a milestone on the journey of success." - Bobby McGee

I know where I am headed. Does your coach? Do you?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tournament of Bad (Triathlon)

With all the talk of bracketology, picks and things I heard something absolutely hysterical... a tournament of bad. WSCR SportsRadio 670AM in Chicago is having a "Tournament of Bad". You vote for the worst thing or most annoying things. I think this is absolutely awesome and fun.

So... I put together my own "Tournament of Bad" as applied to Triathlon. This was my Facebook post a few days ago asking for some help filling out the field of 64. We'll vote for the worst things in your opinion.

So here they are... the Tournament of Bad in the sport of Triathlon as ranked by friends and colleagues. Have fun with it. It is meant as a joke and good fun.

Vote for the things you don't like most out of these pairings. (Yes, I built a bracket.) We'll crown a "Tournament of Bad Triathlon" Champion soon!

1 (1) Doping
64 (64) Athletes who take chances and hurt others because they took an unnecessary chance.
32 (32) Easy Race Courses
33 (33) Racers who criticize Volunteers
16 (16) Athletes talking war stories (uphill, both ways)
49 (49) Peletons in a non-drafting triathlon
17 (17) Racer's Unable to Hold a Line
48 (48) People being passed who speed up when getting passed
9 (9) Elite athletes who expect everything free
56 (56) Running past me slowing down and farting
24 (24) Left Side Riding
41 (41) Wetsuits in 78 F water
25 (25) Course Cutters
40 (40) Fuel Belts used during a sprint race
8 (8) Unsportsmanlike Conduct
57 (57) Snot rockets
5 (5) Looped Race Courses
60 (60) Ironman athletes entering the local "Try a Tri" to win it
28 (28) Warm Gatorade
37 (37) Someone encouraging you as they blow you away
12 (12) White Racing Kits
53 (53) Spectators who say, "You look great" at mile 20 of an Ironman. No, I don't. Stop it.
21 (21) Using a Mirror to Avoid Drafting Penalties
44 (44) Footbaths & Buckets in transition
13 (13) High Race Fees
52 (52) Spectators who say "You're almost there" at the beginning of the run.
20 (20) Off Road Road Races (FL 70.3 run)
45 (45) Balloons in transition areas
29 (29) Warm Gel
36 (36) Race Directors who allow iPods
4 (4) Type "A" Athletes
61 (61) People who treat CAF athletes like they cannot hold themselves upright

3 (3) Incorrect Mile Markers/Mis-marked courses
62 (62) Former pro racers taking age group Kona slots; needs to be a better way
30 (30) The Post Ironman Bike Frame
35 (35) Racers who wear iPods/headphones
14 (14) People who don't train but own a disc wheel, aero helmet, skin suit and SRM power meter
51 (51) Race Directors who don't want rules enforced
19 (19) Pot Holes
46 (46) False estimates of "finish time" to get into a competitive corral
11 (11) Bad Race Tattoos
54 (54) 2500 participants and their spectators and 20 porta potties
22 (22) Slow Award/Roll Down Ceremonies
43 (43) Overpacking for a sprint race
27 (27) Chlorine's effect on a body (hair and skin)
38 (38) Over aggressive swim people
6 (6) Airline Bike Fees
59 (59) Smokers
7 (7) Low Prize Purses
58 (58) People with their helmets tilted way back
26 (26) Fogging Sunglass Lenses
39 (39) People who decide to set up a picnic in Transition
10 (10) "Iron-Fever"
55 (55) Cycling four wide
23 (23) Blocking
42 (42) Athletes asking if they can borrow a CO2 because they forgot to bring them to the RACE
15 (15) McDonald's
50 (50) Refs who let penalties go
18 (18) Polluted Open Water
47 (47) People who pass on the right and look at you funny
31 (31) Reality Show "Athletes"
34 (34) Racers talking about their "epic" training
2 (2) Drafting
63 (63) Crapping yourself